Security Council resolution on Yemen; Syria; Children and Armed conflict; and more

Yemen: In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council today called on all sides in Yemen to immediately reject the use of violence to achieve political goals, and demanded the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the ongoing political transition.

In its resolution, the Council emphasized the importance of conducting a “fully-inclusive, participatory, transparent and meaningful” national dialogue conference, including with youth and women’s groups and called on all stakeholders to participate in this process.

In addition to the convening of the national dialogue, the Council noted that the second phase of the transition process should also focus on restructuring the security and armed forces under a unified professional national leadership structure, and the ending of all armed conflicts; steps to address transitional justice and to support national reconciliation; and, constitutional and electoral reform and the holding of general elections by February 2014.

Following repeated efforts, UN observers were unable to reach the Syrian town of al-Haffeh today as angry crowds surrounded their vehicles, stopping them from proceeding any further, after which they were shot at as they departed. UNSMIS staff members have been trying to reach al-Haffeh since June 7, but have been impeded by the ongoing violence in the area.

Speaking with journalists in Geneva today, the Joint Special Envoy’s spokesperson addressed questions on the formation of an international contact group on Syria by Mr. Annan. “The objective of creating this group is to give teeth to the [six-point peace] plan… to convince the parties to implement the plan in its entirety. It is not to create a new plan, because, as we have said before, this is the only plan on the table at the moment,” the spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, said.

Children and Armed Conflict:
The UN has named 52 parties on its annual ‘list of shame’ of those who recruit and use children, kill and maim, commit sexual violence or attack schools and hospitals, including four new parties in Sudan, Yemen and Syria. The SG’s yearly report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict gives an overview of the grave violations committed against girls and boys in conflict zones, the main perpetrators as well as measures taken for the protection of children.

Ms. Coomaraswamy, the SG’s Special Representative on the issue, called for stronger action against the growing list of persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children – those who have been listed for at least five years – which has doubled since last year to 32.  “We must put more pressure on these parties through sanctions, other Security Council action, and closer collaboration with national and international courts,” she stated.

Amid funding concerns for ongoing activities, the United Nations seeks $198 million to address critical humanitarian needs in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2012.

“Sixteen million people continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity, high malnutrition rates, and deep-rooted economic problems,” the UN Resident Coordinator in the DPRK, Jerome Sauvage, said in a news release. “Inadequate medical supplies and equipment make the health care system unable to meet basic needs, while the water and heating systems need to be rehabilitated.”

According to the Resident Coordinators’ office, around two million people in the country’s most food insecure areas are currently receiving nutritious food assistance.

Child Labor:
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today calls for stepping up efforts to eliminate child labor, as today is the World Day against Child Labor. According to the FAO, the internationally agreed target of eliminating the worst forms of child labor by 2016 will be missed if countries don’t step up their efforts to combat child labor in agriculture. Worldwide, 215 million children are child laborers, of whom around 130 million boys and girls between ages  5 and 17 work in agriculture.