Security Council members hold a videoconference on the Middle East (Syria) on 28 April, 2021. Photo credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

April saw six envoys leading UN political missions or peace processes under the purview of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) brief the Security Council on issues ranging from proposed ceasefires in Yemen and Syria to the progress made to implement the Colombia Peace Agreement and improved relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

Below are some key takeaways from those discussions:

Great Lakes Region

On 12 April, Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region Huang Xia briefed the Council on a recently proposed new plan for consolidating peace and preventing conflict. The Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention…


Photo credit: Markus Spiske

One morning last July, a staffer in the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) received an email alert. Chaos had erupted in a Member State after a fierce storm had knocked out its entire electrical grid. Quickly checking social media, she noticed that a large number of Twitter users were reporting a complete loss of power in hospitals, resulting in the death of patients on life support. The staffer alerted her colleagues as reports continued to come in. …


Participants at a “Youth Building Peace” event commemorating International Youth Day, 12 August 2017, hosted by the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in collaboration with the Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding of the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development. Photo credit: UN Photo/Kim Haugton

Allwell Akhigbe is a 28-year-old member of a youth-led peacebuilding organization in Nigeria. He grew up in Jos, a city in the north-central region of his country. In 2001, when he was just eight years old, his life was turned upside down. His community fell apart as deeply entrenched religious and ethnic differences spilled over into conflict and bloodshed. Intolerance, coupled with competition over scarce resources, led to slaughter and loss of livelihoods. Throughout his teenage years, he witnessed brutal uprisings, states of emergency and heavy military presences. He still mourns friends and teachers lost to the violence.

Young people…


Security Council Extends Yemen Sanctions Regime: The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2342 (2017), extending until 26 February 2018 sanctions on those threatening stability in Yemen. Photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

There used to be a thriving export business for monuments and statues of world leaders in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In November 2016, the Security Council adopted a resolution to ban such trade, as part of a series of sanctions intended to halt the east-Asian nation’s nuclear tests and launches using ballistic missile technology. At the time, then-United States ambassador Samantha Power pointed out that exports such as “two statues for which Robert Mugabe paid $5 million … and countless others found around the world” generated millions of dollars in revenue for Kim Jong-un. The Council has also…


A poll worker preparing ballots for election day, 18 October, 2020, La Paz, Bolivia. Photo credit: Alma Films for the Electoral Pillar of the UN.

On 19 March 2020, eight days after the World Health Organization designated COVID-19 as a pandemic, the small archipelago state of Vanuatu in the South Pacific decided to go ahead with its general elections on schedule. Even though Vanuatu had yet to record a single COVID-19 case, election officials were not taking any chances. With the assistance of the United Nations, they quickly put together a public information campaign to instruct voters and polling officials on physical distancing and hygiene protocols. …


“Cinema for Peace” event in Putumayo, Colombia. October 2019. Photo: Laura Santamaría / UN Verfication Mission in Colombia.

Traditional approaches to post-conflict situations often focus on what might be termed “external safeguards”, such as security building, good governance and transitional justice initiatives. However, there is a growing body of work in the field of brain and behavioral science that explores the role of human psychology and patterns of thinking in the success, or failure, of peace agreements.

Andrés Casas, a behavioral scientist from the University of Pennsylvania and consultant for the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), has worked in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and North America on the development of behavioral change programs using…


The resolution of large-scale internal conflicts nearly always involves some form of renegotiation of access to public power and resources, and/or recognition and autonomy for specific societal groups. As a result, whether it be in South Sudan or Syria, Mali or Myanmar, processes of constitutional reform are intertwined with, and often at the heart of, conflict mediation.The Secretary General’s Guidance Note on UN Constitutional Assistance (updated in 2020) recognizes constitution making assistance as integral to an overall conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding strategy. Yet, mediators are often unfamiliar with good practices and common challenges in constitution making processes, and…


It is one year since the novel coronavirus began its devastating march across the world. The pandemic is still very much a reality, but with the vaccine rollout gathering pace and rates of infection falling in parts of the world, it is possible to begin to imagine the recovery. The end of COVID-19 will not necessarily mean a “return to normal” for the United Nations. Nor should it, argues our colleague Blanca Montejo, of DPPA’s Security Council Affairs Division. …


The political landscape in Sudan changed dramatically in 2019, thanks to the Sudanese men, women and young people who rose up in massive numbers to demand change. Their movement culminated in an agreement signed on 17 August 2019 to establish a civilian-led transitional government and the launch of a transitional process that provides a unique opportunity to achieve sustainable peace, democracy and prosperity throughout the country.The United Nations has supported Sudan’s transition in many ways, including through its long-established Country Team and the good-offices work of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Sudan. On 3 June 2020, the Security…


Scene from the municipal market in Tucuru, Guatemala. UN Photo/UN Women/Ryan Brown

Despite major advances in women’s rights in Guatemala since the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords, women, in particular those from indigenous populations, still experience high levels of social exclusion. Only 2 per cent of the municipalities are run by women; more than 4,000 girls between 10–14 years of age give birth every year; and illiteracy among indigenous women is more than four times higher than that of non-indigenous men.

To address this high level of social exclusion, and in line with Security Council resolution 1325, which calls for “an increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in […]…

Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

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