“UN’s World Food Program feeds record 3.8 Million Syrians in December”


#AceWorldNews says the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) delivered rations to a record 3.8 million people in #Syria in December. However, the agency said civilians in eastern provinces and besieged towns near the capital remain out of reach. “Their nutrition situation is expected to have deteriorated significantly,” Reuters quoted spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs as saying. The organization has tried several times over the last few months to reach besieged areas in and around Damascus, but without success. Fighting in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor also prevented aid convoys from reaching people in those eastern provinces for the second consecutive month. The agency aims to reach 4.25 million people in January.

Central African Republic’s {CAR}: “UN Calls for Calm, Urging Authorities to Mobilize Around the Speedy Election of a New Transitional Leadership”


#AceWorldNews says following the resignation of the Central African Republic’s two interim leaders, the top United Nations official in the crisis-riven country called for calm today, urging the authorities to mobilze around the speedy election of new transitional leadership.
In a statement issued by his office in Bagui, Babacar Gaye, Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peace-building Office for the Central African Republic (BINUCA), took note of the resignation yesterday of President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye.
“He calls on members of the National Transitional Council (CNT) to mobilize around the urgent election of a new transitional executive, as agreed at the extraordinary summit of Heads of States of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) yesterday, 10 January 2014, in N’djamena, Chad.” Armed attacks between ex-Séléka and Christian anti-balaka militias have escalated significantly in the past two weeks, despite the creation of a transitional government following the attack a year ago by mostly Muslim Séléka rebels which forced President François Bozizé to flee.
Since then, thousands of people are estimated to have been killed, nearly 1 million driven from their homes, and 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.
Delivering a message on behalf of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the ECCAS Summit on Thursday, Mr. Gaye stressed that the past year’s events have profoundly damaged the relationship between Muslim and Christian communities in the CAR, and warned that there is a real danger of further upheaval along religious lines.
“The horrific cycle of violence and retaliation between communities must stop immediately,” he said. “Distrust is high and violence has fuelled anger and a thirst for revenge,” he added, highlighting the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts. Disarmament of combatants in accordance with international standards is essential, Mr. Ban stressed, noting also the importance of demobilization and reintegration of the former fighters.
Today, Mr. Gaye called on the people and the leaders of the CAR to maintain calm and show maturity following the leaders’ resignations. “Along with the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), French forces, SANGARIS, have made important progress in securing Bangui,” he said, adding that their efforts must be supported, especially as numerous threats persist.

“The entire UN System and our humanitarian partners are fully mobilized to assist approximately two million people who are in urgent need of assistance across the country,” he said.
To that end, yesterday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) issued an appeal for $40.2 million for CAR. That request, which is for the period to the end of March, follows appeals launched by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in late December for $152.2 million in immediate support needs for a 100-day plan for CAR.
UNHCR’s supplementary appeal for CAR aims to support more than 1 million people, including 86,400 refugees in neighbouring countries and 958,000 internally displaced persons.

UN: “Mission in South Sudan Gains Access to Besieged Areas”


#AceWorldNews says The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) announced today that as it continues to gain access to besieged areas, the number of people killed in the current round of fighting in the world’s youngest country “must be much higher” than the 1,000 figure given earlier in the conflict, which erupted nearly a month ago and continues to grind on.
In a news release from Juba, UNMISS notes fresh media reports, including in the New York Times, estimating that up to 10,000 people may have been killed since the conflict started on 15 December 2013, after President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to former vice-president Reik Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup.

On 26 December, 10 days into the crisis, the Mission estimated that 1,000 people may have been killed in the fighting. “This was based on UNMISS’ initial monitoring and investigations in Juba and other relatively more stable locations where its Human Rights Officers and other staff were able to access, investigate and document the unfolding developments,” the Mission said today.
Yet, after two weeks of subsequent violence, characterized by sometimes intense fighting with heavy weapons, there are now clear indications that the casualty count must be much higher, says UNMISS, adding that while it has continues to closely monitor the human rights situation, interviewing witnesses, and following leads, it “is not at this stage in a position to establish and verify the exact numbers of casualties.”
The Mission recalls that on 9 January, Hervé Ladsous, the head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, speaking to reporters in New York following a three hour briefing to the Security Council on the situation in South Sudan, said: “We are not able to provide final figures. We know it will be very substantially in excess of the 1,000 figure”.
Meanwhile the Mission says that despite serious security constraints due to the fighting in Bor and Bentiu, which has restricted access by its Human Rights Officers, during the course of last week, UNMISS began interviewing victims and eyewitnesses among displaced people from Bor who have arrived in Juba and Awerial County in neighbouring Lakes State. UNMISS Human Rights Officers have also been able to return to Bor on 9 January.
“Preliminary indications from these interviews and investigations in Bentiu and Malakal contain horrific allegations of atrocities by anti-Government forces against civilians and surrendering soldiers, including summary executions, torture, sexual violence and ethnically targeted killing,” the Mission says in the news releases, deploring these horrendous acts of violence and utter disregard for human life and dignity.
UNMISS chief Hilde Johnson called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately, and respect and protect civilians. “She reiterates Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon’s] reminder that those who commit such heinous acts will be held accountable,” the news release adds.
UNMISS vowed to continue investigating and documenting atrocities committed by both sides, in all affected areas and called on the Government and the anti-Government forces to cooperate with “these important investigations and to facilitate unhindered access by the Mission’s Human Rights Officers to all affected areas.”
In addition, this past Friday, Mr. Ban that announced that he would dispatch UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, to South Sudan this weekend to look into cases of violations believed to have been committed during the conflict, which has displaced some 230,000 people, more than a quarter of whom are seeking refuge on UN bases.

