End of the year 2016 message, on behalf of Moustapha Soumare, the Acting UNMISS SRSG and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan

End of the year 2016 message, on behalf of Moustapha Soumareacute;, the Acting UNMISS SRSG and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan:

I would like to extend warm greetings to all the people of South Sudan as we enter this holiday season. As we approach the end of 2016, let us be reminded of the universal values of unity, equality and compassion, which bind us together as human beings � the spirit ofUbuntu(humanity). These values should always be far stronger than anything that divides us.

Sadly, our hopes for sustainable peace were not realized this year and prospects for an end to the conflict have been thwarted with a resurgence of violence in the capital and in many other areas of the country. This has resulted in terrible humanitarian and economic consequences for many South Sudanese. I call on all those engaged in conflict, be with organized forces, armed groups, militias, youth groups with arms and others, to stop all fighting and silence the guns immediately.

While there is no doubt that the fighting has cast a dark shadow over the implementation of the August 2015 peace agreement, we must never lose sight of the ultimate goal � a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of South Sudan. My colleagues and I serving with the United Nations stand ready to support South Sudan as it renews its commitment to the peace process and to help address its pressing humanitarian needs.

But we must be reminded at this crucial transition period, that working for peace lies not only with our leaders, but with each of us individually. Peace starts within each one of us. I encourage us all to come together to help shape a better future through dialogue and reconciliation at all levels of the South Sudan society.

On behalf of the entire UN Family in South Sudan, I wish all a happy holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Thank you.

Source: United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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Young Continent, Old Leaders: The Aging Face of African Governance

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA � All 10 of the world’s nations with the youngest populations are in Africa, according to United Nations statistics, giving the continent a median age of just under 20 years�or, roughly half the estimated median age of the United States, (37.9 years according to CIA estimates).

Yet, by latest count, at least eight African leaders have served in office for two decades, with an average age of 72.

Why is Africa so saddled with leaders who ought to be enjoying their retirement in peace and quiet, instead of in the unforgiving political corridors, campaign trails and taxing political brinkmanship that challenge even the youngest leaders? asked African politics scholar David Kiwuwa.

Kiwuwa, who teaches international studies at Princeton University, thinks that the willingness of many of the leaders to use violence to quash dissent is one key to their longevity. Kiwuwa, however, says such leaders still attract reverence and unbridled loyalty from their supporters. Equally, being seen as ‘fathers of the nation,’ who led independence or liberation struggles, makes them irreproachable, irrespective of their shortcomings, extending their tenure.

The result is that millions of African youth have known only one leader. In many cases, that leader is one who was born before the advent of social media and the internet�and, in the case of 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, before the invention of television, electric razors and automatic bread slicers.

One effect is that many youngsters, such as 15-year-old Harare resident Saymore Johns, say they’re not inspired to enter public service.

That’s not something that’s encouraging the youths, he said. Because now, some of the youths, some of them want to be president, but then when they know that our president is still there, they won’t do anything about it.

In Cameroon, opposition politician Ndansi Elvis is similarly disillusioned. He was born in 1983, the year after Paul Biya became president. Elvis says when the 83-year-old Biya speaks, it would appear that he knows a lot about modernization and digitalization, but in reality cannot keep up with his population.

When young people use social media to send messages across to him and to let him know that, these are the problems they face, they call social media a weapon of mass destruction, said Elvis. So that’s very contradictory. That shows exactly that this is a president who has lost touch with reality of todayAs to how I feel having one president in my entire life, I would say it’s disastrous. I feel like someone who has never experienced democracy. Because democracy, real democracy is when people can actually go to the polls for their leader and actually see the meaning of their vote.

Many of these leaders are still lionized for their roles in bringing independence to their people. Mugabe is the only leader independent Zimbabwe has ever had�something that 21-year-old Tavaka Nhikwe finds commendable.

Thirty-six years. That’s a milestone, he said. I don’t think there is any president that has ever done that. That ought to be put in the Guinness Book of World Records. I really love that. Because it’s so… exotic.

However, such political tenacity is anything but. Even in African nations that have seen leadership shifts, like Ghana, the new president, Nana Akufo-Addo, ran for the job in 2008 and 2012. Before that, he served as minister of foreign affairs and attorney general.

And it isn’t just the victors who have stuck around�many notable opposition movements have been led for decades by the same man.

Mozambique’s Afonso Dhlakama has led the opposition Renamo since 1979 and runs for president at every contest. A�tienne Tshisekedi, opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, founded his party in 1982, serving as prime minister on three occasions in the 1990s and featuring prominently in several presidential elections. He is 84.

In Uganda, 60-year-old opposition leader Kizza Besigye ran unsuccessfully in the 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 presidential elections. He lost every one of those polls to the man who has led Uganda since 1986, Yoweri Museveni. In South Africa, 88-year-old Mangosuthu Buthelezi founded the Inkatha Freedom Party in 1976, helping form South Africa’s post-apartheid government in the 1990s, He’s remained a fixture in parliament ever since.

Analyst Stephanie Wolters, head of the peace and security research program at the Pretoria, South Africa Institute for Security Studies, says the big names in African politics aren’t the problem. The issue, she says, is the lack of strong institutions.

It is something that really tells us about the kinds of political parties that we have in Africa, which are still very much centered on individuals, on big names, on leaders that have been around for a very, very long time and that haven’t really succeeded in building the kinds of structures, whether those are the institutional structures for their own parties and public participation in their parties, or even for succession within their parties, he said. And I think that’s a really big challenge we have on the continent today in terms of the political parties here.

Here are 10 of Africa’s oldest and longest-serving leaders:

Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema, 74; 37 years in power. Deposed his uncle in a coup in 1979.

Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 74; 37 years in power. Says he will not stand for the next elections in 2018.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, 92; 36 years in power. Won his first election in 1980 and was recently chosen as his party’s presidential candidate for 2018.

Cameroon’s Paul Biya, 83, who has spent 34 years as president, was previously prime minister. He removed term limits in 2008 by changing his nation’s constitution.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, 72; 30 years as president. Recently won a fifth term in a hotly contested poll.

Swaziland’s King Mswati III, 48; 30 years as Africa’s last absolute monarch. Took the throne of the landlocked southern African nation at the age of 18 after his father’s death.

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, 72; 27 years in power. Seized power in a 1989 coup.

Chad’s Idriss Deby, 64; 26 years in power after taking the helm after the ouster of a dictator. Recently re-elected to a fifth term.

Republic of Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, 73; served as president for 19 years, but was also prime minister from 1979 to 1992.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, 45; 15 years as president. Took power in 2001 after the assassination of the president, his father. His second presidential term was set to expire Dec. 20, 2016, but he has not set a date for new elections.

Source: Voice of America

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Africa: Sudan Issues New Humanitarian Directives


Press Statement

Mark C. Toner

Deputy Department Spokesperson

Washington, DC

December 27, 2016


The United States welcomes the Government of Sudan’s recent efforts to improve humanitarian access. Last week, Sudan amended the “Directives and Procedures for Humanitarian Action.” These revised directives represent a significant step toward improving humanitarian access in Sudan. We believe when implemented, these revised regulations will facilitate humanitarian actors’ efforts to get aid to those in need. We recognize this as a positive step and we expect to see sustained gains in humanitarian access.

We also welcome the recent access given to a U.N. interagency team to travel and conduct a multi-sector assessment in Golo, Central Darfur, which included the first civilian aircraft to land in Golo in five years. Access to this conflict-affected area has allowed the U.N. to conduct a full assessment; and — if sustained — regular air access would enable the international humanitarian community to support relief efforts to Golo and surrounding areas. The United States, as part of its longstanding commitment to the people of Sudan, will continue to support humanitarian efforts there, and will work with all parties to remove remaining impediments to full humanitarian access.



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Nigerian Army: Boko Haram May Have Used Chibok Girls as Shields During Attack

LAGOS � Boko Haram fighters fleeing an attack on their base last week may have used some of the girls kidnapped in 2014 from northeast Nigeria’s Chibok as human shields to prevent being fired upon by fighter jets, a military commander said Wednesday.

Major General Lucky Irabor, theatre commander of Nigeria’s military campaign against the group, showed a news conference aerial footage he said was filmed during the operation in the Sambisa forest that showed Boko Haram fighters moving with women and children.

“The haggard fighters were just using them as a shield,” Irabor told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. “That is why we did not engage them from the air.”

“We had always believed and hoped that going into the Sambisa would afford us the opportunity to get the remaining Chibok girls. What we can’t tell is whether those women we can see were the Chibok girls,” he said.

Boko Haram militants kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school dormitories in the town of Chibok in April 2014.

The first of the girls to be found said most of them were being held in the Sambisa forest, where she was discovered in May.

The group has kidnapped hundreds of men, women and children during its seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria, some of whom may also be held in the forest.

The abduction of the Chibok girls, 21 of whom were released in October, brought worldwide notoriety.

Stronghold reportedly captured

President Muhammadu Buhari said Saturday that the Islamist militants’ last enclave in the forest, the vast former game reserve in northeast Nigeria that was their stronghold, had been captured.

Reuters has been unable to independently verify that the area has been captured, but the comments from the general were the first reference by a military official to the suspected whereabouts of the girls since Buhari’s announcement.

The president said the capture of Camp Zero in the forest marked the “final crushing of Boko Haram,” but security analysts say the group’s ability to carry out attacks in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad suggests it has multiple bases.

They also say the group split this year with one faction led by Abubakar Shekau operating from the Sambisa forest and the other, allied to Islamic State and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.

Irabor said the military was pursuing those who fled, adding that 1,240 people suspected of being militants, their relatives or sympathizers had been arrested between Dec. 21 and 28.

Boko Haram has killed 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million during its insurgency. It controlled an area the size of Belgium in early 2015, but has been pushed back by troops from Nigeria and neighboring countries since then.

Separately, dozens of Boko Haram fighters have given themselves up to authorities in southern Niger, the interior minister there said.

