UNITED NATIONS NEWS SERVICE
25 August, 2015
SENIOR UN CLIMATE CHANGE OFFICIAL FORESEES 'GOOD AGREEMENT' AT UPCOMING PAIRS CONFERENCE
The climate change agreement world leaders are expected to sign in December "has to take us to a less than 2 degree global warming path because that is the ultimate test of the whole package that will come out of Paris," according to Janos Pasztor, a senior United Nations climate change advisor.
"Our expectation is that there will be a good agreement signed," Mr. Pasztor said.in an interview with the UN News Service as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met today in Paris with French President François Hollande to discuss the latest developments in the lead up to the Conference of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP-21, as well as the next steps to be taken to ensure an ambitious outcome.
The UN official elaborated on the expected outcome in Paris by saying that "there has to be something that is there for the long term so that there is a clear signal that is provided to the market and to other actors that we are going in a certain direction of increasingly low carbon development."
"It also has to have dimension of solidarity – solidarity with those who are more vulnerable, and those who are less capable of taken action on their own without financial and technological support," he said.
"It also has to be credible – credible in terms of what we measure of what countries are doing but also credible in terms of what is being proposed such as financial support," Mr. Pasztor said.
"And finally, what is perhaps most important, it has to take us to a less than 2 degree global warming path because that is the ultimate test of the whole package that will come out of Paris," he said.
In this regard, Secretary-General Ban and President Hollande in Paris noted the importance of, and different ways of engaging Heads of State and Governments on climate change, including on the margins of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September as well as at other meetings involving global leaders.
They also agreed on the importance of generating signals about the climate finance package for COP-21 as early as possible, such as at the meeting of Finance Ministers in Lima in October. In addition, the two men agreed on the importance of operationalizing the Green Climate Fund, and of reaching out to all Member States to further accelerate momentum in the coming months.
In his interview, the senior advisor on climate change said he had been up in the Arctic with the Secretary-General recently "where already they are measuring 2 degree warming over the baseline which is twice the global average."
Mr. Pasztor said "you see the impact" everywhere, but he also drew attention to "a lot of incredible solutions especially when it comes to renewable energy."
"If you see what has happened in Denmark and Germany and China, in different parts of the world, it just really amazing," he said.
On another positive note, Mr. Pasztor said that "everybody has a role to play" to combat climate change.
"Everybody can do something," he said, adding "If everybody in the world does something we would have solved the climate change problem."
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IN FRANCE, BAN AND PRESIDENT HOLLANDE DISCUSS GLOBAL ISSUES INCLUDING UPCOMING PARIS CLIMATE TALKS
In Paris today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the President of France, François Hollande, with whom he discussed a range of issues, including the climate change conference, which is due to start in December (COP-21) in the French capital, as well as the next steps to be taken to ensure an ambitious outcome.
Both men discussed the different ways of engaging Heads of State and Governments on the issue of climate change, including on the margins of the 70th session of the General Assembly in New York in September, as well as at other meetings involving leaders, indicates a read-out.
They agreed on the importance of drawing attention to the climate finance package for The meeting of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) "as early as possible," such as at the meeting of Finance Ministers in Lima in October, while operationalizing the Green Climate Fund and reaching out to all Member States to further accelerate momentum in the coming months.
The Secretary-General and the French President also discussed a number of peace and security issues, including the situations in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, as well as the Middle East Peace Process.
While they noted progress towards elections and restoring security in the Central African Republic, Mr. Ban stressed his resolve and commitment in addressing issues of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by UN peacekeepers.
In the aftermath of his visit to Nigeria, the Secretary-General and President Hollande also discussed the threat of Boko Haram across the region and the need to address violent extremism everywhere.
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WITH PEACE SET TO BE SIGNED, SOUTH SUDANESE PARTIES MUST ADDRESS 'DRIVERS OF CONFLICT,' SECURITY COUNCIL TOLD
Welcoming the decision by rival parties in South Sudan to convene tomorrow a 'mini-summit,' where the Government, "in the interest of peace," is expected to sign the agreement already endorsed by former Vice-President Riek Machar, the top United Nations official in the country today said that the security situation on the ground remains "volatile and tense."
"I reiterate my call to the leaders of South Sudan to place the interests of their people above their personal ambitions and to implement the peace agreement in good faith," said Ellen Margrethe Løj, the head of the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) in a briefing to the Security Council.
