Ban announces senior official appointments for Middle East peace process and DR

Appointed at the rank of Assistant Secretary-General, Mr. Rawley will also serve as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, according to information provided by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson. Mr. Rawley succeeds Maxwell Gaylard of Australia, who completed his assignment on 31 August. Mr. Soumaré will succeed Fidèle Sarassoro of Côte d’Ivoire, who will complete his assignment on 30 September this year. Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the UN chief is grateful for the service provided by Mr. Gaylard and Mr. Sarassoro. The spokesperson added that Mr. Rawley brings over 30 years of humanitarian and development experience with the United Nations, as well as a crisis prevention perspective acquired in a number of complex situations, including in Yemen and Myanmar, having served most recently as the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt. The past work experience of both Mr. Rawley and Mr. Soumaré includes service with the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Mr. Soumaré is currently the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), a position he has held since August 2009. In addition to serving as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), Mr. Soumaré will also serve as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, as well as UNDP’s Resident Representative. read more

UN envoy in Libya concerned about unfolding military developments in Bani Walid

“In the interests of national reconciliation and long-term stability of the country, a mediated settlement is urgently needed,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Tarek Mitri, said in a news statement, in regard to events in Bani Walid, located some 170 kilometres south of the capital, Tripoli. According to media reports, Libyan army forces have launched a full-scale assault against the town, accusing it of being controlled by supporters of the former dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi, who was overthrown in 2011 after decades of autocratic rule. The small city was one of the last to fall to rebels groups during last year’s conflict, and some are said to consider it a shelter for regime loyalists and criminal gangs. Fierce fighting has reportedly raged in the town for two days. In addition to his concern over the military developments in Bani Walid, Mr. Mitri also spoke of his concern over growing civilian casualties resulting from reported indiscriminate shelling. He urged all concerned to abide by international humanitarian principles, noting “their obligations to ensure the protection of civilians and take all necessary measures to avoid the targeting of civilian areas, allow for the evacuation of all wounded, and to provide unimpeded humanitarian access, including provision of food and medical care.” Furthermore, in light of the publicly stated positions, the United Nations remains fully convinced that a comprehensive peaceful outcome is achievable, the statement noted. This, it added, includes the right of the State to fully assert its national authority over the city of Bani Walid through the deployment of units from the national army and police; the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees who continue to be held inside Bani Walid; the handover to the judicial authorities of all those wanted on suspicion of having committed crimes, along with guarantees for their security and fair trial; the resumption of all basic services to the city; and, the holding of local elections in due course.” Mr. Mitri emphasized, according to UNSMIL, the role and responsibility of the State in ensuring the security of all and extending its authority over its territory. Incidents of renewed fighting in various parts of the country are among the security challenges facing the North African nation, which also needs to prepare a new constitution, promote rule of law, protect human rights, and counter illicit arms proliferation. UNSMIL has been assisting the country’s transition toward a modern democratic State, after the toppling of the long-standing al-Qadhafi regime. The UN envoy also praised the “huge efforts exerted by President Mohammad al-Magariaf, the General National Congress, as well as by civil society representatives and reconciliation committees, to prevent an outbreak of armed hostilities, and later, through political means, to put an end to various forms of violence.” In addition, Mr. Mitri reaffirmed the world body’s readiness and commitment to work closely with all concerned to achieve a peaceful outcome to the violence. read more

