Author Archives: Cynthia Prah

UN expert group on the use of mercenaries to visit Ghana

ACCRA, 8 December 2017 –  A delegation of the United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will conduct an official country visit to Ghana, from today 8 December to next Friday, 15 December 2017.

The Working Group delegation will assess the regulation of private security companies in the country and the measures in place to address the challenges posed by mercenarism and mercenary related activities, including foreign fighters and their impact on human rights.

In a Media Advisory issued by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the Commissioner (OHCHR), the delegation will hold meetings in Accra and Takoradi with representatives from relevant Government ministries, members of civil society including non-governmental organizations, private security companies and companies operating in the extractive industry.

The experts will hold a press conference to share their preliminary observations on 15 December, at 12:30 p.m. at the GJA International Press Centre, Accra.

The Working Group will present a full report of the country visit to the Human Rights Council in 2018.

 

UN calls for concerted efforts to End Violence against Women and Girls

Accra, December 7, 2017 – As the world observes 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence from 25 November to 10 December 2017, the United Nations in Ghana calls on governments, non-governmental organisations, religious and traditional leaders, communities and individuals to take individual and collective action against human rights abuse of women and girls. A world free from gender-based violence and from discrimination is paramount to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 2017 global theme, “Leave no one behind: End violence against women and girls” reflects the vision of the United Nations Secretary-General’s global UNiTE campaign to end violence against all women and girls. The commitment to realising this vision requires reaching out especially to the most underserved and marginalised women and girls among refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters.

Violence against women is one of the most extreme forms of discrimination. The UN Secretary-General’s 2017 report on progress towards the SDGs states: “On the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. […] In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.”

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17-yr Old Ghanaian Student Wins SDGs Photo Contest

Accra, 14 November 2017 – A 17-year old Ghanaian student, Matthew Paa kwesi Williams has been adjudged the second prize winner, out of 1000 entries, of the 2017 international SDGs photo competition for students.  The competition, co-organized by the United Nations Information Centre in Tokyo and the Sophia University, aims at encouraging students to “reflect on sustainable development from their own perspectives, express it through a photo, and share it with others”.

Matthew addressing the media

Matthew, a student in Morgan International Community School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, who aspires to be a Business economist and entrepreneur, entered the competition with his image titled “Struggle of Childhood”. The photo captures a school-going age girl gathering sticks of a disentangled broom she was using to sweep. The girl, barefooted and squatting to collect the broom sticks, has a very pensive look away from the lenses into the distant.

Speaking at a press briefing organized by UNIC Accra to highlight the feat of Matthew and to engage the media on the SDGs, Matthew called on the government to ensure policies are implemented to help children attain the best in education.  He said, “school-going children should be in school during school hours”.

Matthew told a team of local media that he was inspired by SDG1 which seeks to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. To help promote the global agenda and advocate for the achievement of the SDGs therefore, Matthew announced the establishment of Pixel Action, an online photo platform aiming to draw attention to the needs of communities through pictures.

Matthew, supported by UNIC Accra NIO and students proudly shows off his certificate

Matthew’s picture, which won the Award of Excellence category in the SDGs photo contest was captured in Gomoa Manso, a small town in the Central region of Ghana.

The media were briefed by the National Information Officer of UNIC Accra, Ms Cynthia Prah.  She congratulated Matthew and urged journalists to focus more on development oriented stories to bring up challenging issues facing various communities in the country.

 

 

UN Human Rights Council to review Ghana’s human rights record

Accra, 7 November 2017 – The United Nations is scheduled to examine Ghana’s human rights record today, 7th November 2017. The review today is by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, which peer reviews every UN Member State every four years.  Today is the third round of review for Ghana, following 2008 and 2012.  The purpose of the peer reviews is to track progress on Ghana’s human rights obligations and commitments.

Ghana’s delegation is led by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ms. Gloria Afua Akuffo.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report – information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

Read further in the press release issued today by the UN Resident Coordinator’s office in Ghana.

UN discusses the role of youth in the SDGs with students in the Eastern Region

Eastern Region, Ghana, 25 – 27 October 2017 – As part of UN Day observation in Ghana, the UN Communications Group, led by UNIC Accra, and a team of UN Volunteers, representing UNICEF, FAO, UNFPA, UNDP and the Resident Coordinator’s office and representatives from the Ghana United Nations Students Association (GUNSA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MoFARI) have embarked on a 3-day outreach event on the Sustainable Development Goals and on volunteerism.

