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Politically Speaking

Long-term regional stability in the Middle East demands the implementation of a clear political roadmap, says USG DiCarlo


Under-Secretary-General Rosemary A. DiCarlo

Briefing to the Security Council on the

Threats to International Peace and Security

New York, 5 February 2024


Thank you, Madam President.

As we are all too aware, the tensions that have engulfed multiple countries in the Middle East continue to rise. Tragically, this comes as no surprise. The Secretary-General has repeatedly warned about the risks of further escalation and miscalculation in the region since the horrific Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October and the devastating Israeli counteroffensive in Gaza.  

Since mid-October 2023, we have witnessed near daily incidents in the region. These include some 165 attacks on United States facilities in Syria and Iraq, prompting US strikes in the two countries.

Then, on 28 January, a drone attack killed three US service members and injured 40 at a US base known as “Tower 22,” in northeast Jordan, near al-Tanf base in Syria. On 2 February, the US Central Command said it had carried out 85 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against reported Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Forces and affiliated groups.

Syria and Iraq condemned the 2 February strikes, with both governments claiming they had resulted in deaths and injured civilians. The US said it had targeted command and control operations, intelligence centers and weapons facilities, among other sites, and that it was not seeking conflict in the Middle East or elsewhere.

While the Iraqi Government has continued to repeat its commitment to protecting US and coalition forces inside Iraq, some armed factions linked to the “Islamic Resistance in Iraq” have pledged to continue their attacks against US and coalition forces in the region.

Madam President,

The wave of violence since early October involves a large swath of the Middle East. The Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah, along with other non-State armed groups in Lebanon, have exchanged fire across the Blue Line on an almost daily basis since 8 October.

There has been repeated rocket fire over the occupied Golan between Israel and militias reportedly linked to Iran, as well as airstrikes attributed to Israel by the Government of Syria on multiple locations in Syria.

Ongoing Houthi drone and missile attacks and threats to navigation in the Red Sea are deeply worrying and risk both exacerbating the conflict and further impacting international trade, as companies divert ships away from critical maritime routes.

A report on Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea will be shortly before the Council in accordance with resolution 2722 (2024).

Since 11 January, the United States and the United Kingdom, with the backing of six other member states, have launched strikes on Houthi positions in Yemen.

They have occurred consecutively over the last three days. More than 36 targets across 13 locations were reportedly struck on 3 February, including what was described as underground storage facilities, command and control sites, missile systems, UAV storage and operations sites, radars, and helicopters.

An additional missile launch site was reportedly hit on 4 February. Today, sites in Hudaydah were also targeted, including some very close to United Nations offices on the ground.

Madam President,

I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on all parties to step back from the brink and to consider the unbearable human and economic cost of a potential regional conflict.

It has been nearly four months since more than 1,200 Israelis were killed in the attacks by Hamas, with over 250 people taken hostage.

As the Secretary-General said, this has been a period of heartache and anguish for Israelis. I echo the Secretary-General’s call for the immediate and unconditional release of all the hostages.

The past four months have also been heartbreaking and catastrophic for Palestinians civilians in Gaza, where hunger is rampant, disease is spreading and shelter is squalid at best for a vast number of people.

The death toll in the Strip is reported to have surpassed 27,000, mostly women and children. Thousands more are reported missing. The civilian population of Gaza should not pay for the terror unleashed by Hamas.

I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

The risk of escalation in the Middle East, and its potential consequences, was obvious from 7 October.

A quick survey of the agenda of this Council explains why: The UN is supporting political and peace processes throughout the region, in countries emerging, or still suffering, from armed conflict.

The Middle East remains highly volatile. Long-term regional stability demands the implementation of a clear political roadmap in each of these situations.

The Secretary-General continues his extensive outreach to all key stakeholders to urge all parties to take concrete measures to de-escalate tensions, and to work towards sustainable political solutions that aim to resolve, rather than merely manage, longstanding conflicts.

