How are we doing on the Millennium Development Goals?
Check out our @Flipagram Countdown video:
The Mission covers a wide range of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's objectives from the peaceful settlements of disputes to protecting the environment, from respect for human rights to promoting sustainable development.
Check out our @Flipagram Countdown video:
We now need the whole world though to step up to deliver a new, ambitious, global deal which keeps the 2 degree goal within reach. I’ll be pushing European Union leaders to come to Paris with an offer to cut emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030.
A key priority for the UK government at UNGA will be building broad-based support for the new Iraqi government and for international action to confront ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and tackle Islamic extremism. Read about the UK government response to ISIL.
Alongside the Prime Minister, ministers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development are attending UNGA.
There will be events and discussions about how the international community tackles the threat from ISIL and foreign fighters; as well as climate change, Ebola, the post-2015 development agenda and how we secure an EU-US trade deal.
Follow these Twitter accounts to get the latest from UNGA:
Find out more about the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly on the UN website.
We have just returned to New York after a packed final day, including meeting two Presidents, one Prime Minister and at least four foreign ministers.
It has been an ambition of mine to lead the Security Council to Somalia since I started as British Ambassador to the UN five years ago. And I was delighted to realise that ambition on Wednesday.
We met President Hassan Sheikh and Prime Minister Abdiweli, and our message to them was clear: The international community has invested a great deal in Somalia. With that investment comes high expectations. And I have to say, I was impressed by the unity we saw between the President, government, Parliament and the international community. This will be essential to maintain progress in a country recovering from two decades of civil war.
Photo: Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant with the President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the Prime Minster Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed and the Nigerian Deputy Permanent Representative Usman Sarki.
The UK recently reopened our embassy in Mogadishu. I was proud that we hosted the Security Council and leaders from the security sector for a working lunch at the Embassy. The lunch gave all Council members a chance to pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery and sacrifices shown by the AU’s military Mission (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army in their ongoing campaign against Al Shabaab.
Photo: Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and the Nigerian Deputy Permanent Representative Usman Sarki address press at conclusion of UNSC visit to Somalia, alongside Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia, Nick Kay.
We also had the chance to engage with some inspirational women’s groups doing extraordinary work to promote the participation of women across the board in Somali society.
Photo: Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant chairing a meeting on women peace and security with civil society and the Minister for Women and Human Rights Khadijo Mohamed Diriye.
On Wednesday evening we met President Kenyatta and IGAD Ministers in Nairobi to discuss primarily the crisis in South Sudan. I was heartened that the Security Council and the region are on the same page in dealing with this terrible crisis: the fighting must stop, agreement must be reached, or there will be consequences.
Arriving back in New York I have two main reflections on this trip. Firstly, the Council has to be more proactive in stopping conflict from happening in the first place. We should not wait for a crisis before we act. Secondly, time and time again we heard about the importance of accountability. A conflict can only be finally ended if justice is served: those who are responsible for a crisis must face the consequences of their actions.
I hope you have found my blog of interest. We now return to New York with a very busy to do list, starting with Iraq, Gaza and eastern Ukraine.
The Council has just left South Sudan. We do so with heavy hearts. Yesterday’s visit was the first time the Council has visited the world’s youngest country since its independence. My US colleague, Samantha Power, termed this part of the trip an ‘emergency visit’. It certainly was. Since December 2013 South Sudan has been torn apart by fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar: we engaged with both, as well as visiting a UN camp for displaced people.
Photo: UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant and US Ambassador Samantha Powers address press following meeting with President Kiir
Our messages to the President and Riek Machar were clear: the violence must stop and both must show leadership. Neither can be in any doubt as to the Council’s collective resolve on this issue. There will be consequences for those who undermine the peace process. The statistics are truly alarming: 50,000 children face acute malnutrition; 1.3m people are internally displaced; and the prospect of famine looms large, with 3.9m people requiring emergency food assistance. What is most shocking of all is that this crisis is entirely man made.
Yesterday afternoon we visited a camp for internally displaced people. It was in Malakal, in the north of the country, which has seen some of the worst fighting of the crisis. The UN is doing its best to cope with the huge numbers of refugees. But the conditions in the camp were extremely tough, with over 17,000 people living side by side one another. Conditions have been made even worse with the onset of the rainy season. When we spoke to them they had a simple wish: to return to their homes without fearing for their lives.
