Iran; Syria; Internet Governance; Libya; and more

Iran: UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano and top aides will travel to Tehran on Sunday for talks with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, a few days before Iran and world powers meet in Baghdad to discuss the broader nuclear dispute.  News of the rare visit came as Western diplomats said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran were making headway towards a framework deal on how to tackle concerns about Iran’s atomic activity.

The IAEA and Iran held talks this week in Vienna and had been due to meet again on May 21 in the Austrian capital. The IAEA will now visit Tehran instead, raising the stakes for a substantial outcome.

: Amid ongoing violence in parts of Syria, the presence of UN military observers on the ground has had an overall calming effect in their areas of deployment in the Middle Eastern country, the head of the UN observer force said today. The UNSMIS chief also said that the Mission is on its way to full deployment, with some 260 military observers on the ground, hailing from 60 UN Member States, and that he expected the Mission to be fully operational soon, in “record time.”

In relation to the possible involvement of third parties, such as the terrorist group al-Qaida, in the violence in Syria, the UNSMIS chief noted that there had been some “very worrying incidents,” such as deadly bomb attacks in Damascus on 10 May, which reportedly killed or wounded dozens.

Mali & Guinea-Bissau
:  As part of the United Nations’ ongoing efforts to ensure the full restoration of constitutional rule in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, will participate in an upcoming regional meeting on the political crises in the two countries. The upcoming meeting – the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council on Mali and Guinea-Bissau – will be held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 19 May.

Internet governance
: As a powerful global information resource, the Internet must be accessible to everyone and measures to ensure this must be taken, the UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, Farida Shaheed, said today, adding that a “human-rights based approach to the issue should always be adopted.” In particular, she underscored that the Internet should not be divided into national spheres and it should be guarded against any monopolistic appropriation which could reduce the public spaces where social actors interact as equals.

The United Nations food agency and Libya today signed an agreement to collaborate in a joint programme that seeks to increase food production while protecting the country’s natural resources.

Under the agreement, Libya will provide $71 million in funding needed to develop different areas, such as plant and animal health and production, pesticide management, seed development, natural resource management, capacity building and institutional strengthening. The projects will also aim to preserve natural resources such as water, and will benefit farmers, herders and fishers as well as their organizations and cooperatives and traders.