WEEK OF MARCH 28, 2014

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

Security Council strongly condemns deadly terrorist attack in Yemen

A terrorist attack in Hadramawt, Yemen, killed 20 soldiers on March 24. The 15-nation Security Council condemned the attack and urged all UN member states to act in accordance with the UN Charter to combat all criminal acts of terrorism regardless of location or motivation. The Security Council also urged all states to assist the Yemeni government to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Council also reiterated that terrorism is one of the greatest modern threats to international peace and security.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47434

'Majestic' Greenland provides UN chief first-hand look at impacts of climate change

In a joint press encounter with the Premier of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning Schmidt, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marveled at the beauty of Greenland's 2 million square kilometers of ice cap. He also noted with concern the fast-melting ice caps and glaciers and their contribution to rising sea levels, a part of climate change that affects all nations. The UN chief's visit sought to increase the focus on climate change ahead of the September 23 climate summit and the start of the UN General Assembly's annual high-level date that begins the following day.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47436

U.N. expresses alarm over Egyptian death sentences

An Egyptian court sentenced 529 people to death for allegedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and murdering a police officer during a riot last August. Of those sentenced to death, 398 were tried in absentia, despite the fact that many were actually in custody in prison at the time. The precise charges against each defendant were not read in open court so the verdicts cannot be properly analyzed. A spokesman for the UN high commissioner on human rights called the verdicts "astounding", a violation of international law, and unprecedented in modern history. Thousands of Egyptians have been detained on similar charges and international observers are concerned that these death sentences signal a harsh precedent.

Full story at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/world/middleeast/un-expresses-alarm-over-

U.N. marks Day of Remembrance with calls to tackle slavery's lingering consequences

Today UN officials commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Since 2007, the UN has set aside March 25 to honor and remember those 15 million men, women and children who were subjected to the largest forced migration in history - the 400-year transatlantic slave trade.

A country that figures prominently into the ugly history of the slave trade - Haiti - celebrates 210 years since it gained freedom and independence. In 1804, Toussaint L'Ouverture led Haitians to become the first enslaved people to fight and establish their own republic. In New York, a permanent memorial The Ark of Return, designed by Haitian-American architect Rodney Leon, is currently under way to remind of the evils of slavery and inspire the fight against it in the modern world. General Assembly President John Ashe noted that slavery still manifests itself in the world today, especially victimizing women and girls in human trafficking. The day of remembrance and memorial are a reminder to draw lessons from the past to ensure a better future.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47428

Air pollution now linked to 1 in 8 deaths worldwide, U.N. health agency reports

"The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood. Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe" stressed UN World Health Organization's (WHO) Dr. Maria Neira. In 2012, 7 million deaths were blamed on indoor and outdoor air pollution. That represents one of every eight global deaths for the year. WHO estimates that up to 4.3 million of these deaths were linked to indoor air pollution, specifically in households cooking inside over coal, wood and biomass stoves. Southeast Asia and Western Pacific experienced the most air pollution related deaths. WHO noted that this data is a part of creating a roadmap to prevent air-pollution related disease through promoting more sustainable industry, energy and climate policy.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47426

U.N. Human Rights office concerned over Turkey's Twitter ban

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has criticized Turkey's decision to block access to the social media platform Twitter. The Turkish Government has blocked access to the site following high-level corruption allegations and growing unrest. Turkey recently passed in the legislature amendments that allow the country's telecommunication company to block websites without court order. Technically, the social media shutdown is legal on a domestic level. However, OHCHR Spokesperson Robert Colville, described the law as "incompatible with Turkey's international human rights obligations." He added further that freedom of expression and opinion are rights that must be protected both online and offline.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47431

UNHCR shocked and saddened at drowning of scores of Congolese refugees in Lake Albert

According to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 98 people are confirmed dead, 41 have been rescued and as many as 100 more are missing as a boat capsized on Lake Uganda. The boat was one of two that left Uganda's western coast to cross the lake to Democratic Republic of Congo. Aboard the boats were Congolese refugees who were returning home on their own accord and without assistance. Uganda is a major refugee-hosting site, with the majority from South Sudan and the DRC. According to UNHCR, refugees have been returning in increasing numbers to the relatively safe and secure North Kivu province of the DRC. UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gueterres, said "This tragedy has shocked me profoundly. I am grateful to the government and other actors who have mounted a rescue and recovery operation and are assisting the survivors. I have called on UNHCR's Uganda office to fully support these efforts."