At General Assembly debate UN officials stress vital role of culture in

As Member States plot the course for the global development agenda after 2015, the target date for achieving the anti-poverty objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the General Assembly convened today’s high-level thematic debate to consider the role and impact of culture on development. “The significance of the nexus between culture and development for the post-2015 agenda is not yet fully grasped,” said the President of the Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, who convened the debate in cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).“Fully embracing the potential of this nexus will also help promote a greater sense of indivisibility and mutual belonging – a feeling that no community or nation can fulfil its potential until it is accompanied by the advancement of the entire mankind.”He noted that it has not been possible to reach consensus on how to build on the agreed foundations of sustainable development in the discussions that have taken place in recent months. “The gap between means and ends has yet to be bridged – in my view, partly because the cultural component has largely been absent from our discussions.”Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need to recognize that there is no “one-size-fits-all” development model. “It is not enough to set global targets for all – we need to adapt to each context. Too many well-intended development programmes have failed, because they did not take cultural settings into account. This must be an overarching principle for all development efforts.” Development has not always focused enough on people, he added. “To mobilize people, we need to understand and embrace their culture. This means encouraging dialogue, listening to individual voices, and ensuring that culture and human rights inform the new course for sustainable development. The fundamental role of culture was not fully acknowledged within the MDGs – as a goal, an overarching principle, or as an enabler.” In her keynote address, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova told the meeting that no one would like to live in a world without music, art or dance, or with only one language.“Culture is what we are. It is the wellspring of collective imagination, meaning and belonging. It is also a source of identity and cohesion at a time of change. It is a source of creativity and innovation,” she stated.“No society in the world can flourish without culture. No development can be sustained without it. Cultural diversity is also a source to find creative solutions to problems. It enhances critical thinking to challenge old models,” she added. “We need to fully acknowledge this power of culture today as we shape a new global agenda to follow 2015.” The Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, highlighted the need to think more broadly about the role of culture in development. “As culture is vital to who we are, it is a vital aspect of human development. And to live lives they value, people must be free to choose their identity and to define who they are through their culture. “With globalization, our world is shrinking as we become more interconnected than ever before,” she continued. “But commensurate with that, our respect for cultural diversity needs to grow. Indeed, respect for cultural diversity and sustainable development are mutually reinforcing and they provide the necessary basis for peace and harmony, which development needs to thrive anywhere.” Culture, noted the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, affects all the dimensions of development. “As such, a human-centred, culturally-sensitive approach to development will yield the most effective, sustainable, inclusive outcomes,” he said. “Specifically, a culturally-diverse approach will contribute to economic development, promote social cohesion and foster environmental sustainability.”He added that, among other benefits, culturally-sensitive approaches provide solutions to complex development issues in an innovative way. “And yet, despite the benefits of cultural diversity, we continue to witness many conflict and extreme underdevelopment worldwide. This is because culture is either missing, misunderstood or worse, politicized.” read more

Head of UN rights probe on DPR Korea urges accountability for unspeakable

“The Commission of Inquiry found systematic, widespread and grave human rights violations occurring in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It also found a disturbing array of crimes against humanity,” said Chairman Michael Kirby in Geneva during a dialogue with members of the UN Human Rights Council. The Council set up the Commission of Inquiry in March 2013 with a one-year mandate to investigate several alleged human rights violations, including those concerning the right to food and those associated with prison camps; torture and inhuman treatment; arbitrary detention; discrimination; freedom of expression, movement and religion; the right to life; and enforced disappearances, including abductions of nationals to other countries.The result was an unprecedented 400-page set of linked reports and supporting documents – initially released on 17 February – culled from first-hand testimony from victims and witnesses, revealing, according to the Commission, crimes that “arose from policies established at the highest level of the State.” In the today’s discussion with the Council, Mr. Kirby said the scale, duration and nature of the atrocities committed in the DPRK revealed a totalitarian State carrying out crimes that were being ignored by the rest of the world. “What is important now is how the international community will act on the report.” “A compelling report and wide media coverage are good, but woefully insufficient,” he said, urging UN Member States and the wider international community, to accept their responsibility to protect and implement all the recommendations contained in the report, especially those related to accountability, including referral of the situation of the DPRK to the ICC. As for the country in question, Mr. Kirby and the Commission challenged the DPRK to respect the human rights of its citizens. The country was also urged to immediately and unconditionally implement all of the recommendations of the report. “The Commission also urges all countries, including China, to respect the principle of non-refoulement,” he added, referring to protecting refugees from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened.Mr. Kirby said that the Commission’s findings had been characterized by Pyongyang as “sheer lies and fabrications” deliberately cooked up, and that the three-member body itself had been accused of politicizing human rights.“The Commission did not ask anyone to blindly believe what it said,” he declared, underscoring that testimonies from hundreds of witnesses who spoke to the Commission of extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion and other sexual violence could be read in the report. “Their testimony is not only in these documents, but also on the internet ¬– but these were denied to the ordinary people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It should be asked why this regime forbade such access,” said Mr. Kirby, who asked: “If letting victims raise their voices was politicizing human rights, how could these victims then be helped?”All efforts to initiate dialogue and offer cooperation had been spurned by the DPRK, he said. However, the Commission obtained first-hand testimony through public hearings with about 80 witnesses in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington D.C., and more than 240 confidential interviews with victims and other witnesses, including in Bangkok. Eighty formal submissions were also received from different entities. Along with its chairman, Mr. Kirby, a retired judge from Australia, the Commission comprises Sonja Biserko, founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, and Marzuki Darusman, former Attorney General of Indonesia and the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK. read more

