UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter: April 2024


New UN websites & publications

UN in General

2023-2024 Human Development Report – Breaking the gridlock: Reimagining cooperation in a polarized world (UNDP)
English, French & Spanish: https://hdr.undp.org/content/human-development-report-2023-24
The 2023/24 Human Development Report assesses the dangerous gridlock resulting from uneven development progress, intensifying inequality, and escalating political polarization, that we must urgently tackle. The report emphasizes how global interdependence is being reconfigured and proposes a path forward where multilateralism plays a pivotal role.
Why does pursuing the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement feel like a half-hearted slog through quicksand? Why in many places does restoring peace, even pauses or ceasefires as hopeful preludes to peace, feel so elusive?
Why are we immobilized on digital governance while artificial intelligence races ahead in a data goldrush? In short, why are we so stuck? And how do we get unstuck without resorting myopically to violence or isolationism? These questions motivate the 2023/2024 Human Development Report.

Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2024: Financing for Development at a Crossroads (FSDR 2024)
A new UN report – published on 9 April 2024 – says financing challenges are at the heart of the world’s sustainable development crisis – as staggering debt burdens and sky-high borrowing costs prevent developing countries from responding to the confluence of crises they face. Only a massive surge of financing, and a reform of the international financial architecture can rescue the Sustainable Development Goals. The report says urgent steps are needed to mobilise financing at scale to close the development financing gap, now estimated at USD 4.2 trillion annually, up from USD 2.5 trillion before the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, rising geopolitical tensions, climate disasters and a global cost-of-living crisis have hit billions of people, battering progress on healthcare, education, and other development targets. With only six years remaining to achieve the SDGs, hard-won development gains are being reversed, particularly in the poorest countries. If current trends continue, the UN estimates that almost 600 million people will continue to live in extreme poverty in 2030 and beyond, more than half of them women.

The Blue Book collection (1946-1994) – Newly digitized
Who was the Vietnamese ambassador in 1987? Where is a list of Togolese ambassadors from the 1970s? Who were the members of the Chilean Mission in 1965? If you ask a UN research librarian, they will likely inform you that the best source for answering such questions is the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a list of the representatives of Member States to the United Nations. The official title of the New York edition is “Permanent Missions to the United Nations”, but it is better known by its popular title which owes to the blue cover colour of the earlier print edition. The Blue Book is prepared by the UN Protocol and Liaison Service as a service to delegations and Secretariat staff. It comprises comprehensive lists of permanent missions of Member States, permanent observer missions, and permanent observer offices accredited to the United Nations.
Until recently, information about Member State delegations from 1946 to 1994 could only be found in print copies of the Blue Book. Consulting these physical books for historical information was a time-consuming process for librarians and researchers. But now, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library has digitized 276 volumes of the Blue Book covering the period from 1946 to 1994. From this year onward, the Blue Book was published in digital format. The complete collection from 1946 to today is now conveniently accessible and searchable in the UN Digital Library. Additionally, a real-time version of the current Blue Book is available on the Protocol website. In the past, the changes to print versions of the Blue Book were recorded in weekly addenda. The Dag Hammarskjöld Library holds the physical copies of these addenda and is working to make them available online.

iGov: Portal to the work of intergovernmental bodies
Ever wonder where to easily access information on formal and informal meetings of UN intergovernmental bodies? Check out the newly launched iGov. Serving as the public face of e-deleGATE, iGov is a gateway to intergovernmental data. It allows users to cross-reference meetings, documents, and agenda items and obtain comprehensive information across different search criteria. It provides a snapshot overview of future and past meetings with links to the list of speakers, voting results, and other relevant materials such as those from informal documents and letters. iGov gives access to the latest information on the schedule of meetings, lists of proposals, draft and adopted resolutions and decisions, and documentation. Created by the General Assembly and Economic and Social Council Affairs Division of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), iGov is part of the Secretariat’s response to mandates contained in General Assembly resolution 77/335, which calls upon its subsidiary organs to use, as much as possible, existing e-deleGATE modules and requested the Secretariat to consolidate such services. The initiative enhances the quality and availability of information on intergovernmental bodies for Member States, observers, UN entities, civil society, and the wider public. With a mobile-friendly design, iGov can be navigated using a keyboard and screen readers. The static text in the portal is available in all six UN languages. The current launch comprises information related to the General Assembly Plenary and the Third Committee.


Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

Communicating on climate change and health: Toolkit for health professionals (WHO)
Climate change presents one of the most significant global health challenges and is already negatively affecting communities worldwide. Communicating the health risks of climate change and the health benefits of climate solutions is both necessary and helpful. To support this, the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with partners has developed a new toolkit designed to equip health and care workers with the knowledge and confidence to effectively communicate about climate change and health. The toolkit aims to fill the gaps in knowledge and action among health and care workers – all those who are engaged in actions with the primary intent of enhancing health, as well as those occupations in academic, management and scientific roles. Despite their recognized trustworthiness and efficacy as health communicators, many health and care workers might not be fully equipped to discuss climate change and its health implications. This toolkit seeks to change that narrative.