Source: Voice of America

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Amid Growing Global Refugee Crisis, Terror Attacks, General Assembly Appoints New United Nations Chief, Begins Implementing Sustainable Development Agenda

Secretary-General, Other World Leaders Sound Alarm over Deepening Rifts among Peoples, Urging Greater Solidarity, Partnership

Beginning its work against the backdrop of an expanding global refugee crisis, deepening political divisions and a spate of terror attacks across the globe, the General Assembly’s seventy-first session convened a record number of topical meetings, while also embarking on the daily business of implementing the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, kicking off the final general debate of his decade-long tenure on 20 September, warned against deepening rifts between us and them around the globe. In particular, he said, gulfs of mistrust had divided citizens from their Governments, with leaders in too many places rewriting constitutions and manipulating elections. Pressing them instead to commit to new heights of solidarity, he cited a number of recent multilateral successes, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change. Those gains, however, were threatened by persistent conflict and failures of governance, he said, regretting that prospects for a two-State solution between Israel and the Palestinians were diminishing by the day, that yet another nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had threatened global security and that violence had caused upheaval in Ukraine.

Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) echoed those sentiments, stressing that millions of people around the globe continued to suffer the brutal effects of war. The nearly six-year-long crisis in Syria, in particular, continued to generate immense human suffering. Strongly condemning recent attacks on United Nations aid convoys there, he emphasized that the deliberate targeting of humanitarian personnel was a flagrant violation of international law. Week after week, innocent people are falling victim to despicable acts of violent extremism, he said, adding: Collaboration and partnership are needed more than ever.

Throughout the six-day-long debate, Heads of State and Government outlined their visions for a better world, with many voicing concern about widening chasms among peoples. United States President Barack Obama stressed that world leaders faced a choice: to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration, or retreat into a sharply-divided world. President Michel Temer of Brazil was among those expressing concern over growing xenophobia, extreme nationalism and intolerance. Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, referring to her country’s recent vote to leave the European Union � known as Brexit � rejected the notion that the move was an inward turn, instead joining others to emphasize the continued importance of the United Nations.

Many speakers also sounded alarms over persistent inequality, pointing to entrenched poverty and systemic racism, with some underscoring the need to make the United Nations itself more democratic, transparent and diverse. In that regard, President Alassane Ouattara of CAte d’Ivoire said the 15-member Security Council, with its present configuration and working methods, could not effectively resolve conflicts such as the one in Syria, and urged reform to bolster its legitimacy. Meanwhile, other delegates expressed an array of opinions on five core reform issues: membership categories, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and Council working methods.

The Assembly also held a number of topical high-level meetings in parallel with the general debate. On 19 September, it convened a historic summit to address the global movement of refugees and migrants, whose numbers had surpassed 244 million in 2015 alone. Adopting the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, Member States agreed to begin negotiations towards a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, and accepted a shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees and migrants in a humane, compassionate and people-centred manner. Joining nearly 200 other speakers, including Heads of State, senior officials and observers, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stressed that race-baiting bigots were stoking fear against immigrants in many parts of the world.

On 21 September, Secretary-General Ban convened a special high-level event to mark the first steps towards the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Adopted in December 2015 and signed by 175 countries on 22 April 2016 � the largest single-day signing ceremony in history � the accord sought to limit global temperature rise to well below 2C and ward off the worst impacts of climate change. During the summit, Secretary-General Ban announced that more than 55 countries had joined the Agreement, officially crossing one of the two thresholds required to bring it into force.

That same day, the Assembly held another high-level meeting to discuss the health and development threats posed by antimicrobial resistance, or the ability of microorganisms to adapt to medications, rendering them ineffective. Marking the fourth health topic � along with HIV/AIDS, Ebola and non-communicable diseases � to be addressed in the Assembly’s history, participants approved a political declaration, which the Assembly would later formally adopt. The body also convened two other high-level meetings: one on 22 September to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development and another on 26 September to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

As the main part of the session got under way, the Assembly embarked on a new process to select Secretary-General Ban’s successor. For the first time, it heard two-hour presentations by each candidate and held a global town hall debate, culminating in the appointment of Antonio Guterres, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and two-time Prime Minister of Portugal, on 13 October. A number of speakers hailed the transparent and inclusive deliberations and the incoming Secretary-General’s experience on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering. For his part, Mr. Guterres � who would take the Oath of Office on 12 December and assume his post as the ninth Secretary-General on 1 January 2017 � pledged to work as a convener, a mediator and a bridge-builder, helping to find solutions for the benefit of all people.

The Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) convened on the heels of a Security Council open debate on weapons of mass destruction on 23 August and a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly held to promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September. Addressing the Committee at the outset of its work, Kim Won-Soo, Under-Secretary-General and Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, urged Member States to be open-minded, break with business as usual and show greater flexibility and creativity to narrow differences and find common ground. In that vein, the Committee approved 69 draft resolutions and decisions � 34 of them by recorded votes � on a broad range of concerns, from curbing the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons to the humanitarian consequences of intentional or accidental nuclear detonations, to preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and other non-State actors. The Committee deferred action pending approval from the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on two treaty-related drafts � to convene a conference to negotiate a legally binding nuclear weapon ban and to establish a high-level group to discuss a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Taking centre stage in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this year was the implementation of the three ambitious development agendas adopted in 2015 � the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Throughout the session, delegations spotlighted the unique social, economic and environmental challenges facing countries in special situations. They stressed the need to help small island developing States, as well as least developed, landlocked developing and middle-income countries, bridge the digital divide and meet such emerging challenges as climate change. Financing for development also remained a critical focus of discussion, as did the importance of democratizing international financial institutions, building resilience and empowering women in science and technology. The Committee forwarded 36 resolutions and one decision to the General Assembly, which voted on five of those resolutions, adopting all.

Where and how to address issues of sexual orientation and gender identity rights within the multilateral system was the subject of contentious debate in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), which produced 50 texts for the Assembly’s adoption. The Committee finally agreed to language calling for an end to extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions. However several delegates took issue with Human Rights Council resolution 32/2 on the protection of people from violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When put to a vote, their attempt to defer consideration of the resolution was rejected, although they succeeded in removing a reference to the Council’s decision to appoint an independent expert on the subject. Also during the session, delegates called for a moratorium on the death penalty and discussed the reports of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the human rights treaty body system, hearing from the Special Rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, extreme poverty and human rights, as well as human rights in Myanmar, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus and Eritrea.

Holding 23 formal meetings, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard dozens of petitioners from some of the world’s remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories, as it considered decolonization issues. The Committee also discussed such Middle Eastern matters as Palestinian refugees and Israel’s actions in occupied Arab lands. In addition, it heard from high-level officials representing Governments, international organizations and civil society, as its members took up questions relating to information, international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space, and atomic radiation, as well as peacekeeping operations and special political missions. The session culminated in the Committee approving 35 draft resolutions and two draft decisions for adoption by the General Assembly.

After debating a range of comprehensive human resource and management reform issues, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) agreed on texts to shorten the staff recruitment process, promote mobility and workplace conflict resolution, and improve the performance and management of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund. The Committee also asked the Assembly to revise upwards the Organization’s 2016-2017 programme budget from $5.4 billion to $5.61 billion and to approve funding requirements for the 33 special political missions, the 2030 Agenda, the Umoja enterprise resource planning system and several office refurbishment projects, among other things. It sent a total of 17 draft resolutions and two draft decisions to the Assembly for adoption.

Approving 25 resolutions and four decisions, all of which were adopted by the General Assembly without a vote, the Sixth Committee (Legal) tackled a wide range of topics, from international trade law to transboundary water resources. Highlights of the seventy-first session included the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law convening a regional course in international law for Latin America and the Caribbean for the first time in 10 years. Also considered was the annual report of the International Law Commission, which included the Protection of the atmosphere, jus cogens, and identification of customary international law. However, as in past sessions, delegations were still unable to develop a draft convention on international terrorism.

Plenary

As the world continued to reel from a mass migration and refugee crisis, leaders kicked off the first week of high-level meetings by adopting the New York Declaration on the subject. Endorsing the 90-paragraph proclamation, they agreed to address the crises and the people affected in a humanitarian manner. Adding a refugee voice to the debate, Mohammed Badran of the organization Syrian Volunteers in the Netherlands shared his experiences. We are living on the edge of hell, he declared, describing incidents of anger and fear directed at refugees in a world where many doors were simply closed to them.

Having hosted nearly 3 million Syrians, Turkey had done so with limited resources and assistance from the international community, that country’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said during the general debate. People fleeing death and tyranny in the Middle East and elsewhere continued to face degrading acts in European cities. The international community had remained indifferent and unresponsive for far too long. He pledged that Turkey would keep its doors open and called on all who perceived Syrian refugees as a threat to look for peace behind the barbed wire and high walls.

Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, having dealt with an influx of refugees and migrants at its border, said that while the right to a safe life was a fundamental human right, choosing a State where one wanted to live was not. Uncontrolled and unregulated migratory patterns were a threat to peace and security and Hungary would continue to make the safety of its people the top priority. It would not allow violations at its borders. Urging the international community to address the underlying cause of what was uprooting so many from their homes, he said that as long as terrorism existed so would the migration pressure on Europe.

European leaders were split on the approach to dealing with the displacement crisis, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany saying that the choice was not just between opening and closing borders, but also between engagement and isolation. Germany had given shelter to more than 1 million people and begun training them to acquire the skills needed to one day rebuild their own cities. Delegates also warned against a rise in xenophobia in Europe and beyond. Margot WallstrAlm, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasized the need to respond to rising aggressive nationalism, autocracy and fear-mongering. In the same vein, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana noted that extremist forces in many parts of the world had hijacked the dialogue. Technology was being used to spread anxieties. Hate speech had become more common and xenophobia had taken over rational thinking, he added.

Opening the seventy-first session on 13 September under the theme The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World, Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) stressed that the 2030 Agenda had to serve as a bright new beacon to pull the world together and out of poverty. He underscored the link between sustainable development, peace and security and human rights, pledging to encourage a heightening of the Assembly’s human rights work. Regrettably, there was widespread lack of empathy for people on the move, many of whom were fleeing conflict, persecution or the effects of climate change. He congratulated those who were not shirking their responsibilities, adding: It is time to turn down the rhetoric of intolerance and ratchet up a collective response based on our common humanity.

In that vein, on 19 October, the Assembly commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Assembly President, warning against greater restrictions on rights and freedoms, urged Member States to work together to uphold the basics: the right to life, liberty and security; to equality before the law; to gender equality; to freedom of expression; and to freedom from discrimination, torture, slavery and hunger.

On 26 October, in a near-unanimous vote, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the necessity of ending the United States economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba, despite the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries two years ago. While 191 countries voted in favour, the United States and Israel abstained rather than vote against the text for the first time, during a year that also saw the first visit to Cuba by a United States President in almost 90 years and the reopening of embassies in their respective capitals. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said the human damage caused by the embargo was simply incalculable. The blockade was a systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans, he said, adding that it qualified as an act of genocide pursuant to the 1948 Geneva Convention.

Considering the latest report of the International Criminal Court on 31 October, the Assembly stressed that with crimes against humanity multiplying around the world, States must bolster support for the judicial body. On the heels of Burundi, Gambia and South Africa announcing their withdrawal from the Court, or their intention to do so, Court President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi said cooperation remained crucial for the entity’s ability to conduct its mandate. Over the last two decades, the Court had given a voice to victims and had made strides in addressing crimes such as the use of child soldiers, sexual violence in conflict and attacks on civilians, while its Trust Fund for Victims had provided rehabilitation for more than 300,000 people. Switzerland’s delegate said it was precisely because the Court successfully executed its mandate that some States rejected it.

During the session, the Assembly marked the 70-year anniversary of the International Court of Justice, the Organization’s main judicial organ, with several speakers pointing out that the Court remained the only judicial body with its basis in the United Nations Charter � and whose jurisdiction was, therefore, truly universal. Delegates reaffirmed their support for the Court and commended its work, including its hearing of more than 160 cases, its 121 judgments and its 27 advisory opinions. Also in the legal realm, the Assembly considered the many challenges faced by international tribunals set up in the wake of the wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which had left behind a historic legacy of bringing to justice perpetrators of atrocity crimes.

On 30 November, in its annual debate on the Middle East, the Assembly adopted six resolutions, including a text on the peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, which called for the intensification of efforts towards the conclusion of a final pacific solution. Another resolution on Jerusalem reiterated the Assembly’s determination that any actions by Israel, the occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the holy city of Jerusalem were illegal and therefore had no validity whatsoever. It also called upon Israel to immediately cease all such illegal and unilateral measures.

The Permanent Observer of Palestine said the adoption of the resolutions by an overwhelming majority of Member States was a reflection of the longstanding international consensus in favour of reaching a just and peaceful solution. Israel’s representative said the texts had not only failed to promote dialogue or build trust, they had also created an organizational infrastructure that abused funding to allow anti-Israel activities under the auspices of the United Nations. Egypt’s delegate said that Israeli settlements were not just an obstacle to peace; they were the crux of the problem. Even Israeli voices were aware that one people could not live at the expense of another.

Commemorating the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities � one of the most widely-ratified human rights instruments in history � speakers told the Assembly on 2 December that more efforts were needed to end discrimination against such persons. Participants shared personal experiences and described challenges relating to employment, education, accessibility and participation in social life. Stevie Wonder, the internationally renowned musician and United Nations Messenger of Peace, said the Convention stood as a reminder that people with disabilities were not objects of charity but full members of society. I am just one example of someone who is abled differently, and yet I beat the odds, he said. But, some political leaders were bringing society back to a time when we are once again handicapped by negative and divisive labels. Warning against such hatred and bigotry, he urged Member States to find ways to accomplish what is right and just for all.

As the Security Council remained mired in stalemate over Syria, the Assembly took action on 9 December, adopting a resolution demanding an immediate end to all hostilities and expressing outrage at the recent escalation of violence, particularly in Aleppo, where thousands of people remained trapped and in dire circumstances. Canada’s delegate warned that without action Syria would soon become a giant graveyard, while his counterpart from the United States said the resolution was a vote to pressure the Russian Federation and the Assad regime to end the carnage. However, Syria’s delegate said that the text violated the Charter and that Canada � along with France, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States and others � had rained bombs on his country, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools and killing hundreds of civilians. The representatives of the Russian Federation and Venezuela added that meddling in Syria’s affairs was a modern form of colonialism.

On 12 December, the Assembly swore in Secretary-General-elect Antonio Guterres of Portugal. Meanwhile, as part of his outgoing agenda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented a report on 16 December titled A new approach to cholera in Haiti. Adopting an eponymous text, the Assembly called on Member States, relevant United Nations bodies and other partners to fully support the new tactic, intensify efforts to eliminate cholera and address the suffering of its victims, including by providing material assistance. Haiti’s representative, welcoming the resolution’s adoption, recalled that, during a recent visit to his country, Secretary-General Ban had finally and formally acknowledged the Organization’s role in the cholera outbreak and its moral responsibility to aid the victims.

First Committee

From the outset of the session of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo urged Member States to be open-minded in achieving common goals. Succeeding in shared ambitions required the jettisoning of old mind-sets and the willingness to shed a business as usual attitude.

Progress on disarmament efforts remained elusive and the implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had fallen far short of expectations, said the representative of Egypt on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition. Disappointment in the continued deadlock in the Conference of Disarmament, as well as the failure of the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to agree on a final outcome document, weighed heavily on Member States throughout the session.

Some speakers called for new approaches as they raised concerns over the current standstill. Central to those discussions was a proposal from the Open-ended Working Group taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations that the General Assembly convene, in 2017, a conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Fifty-seven countries co-sponsored the draft text, which was adopted by the General Assembly following a review by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the programme budget implications.

While some said a nuclear weapon ban treaty was the most viable alternative to a stalled step-by-step approach, the initiative faced opposition from, among others, all five nuclear-weapon States, amid concern that it would actually undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty and fail to address underlying security challenges. The Russian Federation’s representative said pursuing such a path would inevitably have a negative impact on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and break an established pace of multilateral work on disarmament. Meanwhile, his counterpart from the United States said that frustration with the pace of progress was not a compelling reason to abandon an approach to reduction that had built upon decades of pragmatic steps, urging Member States to stay the course.

However, some speakers, including South Africa’s delegate, said resistance by nuclear-weapon States to fulfil disarmament commitments had caused serious divisions and created a credibility crisis in the current disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Expressing concerns echoed by other non-nuclear weapon States about an imbalance on the disarmament playing field, Guatemala’s representative cautioned against a small number of nuclear-weapon States determining when and how nuclear disarmament should take place.

Several delegates cited an exception to traditional disarmament rules and norms as a result of their unique security situations. As Member States resoundingly joined forces in their condemnation of nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, that country’s representative repeatedly defended its nuclear weapons programme, saying there was no option but to build a deterrent in response to nuclear blackmail from the United States. The Assembly also adopted by recorded vote another outstanding text containing programme budget implications. By that draft, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to establish a high-level preparatory group on a fissile material cut-off treaty.

Cross-border terrorist threats brought a sense of immediacy to the discourse. Several speakers emphasized the danger of non-State actors acquiring weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, heightened regional tensions and an intractable conflict in Syria generated intense debate on the latest findings of chemical weapon use in the country. Typically a consensus document, a draft resolution condemning the use of those weapons included new language in this year’s text on Syria that stirred divisions and required separate recorded votes.

Delegates raised a host of pressing concerns, among them the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, global military spending and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, particularly to vulnerable countries. On the latter issue, many speakers underscored the crucial role of the Arms Trade Treaty and the need to combat the illicit flow of such armaments. Emerging technological developments, including unmanned aerial vehicles and armed robots, also cast a spotlight on modern security challenges. Several delegates called for norms to stymie cyberattacks, while Pakistan’s representative warned that weapons in outer space was no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Over four weeks and three days, the Committee heard statements from 118 delegations within its general debate segment and more than 300 interventions during its thematic discussions. Out of the 69 resolutions and decisions it sent to the Assembly, 34 were approved by recorded votes.

The Committee Chairperson was Sabri Boukadoum (Algeria). Serving as Vice-Chairs were Kamapradipta Isnomo (Indonesia), Maria Soledad Urruela Arenales (Guatemala) and Rene Zeleny (Czech Republic). Darren Hansen (Australia) was Rapporteur.

Second Committee

The world was facing an unprecedented array of global risks and negative trends, ranging from the refugee crisis and climate change to political upheaval and low growth, the Second Committee heard as it opened its general debate on 3 October. Member States highlighted global economic imbalances and climate change as major threats in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Similarly, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stressed that slow economic progress and an accompanying drop in investment as well as commodity prices was hampering development. Managed globalization could contribute to a more stable and prosperous future, he said, but isolationism and protectionism threatened the world’s partnership for development.

Globalization offered opportunities for growth, but also threw up hindrances, Member States argued throughout the session. Speaking at a joint meeting of the Second Committee and the Economic and Social Council, author Thomas Friedman said the world was witnessing three simultaneous accelerations � globalization, climate change, and technology � and that Governments as well as institutions would need to adapt.

Delegates repeatedly noted that the United Nations quadrennial comprehensive policy review would be an opportunity for its development system to coordinate operations and integrate the Goals into the Organization’s work. They agreed that South-South cooperation was needed to achieve that coordination, but stressed that North-South cooperation was also still vital.

Climate change and its effects on natural hazards, poverty and environmental degradation posed major challenges to development, many speakers emphasized. Development assistance was important in overcoming challenges exacerbated by climate change, including the El NiAo phenomenon, desertification, land degradation and loss of biodiversity. It was also necessary to provide sufficient resources to developing countries in combating extreme poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, delegates said. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s representative noted that extreme weather threatened the food security of more than 60 million people worldwide, with small island developing States and mountain countries being particularly vulnerable.

Aiming to address those challenges, the Committee approved resolutions that would help fight serious drought and/or desertification and promote sustainable tourism as well as entrepreneurship. Promoting sustainable development in different regions of the world was also a key concern, as evidenced by resolutions on sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea and sustainable mountain development.

Many speakers also highlighted the need to reform the international financial and trading systems by creating an equitable platform for economic growth and development. They noted that exports had remained stagnant or had drastically declined in recent years due to low world prices, a global failure to adapt to changing markets and policies penalizing traditional trading activities. Speaking for the Alliance of Small Island Developing States, Maldives’ representative stressed his groups’ heavy dependence on imports, adding that exports were a central source of foreign exchange and cash income. An inclusive multilateral trading system accommodating the needs of small island States was crucial to ensure sustained growth in global trade.

With increased migration worldwide, delegates also focused on the importance of migrants in boosting economies, stressing the need for well-managed policies and governance. John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that the number of international migrants had increased by more than 60 per cent since 1990, reaching 244 million in 2015, but ratification of legal instruments addressing their plight had remained uneven.

Speakers also voiced concern about Israeli occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan, which was increasing poverty and impeding sustainable development. The relevant resolution demanded that Israel stop exploiting, damaging, depleting or endangering natural resources in those territories and recognized the Palestinians’ right to claim restitution for damage, loss, depletion or endangerment of natural resources due to illegal measures taken by Israel and its settlers.

