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General Assembly

Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang called today for collective action to address rising social tensions, ecological pressures and economic crisis, as representatives from around the world gather to prepare for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012, with a preparatory meeting in New York on 7-8 March.
In an unprecedented move today, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Libya’s membership in the Human Rights Council, the Organization’s pre-eminent human rights body, expressing its deep concern about the situation in that country in the wake of Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s violent crackdown on anti-Government protestors.
The United Nations must urgently address the challenges of modern peacekeeping, including a severe imbalance in the “division of labour” between troop and financial contributors, and resource shortfalls that left peacekeepers vulnerable to attacks, delegates said today as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its general debate.
The United Nations would aim in the coming year to build on 2010 efforts to bolster the ability of the “blue helmets” to protect civilians, defuse conflict and foster sustainable peace in strife-torn areas through a range of policy-development, operational capacity, field support, planning and oversight-improvement measures, the head of the world body’s peacekeeping operations told the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations as it opened its 2011 substantive session today.
As the General Assembly convened its first-ever informal thematic debate on disaster risk reduction today, senior United Nations officials called urgently for investment in advanced planning and sound policies to help countries avert natural hazards that would cost more in human and financial terms than steps to prevent them or reduce their impact.
Disaster risk reduction was crucial to protect gains made in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, especially in poor countries where capacities were low and massive losses would only perpetuate a cycle of poverty and disempowerment, General Assembly President Joseph Deiss said today at a Headquarters press conference.
Expressing deep concern at the challenges to Member States and the United Nations humanitarian response capacity to deal with the consequences of natural disasters, General Assembly delegates today urged updating early warning systems, disaster preparedness and risk reduction measures at all levels to fulfil pledges made in the 2005 Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015, a global blueprint to reduce social, economic and environmental losses caused by such emergencies.