Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
Bringing Perpetrators of Serious Crimes to Justice Vital for Libya' s Transition – ICC Prosecutor
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, briefed the UN Security Council on the progress of prosecuting alleged perpetrators of serious crimes in Libya. She stressed that perpetrators must be brought to justice either in Libya or at ICC, in The Hague, and suggested that the international community consider forming a contact group on justice issues through which material and legal support could be provided regularly to enhance Libya's efforts to bring justice to victims.
The Prosecutor highlighted the need for the Libyan government to surrender Saif Al-Salam Qadhafi – former President Muammar al-Qadhafi's son, who has been indicted by the ICC for attacks against protesters and rebels during the 2011 uprising – to the ICC. She also discussed the slow progress made in the trial of Abdullah Al-Senussi, a former senior intelligence official indicted for alleged crimes against humanity. The ICC declined to hold the Al-Senussi trial in The Hague after ruling that Libyan authorities were willing and able to prosecute him in national court.
Amid Vast Global Gaps, Maternity, Paternity Protections Make Headway, UN Reports
Maternity and Paternity at Work: Law and Practice Across the World, a report issued by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), found that 830 million women workers worldwide lack access to maternity benefits, including access to adequate leave and income security around childbirth. The findings suggest that countries are adopting laws to provide maternity and paternity protections but enforcement of these laws is lacking in practice and allows for discrimination against pregnant women to continue. The report urges Governments to adopt and implement inclusive laws and policies for effective protection, include making maternity protection and work-family measures universal, and to pool resources through public funds and social services to take weight off the employers.
Syria: UN-Arab League Envoy Brahimi Resigns
Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Representative on the crisis in Syria, is resigning his post after two years. Mr. Brahimi, an experienced diplomat, has worked to end the brutal and still worsening civil war in Syria. Announcing the resignation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "That the objective to which he applied his extraordinary talents has proven elusive is a tragedy for the Syrian people."
The Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, has resulted in over 100,000 deaths and caused at least 6.5 million people to be internally displaced. Other figures indicate that 9.3 million are in need of assistance. Mr. Brahimi organized the Geneva talks earlier this year with the hope to bring the fighting parties together but the talks yielded only modest cooperation on humanitarian access without agreeing to any major issues, including ending the war.
As Crime Commission Opens, UN Official Urges Vigorous Response to Wildlife Crime
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) opened the 23rd session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice with a message to increase and strengthen the response to wildlife and forest crime. To effectively combat the growing threat, the UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, called on member states to strengthen regional cooperation and investigation. Noting the negative implications that wildlife and forest crime has on development worldwide, the UNODC plans to initiate vigorous research and analysis to generate the systematic assessments.
Iraq: UN Envoy Concerned about Impact of Ongoing Fighting on Civilians in Fallujah
The Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Nickolay Mladenov, raised concern about the increase in violence and armed activities in Fallujah. Fallujah has been a center of violence between Iraqi troops and al-Qaeda affiliated groups, forcing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom are residing in schools, mosques and other public buildings and are in need of various humanitarian items. Mr. Mladenov stressed the importance of humanitarian support for civilians caught in the fighting and stressed that the UN will continue to work with the local authorities to ensure that those in need receive aid.
Political Rivals Must End Dispute Before South Sudan Goes 'Down in Flames' – UN Rights Chief
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on the President of South Sudan, Salva Kirk, and his political rival, Dr. Riek Machar, to take immediate steps to stop the killings in the area. Ms. Pillay's comments reflect the latest findings by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UMISS) that provides a comprehensive account of human rights violations and atrocities committed in South Sudan since December 2013, when the country descended into violence.
Ms. Pillay warned of the gravity of the situation two weeks ago when she visited South Sudan. She said that, given the report and evidence, "it is simply not credible" that the government is not aware who was responsible for slaughter of more than 300 Nuer men in December last year. Ms. Pillay welcomed the renewed attention to the conflict in South Sudan and urged the UN Security Council and the international community to continue to monitor the dire human rights situation in South Sudan before it collapses into a humanitarian catastrophe.
Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47760
Venezuela: UN Concerned at Renewed Violence, Reported Excessive Use of Force
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced concern about renewed violence in Venezuela and allegations of excessive use of force by authorities against a group of youth movement protestors who had been camping peacefully outside the UN Development Programme (UNDP) offices in Caracas and other parts of the city. The Venezuelan government claimed that protestors were armed with guns and Molotov cocktails. The arrests of the youth sparked outrage and protests against the arrests.
UN Imposes Sanctions on Central Africa Ex-President Bozize
The UN Security Council imposed targeted sanctions on the former president of the Central African Republic, Francois Bozize, as well as on the leader of the anti-Balaka militia, Levy Yakete, and the Seleka militia's number two, Nourredine Adam. The Security Council has accused these men of engaging in and providing support for acts that undermine peace and stability in the Central African Republic. Following a coup in March 2013, the Central African Republic has been engulfed in violence, including fighting between Christian and Muslim populations. The UN has deployed troops to the area in an effort to restore order and peace.
Democratic Republic of Congo Mass Gender-Based Violence Verdict Fails to Deliver Justice to Victims, Say UN Envoy
The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, expressed disappointment in the low rate of gender-based violence convictions during the recent trial of 39 soldiers and officers charged with crimes committed in and around the town of Minova in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) two years ago. Acknowledging the bravery of the survivors and emphasizing that the verdict does not represent the magnitude of the crimes of gender-based violence, Ms. Bangura urged the government of the DRC to pay reparations and take immediate measures to protect survivors, witnesses, and legal counsel who worked tirelessly to bring justice to victims.
Too Many People Still Lack Basic Drinking Water and Sanitation – UN Report
The 2014 Joint Monitoring Report on global progress against the Millennium Development Goals – produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) – found that, despite progress, sharp inequalities on access to water and sanitation remain. An estimated 80% of people who live in urban areas have access to improved sanitation while only 47% of people in rural areas have similar access. Access to water and sanitation differ not only between geographical locations but also in economic spheres, where people living in low-income areas or informal settlements are less able to obtain an improved water supply or better sanitation. Limited or no access to water and sanitation is linked to diseases and puts already vulnerable populations at an even higher risk of infection and diseases.
Topic In Focus
Abduction of Nigerian Schoolgirls: UN Response
The UN Security Council issued a statement demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria in mid-April. The Security Council welcomed the efforts by the Nigerian government to ensure the safe return of the girls to their families and called on the international community to work closely with the Nigerian authorities. The Security Council will continue to follow the situation and may consider taking appropriate measures against Boko Haram, emphasizing that "the targeting of children and schools is against international law and cannot be justified under any circumstances."
Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has accepted the UN Secretary-General's offer to send a high-level envoy to discuss how the UN could further support the Nigerian Government tackle internal challenges.