UN rights expert calls for halt to Indonesia executions cites international obligations

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns, urged a halt to further executions of people convicted of such offences, after six prisoners were executed in January and Indonesian officials announced that eight more would be executed by firing squad in the coming days.“Under international law, the death penalty is regarded as an extreme form of punishment which, if it is used at all, should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, that is, those involving intentional killing, and only after a fair trial, among other safeguards,” Mr. Heyns said. “However, despite, several appeals by UN human rights experts and civil society organizations urging the Indonesian Government to reconsider imposing the death penalty for drug related offences, the authorities decided to execute six people by firing squad on 18 January 2015.”The UN human rights office says that the available information suggests that the 14 people were convicted after unfair trials. Twelve of the people are foreign nationals who did not receive adequate interpreting services or the right to translators or lawyers at all stages of their trials and appeals.“Any death sentence must comply with international obligations related to the stringent respect of fair trial and due process guarantees, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Indonesia is a State party,” Mr. Heyns said. “I previously expressed concerns over the imposition of death penalty for drug related offenses, and that such death sentences undertaken in contravention of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution.”He said the International Covenant provided that anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.“I regret that the authorities continue to execute people in violation of international human rights standards,” said Mr. Heyns. “I urge the Government of Indonesia to establish a moratorium on execution with a view of its complete abolition, in order to comply with the international move towards the abolition of the death penalty.”Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. read more

With South Sudan at crossroads Ban urges parties to reaffirm commitment to

“The road ahead will be difficult,” said Mr. Ban. “I urge the signatories to honour their solemn commitment and implement the agreement without delay. Reverting to war yet again cannot be an option.”Speaking at a high-level meeting on South Sudan, held on the margins of the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly, the Secretary-General noted that it is “a pivotal moment” in the history of the world’s youngest nation. The security situation in South Sudan has deteriorated steadily over the past year and a half since political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar, and their respective factions, erupted in December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict, resulting in reported atrocities and possible war crimes.“The conflict that broke out in December 2013 dashed the aspirations of the South Sudanese people for a brighter future. It shattered the optimism of the international community. Thousands of lives have been lost in a senseless conflict,” said Mr. Ban. “When the parties signed the peace agreement last month, they created a new window of opportunity.” Mr. Ban called on the parties to immediately cease all military operations and form the Transitional Government of National Unity to which they have agreed. The parties must also provide unfettered access to those in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, he added. “South Sudan’s leaders have a chance to correct their grave mistakes and focus on the well-being of those who entrusted them with this role – the people of South Sudan,” the UN chief stated.He noted that long-term reforms are essential for South Sudan to transcend ethnicity and rebuild a truly national identity, adding that every effort must be made to promote a more equitable distribution of power and wealth.“Horrific crimes have been committed against civilians in this war. The social fabric of South Sudan has been shattered. To mend it, the provisions in the peace agreement related to justice, accountability and reconciliation must be implemented in full,” he continued.The UN will continue to stand by the people of South Sudan, Mr. Ban pledged. “We are ready to support implementation of the agreement and will continue to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance.” He called on the international community to provide economic assistance to South Sudan, while adding that the parties must, in turn, demonstrate a genuine commitment to the peace agreement. “South Sudan stands at a crossroads. I call on the international community to remain engaged in every step of the implementation of the agreement. I appeal to all partners to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to accompany South Sudan along the path to peace, recovery and reconciliation.”Addressing the meeting via video teleconference, President Kiir stated that he signed the agreement fully committed to return South Sudan to peace and development.“When I decided to join the liberation struggle three decades ago, I did not expect to liberate my people in order to take them back to war amongst themselves,” he stated. “Therefore, I am determined to stop this senseless war and make sure that, together with my brothers in the armed opposition, we will build a democratic, united and harmonious country by implementing the agreement.” Mr. Kiir called on all those gathered at the meeting to prevail on the armed groups so that they respect the permanent ceasefire and assist in the successful implementation of the agreement. “Our people do not need war but certainly need peace and development. That is what we must achieve for them and that is my promise to you and to my people.” read more

