Palestinians join two UN agencies, chemical weapons treaty

Palestine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour addresses the United Nations Security Council, during a meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East at the United Nations in New York. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Palestinians join two UN agencies, chemical weapons treaty

UNITED NATIONS: The Palestinians have joined two UN agencies and the global convention to halt the spread of chemical weapons, a UN envoy said Wednesday, despite a threat of US funding cuts.
At the United Nations, the Palestinians have the status of a non-member observer state that allows them to seek membership of agencies and become a party to international treaties.
The move will raise the Palestinian profile in international diplomacy and comes amid a rift with the administration of President Donald Trump over its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN coordinator for the Middle East, told the Security Council that the Palestinians had joined the Geneva-based UN trade organization UNCTAD, Vienna-based industrial development agency UNIDO and the chemical weapons convention.
“On May 15, Palestine acceded to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the Convention on the Prohibition, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons,” Mladenov said.
The envoy did not address whether the decision will have an impact on funding from the United States for these agencies and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The OPCW, UNCTAD and UNIDO rely on voluntary contributions from UN member-states to fund its activities as well as its regular budget.
The United States withdrew some funding for UNESCO when the Palestinians joined the cultural and education agency in 2011 and last year pulled out of the agency altogether.
The Trump administration has also cut funds to the UN Palestinian refugee agency that have left UNRWA struggling to fill a major gap in its education and health programs.
The OPCW announced in The Hague earlier that the state of Palestine will become the 193rd state to join the chemical weapons convention.
Only four countries — Israel, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan — have yet to ratify the chemical weapons convention, which aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
The Palestinians angered Israel when they became a state-party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2015.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki this week met with the ICC chief prosecutor to push for an investigation of Israeli war crimes after more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, the worst violence since the 2014 war.


Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 9 min 5 sec ago
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Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”