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Workers at a construction site in Binh Thuan province, Viet Nam. Photo: ILO/Nguyen Viet Thanh

"Moderate" Asia-Pacific economic growth faces risks from "global uncertainty"

"Moderate" projected growth this year in the Asia-Pacific region faces risks from "rising protectionism and global uncertainty."

That's according to the annual flagship report released on Monday by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The Economic and Social Survey projects growth of 5 per cent, and 5.1 per cent for this year and next, up from 4.9 per cent in 2016.

It estimates that a "steeper-than-anticipated increase" in global market volatility and protectionist policies could account for as much as 1.2 per cent in lost growth.

Launching the survey in Bangkok, ESCAP Executive Secretary, Shamshad Akhtar, said that better governance of public and private spending across the region, was critical to advancing the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include ending poverty and hunger.

"In addition to ensuring sustained and robust economic growth, policymakers will need to address social and environmental challenges" said Ms Akhtar.

"Continued lack of progress" on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts

The "continued lack of progress" on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent months is leading to a "downward spiral" of so-called "de-development" in the Gaza strip.

That's according to a new report issued on Monday by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO).

The UNSCO report highlights the persistent lack of progress to resolve the conflict, and says that the parties are overdue to take the necessary steps on the ground to create an environment conducive to a lasting peace.

"The institutions of Palestinian governance remain vulnerable to political instability" the report notes and they "require affirmative steps to protect and advance state-building efforts".

The report points out the increase in Israeli settlement activity in recent months, the high rate of demolitions in Palestinian and Bedouin communities, as well as continuing terror attacks against Israelis.

It focusses also on the need to resolve the political rift between Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, and Gaza, which is controlled by the extremist group Hamas, which continues to fire rockets into Israel.

The people of Gaza, "are caught in a cycle of humanitarian need" and dependent on aid, says the report, noting that development is going backwards there.

International Law Commission begins new session in Geneva

The International Law Commission began its new session for 2017 on Monday with a busy programme of work that includes discussion of immunity of public officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction.

The Commission was established by the UN General Assembly in 1947 with a remit to encourage the development of the international legal framework, and make recommendations to Member States.

It is charged with codifying international law and ensuring its "progressive development".

Among the topics for consideration will be crimes against humanity; the protection of the environment as it relates to armed conflict; protection of the atmosphere, and the provisional application of treaties.

The session runs until 2 June, at the UN's European Headquarters in Geneva.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’39″

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