Archive for the ‘United Nations’ Category

Global Commission on HIV and the Law: HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health

July 30, 2012 Comments off

Global Commission on HIV and the Law: HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health (PDF)
Source: United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
From press release (PDF):

Punitive laws and human rights abuses are costing lives, wasting money and stifling the global AIDS response, according to a report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent body of global leaders and experts. The Commission report, “HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health,” finds evidence that governments in every region of the world have wasted the potential of legal systems in the fight against HIV. The report also concludes that laws based on evidence and human rights strengthen the global AIDS response – these laws exist and must be brought to scale urgently.

Bad laws should not be allowed to stand in the way of effective HIV responses,” said Helen Clark, United Nations Development Programme Administrator. “In the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, Member States committed to reviewing laws and policies which impede effective HIV responses. One of the key contributions of the Commission’s work has been to stimulate review processes and change in a number of countries.”

The Global Commission on HIV and the Law—comprising former heads of state and leading legal, human rights and HIV experts—based its report on extensive research and first-hand accounts from more than 1,000 people in 140 countries. The Commission, supported by the United Nations Development Programme on behalf of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, found that punitive laws and discriminatory practices in many countries undermine progress against HIV.

For example, laws and legally condoned customs that fail to protect women and girls from violence deepen gender inequalities and increase their vulnerability to HIV. Some intellectual property laws and policies are not consistent with international human rights law and impede access to lifesaving treatment and prevention. Laws that criminalise and dehumanise populations at highest risk of HIV— including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and injecting drug users—drive people underground, away from essential health services and heighten their risk of HIV. Laws that criminalise HIV transmission, exposure or non-disclosure of HIV status discourage people from getting tested and treated.

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012

July 9, 2012 Comments off

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012 (PDF)
Source: United Nations

This year’s report on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) highlights several milestones. The target of reducing extreme poverty by half has been reached five years ahead of the 2015 deadline, as has the target of halving the proportion of people who lack dependable access to improved sources of drinking water. Conditions for more than 200 million people living in slums have been ameliorated—double the 2020 target. Primary school enrolment of girls equalled that of boys, and we have seen accelerating progress in reducing child and maternal mortality

These results represent a tremendous reduction in human suffering and are a clear validation of the approach embodied in the MDGs. But, they are not a reason to relax. Projections indicate that in 2015 more than 600 million people worldwide will still be using unimproved water sources, almost one billion will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, mothers will continue to die needlessly in childbirth, and children will suffer and die from preventable diseases. Hunger remains a global challenge, and ensuring that all children are able to complete primary education remains a fundamental, but unfulfilled, target that has an impact on all the other Goals. Lack of safe sanitation is hampering progress in health and nutrition, biodiversity loss continues apace, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to pose a major threat to people and ecosystems.

The goal of gender equality also remains unfulfilled, again with broad negative consequences, given that achieving the MDGs depends so much on women’s empowerment and equal access by women to education, work, health care and decision-making. We must also recognize the unevenness of progress within countries and regions, and the severe inequalities that exist among populations, especially between rural and urban areas.

Achieving the MDGs by 2015 is challenging but possible. Much depends on the fulfilment of MDG-8—the global partnership for development. The current economic crises besetting much of the developed world must not be allowed to decelerate or reverse the progress that has been made. Let us build on the successes we have achieved so far, and let us not relent until all the MDGs have been attained.

Monitoring the Impact of Economic Crisis on Crime

July 4, 2012 Comments off

Monitoring the Impact of Economic Crisis on Crime (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Within the context of the United Nations Global Pulse initiative on monitoring the impact of crisis on vulnerable populations, this report presents the results of a unique cross-national analysis that aims to investigate the possible effects of economic stress on crime. Using police-recorded crime data for the crimes of intentional homicide, robbery and motor vehicle theft, from fifteen country or city contexts across the world, the analysis examines in particular the period of global financial crisis in 2008/2009. As economic crisis may occur over a relatively short timescale, this period, as well as – in many cases – up to 20 years previously, are examined using high frequency (monthly) crime and economic data.

