Archives for posts with tag: AmbassadorMuhamedSacirbey

Samantha Power — Idealist or Ambassador?


By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey: I first met Samantha as a young researcher in Ambassador Morton Abramowitz’s office when he was president of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Morton has also served as a board director of International Crisis Group as well as critical adviser for US & European Action Councils for Peace in the Balkans (during conflict in BiH.)


Teachers and the education they instill are the hope for a better, more sustainable world.  As we celebrate World Teacher’s Day today, I’d like to thank those dedicated individuals who make learning, the pursuit of knowledge, and curiosity their life’s passion.  As tomorrow, 8 March, is International Women’s Day, I’d like to share a news blog written by Ambassador Mo last year, “Closing Girl’s Education Gap.” It’s an appropriate message for these two days. The question remains, “Are we closing the gender gap in education?”


” Closing Girl’s Education Gap,” By Ambassador Mo

UN launched a two-day meeting in Paris devoted to gender inequality in classroom achievement and on women’s leadership role in education (with evidence showing that disparities in education widen as girls grow). The forum on gender equality in education brings together experts, government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to examine the root causes of inequality between girls’ and boys’ school performances. (From UNESCO & UN News Centre Sources)

“Worrying” Reports:
While gender equality in education remains a crucial issue for many countries, women still account for two thirds of the world’s illiterate population and the majority of out-of-school children are girls, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which organized the forum. “Equality is not a numbers game,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in her address to the meeting. “Equality implies the same chances of learning, of benefiting from equitable treatment within the school, and the same opportunities in terms of employment, wages and civic participation.” Ms. Bokova noted that UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report paints a “worrying” picture of enduring disparities and challenges to equality.

Key Foundation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):
The Education for All goals were agreed to by more than 160 countries at the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, with the aim of achieving 100 per cent child enrolment in primary schools by 2015. Improving access to education is also one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

Slow or No Progress:
“Trends show that enrolment ratios have increased worldwide in primary and lower secondary levels – but that gender differences remain,” said Ms. Bokova. Arab and sub-Saharan African States face “serious” gender disparities at the lower secondary level, and the problem gets worse at the upper secondary level in South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Girls Getting Lost Along the Way:
Also, research from 15 countries in East and Southern Africa between 2000 and 2007 show that learning achievements in mathematics and reading, and gender equality in leadership and teaching staff progressed very slowly or not at all. “Clear evidence is mounting from all sides,” Ms. Bokova stated. “Disparities in education grow as girls grow. These disparities start early across the world, and they run deep. “All of this shows that girls are getting lost along the way, falling out of education. It shows they are not getting everywhere an education of quality and equality.

Participants at the forum will also consider the progress achieved in reducing the gender gap, and the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s ability to achieve senior leadership positions in the public sector and more specifically in education. The outcome of the meeting will be presented at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 5 October, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day.


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Happy Valentines Day!
This is a special day for us. It’s the 2nd anniversary our cat Tatou became cancer-free. Take a moment to cherish your loved ones today & every day — your special other, parent, sister, brother, child, friend, & furry companion. Our world needs more love. — Susan & Ambassador Mo
P.S. We’re sending Tatou that attractive feline.


Has radio been totally made irrelevant by social media? Chances are that you are reading this communication via a social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, or Google +. However, radio continues and perseveres as a facilitator of education, freedom of expression and public debate, and a catalyst for a more peaceful and sustainable future.  It is also an equalizer in helping to shape ideas and empower women, marginalized groups that span the generations, rural areas, and those immobilized or disabled. In fact, radio has its own day named after it “World Radio Day” and is celebrating its second anniversary, 13 February, today.

The observance of the day on February 13 marks the anniversary of UN Radio, which was launched in 1946.  The UN Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stressed the importance of radio as a vital source of information during natural disasters, and as a central instrument in community life with the potential of mobilizing social change.  Only a decade or so earlier, my husband, Bosnia’s UN Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey, frequently communicated to the globe over the radio. UN debates were broadcast and commentary provided.

Cost-efficient, and with a capability of reaching 95% of the global population, radio represents the most dominant mass medium, and is a powerhouse in capability to transform the human rights and dignity of the world at large. It should noted that if one has Internet, chances are they also have access to most of the globe’s radio stations. With new technological forms and devices, perhaps radio and the Internet are not so much in competition as complementary.

