To promote international progress and security, the United Nations creates a series of treaties among nations. The United Nations Treaty Collection (UNTC) is an online database providing full texts of United Nations Treaty Series, League of Nations Treaty Series and multilateral treaties filed by the Secretary-General of the U.N. (SGUN) and its latest status.

The database offers access to over 200,000 bilateral and multilateral treaties filed by the Secretariat. They are recorded in their authentic languages, along with translations into English and French. More than 550 major multilateral instruments cover a wide range of issues that catch global attention, such as human rights, disarmament, commodities, refugees, environment and crimes.

The UNTC offers multiple search criteria so that people can reach treaties by searching participants, subject terms, registration number, date of adoption or keywords.

Apart from treaties, the UNTC publishes information about annual treaty events organized by the Treaty Section of the U.N. The SGUN invites heads of states and governments to attend the event and identifies a series of treaties to be the focus of the event every September. The treaty events aim to advocate universal participation in the multilateral treaties deposited with the SGUN, raise global awareness of international challenges and encourage active engagement of member states in their resolution within the international legal framework.

Treaty training information is also available on the UNTC website. The U.N. hosts annual regional training seminars and workshops on treaty law and domestic implementation of treaty obligations in different countries. The U.N. currently offers member states technical assistance in connection with a range of legal matters. Such assistance includes providing advice, expertise, research, analysis and training.

– Liying Qian

Sources: Learn Stuff, United Nations Treaty Collection, Utrecht University Library
Photo: Wikipedia

Global Universal Threats
Bujar Nishani, the Albanian President, asserts that crime, poverty, and terrorism are interconnected and that together, they create new global universal threats. The president also said that development, security, and human rights are interconnected. Thus, there is a push for international organizations to shift their focuses to meet the change in global challenges.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established to protect Western countries against the threats of the Soviet Union. However, after the Cold War, these threats shifted as the political environment of Europe changed. The President asserts that the “central role of NATO throughout this process has been strengthened in guaranteeing the security of the Euro-Atlantic zone.” The shift in NATO’s priorities has occurred in recent years due to the new global threats which arose after the Cold War. Some of these priorities included: the Partnership for Peace, separate relations with Russia and Ukraine, dialogue with Mediterranean countries, and more.

In recent years NATO has been involved militarily to fight against terrorism and other new global threats. In order to improve NATO’s abilities to address these threats, the Prague Summit of 2002 established 3 key goals which included establishing a NATO Reaction Force. The U.N. Organization expressed the need for major reform of NATO’s capacity so that new global threats are efficiently addressed. The President also stated that “very powerful countries feel unimmunized and even vulnerable when faced with the asymmetric dangers of global effects,” and thus, countries have been increasingly more cooperative with each other to fulfill their responsibilities of improving security, maintaining peace, and tackling these global threats.

Leen Abdallah

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

Tim  Costello
Tim Costello, who serves as Chair of the Community Council of Australia and as the Chief Executive of World Vision Australia, recently spoke about Australia’s successful foreign aid. Costello is a prominent figure in Australia, recognized for his unrelenting efforts to raise global poverty awareness and place poverty issues on the Australian national agenda. On Boxing Day of 2004 when the tsunami hit Asia, Costello was able to raise more than $100 million from the Australian public for tsunami relief. Recently, Costello asserted that when it comes to children’s lives and education, Australia’s foreign aid has been “spectacularly successful.”

Overseas development assistance has led to the inhibition of many HIV infections and has treated millions with AIDS. Australian development assistance has also dispensed “insecticide-treated bed nets against malaria,” which globally decreased death rates by half. Thus, Australian foreign aid is deemed quite necessary yielding many successes. The good news is that, for the past two elections, the Gillard government has wanted to lift aid directed overseas by 0.5% of Gross National Income. The U.N. had set up a goal of 0.7% of G.N.I. and so this lift is a step closer to that goal. It also presents the greatest potential of changing many people’s lives and saving people.

