The sixty-third volume of the Yearbook of the United Nations shows how the United Nations responded in 2009 to conflict situations and unconstitutional changes of government in different parts of the world, while supporting peacebuilding, democratic processes and economic development in numerous post-conflict countries. It also relates UN achievements in helping advance human rights, formulating development policy and facilitating international economic cooperation—especially with a view to mitigating the effects of the continuing global financial crisis—as well as in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need.
The 2009 Yearbook covers the UN response to the crisis in the Gaza Strip at the beginning of the year; renewed hostilities by rebel groups and militias in the Great Lakes region of Africa; violence and political instability in southern Sudan; political assassinations in Guinea-Bissau; the coup d’état in Honduras; the political standoff in Nepal; and terrorist attacks in Baghdad. It also chronicles UN support for democratic processes and the provision of electoral assistance throughout the year in Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo and Somalia, as well as in the Sudan, which in February, with UN assistance, launched its disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme. During the year, 16 peacekeeping operations were served by some 120,000 uniformed and civilian personnel, while 12 political and peacebuilding missions and offices worked to promote stabiltiy and development in post-conflict countries.
In disarmament matters, the Security Council condemned an underground nuclear test conducted in May by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Council also convened its first summit on nuclear disarmament, calling on parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to comply with their obligations and on countries outside the Treaty to accede to it. The General Assembly designated 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests to raise public awareness of the negative effects of such tests and the need for their cessation.
The anti-racism Durban Review Conference with its resultant declaration adopted by 182 countries, advanced efforts to protect human rights worldwide, as did the establishment by the Human Rights Council of a procedure for an independent expert in the field of cultural rights. During the year, the Council examined the human rights records of 48 Member States through the Universal Periodic Review mechanism. In September, the Assembly convened a four-day debate on one of the cardinal challenges of our time: operationalizing the “responsibility to protect”, and the State’s role in protecting its population against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Over the course of 2009, the United Nations addressed issues related to development policy and international economic cooperation, including the global financial and economic crisis and its relation to the food crisis; the reform of the international monetary and financial system; and climate change mitigation and development, along with human mobility. In June, the Assembly convened the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, at which heads of State and Government committed to work on a global response to the crisis. The International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization, held that same month in Geneva, adopted a global jobs pact endorsed by the Economic and Social Council. The High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation, held in Nairobi at the end of the year, reaffirmed the UN role in supporting and promoting cooperation among developing countries.
The situation of vulnerable groups—women, children, youth and persons with disabilities—as well as the provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by conflict, displacement, disasters or other life-threatening circumstances, such as the severe and prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa, remained of concern. Between January and December, the United Nations protected and assisted 10.4 million refugees and 15.6 million internally displaced persons; delivered food and nutrition assistance to nearly 102 million people through the World Food Programme; and provided over $6.6 billion in technical assistance. In the year that marked the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Assembly adopted resolutions on guidelines for the alternative care of children and proclaimed 2010 as the International Year of Youth. The Economic and Social Council endorsed a resolution on child justice reform, while the Secretary-General appointed a Special Representative on violence against children. In August, the Council’s high-level segment adopted a ministerial declaration on implementing the internationally agreed goals with regard to global public health.
In 2009, the United Nations observed the International Year of Reconciliation, and convened the second Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. The Assembly also designated 18 July as Nelson Mandela International Day, acknowledging his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.
During the year, the International Court of Justice delivered three Judgments, and made seven Orders in cases pending before it, while the international tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia worked towards the completion of their mandates. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon established to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese Prime Minister began operations in March.
Other matters covered in the 2009 Yearbook include UN restructuring; piracy off the coast of Somalia; the high-level summit on climate change held in Copenhagen, Denmark; economic fraud and identity-related crime, as well as cybersecurity; the promotion of life in harmony with nature; realizing the Millennium Development Goals for persons with disabilities; and drug control, including the Shanghai Declaration on supply and demand reduction.
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