World news in brief: Peace Day, High Seas Treaty, Palestinian displacement increases, polio in Ukraine
“People and our planet are in crisis”, the UN chief said, highlighting how conflict continues to drive the vulnerable from their homes, while heat waves and floods claim lives and division reigns.
‘Leave No One Behind’
The year’s Day of Peace coincides with the halfway point towards the goals of sustainable development, and the UN’s message is that the promise of 2030 agenda “leaving no one behind” is an important enabler of peace.
In the middle of the big political meetings that are going on at the general assembly and Security Council in New York, the UN chief also called for the use of the “timeless tools of diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation” to defuse tensions and end conflicts.
“Peace is not only a noble vision for humanity. Peace is a call to action,” Mr. Guterres insisted.
Historic treaty opens for signatures at the general meeting
After nearly two decades of negotiations, first ever international agreement to conserve marine biodiversity and preserve the world’s oceans is now open for signatures at the UN General Assembly.
The so-called High Seas Treaty was adopted in June, as UN chief António Guterres hailed it as a “victory for multilateralism”. It was signed by 67 countries on Wednesday, but still needs to be ratified by each state according to their own procedures.
The treaty is a legally binding instrument under the UN The Law of the Sea Convention to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
These areas cover over two-thirds of the ocean.
The High Seas Treaty enters into force 120 days after it has been ratified by a minimum of 60 countries, which can take years. The UN said it hopes all member states will join the agreement.
More and more Palestinians are displaced by settler violence
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has risen steadily across the occupied West Bank, displacing over 1,000 people since last year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
OCHA said on Thursday that in the first eight months of 2023, an average of three settler-related incidents affecting Palestinians took place every day – the highest number since the UN began recording this data in 2006.
In an assessment of the humanitarian needs of 63 Palestinian pastoral communities in the occupied West Bank, conducted last month, the UN found that around 12 percent of the population has been displaced since 2022, citing settler violence and being denied access to grazing land by settlers . as the primary causes.
Most of the displaced were in the governorates of Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron, which also have the highest number of Israeli settlement outposts.
Four of the communities have been completely displaced and are now empty, OCHA said.
The expansion of settlements into grazing land for livestock, takeovers of land by settlers, destruction of crops, confiscation of land and livestock following the declaration of a closed military area, and deliberate pollution of water sources were all cited as problems affecting the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians herding society.
OCHA said Palestinian herders “should be self-reliant” based on traditional patterns, but instead need humanitarian assistance due to settler violence and the “failure of Israeli authorities to hold perpetrators accountable”.
The subsequent displacement of Palestinians “may amount to forcible transfer”, a serious breach of international humanitarian law, humanitarians warned.
Polio outbreak in Ukraine closed: WHO
United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a polio virus outbreak in Ukraine officially over.
The WHO said it was a “public health success story” that Ukraine had managed to stop the transmission of the virus that “threatened the lives and future of its children” and prevent its spread to other countries, all in the face of the ongoing war .
The outbreak was first detected in a young child in Ukraine in October 2021, subsequently linked to a poliovirus episode in Pakistan.
The WHO said the comprehensive outbreak response launched by Ukraine’s health ministry faced several challenges since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, including mass displacement of the population, destruction of health infrastructure and disruption of logistics routes.
The government’s response, supported by WHO and partners, included contact tracing, disease surveillance and an accelerated immunization catch-up campaign for children aged six months to six years who had not received the required doses through routine immunization.
The UN health agency said “tremendous credit” should be given to health workers and parents who continue to make every effort to vaccinate children on schedule “even as they navigate the daily realities and dangers of war”.