'Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’
New York, July 18 (Canadian-Media): Nelson Mandela was an “extraordinary global advocate for dignity and equality” who anyone in public service should seek to emulate, Secretary-General António Guterres said marking the International Day that honours the iconic anti-apartheid campaigner, and South Africa’s first democratically-elected President, UN reports said
Public service activities for UN staff and delegates (community gardening in Harlem), organized with the New York City Mayor’s office and Harlem Grown for Nelson Mandela International Day. (19 July 2018). Credit: UN/Sergio Gomez
As “one of the most iconic and inspirational leaders of our time”, the UN chief said: “Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice”.
“He lived by these principles and was prepared to sacrifice his liberty and even his life for them”, Mr. Guterres spelled out.
In November 2009, the UN declared 18 July, Nelson Mandela International Day as a global call to action under the premise that everyone has the power to make an impact on the planet.
With hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world, “Nelson Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and an end to racism are particularly relevant today”, said the UN chief.
“As we work collectively for peace, stability, sustainable development and human rights for all, we would be well served to recall the example set by Nelson Mandela,” he asserted. “Our best tribute is found in actions”.
Lauding the late South African President’s qualities and service to humanity, the UN in New York hosted the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during last year’s General Assembly week, where some 100 Heads of State and Government, Ministers and Member States, adopted a political declaration to redouble efforts to build a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world.
The declaration, which recognized the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace, saluted Mr. Mandela – or “Madiba” as he’s known affectionately by South Africans - for his humility and compassion, while also acknowledging his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of a culture of world peace.
Saying that “every one of us can step up and act for enduring change”, Mr. Guterres maintained that Nelson Mandela’s message to the world is clear and “we all have the duty to do so”.
“On this day of reflection on Nelson Mandela’s life and work, let us embrace his legacy and aspire to emulate his example”, concluded the Secretary-General.
New York City honours ‘Madiba’
The General Assembly will commemorate the day with an informal meeting featuring remarks by the President of the General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General and others.
Paying tribute to Nelson Mandela’s ideals of service, UN volunteers will serve lunch and ice cream in one of the most marginalized neighbourhoods in the city at the Brownsville Community Culinary Centre, which offers healthy, sustainable and accessible cuisine to local residents.
#ICJ #ICJ verdict #KulbhushanJadhav
Hague, Jul 17 (Canadian-Media): The Hague: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favour of India as it passed its verdict in the case related to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death in Pakistan on charges of espionage.
"And the decision in the #Jadhav Cade is out! ICJ has ruled in favour of India on merits, affirming Jadhav’s right to consular access and notification," tweeted Reema Omar, International Legal Advisor, South Asia, ICJ. "The Court has directed Pakistan to provide effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and sentences," she tweeted.
The Court has also said that Jadhav’s death sentence should remain suspended until Pakistan effectively reviews and reconsiders the conviction/sentence in light of Pakistan’s breach of Art 36(1) i.e. denial of consular access and notification, she posted.
The verdict is going to be read out soon in a public sitting of the United Nations court in The Hague.
A Pakistani military court in April 2017 sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage and terrorism.
The International Court of Justice had earlier asked Pakistan to hold off the execution till it reaches its final verdict in the case.
Even as Jadhav, 48, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017, following the Indian government's move to the international court, the 10-member bench of the ICJ on May 18, 2017 had given a stay order and 'restrained' Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of the case.
In its written pleadings, India had accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by not giving consular access to Jadhav arguing that the convention did not say that such access would not be available to an individual arrested on espionage charges.
India had said the so called trial of Jadhav by a military court in Pakistan was "farcical".
Later in December, 2017, Kulbhushan Jadhav was allowed to meet his wife and mother but the MEA in Delhi had said it appeared Jadhav was “under considerable stress” and “speaking in an atmosphere of coercion”.
“The manner in which the meeting was conducted and its aftermath was clearly an attempt to bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative of Jadhav’s alleged activities,” the ministry had said in a statement.
“The Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner that violated the letter and spirit of our understandings," it had said.
