UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter – March 2020


New UN websites & publications

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Novel Coronavirus BackgrounderUNRIC Library Backgrounder on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
We are currently updating the backgrounder on a daily basis and have also issued a French version.
English: https://bit.ly/38METJm
French: https://bit.ly/39zEFWA

New web portal for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
English: https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus
French: https://www.un.org/fr/coronavirus
Spanish: https://www.un.org/es/coronavirus
The United Nations is actively addressing the global COVID-19 outbreak on several fronts – from situation reports and technical guidelines, through funding and partnerships, to advice for the public. Our new portal www.un.org/coronavirus brings together information from the United Nations and the World Health Organization, as well as other UN agencies. Get the latest news and answers to your questions. Be sure to visit regularly to get your facts from reliable sources. The portal also has dedicated sections for UN personnel and delegations.

COVID-19: How to include marginalized and vulnerable people in risk communication and community engagement (IFRC / OCHA / WHO) https://reliefweb.int/report/world/covid-19-how-include-marginalized-and-vulnerable-people-risk-communication-and
Why include a protection, gender, and inclusion lens in risk communication and community engagement? Women, the elderly, adolescents, youth, and children, persons with disabilities, indigenous populations, refugees, migrants, and minorities experience the highest degree of socio-economic marginalization. Marginalized people become even more vulnerable in emergencies. This is due to factors such as their lack of access to effective surveillance and early-warning systems, and health services. The COVID-19 outbreak is predicted to have significant impacts on various sectors.

Key messages and actions for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention and control in schools: Guidance from UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
English, French & Spanish: https://www.unicef.org/reports/key-messages-and-actions-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-prevention-and-control-schools
As of March 2020, the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and the virus has spread to many countries and territories. While COVID-19 continues to spread, it is important that communities take action to prevent further transmission, reduce the impacts of the outbreak and support control measures. The protection of children and educational facilities is particularly important. Precautions are necessary to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 in school settings. However, care must also be taken to avoid stigmatizing students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus. COVID-19 does not differentiate among borders, ethnicities, disability status, age or gender. Education settings should continue to be welcoming, respectful, inclusive and supportive environments to all. Measures taken by schools can prevent the entry and spread of COVID-19 by students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus, while minimizing disruption and protecting students and staff from discrimination. The purpose of this document is to provide clear and actionable guidance for safe operations through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in schools and other educational facilities. The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure requires many considerations but, if done well, can promote public health.

Policy Steps to Address the Corona Crisis (IMF Policy Paper, 16 March 2020)
English, French, Spanish & Portuguese: https://bit.ly/2IT5eum
Monitoring, containing and mitigating the effects of the corona virus are top priorities. Timely and decisive actions by health authorities, central banks, fiscal, regulatory and supervisory authorities can help contain the virus outbreak and offset the economic impact of the pandemic. Central banks must support demand and confidence by preventing a tightening of financial conditions, lowering borrowing costs for households and firms, and ensuring market liquidity. Fiscal policy must step up to provide sizable support to the most affected people and firms, including in hard-to-reach informal sectors. Regulatory and supervisory responses must aim to preserve financial stability and banking system soundness while sustaining economic activity.

Global trade impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Epidemic (UNCTAD Technical Note)
On 4 March 2020, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a technical note to evaluate the economic impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Epidemic. Over the last two decades the People’s Republic of China become the world’s largest exporter and an integral part of global production networks. China has established itself as a key provider of inputs and components for many products, such as automobiles, cellphones, medical equipment, and more. Over the last month, China has seen a dramatic reduction in its manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) to 37.5, its lowest reading since 2004. This drop implies a 2% reduction in output on an annual basis. This has come as a direct consequence of the spread of corona virus (COVID-19). The 2% contraction in China’s output has ripple effects through the global economy and thus far has caused an estimated drop of about US$50 billion across countries. The most affected sectors include precision instruments, machinery, automotive and communication equipment. Among the most affected economies are the European Union, USA, Japan, Republic of Korea and Vietnam. Even if the outbreak of COVID-19 is contained mostly within China, the fact that Chinese suppliers are critical for many companies around the world implies that any disruption in China will be also felt outside the country’s borders, impacting European, American and East Asian regional value chains. The estimated global effects are subject to change depending on the containment of the virus and or changes in the sources of supply.

