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The 2013 Yearbook

The sixty-seventh volume of the Yearbook of the United Nations details the work of the Organization in 2013 as it strove to resolve armed conflicts, respond to large-scale humanitarian crises, protect human rights and advance sustainable development throughout the world.

Fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic, which pitted government and pro-government militia forces against armed opposition groups, continued to escalate, bringing further suffering to the Syrian people and increasing the threat of regional destabilization. The United Nations engaged with Member States and other stakeholders to seek solutions and plan for an international conference on Syria. In March, the Secretary-General established the United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, which confirmed that such weapons had been used in the country. In October, the Security Council authorized a Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations for the elimination of the chemical weapons programme in Syria. OPCW was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.

The crisis in Syria raised concerns about the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of neighbouring Lebanon. The Secretary-General established the International Support Group for Lebanon to mobilize support for the country’s stability against the impact of the Syrian conflict. By November, more than 800,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon were registered or awaiting registration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Direct talks resumed between the Israelis and Palestinians during the year, but incidents of violence between the two sides continued.

Government forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, assisted by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its Force Intervention Brigade, militarily defeated the M23 rebel group. By December, the parties had reached an agreement to end hostilities. In April, the Security Council established the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali to foster political stability in that country. South Sudan celebrated the second anniversary of its independence in July but at the end of the year, a political dispute led to renewed violence throughout the country. The Security Council temporarily increased the force levels of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to support the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian assistance. In June, the United Nations Political Office in Somalia was replaced by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. At year’s end, 15 peacekeeping operations served by some 116,755 uniformed and civilian personnel were deployed worldwide, along with 13 political and peacebuilding missions with 3,784 staff.

The number of people displaced by conflict and persecution reached 51.2 million—the highest level since the Second World War. Of the displaced, 16.7 million were refugees. The war in Syria was the primary cause of refugee outflows, with 2.4 million people having fled the country by the end of 2013. The number of persons displaced within their own country as a result of conflict was estimated at 33.3 million—the highest number ever recorded—of whom 23.9 million received protection and assistance from UNHCR. The number of identifiable stateless persons stood at 3.5 million. An estimated 414,600 refugees were able to return home voluntarily, the lowest level in a decade. In 2013, 352 natural disasters were recorded, affecting 97 million people in 109 countries and causing $118 billion in damages. In November, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 6,000 people in the Philippines and affected 14 million in the region.

The High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development was held in New York in October. The General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the High-Level Dialogue, in which Member States resolved to work towards an inclusive agenda on international migration that integrated development and respected human rights.

The General Assembly held a high-level meeting on the goal of nuclear disarmament. It declared 26 September the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and agreed to convene, no later than 2018, a high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament. The landmark Arms Trade Treaty was adopted by the Assembly in April. By the end of the year, 115 countries had signed the Treaty and 9 had become parties to it.

The Commission on Sustainable Development was abolished by the Economic and Social Council and concluded its work on 20 September. The Commission was replaced by the high-level political forum on sus - tainable development, which held its first meeting on 24 September on the theme “Building the future we want: from Rio+20 to the post-2015 development agenda”. The International Year of Water Cooperation was observed in 2013.

The Human Rights Council examined the human rights record of 42 Member States through the universal periodic review mechanism and held three regular sessions during the year. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of its mandate. The General Assembly proclaimed the 2015–2024 period as the International Decade for People of African Descent, and 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.

The UN System-wide Action Plan on Youth was developed during the year, and a trust fund was launched to boost youth volunteering. In January, the first Youth Envoy was appointed by the Secretary-General. The International Court of Justice delivered two judgments, made 11 orders and had 14 contentious cases pending before it.

This volume can be obtained through bookstores worldwide, as well as ordered from: United Nations Publications, Room 927A, 300 East 42nd Street, New York, New York 10017, United States of America, or: shop.un.org. All volumes of the Yearbook of the United Nations can be accessed in full on the Yearbook website: unyearbook.un.org