An initiative of Stimson, the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA), the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and the United States Institute of Peace, this roundtable — held on 17 January 2019 at the Stimson Center — brought together former and current U.S. government and UN officials, scholars, policy analysts, activists, and practitioners to discuss the UN’s experience, over the past decade, with mediation, peacebuilding, sanctions, and special envoys. Please find a summary note of major highlights and recommendations here.
Victoria Holt (Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs) moderated the dialogue, which began initially with a conversation with Lynn Pascoe (Member, UNA-NCA Board of Directors and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia) and Jeffrey Feltman (Visiting Fellow, Brookings and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs).
The assembled participants then engaged Ms. Holt and Ambassadors Feltman and Pascoe in a robust dialogue, which honored the Chatham House Rule.
According to the World Bank, roughly two billion people are affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. With high population growth rates and weak economic development, almost 50% of those living in extreme poverty by 2030 will be concentrated in violence-prone areas (rising from 17% of the global total today). As part of a series on the future of United Nations-led or supported mediation, peacebuilding, sanctions, and special envoys, the roundtable highlighted the first-hand experience of two former United Nations Under-Secretaries-General for Political Affairs with major country and regional engagements; it further considered recent advances and the reforms still needed to address crises, to improve the UN’s conflict management toolbox, and to maximize U.S. collaboration with the world body.
The gathering explored five main topics: United Nations (1) Mediation, (2) Peacebuilding, (3) Sanctions, (4) Special Envoys, and (5) Reform, giving special attention to the relevance of U.S. foreign policy interests and values in connection with these issues.
For more on the UN peacebuilding series and related resources: Click Here
Roundtable Conversation on “Qatar and the Greater Middle East at a Crossroads”
On 5 February 2019, H.E. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, visited Stimson for a high-level roundtable moderated by Ellen Laipson, Distinguished Fellow and President Emeritus of Stimson. The discussion underscored issues considered during the second Strategic Dialogue between the State of Qatar and the United States, held in January in Doha, Qatar.
The Strategic Dialogue focused on regional security and defense cooperation (including establishing a Middle East Strategic Alliance between the United States and its Gulf and regional partners), education and culture, law enforcement and counterterrorism partnerships, commercial and energy cooperation, and labor issues.
In addition, roundtable considered the recent progress on peace negotiations, also held in January in Doha, between the United States and the Taliban, in advance of direct talks with the Government of Afghanistan. The roundtable also explored the State of Qatar’s commitment to the United Nations and ways to further strengthen the world body.
New PGA and S-G Priorities on the Road to 2020
The President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, outlined her 2019 priorities on 15 January 2019 to UN Member States: Click Here
On the Road to 2020 and the UN 75, Ms. Espinosa Garcés proclaims:
“First, I would like to start with the revitalization of the United Nations in order to strengthen a multilateral rule-based world order. … I would like to point out to the importance of the upcoming celebration of the 75thanniversary of the creation of the United Nations. I will appoint in the coming weeks co-facilitators to engage with you on details related to the theme, date and modalities of the commemoration event.”
The next day, on 16 January 2019, the UN Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres, presented his 2019 priorities to the UN General Assembly: Click Here
“First and foremost, to fight climate change … Second, just as we need to make a strong contribution to climate change, we need to step up our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. … Third, the new technologies that can help this work are also outpacing our ability to reckon with their profound impacts. … Across this work, across the world, what really matters is people – ‘we the peoples’. And what guides us is a set of values – the universal values of the United nations. Peace. Justice. Human Dignity. Tolerance. Solidarity. Today, those values are under attack around the globe. An ideological battle is taking place. Most disturbingly, we hear the troubling, hateful echoes of eras long past, and noxious views moving into the mainstream.”
And here is the Secretary-General’s place on the web related to the implementation of his current three tracks of United Nations reform (peace & security, development, and management issues): CLICK HERE
NEWS UPDATE: On 13 February 2019, the PGA, Ms. Espinosa Garcés, appointed H.E. Mr. Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore and H.E. Ms. Bergdis Ellertsdottir, Permanent Representative of Iceland, as co-facilitators to lead the intergovernmental consultations on the date and modalities related to the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations.
Other JS2020 program highlights in January-February 2019
- On 12 January 2019, Dr. Richard Ponzio led a discussion on “The Future of Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding, and Disarmament” with the Workable World Trust-Citizens for Global Solutions Book Club.
- On 25 January 2019, Dr. Ponzio delivered a talk on “The United Nations in Syria and the Future of UN Peacebuilding” to the United Nations Association-National Capital Area Graduate Fellow Program at the UN Foundation.
- Finally, during the Common Home for Humanity Conference from 2-4 February 2019 at the University of Porto, Dr. Ponzio made a presentation on “Just Security, Climate Governance, and the Together First Campaign.”