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

UNESCO adds seven items to list of intangible cultural heritage

Seven traditions were added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, after being chosen by a committee that is meeting at UNESCO headquarters in Paris this week. To be included on the list, traditions must meet a series of criteria, including that they contribute to spreading the knowledge of intangible cultural heritage and promote awareness of its importance.

The new additions to the list come from Oman, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Venezuela and Viet Nam; the traditional activity of falconry was extended to include Austria and Hungary, which join Saudi Arabia, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, France, Morocco, Mongolia, Qatar, Syria, the Republic of Korea and the Czech Republic.


UN war tribunals make progress but still face challenges, according to officials

Officials told the Security Council that the United Nations war crimes tribunals set up following the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda are making progress in completing their work, but face a number of challenges that will require additional support from the international community.

The ICTY is tasked with trying those responsible for war crimes and other breaches of international humanitarian law committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Since inception, the tribunal has indicted 161 persons. The ICTR was set up after the Rwandan genocide; appeals are expected to be completed by the ICTR by December 31, 2014.


UN disaster response study issued

A UN report indicates that many medium-sized towns in Africa lack early-warning systems and risk-reduction budgets, and are poorly equipped to respond to emergencies caused by natural disasters, rural-urban migration and ecosystem destruction. The report, titled “City Resilience in Africa: A Ten Essentials Pilot,” was published by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), concludes that while there is recognition of the value of disaster-risk reduction and the need to build resilience, the means, knowledge and political commitment to carrying it out are lacking.


UN launches appeal for humanitarian aid to Somalia

The United Nations launched an appeal to raise $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance that would address the urgent needs of Somalia over the next year and would enhance resilience in the country, which has experienced decades of conflict, drought, floods and severe food insecurity.

The appeal will fund 369 projects targeting 3.8 million Somalis, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the projects will be implemented by 177 national and international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies operating in the country.


Secretary-General urges countries to take decisive action on climate change

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on countries attending the high-level segment of the 18th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, to tackle the “growing crisis” of climate change.

Mr. Ban called on countries to make progress on long-term climate finance, and to ensure that the institutions set up to support the mitigation and adaptation efforts of developing countries (such as the Green Climate Fund and the Climate Technology Centre and Network) be fully equipped and effective.

Finally, Mr. Ban urged governments to demonstrate clearly that negotiations on a global and legally binding instrument to address climate change remain fully on track.


Joint UN report finds that food insecurity in Iraq decreased over past five years

A report issued by the UN World Food Programme, Food Security, Living Conditions and Social Transfers in Iraq report, found that the number of people in Iraq who face food insecurity has decreased by more than 250,000 over the past five years.  The report indicates that while 2.2 million Iraqis faced food insecurity in 2007, that figure fell to 1.9 million in 2011. According to the report, the Basra governorate is the most-affected by food insecurity, followed by Baghdad, Thi Qar and Ninewa.


Five new countries endorse principles to end use of children in armed conflict

Bolivia, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Kuwait and Yemen have endorsed a set of United Nations principles that would end the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups.  With these five new additions, the total number of countries endorsing these principles, known as the Paris Commitments, is 105. The commitments set forth detailed guidelines for protecting children from recruitment into armed forces, and for providing assistance to children already involved with such forces.


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