Gandhis dedication to nonviolence still remains example for all – UN chief

“Today, at a time of escalating conflicts, rising extremism, massive displacement and rapidly growing humanitarian need, Mahatma Gandhi’s dedication to non-violence remains an example for us all,” Mr. Ban said at a special event held at UN Headquarters to mark the International Day of Non-Violence. “The Day is observed annually on 2 October, the birthday of Mr. Gandhi, who pioneered the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. “Gandhi proved that non-violence – the principle and the practice – can change history,” Mr. Ban noted. “His mass campaigns of non-violent civil disobedience helped pave the way for the independence of India, and have inspired countless movements for change across the world.” “During an official visit to India in January, the UN chief visited Sabarmati Ashram, which houses a library and museum chronicling Gandhi’s life, work and teachings. “We will succeed only if the memory of Gandhi’s unyielding fight against injustice burns bright in our hearts and we defend his ideals every day of the year,” he had said on the occasion. “In a separate message for the International Day, the Secretary-General added: “Gandhi showed the power of peacefully opposing oppression and hatred. He showed how cooperation and tolerance can prevails over injustice. He demonstrated the great value of the rule of law in breaking vicious cycles of vengeance.” “The General Assembly established the commemoration of the Day in June 2007 as an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness.” read more

Eleven major firms agree to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities –

In an announcement, ILO said that Accenture, AccorHotels, Adecco Group, AXA Group, Carrefour Group, Dow Chemical, Groupe Casino, L’Oréal, Orange, the Standard Bank Group, and Michelin have become the first signatories of the newly-created ILO Global Business & Disability Network Charter, in a ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.“This new Charter can also make a substantial contribution to realizing many goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. According to the Charter, “promoting and including persons with disabilities in the workplace is important for companies seeking the best talent and a diverse workforce.”“Companies that are disability-inclusive provide a better workplace for all their employees,” the new Charter says. “Such companies maximize the full potential of the workforce for the benefit of both the company and its employees and are better positioned to respond to diverse market needs.”By signing the Charter, the companies commit to promoting and including persons with disabilities throughout their operations worldwide, protecting staff with disabilities from any kind of discrimination and making the company premises and communication to staff progressively accessible to all employees with disabilities.“The lack of equal employment opportunities for persons with disabilities often means lives of poverty and social exclusion,” said the ILO chief. “By honouring the commitments of this Charter, the private sector will be showing real leadership in making it possible for people with disabilities to have productive work and to live in dignity.”The Charter will be provided to national employers’ federations and national business and disability networks as a way of promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities among their member companies, including small and medium size enterprises, according to ILO.All signatories are members of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, which brings businesses together to promote disability inclusion by highlighting the business advantages of employing people with disabilities. And the Network also benefits from insight of people with disabilities themselves, thanks to a partnership with the International Disability Alliance, a network of global and regional organizations representing people with disabilities. read more