At the same time, she warned that fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region has remained intense and further escalation of hostilities in southern Unity state has had increasingly severe consequences for the civilian population.
Major offensives conducted by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition and its allied militias into opposition-held areas have led to further deterioration of the security and humanitarian situations since April, and resulted in numerous reports of grave human rights violations. "Most recently, on 19 August, fighting occurred between SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army] and Opposition forces around Leer town, with both sides trading accusations of having initiated the attack," Ms. Løj added.
Explaining that both sides have stayed in close proximity to each other along the banks of the Nile River, she said that she was disappointed that they have not observed the Cessation of Hostilities or the ceasefire that they agreed to in Addis Ababa.
The escalation of fighting has sparked further displacements, said Ms. Løj, who is also the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country. "Civilians from conflict-affected counties in southern Unity state have fled to the UNMISS protection of civilians site in Bentiu, while new internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the west bank of the Nile arrived at the Mission's base in Malakal."
The overall humanitarian situation continues sharply to deteriorate, explained Under-Secretary-General to Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien to Council Members. "As of today, over 2.2 million people have been displaced due to the conflict, an increase of 200,000 since the beginning of this year. Over 1.6 million are displaced internally and over 616,000 people have fled to neighboring states. And severe food insecurity is affecting 4.6 million people this year compared to 3.8 million at the height of the lean season last year."
UNMISS is now providing protection to over two hundred thousand IDPs at six protection of civilians sites, underlined Special Representative Løj. "The Bentiu site has experienced the largest recent increase in IDPs, up by 140 per cent since late April, while the population at the Malakal site has grown by almost 50 per cent just since mid-July," she noted.
The large influx of IDP's into UNMISS bases during the reporting period, and the resulting rise in political, ethnic and tribal tensions, as well as criminal activity in the camps, underscores the "unsustainability" of these protection sites for the longer term, she stressed.
The Mission, Mrs. Løj said, has further expanded its reach outside of these sites, through patrols, in order to increase security for the local populace, while also facilitating conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. "However, capacity and resource constraints and deliberate obstruction by the parties have limited these efforts," she regretted.
"The scope and level of cruelty that has characterized the attacks against civilians suggests a depth of antipathy that goes beyond political differences. Allegations include rampant killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and forced displacement and even such horrific acts as burning of people inside their own homes," said Mr. O'Brien, who assured the Council there is evidence of "deliberate ethnic targeting" of and reprisals against women and girls, hundreds of them having been have been abducted and hundreds more subjected to sexual violence, including gang-rape, in Unity state.
Against that background, international and regional partners, following the partial signing of the so-called Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus peace agreement on 17 August, urged South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to sign the accord by the end of the 15-day deadline he requested and called on all parties to immediately cease all hostilities. Upon his return from Addis Ababa, the President began intensive consultations that led to the announcement of signing the agreement tomorrow, on Wednesday.
"I reiterate my call to the leaders of South Sudan to…implement the peace agreement in good faith. While [the UN Mission] will do all possible to support implementation, I must remind this Council that, albeit very important, this agreement is only a first step. Peace, stability and prosperity will not come to South Sudan overnight. This process will require concerted and sustained effort from both national stakeholders and international partners," said Ms. Løj.
Focus, she added, will also need to be drawn to the range of intercommunal and other conflicts, which in some states, prove to be just "as violent as the political struggle." "We must devise ways to support the South Sudanese people to address the drivers of conflict as we lay the foundation for longer-term peace and development," the UNMISS chief concluded.
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YEMEN: WARNING OF 'A LOST GENERATION,' UN CHILD RIGHTS ENVOY URGES END TO GRAVE VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN
Alarmed by the dramatic increase in grave violations against Yemen's children, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict has called on all parties to respect their obligations under international law to safeguard civilians from harm, including children.
Reflecting on conflict-affected countries in the Middle East, Leila Zerrougui said in a statement issued yesterday that Yemen has become "another stark example of how conflict in the region risks creating a lost generation of children, who are physically and psychologically scarred by their experiences, deprived of educational opportunities, and who face an uncertain future."
After the conflict escalated in late March, at least 402 children had been killed, and more than 606 injured. According to a United Nations analysis, in comparison to the first quarter of the year, the number of children killed and injured more than tripled during the period of 1 April to 30 June – some 73 per cent of which were attributed to airstrikes.
"Children are paying an unacceptable price, and the ever mounting death toll tragically underscores the need for urgent action to protect them and other civilians," said the Special Representative.
Ms. Zerrougui said she is appalled by the heavy civilian casualties in Taiz, where reportedly 34 children were killed and 12 injured over the past three days. On 21 August, Saudi-led coalition airstrikes slaughtered 65 civilians – including at least 17 children while another 17 were killed and 12 wounded during repeated shelling in residential areas by Al-Houthi fighters.
"Parties to conflict must abide by their international legal obligations to distinguish between civilian and military objects, and take precautions to avoid and minimize civilian casualties," she stressed.
The Special Representative also deplored the number of attacks on schools and education personnel, and the devastating impact on children's right to education. "As the start of a new school year approaches, the conflict is severely curtailing children's access to education," Ms. Zerrougui said.
UNICEF has reported that since end-March, 114 schools were destroyed and 315 partially damaged – with an additional 360 serving to shelter displaced families. Furthermore, some 3,600 schools will not reopen due to insecurity – interrupting education access for an estimated 1.8 million children.
Heightened conflict in Yemen has also had a detrimental impact on ongoing UN efforts to strengthen children protections. In May 2014, the Government had signed an Action Plan with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government forces. However, implementation of the Action Plan has stalled since September 2014. At the same time, there are indications that the recruitment and use of children by all parties present on the ground has dramatically increased this year.
Noting that Yemen is one of the seven countries participating in the global Children Not Soldiers campaign to prevent and end child recruitment for soldiers by end-2016, Ms. Zerrougui concluded: "The situation is untenable for children and their families in Yemen – all parties to the conflict must respect their obligations, and put an end to grave violations against children."
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UN ATOMIC ENERGY WATCHDOG WILL NEED MORE THAN $10 MILLION A YEAR TO ASSESS IRAN'S NUCLEAR CAPACITY
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today presented to its member States for approval a report outlining a 9.2 million euros-a-year (roughly $10.5 million) programme to carry out the verification and monitoring of Iran's nuclear-related commitments as set out in the landmark international agreement reached last month with the Government of Iran.
"There is now a historic opportunity to resolve the Iran nuclear issue," IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in an address to the agency's Board of Governors he convened to consider the UN Security Council's request for the agency to undertake verification and monitoring of Iran's nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
"I hope that full use will be made of this opportunity," Mr. Amano said.
Reminding member States on the IAEA Board that the joint plan of action was agreed Initiative by international negotiators (the 'E3+3' – composed of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran on 14 July, he said his agency was ready to undertake the necessary work subject to the approval of the Board.
Explaining the plan of action and its budgetary implications, Mr. Amano said, "Iran has agreed to implement extra nuclear-related commitments, which are known as transparency measures. These include enhanced access for Agency inspectors to uranium mines and mills, and continuous surveillance of centrifuge manufacturing and storage locations."
"These measures go beyond the scope of Iran's comprehensive safeguards agreement and additional protocol and will help the Agency to have a better understanding of Iran's nuclear programme," he said.
Mr. Amano said his agency will require additional resources to implement the activities described in IAEA's report on Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
"We estimate that implementation of the JCPOA will involve expenditure by the Agency totalling 9.2 million euros per year," he said. "I call on all Member States in a position to do so to contribute towards the financial needs of the Agency related to implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, as well as preparatory and implementation work under the JCPOA."
Saying that the arrangements made with Iran are "technically sound and consistent with established IAEA safeguards practices," Mr. Amano assured member States that "they do not compromise our standards in any way."
He also said IAEA has "top-class technical experts, high-tech equipment and state-of-the art analytical laboratories" and nearly six decades of experience of implementing comprehensive safeguards agreements.
"We are now doing so in 173 countries," he said. "We have been implementing the additional protocol for nearly 20 years."
And looking ahead, he said he will present his final assessment to the Board by December 15th.
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EUROPE'S RESPONSE TO MIGRANT CRISIS IS NOT WORKING, WARNS UN RIGHTS EXPERT
The European Union should establish a human rights-based, coherent and comprehensive migration policy which makes mobility its central asset, a United Nations expert today advocated, assuring is the only way in which the EU can reclaim its border, effectively combat smuggling and empower migrants.
"Let's not pretend that what the EU and its member states are doing is working. Migration is here to stay," Mr. Crépeau stressed. "Building fences, using tear gas and other forms of violence against migrants and asylum seekers, detention, withholding access to basics such as shelter, food or water and using threatening language or hateful speech will not stop migrants from coming or trying to come to Europe," the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, said.