Special Issue Investment Trends Monitor on the Impact of COVID-19 on Global FDI (UNCTAD)
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could cause global foreign direct investment (FDI) to shrink by 5%-15%, according to this UNCTAD report published on 8 March. The UN trade body had projected earlier a stable level of global FDI inflows in 2020-2021 with a potential increase of 5%. Now it warns that flows may hit their lowest levels since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, should the epidemic continue throughout the year. COVID-19’s negative impact on investments will be felt strongest in the automotive, airlines and energy industries, the report says. Although the economies most severely affected by the epidemic will be the hardest hit, shocks to consumer demand and the economic impact of supply chain disruptions will affect investment prospects in other countries.


UN in General

Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the fifth United Nations Secretary-General, praised for his ability to foster dialogue and for leading the Organization through a turbulent decade, has passed away on 4 March 2020 at the age of 100.

UN News Centre Story
English: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1058701
Spanish: https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/03/1470591

UN News Gallery
“Javier Pérez de Cuéllar – Leading the UN during a decade of upheaval: https://news.un.org/en/gallery/626521

UN Photos

UN Flickr Album on Javier Perez de Cuéllar

UN Videos
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to his predecessor Javier Perez de Cuéllar, who passed away at the age of 100 on Wednesday.
English & Spanish: https://www.unmultimedia.org/avlibrary/asset/2538/2538902/
Javier Perez de Cuellar : 1920-2020
French: https://youtu.be/2E0VROBksXI


ECOSOC: United Nations Economic and Social Council
The new ECOSOC Brochure reflects the 2020 program of work for the Economic and Social Council, its Subsidiary Bodies and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).


Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

2020 Human Development Perspectives: Tackling social norms – a game changer for gender inequalities (UNDP)
Report in English, Press Release in English, French & Spanish: http://hdr.undp.org/en/GSNI
Despite decades of progress in closing the gender equality gap, close to nine out of 10 men and women around the world, hold some sort of bias against women, according to new findings published on 5 March 2020 from the UN Development Programmme (UNDP). The first UNDP Gender Social Norms Index analyzed data from 75 countries, which are collectively home to more than 80 per cent of the global population, and found new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality – potentially forging a path forward to breaking through the so-called “glass ceiling”. According to the data, almost half of those polled feel that men are superior political leaders, while more than 40 per cent believe they make better business executives and are more entitled to jobs when the economy is lagging. Moreover, 28 per cent think it is justified for a man to beat his wife. The analysis also highlighted a bias shift in some 30 countries, revealing that while some show improvements, attitudes in others appear to have worsened in recent years – signaling that progress cannot be taken for granted.

Achieving SDG 10: A Global Review of Public Service Inclusion Strategies for Ethnic and Religious Minorities (UNRISD Occasional Paper 5)
This paper, published by the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), presents the results of a systematic review on strategies for the inclusion of minority ethnic and religious communities, often neglected populations in term of sustainable development activity. It focuses on four public service areas: education, health, local government and police services, and identifies evidence gaps with the overall aim of raising awareness and provoking debate and ultimately action on the inclusion of disadvantaged ethnic and religious minorities in public services.

Brexit beyond tariffs: The role of non-tariff measures and the impact on developing countries (UNCTAD Research Paper No. 42)
The United Kingdom left the European Union in January 2020. During a transition period that lasts until the end of 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom aim to determine their future trade relations. In this Research Paper, we explore quantitatively the role of non-tariff measures (NTMs), including regulatory measures such as sanitary and technical requirements, in shaping the United Kingdom’s future trade relations with the European Union and the impact on developing countries. We simulate the possible impacts of Brexit using a panel data gravity model and compare the European Union membership effect with the effects of free trade agreements and customs unions.