Venezuela must uphold rights of even those who disagree with State policies

The Council convened the special session to hear from President Maduro about the human rights situation Venezuela, which was just recently re-elected to serve on the 47-member body.“Membership of the Council comes with the responsibility to promote and protect human rights in one’s own country, but also on the global stage. It is my sincere hope that Venezuela will strive to make concrete progress on both fronts,” said High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in his address to the meeting.Mr. Zeid commended Venezuela’s continued cooperation with human rights bodies and welcomed its participation in the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and in its review this year by both the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.“My Office, in particular our Regional Office for South America, is ready to provide technical assistance in the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committees and in Venezuela’s UPR, as well as on the National Human Rights Action Plan. I also urge Venezuela to ratify again the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights,” he noted.At the same time, Mr. Zeid stressed that a number of human rights mechanisms, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as well as his own Office (OHCHR), have raised serious concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Venezuela, the impartiality of judges and prosecutors and the pressures they face in handling politically sensitive cases, specifying the cases of Judge María Lourdes Afiuni and Leopoldo Lopez.“The Human Rights Committee also recently expressed concerns, which I share, about intimidation, threats and attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers,” added Mr. Zeid, urging Venezuela to comply with the recommendations of the international human rights bodies and to ensure that such individuals do not face undue pressure in carrying out their important work.Further, he expressed concern at the implementation of a “broad” state of emergency in 24 municipalities that suspends a number of human rights protection, and urged the Government to promptly lift it.Lastly, Mr. Zeid recalled that although the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights lauded Venezuela for the significant progress made in the reduction of malnutrition and poverty, it did note “a regressive tendency in the results of the fight against poverty” and urged the country to address this.Following Mr. Zeid’s address, President Maduro said that while Venezuela had always participated in the work of UN bodies in a spirit of transparency, this was not the first time it had “suffered audacious accusations and imperialist attacks by civil servants, taken from the agenda of global harassment, and it would not be the first time that we strike down these lies with the truth.”Thanking the UN for the support it provided Venezuela as it sought to build a new State of law and justice, he said, also thanking Member States for the “universal vote of confidence” that has seen his country re-elected to the Human Rights Council. He said that while the Council itself had made strides since its creation, much work remained to be done to ensure the body achieved its goals of building a true dialogue among all humankind, “where there is no effort to impose one opinion on people [and where] each of our stories can be told.”The people of the global South must be respected in their own identities, President Maduro, declared, citing Venezuela’s new Constitution which set forth concept of putting people at the centre of efforts and outlines social justice, environmental protection and labour rights, among others. At the same time, he acknowledged that the new society Venezuela is building is not without complex processes and has for decades suffered attacks from the “imperialist agenda of the United States.”Venezuela also faced ongoing harassment through the “manipulation of human rights by the West, which uses it to try to isolate our country and…to protect those that are seeking to destroy the system of human rights and democracy that our country has built over the past 17 years,” he said, explain that at the upcoming UPR, Venezuela would present its efforts to fight against poverty, boost wages and provide decent jobs as a refutation of the imperialist harassment that was continually waged against it. The creation of a national human rights plan, he said, would be “in step” with the UPR and harmonious with the international human rights system. read more

DPINGO UN conference adopts global education action agenda to mobilize civil society

Speaking from the podium at the 66th United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI)/Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Conference, Ms. Cristina Gallach, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, said “This Conference has demonstrated another example of the value for the United Nations in investing in partnership with academia and NGOs.” The Gyeongju Action Plan provides concrete guidance for NGOs around the world to enhance their ability to lobby governments to commitment to implementing the Sustainable Sustainable Development Goals and mobilize NGOs in communities on the ground. “The United Nations is committed to continue to support and partner with NGOs and academia in our joint efforts to advocate for and successfully implement the 2030 Agenda,” Ms. Gallach continued. The newly adopted Action Plan includes a series of concrete measures for NGOs around the world to jump-start implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the grass roots level. Dr. Scott Carlin, Conference Co-chair and Associate Professor of Geography at Long Island University, said “NGOs from around the world brought passion and expertise to lively final consultations on the outcome document. We are grateful for all of the inputs received and very proud of the Gyeongju Action Plan.” “We hope that Gyeongju was an inspirational setting for finalizing a truly unifyingaction plan that will be useful for NGOs, wherever they are working,” added Co-Chair Dr.Yukang Choi. For the first time in the history of the DPI/NGO Conference, youth also developed and issued a Youth Declaration. Ms. Gallach pointed out that youth had “come in great numbers, demonstrating the value that they see in partnering with the United Nations.” Ahmad Alhendawi, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, noted “the Conference not only reinforced the critical role of NGOs to achieve a vision for the 2030 Agenda, but also stressed the urgency for greater investments in education for Global Citizenship to unlock the potential of this massive generation of children and youth.” “Unfortunately youth are still not involved enough in policy making processes around the world,” said Ms. Saphira Rameshfar, representative of the Baha’i Community and Conference youth leader. “The Youth Declaration is a necessary reminder that young people are needed as leaders and decision-makers not only in youth forums and special-purpose councils, but in those spaces where the course and direction of society as a whole are determined,” added Ms. Rameshfar. The Action Plan was drafted through a global multi-stakeholder consultation process, leading up to, and during the conference. It was adopted at the Conference’s final plenary session and will be shared widely with civil society as well as the UN Secretary-General, the UN System, Member States and learning communities. read more

Gaza UN official releases funds to enable lifesaving aid programmes in enclave

According to a news release by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the allocation authorized Friday by Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, will also enable essential and life-saving child and maternal health interventions, including the provision of incubators and phototherapy equipment to neonatal intensive care units and intensive care units in Gaza hospitals.“With each day that passes without improvement, hopes diminish and frustrations rise. We must summon the resources and political will to bring change to Gaza,” said Mr. Piper in the news release.“In spite of political movement towards Palestinian reconciliation in recent months, most of the measures adopted by the Palestinian Authority since March 2017, which triggered the latest deterioration in the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, are yet to be reversed,” he added.The resources from the oPt Humanitarian Fund, will enable the most vulnerable families in the Gaza Strip to immediately access fresh and nutritious local food through the provision of six-month fresh food vouchers for families falling below the deep poverty line, with insufficient or no access to means of assistance and with limited capacity to meet their households’ basic food needs.It will also support livelihoods and improved food security of farmers to overcome the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, through provision of solar power systems and agricultural supplies.The allocation comes in the context of an overall deterioration in conditions in the Gaza Strip this year following the worsening of an electricity crisis that has left Gaza’s nearly two million – already suffering from 10 years of Israeli blockade and internal Palestinian divisions – with an average of only four to six hours of electricity per day, severely disrupting daily life and the provision of basic services, the news release added.The oPt Humanitarian Fund is an emergency pooled fund that supports the delivery of strategic humanitarian assistance to address priority needs, while retaining the flexibility to respond unforeseen emergencies or events. It is a pooled funding mechanism, operated from donations from the Governments of Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. read more

Spirit of compromise needed to combat workplace brutalism – UN labour agency

Addressing the International Labour Conference on Monday, Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) underscored that the “the spirit of tripartism, compromise, and consensus” is the “precondition of success for the Conference and of the ILO.”Informally dubbed the “world parliament of labour”, the Conference is the primary policy making body of the ILO. It is convened annually in the Swiss city, Geneva, and brings together more than 5,000 Government officials, worker representatives and employer delegates from the ILO’s 187 member States.In his remarks, Mr. Ryder also warned against growing challenges in labour markets across the world, and to multilateralism in general, underlining that the ILO “must be a bulwark against such contagion.”He also highlighted the need to secure workplaces from any forms of violence or harassment.Action against sexual harassment must make the difference – ILO headIn particular, action that would really make a difference is needed, to end sexual harassment, said Mr. Ryder –  brought into sharp focus by the “Me Too” campaign.“Our answer to the ever more vocal call for action must be ‘Us Too’,” he stressed.The ILO chief unveiled his new report entitled “The Women at Work Initiative: The push for Equality”, which calls for innovative action to close the persistent gender gap.He also unveiled new data on workers in the occupied Arab territories, reporting that they faced a grim situation overall.In particular, women continue to be severely disadvantaged in the Palestinian labour market; finding it hard to access decent jobs, as well as facing gender-based discrimination. It also found that the population of the Gaza Strip continues to live through a “humanitarian and human-made” crisis with its economy depleted and the labour market crippled.The opening day also saw Samir Murad, Minister of Labour of Jordan, elected President of the Conference over its duration from 28 May to 8 June. Jean-Jacques Elmiger (Governments) from Switzerland, Khalifa Khamis Mattar (Employers) from the United Arab Emirates and Akiko Gono (Workers) from Japan, were elected Vice-Presidents. read more

