Yemen UN envoy adjourns peace talks till January pending enforcement of a

“Given the centrality of the cessation of hostilities to the success of talks, the Special Envoy has elected to adjourn the talks until the middle of January 2016,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said in a communiqué.“In order to ensure adherence to the cessation of hostilities and enable sustainability, the Special Envoy judges that additional bilateral consultations will be required in Yemen and in the region in the coming weeks. The Special Envoy shall continue to work with the parties to identify and implement confidence-building measures that will help build respect for a durable ceasefire and peace process.”The conflict between the factions has worsened Yemen’s already poor food situation, adding over 3 million people to the ranks of the hungry in less than a year, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported, with 7.6 million people severely food insecure – a level that requires urgent, external, food aid.Last week, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners today appealed for $31 million to ensure the continuity of medical services for nearly 15 million Yemenis following the collapse of the country’s health system.In his communiqué, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed cited the parties’ constructive engagement in the UN-facilitated talks, but said progress was affected by numerous violations of the cessation of hostilities.“Despite this, the parties made serious progress through identifying a framework for negotiations towards a comprehensive settlement, in addition to defining a set of relevant confidence-building measures relating to prisoner release, improved social services and improving the flow of humanitarian aid to Taiz (central Yemen) and other Yemeni governorates,” it said.He noted that the parties agreed to develop a package of confidence-building measures including a mechanism for the release of prisoners to include all detainees and prisoners once a permanent ceasefire is in place, to establish a Co-ordination and De-escalation Committee of military advisors from both sides, facilitated by the UN, and to lift all forms of blockade and allow safe and rapid access for humanitarian supplies.The participants also agreed to a negotiating framework for a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict and allow the resumption of inclusive political dialogue, to continue the work of the Coordination and De-escalation Committee and identify a suitable location for it in the region, to meet again for a second round of UN-facilitated talks, and to ensure a greater involvement of women in the talks.“The Special Envoy wishes to commend the participants for the work so far undertaken and plans to convene the next round of these talks on 14 January 2016,” the communiqué concluded. read more

UN conference adopts treaty banning nuclear weapons

“The treaty represents an important step and contribution towards the common aspirations of a world without nuclear weapons,” the spokesperson for Secretary-General António Guterres said following its adoption. “The Secretary-General hopes that this new treaty will promote inclusive dialogue and renewed international cooperation aimed at achieving the long overdue objective of nuclear disarmament,” Stéphane Dujarric added. The treaty – adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore) – prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons. “We feel emotional because we are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations,” said Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, who serves as the President of the conference that negotiated the treaty in response to a mandate given by the UN General Assembly. We feel emotional because we are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations President of the conferenceShe told a news conference at UN Headquarters that with the treaty the world is “one step closer” to a total elimination of nuclear weapons. The treaty will be open for signature to all States at UN Headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017, and enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries. However, a number of countries stayed out of the negotiations, including the United States, Russia and other nuclear-weapon States, as well as many of their allies. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) did not join the talks either. In a joint press statement issued today, the delegations of the United States, United Kingdom and France said they “have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty… and do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”“This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment,” they said. “Accession to the ban treaty is incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.” In response to questions on the joint statement, Ms. Whyte Gómez recalled that when the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was adopted decades ago, it did not enjoy a large number of accessions. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. Then in 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States that are the permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the beginning, it was unimaginable that those States would be parties to the NPT, she noted. “But the world changes and the circumstances change.” She added that the hibakusha, survivors of nuclear bombs, have been the driving force in the creation of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty. The experiences they have been sharing “touch the human soul,” she said, adding that the negotiations were a “combination of reason and heart.” read more