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ABC News 7 Feb 2020

Vindman fired from National Security Council posts l ABC News

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Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified under subpoena during the House impeachment hearing.


A national security strategist has called for reparations from China over the communist regime's role during the coronavirus outbreak. One America's Jack Posobiec has more from Washington.
Briefing by Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia on recent developments in Colombia during the Security Council Open VTC.


Briefing via video teleconference, the Head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC), Carlos Ruiz Massieu, today (14 Apr) told the Security Council that the National Liberation Army (ELN) had responded to the Secretary-General's appeal for a worldwide ceasefire in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, by declaring a one-month unilateral ceasefire during the month of April.

Ruiz Massieu, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Colombia, said, "however, armed clashes continued between illegal armed groups in several departments, including Cauca, Chocó and Norte de Santander."

At a time when "all efforts must be focused on fighting the pandemic," he urged "all illegal armed actors in Colombia to desist from continuing to perpetrate violence upon vulnerable communities, including indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities."

The Special Representative said, "COVID-19 is and will continue to affect the implementation of the peace agreement and the Mission's verification activities." However, he added, "peace in Colombia cannot be, should not be a casualty of this pandemic."

He noted that Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted in his report to the Council that "the sustained and integrated presence of state institutions remains the most effective and necessary means to ensure peace and stability in the territories." In this sense, he said he was encouraged that Presidential Chancellor for Stabilization and Consolidation Emilio Archila, "has continued to coordinate arrangements so that implementation in the development programmes with a territorial focus is not affected by the current crisis."

Also briefing the Council, David Santiago Cano, who is a strategic partnership consultant for the World Wildlife Fund in Colombia as well as Colombian Ambassador for One Young World, said, "we should not need a pandemic to argue for the silencing of weapons, to focus on the greatest threats to our common survival, from climate change, to transnational crime, to poverty. This is what happened in Colombia. The end of the conflict with the FARC-EP, has allowed us to focus on the structural problems that affect our country."

The Secretary-General's report on the implementation of the mandate of the Mission covers the period from 27 December 2019 to 26 March 2020.
In March, the Government of Colombia intensified preventive measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including declaring a state of emergency, closing the borders and ordering a countrywide quarantine from 24 March to 13 April. President Duque also announced that the Government would allocate additional resources for the public health system and social welfare programmes. As at 22 March, the Ministry of Health had confirmed 277 cases of COVID-19 across the country, with two deaths.

On 17 March, the Presidential Counsellor for Stabilization and Consolidation stated that the Government would be taking the necessary measures to ensure that the implementation of peace-related programmes could continue, despite the challenges resulting from the outbreak.
Briefing by Jayathma Wickramanayake, Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth, on youth, peace and security, during the Security Council Open VTC.

She dedicated her statement to all the young people who are putting their communities ahead of them-selves, within war zones, refugee camps, favelas and settlements showcasing grit and leadership that sometimes the world fails to see in political leaders.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the adoption of the Security Council Resolution 2250, the Youth Envoy expressed that this is an opportune moment to take stock of the Youth Peace and Security Agenda.

Based on the report, Wickramanayake briefed the Council on the key recommendations which echoed the voices of young people who she has interacted with.

She reiterated that meaningful participation of all young people towards building sustainable peace should be ensured. She said, "participation is recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All young people have the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs and thus are entitled to rights and freedoms."

The Youth Envoy continued, "such participation encompasses a wide range of actions, from formal participation in political, electoral or peace processes to informal participation at the community level and in digital spaces. Enabling spaces should be created for young people, where they are seen and respected as citizens with equal rights, equal voices and equal influence."

Noting that young people believe that strong mechanisms should be developed to protect young activists and peace builders, the Youth Envoy called on Member States support to "facilitate an inclusive, safe, enabling and gender-responsive environment in which young peacebuilders and young human rights defenders are recognized and provided with adequate support and protection to carry out their work independently and without undue interference."

Concluding her speech, Wickramanayake reiterated "if the UN and the Security Council fail to translate agreed Resolutions into action; in a nutshell if this agenda do not be brought down from a global policy level to a regional and country level with programmatic action; young people will lose opportunities to meaningfully participate and most importantly, their trust in institutions and multilateralism will further erode."

The Youth Envoy stated, "we cannot afford to lose the trust of young people, the greatest asset and greatest hope we have for a better future."

She urged the Council to "put young people at the heart of its efforts to bring global peace and security."

She said, "young people are ready and up for the challenge. The question is - are national, regional and international actors ready to bridge the inter-generational divide?"
The United Nations Security Council has also voiced concern at China over the national security laws on Hong Kong, requesting an urgent meeting.
But China says Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs and allow no external interference.
Al Jazeera's James Bays reports from the UN headquarters in New York.

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