Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
Vanuatu leads action on climate justice
The U.N. General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution Wednesday that will ask the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the obligations of states under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations from the impact of climate change. The Pacific island nation of Vanuatu spearheaded the drafting and negotiations of the resolution, with a core group of 18 countries representing most corners of the world.
What Are State’s Obligations to Protect Citizens from Climate Change? World Court to Weigh In
General Assembly closer to creating new entity on missing Syrians
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community Tuesday to create an international body that would assist families of the estimated 100,000 missing persons in Syria to find out the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.
UN Chief Urges Creation of Entity to Clarify Fate of 100,000 Missing Syrians
Disarmament chief: risk of nuclear weapon use now highest since Cold War
The United Nations disarmament chief warned Friday that the risk of a nuclear weapon being used is higher now than at any time since the Cold War. Izumi Nakamitsu told the Security Council that the war in Ukraine “represents the most acute example of that risk.”
Russia takes over Security Council’s April presidency
On April 1, in what some critics say sounds more like an April Fool’s joke than reality, Russia will take over the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month — and no one can prevent it.
Cyclone raises risk of disease at Malawi sites for displaced people
The U.N. humanitarian agency says Malawi needs immediate help to deal with diseases spreading in displacement camps for Cyclone Freddy survivors. The Malawi health minister told reporters Tuesday that the government is beefing up its medical staff, but a local newspaper says the country needs more money to adequately deal with health care needs.
UN Concerned About Disease in Malawi’s Displacement Camps
Talking to Sudanese men about female genital mutilation
The World Health Organization says about 87% of Sudanese females between 15 and 49 have undergone female genital mutilation, one of the highest rates in the world. A project by the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, is targeting sports clubs to engage men and boys in the fight against the practice. Watch this report from Henry Wilkins in Khartoum, Sudan:
UNICEF Talking to Sudanese Men’s Clubs About Female Genital Mutilation
— A resolution put forward Monday by Russia at the United Nations calling for an international investigation into the apparent sabotage last year on the Nord Stream gas pipelines failed to win Security Council support. Russia’s draft received only three votes in favor — from itself, China and Brazil. The other 12 Security Council members abstained. Several council members said an additional investigation would not be beneficial right now and urged waiting for the results of the national ones. Others suggested that a deadline be imposed for the national investigations to conclude, saying they should not be open-ended.
— International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi made a mission to Ukraine this week. He has been trying for months to negotiate a weapons-free zone around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, which has come under repeated shelling and blackouts during the war and is currently occupied by Russian troops. A team of IAEA experts is also based at the facility. Grossi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the city of Zaporizhzhya on Monday and indicated he may soon go to Russia for further talks. He warned that a nuclear accident with radiological consequences “will spare no one.”
— Thursday was the first ever International Day of Zero Waste. U.N. Secretary-General Guterres warned during a General Assembly meeting on the issue that the planet is turning into a “garbage dump” and by 2050 municipal solid waste will double to 4 billion tons a year. He called for more sustainable consumption and production patterns with the goal of a zero-waste future. Guterres also announced that he is establishing an Advisory Board of Eminent Persons on Zero Waste to be chaired by the first lady of Turkey, Emine Erdoğan.
Did you know?
The U.N. flag was designed in 1945 when the organization was founded. It is a map of the world resting inside two olive branches. The blue background was chosen to represent peace, and this shade of blue has become known as “U.N. blue.” American architect Oliver Lincoln Lundquist led the design team that created it.