The Second Committee Bureau was chaired by Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia), with Arthur Amaya Andambi (Kenya), Galina Nipomici (Republic of Moldova) and Ignacio Diaz de la Guardia Bueno (Spain) serving as Vice-Chairs and Glauco Seoane (Peru) as Rapporteur.

Third Committee

Where and how to address issues of sexual orientation and gender identity rights within the multilateral system was the subject of contentious debate over two months of meetings in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it produced 50 texts to be sent to the General Assembly for adoption.

Following a 4 November briefing by the President of the Human Rights Council, a number of delegates took issue with Council resolution 32/2 of 30 June 2016 on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The African Group, objecting to the linkage between gender discrimination and human rights instruments, had tabled a draft resolution to defer consideration of and action on resolution 32/2, said Botswana’s delegate, a proposal which the European Union representative, among others, warned against.

The debate over sexual orientation and gender identity continued on 18 November over a text calling for an end to extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, which the Committee approved by a recorded vote of 106 in favour to none against, with 69 abstentions. By its terms, the General Assembly would note the arbitrary deprivation of life resulting from the imposition and implementation of capital punishment when carried out in a manner that violates international law � a point of contention for several delegates. Many objected to a section of the text listing groups that were particularly vulnerable to extrajudicial killings, including those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Some said the reference was an attempt by some countries to impose their value systems on others. But when put to a vote, the Committee rejected an amendment proposing to remove the contentious language by 84 recorded votes against to 60 in favour, with 27 abstentions.

The skirmishing continued on 21 November, when the Committee approved as amended a draft taking note of the Human Rights Council report and recommendations, by a recorded vote of 94 in favour to 3 against (Belarus, Israel, Mauritius), with 80 abstentions. That approval followed the narrow passage � by 84 recorded votes in favour to 77 against, with 17 abstentions � of an amendment deleting the original text’s operative paragraph 2. At issue, again, was resolution 32/2, deciding to appoint an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Botswana’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the terms sexual orientation and gender identity were not enshrined in international law, opening debate on that topic and the broader potential procedural consequences of reopening a Council decision.

Intense discussion also broke out around the international legal standing of the death penalty and States’ sovereign rights to determine domestic judicial systems. On 17 November, the Committee approved an amended draft calling for a moratorium on the death penalty by a recorded 115 votes in favour to 38 against, with 31 abstentions. Before that action, the Committee approved an amendment reaffirming the sovereign right of all countries to develop their own legal systems, by a recorded 76 votes in favour to 72 against, with 26 abstentions.

Earlier in the session, the Committee considered reports of the human rights treaty body system, with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression stressing on 21 October that counter-terrorism was being used to justify the detention of journalists, and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, on 25 October, decrying the United Nations handling of the cholera outbreak in Haiti as a disaster. Of the five Special Rapporteurs with country mandates to brief the Committee, only one, assigned to Myanmar, had been granted access to the territory under her mandate. The other four � covering human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Belarus and Eritrea � had gathered information remotely. The Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea � a member of the former Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea � cited reasonable grounds to believe that Eritrean officials had committed crimes since 1991.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights presented his annual report on 19 October, noting that his Office was developing guidance on the human rights of migrants in vulnerable situations who had not received refugee protection. Similarly, the new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on 2 November said the conflicts in Iraq and Syria accounted for almost a quarter of the world’s displaced people. The war in Syria, now in its sixth year, had caused the largest humanitarian crisis, with 6.5 million Syrians internally displaced and 4.8 million refugees.

Chairing the Committee was Maria Emma Mejia Velez (Colombia), with Masni Eriza (Indonesia), Karina Helena Wegrzynowska (Poland) and Andreas Glossner (Germany) serving as Vice-Chairs and Cecile Mballa Eyenga (Cameroon) as Rapporteur.

Fourth Committee

Decolonization questions loomed large over the work of the Fourth Committee, with delegations expressing regret that the urgent task of eradicating colonialism remained incomplete considering that the peoples of the world’s 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories were still voiceless in terms of deciding their own future.

With the decolonization process in stagnation despite progress made since the General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960, a number of delegates encouraged the Committee to find different ways to improve its interaction and cooperation with administering Powers.

During the Committee’s debate on peacekeeping operations, Under-Secretary-General Herve Ladsous said new coalitions of support were needed to address collective security challenges in today’s multipolar world. Future peace operations would require expert deployment, effective use of technology and adaptability to situations on the ground. Since Member States had demanded that the United Nations do more with less while expecting the same level of performance, its efforts must focus on maximizing political leverage and comparative advantage, he emphasized.

The Committee took up the question of special political missions on 27 October, when it considered the Secretary-General’s report on policy matters. Presenting the report, Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, noted that the global strategic environment had deteriorated, with significant implications for the broader peace and security agenda. In order to reverse that trend, a global effort would be required to prioritize prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts, he said, describing special political missions as one of our most important mechanisms for peace processes. From the regional office in Central Africa to the newly deployed mission in Colombia, special political missions were often mandated to work side-by-side with regional counterparts in pursuit of peace and stability, he said, noting that such cooperation could have a multiplying effect by drawing on respective comparative advantages.

In addressing questions relating to information, Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, reported that approximately 2.5 million people had watched the webcast of proceedings in the general debate during the high-level period of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. In addition, the Department’s information centres had forged partnerships with a view to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals through art, sport, technology or public information campaigns around the world. While delegates applauded the increased content on the Organization’s websites, as well as on social and traditional media channels, they expressed concern that daily press releases were not available in all six official United Nations languages.

Taking up the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Committee heard that young Palestinians continued to face unquantifiable challenges, including the risk of radicalization due to mounting insecurity and the frustration of unmet humanitarian needs. Many delegations voiced concerns about the Agency’s difficult financial situation as well as the volatile environment in which it worked. The Agency’s services were an investment in the future of Palestine refugees and in the region’s security, some stressed, expressing concern about UNRWA’s structural funding gap.

The Committee also considered the report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israel’s illegal practices in occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. Delegates raised concerns over Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements, excessive use of force by its security forces, administrative detentions, collective punishment and attacks against human rights defenders. An observer for the State of Palestine said the report reflected painful accuracy, while Israel’s representative called it the product of an illegitimate mandate.

On the effects of atomic radiation, delegates noted that while the findings of the 2013 report on Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident remained valid, the long-term incidence of cancer among its victims required further consideration. Ukraine’s representative, in particular, observed that the most important lesson learned from Chernobyl was the need for lasting improvements in nuclear and radiation safety around the world.

As for the question of international cooperation in the peaceful use of outer space, the Committee heard that the application of space technologies had improved efforts to manage disaster and natural resources, protect the environment, monitor oceans and climate, and eradicate poverty. Harnessing the benefits of space science and technology would be crucial for the global effort to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, many delegates also stressed the importance of preventing an arms race in, and militarization of, outer space.

By the conclusion of its session on 8 November, the Committee had recommended 35 draft resolutions and 2 draft decisions for adoption by the General Assembly.

Alongside Chair Vladimir Drobnjak (Croatia), the Fourth Committee Bureau comprised Vice-Chairs Juan Antonio Benard Estrada (Guatemala), Hossein Maleki (Iran) and Wouter Poels (Belgium), as well as Rapporteur Awale Ali Kullane (Somalia).

Fifth Committee

As it managed the first year of the current 2016-2017 budget cycle and zeroed in on ways to make the Organization run more efficiently in a world facing fiscal constraints, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved 19 texts on a wide range of management and fiscal issues.

The Committee passed a comprehensive human resources resolution that many delegates said was necessary to finish ongoing reforms to overhaul how tens of thousands of staff around the world are being hired, trained and paid. The measures, begun in 2010, aimed to eliminate inequities in the conditions of service between the Secretariat and the funds, programmes and specialized agencies and correct high vacancy and turnover rates in the field. The seven-part resolution called for shortening the process for filling a post to no more than 120 days, retaining existing criteria intended to ensure an equal geographic balance in the composition of staff worldwide, and ensuring departments and offices continued implementing the Organization’s new staff mobility framework.

In other staff matters, the Committee voiced concern over the benefit payment delays endured by retirees and participants in the $53.8 billion United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund and the need for suitable action to rectify the matter. It asked the Secretary-General to take steps to improve the Fund’s investment performance, which had fallen below the 3.5 per cent annual return rate target. Delegates also called for a series of changes and extra funds to continue improving the Organization’s administration of justice system that resolves disputes for tens of thousands of employees worldwide, after an independent review in 2015 revealed that only half of the workforce had access to the system.

During the session that ran from 29 September 2016 until 23 December 2016, the Fifth Committee delegates also handled a variety of crucial fiscal issues and laid down a blueprint for their financial priorities for the next two-year budget cycle that starts in 2018.

They also scrutinized the Secretary-General’s so-called first performance report � the review of the first year of the current 2016-2017 $5.4 billion budget cycle. The report, discussed at the Fifth Committee’s 15 December meeting, pinpointed budget adjustments to account for inflation, shifting exchange rates and unforeseen costs. As a result, the two-year budget was revised upwards to $5.61 billion.

The Fifth Committee asked the Assembly to keep the 33 special political missions of the United Nations running smoothly by appropriating $639.53 million for them, including for a new mission in Colombia, despite some delegates’ repeated calls to create a separate funding mechanism.

In other fiscal areas, the Fifth Committee called for financing to advance Umoja, the Organization’s enterprise resources planning project, and make the offices at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) more earthquake-resilient, as well as for creation of 16 temporary posts to help implement the new blueprint for global advancement known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In addition, delegates asked the Assembly to approve a cost-free restructuring of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that would shift more of the Office’s work from its Geneva headquarters to existing and proposed regional offices. Further, the Assembly was asked to approve funding for the restructuring of the United Nations Office to the African Union, continued maintenance of the United Nations Operation in CAte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and efficient functioning of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia and their Residual Mechanism.

The Fifth Committee Bureau included Committee Chair Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines); Vice Chairs Marcio Burity (Angola), Stefan Pretterhofer (Austria) and Marina Nikodijevic (Serbia); and Rapporteur Diana Lee (Singapore).

