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Russian Foreign Minister To Chair UN Security Council Meeting In New York

MOSCOW, March 30: Moscow said its foreign minister will chair a UN Security Council meeting in April, when Russia will hold the rotating presidency of the international body.

Russia has repeatedly said it was confronted at the UN by the "collective West" that has ostracised Russia since the beginning of the Ukraine offensive.

Ukraine has called for Russia to be removed from Security Council over the military operation launched in February last year.

Russia last chaired the council in February 2022.

"Another key event of the Russian presidency (of the Security Council) will be a high-level open debate on the 'effective multilateralism through the defence of the principles of the UN Charter'," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a press briefing.

"This meeting will be chaired by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov," she added.

Ms Zakharova also said Lavrov was planning to lead a debate on the situation in the Middle East on April 25.

Ukraine earlier criticised the upcoming change in presidency.

"Russian UN Security Council presidency on April 1 is a bad joke," Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

"Russia has usurped its seat; it's waging a colonial war; its leader is a war criminal wanted by the ICC for kidnapping children," Kuleba said.

The presidency rotates every month between the 15 member states.

Russia would hold little influence on the decisions but would be in charge of setting the agenda of the international body.

Expansion In Membership Of UN Security Council Absolutely Essential: India

UNITED NATIONS, March 10: India has said the expansion in permanent and non-permanent categories of the UN Security Council is "absolutely essential" to ensure that voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions find their due place at the world body's top organ.

Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, India's Permanent Representative to the UN, also said the expansion of both categories is the only way to bring the Security Council's decision-making dynamics in line with contemporary geopolitical realities.

The remarks by Ms Kamboj came during her address on Thursday to the Informal Meeting of the Plenary on the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN).

"We need a Security Council that better reflects the geographical and developmental diversity of the United Nations today. A Security Council where voices of developing countries and unrepresented regions, including Africa, Latin America and the vast majority of Asia and the Pacific, find their due place at the table," Ms Kamboj said.

She said to achieve this objective, an expansion of the 15-nation Council in both categories of membership is absolutely essential.

"This is the only way to bring the Council's composition and decision-making dynamics in line with contemporary geopolitical realities. If countries are truly interested in making the Security Council more accountable and more credible, we call on them to come out openly and support a clear pathway to achieve this reform in a time-bound manner, through the only established process in the UN, which is by engaging in negotiations based on text and not through speaking at each other or past each other as we have done for the last three decades," she said.

The meeting was convened on two clusters - the size of an enlarged Security Council and working methods of the Council, and the relationship between the Security Council and the General Assembly.

In a significant development in the slow-moving reform process, for the time, the intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform were webcast. President of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly Csaba Korosi termed this as a "game-changing approach" and expressed gratitude to IGN Co-Chairs Permanent Representative of Kuwait Ambassador Tareq Albanai and Permanent Representative of Austria Ambassador Axel Marschik.

Terming this development as a "recent evolution within the Inter-Governmental Negotiations", Ms Kamboj voiced appreciation for the co-chairs for recommending a webcast of the first segment of each of the IGN meetings and establishing a specific website to act as a repository of the recordings of the webcasts as well as of the letters, decisions and other documents related to the IGN process, as well as links to the statements of the member states.

"This is a small, welcome step in the right direction. We do hope that this will force multiply positively to the updation of the Elements Paper and the attribution of positions thereof, under each of the five clusters. We very much also hope that webcasting of the proceedings and the establishing of a website will enable delegations to innovate their remarks and avoid repetition," she said.

India and other G4 nations of Brazil, Germany, and Japan have repeatedly said that the IGN is constrained by a lack of openness and transparency.

Ms Kamboj asserted that on the issue of the size of the Council, there already exists a convergence among the members.

"We all agree that the Security Council's size should be expanded in order to make it more legitimate and representative." She said the revised number of total Council seats should be in the "mid to upper 20s, no less than 26 seats", which allows for an adequate balance between representativeness, legitimacy and effectiveness".

"But this number should be an outcome of text-based negotiations on the key issues of categories of membership and regional representation," she said.

The Council currently is composed of five permanent members - China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US, and 10 elected non-permanent members who serve two-year terms. India completed its tenure as a non-permanent member of the Council in December last year.

Ms Kamboj added that the Council would be more transparent, efficient, and effective if its working methods were revised and updated. The methods would need to be adapted to the size and composition of a reformed Council.

"The fundamental problem in the Security Council stems from its lack of representativeness," she said.

Further, Ms Kamboj said there are items on the agenda of the Security Council on which discussion has not taken place for more than seven decades.

"We also underscore the need for a fair distribution of responsibilities between elected and permanent members. Selection of Chairs of subsidiary bodies and distribution of pen-holderships must be open, transparent, based on exhaustive consultations, and with a more integrated perspective. This is one of the best ways to enhance the decision-making process," she said.

