WEEK OF OCTOBER 11, 2013

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

Four decades in solitary confinement amounts to torture, UN expert tells US authorities

Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, urged the United States to immediately end the practice of indefinite solitary confinement. The call comes after Herman Wallace, a man held in solitary confinement for 41 years, died 2 days after his release – just as his conviction was overturned on appeal. His co-accused, Albert Woodfox, continues to be held indefinitely in solitary confinement. Mr. Méndez noted that the practice of solitary confinement is prevalent throughout the US prison system and called on the US to adopt measures to eliminate the use of solitary confinement and enact a ban of such prison methods for vulnerable populations such as women, youth, and persons with mental disabilities. He also reiterated his request for permission to visit state prisons but has yet to receive a positive response.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46205

UN projects 40% of world will be online by year-end, 4.4 billion will remain unconnected

The annual report of the International Telecommunication Union indicates more than 40 percent of the world’s population will be connected online by the end of this year. The rise of cell phone usage coincides with the fall in prices across the world, experiencing an 82 percent fall in the last four years. The speed of connectivity and availability of mobile broadband also contributed to the rise of consumer usage. The report listed South Korea, followed by the Scandinavian countries, as nations with the highest levels of information and technology market access, use and skills. Developing countries, however, are still lagging behind.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46207

States must prioritize migrants’ human rights, UN independent experts reiterate

UN independent experts called on Member States to prioritize the development of a human rights framework for immigration policies. The experts also called on the governments of Somalia and Eritrea, whose citizens often risk their lives to reach safe destinations in other countries, to address the root causes of human trafficking and smuggling. The call comes after a boat carrying more than 500 immigrants capsized, resulting in deaths of more than 300 people, including women and children. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, emphasized that failure to adopt new migration policies, including creating opportunities for asylum, will lead to an increase in deaths among migrants.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46206
Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/04/world/europe/scores-die-in-shipwreck-off-sicily.html

Under UN eye, destruction of Syrian chemical weapons begins

An expert UN disarmament team began the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, as authorized by the UN mandate to rid Syria of its chemical weapons stockpile by mid-2014. The experts are working alongside Syrian personnel to comply with the Security Council mandate. The unprecedented move to destroy chemical weapons amid raging civil wars, comes after a UN investigation concluded that sarin, a poison gas, was used during the ongoing civil war in Syria. The United States threatened to use military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the US accused of using chemical weapons against his civilians, if the stockpile is not destroyed.

Full story: http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-un-destruction-syria-chemical-
20131006,0,4456440.story

Children lured from Rwanda to fight with Congo rebels – UN

M-23, a rebel group operating in Eastern Congo and allegedly backed by the Rwandan government, is accused of recruiting children from Rwanda to participate in the insurgency against the Congolese government. The UN chief of child protection with MONUSCO, the peacekeeping mission there, claims that some children received training from the Rwandan military before joining the M-23. According to reports, children were lured by cash rewards and the promise of education and job opportunities. The former child soldiers reported that they were often exposed to direct fire and extreme conditions where disobeying orders resulted in killing. Innocent Zimurinda and Baudoin Ngaruye, two M-23 officers, are accused of recruiting child soldiers, and are subject to a UN travel ban as well as an international arrest warrant issued by the Congolese government.

Full story: http://news.yahoo.com/children-lured-rwanda-fight-congo-rebels-u-n-203358079.html

Iran’s Khamenei gives qualified support to opening to West

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has offered a cautious support and criticism for the diplomatic initiative to opening to the West. The endorsement by the Supreme Leader came after the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke via telephone to President Obama after 34 years without diplomatic relations between the two countries. President Rouhani has taken a more pragmatic approach to resolving the nuclear standoff, with the hope of ending the crippling sanctions that continue to severely hurt Iran’s economy. However, the diplomatic overture drew strong responses from Iran and Israel. Khamenei still remains skeptical about the actions of the US government whom he reportedly views as unreasonable and untrustworthy. The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard stated that the President should have obtained some concession from the US government before reaching out. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel is ready to strike Iran militarily to stop nuclear progress.

