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Women’s rights are human rights – UNIC says as ‘Orange the world’ campaign lands in Zaria

It was an onset of the harmattan season on a dusty December morning in Zaria, Kaduna State, North-West Nigeria. The students, all girls, arrived in droves, eager to participate and host an educational briefing on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in their school, Government Girls Secondary School, Fada Zaria City. The educational briefing was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos in collaboration with UN Women and Arewa Women And Youth Empowerment (AWAYE) Foundation.

Excited by the gift of thousands of orange scarfs and a few branded T-shirts to ‘Orange the world’, the students, numbering over 2,500, assembled and carved out a space for their drama presentation on ending violence against women and girls. They set the ball rolling quickly and set the stage on fire as they highlighted, through drama presentation, issues of domestic violence, sexual harassment in school, girl-child labour, and challenges of girls’ health, among others. In all these, the importance of the traditional institution was emphasised as the Emir’s scene was constantly on the front burner.

“Women’s rights are human rights. When a woman’s rights are violated, then her human rights have been infringed upon. Today we bring the message of ending violence against women & girls.” The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, took the cue from the drama presentations. He emphasised that domestic violence was not a family affairs but a human rights issue.

He noted that the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and would end on 10 December, the Human Rights Day. Explaining the 2017 theme, ‘Leave No One Behind: End Violence Against Women and Girls’, Dr Soremekun said that it ‘reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others, first.’

According to him, leaving no one behind, specifically women and girls that are threatened by or are suffering violence, or have been subjected to it in the past, requires resources, policies, commitments and programmes that focus on reaching the most marginalized communities. To end violence against women and bring change, the National Information Officer urged the students to raise their voices and speak out against any act of gender-based violence.

Speaking, Ms Iris Nxumalo, representing UN Women, highlighted the need for determination to speak out and bring change. She urged everyone, “Let’s Say ‘NO’ and UNiTE to End Violence Against Women and Girls during and after the 16 days of activism period.”

Addressing the students, the Principal of Government Girls Secondary School, Fada Zaria, Hajiya Safiya Abdul, thanked the UN team for the educational programme and informed the students that all women and girls deserve to live a life free from violence and fear. She implored them to report any act of gender-based violence directed at them.

In her remarks, the Founder of AWAYE, Hajiya Laila Muhammad urged the students to speak out against gender-based violence. The 16 days started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on 10 December, the Human Rights Day.

Media urged to drive the narratives on the New Urban Agenda

Following Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, which took place in Quito Ecuador 2016, and the emerging need to further build the capacity of the media in reporting Housing and sustainable urban development, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and the UN-Habitat Nigeria have organised a Media Workshop on Post-Habitat III Conference/ New Urban Agenda. Speaking on the role of the media in the New Urban Agenda, the National Information Officer of UNIC, Oluseyi Soremekun, called on the media to drive the new narratives about urban development in Nigeria by getting acquainted with the New Urban Agenda (NUA) as well as relevant policies and plans of the government on housing and urban development. “If you are not conversant with the necessary NUA frameworks; the National Housing Policy as well as other National Plans, you cannot hold the government accountable to its commitment to a new urban agenda that will redress the way cities and human settlements are planned, financed, developed, governed and managed.” He noted. “Media should give prominence to the issues of sustainable housing, urban development and slum upgrading.” Soremekun said, “Media should rise above sensationalising and politicising issues of urban development. Rather, they should interrogate the existing housing and urban development policy and plan and juxtapose these with government actions.” The workshop held on Thursday 26 October 2017 in Abuja, and attended by twenty-five participants from the media, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPWH) and the UN system, was aimed at strengthening awareness among journalists and media professionals of the challenges of urbanisation and the global efforts to address them, notably the outcomes of the Habitat III conference in Quito; developing the capacity of journalists to engage constructively with policy makers, professionals and government functionaries to actively follow-up on implementation of the New Urban Agenda; and facilitating citizens’ participation in the New Urban Agenda.  In his presentation, the Program Manager of UN-Habitat Nigeria, Mr Kabir Yari explained that the New Urban Agenda is an action-oriented document which sets global standards of achievement in sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities through cooperation with all levels of government, relevant stakeholders, and other urban actors such as the private sector. He noted that the agenda also “provides the underpinning for actions to address climate change and reaffirms our global commitment to sustainable urban development as a critical step for realizing sustainable development in an integrated and coordinated manner.” Mr Yari added that the shared vision and commitments include: “Cities and human settlements must be for every one; referred as the “right to the city”. It entails equal rights including the right to adequate housing; gender equality, basic urban services etc.; Urban equity and inclusiveness leaving no one behind and addressing issues of poverty, deprivation in cities, socio-economic and cultural diversity.” Discussing the “Challenges and Response to Urbanisation in Nigeria”, the Director of Urban & Regional Development (URD) Department, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPWH), Mr L. C. Anikamadu, explained that “Nigeria boasts of more than ten regional centres which have established status of ‘millionaire cities’. In addition, she has several other fast growing population centres which have assumed very strong urban identity due to administrative, commercial, ethnic, transport connectivity and other intrinsic peculiarities.” Mr Anikamadu  who was represented by Mr Lana Olalekan, noted that as urbanization creates hordes of cities and townships, several intimidating challenges of different shades follow in its wake. “Perhaps most significantly, urbanization has created a huge class of ‘urban poor’ who live in unimaginable conditions, abject misery and lack of basic necessities of life.” He added.