The report finds that, whether in times of economic crisis or non-crisis, economic factors play an important role in the evolution of crime trends. Out of a total of fifteen countries examined, statistical modelling identifies an economic predictor for at least one crime type in twelve countries (80 percent), suggesting some overall association between economic changes and crime.

In eleven of the fifteen countries examined, economic indicators showed significant changes suggestive of a period of economic crisis in 2008/2009. Both visual inspection of data series and statistical modelling suggest that in eight of these eleven ‘crisis’ countries, changes in economic factors were associated with changes in crime, leading to identifiable crime ‘peaks’ during the time of crisis. Violent property crime types such as robbery appeared most affected during times of crisis, with up to two-fold increases in some contexts during a period of economic stress. However, in some contexts, increases in homicide and motor vehicle theft were also observed. These findings are consistent with criminal motivation theory, which suggests that economic stress may increase the incentive for individuals to engage in illicit behaviours. In no case where it was difficult to discern a peak in crime was any decrease in crime observed. As such, the available data do not support a criminal opportunity theory that decreased levels of production and consumption may reduce some crime types, such as property crime, through the generation of fewer potential crime targets.

CRS — Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, June 2012

June 26, 2012 Comments off

Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, June 2012 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United Nations (U.N.) Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or “Rio+20”) convenes June 20-22, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This conference marks the 20 th anniversary of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992. Governments participating in the 1992 meeting politically endorsed the objective of “sustainable development” as achieving economic, environmental, and social development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Rio+20 begins from the premise and findings that the objectives of the 1992 Rio conference have not been achieved. The U.N.’s fifth Global Environmental Outlook, published in June 2012, found significant progress toward only four of 90 internationally-agreed goals associated with sustainable development. It found back-tracking on eight goals. Stakeholders widely agree that changes in policies and institutions are desirable to improve implementation, but do not agree on means. It seems unlikely that Rio+20 will produce any agreements that would require congressional action or be legally binding. Some proceedings, however, may engender congressional interest in concepts proposed for simultaneously achieving economic, social, and environmental objectives. Rio+20 could influence views and actions internationally on development paths and practices, thereby affecting regional and global economies, demand for development aid, transnational environmental issues, and conflict incidence and resolution. Therefore, Congress may take interest in the conference. In addition, proceedings may reference the non-binding, 1992 Agenda 21, produced at UNCED in 1992; media coverage could raise questions from constituents that Members may wish to address.

The Rio+20 organizers indicate that “[g]overnments are expected to adopt clear and focused practical measures for implementing sustainable development, based on the many examples of success we have seen over the last 20 years.” However, with strongly divergent views among the expected 115 Heads of State and up to 50,000 participants, Rio+20 may be more like a trade show than political negotiations. Indeed, some observers suggest that the conference may yield many deals among private participants. It is not expected to produce a treaty or any other binding commitments of national governments. Some observers wonder whether a meaningful communique can be successfully negotiated. High-level participants will be prompted to address issues that include

  • the definition of “green economy,” and whether a definition gives adequate emphasis to social aspects (e.g., “fairness”) of sustainable development;
  • whether “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) should replace or supplement the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed by the U.N, General Assembly in 2000 and expected to end in 2015, as well as how SDGs might be negotiated, and what priorities might be set among them;
  • how to reform international environmental institutions, particularly whether the United Nations Environmental Program should be strengthened;
  • what actions, if any, might lead to improved implementation of existing sustainable development goals, given slow progress so far;
  • whether governments may commit to greater financial and technological assistance to low-income countries to assist their sustainable development.

Global Trends Report: 800,000 new refugees in 2011, highest this century

June 20, 2012 Comments off

Global Trends Report: 800,000 new refugees in 2011, highest this century

Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

A report released today by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees shows 2011 to have been a record year for forced displacement across borders, with more people becoming refugees than at any time since 2000.

UNHCR’s "Global Trends 2011" report details for the first time the extent of forced displacement from a string of major humanitarian crises that began in late 2010 in Côte d’Ivoire, and was quickly followed by others in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere. In all, 4.3 million people were newly displaced, with a full 800,000 of these fleeing their countries and becoming refugees.