A student explains Goal 1

The team first stopped at the St, Martins Senior High School (SHS) in Adoagiri, Nsawam in the Eastern region of Ghana where some 500 students from St. Martins SHS and the Islamic Girls SHS were taken through the 17 SDGs. Following the presentations, 17 students volunteered to give a recap of their selected Goals.  They aptly summarised the goals in their own words to the admiration of the team, citing lack of descent jobs, youth unemployment, poverty and unsanitary conditions as major issues requiring urgent actions.

The next stop was at Aburi Girls SHS where over 300 students from two SHSs got the opportunity to learn more about the SDGs, the various UN

A cross section of students

offices in the country and the concept of volunteerism. Welcoming the team, the Headmistress of Aburi Girls SHS, Mrs. Alice Prempeh-Fordjour expressed her appreciation to the UN team for choosing their school for the outreach to impart knowledge on the theme “SDGs and our Developmental Needs: The role of the youth”. Following the nearly 3-hour engagement with the students, 18-year old Emefa Adjaho told UNIC Accra: “the session has made me realise how essential the role of the United Nations is in addressing the challenges we are facing”.  “I now understand the work of the United Nations more and I hope one day I will work with the UN” she added.

The final leg of the outreach event was held at Pope John Senior High and Junior Seminary, where the UN team were joined by staff from the MoFARI. Over 500 enthusiastic students came from the host school, Koforidua Technical Institute (KTI), Oti Boateng SHS, Ghana SHS and Seven Days Adventist SHS. In an interview, 19-year-old Ms Love Narh of KTI said “the perennial

A cross section of the audience

development problems of the world are being compounded by our own behavior” and was hopeful that the SDGs will reduce them or eliminate them completely. For Michael Coffie, having 108 students in one classroom, impedes effective teaching and learning. He therefore hopes the government will consider SDG4 a priority to ensure quality education is provided to all Ghanaians.

These outreach events are held annually by the UNCG under the leadership of the UN Information Centre and they seek to offer the youth the opportunity to learn more about the global development agenda, the role of the UN and of their country to make the world a better place, and what they can do in their own ways to make change. It further creates the platform for UN staff to interact with students in attempt to inspire their career choices.

SDGs student ambassadors

The students were encouraged to form SDGs clubs in their schools and to serve as SDGs ambassadors in their various communities.

2017 UN Day Celebration: Ghanaians urged to exercise ‘will’ power to overcome challenges

Tuesday 24 October 2017 – The United Nations Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock has reiterated the global call for the use of “will” power as the key means to end the challenges of the world. Delivering a speech on behalf of the UN Secretary- General, António Guterres at a flag-raising ceremony held in Accra to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the

Ms Evans-klock addressing the audience

United Nations, Ms. Evans-Klock said the UN looks forward to supporting the Government’s coordinated effort towards the implementation of the SDGs. She commended the non-Government actors, including the civil society, youth and the private sector, for their commitment to advocate the SDGs and build public accountability.

For her part, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey reaffirmed government’s commitment to continue to work and collaborate with the UN in its quest to find solutions to the humankinds’ most pressing challenges which the SDGs seek to address.

Hon Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey

“We recognize the colossal task placed on our shoulders through the global goals and the need to implement them by 2030” she added.

According to the Minister, the achievements of the SDGs holds a prominent place on government’s development agenda. This she said was the reason why it has incorporated the goals into Ghana’s 40-year development plan as well as programmes and policies such as “Planting for Food and Jobs”, “One District – One Factory” and “Free Senior High School Education”.

 

Members of the diplomatic community

 

This year’s event forms part of activities to celebrate everything the UN has achieved since its establishment in 1945 and it’s on the theme: “Achieving the SDGs: Innovating, Mobilizing and Partnering for the Implementation of the SDGs in Ghana”.

The flag raising ceremony climaxes the UN Day celebration in the country at the national level out of numerous events earmarked to commemorate the day in different parts of the country.

 

 

Hoisted flags of the UN and Ghana

The occasion was graced by Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Public sector officials, representatives of the Security Services, Members of the Diplomatic corps, Heads of UN Agencies, students and the general public.

Panelists dialogue on the SDGs to mark UN Day in Ghana

Accra, 23 October 2017 – Several events are taking place in Ghana to mark United Nations Day. The focus of the week-long observation is to draw public attention to the Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public engagement on developmental issues facing the people of Ghana.

