The United Nations stands ready to lend its support in response to the damage caused by an earthquake which struck Guatemala yesterday, a spokesperson for the world body’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, while also noting the UN chief’s sadness over the event.“The United Nations stands ready to lend its assistance to efforts already under way by the Guatemalan authorities to respond to humanitarian needs created by the disaster and to mobilize any international support needed for that response,” the spokesperson told a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.According to media reports, at least 48 people are dead, another 150 are injured and dozens are missing, with residents seeking safety in streets due to concerns over aftershocks on Thursday. The earthquake, reportedly measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale, struck off the coast of Guatemala near its border with Mexico on Wednesday, 7 November.The spokesperson added that the Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life, and the damage to homes and infrastructure in Guatemala as a result of the earthquake. “He extends his sincere condolences to the Guatemalan government and people, particularly the families of those who have been killed or otherwise affected in this disaster,” the spokesperson said.
Daily Archives: October 2, 2019
According to a news release issued by the UN human rights office (OHCHR), Belize is a country of destination, transit and, to a limited degree, of origin, where human trafficking disproportionately affects women who are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation – particularly women from the neighbouring countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Wrapping up her official visit to the country, UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said Belize should avoid a “repressive” immigration policy that compounds the problem of human trafficking and undermines efforts at combating and preventing the phenomenon and providing holistic assistance to the victims. Ms. Ezeilo also cited a growing problem of crimes against children, especially sexual exploitation of young girls from poor families through the ‘sugar daddy’ syndrome and ‘fichería’ in bars, where men pay a higher price to drink with the girls (‘ficheras’), a practice identified as a prelude to prostitution. The expert welcomed Belize’s ratification of key human rights treaties and its adoption of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Act. However, she voiced concerns about the capacity and the willingness to identify trafficked persons and potential victims of trafficking, especially those in mixed migration situation.“More worrisome is the rampant and indiscriminate criminalization of irregular migrants for irregular entry into Belize which contributes to driving the phenomenon of human trafficking further underground,” she stressed.She noted that immigration officers routinely prosecute, convict and/or fine immigrants even before giving them an opportunity to tell their stories or be identified as trafficked persons or potential victims of trafficking. “The practice of criminalization of irregular immigrants is against international human rights standards and practices, especially given the inhumane conditions of detention and the absence of basic assistance including in establishing contacts with families, embassies and lawyers,” the expert pointed out. Ms. Ezeilo drew special attention to the fact that children under 18 years of age are also punished for breach of immigration laws and kept in prison since there is no separate facility for the detention of irregular migrants. “I met pregnant underage girls who may be potential victims of trafficking and are currently detained along with adults,” she said. “I am further concerned about the growing reports of child prostitution and sexual exploitation of girls in the tourism industry,” she stated. Ms. Ezeilo will present her report, including a number of recommendations, to the UN Human Rights Council at its June 2014 session in Geneva. UN independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
“This act follows the terrible bombing on 27 December and further reflects a deeply worrying escalation in the violence witnessed in Lebanon in recent months,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.The Security Council issued a press statement reaffirming that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.” Several people were killed or injured when the car bomb ripped through the southern Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik. Last Friday, a car bomb in the centre of the capital killed former minister Mohammad Chattah and at least five others, an attack that Mr. Ban and the Council said underlined the need to protect Lebanon’s stability in the face of such terrorism and the civil war in neighbouring Syria. “The Secretary-General calls on all Lebanese parties to act with restraint and for the Lebanese people to come together to support the institutions of the state, particularly the army and security forces, as they work to prevent other acts of terrorism and to safeguard the stability and security of their country,” Mr. Ban said in today’s statement. “The Secretary-General underlines the need for the instigators and perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice as soon as possible.” In its statement, which echoed the call for justice, the Council appealed to all Lebanese people to “preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability and stressed the importance for all Lebanese parties to respect Lebanon’s policy of disassociation and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis.”Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to Lebanon in the almost three years of violence that erupted when originally peaceful protesters demonstrated for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power, and various Lebanese factions have been implicated is supporting different sides in the resulting Syrian civil war. UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly voiced outrage that this was the fourth bomb to explode in Beirut’s southern suburbs since July and stressed the importance of bringing to justice those responsible for this and all other such acts of terrorism.
Tsetse flies are vectors for the single-cell parasites that cause trypanosomiasis, or nagana, an often-lethal disease that affects some 3 million animals in sub-Saharan Africa each year at massive costs to farmers’ livelihoods and food security. The tsetse genome was sequenced and annotated during a 10-year global collaborative effort that involved the Insect Pest Control Laboratory run jointly by the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. Scientists will now be able to better study the fly’s genes and functions, knowledge that should open the door for researching ways to control the insect, according to a news release issued by the two UN agencies.“Decoding the tsetse fly’s DNA is a major scientific breakthrough that opens the way for more effective control of trypanosomiasis, which is good news for millions of herders and farmers in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Kostas Bourtzis of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. “Detection and treatment of trypanosomiasis is currently expensive, difficult and dangerous for the livestock as it often involves toxic drugs, but this new knowledge will accelerate research on tsetse control methods and help scientists develop new and complementary strategies to reduce the use of costly drugs and insecticides,” he said. Trypanosomiasis leads to a debilitating chronic condition that reduces fertility, weight gain, meat and milk production, and makes livestock too weak to be used for ploughing or transport, which in turn affects crop production. Humans bitten by carrier flies can develop African sleeping sickness, which can be fatal without treatment. No vaccine against the disease exists for livestock or humans because the parasite is able to evade mammalian immune systems, so control methods primarily involve targeting tsetse flies through trapping, pesticide treatments and sterile male release strategies.The Joint FAO/IAEA Division is currently supporting 14 African nations in their efforts to tackle the trypanosomiasis problem by controlling tsetse fly populations by integrating the sterile insect technique with other control methods. A form of “insect birth control,” according to the Division, the sterile insect technique involves releasing mass-bred male flies that have been sterilized by low doses of radiation into infested areas, where they mate with wild females. These do not produce offspring and, as a result, the technique can suppress and, if applied systematically on an area-wide basis, eventually eradicate populations of wild flies. Tsetse flies were successfully eradicated from the island of Zanzibar using the sterile insect technique and are currently being suppressed in parts of southern Ethiopia. In January, Senegal reported that it was making significant progress in infested areas in the Niayes with the same method.
In an interview with UN Radio, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, described “a feeling of despair and of tiredness” in the Middle Eastern country from which he recently returned, adding that the strongest message he received from people on the ground was an appeal to “stop this carnage” and “give us some light.” “That was the strongest message I got and that’s why I’ve been so keen in trying to find some entry points to make that difference: not through a conference, not through a seminar, but through something tangible for them,” Mr. de Mistura said. The conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has led to well over 150,000 deaths, and more than 680,000 people have been injured. At least 10.8 million people are in need of assistance inside Syria, including at least 6.5 million who are internally displaced.The violence has also spawned a refugee crisis flooding neighbouring countries with some 2.5 million people.Asked about his “new plan” for Syria and the region at large, Mr. de Mistura said the besieged city of Aleppo provides the best example of where the conflict could be frozen locally, as fighting between opposition and Government forces had ground to a stalemate amid the steady advance of ISIL militants. “If we can freeze that and show that at least Aleppo can become an area where we can provide some better life for citizens, then the focus can be, as it should be, on [ISIL],” he continued. The “new plan,” first presented to the Security Council last Thursday, would initially seek to freeze the fighting and create an environment whereby humanitarian aid could reach the beleaguered population in Aleppo. Additionally, it would also provide visible proof that the on-the-ground narrative can be shifted from a military one to a political one. “If that can be replicated,” Mr. de Mistura said, “then we may have a formula to cool off, if nothing else, the environment in Syria and lead to a political process, as everybody claims should be the case, rather than simply saying it but nothing happening.” The Special Envoy added that he would soon be returning to Damascus for further consultations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad where the specifics for bringing the plan to fruition would be discussed. “As you know, the devil is in the details. And the details in this matter count because it means lives saved and locations identified,” he explained. “That’s why I’ve been proposing Aleppo because it has many ingredients; it is a place which is iconic; it is threatened by the war between the two sides, the Government and the opposition; and it’s now also threatened by [ISIL].”
According to a readout of a meeting between the two leaders, the Secretaries-General reviewed the continued cooperation between the United Nations and League of Arab States and exchanged views on strengthening international efforts against counter-terrorism, and on Syria, Iraq, the Middle East Peace Process, Yemen and Libya. Mr. Ban and Mr. El-Araby agreed to remain in close touch on the issues of concern to both organizations. Continuing his programme on the margins of the Summit, Mr. Ban also met with the President of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The Secretary-General congratulated Egypt on a successful summit and also commended Egypt’s leadership role in many regional issues. In a discussion on the Middle East peace process, Mr. Ban underlined the importance both of Palestinian reconciliation and of reconstruction in Gaza. Despite generous pledges made at the Cairo conference in October 2014, the Secretary-General underscored that the disbursement of funds for Gaza had been very limited, which had dangerous implications on the ground. The Secretary-General and President el-Sisi discussed the importance of all sides continuing to work for a genuine two-state solution where both Israelis and Palestinians would respect their mutual security needs. The Secretary-General then briefed the President on the difficult situations in Yemen, Libya and Syria, where his Special Envoys were tirelessly working to promote dialogue and stability and to end conflict in all three countries. Mr. Ban also briefed President Sisi on current United Nations initiatives to combat extremism and terrorism. The Secretary-General also updated the President on a number of important on-going development-related issues within the framework of the UN, including the negotiations on the sustainable development goals, the upcoming Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference, and the UN climate change conference in Paris at the end of the year. Mr. Ban’s discussions continued with Somali’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The Secretary-General expressed condolences to the President over the victims of the most recent terrorist attack in Mogadishu. The Secretary-General welcomed the President’s leadership in the ongoing State formation process, including the establishment of the National Leadership Forum. He also emphasized the importance of inclusivity, especially of women, youth, minorities and other weak communities, in Somalia’s State-building approach. They discussed Somali stakeholder’s commitment to meet key Vision 2016 timelines to complete Somalia’s federal state formation process and to review the provisional constitution. The Secretary-General and President Mohamud also discussed the alarming humanitarian situation and human rights concerns in the country, as well as developments in the region.