Worldwide, 42.5 million people ended 2011 either as refugees (15.2 million), internally displaced (26.4 million) or in the process of seeking asylum (895,000). Despite the high number of new refugees, the overall figure was lower than the 2010 total of 43.7 million people, due mainly to the offsetting effect of large numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) returning home: 3.2 million, the highest rate of returns of IDPs in more than a decade. Among refugees, and notwithstanding an increase in voluntary repatriation over 2010 levels, 2011 was the third lowest year for returns (532,000) in a decade.

Viewed on a 10-year basis, the report shows several worrying trends: One is that forced displacement is affecting larger numbers of people globally, with the annual level exceeding 42 million people for each of the last five years. Another is that a person who becomes a refugee is likely to remain as one for many years – often stuck in a camp or living precariously in an urban location. Of the 10.4 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, almost three quarters (7.1 million) have been in exile for at least five years awaiting a solution.

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World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision

May 24, 2012 Comments off
Source:  United Nations
Since 1988 the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations has been issuing every two years revised and updated estimates and projections of the urban and rural populations of all countries in the world and of their major urban agglomerations. This note presents the main findings of the 2011 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects which are consistent with the size of the total population of each country as estimated or projected in the 2010 Revision of World Population Prospects (United Nations, 2011).
The 2011 Revision presents estimates and projections of the total, urban and rural populations of the world for the period 1950-2050. The results are shown for development groups, six major areas (i.e., Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern America and Oceania) and 21 regions. Data are further presented for the 231 countries or areas of the world. The 2011 Revision also provides estimates and projections of the population of urban agglomerations with at least 750,000 inhabitants in 2011 for the period 1950-2025. Estimates of the proportion of the population living in urban areas and the population of cities are based on national statistics. Population censuses are the most commonly used sources of data on the proportion urban and the population of cities. However, in some countries, the data used as the basis for estimation are obtained from population registers or administrative statistics.
As reported in previous revisions, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. Nevertheless, not all regions of the world have reached this level of urbanization. According to the 2011 Revision, it is expected that half of the population of Asia will live in urban areas by 2020, while Africa is likely to reach a 50 per cent urbanization rate only in 2035.
Between 2011 and 2050, the world population is expected to increase by 2.3 billion, passing from 7.0 billion to 9.3 billion (United Nations, 2011).At the same time, the population living in urban areas is projected to gain 2.6 billion, passing from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion 2050. Thus, the urban areas of the world are expected to absorb all the population growth expected over the next four decades while at the same time drawing in some of the rural population. As a result, the world rural population is projected to start decreasing in about a decade and there will likely be 0.3 billion fewer rural inhabitants in 2050 than today. Furthermore, most of the population growth expected in urban areas will be concentrated in the cities and towns of the less developed regions. Asia, in particular, is projected to see its urban population increase by 1.4 billion, Africa by 0.9 billion, and Latin America and the Caribbean by 0.2 billion. Population growth is therefore becoming largely an urban phenomenon concentrated in the developing world (David Satterthwaite, 2007).

World leaders launch plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015

May 3, 2012 Comments off

World leaders launch plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children by 2015
Source: United Nations

World leaders gathered in New York for the 2011 United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS have today launched a Global Plan that will make significant strides towards eliminating new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive.

Providing pregnant women living with HIV with antiretroviral prevention and treatment reduces the risk of a child being born with the virus to less than 5%—and keeps their mothers alive to raise them. Neither technical nor scientific barriers stand in the way of responding to this global call to action. The plan notes that what is needed is leadership, shared responsibility and concerted action among donor nations, recipient countries and the private sector to make an AIDS-free generation a reality.

In answering the Global Plan’s call to action, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced an additional US$ 75 million to preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) efforts. This funding will be on top of the approximately US$ 300 million that PEPFAR already provides annually for PMTCT.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged US$ 40 million, Chevron committed to US$ 20 million and Johnson & Johnson pledged US$ 15 million.