Sixth Committee

Tackling a raft of legal topics during the seventy-first session, the Sixth Committee investigated issues that ranged from environmental concerns to the principles of universal jurisdiction. Yet, as it had in past sessions, progress developing a comprehensive draft convention on measures to eliminate international terrorism stalled. Many speakers expressed regret at the continued stalemate, underscoring how the threat was expanding and taking on new forms, crossing borders not only geographically but also online through social media and media networks. State-sponsored terrorism was also highlighted by the representative of Afghanistan who spoke of his country’s fight against a sophisticated nexus of nine terrorist groups, emphasizing that States or elements within States perpetrating attacks must be held accountable.

A convention was the appropriate instrument to strengthen State capacity to combat the scourge, said the representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Nonetheless, because there was no agreement on a draft text, Liechtenstein’s delegate suggested that perhaps it should be taken off the Committee’s agenda or discussed on a biannual basis. Striking a more hopeful note, the representative of the United States stressed that we are seeing results, adding that various Council resolutions addressed a range of issues that exemplified the role of the United Nations in addressing challenges in the fight against terrorism.

However, the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law did have notable success during the past year as a result of the General Assembly’s decision in the seventieth session to provide additional funding for the Programme. Virginia Morris, Advisory Committee Secretary of the Programme, stressed that the funding had enabled the convening in Uruguay of the Regional Course for Latin America and the Caribbean, a course which had not been held for over ten years. Other achievements included the publishing of the four-volume International Law Handbook, which would be ready for use by the International Law Fellowship Program in 2017 and available for free online.

“We are talking here of entire generations of State lawyers from all the corners of the world who benefit from the lessons given by leading experts on every subject of the international legal agenda, said the representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Echoing that, the representative of South Africa, speaking for the African Group, also underscored that for a world order to be based on the rule of law, there was a need to study, understand and disseminate knowledge of international law.

The Committee also held its annual deliberation on the work done by the International Law Commission, with delegates commending that body for its work in the codification and progressive development of international law, while pointing out where prudence was necessary. Topics debated included jus cogens, crimes against humanity, immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction, and identification of customary international law, upon which sixteen draft conclusions had been adopted.

The Commission had also adopted a preamble and a set of eighteen draft articles on Protection of persons in the event of disasters, which it was recommending to the General Assembly be elaborated into a convention. Welcoming that, the European Union would be ready to contribute to the future work on that instrument, said that bloc’s representative. The United States’ representative, on the other hand, noting that not all concerns expressed by Member States had been resolved, suggested that the draft texts be approached as a provision of practical guidance rather than as a convention.

Delegates also scrutinized the Commission’s work on Protection of the atmosphere, with many speakers stating that environmental degradation knew no borders. Mexico’s representative stressed that the fragmented approach occurring through multiple related conventions and norms showed the need for a condensed regulatory framework, while the delegate of China urged the Commission to respect the existing mechanisms and efforts that addressed such a complex issue. However, representatives of small island States such as Tonga and Tuvalu underscored their vulnerability to pollution and climate-related challenges, with Tonga’s delegate pointing to the pressing need to continue identifying, develop and codify existing and emerging rules and principles on the matter.

Divided stances also emerged on the relationship between the Sixth Committee and the International Law Commission and the location of future Commission sessions. Slovakia’s delegate emphasized that the Commission was an independent body of experts whose interaction with the Sixth Committee should occur when the Committee reviewed its report. Noting that the Commission would be holding part of its seventieth session in New York, he stressed that changing the longstanding practice of holding sessions in Geneva lacked merit. Nonetheless, the representative of Cuba commented on the meagre interaction between the Sixth Committee and the Commission, adding that the work done by the Commission, in regards to subjects under study and codification, had not had a particular result in the Committee.

The report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) was also reviewed, with that Commission’s Chair underscoring the achievements of UNCITRAL working groups. Among those accomplishments was the development by the working group on Online Dispute Resolution of its first instrument in the settlement of online disputes, which the Commission had adopted. As well, Working Group I on Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises had prepared a legislative guide to assist States in crafting legal frameworks for legally recognized simplified businesses. The Chair also emphasized the important role of UNCITRAL texts for States looking to modernize their international trade law regimes, noting that many States had taken actions on those texts, including ratification of treaties.

As the Committee took up the report of Secretary-General on strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson underscored that the international community must ensure that Member States were supported in their plans and aspirations. The representative of Denmark, speaking for the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), noted that societies where rule of law was respected and an independent judiciary was able to ensure justice and accountability were societies better equipped to protect their people and provide them with services.

Delegates shared best practices to ensure access to justice as a critical driver of the rule of law, describing the unique characteristics of the principle when implemented into national platforms, legal programmes and initiatives. The representative of Myanmar, pointing out that it was the first year of his country’s democracy, highlighted the place rule of law took in the creation of a newly-formed Government. That included establishing community forums and mock trials, as well as organizing law centres around the country to provide skills and general awareness of democratic legal systems.

As the Sixth Committee began its consideration of the law of transboundary aquifers, the representative of Japan reminded speakers that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for ensuring the sustainability of water for all. In the ensuing discussion, many delegates stressed the need to approach the matter in a manner conducive to their situation and region. The representative of Tunisia, speaking for the Arab Group, noted that the International Law Commission had developed a number of flexible articles that provided a good basis on which countries could proceed.

However, she also stressed that, in light of water shortages in her region, it was important to consider different State practices and factors, including the weather forecast, the economic and social considerations of the countries, and hydrological issues. Argentina’s representative, also speaking for Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, emphasized that the text began with the recognition that the States in which the aquifers were located had sovereignty over the portion of water or aquifer system located within their territory and that States which had transboundary aquifers also had the responsibility to develop effective mechanisms of cooperation for their equitable and reasonable management.

The General Assembly, per the Sixth Committee’s recommendations, also granted observer status to five international organizations, including the International Chamber of Commerce, which has been a candidate for many years, despite not meeting observer criteria. The resolution, highlighting the exceptional nature of the Chamber, stressed that there should be more opportunities for the corporate world to contribute to the achievement of the Organization’s goals and programmes. Nonetheless, the Russian Federation’s representative underscored that granting such status should neither set a precedent nor change existing criteria for observer status.

Chairing the Sixth Committee Bureau was Danny Danon (Israel), alongside Vice Chairpersons Bilal Ahmad (Pakistan), Kaswamu Katota (Zambia) and Zoltan Turbek (Hungary) and Rapporteur Isaias Arturo Medina Mejias (Venezuela).

Source: United Nations

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The Grinch’s not-so-festive guide to food ration cuts

Across much of the world, the festive season is a time of indulgence. But what if you’re too busy fleeing violence and upheaval, or stuck in a refugee camp on reduced rations?

It’s been a hard year for the most vulnerable among us. This is partly due to tightening aid budgets, but it’s also the result of there simply being so many more people in crisis who need help.

“It’s not just a question of falling donor funding; most donors have continued to be generous, providing funds at relatively consistent levels for years,” World Food Programme spokeswoman Challiss McDonough told IRIN.  “But the number of [those in need] is much larger.”

A prime example is Uganda, where 602,000 South Sudanese refugees are sheltering. As a result of the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan, “we are now supporting nearly twice as many refugees as we were just six months ago”, explained McDonough.

WFP, as the global emergency food responder, is feeling the strain. “I’d say there are probably very few countries where we have not had to make some kind of adjustment to our assistance plans because of a lack of funding,” said McDonough.

The following is a not-so-festive guide to where WFP has been forced to make cuts to already minimal food rations. It includes some non-refugee national programmes, which have also been impacted by funding shortfalls.

Burkina Faso

Rations have been reduced and cash assistance suspended for the 31,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso. As a result, about a quarter of refugees do not have enough food to meet their basic nutritional needs.

“Most refugees in the camps depend solely on humanitarian assistance to survive,” said WFP country director Jean-Charles Dei. “When assistance is interrupted or insufficient, the food security and nutrition situation dramatically deteriorate, especially for women, children, and elderly people.”

Burundi

Lack of funding has impacted a range of activities targeting vulnerable communities. Food-for-training for Congolese refugees and Burundian migrants expelled from Tanzania and Rwanda has been suspended. The number of children reached through an anti-stunting campaign has been reduced by 70 percent, with the programme halted entirely in Ruramvya and Rutana provinces.

Cameroon

Monthly food rations for Central African Republic refugees in Cameroon was cut by 50 percent in November and December. The 150,000 refugees are entirely dependent on international aid.

In May, WFP also halted its meals programme to 16 primary schools in northern Cameroon due to a lack of funding.

Central African Republic

WFP has been unable to assist more than 500,000 people in urgent need of aid and has been forced to halve the amount of food it has provided to those it can reach. Emergency school meals have been suspended in the capital, Bangui, and rations to displaced people in the violence-hit central town of Kaga Bandoro have been slashed by 75 percent. “WFP needs to urgently mobilise flexible contributions to cover for distributions from January onwards,” the agency has warned.

Chad

For the past two years, refugees in Chad have survived on monthly rations well below the minimum requirement. For some, the cuts have been by as much as 60 percent. A joint assessment released in November by WFP and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, found more than 40 percent of the 400,000 refugees in Chad are malnourished and the majority of children are anaemic.

Ethiopia

Since November 2015, ration cuts have affected more than 760,000 refugees, the bulk of them from South Sudan and Somalia. Although there was an improvement in general food rations from June this year, UNHCR has warned that households still face difficulties. The cuts have, in particular, affected children aged under the age of five, with global acute malnutrition above the 15 percent emergency threshold in 10 out of 22 assessed refugee camps.

Gambia

All nutrition and livelihood related activities have been suspended due to a lack of funding.

Kenya

In December, WFP cut monthly rations by half for the 400,000 refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab and Kakuma camps. It warned that unless urgent new funding is received, it will completely run out of food by February. Most refugees in Dadaab have already had their rations cut down to 70 percent of June 2015 levels, and UNHCR has warned of a likely increase in malnutrition as a result of the new squeeze.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement: “Given Kenya’s threat to deport Somalis has already triggered illegal forced refugee return, the UN ([World] Food Programme’s decision to further reduce refugee food rations could not have come at a worse time.”

Malawi

Ration cuts to 27,000 refugees meant that at the beginning of 2016 they were only receiving 40 percent of the recommended minimum number of daily kilocalories. Those shortages began six months earlier. By March, only three out of seven food items – maize, beans, and cooking oil – were being supplied. The Dzaleka camp hosts people mainly from the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa regions, with new arrivals escaping unrest across the border in Mozambique.