I appeal to the Council to continue to actively engage all concerned parties to prevent further escalation and the worsening of tensions that undermine regional peace and security.

Thank you, Madam President.


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How did UN peacekeeping help in a year marked by war?


The past twelve months have been remarkably challenging. It was “a year of enormous suffering [and] violence,” UN Secretary General António Guterres acknowledged. “Wars are growing in number and ferocity.” Conflict-related deaths reached a 28-year high, with full quarter of humanity living in conflict-affected areas.  

In some of the world’s most deadly conflicts, UN teams worked hard to promote peace and deliver humanitarian assistance, but UN Member States remained polarized and divided and despite the growth in conflict. 

Amidst these challenges, in 2023 88,000 peacekeepers from 125 countries served in 12 missions around the world, partnering to protect and advance peace for millions of people.  They helped support political solutions to conflict, supported ceasefires, protected civilians from violence, protected human rights, and helped to build state capacity in key areas that will help countries maintain security without UN support. They also took on tasks like helping humanitarians deliver aid to communities in need, observing and monitoring, and removing explosive remnants of war to address immediate threats to populations. Fifty-nine of those peacekeepers gave their lives in the service of peace.  

Below are some examples of how peacekeeping is having an impact for people around the world.

Despite this progress, growing division among Member States often limited peacekeeping operations’ ability to perform their vital work. In Mali, the Transitional Government d requested the abrupt withdrawal of the Mission after a decade of work. 

The remaining missions cannot succeed alone. In 2024, they will work to strengthen performance, and find innovative solutions to rapidly evolving challenges. But their success depends on whether the UN membership is willing to harness the power of multilateral solutions. With Member State support, peacekeeping has led to extraordinary results over its 75-year history, transforming countries such as Cambodia, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Timor Leste. Only working together can we continue be a force for peace for the millions of people in the world who depend on the Blue Helmets every day.

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Peacekeeping Chief visits UN peacekeeping missions in the Middle East working to prevent a further escalation of conflict


This January, the Under-Secretary-General for UN Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, visited the three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East that are helping prevent further escalation of conflict in the region. The visit is one that he conducts regularly, but, on this occasion, it took place during an extraordinarily challenging time.

Mr. Lacroix’ visited the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan, whose presence is critical to supervising the implementation of the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. Lacroix met with the UNDOF leadership and peacekeepers, as well as senior Syrian Government officials.

Mr. Lacroix also visited the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL),  where he met with Lebanese political and military leaders to discuss the important role of UNIFIL in supporting de-escalation across the Blue Line in southern Lebanon. He stressed the need for all actors to cease fire, recommit to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, and work toward a durable political and diplomatic solution, warning that the risk of a larger and more devastating conflict increases with the continuation of exchanges of fire each day. 

The USG’s final stop was the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Jerusalem. UNTSO was established to supervise the implementation of the 1949 Israeli-Arab Armistice Agreements. Its work today includes liaising with governmental authorities, primarily military and security, to assist the parties to the Agreements in the supervision and observance of the terms of the remaining Armistice Agreements and deploying military observers to serve in Observer Groups Golan and Lebanon to assist in the implementation of the mandates of UNDOF and UNIFIL. In meetings with Israeli government and military officials, he discussed the work of UNIFIL, UNDOF and UNTSO.

Together, UNIFIL and UNDOF peacekeepers, with the support of UNTSO military observers, are working to de-escalate tensions in the region and are continuing to operate under very challenging conditions. The USG thanked the peacekeepers, past and present, for their service and commitment to the UN’s peace efforts.

Read more about the USG’s visit on UNDOF and UNIFIL’s websites.


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New UNOWAS Top Official Stresses Importance of Trust in Peacebuilding Efforts

Politically Speaking Politically Speaking

3 June

As the UN marks 75 years of its special political missions, Politically Speaking has been talking with the Secretary-General’s Representatives and Envoys about their current work and how they view the future of diplomacy for peace.

