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

UN panel finds more breaches of human rights law by parties to Syrian conflict

A United Nations panel investigating human rights violations in Syria just released an update on the situation there, noting that violations continue unabated and reiterating the need for a political solution to the conflict.

The Commission, comprising Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Karen AbuZayd, Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn, has been mandated by the Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law in Syria, where at least 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since March 2011.


UN Security Council urges implementation of strategy against Lord's Resistance Army

The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the attacks and atrocities that are being carried out by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Ugandan armed group, and urged that the United Nations regional strategy designed to address the threat be carried out as soon as possible.

The LRA was formed in the 1980s and for the first 15 years of its existence its attacks were primarily directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces. Subsequently, the LRA began to export their activities to neighboring countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flags UN's challenges and successes in "tumultuous" 2012

“The gains of 2012 position us for further advances in the years ahead. We have seized some opportunities, but failed on many others. Too much of our progress is lost to conflict or remains fragile for want of investment and commitment. There is too little emphasis on prevention, people and global citizenship. Far too often, short-term thinking trumps long-term vision.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon included these observations in his end-of-year news conference, during which he highlighted progress and challenges encountered by the world body and international community throughout the past 12 months.


UN report warns that global economy risks slipping into renewed recession

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) published the first chapter of its report, the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2013, stating DESA’s forecast that the global economy will grow at the rates of 2.4 per cent in 2013 and 3.2 per cent in 2014, significant downgrades from the UN’s forecast of half a year ago.

According to the report, world economic growth has weakened considerably during 2012, largely as a result of weaknesses in the major developed economies, and is expected to remain subdued in the coming two years.


Somalia: UN experts urge greater oversight for private security contractors

A United Nations expert panel urged, at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country, the Government of Somalia to do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies.

In its findings, the Working Group noted that some private security contractors have not operated transparently in Somalia and, occasionally, strayed from their prescribed goals of providing protection from armed factions, bandits and pirates.

Pointing to one example, which took place in the state of Puntland, the UN experts cited incidents involving the Puntland Maritime Police Force, which was created with the aim of fighting piracy in the waters off the Somali coast.


International Criminal Court acquits former Congolese rebel leader of war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today acquitted former Congolese rebel leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui of war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to a deadly 2003 assault on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), saying it could not convict him “beyond reasonable doubt” based on the evidence presented.

In a unanimous decision, the Court’s Trial Chamber determined that it has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was the commander of the Lendu combatants from Bedu-Ezekere during the attack against Bogoro village on 24 February 2003. The Chamber will now make a decision on the detention of Chui pending appeal proceedings.


Citing retention needs, Security Council extends judges on Yugoslav tribunal

Citing the importance of staff retention for the timely completion of the ICTY, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that extends the terms of more than 20 permanent and temporary judges that sit on the ICTY so they can finish the cases assigned to them.

Established by the Security Council in 2010, the Residual Mechanism is mandated to complete the remaining tasks of the ICTY and the ICTR once their mandates expire. The Council has urged the tribunals to conclude their work by the end of 2014. The ICTR branch of the Residual Mechanism, based in Arusha, began its functions on 1 July; the ICTY branch, based in the Hague, will begin on 1 July 2013.


IAEA and Japan's Fukushima prefecture agree to cooperate on nuclear safety

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and administrators from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture have signed an agreement that will lead to greater cooperation between the UN agency and local authorities related to emergency preparedness and radiation monitoring.

Pursuant to the Memorandum of Cooperation entered by the parties, an IAEA Response and Assistance Network Capacity Building Centre will be designated, with IAEA radiation monitoring equipment to be deployed in case of need, and to provide training in emergency preparedness and response.


UN group recommends review of Egypt's draft Constitution to ensure conformity with international law obligations

The United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice hasexpressedconcern regarding issues of equality, non-discrimination and promotion of women’s human rights in the final draft of the draft Constitution approved by Egypt’s Constituent Assembly last month. The Working Group has called upon the Egyptian Government to live up to obligations under international instruments to which it is a party, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Working Group was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2010 to identify ways to eliminate existing discrimination in law and practice, and to help States to ensure greater empowerment and autonomy for women in all fields.


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