Today I asked President of the UN Security Council Olof Skoog on behalf of @CIVICUSalliance member @Awwad_Nouhad what the council is doing to protect civilians in Gaza. Watch here: https://t.co/Ys1NkuQT3s— Lyndal Rowlands (@LyndalRowlands) July 3, 2018
We were very pleased with the warm response to our first open call for CIVICUS members to submit questions to be posed to the President of the UN Security Council. In total we received questions from 24 members about the council’s work in places including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Malawi, Nigeria, Palestine and Syria, as well as the situation for refugees in Europe.
CIVICUS NY posed questions on behalf of 3 members related to the situation in Burundi and the situation in Gaza. You can watch the video of the briefing here (English). The questions from CIVICUS members and responses from Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations are included below. We also wish to thank the World Federation of United Nations Association for organising this monthly briefing.
Question 1 - On behalf of Lebanese youth activist Nouhad Awwad Founder of Nature’s Advocate and an Ambassador at Arab Youth Sustainable Development Network @Awwad_Nouhad
(Read by Lyndal Rowlands, CIVICUS NY Office)
How does the UN security council plan to protect the civilians in Palestine and especially Gaza against attacks from the Israeli army? The last month was particularly devastating. Additionally, how does the council plan to support the Human Rights Council investigation into deadly shootings of Gaza protestors by Israeli forces.
On Gaza, well we share the concern on the situation in Gaza of course and I’m sure that you have heard our speaking up against the violence there and the use of force against innocent civilians. Again we will continue to do that. Again we will also try to work with the special envoy Mr Mladenov who has presented a few thoughts on how we can de-escalate the situation there. We want the Security Council to support there and i think that there are also things that can be done in terms of the humanitarian relief of the situation in Gaza, pending a peace negotiation that has to include an improvement of the situation for the people in Gaza. We have also committed very strongly for supporting UNRWA in their support to Palestinian refugees not just in Gaza but elsewhere. We are disappointed with countries that are moving away from that commitment so it’s important that others come in and that those who have committed stay committed.
Question 2 - On behalf of two Burundian human rights defenders
(Read by Mandeep Tiwana, CIVICUS NY Office)
Although Burundi is not on the top of the council’s agenda there is the Security Council resolution 2248 which was adopted in 2015 which requires the government to guarantee human rights and fundamental freedoms, however the situation in Burundi remains grave at the moment and civic space remains completely closed. In fact New laws have been adopted further curtailing civic space, and human rights defenders have been sentenced to up to 32 years in prison. How is the council ensuring that resolution 2248 is upheld? What can the council do now, with the least delay, to ensure that the Burundian government lives up to its commitments.
On Burundi, it is on the Security Council agenda, it’s just that we have not scheduled it this month (current program of work) and that is partly because there is a sequence here that puts it on the agenda in August, so I mean that’s a pretty lame answer to be honest, given the situation as you describe but it’s just that unfortunately the situation in the world is such that we also have to prioritise. I’m not saying that Burundi’s not important I’m just saying that we’re overwhelmed, with situations that are relating to human rights violations and international law, but thank you for reminding us about the human rights situation in Burundi and we’ll see if there is a way that we can raise this somehow.
We plan to continue our advocacy with the council both through monthly calls for questions from members to pose at these briefings as well as through other opportunities throughout each month!