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

Security Council: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

The UN Security Council met to debate and discuss the methods for protecting civilians in armed conflict. Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that experiences in the field confirmed that timely and well-resourced human rights monitoring, advocacy and reporting were essential for the effective implementation of protection mandates. In South Sudan, for example, UN tents physically shelter 80,000 people, and monitoring and reporting has helped thousands more. In contrast, armed conflicts in which civilians suffered greatly but where no peacekeeping operations were deployed must also be addressed, including Syria, where more than 240,000 civilians are trapped. Mandates for the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations under imminent threat of physical violence remained among the most important issues for the Security Council to save lives.

Full story at:  http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2014/sc11275.doc.htm

Ban welcomes start of South Sudan political talks, urges adherence to recent ceasefire

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed political talks between the Government of South Sudan and the opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), under the auspices of the East African regional body known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Despite an agreement on cessation of hostilities last month, isolated skirmishes have been reported. Thousands have been killed and 870,000 others have fled their homes since fighting broke out in December between the forces of President Salva Kiir and former deputy president Riek Machar.

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47126

Sniffing out danger: Dogs join UN peacekeepers in South Sudan to protect civilians

Eight sniffer dogs that arrived last week from the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to help with random searches in and around UN bases and some displacement camps in strife-torn South Sudan. "They are here to search and indicate if people are bringing in weapons or explosives or other contraband," said Robert Thompson, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Chief of Operations. The dogs are thought also to be a visual deterrent to smugglers of contraband. If the dog smells something suspicious, it is taught to sit down and await further instructions, as opposed to pawing at something that could potentially blow up. Unexploded cluster bomblets, indiscriminate killers of civilians, have been found on roads in South Sudan.

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47134

Renewed tension disrupts UN construction projects in Gaza Strip

A $500 million United Nations construction package to build schools, water and sanitation facilities for Gaza is stalled, and living conditions are worsening due to the closure of crossings with Israel as clashes have increased, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry cautioned. Over the past months, rocket attacks fired at Israel and retaliation from Israel have caused civilian casualties.

"Ultimately, only the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority, based on the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) commitments, can pave the way to a durable solution for Gaza, as part of political progress towards peace," said Mr. Sperry. The United Nations condemned the violence and stressed that all parties act in accordance with international law.

Full story at:  http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47127

UN agency, EU partner to reduce risks from pesticides in Belarus

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced a plan to assist Belarus to assist Belarus to manage its obsolete pesticides. Around 40% of the world's stockpiles of obsolete pesticides are located in Belarus and the former Soviet Republics. The UN food agency will join with the European Union in an effort to minimize the potential hazards to humans and the environment, such as groundwater pollution. The FAO reported that pesticides, "kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to peoples' health and the environment." The agency will identify the most polluted sites and work with farmers and the public to use resources for risk reduction.

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47124

UN chief, Security Council welcome re-launching of Cyprus reunification talks

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the re-launching of negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem and reaffirmed the United Nations support of the process. Mr. Ban applauded the issuance of a joint communiqué and a formal re-launch of the talks by Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who met today at the UN Protected Area in the capital, Nicosia. The UN has been facilitating talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leadership, with a the final goal being the establishment of a federal government with a single international voice, consisting of a Greek and Turkish Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status.

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47115

UN agency to add a pinch of regulation to booming spice, herb sector

A newly created committee meets today in India to develop quality standards for the multi-billion dollar spice industry, under the auspices of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. The spice and herb sector has grown rapidly for several decades as demand soars in booming economies in Asia and elsewhere. Ren Weng, Assistant Director of the FAO's Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department noted, "Once clear internationally accepted standards are established, consumers can trust the safety and quality of the spices and herbs they buy."

Full story athttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47125

Gender equality must be enshrined in all post-2015 development goals – UN rights chief

The latest session of the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), mandated to ensure compliance with the global treaty to end all forms of discrimination against women, opened with a call for gender equality to be fully integrated into the post-2015 agenda." We believe there should be a stand-alone goal or goals on equality and non-discrimination that addresses all kinds of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex." UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. The UN is currently formulating a new post-2015 agenda to chart the course of global development expanding on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Full story athttp://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47110

U.N. Humanitarian chief urges safe passage for aid to Syrians in need

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos expressed disappointment that a three-day humanitarian pause was broken in the Syrian conflict as aid workers were intentionally targeted as they attempted to deliver aid to the besieged city of Homs. UN aid workers have faced gun and mortar fire as they took more urgently needed assistance into the besieged city. Ms. Amos noted the recent attacks serve as a "stark reminder" of the dangers that civilians and aid workers face every day across Syria. The fighting between pro- and anti-Government forces, which began in 2011, has left an estimated 9.3 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. With resolve, she stressed that "the United Nations and our humanitarian partners will not be deterred from doing the best we can to bring aid to those needing our help."

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47108

Ukraine: UN chief highlights need for dialogue, peaceful resolution of political crisis

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Ukraine's president Victor Yanukovych met a length ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympic games opening ceremony. Ban stressed the urgent need to end the political crisis in Ukraine through dialogue and the need to prevent further violence. The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been witnessing mass protests since late November, following a Government decision not to sign an agreement on broader integration with the European Union. Demonstrations flared recently as new legislation restricted fundamental rights such as association, assembly and expression. Ban reiterated that the UN stood ready to provide technical assistance if requested by both sides.

Full story at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47102

Topic In Focus

The Olympic Spirit of Unity

As the winter Olympics began, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the ideals of the Olympic competitions: fair play, mutual respect and competition. "The Olympics and Paralympics bring out the best in athletic achievement," he said in a video message broadcast at the ceremony. "The Olympic Flame also illuminates hope for our common humanity. Even in the cold winter weather, barriers between people melt away." Mr. Ban also called for an "Olympic truce", for all warring parties across the world to lay down their arms. As to Russia's much publicized anti-gay laws, he stated that hatred had no place in the 21st century. The calls for a truce and the condemnation of these laws emphasize the UN's commitment to dignity for all. A UN spokesman said Mr. Ban's high level presence and statements are indicative of a growing relationship between the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee.

Full story at: http://world.time.com/2014/02/06/sochi-2014-winter-olympics-ban-ki-moon/

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