This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
UN chief praises peaceful Colombia protests, condemns violence
Secretary-General António Guterres is following developments in Colombia closely, and has acknowledged the “largely peaceful spirit” that characterized last week’s protest marches, as well as the Government’s effort to proceed with a national dialogue, his spokesperson has said.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Bogota and other cities in a nationwide general strike critical of President Ivan Duque, voicing complaints over proposed labour reform, and reported killings of indigenous leaders, as well as allegations of corruption which has marred the South American nation for generations.
The UN chief welcomed the peaceful nature of the 21 November strike, but also expressed concern for incidents of violence and vandalism, including an attack late on Sunday that left three police officers dead, and injured others.
Mr. Guterres expressed support for President Duque’s announcement to embark on a national conversation and has called on all actors to refrain from violence, exercise maximum restraint and engage in peaceful dialogue.
UN Mission, community leaders, condemn South Sudan rioting
Community leaders issued an apology on Monday after rioting on 21 November by “drunken youth” within a UN Protection of Civilians site run by UNMISS in South Sudan, left two dead and eight UN personnel injured, including five police officers.
Last Thursday’s clashes erupted between intoxicated youth in the northern town of Bentiu, and when UN police from the Mission attempted to intercede and restore order, the rioters turned on the officers, pelting them with stones and sticks.
UN Protection of Civilians sites, or PoCs, serve to provide sanctuary to people fleeing violence and conflict, thus, “it is unacceptable for community members to commit violence against each other or against peacekeepers who do their best to provide protection to vulnerable displaced families”, UNMISS said in a statement.
With the assistance of community leaders, the Mission is launching an investigation into the rioting, including a probe into the deaths.
Mine action champion, Norway hosts anti-landmine summit
To Oslo Norway now, where over 700 mine action experts and survivors from around the world have gathered to reduce the growing number of civilians maimed or killed by landmines, with the goal of seeing a mine-free world.
The Scandinavian country is hosting what is the world’s largest gathering of its kind, during which delegates will assess the Mine Ban Convention, a 20-year-old pact which includes 164 countries.
So far, 52 million anti-personnel mines have been destroyed under the convention, allowing millions of square metres of once contaminated land, to be used again.
Though capital city Oslo is 2,000 kilometres away from the nearest minefield, Norway is championing the ban on the “indiscriminate weapons”, the Norwegian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Hans Battskar said, having hosted the Convention’s adoption in 1977.
In addition, for 25 years Norway has been supporting the UN Mine Action effort and is one of the top five donors, having contributed $40 million up to the beginning of this year.
From the 25 to 29 November, the Conference is tasked with studying requests by countries to extend mine clearance deadlines, discussion and adoption of the Oslo Action plan, a roadmap to a mine-free world by 2025, as well as the Oslo Political Declaration, which strengthens commitment by members to the Convention.
Natalie Hutchison, UN News.