Anbar Province: “Media Reports Have Cited Deadly Clashes Between Iraqi Troops and Al-Qaeda Affiliated Fighters”


#AceWorldNews says In a statement read out during a formal meeting this evening Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Permanent Representative of Jordan, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for the month, the 15-nation body deplored the recent surge in violence in Anbar province, where, for the past week, media reports have citied deadly clashes between Iraqi-Troops and Al-Qaeda-Affiliated-Fighters.

Condemning the attacks by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) “against the people of Iraq in an attempt to destabilize the country and region,” the Council recognized that Iraqi security forces, local police and tribes in Anbar province are showing great courage as they fight to defeat ISIL in their cities.

“The Security Council urges the people of Iraq, including Iraqi tribes, local leaders, and Iraqi security forces in Anbar province, to continue, expand and strengthen their cooperation against violence and terror,” said the 15-member body, stresses the critical importance of continued national dialogue and unity.

The Council in its statement welcomed comments from Grand Ayatollah Sistani welcoming internally displaced residents of Anbar to Najaf and Karbala, as well as the commitment of a number of communities – Sunni, Shia and Kurd – to meet the needs of the displaced.

Expressing its strong support for the continued efforts of the Iraqi Government to help meet the security needs of the entire population of Iraq, the Council acknowledged the efforts of the Iraqi security forces and local police, “whose members are also being targeted and killed in ongoing attacks by terrorists”

The Council went on to welcome the Government’s commitment in the protection of the civilian population in Fallujah and elsewhere, and to the provision of humanitarian relief. It encouraged the Government to continue working with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and humanitarian agencies to ensure the delivery of relief aid.

Concerned about the impact of the violence on civilians, the 15-nation body encouraged the safe passage of civilians trapped in conflict areas, as well as the safe return of internally displaced persons as conditions allow.

“The Security Council stresses the critical importance of continued national dialogue and unity, an inclusive political process, the holding of free and fair elections in April 2014, and the right to peaceful protest as guaranteed under the Iraqi Constitution,” the Council said, stressing its belief that this is vital to underpin a unified national stance against terrorism, and to ensure Iraq’s long-term security.

Reaffirming the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, the Council members also reaffirmed that ISIL is subject to the arms embargo and assets freeze imposed by Council resolutions 1267 (1999) and 2083 (2012).

The Council reaffirmed the need to combat all forms of terrorism and reiterated that “no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the Government of Iraq and the international community.”

Israel: “Could be Breaking International Law by Limiting Rights of Asylum Seekers”


#AceWorldNews says the United Nations refugee agency today warned that Israel could be breaking international law by limiting the rights of asylum-seekers with a new amendment to the country’s anti-infiltration law.

Of particular concern to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a provision in the new Amendment requiring asylum-seekers to reside in a so-called open residence facility.

“Since the facility was housing people who cannot be returned to their countries of origin for reasons of non-refoulement, the organization is concerned that this facility could, in effect, result in indefinite detention, with no release grounds,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said in Geneva.

The facility, located in the Negev desert, also restricts movement by mandating people reside there, and report in three times per day, among other discipline measures.

Mr. Edwards said that UNHCR understands the challenges faced by Israel in managing the reception of migrants and asylum-seekers. However, it was important that the treatment of asylum-seekers “be in line with international refugee and human rights law,” he concluded.

Under the Amendment, new asylum-seekers arriving in an irregular manner will automatically be detained for at least a year, as will people whose conditional release visas have expired.

Difficulties in renewing visas are meanwhile growing, the spokesperson noted, with reports of long queues and limited access to visa services.

UN:”Remembers #Haiti2010 Four Years After The Earthquake”


#AceWorldNews says “Remember Haiti After Four Years” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the international community to increase its aid to Haiti on the fourth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck the impoverished country, noting progress already made in health and education, but warning that more needs to be done.

“Haiti remains extremely vulnerable on many fronts,” he said in a message delivered to UN staff in Port au Prince, the capital, by his Special Representative Sandra Honoré. “145,000 people continue to live in make-shift camps. The country is structurally exposed to recurrent food crises. Haiti has the lowest level of water and sanitation coverage in the Americas.”

