Oct 25, 2016

Last week’s once-in-a-decade conference on cities – held in the world cultural heritage city of Quito, Ecuador – yielded another agreement among nations on the path to a more sustainable future. Nearly 30,000 attended Habitat III’s opening-day festivities, a record number of participants whose presence served as “testimony to the strong interest in the conference, in the relevance of the themes it addresses, and in taking part in the global conversation about our cities,” in the words of the organizers.

The mood was considerably darker in the Middle East, where hostilities ceased only briefly in Aleppo, even as another cease-fire was negotiated in Yemen. UN aid agencies and their partners also are scrambling to help Iraqi civilians expected to be driven from their homes in the fight now underway to wrest control of Mosul from ISIL. Humanitarian needs are manifest in Haiti too: 800,000 people there need help to recover from the havoc that Hurricane Matthew has wrought on their lives and communities.


UN officials in Washington:

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded its first official visit to the United States, and presented its preliminary observations to the government and then to journalists and civil society. The human-rights experts visited prisons, immigration detention facilities, mental health institutions, and police stations in Washington, D.C., Texas, California, and Illinois.

The Secretary-General:

The Secretary-General was in Washington, DC to accept an honorary doctorate at the University of Maryland for his long record of public service.  He accepted it “on behalf of tens of thousands of United Nations staff who are working day and night for humanity, all around the world,” he said. Ban commended the school’s innovative “Do Good campus” initiative aimed to bring philanthropy and social responsibility to campuses across the country. He focused his remarks on “three global challenges: climate change, sustainable development, and refugees and migration.” The Secretary-General also spoke at a dinner hosted by the Council of Korean Americans. (10/14-15)

From there, he visited victims of Hurricane Matthew in Port-au-Prince, Haiti before heading to Quito, Ecuador for the Habitat III conference.

At the Security Council:

Women’s role in peace and security is the subject for an open debate; it will consider a report by the Secretary-General on the issue. (10/25) At week’s end, another debate will focus on cooperation between the UN and regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security. (10/28)

Last week the Council adopted Resolution 2313, extending the mission of MINUSTAH in Haiti. It also heard a briefing by the Special Coordinator for the Middle-East Peace Process, who warned against “sleep-walking into another violent conflict.” The humanitarian chief also addressed the Council on the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Also of note:

Russia holds the presidency of the Security Council through October.

Around the UN System:

Syria. The humanitarian situation in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, remains a grave concern and was considered at a special situation of the UN Human Rights Council. The High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that “crimes of historic proportions” are being committed in Aleppo. And the UN envoy for Syria warned, “Aleppo will not be there” in two months if the current diplomatic stalemate continues.

Iraq. Humanitarian and other UN agencies are at heightened alert to the risks to civilians posed by the military offensive to retake control of Mosul from the “Islamic State”:

Resilient, Sustainable Cities. Climate’s role in sustainable development got prominent attention in Quito, Ecuador when Habitat III convened to focus on a new urban agenda that advances key sustainable-development goals:

In Case You Missed It:

UN Reports:

The Secretary-General issued reports and notes on:

Other reports include:

International Days:

20-October                  World Statistics Day: Better Data, Better Lives”

24 October                  United Nations Day

24 October                  World Development Information Day

24 October                  World Polio Day

31 October                  World Cities Day