The Contribution of Volunteering to Climate Action and Community Resilience (UNV)
The report provides concrete evidence of how volunteers all over the world proactively engage in actions that help communities adapt to, as well as build resilience against, the impacts of climate change. The report contains case studies from Guatemala, India and Kenya. The effects of climate change have both immediate and long-term consequences that pose serious threats to food security, livelihood and the economy. To tackle this issue effectively, urgent action is required on three fronts: mitigating carbon emissions, adapting to reduce climate risks and addressing the losses caused by unavoidable climate risks. Volunteers at the local and global levels are critical for climate action – their efforts take different forms, from grassroots community initiatives to specialized support on a global scale. The report demonstrates the indispensable role of community volunteers in driving climate action and building resilience. Essentially contributing to four key areas: knowledge and capacity building, disaster preparedness and response, mitigation and adaptation measures, and climate governance.

The crucial role of legal frameworks in advancing gender equality – Latest on SDG 5, Target 5.1: End all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere (UN Women)
Removing discriminatory laws and putting in place legal frameworks that advance gender equality are prerequisites to ending discrimination against women and achieving gender equality (Sustainable Development Goal 5, Target 5.1). SDG indicator 5.1.1 is a key tool to track progress. This infographic: – analyses the latest data on this indicator for 120 countries, – emphasizes the importance of strong legal frameworks that advance gender equality, – showcases good practices by countries, – discusses continuing legal gaps, and – highlights priority actions to enhance progress.

Directory of resources for planning healthy environments
In an effort to address the pressing global challenges from environmental risks, the World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a comprehensive directory of resources aimed at guiding urban planners, policymakers and communities towards healthier environments. With around one quarter of human deaths globally attributed to environmental factors, and air pollution associated with 7 million premature deaths annually, prioritizing health in the planning and design of urban spaces has never been more critical. The directory, comprising nearly 200 open-access resources, serves as a vital online repository which offers invaluable insights and tools to promote the creation of healthier environments and enhance the well-being of communities worldwide.

The Economic Impacts and the Regulation of AI: A Review of the Academic Literature and Policy Actions (IMF Working Paper No. 2024/065)
We review the literature on the effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) adoption and the ongoing regulatory efforts concerning this technology. Economic research encompasses growth, employment, productivity, and income inequality effects, while regulation covers market competition, data privacy, copyright, national security, ethics concerns, and financial stability. We find that: (i) theoretical research agrees that AI will affect most occupations and transform growth, but empirical findings are inconclusive on employment and productivity effects; (ii) regulation has focused primarily on topics not explored by the academic literature; (iii) across countries, regulations differ widely in scope and approaches and face difficult trade-offs.

FAO Publications – Potatoes: So Familiar, So Much More to Learn
English: https://www.fao.org/publications/home/news-archive/detail/potatoes-so-familiar-so-much-more-to-learn/en
French: https://www.fao.org/publications/home/news-archive/detail/potatoes-so-familiar-so-much-more-to-learn/fr
Spanish: https://www.fao.org/publications/home/news-archive/detail/potatoes-so-familiar-so-much-more-to-learn/es
A staple food for the world’s population, potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, providing a primary source of energy. They also contain several micronutrients including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Potatoes are a vital part of the global food system and play a critical role in strengthening world food security and alleviating poverty. Sustainable production of potato can contribute to all four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability. Due to its large genetic diversity, and its current cultivation and demand, potato research and innovation can contribute to sustainable agrifood systems and help to achieve Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals. The International Year of the Potato (IYP) in 2008 was a celebration of one of humanity’s most important and universally loved staple foods. In December 2023, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), endorsed the proposal made by Peru regarding the annual observance of the International Day of Potato on 30 May. As a global campaign to raise awareness and inspire action has just kicked off, have a look at this selection of FAO publications below to gain better insights into this global common food ahead of the celebration.

Food Waste Index Report 2024 (UNEP)
Households across all continents wasted over 1 billion meals a day in 2022, while 783 million people were affected by hunger and a third of humanity faced food insecurity. Food waste continues to hurt the global economy and fuel climate change, nature loss, and pollution. These are the key findings of a UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report published on 27 March 2024, ahead of the International Day of Zero Waste. The UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2024, co-authored with WRAP, provides the most accurate global estimate on food waste at retail and consumer levels. It provides guidance for countries on improving data collection and suggests best practices in moving from measuring to reducing food waste.  In 2022 there were 1.05 billion tonnes of food waste generated (including inedible parts), amounting to 132 kilograms per capita and almost one-fifth of all food available to consumers. Out of the total food wasted in 2022, 60 per cent happened at the household level, with food services responsible for 28 per cent and retail 12 per cent.

Future marine fuels and technology – new website launched (IMO)
Access to latest information on zero and near-zero marine fuels and technologies, including pricing information and the latest research, can be found on this new website. It has been developed by the Future Fuels and Technology Project (FFT Project), a partnership project between the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Republic of Korea, supporting the development of new regulation within the possible IMO Net Zero Framework to achieve the targets contained in the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy.

