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

Respect migrant’s rights, reject xenophobia, UN says on International Day

Upon the occasion of International Migrants Day, the United Nations has called on individuals and governments around the world to reject xenophobia and to embrace migration as a key factor in equitable, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development. “Let us make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike. We owe this to the millions of migrants who, through their courage, vitality and dreams, help make our societies more prosperous, resilient and diverse,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Ban underlined that migration is “a reality” in the 21st Century, with 232 million international migrants bringing benefits to their countries of origin and destination through providing essential labor and remittances which fuel development. “Yet, this important population remains largely invisible and unheard in society,” he noted, with almost half of migrants who are women, and one in ten under the age of 15.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46766

DPR Korea: UN experts call for death penalty moratorium after high-profile execution

United Nations independent experts have expressed concern in relation to the recent execution of a senior official in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), noting that it is one “among multiple executions” which have been reported since August. The executions have been carried out without regard to due process and other international human rights standards, and United Nations experts have called upon the government to immediately halt the practice. “The arrest, trial by a special military tribunal and execution of Jang Song Thaek, uncle of the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, all reportedly took place within five days,” said Mr. Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK. Mr. Darusman also expressed concern about the practice of “guilt by association” in the DPRK, where associates or family members of an individual punished for political or ideological crimes also risk punishments like prison camp or immediate execution.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46768

Syria conference to open 22 January in Montreux, UN confirms

An international peace conference on Syria will begin on January 22 with a two-day meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. The conference will be the first time that the Syrian government and the opposition have been to the negotiating table since the conflict started in March 2011. The discussions will not be open-ended, and a schedule will be set at the outset of negotiations. The goal of this meeting will be to hammer out a political solution to the conflict in the form of a comprehensive agreement between the current Syrian government and the opposition, for the implementation of a previous plan which called for the creation of a transitional government that would lead to the holding of elections.

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46760

Philippines: UN ramps up aid for 6 million child victims of Typhoon Haiyan

The lives of nearly six million children have been disrupted by the November 8 Typhoon in the Philippines, with 1.4 million children losing their family homes. The United Nations is undertaking long-term programming to ensure that schooling, protection, vaccination and other child services are restored. UNICEF Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake, said that he was deeply impressed by the spirit of the people and communities working alongside national government, the UN and other partners to rebuild the country. Super typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and has affected 14 million others across the Philippines, with 3.5 million individuals left homeless. UNICEF has recruited global experts to support relief work, which includes re-establishing water systems, the delivery of vaccines, and reaching children who are threatened with malnutrition, among other things.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46761

As situation worsens, UN refugee agency sends more staff to Central African Republic

The United Nations refugee agency has sent additional emergency personnel to the Central African Republic (CAR). Approximately 210,000 people have been forcibly displaced by violence in the capital, Bangui, over the past two weeks. After a coalition forced President François Bozizé to flee in March, a transitional government was tasked with restoring peace and laying the groundwork for democratic elections. However, violence has recently erupted, at times on religious grounds, with Christians and Muslims waging reprisal attacks on each other in many parts of Bangui, and in other cities. More than 710,000 people have been displaced within the country over the last year, with over 75,000 forced into exile, the UNHCR reports.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46759

DR Congo: UN boosts force in east after gruesome massacre of civilians

The United Nations mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after discovering 21 murdered civilians (including women, children and babies), has sent attack helicopters and foot patrols to the conflict-ridden North Kivu province. Unconfirmed reports and residents of the area suggest that the attack on civilians may have been perpetrated by the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) which have been terrorizing the province for years. The UN Mission (MONUSCO) reminded “all armed groups that the killing of civilian population, who are not party to the conflict, is considered a crime against humanity.”

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46756

Security Council concerned at worsening security, political divisions in Libya

The Security Council has voiced grave concern in relation to the deteriorating security situation and political fractures in Libya, threatening to undermine the nation’s democratic transition. “The Security Council calls on all parties in Libya to support the democratic transition in Libya, including agreement on its immediate next steps, and to engage in political dialogue and refrain from violence and actions that challenge the stability of the State,” the Council said in a presidential statement. Recent months have seen increasing acts of violence and a worsening security situation, including the temporary abduction of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, the killing of unarmed protestors in Tripoli, and targeted assassinations in Benghazi.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46755

Pressure Mounts for Delivery of Syria Aid

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. Valerie Amos, is receiving increasing calls to exert stronger pressure on the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights advocates have said that Ms. Amos has been too patient with President Assad, who they contend is using “denial of aid as a weapon of war, to make life incredibly difficult for both the opposition fighters and anybody associated with them.” Ms. Amos has organized a 22-nation “high-level group on Syria,” including permanent members of the Security Council, and regional players such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, all of whom, however, may have “very different political views about next steps.”

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/17/world/middleeast/aid-challenge-in-syria-mounts-for-un-official.html

UN continuing to improve quality of peacekeeping, says senior official

The United Nations peacekeeping chief, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, has described 2013 as an “active year,” emphasizing progress made in places such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Sudan and South Sudan. He noted the importance of technology and partnerships for doing more with fewer resources due to the effects of the global financial crisis. Mr. Ladsous said that he “places high value on the need to continue improving the quality of UN peacekeeping” by way of further training and monitoring. He noted peacekeeping operational improvements and technological innovations, including the cost per head of peacekeeping personnel decreasing 16 percent over the last several years, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles which assist in real-time responsiveness to security threats.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46738

Topic In Focus

Ban calls on world leaders to emulate Mandela’s example to bring peace in 2014

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon drew attention to the crisis in Syria, marked by deterioration “beyond all imagination,” and to the “imminent danger of mass atrocities” in the Central African Republic (CAR), calling on world leaders to follow the example of Nelson Mandela in order to make 2014 the year of protecting people. “I can think of nothing I would rather see in 2014 than for world leaders to emulate his example in upholding their moral and political responsibilities,” Mr. Ban said at his end-of-year news conference.

The Secretary General noted that the humanitarian situation continues to worsen in Syria. The UN has commenced distributing aid for the winter months to assist in very harsh conditions, but faces “severe and chronic underfunding.” The 2014 appeal of $6.5 billion for Syria launched on Dec. 16 in Geneva is the biggest in UN history. 9.5 million Syrians, almost half the country’s population, have felt the crisis, with most infrastructure, schools, sanitation facilities and hospitals destroyed.

In terms of positive global progress in 2013, Mr. Ban noted the “landmark” UN agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons program, the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty, the agreement of Member States on a strategy for shaping the post-2015 international development agenda, and an interim accord between Iran and the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany on Iran’s nuclear program. He also noted on-going peacekeeping and mediation efforts across the Sahel, West Africa, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He underlined the coming challenges in relation to achieving an international agreement on climate change in 2015.

Asked what lessons he has learned in his seven years as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban stressed that the UN cannot meet all the tasks and challenges it faces alone. “We need support from many regional and sub-regional organizations [. . .] We need support from business communities, we need support from religious communities and local communities and even philanthropic organizations, first of all, to solidify our political will.”

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46744

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