WEEK OF MARCH 15, 2013

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

Deaths in DR Congo detention centers doubled in 2012, says UN report

The UN Joint Human Rights Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued a report finding that 101 deaths were recorded in detention centers in 2012, compared to 54 in 2010 and 56 in 2011. 24 of last year’s deaths were caused by torture or ill-treatment, while the rest were caused by overcrowding, malnutrition, limited access to health care and lack of resources. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed that “it is the responsibility of the State to keep prisoners alive and in good health, in accordance with international standards.” The report blames the deaths on rampant corruption and lack of transparency affecting the management of prisons in the DRC.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44355

UN peacekeeper injured as patrol comes under fire in South Sudan's Jonglei State

One of the peacekeepers with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan was wounded during a patrol in the eastern state of Jonglei. An unidentified armed group fired on an UNMISS patrol moving from Gurmuk to Pibor, necessitating the removal to nearby Juba of the injured peacekeeper, who required medical treatment. Jonglei, the largest South Sudan state, has seen inter-communal violence since the country became independent from Sudan in July 2011. The UN Security Council set up UNMISS in July 2011 to consolidate peace and security in the world’s youngest nation.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44360

UN agency to begin testing new tool to measure hunger and food insecurity

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization will soon begin testing the Voices of the Hungry project, which gathers information on the extent and severity of hunger from food-insecure people, through an annual survey to be conducted in collaboration with polling specialists Gallup, Inc. The pilot will begin in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger, four countries that have signed up to the Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger challenge. FAO hopes to then extend the survey to more than 160,000 respondents in up to 150 countries, publishing results for the next five years. The survey includes questions such as: “During the last 12 months, was there a time when, because of lack of money or other resources: You were worried you would run out of food?; You were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food?; You ate only a few kinds of foods?; You had to skip a meal?”

The survey should establish a new FAO-certified standard for food security monitoring that could then be easily adopted by other household surveys.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44356

Protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation, UN experts say

UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Rita Iszak, stressed the importance of protecting minority languages, while presenting her latest report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. She stressed that protection of minority languages is a human rights obligation and an element of good governance. She noted that globalization, colonialism, and the association of minority languages with politically-disfavored secessionist movements have all contributed to the decline in use of minority languages. The report calls for education in minority languages and their use in public life, media and government. It warns that half of the world’s 6,000 languages may die out by the end of the century without a concerted effort by States to halt their decline.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44352

New UN survey 'My World' lets citizens vote on future development goals

The UN unveiled the ‘My World’ survey which allows people to vote on issues they believe are priorities and should be addressed by world leaders. Aimed specifically at projects that go beyond the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the survey was developed by the UN Development Programme, the UN Millennium Campaign, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the World Wide Web Foundation in conjunction with IPSOS MORI. Results from the survey will inform the work of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, his High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and world leaders.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44353
Take the survey at: http://www.myworld2015.org/

African political and business leaders focus on intellectual property at UN-backed forum

The African Conference on the Strategic Importance of Intellectual Property Policies to Foster Innovation, Value Creation and Competitiveness, a two-day conference in Dar es Salaam, aims to promote discussion on how intellectual property (IP) can be used to promote innovation and creativity. Ministers for science and technology from approximately 20 countries, research and development institutions and entrepreneurs, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the Japan Patent Office and the Government of Tanzania will be in attendance. The conference will also examine how IP innovation can tackle public health, food security and climate change, and assist countries in developing national innovation strategies.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44350

UN-supported mobile application provides consumers with information on fish they can buy

AppliFish, a new mobile application supported by the United Nations, provides consumers with information on the fish they buy. The award-winning program was funded by the European Union (EU), and is available for free on both iOS and Android operating systems. It provides users with information on more than 550 marine species, including names and sizes, distribution maps, as well as maps featuring expected changes in the distribution of each species due to climate change. The idea behind the informative app is to “allow consumers to choose fish that are not endangered, preserving stocks for future generations,” according to Senior Fishery Information Officer for the Food and Agriculture Organization, Marc Taconet. In 2009, 30 per cent of the world’s marine fish stocks assessed were overexploited.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44346

ICC Prosecutor withdraws charges related to 2007 election against senior Kenyan official

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has dropped charges against Francis Muthaura. Muthaura was accused of crimes against humanity and other offenses following the 2007 elections in Kenya, when a wave of violence swept the country. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda justified dropping charges on the grounds that key witnesses had retracted their evidence, and that the Government of Kenya was unwilling to provide evidence that may help the prosecution. More than 1,100 deaths, 3500 injured, and 600,000 forced displacements are attributed to the post-election violence. Charges remain against President-elect Kenyatta.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44334

Cooperation key to drought prevention, UN officials stress at high level meeting

The UN World Meteorological Organization, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and partners are conducting a five-day High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy in Geneva, Switzerland. Bringing together policymakers, development agencies and leading scientists and researchers, the meeting is aimed at familiarizing countries with drought-preparation procedures, and providing a forum for international cooperation on drought response strategies. Droughts have led to 11 million deaths since 1900, according to statistics kept by the UN Office for Disaster Reduction.

22 March marks World Water Day.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44339

UN projects aim to help Liberian refugees reintegrate into their homeland

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has unveiled several projects aimed at helping Liberian refugees reintegrate into their homeland. Two of the projects, each funded with 1.5 million USD from the Government of Japan, will provide Liberians with vocational and entrepreneurial skills in order to help them find jobs and set up livelihoods. Another UNIDO project in conjunction with the Ghana Refugee Board will help with the resettlement of Liberian refugees residing in the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana. Civil war in Liberia displaced over 750,000 people, many of whom have returned in steady numbers since the end of the war in 2003.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44336

Topic In Focus

Maternal health in Eritrea

Millennium Development Goal 5 on Maternal Health calls for countries to reduce their maternal mortality rate by three quarters by the year 2015. Eritrea is one of the four African countries said to be on track to achieve this target by 2015, meaning a rate of less than 350 deaths per 100,000 births. This success has been credited to concerted programs and persistent efforts by the Government of the State of Eritrea, in partnership with UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and UNDP.

Intensified maternal health campaigns have provided information regarding maternal issues in the country. Additionally, programs have undertaken local-language training sessions in rural areas to improve traditional birth attendants' delivery skills and better prepare them for difficult labor. Now, each community in Eritrea has fully-trained maternal care givers so that expectant mothers do not have to travel long distances while in labor. Instead, trained birth attendants visit them in their homes before and after delivery to provide medical assistance and ensure that both mother and baby are in good health.
An additional $88 million will be required in the next four years to ensure universal coverage of maternal and neonatal health intervention in Eritrea.

Full story: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/womenempowerment/

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