Noting that the role of the 193-member General Assembly remains essential, as the most universally representative deliberative organ of the United Nations, she stressed that it is therefore important to maintain regular coordination and interaction between the Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the other main organs of the UN, while respecting the specific competencies and mandates of these organs.

Terming the mandate of the Security Council and the General Assembly as unique and distinct, she said both are the principal organs of the United Nations.

"The 'veto initiative', despite its noble objective, ended up removing the discretion and decision-making ability of the President of the General Assembly. Let us not forget the fact that we already had mechanisms in place, which enabled the membership of the General Assembly to decide on an "emergency basis" to convene discussions or even act on issues that are stalemated in the Security Council," she said.

In April last year, the UN General Assembly decided to automatically meet within 10 days, if the veto is used in the Security Council by one of its five permanent members.

Following the adoption of the resolution on the veto initiative, the use of the veto in the Council by a permanent member now triggers a General Assembly meeting, where all UN members can scrutinise and comment on the veto. The decision came in the wake of Russia using its veto in the Council, the day after it invaded Ukraine in February last year.

UN appeals for $1 billion to help Türkiye quake victims

By Deepak Arora

NEW YORK, Feb 16: The United Nations today launched a three-month flash appeal for US$1 billion for Türkiye so that humanitarian agencies can help more than 5 million people affected by last week’s cataclysmic earthquakes — the largest to hit the country in a century — in support of the Government-led response.

“The people of Türkiye have experienced unspeakable heartache,” said Martin Griffiths, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who visited the country last week.

“I met families who shared their stories of shock and devastation. We must stand with them in their darkest hour and ensure they receive the support they need.”

More than 9 million people in Türkiye have been directly impacted by the once-in-a-generation disaster, with more than 35,000 people having lost their lives as of 15 February, according to the Turkish Government.

The earthquakes struck at the peak of winter, leaving hundreds of thousands of people – including small children and elderly people – without access to shelter, food, water, heaters and medical care in freezing temperatures. Some 47,000 buildings have been destroyed or damaged, and thousands of people have sought refuge in temporary shelters across Türkiye.

Schools, hospitals and other essential services have been damaged or destroyed by the earthquakes. Many families have been separated, with hundreds of children now orphaned or unable to be reunited with their parents.

Furthermore, Türkiye hosts the world’s largest number of refugees. More than 1.74 million refugees live in the 11 provinces impacted by the earthquakes, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The UN is coordinating the operations of thousands of search-and-rescue personnel in Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş and Malatya Provinces, and humanitarian organizations have begun relief operations in the hardest-hit areas, in support of the Government-led response.

The UN and its partners are delivering hot meals, food, tents, warm winter clothing, blankets, mattresses and kitchen sets to people in need and dispatching medical supplies and personnel to affected areas. Psychosocial support is being provided, and child-friendly spaces and safe spaces for women are being established.

The funding from today’s new appeal will target 5.2 million people. The resources will allow aid organizations to swiftly ramp up their operations to support Government-led response efforts in areas including food security, protection, education, water and shelter.

WHO vows to ‘push for answers' on Covid-19 origin

GENEVA, Feb 15: The World Health Organization will continue pushing until it finds an answer to how the Covid-19 pandemic started, the agency chief said Wednesday following a report suggesting it had abandoned the search.

"We need to continue to push until we get the answer," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters, referring to the search for the origins of the virus that first began spreading in China in late 2019.

UN Calls For 'Immediate Ceasefire' In Syria To Facilitate Earthquake Aid

GENEVA, Feb 10: The United Nations rights chief called Friday for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to help facilitate bringing aid to all victims of the region's devastating earthquake.

"At this terrible time in Turkey and Syria, we call for urgent delivery of assistance to ALL in need," the UN rights office said in a tweet.

"UN human rights chief Volker Turk calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria, and full respect for human rights and humanitarian law obligations so help can reach everyone," it added.

The call came as rescue workers continued their search for survivors in the rubble of the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, with the toll now above 23,000.

At least 3,377 people have died in Syria, where more than a decade of civil war and Syrian-Russian aerial bombardment had already destroyed hospitals, collapsed the economy and prompted electricity, fuel and water shortages.

The rebel-held areas of Syria near Turkey's border are in a particularly dire situation since they cannot receive aid from government-held parts of Syria without Damascus's authorisation.

At the same time, Bab al-Hawa -- the sole border crossing used to shuttle life-saving aid from Turkey into conflict-ravaged Syria -- has seen its operations disrupted by the deadly earthquake.

Even before the tremor, the UN had repeatedly stressed the need to open more border crossings to make it easier to get aid through.





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