UN Commends Nigeria on SDGs implementation, marks UN-Day with fanfare

The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator of the UN system in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has commended the Government and people of Nigeria for the progress made in almost two years of the implementation of the SDGs.

He cited, “the establishment of a multi-layered and multi-cluster institutional frameworks for coordination of the SDG mainstreaming processes with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs (OSSAP-SDGs); a Private Sector Advisory Group, Donor Forum on SDGs and Civil Society Organization Advisory Group and a Presidential Council on the SDGS  inaugurated by the President; development of a good policy and planning framework for the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and linked to the SDGs.”

Mr Kallon said this on Tuesday 24 October 2017, at the observance organised by the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, Foreign Affairs Ministry and the UN at the Rotunda Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Abuja. The event also featured SDGs exhibition featuring 17 stands representing the 17 Goals as well as children’s performance and unveiling of SDGs theme song and SDGs Ambassadors.

The Resident Coordinator however, urged Policy Makers and Partners in Nigeria to go beyond business as usual in implementing the SDGs with the required political will and integrated action for results. “One surest way of getting results is to incorporate the Agenda 2030 in national planning, policies, legislation and institutions at the Federal and State level.”

Delivering the message of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the 2017 UN Day, Mr kallon said, “The world’s problems transcend borders. We have to transcend our differences to transform our future. When we achieve human rights and human dignity for all people – they will build a peaceful, sustainable and just world. On United Nations Day, let us, ‘We the Peoples’, make this vision a reality.”

In her welcome address, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, H.E. Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, disclosed that Nigeria has laid down an evidence-informed implementation pathway for the SDGs and has addressed the prevalent data deficit by conducting a mapping of existing statistics followed by the determination of 126 baseline SDGs indicators to benchmark progress, with technical backstopping from the UN Country Team. “It is now urgent to scale up of implementation to accelerate the attainment of most of the SDGs before the deadline of 2030.” She added.

In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, observed that this year’s UN observance came at a critical time of global and national discourse of what must constitute our shared commitment to global and national cooperation that is targeted by achieving inclusive socio-economic development, shared prosperity and sustainable peace and security, in our time.

Dignitaries at the event included Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, H.E. Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire; Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu; Minister of Youth and Sports, Comrade Solomon Dalong, among others.

UNIC targets Youth, organises SDGs Arts competition in schools

Since member states of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has continued to highlight the role of youth in the implementation of the global goals. The Centre has remodelled its school outreach activities to be youth-focused and SDGs-centred. Of note was the just concluded Arts4SDGs competition in Lagos States and the roll out of the second phase by 1 November 2017 in Ogun State, South-West Nigeria. Arts4SDGs is a campaign that promotes the SDGs amongst Secondary School students using creative arts. It requires the students to express their understanding of SDGs in artistic forms or in poetry.

The competition which was organised by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria in collaboration with Lagos State Ministry of Education and Tender Arts Nigeria, started earlier in the year among the over 600 public secondary schools in Lagos State and a few private ones. It reached the climax on Thursday 9 October 2017 with an Exhibition of outstanding works as well as award of certificates to all students who participated in the competition. The event also featured the unveiling of SDGs theme song titled, “One Planet” initiated by UNIC but composed and rendered by Nigeria’s multi-talented singer, Seyi Ajayi.

Speaking at the Arts4SDGs Exhibition and Certificates Award ceremony, the Director of UNIC Lagos Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, explained that Arts4SDGs aimed to create awareness of the SDGs among children and the youth; and raise young advocates to inspire positive actions for sustainable development.

“Arts4SDGs is about viewing the SDGs from the lenses of an artist. Students were asked to interpret any of the 17 SDGs in artistic forms. The works of arts the Students submitted were creative and instructive.” He said, “There is a particular one that depicts Goal 2, ‘Zero Hunger’ with a plastic plate containing real food stuffs while a fork and a knife are arranged on each side. The message is clear: No one should go hungry. Let everyone have food on the table.”