Global E-waste Monitor 2024
The world’s generation of electronic waste is rising five times faster than documented e-waste recycling, the UN’s fourth Global E-waste Monitor (GEM) reveals on 20 March 2024. The 62 million tonnes of e-waste generated in 2022 would fill 1.55 million 40-tonne trucks, roughly enough trucks to form a bumper-to-bumper line encircling the equator, according to the report from ITU and UNITAR. Meanwhile, less than one quarter (22.3 per cent) of the year’s e-waste mass was documented as having been properly collected and recycled in 2022, leaving USD 62 billion worth of recoverable natural resources unaccounted for and increasing pollution risks to communities worldwide. Worldwide, the annual generation of e-waste is rising by 2.6 million tonnes annually, on track to reach 82 million tonnes by 2030, a further 33 per cent increase from the 2022 figure. E-waste, any discarded product with a plug or battery, is a health and environmental hazard, containing toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, which can damage the human brain and coordination system. The report foresees a drop in the documented collection and recycling rate from 22.3 per cent in 2022 to 20 per cent by 2030 due to the widening difference in recycling efforts relative to the staggering growth of e-waste generation worldwide.

Guidelines for developing inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure
UNOPS, in collaboration with UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO), WaterAid and Arup, published new guidelines for developing inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure. Around the world, more than 2 billion people lack access to safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services, with conflicts and climate change exacerbating the issue. Unsafe and insufficient WASH facilities, especially in rural and remote areas, can lead to increased health complications for older people, persons with disabilities and children. They also reinforce cycles of poverty, inequality and deprivation – particularly for women, children and marginalized groups, who are disproportionately impacted by a lack of equitable access to water and sanitation. Launched on World Water Day, the guidelines address the knowledge gap on ways to practically implement inclusive approaches to WASH infrastructure development, particularly in developing countries and fragile contexts.

HIV Prevention: From Crisis to Opportunity (UNAIDS)
This new report shows that HIV infections continue to decline in countries that are part of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC) faster than in the rest of the world. Eleven GPC focus countries have reduced their annual number of new HIV infections by at least 66% since 2010. By comparison, the average reduction in new HIV infections since 2010 globally is 38%. The GPC is a coalition of 38 countries working together to accelerate declines in new HIV infections to achieve the target of having 95% of the people who are at risk of HIV accessing effective combination prevention options. The GPC countries that have prioritised primary prevention and treatment and that have focused on reaching people most at risk have secured the strongest consistent declines in new HIV infections. Globally, progress in HIV prevention has been highly uneven and a majority of the world’s countries are not currently on track to achieve the 2025 targets. Indeed, several countries are experiencing prevention crises with low access to services and face record rising new HIV infections.

Levels and trends in child mortality – United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME), Report 2023
The number of children who died before their fifth birthday has reached a historic low, dropping to 4.9 million in 2022, according to the latest estimates released on 13 March 2024 by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME). The report reveals that more children are surviving today than ever before, with the global under-5 mortality rate declining by 51 per cent since 2000. Several low- and lower-middle-income countries have outpaced this decline, showing that progress is possible when resources are sufficiently allocated to primary health care, including child health and well-being. For example, the findings show that Cambodia, Malawi, Mongolia, and Rwanda have reduced under-5 mortality by over 75 per cent since 2000. But the findings also show that despite this progress, there is still a long road ahead to end all preventable child and youth deaths. In addition to the 4.9 million lives lost before the age of 5 – nearly half of which were newborns – the lives of another 2.1 million children and youth aged 5-24 were also cut short. Most of these deaths were concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

PHSM Bibliographic Library (WHO)
WHO is launching a repository of multilingual, multidisciplinary, multisectoral research articles on public health and social measures (PHSM) called the PHSM Bibliographic Library. This is part of the WHO’s initiative on measuring the effectiveness and impact of public health and social measures (PHSM) during health emergencies. The PHSM Bibliographic Library is updated through automated and manual searches across multiple electronic databases, preprint repositories, trial registries and other sources. It is designed to meet the diverse needs of users at all experience levels, providing an advanced search interface for efficient information retrieval. This interface includes functionalities such as filters aligned with the WHO PHSM conceptual framework and an extensive controlled vocabulary. Furthermore, the library offers data export options in multiple formats to facilitate saving and sharing of results, as well as a dashboard interface, offering insightful visualizations of indexed PHSM research. The PHSM Bibliographic Library is the first in the series of three interconnected tools of the PHSM Knowledge Hub. The other tools are the PHSM Research Atlas and the PHSM Living Systematic Reviews.

People and Plastics: The Profile, Vulnerabilities, and Role of Informal Waste Workers in Addressing Marine Plastics Pollution (World Bank)
The present study focuses on a particular group of actors along the plastics collection and recycling value chain—informal waste workers (IWWs)—on whom limited information has been collected at the country level. Specifically, the study examines two questions: (i) what is the profile and vulnerabilities of informal waste workers in the three countries including gender-specific vulnerabilities; and (ii) what livelihood opportunities and community-based innovation models have been piloted in the selected countries, and can be used as case study examples in future policies and interventions, with the objectives of reducing vulnerability of IWWs and contributing to improving solid waste management and recycling value chains.