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United Nations World Youth Report

April 30, 2012 Comments off
Source:  United Nations
Chapter I introduces the status of young people in the labour market and youth employment trends. It provides a snapshot of key youth employment-related demographics, highlighting the critical role of youth employment in social development. The chapter also considers positive and negative trends across countries in various stages of development to illustrate the state of youth employment world-wide.
Chapter II explores education, as the foundation for working life, with focus on views regarding educational quality and utility. Vocational education, life skills and entrepreneurship are highlighted. The chapter examines what some schools are doing, and what more can be done, to help young people transition to work. It considers ways for educational systems to be more responsive to the changing needs of economies and societies, and labour markets in particular. It also looks at ways in which young people may hold policymakers and decision-makers accountable for fulfilling the right to quality education.
Chapter III focuses on the transition of young people into work, particularly the search for a first job. It examines the availability among youth of information on labour markets and job seeking, and explores various mechanisms and tools to inform and advise young people, from networking to subsidized employment programmes. The chapter also looks into potential emerging areas of opportunity for young people.
Chapter IV explores the quality and conditions of jobs held by youth, and how young people’s working situation interacts with their family and home lives. It addresses high rates among youth of underemployment, participation in the informal economy, vulnerable employment, wages and working conditions. The chapter also examines how a lack of decent work opportunities can influence family life, social processes such as marriage and fertility, as well as health and well-being.

Millions of adolescents falling behind, especially in Africa – UNICEF report

April 27, 2012 Comments off
Source:  UNICEF
Over the past 20 years, adolescents have benefitted from progress in education and public health. Yet the needs of many adolescents are neglected with more than 1 million losing their lives each year and tens of millions more missing out on education, says a new UNICEF report today.
The report, for example, identifies sub-Saharan Africa as the most challenging place for an adolescent to live. The adolescent population of the region is still growing, and it is projected to have the greatest number of adolescents in the world by 2050. But only half the children in sub-Saharan Africa complete primary school and youth employment is low.
Progress for Children: A report card on adolescents highlights other alarming consequences of the benefits of progress not being equally shared among the total of 1.2 billion adolescents – defined by the United Nations as between the ages of 10 and 19 – now living in all the regions of the world.

+ Full  Report (PDF)

Silent Harm: A report assessing the situation of repatriated children’s psycho-social health

April 12, 2012 Comments off
As signatories of the UN Convention of the Right of the Child, EU member states have long been committed to making the best interests of the child a primary consideration for public authorities. The new Treaty of Lisbon further commits the European Union and its member states to protecting the rights of the child in all internal and external policies. In December 2011, the protection of the rights of the child was declared an explicit priority for EU external action and efforts to promote human rights and democracy in the world.
Migrant children constitute a particularly vulnerable group. As children and as migrants they face poverty, social exclusion, exploitation and multiple risks, including risks to health. How to translate Europe’s commitment to protecting the rights of children in the context of migration, irrespective of nationality, legal status or social background, remains a particular challenge. Special attention is required to ensure that the rights and principles laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child apply to migrant children without conditions.
While respect for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is one key component of EU policies on migration, repatriation and a credible threat of forced return are held to be indispensable tools in Europe’s fight against illegal migration. Prompted by the lack of child-focused migration research, and concerns about a possible impact of repatriation on children’s psychosocial health, UNICEF decided to explore how repatriation and reintegration realities interact with children’s mental health. Focusing on children repatriated from Germany and Austria to Kosovo, this study aims to provide empirical evidence to allow for a more informed discussion aimed at protecting the best interests of children. How to make the rights of children an integral part of migration and repatriation policies thus lies at the heart of this research.
The evidence presented indeed points to an alarming situation: one out of two children describe their return as the worst experience of their lives. Especially foreign-born and minority children experience their repatriation as traumatic. Every third repatriated child suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome; nearly one in two teenagers suffers from depression and one in four reports suicidal ideation. Reintegration realities in Kosovo today are such that key factors that could help these children recover are almost non-existent: many returned children live in abject poverty, 70 percent of minority children drop out of school upon return, and the mental health care system in Kosovo is simply unable to meet the treatment needs identified in repatriated children and parents.
Europe’s commitment to act in the child’s best interests is put to the test in every return decision taken. The responsibility to protect children rights, however, does not end at a country’s border. On the contrary, as this study underlines repatriation practices and reintegration realities greatly impact a child’s wellbeing and psychosocial health. As a child’s health is a sine qua non for the exercise of all other rights, health considerations must take precedence over legal and political concerns in sending and receiving countries.