Mr Kayanja thanked the Lagos State Government for its support, “especially in sharing the Arts4SDGs communication materials to all schools in the State which was a critical success factor.”

In his opening remarks, the Executive Director of Tender Arts Nigeria, Mr Adekunle Adewale, explained that “We believe images are powerful to convey message beyond words. One image is more powerful than a thousand words. This is the main reason we are partnering UNIC to promote the use of arts to SDGs.

Dignitaries in attendance include Ambassador Ayo Olukanni Nigeria’s former diplomat to Australia, New Zealand and the Fiji Island; the President of Society of Nigerian artists, Mr.Oliver Enwonwu; the Chairman, Lagos State Council For Arts and Culture, Mrs Polly Alakija; the Curator, Rele Art Gallery, Ms Adenrele Sonariwo, Representatives of Lagos State Ministry of Education.

The highpoint of the ceremony was the decoration of Seyi Ajayi as a Champion of SDGs by the Director of UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Mr Kayanja.

The second phase of the Arts4SDGs campaign which is in collaboration with the Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, kicks off on 1 November 2017. Over 380 secondary schools in the State would be reached.

 

Imbibe the Culture of Peace – UNIC enjoins Nigerians

The National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Oluseyi Soremekun, has enjoined Nigerians to imbibe the culture of peace and noted that “Peace is sacrosanct and non-negotiable. Everyone needs to imbibe the culture of peace by upholding mutual trust and respect for one another.”

He said this while speaking at a workout tagged, “Sweat4Peace” organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Galaxy4Peace, in collaboration with UNIC as part of the countdown activities to mark the International Day of Peace (21 September). The event held at the Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka Lagos was attended by over 150 people.

Explaining this year’s theme: ‘Together for Peace: Respect, safety and dignity for all’, Soremekun  explained that the theme honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone forced to flee their homes in search of a better life. “It also encourages everyone to work together for peace and uphold mutual respect for one another. He explained.

Citing the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the National Information Officer said, “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats. We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”

Soremekun further noted that peace was at the centre of development, from the family level to the global stage. According to him, without peace, none of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could be achieved.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulates new President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajčák

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has congratulated the new President of the General Assembly, Mr Miroslav Lajčák. “He and I have had good discussions in recent months about our shared hopes for this session. I have no doubt the Assembly is in very capable hands.” Mr Guterres said in his remarks at opening of the 72nd session of the General Assembly in New York, on 12 September 2017.

His experience, his vision and his wisdom, are recognised by all of us that have the privilege to know him. I also welcome President Lajčák’s choice of theme for the year to come: “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”. The Secretary General’s statement reads further:

I look forward to working together for progress on all our areas of work.

Our world faces serious threats — from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to global terrorism, from climate change to inequality.  

We also face major challenges, from migration to the unintended consequences of technological advances, such as cyber attacks.

People around the world are rightly demanding change and looking for governments and institutions to deliver.  

We all agree that the United Nations must do even more to adapt and deliver.  That is the aim of the reform proposals that this Assembly will consider.  

I look forward to working with you, distinguished delegates, to strengthen our Organization to better support the Member States and to produce better results for the people we serve.

One key change, within and beyond the United Nations, must be to empower the world’s women and girls.

Yesterday, I launched a roadmap for achieving gender parity throughout the United Nations, at all levels.  I appeal to you to put forward women candidates for vacancies.  Parity at the UN will improve performance at the UN.

Despite today’s conflicts and the grinding daily impact of poverty, I remain convinced that this is far more an era of transformational potential.

May the 72nd session of the General Assembly take bold steps to seize those opportunities as we continue to serve “we the peoples”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Remarks at Closing of the 71st Session of the General Assembly

Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Let me begin with a warm and heartfelt thank you to President of the 71st session of the General Assembly Peter Thompson.
Thank you for your vision.  Thank you for your energy.  Thank you for your unmistakable assertive voice that may have given some of us flashbacks to our grammar school principals!

But most of all thank you for helping to steer the Member States to a solid record of achievement over the past year.
Day in and day out, you brought us together.
That spirit of unity has particular meaning today, the 16th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on World Trade Center and other targets.

This was an assault on the United States.  But so many of our Member States saw their citizens murdered that day.
I know you join me in expressing our sorrow and solidarity on this day.
Excellencies,

In looking back over the work of the 71st session of the Assembly, I see many highlights.
Last September’s high level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants adopted the landmark New York Declaration, pointing the way towards compassionate and people-centred ways to address this challenge.

The resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development set the stage for re-positioning the United Nations to better support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Assembly also took other important steps to advance the 2030 Agenda, including the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the adoption of the indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.
President Thomson, I know you were especially pleased to convene the Ocean Conference in June.  This was a timely exercise that has helped to raise awareness about the need to sustainably use the world’s marine resources.

