Newswire : World leaders flock to U.N. ‘Peace Summit” to rebuke ‘America First’ and unveil statue honoring Mandela

 Pres. C. Ramaphosa of South Africa at left and UN Secy Gen. A. Guterres on right unveil statue of Nelson

Mandela Sept. 24, 2018 (GIN) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa couldn’t be prouder as he unveiled a life-size statue of Nelson Mandela on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly and the opening of a day-long ‘peace summit’ with nearly 160 scheduled speakers . The statue is a gift to the United Nations from South Africa. “The people of our country, united in their diversity, revere Nelson Mandela as the founding father of our democratic nation,” he said to a gathering of U.N. delegates, “whose life, sacrifices and extraordinary contribution to freedom continues to inspire successive generations.” Mandela’s arms are outstretched, as if to embrace people everywhere. The Nelson Mandela Peace Summit marks the centenary of Mandela’s birth. The years 2019-2028 will be declared the “Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace,” and world leaders will be asked to “redouble efforts to pursue international peace and security, development and human rights”. This year also marks President Ramaphosa’s inaugural participation in the General Assembly as head of state where he will outline South Africa’s domestic and foreign policy goals including the long-awaited land reform program. The original plan, including expropriation without compensation, appears to be headed for an uphill battle with some economists saying this would violate the Constitution. Shortly after the statue unveiling, President Donald Trump arrived in the building and made a brief appearance at a separate event on fighting the global scourge of illegal drugs. According to the IRIN news agency, heads of delegations were told to sign a non-negotiable text to appear at the photo-op with Trump. At least 124 agreed, but several high-profile holdouts refused, and the EU has drawn up its own dueling letter. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged the world is far from achieving Mandela’s ideals which also include human rights and global cooperation. “Today, with human rights under growing pressure around the world, we would be well served by reflecting on the example of this outstanding man,” Guterres said referring to Madiba. “We need to face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied.” Pres. Trump will also preside over a Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

Newswire : South African conservationist tapped to head U. N. panel on biodiversity for World Environmental Day

South African school childfren for Environment Day

South African school children supporting World Environmental Day

June 4, 2018 (GIN) – U.N. activities for World Environment Day on June 6 will be focused this year on plastic pollution. Marked every year since 1974, the day is celebrated in over 100 countries.

Dr. Luthando Dziba, managing executive for conservation services at South African National Parks (SANParks) has been appointed to the UN body on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Dr Dziba, who studied at Utah State University and Fort Hare University in the U.S., says he’s looking forward to engaging with people worldwide in finding solutions for the sustainability of the world’s natural assets.

In a video marking the June 5 event, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that “our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Every year, more than eight million tons end up in the oceans.” That leaves virtually nowhere on earth untouched, with the potential that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.

Nearly every African country, including the island nations sensitive to the impact of plastics on their ecosystems, has events marking the day. There are beach cleanups in Cape Verde, student plastic-bag pickups in Burkina Faso, a university campus cleanup in Angola, and educational workshops in South Africa.

Volunteers in Djibouti will head out to clean up the coastline along the Gulf of Aden, while across the continent their counterparts in Sierra Leone will focus on cleaning up their Atlantic Ocean shores.

“Today provides an opportunity for each of us to embrace the many ways that we can combat plastic pollution around the world,” said Dr. Richard Munang, an Africa climate change and development policy expert for the UN Environmental Program based in Kenya.

UNEP chief Erik Solheim called plastic pollution a form of violence against the planet.

In Nigeria, community partners are offering free bus rides in exchange for turning in a single-use plastic item for recycling as part of the #waste4ride campaign. And in Malawi, participants will learn how to build benches out of bricks made from the plastics.

For more information about World Environment Day and how to participate, visit the website: worldenvironmentday.global/en/get-involved/find-event

Newswire : Rwandans ‘remember, renew and unite’ on anniversary of genocide

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Rwandan people observe anniversary of 1994 genocide

Apr. 9, 2018 (GIN) – Rwandans at home and abroad marked the April 1994 Genocide that took the lives of more than a million Rwandans in just 100 days.

In Kenya, hundreds of Rwandan citizens held a procession in Nairobi. Ambassador James Kimonyo said the walk offered a time to reflect on what happened in 1994, why it happened and what they should do to ensure that the incident does not happen again.

Marking the anniversary in Nigeria, Rwandan High Commissioner Stanislas Kamanzi praised the resilience of the Rwandan spirit that has aided the reconciliation and development of the nation.

At home in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame and the dean of the foreign diplomatic corps laid a wreath at the mass grave that houses more than 250,000 remains of the genocide victims.

On Saturday, Apr. 7, hundreds of youth joined in a “Walk to Remember” from the Rwandan parliamentary building to Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali for a candlelight service.

The activities officially last a week, but the commemoration continues up to July 4. No form of entertainment is allowed during the main commemoration week from April 7 to 13.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commented: “States have a fundamental responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”.

“It is imperative that we unite to prevent such atrocities from occurring, and that the international community sends a strong message to perpetrators that they will be held accountable. To save people at risk, we must go beyond words.

“Today, we remember all those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of the survivors, who have shown that reconciliation is possible, even after a tragedy of such monumental proportions.

The head of the National Commission for Fight against Genocide, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, restated that the massacre began long before the 100 days when former president Habyarimana began using anti-Tutsi rhetoric to consolidate his power.

“Even those who don’t commemorate with us know the truth,” said President Kagame. “As we say in Kinyarwanda, ‘truth goes through fire and remains intact’.”