Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.

Millions of domestic workers worldwide lack social protection, says new UN report

According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) report, Domestic Workers Across the World, more than 52 million people worldwide mainly women are employed as domestic workers who are unprotected under general labor laws and highly vulnerable to exploitation.

The report follows the adoption of a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on domestic work which sets a standard for equal treatment between domestic and general workers in relation to working hours, rest periods, and annual leave.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43892

ILO Report: http://www.ilo.org/travail/Whatsnew/WCMS_173363/lang--en/index.htm

UN chief ‘deeply regrets’ Bahraini court’s decision to uphold sentences against political activists

A Bahraini appeals court upheld convictions against 20 Bahraini pro-democracy activists, drawing strong disapproval from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. According to media reports, the political activists were among opposition leaders and others originally convicted by a special military tribunal in 2011 of plotting to overthrow the State. Their sentences, including life imprisonment, were upheld on appeal despite concerns raised by an independent human rights panel and appeals by the international community.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43889

UN human rights office concerned about Qatari poet sentenced to life in prison

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern about Qatar’s treatment of Mohammed Al Ajami, a renowned Qatari poet serving a life sentence for a poem considered offensive to the nation’s symbols. OHCHR questioned the fairness of Mr. Al Ajami’s trial, citing several procedural irregularities.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43888

Drawing down — the end of a UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste

The UN withdrew its peacekeepers from East Timor, leaving the country without any direct assistance for the first time since the vote of its independence from Indonesia in 1999. The UN Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET), replaced by the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), had a broad mandate designed to help the country with its transition to independence after what the UN Security Council described as “systematic, widespread and flagrant violations” of international humanitarian and human rights law. The UN group subsequently turned over governmental control to the newly independent nation in 2002. UN Peacekeepers remained in the country until December 31, 2012. Over the past year, East Timor celebrated the 10th anniversary of its independence and reportedly held successful elections which were largely peaceful and conducted in an orderly manner.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43884

Countries must address lack of women in science and technology fields

According to UN International Labour Organization (ILO) findings, women are often over-represented in the humanities and social sciences fields and under-represented in science and technology fields. Noting that the under-representation of women in the science and technology fields constitutes an obstacle to nations’ progress, the ILO explained that the disparity may be linked to “pervasive gender roles and attitudes in different societies visible in both developed and developing countries which encourage girls to pursue ‘softer’ subjects.” The ILO has called upon States to implement measures to address the gender disparities.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43883

UN refugee agency concludes operation to repatriate Liberians forced into exile amid civil war

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) concluded its operation to repatriate displaced Liberians forced into exile for many years after the 14-year civil war that broke out in 1989. Since 2004, the UNHCR has assisted 155,560 Liberian refugees return home, mainly by road convoys and flights.

The repatriation programme provides each returning refugee with a small amount of cash to assist with re-settlement, assistance in obtaining jobs, and scholarships and other assistance in acquiring land.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43877

UN independent expert concerned over reports of intimidation of judges in Sri Lanka

The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers expressed strong concern regarding increasing intimidation and attacks against judges and judicial officials in Sri Lanka, calling the actions a threat to the independence of its justice system. The impeachment of the Chief Justice of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, Dr. Bandaranayake, has sparked specific concern. The removal process is characterized as highly politicized as well as lacking transparency, clarity, and fundamental due process guarantees.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43859

2012 in Review: Key health issues

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) released a year-end review of important health issues, chronicling its findings in a photo story. According to the WHO, a few of the many accomplishments in the public health arena in 2012 include: the end of polio transmission in India, improving understanding of H5N1 research, and meeting the Millennium Development Goal target on drinking water ahead of schedule.

Full Story: http://www.who.int/features/2012/year_review/en/index.html

Read the photo story: http://www.who.int/features/2012/year_review/photo_story/en/index.html

Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, Implementation of Rio+20 Outcome Draw Attention as General Assembly Takes Up Second Committee Reports

The UN General Assembly adopted 41 texts, including 2 Plenary-generated Draft Resolutions, recommended by its Second Committee (Economic and Financial). Delegations to the UN are particularly pleased by the adopted of the resolutions for: (i) the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of United Nations operational activities for development and (ii) the implementation of the outcome document of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

The resolution addressing the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review emphasized the importance of national responsibility for development and coordination of assistance as well as the need to make UN operational activities for development more relevant, coherent, efficient and effective in supporting the efforts of developing countries to meet their development targets.

Sustainable development was a key theme of the session, culminating with the General Assembly’s adoption of 17 texts on sustainable development, including a draft decision. According to reports, the bulk of the draft resolutions fell under the sustainable development umbrella and many were linked closely to the Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2012/ga11332.doc.htm

United Nations General Assembly Declares 2014-2024 Decade of Sustainable Energy for All

The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring the decade 2014 2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, emphasizing the importance of an agenda focused on energy for sustainable development and in furtherance of the post-2015 development agenda. The resolution noted that 1.3 billion people globally live without electricity while 2.6 billion people in developing countries rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating. The resolution also advocates for universal access to sustainable modern energy services, voicing concern that even when energy services are available, millions of poor people are unable to pay for them.

Full Story: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2012/ga11333.doc.htm

Topic In Focus

WHO Global Observatory for eHealth

The Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe), a branch of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), is an initiative dedicated to the study of the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health, also described as eHealth. GOe studies the evolution of eHealth and its impact on health in countries and specifically aims to improve health by providing Member States with strategic information and guidance on effective practices and standards in eHealth.

eHealth, recognized as one of the most rapidly growing area in health, encompasses an area with significant potential: telemedicine the term characterizing the use of ICT to improve patient outcomes by increasing access to health care and medical information. In an age of ever-expanding technology and communication, telemedicine aims to improve the access and quality of health care and to advance the health interests of individuals and their communities. According to GOe, four elements germane to telemedicine are as follows: (i) its purpose is to provide clinical support; (ii) it is intended to overcome geographical barriers, connecting users who are not in the same physical location; (iii) it involves the use of various types of ICT; and (iv) its goal is to improve health outcomes.

Full Story: http://www.who.int/goe/en/

GOe’s comprehensive report Telemedicine Opportunities and developments in Member States: Report on the second global survey on e-health examines trends in the field of telemedicine.

Link to Report: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2010/9789241564144_eng.pdf

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