The president of the UN General Assembly this week announced a plan to establish a task force chaired by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz to deal with the global financial turmoil. The task force will review the current international financial system and make suggestions to UN member states on ways to help restore stability to it, the Assembly’s President, Miguel D’Escoto, said in a statement. The panel will also include Belgian sociologist Francois Houtart, Indian economist Prabhat Patnaik and Ecuador’s Minister for Economic Policy Pedro Paez.

The security conditions in Darfur remain so poor that the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping operation cannot operate effectively, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report on the mission. The Sudanese Government and the region’s many rebel movements “continue to pursue a military solution to the conflict” and they have made little progress in implementing the 2006 peace accord that was supposed to either end or reduce the fighting, Ban writes. The mission itself – known as UNAMID – is increasingly the target of armed attacks and banditry, obstructing its ability to deploy rapidly and protect civilians and help implement the peace agreement.

A UN task force has uncovered five new cases of corruption, fraud and mismanagement involving USD 20 million in contracts throughout the international body, according to the unit’s annual report to the UN General Assembly and sources familiar with the findings, the Washington Post reported. The cases in the UN Procurement Task Force’s report, to be formally presented to UN members Oct. 23, span air charter services in Congo, office supplies in Kenya, consulting jobs in Greece and payroll services at the New York headquarters. They are the latest cases in a three-year investigation into UN purchasing that has exposed more than USD 630 million in contracts tainted by fraud, corruption or mismanagement at the world body.

The first meeting in Ireland under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened Tuesday in an effort to reach agreement on the transfer of low-carbon technologies to developing countries. Officially called the UNFCCC Expert Group on Technology Transfer, the meeting at Farmleigh House in Dublin has drawn delegates from Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, North America and Europe, as well as representatives of the World Bank and other UN agencies.

If fully implemented, Beijing’s decision to permanently enshrine in law key provisions of its Olympics-related temporary regulations on foreign media could herald a less restrictive reporting climate in China, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Oct. 22. Announced on Oct. 17, the new 23-point regulation signals the Chinese government’s acceptance of basic reporting rights, including the freedom of foreign correspondents to interview any consenting interviewee without official permission, and creates a permanent measurable standard of foreign media freedom in China.

The United Nations agency charged with assisting Palestinian refugees reported that almost 500,000 schoolchildren across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza stood up against poverty, marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) organized activities in schools across the region this week to give children an opportunity to discuss and protest their own poverty as part of the global “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty” campaign.

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