Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.
UN spotlights plight of refugees as number of globally displaced hits 18-year high
June 20 is World Refugee Day. World Refugee Day was established by the UN General Assembly in 2000 and is dedicated to raising awareness of the condition of refugees throughout the world. The focus of this year’s World Refugee Day is on families.
On June 19, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released its Global Trends report, which showed that at the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement, including both refugees and internally displaced persons around the world, which constitutes an eighteen-year high.
UN officials voice outrage at deadly attack on world body’s compound in Somali capital
At least 15 people, including four foreigners, were killed on June 19 in an assault by militant Islamists on a UN office in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
At start of visit to China, UN chief highlights partnership for peace, stability
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Chinese leaders in Beijing on Wednesday. The Secretary-General discussed with President Xi Jinping of China a variety of topics central to the agenda of the United Nations, including topics relating to peace and security, human rights and development, and the situations in Syria and in the Korean peninsula.
During the meeting, Mr. Ban invited the President to participate in a leaders' summit on climate change which he intends to convene next year at UN Headquarters in New York.
UN officials urge Governments to ensure natural resources fuel development, not conflict
Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson stressed on Wednesday during a meeting of the Security Council that national governments bear primary responsibility to ensure that natural resources do not fuel conflict but rather that land and mineral wealth are managed wisely, transparently and yield benefits for the people they represent.
Mr. Eliasson also stressed that while governments play a central role in natural resource management, the private sector, civil society and international organizations are also critical in ensuring the extraction of natural resources is done equitably, transparently, and sustainably.
Ban appoints Irish major general to head up UN’s oldest peacekeeping mission
The Jerusalem-based UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) is the first such operation set up by the United Nations, which it did almost 60 years ago. Since its inception, UNTSO has performed a variety of tasks entrusted to it by the Security Council, including the observation of the ceasefire in the Suez Canal area and the Golan Heights following the Arab-Israeli war of 1967.
Major General Michel Finn of Ireland was appointed as head of Mission and Chief of Staff of UNTSO on June 18. Major General Finn has command and peacekeeping experience, both at the national and international levels.
US progressing towards first human-to-asteroid space mission, UN committee told
Mr. Charles Bolden, Administrator of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), briefed the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the United Nations body that fosters international cooperation in space research and exploration, on the U.S.’s initiative to send the first human mission to an asteroid.
Ms. Mazlan Othman, Director of the UNOOSA, welcomed the asteroid initiative, which has a goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars by the 2030s.
Senior UN officials urge restraint, dialogue to defuse tensions fuelling protests in Turkey
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for constructive dialogue to defuse tensions in Turkey. The High Commissioner expressed her concern regarding the significant number of people, including lawyers and social media users, that appear to have been arbitrarily detained.
The High Commissioner emphasized that “[i]n times of growing public outcry and large-scale protests, the Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that police forces do not resort to excessive use of force and other human rights violations while discharging their duties.”
UN chief renews call for entry into force of treaty banning nuclear tests
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) prohibits nuclear tests across the world, banning nuclear explosions in all environments, for military or civilian purposes. The Treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 1996, though it has not yet entered into force.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged States to achieve the earliest possible entry into force of the Treaty, through his message to the “CTBT: Science and Technology 2013” Conference, taking place June 17-21 in Vienna.
General Assembly elects UN Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda as President of 68th session
Ambassador John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda was elected as President of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The UN General Assembly is a body made up of all 193 Member States of the United Nations. It provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues addressed by the Charter of the United Nations.
Ambassador Ashe, who is currently the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations in New York, set out a focus of the 68th session on new and emerging development challenges, targeting two primary goals: overcoming poverty, and ensuring sustainable development.
The United States provides the United Nations with information on chemical weapons use in Syria
On June 14, the United States delivered a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General, setting out the U.S.’s latest assessment of chemical weapons use in Syria. The United States requested that the United Nations’ fact-finding mission include the information in this letter in the mission’s ongoing investigation.
Topic In Focus
Ad-Hoc International Criminal Tribunals vs. the International Criminal Court (ICC)
The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was established by UN Security Council Resolution 1966 on December 22, 2010. The MICT was established in order to carry out several essential functions of the two ad-hoc international criminal tribunals – the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) -- following the completion of their respective mandates.
The ICTR was created by the UN Security Council in November, 1994, for the prosecution of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1994. The ICTY was established by the UN Security Council in 1993 in response to mass atrocities then taking place in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Other active ad-hoc international criminal tribunals include the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
While most ad-hoc international criminal tribunals were established by United Nations Security Council resolutions, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the only permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the Rome Statute).
The Rome Statute is an international treaty which was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome, Italy on July 17, 1998, and entered into force on July 1, 2002. Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute authorizes the Court to exercise jurisdiction in a situation which is referred to the Court by the UN Security Council.
The United Nations and the ICC are two separate and independent organizations, and the ICC is not a part of the UN system.
UN Security Council Resolution 1966 (2010):
Mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR):
Mandate of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY):
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: