“Eliminating nuclear weapons is a top priority for the United Nations,” said Mr. Ban in remarks delivered on his behalf by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson to the opening plenary meeting of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) earlier this morning. “No other weapon has the potential to inflict such wanton destruction on our world.”However, the Secretary-General added, instead of progress towards new arms reduction agreements, “we have allegations of destabilizing violations of existing agreements.”He noted that the danger posed by nuclear weapons continued to persist since the last NPT Review Conference, including with respect to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and cautioned of the growing series of setbacks the Treaty was facing. “Instead of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in force or a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, we see expensive modernization programmes that will entrench nuclear weapons for decades to come. Instead of pursuing proposals to accelerate nuclear disarmament, including my Five Point Plan, there has been a dangerous return to Cold War mentalities,” Mr. Ban continued in the remarks. “This reversal is a regression for our world.” In a separate statement, Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), echoed Mr. Ban’s apprehension regarding nuclear proliferation claiming he was “seriously concerned” about the DPRK’s nuclear programme and declaring that his agency remained unable to conclude that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”Nevertheless, he said, efforts to render the Middle East free of nuclear weapons continued amid some optimism following a recent forum held on the issue. The ‘Forum on Experience of Possible Relevance to the Creation of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East,’ he explained, had shown that it was possible “to have constructive dialogue on the establishment if a nuclear-weapon-free zone in this region, despite the complexity of the issue and differences of view among States concerned.”At the same time, Mr. Amano did note that the IAEA’s wide-ranging functions – from monitoring nuclear safety to assisting the UN’s Ebola response – were being successfully carried out around the world. “The IAEA is working very hard to fulfil its very broad mandate,” Mr. Amano concluded. “The challenges are considerable, but I am confident that we can continue to address them successfully with the support of all our Member States.”The 2015 Review Conference will run at UN Headquarters in New York through 22 May. The President-designate of the Conference is Ambassador Taous Feroukhi from Algeria.The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. It represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
“Heritage is under attack today. In Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, we see the brutal and deliberate destruction of heritage on an unprecedented scale. This is a call for action,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, as she addressed participants at the Committee’s current session, which runs through 8 July. “Our response to ignorance and criminal stupidity, must also have a cultural dimension: knowledge, the sharing of Islam’s millennial learning and wisdom, sharing the message of Palmyra, the ‘Venice of the Sands’, that is like a bridge between the legacies of ancient Greece and Rome, the Persian Empire and the Arab culture from ancient times to the present,” declared Mrs. Bokova. Committee Chair, Maria Böhmer, Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office and member of the Bundestag, said the fury of terrorist organizations like ISIS [also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levans, or ISIL] in Iraq surpasses the imagination. “World Heritage is the foundation of people’s existence and cohesion […]. It is the wellspring of social identity,” she added, invoking the role of culture in peacebuilding. During the opening session, the International Young Experts Forum presented the outcome of their meeting, taking place from 18 to 29 June in Koblenz and Bonn. They read out the Declaration they adopted calling on States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to include teaching about World Heritage in national school curricula. The World Heritage Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asks States Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed. It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Thirty-six sites are nominated for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List at this year’s session. They are listed here. Also during its session, the Committee will also examine the state of conservation of 94 sites already on the World Heritage List, and of the 46 sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Debates will be webcast. A number of parallel events will be held during the current session, notably the launch of the Global Coalition for the Protection of Cultural Heritage: #Unite4Heritage on 29 June.
The report – released today by UNMISS – suggests that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and associated armed groups carried out a campaign of violence against the population of South Sudan’s Unity state, reportedly killing civilians, looting and destroying villages and displacing over 100,000 people.According to the testimony of 115 victims and eyewitnesses from the Unity state counties of Rubkona, Guit, Koch, Leer and Mayom, SPLA fighters also abducted and sexually abused numerous women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burnt alive in their dwellings.“This recent upsurge [in fighting] has not only been marked by allegations of killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and displacement, but by a new brutality and intensity,” says the UNMISS report. “The scope and level of cruelty that has characterized the reports suggests a depth of antipathy that exceeds political differences.”“Revealing the truth of what happened offers the best hope for ensuring accountability for such terrible violence and ending the cycle of impunity that allows these abuses to continue,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ellen Margrethe Løj, who also heads the UN Mission, said in a press release as she urged South Sudanese authorities to allow UN human rights investigators to access the sites of the alleged atrocities.“We call on the SPLA to fulfil this commitment and allow our human rights officers unfettered access to the sites of these reported violations.”UNMISS has confirmed that the Mission’s human rights officers have been routinely denied access to locations of interest by the SPLA and have also encountered logistical obstacles. The South Sudanese authorities, on the other hand, have dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing and have reportedly welcomed the investigations.South Sudan’s ongoing conflict began in December 2013 and has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. Some 120,000 people are sheltered in UN compounds there while United Nations estimates that the number of people in need for 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced persons and a projected 293,000 refugees.
In a news release, Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s global head of water, sanitation and hygiene said: “Every year, 1.4 million children are dying from largely preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhoea,” numbers, he says, that “could be greatly reduced by working with children and families to adopt a very straightforward solution – handwashing.” Handwashing with soap before meals and after toilet use has been shown to reduce diarrhoeal infections by 40 per cent, said UNICEF.Moreover, handwashing not only reduces the rate of infection, but also keeps children in school, as are not staying home due to illness. Mr. Wijesekera calls it “a frontline preventive measure.”Since the Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on 4 October, a poor water and sanitation infrastructure have given rise to acute diarrhoea and suspected cholera cases.The UNICEF Representative in Haiti, Marc Vincent referred to it as “everyone’s worst nightmare. Less than two weeks after the hurricane, cholera may be spreading in areas where it previously barely existed and diarrhoea is preying on already vulnerable children. Immediate action is essential – children’s health is at risk.”UNICEF offers the following facts about the importance of handwashing: 1 gram of faeces contains 100 billion bacteria;Globally, approximately one in five people wash their hands after using the toilet; Each year, 1.7 million children die before the age of 5 because of diarrhoea and pneumonia;Children who wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet and before eating reduce their risk of contracting diarrhoea by more than 40 percent, and;Acute respiratory infections like pneumonia are the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5.
It includes a list of ways for people to actively stand up for human rights, including awareness raising, speaking out against abuse, solidarity, calling upon leaders to uphold human rights, and a myriad of everyday actions.The Declaration, already the world’s most translated document, is now available in more than 500 translations with the recent addition of North Bolivian Quechua to the collection. Translation number 501 is into a dialect of the indigenous Quechua language spoken in the north-western Bolivian department of La Paz by some 116,000 people.In a global call for activism, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned that today’s events in the world make many among us anxious; even fearful. “We see human beings in pain. Decent values under attack. Messages of hatred and intolerance – divisive visions of the world which drive increasing selfishness, isolation, scapegoating [and] violence.” “Let us reaffirm our belief in humanity and equality” – High Commissioner Zeid “And in this toxic tide of hatred which is slowly rising in many societies, some of the deepest, most essential principles which safeguard peaceful societies risk being swept away. We need to stop this. And I believe we can. We – you and I – can draw the line,” he stressed, adding that:“We don’t have to stand by when the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities. We can build bridges. We can raise our voices. We can stand up for the values of decent, compassionate societies.” “When someone is abused and afraid, we can step forward to help safeguard her rights. When a vulnerable person is bullied, we can step in. Wherever there is discrimination and exploitation, we can speak up and let it be known that we oppose this, and seek to stop it. We can join others to publicly lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity,” the UN human rights chief stated. By defending the rights of others, the [human rights] activists affirm that the loss of anyone’s rights diminishes the humanity of everyoneUNAMAFurther today, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, underlined the importance of the work of human rights defenders and called on all parties to the conflict in the country “to do more” to ensure that they are protected.“These women and men are true champions, and we need more brave individuals like them to protect human rights the world over. It is totally unacceptable that the risks they face are increasing with the intensification of the armed conflict,” said Mr. Yamamoto in a UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) news release.Also today, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Martin Kobler hailed the work of rights defenders in the country, many of whom lost their lives defending human rights and freedom of speech across the country.Underscoring that protection of human rights is the only path toward a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation, Mr. Kobler called on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and respect international human rights and humanitarian laws.“I call on all Libyans to recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms, to step up for human rights and to stand for more humanity,” he said. In his message on the Day, Mr. Ban recalled that over the decade of his tenure as UN chief, he has repeatedly stressed the interdependence of the three pillars of the Organization – peace, sustainable development and human rights. “Together, they form the basis of resilient and cohesive societies rooted in inclusion, justice and the rule of law,” he said, noting that human rights are also at the heart of the work of the UN.The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. One of its foundations is the notion that everyone is entitled to the full range of human rights and that all of us are collectively responsible for defending them. In order to celebrate and promote this view, this year marks a new Human Rights Day campaign, Stand up for someone’s rights today!The campaign refers to a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chair of the then UN Commission on Human Rights and oversaw the drafting of the Declaration:“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. (November 1949). UN Photo
“We have been stepping up winter distributions, providing thermal blankets and quilts to 11,200 people around Mosul, and we plan to step up distributions in coming days to reach an additional 5,000 families,” Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Geneva.According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 96,864 people have so far been displaced since October 17, when a military campaign began in order to oust terrorists from the city.The bulk of new arrivals – 57,000 people – are currently being sheltered in UNHCR-supported camps in the area. UNHCR has six camps receiving people from Mosul, with another three under construction. The nine sites would have a capacity for 102,000 people. Significant numbers have also been fleeing Hawija in Kirkuk ahead of an offensive. In Kirkuk, additional camps are hosting people mainly displaced from Hawija.UNHCR’s Mosul emergency response fund, set at $196.2 million, is 57 per cent funded. The largest funding gap is for the winter programme and the agency is urging donors to help close the shortfall to prepare for possible additional displacement and help offset the miserable living conditions.Assistance items distributed to the newly arrived families in camps include blankets, mattresses, stoves, plastic sheets, kitchen sets, quilts, insulation sleeping mats, tent insulation kits and heaters.In response to questions, Mr. Edwards confirmed that the figure he had quoted, 96,864 people, was the number of people that UNHCR had registered as displaced.
Thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Egypt and Tunisia, wait to cross into Tunisia from Libya. (file) UN Photo/UNHCR/A Duclos “If conflict gives oxygen to traffickers, human rights and stability suffocate them,” Mr. Ban told the Security Council today at its ministerial-level meeting on the theme trafficking in persons in conflict situations.It also featured briefings from Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), And Zainab Hawa Bangura, UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. We need strategic leadership in ending war – and also in preventing conflicts and sustaining peaceSecretary-General Ban“We need strategic leadership in ending war – and also in preventing conflicts and sustaining peace,” added the Secretary-General, noting the UN’s commitment to supporting its Member States in early action and in preventive diplomacy.He further drew attention to the importance of implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure that the promise of “a life of dignity for all people” is delivered, and called on all countries to ratify all international human rights, refugee, labour rights and crime prevention conventions, and to put efforts into their effective implementation.Addressing the Security Council Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscores the need to adopt gender-sensitive and rights-based policies to curb the root cause of trafficking. Credit: UN News Centre“The majority of trafficking victims are women and girls. Our response must include special attention to their rights,” he noted.He also underlined the need to decrease funding for terrorists to make everyone, and in particular those who risk being trafficked, safer. A young girl stands outside a tent at the Vinojug reception centre for refugees and migrants in Gevgelija, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL/Da’esh], Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and others are using trafficking and sexual violence as a weapon of terror – and an important source of revenue,” he said.He further highlighted the need to respect and implement international law as well as strengthen national legal protections to ensure justice and accountability. He also stressed the importance of supressing trafficking syndicates by targeting money-laundering and criminal proceeds.“The problem of trafficking is international in nature – and only an international response can succeed,” said Mr. Ban, adding: “Let us work together to help today’s victims of trafficking while creating a more stable and just world for all.”Member States urged to take ‘decisive and immediate action’ on human traffickingExtremist groups restrict women’s rights, autonomy and freedoms, and use sexual violence as a tactic to strike fear into the hearts of civiliansSRSG BanguraAs an outcome of the meeting the Council adopted a consensus resolution, recognizing the various complexities and challenges of trafficking, in which it called on all UN Member States to take “decisive and immediate action” to prevent, criminalize, investigate, prosecute and ensure accountability of those who engage in trafficking in persons, including in the context of armed conflict.In his remarks, Mr. Fedotov, UNODC chief warned that the pervasive nature of human trafficking meant that “there is no single measure, no one step in any given part of the world that can address this problem alone.” Indeed, building effective action requires a strong framework of international cooperation and shared responsibility, starting with the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol against Trafficking in Persons. He went on to note that tomorrow, UNODC will launch the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, which provides a snapshot of the state of national responses to the challenges of human trafficking. Based on reliable data and information provided by Member States, it establishes that an increasing number of trafficking victims from conflict-affected countries such as Syria, Iraq and Somalia have been detected in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.Picking up that thread, Special Representative Bangura told the Council that a range of extremist groups are using sexual violence to advance their military, political, economic and ideological aims, pointing out that, of the 48 groups listed in her most recent report, 37 were non-State actors and seven are designated as terrorist groups. “They restrict women’s rights, autonomy and freedoms, and use sexual violence as a tactic to strike fear into the hearts of civilians,” she explained.UN envoy, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura says that sexual violence – largely targeting women and children – represents the front line in the world’s fight against violent extremism and terrorism. Credit: UN News CentreAnd while this is not a new phenomenon and neither was the trafficking in and exploitation of women and girls, she said, the combination of those two evils today seems “unprecedented” in its scope and brazen brutality. Recognizing sexual violence as a tactic of terrorism calls for a rethinking of the response, she said, noting that the crime represented the very front line in the battle against violent extremism. “To disrupt human trafficking was to help disrupt the business of terrorism,” she said.
“We have seen the continued devastating effect of armed conflict on civilian populations […], witnessed the unacceptable loss of thousands of lives of people in transit in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, and the rise of populist movements that seek to […] blame [refugees and migrants] them for various ills of society,?” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the International Day. Yet, within this turbulence there are rays of hope, with concerned citizens and communities opening their arms and hearts. There has also been a promising international response, culminating with the New York Declaration adopted in September at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. ?”It is now crucial that governments honour and build on their commitments to govern large movements of refugees and migrants in a way that is compassionate, people-centred, gender-responsive and rooted in fundamental human rights,?” said Mr. Ban, calling the Declaration a critical step towards the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018. Underscoring that “every migrant is a human being with human rights,?” the UN chief said that to protect and uphold those rights stronger international cooperation is needed among countries of origin, transit and destination that is guided by international law and standards. “We must reject intolerance, discrimination and policies driven by xenophobic rhetoric and the scapegoating of migrants. Those who abuse and seek to harm migrants must be held to account.?”Picking up that thread, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN focal point agency on the issue, said: “The upheaval we see all around in our politics should serve as a wake-up call to prepare rather than panic. We need to mould the future rather than ignore it [by] embracing the inevitability of migration, changing the perceptions of migrants among our publics and better integrating migrants in our societies.?” More must be done to rectify the current “toxic narrative” of migration, says UN migration chief William Lacy Swing, calling on the international community to show political leadership in dispelling the misconceptions surrounding migration, as well as combat rising xenophobia in various parts of the world.?”There is a real demographic revolution going on today and it is up to us to manage it for the benefit of all,?” he continued, noting that while most migrants simply want an opportunity and would welcome even a temporary one, with the right support, those that stay will contribute to whatever society they settle in, whether it is economically or culturally. For its part, UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, noted that there are more than 244 million migrants in the world, almost half are women, and with ongoing movements of refugees and migrants, it is critical that the global community comes together with unified and gender-responsive solutions that address both the opportunities and challenges that migration presents. The New York Declaration underlines the need for promoting and protecting the rights of migrant women and girls at all stages of migration. Moreover, the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration in 2018 is expected to become a dynamic vehicle for migration governance, which sees migrants, including women and girls, as agents of change with valuable skills, powerful voices and the potential for leadership.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the supplies “will support treatment of patients with infectious diseases, chronic conditions, diarrheal diseases and trauma cases who have been deprived of medical care.”According to the press release, the supplies are a donation from the Government of Norway and include medicines, emergency health kits, surgical kits and an interagency diarrheal disease kits.They were delivered to newly retaken areas of Mosul, including 16 primary health centres, one hospital and the Directorate of Health (DOH) of Ninewa – the governorate which includes Mosul. WHO has appealed for $65 million to support health interventions in this part of Iraq through the end of the year. So far, $14 million has been received.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on 2 January, five men who had been sentenced to death by an Egyptian military court were hanged in Alexandria, four of whom had been convicted for an explosion near a stadium in Kafr al-Sheikh on 15 April 2015 that killed three military recruits and injured two others. “We understand the defendants were tried by military judges on the basis of legislation that refers cases of destruction of public property to military courts and in view of the victims being from the Egyptian Military Academy,” OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell told reporters on Friday at the regular news briefing in Geneva.On 26 December, 15 men convicted on terrorism charges were reportedly executed, found guilty by a military court of killing soldiers in Sinai in 2013. “Civilians should only be tried in military or special courts in exceptional cases,” she continued. Further, Ms. Throssell said it is important that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that such trials take place under conditions which genuinely afford the full guarantees stipulated in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a State party. Noting that these include a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, she expressed concern that this did not appear to have been followed as military courts typically deny defendants’ rights accorded by civilian courts. “In cases of capital punishment, trials must meet the highest standards of fairness and due process. Reports also indicated that the prisoners who were executed may have been subjected to initial enforced disappearance and torture before being tried,” she asserted. Despite security challenges facing Egypt, particularly in Sinai, Ms. Throssell maintained, “executions should not be used as a means to combat terrorism.” As such , she said the UN human rights office called on the Egyptian authorities to reconsider the use of death penalty cases in accordance with their international human rights obligations and to take all necessary measures to ensure that violations of due process and fair trial are not repeated.