DSG Travels; UN Peacebuilding; Russia’s draft law; Sahel; children with disabilities; West Africa

DSG Travels: The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, travels today to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he will lead the UN delegation participating in the African Union summit this weekend.

He will address the opening plenary session, and he will also attend meetings of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council dealing with the situation in Mali and the situation between Sudan and South Sudan. The DSG will also hold bilateral meetings with many of the leaders and senior officials attending the summit.

On Monday, he will meet with the UN country team in Ethiopia and visit a youth centre in the town of Bishoftu.  He will return to New York on Tuesday.

UN Peacebuilding: The Security Council held a meeting today, chaired by Colombia’s Foreign Minister, concerning the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. Top officials told the Council that the UN’s peacebuilding architecture holds tremendous potential to help countries make the transition from conflict to sustainable peace and development, while stressing the need to enhance the effectiveness of the tools available in this area.

The Secretary-General also spoke at that meeting, and told Council members that, two years after the mixed review of the peacebuilding “architecture,” we are seeing signs that it has begun to come of age and is making a difference.

Russia’s draft law: A group of UN independent experts today warned that a draft law being considered by Russia could adversely impact civil society, and urged the Government not to adopt this legislation.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the proposed draft legislation, which is currently being discussed in the State Duma, states that non-commercial organizations (NCOs) wishing to engage in “political activities” will have to register as organizations “performing the functions of foreign agents” before receiving foreign funding.

In addition, the draft law requires close monitoring of NCOs and strict control measures by Russian authorities, including a mandatory auditing from a Russian organization whose results would be made available on a Government website or mass media.

Sahel: A strong response to a fundraising campaign will provide food aid for more than 15,000 mothers and children in the drought-stricken Sahel region over the next 100 days, the UN humanitarian food agency announced today.

In a news release, the World Food Programme said that the distribution of fortified foods to the 15,000 or so mothers and children was made possible by a fundraising campaign in which most of the donations came in response to appeals sent by email, and which raised $750,000, exceeding expectations in the process.

Children with disabilities: Children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than those without disabilities, according to a review commissioned by the WHO, which calls for urgent action to protect the rights of this vulnerable group.

Findings from the review, published today in the medical journal The Lancet, indicate that children with disabilities are 3.7 times more likely those without disabilities to be victims of any sort of violence. They are also 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence, and 2.9 times more likely to be victims of sexual violence.

West Africa: While significant progress has been made over the past years in promoting and consolidating peace in West Africa, the continued attention and support of the United Nations remains critical, according to the world body’s top envoy for the region. The head of the UN Office for West Africa, Said Djinnit, presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the region yesterday, which covers the first half of 2012, providing an overview of national, cross-cutting and cross-border developments in West Africa and outlining the activities undertaken by UNOWA.

Mr. Djinnit told the Security Council yesterday that the security situation in the region remains “precarious and reversible as the root causes of instability are yet to be fully addressed.”