Leen Abdallah
Sources: World Vision, The Australian
Photo:The Sydney Morning Herald

The Unequal RealityThe next global development agenda has been set. The President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, hosted the meeting to determine such an agenda; he also served as the co-chairman to the UN High-Level Panel for the post-2015 plan with an emphasis on eradicating extreme poverty. Despite the general success of the UN Millennium Development Goals which includes pulling people out of poverty since the 1990s, an increasing number of children are attending schools, and much fewer children are dying due to curable causes: “political will and commitment can bring about real change.”

The issue is that the majority of these successes are happening on the surface, on the “aggregate” levels as opposed to on the extremely low levels. A report done by Save the Children evinces the hidden inequality behind improvements arguing that only wealthier parts have been directly affected by these successes. For example, rich women in Indonesia now have a skilled attendant; however, between 2007 and 2010, children in poorer households continued to experience severe malnutrition despite overall nutrition improvements.

“Aggregate targets” are dictating such unequal distribution of improvement vs. worsening because governments are naturally choosing to aid and invest in what is easier to help; “this means that those close to the poverty line experience improvements while the very poorest are left behind.” Children are the most vulnerable group affected by such inequality because they are dependent on others for development and growth. Therefore, price increases affect their meal intakes, health budget cuts could cause deaths, and low-quality schools have the potential of keeping these children in poverty. In order to fight off inequality, there is a need for quality services such as availability and equal access to schools and health facilities to all kinds of people.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: South China Morning Post

Voices of the HungryIf you read this blog often, you will have realized that we like to use a lot of stats. Statistics help us to conceptualize an issue; they help us better understand what we are reading about and they are just more interesting. Statistics regarding food security are also extraordinarily important to the professionals that are working to address issues of hunger and food insecurity.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working to find a more efficient way to gather reliable information and stats about food security and world hunger. Much of the verified information that is used today is old data from two to five years ago. This data, just like data from the U.S. national census is so rarely collected because of the immense effort required to reach out to the hungry and appropriate officials around the world. Today, the FAO is working on a project titled “Voices of the Hungry” that aims to gather data about food security and hunger much, much faster than traditionally. Voices of the Hungry involves surveying candidates with audio recordings over the phone as well as in person. These interviews will offer more than simple statistics; they will also record the human stories and give greater insight into the problems of each region. FAO is partnering with Gallup to help make the program a success and will be testing the process in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Niger.

When the Voices of the Hungry program is fully operational, it will only be 3 months between the date of an interview to the final data being analyzed and organized with information from 150 countries. Such a change in the accuracy and quickness with which we can collect information will be very helpful in the quest to fight world hunger.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Voice of America

On Wednesday, U.N. officials and diplomats reported that a peace deal could be signed this month and end two decades of conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The resurging violence in the Congo has forced communities from Rwanda and Uganda to periodically relocate for nearly 20 years. Last May, Red Cross Workers registered close to 3,000 displaced people in one week.

A lasting peace deal between the Congolese government and the rebels would save these communities from further displacement.

African leaders did not sign the deal last week because of a dispute over the command of a newly created regional force that will fight armed groups operating in the eastern Congo.

Herve Ladsous, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping said the brigade would be under the same command as the regular United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission’s (MONUSCO) troops. The regular MONUSCO troops conduct patrols and support the Congolese security forces

South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique; 3 out of 15 member states in the South African Development Community (SADC), argue the enforcement brigade should have its own command separate from MONUSCO. The diplomats of these three countries note the failure of MONUSCO’s current command in the 11-day occupation of the eastern city Goma by M23 rebels.

Ladsous said on Tuesday that all key countries seem ready to sign the deal. He did not state when or where it would be finalized, though discussions have considered mid-February in Africa. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon may be present.

If approved by the U.N. Security Council, the deal would include a three-pronged mandate to prevent the growth of armed groups in the eastern Congo and to disarm them.  Unmanned surveillance drones would also track armed militias that are difficult to detect.

U.N. officials said that the creation of an enforcement brigade and the drones within a peacekeeping mission is new for the United Nations. But, U.N. officials insist that an increase in U.N. military activity is not enough to end the fighting without a signed peace agreement between Kinshasa and its neighbors in eastern Congo.

Promisingly, the Congolese government has been negotiating with the M23 rebels, and last week the rebels said they wanted to sign a peace deal with Kinshasa by the end of February.

Kasey Beduhn

Sources: Reuters, allAfrica
Photo: Press TV