WEEK OF MAY 23, 2014

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

Lucrative but 'fundamentally evil,' forced labor must be eradicated once and for all – UN agency

An estimated 21 million people worldwide are thought to be in forced labor, human trafficking and modern slavery, according to a new United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) ground-breaking report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour. More than half of those suffering are women and girls primarily in domestic work and the commercial sex trade. It is estimated that illegal profits gained from the use of forced labor worldwide amount to $150.2 billion a year. For the first time, the report provides evidence of a correlation between forced labor and poverty. Other factors contributing to risk include lack of education, illiteracy, gender and migration. ILO Director-General Guy Ryder stressed that forced labor is bad for development and bad for business, noting that the report has added urgency to eradicate this 'fundamentally evil' practice, and to focus more attention on what drives forced labor and human trafficking in the private sector in particular.

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47839
Report: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf

Ban expresses concern for flood-hit Balkans as UN scales up disaster response

The United Nations and partners are ramping up the humanitarian response to the massive flooding and deadly mudslides in the Balkans caused by heavy rains. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern for affected populations in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia who are desperate for drinking water, medicine, food, tents and other emergency supplies and basic necessities. "More than 70,000 people have been evacuated and more than 50 have lost their lives in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia," said a UN spokesperson. Days of rainfall have submerged whole villages and triggered landslides throughout the region. The Secretary-General thanked UN Member States for their prompt response, including relief teams and civil-military support, and indicated that the UN stands ready to mobilize further humanitarian support in cooperation with national authorities, if requested.

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47844
Related: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47822

Quality care at birth could save nearly 3 million children – UN-backed study

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has released a new report highlighting that the majority of the approximately three million children who die before they are one month old could be saved if they received quality care around the time of birth. "Focusing on the crucial period between labor and the first hours of life can exponentially increase the chances of survival for both mother and child," said the head of UNICEF's global health programs, Mickey Chopra. According to UNICEF, 2.9 million babies die each year within their first 28 days. While there has been "tremendous progress" in saving children under five, he said the world has not made adequate progress to save the "very youngest, most vulnerable children." The report urges additional attention and resources for this group of children, as effective and life-saving practices exist. For example, Rwanda has halved the number of new-born deaths since 2000.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47827

World Health Assembly opens: Director-General announces new initiative to end childhood obesity

The World Health Assembly, the highest international health policy-making body, opened its Sixty-seventh session in Geneva. The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan expressed her serious concern about the worldwide rise of childhood obesity, with obesity rates in developing countries showing the steepest increases. Dr. Chan announced that she has established a high-level Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. UN Senior officials also underlined that attention to health must be part of any future global development agenda. "Better health is a good way to track the world's true progress in poverty elimination, inclusive growth and equity," Director-General Margaret Chan said. Substantial progress has recently been made on a number of key global health issues, including halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water, as well as progress in reducing child mortality, improving nutrition and combating HIV.

Full story: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2014/world-health-assembly67/en/
Related: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47825

In Shanghai, Ban urges China's continued support for sustainable development

"This is a time of enormous challenge," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon remarked to an audience at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies (SIIS) on a recent trip to China. "I look to China to provide global leadership, and I look to all of you to provide ideas and encouragement." Mr. Ban met with President Xi Jinping and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi before detailing his vision of key global challenges at a premiere institute of international politics, economics and security strategy. "We must never forget that all tensions are best resolved through dialogue and in accordance with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter," he emphasized. He delineated long-term global risks and trends, including growing inequality, the rise of intolerance, prevalent injustice, climate change and natural resource depletion, all of which contribute to conditions of insecurity.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47823

UNDP highlights the importance of competition in increasing access to health technologies

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released a new guidebook recommending that low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) make further use of competition law and policy to increase access to HIV treatment and other health technologies. Governments and civil society actors in a number of countries have successfully used competition law to promote robust market conditions in the health technologies sector, "yet many others are only now recognizing the importance of competition law, and are beginning to devote more legislative and administrative resources to the field," said Frederick Abbott, editor and one of the five authors of the Guidebook. Great progress has been made in improving access to HIV treatment in recent years, with the majority of the approximately 9.7 million people on life-saving HIV antiretroviral medicines using generic brands.

