WEEK OF MARCH 22, 2013

Articles for this Update were compiled by the City Bar's Committee on the United Nations.

Nepal must strike law on possible amnesty for serious rights violations - UN official

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged Nepal to rectify a decree that gives a truth and reconciliation commission the power to grant amnesty for serious human rights violations. “Such amnesties would not only violate core principles under international law but would also weaken the foundation for a genuine and lasting peace in Nepal,” Ms. Pillay stated. The 2006 peace accord that ended the conflict in Nepal had agreed to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate human rights violations that occurred from 1996 to 2006, during which at least 13,000 people were killed and 1,300 went missing. Although an agreement was in place to establish such a commission, a law was only passed last week - part of a package to break a long-standing political deadlock and move the country towards fresh elections. Ms. Pillay expressed particular concern that the text of the decree was developed and passed in a secretive manner, without consultations with civil society, victims, families of the victims or national human rights institutions.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44431

UN envoy voices deep concern at postponement of elections in two Iraqi provinces

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Martin Kobler, expressed deep concern about the postponement of governorate council elections in Iraq’s western province of Anbar and the northern province of Ninewa. Mr. Kobler stated: “There is no democracy without elections [and] the citizens of these provinces are looking forward to these elections with great hope. They should not be disappointed.”

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44434

Ban reiterates concerns about possible chemical weapons use in Syria

Both the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Ahmet Üzümcü and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced their deep concern about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. Mr. Ban remains convinced that the use of chemical weapons by any party under any circumstances constitutes an egregious crime. He also reaffirmed his strong support for the work of the OPCW, which is closely monitoring the situation on the ground. Since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, more than 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed. The conflict has also spawned a humanitarian crisis, with over three million people displaced from their homes, including one million seeking safety in neighboring countries.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44429

UN officials welcome surrender of wanted Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda

According to media reports, rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda walked into the United States Embassy in Rwanda, turned himself in, and asked to be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands. The ICC has indicted Mr. Ntaganda on seven counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003. A founding member of the M23 rebel movement, Mr. Ntaganda is accused of recruiting children into armed conflict and acts of murder, rape, and sexual slavery. Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict noted that the grave violations committed against children in last year’s rebellion in North Kivu province resulted in Security Council sanctions against him, including a travel ban and asset freeze. “The international prosecution will prove that impunity does not prevail for child rights violations and creates an important deterrent for potential perpetrators,” stated Ms. Zerrougui.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44422

MONUSCO press release: http://monusco.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=11430&ctl=Details&mid=14701&ItemID=19689&language=en-US

Former Irish leader Mary Robinson appointed UN envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region

Former Irish President and internationally renowned human rights champion Mary Robinson has been appointed as the new Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. Ms. Robinson, who served as the 7th President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, has more than four decades of political and diplomatic experience, including as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002. “I am honored that the Secretary-General has entrusted to me this important responsibility, to which I am already focusing my energies,” Ms. Robinson said in a statement. Ms. Robinson plans to travel to the Great Lakes region in the coming weeks to work closely with leaders to ensure that their respective governments address the presence of combatants in their territories.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44416

UN human rights chief welcomes trial for Guatemalan genocide

The beginning of the “historic” trial of Guatemala’s former President Efraín Ríos Montt and former intelligence chief José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, both accused of crimes committed in the Central American nation over 30 years ago, was applauded by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

“I hope that [the trial] will signal the arrival of long-awaited justice for thousands of victims of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed during the murderous 36-year conflict in Guatemala,” Ms. Pillay said in a press release. The former President and former intelligence chief stand accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity for their roles in Guatemala’s conflict, which spanned from 1960 to 1996, and saw, according to news reports, an estimated 200,000 killed or disappeared. During the conflict, Guatemala became the theatre for numerous displays of brutality, which were ultimately catalogued and revealed by the UN-backed Historical Clarification Commission of Guatemala in its report on the war. Ms. Pillay also pointed out that it was “the first time, anywhere in the world,” that a former head of State was being tried for genocide by a national tribunal.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44417

Press release: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?

Ban stresses importance of successful outcome to Serbia-Kosovo dialogue

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of a successful outcome to the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, and called on both parties to remain committed to reaching agreements through mutually acceptable solutions. In February 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, but Serbia does not recognize the declaration. The EU has been facilitating dialogue between the parties on a range of practical matters.

The next round of talks is scheduled for 20 March in Brussels. The UN Security Council will also be discussing Kosovo later this week in New York.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44414

Mali: UN force possible in July, senior peacekeeping official says

By July 2013, the United Nations could have a peacekeeping operation in place in Mali, with approval from the Malian government and the Security Council. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, stressed that any UN force would be limited and would focus on protecting civilians and supporting the Malian authorities. “The sovereignty of Mali is the main objective of this international support,” Mr. Mulet said. The 15-member UN Security Council would be required to vote on any UN presence in the country. That authorization is likely to be up for debate following a report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which is due on March 27.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44407

UN human rights monitoring team praises Kenya for successful election process

Earlier this month, millions of Kenyans voted in their presidential elections, which were praised by a United Nations team deployed to monitor human rights issues in the country as, “peaceful and characterized by an absence of any systematic violations of human rights.” The team from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited several polling stations on election day, and interacted with other international and local observers, UN agencies, national institutions, government officials and security agencies. However, the UN team also identified some challenges, including broken biometric voter registration kits and long lines at polling stations, which, in some cases, resulted in a wait of up to 10 hours before citizens could cast their votes. During the election, Uhuru Kenyatta narrowly avoided a run-off by winning 50.7 per cent of the ballots.

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44391

Chad: four million children targeted in UN-backed immunization campaign

The Chadian government, with the support of United Nations agencies and their partners, launched a three-day campaign to eradicate polio, boost vitamin A, and provide care and services to de-worm approximately four million children under the age of five within its borders. More than 9,600 additional community workers have been mobilized across the country to ensure that all targeted children are reached, according to a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) press release. “The combined immunization campaign constitutes an important step forward for Chad in its agenda to accelerate child survival and development,” said Bruno Maes, the Representative in Chad for UNICEF, which is supporting the effort along with the World Health Organization (WHO).

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44398

UN tourism agency welcomes Jamaica’s relaxation of visa policies for certain nationals

The Jamaican government relaxed visa regulations for tourists originating in a number of Eastern European countries and extended its current visa waiver system for some Latin American nationals today, in a move lauded by the United Nations tourism agency. “Easing visa policies generates new opportunities for tourism growth and the consequent economic benefits that it brings,” said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The visa waiver applies to tourists from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine who are visiting Jamaica for up to 30 days, and creates an indefinite extension of the visa waiver currently in place for nationals of Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela.

Full story:http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44399

UNWTO press release: http://media.unwto.org/en/press-release/2013-03-14/unwto-welcomes-travel-facilitation-measures-jamaica

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