UN Weekly Roundup: Jan. 21-27, 2023
Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this week, as seen from the United Nations’ perch.
UN deputy chief says Taliban’s desire for recognition is bargaining chip on rights
U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said Wednesday that the international community’s best leverage to persuade the Taliban to reverse restrictions on Afghan women’s rights is the group’s desire for international recognition. She told reporters that the U.N. and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are discussing holding a conference in March in the region on women in the Muslim world. Mohammed led a high-level U.N. delegation to Afghanistan this past week.
Nuclear watchdog warns Iran has enough material for several nuclear bombs
International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Rafael Grossi warned Tuesday that Iran has accumulated “enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons.” Grossi told the European Parliament’s security and defense subcommittee in Brussels that his agency is no longer monitoring Iran’s nuclear program because the regime has disconnected 27 of the agency’s cameras installed at its declared nuclear sites. Grossi said he plans to travel to Tehran, Iran, next month.
No progress on international force for Haiti
The U.N. and the government of Haiti reiterated their appeal Tuesday for an international force to quickly deploy to the island nation to help subdue an unprecedented level of gang violence that has terrorized the population. In early October, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres backed a request from the Haitian government to send a force to address escalating insecurity and a deepening humanitarian crisis.
2023 global economic forecast looks gloomy
U.N. economists forecast a gloomy and uncertain outlook this year, with the global economy projected to grow at a very sluggish rate. The 2023 World Economic Situation and Prospects report, issued Wednesday, says a series of severe shocks have reduced global economic output to its lowest level in years, leaving many economies at risk of falling into recession. In good news, the authors say inflation appears to have peaked in some of the more advanced economies, and East and South Asia emerged as the report’s bright spots for growth.
Myanmar poppy production grows since military coup
A report from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says Myanmar’s farmers are flocking back to opium poppy cultivation amid rising prices for the contraband crop and an economic decline that is wiping out jobs, reversing nearly a decade of poppy decreases. Myanmar is the world’s second-largest producer of opium, after Afghanistan, and the main source for most of East and Southeast Asia. UNODC says many people have resorted to poppy cultivation because jobs and investment have dried up following the military coup two years ago.
— U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield is on a mission to Ghana, Mozambique and Kenya this week to advance joint priorities following December’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Her tour is focused on regional security issues, food insecurity, humanitarian issues, and supporting African efforts to mitigate climate change, a senior administration official said.
— This week, World Food Program Chief David Beasley is in Syria, where he raised the alarm on unprecedented levels of hunger. He said 12 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from, while an additional 2.9 million are at risk of sliding into hunger. Overall, due to conflict, COVID-19 and an economic crisis, 70% of the population might soon be unable to feed their families.
— The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a report released Friday that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that Syria’s Air Forces perpetrated a chemical weapons attack on April 7, 2018, in Douma, Syria. The OPCW said at least one helicopter of the Syrian “Tiger Forces” elite unit dropped two yellow cylinders containing toxic chlorine gas on two apartment buildings in a residential area of Douma, killing at least 43 people and affecting dozens more. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric condemned the use of chemical weapons and said, “it is imperative that those who use chemical weapons are identified and held accountable.”
Quote of note
“You have to remember that what happened before the Taliban came back was a huge amount of hope, and an expression of that hope with many women who got an education, who were in decision-making roles, who were leaders in Afghanistan, and now that’s dashed. And when that happens, the anxiety and the level of fear amongst women and their future is huge, it’s palpable.”
— U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed to reporters on the situation of Afghan women under the Taliban
What we are watching next week
February 1 marks two years since the Myanmar military overthrew the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, leading to protests and a crackdown on human rights. Since the coup, leaders and thousands of pro-democracy protesters have died or been jailed, and the humanitarian situation has worsened.