On 2 May, 2023, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Leonardo Santos Simão of Mozambique as his new Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and Chairman of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission. Politically Speaking sat down with him to discuss his new role and the importance of multilateral efforts in the region.

How does your previous experience prepare you for this role with UNOWAS?

Watch video: Special Representative of the Secretary General Leonardo Santos Simão

While pointing out that “you never know how prepared you are until you face the real challenge in the field,” Special Representative Simão noted that the West African and Sahel regions were experiencing issues that he had faced in other situations in his career. Most notable among these issues was the lack of trust in countries experiencing conflict. “People do not trust each other. Negative emotions are involved, tensions are there,” he said. “So before you can help the countries to build a common solution, you have to lower the level of tensions, the level of negative emotions and sentiments like hatred or mistrust.”

In the current global context, how should multilateral diplomacy adapt?

Underlining that “multilateralism is always fundamental,” the Special Representative went on to highlight its importance in dynamic settings such as Africa, which is experiencing rapid demographic changes. The younger generation, he said, is now in the majority, and they are better educated and have more access to information than ever before. As a result, they have elevated expectations in relation to what their governments have to deliver. The same was true of another demographic segment, that of women, who now have increased opportunity for participation. With these changes in mind, he highlighted that “multilateral institutions are key to support countries navigate through these waters.”

Watch video: In the current global context how should multilateral diplomacy adapt?


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“Diplomacy Is the Best Way to Solve Conflicts,” Says Special Representative Massieu

Politically Speaking   Politically Speaking

Apr 19

As the UN marks 75 years of its special political missions, Politically Speaking talks with the Secretary-General’s Representatives and Envoys about their current work and how they view the future of diplomacy for peace.

Ahead of his latest briefing to the Security Council, Special Representative Carlos Ruiz Massieu updated Politically Speaking on the Colombian peace process and shared his thoughts on the fundamental role multilateral diplomacy continues to play.

What was your main message to the Security Council on the current situation in Colombia?


Watch videoSpecial Representative of the Secretary General for Colombia ahead of his Security Council briefing

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia shares his view on diplomacy for peace

Speaking of his message to the Security Council on 13 April, Special Representative Massieu stressed that the 15-member organ’s continued support of the peace process was crucial, and that “unanimous support has been a strong element of our standing in the country.”


In the current global context, is there still a role for multilateral diplomacy?


Watch videoSpecial Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia shares his view on diplomacy for peace

He said that Colombia has shown that dialogue is the most effective way to “reach an agreement, to solve conflict” and to sort through all the obstacles in the way of full implementation of a peace agreement.

Watch the Security Council briefing here and read Special Representative Massieu’s full remarks here.


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“There Is a Continued Need for Multilateralism,” Says Special Envoy for Yemen

Politically Speaking  Politically Speaking

Apr 17

As the UN marks 75 years of its special political missions, Politically Speaking talks with the Secretary-General’s Representatives and Envoys about their current work and how they view the future of diplomacy for peace.

Ahead of his latest briefing to the Security Council, Special Envoy Hans Grundberg discussed the importance of coherent international support for peacebuilding efforts, both in Yemen and around the world.


Watch video: Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Hans Grundberg 


Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Hans Grundberg

Watch the full interview with Politically Speaking above, in which the Special Envoy underscores that he sees “a real momentum” gathering in Yemen, which should be harnessed to advance the prospects for a political solution.



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USG Lacroix updates Romanian defence minister Angel Tîlvăr on UN peacekeeping (A4P+) on the margins of informal EU defence ministerial in Stockholm, Sweden, 08 March 2023


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Mali : des experts réclament une enquête sur d’éventuels crimes commis par les forces maliennes et Wagner


MINUSMA Marco Dormino

Une responsable des droits de l'homme de la MINUSMA, la mission de stabilisation de l'ONU au Mali, s'entretien avec des Maliens..