Kulbhushan Jadhav's Case- Highlights of India's Argument in the Case:
Pakistan is an irresponsible State. It has violated international treaties and obligations to which it is a signatory:-
i. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations;
ii. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
The military court trial in Pakistan is farcical. Military Courts were set up after 2015 as an instrument for the military to engage in summary trials. They are responsible for several death sentences after April 2017. Jadhav was denied the right to be defended by a legal counsel of his choice. His conviction and death sentence is based on "confessions" taken in captivity.
Pakistan is using the Jadhav case to blame India for its problems in Balochistan. Jadhav was a civilian who was kidnapped and moved to Pakistan by armed groups. Pakistan faces several problems in its border with Iran. It has used proxy groups such as Jaish al Adl against Iran. Iranian officials have spoken of Pakistan's sponsorship of terrorist activities along the Iran-Pakistan border. Recently, US State Department designated Jaish al Adl as a front of Jundullah, which is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
India has succeeded in stopping Pakistan from taking the law into its own hands. Its approach to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) led to stopping Pakistan from executing Jadhav.
Pakistan's argument that the International Court of Justice had no jurisdiction was overruled by the ICJ.
Pakistan's military has been restrained using the weight of ICJ and India's strong legal case.
Jadhav Case - Key Facts
1. On 8 May 2017, India instituted proceedings in the International Court of Justice in relation to egregious violations by Pakistan of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 in the matter of arrest, detention and trial of an Indian national Shri Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav.
2. Article 36 of the Vienna Convention, applied to the facts of the Jadhav case, mandated:
(a) As Pakistan "arrested" Jadhav, they should have notified the Indian Consular officers without delay;
(b) that India's consular officers were (are) free to communicate with, and have access to Jadhav;
(c) that Jadhav had (has) similar freedom with respect to communication with, and access to India's consular officers;
(d) Pakistan was (is) bound to inform Jadhav of his rights to communicate with, and access to India's consular officers;
(e) any communication addressed by Jadhav to India's consular post, while under arrest, in prison, custody or detention, was liable to be forwarded by Pakistan to India's consular officers without delay;
(f) India's consular officers had (have) a right to visit Jadhav, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation.
3. Pakistan is in breach of Article 36(1) (b) of the Vienna Convention which obliged Pakistan to inform India of the arrest of an Indian national "without delay". Jadhav was purportedly "arrested" on 3 March 2016, and it was only on 25 March 2016 that the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan informed the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad of this "arrest". Pakistan has not offered any explanation as to why it took over three weeks to inform the Indian High Commissioner as to the arrest of Jadhav.
4. Pakistan is in breach of Vienna Convention of failing to inform Jadhav of his rights under the convention. This conduct of Pakistan is evident through public statements by government functionaries that suggested that the detenu was not entitled to consular access, strongly suggests Pakistan has not informed Jadhav of his right to communicate with the Indian consular post.
5. Pakistan is in breach of the convention in declining access to Jadhav by consular officers of India. India sought consular access to Jadhav right from the time it was informed of the arrest of Jadhav, and repeatedly reiterated this request to Pakistan. Article 36 of the Vienna Convention casts an unconditional obligation upon Pakistan to grant consular access to Jadhav, admitting of no exceptions, whether in relation to rights conferred upon the individual Jadhav, and/or to India's rights.
6. The entire trial and sentence by Pakistan's military court, which was based on "confession taken under custody", without adequate legal representation was farcical. It was in brazen defiance of the rights and protections provided under the Vienna Convention and the International Law, including ICCPR.
7. The jurisprudence on 'human rights', including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), recognises 'due process' rubric. A vital element of due process is: the right to an effective defence against criminal charges, and to a fair and impartial trial, in which the accused is represented by a lawyer of his choice. This is the due process guarantee, whether viewed in the context of 'minimum standards', or through the prism of Article 14 of the ICCPR. Article 36, by creating the mechanism of consular access, enables the sending State to help its national realise the promise of due process.
8. The use of Military Courts for the trial of civilians is violative of due process standards. The trial of foreign national civilians by Military Courts, is per se violative of the ICCPR, and also of the minimum standards recognised as principles of international law.
9. India depended on the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 40, Paragraph 1 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, read with Article 38 of the Rules of the Court, and Article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.
10. Pakistan's attempt to carve out exception to the rights under the 36 of Vienna Convention suggesting that such rights are not to be made available in the context of an individual against whom there is a prima facie case of "espionage" is not tenable.
11. The 2008 bilateral agreement on Consular access does not jettison the Vienna Convention. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties recognizes that States may have bilateral arrangements that "amplify or supplement" the principles engrafted in the multilateral Convention/ Treaty. Article 73(2) of the Law of Treaties does not recognize dilutions of the provisions of the multilateral convention by bilateral treaties.
12. Pakistan's request for legal assistance is a propaganda document. It is Pakistan which has failed to agree to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with India or to ratify MLAT under SAARC. The reason why Pakistan has avoided signing an MLAT is because of its ceaseless support to cross border terrorism. More than 40 MLAT requests from India to Pakistan remain unanswered.
Timelines in ICJ Case:
8 May 2017 i. India instituted proceedings in the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963;
ii. India asked ICJ to issue 'Provisional Measures';
iii. India asked Court to issue immediate instructions to Pakistan to not take any action on the sentence awarded to Jadhav till India's request for
Provisional Measures was considered.
9 May 2017 Court sent an urgent communication to the PM of Pakistan, and called upon Pakistan, to act in such a way, pending Court's decision on India's Request for Provisional Measures (stay order) as will enable any Order the Court may make on this Request to have its appropriate effects.
15 May 2017 ICJ heard India's request for Provisional Measures
18 May 2017 ICJ unanimously issued a binding order indicating Provisional Measures asked by India to take all measures to prevent execution of Jadhav pending final judgment of the Court.
13 Sept 2017 India filed its Memorial (first round of written pleadings)
13 Dec 2017 Pakistan filed its Counter Memorial (first written pleadings)
19 Dec 2017 India sought 3 months to file Reply (2nd pleadings)
5 Jan 2018 Pakistan opposed India's request
17 Jan 2018 Court accepted India's request and gives time of 3 months each to India and Pakistan to file 2nd round of written pleadings
17 April 2018 India filed its Reply in the Court (2nd round of written pleadings)
17 July 2018 Pakistan filed its Rejoinder (2nd round of written pleadings)
18-21 Feb 2019 Final Oral Hearings in the ICJ
17 July 2019 Judgment by the ICJ goes in favour of India
(Source: Just Earth News)
UN Human Rights Council stands firm on LGBTI violence, Syria detainees and Philippines ‘war on drugs’
#41st sessionofUNHumanRightsCouncil; #discrimination; #LGBTIcommunity
United Nations, July 14 (Canadian-Media/UN): The 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council ended on Friday with measures taken to address worrying developments in Eritrea, Syria and the Philippines, along with other issues of global concern, such as violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community.
The 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council has been running in Geneva since 24 June 2019. In this photo from the Council chamber, members are wrapping up their work on 12 July with votes on key resolutions. Credit: UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferre
Out of a total of 26 resolutions approved by the 47-Member body – six country-specific, 20 thematic texts – States tackled numerous thorny topics, including reports about the grave situation of human rights across Syria.
In a vote adopted by 26 votes to seven with 14 abstentions, the 11-page resolution highlighted that 11.7 million people in the war-torn country remain in need of “full, timely, immediate, unhindered and safe humanitarian assistance”.
Sponsored by several European Union countries, along with Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey, the text expressed concern for ongoing fighting in Syria’s north-west, adding that more than five million Syrians have “particularly acute” needs and over one million people remain in hard-to-reach areas “where freedom of movement, access to humanitarian aid and services remain very restricted”.
Philippines ‘war on drugs’ in spotlight
The Geneva-based body also urged the Philippines Government to do more to prevent extrajudicial killings, linked to its campaign against illegal drug use.
After a vote, the Council adopted a resolution expressing concern that since President Rodrigo Duterte announced his so-called war on drugs in 2016, there have been allegations that thousands of people involved with the drug trade and drug use have been killed.
The resolution – adopted on Thursday by 18 votes in favour to 14 against, with 15 abstentions – also appealed to the authorities to investigate the deaths and to hold perpetrators accountable.
It also called on the Philippines Government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) by facilitating country visits and “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation” against rights experts.
Further support for Eritrea Special Rapporteur
On Eritrea, after hearing from UN-appointed Special Rapporteur Daniela Kravetz that the authorities “have not yet engaged in domestic reforms and the human rights situation remains unchanged”, Council Member States also voted to extend her mandate by another year.
This was notwithstanding progress made by Eritrea towards a sustainable peace with Ethiopia after its nearly 20-year border conflict, Ms. Kravetz told the Council, which adopted its resolution on Thursday by 21 votes in favour, 13 against and 13 abstaining.
Mandate extended of LGBTI Independent Expert
After supporting action to end violence against women and girls in the workplace – reflecting the 41st session’s decision to focus on women’s rights over the course of a two-day debate - the Council then agreed to tackle violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by adopting a text with 27 votes in favour, 12 against and seven abstentions.
The resolution, sponsored by Latin American States, extends the mandate of the UN-appointed Independent Expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz. A Costa-Rican national, he is tasked with investigating attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and gender diverse individuals, bolstered by the resolution’s call for all Governments to cooperate with and assist him in his work.
In addition to the Council’s 26 resolutions, voted on at the end of the three-week session, Member States heard reports and updates from UN-appointed experts on rights abuses in Burundi, Central African Republic, the Kasais region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Sudan and Venezuela.
Among the discussions, Member States also heard from the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, Agnes Callamard, who published her full report into the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Maintaining that the killing last October of Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul “was overseen, planned and endorsed by high-level officials”, Ms. Callamard noted that although it had led to “numerous theories…none alters the responsibility of the Saudi Arabia State”.
The Council’s 42nd session takes place from 9 to 27 September.
New York, Jul 11 (Canadian-Media/UN): "The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s blueprint for a better future for all on a healthy planet. On World Population Day, we recognize that this mission is closely interrelated with demographic trends including population growth, ageing, migration and urbanization," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres., UN reports said.
Women who benefit from a daycare funded by the Productive Safety Nets Program in Arsi Ethiopia. Photo Credit: World Bank/Binyam Teshome
World Population Day, which seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues, was established by the then-Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of Five Billion, which was observed on 11 July 1987.
This year's World Population Day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. Twenty-five years have passed since that landmark conference, where 179 governments recognized that reproductive health and gender equality are essential for achieving sustainable development.
In November, UNFPA, together with the governments of Kenya and Denmark, will be convening a high-level conference in Nairobi to accelerate efforts to achieve these unmet goals. On World Population Day, advocates from around the world are calling on leaders, policymakers, grassroots organizers, institutions and others to help make reproductive health and rights a reality for all.
Why Do We Mark International Days?International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.
UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees
New York, Jul 10 (Canadian-Media/UN): Despite repeated calls, Iran continues to deny medical treatment to detainees in what amounts to “a consistent pattern”, according to eight UN human rights experts, in a statement on Wednesday.
The flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran flying at United Nations headquarters in New York. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe
“Over several months we have communicated to the Iranian Government our deep concerns about the physical and mental integrity of detainees,” the experts said in a statement. “Despite Government assurances, we are frustrated to still receive reports of denial of medical treatment, including in life-threatening situations”.
The experts said the denial of medical treatment for human rights activist Arash Sadeghi, reportedly diagnosed with bone cancer, was particularly alarming. He has been denied care at Raja’i Shahr Prison following an operation in September 2018.
Mr. Sadeghi was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a Revolutionary Court in August 2015 on charges of “assembly and collusion in the form of propaganda against the State”, “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran” and “publishing lies in cyberspace”.
According to the experts, his activism involved social media posts and communications with journalists and rights defenders abroad, regarding the human rights situation in Iran.
“These no longer appear to be isolated incidents, but a consistent pattern” the UN experts continued, pointing to their grave concern for Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian dual national medical doctor, sentenced to death on corruption charges for allegedly spying in Iran. Although medical tests indicate he may have cancer, Dr. Djalali has been denied access to appropriate healthcare in Evin Prison.
In the same prison, Austrian-Iranian dual national Kamran Ghaderi is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage and, despite a tumour in his leg, has also been denied appropriate medical treatment.
While both prisoners have been attended to for other conditions, the experts expressed their concern that treatment came intermittently after delays, and that specialists have yet to follow up.
And denying medical treatment has not been limited to men. British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and activist Narges Mohammadi, have also continued to be denied appropriate healthcare.
"Over several months we have communicated to the Iranian Government our deep concerns about the physical and mental integrity of detainees," said UN experts
“We urge the Iranian Government to immediately and unconditionally provide all the concerned individuals access to the appropriate medical treatment and care, as well as to other detainees who are in need of appropriate healthcare,” the eight experts said.
More than healthcare
They also highlighted numerous reports that the physical and mental integrity of prisoners in Iran are being further jeopardized by unsafe and unsanitary detention conditions, including overcrowding; contaminated food and water; rodent and insect infestations; and inadequate temperature controls.
Moreover, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had previously found and notified the Government that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Ms. Mohammadi, Mr. Sadeghi and Dr. Djalali are being arbitrarily detained and called for their immediate release.
“We reiterate our calls for the immediate release of human rights defenders and all other individuals who have been found to be arbitrarily detained, as well as for the release of all others in Iranian detention facilities who are currently held arbitrarily,” the experts concluded.
New York, Jul 3 (Canadian-Media): How can we make sure that cities become more inclusive, with a smaller environmental footprint, and leave no-one behind? These questions will be tackled at the UN Civil Society Conference, which takes place in Salt Lake City, due to take place at the end of August, UN reports said.
Salt Lake City in the US state of Utah, is hosting the United Nations Civil Society Conference/Credit: UN
Representatives of civil society will have the opportunity to meet with senior UN officials, and discuss a wide range of solutions to the challenges of urban life.
The theme of this year’s conference, “building sustainale and inclusive cities and communities”, reflects the fact that over half of the world’s population, some 55 per cent, now live in urban areas, with that figure expected to rise to 68 per cent by 2050.
Conference sessions will discuss topics connected to the main theme, including climate change; opportunities for youth; and emerging technologies and innovation.
Leaders of large urban centres, such as Salt Lake City in the state of Utah, the communities that live in them, as well as the private sector, are at the forefront of finding sustainable solutions to poverty; climate change; clean water and energy; and many of the other challenges connected to urban living.
Salt Lake City’s sustainability credentials include the development of a Climate Positive Plan, laying out a path for a transition to 100 per cent clean energy by 2032, and an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2024. In addition, the nearby Utah Valley University, works to educate the campus and larger community on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and has been an affiliate member of the UN’s Department of Global Communications (DGC) since 2017.
“As a city committed to being inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, it is an honor to be the first US host city of the UN Civil Society Conference outside of New York,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski in a statement. “I can think of no better time and no better place than Salt Lake City, for the UN and the world’s NGOs to expand awareness in this country of sustainable development goals and the value of global unity.”
Highlights include interactive thematic sessions, NGO-sponsored workshops, exhibits and a youth hub. Speakers and attendees will include leaders and other representatives from NGOs, UN agencies, academia, faith traditions, the public and private sectors and youth from around the world.
The UN Civil Society Conference is described by the UN as the Organization’s “premier event in the civil society calendar”, focusing on UN topics of interest to civil society and NGOs, where issues of global concern can be discussed.
Registration is still open for the Conference, but the organizers are encouraging potential attendees to sign up here.
#childprotection; #ChildrenandArmedConflict; #SDF; #CAAC
New York, Jul 2 (Canadian-Media): The top United Nations (UN) official charged with representing the interests of children caught up in armed conflict, has signed a landmark new agreement on child protection with the Force Commander of a main Syrian opposition military alliance, it was announced on Monday, aimed at ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18, UN media reports said.
An injured boy rests on the ground of a makeshift camp in Syria's Aqrabat village, 45 km north of Idlib City, near the Turkish border. (June 2019)/UNICEF/UN0318500/Watad
Describing the action plan as “the beginning of a process”, and "an important day", Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), explained that the signing “demonstrates a significant commitment by the SDF to ensure that no child is recruited and used by any entity operating under its umbrella”.
Gamba and Force Commander General Mazloum Abdi endorsed the agreement during an official ceremony at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, on Saturday.
The Action Plan follows the listing of the United States-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) in the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict regarding the recruitment and use of children. The units operate under SDF command, which describes itself as committed to a secular, democratic and decentralized Syria.
Ms. Gamba and Force Commander General Mazloum Abdi endorsed the agreement during an official ceremony at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, on Saturday.
The Action Plan follows the listing of the United States-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) in the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict regarding the recruitment and use of children. The units operate under SDF command, which describes itself as committed to a secular, democratic and decentralized Syria.
A welcome commitment
The Action Plan was the result of months of UN-SDF engagement, in close consultation with the Special Representative.
Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, and Mazloum Abdi, Force Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, sign a Plan of Action to stop recruiting child soldiers, 29 June 2019/Credit: UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferre
Commending the work of child protection partners on the ground, Ms. Gamba lamented that the situation of children in Syria remains one of the most dire on her agenda.
The Special Representative highlighted the importance of Actions Plans to engage with parties to conflict, noting that since Security Council resolution 1460 was adopted in 2003, they have been strong tools of the CAAC mandate.
“Actions Plans represent an opportunity for parties to change their attitude and behavior so that grave violations against children stop and are prevented to durably improve the protection of children affected by armed conflict”, Ms. Gamba explained.
“I urge all parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General annual report, in Syria and elsewhere, to seize the opportunity to engage with the UN and adopt Action Plans,” the Special Representative added.
As the conflict continues in its ninth year, the Ms. Gamba encouraged all parties to work towards a political solution, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254 of 2015 to bring sustainable peace to the country: the best option to prevent grave violations against children.
#Talibanmilitants; #Afghanistan; # journalists’rights; #UNAMA; #UNESCO
New York, Jun 28 (Canadian-Media/UN): Following last week’s public threats by Taliban militants to deliberately target media outlets in Afghanistan, the United Nations (UN) mission chief in the country reiterated his call on Thursday for journalists’ rights to be protected, underlining the power of press freedom to advance peace, justice and human rights, UN media reports said.
Journalists at an event in Kabul, to mark the Afghan National Journalists Day (March 2019), in support of media freedom and solidarity with journalists in Afghanistan/Credit: UNAMA/Fardin Waezi
HNoting that “words must never be met with violence”, Tadamichi Yamamoto, Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), called on the threat to be rescinded, adding that “the only acceptable challenge to words is to advance a better argument”.
Mr. Yamamoto underlined that “international humanitarian law - which applies to all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including the Taliban - prohibits attacks against civilians at any time and in any place”.
And affirming that media workers are also civilians, he highlighted the importance of protecting their “fundamental rights to operate in an environment free from any threat, intimidation or undue pressure by any outside entity, including governments”.
The UNAMA’s chief’s statement, in response to the public threats by Taliban to turn media outlets into military targets, highlighted two fundamental principles: that freedom of the press is critical, and that civilians should never be deliberately targeted with violence.
In the context of repeated threats by the Taliban, Mr. Yamamoto said that “press freedom in Afghanistan is earned at an unbearable cost”. The United Nations recognizes that Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous places for journalists to work. Official figures from cultural agency UNESCO’s observatory of killed journalists, shows that 16 died last year, and four so far this year.
The most recent UN report on protection of civilians during conflict in Afghanistan, shows that over 3,800 civilian women, children and men were killed over the 12-month reporting period.
Congratulating Afghanistan’s media workers for their reporting and continuing with their duties in the face of escalating threats, Mr. Yamamoto added that the UN “remains steadfast in collaborating with national and international partners to protect journalists and to fight against impunity”.
He also reiterated the UN’s support to the Afghan government, “consistent with its international human rights obligations, to implement measures that improve journalist safety and that foster an open media, where no voice is silenced through fear.”
A new presidential election is scheduled for 28 September, which will be a “key moment to reaffirm the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s democratic political structure”, Mr. Yamamoto told the Security Council last week.
Last Wednesday, UNAMA’s chief told the UN Security Council he was “encouraged” by signs of progress during international mediation efforts which could lead to a lasting political settlement between the Afghan Government and the fundamentalist Taliban movement, which controlled the country prior to the 2001 invasion by coalition forces.
Tackle ‘tsunami of hatred’ across the world urges Guterres, to counter anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance
#Anti-semitism, #racism, #intolerance
The “multi-headed monster” of intolerance, has created a visible and violent “tsunami of hatred” that is gathering speed across the world, said Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, United Nations (UN) media reports said.
Combating Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism and Hate, Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias
The UN chief was speaking at an event organized by the President of the General Assembly in New York on the Challenges of Teaching Tolerance and Respect in the Digital Age.
He told those gathered he had recently viewed an exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage called “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away”.
“It is an apt title”, said the UN chief, noting that the Holocaust was “indeed not long ago – only as far back as a single average human lifespan”, and certainly “not far away – it happened at the heart of Europe, and it remains at the centre of our awareness as we fight anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance today”.
Mr. Guterres recounted a study that revealed a 13 per cent rise in violent anti-Semitic incidents in 2018, compared to the year before, and observed that attacks on synagogues, graveyards and individuals in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, “continue to make many Jews feel insecure”.
Pointing to assaults on synagogues, massacres at mosques and bombings at churches he maintained that “this age-old hatred is showing grim staying power”.
And refugees and migrants continue to face hostility as “white supremacists and neo-Nazis are emboldened by elections showing the appeal of their racist messages”, continued the UN chief, flagging that in today’s digital realm, “we have new vectors of venom, algorithms that accelerate the spread of bigotry, and new platforms where far-flung extremists can find each other and spur each other on”.
An acute moment
While the UN “fights these ills as a matter of our very identity, founded as we were in response to genocide”, he acknowledged that “today we have reached an acute moment in this struggle”.
Mr. Guterres spoke of the recently launched UN system-wide strategy to combat hate speech, which “if left unopposed can erode democratic values, social stability and peace”.
“We need to treat hate speech as we treat every malicious act: By condemning it and refusing to amplify it” to incite discrimination, hostility and violence, he spelled out.
The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations is also finalizing an Action Plan on what more the Organization can do to support the safety and sanctity of religious sites.
“Our efforts need to step up most urgently in the digital space, where hatred is thriving”, he underscored, watchful that social media “provides a conduit for hatred on an enormous scale, with virtually no cost and no accountability, making them particularly appealing to those with evil intent”.
Moreover, it is being used to “polarize societies and demonize people, often targeting women, minorities and the most vulnerable”.
On remedying the situation, he signaled that a new report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation urges social media to respond to concerns about the “growing threat to safety and human rights”, and that the Christchurch Call spurs governments and technology companies to tackle online extremism.
Mr. Guterres pushed for an investment in social cohesion so all of society “can feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in the future”, saying that UN offers a platform to discuss the way forward.
Staring into gun barrel, Rabbi recounts hate attack
One rabbi from California drove home the brutal impact of the hate permeating societies globally, recounting how a gunman appeared in his synagogue in late April. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein described how the attacker fired on his congregation inside the Chabad of Poway, near San Diego, killing one woman and injuring three others before fleeing the scene and being apprehended two miles away.
