UNRIC Info Point & Library Newsletter: October 2020


New UN websites & publications

UN in General

The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need: Update on the Work of the Office on the Commemoration of the UN’s 75th Anniversary (September 2020)
Report: https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/un75report_september_final_english.pdf
In January 2020, the United Nations launched the global consultation to mark its 75thanniversary. Through surveys and dialogues, it asked people about their hopes and fears for the future–representing the UN’s most ambitious effort to date to understand expectations of international cooperation and of the UN in particular. It is also the largest survey to date on priorities for recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. As of 21September2020, over a million people from all countries and all walks of life had taken part. Their answers provide unique insights into what the public wants at this challenging time for the world. They were released on 21 September 2020 to coincide with the UN General Assembly’s official commemoration of the 75th anniversary, held under the banner: the future we want, the UN we need.


Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization (A/75/1) – Colour Publication
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/(A/75/1)%20COLOR%20PUBLICATION
German: https://www.un.org/Depts/german/gs/a75-1-glossy.pdf



Report of the UN Economist Network for the UN 75th Anniversary: Shaping the Trends of Our Time
Report in English, Executive Summary in English, French & Spanish:
The new report examines five megatrends: climate change; demographic shifts, particularly population ageing; urbanization; the emergence of digital technologies; and inequalities –that are affecting economic, social and environmental outcomes. Efforts to reverse or redirect these trends must be reinforced to ensure that we achieve the full measure of the 2030 Agenda, and set the stage for an inclusive, sustainable and equitable future during the next 75 years. All trends are the result of human activity, and as such, they can be shaped by human decisions and policy choices. By making the right choices today, without further delay, it is not too late to shape the major trends of our time in a direction that is sustainable and delivers benefits to all. Policies can influence a single megatrend as well as other megatrends that interact with it.This creates the potential for co-benefits, where a positive result is achieved in one area through an intervention designed to generate change in another. Such policy interventions can propel more effective, mutually reinforcing changes, and significantly greater impacts. The United Nations can help to frame responses to the megatrends in terms that encourage domestic political consensus to form behind taking sustained action. In doing so, the United Nations can assist in mobilizing needed global support for individual countries, particularly those with fewer resources.


Delegates Handbook: Seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly
English, French & Spanish: https://undocs.org/ST/CS/70
This booklet contains information of a general nature about United Nations Headquarters that is applicable throughout the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly.



UNRIC Library Backgrounder Belarus

new UNRIC Library Backgrounder: Belarus
html: https://unric.org/en/unric-library-backgrounder-belarus/
pdf: https://unric.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2020/09/belarus.pdf


Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

COVID-19-Response-Logo (English)


Policy Brief: COVID-19 and Universal Health Coverage (October 2020)
In the space of nine months, COVID-19 has spread to more than 190 countries, with over 30 million cases reported. Over one million lives have been lost. The pandemic has laid bare long-ignored risks, including inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection and structural inequalities. It has also brought home the importance of basic public health, and strong health systems and emergency preparedness, as well as the resilience of a population in the face of a new virus or pandemic, lending ever greater urgency to the quest for universal health coverage (UHC).
see also:

United Nations Comprehensive Response to COVID-19: Saving Lives, Protecting Societies, Recovering Better (September 2020)
Over the course of 2020, the coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, infected millions of people, upended the global economy and cast a dark shadow across our future. No country has been spared. No population group remains unscathed. Nobody is immune to its impacts. From the outset of the pandemic, the United Nations system mobilized early and comprehensively. It led on the global health response, provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable, established instruments for rapid responses to the socio-economic impact and laid out a broad policy agenda for action on all fronts. It also provided logistics, common services and operational support to governments and other partners around the world on the front lines of the pandemic, as they mounted national responses to this new virus and unprecedented global challenge. Now, six months since the pandemic was declared, we issue this updated, comprehensive overview of the UN system response. The overview recounts our key guidance, lessons and support in the first six months of the pandemic – and points the way to the crucial steps that must follow to save lives, protect societies and recover better, leaving no one behind and addressing the very fragilities and gaps that made us so vulnerable in the first place. It also points the way toward addressing future shocks – above all from climate change – and toward overcoming the severe and systemic inequalities that have been so tragically exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
This report provides an update to the first edition of the report released on 25 June.

see also:

Addressing stigma and discrimination in the COVID-19 response (UNAIDS)
Drawing on 40 years of experience from the AIDS response, UNAIDS is issuing new guidance on how to reduce stigma and discrimination in the context of COVID-19. The guidance is based on the latest evidence on what works to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination and applies it to COVID-19. It provides countries with rights-based guidance through education, support, referrals and other interventions. It offers solutions across six specific areas: community, workplace, education, health care, justice and emergency/humanitarian settings.

