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To cultivate art and mind is also to cultivate peace, UNESCO chief says on World Poetry Day
21 March 2018 - Not merely limited to beautiful and poignant words and phrases, poetry holds the extraordinary power to open new horizons, bridge differences and illuminate a path to peace and dialogue, the head of the United Nations cultural agency said on World Poetry Day. Commemorated every year every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day recognizes the prominent art as one of humanity's most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression as well as identity. (more)

World Water Day 22 March
21 March 2018 - Water is an essential building block of life. It is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods. (more)

UN: $1 billion fund established to boost sustainable farming
16 October 2017 - California-based Rabobank NA is launching with the United Nations $1 billion in financing for farmers to transition to more sustainable practices as food companies and consumers are demanding more supply chain transparency. 'We have to incentivize farmers to change their practices,' said Berry Marttin, a member of Rabobank's managing board. Marttin said the bank had done a project in Brazil to curb deforestation and encourage farmers to extend their crop rotations to boost soil productivity. (more)

International Day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons 26 September
26 September 2017 - Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly's first resolution in 1946. This Day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority. It also provides an opportunity to educate the public -- and their leaders -- about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons, and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them. Commemorating this Day at the United Nations is especially important, given its universal membership and its long experience in grappling with nuclear disarmament issues. (more)

International Day of Charity 5 September
1 September 2017 - In the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted in September 2015, the United Nations recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The Agenda also calls for a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It also acknowledges the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda. (more)

On World Refugee Day, UN urges support, solidarity for record number of displaced people
20 June 2017 - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today called on the international community to provide support and solidarity for the record number of refugees. 'We reflect on the courage of those who fled and the compassion of those who welcome them,' the Secretary-General said in his video message for World Refugee Day, marked annually on 20 June. Despite the hardships of fleeing with nothing, 'they never lose their dreams for their children or their desire to better our world,' he said. (more)

UN experts denounce 'myth' pesticides are necessary to feed the world
7 March 2017 - The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population is a myth, according to UN food and pollution experts. A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday [8 March], is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides . . . It recommended a move towards a global treaty to govern the use of pesticides and a move to sustainable practices including natural methods of suppressing pests and crop rotation, as well as incentivising organically produced food. (more)

UN human rights experts call for global treaty to regulate dangerous pesticides
7 March 2017 - Two United Nations human rights experts are calling for a comprehensive new global treaty to regulate and phase out the use of dangerous pesticides in farming, and move towards sustainable agricultural practices. (more)

2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
1 January 2017 - In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created by the United Nations, the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices, and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute to the sustainable development goals. (more)

Lentils, chickpeas can help reverse dangerous trend of soil erosion: U.N.
5 December 2016 - Planting more lentils, chickpeas and other pulses will improve the health of the world's soils that have reached critical levels, threatening to worsen hunger and poverty levels, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Monday, 5 December. Pulses transfer nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil and can be grown practically anywhere. Cereals grown after pulses yield 1.5 tonnes more per hectare, equivalent to adding 100 kilos of nitrogen fertilizer, the FAO report said on Monday, 5 December. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Ex-official accuses United Nations of 'colossal mismanagement'
18 March 2016 - A former United Nations official with decades of experience in senior positions accused the world body of 'colossal mismanagement,' saying on Friday it had failed to uphold the principles for which it was established. Anthony Banbury, former head of the U.N. mission to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, made the remarks in an op-ed column on the New York Times website. He had overseen the establishment of the U.N. mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons programme. 'In terms of its overall mission, thanks to colossal mismanagement, the United Nations is failing,' Banbury said. (more)

Trafficking in children on the rise, says new UN report
24 November 2014 - One in three known victims of human trafficking is a child, and girls and women are particularly targeted and forced into 'modern slavery', according to the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, released on 24 November by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. 'Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women, and men are safe from human trafficking,' said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. 'Official data reported to UNODC by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse,' he added. (more)

Up to 10,000 people from Christian communities flee violence in northern Iraq - UN
27 June 2014 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that up to 10,000 people from predominately Christian communities in northern Iraq have fled their homes this week amid the ongoing violence in Mosul. Those fleeing are from Qaraqosh -- also known as Hamdaniya -- a town of 50,000 people that is located 30 kilometres south-east of Mosul, where armed opposition groups seized control two weeks ago. UNHCR said many of them have fled to Iraq's Kurdistan region, which is already hosting an estimated 300,000 people from Mosul and the surrounding areas. 'They fled by bus, car and taxi into Iraq's northern Kurdistan region on Wednesday night,' UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva. 'Many are women and children staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centres, mostly in Erbil. They tell us they fled in a big rush, and didn't bring many belongings with them so that is a sign of how afraid they are.' (more)