United Nations E-Government Survey 2012

April 11, 2012 Comments off
Source:  United Nations
The United Nations E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for the People was completed in December 2011 and launched in February 2012. The 2012 edition of the survey was prepared in a context of multiple challenges of an open, responsive and collaborative government for the people. The report examines the institutional framework for e-government and finds that the presence of a national coordinating authority can help overcome internal barriers and focus minds on integrated responses to citizen concerns – an important lesson for sustainable development actors. The Survey also argues that e-government provides administrators with powerful tools for grappling with problems of social equity and the digital divide. The caveat is that governments must find effective channels of communication that fit national circumstances while also taking steps to increase usage of online and mobile services in order to realize their full benefit to citizens.

The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World

April 5, 2012 Comments off

The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World (PDF)
Source: UNICEF
From press release (PDF):

Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World.

Greater urbanization is inevitable. In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population.

“When we think of poverty, the image that traditionally comes to mind is that of a child in a rural village,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.”

“Excluding these children in slums not only robs them of the chance to reach their full potential; it robs their societies of the economic benefits of having a well-educated, healthy urban population,” Lake added.

Cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities.

Infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met. Families living in poverty often pay more for substandard services. Water, for instance, can cost 50 times more in poor neighbourhoods where residents have to buy it from private vendors than it costs in wealthier neighbourhoods where households are connected directly to water mains.

The deprivations endured by children in poor urban communities are often obscured by broad statistical averages that lump together all city dwellers – rich and poor alike. When averages such as these are used in making urban policy and allocating resources, the needs of the poorest can be overlooked.

UN — Human Development Report 2011

November 23, 2011 Comments off

Human Development Report 2011
Source: United Nations

The 2011 Human Development Report argues that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Bold action is needed on both fronts, the Report contends, if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained, for the benefit of future generations as well as for those living today. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising – and converging – for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.

The Report shows further how the world’s most disadvantaged people suffer the most from environmental degradation, including in their immediate personal environment, and disproportionately lack political power, making it all the harder for the world community to reach agreement on needed global policy changes. The Report also outlines great potential for positive synergies in the quest for greater equality and sustainability, especially at the national level. The Report further emphasizes the human right to a healthy environment, the importance of integrating social equity into environmental policies, and the critical importance of public participation and official accountability. The 2011 Report concludes with a call for bold new approaches to global development financing and environmental controls, arguing that these measures are both essential and feasible.

Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2011

October 31, 2011 Comments off

Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2011
Source: United Nations (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)

I am pleased to present the Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2011, which consists of the present publication and an accompanying online booklet, The region@your fingertips, and database ( The Yearbook provides decision makers, researchers and the general public with a snapshot of the Asia-Pacific region, including figures on population, education, labour, health and public services, the environment, inequality, plus the state of the economy and the new “global economy” – indicating where people are migrating, trading, travelling, communicating; and other important questions. Data are presented or the 58 regional ESCAP member States, as well as world, regional, subregional and economic aggregates, for comparison.

The Yearbook presents current trends and emerging topics in Asia and the Pacific, grouped around the themes of people, the environment, the economy and connectivity. It provides the international and regional community with key indicators, objective analyses of the current trends and emerging issues, along with data and charts. To maximize comparability across countries, subregions and regions, country-level data are sourced from international agencies that produce and compile data following international statistical standards.

