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

Ill-qualified teachers, poor access to schools at root of global education crisis – UN report

The recently-published Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All, commissioned by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighted a disturbing trend in global education. The report noted that 125 million children around the world are illiterate even after four years of schooling, representing a waste of 129 billion USD a year. Moreover, even in developed countries, vulnerable populations – such as immigrants or the poor – are lagging behind.

The report stresses that proper recruitment and retention of teachers will be key to overcoming this education deficit.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47034
Full report: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2013/

Security Council authorizes EU force, new sanctions regime in Central African Republic

The UN Security Council extended the mandate of UN peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) in response to serious human rights violations in the wake of recent violence in the country. The Council additionally authorized the deployment of European Union troops, instituted a travel ban and imposed an asset freeze. The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) was created in order to implement the 2013 Libreville agreements which had established a ceasefire between the government and rebel groups.

Ten trucks of humanitarian food aid reached Bangui via the World Food Programme and escorted by peacekeeping troops.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47027

Syria: UN ready to rush food, medicines into besieged Homs once green light is given

A UN interagency convoy carrying 500 family rations and 500 bags of wheat flour destined for Syrians under siege in the Old City of Homs is on standby, waiting for access to be granted by the parties at the Geneva talks. Geneva mediator and UN-Arab League Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, told reporters that the parties "have not had any breakthrough, but... are still at it and this is good enough as far as I am concerned."

Irregular access to towns in the Homs region has meant that deliveries of aid have only been possible every three to six months during the conflict.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47025

Cambodia: UN labour agency urges independent probe in deadly protests

The UN International Labour Organization called for the Cambodian Government to launch an independent inquiry to determine the circumstances of police action and the deaths, assaults and arrests of workers during recent strikes in the country's capital. Members of the opposition have been conducting intermittent protests against Prime Minister Hun Sen's government over allegations of voting fraud during the last round of elections. These protests have been joined by garment workers seeking higher wages. At least four workers were killed and dozens other were detained in the most recent wave of protests.

The garment industry employs 400,000 Cambodians and is a significant source of the country's exports.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47022

Vlastimir Ðorđević's responsibility for crimes in Kosovo confirmed on appeal

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the UN ad hoc tribunal established to deal with war crimes committed during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990's – confirmed the guilt of Vlastimir Ðorđević for crimes committed by Serbian forces against Kosovo Albanians during the Balkan conflict of the late 90s. The Chamber reduced his sentence from 27 to 18 years in prison, granting appeals from both the Prosecution and Defense. This judgment marks the final decision in the 16 cases against individuals accused of committing crimes in Kosovo.

The ICTY has concluded proceedings against 141 persons since its inception.

Full story: http://www.icty.org/sid/11445
Judgment: http://www.icty.org/x/cases/djordjevic/acjug/en/140127.pdf

Independent UN human rights expert urges Qatar to reform its justice system

The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, concluded an investigation into the Qatari legal system, issuing a report which urged the country to rectify violations of due process and fair trial rights, particularly for vulnerable populations like women and migrants, as well as non-Qataris.

In order to increase transparency in the judicial process, Ms. Knaul also urged the Qatari government, given its privileged financial position, to invest in modern technology tools, record all hearings, and publicize all judicial decisions and cases.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47011

Helping science respond to society, through open data

77 organizations and 90 nations comprising the Group on Earth Observations (GEO-X) met at the Tenth Plenary and Ministerial Summit in Geneva from January 12-17 to coordinate efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Observation systems gather data which feed into science-based decision-making, aiding in forecasting weather, addressing epidemics, improving disaster management, protecting biodiversity and better understanding climate change, among many others.

Stressing the importance of open data policy, the GEO-X partners discussed ways to coordinate complex and interrelated observation and data issues simultaneously, avoid unnecessary duplication, encourage synergies between systems and facilitate substantial economic, societal and environmental benefits.

Full story: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/open_and_shared_scientific_data_is_good_for_you/back/9597/

On Holocaust Memorial Day, UN calls for unflagging vigilance to prevent new genocide

The United Nations marked International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust with a tribute to the 6 million Jews and others massacred under the Nazi regime. In a message marking this solemn occasion, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted: "The United Nations was founded to prevent any such horror from happening again. Yet tragedies from Cambodia to Rwanda to Srebrenica show that the poison of genocide still flows."

Echoing this sentiment, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warned against the dangers of anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and discrimination, asking peoples to visit the Auschwitz camp: "It is a truly humbling and harrowing experience to feel the chill of evil and immense tragedy that permeates its walls and grounds. It is important to feel - not just to know in an abstract way - where such behavior can lead."

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47013

UN atomic watchdog endorses plan to ensure peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme

Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, noted with approval the Joint Action Plan developed by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States with Iran to address the country's nuclear programme. The plan requires the IAEA to monitor and verify Iran's compliance with a series of "voluntary measures" over a period of six months.

The plan will require the agency to double its staffing devoted to verification activities in Iran, seek access to additional locations, acquire and install more safeguards equipment and analyze more samples.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46996

UN reparations panel pays out another $1 billion for Iraq's invasion of Kuwait

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which was created to address the damage claims of persons affected by the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, disbursed over 1 billion USD to the government of Kuwait, bringing the total amount of reparations disbursed to over 44 billion USD. Governments, corporations, individuals and international organizations are all eligible to bring claims, which are then paid out of a fund generated by Iraqi petroleum exports.

7.8 billion USD is left in the fund with one outstanding claim remaining.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46989

Topic In Focus

ICJ Decision in the case of Peru vs. Chile

The International Court of Justice – the principal judicial organ of the United Nations – issued a decision in the contentious maritime boundary dispute between Peru and Chile, awarding significant parts of the Pacific Ocean to Peru but keeping certain fish-rich waters in Chilean territory. Peru had argued that the ocean boundary should extend perpendicular to the coastline, while Chile had argued that it should extend parallel to the equator. The Court responded by setting a boundary which gives Peru 20,000 square km plus a further 28,000 square km from international waters.

Both countries have agreed to abide by the decision.

Full story: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/137/17928.pdf
Judgment: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/137/17930.pdf

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