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

Donors urged to invest more in UN human rights work

The United Nations human rights office (OHCHR) called for greater investment in this critical area of the Organization’s work, in order to effectively respond to ongoing challenges.

“Our budget for 2013 has already been reduced by 12 per cent - some $17 million - to cope with the lack of funds,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said as she presented the annual appeal of her office (OHCHR), which has experienced a funding shortfall for the past three years.


UN rights chief welcomes movement to eradicate manual scavenging in India

The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay welcomed the recent movement in India to eradicate manual scavenging, a practice traditionally relegated to Dalit women. It was seen as a form of discrimination based on caste and gender.

Manual scavenging is essentially the manual removal of human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. In November, thousands of women of the Dalit caste began a two-month National March for the Eradication of Manual Scavenging, advocating the elimination of this practice and calling for comprehensive rehabilitation of those conducting it. The march crossed a total of 200 districts in 18 states and will end on Thursday in the capital.


Outgoing UN police adviser stresses critical need for more female officers

The top United Nations police official called on Member States to send more qualified female officers to serve in the UN’s operations, while highlighting ongoing efforts to enhance the quality and professionalism of the force.

“Our goal is to have the most professional UN police service possible. However, one cannot be a modern, professional police organization without encouraging equal participation of women and men,” Ann-Marie Orler, the outgoing UN Police Adviser, told a news conference in New York.


Deputy UN chief spotlights rule of law as essential to peace and development

The Deputy UN Secretary-General highlighted the need for measures that enhance the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict situations. It was stressed that more coordination at national and local levels is needed among UN entities to effectively support countries on this issue.

“Delivering justice and security through the rule of law mitigates conflict and helps reduce the risk of relapse into further conflict,” Jan Eliasson the deputy UN Secretary-General told the Security Council during a meeting on the Effectiveness of the UN System’s Support to the Promotion of the Rule of Law in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations.


UN envoy for Western Sahara heads to Moscow after talks in Washington

The United Nations envoy responsible for Western Sahara will travel to the Russian capital as part of on-going consultations designed to build international support for negotiations seeking to resolve the long-running conflict.

The UN has been involved in mediation efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario movement, following the end of Spanish colonial administration of the territory.

A UN peacekeeping force, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), has been in place since 1991 and is still active.


Dismissal of Honduran Supreme Court judges called an attack on democracy - UN expert

A United Nations independent expert, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, expressed grave concern over the decision by the Honduran Congress to dismiss four Supreme Court judges, and called on the Government to reconsider its decision.

“The principle of stability and the irremovable status of judges are a fundamental guarantee to protect the independence of judicial power, and this can only be disrupted under exceptional circumstances,” said the UN Special Rapporteur, Gabriela Knaul. “The dismissal of the four judges represents a grave attack against Honduras’ democracy.”

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44024

UN rights chief urges all parties in Egypt to engage in dialogue and end use of force

The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay urged all parties in Egypt to engage in dialogue and stop the use of excessive force. It followed five days of protests that have resulted in dozens of deaths and led the Government of Egypt to declare a state of emergency.

“As the tragic events over the past few days have shown, Egypt remains extremely fragile and unstable, and I urge the Government to make a much stronger effort to accommodate opposing points of view, and take concrete actions to address public concerns,” the human rights chief said.


UNICEF scales up response in Central African Republic to conflict-affected children

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is scaling up operations in the Central African Republic (CAR) to help thousands of children who have been affected by the recent violence in the country and are in urgent need of assistance.

“From what we have seen in some of the hardest hit areas, including N’dele, Bria, Bombari, and Kaga Bandoro, children are living in extremely precarious conditions,” said the UNICEF Representative for the CAR, Souleymane Diabaté.


International tourism rebounding from global economic crisis, says UN

The United Nations announced that international tourism increased robustly over the last year with continuing growth expected throughout 2013, despite lingering economic instability due to the global financial crisis.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals surpassed 1 billion for the first time in history in 2012, up from 996 million in 2011, with demand holding steady throughout the year and concluding with a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter.


Topic In Focus

UN at a Glance

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 by 51 countries with the goal of maintaining international peace and security; developing friendly relations among nations; and promoting social progress, better living standards, and human rights.

UN Headquarters sits in international territory in New York City; additional principle offices are in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. The organization is financed from assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states, and has six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

Due to its unique international character, and the powers vested in its founding Charter, the UN can take action on a wide range of issues. The UN also provides a forum for its 193 Member States, through the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and other bodies and committees, such as the International Court of Justice.

The work of the UN reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance, there are many ways the UN - through specialized agencies, funds, and programs - impacts peoples’ lives and addresses global challenges, including sustainable development, disaster relief, disarmament and non-proliferation, environmental protection, and the promotion of democracy, human rights, the advancement of women, and international health.


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