Productivity measurement and analysis: A guidance note (ILO)
Productivity dynamics are important across macro-, sector-, labour market- and micro-level economics, and in social policy and tripartite dialogue on fair wages, working time or the retirement age. They are also very relevant to environmental transition. Better productivity data are therefore essential for the work of the ILO’s tripartite constituents (governments, employers and workers), and for a broader community of stakeholders seeking to advance decent work. This guidance note seeks to assist national statisticians and economists in making the best use of available data to obtain detailed productivity measures, notably in developing countries. Guidance is provided on how to prepare labour and multifactor productivity measures, disaggregating by sector, with a particular emphasis on computing labour inputs. It builds on and complements international standards and guidelines issued by the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This guidance note is published as part of the ILO Productivity Ecosystems for Decent Work programme funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
see also: Questions and Answers: On new guidance note for productivity measurement and analysis (15 March 2024): https://www.ilo.org/employment/Informationresources/%20Publicinformation/news/WCMS_917992/lang–en/index.htm

Profits and poverty: The economics of forced labour (ILO)
English: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/publications/WCMS_918034/lang–en/index.htm
French: https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/publications/WCMS_918036/lang–fr/index.htm
This report estimates the profits generated from forced labour in the world today. These profits reflect the wages effectively stolen from the pockets of workers by the perpetrators of forced labour through their coercive practices. Understanding and addressing these illicit profits is critical to achieve progress in the fight against forced labour. 28 million people were trapped in forced labour on any given day in 2021. Forced labour is a criminal offence and a serious violation of fundamental human rights. Beyond the individual consequences for the victims, forced labour comes with economic and social costs for the entire society. This ILO report, which is funded by the government of France, will shed light on the link between forced labour and the economic incentive structures driving it.

Public health resource pack for countries experiencing outbreaks of influenza in animals: revised guidance (WHO)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240076884
This resource pack was developed for the country offices of the World Health Organization and national Public Health institutions, as an overview of the key information needed for advising their Member States in response to questions raised on human health due to influenza outbreaks or detections in animals. It assembles the available information from WHO, FAO and WOAH, on recommendations and guidelines on influenza that might be relevant to a country experiencing detections or outbreaks of influenza in animals or facing suspicion of human infections with animal-origin influenza viruses. This resource pack updates the information provided in the Summary of Key Information Practical to Countries Experiencing Outbreaks of A(H5N1) and Other Subtypes of Avian Influenza, published in 2016. Additionally, the scope of this current document was broadened to address the risks to public health from all animal influenza viruses, not only avian influenza. Links to existing resources were updated and new resources were added where available.

Reversing direction in the used clothing crisis: Global, European and Chilean perspectives; Executive Summary
Since 2012, the Alto Hospicio Municipality in the Chilean Atacama Desert has witnessed the fast growth of large illegal dumps of discarded clothing and textile products. Several tens of thousands of tonnes of textile waste cover around 300 hectares, some of which are burned on-site. Most clothes are made of synthetic fibres, and their incineration releases heavy metals, acid gases, particulates, and dioxins, causing harm to the health of people nearby and damaging the local environment. Such dumps, which are also present in countries including Ghana, Kenya, and Pakistan, are symptoms of the problem of developing countries importing large volumes of low-value textiles, which they struggle to make use of in economically and environmentally beneficial ways. While local circumstances in each importing country are unique, the underlying cause is the export of large volumes of used clothes from developed countries, driven by changes in the global fashion industry in recent decades. In this context, in 2023, the United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe (ECE) and for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) conducted a global study on used clothing flows and the business models driving them, with a focus on Europe as an origin and Chile as a destination. The study includes the results of fieldwork undertaken in the second-hand clothing markets of the Tarapacá region of Chile. It aims to formulate policy recommendations that improve the economic, social, and environmental outcomes of the global trade in used clothes.

State of the Global Climate 2023 (WMO)
Extremes supplement: https://wmo.int/files/significant-weather-climate-events-2023
A new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that records were once again broken, and in some cases smashed, for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, Antarctic sea ice cover and glacier retreat. Heatwaves, floods, droughts, wildfires and rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones caused misery and mayhem, upending every-day life for millions and inflicting many billions of dollars in economic losses, according to the WMO State of the Global Climate 2023 report. The WMO report confirmed that 2023 was the warmest year on record, with the global average near-surface temperature at 1.45 °Celsius (with a margin of uncertainty of ± 0.12 °C) above the pre-industrial baseline. It was the warmest ten-year period on record.
see also: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/2545ecd62e594005bb196b0ba962d7cb

Survey of Economic and Social Developments in the Arab Region: 2022-2023 (ESCWA)
With the persistence of the war in Ukraine, economic uncertainty continues to prevail globally and in the Arab region, where the war on Gaza and the Sudan conflict are weighing on economies and slowing down growth. With the stabilization of oil and gas prices at moderate levels in 2023, the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to grow around 3.6% in 2024 and 4.2% in 2025; however, current predictions bring the figure down to 3.3% for 2024. These findings were released on 27 March 2024 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in the 2022-2023 issue of its annual survey, which provides an overview of main economic and social development indicators and adds prospects for two years. The aim is to support member States’ efforts to reform economic institutions, develop and implement evidence-based policies, and improve economic planning processes to achieve sustainable and inclusive development. According to the Survey, poverty rates in Arab low-income and conflict-affected countries have jumped from 56% and 45% in 2019, respectively, to about 63% and 50% in 2023. The war on Gaza is threatening to push the entire population of the Strip, about 2.3 million Palestinians, into multidimensional poverty, which will affect the whole country as well as Lebanon.

