2022: A Look Back

After a year marked by the invasion of Ukraine and its consequences, we review some situations around the globe on which the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs is active, from agreements in Ethiopia and Sudan to United Nations sanctions to curb violence in Haiti and growing restrictions on the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

A view of families in Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit: WHO/PAHO

Haiti continued to face an unprecedented crisis characterized by widespread insecurity, gang violence and deepening political divisions amid stagnated progress toward the restoration of democratic institutions and restore the rule of law.

The Secretary-General recommended options for enhanced international support to the Haitian National Police to ‎enable it to secure free movement of basic and life-saving services, remove the threat posed by armed gangs, and provide immediate protection to critical infrastructure and services. Security Council members has been discussing a draft resolution on security support that could be provided to Haiti by different countries.

The Security Council on 21 October established a sanctions regime on Haiti targeting gang leaders and those who finance them. Sanctions include an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo, against those individuals and entities engaging in or supporting criminal activity and violence, involving armed groups and criminal networks.

The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 2653 (2022) demanding an immediate cessation of violence in Haiti and establishing a sanctions regime. Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

The United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) was established in October 2019 as a small special political mission with a mandate to advise the Government of Haiti in promoting and strengthening political stability and good governance including the rule of law, protecting and promotion human rights, and reinforcing the capacity of the Haitian National Police.

Volker Perthes, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) speaks with Nazil Tirik, the Hadendawa leader during the AU-IGAD-UN Trilateral Mechanism‘s trip to Kassala in November. Credit: UN Photo/UNITAMS

On 5 December, a broad range of political forces and the military signed an initial political framework agreement that could pave the way to the restoration of a civilian-led transition and the return of constitutional order. Some key issues remain to be resolved, and the African Union-Intergovernmental Authority on Development-UN Trilateral Mechanism continues to engage with all stakeholders in support of a Sudanese-led and -owned solution.

On 3 June 2020, the Security Council adopted resolution 2524 (2020), establishing the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS). Headquartered in Khartoum, the mission supports Sudan through a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives. Volker Perthes of Germany was appointed Special Representative for Sudan and Head of UNITAMS on 7 January 2021.

Myanmar saw an escalation of violence and human rights violations across the country in 2022. The humanitarian situation also deteriorated, with the number of displaced standing at 1,505,700, including 1,175,300 displaced since the military takeover, according to UNHCR. On 21 December, the Security Council adopted its first-ever resolution on Myanmar, calling for an immediate cessation of violence, release of all those arbitrarily detained and close cooperation between the Special Envoys of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN.

The Special Envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, meets with Rohingya women during her visit to Bangladesh refugee camps in August 2022. Credit: Office of the Special Envoy on Myanmar

The UN, including through the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, continues to support coherent and principled regional action towards resolving the crisis and addressing humanitarian needs in Myanmar, including the situation of the Rohingya in and outside of Myanmar.

The General Assembly established the mandate of the Special Envoy in 2017. Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore as his Special Envoy on Myanmar on 25 October 2021. The Special Envoy works closely with all stakeholders, including local communities and civil society, regional partners (notably the Government of Bangladesh and ASEAN), the countries of the region, and the broader membership of the United Nations.

Children play in the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen. Credit: Abdul Rahman Hamdan

In Yemen, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General brokered a nationwide truce on 2 April, resulting in a significant reduction in violence and raising hopes for progress in reaching a resolution of the conflict. The truce, which was renewed twice, expired on 2 October, but the UN has not yet witnessed any major military escalation or changes in the disposition of the frontlines, despite limited military activity. The Special Envoy continues to engage with the parties and key regional partners to urge restraint and reach an expanded truce agreement.

The Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen provides support to the peace process, as well the implementation of any eventual agreements to enable the resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led transition. Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 6 August 2021 the appointment of Hans Grundberg of Sweden as his Special Envoy for Yemen.

The completion of the presidential election and peaceful transfer of power in May marked a milestone for Somalia, with attention now focused on advancing key national priorities, including the constitutional review process, preparation for one-person, one-vote elections, the humanitarian response, justice, and the fight against Al-Shabaab.

The newly-elected president of Somalia, Hasan Sheikh Mohamud, makes his acceptance speech flanked by the outgoing president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmaajo,’ in Mogadishu on 15 May 2022. Credit: UN Photo/Fardosa Hussein

The humanitarian situation in the country remains extremely alarming, however. The longest and most severe drought in recent history has affected 7.8 million people, and its impact is exacerbated by ongoing conflict and insecurity.

The UN and its partners have reached at least 6.8 million Somalis with life-saving assistance in 2022, helping avert famine for the time being, but urgent funding is needed to further scale up and sustain the response, without which 8.3 million Somalis may face a crisis or worse levels of food insecurity between April and June 2023.

Newly displaced people gather at Kabasa internally displaced people’s camp in Dollow, Somalia, on 20 June 2022. Credit: UN Photo/Mukhtar Nuur

Politically, the completion of the election and peaceful transfer of power marked a milestone for the country, with attention now focused on advancing key national priorities, including the constitutional review process, preparation for one-person, one-vote elections, the humanitarian response, justice, and the fight against Al-Shabaab.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established on 3 June 2013 by UN Security Council Resolution 2102, as a Special Political Mission headquartered in Mogadishu and present in four out of the five Federal Member States. The mandate of UNSOM was renewed by subsequent Security Council resolutions with the current mandate 2657 (2022) valid until 31 October 2023. As per resolution 2102 (2013) and subsequent mandates, the Council decided that the mandate of UNSOM would include the provision of policy advice to the Federal Government on peacebuilding and state-building in the areas of governance, security sector reform and rule of law, development of a federal system (including state formation), constitutional review, democratization and support in regard to coordination of international donor support.

