For this year UN state members hope to reach agreements in a variety of global issues.
Oceans and life below water:
One of the biggest meetings in the agenda for this year is focused on Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.
For this, members will meet in New York from 5-9 June and will provide UN members the opportunity to assess their progress on ocean conservation and make new commitments as well as create meaningful partnerships. “The United Nations has the opportunity to drive profound change for the oceans in 2017,” Elizabeth Wilson, director, international ocean policy at the Pew Charitable Trusts told IPS.
It is considered of global importance for many reasons, for example, according to a report from the World Economic Forum, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050. Also, declining fish populations and stocks will affect more than two billion people around the world who rely on fish as a source of protein and more than 200 million who rely on fishing or related activities for their livelihoods.
More so, the UN’s agenda in 2017 will include working on creating a treaty to protect the high seas, the areas of global oceans which fall beyond any country’s sea borders.
The UN General Assembly will also meet to discuss Tuberculosis. A series of global meetings will be held in 2017 in preparation for a high-level meeting on this global health threat according to Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership.
So far the UN has only ever covered two high level meetings for global health threats, one for HIV/AIDS and another for antimicrobial resistance.
“The tuberculosis burden is much higher than we expected and the measures to be taken must be much more focused and serious than before,” told IPS Ditiu. Although TB is treatable, there is an emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in recent years which is a major cause for concern. This is just another example of antimicrobial resistance, for which UN has been working on to address.
Banning nuclear weapons and killer robots:
This is possibly the most ambitious item on the UN’s agenda and aims to create an international treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The first session for this conference will be held in New York from 27 to 31 March.
It will negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons and lead to their total elimination, making it more ambitions than the existing treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
However, proposals for a total abolitions of nuclear weapons will face a more challenging political context this year with US-elect President Donald Trump appearing to have different views on nuclear weapons. Also Trump has suggested the UN is “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time,” and argues things will be different after his inauguration on 20 January.
Regarding killer robots, the UN member states have agreed to begin talks to ban these robots in the next 12 months. According to the ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ the talks will bring “the world another step closer towards a prohibition on the weapons.” A similar agreement in 1995 led to the pre-emptively ban of laser that would permanently blind says the campaign.
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