WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 27, 2013

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

Ban Welcomes Signing of Arms Trade Treaty by Majority of UN Members, Including US

Eighteen countries, including the United States, signed a treaty regulating international trade in conventional arms at a side event of the UN General Assembly high-level debate. The new treaty prohibits the transfer of arms that could be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. It regulates the sale of all conventional arms, including: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons. The treaty currently has 107 signatories – over half of all Member States – and will enter into force after ratification by 50 Member States.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46005

Opening Forum, General Assembly President Calls for Renewed
Commitment to Multilateralism

John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, opened the annual General Debate with an appeal to Member States to renew their commitments to eradicating poverty and fostering growth. Mr. Ashe encouraged world leaders to remain optimistic about the potential of the post-2015 development agenda to address the world’s needs effectively. The General Debate provides a forum for high-level officials from around the world to begin and continue a dialogue about the parameters of the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Ashe stressed the need to reach a shared consensus through multilateralism, negotiation, and a commitment to work cooperatively.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45952

Obama Defends U.S. Engagement in the Middle East

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, President Obama declared that the United States would be involved in the Middle East for the long haul, defending US engagement on the grounds that leaving the region would create a “vacuum of leadership” that no other nation is prepared to fill. The speech addressed a number of situations in the region. Regarding diplomatic relations with Iran, Mr. Obama stated that he directed Secretary of State John Kerry to begin high-level negotiations on its nuclear program. Addressing the situation in Syria, Mr. Obama called on the Security Council to impose consequence on Syria if it failed to turn over its chemical weapons stockpile. Turning to Egypt, Mr. Obama warned the Egyptian military-backed government that it would lose American support if it continued to crack down on civil society. He also called for support of resumed talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/us/politics/obama-iran-syria.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0

Human Rights Council Holds General Debate on the Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories

The Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights presented a report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the Human Rights Council. The report addressed restricted access in Gaza and the continuing blockade, as well as alleged ongoing rights violations in the West Bank. The report noted a lack of accountability for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including the failure to investigate allegations of rights violations. Palestine and Syria spoke as concerned countries at the presentation of the report; however, Israel was not present. The presentation of the report was followed by a general debate before the Council on the situation of other Occupied Arab Territories.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13767&LangID=E

Asian, Pacific Countries Adopt Agreement on Reproductive Health at UN Conference

Five hundred delegates from 47 countries adopted the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development. The Declaration affirms that national laws and policies that promote and protect gender equality and reproductive health are indispensable to sustainable development. The Declaration is the outcome document of the Sixth Asian and Pacific Population Conference and proposes goals for the post-2015 development agenda. It will also serve as the region’s input to the General Assembly’s upcoming review of the 20-year action plan on sexual and reproductive rights.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45915

On International Day, UN calls for Investment in Peace Education

On the 32nd annual International Day of Peace, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted education as a key to peace. Mr. Ban called on Member States to increase their investment in education, noting that aid to schools and for teachers has dropped for the first time in ten years, while 57 million children do not have access to education. In commemoration of the day, 500 students from around the world shared their ideas and concerns in a video conference with UN leaders.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45909

Human Rights Council: International Coalition Endorses Principles
Against Unchecked Surveillance

Civil society organizations presented the first evaluative framework for assessing surveillance practices in the context of international human rights. The international coalition introduced the 13 Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance at a side event of the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. In their remarks to the Council, both the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion highlighted the relationship between state surveillance, individual privacy, freedom of expression, and the need for guidelines on modern technological state surveillance.

Full story: http://tribune.com.pk/story/606955/human-rights-council-international-coalition-
endorses-principles-against-unchecked-surveillance/

After 20 Years, UN Commission on Sustainable Development Holds Final Session

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) held its final session after two decades of work. A report by the Secretary-General’s office found that while the CSD created the first working definition of sustainable development and spurred the first international conference on the topic, it failed to effectively monitor and implement sustainable development. The incoming High-Level Political Forum will pick up the CSD’s work at the General Assembly debate and will chart the course for implementing outcomes of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (known as Rio+20), accelerating progress on Millennium Development Goals, and contributing to the post-2015 development agenda.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45901

UN issues call on Member States to ratify Convention on Rights of the Child

The United States, Somalia, and South Sudan are the only Member States who have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations, providing protection and support for the rights of children. Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative on Violence against Children, called on these states to ratify the CRC at the annual Treaty Event to be held September 24 - 26, 30, and October 1. She also called on states to ratify the three Optional Protocols to the CRC. These include the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict; and an Optional Protocol creating a mechanism whereby children can file individual complaints with the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45894

Cutting-edge Technology Enhances Human Rights Monitoring During Togo Elections

The UN Human Rights Office in Togo launched a successful electoral monitoring system that makes use of modern technology, including a telephone hotline and internet tool for citizens to report human rights violations during elections in real time. Over the course of legislative elections in July, two hundred people used the hotline, and over 1,200 people used the online tool to report violations such as the bribing or intimidation of voters and voting by minors. Other efforts to increase electoral fairness included the deployment of 600 human rights observers and the publication and dissemination of human rights manuals to law enforcement, the media, and civil society organizations.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Cutting-edgetechnologyHRmonitoring
duringTogoelections.aspx

Topic In Focus

Disability-inclusiveness for the Post-2015 Development Agenda

As the era of the Millennium Development Goals draws to close, the UN General Assembly, civil society organizations, and world leaders are turning their attention to the creation of the post-2015 development agenda. While the details of the agenda have yet to be fully sketched out, it appears that disability rights will feature a more prominent role. This week, the General Assembly adopted an outcome document stressing the need to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to remove both physical barriers to equality as well as barriers stemming from stigma and discrimination. This week, the UN and several civil society organizations released a report detailing ways in which information and communication technologies (ICTs) can increase social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities. The report also addressed challenges to using ICTs to foster inclusion and proposed concrete actions to overcome them. Persons with disabilities are considered to be the largest minority group in the world.

Sources:
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45958
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45931

Report: The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework: http://www.itu.int/en/action/accessibility/Documents/The%20ICT%20Opportunity%20for
%20a%20Disability_Inclusive%20Development%20Framework.pdf


Poland's Minister of Environment, Incoming President of COP 19, Addresses City Bar

On September 25, the City Bar hosted Marcin Korolec, Poland's Minister of Environment and President of COP19, the 19th meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Mr. Korlec addressed an audience in the Great Hall, providing a preview of the upcoming negotiations in relation to the UNFCCC. He discussed possible scenarios for climate mitigation, adaptation, and compensation for losses by victims of the world's inaction to address this issue. The event was co-sponsored by the Task Force on Legal Issues of Climate Adaptation and the Committee on the United Nations.


Click here to visit the UN Committee Page