What’s Happening at the UN?

Joint Special Envoy to Syria Denounces Human Rights Abuses, Cites Observer Mission as a Chance to Stabilize the Conflict

May 11, 2012
Amid concerns from the international community over the prospects of a “full civil war” in Syria, the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, said that the ongoing levels of violence and human rights abuses in the Middle Eastern country are unacceptable and the UN observer mission is possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize it.

“The levels of violence and abuses are unacceptable,” he stated, following a briefing to the Security Council in New York, via video-link, on the status of the implementation of his six-point plan to end the crisis in Syria. He added that it is clear that the presence of the observers serving with the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) has had a calming effect in some situations.


The Council also heard a briefing behind closed doors from Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, who provided an update about the deployment of UNSMIS. It is estimated that all 300 observers will be on the ground by the end of this month.


Former Liberian President is First Head of State to be Convicted by and International Criminal Tribunal since Nuremburg

United Nations officials welcomed the guilty verdict handed down against former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


“This is a historic and momentous day for the people of Sierra Leone, for the region and beyond. The Secretary-General’s thoughts today are with the victims of the crimes for which Charles Taylor has been found guilty,” said a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


“The judgment is a significant milestone for international criminal justice, as it concerns the first ever conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he added. “It sends a strong signal to all leaders that they are and will be held accountable for their actions.”


Mr. Taylor, who was indicted while he was still President of Liberia, is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in 1946.


New UN-Backed Report Says 1 in 10 Babies are Born Too Soon

Some 15 million babies worldwide – more than one in ten births – are born too early, according to a new United Nations-backed report, which calls for steps such as ensuring the requisite medicines and equipment and training health staff to promote child survival.


“All newborns are vulnerable, but preterm babies are acutely so,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who wrote the foreword to the report, entitled Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. The report points out that more than one million preterm babies die shortly after birth, while countless others suffer some type of lifelong physical, neurological, or educational disability, often at great cost to families and society.


The report also offers an agenda and action plan for all groups concerned with preterm birth and child health, ranging from the UN and governments at all levels, to donor countries, global philanthropic institutions, and civil society.


Secretary-General Releases First Report on HIV since 2011 High Level Meeting

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued his first report on HIV to the UN General Assembly since the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS. In the report, he highlights the urgent need to achieve immediate, tangible results, and for the AIDS response to be smarter, more strategic, more efficient, and grounded in human rights.

The report, United to End AIDS: Achieving the Targets of the 2011 Political Declaration, outlines that 2.5 million deaths are estimated to have been averted since 1995 due to the increase in access to antiretroviral therapy—and 350,000 new HIV infections have been averted in children. It also underscores the gains made in HIV prevention, with new infections at their lowest levels since their peak in the mid-2000s.


However, the report also warns that considerable gaps persist in access to HIV services, particularly for people at higher risk of exposure to HIV. Punitive laws, gender inequality, violence against women, and other human rights violations continue to undermine national AIDS responses, and declines in funding have the potential to jeopardize the capacity to expand access to HIV services and sustain progress over the coming years.

Labels: Advocacy

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