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UN, South African Consulate, Partners Mark Nelson Mandela Day

‘’Nelson Mandela showed what is possible for our world and within each one of us- if we believe, dream and work together for justice and humanity; a man of towering achievement who worked tirelessly for peace , equitable development and human dignity indeed one of the greatest leaders of our time. His life and work embodied the ideals of a democratic, free and equal society. It is therefore a day to reflect on the life and work of a legend who embodied the highest values of the United Nations’’ remarked the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr. Ronald Kayanja in his address at the Lecture organised on Monday 16 July 2018, by United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in collaboration with South Africa High Commission and Nigeria Institute for International Affairs (NIIA) as part of activities to mark the Nelson Mandela International Day (Centenary Celebration).

Mr Darkey Africa, the Consular General of the South Africa High Commission in Lagos, speaking at the event highlighted his brief encounter with Nelson Mandela and stressed that the legacy of Nelson Mandela resonates beyond the shores of Africa.

Nobel Laurette for Literature, Prof Wole Soyinka, recalled his personal encounter with Nelson Mandela describing him as an embodiment of humanism, service and leadership, humble, simple, unpretentious, determined and diligent.

At a similar event organised on Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, by UNIC, United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) and Freedom Park Lagos, participants did a mandatory 67 minutes community service which involved cleaning of the park.

The Director of UNIC, Mr. Ronald Kayanja welcomed all guests and thanked UNAN for organizing the event in honour of Nelson Mandela. The South African Consulate General represented by Mr. Azwianewi Mbedzi in his address reminded all present about the meaningful contributions of Madiba to the world and that the objective of his commemoration is to inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better.

Gen. Ishola Williams (rtd) the Chairman of the event, paid tribute to Nelson Mandela by highlighting some of his services to mankind. He urged everyone to continue to uphold the legacy of Mandela who is an embodiment of peace, integrity, human dignity and indeed a great man.

Dr Babafemi Badejo the keynote speaker expressed his happiness about the fact that the whole world has set aside today to honor and recalibrate the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela. According to him, it is better to lead from behind and put others in front; however, good leaders take the front line when there is crisis. Mandela’s values included freedom, justice, diversity, equality, forgiveness, love and peace.

The Director of Freedom Park, Ms Aboaba Iyabo paid tribute to Nelson Mandela; describing him as a man of integrity and called on African leaders to provide the kind of leadership Mandela displayed.

Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, DG (NACCIMA), and other eminent personalities were present at the event. The celebration featured video clips, poems and a short drama on Mandela by students, and a cultural performance by Squad 1 Group.

UN Stands with you – Guterres Assures Youth At Ife Model UN

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has assured young people around the world of the United Nations support for a brighter future. “As you stand up for our shared values, the United Nations stands with you.” He said in his message to the first Obafemi Awolowo University Model United Nations (IFEMUN) conference held 21-23 June 2018 and organised by the University in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC).

The conference which attracted over 250 delegates from Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa, was a three-day of networking and diplomacy in practice as students assumed roles of Ambassadors of UN Member States, and simulated the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.  In the message read by the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, the Secretary General emphasised that “We must do more to enable young people to shape the decisions affecting their lives. Empowering the world’s young people is also an imperative. Your potential is the world’s potential.”  Mr Guterres called for less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation. According to him, “Multilateralism is more important than ever.”

Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, reiterated the commitment of the university administration to supporting value-adding activities amongst the students. The Model United Nations (MUN), according to him, is a platform for students of Political Science, International Relations, International Law and the social sciences in general, to express themselves and manifest their potentials.

He urged all delegates to be diligent in their roles as ambassadors of their assigned countries for the conference. “Make new friends, learn more about diplomacy and enjoy the hospitality of OAU, Ile-Ife.” He added.

The Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Prof Charles Ukeje, in his message, thanked UNIC for its support to the University in organising the first IFEMUN conference and commended the students for their commitment and determination to ensuring a successful conference.  He urge

Speaking at the closing ceremony on Saturday, 23 June 2018, Dr Soremekun explained that UNIC Lagos got aggressively involved in Model UN following the launch of UN4MUN by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), New York, to teach MUN teams how to bring their simulations more in line with the way the UN actually works. According to him, many MUNs across the world do not follow the actual rules and practices used at the UN. “It, therefore, became imperative for UNIC Lagos, being the field office of UN-DPI in Nigeria, to ensure quality of MUN conferences in terms of adherence to the rules of procedures of how a typical UN General Assembly, for instance, conducts its affairs.

The National Information Officer added that “Model United Nations (MUN) simulations are popular exercises for those interested in learning more about the UN. It is estimated that more than 400,000 students worldwide participate every year in MUN at all educational levels – from primary school to university. Many of today’s leaders in law, government, business and the arts participated in MUN as students.”

