Secretary-General on Rio; Syria Transitional Plan; Syrian refugees; Iran; and more

Secretary-General on Rio: The Secretary-General today highlighted the achievements made in Rio last week, stressing that they represent a global movement of change:

“Let me be clear. Rio+20 was a success,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a General Assembly meeting on the outcome of the Conference. “In Rio, we saw the further evolution of an undeniable global movement for change.” In his remarks, Mr. Ban highlighted several parts of the Rio+20 outcome document, entitled ‘The Future We Want,’ which he hailed as “an important victory for multilateralism after months of difficult negotiations.”

Through the document, the UN chief said, countries renewed their political commitment to sustainable development, agreed to establish a set of SDGs (sustainable development goals)  and established a high-level political forum on sustainable development.

Transitional Plan for Syria
: Russia and other key powers have signaled support for U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for a political transition leading to the establishment of a national unity government, Foreign Policy reports. But no final agreement has been concluded yet.

Mr. Annan will host a meeting in Geneva this Saturday of key foreign ministers, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian FM Lavrov, to seek endorsement for his latest transitional plan and increase pressure on the Syrian government and the opposition to accept it.

Mr Annan’s plan — which has not yet been made public — would call on the key players in Syria and their foreign supporters to end the violence and create an “environment of calm and peace that will allow a transition,” according to a U.N.-based diplomat. If those conditions are met, Annan would lead a mediation effort aimed at forging a national unity government comprised members of the Syrian government and individuals drawn from the disparate opposition.

Syrian refugees
: UN humanitarian agencies and their partners today appealed for $193 million to help the growing number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.  In the past three months, humanitarian agencies have registered an average of over 500 Syrian refugees per day.

According to UNHCR, more than 96,000 Syrians are either registered or being assisted in neighboring countries, with numbers doubling since March. Around 75 per cent of the refugees are women and children, most of whom are entirely dependent on life-saving humanitarian assistance,” said Mr. Moumtzis, who is UNHCR’s Regional Coordinator for Syrian Refugees.

To date, the appeal is only 26 per cent funded.  The UN agencies taking part include UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, and WFP.

Three independent United Nations human rights experts have condemned the recent execution of four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority in Iran after a reportedly unfair trial, and called on the Government to halt the use of the death penalty.

Given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns remain about due process and fairness of trials in cases involving the death penalty in Iran,” said the three UN Special Rapporteurs – Ahmed Shaheed, Christof Heyns and Juan E. Méndez – who deal with Iran, summary executions and torture, respectively.

Rule of Law:
  The UN’s top lawyer emphasized that international law is crucial to the implementation of the ‘responsibility to protect’ principle, often referred to as R2P, and the prevention of atrocities.

“R2P represents an important commitment by the international community to protect populations from egregious crimes,” the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Patricia O’Brien, said at a roundtable discussion on the R2P concept at the 55th annual meeting of the Russian Association of International Law in Moscow.

“The international community has a responsibility to help States meet those obligations, or to step in when States manifestly fail to do so […] These obligations are anchored in international law, and reflect obligations of humanity,” she added.