UNESCO’s audio archives showcase interviews with renowned figures such as Nelson Mandela, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Paul Sartre.  To celebrate the history, celebrities, and events of UN Radio History, tune in:

UN News Centre Source

“More than ever, radio remains a force for social change, by sharing knowledge and providing a platform for inclusive debate,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in her message for World Radio Day.

Ms. Bokova noted that the world has changed dramatically since the birth of radio in the 19th century. “But radio has hardly aged a day. It remains widely accessible, relatively cheap and very simple to use. It is still the medium that can carry any message to any place at any time – even without electricity.”

Radio has also embraced the digital revolution to expand its power and reach, she said. Across the world, the cost of broadcasting is decreasing and the number of radio stations is increasing. Citizen journalists and community media are using online radio stations to give voices to those who are rarely heard.

“In a world changing quickly, UNESCO is committed to harnessing the full power of radio to build bridges of understanding between peoples, to share information as widely as possible and to deepen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially freedom of expression,” said Ms. Bokova.

The agency is also determined to make full use of community radio to address poverty and social exclusion at the local level and to empower marginalized rural groups, young people and women, she added.

“Radio has transformed our past – it remains a powerful force for shaping a more peaceful, more sustainable and more inclusive future for all.”

In his message for the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, from short-wave to FM to satellite transmission, radio connects people wherever they are.  “Since its invention more than 100 years ago, radio has sparked the imagination, opened doors for change, and served as a channel for life- saving information. Radio entertains, educates, and informs.” “UN Radio sheds light on all issues on the United Nations agenda – from sustainable development to the protection of children to peacekeeping and conflict prevention. We are proud of our rich history of radio production in many languages, and the innovative ways we use radio to inform and serve the world.”

“On this World Radio Day, let us celebrate the power of radio and let us work together to tune the world to the frequency of peace, development and human rights for all.”

Susan Sacirbey

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PHOTO: Courtesy of UN Photo / Mark Garten  (Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at one of the studios of UN Radio)


Gandhi & MLK as “global citizens” – As Gandhi helped shape struggle through civil disobedience against colonialism and oppression, MLK broke the silence that implicitly legitimized racism and bigotry in “free societies.” After exploiting colonies for commodity and human resources (slavery), the withdrawal of the colonial power was projected as delivering a fresh start and a relationship of equals. Of course, the exploitation continued in the former colonies and nothing equal about the relationship. More directly though, the disenfranchisement and/or marginalization of the former slaves, indentured servants and new immigrant labor extends into today – certainly neither as oppressive nor perceptible, but still persistent.


Self-determination in most of developing world has come through rebellion. Revolution is still not particularly an appropriate description as new elites have combined and/or substituted for old. “Self-determination” of states and people is a process of the last century – with collapse of Soviet and communist states bringing in the 1990’s the largest block of new UN member states in several decades.

Competing Claims Based on Race, Ethnicity, Religion History to Shared Respect:

It is easy to argue that many new states need to “realize their freedom” when observing from perspective of continued injustices and arbitrary borders drawn by colonial powers. However, that could unfold into an ever-expanding vicious cycle with competing tribal, ethnic, religious and national claims to the same land(s). What do minority populations do when their stake to any contiguous territory cannot be sustained, as for example in the case of the Roma? How about the “negro” or African/American? Presumed progressives of the 19th century encouraged sending back the African to Africa – that is how Liberia came about and by the way many of its problems. However, the African-American is as American or more than any – in his/her blood representing the greatest mosaic including Native Americans and having toiled the fields and mines.

The Voluntary/Involuntary Migrant:

The Arab, African, Turk, Asian in Europe is no less European or at least deserving of being afforded the opportunity to mark their own contribution. If descendants of Europeans mark the land and culture of Africa (for example Afrikaners) and Asia, then why does it not incorporate economic opportunity and social opportunity also in the other direction? The globe is increasingly borderless, and it is neither a battle that can be won by those who assert xenophobia as a national/political goal nor is it a benefit. Too many Caucasian Americans forget that from Texas to California to Colorado, the country was Mexico and most those denigrated as illegal’s are overwhelmingly Native American by genetics.

