Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
First annual UN forum seeks to mobilize investment, action for sustainable energy for all
The first annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum, a three-day forum designed to mobilize investment and action to achieve sustainable energy for individuals worldwide, kicked off at UN headquarters in New York. The Forum is intended to help build towards the UN Climate Change Summit, to be convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September, and includes over 1,000 participants from government, business, international organizations, and civil society groups. The Forum also featured the launch of the UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024), which focuses on energy for women and children's health during the initial two years.
UN chief welcomes formation of Palestinian unity government
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the formation of a Palestinian unity government to be headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. The government of national consensus follows the reconciliation deal reached in April by rival factions Fatah and Hamas. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the announcement with hope that new opportunities for progress towards a two-State solution with Israel will emerge soon. The UN reported that it had received assurances that the deal would be implemented on the basis of previous commitments, including the recognition of Israel and non-violence.
Majority of people lack proper social protection, UN agency reports
Following the release of its report – World Social Protection Report 2014/15: Building economic
The report highlighted the European Union, noting that reductions in social protection have contributed to increases in poverty which now affect 123 million people or 24 percent of the population, many of whom are children, women, older persons and persons with disabilities.
Midwives can prevent two-thirds of deaths among women and newborns – UN report
The State of the World's Midwifery 2014, a report published by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), together with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the World Health Organization (WHO), urges greater investment in midwives and advocates for additional efforts to address the severe shortage of midwifery care across low and middle income countries.
Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47949
#Youth2015: young people unite at UN forum to shape future development agenda
Young people from more than 1,000 youth organizations gathered for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, a two-day event that kicked off at UN Headquarters. The Forum is intended to allow youth to participate in ongoing discussions about creating a sustainable development agenda beyond 2015 – a global agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The Forum – now in its third year – seeks to build a global consensus among youth stakeholders, bearing in mind that half the world's population is under the age of 25.
"A consensus must be forged with complete targets for youth. Young people are sharing the same struggle to reach common aspirations in employment, education, politics and decision-making," Mr. Ban's Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, stated.
UN officials hail 'significant' move by US to curb power plant emissions
UN officials applauded President Barack Obama for announcing a new initiative seeking to limit emissions from power plants in the United States. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the initiative "a significant step toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions that are disrupting the climate, exacerbating extreme weather patterns, and threatening human health, sustainable economic growth and development." The initiative, launched ahead of an upcoming climate summit to be held in New York in September, also seeks to encourage other countries to take concrete action to combat climate change.
Failure to refer Syria to international court opens door to more atrocities, UN experts warn
The UN Security Council was unable last week to adopt a resolution referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to vetoes by permanent members Russia and China. The failure follows repeated appeals by senior UN officials for accountability for crimes being committed in the war-torn region. The resolution, which was backed by the other 13 members of the Council, would have given the ICC the mandate to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the course of the conflict in Syria, including the deaths of over 150,000 civilians, the displacement of millions and widespread violations of human rights, since March 2011. A group of independent UN human rights experts worry that the failure could result in new atrocities in the ongoing conflict.
Central African Republic: Security Council condemns latest wave of violence
The UN Security Council strongly condemned the recent wave of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), including a deadly attack on a church sheltering thousands of people in the nation's capital, Bangui. The Council demanded that all armed groups put aside their weapons and take immediate steps "to end the cycle of violence and retaliation."
In a Security Council statement, the Council noted that the CAR Transitional Authorities have the primary responsibility to protect civilians, while the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the African Union should provide support.
Maya Angelou's words will forever resonate at United Nations – Ban
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon mourned the death of renowned African-American poet and author Maya Angelou, noting that she is celebrated within the United Nations for delivering a moving poem on the 50th anniversary of the world body. Ms. Angelou read A Brave and Startling Truth, a poem which tackled themes of human rights, peace and social justice, at a commemoration ceremony in 1995.
"Her words on that occasion – that all 'have the power to fashion for this earth a climate where every man and every woman can live freely,' will forever resonate at the United Nations," Mr. Ban stated in a letter on behalf of the UN to Ms. Angelou's family and friends.
UN agencies welcome African-led push to end child marriage
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) welcomed the first campaign by the African Union to end child marriage, a practice affecting an estimated 17 million girls – 1 in 3 – across the African continent. The campaign is the first of its kind to include a large range of government officials, organizations, UN agencies and individuals, including youth and children, all of which are vowing to collectively end child marriage. Launched in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, the campaign is scheduled to run for an initial period of two years with national launches anticipated in 10 countries.
"This push led by Africans for Africans must not stop until every girl in every family and every community has the right to reach her 18th birthday before getting married," stated Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47923
Topic In Focus
25th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square
The UN the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, voiced concern about the detention of civil society activists, lawyers and journalists in China ahead of the 25th anniversary of the protests and massacre in Tiananmen Square, China. Allegations of dozens of detained individuals include reports of several detained and charged with "creating a disturbance" for participating in a private discussion about the 1989 Tiananmen Square events.
In June 1989, students occupied Tiananmen Square in an effort to protest corruption, inequality, and inflation in China. Violence erupted and, although an accurate death toll is unknown, estimates of the number of civilians killed by gunfire or crushed by tanks range from the hundreds to more than 1,000. The Chinese government, however, estimated that 300 people, mainly soldiers, perished.
Ms. Pillay emphasized the need to establish the facts surrounding what transpired June 3-4, 1989, and called for an independent, factual investigation, in light of dramatically differing accounts of events.
Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47946