Turning the Tide: A Look into the European Union-to-Southeast Asia Waste Trafficking Wave (UNODC)
A first-ever mapping of waste trafficking trends from Europe to Southeast Asia has been published on 2 April 2024. Produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the new research sheds light on how criminal actors exploit legal trade and regulatory and enforcement loopholes for financial gain. It also explores the negative impact this crime has on the global circular economy. Southeast Asia remains a key destination for illicit waste shipments, the report reveals, with Europe, North America, and Asia identified as primary regions of origin. Common tactics include false declarations, a lack of or incorrect notifications to circumvent regulations and avoid controls, along with missing or inadequate licenses or documents. Data collected from four Southeast Asian countries, three major European Union ports, and international enforcement operations highlight efforts in tackling illegal waste shipments by both origin and destination countries. However, despite regulatory and enforcement measures implemented by countries in which illegal waste ends up — such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam — waste trafficking continues to pose a major challenge in the region. The report is a flagship within a series of publications that explore corruption, cybercrime, and legal loopholes as causes behind the problem. It is part of a comprehensive project (Unwaste) to address waste trafficking and its impact on the global circular economy.

Unmasking the Unseen: The Gendered Impacts of Water Quality, Sanitation and Hygiene (UNU-INWEH)
The adverse effects of unsafe water on health have been widely acknowledged. But the comprehensive analysis of this impact remains poorly documented and overlooked. This new report by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) underscores the largely unseen gender disparities in exposure to health-related risks of non-utility water sources i.e. water sources not supported by government infrastructure, in Abeokuta, Nigeria. Poor water quality leads to severe consequences on human health and well-being, including morbidity and mortality from water-related diseases affecting millions annually. These impacts disproportionately affect women, men, boys, and girls due to inequalities stemming from physiological composition, age, socioeconomic conditions, disability, and restrictive social norms. Such disproportional effects are further exacerbated by unequal control and access to water, sanitation, and health services.

The United Nations World Water Development Report 2024: Water for Prosperity and Peace
Report in English, French & Italian; Executive summary in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish; Facts, figures and action examples in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish: https://www.unwater.org/publications/un-world-water-development-report-2024
The 2024 edition of UN-Water’s flagship annual report on water issues describes how developing and maintaining a secure and equitable water future underpins prosperity and peace for all and how poverty and inequality, social tensions, and conflict can amplify water insecurity. The report calls attention to the complex and interlinked relationships between sustainable water management, prosperity and peace, describing how progress in one dimension can have positive, often essential, repercussions in the others.


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

WHO Coronavirus Network (CoViNet)
WHO has launched a new network for coronaviruses, CoViNet, to facilitate and coordinate global expertise and capacities for early and accurate detection, monitoring and assessment of SARS-CoV-2, MERS-CoV and novel coronaviruses of public health importance. CoViNet expands on the WHO COVID-19 reference laboratory network established during the early days of the pandemic.  Initially, the lab network was focused on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but will now address a broader range of coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV and potential new coronaviruses. CoViNet is a network of global laboratories with expertise in human, animal and environmental coronavirus surveillance. The network currently includes 36 laboratories from 21 countries in all 6 WHO regions.


International Peace and Security

Analysis of war damage to the Ukrainian science sector and its consequences (UNESCO)
As a result of the bombing of Ukrainian cities over the past two years, many scientists in the public sector have been forced to change both their city of residence and their place of work. By January 2024, 12% of Ukrainian scientists and university teachers had been forced to emigrate or relocate internally. About 30% of all Ukrainian scientists have been forced to work remotely. Another 1,518 scientists have volunteered for combat duty. The cost of restoring Ukraine’s public research infrastructure has been estimated at US$ 1.2637 billion. This figure covers both scientific equipment (US$ 46 million) and buildings. Some 1,443 buildings belonging to 177 public scientific institutions have been damaged or destroyed since February 2022. Not all buildings can be assessed, however, as many are located in territories temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. The war has also eroded state budgets allocated to scientific institutions. In parallel, the number of contracts concluded with domestic and foreign business partners has fallen sharply, further diminishing the income of scientific institutions. Opportunities for joint research and technical projects have been curbed by the migration of scientists. These factors have led to a drop in scientific productivity at both national and international levels. The present study has been commissioned from the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine by UNESCO. The study is intended to inform UNESCO’s strategy for supporting a recovery plan for Ukraine’s science sector.

Gaza Strip – Interim Damage Assessment (Summary Note – March 29, 2024)
The cost of damage to critical infrastructure in Gaza is estimated at around $18.5 billion according to a new report released 2 April 2024 by the World Bank and the United Nations, with financial support of the European Union. That is equivalent to 97% of the combined GDP of the West Bank and Gaza in 2022.The Interim Damage Assessment report used remote data collection sources to measure damage to physical infrastructure in critical sectors incurred between October 2023 and end of January 2024. The report finds that damage to structures affects every sector of the economy. Housing accounts for 72% of the costs. Public service infrastructure such as water, health and education account for 19%, and damages to commercial and industrial buildings account for 9%. For several sectors, the rate of damage appears to be leveling off as few assets remain intact. An estimated 26 million tons of debris and rubble have been left in the wake of the destruction, an amount that is estimated to take years to remove. … The Interim Damage Assessment Note identifies key actions for early recovery efforts, starting with an increase in humanitarian assistance, food aid and food production; the provision of shelter and rapid, cost-effective, and scalable housing solutions for displaced people; and the resumption of essential services.

