GA Debates; SDGs Working Group; Syrian Refugees; HR Council; Nuclear Terrorism; UN Misconduct; New Appointment

GA Debates: In remarks made yesterday, both Libya and Tunisia – recent sites of protest on the African continent – touched upon events across the Middle East. Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia, said that through revolution the country had entered the fraternity of free and democratic people. But also that “Dictatorship is a disease” which impacted freedom and gave rise to hatred and violence. The President of Libya apologized for the crimes committed by its former leader and for the tearing apart of the UN Charter during his UN GA speech last year. Not only did President El-Magariaf reaffirm Libya’s commitment to the United Nations, but hailed Ambassador Christopher Stevens as the “voice of reason and conscience” and “the messenger of peace.”

SDGs Working Group: During the SG’s speech to the G77 and China today, he announced that the GA is setting up a 30-member intergovernmental working group to develop the SDGs over the next two years. He thanked the nations for their hard work to achieve the goals, and urged the nations to continue their push to fulfill the MDGs by 2015.

Syrian Refugees: UNHCR and its humanitarian aid partners yesterday called on donors for $295 million in extra funding for operations to help hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. The revised appeal, covering the humanitarian needs of a forecast 700,000 refugees in neighboring countries by the end of the year, increase the amount sought from $193.2 million to $487.9 million.

HR Council: The UN Human Rights Council today voted to extend the mandate of the independent panel probing abuses in Syria, and called on all parties to put an end to all forms of violence. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, established in September 2011 by the Geneva-based Council, reported earlier this month that the scale and frequency of gross human rights violations in Syria has significantly increased in recent weeks, with indiscriminate attacks against civilians occurring on a daily basis in many areas of the country.

Nuclear Terrorism: In a high-level meeting on countering nuclear terrorism this morning, the SG stressed that the consolidation of strong international mechanisms is vital to combat nuclear terrorism. Mr. Ban urged all countries that have not done so to become party to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and fully comply with Security Council resolution 1540, which imposes binding obligations on all States to establish controls preventing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery. At the meeting, the US made a statement, noting that “the risk to all of us is very real, and complacency is a luxury we cannot afford.”

UN Misconduct: A report was released this morning by a whistle-blowing protection group, Government Accountability Project, stating that over two-thirds of allegations of misconduct and corruption against UN peacekeepers were exonerated by the UN’s internal tribunal system. When asked about the contents of the report, the SG’s spokesperson said that the UN takes the system of internal justice very seriously, though it is still evolving.

New Appointment: Today the SG announced that Mr. Nasser Abdul Aziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th General Assembly, will take the reins of the UN Alliance of Civilizations from President Sampaio as of January 1, 2013 for a five-year term.