UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter: February 2020


New UN websites & publications

UN in General

Coronavirus global health emergency: Coverage from UN News
This page brings together information and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations regarding the current outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.
Please visit this page for daily updates. WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

New UNRIC Library Backgrounder on the Novel Coronavirus
English – html: https://unric.org/en/unric-library-backgrounder-novel-coronavirus/
English – pdf: https://unric.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2020/01/novel-coronavirus.pdf

All other UNRIC Library Backgrounders can now be found at https://unric.org/en/info-point-library/backgrounders/.

‘Journal of the United Nations’ introduces new features
English: https://journal.un.org/en
French: https://journal.un.org/fr
In February, another much-awaited feature was unveiled: The PDF version, which was a daily, manual effort in the six official languages, is now fully automated. The “PDF download and print feature” enables one to print the latest PDF version with real-time updates up until the point of generation.

Security Council Meetings 1946-2020
The table of Security Council meetings prepared by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library now includes all meetings and their outcomes since 1946. It provides direct access to meeting records and outcome documents.

2019 Highlights of Security Council & General Assembly
Security Council – English: https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sc14073.doc.htm
Security Council – French: https://www.un.org/press/fr/2020/cs14073.doc.htm
General Assembly – English: https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12236.doc.htm
General Assembly – French: https://www.un.org/press/fr/2019/AG12236.doc.htm
The Meetings Coverage Section of the Department of Global Communications has finalized the 2019 round-ups of the work of the Security Council, the General Assembly‎ plenary and its six Main Committees for the 74th session. Organized in a thematic approach, these round-ups offer a user-friendly overview of what has been discussed during this session. They reflect the work of the 243 Security Council meetings of 2019, as well as the 187 meetings of the General Assembly and the Main Committees between 23 September and 27 December.These highlights of the debates and the new emerging issues addressed by Member States are a useful tool for anyone, especially for delegations and the media.


Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

E-participation: a quick overview of recent qualitative trends (DESA Working Paper No. 163)
This paper briefly takes stock of two decades of e-participation initiatives based on a limited review of the academic literature. The purpose of the paper is to complement the results of the e-government Survey 2020. As such, the emphasis is on aspects that the e-government survey (based on analysis of e-government portals and on quantitative indicators) does not capture directly. Among those are the challenges faced by e-participation initiatives and key areas of attention for governments. The paper maps the field of e-participation and related activities, as well as its relationships with other governance concepts. Areas of recent development in terms of e-participation applications are briefly reviewed. The paper selectively highlights conclusions from the literature on different participation tools, as well as a list of key problematic areas for policy makers. The paper concludes that while e-participation platforms using new technologies have spread rapidly in developed countries in the first decade of the 2000s and in developing countries during the last 10 years, it is not clear that their multiplication has translated into broader or deeper citizen participation. Beyond reasons related to technology access and digital skills, factors such as lack of understanding of citizens’ motivations to participate and the reluctance of public institutions to genuinely share agenda setting and decision-making power seem to play an important role in the observed limited progress.

Every child counts: Using gender data to drive results for children (UNICEF)
Collecting data on children during their first two decades of life is crucial to understanding which needs are not being met. These data help stakeholders create policies and programmes to address the gaps, laying the groundwork for healthier and more productive adulthoods. UNICEF, as a global leader in monitoring the well-being of children, is well positioned to ensure approaches to data – their collection, analysis, dissemination and use – include a gender perspective so that critical milestones in addressing gender inequality during a child’s first two decades are met. We have created this framework in recognition that advancing gender data for children requires collaboration within – and outside of – UNICEF. It is meant as a starting point for considering how UNICEF can build upon its existing gender data assets to more effectively ensure that the rights of every girl and boy are realized.

The future of public spending: Why the way we spend is critical to the Sustainable Development Goals
A new UNOPS-supported report published on 22 January 2020 in Davos by UNOPS and The Economist Intelligence Unit concludes that less wasteful, more efficient government spending practices can free up resources to address a critical funding gap in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The research essay argues that the sheer size of public spending, typically between 15-30 per cent of gross domestic product, makes it a powerful force for change. Efficient public procurement allows governments to make substantial progress towards achieving their social, environmental and economic sustainability objectives.

Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) Inventory of Activities
The Global Forest Observations Initiative (GFOI) on 27 January 2020 launched a portal – the first such comprehensive platform – to track international capacity development support to developing countries in forest monitoring for climate action. The portal is a one-stop shop with easy-to-access information on more than 400 forest monitoring activities in 70 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. Users can search for information by country or region, by type of forest monitoring activities, and by donors. It will help governments and donors identify gaps, share resources, avoid overlaps and explore opportunities for new partnerships to better address the challenges countries face as they develop their National Forest Monitoring Systems. The portal is a milestone in the GFOI partnership. It was designed and populated by the partners leading the initiative including: Australia, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States’ SilvaCarbon Programme, the International Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), the European Space Agency (ESA), FAO and the World Bank. The platform will be maintained by the GFOI Office, hosted by FAO, with funding from Australia and Norway.

Law and Climate Change Toolkit
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with several United Nations entities, have developed a law and climate change toolkit to promote climate-smart urbanization. Global heating has been described as the “defining issue of our time”. An effective response to climate change requires deliberate and sustained action from both state and non-state actors that is anchored in nationally determined contributions. Implementing these contributions requires supportive regulatory and institutional frameworks and a regular assessment of their adequacy and effectiveness.

Mission 1.5 campaign (UNDP)
Millions of people worldwide will get to share their views on climate action through a UN campaign launched on 12 February 2020 aimed at connecting them with Governments and policy makers. The Mission 1.5 campaign is built around an internet and mobile video game that educates people about climate policy and allows them to vote on possible solutions. The campaign was developed by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), alongside experts in game development, climate science and public polling.

Space4Women (UNOOSA)
Space4Women, a project launched by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), encourages women and girls to pursue education in space and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), by sharing knowledge about career opportunities and the importance of gender equality and empowerment in these sectors.

Sustainable Development Goals training for public officials (E/C.16/2020/7, 8 January 2020)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/en/E/C.16/2020/7
“Summary: The present paper, prepared for the Committee’s nineteenth session, is devoted to the training of public officials on the Sustainable Development Goals. At the eighteenth session of the Committee, many participants had expressed the wish to focus on the training of public officials as an essential component for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the present paper, emphasis is placed on the importance of both the initial and the ongoing training of public officials for the achievement of the Goals. The Goals that should be the subject of such training, the target audiences, the potential content of the training and its structure and appropriate teaching methods are also presented, with a focus on the processes of the training programmes. The paper concludes with a series of recommendations for policymakers.”


International Peace and Security

Concept note for the Security Council briefing on the theme “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2020/30
The Security Council held a briefing on 30 January 2020 on the theme “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations” under the agenda item entitled “Cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security”. Viet Nam, the Security Council President for January, has prepared this concept note for the debate.

Concept note for the Security Council briefing on children and armed conflict: integrating child protection into peace processes
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/en/S/2020/97
The Security Council held a briefing on 12 February 2020 on “Children and armed conflict: integrating child protection into peace processes”. Belgium, the Security Council President for February, has prepared this concept note.

Concept note for the Security Council open debate on the theme “Peacebuilding and sustaining peace: transitional justice in conflict and post‐conflict situations”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/en/S/2020/98
The Security Council held an open debate on 13 February 2020 on “Peacebuilding and sustaining peace: transitional justice in conflict and post‐conflict situations”. Belgium, the Security Council President for February, has prepared this concept note.

The Politics of Oil and Peacemaking (DPPA Politically Speaking, 31 January 2020)
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) and the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) are looking at ways the oil industry is relevant to international peace and security, just one of a series of innovative initiatives aimed at improving the UN’s analysis capacity and its ability to detect and defuse potential tensions.

Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict
The inclusion of the specific needs and rights of children into peace negotiation and mediation efforts should be more systematic highlights the new Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict presented on 12 February 2020 to the UN Security Council by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres. The guidance was produced by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG CAAC) at the request of the Security Council in Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2017/21), and developed in partnership with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Department of Peace Operations, UNICEF, and other stakeholders. The Security Council subsequently welcomed its development and encouraged the Secretary-General to broadly disseminate the guidance and promote its use in UN-supported, sponsored and facilitated peace and mediation processes (S/PRST/2020/3). Based on concrete examples of situations in which child protection issues were successfully integrated into peace processes or peace agreements, the guidance emphasizes the strategic value of including child‘s rights and needs in peace negotiations and gives tools to mediators to take these issues into consideration at the earliest stages of the negotiations.

Tenth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat (S/2020/95, 4 February 2020)
English, French & Spanish: http://undocs.org/S/2020/95
Introduction: “This is my tenth report on the threat posed by ISIL to international peace and security. The report was prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, in close collaboration with the Office of Counter-Terrorism, other United Nations entities and international organizations. Continuing ISIL activity in parts of Iraq and increased activity in certain areas of the Syrian Arab Republic are highlighted in the report. Outside conflict zones, ISIL remains reliant on inspired attacks to demonstrate its relevance, while it is actively working to re-establish its former capacity to direct complex international operations. Owing to their high number, foreign terrorist fighters remain an acute issue and will continue to pose short-, medium-and long-term threat.”

UN Transitions: Improving Security Council Practice in Mission Settings (UNU/CPR, 21 January 2020)
This policy paper covers the role of the UN Security Council in mandating and overseeing UN transitions, typically as peace operations are drawn down or significantly reconfigured. Based on an extensive literature review and interviews with UN experts and Council members, the paper explores the evolution of Council practice over the past thirty years. Drawing from this practice, it offers concrete recommendations how Council-led transitions processes can be planned and managed in a proactive, integrated and forward-looking manner, better positioning the UN to provide support to host countries in often fragile moments. The paper is divided into four sections: (1) the evolution of Security Council practice on transitions from the early 1990s to present; (2) recurring challenges in transition processes in the Council, including financial cliffs, elections and risks of relapse; (3) a framework for mandating a transition process, drawing from past practice; and (4) conclusions about the future of UN transitions in the field.


Human Rights

Call to Action for Human Rights
People’s basic human rights – their birth-right – are “under assault”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 24 February 2020 in Geneva, as he launched a Call to Action aimed at boosting equality and reducing suffering everywhere.

The airstrikes on the Daman building complex, including the Tajoura Detention Centre, 2 July 2019 (UNSMIL / OHCHR)

In a new report on the July 2019 airstrikes in Libya that killed at least 53 migrants and refugees at the Tajoura detention centre – one of the deadliest incidents since a new round of hostilities broke out in April 2019 – the UN has renewed its call on all parties to the conflict to conduct independent, impartial and thorough investigations to ensure accountability for violations of international law. The 13-page report, published today by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Human Rights Office, also calls for urgent action to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in a conflict in which at least 287 civilians were killed and some 369 civilians injured in 2019, with 60 percent of these casualties attributed to airstrikes. The report is based on visits by UNSMIL personnel to the site, analysis of video footage and other evidence, as well as subsequent interviews with survivors and witnesses. It finds that on 2 July an air-delivered bomb struck a vehicle repair workshop operated by the Daman Brigade, an armed group allied with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA).

Database of all business enterprises involved in the activities detailed in paragraph 96 of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem : Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/43/71, 12 February 2020, Advance unedited version)
The UN Human Rights Office issued a report on business enterprises involved in certain activities relating to settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in response to a specific request by the UN Human Rights Council, contained in a March 2016 resolution, that mandated the Office to produce a database of business enterprises involved in such activities. In an interim report (A/HRC/37/39) presented to the Human Rights Council in March 2018 by the then High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN Human Rights Office noted it had reviewed information that was publicly available, or had been received from a variety of sources, about an initial 307 companies. After further research, the total number reviewed increased to 321. Of these, a total of 206 companies were considered for further assessment. The report released on 12 February 2020 sets out conclusions following further communications with business entities, as well as a thorough review and assessment of all information available. It identifies 112 business entities which the UN Human Rights Office, on the basis of the information it has gathered, has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in one or more of the specific activities referenced in Human Rights Council resolution 31/36.

Human Rights in the Administration of Justice in Iraq: Trials under the anti-terrorism laws and implications for justice, accountability and social cohesion in the aftermath of ISIL (UNAMI / OHCHR)
A UN report published on 28 January 2020 on the trials conducted under Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws recognizes the considerable efforts taken to ensure accountability for the atrocities committed by ISIL fighters, yet raises serious concerns about unfair trials placing defendants at a serious disadvantage. The report is based on independent monitoring of 794 criminal court trials of defendants mainly associated with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) from 1 May 2018 through 31 October 2019, conducted with the full support of Iraq’s High Judicial Council. The joint report by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Human Rights Office acknowledged that judicial proceedings against ISIL defendants were generally conducted in an orderly manner, were well organized, and judges were routinely prepared with investigation files.

Report of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (A/HRC/43/56, 31 January 2020, Advance unedited version)
Millions of South Sudanese civilians have been deliberately deprived of access to basic services and many deliberately starved, while national revenues have been diverted by the country’s politicians, says the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
In its fourth report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, published just ahead of the February 22 deadline for the formation of a national unity government in South Sudan, the Commission says corruption and political competition have fuelled human rights abuses and are major drivers of ethnic conflict.

The Right to Education in Iraq: The legacy of ISIL territorial control on access to education (UNAMI / OHCHR)
A United Nations report published on 17 February 2020 finds that some children in Iraq are still unable to receive education in the aftermath of the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant over two years ago, saying they cannot access schools or obtain key civilian documentation necessary for enrolment in state schools. The report is jointly released by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report is based upon 237 interviews and group consultations with children, youth, parents and teachers in areas that were controlled by Da’esh/ISIL until their territorial defeat in December 2017.


Humanitarian Affairs

CCHN Facilitator Handbook
The Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN) is a joint initiative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD). It was created in October 2016 to enhance professional exchanges and peer learning among frontline humanitarian negotiators. The CCHN Facilitator’s Handbook provides all the information and references needed to facilitate a peer workshop with members of staff on humanitarian negotiation. It assists CCHN facilitators as they build their own skills in presenting and using CCHN tools and methods. The CCHN offers regular training sessions so that CCHN members can work to become certified CCHN facilitators.

Desert Locust crisis in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is facing the worst Desert Locust crisis in over 25 years, and the most serious in 70 years for Kenya. The current situation – regarded as an upsurge with the potential to become a regional plague – represents an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the region and could lead to further suffering, displacement and potential conflict. Vast stretches of pasture and crops are under threat from the pest in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. Far worse than initially anticipated, the upsurge has been exacerbated by limited operational capacities in Somalia as well as heavy rain and floods from cyclone Pawan. Unless sustained measures are taken to control the invasions in these three affected countries, the outbreak will spread to other East African nations, in particular South Sudan and Uganda.
See also: East Africa Locust Infestation (OCHA) – https://www.unocha.org/east-africa-locust-infestation

The State of Open Humanitarian Data: What Data is Available and Missing Across Humanitarian Crises – January 2020 (OCHA)
OCHA is releasing a new report with the goal to increase awareness of the data that is available and missing across humanitarian operations. The State of Open Humanitarian Data is based on the data shared by dozens of partners through the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform as measured through the Data Grid, a feature that prioritizes core data into six categories.

Every hour of every day, the United Nations is delivering aid to alleviate the suffering of people caught in crises across the globe. Although the humanitarian challenges continue to grow, so does the commitment of humanitarians. On 13 February 2020, the United Nations launched a global campaign called ‘What It Takes’ to shine a light on the incredible impact and reach of the UN humanitarian response, and the passion and drive of the people who make it happen.


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