With his own hands still heavily bandaged from being shot during the attack, the rabbi spoke passionately from the General Assembly podium about how that day he stood in the lobby about to read a prayer to memorialize the last day of Passover when he suddenly heard “the thundering sound of gunshots”.
“I saw in the lobby of our synagogue, a house of worship, a home where children come to celebrate…this terrorist standing in the lobby, holding an AR-15 and I am looking down the barrel of it”, he recounted.
“I turned around to grab the children” he continued, “and the terrorist takes aim and shoots at me, blowing off my fingers”.
The Rabbi managed to pull the children to safety, including his four-year-old-granddaughter, who cried “why are you bleeding?”.
When he returned to find that the terrorist had been pushed out, the Rabbi stood on a chair, and pronounced: “God has spared us. Do not let this moment define us. It will not consume us”.
He emphasized at Wednesday’s event that each of us have to be seen as human beings, “not by our colour of our skin, not by our language, we are all children of God”.
Hateful attacks: ‘No surprise’In her opening statement General Assembly President María Espinosa said it had been a year of “despicable” attacks based on hatred, noting that “sadly, they come as no surprise”.
“What is frightening now is that it is no longer confined to extremist groups” but has become “part of a broader surge in intolerance, racism and xenophobia mainstreamed”, she lamented.
Ms. Espinosa recalled that the Assembly had met several times already this year to “discuss hate speech, nationalist populism and supremacist ideologies, and attacks against Muslims and Christians, as well as Jews; against people of all faiths and none”.
“We must redouble our efforts to ensure that…the seeds of hate do not find fertile ground”, she stated, encouraging education to address intolerance and combat falsehood and disinformation.
But, she underscored, “we must not see education as a vaccination that gives you immunity for life”, saying that it is part of an equation that also includes changing mindsets, standing up for values and “taking a stand against intolerance”.
“And we must also extend our vigilance to the internet and social media”, Ms. Espinosa continued, calling them “powerful tools” that can be used to “spread hatred and distort reality”.
Watch the UN's Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, talk about hate speech:
Vile act of torture prohibited ‘under all circumstances’, UN chief affirms on International Day to support victims
International Day to support victims; UN; #prohibitionoftorture
Jun 26 (UN/Canadian-Media): While the prohibition of torture is “absolute, under all circumstances”, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres bemoaned the fact that “this core principle is undermined every day” - in detention centres, prisons, police stations, psychiatric institutions and other places where captor can prey on captive, UN media reports said.
Singers wearing hats advocating “No Torture” line up before performing at a Human Rights Day event outside of Mogadishu Central Prison in Somalia/Credit of: UN Photo/Tobin Jones
This was part of his message for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, on Wednesday, describing the despicable act, as a vicious attempt to break a person’s will.
The United Nations has long condemned torture as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by humankind, saying that it seeks to “annihilate the victim’s personality” and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Despite its absolute prohibition under international law, torture persist in all regions of the world and is often uses around national and border security.
Moreover, its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be transmitted down through generations, leading to cycles of violence and revenge.
Currently ratified by 166 States, the UN chief said he was “encouraged that we are moving towards universal ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture”, which aligns national laws and practices with the Convention to move the prohibition of torture from principle to practice.
“Torture usually happens behind closed doors”, Mr. Guterres said. “It is therefore crucial for independent international and national human rights mechanisms to open those doors”.
He explained that the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture “does exactly that”, by visiting prisons and other institutions and interviewing detainees, officials, law enforcement personnel and medical staff every year, in close partnership with national preventive mechanisms.
“In all our work, we must support victims and ensure respect for their right to rehabilitation and redress”, the UN chief stressed, noting that “this victim-centred approach guides the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture”, which assists nearly 50,000 victims annually, in some 80 countries.
Moreover, he said it has also helped in understanding better the different dimensions of torture, including the use of sexual and gender-based violence, and the specific assistance that different kinds of survivors of torture need.
“On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, I urge all States to end impunity for perpetrators and eradicate these reprehensible acts that defy our common humanity.