News in Brief 22 December 2016 (AM)

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General Assembly Hall. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

General Assembly mechanism will support Syria human rights inquiry

A mechanism to support a UN human rights body which investigates violations committed in the Syrian conflict will be established by the UN General Assembly following the adoption of a resolution on Wednesday.

The General Assembly comprises all 193 UN Member States and is the organization's chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ.

One hundred-and-five countries voted in favour of the resolution while 15 voted against it and 52 abstained.

The independent mechanism will closely cooperate with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established in August 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council.

Catherine Pollard heads the UN Department which provides support to the General Assembly.

"The General Assembly would a) decide to establish the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, under the auspices of the United Nations to closely cooperate with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and to prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings, in accordance with international law standards, in national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction over these crimes, in accordance with international law.

Funding shortfall threatens WFP work in CAR

Funding shortages are threating the provision of life-saving aid to some 150,000 vulnerable people displaced by violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The warning comes from the World Food Programme (WFP) which says it will be forced to halt what it calls this "vital assistance" in February.

WFP reports that funding constraints this year have already had a "serious impact" on its programmes in the CAR, where half of the population of five million people is facing hunger.

The UN agency sought to assist nearly one million people in 2016 but says it was able to support around 400,000.

WFP says its food stocks are already at their lowest and without additional funding it will have to further cut distributions in January.

The agency is appealing for US$21.5 million to maintain assistance to 150,000 people through June 2017.

 Trade boost for LDC countries

Better access to global markets could increase exports from the world's poorest countries by roughly 15 per cent, according to a report by the UN trade body, UNCTAD.

It says boosting exports from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) could spur economic growth as well as generate jobs and provide the money for sustainable and inclusive development.

Although LDCs account for about 12 per cent of the world's population, their share of global exports is only around one per cent.

UNCTAD says the world's 20 major economies, the so-called G20 countries, support measures that facilitate trade by the LDCs such as duty-free and quota-free access to their markets.

"But removing all tariffs could boost LDC exports to G20 countries by about $10 billion per year," according to the UN agency.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 3'54"

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