Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
Security Council extends for another year mandate of UN office in Burundi
The Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB), the United Nations political mission in Burundi, for one additional year to support peace and long-term development in the country and to increase efforts to tackle corruption. The mission also seeks to foster fair presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015 and to provide Burundi citizens with the freedom to organize. The mandate also calls upon the BNUB to support the Government by continuing “to improve dialogue between all national actors, including civil society, and to guarantee a space for all political parties.”
Tunisia: UN loan and grant programme to support rural youth and women farmers
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN agency mandated to support agricultural projects in developing countries, is boosting economic opportunities for rural youth and women in Tunisia through a program that gives loans and grants to farmers and local communities. The loan and grant of $11.4 million will be used to finance the second phase of the Agropastoral Development and Local Initiatives Promotion Programme - a program seeking to increase investment in infrastructure focusing on natural resource management and irrigation to improve agricultural productivity.” According to IFAD statistics, the agriculture sector makes up 8 percent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product and provides employment to 18.3 percent of the national labor force.
UN envoy urges greater efforts to end use of child soldiers
UN groups seek to draw attention to the persistent and devastating problem of conscription of child soldiers. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, urges increased efforts to end the abhorrent practice, noting that thousands of children continue to be “abducted, recruited, killed, maimed, or raped in conflicts around the world,” including the ongoing wars in Syria and Mali.
According to the UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs, 144 Member States have so far ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The Protocol calls upon States parties to “take all feasible measures” to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities.
The International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, also known as Red Hand Day, is observed annually to recognize the numerous children around the world caught in conflict as well as to advocate for the need to end the practice of child conscription.
Further information on the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers: http://www.un.org/disarmament/content/news/day_against_use_of_child_soldiers/
Urging Security Council to take ‘Strong, Visible’ lead in protecting civilians,
The Security Council held an open debate on the need for greater protection of civilians in armed conflict. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon specifically noted the need for increased protection in stating that while the situation in Syria is “particularly acute and intractable,” civilians in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and elsewhere, continue to suffer and die as parties to conflict ignore their obligations to protect. “We all have a responsibility to protect. Failure to protect civilians in armed conflict can contribute directly to the commission of atrocity crimes. Violence against civilians is also unquestionably abetted by the free flow of weapons. This underlines the importance of next month’s Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. We urgently need a robust and comprehensive agreement that addresses the humanitarian impact of the poorly regulated trade in arms,” he continued.
Full Story: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/sgsm14810.doc.htm
UN assessment mission finds widespread looting in Central African Republic
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and non-governmental organization Mercy Corps recently completed an assessment mission in various parts of the Central African Republic (CAR), finding widespread looting and displacement. The UNHCR called upon the Government to increase aid access to vulnerable populations, noting that it found many villages completely deserted, with residents hiding in the bush from armed groups and looters.
While the CAR has a history of political instability and recurring armed conflict, the latest wave of violence began in December 2012 after an alliance of rebel groups known as “Séléka” launched a series of attacks and took control of major towns in the region. The parties subsequently agreed to peace talks under the auspices of the regional group known as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
Security Council and UN officials condemn DPR Korea’s nuclear test
The Security Council and top United Nations officials have strongly condemned the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), warning that it constitutes a threat to international peace and security and is a “grave violation” of relevant resolutions adopted by the Security Council. Officials are particularly concerned about the impact of the test on regional stability. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the DPRK’s actions “deplorable” and remarked that his attempts to diffuse the situation through political dialogue have “fallen on deaf ears.”
The Security Council imposed sanctions on the DPRK following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The sanctions, including a ban on the import of nuclear and missile technology, were further tightened last month in a unanimous decision by the Council following the DPRK’s launch of a long-range Unha-3 rocket from its west coast in December 2012.
Security Council Press Statement: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/sc10912.doc.htm
UN chief spotlights role of inter-faith dialogue to empower women
During a symposium commemorating World Interfaith Harmony Week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the role of faith leaders in promoting female empowerment, specifically noting that faith leaders can help address gender prejudices and support women’s participation in society at all levels. He also emphasized that women are often essential to faith-based organizations and possess great potential to promote peace-building and conflict resolution. Despite this enormous potential for contribution, men dominate faith-based organizations. According to Mr. Moon, this male dominance “underscores the need to ensure women’s presence in positions of authority within these organizations.”
In his message, delivered by Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Lakshmi Puri, he noted that “as long as entrenched hatreds and gender bias remain, conflicts will simmer and women will suffer. Only when we achieve a fundamental change in mindsets can we realize true progress.”
UN kicks off year promoting international cooperation on water management
The United Nations designated 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, seeking to raise awareness and prompt action on issues of water cooperation, such as sustainable and economic development, climate change and food security. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the imperative of ensuring that every person has access to quality water in the face of rising demands and changing climate conditions. According to UN statistics, more than half of the world’s people depend daily on water resources shared by more than one country and 90 percent of the global population live in countries that share river or lake basins. The majority of the world’s international river basins, however, lack any type of cooperative management framework. The designation of the International Year of Water Cooperation could provide a platform for countries to collaborate in the management of water, while promoting peace and development.
UN-Arab League envoy and Syrian opposition leader hold talks in Cairo
UN-sponsored talks continue in an effort to address the escalating violence in Syria. The Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in Cairo with the head of the Syrian National Coalition (Syria's opposition party), Moaz Al-Khatib, to discuss Al-Khatib’s proposal for a political dialogue. Mr. Brahimi reiterated his support for the proposal and encouraged the Syrian National Coalition to continue in this direction in the coming meetings. Mr. Ban welcomed the proposal for political dialogue while addressing the problem of divisions within the region, inside Syria, and within the Security Council. “Unless these divisions are breached, we may not be able to have some good prospects of [a] solution,” he added.
UN Mission en route to assess reports of deadly fighting in South Sudan
The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan dispatched a team to investigate reports that more than 100 people have been killed and many others injured in a cattle raid in the town of Walgok, in the eastern part of the country, on February 8. According to local media reports, people from Walgok were migrating north to the wetlands with cattle when they came under attack by an armed force. According to media reports, the people of Walgok were migrating north to the wetlands with cattle when they came under attack by an armed force. The UN Mission, however, has yet to confirm this information. The investigative team, comprised of UN personnel and officials from the Government of South Sudan, is mandated to “investigate, obtain accurate information, assess the needs of the affected population and determine what is required by the South Sudanese authorities to address the situation.”
Topic In Focus
How women and girls are faring: Charting progress on the Millennium Development Goals
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - ranging from cutting extreme poverty in half to achieving universal primary education - provide a framework of targets by which progress towards the commitments of the internationally agreed Millennium Declaration is measured. With just three years left before the 2015 deadline, serious efforts must be undertaken to address the gender dimensions of the MDGs in order to achieve the pivotal third MDG and to reduce persisting levels of inequality based on sex, wealth, location ethnicity and other markers of disadvantage. Reports show that on a global scale, for example, women continue to be poorer than men and fewer girls attend secondary school than boys.
Link to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
The biennial MDGs Gender Chart depicts the situation of women and girls in developing regions as reflected in a number of indicators that are used to monitor the MDGs.