National Security Last Week at the United Nations (March 5-12)

Military in Myanmar Continues Mistreatment of Peaceful Protesters

On March 8, 2021, hundreds of peaceful protesters were trapped by security forces for several hours in Sanchaung. According to Stèphan Dujarric, spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres, many of the protesters were peacefully demonstrating in commemoration of International Women’s Day. After the U.N. appeal for their release, many of the protesters were released the following morning, but 40 were arrested and remain detained. This follows a statement by U.N. Special Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener that confirmed around 50 protesters had been killed, with several more injured in addition to more than 1,000 detained or unaccounted for. U.N. Women raised concern on Friday of “targeted and disproportionate” treatment of women in the context of the protests. On Thursday, U.N. Special Rapporteur Thomas Andrews told the U.N. Human Rights Council that the actions of the military likely amounted to crimes against humanity and outlined five options for U.N. action.

Independent Report Claims Evidence of Genocide of the Uighur People by China

On March 9, 2021, the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a Washington, D.C. think tank released a report on the situation of the Uighur minority in China. The study alleges the Chinese government’s action in Xinjiang have violated every provision established by the United Nations’ Genocide Convention. Further, it alleges as many as two million Muslim minorities have been detained and subjected to sexual abuse and forcible sterilization. This project follows a separate study published on Feb. 8, 2021 by Essex Court Chambers in London, which reported there was a tenable case against China with regards to the allegations. China has denied all accusations of genocide to date. U.N officials have yet to publicly comment on the report.

Syrian Humanitarian Crisis Persists Ten Years After Beginning

Addressing journalists during a press briefing, Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the need to continue to pursue a negotiated political settlement, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254. Guterres suggested that no tangible progress has been made thus far. He went on to say, “It is clear that if a war lasts 10 years, the international security governance system that we have is not effective.” To date, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died, nearly one hundred thousand have been forcibly disappeared, and millions more have been displaced. The war has had a disproportionate impact on children: at least one child has been killed or injured in the conflict every eight hours for the past ten years, and access to food, education, shelter, sanitation, healthcare, and basic safety severely impaired for a generation of children.

 Millions are Facing Starvation in Yemen

Food insecurity is putting Yemen’s children at great risk, as 2.3 million under-five year-olds are projected to face “acute malnutrition” this year, with almost 400,000 projected to perish as a result. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates it will need nearly two billion dollars to provide adequate food assistance necessary to save lives in 2021. Overall, more than 16 million Yemenis are food insecure, with nearly 50,000 of those enduring famine-like conditions and five million more on the brink. The head of the WFP David Beasley stressed ending the war is critical to empowering the people of Yemen to achieving zero hunger. However, he also emphasized that “the answer is simple…We have a vaccine for this. It is called food. All we need to save lives is funding.”

United Nations Renews Push for Sustainability

Secretary-General António Guterres and the United Nations are launching an accelerated drive for sustainable energy. On Wednesday, Guterres joined other conveners to launch preparations for the High-level Dialogue on Energy, which Guterres will convene in September. The event will provide governments, businesses and other stakeholders a platform to commit to more sustainable energy use. In the launch, Guterres said renewable energy is “crucial for building a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future.” As part of this renewed drive towards clean energy, he declared the “the world must cut carbon emissions by at least 45 percent below 2010 levels within the next decade.” In conjunction with the initiative, the United Nations is in the process of preparing a global roadmap for achieving the sustainability goals of affordable and clean energy for all by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Endemic Violence Against Women is a Growing Global Security Concern

A new study released on March 9, 2021, by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals violence against women has been pervasive in every country and culture over the past decade. 736 million women, or 30 percent of all women on the planet, have been subjected to violence of a physical or sexual nature. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the WHO, explained that COVID-19 has further exacerbated the harm to millions of women and girls. WHO data shows that over a quarter of 15 to 24-year-olds have experienced violence from an intimate partner. WHO notes the global security implications of these findings are clear, as preventing violence is a necessary step in addressing economic and social inequalities, all of which are key to ensuring the safety and security of women globally.

Kyoto Crime Congress Met This Past Week

On March 7, 2021, the 14th U.N. Congress on Criminal Justice began a week-long summit to address topics ranging from corruption, wildlife crime and intersectionality of gender and counter-terrorism, to the impact of COVID-19 on prison populations and the issue of children associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said that strengthening crime prevention efforts globally is key to a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crime Congress is the world’s largest gathering of governments and organizations aimed at addressing issues around crime prevention and criminal justice.

U.N. Secretary-General Urges Nations to Prioritize Disaster Resilience

In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, a disaster which left over 18,400 people dead or missing and many more displaced from their homes, Secretary-General António Guterres expressed condolences and lauded Japan for “leading the world when it comes to disaster prevention.” He described the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which outlines seven targets for preventing new and reducing existing disaster risks, as a model for a more secure global community. Mami Mizutori, U.N. Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, added that the climate emergency enhances the need for such initiatives to be adopted globally.

Image: YANGON, MYANMAR – MARCH 11: People pay tribute by laying flowers and lighting candles next to dried blood at the spot where Chit Min Thu, 25, was killed in clashes on March 11, 2021 in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar’s military Junta charged deposed de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi with accepting bribes and taking illegal payments in gold, as it also continued a brutal crackdown on a nationwide civil disobedience movement in which thousands of people have turned out in continued defiance of tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

 

About the Author(s)

Josh Asabor

Josh Asabor is a Student Staff Editor at Just Security, and a JD student at Yale Law School.