Mauritania

In November, WFP halved food rations to 42,500 Malian refugees. Without fresh funding, it says it will be forced to suspend general food distributions, including cash transfers, from next month. A school meals programme for vulnerable Mauritanian children has also been put on hold and will only partially resume in January.

Rwanda

A nationwide prevention of stunting programme for children aged six-23 months, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers has been discontinued due to limited funding.

Somalia

WFP will “significantly scale down” its livelihoods programmes in December 2016. If no additional resources are confirmed, it will only be able to continue with minimal programmes (mainly nutrition) from February 2017. WFP is targeting 1.4 million vulnerable Somalis in food-insecure areas.

Uganda

Rations have been cut by 50 percent for some 200,000 refugees who arrived in Uganda prior to July 2015. Low levels of funding, together with the large numbers of new arrivals fleeing fighting in South Sudan has left WFP workers “with no choice but to re-prioritise their focus on those refugees in greatest need.” The humanitarian response to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda was already severely underfunded even before the latest outbreak of violence in Juba in July.

(TOP PHOTO: Residents of an IDP camp in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo receive food rations distributed by WFP. WFP)

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Residents of an IDP camp in North Kivu receive food rations distributed by WFP News Aid and Policy Food The Grinch’s not-so-festive guide to food ration cuts Obi Anyadike IRIN NAIROBI Africa Burundi Central African Republic Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somalia Uganda Malawi Burkina Faso Cameroon Chad Gambia Mauritania

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Puel backs van Dijk to remain a Saint for years 81

Claude Puel hopes that Virgil van Dijk will remain a Saints player for at least another two or three years.

The Dutch centre half has been on sensational form this season, leading to speculation that he could be the subject of a £50m bid in January with the likes of Manchester City said to be weighing up an offer.

Saints are unlikely to sell in the January transfer window, as has been their way over the past few seasons, but Puel hinted they could still resist bids in the summer too.

From a business point of view, Puel reckons that van Dijk’s value is unlikely to fall if he stays with the club for another couple of seasons at least.

He said: “I think for Virgil the price will be the same in two or three years and he can stay two or three years with us.

“He’s an important player for us, for the team with a good spirit.

“With Jose Fonte and Davis and also Virgil for me is a captain for the team.

“He has good personality, strong personality and quality and is an important player for us.

“Of course, he stay with us.”

Saints’ squad have gathered at Staplewood after three days off to start preparations for a festive triple header against Tottenham, West Brom and Everton.

With their next game not until Wednesday, the players will be allowed the rare luxury of Christmas day off to spend with their families.

Puel insisted he trusts his players to look after themselves and not to overindulge.

“I know it’s a particular period with Boxing Day and Christmas and New Year but I have confidence with all my squad, all my players, because they know the most important is to stay fit and good possibilities to play three games in a short time,” he said.

“It’s important also to pass good time with friends and family and it’s very important.

“They can do the good balance between a good moment with their family and to think also to make a good game.”

Puel has made no firm decisions with regards his team selection over the festive period, but will be implementing his rotation policy to combat three games in six days.

“I think we have possibilities to change the team,” he admitted.

“It was difficult sometimes for people to understand this but it’s not the first time we have to play every two or three days.

“We play in this short moment since the beginning of the season.

“It’s important for this period to make the same thing and keep every player for the good fit and possibility every time to play good football and have good balance on the team every time with technical players, good possibilities to win this game.

“This is not new for us.”

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Nigeria’s Army Says 3,000 People Who Fled Boko Haram Return to Hometown

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA � More than 3,000 people in northeast Nigeria who were forced to flee the seven-year insurgency waged by Islamist militants have returned to their hometown following the reopening of major roads in the area, the army said on Tuesday.

Damasak – in the northwest of Borno, the state worst hit by the militants – was taken over by Boko Haram in late 2014, when it controlled an area the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria. The insurgents were pushed out of the town by the army in July.

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Saturday that the army had taken back Boko Haram’s main camp in the Sambisa forest.

On Sunday, the government said it was reopening two roads between Borno’s capital, Maiduguri, and the northern towns of Damasak and Baga.

Army spokesman Sani Usman said more than 3,000 people used one of the roads to return to Damasak on Monday.

Reuters was unable to independently verify his statement.

“They were residents of Damasak displaced by the insurgency staying as refugees in the neighboring Niger Republic and internally displaced people in Maiduguri,” he said.

Usman said the returnees went through military security checks when they arrived and were met by local government officials and community leaders.

More than two million people have been displaced during the insurgency as Boko Haram tries to establish an Islamic state, run using a strict interpretation of sharia, in the northeast. About 15,000 people have been killed.

After the announcement that the Sambisa camp had been taken, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said the former game reserve would be used as a military training base to prevent the insurgents returning.

Security analysts say Boko Haram split this year with one faction led by Abubakar Shekau operating from the Sambisa forest and the other, allied to Islamic State and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.

Despite having been pushed back by a military offensive in the last few months, Boko Haram still stages suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria and in neighboring Niger and Cameroon.

Source: Voice of America

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Christmas Attacks in Cameroon Underscore Continued Boko Haram Threat

YAOUNDE, CAMEROON � The governor of the Far North region of Cameroon says a local self-defense group was able to prevent an attack by Boko Haram against Christians getting ready to celebrate Christmas, a sign that the militant group remains a danger in the region.

Governor Midjiyawa Bakari said members of a self-defense group detected a suspected Boko Haram fighter riding his bicycle toward an area in the town of Mora, on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria, where Christians were assembling for Christmas Mass on Sunday.

Bakari said when the vigilantes tried to search the man, he immediately detonated his explosives, killing himself and a nearby civilian by the name of Ibrahim Mahama.

He said two members of the self-defense group were also killed. One died at the scene while another died later at a hospital. He said at least eight other people were also wounded in the suicide bomb attack.

Local media also reported three other armed attacks occurred on Sunday at Fotokol, Belgede and Madam, all on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria. The attacks reportedly left several wounded.

The fresh violence comes two days after Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari announced troops had chased Boko Haram militants out of their key remaining base in the Sambisa forest. The forest straddles Cameroon’s border with Nigeria

While Buhari said the militants have been crushed in northeast Nigeria, towns just across the border in northern Cameroon saw a string of attacks, underscoring the continued threat, Bakari said.

He urged residents to remain vigilant to the threat posed by Boko Haram and used as an example the string of attacks.

Bakari said the suicide bomber would have attacked a church had he not been identified and stopped by the local self-defense group.

However, in a sign of progress against the Boko Haram militants, Cameroon and Nigeria earlier this month pointed to the reopening of the border between the two countries � for the first time in three years.

Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has killed more than 25,000 people and displaced nearly 2.3 million, according to rights groups and the United Nations.

Source: Voice of America

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About 30,000 Displaced in CAR Over 3R Rebel Group's Violence – UN

Sputnik News

17:57 23.12.2016

The recently formed Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation group (3R) in the Central African Republic is devastating the already unstable western part of the country, forcing tens of thousands of civilians from their homes, a spokesperson at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – According to a report released by the Human Rights Watch on Tuesday, the 3R group emerged in late 2015 in order to help protect the minority Puehl population from attacks by Christian militias. The human rights group also claims that 3R has hundreds of fighters, who control territory near the border of Cameroon.

“Approximately 15,000 fled [from Koui in Ouham Pende] to the neighbouring town of Bocaranga and another 15,000 have not been identified yet… they sought refuge in the bush and along the axis leading to Bocaranga,” Yaye Nabo Sene told the Al Jazeera broadcaster.

Overall, about 70,000 civilians have been displaced throughout the country due to hostilities since September, Sene added.

© Sputnik

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General Assembly Concludes Main Part of Seventy-first Session, Adopting 15 Texts Recommended by Fifth Committee

Resolutions on Oceans, Nuclear Disarmament, International Law, Technology Bank Also Adopted

Concluding the main part of its seventy-first session, the General Assembly today adopted 14 resolutions and 1 decision recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) that tackled management and fiscal issues, as well as 11 resolutions from its plenary and First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) tackling a wide range of issues, including nuclear disarmament, oceans and international law.

In addition to revising the Organization’s budget to $5.61 billion for the 2016-2017 biennium, the General Assembly adopted a wide-ranging human resources resolution aimed at finishing major reforms begun half dozen years ago to overhaul how tens of thousands of staff around the world were being hired, trained and paid.

The Assembly asked the Secretary-General to investigate the reasons for delays at each stage of the staff selection and recruitment process and present in his next overview report a comprehensive strategy aimed at achieving the 120-day target for filling a post. It decided to reduce the standard posting period for position-specific job openings from 60 days to 45 days for the Professional and higher categories on a provisional basis as a pilot phase.

The Assembly also approved $639.53 million to keep the 33 special political missions of the United Nations running smoothly. The representative of Syria, while voting in favour of the text, expressed a reservation on the allocation of resources to implement Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), stating that Mission’s Special Adviser had been acting beyond the mandate given to him in that resolution.

In another text, the Assembly called for $1.57 million gross ($1.46 million net) before recosting to continue improving the Organization’s administration of justice system � comprising of informal and formal mechanisms to resolve disputes for tens of thousands of employees worldwide. That call had been deemed necessary after an independent review last year concluded that, despite increasing transparency, only about half of the workforce had access to the system and many were unaware of it.

Taking up the Fifth Committee report Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, several speakers addressed the contents of draft resolution I, Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017. The representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, proposed an oral amendment, relating to protection against violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as matters around gender orientation did not have a basis in international law.

However, the representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of a number of like-minded States, said the proposed amendment would reopen an issue that had already been decided by the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) and the Fifth Committee. Voicing serious concern that the oral amendment proposed by the representative of Burkina Faso would threaten the Human Rights Council’s independence, he called for a vote, which resulted in the amendment failing to be adopted.

In other matters, the Assembly also adopted 11 resolutions, including the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) texts Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations and treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Addressing the adoption by recorded vote of the resolution Oceans and the Law of the Sea, delegates who had voted against the text emphasized that some provisions related to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which they were not signatories.

Despite abstaining from the vote, El Salvador’s representative stressed the importance of protecting oceans and the sea and ensuring their sustainability. Oceans were full of resources and were critical for the food security of millions. To date, there were gaps in areas of sustainable fishing, conservation and the use of marine biodiversity. Nonetheless, the resolution mirrored aspects of the Convention, to which his country was not a signatory.