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation for International Transport Networks (UNECE)
From road and rail networks to ports, airports and inland waterways, critical transport resources are facing unprecedented threats from a climate which is already changing. However, adapting transport systems to rising climate risks has so far received relatively low attention. Helping to address this gap, UNECE released a first of its kind study mapping key areas of the region’s main inland transport networks and nodes. This presents an initial perspective of areas of potential risk which could warrant more in-depth assessment, offering a tool to help prioritize adaptation efforts. This pioneering work has no equivalent in other regions. The study also draws on country experiences in the form of case studies, demonstrating a range of efforts that have been undertaken to analyze and adapt to climate impacts.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library Digitization Update – World Conference on Women
From its very inception, the issues of women’s rights and the advancement of the status of women in all realms of society were brought to the table at the United Nations. At the San Francisco Conference in 1945, outspoken women delegates achieved that several articles on gender equality were included in the UN Charter. Eleanor Roosevelt, one of 17 women delegates and advisers at the first session of the General Assembly in London, in “An Open Letter to the Women of the World” called upon all women to grasp every opportunity to play a more active role in international affairs. Shortly thereafter, ECOSOC established the Commission on the Status of Women. Discussions about the advancement of women culminated in the proclamation of 1975 as the International Women’s Year. In 1975, the First World Conference of the International Women’s Year was held in Mexico City. The Conference marked the beginning of a new era of greater participation of women and girls in all aspects of social progress, development, and the search for peace, and urged Member States to recognize women’s rights and to develop policies to fully integrate women into all areas of life. The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has now digitized the complete documentation of the Conference, which can be accessed online in the UN Digital Library.
More information
AskDAG: Major UN conferences on women
Research Guide: Commission on the Status of Women
Research Guide: Women and Global Diplomacy: From Peace Movements to the United Nations
Blue Book: The United Nations and the Advancement of Women, 1945-1996

Education Progress
To mark International Education Day, the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report launched a new online interactive tool, Education Progress. Available in seven languages (including English, French, Spanish and German), the site brings together data from various sources, notably the GEM Report’s own analyses and UNESCO Institute for Statistics, to explore the progress made towards SDG 4, the global education goal. The majority of the visualisations are interactive – you can choose your country, region, or income group to visualise the bottlenecks and policy priorities from now until 2030 in five areas central to SDG 4- access, equity, learning, quality and finance. Everything is shareable and downloadable, users can create images and data files to explore further, print, or use online or in presentations.

Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs (ILO)
English & French: https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_737648/lang–en/index.htm
The number of young people currently not in employment, education or training (NEET) is rising, and young women are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to be affected, according to a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report released on 9 March 2020. Young people (those aged 15-24) who are employed also face a greater risk than older workers of losing their jobs because of automation, and those with vocational training are particularly vulnerable, the report shows.

A new era for girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress for girls (UNICEF, UN Women and Plan International)
In 1995, the global community adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action with the vision of improving the rights of women and girls. The analysis presented in this report demonstrates that while girls’ lives are better today than they were 25 years ago, the gains are uneven across all regions. The report calls on global, national and regional stakeholders to expand opportunities for girls and young women to be the changemakers and designers of the solutions to their challenges and opportunities; invest in the skills development of adolescent girls so they can compete in today’s labour market; improve girls’ health and nutrition; and end violence in all its forms against them.

Peatland mapping and monitoring: Recommendations and technical overview (FAO)
Peatlands cover only 3 percent of the world’s surface yet contain as much carbon as all of its vegetation, dramatically underscoring their pivotal role in global climate regulation. Their degradation, by drainage or fire or other forces, triggers their conversion from slow carbon sinks into fast sources capable of releasing carbon stored over millennia in a few decades. To avoid their degradation and effectively plan their restoration, peatlands should be urgently mapped and monitored. To help member states on this complex task, FAO launched this practical publication on 18 March 2020 full of accessible technical information about the world’s peatlands and recommendations on how to manage these special ecosystems. The publication is the joint work of 35 expert authors from 14 countries, and highlights experiences from tropical peatland countries such as Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Peru, and the temperate regions.

Sixth report on the protection of the atmosphere / by Murase Shinya, Special Rapporteur (A/CN.4/736, 11 February 2020)
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/A/CN.4/736
“The purpose of the present report is primarily to review the comments and observations made by States and international organizations since the adoption, on first reading in 2018, of the draft preamble and guidelines on the protection of the atmosphere. Attention is also paid to comments and observations received prior to the adoption on first reading, where such comments appear to remain pertinent to the current text.”

Towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UNECE Region
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) launched on 17 March 2020 a first Regional report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This comes at a key juncture in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda since its adoption in 2015, and will help to sharpen efforts as we enter the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs. It describes the levels and trends of selected indicators relevant for the region, and highlights measurement challenges, to inform the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region on 19 March. In total, the report reviews 49 indicators across all 17 SDGs. For most indicators, the report looks at change over recent years.

UNECE Dashboard for the SDGs
The SDGs’ globally-agreed framework of 232 indicators allows everyone—governments, researchers, civil society, business and beyond—to keep track of how our countries are progressing towards environmental, social and economic sustainability. A new UNECE Dashboard for SDGs, launched ahead of the Regional Forum, brings together available data for UNECE’s 56 member countries, providing for the first time a regional perspective on the global indicators. With data for 80 regionally-relevant indicators across all 17 goals, users can see snapshots of where countries stand for each indicator, view differences between women and men; create graphs and maps; compare countries; access definitions and explanations; and download full datasets for more in-depth analysis.

Women & Power
The 21st century must be the century of women’s equality, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 27 February 2020, in a call to transform the world by ensuring equal participation for all.

UN News Centre
English: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/02/1058271
French: https://news.un.org/fr/story/2020/02/1062791
Spanish: https://news.un.org/es/story/2020/02/1470311
Portuguese (BR): https://news.un.org/pt/story/2020/02/1705581

Press Release
English: https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/sgsm19986.doc.htm
French: https://www.un.org/press/fr/2020/sgsm19986.doc.htm

Opinion piece
• The Gender Power Gap / by António Guterres: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/articles/2020-03-02/the-gender-power-gap

We’ve got the power — Women, adolescent girls and the HIV response (UNAIDS)

This publication marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It is dedicated to the women leaders and allied community mobilizers who have devoted their lives to advancing the human rights and dignity of all people affected by the HIV epidemic, and to opposing social injustice, gender inequality, stigma and discrimination, and violence. Unless otherwise indicated, the HIV-related statistics cited in this publication reflect the most recent UNAIDS data available.

What do you want to know? FAO’s new open data policy makes fact-finding and information sharing easier
… Knowledge is meant to be shared, and FAO has always encouraged the use of our data to inform humanitarian work or enhance scientific advancement. However, now that we have adopted an open data licensing policy, it is easier for researchers, journalists, scholars, humanitarian workers or students to access, download, copy and use these data sets for free and for redistribution. …
The Open Data policy applies to the following FAO databases: Agricultural Market Information Systems (AMIS), AQUASTAT: Global Information System on Water and Agriculture, FAOSTAT, FISHSTAT: Fisheries and Aquaculture database, Gender and land rights database (GLRD), Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool, FAO/WHO GIFT: Global Individual Food Consumption – Indicators only, not microdata, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Data Portal

WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019
The tell-tale physical signs of climate change such as increasing land and ocean heat, accelerating sea level rise and melting ice are highlighted in a new report compiled by the World Meteorological Organization and an extensive network of partners. It documents impacts of weather and climate events on socio-economic development, human health, migration and displacement, food security and land and marine ecosystems. The “WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019” includes input from national meteorological and hydrological services, leading international experts, scientific institutions and United Nations agencies. The flagship report provides authoritative information for policy makers on the need for Climate Action.


International Peace and Security

Concept note for the Security Council debate on the theme “Peace and security in Africa: countering terrorism and extremism in Africa”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2020/161
The Security Council held an open debate on 11 March 2020 on the theme “Peace and security in Africa: countering terrorism and extremism in Africa”. China, the Security Council President for March, has prepared this concept note.

Concept note for the Security Council debate on the theme “Maintenance of international peace and security: upholding multilateralism and promoting the political settlement of disputes”
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/S/2020/166
The Security Council held an open debate on 19 March 2020 on “Maintenance of international peace and security: upholding multilateralism and promoting the political settlement of disputes”. China, the Security Council President for March, has prepared this concept note.

She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys
The book “She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys” captures the stories of outstanding African women who have worked tirelessly towards the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda on the continent. The book was jointly produced by the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) and the African Union Commission (AUC), made possible by the generous support of the Government of the Kingdom of Norway.