“I continue to call on the international community to stand with Haiti at its time of dire need. We must intensify our efforts to help Haiti build a more stable and prosperous future for the all its people. Let us renew today our pledge to follow our fallen colleagues’ dream of a life of dignity for all the people of Haiti.”

The massive quake which struck Haiti on 12 January, 2010, killed some 220,000 people, including 102 UN staff, made 1.5 million others homeless, and caused widespread destruction and a major humanitarian crisis.

“Your commitment, combined with the resilience of the Haitian people, has made much progress possible,” Mr. Ban told UN staff. “Health systems are being strengthened, more children are in school, close to 90 per cent of the displaced population have left the camps and economic activities have resumed allowing Haiti to start moving from crisis to long-term development.”

Referring to his own visit to the country shortly after disaster struck, he said the personal stories of heroism, courage and dedication that he saw and heard “moved me deeply and showed the United Nations at its best.

“I pay tribute to all UN colleagues who have strived through the years to keep alive the memory of our fallen colleagues and friends and serve the people of Haiti,” he added. “This includes those who remained after the earthquake to deliver life-saving support and consolation to the other victims. It also includes those who arrived later to carry on the worthy cause of helping Haiti rebuild its future.

UN #HumanRights Office: “Concerned about Decision by Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to Declare Illegal a Coalition of 54 Non-Islamic Civil Society Groups”


#AceWorldNews says the United Nations human rights office today expressed concern about a decision by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs to declare illegal a coalition of 54 mainly non-Islamic civil society groups focused on human rights known by the acronym COMANGO.

“We call upon Government of Malaysia to amend the Societies Act 1966, maximize the space for human rights activists and organisations to operate freely, and ensure that they can conduct their legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told journalists in Geneva.

The COMANGO coalition submitted joint reports to both the UN Human Rights Council’s 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) of the situation in Malaysia.

Since its submission to the second cycle of the UPR, which took place on 24 October 2013, the coalition has reportedly been subjected to a series of harassment and threats, allegedly by both State and non-State actors. The coalition has been accused of attacking Islam and of spreading beliefs that do not conform to Islamic teachings.

The Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs declared in a press statement on 8 January that COMANGO promotes rights which are not in line with Islam, and is therefore illegal.

The statement also noted that only 15 of the 54 organizations are registered under the Societies Act 1966.

“We are concerned by what appears to be an act of reprisal against COMANGO for its engagement with international human rights mechanism,” the spokesperson added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner Navi Pillay and the Geneva-based Human Rights Council have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal.

UN Human Rights: “Says they Hope that the Abolition of the Death Penalty will Follow their Decision to Commute All Death Sentences to Life-Imprisionment”


#AceWorldNews says “United Nations Human Rights Office” today said it hopes that Myanmar’s decision to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment will lead to the full abolition of the death penalty in the country.

President Thein Sein announced on 2 January that he would commute death sentences to life imprisonment and reduce some sentences on humanitarian grounds and to mark the 66th anniversary of independence of the country, marked on 4 January.

“We warmly welcome the Myanmar Government’s Presidential Order,” the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, told journalists in Geneva.

The move is “very significant” for Myanmar, which has not carried out the death penalty since 1989, the spokesperson noted, as the country assumed the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The step “sets a positive example for other ASEAN member states and other States in the region and beyond,” Mr. Colville said on behalf of the Office for the High Commissioners of Human Rights (OHCHR).

UN: “Saddened by Lose of Ariel Sharon”


#AceWorldNews says according to the UN they are “Saddened by the death of Ariel Sharon” the former Prime Minister of Israel.
In a statement, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised the late statesman’s political courage and determination, and urged the country to build on Mr. Sharon’s legacy of pragmatism to press ahead with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, Mr. Ban offered his condolences to the late leader’s bereaved family and to the Government and people of Israel. Mr. Sharon, 85, became incapacitated by a severe stroke in 2006. He passed away earlier today at a hospital near Tel Aviv.
“Throughout a life dedicated to the State of Israel, Ariel Sharon was a hero to his people, first as a soldier and then a statesman,” said the Secretary-General.

“Prime Minister Sharon will be remembered for his political courage and determination to carry through with the painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip,” the UN chief said, adding that Mr. Sharon’s successor faces the difficult challenge of realizing the aspirations of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people.

The Secretary-General called on Israel to build on the late Prime Minister’s legacy of pragmatism to work towards the long overdue achievement of an independent and viable Palestinian state, next to a secure Israel.
“At this time of national mourning, the Secretary-General renews the commitment of the United Nations to work alongside the Government and the people of Israel for peace and security,” said the statement.

“INTER-RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE POSES LONG-TERM DANGER TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, BAN WARNS”


#AceWorldNews say there is a real danger of further upheaval along the lines in "Central African Republic" {CAR} Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today warned a regional gathering in Chad, stressing that the past year’s events have profoundly damaged the relationship between Muslim and Christian communities and pose a long-term danger to the country.

The horrific cycle of violence and retaliation between communities must stop immediately,” Mr. Ban said in his <"http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7392">message to the extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), hosted by Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno in the capital, N’Djamena.


“Distrust is high and violence has fuelled anger and a thirst for revenge,” he added, highlighting the need to prioritize reconciliation efforts.

In the message, delivered by Babacar Gaye, Special Representative in the country and the head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA), Mr. Ban commended the ECCAS Heads of State for proposing an inclusive national conference.

Such a forum should provide all national actors with the opportunity “to share their concerns, agree on common challenges, and collectively find a way out of this crisis”, including through the preparation of elections, he said.

Disarmament of combatants in accordance with international standards is essential, the UN chief stressed, noting also the importance of demobilization and reintegration of the former fighters.

Armed attacks between ex-Séléka and Christian anti-balaka militias have escalated significantly in the past two weeks, despite the creation of a transitional government following the attack a year ago by mostly Muslim Séléka rebels which forced President François Bozizé to flee.

Since then, thousands of people are estimated to have been killed, nearly 1 million driven from their homes, and 2.2 million, about half the population, need humanitarian aid.

The UN and its partners have stepped up the humanitarian response but the situation remains “extremely troubling”, Mr. Ban said in today’s message.

He also expressed concern about “widespread human rights abuses”. The UN is working to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to document the violations, in line with a resolution adopted by the Security Council in early December.

“Together, we must send a strong message that those committing atrocities will be held accountable,” he said.

In his message, Mr. Ban noted the quick deployment of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA) and the French intervention force, SANGARIS, whose work “prevented the situation from degenerating even further”.

He also noted that the UN will work closely with the African Union and other stakeholders in support of the upcoming donors conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1 February.

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UN: Pays Tribute to #NelsonMandela Telling Thousands that Gathered at Memorial Service in Johannesburg #Peace


English: Nelson Mandela, former President of S...
English: Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, telling the tens of thousands gathered at the memorial service held in Johannesburg that the life and legacy of the former South African president was an inspiration not only for his country but for the world.

“This grandest of all baobab trees left deep roots that reach across the planet,” Mr. Ban <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7347“>said, addressing a rain-soaked crowd at the soccer stadium that hosted the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 World Cup.

Mr. Mandela passed away last Thursday at the age of 95. Affectionately known as ‘Madiba,’ the late human rights lawyer, prisoner of conscience and Nobel Peace Prize winner was the first democratically elected President of postapartheid South Africa.

“Nelson Mandela was more than one of the greatest leaders of our time. He was one of the greatest teachers. And he taught by example. He sacrificed so much and was willing to give up everything – for freedom and equality, for democracy and justice,” said Mr. Ban.

“His compassion stands out most. He was angry at injustice, not at individuals. He hated hatred, not the people caught in its grip. He showed the awesome power of forgiveness – and of connecting people with each other and with the true meaning of peace. That was his unique gift – and that was the lesson he shared with all humankind.”

The Secretary-General, who was among nearly 100 world leaders attending the service, said that South Africa’s democratic transformation was a victory by and for South Africans.

“But it was also a triumph for the ideals of the United Nations – and for anyone, anywhere, who has ever faced the poison of prejudice,” he added.

Nelson Mandela's former house in Soweto, Johan...
Nelson Mandela’s former house in Soweto, Johannesburg, now Mandela Family Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The United Nations stood side by side with Nelson Mandela and the people of South Africa in the fight against apartheid. We used every tool we had: sanctions, an arms embargo, a sports boycott, diplomatic isolation. We spoke up loud and clear across the world.

“Apartheid was vanquished,” Mr. Ban said. “But as he would be the first to say, our struggle continues – against inequality and intolerance, and for prosperity and peace.

“Nelson Mandela showed us the way with a heart larger than this stadium and an infectious smile that could easily power its lights. In fact, it lit up the world…

“It is the duty of all of us who loved him to keep his memory alive in our hearts, and to embody his example in our lives.”

New York, Dec 10 2013 11:00AM

 

ICC Announces Arrest of Four Men Linked to Trial of Former Dr Congo


English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo
English: International Criminal Court (ICC) logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceWorldNews says four people have been arrested for alleged witness tampering in the war crimes trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced.

The four men are accused of “corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged,” according to a <“http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/Pages/pr962.aspx“>news release  from The Hague-based Court.

It is alleged that the suspects were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr. Bemba, whose trial started in November 2010.

The four men, arrested today and yesterday following a warrant issued on 20 November by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, include Mr. Bemba’s Lead Counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba taken into custody by Belgian authorities, and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a member of Mr Bemba’s defence team and case manager, who was arrested in the Netherlands.

English: DR Congo 2006 presidential election c...
English: DR Congo 2006 presidential election candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The two other men are Fidèle Babala Wandu, a member of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo – who was taken into custody in the DRC – and Narcisse Arido, a Defence witness, who was arrested by French authorities.

“On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC, Herman von Hebel, expressed his gratitude to the States’ authorities for their cooperation,” the ICC said, adding that these are the first arrests made in relation to such charges before the Court.

Mr. Bemba is the alleged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo being tried for two counts of crimes against humanity (rape and murder) and three counts of war crimes (rape, murder and pillaging) allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.

New York, Nov 24 2013  6:00PM

 

UN: All The Talk and No Action are the “Watchwords” as the Latest Climate Talks End


#AceWorldNews says the United Nations-led climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, concluded today with an agreement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called an important stepping stone towards a universal legal agreement in 2015.

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...
Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Secretary-General welcomes the outcome of the UN Climate Change Conference that concluded today in Warsaw and he congratulates Poland for successfully hosting the Conference,” his spokesperson said in a <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7302“>statement.

Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The deal hammered out today ends two-weeks of talks between diplomats and environment experts representing more than 195 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

For the first time, the talks, which are also known as the Conference of the Parties or COP-19, included participation from the private sector, with a UN-business forum held on its sidelines.

The agreement lays the groundwork for a legally binding treaty to be adopted in 2015, and enter force by 2020, which would cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

In today’s statement, Mr. Ban welcomed the Parties’ decision “to intensify immediate actions to fight climate change” and to come forward with their national contributions to the agreement well before its finalization in 2015.

The talks were made all the more urgent by the devastation in Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan that killed thousands of people and affected 13.25 million overall just as participants were arriving in Poland.

Today’s deal comes one year before the 2014 Climate Summit that Mr. Ban said he would convene in New York in September during the General Assembly.

Mr. Ban has asked world leaders, as well as leaders from business, finance, local government and civil society, to bring bold announcements and actions that will lead to significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and strengthened adaptation and resilience efforts, his spokesperson said in reference to the 2014 summit.

“Much more needs to be done over the coming two years to achieve the ambitious agreement necessary to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius,” the spokesperson said in the statement.

New York, Nov 23 2013 10:00PM

UN CHIEF WELCOMES INTERIM AGREEMENT ON IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME


#AceWorldNews  says Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon today welcomed an interim agreement reached regarding Iran’s nuclear programme and urged the Governments concerned to do everything possible to continue negotiations.

In a <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=7303“>statement released late tonight by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban congratulated the negotiators in Geneva for progress made on “what could turn out to be the beginnings of a historic agreement for the people’s and nations of the Middle East region and beyond”.

He urged the Governments of Iran and the six other Member States involved to “build on this encouraging start” and to create mutual confidence.

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr. Ban “calls on all members of the international community to support this process which, if allowed to succeed, is likely to be to the long-term benefit of all parties,” his spokesperson said.

The top UN official also reaffirmed his unswerving commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation regime, the spokesperson added.

Iran’s nuclear programme — which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions — has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

New York, Nov 24 2013 12:00AM

 

“Ark of Return” Unveiled as Permanent Memorial to Re-Tell the Stories of 15 Million Slaves


English: African Burial Ground National Monume...
English: African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City Deutsch: African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Manhattan-based architect of Haitian descent was recently announced as the winner of an international competition to design a memorial that will be permanently on display at United Nations Headquarters in New York to honour victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

Unveiling Rodney Leon’s “‘Ark of Return”, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the memorial “will serve as a reminder of the bravery of those slaves, abolitionists and unsung heroes who managed to rise up against an oppressive system, fight for their freedom and end the practice.”
The ceremony, held on the eve of the General Assembly’s annual debate, was also attended by the President of the body’s 68th session, John Ashe, who commended all participants in the competition for “being a voice of change and hope” whose ability to create meaningful artwork “deepens our faith in human goodness and decency, and for this, we are all grateful.”

The piece by Mr. Leon, a designer and architect of the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan, features a “symbolic spiritual space and object where one can interact and pass through for acknowledgement, contemplation, meditation, reflection, healing, education and transformation,” according to its creator.

Mr. Leon’s work was selected from among 310 design proposals from 83 countries in a competition launched two years ago by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with support from the UN Department of Public Information’s Remember Slavery Programme, and Member States from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the African Union. Jamaica, as the Chairman of the Permanent Memorial Committee, was represented at today’s event by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

UNECO Director-General Irina Bokova, who also participated, said she was “moved” to be participating in the event given she just returned from Haiti where the memory of slavery and the slave trade carries precious significance not just of suffering but also of “victorious fight from oppression for freedom”.

Slavery
Slavery (Photo credit: quadelirus)

The design had to be created around the theme of “Acknowledging the Tragedy; Considering the legacy; Lest we forget “. It was to be not only a symbol, but part of an educational process in memory of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and to architecturally embody each affected region of the transatlantic slave trade – Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Americas.
It also had to artistically complement to the landscape of the UN Headquarters, described by UNESCO as “an iconic site that will deepen, both visually and spiritually, the visitor’s experience of this important environment.”

The winning design was unanimously chosen by a committee of five international judges who met at UN Headquarters in August. Ahead of the judging, they spoke with UN Television about how their decisions were shaped.

UN Television about how their decisions were shaped.

Ashfar Isahq is the Chairman of the International Children’s Art Foundation. He said he founded the organization to harness children’s imagination for positive change.

“At the end of the day, I and my work with children means that I have to look at an inner voice that tells me that this is what children and future generations will like,” Mr. Isahq said. “I listen to that inner voice to make my choice.”

Curator and artist Dominique Fontaine said she was looking for a certain aesthetic value, one “that will appeal to the viewer.”

From New York University, Michael Gomez, a professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies who specializes in the African Diaspora, said he was primarily interested in identifying a piece that spoke directly to the experience of the transatlantic slave trade and the significance of that trade.

“I was interested in finding a project that would in some way give expression to that experience, and would allow those who would visit the memorial to have a good sense of what that experience was about and its ongoing implication for various societies,” Mr. Gomez told UN Producer, Mary Ferreira.

Meanwhile, David Boxer, a former curator at the National Gallery of Jamaica said the real challenge for him was to find a piece that both spoke to the tragedy itself – which he said required a memorial in a “more traditional sense” – and something that is inspirational.

Mr. Boxer said he was looking for a piece “that looks to the future, that deals with the whole question of hope. That things are going to improve, that things are going to become better. So it’s how do you combine those two sentiments into a single monument.”

Completing the jury, Nadia Bakhurji, and architect, women’s empowerment advocate and   former Board Member of Saudi Council of Engineers, said she knew the winning design right away.

“I had emotional reactions to some of the sculptures and I knew which one would be the right one because it has to be the one that will really inspire thought-provoking ideas, make you step back and say – oh my God, is that really what happened and how can we prevent that from happening again,” Ms. Bakhurji said.

She added that she was also looking for a design that bridged educational and spiritual experiences.

 

UNCHR and WFP Providing New Grant of £6.3 Million of Lifeline Assistance to Help Congolese Refugee’s


The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of...
The Coat of arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new £6.3 million grant to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) follows a sharp increase in the number of refugees who have fled fighting and unrest in the North Kivu and Orientale provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the year.

Existing aid supplies in the region have been severely depleted following a sharp rise in refugees in the region.

In total, since the beginning of 2012, over 115,000 new Congolese refugees have been assisted in Uganda, with more arriving on a daily basis.

International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

Thousands of families who have fled into Uganda could face hunger and destitution unless aid agencies get the supplies they need. Our support will help families to survive and begin to rebuild their lives.

Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version ...
Logo of United Nations Refugee Agency.Version made by user Kashmiri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The UK’s funding will allow UNHCR and WFP to continue their support to refugees in in Bundibugyo, Kisoro and Koboko districts in western Uganda along the border with DRC, including transit centres and settlements.

UNHCR and its partners have provided shelter, household items, healthcare and nutrition, water and sanitation services, and various protection activities for children and adults while the WFP has provided food rations.

Britain’s support will enable the UNHCR and WFP to continue their support into the first quarter of next year. This will include:

  • Purchase of full food rations for 105,000 refugees for a period of 3 months.
  • Registration, transport, shelter, health services and clean water for 40,000 new arrivals.
  • One health centre and one school constructed and opened in Kyangwali refugee settlement.

WFP provides food that is cooked for refugees while they are at the transit centres, and then provides monthly family rations when they are relocated to settlements.

UNHCR supports refugees countrywide through five transit centres and eight settlements in north and southwest Uganda and in Kampala. Over 65 per cent of the more than 234,000 refugees in Uganda are from the DRC with most of the remainder originating from South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. About 70 per cent of refugees have arrived in the last five years.

True Cost of Piracy and Organised Crime off the Horn of Africa


piracy is a crime

Pirates off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa have made between $339 million and $413 million in ransom profits, fuelling a wide range of criminal activities on a global scale, according to a United Nations backed report released today.

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTFINANCIALSECTOR/0,,contentMDK:23491862~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:282885,00.html” Pirate Trails, produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and INTERPOL, uses data and evidence from interviews with former pirates, Government officials, bankers and others involved in countering piracy, to investigate the glow of ransom money paid out to Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean.

“The vast amounts of money collected by pirates, and the fact that they have faced almost no constraint in moving and using their assets has allowed them not only to thrive, but also to develop their capacities on land,” said the Chief of the Implementation Support Section in the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch at UNODC, Tofik Murshudlu.

“These criminal groups and their assets will continue to pose a threat to the stability and security of the Horn of Africa unless long-term structural solutions are implemented to impede their current freedom of movement.”

Piracy costs the global economy about $18 billion a year in increased trade costs. Because the outbreak of piracy has reduced maritime activity around the Horn of Africa, East African countries have suffered a significant decline in tourist arrivals and fishing yields since 2006.