Compendium of Digital Government Initiatives in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (UN/DESA)
From chatbots in Singapore to drones in Oman; from robotic medical assistants in Indonesia to virtual doctors in Brazil; while the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc across the world, governments have been working hard to implement digital solutions to minimize the adverse impact of the virus and to ensure business continuity. In a quick call for inputs by UN DESA, government officials from around the world, shared more than 500 COVID-19 related digital applications that they have been using during the pandemic. These can now be found in this compendium, launched on 6 October 2020. In the compendium, readers will learn how governments have been using campaigns and chatbots to provide reliable information about the virus and to combat fake news, disinformation and viral hoaxes.

Considerations for school-related public health measures in the context of COVID-19: Annex to Considerations in adjusting public health and social measures in the context of COVID-19 (UNICEF / UNESCO / WHO)
Countries around the world are taking broad public health and social measures (PHSM), including closure of schools, to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. This Annex examines considerations for school operations, including openings, closures and re-openings and the measures needed to minimize the risk to students and staff of COVID-19. This Annex applies to educational settings for children under the age of 18 years and outlines general principles and key recommendations that can be tailored not only to schools but to specific school-related contexts, such as extracurricular activities.

COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker (UNDP / UN WOMEN)
Most of the world’s nations are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the COVID-19 crisis, according to new data released on 28 September by UNDP and UN Women from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker. The tracker, which includes over 2,500 measures across 206 countries and territories, specifically analyses government measures with a gender lens in three areas: those that tackle violence against women and girls (VAWG), support unpaid care, and strengthen women’s economic security. The results signal that 42 countries, one fifth (20%) of those analysed, have no gender-sensitive measures in response to COVID-19 at all. Only 25 countries, 12% of the world, have introduced measures that cover all three areas. These may include the provision of helplines, shelters, or judicial responses to counter the surge in violence against women and girls during the pandemic, cash transfers directly targeted at women, the provision of childcare services or paid family and sick leave.

Facilitating cross-border trade through a coordinated African response to COVID-19 (UNECA)
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) launched a new COVID-19 cross-border trade report on 10 September 2020 urging governments on the continent to adopt and harmonize policies that will help continent strike an appropriate balance between curbing the spread of the virus and facilitating emergency and essential trade. The report says continued inefficiencies and disruptions to cross-border trade presented significant challenges for Africa’s fight against COVID-19, and risked holding back the continent’s progress towards the attainment of the sustainable development and goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

The Human Capital Index 2020 Update: Human Capital in the Time of COVID-19 (World Bank)
The Human Capital Index (HCI) is an international metric that benchmarks key components of human capital across countries. Measuring the human capital that a child born today can expect to attain by her 18th birthday, the HCI highlights how current health and education outcomes shape the productivity of the next generation of workers. In this way, it underscores the importance for governments and societies of investing in the human capital of their citizens. The HCI was launched in 2018 as part of the Human Capital Project (HCP), a global effort to accelerate progress towards a world where all children can achieve their full potential.

Impact of COVID-19: perspective from Voluntary National Reviews (UN/DESA Policy Brief #85, 14 September 2020)
Multilateralism and global solidarity are essential to build back better by responding to COVID-19 in a way that supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, bolsters results and addresses gaps in sustainable development.

Impact of COVID-19 on multidimensional child poverty (UNICEF / Save the Children)
The number of children living in multidimensional poverty has soared to approximately 1.2 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UNICEF and Save the Children analysis published on 17 September 2020. This is a 15 per cent increase in the number of children living in deprivation in low- and middle-income countries, or an additional 150 million children since the pandemic hit earlier this year. The multidimensional poverty analysis uses data on access to education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, sanitation and water from more than 70 countries. It highlights that around 45 per cent of children were severely deprived of at least one of these critical needs in the countries analyzed before the pandemic. Although the analysis paints a dire picture already, UNICEF warns the situation will likely worsen in the months to come. Save the Children and UNICEF are committed to continue to monitor this evolving situation and work with governments and civil society to confront it.


Managing work-related psychosocial risks during the COVID-19 pandemic (ILO)
Work arrangements and conditions have changed considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing new psychosocial challenges for the health and well-being of workers. The ILO has therefore released a guide containing the key elements needed to protect the health and well-being of workers.


Pandemic fatigue – Reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19 (WHO/Europe)
Across the WHO European Region, Member States are reporting signs of pandemic fatigue in their populations – here defined as demotivation to follow recommended protective behaviours, emerging gradually over time and affected by a number of emotions, experiences and perceptions. Responding to a request from Member States for support in this field, this framework document provides key considerations for the planning and implementation of national and subnational strategies to maintain and reinvigorate public support to prevent COVID-19.

Schooling in the time of COVID-19: Towards a consensus on schooling in the European Region during the COVID-19 pandemic (WHO Europe)
This working paper serves as a reference point for national education and health authorities as they seek to plan and implement effective schooling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Originally prepared to inform the high-level meeting on “Schooling in the time of COVID-19” held on 31 August 2020, it seeks to provide a general framework and upstream considerations for decision-makers.


Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

25 Years After Beijing: A review of the UN system’s support for the implementation of the Platform for Action from 2014-2019
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) has, for the first time, conducted a review of the UN system’s support for implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report showcases key actions systematically undertaken by 51 UN entities in support of the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, identifies entities’ priority areas for the next five years, and provides recommendations for the way forward. Among its findings, the report reveals that the UN system’s highest levels of engagement during the reporting period were in the elimination of violence against women and girls, the transformation of discriminatory norms, the improvement of access to quality education, and the expansion of women’s political participation and women’s entrepreneurship. The report also reveals that greater attention and investment in areas such as gender-responsive budgeting, financial and digital inclusion of women, gender-responsive disaster risk reduction, and basic services and infrastructure are still greatly needed. UN system support for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls remains critical. As this report makes clear, urgent, sustained, and coordinated action by the UN system is needed to safeguard gender equality gains and advance women’s rights and the well-being of women and girls everywhere.

“Climate Action” Website
The issue is no longer just climate change—it’s about what we need to do about climate change. The UN’s revamped climate website features the latest information about the UN’s work to accelerate action that will allow us to limit global warming and its impacts. The website shows how the Secretary-General’s six climate-positive actions can make a difference and features the latest reports on climate and the Act Now campaign. The site is now the content hub for UN climate communications. With its dynamic content, the platform will continue to feature how countries are moving to meet the challenge, showcase climate solutions through stories and interviews, highlight upcoming events, and include the most recent Secretary-General’s climate speeches.

Climate Hub 360 (UNFCCC)
While the COVID-19 pandemic is posing an unprecedented challenge globally, climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity in the long run. 2020 remains critical for increasing climate ambition, particularly now that events around the world rely almost entirely on up-to-date virtual information. To give guidance and clarity on the work ahead, UN Climate Change has launched Climate Hub 360, a new visual event platform to showcase key events as well as UNFCCC own events leading up to COP26. This living product will be updated continuously as UNCCC’s work progresses and will help “drive the highest possible ambition and facilitate the delivery of mandates envisioned for 2020 and in the lead up to COP 26.”

Connecting Humanity: Assessing investment needs of connecting humanity to the Internet by 2030 (ITU)
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published a comprehensive new study that estimates the investment needed to achieve universal, affordable broadband connectivity for all humanity by the end of this decade. Connecting Humanity posits that nearly US$ 428 billion is required to connect the remaining 3 billion people aged ten years and above to broadband Internet by 2030. It is an ambitious goal and a major infrastructure investment challenge. The study examines costs associated with infrastructure needs, enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, and basic digital skills and local content at both the global and regional levels, as well as how to mobilize the unprecedented levels of financing needed to extend networks to unserved communities.

Earth Map (FAO)
Anyone anywhere can access multi-dimensional maps and statistics showing key climate and environmental trends wherever they are, thanks to a new tool developed by Google and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Earth Map is an innovative and free-to-use Web-based tool to provide efficient, rapid, inexpensive and analytically cogent insights, drawn from satellites as well as FAO’s considerable wealth of agriculturally relevant data, with a few clicks on a computer. Earth Map has also been designed to empower and provide integrative synergies with the federated FAO’s Hand-in-Hand geospatial platform, a more comprehensive tool to provide Members, their partners and donors with the means to identify and execute highly-targeted rural development initiatives with multiple goals ranging from climate adaptation and mitigation to socio-economic resilience. Its development follows the successful Collect Earth platform jointly developed with Google under FAO’s OpenForis suite of tools, which has already proven useful for forest assessments; land cover assessments and project design and implementation.

Faith Action on the UN Sustainable Development Goals: Progress and Outlook (UNEP)
Did you know that faith-based organizations control 8 per cent of the Earth’s habitable land, 5 per cent of commercial forests and 10 per cent of financial institutions? Well, they do, which gives them a potentially outsized role in the battle to combat poverty, reverse environmental degradation and limit climate change, say experts. “The potential aggregate impact of faith-based organizations on sustainable development is immense,” says Iyad Abumoghli, director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Faith for Earth initiative. To highlight this impact, UNEP in collaboration with the Parliament of World’s Religions, United Religions Initiative and Bhumi Global, recently published this report. It cites numerous examples of how faith-based organizations are helping to safeguard the environment and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Faith for Earth — A Call for Action (UNEP/Parliament of the World’s Religions)
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Parliament of the World’s Religions today released a new book, “Faith for Earth — A Call for Action”, which gives readers a wide-ranging look at the history and diversity of faith teachings and their advocacy for the protection of the environment. The online book and its print edition were launched on 8 October 2020 during the Faith for Nature Global Conference, (5th – 8th October) in Skálhol, Iceland. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the faith traditions and scientific findings that underpin the understandings and reflections of world religions concerning environmental sustainability. It includes clear statements from sacred scripts and faith leaders. It underlines that protecting the Earth, restoring ecosystems, preventing pollution, and leaving behind a healthy environment for the next generations is an ethical, moral and spiritual responsibility. With more than one hundred million houses of worship around the globe, adapting green building principles is a massive demonstration of commitment to sustainability.

Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (CBD)
Despite encouraging progress in several areas, the natural world is suffering badly and getting worse. Eight transformative changes are, therefore, urgently needed to ensure human wellbeing and save the planet, the UN warns on 15 September in a major report. The report comes as the COVID-19 pandemic challenges people to rethink their relationship with nature, and to consider the profound consequences to their own wellbeing and survival that can result from continued biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5), published by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), offers an authoritative overview of the state of nature. It is a final report card on progress against the 20 global biodiversity targets agreed in 2010 with a 2020 deadline, and offers lessons learned and best practices for getting on track.

Global Portal on Environment and Smart Sustainable Cities (ITU)
A new ITU Global Portal provides an index to the wide range actions underway to protect the environment and achieve the smart city vision. The portal also includes a section dedicated to cities’ actions in COVID-19 response and recovery. The portal supplements ITU’s international standards and guidelines with a collection of related studies and initiatives external to ITU, structured as six sections corresponding to ITU’s areas of action for environment and smart sustainable cities:
Smart sustainable cities including urban planning and smart energy, smart buildings, and smart mobility.
Cities’ actions to tackle COVID-19, achieve an environmentally sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and increase their resilience to emergencies.
Frontier technologies in fields such as AI, Internet of Things and blockchain and their impacts on environmental sustainability.
Climate actions including climate change monitoring, adaptation and mitigation, focusing on ICTs’ contribution to these actions.
Energy-efficient ICTs looking at green ICT supply chains, energy-efficient datacentres, and the environmental requirements of IMT-2020/5G systems.
E-waste and circular economy including frameworks for sustainable e-waste management and supporting circular economy approaches to improve material efficiency.

Goods Schedules e-Library (WTO)
On 17 September 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) launched the Goods Schedules e-Library, a new online platform that provides access to thousands of files and legal instruments recording tariff and other commitments made by WTO members in their schedules of concessions. The e-Library catalogues and provides direct access to thousands of pages of schedules of concessions, including the results of the Uruguay Round tariff negotiations, schedules negotiated in the context of accessions to the WTO, and more than 600 changes that have been agreed by members since the establishment of the WTO in 1995.

Despite decades of scientific advance in the HIV response, progress remains uneven, with some countries rapidly reducing AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections and others seeing increasing epidemics. Laws and policies are driving a significant part of that divergence. Launched on 29 September 2020, the HIV Policy Lab is a unique initiative to gather and monitor HIV-related laws and policies around the world. The HIV Policy Lab is a data visualization and comparison tool that tracks national policy across 33 different indicators in 194 countries around the world, giving a measure of the policy environment. The goal is to improve transparency, the ability to understand and use the information easily and the ability to compare countries, supporting governments to learn from their neighbours, civil society to increase accountability and researchers to study the impact of laws and policies on the HIV pandemic. The HIV Policy Lab is a collaboration between Georgetown University and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, UNAIDS, the Global Network of People Living with HIV and Talus Analytics.

International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity – FACTI Panel Interim Report, September 2020
Report: https://bit.ly/30aMUFV
Summary: https://bit.ly/2GjwmEY
Governments must do more to tackle tax abuse and corruption in global finance, says a panel of former heads of state and government, past central bank governors, business and civil society leaders and prominent academics. The findings come in an interim report published on 24 September 2020 by the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel), established by the 74th President of the UN General Assembly and the 75th President of the UN Economic and Social Council. The report says governments can’t agree on the problem or the solution, while resources that could help the world’s poor are being drained by tax abuse, corruption and financial crime.

Keep the promise, accelerate the change: Taking stock of gender equality in Europe and Central Asia 25 years after Beijing (UN WOMEN)
UN Women’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia launched a report on 2 October 2020 tracking the regional state of gender equality. It finds progress, but affirms rampant inequalities, especially in the workforce. Change has been incremental and short of the transformation required. The report offers a concise, data-driven look at action on the Beijing Platform for Action. Agreed globally in 1995, the Platform remains the most comprehensive road map for gender equality ever agreed. The report issues a clarion call for stepping up progress to realize the promises of Beijing as global leaders convene for the 2020 High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly.


A Neglected Tragedy: The global burden of stillbirths
The report, released by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 7 October 2020, reveals that 84 per cent of these grievous episodes occur in low and lower-middle income countries. The first-ever joint global estimates also point out that stillbirths remain a challenge for high income countries, where a mother’s level of education is one of the greatest drivers of inequity, and ethnic minorities may lack access to sufficient quality health care.

