UN: 3C of warming under current global climate pledges

The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said that pledges put forward to cut emissions would see temperatures rise by 3C above pre-industrial levels, far above the the 2C of the Paris climate agreement, which comes into force on Friday.

At least a quarter must be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade, compared with current trends, the UN said.
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Big increases in small arms trade

But from 2012 to 2013, the global small arms trade jumped to a total of USD 6 billion worth of small arms, an increase of 17 per cent/ $1 billion in only one year, according to the report titled “Trade Update 2016: Transfers and Transparency”

The United States was, by far, both the largest exporter and importer. It exported $1.1 billion, while only two other countries – Italy and Germany – surpassed the $500 million mark in exports.

Transfers of small arms to the U.S. accounted for 42 per cent of all imports.

Sixteen exporters surpassed $100 million in 2013, the largest number since the survey began in 2001.

And although this is the most comprehensive data set on small arms transfers, these numbers are most likely much higher, since 40% of information on imports and exports were concealed by states, said Senior Researcher for the Small Arms Survey, Nicolas Florquin. Continue reading

The UN is not paying its peacekeepers

The United Nations owes countries that send troops to serve under its baby-blue banner a huge debt — a literal one.

As of March 31, 2016, the world body owed troop-contributing countries a total of $827 million in back-compensation, Under-Secretary-General for Management Yukio Takasu told Indian reporters on May 4.

The way the U.N. peacekeeping systems works is this — member states donate funds to the United Nations and the world body then passes a portion of that money onward to countries that offer up their troops to peace missions.

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United Nations

This from Anthony Banbury, former United Nations assistant secretary general for field support:

The heads of billion-dollar peace operations, with enormous responsibilities for ending wars, are not able to hire their immediate staff, or to reassign non-performers away from critical roles. It is a sign of how perversely twisted the bureaucracy is that personnel decisions are considered more dangerous than the responsibility to lead a mission on which the fate of a country depends.

One result of this dysfunction is minimal accountability. There is today a chief of staff in a large peacekeeping mission who is manifestly incompetent. Many have tried to get rid of him, but short of a serious crime, it is virtually impossible to fire someone in the United Nations. In the past six years, I am not aware of a single international field staff member’s being fired, or even sanctioned, for poor performance.

The second serious problem is that too many decisions are driven by political expediency instead of by the values of the United Nations or the facts on the ground.

Peacekeeping forces often lumber along for years without clear goals or exit plans, crowding out governments, diverting attention from deeper socioeconomic problems and costing billions of dollars. My first peacekeeping mission was in Cambodia in 1992. We left after less than two years. Now it’s a rare exception when a mission lasts fewer than 10.

I Love the U.N., but It Is Failing
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/opinion/sunday/i-love-the-un-but-it-is-failing.html

5% Digest (Week 23/03/15)

Gregory D. Johnsen wrote a detailed account of the rise of Huthis in Yemen. Adam Baron argued that the power struggle is primarily local and foreign intervention will be a very bad idea.

But what is abundantly clear at the moment is that this remains, by and large, an internal Yemeni political conflict—one that, despite frequent sectarian mischaracterizations and potential regional implications, remains deeply rooted in local Yemeni issues.

And if history is a guide, foreign intervention will only stand to exacerbate the situation. Ironically, talk now centers on a potential Saudi Arabian and Egyptian military intervention in Yemen, a scenario that immediately brought to mind the memory of North Yemen’s 1960s Civil War which saw both sides intervene—albeit on different sides—in a matter which only appeared to draw the conflict out further. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for foreign powers to aid Yemeni factions in negotiating some new political settlement. But any nation that aims to make Yemen’s fight their own is more than likely to come out on the losing side.

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UN human rights expert calls for a moratorium on lethal autonomous robots

UN Human Rights Expert Calls for a Moratorium on Lethal Autonomous Robots,” United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, May 30, 2013.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, today called for a global pause in the development and deployment of lethal autonomous robots (LARs), to allow “serious and meaningful international engagement on this issue before we proceed to a world where machines are given the power to kill humans.”
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