Earlier this week a diplomatic breakthrough was reached by rival factions in the ongoing Libyan conflict. During a meeting between the presidents of the house of representatives and the state council, a compromise was brokered by the Italian Foreign Minister and the Italian Ambassador to Libya. Although the specific details of a unity government have yet to be determined, this week’s meeting constitutes a crucial breakthrough following years of fighting, with each side agreeing to ‘reach peaceful and fair solutions…’ Observers have praised the meeting as a crucial first step in the road towards peace and reconciliation in Libya.
After four decades of violence in northeastern Spain, which led to over 800 deaths, Basque Separatist group ETA announced its intention to fully disarm in a letter to the BBC. The announcement was followed by a mass demonstration for peace and the discovery of 3.5 tonnes of weapons in France, where the group had its command and logistical base. ETA’s decision to disarm comes several years after the organization’s unilateral ceasefire in 2011. After the events of the past week, ETA says it is now a ‘disarmed organization.’
In the aftermath of South Africa, Gambia and Burundi’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), several African states have spoken out in defence of the ICC. Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone have all indicated their intentions to remain a part of the Rome Statute and in so doing have reaffirmed their commitment to global justice. As the Foreign Minister of Botswana stated: ‘Pulling out [of the ICC] is not the solution. We should be working towards fixing the court… as the only permanent international criminal tribunal, the ICC is an important unique institution in the international criminal justice system…’
Yesterday was the International Day of Charity, which recognises the role of charity in alleviating human suffering. The day, which coincides with the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa (recently declared a Saint) following her lifelong devotion to poverty alleviation, serves as a call to action for people around the world to volunteer and act charitably to those in need. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon marked the occasion by drawing attention to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the most comprehensive and wide-ranging anti-poverty initiative ever articulated – as a new focal point for charitable activity around the world. As the Secretary-General stated: ‘Charity is one of the best investments we can make in our common future.’
After four decades of violent conflict, the Philippine Government and communist rebels reached an indefinite cease-fire deal on Friday. The agreement, which was brokered by the Government of Norway, represents an historic breakthrough. The deal will provide a foundation for further peace talks as the two sides continue to negotiate a range of political, constitutional, economic and social issues before signing a final deal.
At a time when the number of people displaced by violence, persecution and conflict has reached its highest level since World War II, the Olympic Games in Rio will welcome the first ever refugee Olympic team. According to the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): ‘their participation is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees.’ The team comprises a group of 10 inspiring men and women who will compete under the Olympic flag.
Hundreds of Muslims have attended Catholic Mass following the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in Rouen, France. Members of the Catholic Community were heartened by this demonstration of solidarity, as the Archbishop of Rouen stated: ‘It’s an important gesture of fraternity. They’ve told us, and I think they’re sincere, that it’s not Islam which killed Jacques Hamel.’ Pope Francis has also spoken out in the aftermath of the attack against the identification of Islam with violence: ‘If I speak about Islamic violence, I need to speak about Catholic violence.’
Last week the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon welcomed the first anniversary of Iran’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the progress made towards its implementation. In accordance with this agreement, which was signed last year, Iran pledged that it will not seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons. The deal has been seen as a triumph for conflict resolution, diplomacy, and the global norms of nuclear non-proliferation, as the Secretary-General stated in his remarks: ‘One year on, I remain certain that the JCPOA is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and to realize the great aspirations of the Iranian people.’
On Monday, July 18th, people across the globe celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day by dedicating 67 minutes of their time to help make the world a better place. The 67 minutes signify each year that Nelson Mandela struggled for democracy, social justice and racial equality. All of the actions that were taken on this day – however small or large – were an important acknowledgment of Mandela’s contribution to promoting a culture peace throughout the world.
Despite the pervasiveness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, men and women from both sides have come together to help build a better future for themselves. Working side by side, they have set up and operated hospitals, schools and businesses. These instances of cooperation reveal that ‘however inauspicious a situation, pockets of humanity can always be found.’