Full story: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2014/05/19/


UNICEF fears the worst for hundreds of thousands of children in South Sudan

Due to persistent conflict in three of South Sudan's states, warns UNICEF, hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of death and disease. UNICEF has repeated its call for all parties to the conflict to provide free and secure access for humanitarian assistance to the region and to stop violence against children, sexual and gender-based violence, and the recruitment of children. The UN Secretary-General has said that by the end of 2014, half of South Sudan's 12 million people will be either in flight, facing starvation, or dead. Children and women constitute the majority of those fleeing to neighboring countries.

Full story: http://www.unicef.org/media/media_73555.html
Related: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47821

U.N. seeks better aid distribution methods in Syria

United Nations officials say that 85% of food aid and more than 70% of medicines have gone to President Bashar al-Assad's government-held regions of Syria in the first quarter of 2014, compared to about 50% of aid supplies a year ago. Intensified fighting is cited as the reason behind the aid distribution figures which under-serve the large sections of Syria which are under opposition control. United Nations agencies are confronted with complex legal uncertainties as to whether they are legally allowed to enter Syrian territory without permission from the state. In addition, only a small number of rebel groups have, to date, given UN humanitarian aid providers permission to travel through their areas, citing security concerns. Approximately two million Syrians reside in difficult-to-reach areas in the heart of the country, only accessible by crossing combat lines and check points.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/world/middleeast/un-seeking-more-ways-to-distribute-aid-in-syria.html

UN officials highlight role of families in achieving development, advancing better world

"As we commemorate this year's International Day of Families, we recognize the meaningful contributions that families make to advancing the mission of the United Nations," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the International Day of Families, observed annually on May 15. United Nations officials highlighted the vital role that this critical social unit plays in achieving globally agreed development goals and advancing a better world for all. "By providing economic and emotional sustenance to their members, families can raise productive, caring citizens committed to the common good. Strong, well-functioning families, whatever form they may take, can help reduce poverty, improve the wellbeing of mothers, promote gender equality and uphold human rights."

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47796

Topic In Focus

Situation in Ukraine: UN finds rising human rights violations in Ukraine

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on "those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence in eastern Ukraine to do their utmost to rein in these men who seem bent on tearing the country apart." A United Nations report released on May 16 documents an "alarming" deterioration of the human rights situation in eastern Ukraine, including grave issues in Crimea, referencing numerous examples of targeted killings, torture, beatings, abductions, intimidation and sexual harassment, committed mostly by organized armed groups in the east. The new report was produced by a 34-person UN monitoring team in Ukraine and covers the period from April 2 to May 6.

The report notes "an increasing tendency in some critical urban areas for rallies of opposing groups to be held simultaneously, often leading to violent confrontations," despite many peaceful rallies and demonstrations also continuing to take place in Ukraine. "[R]epeated acts of violence against peaceful participants of rallies," are also described. "In most cases, local police did nothing to prevent violence, while in some cases it openly cooperated with the attackers," said a UN news release.

The report also highlights the issue of missing persons, including 83 still unaccounted for after disappearing during the events related to initial protests in the capital, Kiev. There has been an alarming spike in the east in abductions and unlawful detention of journalists, activists, local politicians, representatives of international organizations and members of the military, the report says. While some have subsequently been released, the bodies of a number of others have been dumped in rivers or other areas, or remain unaccounted for. The report notes that journalists, bloggers and other media personnel either based in or visiting eastern Ukraine are facing "increasing threats and acts of intimidation, including abduction and unlawful detention by armed groups."

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/17/world/europe/united-nations-human-rights-

Related: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47809
Report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/HRMMUReport15May2014.pdf

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