CRS — Palestinian Initiatives for 2011 at the United Nations

October 4, 2011 Comments off

Palestinian Initiatives for 2011 at the United Nations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Center)

Many Members of Congress are actively interested in the question of possible U.N. action on Palestinian statehood. Congress could try to influence U.S. policy and the choices of other actors through the authorization and appropriation of foreign assistance to the Palestinians, the United Nations, and Israel and through oversight of the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts.

Changes to aid levels may depend on congressional views of how maintaining or changing aid levels could affect U.S. leverage and credibility in future regional and global contexts. Officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian Authority (PA) are taking action in the United Nations aimed at solidifying international support for Palestinian statehood. On September 23, 2011, at the opening of the annual session of the General Assembly, PLO Chairman and PA President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for Palestinian state membership to the U.N. Secretary-General—on the basis of the armistice lines that prevailed before the Arab-Israeli War of 1967 (the “1967 borders”)—in order to bring about a Security Council vote on whether to recommend membership. Abbas cites a lack of progress on the peace process with Israel as the driving factor behind PLO consideration of alternative pathways toward a Palestinian state. The Obama Administration has indicated that it will veto a Security Council resolution in favor of statehood. In an alternate or parallel scenario, an existing U.N. member state supportive of PLO plans may sponsor a resolution in the General Assembly. Such a resolution could—with a simple majority vote—recommend the recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders—either as-is or subject to future Israel-PLO negotiation—and change Palestine’s permanent observer status in the United Nations from that of an “entity” to that of a “non-member state.” U.S., Israeli, and PLO diplomacy focused on Europe—particularly permanent Security Council members France and the United Kingdom—has been active and could further intensify as the time for a possible vote draws closer. Diplomacy also might currently or in the future include negotiations regarding the venue for, and the timing and wording of, potential resolutions or other actions on Palestinian statehood.

This report provides information on the U.N. framework and process for options being discussed, including overviews of the following topics: the United Nations and recognition of states, observer status in the United Nations, and the criteria and process for United Nations membership. The report also analyzes the prospects for avoiding U.N. action by reaching an Israel-PLO agreement to resume negotiations, as well as the possibility of a compromise U.N. resolution that could set forth parameters for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations but stop short of addressing the question of Palestinian statehood beyond expressing aspirations.

It is difficult to predict the potential future implications of U.N. action on Palestinian statehood. Some observers speculate that tightened Israeli security with respect to the West Bank and Gaza and popular unrest or civil disobedience among Palestinians could ensue, depending on various scenarios. Although Abbas maintains that he seeks an eventual return to U.S.-backed Israel-PLO negotiations on a more equal basis, an upgrade of the Palestinians’ status at the U.N. also could facilitate subsequent efforts to apply greater pressure on Israel, especially if the PLO gains greater ability to present grievances in international courts—such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or International Criminal Court (ICC). Whether U.N. action or its aftermath would make Israel more or less willing to offer concessions in a negotiating process remains unclear, especially in light of ongoing regional political change and the volatility and possible deterioration of Israel’s political and military relationships with Egypt and Turkey.

UN — Special Rapporteurs Reports

October 3, 2011 Comments off

Special Rapporteurs Reports
Source: United Nations (via UN Pulse)

  • Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/66/254).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation (A/66/255).
  • Interim report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (A/66/268).
  • Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons (A/66/285).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples (A/66/288).
  • Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers (A/66/289).
  • Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/66/290).

Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people: Developments in the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory

September 4, 2011 Comments off

Report on UNCTAD assistance to the Palestinian people: Developments in the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory (PDF)
Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

While the economy of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) grew by 7.4 per cent in 2009 and 9.3 per cent in 2010, unemployment remained high, at 30 per cent in both years. The growth was driven by donor support, and reflects an economy recovering from a low base. Economic growth has not altered the reality of worsening long-term development prospects, caused by the ongoing loss of Palestinian land and natural resources, isolation from global markets, and fragmentation. Unemployment, poverty and food insecurity, especially in Gaza, continue to be alarming. The Palestinian Authority’s fiscal position remains precarious, despite recent improvements. A large trade deficit and dependence on the Israeli economy persist. New evidence suggests that the trade deficit with Israel is overstated by official data, which mask “indirect imports”. The tax revenue on such indirect imports, currently lost, could increase Palestinian public revenue by 25 per cent. Meanwhile, the economic ramifications of the severance of East Jerusalem from the rest of the OPT call for serious attention too. In spite of limited resources, UNCTAD continues to respond to the needs of the Palestinian economy in coordination with other United Nations organizations and donors, and has recently commenced a new project to “strengthen Palestinian trade-facilitation capacity”.