Photo: IDP Camp in Malakal, South Sudan
This trip is also focussing on what more the Council can do to support the inclusion of women in peace processes. Yesterday we heard from both IDPs and civil society on their ideas for ways of improving women’s involvement, including improving the representation of women in South Sudan’s peace talks. We will follow this up when we return to New York.
Photo: Resident of IDP camp talks to Council members about need for peace and security
The Council has now left Juba, and I hope our clear messages on the futility of fighting will make a difference for the people of this young nation. We now move to the final day of our trip, which includes a meeting with IGAD Foreign Ministers in Nairobi. I will update the blog again as soon as I can. Keep following #UNSCTrip on twitter for regular updates from the trip.
We have just left The Hague, in the Netherlands: the world capital of international justice. We spent time with the courts and tribunals based there, looking at how the Security Council could enhance its relationship with them. We also spent time with the Dutch Government, including Prime Minister Rutte, with whom we discussed the tragic MH17 disaster.
I was particularly struck by our discussion with the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ is the main judicial organ of the United Nations. And yesterday’s meeting in The Hague was the first between the ICJ and the Council. The Court has an impressive record in the peaceful settlement of disputes between States. And much of our discussion resonated with what the Council saw in Belgium: we have to do more to settle disputes around the table, not the battlefield. Arbitration can and does work.
Photo: The UN Security Council and members of the Courts and Tribunals
Another key theme of our discussions was accountability. There can be no lasting peace without justice. That is why organisations such as the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are so important. There can be no place for impunity in conflict. Without justice for the victims we can never break the vicious cycle of conflict.
Our discussions with Prime Minister Rutte on the MH17 disaster were particularly moving. Prime Minister Rutte welcomed the Council’s adoption of resolution 2166, which demanded access to the crash site for international investigators. But it was heartbreaking to hear that the Dutch government has still not been able to recover all of the bodies of their citizens who lost their lives. Before leaving, I had the honour of laying a wreath at a very moving public memorial in Schiphol Airport, on behalf of the Security Council.
The Council now leaves for Africa for a packed programme. I will keep this blog up to date as we go. You can also keep track of the trip using #UNSCTrip.
Photo: Statue of Justice at the Peace Palace in The Hague
As part of the UK’s presidency of the Security Council for August we have taken the Council on a short trip overseas. I thought there may be some interest in finding out what we are up to, so I will be blogging as the trip unfolds.
The first stop on our trip was Belgium, where we arrived on Saturday morning. August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. And well over half the members of the Security Council represent countries which were involved in WWI.
This short blog cannot do justice to everything we did, but I wanted to record three personal highlights.
On Saturday afternoon the University of Leuven hosted the Council for a roundtable on war and conflict. We discussed the changing nature of conflict, and the failure of the international community to prevent the Second World War, coming as it did, so quickly after WWI. I was asked if the Security Council had existed at that time, whether it would have prevented WWI. My answer: it certainly could have. WWI came about after a slow build up, and war was not inevitable. There would have been time for diplomacy.
Photo: Academics Roundtable on conflict at Leuven University
On Saturday evening I had the honour of laying a wreath, along with my Australian colleague, at the Menin Gate in Ieper. This was a truly humbling experience: 54,896 allied troops are commemorated by name on the Menin Gate. These are victims whose remains were never found and have no separate grave. The Gate is a tribute to them and all who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom. We laid the wreath after the playing of the Last Post - something which has been done at the Menin Gate every single day at 8pm since 1928.
Photo: Wreath laying at Menin Gate in Ieper
Today we visited a multinational cemetery in Lyssenthoek. The cemetery is particularly special, being the final resting place for over 10,000 victims of WWI from 30 different countries. Over 7,000 of the graves are British. It was an awe inspiring sight. We can never forget how much we owe those who went before us.
Photo: Lyssenthoek Military Cemetery.
As we leave Belgium I have two principal reflections. Firstly, my colleagues on the Council have all been struck by enormity of what came to pass here. And secondly, the conversations which we have had in Belgium this weekend are strikingly similar to the ones we have every day in New York: the impact of terrorism; dealing with mass atrocities; the use of chemical welcomes; protection of civilians - to name but a few. When I return to New York, therefore, I will do so ready to redouble our collective efforts to ensure the Council does more to stop conflicts from ever happening in the first place.