This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Confidence-building measures continue in new Yemen prisoner-swap talks
Yemen’s warring sides are due to meet for fresh discussions on a prisoner exchange agreement, the UN’s Special Envoy for the war-torn country announced on Monday.
According to a statement from the Office of the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, representatives from the Government of Yemen and the Houthi opposition, Ansar Allah, will be present at a meeting in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday.
A prisoner exchange agreement was signed in Sweden last December and represents the first accord between the two parties since conflict in Yemen escalated nearly four years ago, sparking the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
This round of meetings is described as “technical” by the UN Special Envoy’s office, which adds that those present in Jordan’s capital will discuss steps taken to finalize the lists of prisoners to be released, “to advance the implementation of the (Stockholm) agreement”.
The development follows a meeting on Sunday between the UN’s ceasefire monitoring mission and Yemen’s belligerents in the embattled Red Sea port of Hudaydah.
A statement by the mission noted that the head of the taskforce, retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, underlined the importance of the ceasefire agreement, which came into effect on 18 December.
The General also warned the parties about the fragility of the ceasefire and urged them to instruct their commanders on the ground “to refrain from any further violations that would jeopardize … the broader peace process for Yemen”.
In what are described as “cordial and constructive” talks, both the Yemeni Government and Houthi delegations also reiterated their “commitment” to open up the Hudaydah to Sana’a road to allow humanitarian access to the Red Sea Mills.
Trade wars unlikely to benefit domestic Chinese/US manufacturing: UN report
The trade dispute between China and the United States will do little to benefit domestic producers in either country and could have “massive” consequences on the global economy unless it is resolved, UN experts said on Monday.
Of the $250 billion in Chinese exports that are subject to US tariffs, only six per cent will be picked up by firms in the United States, according to a UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report.
And of the approximately $85 billion in US exports that are targeted in China, only about five per cent will be taken up by Chinese firms.
Unless the US and Chinese agree to drop their tariff dispute by 1 March, duty on each country’s products will rise to 25 per cent – a significant increase from the current 10 per cent levy.
Here’s UNCTAD’s Pamela Coke-Hamilton: “The implications are going to be massive. First of all, at a macro-economic level, we’ll see an economic downturn especially due to instability in commodities and financial markets. Additionally, there’ll be increased pressure on global growth, as companies will have to impose adjustment costs which will affect productivity investment and profitability.”
Countries that are expected to benefit the most from the trade war are European Union members; the UN study indicates that exports are likely to grow by $70 billion, while Japan and Canada will each see exports increase by more than $20 billion.
Although these figures do not represent a large slice of global trade – which was worth $17 trillion in 2017 – for some countries, like Mexico, the increase in exports will amount to a six per cent rise in exports overall.
The UN economists also warned that the tit-for-tat spat could also penalize East Asian producers the hardest, with a projected $160 billion contraction in the region’s exports unless discussions between China and the US are resolved before the March deadline.
UN Geneva’s Celestial Sphere set for a moving, sparkling restoration
And finally, a large sculpture of the globe that’s long been associated with the UN, international cooperation and peace, is to get a facelift, it’s been announced.
The Celestial Sphere, which is a large metal sculpture, has dominated the grounds at the UN in Geneva since it was assembled there in 1939 – just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
When it was unveiled, the artwork sparkled with 64 bronze statuettes of mythical figures representing constellations, and 810 silver stars, all painstakingly positioned with astronomical accuracy by American artist, Paul H. Manship.
The sculpture also rotated when it was first installed, although the mechanism no longer works and will be just one of many things that will undergo a complete overhaul this year.
For more information about the project, visit the UN Geneva website, unog.ch.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.