Articles on this Page
- 06/29/05--21:00: _Angola: Procesos de...
- 11/28/06--21:00: _Burundi: The Global...
- 01/10/07--21:00: _Afghanistan: EU sho...
- 03/13/07--21:00: _Armenia: Human Righ...
- 05/29/07--21:00: _Afghanistan: G8 for...
- 10/14/07--21:00: _Afghanistan: WFP's ...
- 11/08/07--21:00: _Afghanistan: Third ...
- 03/31/08--21:00: _Armenia: Crisis Wat...
- 04/29/08--21:00: _Nigeria: Crop prosp...
- 09/30/08--21:00: _Armenia: CrisisWatc...
- 02/28/09--21:00: _Afghanistan: Annual...
- 04/23/09--21:00: _Afghanistan: UN rep...
- 05/11/09--21:00: _Afghanistan: Nuevo ...
- 10/15/09--21:00: _occupied Palestinia...
- 10/29/09--21:00: _Algeria: El estado ...
- 09/27/11--20:09: _World: Closing 'His...
- 08/02/14--10:38: _World: CrisisWatch ...
- 09/02/14--09:44: _World: CrisisWatch ...
- 10/01/14--18:19: _World: CrisisWatch ...
- 11/02/14--09:19: _World: CrisisWatch ...
- 06/29/05--21:00: Angola: Procesos de paz: Situación a finales de junio 2005
Con excepción de Argelia, existían negociaciones formales o exploratorias en todos los conflictos africanos. A escala global, en el 73% de los conflictos armados existentes hay negociaciones abiertas.
Una vez completado el despliegue de las misiones de mantenimiento de la paz en Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, Sudán y RD Congo, en estos cuatro países habrá unos 54.000 cascos azules.
Finalizaron sin éxito los intentos de negociación con la guerrilla ELN, en Colombia, y con el grupo maoísta CPI, en el estado de Andra Pradesh (India).
En Iraq se multiplicaron los contactos entre EEUU y el Gobierno iraquí con grupos de la resistencia.
- 11/28/06--21:00: Burundi: The Global Appeal 2007
- 03/13/07--21:00: Armenia: Human Rights Council concludes High-Level Segment
- 03/31/08--21:00: Armenia: Crisis Watch No. 56 - 01 Apr 2008
- 04/29/08--21:00: Nigeria: Crop prospects and food situation - No. 2, Apr 2008
- 09/30/08--21:00: Armenia: CrisisWatch No. 62, 01 Oct 2008
- 02/28/09--21:00: Afghanistan: Annual report 2009
- 05/11/09--21:00: Afghanistan: Nuevo impulso a la inmunización
- 10/29/09--21:00: Algeria: El estado de la inseguridad alimentaria en el mundo 2009
- 08/02/14--10:38: World: CrisisWatch N°132 - 1 August 2014
- 09/02/14--09:44: World: CrisisWatch N°133 - 1 September 2014
- 10/01/14--18:19: World: CrisisWatch N°134 - 1 October 2014
- Deteriorated situations Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen
- Improved situations
- Conflict risk alerts Syria
- Conflict resolution opportunities Sudan
- 11/02/14--09:19: World: CrisisWatch N°135, 1 November 2014
The Global Appeal 2007
UNHCR's Global Appeal is published yearly to alert governmental and private sector donors, Executive Committee (ExCom) members and Standing Committee observers, Governments and their Permanent Missions in Geneva, the UN Secretariat, UN agencies, intergovernmental agencies, NGOs, regional organizations and other institutions and interested individuals to the plight of millions of refugees and others of concern to UNHCR. This tenth Global Appeal outlines the Office's strategies and programmes for 2007, and will be launched officially at UNHCR's annual Pledging Conference in Geneva in early December 2006. At this conference, it is hoped that many donors will inform UNHCR of their funding priorities and make announcements of financial contributions towards the protection and humanitarian needs of the world's displaced. As the Office depends almost exclusively on voluntary contributions to finance its programmes, flexible, early and predictable funding is vital to ensure uninterrupted operations.
This year, we are making several changes to the Global Appeal. We are including more information on UNHCR, including its presence throughout the world and numbers of staff. We are highlighting the challenges which the Office will have to face in 2007 to provide protection and assistance and find durable solutions for over 21 million refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced and stateless people. In addition to the chapters on protection and durable solutions, we have also introduced separate chapters on important policy issues and priorities such as emergency response, internal displacement, protection of women and children, HIV/AIDS, and the environment. The Global Appeal continues to emphasize work in partnership with NGOs, other UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, and intergovernmental organizations such as IOM, as well as donors and host governments, giving due recognition to the important contribution they make towards the realization of UNHCR's mandate. The new Identifying needs and funding programmes chapter provides a broader view of UNHCR's budgeting exercise and programming criteria and comparisons between 2007 and 2006 budgets have been included throughout the document. The presentation of the Global Appeal has also changed: all the information related to programmes and operations has been included in a CD-ROM. In order to provide an overview of UNHCR's operations in the printed version, we have included five new regional summaries as well as summaries of Global programmes and Headquarters.
In the CD-ROM, UNHCR's operations are presented in 17 subregional overviews and 29 country chapters, according to UNHCR's regional structure, as well as in the Headquarters and Global programmes chapters.
In order to keep this document to a manageable length, only those operations with a budget of USD 5 million or more are presented in separate chapters. As in previous years, other operations are described in their respective regional overviews. More detailed information on specific countries can be found on UNHCR's website at www.unhcr.org/cops, where country operations plans are posted for the convenience of ExCom members.
Finally, the list of current ExCommembers, as well as a list of acronyms and a glossary can be found in the CD-ROM. Further information on UNHCR's policies, operations, ExCom documents and decisions, news stories and publications can be found on UNHCR's website, www.unhcr.org.
(pdf* format - 5.7 MB)
What government is today's champion of human rights? Washington's potentially powerful voice no longer resonates after the US government's use of detention without trial and interrogation by torture. The administration of President George W. Bush can still promote "democracy"-the word it uses to avoid raising the thorny subject of human rights-but it cannot credibly advocate rights that it flouts.
As America's influence wanes, China's waxes. Yet China is hardly a leader on human rights. Its growing economic power has enhanced its global influence, but it remains at best indifferent to the human rights practices of others. Unwilling to permit political pluralism or the rule of law at home, Beijing pretends that human rights are an internal affair when dealing with others abroad.
Russia, with its internal crackdown on independent voices and its dirty war in Chechnya, is going down the same perverse path. Its goal seems to be rebuilding a sphere of influence, especially among the nations of the former Soviet Union, even if that means embracing tyrants and murderers. Attempting to deflect criticism, President Vladimir Putin went so far as to dismiss human rights as "artificial 'standards.'"
In this bleak environment, the European Union and the world's emerging democracies could provide potential sources of human rights leadership. Each has made important contributions, but none is performing with the consistency or effectiveness needed to fill the leadership void.
With Washington's voice diminished, the European Union today should be the strongest and most effective defender of human rights. It is founded on human rights principles and aspires to greatness in global affairs. But as the EU grapples with its enlarged membership, it is punching well below its weight. Its effort to achieve consensus among its diverse members has become so laborious that it yields a faint shadow of its potential. Union was supposed to enhance Europe's influence. Instead, when it comes to promoting human rights, the whole has been less than the sum of its parts.
The democracies of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, some long established but many new and insecure, have begun to stand up for human rights in certain international dealings. Despite moments of promise, however, these governments have yet to cooperate across regional boundaries to find an effective common voice. Too often, they show greater allegiance to their regional blocs than to their human rights ideals, greater solidarity with neighboring dictators than with the people whose rights they have pledged to uphold. This tendency played a particularly pernicious role in the United Nations' new Human Rights Council, which, far from improving on the discredited Commission on Human Rights, is threatening to repeat its disappointing ways, damaging the credibility of the entire UN system.
Every government these days seems to have a ready excuse for ignoring human rights. High-minded pronouncements occasionally ring from capitals or from ambassadors to the United Nations, but without the sustained follow-through needed for real leadership or change. Commitments are crabbed by caveats, engagements by escape clauses. Whether it is the lack of punitive consequences for Sudan's criminal campaign in Darfur, the EU's requirement of consensus before taking collective action, China's proclaimed deference to national sovereignty, Washington's preoccupation with Iraq and terrorism, or the developing world's sacrifice of human rights principles to regional solidarity, the excuses for inaction overwhelm the imperative of decisive action.
The trend is bleak, but not irreversible. Whether Washington's credibility gap is the temporary consequence of a particularly lawless administration or a long-term problem that will plague US standing for years depends in part on the new Congress-and whether it repudiates past abuses, presses for policy change, and seeks accountability for those responsible. No one pretends that such a turn-around will be easy when the architects of those abuses still control the executive branch, but it is essential if the United States is to redeem its tarnished reputation as a defender of human rights.
Leadership will also be needed to steer China and Russia toward more responsible behavior. To a large extent, Beijing and Moscow are the beneficiaries of low expectations. As long as few insist that they uphold international standards at home or abroad, they have little incentive to do so. Their new economic strength-China's booming market, Russia's energy reserves-only reinforces their ability to resist what meager pressure is directed their way while discouraging other governments from even exerting such pressure. Meanwhile, China's growing foreign aid program creates new options for dictators who were previously dependent on those who insisted on human rights progress. Changing this dynamic depends on treating China and Russia like countries that aspire to global leadership-on insisting that they respect human rights in their treatment of their people and their peers, and holding them accountable if they fall short. They must be convinced that the route to influence and respect is not through callousness and thuggery but through responsible global citizenship. But they can hardly be expected to improve if other governments' commitment to human rights is so cheaply sold for energy contracts or investment opportunities.
In Latin America, while a few countries have actively resisted human rights scrutiny, others have played an increasingly important role in promoting the application of international standards. Rare glimmers of hope can be found in Africa and Asia as well. The world needs a true Southern defender of human rights-a nation that rejects reflexive regionalism as an anachronism, a throwback to an era in which authoritarian governments joined hands to deflect human rights pressure. Today, as a growing number of governments stand for periodic election and speak for the aspirations of their people, they should be guided in their dealings with other governments by concern for the same rights that their own citizens embrace.
As for the European Union, many of its members recognize the paralysis and are searching for solutions. The European experiment has helped to bring peace and prosperity to those lucky enough to live inside its borders, but the EU is falling woefully short of its promise as a defender of rights around the world. Some needed changes might be relatively straightforward and swiftly implemented, such as modifying the flurry of rotating six-month presidencies to permit better accumulation of expertise and pursuit of long-term strategies. Some would require a change in tradition and bad habits, such as making EU institutions more transparent in order to minimize the gap between popular values and governmental action. Some changes are more fundamental, such as easing the requirement of unanimity for collective action in the sphere of human rights, to permit more timely and effective action around the world. All require EU governments to recognize that the status quo reflects an unacceptable abdication of leadership at a time when such leadership is in dangerously short supply.
The Human Rights Challenges
There is no shortage of serious challenges to human rights requiring more effective global leadership. As recently as September 2005, the governments of the world, in an historic declaration, embraced the doctrine of the responsibility to protect people facing mass atrocities. That commitment has rung hollow, however, as Darfur remains synonymous with mass murder, rape, and forcible displacement while the international community has managed little more than to produce reams of unimplemented UN resolutions. The usual political cowardice when it comes to military deployments to prevent mass murder accounts for some of the inaction, but there has also been far too little pressure on the Sudanese government to accept a real protection force. Predictably, Khartoum responds to such spinelessness with rejectionism. As this report went to press in November, there were signs that the Sudanese government might relent somewhat, partly in response to new and welcome pressure from China, but it remained far from clear that Khartoum would permit the deployment of troops with sufficient mandate and capacity to stop the killings or that it would end its own murderous policies.
Part of the problem is that the US invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration's belated attempts to justify it as a humanitarian intervention made it easier for governments like Sudan's to build opposition to any forceful effort to save the people of Darfur. Similarly, the promotion of democracy, a central human rights goal, risks being discredited by the administration's equating it with regime change through military force.
Meanwhile, the importance of bringing mass murderers to justice is under attack, particularly in Uganda, where the murderers are trying to trade impunity for an end to their killing. Terrorism-the dangerous view that civilians can be legitimately murdered for political ends-remains acceptable in too many parts of the world. Iraq has degenerated into massive sectarian blood-letting, with civilians the principal victims. Ruthlessly repressive governments impose enormous cruelty on their people in North Korea, Burma, and Turkmenistan. Closed dictatorships persist in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. China is slipping backwards. Russia and Egypt are cracking down on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and Peru and Venezuela are considering similar steps. Iran and Ethiopia are silencing dissident voices. Uzbekistan is crushing dissent with new vigor while refusing to allow independent investigation of its May 2005 massacre in its eastern city of Andijan. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe would rather drive his country to ruin than tolerate a political opposition. Civil war is reigniting in Sri Lanka, intensifying in Afghanistan, continuing in Colombia, and threatening in Nigeria. Israel launched indiscriminate attacks in Lebanon during its war with Hezbollah, while Hezbollah often targeted Israeli cities with no military objective in sight.
The intergovernmental institution devoted to addressing these problems-the new UN Human Rights Council-has yet to show any real improvement over its ineffectual predecessor, the Commission on Human Rights. A central duty of the council is to pressure highly abusive governments to change. That requires a series of graduated steps that can lead to the deployment of human rights monitors or public condemnation. Yet in a mockery of the high principles of its founding, the council has so far failed to criticize any government other than Israel. The most it has managed to muster is an "interactive dialogue" with UN investigators and a planned "peer review," forsaking its most powerful tool-collective condemnation by fellow governments. This failure threatens to call into question whether the United Nations is capable of upholding global human rights standards. Proponents of "coalitions of the willing"-the antithesis of the UN ideal of universal standards-will have gained the upper hand unless remedied by governments supportive of human rights.
Adopts Timetable and Agenda of Fourth Session and Decides on Dates of Fifth Session
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its high-level segment after hearing speeches from 15 dignitaries who addressed a broad range of issues. Many speakers evoked the importance of setting up the Universal Periodic Review and reviewing the Special Procedures as they would be the core instruments of the Human Rights Council to pursue the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. A collective will and commitment to the Council were also considered as important prerequisites for all Member States in order to make the Council's work efficient and successful in the future.
Francisco Santos Calderón, Vice President of Colombia, said the Human Rights Council had two main challenges: the establishment of the Universal Periodic Review and the Special Procedures system. The Council should be an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation, in order to guarantee the exercise of human rights.
Joël N'Guessan, Minister for Human Rights of Côte d'Ivoire, said that Côte d'Ivoire supported the revision of mandates and the system of mandate holders of the Council. The right to development was inalienable, and Côte d'Ivoire wished to see a formal Convention on the Right to Development. Greater cooperation among countries of the South over human rights and the right to development would also be beneficial.
Wajdan Salem, Minister for Human Rights of Iraq, said that various kinds of violations, in particular violations of the right of life, were taking place in Iraq. The Government was working hard to promote the security situation for the people. The national reconciliation initiative was aiming to establish a new partnership with the international community to consolidate the peace process and pursue the development in all social, economic and political aspects.
Conor Lenihan, Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights of Ireland, said that despite undoubted positives, the Council had regrettably not yet fulfilled all of the expectations. It should seize the opportunity to bolster its own credibility and that of the broad United Nations. While no part of the world was totally free from human rights abuses, the risk of human rights being violated was greater where political, economic and administrative systems were weak.
Martha Karua, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya, said that Kenya had devoted enormous resources to socio-economic rights and poverty alleviation as part of its national economic recovery strategy. It was committed to the institution-building process within the Human Rights Council, in particular the Universal Periodic Review, and viewed it as a major tool in strengthening the existing human rights mechanisms.
Per Stig Møller, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said dialogue and consensus must be at the core of the Human Rights Council. Even if a consensus could not be reached, the Council must be ready to act in the interest of the victims of human rights violations. Independent and effective monitoring was the essence in constructing and working with the instruments of the Human Rights Council, where all States needed to cooperate fully and in good faith.
Akmal Saidov Director of the National Centre for Human Rights of Uzbekistan, said that the international community should treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis. Politically motivated and biased approaches to situations of human rights could undermine the principles of objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues and were counterproductive to the cause of promotion of human rights.
Khadiga Al-Haisami, Minister for Human Rights of Yemen, said Yemen had created many new laws in order to keep pace with rapid changes in political, social and cultural activity, notably increased press and public freedoms, a stronger civil society, a diversity of political activity and improved public participation in the political process. Human rights promotion and capacity-building programmes were implemented across society.
Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Vice Minister of the Ministry for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, reaffirmed his country's commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights both in its territory and worldwide. Mexico acknowledged an undeniable political and legal value to the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.
Jaroslav Neveroviè, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said no one could be denied human rights. The people of the world were watching the Council's activities with many hopes. It was the obligation of the Member States to create conditions t hat would allow the Council to make the impact on the ground for improvement of particular situations.
Abdulla Shahid, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, said a political transformation was being engineered in the Maldives, aimed at creating a model of democracy founded on the principle of human rights promotion and protection. The Maldives were committed to its Reform Roadmap, which included police and penal bills, and reform measures covering criminal procedure, detention and other human rights related areas.
Cho Jung-pyo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that the Council should be going beyond mere dialogue and cooperation. The Government shared the concerns of the international community on the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and would continue to make efforts to bring about substantial improvements of conditions of life in the country.
Diana Štrofová, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, said that it was up to the Council to prove it could become a fair, credible and effective organ in the field of the protection and promotion of human rights all around the world. The Council should be able to respond promptly and effectively to all kinds of human rights violations as they occurred, and should look into proper ways of how to address them.
Ricardo Lara Watson, Vice Minister of Governance and Justice of Honduras, said human rights protection through improved justice and security were among the priorities of Honduras. This included strengthened police and prison systems, crime reduction and a fair and independent legal system.
Don McKinnon, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, said that the Commonwealth as a human rights organization included in its principles the promotion and protection of democracy, fundamental human rights and equality of all citizens. The organization ensured that human rights considerations were brought into all Commonwealth policy work, and into its practical programs in areas such as health, education, gender equality and counter-terrorism measures.
Speaking in right of reply were France, Germany, Armenia, United States, Zimbabwe, Sudan , Turkey , Azerbaijan, Republic of Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Cuba, Cyprus.
Also during the meeting, the Council adopted its agenda and timetable for the fourth session and agreed to hold its fifth session from 11 to 18 June.
The Council is scheduled to reconvene at 3 p.m. this afternoon at which time it will hear Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, present her report. An interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner would follow.
FRANCISCO SANTOS CALDERON, Vice President of Colombia , said the establishment of the Human Rights Council had been a major step forward, showing the determination of the United Nations to take up the challenges of the next century. The Council had two main challenges: the establishment of the Universal Periodic Review and the Special Procedures system. The Council now had to find solutions to the multilateral exercise to undertake reforms. It was not advisable to prolong the reform system, as that risked stalemate. The key to the new architecture of the system was the Universal Periodic Review. Selectivity and politicisation were what led the former Commission to lose so much prestige: only a mechanism with a universal scope which could deal constructively with the goals, achievements and difficulties would dispel the lack of trust which had prevailed in the closing years of the Commission. It should be an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation, in order to guarantee the exercise of human rights.
Any intention of turning the new instrument into a quasi-jurisdictional body should be quashed. If some were not convinced of the formula adopted for the Universal Periodic Review, then it should be evolving in nature, able to be reformed when the Council was reviewed in five years. It should be able to take speedy decisions. With regards to the Special Procedures, there had been excesses in the past when terms of reference were exceeded, such as in the case of certain Special Rapporteurs, and the case of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries. There was a need for special accounting for the Special Procedures, and the Council should be able to analyse the code of conduct in order to determine incompatibilities and exceeding of the mandate.
JOËL N'GUESSAN, Minister for Human Rights of Côte d'Ivoire , thanked non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies for their involvement in and support of Côte d'Ivoire at a time of grave political crisis. Following recent dysfunctions in the field of human rights, dysfunctions that had been the cause of the recent crisis, President Gbagbo had created a special Ministry for Human Rights in Côte d'Ivoire to ensure harmonization, promotion, education, training, protection and assistance for vulnerable populations. Numerous practical actions on the ground, particularly in the educational system, had also been set in place in the country. But poverty remained the greatest problem, and increasing impoverishment created a fertile environment for conflict and human rights violations.
Mr. N'Guessan said Côte d'Ivoire supported the revision of mandates and the system of mandate holders. The right to development was inalienable, and Côte d'Ivoire wished to see a formal Convention on the Right to Development. This would reinforce awareness in the richer countries that poverty was not in the world's interest. Greater cooperation among countries of the South over human rights and rights to development would also be beneficial. Recent accords signed in Côte d'Ivoire provided hope for a future without conflict in West Africa. The accords should serve as a model for conflict resolution and the consolidation of democracy and national unity. Côte d'Ivoire deserved the full support of the international community.
WIJDAN SALEM, Minister of Human Rights of Iraq , said since the former regime was toppled, Iraq had been witnessing a very sensitive situation, with heavy terrorist attacks, and it had become a battlefield for different sides because of its open borders which encouraged the criminals to come and kill the innocent people of Iraq. Various kinds of violations, in particular violations of the right of life, were taking place. The country was facing terror, which was considered as the greatest global risk threatening peace and stability in the world, in addition to economic, social and cultural violations because of the administrative and financial corruption and the domination of the violence in the Iraqi society. The Government was working hard to promote the security situation for the people. Iraq was trying to establish a high institutional system to ensure the protection of human rights, the dealing with the heavy burden left by the former regime and the dissemination of human rights education. For this purpose, a new Ministry had been established to deal with human rights issues. The Ministry was working to monitor human rights violations and disseminating human rights education through special groups concerned with detentions and prisons, mass graves, involuntary disappearances, women's rights and cooperation with non-governmental organizations among others.
Iraq had a new constitutional framework, the Minister said. The Government was working to make Iraq a state party through endorsing international covenants like the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Ministry of Human Rights followed up on violations of human rights against the Iraqi people. It was working on achieving several projects like the establishment of a missing persons centre and dealing with disappearances and mass graves victims. Iraq was working hard on preparing for the abolition of the death penalty. The Prime Minister had launched a strong initiative for national reconciliation in order to reject violence in all its forms and adopt a political dialogue. The international conference for Iraq held in Baghdad on 10 March was one of the steps of the national reconciliation initiative. The Government had launched an initiative aiming to establish a new partnership with the international community to consolidate the peace process and pursue the development in all social, economic and political aspects throughout a number of projects.
CONOR LENIHAN, Minister for Human Rights and Development at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, said last year, when the Council had its first meeting, all were very conscious that its establishment represented a great opportunity to improve the human rights architecture of the United Nations. It had been hoped that the Council would be the vehicle for a decisive shift in ensuring the effective implementation of the human rights standards crafted by its predecessor. Despite undoubted positives, the Council had regrettably not yet fulfilled all of these expectations. On occasion, it had shown itself to be timid where it could have been more resolute. There was in many quarters an understandable anxiety that it would not make full use of the opportunity.
The situation in Darfur remained a disgrace; the whole of Africa knew it, as did decent people everywhere. It was not time to be timid: the Council should seize the opportunity to bolster its own credibility and that of the broad United Nations. The Council should act consensually in implementing the substantive recommendations addressed to it by the High-Level Mission. Given the central role played by women in development and in the defence of human rights, the continued use of gender-based violence throughout the world was all the more appalling. The full enjoyment of human rights could not be guaranteed without stability and development. While no part of the world was totally free from human rights abuses, the risk of human rights being violated was greater where political, economic and administrative systems were weak. The expectations of the Council among the broader world community were very high, and all should strive to meet these.
MARTHA KARUA, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Kenya , said Kenya had devoted enormous resources to socio-economic rights and poverty alleviation as part of its national economic recovery strategy. It was committed to the institution-building process within the Human Rights Council, in particular the Universal periodic Review, and viewed it as a major tool in strengthening the existing human rights mechanisms. Kenya underscored the importance of widening the scope of the Universal Periodic Review system. Kenya had ratified numerous international and regional human rights instruments. It had also established a National Commission and created new education programmes to promote human rights issues. Human rights featured strongly in the national Constitution. A new National Policy and Action Plans for the promotion and protection if human rights were under way. Inter-agency and inter-ministerial cooperation and civil society participation were advancing.
Ms. Karua said Kenya saw corruption as a major barrier to the realization of socio-economic rights, and had made the fight against corruption a top government priority. Legal reforms, awareness raising programmes, macroeconomic and structural reform, and the elaboration of Codes of Ethics, accountability and transparency measures had begun. As well as enacting new legal measures in support of refugees' rights, gender equality, disability rights and others, the Government had begun a massive reform programme aimed at establishing a fair and efficient system of governance. The Human Rights Council faced daunting challenges. To succeed, confrontation and condemnation must give way to cooperation. Kenya expressed its full support for the Council's endeavours.
PER STIG MØLLER, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark , said Denmark fully endorsed the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on behalf of the European Union. Denmark had been working hard to establish the new Human Rights Council, which must be the pivotal human rights body of the United Nations. As Denmark was ready to shoulder its responsibility, it was therefore a candidate for a seat on the Human Rights Council at the upcoming elections. Dialogue and consensus must be at the core of the Human Rights Council. Even if a consensus could not be reached, the Council must not remain paralysed but must be ready to act in the interest of the victims of human rights violations. As it was important that the Council offered ways and means to alleviate the root causes of problems, offers of technical assistance should be integrated. It should also assess needs through the Special Procedures and the Universal Periodic Review. Non-governmental organizations and national human rights institutions were strong voices of civil society and very often victims of human rights abuses. Denmark considered respect for human rights, democratisation and good governance as keys to development.
Denmark remained one of the world's largest bilateral donors of development assistance per capita and provided significant contributions to United Nations funds, programmes and agencies, the Minister said. Independent and effective monitoring was the essence in constructing and working with the instruments of the Human Rights Council, where all States needed to cooperate fully and in good faith. Sudan's reaction to the request to visit Darfur by the Human Rights Council mission did not represent cooperation in good faith. The mission concluded thus that the Government of Sudan had failed to protect the population of Darfur and had participated in the crimes. Sudan must comply with its obligations under international law. Strengthening of the international legal order was a priority for Denmark during its membership of the Security Council 2005-2006. Torture was regrettably a problem on the rise despite the United Nations Convention against Torture. But Denmark had confidence in the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture that was commencing its work this year as an innovative and proactive instrument focused on prevention rather that condemnation. Nations needed assistance to shoulder the obvious human obligation that was the insurance of the respect for human rights.
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Centre for Human Rights of Uzbekistan , said all were gathered here with the purpose of taking preliminary stock of the process of institutional building of the Council, on which activity depended the effective functioning of one of the important pillars of the United Nations, alongside security and sustainable development. All human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and the international community should treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis, and the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds should be borne in mind. The Council should undertake a Universal Periodic Review, in a manner that ensured universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States, based on an interactive dialogue as well as on objective and reliable information.
Politically motivated and biased approaches to situations of human rights in countries severely undermined the principles of objectivity and non-selectivity in the consideration of human rights issues, and were counterproductive to the cause of the promotion of human rights. Uzbekistan proceeded from the unity of all human rights, including political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights. Democratic processes in Uzbekistan had gained a systemic, gradual and irreversible character. Little time remained for the coordination and finalisation of the process of institutional building for the Council. It was necessary to accomplish radical reforms in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on streamlining its methods of work directed at overcoming all existing problems and ensuring a constructive dialogue with all Member States of the United Nations. The future of the new human rights protection architecture of the United Nations depended on the results of the joint work, which should be depoliticised at the maximum level, exclude the selective approach and double standards, and should encourage an equitable, mutually respectful and constructive dialogue on human rights.
KHADIGA AL-HAISAMI, Minister of Human Rights of Yemen, said Yemen had enacted many new laws in order to keep pace with rapid changes in political, social and cultural activity, notably increased press and public freedoms, a stronger civil society, a diversity of political activity and improved public participation in the political process. Observers had praised the free and fair elections of 2006. New civil society organizations in the areas such as women's rights, children's issues, prisoners and refugees, the rights to health and human rights education had emerged; there was a strengthening sense of partnership between the Yemen Government and these organizations.
Several measures had been taken to support the advancement of women, and harmonization with international conventions was moving ahead. In the last elections, the number of registered female voters was close to the number of men, and women increasingly attained senior leadership positions, including in local councils and the judiciary. Human rights promotion and capacity-building programmes were being implemented across society. Cooperation with international and regional partners was fruitful. Anti-corruption laws had been enacted, along with judicial reforms, press freedom reforms and the ratification of a range of human rights instruments. In dealing with human rights, full impartiality was needed. Objectivity, fairness and justice must be applied. Protection and preservation of human rights must be safeguarded in the face of the fight against terrorism. The international community should move swiftly to stop violations in Palestine and support national reconciliation. It should support unity in Iraq and reconciliation in Somalia, and an objective, impartial and fair approach to the Darfur situation must be followed.
JUAN MANUEL GÓMEZ ROBLEDO, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico , reaffirmed Mexico's commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights both in its territory and worldwide. Mexico considered the implementation of international standards at the national level as a priority in its human rights policy. The Commission for Governmental Policy on Human Rights had been created wherein the civil society organizations had a relevant participation concerning the application of human rights public policies. Mexico intended to apply its efforts together with the Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare diagnoses on human rights situations. Though the country was still facing challenges, the implementation of international human rights obligations was a priority in order to overcome them. Mexico was looking forward to the adoption of many acts and protocols improving the situation of women and children, among others.
Mexico continued to work to reform its system of justice, as well as to prevent and eradicate torture and gender violence, the Vice Minister said. Also discrimination in all its forms was being combated. The country remained open to visits of international mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights and would therefore provide its full cooperation. As one of the main supporters of the establishment of the Human Rights Council, Mexico considered it essential to raise the significance of human rights within the United Nations and to avoid duplication of work among different United Nations bodies. As a result of the institutional building efforts, the Council should have a strengthened group of mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights, ready to operate. The Council members must apply the strictest norms on the promotion and protection of human rights and must fully cooperate with the Council. Concerning the Universal Periodic Review, it was essential that it was able to provide adequate and effective follow-up to its results. With regard to the Special Procedures, the Council should strive for a strengthened system including the protection of human rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. Mexico acknowledged an undeniable political and legal value to the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.
JAROSLAV NEVEROVIC, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania , said human rights formed an essential part of our lives: their existence was inseparable from human nature, and they lay at the core of that existence. No one could be denied human rights. These were very common notions which seemed to be dear to all, however, these ideas should be repeated again and again to ensure they were not forgotten. This had been and still was a crucial year for defining the future activities and future role in the world of the Council. There was a need for a set of efficient procedures which would allow Member States to reach the goals that were set up when the United Nations human rights machinery reform process started. Future success of the Council lay in the hands of its members; and it would be as good as they were able to create it. The responsibility for all the success as well as failures lay with the States that set the rules of the Council.
The primary responsibility to guarantee human rights was the self-evident duty of every State. There was a need for a body that could assist the States in international efforts in this regard, by providing a forum for substantive discussion, as well as evaluation services and advice. The Council was frequently compared to the Commission, but it should be clear that it was not a reformed Commission, but a new body. This understanding allowed not only new procedures to be set, but the use of new thinking. While the Council went through the institution-building process, it should not leave pressing human rights issues outside its attention. The people of the world were watching the Council's activities with many hopes. The Council could make the difference: it was the obligation of the Member States to create conditions that would allow the Council to make the impact on the ground for improvement of particular situations. Results should be tangible: the beginning of the work was full of hopes, and it was vital that the institution live up to the expectations for the improvement of the human rights conditions for all people.
ABDULLA SHAHID, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives , said a political transformation was being engineered in the Maldives, aimed at creating a model of democracy founded on the principle of human rights promotion and protection. The Universal Periodic Review process was a key element in realizing this ambition and in highlighting areas where technical or capacity-building assistance would be needed. But the Universal Periodic Review must take account of Least Developed Countries. There should be a fund to support and orientate the Universal Periodic Review process in those countries.
Mr. Shahid updated the Council on constitutional and democratic reforms in the Maldives, like the signing of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. A national Human Rights Commission had already begun its work. Special Rapporteurs had made numerous visits. The Maldives was committed to its Reform Roadmap, which included police and penal bills, and reform measures covering criminal procedure, detention and other human rights related areas. The Council had set itself a short deadline for all these reforms, and there was bipartisan cooperation in speeding up completion of the reform agenda as a matter of urgency.
CHO JUNG-PYO, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, said that the establishment of an effective, strong and credible Human Rights Council was central to place human rights as the third pillar of the United Nations along with development and peace and security. For the Council to be truly effective, it should be equipped with sufficient means to carry out its mandate. Going beyond mere dialogue and cooperation, it must be able to expeditiously respond to human rights abuses, in particular gross and systematic violations of human rights. The success of the Council depended on its ability to implement its decisions. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea attached particular importance to the promotion of inter-regional dialogue.
Regarding the Universal Periodic Review, the Minister affirmed that it should be a meaningful and serious exercise for the advancement of the situation of people in need of protection. In addition, the Special Procedures with their independent expertise and assessment would be the essence of the human rights mechanism. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea supported the High Commissioner's Plan of Action and her strategies to implement her Plan. Speaking of the situation in Darfur, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea called for swift action by the international community and was looking forward to productive deliberations at this session of the Council, given that the credibility of the Council would depend upon its response to this crisis. The Government shared the concerns of the international community on the human rights situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and would continue to make efforts to bring about substantial improvements of conditions of life in the country. The Government regarded the promotion and protection of human rights as a priority in its national as well as foreign policy goals. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was actively striving to ratify more United Nations human rights instruments.
DIANA STROFOVA, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia , said at its very first session, the Council had made a promising start by adopting the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, as well as the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The review process related to institution building was successfully launched by creating working groups. Over the following eight months, however, the Council had not always lived up to its demanding mandate. In spite of its permanent nature and the relatively high frequency of its regular and special sessions, it became evident that Member States did not always share the same principles when there was a need for common action in the human rights field. It was up to the Council to reverse this initial trend and to prove it could become a fair, credible and effective organ in the field of the protection and promotion of human rights all around the world.
The Council should be able to respond promptly and effectively to all kinds of human rights violations as they occurred, and should look into proper ways of how to address them. The Council was supposed to work in a results-oriented manner, and adopted decisions should be the subject of subsequent follow-up discussions and implementation. The proclaimed principles of cooperation and dialogue should not become an empty phrase, but rather a means for providing for widely accepted solutions to existing problems. The future credibility and effectiveness of the Council very much depended on the institution building process which was due to be accomplished by the end of June. The new mechanisms should preserve and improve the strengths of the former Commission, and eliminate its weaknesses. The establishment of a credible and effective Universal Periodic Review, the new feature in the United Nations human rights toolbox, was of paramount importance.
RICARDO LARA WATSON, Vice Minister of Governance and Justice of Honduras , said human rights protection through improved justice and security was among the priorities of Honduras. This included strengthened police and prison systems, crime reduction and a fair and independent legal system. In the area of justice, the Government was aware of improvements needed in infrastructure and staffing. It was working to improve confidence in democratic institutions, and an annual evaluation of these was part of the Government's agenda.
There had been considerable investment in education at all levels, aimed at removing illiteracy and improving schooling in Honduras. There had been plans to improve and expand health services. A National Institute for Women had been created, and there were measures to improve and consolidate human rights protection for indigenous communities. Access to the services of the National Commissioner for Human Rights through written, telephone and email communication was being improved. There were initiatives in the field of child rights, domestic violence and equal opportunities, and ratification of numerous instruments. Reform priorities included tackling arbitrary detention and the issue of mercenaries, in which Working Groups of the Human Rights Commission had taken a keen interest.
DON MCKINNON, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth , said that the Commonwealth accounted for one third of the world's population, and fundamental human rights were part of the cement that bound its members. Human rights were as universal as they were indivisible and it was the council's task to ensure that they were kept so, individually and collectively, across the globe. Human rights were both the simplest of absolutes and the loftiest of ideals. But the Council in Geneva was a world away from the reality of the countless numbers who had been raped or tortured. The Commonwealth as a human rights organization included in its principles the promotion and protection of democracy, fundamental human rights and equality of all citizens. Although all commonwealth countries were signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, some countries still had to ratify other United Nations conventions, such as those on racial discrimination and discrimination against women.
The practical assistance of the Commonwealth also included human rights training, the Secretary-General said. Support was also given to national human rights institutions. A model curriculum on human rights had been developed for Commonwealth universities. The organization ensured that human rights considerations were brought into all Commonwealth policy work, and into its practical programmes in areas such as health, education, gender equality and counter-terrorism measures. The Commonwealth already worked well with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and repeated its commitment to work with the Human Rights Council in any possible way. The Council's success would be judged by the extent to which it achieved its mandate. It must be representative, effective, credible and accountable.
Right of Reply
JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France ), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the statement of Iran yesterday, France took pride in being a country open to all cultures, and was proud of its diversity. All citizens had the same rights, and France guaranteed the freedom of conscience. The five million Muslims living in France had every possibility to make themselves heard and to contribute to the public debate. France fought with firmness against all forms of xenophobia, racism and discrimination, including discrimination and violence based on religion or belief.
Responding to Byelorussia, if the delegation of Byelorussia felt offended that the name of its country could be mentioned in a speech on human rights, then the only possibility was to suggest that that country invite the competent mechanisms of the Council to verify for themselves the true situation. If the Special Procedures, after visiting the area, determined that the allegations of violations of human rights were unfounded, then the speaker would be able to present his excuses to the Byelorussian delegation.
MARTIN HUTH ( Germany ), speaking in a right of reply, said with regards to the statement of Libya on the case of the Bulgarian nurses, the European Union continued to demonstrate its compassion and solidarity with the plight of the HIV/AIDS infected children and their families in Benghazi. However, it expressed its grave concern over the unacceptable verdict of the Criminal Court in Libya, convicting and sentencing to death in a retrial five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had already spent almost eight years in prison in connection with the case. This verdict ignored strong evidence from world-renowned international experts as to the innocence of the defendants. As a matter of principle, the European Union reiterated its opposition to capital punishment under all circumstances, and urgently expected an urgent conclusion of the judicial process according to internationally accepted standards. A positive, fair and prompt solution should be brought to the case, leading expeditiously to the release of the medical workers.
ARTAK APITONIAN ( Armenia ), speaking in a right of reply, said concerning the right of reply by Turkey yesterday, the Representative of Turkey, while, referring to the issue of the commission of historians to discuss "the dark chapters of history", had deliberately omitted the proposal made by the President of Armenia to discuss all the spectrum of bilateral problems in an intergovernmental format. The problems between the two countries and the reconciliation between the two peoples could not and should not be delegated to historians and academics. On the issue of the Armenian-Turkish closed border, it was up to the Turkish side to decide whether by opening this border they contributed to the creation of an atmosphere of confidence and trust in the region. Armenia called for the establishment of bilateral relations with Turkey without any preconditions from both sides, including that the recognition of the genocide was still on the table.
VELIA DE PIERO ( United States ), speaking in a right to reply, said with regards to the speech by the Foreign Minister of Cuba yesterday, he would like to set the record straight. Terrorism was real. Every country had been affected by it. All civilised countries needed to pull together to fight terrorism. Within the framework of democracy and the rule of law, the United States Government had adopted policies to fulfil its responsibility to protect its citizens and territory. The United States thoroughly addressed its policy on the detention of enemy combatants in reports to the Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee. Torture was prohibited by all United States personnel in all locations at all times. The United States' commitment to the Special Procedures mechanism was well known. The United States was struck by Cuba's newfound support for a range of civil and political mandates, and sincerely hoped this new support would soon lead to invitations from Cuba to these mandate-holders to visit Cuba, for the first time in their history.
PATRICK CHINAMASA ( Zimbabwe ), speaking in a right of reply, said Zimbabwe wished to counter the misrepresentation and mischaracterisation by the Minister of the United Kingdom of the aborted campaign of thuggery and mayhem perpetrated by the MDC opposition in a suburb of Harare on 11 March, which was sponsored by the intelligence services of the united Kingdom and its allies to effect a regime change agenda in Zimbabwe. The irony was not lost on Zimbabwe that the United Kingdom was the first to draw attention to the event, quick to criticise but was not prepared to offer sympathy to those affected by the violence. Let the United Kingdom be informed that Zimbabwe was determined to remain free from its colonial slave master, and it saw through the machinations to recolonise the country. Zimbabwe would resist this. Zimbabwe would never be a colony again.
ABDEL HAMEED ABDEEN ( Sudan ), speaking in a right of reply, said that he would like to respond to the interventions from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Slovakia and others about the situation in Darfur and the fact-finding mission. The position concerning the entry visas had been elaborated in the speech made to this forum. Sudan asked the Representative of United Kingdom not to judge this issue out of its context. The meeting between the President of Sudan and the Secretary-General of the United Nations had taken place. Sudan could not be forced to accept a member of the fact-finding mission whose independence and objectivity were questionable. The honourable United Kingdom Minister knew that the composition of the mission had been influenced. The situation in Darfur was improving, contrary to what the honourable Minister of the United Kingdom had said. This had been confirmed by the United States Chargé d'Affaire in Khartoum. The problem could be solved and Sudan was determined to do so. By signing the Darfur Peace Agreement, the beginning of the solution was dawning. Sudan was looking forward to enhance this agreement and to have other parties join in.
FAZIL CAN KORKUT ( Turkey ), speaking in a right to reply, said last week in Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot administration had finally demolished a wall. It had been hoped this would be the catalyst for positive developments, but yesterday's remarks had shattered this illusion. It was the Greek Cypriots who rejected the United Nations plan for a comprehensive settlement of the issue. It was paradoxical that they used this forum to raise the issues that would have been settled under the United Nations plan. Turkish presence on the island was fully legitimate under the 1956 treaties. The presence of troops was a vital element in order to protect the Turkish population. Instead of searching for settlement within the United Nations framework, the Greek Cypriot administration had been instead signing bilateral agreements, with the aim of exploiting the natural resources around the island. The administration was not entitled to sign agreements on behalf of the whole island, and was thus violating the rights of the Cypriot people. The victimised people on the island were the Turkish Cypriots, who continued to suffer under a forced embargo.
AZAD CAFAROV ( Azerbaijan ), speaking in a right of reply, said if an insider to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan would question the real intention of the familiar tirade performed by heart by the Armenian Minister yesterday, the only answer that came to mind was that he had once again tried to misuse the high rostrum of the Council to spread misleading and misplaced propaganda attempted to launder the atrocities committed by Armenian aggressors in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. He recalled the massacre of Khojaly in which 613 Azerbaijani men, women and children died on 26 February 1992, the first in modern European history, the Armenian minister's remarks may be interpreted as an aim to score points on the eve of elections in Armenia. But why, then, did he agree to have talks here in Geneva with his Azerbaijani counterpart? As in the Azerbaijani saying, he said "no matter how many times you pronounce the word bakhlava, the taste does not get sweeter".
CHOE MYONG NAM ( Democratic People's Republic of Korea ), speaking in a right of reply, said that his delegation rejected the statements made by the "South Korean" delegate. The so-called human rights concern represented no more than a fabrication of those hostile forces aiming at naming and shaming the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the pretext of human rights. It was thus running against the spirit of the inter-Korean relation. There was a lot more to talk about human rights concerning "South Korea" because if the country was truly interested in improving genuine human rights, it should then abolish its national security law.
RODOLFO REYES RODRIGUEZ ( Cuba ), speaking in a right of reply, said the delegate of the United States was surprised by what had been said, but Cuba was not surprised by United States cynicism, hypocrisy and lack of dignity, considering the United States attitude on terrorism. In Miami, anti-Cuban groups had full impunity, and were training and maintaining weapons, maintaining terrorist groups against Cuba. This kind of terrorist link was something that was being done by the United States Government against many Latin American countries, where the CIA even participated in attacks and with plans to assassinate the Cuban head of State. It had even trained and armed members of Al-Qaeda. Cuba had not invited the Special Rapporteurs on Torture and two others to Cuba, as the mandate of these three should not be just in Cuba, it should also cover Washington. The United States should invite and authorise the Special Rapporteurs to visit Guantanamo, which was the only terrorist location in Cuba, maintained as it was by the United States. The impunity the United States had extended to terrorist groups in Miami should be recognised, and the Special Rapporteurs should visit those areas as well.
JAMES DROUSHIOTIS ( Cyprus ), speaking in a right of reply, said the Turkish representative did not reply to human rights violations mentioned yesterday but instead politicized the issue by bringing in other matters. He asked whether Turkey abided by binding Security Council and Human Rights Council decisions that remained unimplemented since 1974. Human rights judgments held Turkey responsible for grave violations of 14 articles of the Human Rights Convention in Cyprus. European Court judgments were binding and Cyprus called on Turkey to implement them. Cyprus would have hoped that the Turkish representative maintained the respect and dignity of this Council. Earlier Security Council resolutions had condemned the purported unilateral declaration in the occupied area and called for non-recognition of the illegal secessionist entity in the North.
ARTAK APITONIAN (Armenia), speaking in its second right of reply, said that it had not been the intention of Armenia to discuss the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations before the Council, but the comments from the delegate of Azerbaijan left no choice than to address his dubious facts. Concerning the first massacre in East Europe, the delegate from Azerbaijan maybe did not recall well what had happened, when for three days, Azerbaijan had pillaged and killed Armenians. This was the first case of ethnic cleansing. Armenia believed that there was a solution possible for the conflict and called upon Azerbaijan to join in.
FAZIL CAN KORKUT ( Turkey ), speaking in a second right of reply, said the terminology used in referring to the Greek Cypriot side was due to the fact that the administration of that side did not represent the island as a whole, and this was the crux of the issue. The remarks of the Greek Cypriot representative were a smokescreen to divert attention from the lack of political will to find a comprehensive settlement. Due to the difficulties created by the Greek Cypriot side, it had not been possible to establish working groups or committees.
AZAD CAFAROV ( Azerbaijan ), speaking in a second right of reply, said the Council should know that it had been referring to the ethnic cleansing in Armenia, when Azeribaijanis were forced to flee the country. Several adjacent territories had been asked to withdraw all occupying forces from various areas, including Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia was responsible for killing thousands. With regards to self-determination and territorial integrity, Azerbaijan recognised that of all countries in the area, and Armenia should recognise that talks could only continue from this perspective, within the boundaries recognised by the international community.
JAMES DROUSHIOTIS ( Cyprus ) speaking in a second right of reply, said that Security Council resolutions 541 and 550 condemned the secessionist entity and called on all States not to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Cyprus was committed to the July agreements and to working towards a comprehensive settlement, and he asked Turkey to show the same political will as Cyprus. Human rights violations had no expiry date and should not be subject to political expediency, and they did not become obsolete. Violations were a result of continued military occupation of a large part of Cyprus's territory.
For use of the information media; not an official record
G8 Foreign Ministers met in Potsdam on 30 May to discuss a range of global and regional issues. The meeting focussed on Kosovo, the situation in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Sudan and Iran as well as North Korea. We met with Foreign Minister Kasuri of Pakistan and Foreign Minister Spanta of Afghanistan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, cooperation between their countries and how the G8 can support such cooperation. On this subject, we issued a joint statement with our colleagues from Afghanistan and Pakistan. We also exchanged views on Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh, the situation in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Somalia. We issued a joint declaration on the promotion of the Rule of Law.
Ministers discussed UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's comprehensive proposal submitted to the UN Security Council by the UN Secretary General on 26 March. While there continue to be different views on substance and on the way forward, discussions are still ongoing.
Foreign Ministers reiterated their profound concerns over the proliferation implications of the Iranian nuclear programme. We remain committed to a negotiated solution which would address the international concerns over Iran's nuclear programme and are united in our commitment to see the proliferation implications of Iran's nuclear programme resolved.
We endorse the Statement made by the Foreign Ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, with the support of the High Representative of the European Union, on the occasion of the adoption of UNSC Res. 1747 and express our disappointment over Iran's failure so far to engage on the proposals contained therein which would include cooperation with Iran on civil nuclear energy, legally-binding guarantees on the supply of nuclear fuel, and wider political security and economic cooperation and, hence, would bring far reaching benefits to Iran and the region. Such Iranian engagement would provide a means to address the international community's concerns while taking account of Iran's legitimate interests in building a modern civilian nuclear programme for energy diversification purposes.
We urge Iran to comply with its international obligations and UNSC Res. 1696, 1737 and 1747, in particular its obligation to suspend all enrichment related activities, and deeply deplore the fact that, as evidenced by the IAEA Director General's latest report to the Security Council, Iran has expanded its enrichment programme. Should Iran continue not to heed the call of the Security Council, we shall support further appropriate measures as agreed in in UNSCR 1747.
Foreign Ministers call on Iran to play a more responsible and constructive role in the Middle East region and in particular to accept a solution based on two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side by side in peace and security. We welcome Iran's participation at the neighbouring countries' conference on Iraq in Sharm El Sheikh and hope that Iran will contribute to efforts to reach stability in Iraq. We condemn the threats towards Israel by the Iranian government and the repeated denial of the Holocaust by representatives of the Iranian government.
Part I: Operational Requirements and Shortfalls
Overview of the 2007 Programme of Work
As the end of 2007 nears, the number of people the World Food Programme is seeking to support has risen to 83 million. The amount of food assistance required to assist these people is valued at US$3.4 billion. Considering resources mobilized thus far in 2007, the current level of funding falls short by some US$653 million.
Additional resources amounting to approximately US$800 million are required before the end of 2007 to ensure uninterrupted food aid deliveries for ongoing activities. Therefore, the total current resourcing needs until the end of 2007 amount to US$1.5 billion. It is also equally critical at this time to mobilize resources to meet needs in early 2008. Needs for 2008 have been documented in detail in the "Projected 2008 Needs for WFP Projects and Operations" ("the Blue Book") which is available on WFP's website (www.wfp.org/Appeals).
Since the last printing of this document for the Annual Session of the Executive Board (June 2007), beneficiaries have increased by nearly 5 million. This is attributable primarily to increased caseloads in Bangladesh, DPR Korea, Nepal and Côte d'Ivoire.
The bulk of WFP's operations are focused in sub-Saharan Africa, which requires over 71 percent of total needs in 2007. Of this, Sudan with six different projects requires some 23 percent of the total needs, or US$769 million.
In relative terms, the regional bureau with the greatest shortfall is the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau (ODP) which stands at 35.1 percent of 2007 needs unmet. This is closely followed by the Asia Bureau (ODB) with a shortfall of 34.8 percent. The sub-Saharan bureaux are showing shortfalls averaging around 13 percent, while the Middle East, Central Asia and Eastern Europe Bureau (ODC) is relatively the best resourced bureau, with only 0.6 percent of 2007 needs still to be raised. However, given the time lag between contributions being confirmed and food arriving in beneficiaries' hands, resources are urgently required to enable WFP to assist the needy in all geographic regions.
In relative terms, EMOPs are the best resourced with 87 percent of needs met for 2007. The other programme categories are close behind with resourced levels of 85 and 82 percent for PRROs and Development respectively.
Sixty-second General Assembly
41st & 42nd Meetings (AM & PM)
Red Cross Cautions against Preferential Treatment For Displaced People over Other Categories of Victims
As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today concluded its review of the right of peoples to self-determination, this afternoon, acting without a vote, it approved a draft resolution, as orally amended, that would have the General Assembly designate an international year for human rights learning, commencing 10 December 2008.
Another 18 draft resolutions, on a wide array of critical human rights issues, were also introduced during the afternoon session for action by the Committee at a later date.
Two other drafts slated for introduction were deferred, while action on a text on Eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including as instruments to achieve political or military objectives was also deferred.
According to the representative of Benin, who introduced the text, an international year for human rights learning would speed up the process of appropriation of all human rights and their full realization.
The other draft resolutions introduced to the Committee today ranged from key issues such as the right to food, through the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terror, to country-specific drafts that drew rights of reply from the States concerned.
The representative of Canada, for example, introduced a text on the situation of human rights in Iran that highlighted confirmed instances of torture and cruel and degrading treatment or punishment in the country. The representative of Iran, in a right of reply, countered by saying the draft was a catalogue of baseless information.
Portugal's representative, on behalf of the European Union, introduced a text which expressed deep concern about the situation of human rights in Myanmar, including the recent violent repression of peaceful demonstrations. The representative of Myanmar, responding to Portugal by right of reply, said the draft had been overtaken by events; the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and on Other Political issues, Ibrahim Gambari, had confirmed positive developments after his recent visit to Myanmar, and had released a statement that noted that Aung San Suu Kyi [General Secretary of the National League for Democracy] was ready to cooperate with the Government towards a successful dialogue. The European Union's draft, however, failed to reflect the positive developments that had been unfolding in Myanmar.
Earlier today, as the Committee concluded its discussion on the right of peoples to self-determination, with statements from 20 countries and four international organizations, there was strong all round support for the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. On the worsening issue of internal displacement, which many delegations felt needed to be substantively addressed at both national and international levels, many cautioned, however, about actions to address that issue that could detract from other ongoing efforts to assist refugees.
The Observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross cautioned against preferential treatment for displaced persons over other categories of victims, since it would give the impression that displaced persons were the worst affected, while non-displaced persons were better off. In fact, he noted, people left behind sometimes faced even more dire circumstances than the displaced, be they the elderly, disabled or wounded, and others who were physically unable to leave.
Zambia was currently hosting refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and other countries, that country's representative said. When humanitarian disasters occurred, the first countries of asylum for those fleeing were usually facing development challenges and resource constraints, and that led to tensions within the host countries, he added.
The representative of Thailand stressed that every effort should be made to tackle the root causes of displacement in the countries of origin. Voluntary repatriation should continue to be the preferred solution in dealing with displacement, but when that was not feasible, the international community should step forward to share the burden and responsibility in providing third-country resettlement.
Statements on the rights of peoples to self determination were also made today by the representatives of Belarus, Côte d'Ivoire, Canada, Serbia, Morocco, Yemen, South Africa, Kenya, India, Armenia, United Republic of Tanzania, Mauritania, Republic of Korea, Uganda, Algeria, Syria, Kuwait, Iran and Venezuela.
Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme and the International Organization for Migration also spoke today.
The representatives of Pakistan, United States, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Mexico, Austria, and Cuba also presented draft resolutions today for introduction or deferral.
The representatives of Morocco, Algeria, Belarus and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of their right to reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 15 November, to begin taking actions on draft proposals.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general discussion on the right of peoples to self-determination.
The Committee was also expected to hear the introduction of draft resolutions on: Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination (A/C.3/62/L.56); Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization (A/C.3/62/L.30); Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (A/C.3/62/L.31); Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia (A/C.3/62/L.38); Human rights and cultural diversity (A/C.3/62/L.39); Protection of migrants (A/C.3/62/L.40); Human rights in the administration of justice (A/C.3/62/L.45); Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (A/C.3/62/L.46); Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (A/C.3/62/L.47); Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (A/C.3/62/L.48); The right to development (A/C.3/62/L.49); Human rights and unilateral coercive measures (A/C.3/62/L.50); Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all (A/C.3/62/L.52); The right to food (A/C.3/62/L.53); Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity (A/C.3/62/L.54); Respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations to achieve international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms and in solving international problems of a humanitarian character (A/C.3/62/L.55); Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (A/C.3/62/L.37); Situation of human rights in Myanmar (A/C.3/62/L.41); Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/C.3/62/L.43); and Situation of human rights in Belarus (A/C.3/62/L.51).
The Committee was further expected to take action on a draft resolution on the advancement of women. The draft resolution was entitled, Eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including as instruments to achieve political or military objectives (document A/C.3/62/L.16/Rev.1 and amendments thereto contained in documents A/C.3/62/L.58 and A/C.3/62/L.59). For more background information on this draft resolution, please see press release GA/SHC/3903.
The Committee was also expected to take action on "Celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" with a draft resolution entitled International Year of Human Rights Learning (document A/C.3/62/L.28/Rev.1).
By the terms of this text, the Committee would have the General Assembly proclaim 10 December 2008 as the International Year of Human Rights Learning, devoted to activities to broaden and deepen learning on those rights. The text would also ask the Assembly to call upon Member States to intensify their efforts, throughout the year and beyond, to promote human rights learning and education at the local, national and international level, and encourage cooperation at all levels and with all relevant stakeholders.
SERGEI A. RACHKOV, the representative of Belarus, said the current law in his country on refugees, adopted in 1995, was fully in line with the universally recognized requirements of international refugee law. The Ministry of Internal Affairs had provided a single State policy on forced migration. Since 1997, more than 3,000 foreigners from 44 countries had appealed for asylum in Belarus; in recent years, however, the number had been decreasing. Legislation on refugees, in many cases, made them equal with citizens of Belarus.
More favourable conditions for the integration of migrants had been created in Belarus, with assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), he said. 5 million dollars had been received from UNHCR to provide legal, social, medical and material assistance to the most vulnerable and needy refugees, as well as to local people who lived where refugees lived. Dormitories had also been constructed to accommodate refugees. An important element of cooperation with UNHCR had been the improvement of relevant legislation.
JEAN-BAPTISTE AMANGOUA ( Côte d'Ivoire) said national conflicts had led to a great movement of refugees and displaced persons in his region. During those conflicts, there had been a progressive decline in the effectiveness of national economic, social and political structures, including the structures that historically welcomed and protected refugees. Finding a solution to the issues of refugees and displaced persons required a focus on the causes of conflict. Member States should provide the necessary resources to the High Commissioner for Refugees to ensure that the Office could achieve success in its work.
His Government was committed to achieving the objectives laid out by the High Commissioner, he said. In particular, it was focused on meeting the nutritional needs of refugees and supporting their full socio-economic reintegration into society. National repatriation and reintegration initiatives had already been implemented. Overall, countries should focus on creating peace in conflict zones to allow refugees and displaced persons to voluntarily return to their homelands. To establish a culture of peace, States should focus on the creation of democratic structures and the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. He said African countries were aware of the need for good governance within the judiciary and the police.
Ensuring an equitable distribution of resources among citizens, and access to proper health care and education would help avoid the societal frustrations that often led to revolts and bloody conflicts, he said. Regional economic integration was necessary for Africa's success, and the United Nations as well as the international community as a whole should assist Africa in that process. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) could play a particularly pivotal role in that respect.
CAROLINE MIREAULT ( Canada), welcoming the 10 commitments set out by UNHCR, placed priority on the one addressing solutions to protracted situations of displacement. To secure comprehensive remedies to those situations, she urged Member States to make concrete investments in sustainable peace and to expand local integration opportunities as well as resettlement programmes. Other priorities were the structural and management reform process, strengthened coordination and defined cluster responsibilities for the agency.
In that context, she welcomed the High Commissioner's commitment to partnership and called on other agencies to work together with UNHCR in line with their core mandates. To assess the optimum scope and nature of the agency's operations, she encouraged it to define more precisely the meaning of "persons of concern", given the increase in the number of such persons this year.
Finally, she expressed appreciation for UNHCR's commitment to protection, particularly its concern with children at risk, advising that age, gender and diversity should be mainstreamed into protection activities. She noted with concern the growing number of Member States on UNHCR's Executive Committee who were not signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. In closing, she seconded the High Commissioner's statement that beneficiaries must always be at the centre of refugee concerns.
SLAVKO KRULJEVIC ( Serbia), aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said that the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons had strong domestic and international implications for Serbia. Unfortunately, throughout the past year, no significant progress had been made on those issues. He said the return of displaced persons to Kosovo and Metohija after eight years of international presence in the province was symbolic, emphasizing that the lack of progress was due to the absence of security and the generally low level of human rights protection. Under Security Council resolution 1244 (1999), the United Nations Mission in Kosovo had an obligation to ensure all the necessary preconditions for a sustainable return of displaced persons, which could not be achieved until the full enjoyment of fundamental human rights was guaranteed. He said although displaced people were entitled to all the rights enjoyed by the citizens of Serbia during their displacement, the situation continued to be very difficult, with the number of those displaced on the rise.
He reiterated that voluntary returns were the best solution for displaced persons, and considered voluntary repatriation and local integration parallel and complementary. Serbia had invested its best efforts to promote both. The lack of housing and the financial resources to address those issues were, however, the biggest problem. Restitution of property and full respect for occupancy/tenancy and property rights were of paramount importance for refugees, as they decided between repatriation and local integration. He hoped that through the signing of the Sarajevo Declaration all parties involved in the process would make every effort to overcome existing problems. Despite a comprehensive road map for the implementation of the Declaration, without outstanding issues in the road map of Croatia settled, involved parties could not proceed with the implementation of the Joint Implementation Matrix.
LOTFI BOUCHAARA ( Morocco), said the humanitarian situation today was becoming more complex, as conflicts were totally different to those of the cold war era. And, intra-State conflicts were now characterized by diverse non-State actors and arms trafficking, which made them difficult to stop.
Given those circumstances, he reiterated the fundamental principles that must guide UNHCR's work, particularly in long-standing conflicts. The agency must be present in refugee camps, as it was inconceivable that any of its activities could actually benefit refugees if it was refused access or limited to intermittent visits. Furthermore, its mandate must be clearly respected, in line with the status accorded to it under international conventions. UNHCR must also denounce practices that left refugee populations at the mercy of armed groups or allowed their rights to be flouted. The separation of civil populations from armed elements must be a cardinal principle for the Office.
On census reporting, which was fundamental to all serious humanitarian action, he said it was foolish that UNHCR had been denied its right to count the very people it was charged to protect. If a host country denied the agency its right to conduct a head count, that should be denounced as a violation of international law. Given the temporary situation of refugees, UNHCR must employ internationally agreed solutions, among them voluntary repatriation in conditions of dignity and respect. It should also take all necessary measures to enable refugees to express their wishes for their future.
WAHEED AL-SHAMI ( Yemen) said his country had been at the forefront of States that had signed the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Optional Protocol; lofty national goals were therefore pursued on the basis of Arabic and Islamic traditions. Yemen had been the victim of an influx of thousands of refugees due to problems in Africa, notably in Somalia. Since the beginning of 2007, some 14,000 African refugees had arrived. Despite its economic situation, Yemen had discharged its humanitarian responsibilities, received those refugees, set up camps for them and provided various forms of protection. His country had also tried to find radical solutions to help end the conflict that had prompted the influx.
The influx of refugees had an adverse impact on Yemen, he said. Besides being a major economic burden, there were also health, social and security problems, as well as problems that stemmed from an infiltration of weapons. He praised the tremendous efforts undertaken by UNHCR to provide protection, security and safety to refugees as well as humanitarian assistance. Yemen was committed to cooperating with UNHCR, and supported the agency's internal reforms; it also called upon donor nations and organizations to increase support to those countries that were hosting refugees.
D. MASHABANE ( South Africa) thanked the High Commissioner for Refugees, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, for his recent visit to South Africa. His country supported the three "durable solutions" identified in the UNHCR report, and believed that those solutions were critical in solving the problems faced by refugees. South Africa likewise encouraged the agency to continue its efforts in Africa, and welcomed the increased expenditure on resettlement. The decrease of other types of financial assistance was regrettable.
The role of UNHCR in relation to internally displaced persons should be debated. Mixed migratory flows were another challenge which needed to be addressed so that the institution of asylum was not compromised. The focus on organizational and structural reform was welcome, and those reforms should promote increased resources for operations in Africa. Addressing global priorities identified, he said there was a need to address health, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, and sexual as well as gender-based violence. Austerity measures should not continue to negatively affect those areas. South Africa would like to be updated on the set of procedural guidelines being developed to support the "process related reforms", especially the new resource allocation model.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE ( Zambia) said his delegation associated itself with the statement made on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He was concerned that the number of refugees had increased in the first half of the year. New emergencies had produced a new wave of internally displaced persons and refugees, and it was disturbing that over half of the world's displaced people were in Africa, which was still the continent most affected by conflict-related internal displacement.
Zambia, with a tradition of hosting persons seeking refuge, was currently hosting refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and other countries. In the last years, his country had focused on voluntary repatriation, yet there was still a significant caseload of refugees who were reluctant to return to their home countries for various socio-economic reasons. While Zambia remained committed to local integration of these refugees, the issue was "emotive" and required the concurrence of Zambia's citizens. The last years' steady reduction of resources and services provided to refugees by the international community was of great concern to Zambia. When humanitarian disasters occurred, the first countries of asylum for those fleeing were usually facing development challenges and resource constraints, he said, and that led to tensions within the host countries. Refugees and internally displaced people were the responsibility of the international community. Consideration should be given to establishing a humanitarian credit regime where countries might receive additional assistance for looking after refugees. The onus was on the international community to address the root causes of displacements and step up its efforts in the areas of prevention, resolution and peacebuilding.
MICHAEL D. KINYANJUI ( Kenya) said his country had a long history of hosting refugees. Its experience showed that refugees were increasingly facing difficulties because of diminishing resources and security concerns. As host to more than 200,000 refugees, Kenya underscored the importance of maintaining the civilian nature of refugee camps. Some of the refugees had come into the camps with illegal weapons, which found their way into other parts of the country where they were used by "criminal elements". There was a need for the international community to help Kenya in addressing those security concerns, particularly in the countries of origin.
He said voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement in third countries were the most important durable solutions to addressing the refugee problem. Drought and floods, particularly in the past year, had caused a rise in numbers of refugees and asylum seekers in the region. Efforts had to continue towards creating conducive conditions that would enable refugees to return home in conditions of safety and dignity. The provision of microcredit and other sustainable economic empowerment initiatives would increase the self-reliance of refugees and also reduce tension with the host communities over meagre resources. He thanked United Nations organizations working in Kenya for their help and support, particularly in respect of the recent influx of Somali refugees.
MOHAMMAD SALIM ( India) said greater attention had to be paid to new challenges arising from internal displacement. More clarity from the High Commissioner regarding UNHCR's renewed focus on internally displaced persons was needed; the agency's role in situations involving such persons should be on the basis of explicit requests made to it by the States concerned. The maximum burden of hosting and protecting refugees had been borne by developing countries; their concerns needed to be addressed to a far greater degree. There were enormous problems in identifying people with a well-founded fear of persecution; capacities had to be developed to differentiate between refugees and economic migrants.
He said the most durable solution, in the view of India, was voluntary repatriation, and developing countries of origin should be given assistance to facilitate such repatriation. Resettlement, especially in countries that had the economic means, was also a possibility. The implications of local integration were far-reaching and needed to be considered carefully. He said efforts to enhance the accountability and transparency at UNHCR had to continue; the Organization also had to preserve its impartiality in operations and its non-political character. Implementation of the 1951 Convention on refugees had often suffered from a lack of political will in some parts of the world, and a lack of means in other parts of the world. Violations of provisions of the Convention were a reminder that international protection should be seen not only through the prism of adherence to certain instruments. That Convention, to which India was not a signatory, did not address the problem of massive refugee flows or such factors as mixed migration. India's commitment to humanitarianism, however, was second to none; it hosted a large number of refugees and programmes relating to them had been managed entirely from India's own resources, with a protection regime based on fundamental rights guaranteed in India's Constitution.
ARA MARGARIAN ( Armenia) said UNHCR had been "instrumental" in assisting the Armenian Government in addressing the tremendous burden created by over 400,000 refugees from Azerbaijan. The Agency had also been very helpful this year in analyzing the asylum legislation and devising, with IOM, a new draft of it. Another issue was the internally displaced population in Armenia from the border regions as a result of the conflict in Nagorno Karabagh, he said.
The security situation in Iraq had not left Armenia immune from the plight of the population there. For the last year, Armenia had seen an influx of Iraqi-Armenians who had turned for refuge and help to their motherland. The dire conditions in which they had to depart from Iraq left them without any means of sustenance, thus making them an extremely vulnerable group in need of urgent assistance. He expressed Armenia's thanks for the decision by the Central Emergency Response Fund to allocate $300,000 towards the winter needs of those Iraqis who had found refuge in Armenia. His delegation looked forward to support from UNHCR to find durable solutions for that group of people in Armenia.
JUDITH MTAWALI (United Republic of Tanzania) said the number of returnees needing assistance continued to rise. While her country was involved in the voluntary repatriation of both Burundians and those from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it still hosted nearly a half-million refugees living either in camps or old settlements. To be successful, repatriation needed to be sustainable, meaning that basic services should be made available to the returnees and security issues addressed. The international community should ensure the availability of resources for host countries to create conditions conducive to return, including the reintegration of the internally displaced.
Further, she said that as a host country, hers had experienced devastating impacts on the environment due to the high numbers of refugees who had lived there for decades. Assistance was needed for rehabilitating the environment and infrastructure in those areas, while development assistance was needed for host communities sharing their scant resources with refugees. Hosting refugees was not just a matter of generosity but a burden and responsibility the entire international community should share. To ensure a durable solution, three approaches were being pursued simultaneously: voluntary repatriation, resettlement in a third country, and local integration by naturalization. Policy implications were being analyzed. What also needed to be addressed was the related issue of increasing numbers of illegal immigrants, particularly from the Horn of Africa.
JIDDOU OULID ABDERRAHMANE ( Mauritania) referred to the measures that his Government had taken to ensure the dignified return of refugees from Senegal and Mali. A steering committee had been set up, and it had made a field visit to refugee camps in those two countries. In cooperation with UNHCR, his country had been finalizing an arrangement for the return of refugees. That effort grew out of the strong will of the Government, which had made national unity and protection of human rights a priority in its development programme aimed at entrenching democracy and the rule of law.
BUMHYM BEK ( Republic of Korea) welcomed the ongoing reforms by UNHCR, including field-oriented decentralization, the new budget structure, out-posting to Budapest and the cluster approach. The Agency urgently needed the strong support of transit and destination countries, particularly at a time of broader and mixed migration, which could turn into a thorny political issue. In that light, increasingly tight border controls were cause for concern.
The refugee problem must be addressed from a humanitarian perspective, he said, adding that human security must not be subjected to the "Olympian logic" of national, political, economic and social stability. The principle of non-refoulement must also be strictly followed. The status of refugees should therefore be enlarged to all those in dire and fearful situations, and standards of protection strengthened. He drew attention to the difficulties faced by stateless persons, including ethnic Koreans from the former Central Asian Soviet Republics, calling for their citizenship to be restored.
MARGARET AWINO-KAFEERO ( Uganda) said that as a result of the conflict with the Lord's Resistance Army, over 2 million Ugandans had been forced into internal displacement and refugee camps. There, they endured terrible conditions, with overcrowding and disease.
In addition to this, Uganda also hosted thousands of refugees from other countries in the region, she said, thanking UNHCR for its assistance, which amounted to more than $20 million. She also emphasized the importance of stability in the Great Lakes region in order to control the issue of internally displaced people and refugees in the region.
SALIMA ABDELHAK (Algeria), referring to migrants who risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden, said that the responsibility for protection and assistance rested with countries of origin, transit and reception. There needed to be cooperation between all parties, including international financial institutions, to address the structural causes behind migration on the African continent. The mandate of UNHCR had been made more complex by the growing number of internally displaced persons and the mixed flow of migrants; such new missions, however, must not be undertaken to the detriment of the protection of refugees.
For three decades Algeria accepted refugees from Western Sahara, she said. They had been staying in camps at Tindouf, but their situation had become more difficult following a decision by UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) to halve their assistance to them. That decision was based on a disputable and unfounded re-evaluation of the numbers of those refugees. That was a violation of the Geneva Convention and the right to food; considerable efforts must be made by UNHCR to help those people who were in a prolonged state of dependence, in line with its apolitical status. The fate of Saharawi refugees hinged on the implementation of a United Nations resolution that called for a referendum on self-determination in Western Sahara; registration of the population of Western Sahara, including refugees, was part of that process.
WARIF HALABI ( Syria) said that resolving the plight of refugees required more correct and sincere actions. In the case of Iraq, the international community had to support political conciliation, ensure the withdrawal of foreign forces, assist reconstruction, and help the Iraqi Government and people to achieve security and stability. Doing so would ensure the return of Iraqi refugees. Syria did not agree with resettling Iraqi refugees anywhere in the world, as they would be displaced and lose their identity and heritage; they should return home. Syria had long addressed the situation of Palestinian refugees on the basis of that same principle.
Syrian borders had seen massive flows of Iraqis since March 2003, when their country was invaded, she said. That influx had continued; according to figures in UNHCR's report there were about 1.25 million Iraqi refugees in the country, but the real number was more than 1.5 million. Rising numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers had put a heavy burden on Syria's economic infrastructure, and had negative repercussions on health, social services and the daily living conditions of Syrian people. The total number of refugees in Syria numbered more than 2 million, or 12 per cent of the overall population. Humanitarian assistance had amounted to $1.6 billion. The Syrian and Iraqi Governments had cooperated in setting up mechanisms to provide assistance and to facilitate the return of refugees once security and stability had been restored. Syria appreciated the role played by UNHCR, and hoped the international community would help all refugees, including those affected by foreign occupation.
ABDULAZIZ AL-DEKHAIL ( Kuwait) said that his delegation had taken note of the High Commissioner's report, which had referred to a growing number of refugees receiving assistance from UNHCR. The number of internally displaced people had increased significantly, while the millions of refugees in the world required everyone's help. Kuwait supported UNHCR by way of a yearly contribution, hosted an office of the Agency, and provided every form of assistance to it. He commended the Office on progress made and the flexibility of its activities to meet the needs of its beneficiaries.
Kuwait provided assistance to refugees throughout the world, and that included the Lebanese who had been made refugees as a result of Israel's flagrant aggression. Their return home had been made difficult because of the need to rebuild what Israel had destroyed and the laying of mines. Kuwait provided a voluntary contribution to UNHCR's regular budget of up to $1.5 million. He stressed the importance of the role of voluntary organizations, within Kuwait, in aiding refugees.
HAMID NIKOOHARF TAMIZ ( Iran) said his country sponsored Afghan refugees and displaced populations despite inadequate international assistance and at a time when it was confronted with its own economic challenges. At times, the refugee and displaced population inside Iran exceeded 3 million. That, coupled with frequent mass influxes, had negatively impacted Iran's socio-economic situation. More than 50,000 of the more than 200,000 registered Iraqi refugees remained in Iran and were hoping to return home. Those refugees needed adequate international assistance and should not be forgotten. Due to the continued violence and unrest in Iraq, there were some 2.5 million refugees and 2 million internally displaced Iraqis. A ready response was needed to manage probable waves of refugees.
Iran had been very supportive of Afghan and Iraqi refugees and displaced persons and their newly formed Governments through support of voluntary refugee repatriation, the granting of more than 3,000 scholarships to Afghan university students, and support for infrastructure reconstruction, among other things. In order to sustain refugee repatriation and support the living standards of families who intended to return legally to Iran to work after they had been repatriated, his Government would issue work permits for one of the members of any family who returned to Afghanistan during the implementation of the voluntary repatriation programme sponsored by the Government of Afghanistan and UNHCR since 2002. Given the presence of more than 950,000 Afghan refugees and displaced persons in Iran, and the slowness of repatriation, he stressed the importance of resettlement in third countries. Receiving countries should increase their capacity to host refugees and displaced persons. It was not his country's responsibility to receive 10 per cent of the world refugee population while others made no commitment to share the expenses.
YAKUELINE PETERSEN ( Venezuela) said the situation of internally displaced people should not in any way undermine the clear mandate UNHCR had for refugees. Venezuela had ample knowledge of the situation of refugees and internally displaced people, not only in South America but worldwide. Her country's commitment could be seen in domestic legislation that was in compliance with international norms, and in the measures adopted by her Government to help the community life of refugees in Venezuela. In border areas, Venezuela cooperated with UNHCR, and that collaboration was of great importance. In implementing lasting solutions, Venezuela had integrated those who applied for refugee status and others though social programmes which guaranteed employment, education and equality.
The increase in refugee figures as reflected in the High Commissioner's report was cause for concern. Her country was also alarmed by the increase in stateless people as well as the increase in the number of displaced people. She reiterated that refugees were the prime responsibility of the State from which they originated. In order to provide greater assistance, it was necessary for UNHCR to include more detailed information in the report on criteria, so Member States could better follow up their responsibilities to assist the Agency in the execution of its mandate.
DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand) said constructive and sincere cooperation with the host Government had to be the starting point for any humanitarian endeavor. Every effort should be made to tackle the root causes of displacement in the countries of origin. Voluntary repatriation should continue to be the preferred solution in dealing with displacement, but when this was not feasible, the international community should step forward to share the burden and responsibility in providing third country resettlement.
Thailand welcomed the ongoing process of structural and management change in UNHCR, and believed that the Agency would emerge from its reform process as a more effective and efficient organization. For Thailand, international burden sharing and constructive relationships between the UNHCR and host countries would continue to be the guiding principles.
DOMINIQUE BUFF, observer for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), noted that international humanitarian law was binding on all parties to conflict, and if they were to comply fully with their obligations, much displacement and devastation would be prevented. Often, however, State and other authorities were unwilling to discharge their responsibility to protect civilians in armed conflict. The ICRC did all it could to prevent violations of international humanitarian law, but humanitarian action alone could not ensure comprehensive protection for affected populations. Judicial, political, economic and at times security and military actors must also act. He then noted that action in one domain could not substitute for another: for example, humanitarian action could not substitute for political action.
Addressing internally displaced persons, he cautioned against preferential concern for them over other categories of victims, since it would give the impression that displaced persons were the worst affected while non-displaced persons were better off. In fact, people left behind sometimes faced even more dire circumstances than the displaced, be they the elderly, disabled or wounded, and others who were physically unable to leave. Finally, attention should be given to the causes of displacement, so that the international community could engage in preventive efforts.
MICHAEL SCHULZ of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was not enough for national Governments to declare commitment to displaced peoples. They must act to ensure that protection and assistance was provided under all circumstances, including preventing sexual exploitation and gender-based violence. Working under the theme "Making every mother and child count", the IFRC itself had sought to address mother and child health through an integrated approach that was designed to enable displaced persons and others to live in dignity, with expectations of safe motherhood, and with basic reproductive health care built into emergency programmes. Those issues would be discussed in Geneva later in the month, at the thirtieth international conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
He stressed, however, that the Federation did not distinguish between refugees, internally displaced persons and others as it worked to tackle the humanitarian consequences of international migration. It shared the views expressed by the High Commissioner of Refugees about the importance of addressing "mixed flows" and ensuring that the mixtures that were now so currently common did not deprive people of their rights or opportunities when seeking to repair their damaged lives. That subject would be taken up at the IFRC international conference as well.
AXUMITE GEBRE-EGZIABHER, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), said that shelter and secure tenure were the fundamental elements of human settlements. The capacity to plan and manage those was the responsibility of Governments. It was during crises that such responsibility was most affected. Failure to act instantly and thoroughly on issues such as housing, land and property dispute resolution often led to renewed conflicts when people returned to their places of origin. That had been clearly demonstrated in Southern Sudan, East Timor and other countries -- insufficient attention to land and property rights in peace agreements as well as return planning had led to renewed fighting and loss of lives.
Assessing and recommending alternatives, she said culturally contextual, transitional shelter approaches were the cornerstone of UN-Habitat's engagement in the immediate aftermath of crises. In line with the increased number and complexity of emergencies, UN-Habitat had significantly strengthened its capacity to respond to new and ongoing disasters. The Agency had responded to virtually all recent emergencies, and currently had more than 550 staff working on activities in Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Liberia, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Serbia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. For the past decade, the Organization had been consistently operational in more than 35 countries, responding to humanitarian shelter and protection needs while contributing to establishing conditions for return and reintegration, as well as peace and stability.
LUCA DALL'OGLIO, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said a complex challenge had emerged vis-à-vis the preservation of international protection, given the increasingly "mixed nature" of population flows and the growing awareness of the complexity of population mobility. A safe and principled management of migration, which remained attentive to the rights of all migrants while ensuring international protection for refugees, was a global challenge. He noted that the modalities of cooperation between UNHCR and IOM were changing, although third country resettlement and voluntary repatriation continued to constitute a large and important part of collaboration between the two entities. On the other hand, providing assistance to internally displaced persons, coming to the aid of displacement victims as a result of climate change, and developing governmental capacity to deal with mixed population flows were new issues to be dealt with by the two bodies.
He said a revived annual consultation between UNHCR and IOM at the executive head level set the framework for regular dialogue on common challenges. The most recent meeting in May had provided an opportunity to discuss issues prominent on the United Nations reform agenda and migration debate. He emphasized that the Global Migration Group represented a promising mechanism to bring together intergovernmental partners at the policy and operational levels, to provide consolidated expertise, and to support the Global Forum on Migration and Development. Turning to the cluster approach, he said IOM had been heavily involved in its implementation and elaboration. Continuing, he said that in order to avoid overlap, increase effectiveness and exploit synergies, UNHCR and IOM agreed to a unified approach, with joint leadership of cluster proceedings at the global level. Noting that it was at the programme level where work brought the two agencies together, he drew attention to a joint regional seminar on Building Capacity to Manage Migration in the Caribbean that was under way. During the event, participants would discuss contingency planning for mass migration and refugee emergencies, responses to the challenges of human trafficking and ways to strengthen regional integration, as well as legal frameworks to better respond to migratory flows and to migrants and refugees.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Morocco, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, noted how his counterpart from Algeria had spoken of the camps at Tindouf. If help was to be provided to the refugees there, the decisions of UNHCR's Executive Committee had to be implemented and the mandate of the Agency respected. He added that if Algeria had a problem with UNHCR's figures, there should be a census at the Tindouf camps. If refugees were to be truly protected, then the conclusions of UNHCR on separating civilians from armed elements had to be respected, together with freedom of movement.
The representative of Algeria, responding to Morocco, said UNHCR's mandate was the protection of refugees, and that was an apolitical calling. She noted that a census was part of a proposed settlement of the Western Sahara issue. Why had assistance to refugees been reduced in the absence of such a census? Given the settlement plan that had been accepted by Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front), the decision to reduce assistance without a census could not be understood.
The representative of Morocco said that a Kafka-like discussion was unfolding. The situation went back to 1975, yet in humanitarian terms it was still at point zero. It was Algeria that had denied UNHCR a census at the Tindouf camps. Morocco, the international community and donors could not accept an Algerian veto on the Agency's implementation of its mandate. It was very strange that Tindouf was the only case in the world where the refugee population had not changed by a single individual; in 1975, Algeria had said there were 165,000 refugees there, and now it claimed that number was unchanged, as if there had been no births or deaths. That was strange.
The representative of Algeria said the issue of refugees from Western Sahara was a political one that could not be disassociated from the question of Western Sahara. Several resolutions adopted by international community had called for a referendum to be held, and yet none had been conducted. As for demographics, if one followed up the thinking of UNHCR and the WFP, then half of the Saharawis at Tindouf had died, and there had been no births. Algeria hoped that negotiations under United Nations sponsorship could lead to the Saharawi people having a census and a referendum.
Introduction of Draft Resolutions
The representative of Pakistan introduced a draft resolution entitled Universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination(document A/C.3/62/L.56).
He said the right of peoples to self-determination was the cardinal principle on which all other human rights were based. Many international summits had reaffirmed that right, and its realization had helped people free themselves from colonialism and similar forms of rule, he said.
The current resolution was similar to last year's, and he hoped that it would be passed by a consensus, as had traditionally been the case.
The representative of the United States then asked for the introduction of the draft on Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing the effectiveness of the principle of periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization (document A/C.3/62/L.30) to be deferred.
The representative of Egypt introduced a draft entitled Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights (document A/C.3/62/L.31). He said it was an annual draft, and that the growing number of co-sponsors attested to the importance of addressing the ramifications of globalization on humanity. It did not prejudge the course of globalization or make value judgments. Rather, it sought to decipher the impact of globalization on the enjoyment of all human rights, in the hope that the international community would be able to respond to rising global opportunities and challenges. The right to development was highlighted in the draft, as well as the need to integrate developing countries into a globalized world, thus providing an impetus to mitigate the gap between North and South. An opportunity existed to narrow or even cross the fault lines that had emerged with regards to the human rights aspects of globalization.
The representative of Georgia was then scheduled to introduce a draft resolution entitled Status of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia (document A/C.3/62/L.38). She said that due to technical reasons, the delegation was not able to introduce the draft resolution today and asked for its postponement until the following week.
The Chairman, RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica) granted the request.
The representative of Iran was then scheduled to introduce a draft resolution entitled Human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/62/L.39). He asked to defer the introduction of the draft for a half hour, in order to be able to receive the results of a meeting on the text that was running parallel to the Committee's meeting.
The Chairman granted the half-hour's extension.
The representative of Mexico then introduced a draft resolution entitledProtection of migrants (document A/C.3/62/L.40).
He said the draft would emphasize the need to protect the human rights of migrants at a time when flows of migrants had increased. The draft would express concern over the legislative measures adopted by some States which could restrict the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants. It would further urge all States to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, irrespective of their status, and ensure that laws and policies, including laws on terrorism and human trafficking, did not negatively impinge on the human rights of migrants. The draft would also urge all States to ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Also, the text would strongly condemn racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance against migrants, "and the usual stereotypes". It would require Member States and international organizations, as well as civil society, to ensure that the perspective on the human rights of migrants would be included in all debates on international migration and development. He hoped the draft resolution would, as in previous years, be approved by the Committee by consensus.
The representative of Austria, introducing the draft on Human rights in the administration of justice (document A/C.3/62/L.45), stated that an independent and impartial judiciary as well as access to justice were essential for the rule of law and human rights. The draft had been submitted on a biennial basis; the sixtieth session of the General Assembly had adopted it by consensus. The Secretary-General had submitted a report on the topic to the Human Rights Council, which that body was expected to take up in 2008; the current draft was therefore mainly procedural, inviting the Council to continue its consideration of human rights in the administration of justice. It also included updates on juvenile justice and women in prison. She hoped that the draft would be approved without a vote.
She then introduced a draft on the Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (document A/C.3/62/L.46). Promotion of such rights could only be achieved through tolerance, mutual understanding and pluralism, she said. Austria had presented such resolutions to the General Assembly, the former Commission on Human Rights and now the Human Rights Council. She noted the Council had adopted a resolution to establish a forum on minority issues, and that at its annual session in March 2008, it would review the mandate of the Independent Expert on minority issues. On the basis of consultations, the Austrian delegation was confident that the draft would be approved without a vote.
The representative of Mexico, introducing a draft resolution entitled Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (document A/C.3/62/L.47), said that terrorism was a serious problem for States, yet human rights had to be a fundamental principle of measures adopted to combat it. In addition to reaffirming the international community's duty to ensure that all measures in the fight against terrorism were compatible with human rights law, the draft resolution had been updated to identify the remaining challenges. It included an appeal for greater cooperation among States to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, as well as other special procedures in the field. The Mexican delegation was holding informal consultations on the draft resolution, with a view to it being approved by consensus in the Committee.
The representative of Cuba introduced the draft entitled Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights (document A/C.3/62/L.48) on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. The draft recognized that the promotion and protection of human rights should be based on cooperation, dialogue and a strengthening of the capacity of Member States to implement human rights. The draft also stipulated that the promotion and protect, and full realization, of human rights and fundamental freedoms should be guided by universality, non-selectivity, objectivity and transparency, in a manner compatible with the United Nations Charter. The Non-Aligned Movement was confident that all States would lend their support to the draft to ensure its approval by consensus.
He then proceeded to introduce the draft entitled The right to development (document A/C.3/62/L.49), also on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which assigned a high priority to that topic. The draft built upon past declarations, which had confirmed the right of development to be an inalienable human right. The United Nations must work towards the preparation of a legally binding instrument on the right to development, which ultimately should be put on an equal footing with all other human rights. Hopefully, the draft would enjoy consensus or, at least, overwhelming support.
The Committee Chairman, RAYMOND WOLFE ( Jamaica), said it appeared that the representative of Cuba was staging a marathon.
The Cuban representative went on to introduce the draft on Human rights and unilateral coercive measures (document A/C.3/62/L.50). Despite what had been recommended by the General Assembly, the former Commission on Human Rights and the current Human Rights Council, such measures continued to be adopted. The draft underlined that such measures, which violated international law and the United Nations Charter, had negative consequences on development and affected populations in countries where they were applied, especially women and children. Such measures also set up obstacles on the path to the enjoyment of all human rights. Food and medicine had been used as instruments of political pressure. The draft urged countries that had enacted such measures to respect international law and to fulfil their obligations under international instruments to which they were party. He hoped that draft would also be approved with overwhelming support.
Next, the representative of Cuba introduced a draft resolution entitled Promotion of peace as a vital requirement for the full enjoyment of all human rights by all (document A/C.3/62/L.52).
She said she was pleased to introduce that draft, as the text highlighted the sacred right of people to peace. Cuba reaffirmed the need to promote peace and peaceful solutions to international disputes, and also underlined the principle of non-intervention in the national jurisdiction of States, among other matters. She requested Member States to support the draft resolution and reaffirm their commitment to living in a world of peace.
That delegation then introduced a draft resolution entitled The right to food (document A/C.3/62/L.53). She said that the problems of food insecurity still had a global dimension, becoming much worse in the African continent. Around 854 million people living in developing countries were lacking sufficient food to meet their basic needs. That was a violation of their fundamental human rights. Without consolidating a political, social and economic environment, which was stable at the national and international level, it was impossible to attach proper importance to that right. Cuba affirmed that hunger constituted an outrage against human dignity, which required urgent measures at all levels to eliminate it. Cuba encouraged all States to bring about the full utilization of the right to food, and commended the Special Rapporteur on the matter, Jean Ziegler, who would soon complete his mandate. Cuba encouraged the next Special Rapporteur to continue to promote that right and encouraged the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner to continue lending all human and financial resources in support of the Rapporteur's mandate. On behalf of the 67 co-sponsors of the draft resolution, Cuba was pleased to request the other Member States, which traditionally supported the initiative, to join the list of co-sponsors and reaffirm all human beings' right to nutritious food and not to suffer from hunger.
The Committee Secretary then made a technical correction to the draft resolution, saying that the list of co-sponsors should also include Cuba, which had been omitted.
The representative of Cuba then introduced a draft resolution entitled Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity (document A/C.3/62/L.54).
The representative thanked the Secretary for his correction, and, moving on to the matter of the draft resolution, said that the actions of the United Nations in the field of human rights could not be carried out without respect for the principles of non-selectivity, impartiality and objectivity. It was vital to have a thorough understanding of the problems that arose in all societies, as well as full respect for the political and social reality of each one. In the text before the Committee, Cuba had emphasized that international cooperation in the field had to contribute to strengthening international peace and security. Cuba requested that all delegations lend their support to the resolution.
The representative of Cuba then introduced a draft entitled Respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations to achieve international cooperation in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms and in solving international problems of a humanitarian character (document A/C.3/62/L.55), which would note the obligation of all Member States to promote respect for international law and to make substantial contributions to international humanitarian activities. Such cooperation would not only improve trust and confidence between peoples, but lead to a more just world. Enhanced international cooperation in humanitarian problems, in full compliance with the Charter of the United Nations, was the aim of the draft. As a staunch defender of multilateralism, Cuba urged all countries to participate in human rights dialogue and to observe the principles and norms of international law, including human rights and humanitarian law. He also invited all delegations to vote in favour of the draft.
The committee then reverted to the introduction of the draft resolution on Human rights and cultural diversity (document A/C.3/62/L.39), with the representative of Iran noting that it reaffirmed that all human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and that States had a duty to promote and protect human rights, bearing in mind national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds. He said that a number of informal and bilateral consultations had produced a text that had been agreed upon by all. He then read out a number of revisions to the text.
The Secretary first made a number of editorial corrections before giving the floor to the representative of Portugal to introduce a draft resolution.
The representative of Portugal then introduced, on behalf of the European Union, a draft resolution entitled Situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (document A/C.3/62/L.37). He first praised the cooperation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with international agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and the openness shown by the Government after floods had created problems. The sponsors of the draft resolution welcomed the progress made at the six-party talks and also recognized progress made in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
He expressed great concern, however, at serious human rights violations in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which included instances of torture, the imposition of the death penalty, and punishment for those who left the country without permission. The draft expressed equal concern at violations of economic, social and cultural rights in the country. The text would urge the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to end human rights violations in the country by tackling the root causes leading to refugee outflows, and not criminalizing the victims.
The draft also expressed very serous concern at the Government's refusal to allow the Special Rapporteur into the country, and urged the Government to cooperate, and to extend to United Nations agencies all necessary access, allowing them to carry out their mandates. The Government was further encouraged to respond to the issue of abductions. The co-sponsors of the draft believed that the General Assembly should not stand silent at the plight of the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and hoped that the resolution would be adopted with the broadest possible support.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea then asked the Chairman be allowed to respond to the statements made by Portugal's delegation.
The Chairman asked the Committee to recall its longstanding policy not to have a long round of statements following the introduction of draft resolutions. He said that according to the rules of procedure, it might be more appropriate to wait until the end of the meeting.
The representative of Portugal then introduced a draft on the Situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/62/L.41), on behalf of the European Union and all co-sponsors. He said that the draft expressed deep concern about the situation of human rights in Myanmar, including the recent violent repression of peaceful demonstrations. It built upon concerns that had been expressed by the international community through the recent convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council. It urged Myanmar to show restraint and refrain from carrying out further arrests, and called for full respect for human rights and for those who violated human rights to be brought to justice. Some positive steps taken by the Government of Myanmar were acknowledged in the draft, including the decision to allow a visit next week by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; it was hoped that he would have full, free and unimpeded access after four years of not being allowed into the country. The draft also asks the Secretary-General to continue to provide his good offices and to continue to discuss human rights and democracy with Myanmar, and to offer technical assistance to its Government in that regard. It was hoped that the Government would give serious consideration to proposals made by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General. Negotiations with Myanmar on the text had taken place, but in spite of the efforts made, consensus could not be reached; the sponsors were open to further consultations.
The Secretary first made a number of editorial corrections to a draft resolution before the Committee.
The representative of Canada then introduced the draft resolution entitled Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (document A/C.3/62/L.43). He first made a number of minor corrections to the text before beginning his statement. Almost a year had passed since the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he said. It was clear that the concerns expressed had not been addressed by the Government of Iran, and the situation of human rights in that country continued to deteriorate. There had been confirmed instances of torture, and of cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The draft resolution had been carefully drafted to ensure accuracy and to reflect the developments since the adoption of the last resolution on the issue. His delegation brought the draft forward, he said, because Canada was "genuinely concerned" about the continued denial of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Government of Iran to its people. It was the collective responsibility of the international community to call attention to this unacceptable situation.
The representative of the United States then introduced the draft resolution entitled Situation of human rights in Belarus (document A/C.3/62/L.51), on behalf of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Norway and Switzerland. He said that the situation of human rights in Belarus had continued to deteriorate, despite the adoption of a resolution on that country by the General Assembly last year and in 2004, and three times by the Commission on Human Rights. With the loss of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus last summer, it was more imperative that the Assembly closely examine the serious abuses that had been occurring in that country. The draft noted that local elections in January 2007 had failed to meet international standards, that intimidation of the political opposition had increased, and that political parties planning to take part in parliamentary elections next year faced liquidation and deregistration. Curtailment of press and academic freedoms were also addressed in the draft. Adoption of the draft would send a message of hope to the people of Belarus.
Following a point of order raised by the representative of Greece regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Chairman reminded delegations to refer to countries by their proper names.
Action on Draft Resolution
The representative of the United States was then scheduled to introduce a draft resolution entitled Eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including as instruments to achieve political or military objectives (document A/C.3/62/L.16/Rev.1 and amendments thereto contained in documents A/C.3/62/L.58 and A/C.3/62/L.59). He said his delegation was not yet prepared to introduce the text for action, and requested a postponement until next Thursday, 15 November.
After asking the Committee if it was the wish to defer action, the Chairman then deferred action on the draft, as requested.
The representative of Benin introduced a draft resolution entitled International Year of Human Rights Learning (document A/C.3/62/L.28/Rev.1)
By the terms of the text, the Committee would have the General Assembly proclaim 2008 as the International Year of Human Rights Learning, devoted to activities to broaden and deepen learning on those rights. The text would also ask the Assembly to call upon Member States to intensify their efforts, throughout the year and beyond, to promote human rights learning and education at the local, national and international levels, and encourage cooperation at all levels, as well as with all relevant stakeholders.
The representative of Benin said he was privileged to be able to introduce the draft resolution to the Third Committee. In the proceedings, the Secretary had drawn the delegation's attention to some technical aspects, so Benin had rephrased operative paragraph 4 and replaced it with a new paragraph. Also, in order to accommodate more co-sponsors, a new preambular paragraph had been agreed, he said. Words had been added to operative paragraph 5, he said, in order to make it clearer.
He thanked all the draft's co-sponsors and congratulated them for their willingness. An international year for human rights learning would speed up the process of appropriation of all human rights and their full realization. His delegation hoped the draft would be adopted by consensus.
The Secretary then asked the representative of Benin to once again repeat the changes in the operative paragraphs, as they were not entirely clear.
The representative of Benin repeated his list of changes to the operative paragraphs.
The Secretary then asked the representative what the changes would actually mean in terms of a time frame.
The representative of Benin said it would be at the end of the international year of human rights learning when a plenary meeting would take place. The way it now stood, the year would not end before the meeting took place, but during the sixty-fourth session of the General Assembly.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution, as orally revised, without a vote.
Right of Reply
The representative of Belarus, responding to his counterpart from the United States, and saying that credit should be given where credit was due, noted that for the first time in three years, the co-sponsors of the draft resolution about his country had approached his delegation with the draft before its submission to the Secretariat, although the main co-sponsor stopped short of holding consultations. More inspiring, he added, were the good feelings of hope and optimism that had been expressed at the Human Rights Council, which held the promise of human rights being considered in a fair, non-selective and impartial way. He said "a rabbit driven into a corner would fight back", but Belarus was no rabbit; it had the strength and self-respect not to give in to threats, intimidation and haughtiness. Could the promotion of human rights be addressed with votes in the General Assembly? Voting legitimized a divide, he said. It never healed, nor did it bring people closer. The co-sponsors, if they were strong and righteous, might consider withdrawing their resolution; if not, they might face a "no-action" motion, which for Belarus would be an instrument of last resort.
The representative of Myanmar referred to the country-specific draft introduced by the representative of Portugal on behalf of the European Union. Had there been a genuine desire for consultation, the main sponsor should not have waited until the twelfth hour to provide a copy of its text. Last year the draft had been presented to Myanmar two days before introduction; this year it had been three days before. Moreover, the text was intrusive and, compared to last year, harsher. It would not contribute to the efforts that had been made by the good offices of the Secretary-General. Indeed, the draft had been overtaken by events; the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the International Compact with Iraq and on Other Political Issues, Ibrahim Gambari, had confirmed positive developments after his recent visit to Myanmar, and had released a statement that noted that Aung San Suu Kyi [General Secretary of the National League for Democracy] was ready to cooperate with the Government towards a successful dialogue. Cooperation with the United Nations was the cornerstone of Myanmar's foreign policy, and his country would continue to support Mr. Gambari's efforts. The European Union's draft failed to reflect the positive developments that had been unfolding in Myanmar.
The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that his delegation neither recognized nor accepted the draft that had been introduced earlier by Portugal on behalf of the European Union. It was a manifestation of politicization and selectivity in addressing human rights situations that ran counter to the will of a majority of Member States. It was an act of hostile forces in the European Union and the United States, aimed at destabilizing the country and undermining its socialist system by distorting its human rights situation and creating an atmosphere of international pressure. The worst cases of human rights violations today were the killing of innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in the name of a war on terror. The European Union was well advised to mind its own business by eliminating contemporary forms of racism in its own countries. Draft resolutions presented by the West which targeted developing countries would only result in confrontation and mistrust. The draft on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea contained misinformation from elements opposed to his country. The European Union would have to shoulder responsibility for the draft. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea rejected the draft, and it would oppose all other politically motivated resolutions aimed at specific developing countries.
The representative of Iran said the draft resolution introduced by Canada suffered from major and substantial conceptual problems and deficiencies. In Iran's opinion, the draft resolution was a blatant abuse of the General Assembly's time and agenda. The ideas expressed were a decade old, he said, and the author tried desperately to convey a catalogue of baseless information. The Third Committee was not the right place to raise such ideas, he said, and added that the draft resolution was wrong in stating that Iran did not accept the visits of Special Rapporteurs and other special mandate holders. In fact the country was more cooperative with these than the average country. At a time when action was to be taken, he said, he would share more thoroughly with the house how out of touch the draft resolution was, and said someone should ask the Canadian delegation if it didn't have any fresh ideas to share.
For information media • not an official record
Eight actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in March 2008, and four improved, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch released today.
Early results of Zimbabwe's 29 March presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections were strongly disputed, underlining the risk that escalated repression and unrest may follow but also highlighting the possibility of positive change. As CrisisWatch went to press, reports suggested President Mugabe was under pressure from close associates to resign and/or negotiate a transfer of power.
Protests in Tibet turned violent on 14 March and unrest spread to Tibetan-populated areas of neighbouring provinces, prompting the deployment of thousands of police. Casualty numbers were difficult to verify after foreign media access was heavily restricted; Beijing said there were 22 deaths, while the Tibetan government in exile said over 140. In Kosovo, violence in Mitrovica and Belgrade's push for partition underscored the fragility of the post-independence situation. Hundreds were killed in Iraq after the government mounted a major operation against Shiite militias operating in Basra, with serious clashes also in Baghdad and cities across the south.
The situation also deteriorated in Armenia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), North Korea, and Somalia.
The situation improved in Cyprus as President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat met in Nicosia for the first time, where they agreed to open the Ledra border crossing and begin preparations for formal reunification talks. In Pakistan, new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ordered the release of several members of the judiciary, including former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, amid a relatively peaceful political transition after February's elections. In the Comoros Islands, the government, backed by African Union troops, restored control over rebel-held Anjouan island quickly and with little resistance. The situation also improved in the Taiwan Strait following the election of Ma Ying-jeou as President, who pledged to improve relations with China.
For April 2008, CrisisWatch identifies Zimbabwe and Nepal as both Conflict Risk Alerts and Conflict Resolution Opportunities. It also identifies Cyprus and Uganda as Conflict Resolution Opportunities.
MARCH 2008 TRENDS
Armenia, China (internal), Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), North Korea, Somalia
Comoros Islands, Cyprus, Pakistan, Taiwan Strait
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Israel/Occupied Territories, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), Northern Ireland (UK), Peru, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somaliland (Somalia), Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zimbabwe
APRIL 2008 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alerts
Conflict Resolution Opportunities
Cyprus, Nepal, Uganda, Zimbabwe
*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts, and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.
- World cereal production in 2008 is forecast to increase 2.6 percent to a record 2 164 million tonnes. The bulk of the increase is expected to be in wheat following significant expansion in plantings in major producing countries. Coarse grains output is tentatively forecast to remain around the bumper level of last year. Rice production is foreseen to increase slightly reflecting production incentives in several Asian countries. However, much will depend on climatic conditions in the coming months.
- Should the expected growth in 2008 production materialize, the current tight global cereal supply situation could ease in the new 2008/09 season.
- International cereal prices have risen further in the past two months reflecting steady demand. Prices of rice increased the most following the imposition of new export restrictions by major exporting countries. By the end of March prices of wheat and rice were about twice their levels of a year earlier, while those of maize were more than one-third higher.
- In 2007/08 the cereal import bill of the LIFDCs as a group is forecast to increase considerably for the second consecutive year. Prices of basic foods have soared in domestic markets across the world leading to social unrest in several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Governments of both cereal importing and exporting countries are taking a series of measures to limit the impact of higher international cereal prices on food consumption.
- In the LIFDCs, as a group, early prospects point to another only marginal increase in 2008 cereal production. Excluding the largest countries, China and India, the output of the remaining LIFDCs is tentatively forecast to decline slightly.
- In Southern Africa, where the 2008 main season cereal harvest is about to start, aggregate output is forecast to increase sharply from last year's level. However, another reduced crop is anticipated in Zimbabwe. In North Africa, a strong recovery of winter cereal production is expected after severe drought in 2007.
- In Asia, prospects for the 2008 wheat crop, already close to harvest, are favourable although outputs are forecast below the record levels of last year. In South America, a record 2008 maize crop is being gathered mainly due to larger plantings. In Central America, a good wheat crop is expected in Mexico.
Ten actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated in September 2008 and two improved, according to the new issue of the International Crisis Group's monthly bulletin CrisisWatch, released today.
In DR Congo, a January peace deal between the government and rebel groups in the east lay in tatters after serious clashes throughout the month between General Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels and the Congolese army. Following a late August resumption in hostilities, the CNDP advanced from ceasefire positions towards Goma; the UN said 100,000 were displaced in the attendant fighting. Violence surged again in Nigeria's Niger Delta, where MEND rebels vowed an "oil war" and led assaults on Shell and Chevron sites in Rivers State; some 100 are believed to have been killed. A ceasefire was declared on 21 September, but MEND threatened to step up violence if provoked.
In Pakistan, a powerful bomb at Islamabad's Marriott hotel killed 53 people, heightening fears regarding the country's insecurity. The bombing came as domestic resentment grew over U.S. cross-border raids, following a ground attack by U.S. commandos in North Waziristan. Concerns over civilian casualties increased in Sri Lanka's Vanni region, where the government withdrew all humanitarian agencies as the army made continued advances in its stepped-up offensive against LTTE rebels.
In Ingushetia, outrage following the August killing of opposition journalist Magomed Yevloyev led hundreds onto the streets in anti-government protests amid growing violence between security forces and militants. The situation also deteriorated in North Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Yemen.
A sharp intensification of Bolivia's violent demonstrations over the upcoming constitutional referendum led the country deeper into crisis, and CrisisWatch identifies the situation there as both a Conflict Risk Alert and Conflict Resolution Opportunity. At least 30 were killed in clashes in Pando department early in the month leading to a declaration of martial law there, and the country's deep-seated divisions may erupt into further violence. But the opening of talks mid-month between the government and opposition, observed by both the OAS and UN, offers a new opportunity to reach agreement on departmental autonomy and modification of the new constitution.
In Zimbabwe, a power-sharing deal was reached between ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC, after 7 weeks of talks. A government of national unity has yet to be formed, however, and the deal leaves difficult questions regarding the distribution of executive power unanswered. The situation also improved in Cyprus, where full-fledged reunification talks began between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders.
September 2008 TRENDS
Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Thailand, North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), Yemen
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque Country (Spain), Belarus, Bosnia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti/Eritrea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Georgia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir), Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Macedonia, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), Nepal, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Western Sahara
October 2008 OUTLOOK
Conflict Risk Alerts
Conflict Resolution Opportunities
*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts, and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated violence is feared.
Brussels - The global economic meltdown beginning in the latter part of 2008 had its effect on Crisis Group, as on every other organisation dependent on government, foundation and corporate income. We had to engage in some serious belt-tightening, reducing staff in some areas and cutting costs in others. But we have been able, overall, to maintain our reach and effectiveness, thanks to the loyalty and commitment of our staff and supporters.
Proving the impact of Crisis Group's efforts to prevent and resolve deadly conflict around the world is always a challenge. To try to quantify our influence a little more, in January 2009 we conducted an online survey of our primary readership - the 25,000 policymakers and "influentials" who are targeted recipients of our reports, and the more than 120,000 others who subscribe online to Crisis Group reports and briefings. We received over 11,000 replies (a gratifying response for a survey that took some fifteen minutes to complete), with over a third of them coming from our key advocacy targets. Encouragingly, over 50 per cent said that our reports and recommendations had an effect on their opinions "very often", "often" or at least "partially", while more than 20 per cent said our reports were "the best available in the public domain", and 67 per cent said they were "superior to most others".
There were a number of specific areas in 2008 where our reporting and advocacy seemed to make a visible difference, including:
- our alarm-bell ringing in advance of the Georgia-Russia war and follow-up analysis which bolstered the EU's efforts to secure Russia's agreement to withdraw its forces;
- our central role in shifting the debate on Burma/Myanmar after cyclone Nargis, successfully urging modification or reversal of counterproductive aid and trade policies;
- our on-the-ground coverage of Zimbabwe's post-election crisis, offering practical options and a steady flow of information to key actors;
- our detailed analysis of coca production in the Andean region and counter-drug policies in the U.S. and Europe, with a new U.S.-Colombian integrated strategy reflecting our recommendations;
- our guidance to policymakers on the Kirkuk issue in Iraq, with the UN mission there adopting it as its top priority;
- our sustained advocacy to shape the response to the International Criminal Court prosecution of Sudan's President Bashir, emphasising the opportunity to advance both peace and justice there; and
- our continuing advocacy of a more realistic approach to engaging with Iran on an acceptable diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, and to recognising the reality of Hamas's role in the Occupied Territories.
I am deeply indebted, again, to all the members of the International Crisis Group family - staff, Board members and major donors - for their immense commitment to making this the uniquely productive and influential organisation that it now is and, in these troubled and uncertain times, must remain.
Gareth Evans, President and CEO
Press Release No: G/31/2009
ESCAP study proposes actions by Asia Pacific to improve food security
Bangkok (UN/ESCAP Information Services) - Any recovery from the current economic crisis will be incomplete if the related food crisis is not addressed, says a new UN study.
The report, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in Asia and the Pacific, was launched today by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) - the regional arm of the UN. It says that for 583 million people across Asia and the Pacific, the financial crisis has become a food crisis. While food prices have fallen from last year's spike they remain high. Rising unemployment and falling incomes are putting additional pressure on the poor and vulnerable. More worrying still is that, once the global economy recovers, the pressures that drove up food prices last year will return.
"Efforts at stimulating the economies also provide us a window of opportunity to address the systemic issues related to food insecurity," said Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. "This report reminds us that, while the world's attention is very much on the economic crisis, food insecurity remains a real threat. It details the scope and magnitude of the problem and provides both immediate and long-term policy recommendations to decision makers."
Despite the Asia-Pacific region's rapid economic growth, the region is home to the largest number of hungry people - 62 per cent of the world's undernourished. The ESCAP study identifies 25 countries as hotspots of food insecurity.
Even in countries which are seemingly doing well, national averages may mask disparities between different population groups. "In East Asia and the Pacific, for example, rural children are twice as likely to be underweight as their peers in the cities" says Dr. Heyzer. "In fact, the report states that the number of children under five dying of malnutrition in our region is equivalent to 10 jumbo jets filled with children crashing every day and killing everyone on board."
The study re-affirms that poverty is the leading cause of food insecurity. Inadequate income means the poor cannot afford to buy food. Lack of access to land also prevents many poor people from growing their own food. Other causes for food insecurity range from low farm revenues to volatile fuel prices and speculation.
Protectionist trade policies which drive up food prices is another cause of food insecurity in the region as most countries in Asia and the Pacific meet national needs through imports, the report says.
Ironically, agriculture itself is also a factor. Destructive farming practices have degraded land and contaminated waterways with pesticides and herbicides. Deforestation to open more farmland threatens watersheds, disrupts fisheries and reduces natural processes like pollination. Climate change, which threatens to significantly alter weather patterns, will have lasting detrimental impacts on agricultural output.
The study provides short-, medium- and long-term recommendations for addressing food insecurity in the region. Most immediately, people's ability to buy or access food needs to be improved through the development of social protection schemes such as minimum wage, unemployment benefits, "food-for-work" programmes, basic health care and agricultural insurance.
Availability of food at the national level can be promoted through trade. Over the medium term, investments in sustainable agriculture and small scale farmers will be extremely important. Long-term measures will require that all nations adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
"Given the magnitude of the problem in the Asia-Pacific region, our response will define how food insecurity issues are resolved globally," said Dr. Heyzer. "We are here to identify the policies that reconnect people with food, a fundamental building block for sustainable development."
Sustainable agriculture and food security is the theme topic of ESCAP's annual Commission session currently underway in Bangkok. The study will be the focus of a ministerial round table on Monday, 27 April, featuring ministers from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. David Nabarro, Coordinator of the Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis under the chairmanship of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Vice-President of the Asian Development Bank and Dr. Heyzer of ESCAP will join the discussion.
For further information, please contact
UN Information Services (UNIS), ESCAP:
Tel: (66) 288-1862Mobile: (66) 89-927-1986
La donación española de 29 millones de euros a Gavi Alliance contribuirá a acelerar las iniciativas en materia de vacunación en 72 de los países más pobres del mundo.
Esta mañana se han reunido en la sede de la AECID la Secretaria de Estado de Cooperación Internacional, Soraya Rodríguez y la Directora de la AECID, Elena Madrazo con el Secretario Ejecutivo de GAVI, Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt en un encuentro en el que también ha participado SAR la Infanta Cristina como representante de La Fundación La Caixa, que también contribuye con la Alianza.
Madrid / Ginebra, 12 de mayo de 2009 - El Gobierno español ha realizado una donación de 29 millones de euros destinados a una importante iniciativa dirigida a impulsar la inmunización en los países más pobres del mundo.
El Secretario Ejecutivo de GAVI, Dr. Julian Lob-Levyt, mantuvo un encuentro con la Secretaria de Estado de Cooperacion Internacional, Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, y la directora de la Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID), Elena Madrazo Hegewisch, en la que participaron además diversas ONG y la Fundación La Caixa, representado por S.A.R la Infanta doña Cristina. El objetivo fue tratar la cooperación futura entre el gobierno y la GAVI Alliance. El próximo año España no solamente asumirá la presidencia de la Unión Europea, sino que también será miembro del consejo ejecutivo le la alianza.
En respuesta a la creciente demanda de los países en desarrollo, GAVI se ha propuesto recaudar más de 3.000 millones de dólares entre 2009 y 2015 para acelerar los programas de vacunación en 72 países en desarrollo y evitar miles de muertes cada año.
El Dr. Lob-Levyt dijo que "celebraba que el Gobierno español hubiera reafirmado su compromiso con los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio" y añadió que "esa importante donación ayudará a desplegar más esfuerzos destinados a proteger todavía a más mujeres y niños contra las enfermedades y a salvar más vidas".
En los próximos seis años, GAVI Alliance se propone ampliar su apoyo a los países en desarrollo en relación con las vacunas contra como la fiebre tifoidea, la rubéola o la encefalitis japonesa.
La Secretaria de Estado manifestó su firme apoyo a la misión de GAVI de salvar las vidas de niños y proteger la salud de los pobres", y afirmó que "este compromiso es fundamental para alcanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, en especial el cuarto objetivo, cuya finalidad es reducir la mortalidad de los niños en dos terceras partes. Todos los progresos que realicemos para mejorar la salud en los países en desarrollo se verán reflejados en las perspectivas económicas de esos países. En tiempos de crisis es particularmente importante invertir en sectores sociales como el de la salud".
Cada año se deja de vacunar a 24 millones de niños contra las enfermedades infantiles más comunes. Como resultado, entre dos y tres millones de niñas y niños mueren al año por culpa de enfermedades fáciles de prevenir, y muchos más caen enfermos y pierden clases.
Desde 2006, España presta apoyo a GAVI a través del Servicio Financiero Internacional para la Inmunización (IFFIm por sus siglas en inglés) y se ha comprometido a aportar cerca de 190 millones de euros en un plazo de 20 años. El IFFIm recauda fondos en los mercados de capital con objeto de financiar la inmunización y el fortalecimiento de los sistemas de salud de los países pobres por conducto de GAVI Alliance. La nueva donación de 29 millones de euros representa el compromiso contraído por España con la plataforma de financiación directa de GAVI, que es fundamental para su actividad principal de satisfacer la demanda de inmunización de los países en desarrollo a través de compromisos de financiación plurianuales.
GAVI considera a España como un país "modelo", porque tanto su sector p=FAblico como el privado brindan su apoyo a los programas de inmunización de GAVI. Además del apoyo del Gobierno, GAVI Alliance también recibe financiación de la Fundación "La Caixa", que realizó en 2008 una contribución inicial de 4 millones de euros a GAVI. "La Caixa" y su Fundación, también pusieron en marcha la Alianza Empresarial para la Vacunación Infantil, una iniciativa que insta a las empresas españolas a asumir el desafío global de la salud.
El Dr. Lob-Levyt señaló que "para GAVI es fundamental que la financiación destinada a la inmunización y otras intervenciones de salud sea previsible, porque los países en desarrollo necesitan planificar con tiempo", y añadió que "los donantes como España lo comprenden y han resultado ser muy buenos para ofrecer el apoyo necesario a largo plazo para conseguir que aumenten las tasas de inmunización en los países más pobres del mundo".
GAVI Alliance es una alianza p=FAblico-privada que tiene por objeto inmunizar a los niños de los países más pobres. GAVI re=FAne a gobiernos de los países en desarrollo y de los países donantes, la Organización Mundial de la Salud, el UNICEF, el Banco Mundial, la industria de la vacunación tanto de los países industrializados como en desarrollo, los organismos técnicos y de investigación, las organizaciones no gubernamentales, la Fundación Bill y Melinda Gates y otras organizaciones privadas sin ánimo de lucro.
El apoyo de GAVI consiste en suministrar vacunas que salvan vidas y en esforzar las sistemas de salud. Gracias a programas de GAVI, desde 2000 al menos 213 millones de niños fueron vacunados, y más de 3,4 millones de muertes en el futuro evitado.
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
16th & 17th Meetings (AM & PM)
Hears from Some 55 More Speakers, as Three-Day Debate on Promotion, Protection of the Rights of the Child Concludes
Capping its three-day discussion on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child, members of the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) discussed national programmes to nurture young citizens, saying the credibility of States "rested in their work for future generations".
On the final day of its discussion on children's rights, many speakers alluded to the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the General Assembly, which would take place in November, saying it was an opportunity to review areas still needing progress.
For some States, that included finding novelways to promote child participation in politics and society. In Tunisia, 2008 was the year of dialogue with youth, a speaker from that country said. His Government had worked to create hearing rooms in schools and the institutions, which guided and integrated children into society. In Argentina, interventions by public, State and private intervention in the promotion and protection of their rights was guided by the views of children and adolescents, said the speaker, who drew a link between children's participation and a "strengthened citizenship".
Uruguay's representative said the Committee's annual resolution on the rights of the child, in the midst of being drafted by a large group of co‑sponsors, would focus on the right of participation of children. A number of those co-sponsors were from Latin American and the Caribbean countries, and Uruguay itself had held dialogues with 4,000 boys and girls to seek their views on proposals for the national 20-year strategy.
The representative of Slovakia, whose country was also a supporter of that resolution, observed that giving voice to children did not exempt the adult international community from action in areas involving children. On the contrary, giving voice to children called for a heightened responsibility for adult decision-makers "to listen and to hear".
He also explained that, in December, a working group of the Human Rights Council was due to meet in Geneva to discuss a new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would provide a communications procedure to hear complaints of rights abuse. "The ultimate target [of the initiative] was to listen to children and respect them," he said, adding that Slovakia had been responsible for introducing the Council resolution on establishing that working group.
The representative of the Inter-Parliamentary Union raised the question of how to ensure that parliaments adequately represented children, those whose voices were often not heard or listened to in society. For five years, the Inter‑Parliamentary Union had worked with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to support parliaments to enable children to live free from violence. This year, its attention was focused on Latin America, where child-protection laws were inadequate in many instances and abuse within families accounted for the deaths of 80,000 children under 18 years of age.
He said that, at a three-day meeting in Costa Rica, participants discussed ways to supervise institutions responsible for prevention policies, and ways to supervise the appropriate use of resources.
The representative of Bangladesh said his Government would once again be sponsoring the annual resolution on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World, 2001-2010. He said his Government was encouraged by the child-protection policy directive for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As the second largest troop-contributing country, it was also happy to note that each peacekeeping mission would now have a child-protection adviser.
Also speaking were the representatives of Swaziland, Peru, Ukraine, Zambia, Singapore, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Yemen, Nigeria, India, Monaco, Guyana, Niger, Israel, Egypt, Netherlands, Mongolia, Congo, Bhutan, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Montenegro, Serbia, Maldives, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Bahrain, Togo, Nepal, Kenya, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan, Oman, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Eritrea, Pakistan, Morocco, Philippines, Haiti and Mauritania.
Representatives of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine also delivered a statement, as did representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The representatives of Georgia, Russian Federation, Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in the exercise of the rights of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 October, to begin its consideration of indigenous issues.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to conclude its discussion on the rights of children (for further details, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3951).
PETUNIA LINDIWE MNDEBELE ( Swaziland), aligning her statement with that of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the Government was working to reduce the vulnerability of its children through the national poverty reduction strategy. A localized version of the "world fit for children" programme had been in place since 2005. Through that project, the Government had hoped to pioneer measures to support orphans and vulnerable children through a system of extended family care -- a reflection of traditional Swazi culture. The project was also in line with the Government's decentralization policy.
She explained that the dramatic increase in orphans and vulnerable children, due to poverty and HIV/AIDS, had overwhelmed the capacity of extended families to care for those children. In addition, a large number of child-headed households had begun to emerge. The Government had begun working through the national emergency response council on HIV/AIDS to create neighbourhood care points, to distribute emergency food in areas affected by drought and food insecurity, using community-based initiatives founded on traditional Swazi practices. Other areas of attention included education, violence against children, sexual offences against children, and human trafficking. For example, the Government also had an initiative to educate and sensitize communities about children's rights, and children were provided the opportunity to report abuse at the community level. She thanked the country's development partners for their support with regard to Swaziland's child-related initiatives.
CARMEN ARIAS OTAROLA (Peru), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group, said children had to be guaranteed the right to a name and, thus, identity. Peru's national registry had developed an intercultural approach to address the indigenous communities, making it possible to approach these communities. To account for its diversity, Peru had developed a national strategy that took its broad differences into account. Major strides in the area of health care had been made, including in infant mortality, due to the increasing coverage in rural health services. Still, the global picture for children remained disturbing. Diarrhoea and pneumonia, which were preventable, were responsible for a large proportion of children's deaths worldwide. This was not only morally unjustifiable, it was politically unacceptable. To this end, Peru was promoting the fight against non-infectious diseases.
She said the report "State of Children in Peru 2008" indicated that one area where the country had made the most progress was in primary education coverage. Nevertheless, there was work to be done to prevent drop-outs, among other things. The national education plan aimed to address the social realities of the society and to guarantee education for all. One priority was in strengthening the bilingual programme, and resources were needed in that area. Peru was also fighting malnutrition, and the Government planned to reduce malnutrition by 9 per cent by 2011. Children also needed an environment free from violence and, to this end, she welcomed the appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. She further noted the Twentieth Pan-American Congress for Boys, Girls, and Adolescents, which aimed to promote the design of children-centred policies, was held in September. Concluding, she stressed that the credibility of the States rested in their work for future generations.
OLHA KAVUN ( Ukraine ) began by expressing the importance of close cooperation between the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and governments, in order to promote and protect the rights of children. Policies and strategies to achieve this goal should include specific purposeful measures to reduce poverty, unemployment, gender discrimination, combat HIV/AIDS, resolve armed conflicts and achieve progress in education and health, as well as foster social protection and integration.
Turning to the issue of the rights of the child, she urged full and effective implementation of the obligations undertaken by States, in particular under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Despite difficult economic challenges, Ukraine paid attention to the promotion of the rights of children, considering the work to ensure better protection as a matter of national strategic priority. Ukraine continued the trend of previous years on harmonizing national legislation with the provisions of the international instruments it had ratified. She said that the number of orphans and children deprived of parental care remained large. Therefore, the year 2008 had been proclaimed by the President of Ukraine as a year of national adoption, which increased the number of children adopted by Ukrainian citizens arranged in foster families and family-type homes. In 2008, the citizens of Ukraine adopted 2066 orphans and children that were lacking of parental care, which was the highest number since 2000.
Despite progress, much more needed to be done to address the problems of children, in particular the acute health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and the spread of HIV/AIDS. A particularly worrying problem was the trafficking of children, many whom were forced into child prostitution and pornography. Ukraine called for continuous improvement of national, regional and international efforts and mechanisms for their effective countering and welcomed the initiative of developing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the introduction of appeals procedures and supported a consensus resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council to establish an appropriate working group. With regards to the Chernobyl disaster, almost 2 million children had been identified as victims of the tragic accident. She said that, "Now, 23 years after the catastrophe, my country continues to face its consequences. 60 per cent of thyroid cancer cases were diagnosed among those children who lived in the affected territories. Particular attention needs to be paid to ensure that these children receive adequate treatment and achieve full development."
ANNA MUBUKWANU SIBANZE (Zambia), aligning herself with the statement by SADC, began by expressing her Government's commitment to the various resolutions and instruments connected to the rights of the child, and announced that it was now seeking to become party to the two Optional Protocols of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Zambia was currently undergoing constitutional reform, which among other things, would provide better protection and promotion of human rights for all, including children. In terms of child health, 74 per cent of children were fully immunized, but malaria and HIV/AIDS continued to pose problems for children's health. The prevention of mother-child transmission was a key focus, as well as early infant diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Pregnant women and children under five years of age received free insecticide-treated nets and were exempt from user fees for health services.
In terms of education, she said the Government had provided free basic education since 2001, and was hoping to extend that policy to secondary schools. It was working on new guidelines for the integration of children with disabilities into the mainstream education system, and was taking steps to design school infrastructure to account for the needs of such children. To support girls' education, the Government had a "re-entry policy" at all levels that allowed pregnant girls to return to school after delivering their babies. As for measures to protect children against violence, exploitation and abuse, the Government had enacted an anti-human trafficking act, which gave children special protection. An information communications technology act would criminalize "the downloading of pornography of any kind". The anti-domestic violence bill was aimed at eliminating domestic violence, including against children, and provided civil remedies and shelters for victims. For children found on the streets, the Zambian National Service had established skills training camps in activities like carpentry, shoe making, automotive mechanics and agriculture. Also, vulnerable children could make use of social-safety net programmes, such as the social‑cash‑transfer scheme and child‑grant schemes.
CHAN YING YIN ( Singapore) said that by developing its children today, his country believed a better tomorrow would be secured. Since independence, it had progressively been improving its social systems to give its children a good start. Child mortality rates had been lowered to 2.1 per 1,000 live births and a high proportion of children were immunized against infectious diseases, with more than 95 per cent vaccinated against tuberculosis and hepatitis B. Through its Compulsory Education Act, all children received a strong foundation for future learning through six yeas of primary education. Nearly all students completed 10 years of education and more than 90 per cent of each cohort progressed to post‑secondary education. To complement their educations, children needed a healthy and nurturing environment at home. Families should play the main role in directing and guiding their children, and families that needed assistance were supported by community-development councils and family-service centres and other social organizations.
He said Singapore spared no effort in supporting the development of its teaching force. Moreover, schools had developed a holistic health framework to ensure the mental, social and physical health of their students. Every school was staffed with a full-time counsellor and all students were strongly encouraged to participate in co-curricular activities at all levels, including sports. Singapore had hosted the first Asian Youth Games from 29 June to 7 July and was honoured to have been selected as the host country for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games scheduled for August 2010. In that context, Singapore had started an initiative called Friends@YOG, in which all Singapore schools would be paired with two schools from the home country of each of the 205 National Olympic Committees. Singapore was honoured that its education system had received high rankings from the Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, the 2007 McKinsey Report and the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.
FESSEHA A. TESSEMA ( Ethiopia) said young people made up a majority of the population of his country. In the 1990s, the country had the worst malnutrition and basic health systems in the world. Less than a third of the children were going to school. Over time, the Government began integrating the Millennium Development Goals into its poverty-reduction strategy, with new child-focused health and education policies. Health centres were set up in rural areas to conduct outreach to the poor and to train health professionals. As a result, the proportion of children immunization against all major childhood diseases had increased from 22 per cent in 1999/2000 to 53 per cent in 2006/2007. Infant mortality also fell, and the proportion of the population with access to clean water had more than doubled, from 19 per cent in the 1990s to 59 per cent by 2007. The number of children in school had quadrupled, and many more of the poor were currently attending school, placing Ethiopia in a good position to achieve universal education by 2015.
In the case of children in especially difficult circumstances, such as HIV/AIDS orphans, he said the Government collaborated with non-governmental organizations to provide basic health-care, education and protection services. With the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), it was providing skills training to youth. Through a separate programme, it was extending credit to youth and their parents. For children of minority groups, the Government had set up schools in the local vernacular. To encourage attendance among pastoral communities living in the most remote areas, it had set up school feeding programmes. In terms of children with disabilities, it was undertaking public sensitization campaigns. Also, children under detention were not detained with adults, but contained in community-based correctional facilities that focused on providing educational support. But, international cooperation was important in bolstering the efforts of countries such as his own.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) said poverty, inequality and social exclusion affected children around the world. To combat those challenges, the full and effective implementation of children's human rights was needed. In Venezuela, respect for the rights of boys and girls was part of State policy and the National Council for the Rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents functioned as the central protector for those rights. A full array of plans, programmes and social missions implemented the social development goals in this area. Among other initiatives, the Government had implemented the socialist programme "Boys and Girls of the Barrio" since 2008, which had developed many programmes to provide health care, shelters, and community-protection centres. All those who were subject to exploitation, abuse, and other forms of violence received support. Further, Venezuela's school system guaranteed universal education and also provided food and nutritional programmes in schools. A bilingual programme also promoted indigenous language.
He said a new education law that was adopted two months ago allowed children to develop critical thinking in the social and political realms and drew from the new humanist- and socialist-production model. Venezuela's social programmes were already having a good impact, in particular on girls, boys and adolescents. Indeed, all Millennium Development Goals would be attained before the deadline. Moreover, Venezuela was at the forefront in the fight for justice and equality in Latin America and the Caribbean, as was evidenced in the recent reports of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
WAHEED AL-SHAMI ( Yemen) remarked that children's issues had become an important part of the international agenda, as reflected in the number of conventions, conferences and studies that existed on children. War, hunger, disease, illiteracy and exploitation were among the ongoing challenges faced by children in achieving their full rights, made worse by the financial, food and fuel crises and other difficulties. To improve the situation, States must step up their national and international efforts. He was pleased that the United Nations now had a Special Representative on Violence against Children.
He said Yemen had been one of the first to adopt the Convention on Child Rights and its Optional Protocols. It had also adopted the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on a minimum working age and the worst forms of child labour, and had integrated their provisions into national law. The Yemeni Constitution guaranteed the rights of the child through special laws, overseen by Government machinery that included a Motherhood Council, a Ministry of Human Rights and dedicated departments and offices within various other ministries. It also had a national strategy for the child and adolescents. In view of the importance of child participation, Yemen had a child's parliament, attended at times by Government ministers. He praised UNICEF for its assistance to Yemen, and expressed hoped that such assistance would continue, or even be stepped up. Regarding the suffering of children under Israeli occupation, which he condemned, he called on the international community to do its part to put an end to that occupation.
RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA ( Nigeria) reaffirmed his Government's belief that the future of mankind depended on the support and nurturing of children. In Nigeria, children's welfare was protected by the Child's Rights Act, which domesticated international norms into national law. Mechanisms to implement this law had been put in place, including in State courts. Since incidents of disease had increased the number of orphans, national guidelines for supporting these children had been put in place. Institutional analysis had been conducted in 2008 to generate data to formulate plans, including the development of intervention materials and psychological-support programmes for HIV positive children, among other things. Regrettably, girls still accounted for more than half of the out-of-school child population. Nigeria's universal education plan, literacy- and skill-attainment programmes were allowing girls to secure the education they needed. To give voice to the Nigerian child, children's parliaments had also been set up at the State and national level.
He underlined Nigeria's adoption of a maternal- and child-health strategy to reduce mortality. Breast-feeding and hand-washing campaigns had been launched. Nigeria's First Lady was working to influence public awareness of children's rights and health. The challenges of violence and other forms of abuse had a direct relationship with the number of children involved in drug abuse, violence and prostitution, among other harmful and destructive activities. Thus, a draft action plan on violence against children was currently being formulated. Further, the International Organization for Migration had set up shelters in Lagos for child labourers and children who were separated from their families for a variety of reasons. Thanking Nigeria's development partners for their support, he called for continued assistance in the area of funding and capacity-building.
SHRI CHINTA MOHAN, Member of Parliament of India, noted that the United Nations Secretary-General mentioned in his report that 9 million children under one year of age were dying, 75 million did not have access to education and 200 million were handicapped due to malnutrition and lack of health care. Although official development assistance (ODA) had increased last year, there was a shortfall in what was needed. For its part, India had eliminated tetanus in children and pregnant women in some parts of the country, and efforts aimed for full eradication of polio, tuberculosis and diphtheria. Under its Integrated Child Development Scheme, nutritious meals were currently provided to 34 million children and 7 million pregnant women. Through the National Rural Health Mission hospital, delivery was encouraged for all pregnant women and after delivery, financial assistance was given to needy women. Further, $100 million had been earmarked to build world-class children's hospitals.
Through the efforts of Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the India's United Progressive Alliance, midday meals were being given to 140 million children every day in schools, he said. It provided a high-protein diet, with fish and eggs twice a week. Moreover, the Right to Education Act had been enacted to provide free and compulsory education of all children under 14 years of age. An Act of Parliament also banned child labour and violence against children. Overall, India sought to provide all the welfare measures required to protect children's rights, from the first day of life in the womb through age 14 years.
ISABELLE PICCO ( Monaco) said, in situations of armed conflict, prevention remained the principal tool in combating the recruitment of child soldiers, and efforts to support the Special Representative of the Secretary-General were needed. It was also crucial to ensure education to children, even during emergencies. Further, stakeholders should be involved in the field, as the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was doing. Children's issues also had to be mainstreamed in all parts of the United Nations system and its work and polices. The directive developed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was one example of what should be done. Security Council resolution 1882 (2009) was another important milestone and broke the silence on a taboo. Monaco intended to not only condemn sexual violence against girls, but also against boys, which might be less obvious. Nevertheless, its dangers had been recognized in the Special Representative's report, particularly in camps for internally displaced persons.
She stressed that those people who were responsible for this sexual violence against children had to be "named and shamed". Impunity must end for those who continued to commit such grave crimes, despite preventive measures. Where laws existed, they should be implemented. The changing nature of warfare -- including the spread of terrorism and small arms -- had to be factored into ongoing schemes. Efforts should also be mobilized to support the reintegration of children who were abused, violated and recruited as child soldiers. Recent global crises meant there were fewer resources to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, but Monaco's development programmes aimed to close those gaps. Indeed, Monaco was working to combat hunger and finance immunization programmes in Africa, among other things.
DIANELA PI (Uruguay), aligning herself with the Rio Group, said her country had established a national agency on child and adolescent rights, with the task of coordinating State action in upholding those rights. The Government had held a dialogue with 4,000 boys and girls, to seek their views on proposals for the national 20-year strategy. Youth and children were hard hit by poverty, and several programmes under the national strategy to fight poverty were designed to bring about better coordination between State machinery and society in general. The issue of child rights cut across various disciplines: as a result, Government policies directed at children's rights ranged from the universalization of primary and secondary education to reducing child mortality and maternal health.
She said street children were a problem, although their number was declining. The Government was working to generate spaces where children could go if they did not have families, or if their families were not responsive to their return. Non-governmental organizations had been largely responsible for the idea behind such programmes. Another problem was the gap in access to education between children of different socio-economic status and the economic crisis had further worsened the situation. The Government had a community teacher's programme aimed at helping children who were at risk of dropping out of school. The programme had excellent results in improving school performance. The Government also had a "bridges programme" targeting adolescents in vulnerable situations, who did not complete their education, so they could return to school. She said the country was planning to launch a programme of an unprecedented nature, to provide universal access to new information technology to all children, through the "One Laptop per Child" programme. Through it, all students and teachers would each be given a computer with free Internet access, and it would be completely financed by the State.
Finally, she touched on the upcoming omnibus resolution relating to children, to be co-sponsored by the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the European Union. It would focus on the right of participation of children. Her country was committed to upholding the right of children to express their opinions on decisions that concerned them.
DONNETTE CRITCHLOW ( Guyana), aligning herself with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Rio Group, highlighted some successes and challenges faced at the national level. Guyana was making progress in the promotion of the well-being and rights of children, due in part to a reduction in debt servicing commitments. That had allowed for increased spending on social services, especially investment in children. But, further assistance would be needed to ensure that progress was not eroded as a result of the global crises. Education had been both free and compulsory since 1976. The challenge was to increase the transition rate of children from primary to secondary schools and to boost the enrolment rate of boys in secondary school. Guyana also faced a formidable challenge in achieving the goal of reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015. More needed to be done in decreasing child mortality in the hinterland.
She said the inclusion of health and family life issues in the school curriculum had added some impetus to healthy living, and in some instances had brought about behavioural change among youths. Recently, the Government had appointed officials to the Rights of the Child Commission, a constitutional body that advocates for children's rights, and strengthened laws to protect children from violence, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. Parliament was currently considering bills regarding child care and development, as well as custody, access, maintenance and guardianship to complete the package of child protection legislation. It had also tabled a juvenile justice bill, aimed at introducing more modern and age appropriate approaches for dealing with children in the justice system, and a sexual offences bill that sought to provide more protection to victims of sexual abuse. In Guyana, the participation of children on issues affecting them was a recognized right. During Child Protection Week, forums were organized to facilitate discussions by children.
NADYA RASHEED, Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine, expressed her delegation's deep distress that, more than seven years after the adoption of the "World Fit for Children" document, the rights of children around the world continued to be egregiously violated, particularly in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation. As a result, children continued to endure grave hardships. Without a doubt, a significant gap remained between the international legal standard relevant for children's protection and the implementation of these laws. Implementation gaps perpetuated the impunity enjoyed by those who violated children's rights, and a vicious circle continued: lack of compliance; lack of accountability; and continued transgression. Even more regrettably, serious human rights violations and war crimes continued to be committed against children.
She stressed that respect for the rules of international law should be compulsory for all States. But, in Palestine's case, nearly every provision of international, humanitarian and human rights laws had been violated time and time again by Israel. Three generations of Palestinian children had grown up as a Stateless and dispossessed people, with millions living under difficult socio‑economic conditions. They were devoid of any real protection, but continued to be the targets of the excessive, indiscriminate and lethal force routinely unleashed by the Israeli occupying forces. Never had the absence of protection been more evident than it was during Israel's three-week aggression against Gaza, launched on 27 December 2008. More than a third of the 1,400 Palestinians killed were children and more than 1,800 were injured as a result of the use of excessive, indiscriminate lethal force and even illegal weaponry and ammunition. The targeting of civilian areas and objects had been confirmed by several investigations, including most recently the "Goldstone Report".
She said that, in addition to the massive carnage against the Palestinian people in Gaza, Palestinian children there continued to inordinately suffer from unlawful collective punishment measures imposed by the occupying Power. The situation before the three-week assault was already dire, due to the more than 28‑month inhumane siege that deliberately obstructed humanitarian access; the movement of sick persons who needed treatment unavailable in Gaza; and the movement of food, medical and fuel supplies. Since the independent inquiries and investigations into Israel's military aggression confirmed its commitment of grave breaches of international law, she called on the international community to take all necessary steps to pursue accountability and justice.
ZAKARIAOUI ADAM MAIGA ( Niger) said the Convention on the Rights of the Child took into account the special status of the child. When a country invested in young people, it was guaranteeing its own future. Twenty years ago, global leaders had committed to ensuring the future of their peoples by deciding to implement the provisions of that Convention. Twenty years was sufficient time to examine what had been done, what remained to be done, and what obstacles stood in the way of full implementation. For its part, the Niger sought to create a country fit for children. Its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, overseen by the national committee on monitoring, development and protection of children, was written with input from civil society and other technical and financial partners. The Government had established a monitoring system, working through a system of focal points and regular meetings. Major investments in health and education had led to a significant drop in infant mortality and improved school enrolment.
He said the country had stronger laws to promote respect for the rights of the child. It had recently modified the criminal code, by creating new crimes and increasing the sentences for existing crimes. Prenatal care and health care for infants up to 5 years of age was being carried out under a special programme of the President of the Republic. A draft children's code would complete laws on monitoring, protecting and the development of children. A multilateral agreement on trafficking of children had resulted in the formation of a national commission on that issue. Many trafficked children had been repatriated as a result, and the Government was ensuring their reintegration into society. Through advocacy, it brought about a tangible improvement in the level of awareness of crimes of that nature, including among religious leaders and traditional chiefs.
SANDRA SIMOVICH ( Israel) said the issue of sexual violence against girls in conflict had been given a boost with the adoption of Security Council resolutions 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009). The actions called for in those resolutions should serve to maintain the international community's vigilant attention to this crime. The recent appointment of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children was also a positive development in child protection. Nevertheless, the Secretary-General's report on the rights of children noted a number of areas where swift and forceful action was needed. Of particular concern were the more than 200,000 child soldiers and other children associated with armed conflicts. No effort should be spared to end child recruitment, once and for all. And while data also suggested that child labour in some regions had decreased significantly, a staggering 150 million children from 5 to 14 5 years of age still engaged in child labour. Since that phenomenon was both a consequence and cause of poverty, it must be addressed on several fronts, including through national and international support for education.
She said Israel maintained a comprehensive set of laws and policies to protect the rights of minors. Broad reform of the way minors were dealt with in the criminal justice system had just begun. It stressed rehabilitation over punitive measures. In the education field, the disabled were being integrated into regular schools, to the greatest extent possible. In the belief that education was more than just learning information, a number of schools had been established to bring together children of different backgrounds, such as the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam school, where Jewish and Arab children had been taught in a bilingual setting for over 30 years. Civil society initiatives complemented Government efforts for tolerance and peace. The Peres Centre for Peace organized programmes for Israelis and Palestinians, with a special emphasis on children through twinned peace kindergartens, twinned sports schools and joint summer camps. Unfortunately, that vision of peace was not yet shared by all in the region.
She said that, while children were often victims of terrorism, as they were in Israel, they were also recruited into terrorism. The latest report of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict acknowledged the increasing frequency with which children were recruited to carry out terrorist acts, including suicide bombing, which was the worst imaginable form of child exploitation. But, her delegation was disappointed that, once again, the report barely mentioned the practices of indoctrination and incitement to violence, which were the twin roots of so much hostility in the world and the Middle East. When schools, textbooks and television programmes instilled a narrow, intolerant and hate-filled world outlook in children, as seen, for example in the Al-Aksa network's broadcast in Gaza of a programme specifically calling for the slaughter of Jews, a generation could be lost forever.
MAGUED ABDEL FATTAH ABDEL AZIZ ( Egypt) congratulated Marta Santos Pais on the assumption of her new office as Special Representative on Violence against Children. Egypt had supported the establishment of that post and supported the process in determining her mandate. He welcomed her participation in the regional meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference on female genital mutilation, to be held in Cairo, and stressed the importance of full international support to the United Nations Trust Fund through which her work would be financed.
He said the Egyptian Government was active in implementing the "World Fit for Children" document, and in promoting it throughout the African and Arab world. Domestically, he said Egypt's national budget was sensitive to child rights issues. The country had eradicated polio and neonatal tetanus, and was successfully promoting education among girls. It had also drastically reduced female genital mutilation. A conference had been held in February focused on encouraging States to enact laws to ensure effective treatment for victims of child exploitation, and for ensuring that technology was not being used as a tool to further exploit children.
He noted that the annual resolution on the rights of the child, co-sponsored by Egypt, would focus on the theme, the rights of the child to participation. Saying he fully supported the work of Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, he drew attention to the need to protect the rights of children living under foreign occupation.
HERMAN SCHAPER ( Netherlands), aligning his remarks with those made on behalf of the European Union, noted the follow up to the International Girl Child Conference that took place last March, which was held during the ministerial week of this year's General Assembly. Girls represented one of society's most vulnerable groups. Every day throughout the world, girls were victims of violence. The appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary‑General on Violence against Children provided a new momentum to put words into action. Increased international cooperation in this crucial area would strengthen protection of human rights around the world. The Netherlands was committed to supporting the Special Representative and encouraged other countries to implement policies and programmes and take other initiative aimed at eliminating all violence against children.
His delegation was deeply concerned at the high incidence of sexual exploitation of female children and adolescents all over the world. The misuse of new technologies, such as the Internet, and great mobility in travel had increased the risks. A more concerted worldwide effort was needed, as was greater cooperation to prevent, prohibit and stop this abuse. Further support was needed for victims, as called for in the "Rio Declaration and Call for Action" adopted at last year's Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. Specifically, accountability measures in law enforcement and the judiciary should be strengthened. Data collection on violence and girls should also be strengthened. Safe, accessible mechanisms for children and others to report violence were needed. Children and youth should also be consulted in the development of policies concerning them. He urged the United Nations, as well as individual countries, to keep the problem of violence against girls on the agenda.
ONON SODOV (Mongolia), aligning herself with the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, welcomed the appointment of Marta Santos Pais as Special Representative on Violence against Children. She noted that the situation of children remained dire, despite progress. Some 75 million were not in school, another 182 million had no access to secondary school, and large numbers were subject to violence and discrimination. States needed to improve their programmes to protect children from violence and trafficking. The twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Child Rights afforded an opportunity to evaluate progress.
For its part, Mongolia would spare no effort in implementing the Convention and the Declaration on a world fit for children. It had a national programme of action for the development of children, and was increasing family income and expanding support to children left out of parental care. Parliament was considering laws against domestic violence. A law on human trafficking had also been amended. In addition, the Government provided "child money" and an allowance for newly-married young couples nationwide.
Addressing the very young, she said the infant-mortality rate had declined significantly, from 64 per cent in 1990 to 19.4 per cent in 2008. The under-five mortality rate had dropped sharply, as well. But, since the economic slowdown, that number had risen slightly. The Government had recently launched a strategy for infant feeding. Immunization coverage was reaching almost universal levels, resulting in a reduced incidence of infectious diseases. Enrolment in preschool and kindergarten had risen. On child labour, she said the Government was currently embarking on a project in collaboration with the ILO and the United States Labour Department, aimed at increasing awareness about the worst forms of child labour. The project was targeted at national authorities and trade unions. In general, the Government was striving to uphold the Convention on the Rights of the Child, along with related international child rights documents. It had submitted reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which were prepared with wide participation from throughout the Government, civil society and with children's representatives. Challenges still remain, however, especially in protecting children from violence.
ANNICK YOLADE NZOUNZA LEKAKA ( Congo) said the emergence of the financial, fuel and energy crises and the impact of ongoing violence and conflict impacted the lives of children around the world. Her country had joined the two Optional Protocols on the rights of the child and the ratification instruments had just been deposited. With support from its development partners, the Government was taking steps to reform its education and health care programmes, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Universal access to basic health services had been set as a goal. Among other programmes, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) supported efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. Moreover, several workshops had been organized to strengthen the abilities of teachers and to train workers in early-childhood centres. A plan had been set up to further the education of girls. Mother- and child-health weeks were being prepared and support was being extended to the anti-malaria and vaccination campaigns.
She emphasized the Senate's adoption, on 29 August, of a law to protect children, noting that violence against children was one of the worst violations of human rights. Convinced of the devastating effect violence had on children's health and well-being, the Government had organized awareness campaigns and strengthened legal and medical services. To address child soldiers, her country had begun to collect weapons and had programmes aimed at reintegrating child soldiers. To tackle the increasingly widespread problem of street children, family centres had also been set up to reintegrate them into their families. Violence, drugs, life in the streets, prostitution and begging became a way of life for these children as they adapted to a life of exclusion. Social policies, thus, had to promote sustainable human development by addressing the breadth of these problems and ensuring children's human rights.
KARMA CHOEDA ( Bhutan) said his country was among the first to ratify the child rights Convention and its Optional Protocols. It had also signed a convention on regional arrangements for the promotion of child welfare within the South Asian region. His country was expected to meet the target of universal primary education by 2015, and was on track to reduce child-mortality rates by that same year. In Bhutan, education and health received the highest budgetary allocations. Resources were also being channelled to training and improving services for children with disabilities. Special education units for children with disabilities were currently being set up. But, HIV/AIDS and substance abuse among youth were a source of concern.
To protect children against discrimination and exploitation, the Government developed a child care and protection bill to address the remaining gaps, he said. A five-year plan, which came into effect in July 2008, had integrated child‑protection issues into the activities of the National Commission for Women and Children for the first time. The Government was also conducting training to promote understanding of the Convention on the Rights of the Child among law enforcement, the judiciary, teachers, parents and children. New learning and disciplining methods in schools, and child rights forums in schools, were examples of ways to promote the Convention. The judiciary had initiated the "know the law to protect your rights" programme, also in schools. The police had established a protection unit for women and children and was launching a complaints and response mechanism. Bhutan looked forward to receiving assistance from its development partners, especially since it lacked adequate financial resources. A recent earthquake in Bhutan had set back the country even further.
DANIEL ANTÓNIO ( Mozambique) endorsed the statement made on behalf of the SADC and fully commended the United Nations Secretary-General's reports. Stressing that Mozambique's Constitution protected children from violence and discrimination, he said the Government had also adopted policies and legal and administrative measures to support children's rights. The second Plan of Action for the Reduction of Absolute Poverty called for more resources to be allocated to national sectors that contributed to children's well-being and development. The Government had also signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, as well as ILO Convention 182 on child labour, among other international instruments aimed at protecting children's rights.
Turning to national legislation, he said a Promotion and Protection Law on Child Rights, a Jurisdictional Organization for Minors Law, a law against human trafficking, a Law and a Code of Civil Registration had been enacted. Apart from that legislative framework, Mozambique had a National Action Plan for Children 2006-2011 and an Action Plan for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children. It was also working to implement the 2007 "Africa Fit for Children" document. But, despite its efforts to ensure better living conditions for children, the country still faced major difficulties in achieving the goals of the "World Fit for Children" document. Indeed, those goals would be impossible to accomplish without an improvement in the standard of living of their parents and the society as a whole. In that regard, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals would do much to fulfil the goals for children. Hopefully, international partners would fulfil their obligations of assistance.
MARYAM AL KENDI ( United Arab Emirates) noted that millions of children remained below the poverty line in developing countries. The United Nations itself faced challenges in trying to improve the situation, given the current financial crisis and fallout from climate change. The Government of the United Arab Emirates was examining the possibility of signing the two Optional Protocols, having already signed the Women's Anti-Discrimination Convention, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ILO Convention on minimum age, and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It currently had laws guaranteeing the rights of the child to reflect provisions in those documents.
She said the United Arab Emirates had successfully reduced its maternal- and child-mortality rates. It had eradicated polio, and suffered no deaths from diarrhoea. The Government had programmes to support breast feeding. It had programmes to support adolescents. It provided school meals. School attendance was now 86 per cent at the primary school level. The school curriculum, based on the programme "schools for the future", was designed to bring education at the United Arab Emirates up to international standards. Aside from domestic programmes, the country was also active in assisting developing countries. It was particularly concerned by children deprived of their rights through poverty, conflict and occupation, especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. More needed to be done to provide such countries with assistance.
ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said his country was committed to promoting the best interests of the child. At the regional level, under the auspices of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), it was actively pursing child rights issues. It had also formulated a National Plan of Action for Children in 1992 and launched a Decade Plan of Action for the Girl Child. The National Children's Policy was drawn up in 1994 and, currently, the third National Plan of Action reflected the goals and objectives of the World Fit for Children document and the Millennium Development Goals. Bangladesh had also formulated its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to reflect the needs and rights of children. Part of this protection required access to education and health care, and both areas received significant budgetary allocations, with a special focus on children. Stringent legislative acts protected children, particularly girls, from all forms of abuse, exploitation, violence, trafficking and discrimination. Safeguards prohibited chid detentions and confinement and the threshold of criminal responsibility of children had been raised.
He went on to say that Bangladesh was a party to the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. Its labour law of 2006 had provisions for eliminating and reducing hazardous and exploitative forms of child labour. While its garments industry was totally child-labour free, the country still had a long way to go to end child labour. To this end, a draft policy on child labour had been developed with national stakeholders. The Government was also working to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4, aiming to reduce child mortality by 9.8 per cent, by 2015, by reducing the number of children dying from curable diseases. Bangladesh was encouraged by the "Child Protection Policy directive" for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As the second largest troop‑contributing country, it was also happy to note that each peacekeeping mission would now have a child-protection adviser. Bangladesh would again be sponsoring the annual resolution on "The International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World 2001-2010", and hoped that, as in previous years, this resolution would enjoy enthusiastic support.
DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro), aligning herself with the European Union, said child protection was one of her country's main priorities. As a middle‑income country in the Western Balkans that is multi-ethnic, geo-politically stable and on track to meet all of the Millennium Development Goals, it was in a strong position to create conditions for human development and security. It would train its efforts on children without prenatal care, Roma children, children living in poverty, children with disabilities and children in conflict with the law. It submitted its report on the implementation of the Child Rights Convention in 2008, and would report on the implementation of the two Optional Protocols in June. It would organize a campaign on child rights to mark the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of that Convention, in conjunction with the UNICEF Office in Montenegro. It would also produce a brochure on the situation of women and children in Montenegro and present a version of the Convention in Braille.
She said Montenegro was in the midst of national reform. One of the main achievements was the creation of a juvenile justice system. The UNICEF country programme in Montenegro had helped greatly in creating momentum towards legislative alternatives for children at risk or in conflict with the law. The programme also provided a way for Montenegro to complete the process of aligning existing laws and policies with the Convention and other international standards. In cooperation with the UNICEF Office and the European Commission, the Government would organize a regional conference on the " Copenhagen criteria and the rights of the child", in November.
MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia), aligning herself with the European Union, said her Government had a national action plan for children, whose main goals were the reduction of poverty, providing quality education, better health, improving the status of children with disabilities, protecting children without parental care and protecting children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. The Council on the Rights of the Child, established in 2002, evaluated the effectiveness of Government policies and also promoted the participation of children in defining and implementing policies concerning child's rights. The Serbian Parliament had a children's rights subcommittee. One of the deputies to the national Ombudsman had the task of promoting and protecting children's rights.
She said that the Government had a protocol on the protection of children against abuse and neglect, and had a special protocol for the conduct of police officers in the protection of minors against abuse and neglect. It had recently adopted a national strategy for the prevention and protection of children from violence. But, much remained to be done to help children achieve the full realization of their rights. That was particularly true for children with disabilities, children without parental care, and Roma children.
LIUSHA ZAHIR ( Maldives) noted her country had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and was party to the Convention's two Optional Protocols. The Maldives had taken progressive steps to lay a basic foundation to protect children's rights. In this regard, the extension of the age of children to 18, the establishment of a minimum age for employment and enacting domestic legislation were notable. Yet additional significant steps were required to fully and effectively realize the provision of the international regime on such rights. The Maldives was currently grappling with emerging issues in protecting child welfare. A growing number of children were falling victim to illegal narcotics use. Children were also vulnerable to negative social effects from substance abuse. The welfare of children of substance-abusing parents was a worrying new issue. Social support networks run by civil society groups could help, but many local non-governmental organizations lacked capacity and resources. The Government was in the process of establishing a childcare system to institutionalize child welfare in the country.
She went to say there had been an alarming and disturbing increase in the number of reported child abuse cases and violence against children over the last few years. Though tougher sentencing guidelines were introduced last year for child-sex offenders, existing penalties for sexual abuse of children ranged from as much as three years' imprisonment to banishment. In education, the Maldives had made primary and secondary education compulsory for girls and boys and the enrolment ratio stood at 100 per cent in primary education and 75 per cent in lower secondary schools. Nevertheless the Government was concerned that growing numbers of school-aged girls were now prevented from attending school in some island communities, due to the increasing extreme mindsets within society. Given the new budget restrictions imposed as a result of the financial crisis, a long road lay ahead for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, the Maldives called on the world community to intensify efforts to protect the rights of children.
MILO KOTEREE ( Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union, said he found it particularly relevant that this year's omnibus resolution focused on the right of the child to express his or her views freely in all matters. As the Secretary-General noted in his report on the girl child, there had been increased efforts to institutionalize and sustain the meaningful participation of children in policy and practice. The follow-up report to the special session of the General Assembly on children similarly reported on energized legislative reform and policy measures in many countries from all regions. But, all reports, nevertheless, concluded by enumerating several persisting challenges: violence against children; their exploitation and abuse; access to health, education, basic needs, and so on. To give voice to children did not mean to exempt the adult international community from that particular policy area. On the contrary, giving voice to children meant having more responsibility to listen and to hear.
In that context, he recalled that, on 17 June 2009, the Human Rights Council adopted the resolution to establish an open-ended working group on an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure. Slovakia had had the honour of introducing that resolution on behalf of almost 50 countries from all regional groups, which was considered proof of the cross-regional nature of that initiative. Its ultimate goal was to listen to children and to respect them; one means to that end was to create an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide a communications procedure, to complement the reporting procedure under the Convention. That open-ended group would meet in Geneva in December to explore the possibility of elaborating such a protocol.
AMIRA DALI ( Tunisia) welcomed the United Nations Secretary-General's reports on children. Tunisia had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and a national code was subsequently implemented at the national level in 1995. Tunisia continued to express ongoing concern over the means of guaranteeing the rights of children. In its efforts, the Government made no distinction between girls and boys and was undertaking unswerving pragmatic efforts to affect the daily lives of its children. Among other initiatives, it had created a delegates corps to protect children and intervene in situations where children were at risk. A parliament for children had also been set up, and integrated centres for children at risk had been created.
She said the Government's partnerships with civil society had allowed 248 at-risk children to be sheltered, while public facilities sheltered an additional 834 children, of which 46 per cent were girls. Family judges had also considered the cases of 2,400 children in need of protection, of which more than half were girls, and 72 cases of abused children. The Government was working to sustain a tradition of constructive dialogue among family members to reinforce the position of the child in society. It had also created a children's parliament to teach citizenship, participation and responsibility. Moreover, 2008 had been declared the year of dialogue with youth and the Government had worked to create hearing rooms in schools and the institutions, which guided and integrated children into society. An observatory for the study of the protection of the rights of the child was created to strengthen these achievements. It followed up on all policies designed to promote children's rights.
PAK TOK HUN (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said the protection of children's rights was an important undertaking with a great bearing on the future of humanity. In regions and countries occupied by foreign forces, and in conflict-ridden areas replete with terrorism, children fell victim to military assaults and to exploitation and ill-treatment. In addition, the food, fuel and financial crises posed a great threat to the "subsistence of children". His country considered it important to take practical measures to attain the ideals of the child rights Convention, the Declaration on a world fit for children, and the Millennium Development Goals.
Though States had adopted laws and set objectives, without political will -- and if those measures were not followed at high standards -- they amounted to nothing but sheets of paper, he said. Practical measures were needed to strengthen international cooperation, in a spirit of solidarity and based on the specific effort of each country. Developed countries should fulfil their development assistance commitments. Cooperation between States was something to be valued, and any attempt to politicize such cooperation should not be permitted.
In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he said children were referred to as "kings and queens of the country". The Government pursued a policy of giving prominence to them, under the principle "best things to children first". Despite the persistent, tenacious moves of the United States and its followers to isolate and suffocate the country, his Government and people would push forward their efforts in the promotion and protection of child rights and welfare through nationwide care involving the entire society. Already, the Government had legal guarantees for the welfare of children. Education and medical care was free. Its report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been reviewed in January. The Government intended to further consolidate its system of guaranteeing the rights of the child.
MANAR YACOUB BUHIJJI ( Bahrain) said her country had established a committee to raise the living standards of the child. Bahrain's Constitution gave special care to the family, as well as the child. The Government was also working to protect children against abuse. Among other things, it had acceded to several agreements of the ILO, including 182 on the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour. The Ministry of Social Development now addressed children's issues and a national committee for children, which brought together the Government and civil society, had also been set up to take care of all policies and programmes relevant to children of every age. Policies had been reviewed in order to promote the gains already made in protecting children. Indeed, the Government believed that protecting children's rights was complementary to all other areas of social life. Bahrain's educational curriculum had been developed and revised, and it now drew from new theories and technologies in education.
She went on to underline the ongoing work by the Ministry of Social Development to secure children and make them safe from all dangers. The Ministry of Education had also introduced new technologies to improve teaching methods. A unique "Be Free" programme was set up in 2002 to protect children from violence. Government work was also being coordinated with civil society and non-governmental organizations, and it looked forward to further progress in this respect.
NAKPA POLO ( Togo) noted that the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Child Rights Convention would take place next month. Her country had ratified its national and regional instruments, including the Convention and its two Optional Protocols. The Government was working to ensure that children in Togo had the right environment to achieve success in life. Its efforts ranged from working to rid the practice of female genital mutilation to introducing stiffer penalties for child trafficking. It was also making the age of marriage the same for girls and boys.
She said Togo's Head of State had intervened personally to combat trafficking. In June, he convened security and law enforcement officials to discuss the topic. The Government was working to collect reliable data on victims, and had set up shelters to facilitate the social reintegration of child victims. Togo's security forces would cooperate with the ILO on producing a guide to eliminate trafficking. It would also launch an education campaign on drugs and crime. In January, the Government established a telephone hotline, where anyone could file anonymous reports of cases of mistreatment.
In terms of education, she said the right to education was reflected in the national Constitution. A "children's code" stipulated that any action on children, whether taken by "administrative authorities" or the court system, must account for the child's well-being. For example, the relevant Government authority had reviewed Togo's adoption laws. In addition, the Government was working to publicize the Child Rights Convention as widely as possible.
SUDHIR BHATTARAI ( Nepal) said important tasks lay ahead to make today's children educated, healthy and productive citizens of tomorrow and to create an environment conducive to the well-being of children. The international community should play a great role in fully and effectively implementing the agreed international commitments. Pragmatic and constructive analysis of achievements, constraints, and lessons learned was needed to enrich and accelerate these commitments at all levels. For its part, Nepal's Interim Constitution guaranteed children's rights as fundamental rights. The Children Act provided for measures and safeguards, in that respect, and further provisions against child labour and trafficking had been included in various other national policies and laws. While the civil code provided additional protection, a Human Trafficking Control Act had also been enacted.
He said the National Plan on Education for All was expanding and improving comprehensive early-childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Other Government initiatives sought to build children's welfare homes, operate a children's help line, identify and manage street children, monitor children's homes and rehabilitate and protect children at risk. Basic education and health had also been established in the interim constitution as fundamental rights. Free maternity services and basic health care for women and children had been introduced. Nepal was on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals related to child survival, and possibly maternal mortality. Both the number of maternal deaths and deaths of children under the age of five had been halved in the last decade. The Government was also implementing the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed conflict. Programmes for the rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers had also been developed, in conjunction with the United Nations. Moreover, Nepal had ratified several ILO conventions.
GRACE CERERE ( Kenya) said her country was committed to alleviating, through the principles of "A World Fit for Children", the plight of its children, which had been worsened by drought and other problems. The ideals set forth in that plan of action would remain mere platitudes until they were transformed into domestic legislation, integrated into national development plans and pursued by all actors at all levels. She described her Government's comprehensive health framework, saying it exceeded international standards and contributed to a decline of deaths of children under five. However, the fight against malaria, acute respiratory infections and other diseases remained a major challenge, although efforts involving all sectors were beginning to bear fruit. She referred to the community health initiative that looked to improving the health of both children and mothers.
Pointing out that children were affected by all development and security problems, she expressed support for the work of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. She announced that Kenya was on the path to achieving its education Development Goal, through exponential expansion of enrolment and retention after the institution of tuition‑free secondary schools. Early pregnancy had also dropped as a result and now more girls were in school than boys. Affirming that violence against children, including sexual violence, was always unacceptable, she said she supported the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on that issue and outlined Kenya's measures in that regard, including a children's hotline and counselling services.
JAIME HERMIDA CASTILLO ( Nicaragua), aligning himself with the Rio Group, said his country had ratified numerous conventions regarding the rights of the child. Children and adolescents were a high priority for his Government, which provided comprehensive care to children and adolescents through an initiative called "Programme Love". The Inter-American Development Bank and UNICEF were now contributing funds and technical assistance to that programme, which delivered nutrition, health and "early stimulation" to children from birth to six years of age through its rural child service network. In addition, the Government was working to modernize services at its infant development centres, serving working mothers in urban areas. Around 5,000 children received psychological and nutritional care, while mothers were at work. Programme Love also focused on at-risk teens, such as street children, children of migrants, children of detainees, and children involved in child labour and exposed to sexual exploitation. The Government worked to identify them and attempted to restore them to their families. It found places for them to play and do their homework. The Government was able to identify children not on the civil registry.
As for children and adolescents with disabilities, he said the Government provided physical rehabilitation. The Ministry of Education was working to promote inclusive education by helping incorporate disabled children into regular classrooms. It conducted home visits to study the causes of certain disabilities. Also, orphans and abandoned children were placed with surrogate families, while children of migrants and detainees were given special protection. On the eradication of child labour, he said the Government had intervened in the cases of 4,771 children and adolescents working in the worst forms of child labour; as a result, 74 per cent of those children had been integrated into the education system. With the human rights prosecutor, the Government was working to help at-risk street corner children, and with the administration of justice, was improving the care of juveniles in detention.
While he lauded efforts to improve the participation of children in society, he noted that the first step to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for children was to ensure their basic needs: food, education, health and housing. He was grateful to donors for supporting his country in its priorities, with due respect for the country's goals.
KARIME GANEMTORE ( Burkina Faso) said nothing could justify violence against children and no one could tolerate violence against them. Thus, the Government of Burkina Faso was implementing a number of international instruments, as well as a host of domestic laws, aimed at promoting children's rights. In Burkina Faso, children made up roughly half of the population. They lived under incredibly severe circumstances, including, among other things, high rates of poverty and environmental catastrophes, like the flooding experienced on 1 September 2009, which menaced roughly 150,000 people.
He said the objectives laid out at the World Summit for Children were far from being realized. Infant mortality rates stood at 81 per cent in 2006. Juvenile mortality, which was largely caused by malnutrition, had reached 84 per cent. The schooling rates for girls had a gap of 10 points with boys, and there was a lot of work remaining to achieve universal schooling. In 2006, nearly 40 per cent of school-aged children had no access to the educational system. Meanwhile, due to widespread poverty and HIV/AIDS, many family and community structures were eroding, leaving children further unable to access the educational system.
Against this backdrop, the Government had adopted a strategic framework to protect children's rights. Among other things, it had created a national council for follow-up on the laws affecting the rights of children, particularly in the judicial arena. It was working to improve the quality of formal and informal education. It aimed to reduce infant mortality by 40 per cent in 2012. Social services had also been introduced in primary and secondary schools to discourage drop-outs and to involve children in decisions relating to them. In closing, he said his delegation supported the Secretary-General's recommendations and hoped that they would be translated into concrete action.
ASIF SHAIFOV ( Azerbaijan), aligning himself with the European Union, noted the wide support enjoyed by the Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Child and its Optional Protocols. But, some States parties held reservations with regard to parts of the documents, and he urged those States to withdraw them. For its part, a protracted conflict with a neighbouring country -- resulting in one-fifth of its territory being under occupation –- meant that one out of every eight people in the country was internally displaced or a refugee. Many children were growing up in camps or crowded temporary accommodations, and so a major effort had been made to resolve housing problems for displaced persons and refugees.
He then expressed concern over the continued use of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. One of the recommendations of the United Nations Study on Violence against Children was to abolish the use of the death penalty and life imprisonment for children. His Government welcomed recommendations to treat children in accordance with international law and other relevant standards of juvenile justice and social rehabilitation. That meant working within the framework of restorative justice and social rehabilitation. Expressing, also, support for the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, he expressed support for the guiding principles on rights and guarantees for internally displaced children. He also drew Member States' attention to another issue requiring urgent action -- children taken hostage and reported missing in connection with armed conflict.
DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), aligning his comments with those made on behalf of the Rio Group, said the issue of children had multiple dimensions and was delicate. Its treatment and multidisciplinary implications called for a concerted and articulated effort on behalf of all actors. In its national policy, Argentina sought to avoid overlap and duplication of efforts. Its objective was to unify and articulate resources, administrative circuits and joint action. In this, it believed recipes and orthodoxy only brought huge frustrations. Still, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was a guiding framework for the National Action Plan for Boys, Girls and Adolescents. That plan contained policies, programmes and actions that joined State responsibilities with civil society to guarantee children's rights.
He emphasized that social polices under the Ministry of Social Development had their basis in the family. Its actions sought to fight hunger and promote social inclusion through active policies for employment and income creation. Another principle initiative was the National Plan for Food Security. Children's well-being included their participation and voice in all decision-making processes affecting them. The voice of children and adolescents was a guiding pillar for public, State and private intervention in the promotion and protection of their rights. Moreover, it was fundamental in strengthening citizenship.
Underlining that Argentina's investment in its children had risen by more than 30 per cent in relation to its GDP between 1995 and 2009, he said the different departments of the national Government, the judiciary, Parliament and civil society were working together in a multidisciplinary and concerted fashion. At the same time, international cooperation, including South-South cooperation, was an important tool in supporting national efforts. In that sense, he noted that Argentina had signed an agreement with UNICEF and was currently working on South-South and triangular cooperation projects, including in Haiti. The Government was also actively working to end impunity for, and eradicate all instances of, forced disappearances. Intense work had been made to return children to their families, resulting in the retrieval of almost 100 children today. This work to locate the hundreds who were still missing would continue.
RAHMA SAID AL-RUQUADI ( Oman) said her country was party to the Child Rights Convention and had already presented reports on its implementation of the related Optional Protocols. It had also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, which touches on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. It had ratified the ILO Convention on a minimum age for work.
She said Oman had made several advances in education and the health of children. The Constitution, which guaranteed the rights and responsibilities of citizens, also guaranteed the right to nationality to all children of unknown fathers. The Ministry for Social Development, which examined cases of abuse and their causes, worked to ensure the protection and care of the children involved. In terms of children's health, she said the child-mortality rate has decreased. But, still, Oman ranked 127th in the world on infant mortality. Malnutrition was a challenge; the Health Ministry and UNICEF were working to adopt strategies to confront that problem. She affirmed her country's commitment to support the rights of the child.
KARINA RUFARO (Rwanda), noting that her country still bore the effects of the 1994 genocide, said that by living in a society where the victims of a genocide lived side by side with the perpetrators of that act, Rwanda's children were living a unique experience. In Kigali, the number of children living in the street had increased. In the countryside, children were often forced to seek employment to provide for their siblings. Overall, the country had a high rate of child-headed households, particularly households headed by girls. As the Government sought to ensure that the country had a brighter future, it was putting children at the forefront of that process. It was her delegation's sincere hope that, as the Committee continued to consider this agenda item, it did not lose focus on the plight of the world's most vulnerable and needy children.
VICTORIA SULIMANI ( Sierra Leone) said that, as a result of its decade-long brutal rebel war, her country had the greater obligation to promote and protect the rights of children. The "despicable acts committed against innocent and defenceless children", such as amputation and other traumas, had a "horrendous" impact on victims and prompted Sierra Leone to consider the special needs of war‑affected children within the overall national programmes.
She emphasized that even before ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict -- Sierra Leone had made sure that children associated with the war were successfully demobilized and reintegrated into their communities. In response to those reintegration needs, a National Commission on War Affected Children had been established, and a nationwide sensitization and education programme was under way to ensure that no child below the age of 18 years was recruited into any fighting or security forces.
Additionally, Sierra Leone's recruitment policy for the armed forces was revised in 2004, setting the minimum age for enlistment into the national army at 18 years of age.
In the area of health, she said much progress had been achieved – 35 per cent of children aged 12-23 months were now fully immunized, and 63 per cent were immunized against measles. Education standards had also improved, with enrolment standing at 69 per cent.
Work was also being done with UNICEF under a project known as "SABABU Education", designed to benefit school construction, teacher training, and provisions of teaching learning materials.
The National Child's Rights Act and a National Commission for Human Rights were put in place to uphold the best interests of children, in addition to addressing the question of impunity. She said Sierra Leone was also breaking new ground on the issue of female-genital-mutilation practices; the fact that the issue was now being openly discussed was a milestone in the country's history, since these practices were now considered a human-rights violation.
Acknowledging that much remained to be done for Sierra Leone's children, she expressed appreciation for the continued and sustained assistance of the United Nations and other international actors, as well as bilateral partners working towards the development agenda of children.
MAHINDA SAMARASINGHE, Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Sri Lanka, said children under 18 years of age made up 36 per cent of Sri Lanka's population. One fifth of the population was of school age. Consistent investment in education had resulted in a literacy rate of 93 per cent, which was comparable to developed countries. Sri Lanka was on track to achieve its universal primary education target, school gender parity and the provision of reproductive health services. Universal child immunization was already a reality. Through its free public health system, the Government was able to provide supplementary food for infants, disease control, access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health education. Even at the height of the conflict in the north and east, the Government was able to ensure the delivery of food and nutritional supplements to children in the conflict zones, and provided them with education.
Regarding children with disabilities, he said Sri Lanka was committed to providing inclusive education for them, along with special health care. Efforts were also being made to better protect such children from abuse and neglect. To combat the exploitation and abuse of children in general, the Government imposed heavy penalties for involving children in pornography, sexual exploitation, begging and trafficking. A strict legal regime existed to protect children upon adoption, including international adoption.
With the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka, he said he was happy to report that the practice of using innocent children in armed combat by terrorists had come to an end. Former child combatants were now undergoing rehabilitation and reintegration, with the assistance of UNICEF and the ILO. They were being treated as victims, not suspects. A number of children were internally displaced following the conflict, and while the Government was in the process of resettling them and reuniting families, it was ensuring that school lessons and examinations continued to take place at centres for internally displaced persons. The children were also being given food and nutritional supplements. In that regard, he welcomed the document on Rights and Guarantees of Internally Displaced Children, developed by the Office of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict.
HENRY TACHIE-MENSON ( Ghana) said it was disheartening to note that children's rights were highly abused globally despite the Convention and its protocols, as had been indicated by the Special Representative. The Government of Ghana was working to promote the well-being of children. New policies included guidelines on orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS; early childhood care and development; a draft policy framework for street children; and school feeding programmes. A major problem for the country was the lack of effective implementation of laws and policies formulated to protect children because of resource constraints, data gaps and inhibitive socio-cultural practices.
At the international level, he said, there was the need for greater collaboration between the United Nations bodies and the World Bank, to increase action on the health and education related Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations system as well as Member States needed to strengthen advocacy to address all forms of violence against children. The provision of technical and financial resources was of paramount importance.
AMANUEL GIORGIO ( Eritrea) said that in recent years, significant strides had been taken to address some of children's basic needs, but children continued to suffer from abuse, violence and exploitation, and they were the worst-hit by social and economic difficulties. He said it was important to use the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as an opportunity to take stock of concrete legal actions that had been taken to promote and protect children's rights.
Given that poverty affected children more than any other age group, he went on, his Government had adopted a long-standing poverty-reduction policy through economic growth and speedy human development. Its food-security strategy not only aimed at meeting children's security needs but it was also an effort to meeting the fourth of the Millennium Development Goals.
Over the past years, he said Eritrea had deployed numerous significant preventive measures to help reduce malaria and maternal, infant, and under-five mortality rates; the 2010 Abuja target had been surpassed. Free education for all included vulnerable, disadvantaged and disabled children. The Government was also hoping to narrow the gender disparity in education. He said that in its effort to protect children from exploitation, abuse and violence, the Government had banned female genital mutilation. In this regard, he also welcomed the appointment of the new Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children as a crucial step to help in the reduction and eradication of violence. To ensure the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, Eritrea had endorsed the Paris Commitment. His country remained committed to working with different bodies to ensure that children lived in an emotionally, mentally, physically- and socially-nurturing environment.
AQSA NAWA ( Pakistan) said the 1990 World Summit for Children was a global landmark event that adopted a progressive Plan of Action to bring the rights of the child to the forefront of the global agenda. The World Summit was followed by the twenty-seventh special session on Children in 2002, which culminated in the international agreement on protecting children's rights, "A World Fit for Children". Moreover, three out of eight Millennium Development Goals were linked directly to children's well-being. Regrettably, however, children remained vulnerable, with their rights often forgotten, discarded or taken for granted. Violence, poverty, human slavery and trafficking still existed in different parts of the world. Lack of education, violence and maltreatment of children carried an extraordinary social and moral burden, as well as economic cost on society.
She stressed that investing in children was no doubt an investment in the future, and accelerating efforts to improve basic health and education services, reduce maternal and child mortality and global partnerships should remain priorities. Pakistan put a great emphasis on fulfilling its international commitments to children's rights, as well as its regional obligations, under the Convention on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. It had recently presented its third and fourth country reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
She went to say that a Child Protection Bill had been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders and would soon be present to Pakistan's National Assembly. This bill called for harsher penalties for crimes against children. A Child Complaint Cell had also been set up at the federal level to redress children's grievances, while the Child Protection Management Information System covered areas of sexual exploitation, juvenile justice, child trafficking, family and alternative care and violence against children. A social protection scheme had also been approved for children with disabilities to provide a reasonable monthly stipend to meet basic needs.
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR (Morocco) said that, despite the international community's efforts, the status of children in many parts of the world remained difficult, due to poverty, illiteracy, child labour, high HIV/AIDS infection rates, sexual violence and exploitation, among other things. His delegation welcomed the appointment of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Violence against Children. In his own country, within the framework of a programme of cooperation with UNICEF, a training project had been enacted to educate children on their rights and the principles of justice for minors. New work codes also forbade child labour under 15 years. A number of bodies had been set up to promote dialogue and consultation, including a National Parliament of Children.
On education, he highlighted the United Nations Secretary-General's note, which stressed the plight of the millions of school-aged children who did not have access to, or were unable to attend school. He underlined the need to promote education to improve the situation of school-age girls, especially younger girls. For its part, Morocco had established a literacy strategy to reduce illiteracy to lower than 20 per cent by 2015 and to plan to increase the number of children going to school. Aware of the importance of education and training in human rights, the government held a seminar to renew commitment to the international human-rights regime. It had also ratified the Convention on the Protection of all Migrant Labourers and their Families. This stipulated that any labourer had a right to education on an equal footing with nationals. Also, integration programmes had been developed aimed at helping special needs and disabled children. The promotion and protection of the rights of children required the wholehearted work of the international community, including in the provision of technical assistance.
ANDA FILIP, Inter-Parliamentary Union, noted that 97 per cent of all maternal and child deaths occurred in 68 countries. Only 16 of those countries were on track to reach Millennium Development Goal 4, on child survival. There was an acute need for more funding. Parliaments held the purse strings, and they could do more to channel funds to areas where they were needed, by applying tools such as gender-sensitive budgeting. The Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Countdown to the 2015 Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival had joined forces to step up parliamentary efforts to promote maternal, newborn and child health within the 68 priority countries. Since then, it had continued to support parliaments in overseeing Government action, running workshops and so on. The Parliament of Zambia had set up a Parliamentary Caucus on Children, and the Parliaments of Canada and Italy had both recently passed resolutions expressing strong commitment to Millennium Goals 4 and 5.
He addressed also the issue of violence against children, and a related question: how to ensure that Parliaments adequately represented those whose voices were often not heard or listened to in society, namely children. For five years, the Union had worked with UNICEF to support parliaments to enable children to live free from violence. In 2009, it had focused its attention on Latin America. Each year, 40 million children living in Latin America and the Caribbean suffered severe abuse, including abandonment. Abuse within the family was one of many examples of violence, accounting for the deaths of 80,000 children under the age of 18 years. Surveys showed that adults viewed corporal punishment as a normal method for imposing discipline, and child protection laws were inadequate in many instances. At a three-day meeting in Costa Rica, participants discussed ways to supervise institutions responsible for prevention policies, and ways to supervise the appropriate use of resources.
CARLO VON FLÜE, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the issue of detained children was generally under-addressed. He noted that last year, the ICRC had visited more than 1,500 detained children, and said he suspected that was "only the tip of the iceberg". The many reasons children were detained ranged from being suspected of belonging to a terrorist group or of being a participant and directly involved in conflict. Some followed their parents to jail when the parents were arrested; in some cases children were in prison because they had no parents. Street children, sometimes a direct consequence of war, were often detained, so that the reputation of a city not be tarnished and crime rates be reduced.
He said the conditions of these children's detention were worse in areas of armed conflict, especially when conflict lasted for some time and resources had to be diverted to cover the costs of war. The harm from being detained, from being separated from family, being exploited as cheap labour and being deprived of education, was great. He then recalled six fundamental principles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, beginning with the fact that the imprisonment of a child should occur only as a last resort, and for the shortest period of time. Children were entitled to receive specific care and protection, and had the right to communicate with their parents.
He said children should be separated from adults in detention facilities and girls needed to be guarded by female staff. Children also had the right to challenge the legality of their detention, and during their detention, preparation for re-entry into society was necessary.
JOOST KOOIJMANS, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), estimated that there were about 218 million child labourers, and about 126 million children working under deplorable conditions and doing dangerous forms of jobs that should be barred to anyone under 18 years of age. Those children should be in school and, if old enough to work, in decent jobs suitable to their age level. Child labour involved not only serious humans rights violations, but was a threat to overall development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
However, he continued, there had been improvement over the past decade, as overall child labour had declined by 11 per cent and the two main international standards of ILO on child labour were widely ratified -- the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention and the Minimum Age Convention. To assess the progress made since the Child Labour Convention came into force, and the remaining obstacles, the Government of the Netherlands was organizing a global conference in The Hague in May next year. The Conference would give particular attention to integrating the child labour issue into the global education, development and human rights frameworks. It expected to adopt a road map to reach the 2016 goal of the elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
He said the Secretary-General's report rightly stressed the role that social protection of children and their families had in mitigating the impact of the economic crisis. The international community must strengthen social protection and ensure that sound social and educational services were provided to the most vulnerable households.
HREINN LINDAL, Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said the Secretary-General's report illustrated the unique vulnerability of girl children. The Order would therefore continue to make the inclusion of girl children in their health and education programmes a requirement. It was disturbing that children and other vulnerable populations were increasingly becoming the direct targets of violence during conflict and that youths were conscripted into soldiering. He supported the call for an increased mainstreaming of those issues in the peace and security sector.
He said he was concerned that, according to the report, maternal survival had shown the least progress among health indicators, and he wondered how, with 40 per cent of births worldwide being unassisted, progress could actually be expected. The Order worked to provide conditions for the safe delivery and care of newborns, with more than 15,000 children born in its facilities each year, 3,000 of them in its Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem. Because of its 900 years of experience in the service to the poor and vulnerable, the Order was acutely aware of the provisions that must be in place for even the most basic health systems to remain effective. Its work in the area of improving sanitation facilities and hygiene education, most notably in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, relied on the continued support of United Nations agencies and Member States.
HILARIO DAVIDE ( Philippines) said that when his country drew up its strategic plan for children -- the so-called "Child 21-Plans" -- the Government pledged to create a "child sensitive and child-friendly society" by strengthening the legal framework for children. During the last six years, it has enacted laws to combat trafficking of women and children, and to eliminate the worst kinds of child labour. It had also amended the "Family Code" so that children born out of wedlock were allowed to take their father's names, and it had passed legislation to combat violence against women and children. Anti-torture and anti-child pornography bills were also currently pending in Congress.
However, he went on, to attain the Millennium Development Goals, other measures were also important, such as birth registration and health plans. Several programmes on nutrition had been enacted and the Government had increased the immunization of children against tuberculosis, polo, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus from 70 per cent in 2003 to 80 per cent in 2008. Consequently, infant mortality rates had declined.
The Government also continued the work to improve its public schools. He noted the establishment in his country of the Children Defence Fund, which supported prosecution of child abuse and exploitation, and his Government, in conjunction with the United Nations, sought to demobilize child soldiers.
NICOLE ROMULUS ( Haiti) said that, in addressing discrimination against girls, her country was implementing a pilot project, financed by the American Development Bank, to eliminate gender stereotypes in educational material. In the current educational materials, men were more represented in professional situations, while women were depicted at home, among other things. The stereotypical role of men in society was reproduced in that educational material. In the project, educational materials were striking a better balance and offered a broader range of professions for women. Turning to children in domestic service, she said her Government had made that practice illegal.
SIDI OULD GHADI ( Mauritania) welcomed the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children. His country had prepared ambitious programmes on health, education and the fight against illiteracy, all of which had positively impacted the promotion of children's right. A ministry had also been created to establish and implement children's policies. Staff had been trained in protecting children and integrating them into society. A consultative council had been established to support that work and a national commission had also been established. Also, a civil law that, among other things, prohibited early marriage, had been enacted. The Government had also ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the African Union Human Rights Convention. Moreover, it had established other laws to prohibit sexual abuse and trafficking of children.
Right of Reply
The representative of Georgia, exercising her right of reply, said the Russian Federation had its own interpretation on everything, and yesterday's right of reply was in line with that, as the Russian Federation had renounced its responsibility for last year's tragic conflict. She said the report by the independent international fact-finding mission had made no reference to Georgian troops using indiscriminate military force against civilians and that military action on 8 August 2008 was the culmination point of a long period of increased tensions, provocations and incidents. The report had also noted that acts perpetrated against ethnic Georgians inside and outside South Ossetia must be considered as having violated international humanitarian law and, in many cases, also human rights law. The Ossetian actions after the ceasefire agreement of 12 August 2008 were illegal, as well.
Responding, the representative of the Russian Federation said that on page 11, paragraph 2, the "Tagliavini report" -- which was available online – said: "On the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, a sustained Georgian artillery attack struck the town of Tskhinvali." On page 12, paragraph 3, it said "the shelling of Tskhinvali by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia".
Moreover, on page 22 in paragraph 19, it said: "There is the question of whether the use of force by Georgia in South Ossetia, beginning with the shelling of Tskhinvali during the night of 7/8 August 2008, was justifiable under international law. It was not."
He further quoted from sections on pages 600 and 602, which indicated that operational groups had carried out military actions in the region of South Ossetia for 72 hours to defeat the enemy and to restore Georgia's authority in the area.
Responding, the representative of Georgia said that, since the beginning of the conflict, the Russian Federation side had groundlessly blamed Georgia for killing civilians and provoking the war. Russian Federation officials had, in that regard, referred to some human rights organizations as a source of information. Quoting from the report of the international fact-finding mission, she said, among other things, that there was no evidence that Georgia had deliberately targeted the civilian population. As for the use of certain types of weapons, the report had noted that the Georgian forces had used them "only against clear military objectives and not in populated areas". She advised the Russian Federation delegation to remember their own history of gross human rights violations, before levelling accusations against others.
Responding to Azerbaijan, the representative of Armenia said her delegation had asked for the floor to express disappointment at Azerbaijan's decision to use every agenda item to unleash anti-Armenian comments. It was not her intention to reply to the allegations or to focus on the unacceptable terminology of the Azerbaijani statement, but to explain that the statement contradicted the objective of the Committee. The international community had witnessed the policy of State terror against it own citizens when Azerbaijan had organized an armed mob to kill and torture innocent Armenians, including children, in Azerbaijani towns dense with Armenian citizens. Moreover, it had unleashed a full-scale war against the people of Nagorny Karabakh two decades ago, forcing children to become refugees and leaving thousands of their orphaned maimed.
She said the time had come to stop that behaviour and concentrate on the conflict-resolution process. Armenia strongly believed in the need of finding a comprehensive solution to the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, which created an atmosphere of hatred in which new generations of Azerbaijani children were brought up.
Responding, the representative of Azerbaijan said that his country did not try to politicize the issue, but had special concerns. The occupation by Armenia of Azerbaijani territories had exerted considerable influence in the humanitarian area, particularly for the most vulnerable, including children. His country suffered from the highest proportion of refugees and internally displaced persons, a large number of which were children. Armenia's view was unconcealed propaganda and intended to mislead the international community. Instead of trying to contribute to restoring peace and stability to the region and ending the conflict, Armenia preferred "bellicose rhetoric" instead of engaging in a sober and serious search for peace.
For information media • not an official record
El estado de la inseguridad alimentaria en el mundo 2009 es el 10.=BA informe de situación de la FAO sobre el hambre en el mundo desde la Cumbre Mundial sobre la Alimentación (CMA) de 1996. En el informe se destaca el hecho de que, incluso antes de que se produjeran la crisis alimentaria y la crisis económica, el n=FAmero de personas que padecían hambre había aumentado lenta pero constantemente. Sin embargo, el inicio de estas crisis provocó el incremento pronunciado del n=FAmero de personas que padecen hambre en el mundo.
Como resultado de la crisis económica mundial, los países en desarrollo están sufriendo disminuciones de las remesas, los beneficios de las exportaciones, la inversión extranjera directa y la asistencia extranjera, lo que provoca la pérdida de empleos e ingresos. Esta pérdida de ingresos se complica por los precios de los alimentos, que siguen siendo relativamente elevados en los mercados locales de muchos países pobres.
Como consecuencia, los hogares pobres se ven obligados a consumir menos comidas y alimentos menos nutritivos, reducir los gastos sanitarios y de educación y vender sus bienes.
A pesar de las dificultades financieras que afrontan los gobiernos de todo el mundo, la inversión en agricultura y las redes de seguridad siguen constituyendo partes esenciales de la respuesta eficaz que se debe dar para reducir la inseguridad alimentaria ahora y en el futuro.
El hambre estaba en aumento incluso antes de la crisis alimentaria y la crisis económica. El objetivo de la Cumbre Mundial sobre la Alimentación de reducir a la mitad el n=FAmero de personas subnutridas para que fuera inferior a los 420 millones de personas antes de 2015 no se logrará si contin=FAan las tendencias que prevalecían antes de ambas crisis.
La FAO estima que en 2009 hay 1 020 millones de personas subnutridas en todo el mundo. Esta es la mayor cifra de personas hambrientas desde 1970 y significa un empeoramiento de las tendencias insatisfactorias presentes ya antes de la crisis económica.
El incremento de la inseguridad alimentaria no es el resultado de malas cosechas, sino de los elevados precios nacionales de los alimentos, los menores ingresos y un desempleo en aumento, que han reducido el acceso de las personas pobres a los alimentos. En otras palabras, los beneficios derivados de la caída de los precios mundiales de los cereales se han visto más que contrarrestados por el declive económico mundial.
Para abordar la carga de las crisis consecutivas de los alimentos y la economía, las personas pobres reducen la diversidad de sus dietas y el gasto en necesidades esenciales, como la educación y los cuidados sanitarios. Ya se pusieron a prueba los mecanismos de adaptación durante la crisis alimentaria, y ahora los pobres se verán obligados a recurrir a=FAn más a sus escasos bienes, lo que creará trampas de pobreza y afectará negativamente a la seguridad alimentaria a largo plazo. La mortalidad infantil aumentará y las niñas se verán más afectadas que los niños.
Un sector agrícola saneado puede amortiguar los problemas económicos y de empleo en épocas de crisis, especialmente en los países más pobres. No obstante, las experiencias adquiridas en crisis económicas anteriores sugieren que la inversión en agricultura podría descender pronto. Se debe evitar dicha reducción para que la agricultura pueda servir de motor del crecimiento y de reducción de la pobreza y constituya un pilar a largo plazo del enfoque de doble componente para luchar contra el hambre. La mayor inversión en agricultura en las décadas de 1970 y 1980 ayudó en gran medida a reducir el n=FAmero de personas subnutridas. Junto con la agricultura, se debe prestar la debida atención al desarrollo del sector no agrícola en el medio rural, que representa otra vía para salir de la pobreza y la inseguridad alimentaria.
Las intervenciones relacionadas con las redes de seguridad deberían abordar el impacto inmediato en las personas vulnerables y proporcionar al mismo tiempo soluciones sostenibles para los problemas subyacentes. En cuanto pilares de apoyo a corto plazo del enfoque de doble componente, las redes de seguridad deben permitir a los beneficiarios acceder más fácilmente al crédito, así como a insumos modernos, y adoptar nuevas tecnologías, lo que les permitirá dejar de depender del programa de redes de seguridad. Para alcanzar estos objetivos, las redes de seguridad deben estar bien integradas en programas más amplios de asistencia social. Se deberá prestar especial ayuda a las personas pobres del medio urbano, ya que se vieron gravemente afectadas por la crisis alimentaria y es más probable que sufran el desempleo debido a la actual crisis económica.
El hecho de que el hambre estuviera en aumento incluso antes de la crisis alimentaria y la crisis económica sugiere que las soluciones actuales son insuficientes, y que la adopción de un enfoque basado en el derecho a la alimentación desempeñará una función importante en la erradicación de la inseguridad alimentaria. Para que dejen de padecer hambre, las personas que sufren inseguridad alimentaria necesitan tener control sobre los recursos, acceso a las oportunidades, y que se mejore la gobernanza en los ámbitos internacional, nacional y local.
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
28th, 29th & 30th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)
World Leaders Came to Express ‘Hopes and Needs of Their Nations’,
Salute Courage of Those Who Fought for Freedom, Dignity, Democracy around Globe
“It has been an historic and unforgettable debate,” said the President of the General Assembly this evening as he closed the annual event, but it was now time to shift attention to the crucial next step, “turning talk into real impact”.
Speaking in the legendary General Assembly Hall, where, since last Wednesday, representatives of 194 Member States and Observers — 100 at the level of Heads of State and Government — had come “to express the hopes and needs of their nations”, the President of the sixty-sixth session, Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser of Qatar, said “coming together is the start; working together will get us to the end”.
World leaders, he said, had called on the international community to assist in the fulfilment of their populations’ aspirations for the rule of law, transparency, prosperity, justice and human rights, including responsible freedom of expression. As they came together to consider such timely and complex issues, the role of mediation was “clearly more relevant than ever before”, he said of the theme selected for the current session — “mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes”.
Increasing Israeli-Palestinian tensions culminated in Israel launching "Operation Protective Edge" in Gaza in early July (see our latest report and commentary). The assault, which started as an aerial campaign and was later extended to include ground operations, reportedly killed more than 1,400 Palestinians throughout the month while 64 Israelis were killed in clashes inside the Gaza Strip and by Hamas rocket fire. Several attempts at reaching a ceasefire agreement failed in July. Israel backed proposals demanding a cessation of hostilities as a prerequisite for negotiating a long-term truce, while Hamas insisted that ceasefire modalities not agreed to during the fighting would never be addressed. As CrisisWatch goes to press there are reports that a three-day humanitarian ceasefire announced 1 August has already collapsed.
Iraq’s army and political leadership has made no tangible progress in responding to June’s territorial gains by jihadi and other rebel groups across the country’s north-west. A poorly-planned 15 July assault to recapture Tikrit failed while the jihadis leading the takeover, the Islamic State (formerly ISIL), moved to consolidate control in captured areas, eliminate Sunni rivals and destroy religious sites. Politicians in Baghdad continued jockeying for positions following April’s parliamentary elections, with Prime Minister Maliki showing no sign of wavering in his demand to retain his post. Unprecedented tensions also arose between Maliki and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) over Kurdish territorial gains, boycotts of cabinet sessions and increasing calls for independence. (See our latest report and commentary.)
Syria’s northern armed opposition looks increasingly precarious. In the past month, opposition fighters were defeated by rival rebels from the jihadi group the Islamic State (formerly ISIL) in the eastern province Deir al-Zour while regime forces made progress in encircling rebels in Aleppo. Setbacks faced by the increasingly disorganised and poorly armed moderate opposition factions in Aleppo could provide an opportunity for IS to push further west (see our latest commentary). Meanwhile, IS and regime forces were increasingly drawn into direct confrontation as a consequence of their respective gains. IS reportedly seized a gas field east of Homs in mid-July and later took control of regime bases in Raqqa and Hassakeh provinces.
In Libya security units affiliated with Islamist-leaning Libya Revolutionaries’ Operation Room (LROR) clashed with Zintan militias over control of Tripoli airport, leaving scores dead. Many were also reported killed in ongoing violence between various government forces and militias in Benghazi during the second half of the month. The UN and most embassies evacuated their staff throughout the month citing security concerns. A newly-elected parliament faces challenges convening due to the ongoing violence: even if it does convene, its ability to find consensus on a way to tackle the country's escalating insecurity is uncertain.
South Sudan’s conflict escalated further as fighting broke out in new areas of Greater Bahr el Ghazal and both the government and SPLM in Opposition (SPLM-IO) launched offensives that displaced thousands, including a government attack on a World Food Programme distribution site. Tensions grew in the three Equatorian states, taking the form of demands for a federal government structure and frustrations over the perceived Dinka monopoly on state power. The EU imposed its first sanctions and renewed its arms embargo amid calls for the UN Security Council to follow suit. (See our recent Conflict Alert and commentary on civil society.)
Al-Shabaab stepped up its attacks across Somalia during the holy month of Ramadan, killing dozens of government and security officials. The Somali Federal Government fired its police and intelligence chiefs after an attack on the presidential palace in early July. Tribal violence and tensions over the creation of a new federal state continued in south central.
In Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, one of the two candidates in the presidential run-off elections, rejected preliminary results of the second round of voting showing his opponent, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, to be in the lead (see our latest commentary). With tensions rising and Abdullah’s supporters urging him to declare a parallel government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intervened in mid-July and brokered an agreement between the candidates requiring an audit of all ballot boxes. The audit began on 17 July but was quickly complicated by delays and procedural disagreements between the two camps, ultimately leading to its postponement until early August. Meanwhile, violence across the country continued to increase, with numerous attacks reported including in the capital Kabul.
Army operations against tribal militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region caused mass displacement and left residents without adequate humanitarian assistance. The FATA Disaster Management Authority registered nearly one million IDPs fleeing operations by 22 July. The military restricted the work of foreign aid organisations and local NGOs, leaving people to rely on the charity fronts of jihadi organisations.
The fight for control of Libya between the Misrata-led Islamist-leaning coalition and the Zintan-led forces is escalating by the day. Hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced in over six weeks of clashes and heavy artillery fire. The Misrata side emerged victorious in the battle over Tripoli’s international airport, taking control of the capital, and made advances around Benghazi, but the larger political divide remains unresolved. A newly formed parliament convened in Tobruk and has the backing of the Zintan-led anti-Islamists and the international community; but the previous legislature in Tripoli challenges its authority. Without a minimum of consensus, Libya is likely to have two ineffectual governments with militias exerting real control on the ground.
Yemen’s Huthis continued to challenge the government’s authority, potentially undermining the already-fragile transition. Throughout the month Huthis organised mass anti-government protests in the capital Sanaa while armed supporters gathered around the city. In late August, their leaders rejected a government offer to resign; ongoing negotiations are hung on the complicated issue of fuel subsidies. Counter rallies largely attended by rivals from the Sunni Islamist Islah party and supported by President Hadi only served to escalate tensions. (See our latest report on the Huthis.)
For the first time since 2011, the U.S. intervened militarily in Iraq in August. Although the operation was initially explained by the need to avert a potential “genocide” of the northern Yazidi community and protect U.S. personnel and assets from the jihadi Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL), its objectives were later expanded to include the protection of critical infrastructure such as Mosul dam. Meanwhile in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki finally agreed to step down after most of his domestic and international backers joined in supporting his nominated replacement, fellow Dawa party member Haider al-Abadi. (See our recent commentary on IS.)
Syria’s northern armed opposition faced an increasingly dire situation as regime forces continued advancing in Aleppo and jihadis from IS gained territory north of the city. IS also continued its push to extend and consolidate control in the east, where it executed hundreds of tribal members in response to a local uprising against its rule in Deir al-Zour province and captured the regime’s last remaining stronghold in Raqqah province.
In one of the most serious spillovers of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon, the border town of Arsal witnessed heavy clashes between Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Syrian rebels that left as many as 100 dead. Militants attacked checkpoints and seized official buildings before a counteroffensive by the Lebanese army, aided by Syrian Air Force raids, reclaimed the city after a 5-day battle.
The death toll from Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the Gaza Strip continued to mount: by the time a ceasefire agreement was reached on 26 August, more than 2100 mostly civilian Palestinians, at least 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians inside Israel had been killed since the start of hostilities in July. Initial reports on the details of the ceasefire agreement suggested terms were vague and discussions of core issues had been deferred to later talks. (See our latest briefing and commentary)
Mass anti-government protests in Pakistan are threatening to undermine the country’s fragile democratic transition and have raised fears of an impending military intervention (see our recent Conflict Alert). For weeks, protests leaders have called for Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament and new elections. In mid-August they led supporters into Islamabad’s “Red Zone”, home to several key government buildings. The military later came directly into the fray, with army chief General Raheel Sharif reportedly intending to mediate and then act as guarantor of a negotiated settlement between government and protesters.
India-Pakistan relations deteriorated sharply as the two states again clashed over Kashmir. Deadly exchanges-of-fire along the Line of Control resumed, with each side claiming civilian casualties. India cancelled foreign secretary-level talks aimed at setting an agenda for resuming the countries’ dialogue process after Pakistan’s High Commissioner met Kashmiri separatist leaders in New Delhi.
Fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine escalated sharply. While the army attempted to encircle major cities Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia stepped up support for the rebels and reportedly deployed troops inside Ukraine. According to UN estimates, the total number of casualties more than doubled in the past month.
July’s ceasefire agreement between armed groups in the Central African Republic failed to translate into a truce on the ground. Scores, many civilians, were killed in deadly fighting fueled by internal divisions among Seleka, attacks on the Muslim community in Boda by anti-balaka militias, and ongoing attempts to consolidate territorial control. Violence between Seleka and international troops also rose, with over 60 Seleka and two peacekeepers killed in early August clashes.
Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram intensified attacks in Cameroon’s Far North, after high-profile political kidnappings in Kolofata in late July. Heavy clashes between militants and Cameroonian forces were reported in late August, days after Nigerian soldiers were seen crossing the border for safety.
Clashes between Degodia and Garre clans intensified in Kenya’s northeast, killing over 77 in late August according to reports from the Kenyan Red Cross. Meanwhile, recent Al-Shabaab attacks fuelled revenge ethnic killings and kidnappings in coastal Lamu County, prompting authorities to extend the curfew in the region.
The U.S. expanded its aerial campaign against Islamic State (IS) militants in late September with strikes in Syria’s north and east. The operation, which targets both IS and fighters linked to al-Qaeda’s central leadership and the affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra, risks alienating other rebel groups in Syria and strengthening support for IS. The mainstream armed opposition faced another serious blow when most of the senior leadership of the influential group Ahrar as-Sham was killed in an unexplained bomb blast in early September. Meanwhile, IS continued its advance on the ground, including around the predominantly Kurdish city Kobani near the Turkish border causing some 160,000 Kurds to flee. (See our recent report and commentary on the possible fall of greater Aleppo and the impact this could have on the wider Syrian rebellion).
In Iraq, the beheading of captive U.S. journalists and a British aid worker by IS militants drew strong condemnations. U.S. President Obama vowed to dismantle the group’s “network of death” and several countries, including France and the UK, joined the U.S.-led aerial campaign against IS. Adding to the sectarian divides that aided IS’s initial rise, Iran continued to support Shiite militias in central Iraq, while Western and Iranian support for the Kurdish Regional Government provoked additional tensions by bypassing Baghdad. (See our recent commentary on the rise of the Islamic State, alternatively known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh.)
The Syrian conflict continued to spill over into Lebanon. In September jihadi groups executed three Lebanese soldiers captured the previous month in the eastern city of Arsal, exacerbating ethnic and communal tensions, and sparking attacks on Syrian refugees. Clashes between the Lebanese army and Syrian rebels also continued in the east leaving several soldiers, Sunni militants and Hizbollah members dead.
Weeks of anti-government protests led by Yemen’s Huthis degenerated into several days of fighting in the capital Sanaa in mid-September. Over two hundred were killed as the Huthis clashed with rival forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and, to a much lesser extent, Sunni Islamist fighters around Iman University. Large parts of the security forces sided with the Huthis who seized key parts of Sanaa, including government buildings, and were allowed to control security in the city. A new peace deal and power sharing agreement signed on 21 September called for the implementation of national dialogue outcomes and the government to be replaced, but the balance of power on the ground has shifted solidly towards the Huthis. Prospects for a Huthi withdrawal from the capital remain uncertain: a new prime minister has yet to be appointed, and since the agreement Huthis have surrounded and entered the homes of political enemies as well as attacking the home of Yemen’s national security chief Ali al-Ahmadi in late September. (See our most recent report on Yemen’s Huthis.)
After months of deadlock, Sudan’s armed and political oppositions signed a statement on principles for a national dialogue process that would include them both. The government, the SPLM-N and Darfur rebels agreed to meet in October – under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel – to discuss a possible cessation of hostilities in all conflict areas. The African Union Peace and Security Council welcomed the planned talks.
September 2014 – Trends
October 2014 – Watchlist
After a rainy season lull, South Sudan’s warring parties are preparing for major offensives with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) this week launching attacks on Bentiu, capital of oil-producing Unity state (see our recent Conflict Alert). Hardliners in the government and the SPLA-IO appear determined to settle the conflict through war. Despite some signs of progress, nine months of peace talks have seen few results; instead, militias and self-defence forces are proliferating as their interests splinter, with many not effectively under the command and control of either main faction. Renewed conflict risks exacerbating widespread displacement and famine, as well as precipitating more atrocity crimes.
Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaoré resigned following intense pressure and violent protests against a possible extension to his 27-year rule. On 30 October, after several days of protests that left thirty dead, demonstrators against a proposed constitutional amendment to extend the presidential two-term limit stormed the parliament, setting it ablaze. The army stepped in but appears divided over who has taken the reins of power – army chief General Honoré Traoré and the Presidential Guard’s second-in-command, Colonel Isaac Zida, have both claimed to be head of state. It also remains unclear whether street protestors and political parties alike are ready to accept the 12-month military transition the army has announced.
Escalating violence in Bangui and deepening political animosities once again shook the Central African Republic’s fragile transition. The mobilisation of anti-balaka militias following a 7 October grenade attack resulted in violent clashes with Muslim residents that left several dead. Outside the capital violence continues to plague the central and western regions where French “Sangaris” forces clashed with ex-Seleka fighters and where banditry is on the rise. President Catherine Samba-Panza appears increasingly isolated amid persistent doubts over her appointment of Mahamat Kamoun as prime minister and an outcry following the disappearance of a significant tranche of Angolan financial aid.
Yemen’s Huthis continued their advance, bringing the country’s political transition to the brink of collapse. A late September UN-brokered peace and power-sharing agreement, aimed at preserving a nominal political process, appears to have little real impact. The Huthis consolidated their control in the north following their mid-September seizure of the capital, Sanaa, and expanded into central Yemen where hundreds were killed in clashes with their rivals. On 31 October the Huthis and their tribal supporters issued an ultimatum to the president to form a new government in 10 days or face further escalation. Southern separatists have seized the opportunity to renew their call for independence, holding large-scale rallies and giving the government until 30 November to remove all employees and security forces from the south.
In eastern Lebanon, Syria-based jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra expanded its war of attrition with Hizbollah by attacking several of the group’s strongholds and leaving dozens dead. Meanwhile, scores were killed in and around Tripoli in late October when the army clashed with Sunni militants. Army raids in northern Lebanon, Saida and Beirut followed, with tens of alleged “terrorists” arrested.
Clashes between police and pro-government militias, otherwise known as “colectivos”, in Venezuela’s capital left five militiamen including their leader José Odreman dead and raised concerns over the government’s ability to exert its control. The subsequent dismissal of the Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, accused by the colectivos of assassinating Odreman, and ongoing calls for the dismissal of the National Assembly president have only deepened the regime’s instability. Meanwhile, Venezuela’s economy continued to deteriorate, with a rapid fall in oil prices raising the spectre of a default on the country’s external debt. (See our latest briefing on Venezuela’s political crisis.)
In Mexico the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, apparently at the hands of local police with links to organised crime, triggered massive, sometimes violent, protests. The federal government has arrested a number of suspects and uncovered several mass graves, but so far failed to find the students or identify their remains. The case appears to expose yet again local and perhaps state-level complicity with criminal groups, as well as the failure of the federal government to control violence and widespread impunity.
Hostilities between India and Pakistan continued along Kashmir’s Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary dividing Pakistan and India-administered Kashmir, with each side accusing the other of unprovoked firing. The clashes were accompanied by unusually aggressive rhetoric from the Indian government, causing concern that the Pakistani government, currently engaged in a power struggle with the military over the country’s India policy, will see its political options narrow further.