Full story: http://www.unhcr.org/53300d8a9.html

At nuclear security summit, Ban urges deeper global cooperation to ensure safer world

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on world leaders to act quickly to cooperate to strengthen global nuclear security at the opening of the Nuclear Security Summit. He noted that in addition to traditional nuclear weapons concerns, the world faced a "pressing concern" to prevent non-state actors and terrorists from acquiring these weapons of mass destruction. He noted that national governments were the primary actors in achieving a world free to nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear terrorism. Mr. Ban also stated that the UN can and must play a key role in: strengthening the international framework for nuclear security; strengthening the capacity of States to detect and stop illicit trade in nuclear and radiological material; and the world body's efforts to achieve a nuclear weapon free world. He also stressed that the very existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to all people in the world and "we must ensure that nuclear weapons are seen by States as a liability, not an asset."

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47417

UN envoy gravely concerned at reported plans for new Israeli settlements

Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace process, expressed concern over Israel's plan to build over 2,300 settlement units. He expressed the view that these settlements are illegal under international law and contradict Israel's voiced desire for a two-State solution. Direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian sides resumed last year after a three-year hiatus. With these talks come renewed hope for peace, UN officials stressed the need to avoid actions such as settlement-building that will hinder the peace talks.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47411

With tensions high, Ban urges 'real' dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow to resolve crisis

On a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Russia and Ukraine to engage in "real dialogue" to peacefully resolve the current crisis. In February, the Ukrainian Parliament removed President Viktor Yanukovych following months of political unrest. Russian troops have occupied the autonomous region of Crimea and Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine this past week. Ban urged both States to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and any proactive actions that could further inflame the situation. A UN human rights monitoring mission has been deployed to the country, focusing on the east and south regions. The framework is being laid for monitoring in Crimea. Ban has urged peaceful resolution of the dispute grounded on the UN Charter, territorial integrity of the Ukraine and diplomatic pursuit of peace and security.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47401

Topic In Focus

Abu Gaith, Bin Laden's Son-in-Law, Convicted in American court on terrorism charges

In the city where twelve years ago al-Qaida carried out terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center killing scores of Americans, jurors in federal court convicted Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, Salumain Abu Gaith, on charges in connection with the attacks. Abu Gaith was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. He was not accused of planning the 9/11 attacks, but was involved directly thereafter in recruiting members to al-Qaida to carry out additional terrorist attacks. He was allegedly trusted by Bin Laden and was at Bin Laden's right hand in a cave following the attacks. He is the highest profile Bin Laden disciple to be tried in civilian court. The vast majority of suspects have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as enemy combatants and prosecuted by a military tribunal. The verdict has reignited the debate on whether civilian courts should be used in the future to prosecute al-Qaida terrorists. Al-Qaida's current number one in the field has been indicted in federal court in Manhattan. Despite the successful prosecution, some in the government maintain that the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay is preferable because of its additional resource as an intelligence gathering center, such as Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Supporters of the civilian courts point to the verdict as a victory for using America's courts to try terror suspects. Abu Gaith's attorney, Stanley L. Cohen, said he plans to appeal the case. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said Gaith would be sentenced on September 8. He faces life in prison.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/nyregion/bin-ladens-son-in-law-is-convicted

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/26/osama-bin-laden-son-in- law_n_5036249.

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