Much more can be done to raise awareness about the plight of

“Albinism is a genetic condition that affects people throughout the world, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender,” Mr. Guterres said on Wednesday.“Yet, tragically, people with albinism continue to suffer widespread discrimination, stigma and social exclusion,” he added, stressing also the importance of enabling people with the condition to enjoy their full human rights.In many countries, grossly erroneous beliefs and myths, heavily influenced by superstition, put the security and lives of persons with albinism at risk of constant violence and abuse; especially children and women, and other vulnerable groups.In his message on the International Albinism Awareness Day, the UN chief also noted the endorsement of a regional action plan on albinism in Africa by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and by the Pan African Parliament, as “a key step forward.”“But much more can be done globally to raise awareness about the plight of people with albinism,” urged Mr. Guterres.The Secretary-General underscored the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the promise to “leave no one behind.”He said the day was an opportunity “to declare solidarity with people with albinism and strive together so those who are often left furthest behind are able to live free from discrimination and fear, and empowered to enjoy their full human rights.”The UN General Assembly designated 13 June as the International Albinism Awareness Day, in 2014.The action by the General Assembly followed a resolution by the Human Rights Council – the highest UN intergovernmental body on human rights – that called for greater protection for persons with albinism against discrimination and violence. read more

As human caravan moves through Mexico full respect needed for national control

Answering questions from reporters at the daily press briefing on Monday, UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), had been boosting resources on the ground, as the caravan of mainly Honduran refugees and migrants made its way north, across the border between Guatemala and Mexico.Mr. Haq said that UN Secretary-General António Guterres was urging all parties to abide by international law, including the principle of “full respect for countries’ rights to manage their own borders.”According to media reports, what started as a small group of under 200 just a few days ago, has grown considerably. Mr. Haq told journalists that “it is estimated that the caravan comprises some 7,233 persons, many of whom intend to continue the march north.”US President Donald Trump has reportedly responded to the march, by threatening to cut off foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador should the caravan of people fleeing their homeland, attempt to cross into the US illegally.Earlier this week, a UN rights expert urged Member States not to prioritize security concerns over the basic human rights of migrants and refugees.“UNHCR has reinforced its capacity in Southern Mexico, with the deployment of an emergency team drawn from across Mexico’s operations,” said Mr. Haq. “The office now has 32 people on the ground, in the border, Ciudad Hidalgo, and Tapachula.”He added that these numbers will increase in the coming days, explaining that the agency’s aim was to ensure that travelers are fully informed regarding their rights to asylum, along with providing legal advice and humanitarian assistance.The IOM has reported large numbers of people arriving in Mexico who will likely remain in the country for an “extended period,” Mr. Haq said, explaining that most individuals have crossed irregularly and are gathering in makeshift shelters. read more

