Libya @ HQ: Today, the SG briefed the Security Council on current developments in North Africa and the Middle East, reiterating his “grave concerns about the nature and scale of the conflict” and stating that the first responsibility of the international community is to ensure the protection of civilians at risk. The Council has been meeting this afternoon to consider the application of sanctions on Libya, while President Obama also announced unilateral sanctions against Gaddafi’s regime. The draft resolution in front of the Council suggests that the violence may constitute “crimes against humanity”. Speaking to the press after his briefing, the SG elaborated on today’s special session of the HRC and the Libyan Ambassador’s plea for the international community’s help. He underscored the historic turning point and the international community’s need to rise to the occasion. At present, the situation remains exceedingly grave, as the UN continues to receive reports about clashes – indiscriminate killings, shootings of peaceful demonstrators, and arbitrary arrests – which are yielding countless casualties. UNHCR reports that some 22,000 Libyans are now in Tunisia and another 15,000 are in Egypt. The Agency fears that a large number of residents and immigrant workers are trapped. Thus, it’s important for States, including Europe, to keep their borders open. The SG also said that, according to WFP, Libya’s food supplies are “dangerously low”. Going forward, the SG urged the Security Council to consider concrete action after offering options for action including trade and financial sanctions (including targeted measures against the leadership – travel, financial, etc.) and an arms embargo. He welcomed the HRC’s decision to establish an international investigation of inquiry, as well as the discussions to suspend Libya’s membership on the Human Rights Council, stating “I recommend that Libya be suspended from the Human Rights Council”. According to PGA Joseph Deiss, the GA will take up this matter early next week. On Monday, the SG will travel to Washington to meet with Obama on Libya.
Libya @ Geneva: High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay explained at today’s special session of the HRC that it’s clear that the crackdown in Libya of peaceful demonstrations is escalating alarmingly, as the country’s government is manifestly failing to protect its population from serious international crimes. Pillay underscored that despite international condemnation and appeals for restraint, Qaddafi has chosen to foment conflict. At this point, there are reports that the number killed or injured has reached in the thousands. Regarding refugees, she has urged neighbors to open their borders and treat Libyan refugees humanely. Speaking at the session, U.S. Ambassador Donahoe said “The Government of Libya has a responsibility to protect its population. It is failing to do so. In fact, it is attacking its population”, which she said “must stop immediately”. She also referenced the GA’s ability to suspend Libya’s membership from the HRC, stating that its participation undermines its “core mission”. The resolution adopted – by consensus – decided to dispatch an independent commission of inquiry, appointed by the President of the HRC, to investigate all violations and recommends the GA consider suspending Libya’s membership in the HRC. Secretary Clinton will be in Geneva Monday for consultations on Libya.
Iran: looks like the U.S. will be pushing on for the creation of an independent expert on the situation of human rights in Iran at the Human Right’s Council’s 16th session, which opens on Monday. Both Secretary Clinton and the Iranian Foreign Minister are expected to address the Council on Monday.
Côte d’Ivoire: today the SG issued a statement expressing his deep concern by the deteriorating situation in the country due to armed clashes in Abidjan, which mark a disturbing escalation and draws the country closer to reigniting civil war. The statement also deplores the latest threats against UNOCI and the UN by Gbagbo camps, noting their recent calls to impede peacekeepers’ movements in Abidjan today. The SG demanded an end to such threats and reiterated his call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint. UNHCR says the fighting in Abidjan has caused a worrying rise in cross-border displacement into eastern Liberia. Until mid-week, 100 people crossed the border daily. In just the past 24 hours, according to local authorities, the number has jumped to 5,000 people. They are also concerned by the 30,000 IDPs in western Côte d’Ivoire.
Launch of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report: According to a new report released by UNICEF today, investing in the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 now can break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequality. In regards to adolescent girls, just one year of education, for example, can help to ensure a girl’s survival. The report explains that young people who are poor and marginalized are less likely to make the transition to secondary education during adolescence. Instead, they are more likely to experience exploitation, child marriage, domestic labor, as well as abuse and violence especially if they are girls.
Week Ahead: On Monday, ECOSOC will convene a special event on “Partnering with the Philanthropic Community to Promote Education for All.” More than 400 representatives of foundations, civil society organizations, and private sector companies will be present. The event will be held in the GA followed by a press conference on the event at 1:45 PM, which will be moderated by Matthew Bishop, the NY Bureau Chief of The Economist. The focus of the event will be the education sector. Also on Monday, the second session of the PrepCom for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) begins in New York (runs through March 4), as well as the HRC’s 16th session in Geneva (runs through March 25).