WEEK OF JUNE 20, 2014

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

Impunity, unprecedented violence, denial of aid hallmarks of Syria conflict – UN rights panel

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria – a United Nations-appointed human rights panel – found that the majority of civilians in Syria continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict. The panel specifically noted that violence has escalated to an unprecedented level, humanitarian aid is arbitrarily denied, and perpetrators of crimes have no fear of consequence. The panel's findings are based on over 3,000 interviews, which include "detailed narratives" indicating a massive number of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission, presented the Commission's findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. In his remarks, he stated: "The international community, and specifically the Security Council, has yet to demand accountability for the crimes that are being committed daily against the Syrian people. Through their inaction, a space has been created for the worst of humanity to express itself."

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48070

After reports of mass executions in Iraq, Ban calls on leaders to prevent sectarian reprisal

UN staff and other sources on the ground in Iraq reported the executions of hundreds of Iraqis following last week's capture of Mosul and other population centers by forces allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including disarmed soldiers as well as religious leaders and other civilians. Reports of "cold-blooded" mass executions in Iraq in the last week have caused serious and condemnation from the international community. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the allegations "deeply disturbing" and stressed that the perpetrators of those crimes must be brought to justice and urged Iraqi leaders to prevent sectarian reprisals.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48056
Related story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48072

UN urges G77+China to unite on combating poverty, climate change

At the conclusion of the Group of 77 Summit, a two-day conference held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized to the G77 and China the importance of cooperation and partnerships in an effort reduce inequality, end poverty, and combat climate change. Concluding with a focus on creating a new sustainable development framework, he stated, "the fate of billions of poor people and the state of the planet depend on the success of our efforts."

The G77 was established in 1964 by 77 States to promote its countries' economic interests. The group now includes more than 130 countries, approximately two-thirds of the UN membership, and over 60 percent of the world's population.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48053

On World Day, Ban urges adoption of laws, strategies to ensure dignity for elderly persons

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the international community to adopt measures to address all aspects of elder abuse. Warning that elderly people worldwide can be vulnerable to physical, psychological and financial abuse, he called the issue an "under-acknowledged public health, social and human rights issue." According to UN estimates, between four and six percent of elderly individuals worldwide have suffered from some form of abuse. The UN World Health Organization (WHO), however, suggested that there is often a lack of acknowledgment regarding the abuse that many elderly individuals suffer on a daily basis.

Marking this year's commemoration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, created to draw attention to global social issues affecting elderly people, Mr. Ban emphasized the particularly high vulnerability of elderly women to widespread discriminatory attitudes and practices.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48051
Related story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48055

South Sudan: UN agencies, partners appeal for $1B for life-saving aid

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) proposed a 2014 South Sudan Crisis Response Plan to assist 3.8 million people hit by hunger, violence and disease in South Sudan. The humanitarian arm of the UN noted that the plan, including an appeal for $1.8 billion by the end of the year, is needed to save lives, prevent a famine, and avert the loss of a generation of children and young people to conflict in South Sudan. According to OCHA, an estimated 50,000 children in the country could die this year and thousands of rape survivors could go without psychosocial support, if assistance is discontinued. An estimated $740 million allocated for the plan has already been mobilized.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48050

UN chief condemns shooting of Ukrainian plane, 49 aboard killed

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the shooting of a Ukrainian military airplane in the eastern city of Lugansk, killing all 49 people aboard. Mr. Ban appealed to all sides of the conflict to immediately implement the April 17 Geneva Agreement, struck in Geneva at a meeting between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union. The agreement outlined a series of steps to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine that reportedly include demobilizing militias and vacating seized Government buildings.

Mr. Ban also reiterated support for the newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko, and the people of Ukraine.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48049

Senior UN officials congratulate Afghans on presidential election run-off

UN officials called the conclusion of the second round of the Afghanistan presidential election a major achievement in the country's historic democratic transition. The presidential election marks the first-ever transfer of power from one elected leader to another in Afghan history.

Congratulating the voters and highlighting the efforts of the national security forces, the head of the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA), Ján Kubis, stated: "With the same determination, resilience and courage the world saw in the first round of elections, the people of Afghanistan today once again decided to take their destiny in their own hands and demonstrate their desire for a peaceful, prosperous, and united Afghanistan."

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48048

New UN-backed report finds 'alarmingly high' levels of elephant poaching across Africa

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a UN agency, released a report detailing elephant poaching and ivory smuggling figures in Africa. The report warns that the level of elephant poaching across Africa remains alarmingly high, including an increase in the number of large seizures of ivory. According to CITES figures, over 20,000 African elephants were poached in Africa in 2013. The report also warns that poaching levels continue to far exceed the natural elephant population growth rates, resulting in a further decline in elephant populations across Africa. CITES noted that poverty, weak governance and the demand for illegal ivory in consuming nations, are key factors in the high poaching levels.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48043
Related story: http://www.cites.org/eng/elephant_poaching_and_ivory_smuggling_figures

Report: http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/com/sc/65/E-SC65-42-01.pdf

General Assembly urged to 'make UN more relevant' in global combat against terrorism

The UN General Assembly opened its Fourth Review of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Strategy, adopted by consensus in 2006, is a comprehensive policy framework to combat terrorism, including universal condemnation of terrorist violence and providing guidance to Member States. Four pillars supporting the strategy include: measures to address conditions conducive to terrorism's spread; measures to prevent and combat terrorism; measures to build States' capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the UN system; and measures to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law as the fundamental basis for the fight against terrorism.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48032
The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: http://www.un.org/en/terrorism/

Working together for human rights in the Euro-Atlantic region

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR), signed a joint declaration aiming to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights, non-discrimination and gender equality in the Euro-Atlantic region. The declaration provides a general framework for enhancing cooperation between the two organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights. Pursuant to the declaration, OHCHR and the OSCE ODIHR will assist governments of the participating States to implement the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms, including the human rights treaty monitoring bodies, the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, and the Universal Periodic Review.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/EuroAtlanticAgreement.aspx

Topic In Focus

UN agency adopts new legally binding protocol on forced labor

The United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) adopted the 2014 Protocol to ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor, a new legally binding protocol on forced labor, aiming to advance prevention, protection and compensation measures, and to intensify efforts to eliminate contemporary forms of slavery. The Protocol, adopted on June 11 by the annual conference of the UN International Labor Organization (ILO), is an additional protocol to the ILO Convention 29 on forced labor from 1930.

According to a recent ILO report, Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor, an estimated 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labor and generate $150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy each year.

A group of United Nations independent experts on slavery, migrants, trafficking, sale and sexual exploitation of children, and internally displaced persons welcomed the adoption the Protocol as an effort to combat forced labor worldwide. According to the experts, the Protocol tackles "modern slavery" by addressing existing gaps and strengthening the body of instruments on forced labor, including child labor, trafficking in persons, slavery and slavery-like practices and related human rights violations. Measures included in the protocol include provisions to advance prevention, protection and remedies against forced labor, as well as to enforce national laws and strengthen international cooperation from gender and child-sensitive approaches. The accompanying Recommendation provides technical guidance on implementing the Protocol.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48037
Related story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48018
2014 Protocol: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---

ILO Report: http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---

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