Addressing the delegates, the Secretary General of IFEMUN 2018, Mr Patrick Ojunde, expressed his delight about the quality of discussion by the delegates and expressed his expectation of a better IFEMUN conference next year.

The President of the General Assembly at IFEMUN 2018 conference, Mr Chimezie Judemary Udechukwu, brought the conference to a close at about 5 pm on Saturday 23 June 2018 and adjourned till IFEMUN 2019.

Other facilitators and Committee Chairs at the conference included Mr Adama Joshua Ugbede; Mr Kehinde Odanye; Ms Cynthia Akhagbeme Simeon; Ms Damilola Ifeoluwa Kehinde; Mr Daniel Obiyo; and Ms Daberechi Jewel Ike-Obioha.

We Need Less Hatred – Guterres

“We need less hatred, more dialogue and deeper international cooperation. Multilateralism is more important than ever. Empowering the world’s young people is also an imperative.” This was said by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his message to the first Obafemi Awolowo University Model United Nations (IFEMUN) conference which started on Thursday 21 June 2018. In the message read by the National Information Officer of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) in Nigeria, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, the Secretary General emphasised that “We must do more to enable young people to shape the decisions affecting their lives. Your potential is the world’s potential. As you stand up for our shared values, the United Nations stands with you.”
Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede, reiterated the commitment of the university administration to supporting value-adding activities amongst the students and strengthen the international profile of the institution though the Model United Nations platform. He warmly welcomed all delegates, including those from outside Nigeria, to the conference.
The Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Prof Charles Ukeje, in his remarks thanked UNIC for its support and commended the students for their commitment to hosting the conference.

Respect Each Other’s Rights – UN tells Nigerians

As part of activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has organised a Human Rights commitment ceremony which entailed signing of the Human Rights Pledge board by dignitaries and others. Speaking on the occasion, the National Information Officer of the UNIC Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, called on Nigerians to respect each other’s rights regardless of their differences in language, faith, tribe, geographical location or political affiliation.

According to Dr Soremekun, the UDHR recognises all human beings as equal and enjoins them to act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood. “If everyone respects the other’s rights, the world would be a better place to live.” He noted.

The UDHR, he explained, is the most translated documents in the world having been translated into over 500 languages. “In Nigeria, the UDHR has been translated into Edo, Efik, Ibibio, Hausa, Igbo, Kanuri Yerwa, Tiv, Yoruba and Pidgin English. We have also finalised the translation into Ijaw and  Idoma languages.” He emphasised, “To demonstrate our commitment to inclusiveness, UNIC Lagos has also produced the world’s first complete braille version of the UDHR, which we launched in Abuja in December 2018.”

Dr Soremekun added that the activities marking the 70th anniversary of the UDHR was aimed at promoting the rights enshrined in the Declaration and what the UDHR means in our daily lives; Engaging broad audiences across the country and mobilise people for human rights; as well as reflecting on progress and challenges, and ways that each of us can stand up for human rights.

He therefore led the audience to make the Human Rights Pledge: “I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even I disagree with you. When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up; I will raise my voice; I will take action; I will use my right to stand up for your rights.”

In his remarks, the Zonal Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, South West, Mr Lucas Koyejo, urged the audience who were mainly students, to pay more attention to the provisions of the UDHR, and make conscious efforts to understand and uphold the 30 Articles in the document.

Mrs Tola Akinsanya, representing the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, observed that Human Rights have evolved and classified into first, second and third generation rights, some of which have necessitated sheer political will to ensure full implementation.  According to her, Lagos State remains committed to ensuring that human rights are upheld and access to justice moves from a slogan to reality. She added that the Human Rights pledge would be a catalyst for the enforcement of human rights in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.

The President of Women Arise, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, in her remarks, charged the audience to “stand up for your rights even if you are standing alone.” “Raise your voice, take action. Your right is your right.” She reminded those who trampled on others’ rights to always remember that one day they would have their day in courts.

The Head of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Kwasi Amankwaah emphasised that Human Rights is everybody’s business and “it begins with you”, he added.

The dignitaries and representatives of schools present, took turn to sign the ‘Human Rights Pledge Board’.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the end of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the end of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)

The Secretary-General welcomes the successful conclusion of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on 30 March 2018. 

 
The Secretary-General congratulates the people and Government of Liberia for their determination to turn the page on crisis and conflict. He commends the Government’s continued efforts to ensure sustained peace and sustainable development in Liberia.
 
As UN Peacekeeping departs Liberia, the Secretary-General appreciates the essential contributions of all partners in the Liberian peace process over the years, particularly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose green helmets laid the foundation for United Nations peacekeepers in Liberia.
 