Policy Brief on the Security Council’s Consideration of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (2019 – 2023) (OCHA)
Developed by OCHA Operations and Advocacy Division (OAD), Policy Advice and Planning Section (PAPS), this policy paper is a non-paper. It is produced primarily for internal purposes and serves as a basis for promoting further discussion and policy analysis in their respective areas.


Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs
Turmoil and Hope: The Year in Review 2023


WASH for Peace: Conflict Sensitivity and Peacebuilding Guidance and Tools for the WASH Sector (UNICEF)
A new publication containing guidance and tools for the WASH sector on conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding has been published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “WASH for Peace” aims to equip UNICEF staff, sector partners and counterparts with resources and tools to develop and implement effective WASH for Peace interventions in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. According to UNICEF, there are currently 460 million children living in conflict zones. Children under the age of 15 who are living in conflict are on average nearly three times more likely to die from diseases linked to unsafe water and sanitation than from direct violence. Developed in collaboration with many UNICEF staff and WASH sector partners, “WASH for Peace” is intended to help develop capacity and support the development of conflict-sensitive and peacebuilding WASH programming.


Development of Africa

Compendium of forgotten foods in Africa: A companion publication for Integrating Africa’s forgotten foods for better nutrition (FAO)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has launched a new Compendium of forgotten foods in Africa which is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive collection of 100 African forgotten food crops. Also referred to as neglected, underutilized or orphan crops, these species offer valuable benefits, including nutrition and diet diversification, while supporting resilient, climate-smart agriculture but they are at risk of being lost as foods such as maize, rice and wheat dominate African diets. The compendium list includes details on each crop’s botanical classification, agroecological suitability, agronomic requirements, traditional and medicinal uses, value-added prospects and nutritional content. Among the entries are: African locust beans, African nightshade, baobab, Bambara nut, bush mango, cassava, fonio, marula, moringa, teff and tigernut. Produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Regional Office for Africa with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Compendium is a direct response to the UN Food Systems Summit and the Call for Collective Action in the Global Manifesto on Forgotten Foods.


Human Rights

Anatomy of a Genocide: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Francesca Albanese (A/HRC/55/73, 25 March 2024, Advance unedited version)
Israel has destroyed Gaza during five months of military operations, the Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, Francesca Albanese said on 26 March 2024.
“The harrowing number of deaths, the irreparable harm done to those who survive, the systematic destruction of every aspect necessary to sustain life in Gaza – from hospitals to schools, from homes to arable land – and the particular harm to hundreds of thousands of children, and to pregnant and young mothers – this can only be interpreted as constituting prima facie evidence of an intention to systematically destroy the Palestinians as a group,” said Albanese said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council on 26 March 2024.
Following an analysis of Israel’s actions and patterns of violence in its onslaught on Gaza, underpinned by dehumanising rhetoric by high-ranking Israeli officials and often reflected in soldiers’ actions on the ground, the Special Rapporteur’s report found that the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide had been met.

Background Note on Gender Equality, Nationality Laws and Statelessness 2024 (UNHCR)
Nationality laws which do not grant women equality with men in conferring nationality on their children are a cause of statelessness and a concern for UNHCR. Since 2012, UNHCR has issued an annual background note on gender equality in provisions in nationality laws which relate to conferral of nationality on children. This background note provides the most up-to-date information available to UNHCR as of March 2024. Sixty years ago, the nationality laws of most States did not provide equal rights to women in nationality matters. This has radically changed for the better since the adoption in 1979 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). UNHCR’s survey of nationality legislation reveals that equality between men and women relating to conferral of nationality on children has not yet been attained in 24 countries, and these countries are located in almost all parts of the world. Many of these States are found in the Middle East and North Africa (twelve countries). Five States in Asia and the Pacific and five States in Sub-Saharan Africa do not grant mothers equal rights as fathers to confer their nationality on their children, and the same is the case in two States in the Americas. These States are listed in the table on page 8 and an analysis of those countries’ laws is presented on pages 8 to 13. It is important to note that an additional group of States grant equality to men and women with regard to the nationality of children but not with regard to acquisition, change or retention of nationality upon change in civil status.


A Common United Nations Agenda for Protection – Strengthening the ability of the United Nations System to protect people through their human rights (OHCHR)



Female Genital Mutilation: A global concern; 2024 update (UNICEF)
Over 230 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), according to a newly released UNICEF report. The updated global estimates show a 15 per cent increase in the total number of survivors – or 30 million more girls and women – compared to data released eight years ago. Released on International Women’s Day, the data shows that the pace of progress to end FGM remains slow, lagging behind population growth, especially in places where FGM is most common, and far off-pace to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to eliminate the practice. The global pace of decline would need to be 27 times faster to end the practice by 2030.