Full story: http://news.yahoo.com/iran-khamenei-criticises-rouhanis-un-trip-094933782.html

DR Congo’s M23 rebels cannot be defeated militarily: UN

A member of the UN Security Council delegation visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo stated that defeating the M-23 rebels requires finding a political solution instead of military force, as previous efforts to incorporate the rebel movement into the DRC’s military have failed. M-23 continues to fight in Eastern Congo, a region rich with minerals, and its ongoing rebellion has resulted in reports of deaths, rapes and displacements of thousands of civilians. The latest rounds of negotiations have stalled due to a diverging stance on the issue of amnesty and reintegration into the Congolese army. The Congolese government refuses to grant amnesty to M-23 leaders whom they believe are responsible for serious violations of human rights.

Full story: http://news.yahoo.com/dr-congos-m23-rebels-cannot-defeated-militarily-un-212959283.html

More teachers-better trained and supported-needed to reach education targets,
UN warns

Marking World’s Teacher Day, the United Nations held events in Paris and New York, highlighting the need to hire more qualified teachers in the African and Arab States to reach the goal of achieving a primary education for everyone by 2015, as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals. According to UN figures, 57 million children do not attend school and about of half of those kids will never obtain an education. Additionally, many children who attend school fail to read or write by the time they enter the fourth grade. Having a trained and qualified teacher is an important step in addressing the lack of primary education.

To combat staggering figures, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Education First Initiative to focus on hiring qualified teachers and to improve the quality of education and learning. UN Special Envoy for Education, Gordon Brown, emphasized the importance of education, stating that “education is not only the way to unlock individual opportunity” and to break the cycle of poverty, “it is also the way that individual nations can become prosperous.”

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46198

UN officials spotlight need for improved urban resilience, mobility, ahead of World Habitat Day

To mark the World Habitat Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to take action to improve urban mobility and to provide alternative forms of transportation to help people address climate change and its impact. Over the last decade, more than 1.1 million people have died and more than 2.7 billion people have been affected by natural catastrophes. Many cities are now facing economic and sustainability challenges that can be addressed through providing alternative transportation options that can not only help people travel to work but also provide access to education, health and government services. Optimizing the urban space, by planning cities that are well-organized and accessible to many people, is one way to address the economic and environmental challenges facing the planet.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46191

As Ruto Trial Resumes, Kenya Debates the ICC Future

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto is back on trial at the International Criminal Court, after a week of postponement to allow Mr. Ruto to return to Kenya to address the terrorist attack on the Westgate mall. Mr. Ruto is on trial for allegations of crimes against humanity following the 2007 presidential election in Kenya. Next month, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled for trial at the ICC on similar charges. The Kenyan public remains divided over whether the tribunal is acting in the best interest of the country. The trials also raise the question of how the top Kenyan leadership can effectively govern while they defend themselves in The Hague. Further, the trial resumes amidst the Kenyan government’s desire to withdraw from the ICC and a new warrant issued for former Kenyan journalist Walter Barasa, accused of bribing a witness in the Ruto case.

Full story: http://www.voanews.com/content/kenya-debates-icc-future-as-ruto-trial-
resumes/1762883.html

Topic In Focus

Rights Advocates Suing UN over the Spread of Cholera

Advocates for victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, against the United Nations, in an effort to press the United Nations to acknowledge some culpability for the outbreak, largely absent from Haiti for more than 100 years. The lawsuit, filed by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, claims that United Nations’ peacekeepers are responsible for introducing cholera bacteria into Haiti through discharging sewage to water sources from its barracks. The cholera outbreak in Haiti sickened more than 650,000 people and claimed over 8,300 lives. Forensic studies have identified the cholera as an Asian strain imported to Haiti by Nepalese peacekeepers. The cholera outbreak continues to cause the deaths of more than 1,000 Haitians per year.  The UN has yet to accept responsibility for inadvertently causing the crisis, and has so far declined to honor claims for compensation by the victims, asserting its immunity from lawsuits pursuant to the Convention on Privileges and Immunities.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/world/americas/rights-advocates-suing-un-
over-the-spread-of-cholera-in-haiti.html


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