Protect the Progress: Rise, Refocus, Recover – 2020 Progress Report on the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016–2030)
Fragile gains made to advance women and children’s health are threatened by conflict, the climate crisis and COVID-19, according to a new report from Every Woman Every Child released on 25 September 2020. The report highlights that since the Every Woman Every Child movement was launched 10 years ago, spearheaded by the United Nations Secretary-General, there has been remarkable progress in improving the health of the world’s women, children and adolescents. For example, under-five deaths reached an all-time recorded low in 2019, and more than 1 billion children were vaccinated over the past decade. Coverage of immunization, skilled birth attendant and access to safe drinking water reached over 80 per cent. Maternal deaths declined by 35 per cent since 2000, with the most significant declines occurring from 2010. An estimated 25 million child marriages were also prevented over the past decade. However, conflict, climate instability and the COVID-19 pandemic are putting the health and well-being of all children and adolescents at risk. The COVID-19 crisis, in particular, is exacerbating existing inequities, with reported disruptions in essential health interventions disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable women and children. At the height of pandemic lockdowns, schools were closed in 192 countries, affecting 1.6 billion students. Domestic violence and abuse of girls and women increased. Poverty and hunger are also on the rise.

Online with Sango (ITU)
English, French & Spanish: https://www.itu.int/en/myitu/publications/2020/08/06/09/08/cop%20online%20with%20sango/
The storybook presents six scenarios with questions to think about and answer to learn about rights and safety online. Each scenario provides your child with a question and two possible answers. Reading the book with your child creates an opportunity to talk with them about being online.


Recommendations for a revised EU Strategy on Climate Adaption (UNDRR Policy Brief, September 2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the consequences of systematically underinvesting in resilience. Even before the world brings the COVID-19 disaster under control, we will all be demanding: “Never again.” At the same time, we know that there is another crisis unfolding – the climate emergency. Climate extremes and slow onset events due to climate change are happening more frequently and with greater intensity than expected. The impacts of climate change and the COVID-19 crisis underline the systemic, cascading and compound nature of risks and the need to strengthen the resilience of our societal systems. This document provides a set of risk-centered recommendations critical to informing the revision of the existing EU Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation. The revised EU Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation can strengthen resilience today for the risks of tomorrow.

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets, 2020 (SOCO 2020)
Global agri-food trade has more than doubled since 1995, amounting to $1.5 trillion in 2018, with emerging and developing countries’ exports on the rise and accounting for over one-third of the world’s total, according to a new report issued on 23 September 2020 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The report argues that global trade and well-functioning markets lie at the heart of the development process as they can spur inclusive economic growth and sustainable development and strengthen resilience to shocks.

The State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services (World Bank)
The report finds that four billion people around the world still lack access to clean, efficient, convenient, safe, reliable, and affordable cooking energy. While around 1.25 billion are considered in transition with access to improved cooking services, the other 2.75 billion face significantly higher access barriers. Using an expanded methodology to provide a more comprehensive measurement of household energy access and cooking solutions, the report finds that the rate of access to modern sources of energy for cooking stands at only 10 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 36 percent in East Asia, and 56 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Synthesis report: Skills shortages and labour migration in the field of information and communication technology in Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand (ILO)
Digitalization is a key driver of change. As information and communication technology (ICT) continues to advance and digital technologies are further integrated into sectors across our economies, the skills that are needed the most also continue to change and are increasingly in demand. To better understand the implications for the world of work, the ILO’s ‘Future of Work in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)’ project has for the past two-and-a-half years conducted in-depth research on anticipated needs for skilled ICT workers and formulating strategies to address labour shortages, including the scaling up of investments in ICT education and training, and better governed international labour migration. This report, the last of a series of three reports, summarizes the project’s findings, which were formulated on the basis of research conducted in Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. It provides an overview of: (a) trends in the ICT sector, ICT labour markets and the migration of ICT workers; (b) the potential demand for skilled workers and current and anticipated skills mismatches in the digital economy; and (c) strategies for improving ICT education and training. Furthermore, it summarizes the key research findings and outlines possible policy responses that could be adopted with a view to scaling up current initiatives to advance decent work opportunities in the digital economy.

Towards inclusion in education: status, trends and challenges: the UNESCO Salamanca Statement 25 years on
‘All children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have.’ These are the principles adopted at the UNESCO World Conference on Special Needs Education held in Salamanca, Spain. UNESCO’s new publication looks at the past, present and future since the Conference in Salamanca to guide the further development of inclusive national policies and practices. This publication is relevant now more than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic is widening learning inequalities and affecting marginalized children and youth the most. According to UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Monitoring on Inclusion and Education, about 40% of low- and lower- middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities. UNESCO’s projections estimate that about 24 million learners from pre-primary to tertiary education are at risk of not returning to school following the COVID-related school closures. Addressing inclusion and equity must be a key component of plans to expand distance learning while schools are closed, and to prepare for school reopening.