31 janvier 2023   Paix et sécurité

Des experts indépendants de l’ONU ont appelé, mardi, à une enquête indépendante sur des violations flagrantes des droits humains et « d’éventuels crimes de guerre et crimes contre l’humanité commis depuis 2021 au Mali par les forces gouvernementales et la société paramilitaire russe, Wagner ».

« Nous sommes particulièrement préoccupés par des informations crédibles selon lesquelles, au cours de plusieurs jours fin mars 2022, les forces armées maliennes accompagnées de militaires soupçonnés d’appartenir au groupe Wagner, ont exécuté plusieurs centaines de personnes, qui avaient été rassemblées à Moura, un village dans le centre du Mali », ont fait valoir les experts onusiens, relevant avoir directement fait part de leurs préoccupations aux autorités maliennes.

Aussi depuis 2021, ces experts indépendants mandatés par le Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies, ont reçu des « récits persistants et alarmants d’exécutions horribles, de charniers, d’actes de torture, de viols et de violences sexuelles ».

Ce pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest aurait noué un partenariat avec des combattants du groupe russe Wagner en 2021 pour l’aider à combattre les groupes armés djihadistes, qui mènent une insurrection depuis dix ans et qui s’est étendue aux pays voisins.

Nous sommes troublés par l’augmentation apparente d’attribution de fonctions militaires traditionnelles au groupe Wagner dans diverses       opérations militaires

Selon les experts, les rapports font état aussi « de pillages, de détentions arbitraires et de disparitions forcées perpétrés par les forces armées maliennes et leurs alliés dans la région de Mopti et ailleurs, dans le contexte des hostilités en cours ».

La plupart des victimes appartenaient à la minorité peule

Outre les membres du Groupe de travail sur l’utilisation de mercenaires et du Groupe de travail sur les disparitions forcées, ce texte est notamment signé par Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Rapporteure spéciale sur la lutte antiterroriste ;  Alice Jill Edwards, Rapporteure spécial sur la torture; et Reem Alsalem, Rapporteure spéciale sur la violence contre les femmes.

Ils estiment que la plupart des victimes appartenaient à la minorité peule.

« Nous sommes troublés par l’augmentation apparente d’attribution de fonctions militaires traditionnelles au groupe Wagner dans diverses opérations militaires, y compris des opérations définies comme antiterroristes, notamment à Nia Ouro, Gouni et Fakala », ont détaillé les experts.

Les victimes de Wagner sont confrontées à de nombreux défis pour accéder à la justice et à des réparations pour les violations des droits humains, y compris les violences sexuelles, et les crimes commis à leur encontre, en particulier en raison du secret et de l’opacité qui entourent les activités de ce groupe au Mali, ont-ils ajouté.

Plus largement, les experts invitent Bamako à faire preuve de la plus grande vigilance pour « interdire la participation directe aux hostilités de tous les individus opérant sur son territoire ».

« L’utilisation de mercenaires, d’acteurs assimilés à des mercenaires et de sociétés militaires et de sécurité privées ne fait qu’exacerber le cycle de violence et d’impunité qui prévaut dans le pays », ont encore insisté les experts, critiquant « le manque de transparence et l’ambiguïté sur le statut juridique du groupe Wagner ».

S’ajoutent à cela les représailles contre ceux qui osent s’exprimer, créant « un climat général de terreur pour les victimes et d’impunité totale pour les abus de Wagner » dans ce pays du Sahel central.


Les rapporteurs spéciaux et experts indépendants font partie de ce que l'on appelle les procédures spéciales du Conseil des droits de l'homme. Les procédures spéciales, le plus grand organe d'experts indépendants du système des droits de l'homme des Nations unies, est le nom général des mécanismes indépendants d'enquête et de surveillance du Conseil qui traitent de situations spécifiques à des pays ou de questions thématiques dans toutes les régions du monde. Les experts des procédures spéciales travaillent sur une base volontaire ; ils ne font pas partie du personnel des Nations unies et ne reçoivent pas de salaire pour leur travail. Ils sont indépendants de tout gouvernement ou organisation et servent à titre individuel.


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