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.
UNGA declares Russian ‘annexation’ of Ukrainian territories invalid
In its strongest show of support for Ukraine since Moscow’s February 24 invasion, the U.N. General Assembly voted 143-5 on a resolution condemning and rejecting Russia’s move to annex Ukrainian territory. The only countries supporting Russia in Wednesday’s vote were Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says the resolution means in the eyes of the world “Ukraine remains Ukraine.”
UN General Assembly Rejects Russia’s ‘Referendums,’ ‘Annexation’ in Ukraine
Separately, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says missile attacks by Russia’s armed forces against civilian targets and infrastructure across several cities this week in Ukraine could amount to war crimes.
UN: Russian Missile Attacks on Ukraine’s Civilian Targets Could Amount to War Crimes
The International Atomic Energy Agency director general conducted shuttle diplomacy this week between Kyiv and Moscow in a bid to urgently establish a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Russian-occupied facility has been repeatedly shelled during the conflict, raising fears of a nuclear incident or accident.
Haiti seeks international armed force to help curb gang violence
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the international community this week to respond to a request from Haiti’s government and urgently consider sending an international specialized armed force to the Caribbean island nation to address spiraling insecurity due to widespread gang violence. The request comes as humanitarian conditions further deteriorate. The Security Council has moved up to Monday a meeting to discuss the situation and the secretary-general’s recommendations.
UN Chief Backs Haitian Call for International Armed Force
The situation is exacerbating Haiti’s food insecurity. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) report published Friday says an unprecedented 4.7 million Haitians — nearly half the population — are experiencing emergency levels of acute food insecurity, including 19,000 people in Phase 5 Catastrophic hunger. More from IPC here.
Possible vaccine trials for latest Ebola outbreak
Uganda and the World Health Organization are planning to try out two vaccines for the Ebola Sudan virus to try to curb the spread of the rare strain. The virus has so far killed 19 people and infected at least 54 people in five districts in Uganda. After meetings in Kampala on Wednesday, the WHO’s director general described the new outbreak as troubling. Both vaccines are in clinical trials, pending regulatory and ethics approvals from the Ugandan government. They are expected to arrive in the country next week.
Uganda, WHO to Try Two Vaccines for Rare Ebola Virus Strain
— U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned Monday that his agency urgently needs at least $700 million from donors between now and the end of this year or “severe cuts with negative and sometimes dramatic consequences” will have to be made affecting refugees and host communities. The UNHCR says the number of people forcibly displaced has grown to a record high of 100 million.
— The secretary-general sent a letter to the finance ministers and heads of the central banks of the G20 on Wednesday ahead of the group’s November summit in Indonesia. He told them that the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis are wreaking havoc on economies worldwide. In developing countries, the impact of these shocks is compounded by what he said is “an unfair global financial system that relies on short-term cost-benefit analyses and privileges the rich over the poor.” Guterres called on them to reinforce the U.N.-proposed Sustainable Development Goals stimulus and to increase public sector commitments toward development, humanitarian and climate mitigation and adaptation by 2% of global gross domestic product (GDP).
— The General Assembly elected 14 countries to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday. With nearly all the 193-member states voting, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Georgia, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Morocco, Romania, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam were voted onto the 47-member Geneva-based rights body. South Korea and Venezuela lost their re-election bids and Afghanistan failed to win a seat, receiving only 12 votes.
— The World Meteorological Organization said Tuesday that the electricity supply from clean energy sources must double within the next eight years to limit a global temperature increase. If not, WMO warns there is a risk that climate change, more extreme weather and water stress will undermine energy security and possibly jeopardize renewable energy supplies. Currently, the energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.
On Thursday, the secretary-general welcomed announcements by the governments of Lebanon and Israel that they have formally agreed to settle their maritime boundary dispute, as mediated by the United States. Guterres said “this encouraging development” can promote increased regional stability and enhanced prosperity for both nations. The deal between the two enemies, who have fought multiple wars, removes a hurdle to each country being able to exploit hydrocarbon fields along the border.
What we are watching next week
On Monday afternoon, the Security Council will meet to discuss the secretary-general’s recommendations for an international force as requested by the Haitian government. The council is also considering imposing new sanctions on armed gangs in Haiti that are terrorizing civilians and making the movement of people and important commodities, like fuel, dangerous and difficult.