Trade and Development Report 2020 – From global pandemic to prosperity for all: avoiding another lost decade (UNCTAD)
Report in English, Overview in English, French & Spanish:
In the face of a deep global recession amid a still unchecked pandemic, the world needs a global recovery plan that can return even the most vulnerable countries to a stronger position than they were in before COVID-19, says UNCTAD`s Trade and Development Report 2020, published on 21 September 2020. According to the report, key to success will be tackling a series of pre-existing conditions that were threatening the health of the global economy even before the pandemic hit. They include hyper-inequality, unsustainable levels of debt, weak investment, wage stagnation in the developed world and insufficient formal sector jobs in the developing world.

Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2020 (FAO)
English: http://www.fao.org/sdg-progress-report/en/
French: http://www.fao.org/sdg-progress-report/fr/
Spanish: http://www.fao.org/sdg-progress-report/es/
The world was already off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder both to achieve the Goals and to monitor progress where it is being made, according to a new report released on 15 September 2020 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The unprecedented global health crisis, with associated economic and social impacts, is “making the achievement of these SDG targets even more challenging,” according to the report, published on 15 September 2020. The report assesses current trends, finding many stagnating – including the hunger benchmark known as Prevalence of Undernourishment used to track SDG target 2.1 – or even deteriorating – such as the broader Food Insecurity Experience Scale used for the same target. Many of the indicators, particularly for measuring smallholder labour productivity and incomes with the aim of doubling them by 2030, suffer from inadequate data to assess both current status and progress.

WIPO: AI and IP, A Virtual Experience
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched “WIPO: AI and IP, A Virtual Experience” on 18 September 2020, an immersive online exhibition using the latest 360 degree scanning technology to foster a more-comprehensive understanding of the relation-ship between IP policy and AI and the questions facing policymakers. The exhibition is the first of its kind at WIPO and offers visitors an interactive opportunity to discover this radical new technology, while exploring some of the many ways AI promises to transform culture and industry.

WHO Ageing Data Portal
On the International Day of Older Persons, WHO launched the first data portal that brings together in one place data on global indicators for monitoring the health and well-being of people aged 60 and over. Data is included for indicators such as: percentage of older people aged 60 years and over; healthy life expectancy at age 60; major causes of death in older people; prevalence of common impairments such as hearing and vision loss; percentage of older people receiving long-term care in residential facilities and in their home; and the percentage of older people living in an age-friendly environment. Also included are indicators for tracking the progress of government commitments to promote the health and well-being of older adults.

World Environment Situation Room (UNEP)
UNEP’s novel ‘World Environment Situation Room’ provides real-time data on PM2.5 levels across the planet, informing scientists, policy-makers and citizens alike.
See also: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/climate-change-proof-numbers


International Peace and Security

The Fallout of War: The Regional Consequences of the Conflict in Syria (World Bank)
The people of the Mashreq have seen more than their share of deaths, economic losses, and instability over the past decade. As the decade-long conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic created new challenges and worsened the existing ones, economic activity declined, labor markets deteriorated, and poverty increased. These trends would overwhelm even the most advanced economies in the world. The Fallout of War: The Regional Consequences of the Conflict in Syria identifies the impact of the Syrian conflict on economic and social outcomes in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It combines a large number of data sources, statistical approaches, and a suite of economic models to isolate the specific impact of the Syrian conflict from that of global and regional factors, and it explicitly analyzes the mechanisms through which such an impact is manifested. The analysis suggests that a persistent short-termism in policy making has so far propagated the shock emanating from the Syrian conflict, which led to costly and ineffective service provision, lost economic opportunities, and underfunded programs. The report advocates for a fundamental shift from the short-term mitigation policies to a medium-term regional strategy to address pertinent structural problems. Moreover, as the countries in the Mashreq look toward recovery, a policy approach that takes into account the region’s interconnectedness and seeks to build on it provides better prospects for the people. Such a regional approach that addresses cross-boundary issues—including migration, trade, and infrastructure—will require local, regional, and international commitments.

Infrastructure for Peacebuilding: The role of infrastructure in tackling the underlying drivers of fragility (UNOPS)
The publication explores how infrastructure is key to supporting peacebuilding efforts and fostering inclusive, sustainable and resilient development in fragile and conflict-affected states. UNOPS experts argue that infrastructure is a basic prerequisite for development and well-being. It has the potential to address some of the root causes of conflict. While addressing infrastructure needs in fragile and conflict-affected contexts can be particularly challenging, the report finds that the risk and cost of inaction are even higher. his report calls for increased knowledge and awareness of the role of infrastructure in fragile and conflict-affected states. It advocates a shift away from the traditional view of infrastructure as individual, isolated physical assets towards a holistic understanding of infrastructure as complex systems that interact with all dimensions of fragility.