“Without access to the airports, aid agencies are unable to bring in staff, vital supplies of medicines and other critical life-saving assistance, or undertake medical evacuations of their personnel,” said Johannes van der Klaauw in a press statement. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), coalition airstrikes have targeted the runways at Sana’a international airport over the past week, rendering them inoperable. No flights can take-off or land while the runways are being repaired. More than 1,200 people have been killed and 300,000 have fled their homes in nearly two months of fighting in the war-torn Gulf nation. Emergency relief and medical teams from abroad are struggling to fly in to scale-up the humanitarian operation to address the needs of increasingly vulnerable Yemenis. “I strongly urge the coalition to stop targeting Sana’a international airport and to preserve this important lifeline – and all other airports and seaports – so that humanitarians can reach all those affected by the armed conflict in Yemen,” the Humanitarian Coordinator said. In its latest update on Yemen, OCHA said that the conflict, insecurity and shortage of fuel continue to hinder the delivery of urgently needed assistance to displaced families and other vulnerable, conflict-affected communities. Insecurity and lack of fuel have limited access to and delivery of services. Partners report difficulty providing medical services as result of the current security situation and continued airstrikes targeting Haradh, Sa’ada and Sana’a. Food partners have reported they have had to suspend assistance in several districts due to lack of fuel. Casualties and the number of displaced continue to rise. In Aden, where violence has continued, local authorities report that 98 per cent of Khormaksar district’s 62,869 residents had left and that remaining families are trapped and awaiting secure conditions to leave. Mass displacement is also taking place in Al Muala and Aden City. In Aden, local sources report continued widespread violence. Local sources report that several districts are without electricity, water and telecommunications for over a week and on 3 May had been blocked in order to prevent supplies from entering. Efforts are underway by UN agencies and partners to bring new and urgently needed supplies to the country, but the security situation is severely hampering those measures. Yemen imports almost 90 percent of its basic food from abroad. The political situation in Yemen has deteriorated since the country formed a new Government in November 2014.
Mr. Martelly said that one year ago, the Secretary-General, in his report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Mission in Haiti – known by the French acronym MINUSTAH – had noted that the holding of inclusive elections is essential for consolidation of democracy and the rule of law and promotion of development in Haiti.“I am pleased to affirm that Haiti is on the right path,” he declared, noting that the Haitian people are showing political maturity and the capacity to take their destiny into their own hands. The success of the elections is an important milestone along the path of the country’s stability and the political transition set to take place in 2016. This will be a decisive indicator of the good performance and the success of MINUSTAH over the past 11 years, he added. Significant progress has been achieved over the past four years, the President continued, affirming that during his Administration, democracy has been strengthened, rule of law institutions has been bolstered, the security situation has improved, human rights has been strengthened, extreme poverty has been reduced, foreign direct investment has largely expanded, and, after decades of stagnation, the economy has also seen growth. As for progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Haiti had made strides in education, child nutrition and access to water and sanitation. Such progress was been made possible in part to the United Nations and MINUSTAH, without which “no prospect for economic and sustainable development could have been seriously pondered.”Meanwhile, President Martelly continued, MINUSTAH is adapting to a new context: the Haitian Government is opting for a reconfiguration plan which takes into account the current situation in the country. He hoped to see progress along those lines in an ordered manner. “The transfer to Haitian institutions of the responsibilities for military matters, as well as police and development matters should be carries out according to a specific timeline [to] avoid any gaps in internal or external security of the country,” he explained.President Martelly said that his Administration placed significant importance on the issues of defence and security. He has worked to strengthen the national police and to develop a new defence policy with the support of the Inter-American Defence Council. “This new force will actively participate in Haiti’s development,” he said, noting such activities as environmental protection, providing relief for natural disasters, providing security of national borders and protecting investments.In a world where interdependence requires a global approach to tackle local problems, the United Nations must reinvent itself “for our common future” with a view to bringing Member States back together and bolstering multilateral relations for the betterment of all. Recent hopeful events in the area of diplomatic relations include the reopening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and the reaching of a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme with international negotiators.Yet challenges abound, foremost among them, the seemingly daily expansion of non-State entities, not just in Syria and Iraq where such groups are attacking civilian populations and destroying cultural heritage. “These threats are exceptionally grave and must be addressed by the international community. We must adopt all collective measures in order to guarantee international security and respect for human rights,” he said, urging determination to oppose “the barbarism of terrorist entities and criminal behaviour that threaten our common values.” Mr. Martelly also said that “we cannot hope for an effective response to global challenges of our time without reducing the North-South divide, but an intensification of the fight against poverty and without a proactive response to the ecological crises that strike primarily the poorest countries.”