Special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse: Report of the Secretary-General (A/74/705, 17 February 2020)
English, French & Spanish: http://undocs.org/A/74/705
Although measures to support victims of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) committed by UN personnel are proving effective, there is still room to do more, the senior official leading these efforts told journalists in New York on 13 March 2020. Jane Connors, the UN’s Victims’ Rights Advocate, was presenting an overview of the latest report on her mandate, which covers the past year. Eighty SEA cases were reported at peacekeeping and political missions in 2019, while 95 allegations were recorded at other UN entities.

Youth and peace and security: Report of the Secretary-General (S/2020/167, 2 March 2020)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.undocs.org/S/2020/167
Introduction: … The present report is the first one on youth and peace and security since the Security Council adopted resolution 2250 (2015), in which the essential role of young people in preventing and resolving conflicts and in sustaining peace was recognized. That recognition has gained further momentum in the years since and was reaffirmed in Council resolution 2419 (2018) and in a statement by the President of the Council made in December 2019 (S/PRST/2019/15). …


Human Rights

The Highest Aspirations: A 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.
A brochure with the Plan of Action is now available:

Human rights impact of policies and practices aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (A/HRC/43/46, 21 February 2020, Advance Edited Version)
English, French & Spanish: https://bit.ly/38YxLJI
Many violent extremism prevention programmes worldwide are directly contributing to human rights violations and may even foster radicalization instead of preventing it, warned a UN expert in her latest report to the Human Rights Council. “Prevention is an important and necessary tool but it will only be effective when it is practised in a way that protects and affirms rights,” said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. Her report examines the national, regional and global policies of preventing and countering violent extremism. While Ní Aoláin recognizes the global challenges presented by terrorism and the costs borne by individuals and communities as a result, she concludes that “current approaches to prevent it lack a consistent rule of law or human rights grounding”. Her report finds that religious groups, minorities and civil society actors in particular are victims of rights violations and are targeted under the guise of countering “extremism”. She warns that “large-scale violations of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities are being enabled by “deradicalization” policies and practice.” The UN expert finds a persistent lack of meaningful consultation with the communities targeted by these prevention measures.


Humanitarian Affairs

Guidelines for community participation in disaster recovery (UNDP)
Post-disaster recovery processes are often centrally planned and implemented, and they tend to follow a top-down approach that does not engage affected communities in their own recovery process. Given that post-disaster contexts are particularly difficult environments that cause large-scale damage and human suffering, and demand speed in the delivery of humanitarian aid and recovery services, community participation can be construed as an additional time-consuming process that adds more to the challenge. Experience shows, however, that recovery interventions can be inappropriate or ineffective when communities are not consulted and involved actively in the process. Post-disaster recovery processes need to ensure people’s ability to participate in, negotiate with, influence, control and hold accountable the institutions that affect their lives during the recovery process. Participation can also enhance the effectiveness and results of post-disaster recovery. Engaging people and their communities improves the delivery and quality of the recovery programme, enhances social inclusion, and brings greater transparency and accountability. The main purpose is to guide Governments, United Nations agencies, International NGO’s, the Private Sector and other stakeholders on how to engage communities in every step of the recovery process. Ultimately the aim is to improve the quality of post-disaster recovery by promoting the active involvement of people and their communities, from the post-disaster needs assessment, to recovery planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.


Drug Control, Crime Prevention and Counter-terrorism

Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2019
English, French & Spanish: https://www.incb.org/incb/en/publications/annual-reports/annual-report.html
Press Kit & Press Releases: http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/en/events/2020/incb_2020.html
The use of alcohol and tobacco by young people and children is closely linked to the use of illicit drugs, a UN-backed narcotics control body warned on 27 February 2020. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) annual report cites studies which reveal that, in young people aged between 16 and 19, early use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis leads to an increased likelihood of the use of opiates and cocaine in adulthood. The report also shows that substance abuse and associated health consequences are highest among young people, with cannabis being the most widely used substance. The highest rate of use, in young people aged 15-16, is in Europe (13.9 per cent), followed by the Americas (11.6 per cent), Oceania (11.4 per cent), Africa (6.6 per cent), and Asia (2.7 per cent).


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