The Director, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, has stated that, in recent years, the international body has demonstrated its commitment to the prevention of genocide and human rights violations in many conflict areas around the world. The UN envoy made this assertion at the 2nd ‘Town and Gown’ Seminar of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Covenant University, where he delivered a lecture titled ‘International Peace Architecture: Challenges for the 21st Century’.
Positing that United Nations peacekeeping efforts have helped make Nigeria a better place, the Guest Speaker noted that the world had hitherto considered the United Nations a failure due to its inability to prevent catastrophes such as; the over 500,000 to one million Rwandans killed within 100 days, the over 8,000 massacred in Srebrenica, Bosnia, and the hundreds of lives lost in the prolonged Somali civil war. He added, that in a bid to forestall such reoccurrence, UN peacekeeping missions’, today, focus primarily in ensuring that lives and properties of civilians are preserved.
He stated that the UN peace architectural framework, designed since 1945, has been tested consistently over the years as it pertains to the international body’s rules of engagement during peacekeeping missions, from the cold war era to the various armed conflicts zones, and the genocides in Srebrenica and Somalia.
According to him, “While the United Nations is committed to remaining an impartial arbiter during conflicts, it has gotten to a point where it will not be indifferent to issues of rights violations and genocides.” Mr. Kayanja said that the peacekeeping function of the United Nation had over time moved from conflicts monitoring to proper peacekeeping and building engagement, which in turn has resulted in increased casualties among UN Peacekeepers in conflict zones around the world.
The Uganda-born diplomat noted that wars and conflicts are not just synonymous with developing countries, but are issues that have plagued humanity since the dawn of time. Furthermore, the accessibility of parties to conflicts, or agents of terrorism to the internet, has made it very easy for weapons of war to be easily developed. According to him, while the main purpose for the creation of the United Nations was the prevention and removal of threats to global peace, and the suppression of acts of aggression, the preventive aspects of this function, most times, are not done in the full glare of the public, but through back channels of diplomacy.
He stressed that civil wars, unplanned and illegal migration, violent religious fundamentalism, cyber espionage, threats of nuclear weapons, amongst others, are some contemporary threats that the global body must constantly tackle through its peacekeeping initiative to ensure world peace.
In her welcome address, the Head, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Dr. Oluyemi Fayomi, said the opportunity the lecture availed the audience was one that could not be overemphasised, as Dr. Kayanja was well-placed to demystify the subject matter of international peacekeeping.
She charged the undergraduate and graduate students of the department to draw important lessons from the lecture towards advancing the course of international peace wherever they find themselves around the world.
Earlier on, Mr. Ronald Kayanja had paid a courtesy call on the Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, where a bilateral discussion was held on advancing internship opportunities for students of Covenant at the United Nations Information Centre in Nigeria.
Similarly, the widely travelled envoy had a stop-by discussion with the Chancellor, Covenant University, Dr. David Oyedepo, where he commended the renowned educationist for his massive investment towards revolutionising the education landscape of Nigeria and building a better Africa.