“Unchallenged piracy is not only a menace to stability and security, but it also has the power to corrupt the regional and international economy,” said Stuart Yikona, a World Bank Senior Financial Sector Specialist and the report’s co-author.

English: Map showing the extent of Somali pira...
English: Map showing the extent of Somali pirate attacks on shipping vessels between 2005 and 2010. Français : Carte montrant l’étendue des attaques de pirates somaliens sur des navires de transport entre 2005 et 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The report found that ransom money was invested in criminal activities, such as arms trafficking, funding militias, migrant smuggling and human trafficking, and was used to further finance piracy activities. Piracy profits are also laundered through the trade of ‘khat,’ a herbal stimulant, where it is not monitored and so the most vulnerable to illicit international flows of money.

The report, which focused on Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Seychelles, and Somalia, also analysed the investments made by a sample of 59 pirate ‘financiers’ to show the  range of sectors – including both legitimate businesses and criminal ventures – that were funded by the ransom money. It found that between 30 per cent and 75 per cent of the ransom money ends up with these financiers, while the pirate ‘foot soldiers’ aboard the ships receive just a  fraction  of  the proceeds, amounting to less than 0.1 per cent of the total.

Pirate Trails calls for coordinated international action to address the issue, and sets out how the flow of illicit money from the Indian Ocean can be disrupted.

“The international community has mobilized a naval force to deal with the pirates. A similarly managed multinational effort is needed to disrupt and halt the flow of illicit money that circulates in the wake of their activities,” said Mr. Yikona.

Among the range of measures recommended by the report are strengthening  the  capacity  of  countries in the Horn of Africa to deal with illegal cross-border cash smuggling, risk-based oversight of Money Value Transfer Service Providers, and the development of mechanisms to monitor international financial flows into the khat trade.

UN Expert Cites Need for Regulating Private Security Firms


The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries today urged Governments to recognize the need for a legally binding international agreement to regulate the use and activities of private military and security companies (PMSCs) to complement existing regulations.

PMCS“Providing security is a fundamental human right and a fundamental responsibility of the State,” Anton Katz, who currently chairs the five-member group of independent experts, said in a <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13940&LangID=E“>news release.

“But the ever-expanding activities of PMSCs continue to raise a number of challenges, and the outsourcing of security to these companies by States create risks for human rights, hence the need to regulate their activities.”

Presenting the group’s report to the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which examines human rights issues, Mr. Katz stressed that existing national legislation is not sufficient to address the challenges posed by PMSCs.

He cited inadequacies related registering and licensing, and the lack of effective and transparent mechanisms and remedies for human rights violations within existing legislation, adding that these limitations are worsened by the transnational nature of PMSCs and the difficulties in ensuring accountability for any violations that may occur.

Montreux Document He noted that there are self-regulatory initiatives such as the Montreux Document and the International Code of Conduct which have been established by a number of States and corporate actors in the past years to try to address the challenges posed by PMSCs.

“However, these initiatives are not legally binding and cannot be considered as complete solutions for the problems concerning PMSCs,” he stressed.

On mercenaries, Mr. Katz said that recent events in several parts of the world demonstrate that mercenaries remain a threat not only to security but also to human rights and the right of people’s to self-determination. “We continue to call on States to cooperate in eliminating this phenomenon,” he stated.

Over the past year, the group made two country visits, to Somalia and Honduras. It also launched a national legislation project to look into analysing good practices and possible shortcomings in States’ protection of human rights in transnational security-related activities.

It has also embarked on a study on the UN’s use of PMSCs which will be the focus of its report to the General Assembly in 2014.

Members of the Working Group are appointed by the Human Rights Council. Their positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

 

OPCW UN-Team Awaits Next Step’s on Destruction of #Syria’s Chemical Weapon’s-#Peace


150 px
150 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

INTERVIEW: The Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations overseeing the destruction of Syria’s weapons programme confirmed yesterday that the Government has destroyed critical production equipment, rendering them inoperable. By doing so, Syria has met the deadline set by the OPCW Executive Council to complete the destruction of such equipment by 1 November.

The next milestone for the mission will be 15 November, by which time the Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction submitted by Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile. The UN News Centre spoke with the head of the mission, Sigrid Kaag, on Thursday about the latest developments, ahead of her visit to New York for talks next week at UN Headquarters.

UN News Centre: Can you describe what you saw during your visit to Syria?

Sigrid Kaag: I had the opportunity to visit Syria I believe around 10 days ago now. It was the first call on the Government to discuss the ongoing collaboration in pursuit of the mandate of the joint mission. I also had extensive discussions with the joint mission team – the team that I lead – on where we are with internal preparations, with logistics, with security, given the conditions in the country, and obviously, how we can best support the roll-out of the chemical weapons destruction plan, once approved by the Executive Council of the OPCW.

I visited one site, where I was able to see first hand how the facilities, once rendered inoperable… how the complete destruction will take place and then how the inspectors continue with their monitoring and verification.

