UN Weekly Roundup Jan. 15-21, 2022

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch. 

UN chief calls for action in 2022 on urgent challenges 

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that the world is facing “a five-alarm fire” that requires urgent and united global action to be extinguished. 

Guterres sees opening in resolving Ethiopia conflict 

Secretary-General Guterres expressed hope that there could be an opening to resolve the more than year-long conflict in northern Ethiopia, which has left millions on the brink of starvation. 

Concerns grow over Taliban treatment of Afghan women 

A group of United Nations human rights experts alleged the Islamist Taliban government was attempting to steadily erase Afghanistan’s women and girls from public life. 

In brief 

The U.N. Security Council met January 20 to discuss North Korea’s recent missile launches, which violate council resolutions. Among the rockets fired, Pyongyang says it successfully test-fired some hypersonic missiles. Read more about these sophisticated rockets here: 

The South Pacific island nation of Tonga was hit by a tsunami on January 15, after an underwater volcanic eruption. The United Nations and neighboring countries have been trying to assess the population’s needs and send aid but are facing challenges. 

The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution on January 20 against Holocaust denial. The resolution calls on states as well as social media companies to take active measures against denial and distortion of the Holocaust. Israel and Germany worked together to draft and guide the resolution through the assembly, where 114 countries co-sponsored it. It was adopted on the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, the gathering of Nazi government officials that planned the rounding up and extermination of Jews and other minorities. 

The General Assembly also adopted a call for an Olympic truce. The winter Olympics get under way next month in Beijing, but the Games have been controversial because of China’s dismal human rights record against Uyghur and other minorities. Despite that, U.N. chief Guterres has said he will attend the opening ceremony at the invitation of the International Olympic Committee, saying the Games “must be an instrument of peace in the world.” 

Some good news 

COVAX delivered its 1 billionth global dose of COVID-19 vaccine as part of a shipment of 1.1 million doses that arrived in Rwanda this week. 

Quote of note

“I am convinced it will not happen, and I strongly hope to be right.” 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at a news conference on January 21, when asked about rising tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border and whether he thinks Moscow will invade. 

What we are watching next week 

The mandate for the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) will expire on January 31, when a four-month technical extension agreed to by the Security Council runs out. Decisions need to be made about the mission’s mandate and leadership in order to help the country hold postponed elections later this year. But council unity is lacking, and negotiations for a new resolution could be difficult. 

Did you know? 

The U.N. Security Council met for the first time on January 17, 1946, in London: