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UN Week – 3/25/13

April 14, 2013

This blog entry is written by members of our blogging community and expresses those experts’ views alone.

John and Douglas Carey, Editors

Contents of this issue: World Meteorological Organization; other UN specialized agencies.

World Meteorological Day, observed on 23 March, celebrates the creation of WMO in 1950 to promote international cooperation in the field of weather, climate, water and other related sciences. This year’s theme, “Watching the Weather to Protect Life and Property,” focuses on the crucial role that meteorological and water services play in alerting people to natural hazards such as floods, topical cyclones and droughts.

“Much more must, and can, be done to allay human suffering. Tropical cyclones, heavy rainfalls and floods, droughts and cold and heat waves affect the entire world, alerting us to some of the worst implications of growing climate variability and change,” WMO Executive Michel Jarraud said. “Weather and climate early warnings and disaster risk reduction are central to any sustainable development.”

For more than 60 years, WMO has been the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

This year also marks 50 years of World Weather Watch program, launched by WMO following a General Assembly request to investigate the potential of weather satellites as part of the agenda for the peaceful use of outer space.

The program is considered to be an outstanding example of international cooperation through which countries share information for weather forecasting, and the foundation for more modern scientific insights in computing, telecommunications and satellites.

Because of advances in modeling techniques, scientists are now able to better understand the Earth’s complex global weather and climate system, and are starting to make seasonal and longer-term forecasts.

To mark the Day, WMO hosted a forum last week in Geneva featuring leading experts from around the world who discussed the evolution of coordinated climate and weather observations, telecommunications and meteorological forecasts.

Other UN Specialized Agencies

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

International Labor Organization (ILO)

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) International Development Association (IDA)

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

One of the better known of the specialized agencies is the World Health Organization (WHO). A sample of its work is the following announcement dated March 23rd:

“The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has informed WHO of a new confirmed case of infection with the novel coronavirus (nCoV). The patient is a contact of the previous case reported in the Disease Outbreak News on 12 March 2012. This person suffered a mild illness, and has recovered and been discharged from hospital. Currently, there is insufficient information available to allow a conclusive assessment of the mode and source of transmission. To date, WHO has been informed of a global total of 16 confirmed cases of human infection with nCoV, including nine deaths.

“Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States (MS) to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns. WHO is currently working with international experts and countries where cases have been reported to assess the situation and review recommendations for surveillance and monitoring. All MS are reminded to promptly assess and notify WHO of any new case of infection with nCoV, along with information about potential exposures that may have resulted in infection and a description of the clinical course. WHO does not advise special screening at points of entry with regard to this event nor does it recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied. WHO continues to closely monitor the situation.”

In addition, there are the following Programs and Funds:

And that is not all; there are several dozen other UN-related organizations with a variety of titles and of relationships to the organization proper. The proliferation of offshoots reminds one of the “alphabet agencies” that came into being in the 1930s in the United States, in an effort to cope with a major economic depression and the gathering clouds of war.

          Where did all this variety of units come from, and on that authority? Chapter III of the UN Charter consists of two articles. Article 7 says that the principal UN organs are the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. Article 7 then goes on to provide that, “Such subsidiary organs as may be found necessary may be established in accordance with the present Charter.” That is the basis for the plethora of UN-related organs.

          There then appears in Chapter III the little-mentioned Article 8: “The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs.” There must be quite a few Member States that cannot subscribe to that standard in good faith.

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