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GLOBAL VISION INSTITUTE
Co-creating innovative values-driven international organizations
NEWSLETTER February 2015
WHAT DOES COURAGE IN THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?

 
WHAT DOES COURAGE IN THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
 
GVI will have as its overall theme in 2015 “What do UN universal values look like in practice?”

For the period January to February the focus will be on COURAGE, including questions of caution vs. purpose, creativity, and innovation. 
We are asking international community actors to describe how courage is, or can be, manifest as behaviours and practices in the international system, at the level of the system (including stakeholders),organization, department team, and individual. Responses can be based on experience, examples and stories, or their own recommendations.

In this newsletter we hear from Fabrizio Hochschild, Resident Representative of the UNDP in Colombia; from Enrico Muratore, GVI Board member and SG of the Association of Captain Mbaye Diagne; and from you,
 members of the GVI community.  What's your COURAGE story?
Interview with Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild,
Humanitarian Coordinator of UNDP in Colombia


Defending the truths of the UN Charter has taken guts, ambition, but above all courage. As such was seen in the legendary bravery of former Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello and former UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld. In efforts to understand these two men and the role courage should play in the UN system, GVI’s Gesù Antonio Báez interviewed current Humanitarian Coordinator of UNDP Colombia, Fabrizio Hochschild to discover more

 

GVI - In your article “In and above conflict: a study on leadership in the United Nations” you begin with the quote “The world needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage….”: Could you explain what exactly is political courage and is it present in the current UN System?

Fabrizio - Political courage is akin to moral courage, it is about standing up for those who do not have a voice, it is the courage to speak truth to power in order to uphold the values of the UN Charter. The importance of moral courage – especially among the organization’s senior leaders – is not always adequately promoted and celebrated. There are many examples of it, especially in the field, and I would suggest more among junior colleagues. As we get more senior, many of us grow less willing to speak up and we tend to place a greater value on caution, on maintaining relationships and avoiding controversy.

GVI - You worked for many years with the late Sergio Vieira de Mello who for many, together with former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, is viewed as an example of the political courageousness and valiance. What was it about these two extraordinary men that was so unique? Can you identify anyone present in the current system who has these qualities?
 
Fabrizio - Sergio I knew well, Hammarskjöld only indirectly, mainly from reading. Both were motivated by many of the same convictions about the UN but were quite different in style and character. Hammarskjöld was a Swedish civil servant and former central banker while Sergio was a Brazilian career UN staffer and former student activist with long work experience in conflict areas. Both were inspired by the notion that the UN served and promoted international values and norms...

For the full interview, you can read our GVI Blog here

Comments from the GVI community: 
What's your COURAGE story?

"Courage in the UN international context for me is the decision made to serve in a hard-ship field mission, leaving family and friends behind and making the personal sacrifices it takes to serve in a peacekeeping or political mission, often under extremely difficult living and working conditions and in a dangerous environment to serve those in need."

You can join the GVI LinkedIn discussion here

"This is my story of courage...to help others...crossing more (than) 3000km across the Himalaya to help leprosy patients and women affected by mental illness. Watch the documentary Alegria here. https://vimeo.com/83910945"

Christoff Von Toggenburg

For more stories, join us on Facebook

 
Useful articles
and media postings:


For stories of everyday 
heroes inside the UN see:
         
Working in Gaza-Here

                                     
Working on Ebola-Here



Share your own stories
and ideas, contact us at

gviteam@globalvisioninstitute.org
UN MEDAL FOR COURAGE: CAPTAIN MBAYE DIAGNE

by Enrico Muratore,
Regional Good Governance Programme Coordinator, Oxfam
Secretary General of the Association of Captain Mbaye Diagne for the Culture of Peace 


 
In the year 2014 that has just gone by, the United Nations and the whole world commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when over a million people were killed in the most atrocious ways, despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping force on the ground.
 
In the middle of all that horror and violence, in sharp contrast with the passive inaction of the international community, a UN Military Observer, Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, took the immediate, personal decision to go, alone and unarmed, and rescue as many people as he could from torture and death, and he kept on saving lives until he was himself killed on 31 May 1994.
 
For twenty long years from that day, Captain Mbaye Diagne was totally forgotten by the United Nations, until in 2014 the BBC told his heroic story in the “A good man in Rwanda” documentary (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_6954/index.html). After watching it, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, then the Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United Nations in New York, declared before the UN Security Council that Captain Mbaye Diagne is "the greatest hero of the United Nations" and went on to propose to coin a medal to honor the bravest of all peacekeepers.
 
On 8th of May 2014, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2154 (2014) which recognized the Captain’s heroism and decided to create the “Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage”, to be awarded to those military, police and civilian United Nations or associated personnel who demonstrate exceptional courage, in the face of extreme danger, while fulfilling the mandate of their missions or their functions, in the service of humanity and the United Nations.
 
The UN Security Council Resolution requested the Secretary-General “to establish within six months after the adoption of this resolution, the design of the medal, and to submit in due course to the Security Council the modalities for determining how the recipients of the medal shall be nominated and chosen, based on the criteria set forth in the previous paragraph”, and requested that the medal “be presented by the Secretary-General to the recipient, or next of kin, in a ceremony to which all Member States of the United Nations shall be invited”. In the same Resolution, the Security Council also expressed its “deepest regret” to the family of the Captain, which “has never received, after his death, any expressions of appreciation from the Headquarters of the United Nations for the sacrifices made by their distinguished family member”.
 
On 16 June, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein became the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. In his first public address before the Human Rights Council, on 8 September 2014, Prince Zeid stated: “I would like to make a simple point: courage is the first human virtue, revered the world over, the very virtue we value the most as human beings. The courageous individual is not he or she who wields great political power or points a gun at those who do not – that is not courage. The courageous individual is he or she who has nothing to wield but common sense, reason and the law, and is prepared to forfeit future, family, friends and even life in defence of others, or to end injustice. 
In its most magnificent form, the courageous individual undertakes this exertion, without ever threatening or taking the life of someone else, and certainly not someone defenceless. As the Viennese thinker Stefan Zweig wrote, after having lived through one world war and fled another, "Our greatest debt of gratitude is to those who in these inhuman times confirm the human in us." Human rights defenders are such courageous people, and we must do everything we can to protect them, and celebrate them. The UN is often slow to recognise this. Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal was probably the most courageous man who ever served with the UN, but until recently was never recognized by the UN headquarters for his sacrifice. He saved possibly a thousand people in Rwanda in the spring of 1994, and lost his life doing so, and never hurt anybody.” (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14998&LangID=E).
 
Recognizing the nonviolent LEGACY OF COURAGE of Captain Mbaye Diagne is essential in today’s world. But medals remain to be gained on the ground. In 2015, the time has come to take our own individual and collective responsibility and be ourselves women and men of courage, solidarity and love. While the world is shaken by conflict and insecurity, each of us can and should make the difference for peace, for our children and for our mother Earth, if we are courageous.
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