This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
A ‘welcome step’ towards peace in Central Africa
The peace agreement signed this month in the Central African Republic is “a welcome step” that “brings hope to millions of children,” the head of the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said on Monday.
Plunged into turmoil in 2013 when Muslim rebels seized power in the mostly Christian country, thousands have since been killed in the violence and more than a million displaced.
UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore welcomed the commitments made to protect children’s rights, but asserted that pledges are not enough, saying “Now is the time for action”.
She noted that two-thirds of the children need humanitarian assistance, one-in-four is displaced, and millions are out of school, malnourished and vulnerable to disease and exploitation.
Ms. Fore presented concrete steps to turn the agreement into practice, including by releasing all children from armed groups and judicially treating them as children and victims.
“UNICEF…is hopeful that this agreement will be a fundamental step towards long-lasting peace for the country’s children,” maintained Ms. Fore.
UN programme for ‘ethically produced, environmentally sustainable gold’
From smartphones to wedding rings, the hidden cost of everyday gold threatens human and environmental health, according to a new UN initiative launched on Monday.
Each year, gold production exposes millions of men, women and children globally to toxic levels of mercury.
Moreover, artisanal and small-scale gold mining, called ASGM, is the single largest source of man-made mercury emissions and causes health risks, such as brain damage; vision and hearing loss; and delayed childhood development for miners and their communities.
The new $180-million GEF GOLD programme aims to improve mining conditions for artisanal and small-scale gold miners across eight countries while also slashing harmful mercury emissions.
Jacob Duer, the Head of UN Environment’s Chemicals and Health branch said: “By phasing out mercury use and connecting miners to markets for responsibly produced and sourced minerals, GEF GOLD will help to ensure the gold value chain both supports miners and provides consumers with access to ethically produced, environmentally sustainable gold.”
International labour standards more important than ever, says ILO
In keeping with the theme of work, as part of its Centenary, the International Labour Organization, known as ILO, is urging all countries to ratify at least one labour convention in 2019.
For 100 years, ILO labour standards have improved the working lives of millions of people – from eliminating forced and child labour to ensuring seafarers rights and promoting gender equality.
While they have been the bedrock of ILO and its mandate, much work remains and globalization and cross-border activities bring on new challenges.
Corinne Vargha, Director of ILO’s International Labour Standards Department, underscored that by ratifying global labour standards, millions of workers would be lifted, and “no one will be left behind in the world of work.”
Negotiated by government, employers’ and workers’ representatives, ILO Conventions cover work discrimination and collective bargaining; strengthen social dialogue and labour policies; and address a range of issues, such as minimum wages, pensions and occupational safety.
“We hope that as many member States as possible will step up to the plate and ratify this year,” stressed Ms. Vargha.
Ana Carmo, UN News.