Progress on transfats, Ukraine war update, General Assembly President in China — Global Issues

Denmark, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand have received the first-ever WHO certificates for demonstrating that they have a best practice policy for industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFA) elimination in effect, supported by adequate monitoring and enforcement systems.

Trans fats are industrially produced or naturally occurring, and both are linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and heart disease.

They have “no known health benefit, but huge health risks,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Furthermore, the fried foods, cakes and ready meals where they can be found lurking are often high in sugar, fat and salt.

WHO had set an ambitious target in 2018 to fully eliminate iTFA from the global food supply by the end of 2023. Although it was not met, the UN agency said remarkable progress towards this goal has been made in every region of the world.

A grand total of 53 countries now have “best practice” policies in place to tackle mass-produced trans fats in food. This covers 3.7 billion people, 46 per cent of the global population, up from just six per cent only five years ago.

Ukraine: Fresh attacks deepen suffering for winter-weary civilians

Recent attacks in Ukraine are causing further suffering for civilians already enduring harsh winter conditions, the UN humanitarian affairs office, OCHA, said on Monday.

OCHA cited Ukrainian officials who reported that more than a dozen civilians were killed or injured in attacks in eastern, central and southern Ukraine over the past three days. Homes, schools, a hospital and energy infrastructure were also impacted.

“In the eastern region of Kharkiv, authorities said shelling caused damage to homes and electrical grids,” the UN agency said.

“In the southern region of Kherson, attacks over the weekend also damaged homes, as well as education and telecommunications facilities, according to the governor of the oblast.”

OCHA and partners continue to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to people in these areas.

Convoys deliver aid

On Friday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, led a convoy to the Kherson Region. The trucks delivered food, medical supplies, winter clothes, solar lamps, hygiene items and children’s supplies to about 800 people in need.

Another convoy that arrived in the Kharkiv Region on Friday brought blankets, bottled water, solar lamps, medical supplies and hygiene kits, supplies for people with disabilities, and construction materials to repair damaged homes.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine will reach the second-year mark on 24 February.

During 2023, the UN and partners sent over 107 humanitarian convoys to support some 400,000 residents in the front-line areas in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

General Assembly President calls for new commitment to UN Charter

With the world at “an inflection point”, countries must recommit to the core principles of the UN Charter, the President of the General Assembly said in China on Sunday.

Delivering keynote remarks at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, Dennis Francis highlighted how the worsening impacts of climate change, hunger and multidimensional poverty are hampering efforts to achieve a safer, more just and more sustainable world.

Meanwhile, geopolitical divides have sparked new conflicts, and deepened pre-existing ones, across areas of Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Mr. Francis said these worrying developments are laying bare the limits of the multilateral system and raising legitimate questions about both the relevance and ability of the UN to solve complex problems.

“They demand that we fortify our foundation – and recommit to the core principles of the UN Charter, that have offered us a guiding light out of the tumultuous past since the founding of the United Nations,” he said.

He commended China for continuing to play a leading role in global affairs, noting that it was the first country to sign the UN Charter, the Organization’s founding document, and since then has been a “notably steadfast support of multilateralism”.

“Since the horrific 7 October attack on Israel – the escalation of violence in the Middle East, and the wrenching humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, continue to project the worst aspects of the human condition; precisely that which the Charter was intended to avoid,” Mr. Francis said.

The General Assembly “has been both active and ambitious” on the crisis, he said, by resuming its Tenth Emergency Session on the Middle East and adopting two resolutions that received overwhelming support from its 193 members.

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