"Territorial sovereignty is about controlling the border, knowing who comes in and who leaves. It has never been about sealing the border to migration," the expert continued. "Democratic borders are porous by nature. Providing migrants and asylum-seekers with legal and safe mobility solutions will ensure such a control."
The Special Rapporteur urged Europeans to start focusing on regaining control of their external border from the smugglers by increasing mobility solutions available to most migrants, investing in integration measures – especially through supporting the action of cities – and developing a strong public discourse on diversity and mobility as cornerstones for contemporary European societies.
"If Europeans want their governments to regain control of their borders, then they must urge them to bank on mobility and offer migrants and asylum-seekers official channels to enter and stay in Europe," the human rights expert said.
"Opening up the regular labour markets through smart visas allowing people to come to look for work and incentivize them to return if they don't find the job in question would allow for a much better regulated and controlled official labour market," Mr. Crépeau noted.
However, he cautioned, such measures must be supported with sanctions against employers who exploit irregular migrants in underground labour markets. "This would considerably reduce the pull factor they exercise on irregular migrants and further reduce the market for recruiters, smugglers and exploitative employers," the expert explained.
"In addition, there is an obvious urgent need for Europe to create, jointly with other Global North countries, a massive resettlement programme for refugees like Syrians and Eritreans that could offer protection to 1.5 or 2 million of them over the next five years," he said, highlighting that such a programme would impact the market for smugglers and allow European countries to decide who comes and make appropriate preparations.
Welcoming the positive steps taken by the EU in rescuing migrants and asylum-seekers at sea so far, Mr. Crépeau however warned that rescuing people who arrive by sea and then turning a blind eye to their plight leaving them vulnerable to human rights violations is irresponsible," the expert said.
"Talking about 'flows,' 'marauders,' and 'swarms' is an unsubtle way of dismissing the legitimacy of the asylum-seekers and migrants' claim to human rights, by creating images linking them to toxic waste or natural disasters" he noted. "We are talking about men, women, children and even babies, who have faced traumatic experiences. These are people just like you and me, and none of us have the moral high ground to say that we would never do the same if we were in their shoes."
The UN Special Rapporteur warned that the political and popular discourse in Europe has seen a race to the bottom in the anti-migrant sentiments and use of inappropriate language which is often linked to criminalizing migrants. "Migrants are human beings with rights. When we dehumanize others, we dehumanize ourselves," he underscored.
Mr. Crépeau therefore called on European political leaders "to show moral and political leadership in fighting much more vigorously racism, xenophobia and hate crime, in consolidating the common human rights culture that is now framing the evolution of all traditions, in strengthening the free movement of persons throughout the EU while developing regulated mobility solutions at its external borders, and in celebrating the diversity of cultures and religions as enrichment for everyone, citizens and foreigners alike."
Speaking on behalf of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming also called for refugees to be treated humanely and for the authorities to work together, as thousands of people continued to head into the Western Balkans from Greece.
"UNHCR appealed to the Governments involved to implement border management measures with humanity and in accordance with their international obligations," during a press briefing, adding that family unity and protection of persons with specific needs must be upheld.
In Serbia, UNHCR and the Serb authorities are working to respond to the humanitarian needs of the more than 10,000 refugees.
"At the Greece-The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border, people had been continuing to cross in groups of up to 300-400 and then travelling onwards by train or bus to Serbia. Currently, UNHCR anticipated those arrivals continuing over the next few days at a rate of up to 3,000 people per day," added Ms. Fleming.
An equitable redistribution of refugees and asylum-seekers across the European Union was needed, the spokesperson stressed.
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UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES MALDIVES TO CONSIDER RELEASE OF IMPRISONED FORMER PRESIDENT
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today expressed deep concern that Government of the Maldives after former President Mohammad Nasheed was once again sent to prison, calling the move a "serious set-back" for the country.
"We had been encouraged by the Government's earlier decision to move Mr. Nasheed to house arrest after widespread national and international criticism of the clearly flawed trial which resulted in him being sentenced to 13 years in jail in March this year", said Rupert Colville, an OHCHR spokesperson.
Mr. Nasheed was however suddenly transferred on Sunday night to the high-security prison on Maafushi Island.
"We also understand that force, including pepper spray, was used against his supporters who gathered in the narrow alley around his residence to show their solidarity and protest against his renewed imprisonment," Mr. Colville continued.
The Office of the High Commissioner has conducted two missions to Maldives in recent months to discuss these issues with the authorities, visiting Mr Nasheed both in jail and while he was under house arrest at his residence. "[His] return…to prison in our view constitutes a serious set-back to the human rights situation as well as to moves towards finding a political solution in the Maldives."
Urging the Government to consider former President Nasheed's early release, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, therefore urged the review of pending criminal cases against several hundred opposition supporters in relation to the protests in recent months.
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UN AGENCY EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER PLIGHT OF CIVILIANS IN SOUTHERN LEBANON REFUGEE CAMP
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) called today for restraint in the wake of 24 August clashes between various armed groups that have seriously impacted the refugee community in southern Lebanon's Ein el Hilweh Camp in Saida.
"We are deeply concerned over reports that civilians are endangered and that our installations have been directly affected by the fighting," said UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness in a statement. "UNRWA condemns any armed group that fails to respect its obligations under international law to protect civilians and to respect the inviolability of United Nations premises."
With the possibility of some 3,000 people displaced, the UN agency has been unable to confirm fatality or casualty figures – but called for the prevention of further deterioration.
Mr. Gunness said that heavy fighting has been reported in the vicinity of a number of UNRWA installations, including schools and health clinics. Residents are reportedly vacating the camp and have taken refuge at various locations, mainly in Saida municipality and Mieh Mieh camp, but also elsewhere in Lebanon.
"UNRWA calls on all parties to respect the neutrality of the UN and its installations, to desist from conducting armed hostilities in residential areas and to allow its resumption of services," he said.
The UN agency's lack of full access to and movement in and around Ein el Hilweh camp restricts its ability to deliver essential services. However, UNRWA has mobilized its humanitarian response and, coordinating with partners, is helping to support displaced people – including by providing food, medical assistance and shelter.
"UNRWA will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves and provide assistance." concluded Mr. Gunness.
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CONCERNED BY ONGOING POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN NEPAL, UN RIGHTS OFFICE URGES PEACEFUL RESOLUTION TO CRISIS
Voicing concern over continuing political violence and killing of protestors in Nepal, the United Nations human rights office today called on the authorities to respect dissenting voices and seek a peaceful solution with demonstrators.
"The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly are essential elements in the promotion of democracy and human rights," Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.
Seven members of the security forces and three protestors were reportedly killed yesterday, as well as the two year-old son of one deceased police officer, according to OHCHR.
"We are concerned by reports from Nepal of continuing political violence," said Mr. Colville, adding that the recent incident was in addition to the deaths of five protestors during widespread demonstrations following an 8 August agreement by political parties on redrawing internal state boundaries.
However, increasingly violent protests against the proposed delineation have taken place throughout the country since the agreement was reached.
"There is a clear risk that the protests and violence will continue to feed off each other in the coming days unless all sides change their approach," said Mr. Colville.
While urging the Government to create a climate where minority or dissenting views are respected, the human rights office said that security forces should only employ force as a last resort and in full accordance with the standards laid out under international law for maintaining public order, including detailed guidelines governing the use of live ammunition.
"We urge political leaders and protestors to sit down together to find a peaceful solution to the current situation before the rising violence spirals out of control," said Mr. Colville, also stressing that protests should be carried out in a peaceful manner and not pursue violent confrontations with the security services.
The UN rights office further reckoned the call of the Nepal National Human Rights Commission for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into all deaths and injuries resulting from the alleged use of disproportionate force by security personnel, as well as into the deaths of the seven security personnel killed on Monday.
The agreement, after extended negotiations, aims to draw up a new constitution further to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the 10-year internal conflict in 2006.
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EXPERIENCED OFFICIAL FROM NETHERLANDS APPOINTED DEPUTY UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR MALI
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Koen Davidse, of the Netherlands, as his Deputy Special Representative in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). He will succeed Arnauld Akodjènou, of Benin, in September 2015.
Mr. Davidse brings with him 25 years of international experience. From 2011 to 2015, he served as Director of Multilateral Institutions and Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands, and as Director of Peacebuilding and Stabilization, and acted as the Dutch Special Envoy for Sudan.
Mr. Davidse also served in South Asia for the Ministry and at the Permanent Missions of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva and New York. In 2006, the appointee served at the Organization as Research Director for the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence.
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