Also adopted were several outstanding texts on issues ranging from expanded cooperation with regional organizations to the United Nations relationship with the International Criminal Court. Among other things, it decided to establish the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, hosted by Turkey, as its newest subsidiary body.

Introducing that text, Assembly Vice-President Zohrab Mnatsakanyan (Armenia) declared: It is through mechanisms like this that the concept of leaving no one behind comes to life. Indeed, the resolution would contribute to building momentum for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely Target 17.8, which called for the full operationalization of the technology bank and science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017.

As the meeting concluded, the representative of Thailand, on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, underscored that the Group’s resolve to address the needs of developing countries had been challenged throughout the session. Negotiations had been taxing and, at times, tested the path to sustainable development. Despite that, the Group had much to be hopeful for. Where there is a will to find compromise, there is always a way, he said.

Also speaking today were representatives of Bangladesh, Turkey, Netherlands, Sudan, China, Russian Federation, Pakistan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, United States, Israel, Cuba, Iran, and Nicaragua.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia), Vice-President of the General Assembly, introduced the draft Establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (document A/71/L.52), thanking those who had participated in the drafting process. Welcoming Turkey’s offer to host the Technology Bank and its support for its establishment, he encouraged other Member States to do the same. It is through mechanisms like this that the concept of leaving no one behind comes to life, he said, noting that the text would contribute to building momentum for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Target 17.8, which called for the full operationalization of the Technology Bank and the science, technology and innovation capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would establish the Technology Bank as a subsidiary organ and accept Turkey’s offer to host it. Welcoming Turkey’s pledge to the trust fund for its operationalization, it would urge the United Nations system and other relevant organizations to support the Technology Bank and its activities, while respecting the relevant provisions of the intellectual property rights-related agreements. Among other things, it would also request the Secretary-General to prepare a report to inform the Assembly about results achieved after the first three years of operation.

The Assembly then adopted the text without a vote.

The representative of Thailand, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, urged States and entities in a position to provide voluntary financial and technical assistance to the Bank to do so to ensure its timely operation. Strengthened international development cooperation would bolster efforts aimed at reaching the requisite financial resources that remained critical to the economic and social uplifting of the least developed countries.

The representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said a new organ of the General Assembly has emerged. For the first time in history, the Assembly had established an instrument to foster technology enhancement for least developed countries, he said. This is a major breakthrough and a historical moment for the United Nations, he said. Apart from leading to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the move also showed that least developed countries were not alone in their drive for sustainable development. The Technology Bank would work to reduce the digital divide and help to facilitate the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. This is just the beginning, he said, urging all to make efforts to mobilize resources to operationalize the Technology Bank.

The representative of Turkey said the Technology Bank’s establishment was a significant accomplishment and a manifestation of solidarity with least developed countries. In that context, the Technology Bank would seek to build capacities and enable the transfer of critical technologies and to bridge technology gaps. Turkey would provide facilities and services, having already contributed an initial $1 million. Underlining that the mobilization of sustainable resources was a must, he said that while Turkey would continue to do its part, funding was a responsibility shared by all stakeholders.

Culture of Peace

The Assembly then took up a resolution titled Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (document A/71/L.47).

The representative of Bangladesh introduced that text, noting the Assembly’s annual adoption of the draft since 1997. Since its 2015 adoption, two United Nations-proclaimed days of non-violence had been added alongside a reference to vulnerable children in the context of the activities of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Early Childhood Peace Consortium. In 2016, more than 100 countries had co-sponsored the draft, he said, expressing gratitude for their commitment and support.

By its terms, the Assembly, calling on all concerned to renew their attention to the objectives of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), would invite Member States to continue to place greater emphasis on and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace. It would also invite United Nations entities to integrate the eight action areas of the Programme of Action into their activities and encourage the United Nations peacebuilding architecture to continue to promote peacebuilding initiatives and to advance the culture of peace and non-violence in country-level post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. Among other things, it would request the General Assembly President to consider convening a high-level forum devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action on the occasion of the anniversary of its adoption and invite the Secretary-General to explore mechanisms and strategies for the Programme of Action’s implementation and to submit to the Assembly at its seventy-second session a report on relevant actions taken by Member States

The Assembly then adopted that resolution without a vote.

International Criminal Court

The representative of the Netherlands, introducing the draft Report of the International Criminal Court (document A/71/L.49), said the text was a technical rollover of the previous consensus resolution. Underlining the importance of the relationship between the Court and the United Nations, he recalled that the Assembly had recently heard a summary of the Court’s annual report (see Press Release 11850 of 31 October) and underscored the Netherlands’ deep commitment to fight against impunity for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Reiterating the importance of achieving the universal ratification of the Rome Statute, he said the Court owed its existence to empathy and the collective resolve to work together to shape our common future and expressed hope that the text would once again be adopted by consensus.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would welcome the Court’s latest report (document A/71/342) and the States that had become parties to the Rome Statute. Calling on those who had not yet done so to consider ratifying, accepting, approving or acceding to it without delay, the Assembly would acknowledge the Court’s role in a multilateral system that aimed to end impunity, promote the rule of law, promote and encourage respect for human rights, achieve sustainable peace and further the development of nations. The Assembly would also call upon States parties to the Rome Statute that had not yet done so to adopt national legislation to implement obligations emanating from the instrument and to cooperate with the Court in the exercise of its functions.

Emphasizing the importance of the full implementation of all aspects of the relationship agreement between the Court and the United Nations, it would encourage further dialogue between them and welcome the increased interaction of the Security Council with the Court under various formats. It would also encourage States to contribute to the Trust Fund established for the benefit of victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction and the families of such victims. It would also invite States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the participation of least developed countries.

The representative of Sudan, speaking in explanation of position, rejected the precedent of the Court taking legal action against States that were not parties to the Rome Statute. The jus cogens of international law were being undermined in an effort to advance certain political interests, he said, adding that the Court was the first to disregard and violate international law and customary and written laws. The independent and separate nature of the Court and the United Nations should be taken into account. In that regard, he rejected all attempts to render the General Assembly an Assembly for States parties to the Rome Statute and disassociated his delegation from the draft currently under consideration.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.

The representative of China, speaking in explanation of position, said that despite the text’s failure to capture the Court’s latest developments, his delegation had joined the consensus. Over the past year, the Court had made progress, but some States parties had announced their withdrawal from the Rome Statutes, citing grave concerns over its functioning. Urging the Court to heed the concerns of various parties in earnest and address them responsibly, he said the Court and the United Nations should cooperate while respecting each other’s mandates within applicable legal frameworks. Expressing concern about the exclusion of observer States from participating in certain consultations by the Rome Statute Assembly of States Parties, he said that such practice was in violation of the rules of procedure and principle of transparency.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed disappointment that the views of States that were not party to the Rome Statute were not taken into account. Alignment with today’s realities was long overdue. The call for its rapid ratification was inappropriate against a backdrop of several States having left the Statute. The Russian Federation did not intend to become party to the Treaty. Since established, the Court had only delivered four guilty verdicts costing $1 billion and there had been no new cases over the past five years. The Court had not taken action to investigate civilian deaths resulting from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) airstrikes or actions of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). The Russian Federation understood concerns that had been raised by the African Union and some of its members. The Court had a number of problems, he said, noting that the Russian Federation dissociated itself from consensus around the draft.

The representative of Pakistan emphasized that, like other States, his country was not bound by instruments it was not party to.

Africa’s Development Agenda 2017-2027

The Assembly then turned to the draft resolution Framework for a Renewed United Nations-African Union Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agenda 2017-2027 (document A/71/L.50).

The representative of Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African Group, introduced the draft, saying the adoption of the framework in June 2015 in South Africa had been an important stage regarding Agenda 2063. The framework intended to promote a closer partnership between the United Nations, the African Union and subregional organizations in the face of violence, migration and other issues. Calling for strong backing of the partnership, she expressed gratitude to all who had supported and co-sponsored the draft.

By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the 2015 decision of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in which they requested that the United Nations take the necessary measures to further enhance cooperation, especially in implementing Agenda 2063. Welcoming the joint decision during the fifteenth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa to formulate a successor to the 2006 United Nations-African Union 10-year capacity-building programme, the Assembly would call upon relevant United Nations entities to align their programmes and activities with the priorities enshrined in the framework and call upon Africa’s bilateral and multilateral partners and the international community to lend full support to its implementation.

The Assembly adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic introduced the draft Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (document A/71/L.44/Rev.1) on behalf of ASEAN. The United Nations and regional organizations had unique and complementary capacities with great potential to help Member States address the global issues of common interest to bolster peace, security and sustainable development. Describing the history of United Nations-ASEAN cooperation, he said the draft had first been introduced in 2002 and tabled biennially. Today’s draft was based on the 2014 version, but contained updates reflecting some recent important developments.

By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations and ASEAN to develop the partnership, as described in the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 27 September 2007, and welcome the recent adoption of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations (2016-2020). The Assembly would encourage the United Nations to continue to work closely with ASEAN in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Community Vision 2025. It would also encourage the United Nations to ensure that regional ASEAN efforts reinforced the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals through creating a road map, activities and projects.

The Assembly, by the draft, would further encourage cooperation between the two organizations in the exchange of expertise, best practices, lessons learned and experiences in countering terrorism and radicalization. It would also encourage cooperation in the fields of human rights, environmental sustainability and climate change. Additionally, it would encourage them to explore measures to further the effective and timely implementation of joint activities under the Plan of Action.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution without a vote.

International Tribunal

The Assembly then turned to International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (document A/71/L.53), adopting it without a vote.

By its terms, the General Assembly decided to extend the terms of office of the seven permanent judges of the Tribunal who were members of the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber until 30 November 2017, or until the completion of the cases to which they were or would be assigned, if sooner. The seven permanent judges were Carmel A. Agius (Malta), Liu Daqun (China), Christoph Flugge (Germany), Theodor Meron (United States), Bakone Melema Moloto (South Africa), Alphonsus Martinus Maria Orie (Netherlands) and Fausto Pocar (Italy).

The Assembly, by the text, took note of the reappointment of Serge Brammertz as Prosecutor of the Tribunal, for a term with effect from 1 January 2017 until 30 November 2017, subject to earlier termination by the Security Council upon the completion of the work of the Tribunal.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), took action on a number of outstanding draft resolutions this evening.