Redwan Hussein Rameto (left) from the Ethiopian government, and Getachew Reda (right), who represents Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) sign the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities (CoHA) on 2 November 2022 in Pretoria, South Africa. Credit: African Union

The Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) took significant steps towards ending the conflict in northern Ethiopia. The parties signed the Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities (CoHA) on 2 November in Pretoria, South Africa. The UN stands ready to assist the parties and the African Union in implementing the CoHA.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa continues to coordinate closely with that body the African Union in this regard. The establishment of the Office of the Special Envoy the Horn of Africa in 2018 was largely driven by the dynamic changes in the region, triggered by the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the strengthening of relations between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, as well as the cooling off of tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti. In October 2018, the Secretary-General expanded the remit of the Special Envoy for the Sudan and South Sudan to cover the Horn of Africa region, defined for this purpose to comprise the members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). This mandate derives from an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council (S/2018/955 and S/2018/979). In February 2022, the Secretary-General appointed Hanna Serwaa Tetteh of Ghana as his Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva meets with the de facto Governor of Balkh Province, Mawlawi Mohammad Daud Muzamil during her visit to Mazar-i-Sharif. Credit: UN Photo/Tilak Pokharel/UNAMA

Over a year since the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan faces unprecedented levels of humanitarian needs. The crippling restrictions on women’s participation in public life have created unmatched levels of additional vulnerability for half of the population. The shrinking space for women and girls to enjoy a full education, the right to earn a livelihood, and right to engage in the country’s governance, economy, and society has resulted in a loss of the Afghan economy of an estimated $1 billion, even before the most recent decree banning women from working for national and international non-governmental organizations.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva visits a project site in Mazar-i-Sharif where UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) distributed wheat seeds, poultry equipment and fertilizers to the most destitute female beneficiaries on 1 December 2022. Credit: UN Photo/ Tilak Pokharel/UNAMA

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Roza Otunbayeva. Security Council resolution 1401 (2002) established UNAMA on 28 March 2002. Reviewed annually, this mandate has been altered over time to reflect the needs of the country and was extended for one year on 17 March 2022 by Security Council Resolution 2626 (2022).

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Roza Otunbayeva visits the Uzbek border town of Termez with representatives of UN agencies. Credit: UN Photo/Tilak Pokharel/UNAMA

In his last briefing of 2022 to the Security Council, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Syria painted a bleak picture of the situation in the country. “The needs of the Syrian people have reached the worst levels since the conflict began, against a backdrop of further economic collapse and ongoing violence,” he said. “No tangible progress has been made in advancing the political process. And global geopolitics made a difficult situation even more complicated.”

The Special Envoy added that he sensed “a growing realization in all quarters that allowing the status quo to continue and the situation to deteriorate is simply not an option.” He appealed for sustained international attention on Syria and said he and his team would spare no effort to bring about progress. “Our goal remains a comprehensive political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254, that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians and restores Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.”

Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, briefs the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East (Syria). UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) addresses the issues that need to be tackled to end the Syrian conflict and bring stability and genuine peace. The resolution affirms the Council’s commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria and provides a roadmap for a truly Syrian-led and -owned political process that is facilitated by the UN in Geneva. Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 31 October 2018 the appointment of Geir O. Pedersen of Norway as his Special Envoy for Syria.

Celebration on the Comprehensive Day for the Promotion of Peace, Reconciliation and Coexistence in September 2022, led by the Municipal Council of Peace of Arauquita, near the Colombia-Venezuela border. Credit: UN Photo/Marta Gutiérrez & Santiago Puentes/UN Verification Mission in Colombia.

Peace efforts in Colombia made significant strides in 2022. A new Government committed to the goal of achieving “total peace,” by deepening the implementation of the historic 2016 peace agreement, resuming negotiations with the ELN guerrilla group, and engaging in broader peace dialogues with armed groups in conflict-affected areas of the country.

A view of the 2016 Peace Agreement signed by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleón Jiménez of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC–EP). Credit: UN Verification Mission in Colombia

In November, the Secretary-General expressed support for the ELN talks through his Special Representative and head of the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia. In December, further to a request from the Government and former FARC-EP to further consolidate the peace process, the Secretary-General presented the Security Council with recommendations to expand the mandate of the Mission to verify the transformative sections of the peace agreement on comprehensive rural reform and on the country’s ethnic communities.

A woman paints a mural in the town of Agua Bonita in La Montañita, department of Caquetá, southern Colombia. Credit: UN Verification Mission in Colombia

Meanwhile, efforts to bring about reconciliation and justice have advanced significantly: in June, the Truth Commission delivered a landmark final report, and Colombia’s transitional justice system advanced in its casework prior to issuing sentences for grave crimes committed by all parties during the armed conflict.

The Security Council established the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia in 2017 to verify implementation by the Government and the former guerrillas of the FARC-EP of multiple sections of their 2016 peace agreement.

Secretary-General António Guterres (centre) and Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo (left) meet with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right), in Lviv, Ukraine in August 2022. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February has caused tremendous suffering in the country and beyond. Nearly one year into the war, there is no sign of an end to the fighting. UN agencies on the ground, together with their partners, continue to provide life-saving humanitarian aid and support to those in need.

Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo speaks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Heads of State Council in September 2022. Credit: TASS

The Black Sea Grain Initiative and the food and fertilizer deal the Secretary-General was instrumental in brokering helped alleviate a global food crisis. The long-term solution, however, is a lasting peace, respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. As the Secretary-General said in late December, “[W]e will not relent in the pursuit of peace in Ukraine. Peace in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.”

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Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs