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UN Updates: February 12, 2016

SG in Canada: The Secretary General met with the Governor-General of Canada in Ottawa this morning to discuss humanitarian issues, the sustainable development goals and climate change. He then travelled to Montreal, where he met the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre; later afternoon, the SG addressed students at McGill University. He will then meet with the Secretary-General and the President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Authority, and later, he will meet with the Premier and Minister of International Relations of Quebec.

International Syria Support Group: Last night in Munich, Germany, the members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) decided that humanitarian access will commence this week to besieged areas, and within one week, an ISSG task force will elaborate modalities for a nationwide cessation of hostilities. The UN hosted the first meeting of the Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria in Geneva. The meeting, which was chaired by Jan Egeland, Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Syria, was intended to reach agreement on how the Task Force and its members can ensure that immediate access is granted to the civilian populations in besieged and hard to reach areas in line with the agreement reached in Munich. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien welcomed last night’s agreement and urged the parties to the conflict to ensure full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access, including to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Mali: The SG condemns the complex attack perpetrated against the camp of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Kidal this morning that claimed the lives of at least five peacekeepers and injured approximately 30. Attacks targeting UN peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law. The SG reiterates that attacks against MINUSMA will not weaken the determination of the UN to support the Malian Government, the parties to the peace agreement, and the people of Mali, in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability.

Liberia: The SG pays tribute to the first ever all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) deployed to a UN peacekeeping operation, which will end its mission in Liberia after nine years. The 125 women and supporting personnel will return to India this weekend. The SG commends the FPU for their contributions in creating an environment for the Government of Liberia to fully assume its security responsibilities by June 30, 2016, as mandated by the Security Council. Through their work, they managed criminality, deterred sexual and gender-based violence and helped rebuild safety and confidence among the population. The SG underscores that the conduct of the FPU served as an example of how the deployment of more female uniformed personnel can help the UN in its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

Chemical Weapons: The SG has submitted the first report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism to the Security Council today, in accordance with resolution 2235 (2015). The report provides an overview of the work of the JIM to date, the sources of information available to the JIM and the methodology behind their investigation. The Security Council is expected to consider the report on February 22. The JIM reviewed the incidents where the OPCW Fact-Finding Missions determined that chemicals were used or likely used as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and identified potential cases for further investigation. Full cooperation from the Syrian Government and all parties in Syria remains essential in the discharge of the JIM’s mandate.

Middle East Quartet: The Representatives of the Quartet – European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson – met in Munich today. The Quartet condemned all acts of terror, expressed its serious concern over the continuing violence against civilians, reiterated its call for restraint, and called upon all parties to reject incitement and actively take steps to de-escalate the current tensions. The Quartet expressed its serious concern that current trends on the ground – including continued acts of violence against civilians, ongoing settlement activity, and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures – are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution. The Quartet said that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of a negotiated solution. The Quartet will prepare a report on the situation on the ground, including recommendations that can help inform international discussions on the best way to advance the two-state solution.

Libya: Yesterday, the SG spoke on the telephone with the Prime Minister-designate of Libya, Fayez Serraj, and also with the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, to discuss the latest developments in Libya. In both calls, the SG emphasized the urgency to form a Government of National Accord, so that Libyans can address together the many challenges they are facing, including the threat of an expansion of Da’esh and economic decline.

Central African Republic: Following a year of dialogue and efforts supported by the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), a non-aggression pact was signed between the Muslim community from Bangui’s PK5 area and Christian residents from the Boeing area in Bangui’s outskirts. The pact was signed during an official ceremony with the participation of the Transitional Authorities, Head of MINUSCA Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, UN agencies, the diplomatic community and more than 300 members of both communities. The agreement includes provision on the freedom of movement, a significant achievement towards enhanced security and reconciliation among these communities.

South Sudan: The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomes yesterday's announcement by President Kiir of the appointment of Riek Machar as First Vice President of South Sudan. This is an important step in the formation of the Transitional Government and the implementation of the peace agreement. The Mission urges Mr. Machar to return to Juba, in order for the Transitional Government to be established as quickly as possible and outstanding issues delaying the implementation of the agreement be addressed. The Mission is concerned by reports of clashes and ongoing tensions between the parties in Upper Nile, as well as by ongoing violence between communities in Jonglei, which is leading to displacement and violence against civilians. The Transitional Government, once formed, must do its utmost to take forward its primary responsibility in protecting civilians within its borders.

Refugees: Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that more than 80,000 refugees and migrants arrived by boat in Europe during the first six weeks of this year; more than 400 people died making the journey. Despite rough seas, harsh winter weather, and numerous hardships endured upon arrival, more than 2,000 people a day continue to risk their lives and the lives of their children attempting to reach Europe. More needs to be done to reinforce reception capacities at the points of entry to Europe, to allow for the humane and effective accommodation, assistance, registration and security screening of people arriving every day. Within the context of the necessary reduction of dangerous sea arrivals, safe access to seek asylum is a fundamental human right that must be protected and respected. Also, ahead of a summit of Central European leaders next week in Prague, UNHCR is urging them to show greater solidarity with desperate refugees who seek sanctuary in the continent.

Southern Africa: A joint statement by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners on the impact of El Nino on southern Africa’s harvests and food security warns that southern Africa is currently in the grip of an intense drought that has expanded and strengthened, driven by one of the strongest El Niño events of the last 50 years. Across large swathes of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Madagascar, the current rainfall season has so far been the driest in the last 35 years.

UN Electronic Library: UN Publications is pleased to announce the launch of the UN iLibrary, the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and dissemination platform for digital content created by the United Nations. The iLibrary includes publications, journals and series comprising facts and expertise on international peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, climate change, international law, governance, public health, and statistics. In future releases, the platform will also provide access to other resources such as working papers series and statistical databases. At its launch, UN iLibrary comprises 750 titles in English, and 250 in the other official languages of the United Nations: French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.

ECOSOC: Today, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Bureau announced the establishment of an Independent Team of Advisors. These advisors will generate ideas and proposals for the ongoing ECOSOC Dialogue on the UN development system. The Dialogue is focused on how to make the UN system better fit for the 2030 Agenda. The Team has selected as its Co-Chairs Juan Somavia of Chile and Klaus Töpfer of Germany. The work of the team will culminate in June of this year with the conclusion of the ECOSOC Dialogue.

UN Dues: The Netherlands has become the 30th Member State to pay its UN dues in full.

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