UNSMIL hails ceasefire in Libya

On Friday, the parties to the nine-year Libyan war agreed to a ceasefire in Geneva. The head of the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Stephanie Williams led the mediation team, which had brought together representatives from the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar in the east of the country. The nine-year conflict spiralled from Arab Spring public protests over corruption and repression to a brutal civil war, with intervention by the United States, France, Russia, Turkey, and others. With the ceasefire signed, the parties now face the challenge of implementing it and transforming it into a political agreement to end the war.

U.S. urges countries to withdraw from U.N. nuclear weapons treaty

In a letter to signatories, the United States has urged countries that have ratified a U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. letter states that, “although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession.” Speaking on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres described the U.N. nuclear weapons ban treaty as “a very welcome initiative.” He went on to state that, “it is clear for me that we will only be entirely safe in relation to nuclear weapons the day where nuclear weapons no longer exist.”

 U.N. Chief calls for “peace and security” in Yemen

At the ministerial-level debate Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres encouraged Security Council members to “work in unison to promote peace and security” in Yemen. Guterres described last week’s prisoner exchange as “a ray of hope,” but emphasized that only a full ceasefire could alleviate suffering. “We need an immediate ceasefire and return to the negotiating table to work out a political settlement to end the war” he added.  “Nothing less will suffice.”

Limited Progress on Abyei region of Sudanese border

The head of U.N. Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, told the Security Council on Thursday that “despite [the] continued rapprochement between the Sudan and South Sudan, the peace process has made little progress in Abyei.”  The Abyei Area is a disputed region on the border between South Sudan and Sudan. Lacroix further reported that “the main developments at the local level were the appointments by Juba and Khartoum of their respective chief administrators.”

Security Council calls for ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh

Members of the U.N. Security Council on Monday called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to abide by the new ceasefire in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought sporadically over the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In view of rising tensions, Security Council members France, Russia, and the United States requested the meeting. The Security Council’s 15 members reiterated a plea by U.N. chief António Guterres for parties to honor the new ceasefire. In his statement released Sunday, Guterres noted with regret the “tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported strike on 16 October” in Azerbaijan’s Ganja city. This is “totally unacceptable” he added.

Guterres Voices Concern on Nigeria

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement Wednesday saying that he was closely following recent development across Nigeria, including recent reports that several demonstrators had been fatally shot in Lagos. Guterres called for “an end to reported police brutality and abuses.” The U.N. chief urged the Nigerian authorities to investigate the violence and “hold the perpetrators accountable.” Unofficial reports suggest between 15 and 35 people have died in violence linked to the demonstrations over recent days.

UNICEF to stockpile a billion syringes for delivery of future COVID-19 vaccine

UNICEF will stockpile a billion syringes in its warehouses for use during 2021, assuming there are enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines. “Vaccinating the world against COVID-19 will be one of the largest mass undertakings in human history, and we will need to move as quickly as the vaccines can be produced” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director on Monday. “In order to move fast later, we must move fast now. By the end of the year, we will already have over half a billion syringes pre-positioned where they can be deployed quickly and cost effectively. That’s enough syringes to wrap around the world one and a half times,” she added.

One in six children “struggling to survive,” says UNICEF Representative  

“One in six children living in extreme poverty is one in six children struggling to survive,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF Director of Programmes on Tuesday. “These numbers alone should shock anyone. And the scale and depth of what we know about the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic, are only set to make matters far worse. Governments urgently need a children’s recovery plan to prevent countless more children and their families from reaching levels of poverty unseen for many, many years.” Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of Poverty and Equity for the World Bank, similarly noted “the fact that one in six children were living in extreme poverty and that 50 percent of the global extreme poor were children, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, is of grave concern to us all.”

Burkina Faso “one step short of famine,” WFP

On Tuesday, the U.N. held a conference in Denmark co-hosted by Germany and the European Union regarding the food and security crises facing the Central Sahel region. Earlier in the week, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) warned that unless access is granted to humanitarian organizations, parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger will be “pushed into further destitution.” Chris Nikoi, WFP Regional Director for West Africa, explained that “when we can’t get to vulnerable communities, we’re seeing tragic spikes in food insecurity.”

Image: Secretary-General António Guterres (right) and Volkan Bozkir, President of the seventy-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly, attends the screening of the pre-recorded UN Day Concert 2020 entitled “Reimagine, Rebalance, Restart: recovering together for our shared humanity.” 22 October 2020. UN Photo/Mark Garten