MLK’s “dream” has come true, but not exactly maybe as foreseen – it is dynamic and the struggle is ongoing. As the Holocaust’s legacy also is not just limited in its future meaning to Jews, MLK’s dream reflects global aspirations and an affirmative responsibility toward fellow man/woman. Malcolm X underwent his most substantive transformation when during his Hajj and global travel he recognized his place first among one indivisible human family  which progressively affected the development of his views on race and equality in one America. (Photo Above of MLK & Malcolm X)
I prefer to see MLK as one of first “global citizens” helping shape the standard. Being the architect of change, he remodeled America back to the vision of the Founding Fathers who were before their time and thus hoped to put this country in the forefront and sometime unwilling service of shared global values of tolerance and judging people for their inward rather than superficial appearance.

By, Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey

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1992 and 2012, Bosnia & Myanmar are connected by also the person most directly in authority over UN operations in the two countries, then and now. In 1992-93 General Vijay Nambiar was in command of UN troops (UNPROFOR) for the former Yugoslavia – now he is the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on Myanmar. Just a few weeks earlier, General Nambiar characterized the situation in Myanmar as a “glass half-full rather than half-empty”. However, I’m concerned that once again he may be missing, some would argue deliberately ignoring substantial evidence of ethnic cleansing, as his command did in 1992 when most of the killing, expulsions and concentration camps occurred in Bosnia & Herzegovina – and the momentum for more conflict and genocide was set into motion for another 3 years.
Concealed Evidence of Systematic Abuses of Humanitarian Law/Genocide?
In August of 1992, I received two documents from internal sources directed from UNPROFOR field commanders in the region who were alarmed by evidence of mass executions in one and evidence of brutal detention camps, concentration camps in the other. The UN command had failed to make such evidence/documents available to the public or even to most members of the UN Security Council. In a tense exchange with a high-level UN official, I was queried on how I obtained the “secret internal documents,” but I asked why the information had not been made available for deliberations of the UN Security Council. A UN spokesperson offered that the evidence had been made “public” to those who should have the right to know within the UN Security Council – but this appeared to be only a select group of Permanent Powers.

Within days, several courageous journalists on the scene, (including Roy Gutman, Ed Vulliamy, Penny Marshall, Ian Williams, A), confirmed the atrocities on a large scale. It took half a year for the UN to acknowledge the breadth and systematic nature of such atrocities when preventive action or more transparency may have saved lives and at least to degree stemmed the conflict. The most notable consequence though of the August 1992 crush of evidence of ethnic cleansing was the call for another conference, (in London with Milosevic representing Serbia and whose hollow promises only bought more time for more crimes), and finally the initial steps for the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal (eventually a year later being realized in form of the ICTY).

Is General Nambiar now committing the same mistake and/or omission in Myanmar?  
Having met General Nambiar at that time, I was not disposed to see him as either evil, incompetent, or lacking courage. Rather, my conclusion is that he was part of a mindset that was hopeful in seeing Milosevic as peacemaker even reformer while not wanting to see crimes for which some would have to be held accountable under international law. I’m not particularly familiar with the array of actors in Myanmar, including Rakhine and Kachin states; however, I cannot help but sense that a too rosy a projection of both events and so called reformers is being projected in view of ongoing failures to remedy or even confront the most recent abuses of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, and perhaps other minorities. The glass is certainly worse than half empty for the victims of ethnic chauvinism within the new Myanmar where the regime is repositioning itself as more defender of the majority religion/ethnicity in order to rationalize and perpetuate its absolute hold on power, (another similarity with the image projected by Milosevic’s Belgrade two decades earlier).

Most critically, all the big power capitals want to see “reform” within the Myanmar regime. Myanmar’s resources and new markets are in play now. As in Bosnia, evidence of systematic abuses and complicity of authorities would ruin a rosy projection but also undermine in Myanmar the rush to capture greater trading opportunities and profits.


For  UN News Centre’s 3 January 2013 Interview with Vijay Nambiar, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, see:



Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey


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UN PHOTO/JC Mcllwaine :  Vijay Nambiar, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar