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

UNESCO chief deplores murders of Somali journalist and Brazilian radio manager

Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, denounced the murders of Somali television journalist Mohamed Mohamud, gunned down in the capital, Mogadishu, and of radio manager Cláudio Moleiro de Souza in northern Brazil, the sixth Brazilian media professional included on UNESCO’s list of journalists killed in the line of duty. “Freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democratic society. I call on the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that journalists can work in the safest possible conditions,” Ms. Bokova said. Ms. Bokova has called on Brazilian authorities to investigate the murder of Mr. Moleiro, as an effort “essential for the preservation of press freedom and the protection of journalists’ right to carry out their professional duties.” The Director-General noted that Mr. Mohamud, age 26, “joins the long list of Somali media professionals who have paid with their lives to defend the right to information. Such acts must not remain unpunished.”

Full stories:

Geneva: UN agency advises against forced returns to north-east Nigeria

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called on States to keep their borders open for Nigerians fleeing escalating violence in their country who may be in need of international protection. Approximately 10,000 Nigerians have crossed into neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger in recent months, fleeing deteriorating humanitarian and security conditions in the north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, due to a conflict between insurgents and the Nigerian army. A spokesman said UNHCR is “alarmed” by reports of the attempted forced return of 111 people from Cameroon to Nigeria on October 5, where 15 people were killed and 7 wounded.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46361

New York: Shortage of organs leading to increased human trafficking, warns UN experts

The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, has warned that a growing number of people are being exploited and compelled, by need or by force, to provide organs for transplantation procedures for the benefit of local or foreign individuals. “The root cause of trafficking in persons for the removal of organs is an acute shortage of organs for transplantation worldwide, and a mismatch between the growing demand for organ transplants and the strict limits set on available supplies,” the expert relayed to the UN General Assembly in her annual report. “Recipients are generally wealthy while victims are often poor, unemployed and with low levels of education. They can be easily deceived about the nature of the transaction and its potential impact,” often lured into selling their organs on the basis of false promises, Ms. Ngozi Ezeilo noted. Many victims are from Eastern Europe, South America and Asia.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?

Report: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/Annual.aspx

New York / Geneva : Too many women in detention, facing violence and harsh conditions, warns UN expert

“Women are being incarcerated for many reasons including incarceration for illegal activities which they commit in response to coercion by abusive partners,” United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, said during the presentation of a special report to the UN General Assembly. Many countries are experiencing a disproportionate rate of increase of incarcerated women, compared to their male counterparts, as well as harsher detention conditions than for men. “Disturbingly, in some countries women are also imprisoned for ‘moral’ crimes such as adultery or extramarital sex, facing stringent evidentiary rules that even result in the incarceration of rape victims,” she noted. “A strong link exists between violence against women and their detention, whether prior to, during or post-incarceration,” the human rights expert said.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?


Post-conflict societies: learning history from different points of view

In many nations throughout the world, historical narrative promoted by governments in schools can pose challenges from a human rights perspective, according to Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights. “In promoting nationalistic political agendas and/or monolithic viewpoints of dominant powers, education policies relating to history teaching fail to acknowledge cultural diversity and the multiplicity of historical narratives among and within communities,” said Ms. Shaheed. Ms. Shaheed has made recommendations to States in her report in order to foster a “multi-perspective” approach in history education. History education should include a balance of local, national, regional and global materials, ensure access to a wide variety of accredited history textbooks, avoid the use of textbooks which do not provide a multi-perspective approach, and be taught by appropriately trained teachers.

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/PostConflictSocieties.aspx

Security Council’s leadership role vital to end ‘appalling suffering’ in Syria

The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valeria Amos, has urged the Security Council to take on a more proactive, “vital” leadership role to ensure cooperation for humanitarian protection measures and delivery of food and medicines to civilians in Syria. “Three weeks have passed since the adoption of the Council’s Presidential Statement [on the issue]; with little change to report. Each day that passes without the parties upholding their most basic obligations results in more lost lives, more displaced people and more people denied access to the most basic services. [...] Words [...] cannot really paint a picture of the grim and gruesome reality of Syria today,” said Ms. Amos as she briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Council issued a Presidential Statement on October 2, urging the Syrian Government to immediately allow cross-border aid deliveries and calling on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in fighting, with special attention to important delivery routes. The statement also deplored escalating violence in a conflict that has already killed more than 100,000 people and driven some 6.5 million others from their homes since March 2011.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46337

Surveillance a major concern at conclusion of UN-backed forum on Internet governance

The annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF), established to support Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in carrying out the mandate of the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis (WSIS), took place in Bali, Indonesia, over four days. The meeting reaffirmed the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance and noted that surveillance is a major emergent issue of the year. The meeting debated actions taken by Internet actors on a range of issues relating to domain names, censorship, security and other topics. The IGF this year drew more than 1,500 representatives of Governments, civil society, technical community and private sector from 111 countries, with hundreds more participating remotely.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46343

Myanmar: UN expert urges greater efforts to curb anti-Muslim sentiment

A United Nations expert on Myanmar has cautioned that a national anti-Muslim narrative, centered in Rakhine State, is threatening the ongoing national reform process towards an open and diverse democracy. “My most important message is for the international community to remain engaged on the human rights situation in Myanmar in the context of its transition. Myanmar has made some important steps towards democratic reform and national reconciliation,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar noted. The situation in Rakhine State, which has been the site of inter-communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims since June 2012, remains “very serious”, the Special Rapporteur said, and had led the Government to declare a state of emergency.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46342

DRC: Child recruitment remains ‘endemic’ in DR Congo, UN says in new report

The United Nations peace-keeping mission (MONUSCO) to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has expressed grave concern about continuing reports of recruitment of children by armed groups in the DRC. A new report notes that almost 1,000 cases of child recruitment were verified by the mission between January 2012 and August 2013. “Despite awareness raising campaigns and attempts to pacify armed groups, recruitment of children remains endemic in the country, with high numbers of children recruited in the past two years as a result of renewed hostilities in the east of the country,” according to the report. Children who were victim of recruitment within the ranks of the various armed groups operating in the DRC were also victims or witnesses of other grave child rights violations, such as rape, abduction, killing and maiming. Such children are also used as porters, cooks, spies, sex slaves, guards and combatants.

Full story: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46330

Topic In Focus

New York: UN rights experts express concern about the potential illegal use of
armed drones

United Nations human rights experts have articulated concern about the potential illegal use of armed drones in two reports presented to the United Nations General Assembly. The experts called upon States to respect all applicable international law, to investigate allegations of violations of the right to life by drones, and to be transparent in their use of drones. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, focuses on the use of armed drones in counter-terrorism operations and civilian impact. The report of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Christof Heyns, conducts an analysis of the use of lethal force by armed drones from the perspective of the right to life.

“I urge States to declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to their lethal extra-territorial counter-terrorism operations and to release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of drones,” said Mr. Emmerson. “The right to life is widely regarded as the ‘supreme right’. Armed drones are not illegal, but as lethal weapons they may be easily abused and lead to unlawful loss of life, if used inappropriately,” said Mr. Heyns.

Both experts stressed in their reports the preeminent importance of transparency and accountability obligations of States, and offered concrete recommendations to the international community. “The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes is lack of transparency”, Mr. Emmerson said. “In any case in which civilians have been, or appear to have been killed, the State responsible is under an obligation to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial fact-finding inquiry and to provide a detailed public explanation.”

Full story: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?

Reports: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=134

Upcoming City Bar Event

Global Implications of the Westgate Attack in Nairobi, Kenya
An Address by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations,
H.E. Ambassador Koki Muli Grignon - November 7, 6:30pm - 8:00pm

The horrific attacks of September 21, 2013 at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya have had an impact both within the nation and well beyond its borders. As Kenya celebrates its 50th year of independence, Ambassador Muli Grignon, an experienced diplomat and attorney, will address members of the association on the recent tragic events in Nairobi and their implications for the economy and the rule of law in Kenya and in the wider region. She will discuss how the international community can work alongside national and regional actors to address the underlying causes of such events, which have become ever more commonplace in recent years.

Sponsored by:
Committee on the United Nations, Ulysses Smith, Chair
African Affairs Committee, Christina Holder, Chair
Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice, Alexander Papachristou, Executive Director

The event is free and open to the public. Please register at:

Click here to visit the UN Committee Page