The Secretary-General is appreciative of the excellent leadership of his Special Representative for Liberia, Farid Zarif, thanks all previous leaders of the Mission, and pays tribute to all uniformed and civilian personnel who served with UNMIL. The Secretary-General expresses his profound respect to the memory of the 202 peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace during the nearly 15 years the Mission was deployed in Liberia. He expresses his gratitude to all troop- and police-contributing countries.  
 
The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations family present in Liberia to continuing to support the Government with the implementation of outstanding reform activities with a view to ensuring that the hard-won peace can be sustained and the country and its people will continue to progress and thrive. 
 
Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 30 March 2018

‘Responsibility to protect’ reforms UN Peacekeeping Operations – Kayanja

“The introduction of the responsibility to protect in the United Nations Peacekeeping rules of engagement was a major reform in the UN Peace Keeping Operations.” This assertion was made on Wednesday, 14 February 2018, by the Director of the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja, while engaging International Relations and Political Science students of Covenant University on the topic, “The International Peace Architecture: Challenges for the 21st Century” during their ‘Town and Gown’ lecture.

According to him, following the tragedy of the genocide in Rwanda, the doctrine of responsibility to protect was introduced and it revolutionised UN peacekeeping operations, and saved millions of lives.

Explaining the contribution of the UN to global peace and security, Mr Kayanja noted that the number of wars around the world has decreased as more countries embraced democratic governance; and voices of youth and the marginalised are getting heard.

He noted that Chapter IV of the UN Charter deals with actions with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression. This Chapter, according to him, gives the Security Council where it deems necessary “to take action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security” using forces of Member States but under UN Command.

The Head of Department of International Relations and Political Science, Dr Oluyemi Fayomi, in her welcome address, thanked the UNIC Director and his team which included the National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, and urged the students to tap from Mr Kayanja’s experience.

The Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Message on The International Day of Zero Tolerance For Female Genital Mutilation (6 February)

Female genital mutilation is a gross violation of the human rights of women and girls.

Over 200 million women and girls alive today have experienced female genital mutilation in 30 countries across three continents.

Without concerted, accelerated action, a further 68 million girls could be subjected to this harmful practice by 2030.

With strong political engagement, we are seeing success in several countries. But this progress is not enough to keep up with population growth. Unless we act now, the number of cases will continue to rise.

Sustainable development cannot be achieved without full respect for the human rights of women and girls. Sustainable Development Goal 5, with a focus on gender equality, calls for the elimination of female genital mutilation by 2030.

Together with the European Union, the United Nations has launched the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year undertaking that aims to create strong partnerships and align efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation.

With the dignity, health and well-being of millions of girls at stake, there is no time to waste. Together, we can and must end this harmful practice.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Message On The Olympic Truce For The Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games And Paralympic Winter Games

In one week’s time, the world will gather in PyeongChang in the Republic of Korea, united by the Olympic Spirit: in solidarity; mutual respect; and friendly competition.

The Olympics and Paralympics showcase the best of the world’s athletic achievements, and the best of humanity.

The Olympic Truce, which dates back to Ancient Greece, allows for the safe travel of athletes and spectators, and demands peace among participants during the period when the games take place.

Its fundamental message is that our common humanity can transcend political differences.

This ideal has more resonance than ever on the Korean peninsula.

I call on all parties to conflict to observe the Olympic Truce during the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Let the Olympic Flame shine as a beacon to human solidarity.

Let the Olympic Truce help spread a culture of peace.

We all have responsibility to resist racism and violence – UN

As the world marks the 2018 International Day of Commemoration In Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust today, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has noted that “All of us have a responsibility to quickly, clearly and decisively resist racism and violence. Through education and understanding, we could build a future of dignity, human rights and peaceful coexistence for all.”

Mr Guterres acknowledged in his message delivered in Lagos by the Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja, that decades since the Second World War, “we see the persistence of anti-Semitism and an increase in other forms of prejudice.” He therefore charged everyone that “We must stand together against the normalization of hate. Whenever and wherever humanity’s values are abandoned, we are all at risk.”

Explaining why the UN was commemorating the Day, Mr Kayanja said that it was one of the saddest moments in human history and that was why the UN General Assembly decided that every 27 January, the world should remember the saddest event so that it would not happen again. “We are talking to the students because we do not want a future where a human being kills another human being just because they are different from him or her or they are of different tribes or religions.” He added.

Speaking, the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary of Lagos Education District 1, Dr O. Abiose Ayandele, urged everyone to treat each other as fellow human beings and learn to live in peace and make the world a better place.Th e Tutor General who was represented by the District’s Director of School Administration, Mrs Akor, added that “We are all one created by one and the same God. No one is superior to the other.”

The observance of the 2018 Holocaust Remembrance in Nigeria, organized on Thursday 25 January 2018, by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Lagos Education District 1, turned out to be a great learning experience and lessons in tolerance, seeking peace and shunning prejudice and hatred for 500 secondary school students and 96 teachers from the Education District.

