Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
Egypt’s draft laws must conform to human rights standards
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Egypt to draft its laws in conformity with international human rights standards during its democratic transition following the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.
Mr. Ban also expressed concern over the conviction and sentencing of a number of local and foreign employees of international non-governmental organizations, noting that such convictions are a sign of “an increasingly restrictive environment” for civil society in the country.
‘Green jobs,’ poverty and role of women top agenda at start of UN labor conference
The United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) kicked off its 102nd International Labor Conference in Geneva. The two-week conference will address employment, growth and social progress, as well as the environment, poverty and the role of women in the work force.
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, highlighted the role of demography and technology, noting that they are helping to transform the work force more quickly and deeply than ever before. Ryder’s report for the conference, Towards the ILO centenary: realities, renewal and tripartite commitment, details seven initiatives for a “forward-looking and strategic response.”
UN experts urge El Salvador to reconsider abortion legislation, citing ruling against ill woman
A group of United Nations independent experts urged the Government of El Salvador to reconsider its legislation on abortion, following a Supreme Court decision denying the procedure to a seriously ill woman. In its decision, the Court held that the woman, known only as “Beatriz” to protect her privacy, did not have the right to undergo an abortion, despite the pregnancy threatening her life and the unlikelihood of the baby’s survival.
The experts warned that requiring Beatriz to continue with the pregnancy could amount to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, highlighting that “an absolute ban on abortion, when the result is serious risk to the life and health of the woman, constitutes a violation of the State’s obligation to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
Independent UN panel calls for diplomatic surge to end ‘daily reality’ of war crimes in Syria
A panel of United Nations human rights experts issued its latest report on the escalating civil war in Syria, detailing war crimes allegedly committed by both the Syrian Government and opposition forces, and calling for a “diplomatic surge” to end the violence.
The report, based on 430 interviews and other collected evidence, documents the increased availability of weapons in Syria in the conflict which has claimed the lives of more than 70,000 civilians and displaced more than four million over the last two years. The experts also advocate for dialogue as a means to find a solution to the conflict. “We ask that States exert influence over the parties to the conflict to compel them to protect civilians,” expert Paulo Pinheiro stated.
UN food, agriculture chief urges ‘nothing less than the eradication of hunger and malnutrition’
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched its annual report, calling for increased efforts to combat malnutrition and hunger worldwide. This year’s report, The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), focuses on improved food systems for better nutrition.
According to the FAO, approximately 870 million people were hungry in 2010-2012, while billions more suffer from malnutrition. An estimated two billion people have one or more micronutrient deficiencies, while 1.4 billion are overweight, of whom 500 million are obese. The report also notes that 26 percent of children under the age of 5 are stunted, while 31 percent suffer from a Vitamin A deficiency.
“FAO’s message is that we must strive for nothing less than the eradication of hunger and malnutrition,” stated FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
Full Report: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3300e/i3300e.pdf
Central African Republic: UN humanitarian fund allocates $7 million for lifesaving aid
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has allocated over $7.1 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide life-saving assistance to more than one million people in the Central African Republic.
According to OCHA’s figures, the 1.1 million people to be helped will include 595,000 children below five years of age. OCHA plans to provide humanitarian aid including food and medical assistance, access to potable water and sanitation, psychosocial support to victims of gender-based violence, waste management support and reproductive health care.
World’s first binding treaty on conventional arms trade opens for signature at UN
The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the first international treaty regulating the global arms trade, opened for signature at U.N. Headquarters in New York. Overwhelmingly approved nearly two months ago in the UN General Assembly by a vote of 154 to 3, the final ATT followed decades of efforts to halt illegal shipments of weapons such as missiles, combat aircraft and attack helicopters.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member States to ratify the historic ATT, which will enter into force 90 days after ratification by 50 Member States. Mr. Ban also appealed to major arms-trading countries in particular to be “first movers” by ensuring that their national legislation complies with the requirements of the treaty.
UN envoy pledges support to people, Government of Somalia as new political mission opens
The head of the new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) prepared to commence operations in Mogadishu, pledging to support the Government and people of Somalia as they strive toward security and prosperity.
In line with its mandate, UNSOM will endeavor to support peace-building, with a special emphasis on good governance, security sector reform, rule of law, human rights, providing “good offices” for mediation and political reconciliation and coordination of international assistance.
South African epidemiologist to lead panel of expert scientists on HIV – UN agency
The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) appointed South African scientist Salim S. Abdool Karim to chair a panel created to provide strategic advice on the relevance of new research and findings and how they could be rapidly implemented to prevent new HIV infections and improve the lives of people living with HIV.
“Science has the power to illuminate the future path to defeating AIDS. I am humbled by this appointment and look forward to this new challenge,” Mr. Karim stated.
UN and Japan sign agreement to combat illicit drugs and human trafficking
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Japan signed a Joint Plan of Action at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), agreeing to strengthen regional cooperation to fight the trade of illicit narcotics and human trafficking, as well as terrorism and cybercrime in Africa and Southeast Asia.
A $32 billion fund was announced for projects addressing peace and stability efforts, with an emphasis on building robust and sustainable economies, and promoting inclusive and resilient societies. Japan also pledged $1 billion for efforts to strengthen development, humanitarian and security assistance in the Sahel region, an area spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.
Topic In Focus
World Environment Day
The World Environment Day, celebrated annually on June 5, is an event aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. First celebrated in 1972, the World Environment Day and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. The environmental branch of the United Nations, the UN Environmental Programme, uses World Environment Day to personalize environmental issues and encourage positive change in support of sustainable and equitable development. World Environment Day activities take place year round, climaxing annually on June 5, and involving people from all over the globe.
For Further Information on World Environment Day: http://www.unep.org/wed/
On World Environment Day, UN spotlights ‘absurdity’ of global food waste
Marking World Environment Day, Senior United Nations officials highlight the global problem of food waste. Noting that tons of edible produce is wasted yearly, senior officials urge individuals to “reduce your foodprint!,” and help curb the massive loss and waste inherent in today’s food systems.
According to UN figures, nearly one-third of all food produced fails to make it from farm to table. “This is foremost an affront to the hungry, but it also represents a massive environmental cost in terms of energy, land and water,” stated Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“On this World Environment Day, I urge all actors in the global food chain to take responsibility for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable food systems,” he added.