The UN's List of “Stories the World Should Hear More About,“ 2007

The United Nations Department of Public Information began keeping a list of “Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About“ in 2004. The stories are not ones that have never been reported, but are often second-rung issues that need more thorough, balanced, and regular attention. Below is the 2007 list:

Northern Uganda: Major steps towards peace in a decades-old conflict. While increased violence in other African countries grabbed the world’s attention, there has been a quiet but steady progress over the past two years towards ending one of the continent’s longest and most notorious armed conflicts - the war in northern Uganda.

The Excluded: The Hidden World of the Stateless. Up to 15 million people - the population of a medium-sized country - may be “stateless,“ according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Yet hardly anyone is aware of the scale of the problem, or even what being stateless involves.

Extreme weather events are part of a “new normal“ trend. Last year was a terrible year for natural disasters. Unfortunately - and all too tragically for millions of people - 2007 represented the “new normal“, a new paradigm of extreme weather events. This all too clear manifestation of climate change demands a rapid transformation in how we prepare for and respond to nature’s hazards.

The Suffering of the Girl Soldier. Although the plight of child soldiers embroiled in conflicts across the globe is better known, the fate of girls remains overlooked. They are often the victims of sexual violence and exploitation, recruited by rebel groups to serve as combatants and “sex slaves“. And even when they are freed, the stigma of rape and their association with militias remains.

At a fragile crossroads: Afghanistan and the international community must pull together. Struggling to overcome years of civil war, destruction, and massive under-development, Afghanistan’s humanitarian and human rights predicament puts it at a fragile crossroads. The international community must redouble efforts to support the Afghan Government and people in this transition period.

A deadly disease no more - advances in malaria prevention and treatment. Although malaria continues to kill over 1 million people a year and is a leading cause of death among young African children, global awareness of this deadly scourge - as well as efforts to curb the spread of this preventable and treatable disease - remains low. In 2007, new evidence emerged that distribution of treated mosquito nets and new medicines will give momentum to the fight against malaria.

Promotion and protection of human rights: the role of special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Year in and year out, special rapporteurs and other independent human rights experts monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on certain types of human rights violations or violations in a specific country. Acting in their personal capacity, much of their work is conducted behind the scenes, and does not always receive wide attention. Some would say they are the unsung heroes of the UN human rights monitoring system.

Policing for peace: The law-and-order role played by blue berets. When the words ‘UN peacekeeping’ are mentioned, for many they tend to conjure up an image of a blue-helmeted military force dispatched to a conflict-torn area to help bring about peace and stability. Unknown to some, a vital part in such peace operations is played by growing numbers of UN policemen and women who help to establish law and order - not temporarily, but for the long haul.

Southern Sudan: A path to ‘indivisible peace’ in the country. With much of the world’s attention riveted on the tragedy of Darfur, Sudan’s western region, the other crucial dimension of the situation in the country - implementation of a landmark peace accord that ended the long-running north-south war - often does not get the close scrutiny it deserves.

Bird flu pushed back - but threat of a human pandemic remains. A veterinary officer inspects live ducks in a market in Viet Nam. FAO/Hoang Dinh Nam The avian flu virus spread rapidly after first appearing in 2003, but a prompt international response has led to the disease being contained. However, since outbreaks continue to be reported in a wide range of countries and the threat of a virus mutation affecting humans could still sweep across the world, urgent preparations to plan for this remain critical.

Source: United Nations Department of Public Information.