WEEK OF MAY 30, 2014

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

UN Rights chief urges action after pregnant Pakistani woman stoned to death by family

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, spoke out against the killing of 25-year old Farzana Parveen, a Pakistani woman murdered by her family members for marrying a man of her own choice. Ms. Parveen was killed en route to the Lahore High Court where she was due to challenge her father's allegations that she had been kidnapped by her husband. Ms. Parveen is one of at least 869 women murdered in "honor killings" in Pakistan just last year. Ms. Pillay urged the Pakistani government to take "urgent and strong" measures to end "honor killings" and other forms of violence against women.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47907

With Syria's culture near 'point of no return', UN agency to create safeguard observatory

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will create an observatory to monitor the state of Syria's cultural heritage, which it has described as "reaching the point of no return." UNESCO hopes to lessen the "cultural hemorrhage" that has taken place in Syria during the conflict; all six of Syria's UNESCO World Heritage sites have been affected and many have been illicitly excavated. The observatory, based in Beirut, Lebanon, will maintain an online platform for national and international stakeholders to share information on damaged structures, looted artifacts, and threats to intangible cultural heritage, such as performing arts.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47911

UN agency, Malaysia, convene expert meeting on real-time flight data monitoring

A two-day dialogue facilitated by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and hosted by the Malaysian Government concluded on May 27. The dialogue with aviation experts and telecommunications leaders concerned potential reforms in the way commercial jetliners are tracked in real time. The International Civil Aviation Organization reviewed the preliminary report on MH370 – a 239-passenger jetliner that disappeared from civilian radar on March 8 – and will partner with an Aircraft Tracking Task Force to examine safety benefits for real-time flight tracking, and develop guidance material on the same.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47903

With urban populations set to soar, UN convenes major event on sustainable cities

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) kicked off a three-day event to address the challenges and opportunities for sustainable urbanization. An estimated 6.3 billion people are expected to live in cities by 2050, straining weak infrastructure and facing the challenges of unemployment and pollution. The sustainable urbanization conference highlights the need for urban plans and policies that consider the people they affect – such as linking corporate responsibility to plans that encourage business development and requiring urban transportation to focus on meeting the needs of all vulnerable people.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47894

Senior UN officials urge Brazzaville to halt expulsion of DR Congo nationals

Since early April of this year, over 130,000 nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been expelled from Brazzaville, the capital city of the Republic of Congo. Numerous reports of sexual violence and other human rights violations committed against forcibly expelled persons have emerged since the forced expulsions began. Representatives from the UN Mission to the Congo and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict called for an end to sexual violence and urged both countries to ensure that administrative and security officials preserve peace and security in conformity with the UN Charter and with the African Charter on Human and People's Rights.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47891

On Africa Day, Ban urges leveraging continent's potential for the good of the people

In the spirit of this year's thematic focus for Africa Day – agriculture and food security – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated the world must do more to unleash Africa's full agricultural potential. Two out of three people in Africa are employed by the agricultural sector, and Africa has seven out of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Mr. Ban encouraged sustainable agriculture methods and promoted the Zero Hunger Challenge. This year's Africa Day falls during the International Year of Family Farming, which aims to mobilize support for smallholder farmers.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47887

UN experts call on governments to adopt legally binding treaty against forced labor

A recently-released report by the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor, finds that forced labor generates $150 billion in profits – three times greater than previous estimates. Over 20 million people are the victims of forced labor; the majority are migrants. In conjunction with the issuance of this report, the ILO called on governments to vote for a legally binding protocol for States to eradicate forced labor. The ILO urged the adoption of such a protocol at the upcoming International Labor Conference.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47873
Report: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_243391.pdf

International Criminal Court sentences former Congolese militia leader to 12 years

Former militia leader Germaine Katanga was sentenced to 12 years in prison for four counts of war crimes and one count of crimes against humanity. The crimes were committed in connection with a 2003 attack on the village of Borgor in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Specifically, the crimes against humanity included murder, attacking a civilian population, and destroying property and pillaging. Mr. Katanga was a senior commander in the Force de Résistance Patriotique in Ituri. The twelve-year sentence took into account Mr. Katanga's degree of participation and intent to commit such crimes as well as his active participation in a subsequent process to demobilize child soldiers.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47872

Landslides, disease pose threats in wake of epic flooding in Balkans – UN

UN humanitarian agencies expressed concerns about landslides and the spread of water-borne diseases in the wake of record flooding in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that over 2,000 landslides have affected the region, especially its agricultural lands. UNICEF has also turned its efforts to water sanitation and hygiene – distributing 300 hygiene kits to affected residents and distributing over 1 ton of chlorine to decontaminate water supplies. Officials warn that dead animals in the flood waters pose the biggest risk for the spread of water-borne disease.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47879

It's not just a game: UN-hosted event spotlights power of sports to advance shared values

The UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) hosted the World Sports Values Summit for Peace and Development at the UN headquarters in New York. The Summit is part of a series of internal symposia whose goal is to highlight the role that sports can play in peace and human development. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative for the UNAOC, advised looking to sports to find constructive strategies for solving greater challenges. The UNAOC promotes sports, music, entertainment and other forms of collective expression of human values as tools to foster a culture of peace and diversity.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47866

Topic In Focus

20th Anniversary of the Beijing Women's Conference

In 1994, thousands of participants gathered for the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (Beijing Women's Conference) to agree on measures and initiatives to reduce gender inequality and increase women's empowerment. The outcome was the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which declared that women's rights are human rights. Twenty years later, gaps in gender equality persist throughout the world.

UN Women, the Commission on the Status of Women, and other UN agencies have launched a one-year campaign in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Women's Conference and in an effort to renew commitment, strengthen action and increase resources to realize gender equality, women's empowerment and the human rights of women and girls. Campaign measures include social media initiatives, such as a global Tweetathon and an interactive Facebook app called "Close the Gap", a global information hub, and a platform called HeForShe, which features prominent men standing up for an end to violence against women.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47867
Beijing Women's Conference materials: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/index.html

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