Acting without a vote, it first adopted the draft resolution New Urban Agenda (document A/71/L.23), by which it endorsed the New Urban Agenda that had been adopted by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), annexed to the present text. The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/713).

It then adopted the draft Oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/71/L.26), by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Turkey, Venezuela) with 2 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador). The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/714).

The representative of Venezuela, speaking in explanation of position, said her country was not a signatory to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. In the draft, wording of certain paragraphs on the delimitations of marine areas and coastlines were not acceptable and certain parts reproduced articles of the Convention. Other international instruments served as legal instruments for the law of the sea. The Convention did not have universal participation and other multilateral conventions had more signatories. While the draft contained positive aspects, for the above reasons Venezuela had voted against it. Parts of the Convention must be updated, she said, emphasizing the need to address matters of the ocean and the sea in an inclusive way.

The representative of Turkey said that while his country agreed with the draft’s general content, it had called for a vote due to references to the Convention. Turkey was not party to the Convention, which was not a universal instrument. Emphasizing that the Convention was not the only legal framework that regulated all related activities, he expressed hope that all parties would display a more constructive and flexible approach to take all non-parties on board during future negotiations. The Convention did not provide sufficient safeguards for special geographical situations and, as a consequence, did not consider conflicting interests stemming from special circumstances.

The representative of Colombia said his delegation had abstained from voting. Colombia was a diverse nation devoted to sustainable development and biological diversity, with a strong institutional framework on marine and coastal matters. Recognizing the valuable contribution of the draft, he said the Convention was not the sole normative framework governing oceans and the sea. All nations had a commitment to protect oceans as the sustainability of the world depended on it.

The representative of El Salvador emphasized the ocean’s importance, particularly in terms of guaranteeing food security for millions of people. To date, however, there were gaps in areas of sustainable fishing, conservation and the use of marine biodiversity. Despite global progress, much remained to be done. El Salvador was not a party to the Convention and supported provisions that considered general international law and norms. Provisions must not create obligations for States who were not party to the Convention, he added, inviting all States to continue to work together to protect the ocean. There were living and non-living resources on the seabed and the use of those resources should be shared fairly and equally to benefit all, particularly developing countries.

The representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, on L.23, said sustainable urban development could be a key driver of addressing quality of life issues and equity. He reiterated his unwavering commitment in implementing and review of the Urban Agenda and the independent assessment and the position of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) being discussed.

The representative of the United States welcomed consensus on L.23, urging all partners to work together to make the pledge a reality. She reiterated concern regarding the topic of a right to development, which did not have an agreed international meaning. Any discussions must focus on aspects of development that related to human rights, which were universal and must be upheld for all. The United States supported the right for an adequate standard of living, including housing. Her delegation had joined consensus with the understanding that the New Urban Agenda did not imply that States must implement obligations under human rights instruments that they were not party to, namely the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Any unintended interpretation of the term equitable must be avoided, as it could lead to discriminatory practices.

She said that where the United States had applied economic sanctions, it aimed to promote the return to the rule of law and prevent threats to international peace and security. She supported the two-State solution and pledged to work with the Palestinian Authority to improve the lives of ordinary people. The New Agenda was not legally binding and did not change the current state of conventional or customary international law.

The Assembly then turned to the report on general and complete disarmament (document A/71/450) containing draft resolutions that had been recommended by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security), taking action on two outstanding drafts containing programme budget implications.

Taking up draft resolution XXVI on Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 113 in favour to 35 against, with 13 abstentions. By the draft, the Assembly decided to convene a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/710).

It then adopted, by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to 2 against (Italy, Pakistan), with 9 abstentions (Burundi, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Syria), draft resolution XLI on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. In doing so, it requested the Secretary-General to establish a high-level preparatory group on a fissile material cut-off treaty. The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/711).

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, the draft Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag HammarskjAlld and the members of the party accompanying him (document A/71/L.25). The draft’s budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, were contained in a related report (document A/71/712).

The Assembly then turned to a number of draft resolutions recommended to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

DIANA MINYI LEE (Singapore), Committee Rapporteur, introduced the texts and provided an overview of its work. (For more information, see Press Release GA/AB/4224).

Based on a recommendation contained in the report Appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments: appointments of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/71/590/Add.1), the Assembly decided to appoint Baudelaire Ndong Ella (Gabon) to a three-year term of office on the Committee on Contributions, beginning on 1 January 2017.

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/702) and the draft Pattern of conferences, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/706).

Turning to a draft resolution contained in a report (document A/71/638/Add.1), the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft on Human resources management, which covered seven areas: human resources management reform (I); mobility (II); assessment of desirable ranges (III); composition of the Secretariat (IV); practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and possible criminal behaviour (V); amendments of the Staff Regulations and Rules (VI); and activities of the Ethics Office (VII).

Acting without a vote, it adopted drafts on United Nations common system, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/709), and another on United Nations pension system, contained in a separate report (document A/71/701).

The draft Administration of justice at the United Nations, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/707), was also adopted without a vote.

Turning to the financing of the International Tribunals, the Assembly first adopted, without a vote, the draft Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994, as contained in a Committee report (document A/71/705).

Also without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft Financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/703).

Next, the draft Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, contained in a Committee report (document A/71/704), was adopted without a vote.

Taking up a draft resolution contained in the Committee report Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/71/708), the Assembly adopted, without a vote, the text on Review of the United Nations Office to the African Union.

It then adopted a draft resolution titled Financing of United Nations Operation in CAte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), as contained in a Committee report of the Fifth Committee (document A/71/715), without a vote.

Turning to the Committee report Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, the Assembly first took up draft resolution I on Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017.

The representative of Burkina Faso proposed an oral amendment on behalf of the African Group, relating to protection against violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of a number of like-minded States, called for a vote on the proposed amendment. The proposed amendment would reopen an issue that had already been decided by the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) and the Fifth Committee. The amendment would threaten the Human Rights Council’s independence.

By a recorded vote of 65 in favour to 81 against, with 15 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the proposed amendment.

The representative of Israel proposed a separate oral amendment to the same text, which was rejected by a recorded vote of 7 in favour (Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States) to 148 against, with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Central African Republic, CAte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras).

The representative of Cuba, speaking in explanation of position, said his delegation did not believe it was appropriate to undermine the draft’s funding. Cuba would vote against Israel’s proposed amendment.

The representative of Sudan, speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, echoed that sentiment.

The representative of Cuba said his delegation had long maintained a principled position that there was no intergovernmental agreement on the term responsibility to protect. Expressing concern that resources related to the Secretary-General’s special adviser on that concept were mixed up with those financing the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide � which his delegation supported � he proposed an oral amendment to several of the text’s preambular and operative paragraphs.

The representative of Iran said his country had always supported the United Nations activities as long as they fell within the bounds of its rules and regulations and international law. While supporting the role of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, the concept of the responsibility to protect was still under consideration by the Assembly. It was therefore not acceptable for the limited resources of the United Nations to be allocated to that issue, he said, adding that Iran would vote in favour of Cuba’s proposed amendment.

The representative of Nicaragua said any definition of the responsibility to protect must be based on the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States. In that regard, he stressed that budgetary estimates related to the special adviser on that issue must be eliminated. His delegation would thus support the proposed amendment.

By a recorded vote of 26 in favour to 84 against, with 45 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the proposed amendment.

The representative of Burkina Faso, speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the African Group, expressed regret over the results of the vote. The budgetary implications could lead to activities related to gender orientation, which did not have a basis in international law. The African Group was gravely concerned about that, she said, reiterating its position of disassociating itself from certain Human Rights Council resolutions. The African Group had a right to take the necessary steps to have national legislation respected, she said.

The representative of Cambodia welcomed the adoption of the draft related to the Courts of Cambodia. The support would allow the Courts to continue to try senior leaders and those who were responsible for the crimes that had been committed against the Cambodian people wherein 1.7 million had been executed, starved to death and tortured from April 1975 to January 1979. Since 2013, the Courts had experienced a funding shortfall for its national and international components. For those components, it had been estimated the total funds required for 2017 would be $30.13 million.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution I on Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 as a whole.

Draft resolution II on Programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 was also adopted without a vote.

The representative of Syria, explaining his delegation’s position on the issue of special political missions, said it had voted in favour of the text. However, he expressed a reservation on the allocation of resources to implement Security Council resolution 1559 (2004). The Special Adviser on Syria had been acting beyond his mandate, he said, stressing that he had overlooked Israel’s failure to implement its obligations under the resolution. He also expressed reservations over the allocation of financial resources to certain politicized Human Rights Council resolutions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution Proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2018-2019 and the draft decision Questions deferred for future consideration, both contained in a Committee report (document A/71/717).

The Assembly then turned to the report of the Secretary-General on Findings and recommendations of the Interim Independent Assessment Panel on the system of administration of justice at the United Nations, and revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 (document A/71/163). Acting on a recommendation contained in the report, the Assembly decided to extend the terms of office of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal for the period 1 January to 31 December 2017. They were: Rowan Downing (Australia), Alessandra Greceanu (Romania) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria).

The representative of Thailand delivered a statement on behalf of the Group of 77. The Group’s resolve to address the needs of developing countries had been challenged throughout the session. While negotiations had been taxing at times, there was much to be hopeful for. Where there is a will to find compromise, there is always a way, he said.

Source: United Nations

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ALGERIA NAMES 31 PLAYERS TO PRELIMINARY SQUAD FOR 2017 AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS

The coach of the Algerian national football team, Georges Leekens, has announced a list of 31 players in his preliminary squad for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (AFCON2017) tournament to be held in Gabon.

This initial squad includes four new players and four other who are being recalled for possible national duties.

Defenders Ayoub Azzi (MC Alger), Mohamed Benyahia (USM Alger), Mokhtar Belkhiter (Club africain of Tunis) and striker Idriss Saadi (Courtrai, Belgium), are included in the squad for the first time while Djamel Mesbah (Crotone, Italy), Rabie Meftah (USM Alger), Ramy BensebaA�ni (Rennes, France) and Ishak Belfodil (Standard LiAge, Belgium) are being recalled.

The squad consists largely of the same group of players who were fielded in the first two games of Algeria’s World Cup qualifying campaign,

The squad will be reduced later to 23 players, who will start a training camp on Jan 2 in Sidi Moussa outside Algiers before leaving for Gabon on Jan 12.

In AFCON 2017, which runs from Jan 14 to Feb 5, Algeria has been drawn in Group B alongside Zimbabwe, Tunisia, and Senegal.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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