Syria at War: Eight Years on
By the end of the eighth year of conflict in Syria, economic losses had exceeded an estimated $442 billion. However huge, this number alone does not epitomize the suffering of a population among which 5.6 million people were registered as refugees and 6.4 million as internally displaced; 6.5 million were experiencing food insecurity; and 11.7 million were still in need of at least one form of humanitarian assistance. Those are only a few of the repercussions of conflict detailed in the “Syria at War: Eight Years on” report, issued on 23 September 2020 by the National Agenda for the Future of Syria (NAFS) programme of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), and the Center for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews. Covering the period 2011-2019, the report reveals that nearly 3 million children inside the country were out of school during the 2017-2018 academic year. The conflict has torn the social fabric and caused losses in human development, downgrading Syria’s status from medium human development to low human development.

United Nations Disarmament Yearbook – new website
The Office for Disarmament Affairs launched a new website on 5 October 2020 featuring the latest version of the United Nations Disarmament Yearbook. The Yearbook, in its forty fourth edition, has been prepared each year through a standing request of the General Assembly. This authoritative guide provides key historical context and highlights opportunities for further progress in this vital arena of international security. The key findings of the Yearbook are now available on an easy to use dedicated website. This new digital platform allows diplomats, technical experts, journalists and other readers to effortlessly navigate through a comprehensive overview of key developments and trends from the past year with respect to multilateral disarmament, non proliferation and arms control. The forty fourth edition of the Yearbook and its website include, for the first time, a collection of explanatory graphics and charts as well as a full chapter on gender issues in disarmament.

Youth4Disarmament Initiative – website launched
This new dedicated digital platform creates space for young people to meaningfully contribute to progress on disarmament. It seeks to engage, educate and empower young people by offering e-newsletters, training programmes, career opportunities and other resources. Through its “#Youth4Disarmament” outreach initiative, the Office for Disarmament Affairs will continue to connect geographically diverse young people with experts to learn about current international security challenges, the work of the United Nations and how to actively participate. It is a youth outreach initiative established in 2019 by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs to connect geographically diverse young people with experts to learn about current international security challenges, the work of the United Nations and how to actively participate.

The Work of Peace Exhibit
Launched by the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) a new website/virtual exhibit highlights the work of the UN in preventive diplomacy, good offices, mediation and elections over the last 75 years, and also looks ahead at what the future may hold for this work.

Talking Peace
In connection with the “The Work of Peace” exhibit and in collaboration with Shared-Studios a virtual dialogue series is also being launched to highlight the knowledge, experience and visions for the future of communities on the frontlines of conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts. The series, featuring voices from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Iraq, Rwanda and Uganda, will explore a range of themes related to peace, including the role of technology in advancing peace initiatives; art in local peacemaking and conflict prevention; and how pop culture can shape the norms of peace. The conversations among these international participants will focus on community-based efforts to sustain peace and explore how interdisciplinary approaches can help spark dialogue, build social cohesion and resolve conflict.


Human Rights

Future of Europe: International Human Rights in European Integration: Study commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Regional Office for Europe / Prepared by Prof. Olivier De Schutter
A new study commissioned by the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe examines the extent to which EU law, policies and programmes are anchored in UN human rights norms and standards.

Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (A/HRC/45/33, 15 September 2020, Advance unedited version)
English: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFMV/A_HRC_45_33_AUV.pdf
Spanish: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFMV/A_HRC_45_33_UnofficialSpanishVersion.pdf
Detailed findings of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (A/HRC/45/CRP.11, 15 September 2020)
English: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFMV/A_HRC_45_CRP.11.pdf
Spanish: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/FFMV/A_HRC_45_CRP.11_SP.pdf
The Venezuelan State must hold to account those responsible for extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture, and prevent further acts of this nature from taking place, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said in its first report, published on 16 September 2020. The Mission investigated 223 cases, of which 48 are included as in-depth case studies in the 411-page report. It reviewed an additional 2,891 cases to corroborate patterns of violations and crimes. While recognising the nature of the crisis and tensions in the country, and the responsibilities of the State to maintain public order, the Mission found the Government, State agents, and groups working with them had committed egregious violations. It identified patterns of violations and crimes that were highly coordinated pursuant to State policies, and part of a widespread and systematic course of conduct, thus amounting to crimes against humanity. The Mission found that high-level State authorities held and exercised power and oversight over the security forces and intelligence agencies identified in the report as responsible for these violations. President Maduro and the Ministers of the Interior and of Defence were aware of the crimes. They gave orders, coordinated activities and supplied resources in furtherance of the plans and policies under which the crimes were committed.

Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar: Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/45/5, 3 September 2020, Advance edited version)
Ongoing and severe human rights violations continue to plague several areas of Myanmar, according to a new report issued by UN Human Rights in September 2020. Conflict continues to intensify in Rakhine and Chin States with increasing clashes between the Myanmar army and the ethnic armed group known as the Arakan Army. An already fragile zone following years of conflict and crisis, civilians continue to pay a heavy price. In recent years, thousands have fled their homes seeking safety. Today, there are around 860,000 Rohingya refugees in neighbouring Bangladesh, and since 2018, around 200,000 from all communities have been internally displaced in Rakhine and Chin. The UN Human Rights report details the increasing effects of the armed conflict on the Rakhine, Chin, Mro, Daignet and Rohingya communities. This includes disappearances and extra-judicial killings of civilians; massive civilian displacement; arbitrary arrests, torture and deaths in custody; and the destruction of civilian property. Civilian casualties have also been increasing.

UN Environmental Rights Bulletin (OHCHR / UNEP)
This edition of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “Environmental Rights Bulletin” is the first of what is expected to be a joint quarterly publication. This publication aims to support a growing community of practice between the two entities and to showcase best practices related to processes at the country, regional and global level of relevance to the human rights-environment nexus.


Humanitarian Affairs

Beirut Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment (World Bank)
On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion rocked the Port of Beirut (PoB), destroying much of the port and severely damaging dense residential and commercial areas within five kilometers of the site of the explosion. The disaster left more than 200 people dead, thousands injured, and many homeless. Shocking pictures and videos from the Lebanese capital were shared widely across the planet, showing a city in ruins and the suffering of those affected. Beyond the human tragedy, the economic impact of the explosion is notable at the national level despite the geographic concentration of the destruction. This reflects: (i) the demographic clustering of the Lebanese population in Beirut and its suburbs; (ii) the prominence of economic activity in the affected areas, especially in regard to commerce, real estate and tourism; and (iii) the fact that the PoB is the main point of entry/exit for the small open economy, channeling 68 percent (2011-2018 average) of the country’s total external trade.

Interlinkages between Trafficking in Persons and Marriage: Issue Paper (UNODC)
Across the world, girls as young as 12 are being forced or tricked into marrying men who exploit them for sex and domestic work, in what the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has called an “under-reported, global form of human trafficking”. The agency has published this report on 7 October 2020 which documents the interlinkages between trafficking in persons and marriage, and provides steps for governments and other authorities to strike back. “This is the first publication that looks at the issue globally and through the lens of the international, legal obligations that States have to address trafficking in persons,” said Silke Albert from UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, one of the report’s key authors. The study involved research conducted in nine countries in different regions of the world, over a 12-month period. The countries covered were Canada, Germany, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Migration in West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean (IOM)
Public debates surrounding migration in West and North Africa — indeed, across the Mediterranean Sea basin — often are riven by misconception and partial representations of a truly complex reality. This new volume by IOM’s Global Migration Data and Analysis Centre (GMDAC) provides a more nuanced view. This comprehensive, fact-based and balanced account of migration from and within West and North Africa and on routes towards the Mediterranean sifts through important new data from the past two years. Besides offering analysis on migration flows within and from North and West Africa, this report also offers new evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and migration. Contrary to common assumptions about migration from and in West and North Africa, overall levels of international migration in these regions are relatively low, especially compared to norms elsewhere.

Scholarship Opportunities for Refugees (UNHCR Platform)
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has launched a first-of-its kind platform providing verified information on higher education programs available to refugees worldwide. Developed in response to needs expressed by refugee students, the UNHCR Opportunities site intends to provide a global database of reliable, up-to-date information on refugee-eligible, scholarship programs both in their current countries of asylum and abroad. Currently, the portal already covers some 20 programs offered by various education providers in over 60 countries, with UNHCR encouraging more universities to join the platform. Every service provider and program is verified independently by UNHCR prior to posting. The portal will launch in two separate phases. The first phase launched this week focuses on higher education opportunities in line with UNHCR’s Education Strategy and the Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways developed by UNHCR and partners. The second phase will launch next year and will feature third-country labor mobility opportunities for skilled refugees.


Justice and International Law

WIPO Lex-Judgments
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched on 24 September 2020 WIPO Lex-Judgments, a new database providing free-of-charge access to leading judicial decisions related to IP law from around the world. As technological innovation often outpaces the ability of legislatures and governments to create new rules and regulations, courts across the world are increasingly facing common issues of a highly sophisticated nature. WIPO-Lex Judgments contributes to a greater overall understanding of how courts are handling these issues, by making available judgments – selectively curated by the relevant authorities in participating member states – that establish precedent or offer a persuasive interpretation of IP law in their jurisdiction. At launch, WIPO Lex-Judgments contained over 400 documents from 10 countries.


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