In his address to the 71st annual debate of the UN General Assembly, Prime Minister John Key impressed on the world leaders that “it is our collective responsibility, as Member States [of the UN], to front up with the political commitment necessary to make the UN the body that we want it to be.” Referring to his country’s role in the UN Security Council, he added: “New Zealand is working for a Security Council that shows more leadership on the toughest political issues; that works harder to get the incentives right to broker solutions; and that is better at responding to political crises before they spiral out of control.” Mr. Key, however, also expressed that it is deeply troubling to see the Council fail to live up to its responsibilities on Syria. “Here, the Council has fallen short,” he said, adding: “Internal politics within the Council and the sheer complexity of the Syria crisis have obstructed a unified Council response.” Informing the General Assembly that New Zealand, as the current President of the Security Council, will convene a leaders-level meeting tomorrow on the situation in the crisis-struck country, he expressed hope that it will provide an opportunity for Council leaders to take stock of developments, examine the fundamental issues at the heart of the conflict, and discuss how a sustainable political solution can be reached. Speaking particularly on the use of veto in the Council, Prime Minister Key said: “No matter how hard we work to find compromises, time and time again we come up against the veto.”“The use of the veto; the threat of the veto. The exploitation of the veto is well beyond what the founders of the United Nations envisaged,” he stressed, stating that now is the time to move forward on Security Council reform. Turning to other parts of the UN system, Mr. Key noted that significant steps on development, climate, financing, and humanitarian and disaster risk reduction are of particular significance to small island developing States. Underlining that sustainable economic development, a key driver of global growth, prosperity and stability, requires a fair, rules-based trading system, more open trade and the removal of trade barriers, the Prime Minister called on the World Trade Organization (WTO) “to do more to set global trade rules.” “We need it to find common ground that overcomes vested national interests, and agree to new international trade commitments that benefit all countries,” he said, adding that protectionism will adversely impact the international community’s ability to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Turning to the selection of a new UN Secretary-General, Prime Minister Key said that next the UN chief must have the courage, experience and skills necessary to lead the organization and to keep it relevant and responsive. “We think it’s time for a Secretary-General like Helen Clark,” he said, noting that Ms Clark, the current Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), rallies people together to find the common ground, even when the issues are difficult and the differences vast. In conclusion, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said that he is proud of the contribution his country is making to the Security Council but noted that he is “keenly aware of the Council’s limitations.” Underscoring that it is the General Assembly that now needs to act to make the UN stronger and more relevant to the world, he said: “New Zealand is committed to the principles and values of the UN.”
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Manual on Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) outlines essential steps that should be followed so that Indigenous Peoples are able to participate in a manner that is free of coercion and with the necessary information in a development project – from its design to sharing its achievements after it has been completed – prior to any decisions having been made. “None of us would allow someone to come to our home and start any activity of any kind without our agreement,” said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Building, in a news release today, explaining the concept of FPIC. “It is shocking that in the 21st century, [there is an] underlying understanding that there are different rights for different human beings. […] This is de facto marginalization by dividing rights for first and second class citizens,” she added. According to FAO, there are about 370 million indigenous individuals living in more than 90 countries, estimated to make up 75 percent of the world’s cultural diversity and speaking well over half of the world’s 7,000 surviving languages. However, over the past decades, they have been facing mounting challenges related to their livelihoods, respect for their rights and spiritual beliefs, and access to lands, natural resources and territories. Furthermore, mounting pressures from some extractive industries in some parts of the world are placing them at great peril. FAO said today that a constant variable in all the actions that lead to forced displacement and destruction of their natural resources is the lack of respect for their FPIC right.The right of Indigenous Peoples to FPIC has also been acknowledged in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007. Indigenous knowledge vital for sustainable developmentThe importance of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge systems and their contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as in combatting climate change is receiving greater attention. This point was noted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address to the Arctic Circle Assembly this weekend. FAO too highlighted this importance. In today’s news release, speaking specifically on food security and combatting malnutrition, the agency noted: “Indigenous Peoples’ food systems can help the rest of humanity expand its narrow food base, currently reliant on only a small set of staple crops.”“Additionally, by protecting forest resources, many indigenous communities help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change,” it added.