Syria: with samples en route to labs, Ban calls on Security Council to develop response
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Security Council to develop an appropriate response to the impending analysis of the chemical weapons samples taken in Syria by official inspectors. Noting the body’s “collective responsibility to mankind,” the Secretary-General urged that any response be taken only after considering the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict. The Secretary-General called for UN Members to take action only in accordance with the UN Charter, and urged members to reconvene the Geneva conference, with participation from senior United States, Russian, and UN officials.
Once analyses of the samples are completed, a report will be shared with the Secretary-General, who will present the results to the Member States and Security Council.
Mali: UNICEF boosts efforts to help half a million crisis-affected children return to school
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) intends to increase its efforts to assist half a million children in Mali restart their education, which was disrupted by conflict and a nutrition crisis in the northern part of the country. A rebellion of ethnic Tuareg groups, which began in January 2012, was followed by an insurgency of Islamist extremists. Hundreds of thousands were displaced, prompting the Government to request assistance from France to halt the southward march of the extremists. UNICEF has delivered learning materials for over 90,000 students. The agency will also train 9,000 teachers and set up temporary learning spaces while schools are refurbished or repaired.
The agency faces a severe budget shortage, as only 27 percent of the $12 million sought for emergency education has been received so far this year.
Deploring murder of Indian reporter, UN agency chief calls for investigation
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement condemning the murder of reporter Rakesh Sharma in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in northern India. Mr. Sharma, who was fatally injured by unidentified gunmen on August 23, was a reporter for the Hindi-language daily Dainik Aaj (Today) and had written articles about criminal operations in Uttar Pradesh. The Director-General called for a full investigation into his assassination.
Ban deplores attack on Iranian exile camp north of Baghdad
The Secretary-General condemned an attack on Camp Ashraf, which hosts Iranian exiles primarily from the People’s Mojahedeen of Iran. 47 persons were killed, and 3,000 residents have been relocated to a transit facility know as Camp Liberty, where the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will determine their refugee status and resettle them outside of the country, in accordance with an agreement signed in December 2011 between the UN and the Iraqi Government. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, medical support is being delivered to the Camp.
The Secretary-General called on the Government of Iraq to promptly investigate the incident and disclose its findings.
Ban appoints Colombian to head UN-backed commission to tackle impunity in Guatemala
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Iván Velásquez Gómez as head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). CICIG was established in 2006 to support the public prosecutors’ office, national civilian police and other Guatemalan institutions in their investigations into illegal security groups and clandestine security organizations. Gómez formerly served as an auxiliary magistrate of Colombia’s Supreme Court, and as a prosecutor with both the Colombian Attorney General’s Office and the Public Prosecutor’s office covering the Department of Antioquia.
At Alpbach, UN chief urges greater action to meet anti-poverty, sustainability goals
At the European Forum Alpbach, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged participants to seek action on achieving the Millennium Development Goals and setting a universal sustainable development agenda. The European Forum Alpbach brings together academics, students, and decision makers from all areas to find new ideas and solutions to European and global problems. The Secretary-General noted that the MDGs have focused international attention and that the global community has successfully reached some targets, such as halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and improving access to drinking water.
The MDGs and the post-2015 agenda will be discussed at the high-level opening of the new General Assembly year at the UN headquarters in New York in September.
Central African Republic: UN food relief agency scaling-up operations despite deteriorating security
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) continues to help thousands in the Central African Republic who have been displaced by violence perpetrated by armed groups. The humanitarian community has increasingly become a target of looting and attacks by armed groups. Despite the increasing security risks, WFP plans to expand the number of its sub-offices, scaling up operations to assist more people than the 81,000 already assisted this month. The agency estimates it will need 3,830 metric tons of food assistance to be able to serve an additional 118,500 people.
Fighting in the Republic resumed in December 2012 when a rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. 1.6 million people are in need of assistance, including food, protection, health care, water, sanitation and shelter.
On International Day, UN experts urge greater protection for those fighting for rights of disappeared persons
In a statement marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, experts from the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances called on UN Member States to provide special support to relatives and civil society groups fighting for the rights of victims of enforced disappearances. The Working Group, which collected testimony from family members of the disappeared, was established by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. Relatives who speak out risk reprisals by the authorities.
The International Day was established by resolution of the General Assembly, which noted the body’s concern regarding the increase in enforced or involuntary disappearances in various regions of the world.
Strongly condemning threats to Lebanon’s stability, Security Council extends UN peacekeeping force
The Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until August 31, 2014. The Council also condemned threats to the country’s security and stability, called on all parties in the region to respect the cessation of hostilities, urged the Government of Israel to expedite the withdrawal of forces from Northern Ghajar, and urged the Lebanese Armed Forces and the interim force to cooperate on matters of coordinated and adjacent patrols. Further, the Council stressed the importance of rapidly finalizing investigations into the attacks of 27 May, 26 July and 9 December 2011.
UNIFIL was established in 1978 to monitor the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River, keeping it free from unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets.
Security Council demands that DR Congo rebel groups end all violence, immediately disband
The Security Council renewed its demand for M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and other rebel groups to “immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms,” stressing that it would adopt targeted sanctions against those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) and civilians have been the target of repeated attacks by armed groups. Noting also that repeated mortar shells and bombs from DRC territory have been landing in neighboring Rwanda, the Council called for a thorough investigation into the sources of these shells and bombs via the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM).
MONUSCO supports the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) in protecting civilian-populated areas of Goma. One peacekeeper was killed on August 28, 2013, by a rebel attack.
Topic In Focus
Annual Report of the Secretary General on the work of the organization
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a report to the General Assembly summarizing the work of the Organization over the past year and highlighting new priorities and challenges. Various issues are discussed, including a post-2015 development agenda, climate change, democratic transitions, methods to maintain peace and security such as mediation and peacekeeping, the promotion of human rights, and disarmament and drug control.
The Secretary-General highlighted the Organization’s response to violence in countries such as Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where UN peacekeeping missions have been authorized to promote stability on the ground. The Secretary-General also noted that natural disasters have caused $138 billion in economic damage this year, necessitating renewed efforts to tackle climate change. Additionally, the Secretary-General noted that the conflict in Syria has proven to be “a stain on our collective conscience and a grim reminder that the costs of war are measured not only in lives lost but in economies and infrastructures shattered, precious historical sites ruined, fragile social bonds sundered and an entire region destabilized with potentially lasting consequences.”
Read the report at: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/68/1
Press release at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45764