Steady increase in incidents of genetically modified crops found in traded food, UN agency reports
14 March 2014 - As a result of the increased production of genetically modified crops worldwide, the United Nations food agency warns in a ground-breaking survey that an increasing number of incidents of low levels of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are being reported in traded food and feed. 'The incidents have led to trade disruptions between countries with shipments of grain, cereal and other crops being blocked by importing countries and destroyed or returned to the country of origin,' said the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a news release, explaining that with no international agreement defining or quantifying 'low levels', interpretation varies from country to country. The first-ever survey also revealed that the highest number of incidents involved linseed, rice, maize and papaya, and that shipments with low levels of GM crops originated mainly from the US, Canada and China, among other countries. Once detected most shipments are destroyed or returned to sender. (more)

Survey by UN health agency shows major gaps in cancer control and care
2 February 2013 - Ahead of World Cancer Day, (4th February), the United Nations health agency has launched a survey showing that more than half of all countries are struggling to prevent cancer and to provide appropriate long-term treatment and care to avoid human suffering and protect countries' social and economic development. 'Cancer should not be a death sentence anywhere in the world as there are proven ways to prevent and cure many cancers,' Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), said in a statement about the global capacity survey. 'In order to reduce exposure to risk factors leading to cancer and ensure that every person living with cancer gets access to appropriate care and treatment, comprehensive cancer control programmes need to be set up in every country.' A functional cancer control plan includes prevention, early detection, treatment, and care, according to WHO. The agency's recent survey of 185 countries and their national capacity for noncommunicable diseases revealed major gaps in cancer control planning and services. Even if countries developed cancer plans or policies, many of them are struggling to move from commitment to action, the survey showed. (more)

With zero reserves, UN refugee agency faces 'unprecedented' combination of crises
5 October 2012 - With its financial reserves at zero, the United Nations refugee agency is facing an 'unprecedented' combination of crises, its top official warned today as he appealed to the international community to provide the necessary financial support. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, noted that his agency, known by the acronym UNHCR, is currently dealing with four acute crises as it tries to protect and assist 700,000 people who had fled conflict in Syria, Mali, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by the end of September, on top of last year's record exodus of 800,000 refugees worldwide. 'As a matter of fact, UNHCR is presently overstretched,' the UN refugee chief told reporters in Geneva, stressing that all the current problems come on top of dealing with long-standing chronic problems, such as one million Somali refugees who have fled conflict and drought in their homeland to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen. (more)

Almost 21 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, UN finds
1 June 2012 - Almost 21 million people worldwide are trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave, according to new estimates released by the United Nations labour agency. According to ILO, forced labour takes different forms, including debt bondage, trafficking and other forms of modern slavery, with the victims normally the most vulnerable - women and girls -- migrants trapped in debt bondage, and sweatshop or farm workers kept there by clearly illegal tactics and paid little or nothing. In the new estimates, 18.7 million people -- 90 per cent of the total -- are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises. Of these, 4.5 million are victims of forced exploitation and 14.2 million are victims of forced labour exploitation in economic activities, such as agriculture, construction, domestic work or manufacturing. Another 2.2 million people are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, such as in prisons under conditions which violate ILO standards, or in work imposed by the state military or by rebel armed forces. (more)

UN nuclear body ends annual meeting in disunity
25 September 2011 - The United Nations atomic agency ended its annual member state meeting in disunity late on Friday, with delegates unable to adopt a resolution on a policy area central to its work in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Two Western diplomats accused Iran, Cuba and Egypt -- the troika representing non-aligned states within the International Atomic Energy Agency -- of blocking attempts to find a consensus on a safeguards resolution. The West accuses Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability in secret. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear programme is designed to generate electricity. Tehran often hits out at the United States over its atomic arsenal, and also criticizes the Islamic state's arch foe, Israel, and that country's assumed nuclear weapons. (more)

UN climate chief warns warming can cause conflict
15 February 2011 - Global warming is a looming threat to stability and national security around the world, and militaries should spend some of their ever-expanding budgets on reducing carbon emissions to avoid 'climate chaos', the UN's top climate official said Tuesday. Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate secretariat, warned of the destabilizing effects created by growing water stress, declining crop yields, and damage from extreme storms in some of the world's poorest countries, which could set off mass international migration and regional conflicts. Figueres said the world's military budgets grew by 50 per cent in the first nine years of this century. Rather than continue that growth in weaponry, she said, the generals should invest in preventative budgets to 'avoid the climate chaos that would demand a defence response that makes even today's spending burden look light'. (more)

Fraud plagues global health fund
23 January 2011 - A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned. Much of the Global Fund money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators say. The fund's newly reinforced inspector general's office, which uncovered the corruption, can't give an overall accounting because it has examined only a tiny fraction of the $10 billion that the fund has spent since its creation in 2002. But the levels of corruption in the grants they have audited so far are astonishing. (more)


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