WEEK OF APRIL 12, 2013

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

Assembly stresses role of international criminal courts in fostering reconciliation

The General Assembly stressed the vital role of the international criminal justice system in looking back on past atrocities and bringing former foes together, in its first ever debate on the system’s role. Various courts have been set up in the past twenty years to address atrocities in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Lebanon, and other countries. Forty-eight countries spoke at the day-long session. The Secretary General also met with representatives of various victims groups, such as Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, where at least some 6,000 Moslem men and boys were massacred in Yugoslavia, and the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/latest-headlines.asp

New UNICEF report ranks children’s well-being in 29 of world’s richest countries

UN Children’s Fund released a list entitled “Report Card 11: Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” which measures development according to five dimensions of children’s lives: material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks, and housing and environment. It also includes the views of the children themselves on their own life satisfaction. The Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden top the list.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44613

Read the list at: http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_eng.pdf

Land degradation damaging global agricultural production, warns new UN study

A new United Nations study, entitled The Economics of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought, was presented at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) 2nd Scientific Conference in Bonn, Germany. The report notes that up to 5% of global agricultural gross domestic production (GDP) is being lost due to deteriorating land quality and desertification. In that vein, up to 12 per cent of Africa’s agricultural GDP is being lost due to environmental degradation while the levels in individual countries vary widely, from six per cent in Paraguay to 24 per cent in Guatemala. In the words of the executive secretary, “the study also points to significant opportunities for action but unless scientific understanding of all land degradation and drought is strengthened, especially in the context of a changing climate, the global community is poorly positioned to deal with the impact of change.”

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44609

South Sudan: UN officials, Security Council condemn deadly attack on peacekeepers

The United Nations Security Council, the Secretary General and the Special Representative in the South Sudan strongly condemned the killing of at least 12 people working with the UN peacekeeping mission in Jonglei State. Five Indian peacekeepers, two UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) national staff and five civilian staff contractors were slain while defending a civilian convoy from an ambush by around 200 armed men near the settlement of Gumuruk in Jonglei. The Secretary-General expressed his condolences to the families of the peacekeepers, staff and civilians killed in the attack. He also expressed his condolences to the Governments of South Sudan and India.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44603

New UN-backed monitoring tool aims to help combat deforestation

The United Nations Forum on Forests unveiled the Global Forest Watch 2.0, an independent, interactive, real-time, forest monitoring system intended to provide clear and timely information making it easier for governments, companies and communities to fight deforestation. Technologies such as satellite, remote sensing technology, cloud computing and open source software, bolstered by high-speed connectivity, can be used to monitor forests in real-time and prevent deforestation.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44600

UN-backed European and Central Asian regional meeting focuses on job creation

An International Labour Organization (ILO)-backed regional meeting began in Norway with an urgent call for effective employment and social policies. The high level panel of representatives from 51 countries in Europe and Central Asia provides an opportunity for representatives to share national experiences and to discuss the response to the economic and jobs crisis in the region, looking at levels of social protection, social dialogue and the application of labor law. At least one million Europeans lost their jobs in the past six months alone. The regional meeting is held every four years to set priorities and discuss joint policies.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44597

On International Day, UN rights expert urges greater inclusion for Roma

Rita Izsák, the UN expert on minority rights, in a news release marking International Roma Day, argued that European Member States must do more to ensure that Roma peoples receive the support necessary to fully enjoy all their basic human rights, while commending those States for heading in a positive direction. She listed forced sterilization and workplace discrimination as examples of human rights deprivations. She also acknowledged Governments which have and reached out to local Romani communities in an effort to provide them with better access to social benefits, citing an example of the Moldovan government providing better access to drinking water for a Romani camp in Schinoasa. Some 12 million Roma reside throughout Europe, with other sizeable populations residing in Latin America.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44596

Ban calls for total elimination of chemical weapons within five years

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague, called on the 188 States Parties to the United Nations-backed treaty outlawing chemical weapons to do all in their power to encourage ratification by the eight nations that still have not signed on. Angola, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are the parties that have not yet ratified the convention. The Secretary-General focused on three key issues: to build on CWC’s achievements so that it remains effective against the re-emergence and proliferation of chemical weapons, including to terrorists; to partner with the chemical industry to address safety and security issues; and to use the treaty’s robust and reliable monitoring and verification mechanism.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44595

Peaceful use of outer space at heart of renewed UN efforts

The Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) began a 12-day meeting in Vienna, during which working groups will report on the status and application of the five treaties dealing with outer space. They will also examine the definition and delimitation of outer space, legal mechanisms relating to space debris mitigation measures and capacity-building in space law. The five space treaties deal with issues involving the exploration and use of outer space, the rescue of astronauts and the return of objects launched into space, liability for damage caused by space objects, registration of objects launched into space, and the activities of States on the moon and other celestial bodies.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44589

Dangers of air pollution worse than previously thought, UN health agency warns

The United Nations World Health Organization, at the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in Paris, France, stressed that indoor air pollution has become the leading risk factor for “burden of disease” in South Asia, while it was ranked second in Eastern, Central and Western Sub-Saharan Africa and third in Southeast Asia. By estimates, 3.5 million premature deaths are caused every year by household air pollution, and 3.3 million deaths are caused every year by outdoor air pollution. The CCAC targets short-lived climate pollutants, or SLCPs, as major culprits in the damage to health, as well as the cause of crop loss and climate change. The Coalition has already launched efforts to reduce black carbon and other pollutants from brick production through the adoption of modern technologies, lowering the emissions by 10 to 50 per cent.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44586

Topic In Focus

United Nations Forum on Forests, 2013

The Tenth Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, is being held this week in Istanbul, Turkey. The Forum on Forests is the only international body that addresses all forest and tree policy issues. During this tenth session, the forum will consider a range of measures to improve sustainable forest management and conclude with an outcome document. It will also showcase best practices in sustainable forest management and the winners of the 2012-2013 Forest Heroes Award, the winners of Forests for People: the first UN International Short Film Contest, and the first ever UN Forum on Forest Photo Contest.

Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood. Forests also supply 3/4ths of the world’s freshwater, regulate the impact of storms and floods, and store carbon from the atmosphere. They are a bulwark against the pollution and degradation caused by growth and development.

Read more: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44582

Official Website: http://www.un.org/esa/forests/index.html

Click here to visit the UN Committee Page