It also showed the big impact that small island developing states such as Fiji can have in shaping the international agenda and providing solutions for shared problems.
Over the past year the Assembly continued to serve as a forum for pressing global issues, from human trafficking to antimicrobial resistance.  I have been pleased to see the doors of the Assembly opening ever wider to vital partners such as civil society, the private sector and, above all, young people.

Of course, the past Assembly also took up the task of selecting a new Secretary-General.  With new features such as candidate dialogues and vision statements, that process has established new standards of transparency and interactivity.  It is an honour to have gained your trust and to be sitting here today.  I thank you as well for approving my proposal to establish the Office of Counter-Terrorism — a key element in the reforms that I have set in motion.
Excellencies,

To all the Member States, congratulations on a productive 71st session.
To Ambassador Thomson, you once said that you wanted your tenure to be measured by how good a start we get in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  By that yardstick and many others, you can be very proud of your accomplishments.
Finally, to the incoming President Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, we look forward to working with you to build on the 71st session and make the 72nd session a great success in serving the world’s people.

Thank you.

UNIC Trains Lagos Model United Nations (MUN) Organisers, Stresses Accuracy of Simulations

In promoting Model United Nations (MUN) simulations that accurately represent how the United Nations actually functions, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has organised a training workshop for organisers of the University of Lagos Model United Nations.

Conducting the training held today at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, the UNIC National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained the structure of the UN and the procedures and processes used for reaching decisions, as well as guidance on how to prepare for MUN conferences.

He disclosed that it had become imperative for the United Nations to provide technical support to organisers of MUN as up to 99% of MUN simulations around the world are not reflective of how the United Nations works.

“If you are organising a MUN simulation, then it must mirror the UN processes and procedures of deliberation and decision making. If the simulation deviates from the reality, then it is not MUN and should not be regarded as such.” He declared.

Mr Soremekun enjoined the participants who included students and faculty advisors to take MUN quality control very seriously and added that the UN Information Centre would continue to support MUN organisers around the country.

The training workshop was preparatory to the Lagos Model United Nations organised in partnership with UNIC and scheduled to hold at the University of Lagos from 13-15 July 2017.

UNIC Trains Lagos Model United Nations (MUN) Organisers, Stresses Accuracy of Simulations

In promoting Model United Nations (MUN) simulations that accurately represent how the United Nations actually functions, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, has organised a training workshop for organisers of the University of Lagos Model United Nations.
Conducting the training held today at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, the UNIC National Information Officer, Mr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained the structure of the UN and the procedures and processes used for reaching decisions, as well as guidance on how to prepare for MUN conferences.
He disclosed that it had become imperative for the United Nations to provide technical support to organisers of MUN as up to 99% of MUN simulations around the world are not reflective of how the United Nations works.
“If you are organising a MUN simulation, then it must mirror the UN processes and procedures of deliberation and decision making. If the simulation deviates from the reality, then it is not MUN and should not be regarded as such.” He declared.
Mr Soremekun enjoined the participants who included students and faculty advisors to take MUN quality control very seriously and added that the UN Information Centre would continue to support MUN organisers around the country.
The training workshop was preparatory to the Lagos Model United Nations organised in partnership with UNIC and scheduled to hold at the University of Lagos from 13-15 July 2017.

Replace Fear with Kindness – UN Secretary General

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has encouraged the world to replace fear with kindness in a message on the 100 Days countdown to the International Day of Peace.
In preparation for the International Day of Peace which is observed every year on the 21st of September, he encouraged the world to embrace peace as he restated his appeal for peace which he made upon assuming duties as Secretary General in January 2017.
The Secretary General stated that “the International Day of Peace embodies our shared aspiration to end the needless suffering caused by armed conflict”. He identified the day as a moment for the peoples of the world to acknowledge the ties that bind them together, irrespective of their countries.
Mr Guterres explained that there is more to achieving peace than the laying down of arms. He said “True peace involves building bridges, combating discrimination and standing up for the human rights of all the world’s people”. He went on to explain the theme for this year’s International day of Peace. According to Mr Guterres, the theme, which “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” is focused in particular on the plight of refugees and migrants all over the world. He asserted that the obligation of the international community is to ensure that all the people forced to flee their homes receive the protection they are entitled to under international law. He said “Our duty as a human family is to replace fear with kindness”.
He urged the world to remember in the next hundred days that “millions of vulnerable members of society need our understanding and assistance.” He stated that we should all strategize together about what we can do to help them, and recognize the many ways in which they contribute to and strengthen their host countries.
Mr Guterres added the need to redouble efforts in addressing the root causes of conflict, advance work for the Sustainable Development Goals, and heighten emphasis on preventing violence in the first place.