Guterres lauds UN peacekeeping highlights need to bridge critical gaps

The Secretary-General also highlighted some “critical” gaps in UN missions that must be bridged, such as the urgent need in the Mali mission (MINUSMA), for armored personnel carriers and in CAR (MINUSCA) for 24/7 evacuation helicopters that can operate from remote areas.Elsewhere, armed utility helicopters are needed; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance units; quick reaction forces, and airborne medical evacuation teams.He urged everyone to contribute, with the assurance that “they will be utilized effectively and efficiently”.Mr. Guterres also pushed for triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police; training to address safety and security challenges; and better equipment and local engagement.“Women peacekeepers and civilian staff are essential”, he also stressed, flagging that the UN has “almost doubled the number of female staff officers and observers” since the November 2017 ministerial meeting in Vancouver.However, he noted that so far this year, women account for only four per cent of military peacekeepers, indicating that he would present a new strategy to the Security Council next month to increase the numbers of female uniformed personnel.“Only our continued strong partnership can help us advance lasting peace and protection for those we serve”, concluded the Secretary-General.,‘Proud to be at the helm of peacekeeping’Taking the podium, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that the more than 110 Member State participants gathered in New York, demonstrated “the deep and widespread commitment to peacekeeping, by Governments across the world”. He highlighted four priority areas to focus on “how we are fulfilling” A4P commitments, pointing first to the investment being made by the UN in solutions and developing regional peace process strategies.Citing several examples, such as partnering with the African Union in CAR on the February peace agreement, Mr. Lacroix said that “real progress” was being made.“We cannot achieve lasting peace without our partners” he stressed, appealing for support to political solutions and peace agreement implementation.Explaining that missions are being reconfigured to be more mobile and proactive, he said there were critical shortfalls, including a lack of helicopters, and other key resources that must be addressed.Thirdly, he pointed to the link between peacekeepers’ performance and their security, which includes “a renewed commitment” to implementing the concrete recommendations of A4P on improving the security of ‘blue helmets’.Finally, he outlined the UN’s strong commitment to increasing the number of women peacekeepers and ensuring women’s full and meaningful participation in political processes.“Increasing the number of women soldiers and police deployed to peacekeeping mission is an operational imperative”, Mr. Lacroix underscored, applauding those that have recruited, trained and nominated of female peacekeepers.The UN peacekeeping chief concluded by thanking the Member States for their “unwavering support”, saying “I am proud to be at the helm of peacekeeping, pride which is mirrored in each and every one of the women and men serving.” Secretary-General António Guterres opens the 2019 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting to reaffirm and strengthen commitments to ‘blue helmets’ and others who work in peacekeeping missions across the world., by UN Photo/Cia PakAfter moment of silence for the 27 UN peacekeepers lost who lost their lives in 2018 and for “all who have died in the service of peace”, he stressed that making missions stronger and safer is a key element of his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, along with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions.The UN chief thanked the more than 150 governments that have signed the Statement of Shared Commitments so far which, among other things, encompassed advancing political solutions and improving peacekeepers’ safety and security.“We are already seeing results”, said Mr. Guterres, pointing to a “significant reduction” last year in the number of peacekeepers killed, citing as examples the “more agile and more proactive” missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR); and “for the first time ever”, verified military units on standby, which can be deployed in less than 60 days.”@UN missions often represent the last & only hope for millions of people facing daily threats to their safety & basic rights. … it is in the hands of the gov’ts you represent to enable peacekeeping to live up to its ideals & needs of our time.” —Angelina Jolie #PKMinisterial pic.twitter.com/cjYVlSavk5— UN Peacekeeping (@UNPeacekeeping) March 29, 2019 Pledges announced at Peacekeeping Ministerial on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection Sweden – Specialized Infantry Company to MINUSMA for 2020; a Mobile Training Team to MINUSMA and courses at the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations.South Korea – Training pledges and offer to host the next Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting.Nigeria – Quick Reaction Force, Force Protection Company, Engineer Company, Signal Company or Military Police Company.Mexico – First ever Mexican military unit to UN peacekeeping operations (for 2020)Guatemala – Special Forces Company.Egypt – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Company for MINUSMA, Special Forces Company.Ireland – Expand training support to other trooop contributing countries, including on first aid, disabling improvised explosive devices and mine awareness.Norway – Specialized Police Team to MINUSMA.Indonesia – Long-range Reconnaissance Patrol Unit for MINUSMA.Pakistan – New units and pledges to organize a Female Military Observers Course, Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training, and other trainings.El Salvador – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Aviation Unit for MINUSMA.Rwanda – Infantry Battalion available for Rapid Deployment. “Across the decades, our peacekeeping operations have helped countries from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Timor Leste and Cambodia, transition from conflict to peace”, he said on Friday at the third key UN Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting, this time taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, to reaffirm and strengthen commitments to ‘blue helmets’ and others who work in peacekeeping missions across the world.“But,” he continued, “as conflicts become more complex and high-risk, our operations must keep pace”.  read more