OAS, OECD and ECLAC Present First Report on International Migration in the Americas

September 1, 2011 Comments off

OAS, OECD and ECLAC Present First Report on International Migration in the Americas
Source: Organization of American States, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

The Organization of American States (OAS), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) today presented the First Report on International Migration in the Americas, a joint effort by the three organizations to make rigorous and current technical information on the phenomenon of international migration available to the international community.

This First Report analyzes the migration situation in the nine countries of the Americas that participated in the first phase of the Continuous Reporting System on Labour Migration for the Americas (SICREMI): Argentina, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Uruguay. Nine more countries will participate in the second phase, at the end of which a report will be published in 2012: Barbados, Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, and Dominican Republic.

Among other facts, the report highlights that, between 2003 and 2009, nearly 950,000 people per year emigrated from the Americas to countries of the OECD; of this total, nearly half went to the United States, and a fourth to Spain. Furthermore, it specifies that “legal migration levels from the Americas to OECD destination countries have generally maintained themselves in the midst of the most severe economic crisis of the post-war years with the exception of migration levels to Spain and the United States.” Recent developments in remittance flows, the labor market situation of emigrants from countries in the Americas in recent years, and asylum seekers in the Americas are some of the other subjects contained in the report.

+ Full Report (PDF)

World Investment Report 2011

August 22, 2011 Comments off

World Investment Report 2011
Source: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) has not yet bounced back to pre-crisis levels, though some regions show better recovery than others. The reason is not financing constraints, but perceived risks and regulatory uncertainty in a fragile world economy.

The World Investment Report 2011 forecasts that, barring any economic shocks, FDI flows will recover to pre-crisis levels over the next two years. The challenge for the development community is to make this anticipated investment have greater impact on our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

In 2010 – for the first time – developing economies absorbed close to half of global FDI inflows. They also generated record levels of FDI outflows, much of it directed to other countries in the South. This further demonstrates the growing importance of developing economies to the world economy, and of South-South cooperation and investment for sustainable development.

Increasingly, transnational corporations are engaging with developing and transition economies through a broadening array of production and investment models, such as contract manufacturing and farming, service outsourcing, franchising and licensing. These relatively new phenomena present opportunities for developing and transition economies to deepen their integration into the rapidly evolving global economy, to strengthen the potential of their home-grown productive capacity, and to improve their international competitiveness.

Unlocking the full potential of these new developments will depend on wise policymaking and institution building by governments and international organizations. Entrepreneurs and businesses in developing and transition economies need frameworks in which they can benefit fully from integrated international production and trade. I commend this report, with its wealth of research and analysis, to policymakers and businesses pursuing development success in a fast-changing world.

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Full Text Reference Book: African Statistical Yearbook 2011 (3rd Ed.)

August 15, 2011 Comments off

Full Text Reference Book: African Statistical Yearbook 2011 (3rd Ed.)
Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (via INFOdocket)
From the Introductory Material:

The 2011 African Statistical Yearbook was prepared under the overall umbrella of the African Statistical Coordination Committee set up by major continental organizations dealing with statistical development namely the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the African Union Commission (AUC), and the United Na tions Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in the framework of the implementation of the Reference Regional Strategic Framework for Statistical Capacity Building in Africa (RRSF).

As with the previous two editions, this third edition presents time series showing how African Countries performed on several economic and social thematic areas over the 2002 to 2010 period. We have continued our efforts to privilege the use of data sourced from countries national sources, validated through a rigorous process.

Categories: Africa, United Nations

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