May 13, 2021
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“The lesson we must learn from her tragic death is that we need to work even harder to spread enlightenment and tolerance, and to overcome extremism and intolerance,” Mr. Annan said in the Nadia Younes Memorial Lecture at the American University in Cairo.The attack which killed Ms. Younes, a 33-year veteran of UN service, along with the top UN envoy in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello and 20 others, was not resistance to foreign occupation but murder and terrorism, he declared.”If anything can make such murders even worse, it is the fact that they appear to be part of a deliberate strategy to foster division and hatred, both within Iraq and in the wider world. The objective, it seems, is to turn Muslims not only against the west but against each other,” he said.”We must break free from these cycles of violence and exclusion, which are stifling the human spirit. But we cannot do so by replying in kind. If we respond blindly to violence with violence, to anathema with anathema, to exclusion with exclusion, we will be accepting the logic of the very people we seek to defeat, and thereby helping them win new converts to their ideas,” he added.”On the contrary, we must respond to their logic with our own logic – the logic of peace, of reconciliation, of inclusion and mutual respect. We must resolve, even more firmly, to build nations within which people of different communities can coexist, and enjoy equal rights.”Such resolve entails making the Middle East “a region where all nations, including Israelis and Palestinians, can live side by side in peace and justice, each in their own state, within secure and recognized boundaries, free from threats or acts of force,” Mr. Annan said.It entails, too, building a world in which no nation or community will be punished collectively for the crimes of some of its members, in which no religion will be demonized for the aberrations of some of its adherents, in which there will be no ‘clash of civilizations,’ because people will strive to discover the best in each other’s traditions and cultures, and to learn from it, he said.”That is the kind of world that Nadia Younes stood for,” he continued. “If we lose the battle against poverty, disease, injustice and environmental degradation, we will all lose. If we allow conflict to persist between nations, or within them, we will all lose. If we allow the continued proliferation of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons, we will all lose. If we lose the battle against terrorism, we will all lose…”But if we win the battle for justice – which means balanced and sustainable development, collective security, and universal human rights, underpinned by the rule of law both among nations and within them – then we will all win,” Mr. Annan declared.”Those are not separate battles, but one – because, in the long run, we will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will enjoy neither without respect for human rights.”To justice in that broad sense, comprising those three essential aspects of the UN’s mission, Nadia Younes devoted, and in the end, sacrificed her life. The best way for us to commemorate her is to work even harder to achieve that goal,” he concluded. read more

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