Saudi Arabia confirms commitment to peace-building at UN forum

Saudi envoy to UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, emphasizes the need for the UN to play a more active role in building peace. (File photo)
Updated 27 April 2018

Saudi Arabia confirms commitment to peace-building at UN forum

  • Saudi Arabia is committed to fundamental principles that are at the forefront of the task of building and maintaining peace, says KSA envoy to the UN
  • Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi made the assertion during a peace-building and peace-keeping event on Thursday at the UN General Assembly

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia affirmed its commitment to the principles of peace-building and its emphasis on justice in its international dealings and efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully.

The statement at a peace-building and peace-keeping event on Thursday at the UN General Assembly in New York was delivered by Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Al-Mouallimi.

“My country is committed to fundamental principles that are at the forefront of the task of building and maintaining peace. My country asserts that the basic pillar of peace-building and maintaining peace is achieving justice. Without justice, peace cannot flourish, even if periods of non-violence prevailed,” Al-Mouallimi said.

He added: “The first example of peace that is still out of reach because of the lack of justice is the Palestinian cause, where the Palestinian people have been under occupation for decades without any hope that these people will be able to obtain their legitimate rights to establish their independent state on the borders of the fourth of June 1967 with its capital Al-Quds Al-Sharif.

“My country has always endeavored to resolve disputes peacefully, and in this regard has made the initiative one after the other. In the Palestinian cause, my country has advanced the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Arab states at the Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002. On the Yemeni issue, my country led the peace process of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative, which led to a peaceful transition to power before the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, seized power.

“In Syria, my country united the opposition in preparation for serious negotiations with the Syrian government to implement the Geneva 1 statement and Security Council Resolution 2254, and in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere, my country has raised the banner of peace and harmony among brothers and has worked to bring the various parties closer together.

“My country has also promoted a culture of dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance internally and externally. It has established national and international centers such as the  King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND), the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI), King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), the UN Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCCT), and others.”

Al-Mouallimi said: “We emphasize the need for the UN to play a more active role in building peace and consolidating its foundations by promoting sustainable development, especially in developing countries, and by working closely with regional and subregional organizations and supporting their abilities to achieve peace and avoid conflicts.”

He added: “We hope that your meeting will adopt a work program that includes these elements and emphasizes achieving justice and development, which are the cornerstones of international security and peace.”

Belarus authorities free detainees amid protesters’ pressure

Updated 1 min 13 sec ago

Belarus authorities free detainees amid protesters’ pressure

MINSK, Belarus: Belarusian authorities have released dozens of people detained amid demonstrations contesting the the results of the presidential election, in an attempt to assuage public anger against a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests.
Around midnight, scores of detainees were seen walking out of one of Minsk’s jails. In the early morning, volunteers also saw at least 119 detainees being released in the сity of Zhodino just northeast of the Belarusian capital. Ambulances arrived to carry those who apparently were unable to walk on their own.
The releases came hours after Belarus’ top law enforcement official apologized on state television for the indiscriminate use of force by police. “I take responsibility for what they say was violence against those people, who happened to be nearby and failed to back off quickly enough,” Interior Minister Yuri Karayev said late Thursday.
The apologies and the release of detainees follow five days of massive protests, in which crowds of demonstrators swarmed the streets to contest the vote results and demand an end to the 26-year rule of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. On Thursday, thousands of workers rallied outside industrial plants to denounce the police crackdown and push for a recount of Sunday’s vote.
Nearly 7,000 people have been detained and hundreds injured in the clampdown on demonstrators protesting the official results that said Lukashenko won 80% of the vote and his top opposition challenger only 10%. Police have broken up protests with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and severe beatings.
On Thursday, hundreds of women formed long “lines of solidarity” in several areas of the capital, Minsk. Many were dressed in white and carried flowers and portraits of detained loved ones.
The human chains grew throughout the day, filling Minsk’s main central squares and avenues and spreading to numerous other cities as motorists honked in support. In Minsk and several other cities, thousands of factory workers also rallied against the police violence, raising the prospect of strikes in a new challenge to the government. Protesters were shouting “Go away!” to demand Lukashenko’s resignation.
Amid growing public dismay, dozens of military and police veterans posted videos in which they dumped their uniforms and insignia in the trash. Several popular anchors at Belarus’ state TV stations have quit.
The demonstrations have spread even though the protest lacks leaders. The top opposition challenger in the vote, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, suddenly emerged Tuesday in neighboring Lithuania and called on her supporters to stop protests in a video that her associates said was recorded under pressure from law enforcement officials before she left. The 37-year-old former teacher had joined the race to replace her husband, an opposition blogger, who has been jailed since May.
The massive protests against election results and police brutality have been an unprecedented challenge to Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and earned the nickname of “Europe’s last dictator” for his relentless crackdown on dissent. The scope and ferocity of the police clampdown were remarkable even for Lukashenko’s iron-fisted rule, triggering widespread anger.
After dismissing protesters as mostly ex-convicts and unemployed, the authoritarian leader kept silent Thursday as the demonstrations spread quickly. Some reports said he was preparing an address to the nation.
A protester died Monday in Minsk when, according to the Interior Ministry, an explosive device he tried to throw at police blew up in his hand. Media reports challenged the ministry’s claim, alleging that he was killed by police. The place where he died quickly turned into a pilgrimage site, with hundreds of people, including European ambassadors, laying flowers there.
The authorities said that a detainee died in the southeastern city of Gomel, but the circumstances of his death weren’t immediately clear.
The brutal suppression of protests drew harsh criticism in the West.
European Union foreign ministers are set to meet Friday to discuss a response, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the 27-nation bloc would “increase the pressure” on Belarus.