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un-building-350-230The United Nations is the one organization with the vision and reach to address the world’s most pressing challenges. When disaster strikes, the world turns to one organization for hope, help, leadership, and coordi­nation: the United Nations. When there is peace to keep between warring factions, the world asks the UN to mobilize peacekeepers, oversee elections, and create stability. In the face of challenges such as climate change, disease or poverty, the United Nations provides the platform for international cooperation.

The UN is an international organization, not a government.  As a result, its effectiveness depends on the participation of 193 sovereign member states and the backing of citizens around the world. The United Nations Association of the United States, a program of the United Nations Foundation, works day in and day out to support the mission of the UN by connecting Americans to the work of the UN and advocating for strong US leadership within the UN. 

 

UN Updates: May 26, 2016

SG Travel: The SG is currently in Nagoya, Japan, where he will attend the outreach session of the G-7 Summit tomorrow. Shortly after arriving in Nagoya, the SG held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Viet Nam, with whom he discussed Viet Nam’s support to UN peacekeeping operations, including its preparations to enhance contributions, as well as human rights and regional issues. The SG came to Nagoya from Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea, where he spoke earlier today to the Jeju Forum, in remarks that focused on how Asia can manifest wisdom, flexibility and soft power in an effort to build a better world in the region and beyond.  The SG encouraged Asian leaders not to be held back by the continent’s past disputes and said that it is time to agree on borders that are now disputed and rise above conflicting interpretations of history. He called the security situation on the Korean Peninsula deeply troubling and said that the pursuit by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles only undermines its own security and hurts its citizens.  The SG had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn of the Republic of Korea to discuss a wide range of issues, including climate change, the SDGs and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Syria: This afternoon, the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the Security Council on the current situation in Syria for the first time since the conclusion of the last round of talks in Geneva and since the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) met in Vienna on 17 May.  He told reporters earlier today in Geneva that he intends to consult the Security Council regarding what would be the best option for the resumption of the talks. Mr. de Mistura also said that if areas besieged either by the Syrian Government or by the opposition are not accessible, the option of air drops should be taken seriously into account. He noted credible reports of severe malnutrition among children in areas such as Moadamiyeh, saying that such reports should add a sense of urgency.

Yesterday, a joint UN-International Committee of the Red Cross-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy delivered much-needed humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach area of Houle in Homs, Syria. Food, nutrition, hygiene kits, and educational materials were delivered to 71,000 people.  This is the third humanitarian convoy to Houle this year. Since the beginning of 2016, inter-agency operations have reached more than 800,000 civilians in need in besieged, hard-to-reach and priority cross-line areas.  Many of these people have been reached more than once. The USG for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, also said during his visit to Hatay in southern Turkey that cross-border aid operations from Turkey into Syria are vital, reaching some four million people who cannot be reached via other routes.

Yemen: The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, spoke to the press in Kuwait today about the progress of the Yemeni peace talks there.

He said that he has convened a number of bilateral meetings with the delegations over the past few days.  The delegations have discussed specifically the details and mechanisms of withdrawal, handover of weapons, resumption of political dialogue, restoration of state institutions and other matters that will be included in a comprehensive agreement.  The discussions also covered the importance of guarantees and reassurances to ensure the implementation of an agreement. He said that the talks are ongoing, the international support is stronger than ever and the United Nations is determined to achieve a lasting peace and to solidify any agreement reached. At the same time, the Special Envoy warned, the ongoing conflict has destroyed the country’s economic infrastructure and severely disrupted the functioning of state institutions, causing the suffering of many civilians. Failure to address the issue will lead to further deterioration of the economic situation.  His remarks are available online.

Iraq: As operations are underway to liberate Fallujah, the SG’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, strongly urges all parties to undertake every effort to protect the lives of civilians and preserve the city’s infrastructure in accordance with the relevant principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. He calls on all parties to the conflict to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law and to ensure that civilians are permitted to leave areas where fighting may be taking place in dignity and safety. Humanitarian agencies on the ground in Iraq are warning that civilians in Fallujah in Iraq are at extreme risk. Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said humanitarian workers are receiving distressing reports of civilians trapped inside Fallujah who are desperate to escape to safety, but cannot. Since 22 May, 800 people have reached safety, mostly from outlying areas. Some families report having to walk for hours under harrowing conditions to reach safety. People trapped in the city centre are thought to be most at risk. At least 50,000 people are thought to remain in the city, and the few people who have left Fallujah report that conditions are dire.

Security Council: The Security Council heard from the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, on Libya this morning. Ms. Bensouda said it requires collaboration and coordination between all relevant actors at the national, regional and international levels, as well as the support of the Council. The prosecutor reiterated calls to all national and international law enforcement agencies working on Libya to contact her office and join in its efforts to strengthen the network of law enforcement agencies that “aim to contribute to bringing an end to civilian suffering and destruction in Libya.”

Greece: UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, singer Nana Mouskouri and UNICEF Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier are visiting Greece amid the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis. Their four-day mission aims to see the work being done to help refugee and migrant children and their families in Athens and Piraeus. Some 22,000 children are among the 55,000 migrants and refugees currently stranded in Greece, hosted in 35 camps and sites on the mainland and islands. UNICEF is scaling up its response to provide more support for children and meet their most pressing needs in terms of protection, health and education.

WHO: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today the creation of a new Health Emergencies Programme which adds operational capabilities for disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies. The programme is designed to deliver rapid, predictable and comprehensive support to countries and communities as they prepare for, face or recover from emergencies caused by any type of hazard to human health, whether disease outbreaks, natural, or man-made disasters or conflicts. WHO member states agreed on a budget of $494 million for the Programme for 2016−2017, an increase of $160 million to the existing Programme Budget for WHO’s work in emergencies.

FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) appointed Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food, as Special Ambassador for Zero Hunger for Europe. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva praised Petrini's contribution to increasing public awareness on the need to improve agriculture in Europe and ensure a sustainable food supply chain.

Peacekeeping: A project by the Department of Field Support with support from Japan and Kenya in July 2015 to train and equip African military engineers to be deployed in peacekeeping missions will begin the second phase of training for a cohort of future African peacekeepers under the Triangular Partnership Project will commence this June in Kenya. This second phase will see 18 Japanese instructors train up to 60 Kenyan military engineering students.

 

 
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