The students, drawn from the 99 secondary Schools in Education District 1, were exposed to a Poster Exhibition titled, “The Butterfly Project: Remembering the Children of the Holocaust”; Film Screening titled, “The Path To Nazi Genocide” and a Quiz Competition on the Holocaust and the United Nations.

It was a brilliant demonstration of knowledge of the Holocaust and the lessons derived therefrom by the students. Explaining his lessons learnt, Daniel Idulagbe (10 years old) of Meiran Community Junior High School Lagos gleefully acknowledged, “I learnt that we should ensure we are not involved in any form of racism, anti-Semitism, prejudice or hatred against anyone.”

According to Akinfewa Boluwatife (12 years old) Alimosho Junior Grammar school), “We should not discriminate against anyone or any religion or belief. There should be no room for intolerance.” Naomi Ifeoluwa Okikiri (14 years old) of Ojokoro Senior High School, Lagos, summarized her lessons learnt: “I learnt that as human beings, we should learn to tolerate our neighbours.”

Curating the Poster Exhibition, the National Information Officer of UNIC Lagos, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, explained that the Poster Exhibition showed what happened to young people, and what happened to their hopes and dreams, during a very difficult time in world history known as the Holocaust.

According to him, “The Nazis were racist and anti-Semitic. The Nazis were anti-Semitic because they were prejudiced against Jewish people. The Nazis believed that people were born inferior or superior depending on the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs.”  This belief, he pointed out to the students, is racist because no person is born a superior or inferior person.

The Quiz competition started with 200 students from 99 schools out of whom 20 students from ten schools qualified for the finals. At the end of the finals the Winners emerged: First place winners were Chigozie Ndubusi and Mosimiloluwa Adebisi (Shasha Senior Community College); Second place were Barakat Adekanbi and Jessica Opara (Ipaja Junior College); while the Third place winners were Augustine Valentine (Stadium Junior Grammar school).

The theme of the Holocaust memorial ceremony is “Holocaust Remembrance and Education: Our Shared Responsibility”. The theme highlights the universal dimension of the Holocaust and encourages education on this tragedy so that future generations will firmly reject all forms of racism, violence and anti-Semitism. The Holocaust was a defining point in history and its lessons have much to teach about the danger of extremism and the prevention of genocide today.

Rejecting any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, the General Assembly adopted a resolution (A/RES/60/7) by consensus condemning “without reserve” all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, whenever they occur.

UN Commits to ‘Leave no One Behind’, Unveils SDGs in Braille

In continuation of its commitment to leaving no one behind in the promotion of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, the United Nations has unveiled the Braille Version of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Initiated and produced by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, the SDGs in Braille was unveiled on Thursday, 11 January 2018 at the closing ceremony of the One-Week Braille Celebration in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Presenting the SDGs Braille to the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Modupe Mujota, the UNIC National Information Officer, Dr Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that in deepening inclusive access to information, UNIC took steps to ensuring that no one is left behind in understanding the global development framework, ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which both the Federal and State Governments have aligned their development priorities.

The National Information Officer, who represented the Director of UNIC Nigeria, Mr Ronald Kayanja,  enjoined the Honourable  Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, to share the SDGs Braille in all the Schools for the Blind in the State. The SDGs Braille, according to him, was aimed at fostering access to information by all and enhancing a sense of inclusiveness amongst the blind.

“The blind are human beings and their rights to education and other rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) must not be denied them. In line with the Salamanca Statement and Framework For Action On Special Needs Education, I call on governments to give the highest policy and budgetary priority to Special Needs Education.” He added. Dr Soremekun later presented to Mrs Mujota, copies of the Braille Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was the world’s first complete UDHR in braille, initiated and produced by UNIC Lagos Nigeria.

Speaking, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, acknowledged that the World Braille Day provided the opportunity to raise awareness about issues mitigating against the education and communication needs of blind persons. “The challenges blind people face in normalisation and inclusion into the mainstream of our society are many. The dearth of reading materials, specialised aids, games and equipment to mention but just a few.” She explained.

Mrs Mujota therefore, called on individuals, corporate bodies and other stakeholders to complement the State Government’s efforts by contributing to the growth of Special Needs Education Institutions.

Welcoming the audience to the occasion, the Director of Special Needs Education, Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr Elijah Akinyemi, commended the Ogun State House of Assembly for the passage of the Ogun Disability Bill on 16 November 2017 and called on Governor Ibikunle Amosun to assent to the bill to realise an inclusive society which provides every citizen of Ogun State the attainment of their inalienable rights.

The high point of the Braille Celebration was the brilliant reading of the SDGs Braille by Ms Ronke Gisanri of the State Ministry of Information, Abeokuta.