A focus on adolescent peer violence and bullying in Europe, central Asia and Canada. Health Behaviour in School-aged Children international report from the 2021/2022 survey. Volume 2 (WHO/Europe)
The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (‎HBSC)‎ study is a large school-based survey carried out every four years in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe. HBSC data are used at national/regional and international levels to gain new insights into adolescent health and well-being, understand the social determinants of health and inform policy and practice to improve young people’s lives. The 2021/2022 HBSC survey data are accompanied by a series of volumes that summarize the key findings around specific health topics. This report, Volume 2 in the series, focuses on adolescent peer violence and bullying, using the unique HBSC evidence on adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years across 44 countries and regions in Europe, central Asia and Canada. It describes the status of adolescent peer violence (‎bullying, cyberbullying and fighting)‎, the role of gender, age and social inequality, and how adolescent bullying and fighting behaviour has changed over time. Findings from the 2021/2022 HBSC survey provide an important evidence benchmark for current research, intervention and policy-planning.

A Guide on the Human Rights of Sex Workers (OHCHR)
Compiled by Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the highest standard of physical and mental health (SR health), the Independent Expert on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (IE SOGI), and the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls (WGDAWG).

Human Rights Situation during the Russian Occupation of Territory of Ukraine and its Aftermath: 24 February 2022 – 31 December 2023
The Russian Federation has created a stifling climate of fear in occupied areas of Ukraine, committing widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in an effort to consolidate its control over the population living there, according to a UN Human Rights Office report issued on 20 March 2024. The report, based on more than 2,300 interviews with victims and witnesses, details the measures taken by the Russian Federation to impose Russian language, citizenship, laws, court system, and education curricula on the occupied areas, while at the same time suppressing expressions of Ukrainian culture and identity, and dismantling Ukraine’s governance and administrative systems in these regions. Although the Russian Federation began its occupation of Ukrainian territory in Crimea in 2014, the report focuses on the situation in the territory of Ukraine that fell under Russian occupation following the full-scale armed attack launched by the Russian Federation on 24 February 2022. From the onset, Russian armed forces, acting with generalised impunity, committed widespread violations, including arbitrary detention of civilians, often accompanied by torture and ill-treatment, in some cases amounting to enforced disappearances. While Russian armed forces initially targeted individuals perceived as posing a security threat, over time a wider net was cast broadly to include any person perceived to oppose the occupation.

IIMM Analytical Reports

On 27 March 2024, the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar is publicly releasing two analytical reports. One report details the Myanmar military’s covert Facebook network that systematically distributed hate speech against the Rohingya at the time of the 2017 clearance operations. The second report examines the response of Myanmar state authorities to allegations of sexual and gender-based crimes committed by security forces against the Rohingya. This report concludes that the authorities failed in their duty under international law to investigate and punish these acts. These reports form a small part of the evidence and analysis that the Mechanism has shared with authorities working on ongoing cases concerning the Rohingya at the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and in Argentina. These two reports have been made public on an exceptional basis. The vast majority of the material the Mechanism has collected and analyzed must remain confidential. Confidentiality protects the security and privacy of witnesses and sources. It is also standard procedure to maintain the confidentiality of ongoing criminal investigations before evidence is presented at trial to prevent efforts to hide or destroy evidence, to protect the integrity of witness testimony, and to avoid alerting suspects who could evade arrest or detection.

Intersections between violence against children and violence against women: Global research priorities (SVRI / UNICEF / WHO)
There is growing global recognition of the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. The current evidence shows intersections between intimate partner violence against women and violence against children by parents or caregivers, but limited evidence is available on the links between other forms of violence against women and violence against children. Both violence against women by their (male) intimate partners and violence against children by parents or caregivers are widespread globally. This report describes the process used to determine the priorities for research on the intersections between violence against children and violence against women, and the top 10 research questions identified.


OHCHR Poster: Learn, Speak Up, Act
The UN provides guidance and tools to act now and take concrete steps against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. This poster includes guidance that will help you navigate the highlights of three fundamental documents.



Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, 1 December 2023 to 29 February 2024
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) published on 26 March 2024 new findings about torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in Russian captivity and a sharp rise in credible allegations of executions of captured Ukrainian POWs. In this report on the human rights situation in Ukraine in December, January and February, HRMMU detailed findings from interviews with 60 recently released Ukrainian POWs.

Violence against women 60 years and older: Data availability, methodological issues and recommendations for good practice (WHO Scientific Brief)
This briefing note, which focuses on the measurement of violence against women 60 years and older, is one in a series of methodological briefing notes for strengthening the measurement and data collection of violence against particular groups of women or specific aspects of violence against women. These briefing notes are meant for researchers, national statistics offices and others involved in data collection on violence against women.

Measuring violence against women with disability: Data availability, methodological issues and recommendations for good practice (WHO Scientific Brief)
This briefing note, which focuses on the measurement of violence against women with disability, is one in a series of methodological briefing notes for strengthening the measurement and data collection of violence against particular groups of women or specific aspects of violence against women. These briefing notes are meant for researchers, national statistics offices and others involved in data collection on violence against women.