UN News Centre: It has been announced that the mission has completed inspection of the sites declared by Syria. Are there any plans to go into the rebel-held areas?

Sigrid Kaag: Of all the declared sites, obviously the joint mission has carried out its first inspection, and has verified the rendering as inoperable of the production facilities… For now, all security aspects are very much closely coordinated with the Government of Syria, which is responsible for the safety and security of the joint mission, as will be the case for other missions as well. And we look at issues of access, safety and security on a case-by-case basis in close coordination with the designated official of the UN family, but also with development partners and counterparts.

UN News Centre: During your visit, did you have any contact with people who were affected by the use of chemical weapons?

Sigrid Kaag: No, we did not.

UN News Centre: What’s next for the joint mission?

Sigrid Kaag and Abdel-Rahman Ghandour
Sigrid Kaag and Abdel-Rahman Ghandour (Photo credit: United Nations Development Programme)

Sigrid Kaag: We’re waiting of course for the big discussion and decision by the Executive Council on the 15th of November. In the meantime, we are preparing internally as a joint mission, making sure that we are fit for purpose, that we have a good understanding of the requirements in order to ensure effective implementation of the plan. And of course we are very committed to help the Government as a State Party meet its obligations under the [Chemical Weapons] Convention, and therefore, ensure the completion of the chemical weapons programme by the ultimate stated deadline of the middle of 2014.

UN News Centre: Who is guarding the actual chemical weapons?

Sigrid Kaag: This all falls on the State Party, it’s under its responsibility to ensure the safety as well as access to the sites as well as the weapons. But the production facilities – and that’s why it’s an important day today – the production facilities have been rendered inoperable. Particular discussions are ongoing as to the complete elimination of the chemical weapons themselves.

UN News Centre: What will happen to the weapons now?

Sigrid Kaag: That is all part of the ongoing discussions within the framework that was agreed between Russia and the US, and supporting the Syrian authorities to look at what is an optimal chemical weapons destruction plan. So it’s too early to comment, that’s for the Executive Council of the OPCW to discuss and to decide upon. Then [it’ll be] very clear what the role of the joint mission will be.

UN News Centre:  Would such weapons normally be destroyed in the country or somewhere else?

Sigrid Kaag: I think ‘normal’ doesn’t apply under the current conditions. There are different scenarios being discussed. My understanding is, from the perspective of OPCW, that under normal circumstances – which is always peacetime – chemical weapons are destroyed in country. However, as we know, the conditions in Syria are such that different options would be explored.

UN News Centre: Having worked in the region for a number of years, this was not your first visit to Syria. What were your impressions this time around?

Sigrid Kaag: Well, it’s hard to speak of an impression… On this visit, I have been in Damascus primarily, meeting counterparts, and I have been on site visits. So it’s very hard to speak of my impressions as being holistic. I can’t compare them to the types of visits I would undertake in past personal or professional visits. I think on the overall conditions, the Secretary-General has spoken consistently… the Emergency Relief Coordinator… my visit itself was primarily confined to Damascus, to ongoing dialogue with senior Syrian officials.

 

UN: #Syrian Refugee Numbers have Reached Over Three Million Many Still Without #Food


English: Logo of the UN World Food Programme i...
English: Logo of the UN World Food Programme in SVG format (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said that it is reaching close to 3.3 million people in Syria – a record for its operations – but many are still without food in areas cut off by fighting, particularly in Damascus and the capital’s besieged suburbs.

“WFP is concerned about the fate of many Syrians trapped in conflict areas and still in need of urgent food assistance,” spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs told journalists in Geneva.

“Some 3.3 million has reached in October, but the overall target for WFP for the entire Syria was to reach four million people by the end of December 2013,” the spokesperson added.

Damascus and Rural Damascus remain one of WFP’s biggest challenges due to insecurity and the siege in many conflict areas, said Mr. Byrnes.

People are still trapped in Moadamiyeh, she noted, but the UN agency has not been able to enter the area.

“WFP and UN partners had made nine unsuccessful attempts to reach Moadamiyeh and could not confirm what exactly was happening in that area,” the spokesperson said.

Since mid-2012, WFP had been unable to access 37 other locations, such as Daraya, Yarmouk, Hajar Aswad, Yalda, Babila, Sbineh, Douma, Jobar, Qaboon, Zamalka and Erbeen.

These are some of the most deprived areas where “even the most basic items were in scarce supply”, the spokesperson noted.

More than a dozen trucks with supplies are en route to the capital Aleppo, carrying enough food for 75,000 people as part of the Governorate’s October allocation.

Despite the allocations, the city is one of the Governorates where food distribution has become difficult in recent months.

World Food Programme FEED bag
World Food Programme FEED bag (Photo credit: Rooey202)

More children are being admitted to hospitals with acute and moderate malnutrition, the UN Children’s Fund said, also addressing the press.

“The most difficult challenge in helping those children was access,” said UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado.

The community is also grabbling with a lack of skilled professionals to deal with malnutrition.