Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
Security Council sets up sanctions regime to deter spoilers of Yemen's political transition
The Security Council adopted a resolution expressing its strong support for the nascent political transition in Yemen, and established a sanctions regime targeted at individuals or entities that seek to obstruct or undermine this process. The criteria for obstructing or undermining the successful completion of the political transition including: impeding the implementation of the National Dialogue through violence or attacks on essential infrastructure, as well as planning, directing or committing human rights abuses. The Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, stated: "With this resolution, the Council is supporting the legitimate aspirations of the Yemenis, including the youth, who fought and continue to fight for deep and meaningful change."
Yemen's democratic transition has been set in motion by the Government of National Unity, which was elected in February 2012 following the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
New UN programme aims to help Central African Republic communities heal, rebuild
The United Nations Development Programme unveiled a new initiative to promote peace-building and social cohesion in the Central African Republic (CAR), a country which has recently experienced deadly sectarian clashes that have killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. The 26 million dollar initiative will last two years and involve a series of cash-for-work, public works and social cohesion activities in the districts of Bangui, Ouham, Ouham-Pendé, Nana-Gribizi and upper Kotto.
The project aims to reduce vulnerabilities in the social, economic and security spheres, thereby building peace, community resilience and long-term development.
Ban calls on Ukrainians to find peaceful way forward amid current turmoil
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, commenting on current unrest in Ukraine, called for a peaceful resolution to the country's conflict. In a statement on his behalf, his spokesperson expressed a hope that an inclusive political process based on compromise would be able to put an end to the deadly clashes:
"In order to bring about a stable and prosperous future for Ukraine, the Secretary-General calls for a firm commitment, by all concerned, to uphold the key principles of democracy and human rights and thereby create a conducive environment for free and fair elections."
UN hosts meeting with Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot negotiators
Talks between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders, with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, commenced at the UN Protected Area in Nicosia with facilitation by the United Nations. Over the course of the first day, delegates discussed procedural issues and made a start on substantive discussions. It is hoped that these talks will result in the eventual establishment of a federal government with a single international personality, consisting of a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State, each of equal status.
Unanimously approved, Security Council resolution demands aid access in Syria
The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding that "all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders [in response to the Syrian conflict]." The resolution also condemns the rise in Al-Qaida – sponsored terror and the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities.
So far, talks proceeding in Geneva between the warring parties have led to only modest cooperation on humanitarian issues.
Rule of law indispensable element for peace, conflict prevention – Security Council
The Security Council issued a Presidential Statement emphasizing the rule of law as a vital element of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building. The Statement followed on the Council's open debate of February 19th on the topic. The Council outlined rule-of-law activities and stressed the importance of clear, credible and achievable mandates, as well as guidance by UN mission leadership. It also noted that "sustainable peace requires an integrated approach based on coherence between political, security, development, human rights, including gender equality, and rule of law and justice activities."
Nearly 70 delegations took part in the open debate on the rule of law.
UNICEF launches record $2.2 billion aid appeal to help children in emergencies
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a $2.2 billion appeal to help nearly 60 million children in crisis situations, the majority of them affected by conflict in Syria. Funds will also be necessary to aid children and their families in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, a region where over 400,000 children and their families have been displaced. The money will also be used to address underfunded crises in Afghanistan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Angola, Haiti, the Sahel and Yemen.
"Children are always the most vulnerable group in emergencies, facing a high risk of violence, exploitation, disease and neglect," said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF's Director of Emergency Programmes.
UNHCR urges multi-annual offers of resettlement to 100,000 Syrians
The UN High Commissioner for refugees called on countries to offer multi-annual offers of resettlement and other forms of admission to 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 and 2016. Twenty countries have offered more than 18,800 places to date. More than 2.4 million refugees are currently registered in the region.
"UNHCR remains confident that the 30,000 goal will be met by the end of the year through a significant number of submissions to the United States," stated spokesman Dan McNorton. Countries have many options for protecting refugees, including: resettlement, humanitarian admission or individual sponsorship; family reunification programmes; scholarships for Syrian students; and medical evacuation for refugees with life-threatening health conditions.
Full story: http://www.unhcr.org/53072f4f6.html
UN hails probe into former leader's alleged abuses as 'landmark' step for Haitian justice
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights lauded the decision by a Haitian court to open an investigation of former President Jean-Claude Duvalier for possible crimes against humanity. Mr. Duvalier was in power from 1971 to 1986, a time when serious instances of torture, gender violence and extrajudicial killings were documented by local and international human rights groups.
The decision, hailed as a "landmark step for Haitian justice in combating impunity" by Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for OHCHR, overturned an earlier precedent which had ruled that the time limits for prosecuting these crimes had passed.
Small-scale fish farmers not benefitting from big-scale fish profits, UN reports
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released preliminary data reporting on the state of the fisheries industry, noting a lack of trickle-down profits to small-scale fish farmers despite record profits in the industry as a whole. Global fishery production from wild capture fisheries and aquaculture weighed in at a record-breaking 160 million tons in 2013 (by estimates) while exports for the year are estimated at $136 billion.
The FAO urged government to provide small-scale fishers with access to finance, insurance and market information; invest in infrastructure; strengthen small-scale producer and trader organizations; and ensure that national policies do not hinder the small-scale sector.
Topic In Focus
World Day for Social Justice: UN urges action to end poverty, overcome inequality
On February 20, 2014, the United Nations marked the World Day for Social Justice – a day devoted to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, which made poverty eradication, full employment and the fostering of social integration the overriding objectives of global development. Noting the thorny issues of rising inequality and violence conflict around the world, UN officials called on states to empower individuals through decent work, provide adequate social protection, and heed the input of the poor in policy-making.
General Assembly President John Ashe stressed that the post-2015 global sustainable development agenda must be inclusive, taking into account "the needs and . . . capacities of all members of our global family, especially women, the young, older persons and persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and the poor and marginalized among us." Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated: "The World Day of Social Justice is observed to highlight the power of global solidarity to advance opportunity for all."