Mr. Ayensu making his presentation

At the start of the week, representatives from various sectors including the Ministry of Finance, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) and the Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) took part in a public dialogue on what needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of the SDGs in the country.

A Director of the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Michael Ayensu said that in order to ensure effective implementation and monitoring of the country’s development efforts, the 2018 national budget will be anchored on the SDGs. He also hinted that Ghana is likely to take part in the 2018 Voluntary National Reviews held annually at the High-Level Dialogue on the SDGs in New York.

Representing the CSOs Platform on the SDGs, Madam Joyce Larnyoh said it was crucial that the SDGs are communicated to people in a way they would understand.  She made reference to efforts by the UN system and the CSOs to develop and translate common messages on the SDGs for everybody to understand and relate to.

The UN RC

From the private sector, the Chief Executive Office of PEF, Nana Osei-Bonsu stressed on the need for effective resource mobilization to support the implementation of the SDGs. The NDPC representative Dr. Felix Addo-Yobo said the SDGs would be attainable if everyone came on board. He said the private sector, CSOs and public sectors need to work together on the implementation of the SDGs.

For her part, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock had one message: “Ending abject poverty is realistic”.

UNIC Accra backs calls to end poverty & hunger as we mark International Day for Poverty Eradication

Accra, 17 October 2017 – UNIC Accra backs global calls for action to end hunger and poverty in commemoration of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which falls on today October 17.

The theme for the 2017 observation is “Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path towards peaceful and inclusive societies”. The theme reminds us of the importance of the values of dignity, solidarity and voice underscored in the Call to Action to fight to end poverty everywhere.

In a press release issued today, UNIC Accra commends local media for their work to highlight the need to eradicate poverty in our society.

 

Call for Applications – Young Leaders for the SDGs

New York, 13 October 2017 – The United Nations Youth Envoy has announced the call for applications for the next class of Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals to unearth 17 of the world’s greatest young changemakers, innovators, and ground-breakers!

Who can apply?

Young people who are genuinely leading fantastic initiatives which support the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. They might be a chef, a designer, a campaigner or a blogger. They might know all about the Goals or nothing at all. The important thing is that they are leading an exciting initiative that helps to meet one of the Goals.

Young Leaders must be aged 18-30 by 31 December, 2017.

Successful candidates will be selected based on the following considerations:

  • Their demonstrated achievements in promoting and advancing sustainable development and youth participation;
  • Their personal influence within their respective fields and reputation for inclusive and innovative leadership;
  • The ability to command an audience, influence their contemporaries and inspire their constituents;
  • Their demonstrated integrity, commitment to the SDGs and core values of the UN

For further information, please read the announcement flyer.

Secretary-General Appoints Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana to Head UN Disengagement Observer Force

New York, 13 October, 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

Major General Vib-Sanziri succeeds Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India, who completed his assignment on 30 September 2017. The Secretary-General is grateful to Major General Menon for his dedicated leadership of UNDOF.

Since joining the Ghana Army of the Ghanaian Armed Forces in 1985, Major General Vib-Sanziri has had a distinguished military career at both national and international levels. He has been serving as Director-General of the International Peace Support Operations at the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces since April 2017. Earlier in his career, he served as Assistant Director, Ghana Army Operations (1996-1998), Deputy Head of the Ghana Military Academy (2002-2004), Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion (2004-2009), Director for International Peacekeeping Support Operations in 2009 and Army Secretary at the Army Headquarters (2010-2011).  In 2014, he was appointed Director-General for Joint Operations, General Headquarters.  He served as Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organization from 2015 to 2017.

Major General Vib-Sanziri also possesses extensive peacekeeping experience, including deployments to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (1988 and 1991), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (1993-1994), and the United Nations Mission in Liberia in 2007. He also served with the Economic Community of West Africa States Monitoring Group in Liberia (1990), in Sierra Leone (1999-2000) and, subsequently, with the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone.  From 2011 to 2014, he served as a strategic military planner in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations.

Major General Vib-Sanziri holds a Master’s degree in Military Art and Science from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (USA), a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA Hons) in Geography and Rural Resource Development from the University of Ghana. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Armed Forces Command and General Staff College, Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College and the United States Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Born in 1957, he is married and has two daughters.

New York, 13 October 2017