Humanitarian Affairs

Africa Migration Report: Second edition; Connecting the threads: Linking policy, practice and the welfare of the African migrant
The Second Edition of the Africa Migration Report (AMRII) takes a regional approach on migration and human mobility by producing knowledge and analysis that will contribute to the African integration agenda. Building on the success and lessons drawn from the first edition, it will generate qualitative research, data and knowledge on migration in the continent to embed human mobility into broader development and continental integration policies as outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063. The report focuses on the different policy frameworks, processes and thematic areas on the status of continental integration. The report takes into consideration the cross-cutting topic of migration and health, climate-induced migration trends, data-based analysis of current and future human mobility trends, migration and trade, labour mobility, missing persons, and the role of new technology in facilitating interconnectivity and human mobility in Africa.

Artificial Intelligence in Humanitarian Action – new topics page on ReliefWeb
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to reshape the way we respond and coordinate humanitarian response – helping humanitarians offer more efficient and effective ways to deliver aid and support to people in need. The UN General Assembly’s draft resolution recognizes that safe, secure and trustworthy AI can contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and “… promote digital transformation; promote peace; overcome digital divides between and within countries; and promote and protect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all …”. We’ve seen the interest in this subject grow firsthand. In the first quarter of 2024, the number of reports posted to ReliefWeb on AI doubled and we expect the number of news items, job ads and trainings around AI to continue to grow. In response, ReliefWeb has created a topics page – AI in Humanitarian Action, with curated content and key resources for partners actively using AI in their humanitarian work. In addition to understanding the potential benefits of AI in humanitarian action, the topics page explores the ethical and privacy concerns associated with implementing AI solutions. Several organizations are taking AI governance and security to heart. This includes the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology and the Humanitarian Data Science and Ethics Group.

A Decade of Documenting Migrant Deaths: Data analysis and reflection on deaths during migration documented by IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, 2014–2023 (IOM)
As the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Missing Migrants Project marks its ten-year milestone, a new report reveals alarming trends in migrant deaths and disappearances over the past decade.   More than one-third of deceased migrants whose country of origin could be identified come from countries in conflict or with large refugee populations, highlighting the dangers faced by those attempting to flee conflict zones without safe pathways.  However, the information on the identities of missing migrants is highly incomplete. Among the report’s key findings is the high number of unidentified deaths. More than two-thirds of migrants whose deaths were documented remain unidentified, leaving families and communities grappling with the ambiguous loss of their loved ones. This underscores the need for better coordinated data collection and identification processes to provide closure to affected families. The report looks back at the last ten years, with more than 63,000 deaths and disappearances documented during migration over that period —and more deaths recorded in 2023 than in any prior year. These figures demonstrate the urgent need for strengthened search and rescue capacities, facilitation of safe, regular migration pathways, and evidence-based action to prevent further loss of life. Action should also include intensified international cooperation against unscrupulous smuggling and trafficking networks.

Diaspora, Climate-Induced Migration and Skills Mobility: A focus on Africa (AFD / IOM)
The African Development Bank and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released on 22 March 2024 a joint report designed to support practitioners and decision makers to turn migration into a force for development in Africa. The report examines the impact of migration on human development and poverty reduction. It provides insights to leverage the potential of the African diaspora, build climate resilience, and harness skills mobility to drive Africa’s development trajectory. Key findings of the report show that: – Diaspora engagement is key in mitigating the impact of the “brain drain” and facilitates the flow of skills and knowledge from different parts of the world to the African continent, and vice versa; – African diaspora communities are key in addressing climate-related issues ranging from sudden onset challenges to adaptation and disaster risk reduction when their technical expertise is leveraged, and skills mobility facilitated; – Partnerships and collaboration remain crucial to mainstream diaspora engagement into the policy and programmatic responses to climate change and skills mobility at the national, regional, and continental levels. The findings are a result of a two-year long collaboration between both organizations, as well as members of the Multilateral Development Bank Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement (EMFD).

Migration Governance Insights: Informing People-centred Migration Policies (IOM)
Only half of the countries worldwide assessed in a new report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) grant access to government-funded health services to all migrants. The findings show that migrant inclusion and access to basic services is uneven and remains a global challenge. The Organization encourages States to intensify efforts to improve access to health and other services through a people-centred approach that engages the whole-of-government. The report, by IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) initiative, offers key findings and recommendations in shaping migration policies – including migrant access to services – based on data from 100 national and 69 local-level assessments conducted between 2016 and 2023.


Justice and International Law

Global Health and Care Worker Policy Lab
On 4 April 2024, the World Health Organization and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University released the Global health and care worker law and policy lab, a digital platform and tool to advance implementation of the Global health and care worker compact.  The Law and policy lab houses national and international legal instruments and resources to support countries and their partners in strengthening their national policies and operations, populated with an initial compilation of laws, regulations and policies from over 150 countries worldwide.


Drug Control, Crime Prevention and Counter-terrorism

Digital Rehabilitation in Prisons (UNICRI)
This report examines the potential benefits and risks of introducing new technologies in prisons to facilitate prisoner rehabilitation. It aims to assist policymakers, practitioners, and those responsible for the design and delivery of rehabilitative programmes to understand how to leverage technologies to support prisoner rehabilitation effectively and ethically.


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