Tag Archives: United Nations

Pakistani PM urges UN action on Kashmir

Reiterating Islamabad’s demand for international intervention in Indian-administered Kashmir, Pakistani prime minister on Tuesday appealed to the “world’s conscience” to act against the “illegal annexation” of the valley with New Delhi.

On the World Human Rights Day, Khan condemned the “gross” human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after New Delhi’s controversial revocation of the valley’s long-standing special rights last August, which sparked worldwide criticism.

Human Rights Day has been observed every year on Dec. 10 since 1948, when nations in the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“On Human Rights day we must appeal to the world’s conscience, to upholders of international law & to the UNSC [UN Security Council] to act against the illegal annexation of IOJK [Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir] by the Indian Occupation govt.,” Khan said on twitter.

Condemning the Indian government’s “siege” of Kashmir, he demanded “an end to the gross abuse & atrocities being inflicted on Kashmiri men, women & children by Indian Occupation forces in violation of all Int Humanitarian & Human Rights Laws.”

“We salute & stand resolutely with the brave Kashmiris struggling for their right of self determination,” Khan added.

Meanwhile, the day is being observed as a “black day” by several groups in the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir, against New Delhi’s controversial move.

Long-fraught ties between the two nuclear rivals have plummeted to a new low following the India move of scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which is divided between the two neighbors in parts with both claiming it in full.

Many fear this step was an attempt to change the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

Since partition in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir, in addition to a three-week long Kargil skirmish in 1999.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.


Bolivian interim leader meets UN envoy as death toll mounts

Four more people have died in protests in Bolivia, raising the total number of victims in the political unrest to 23, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said on Saturday.

The new deaths were announced after five protesters were killed in clashes with security forces on Friday in central Bolivia, a political stronghold of exiled ex-president Evo Morales.

The Washington-based IACHR, a part of the Organization of American States, also recorded 122 wounded since Friday.

Bolivian interim leader meets UN envoy

A UN envoy met with Bolivia’s interim president to find a way out of the country’s political crisis while the world body expressed concern the situation could “spin out of control” amid a rising death toll.

On leaving the meeting with interim leader Jeanine Anez, envoy Jean Arnault said the United Nations hopes it can contribute to an “accelerated pacification process” leading to new elections following the resignation and exile of Evo Morales.

Meanwhile, another international body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, condemned Anez’s government for issuing a decree it says “exempts from criminal responsibility” soldiers who took part in efforts to break up protests and unrest that have left at least 23 people dead.

The norm was approved before the most violent day since the crisis began when at least eight pro-Morales coca growers were killed when security forces opened fire during a demonstration.

“It is not a license for the Armed Forces to kill,” Presidency Minister Jerjes Justiniano told a press conference. He said the decree is based on the Criminal Code, which states that “if one defends oneself in self-defence, there is no penalty.”

Earlier Saturday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet issued a statement calling the deaths “an extremely dangerous development.”

“I am really concerned that the situation in Bolivia could spin out of control if the authorities do not handle it sensitively and in accordance with international norms,” she said.

Protesters said police fired on Friday when demonstrators tried to cross a military checkpoint in Sacaba, a town near Cochabamba. Many of the protesters were coca leaf growers loyal to Morales, who had been Bolivia’s first indigenous president before being pressured to step down by Bolivia’s military chief after weeks of widespread protests over a disputed election.

Witnesses to the clash described seeing the bodies of several protesters and dozens of people rushed to hospitals, many covered in blood.

Contentious presidency

Morales stepped down following nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an October 20 election, which he claimed to have won to gain a fourth term in office.

Morales, who was granted asylum in Mexico after his November 10 resignation, said on Twitter that a “massacre” had occurred and he described the interim government led by Anez as a dictatorship.

On Friday, Anez said Morales would face possible legal charges for election fraud if he returned home from Mexico City. She also has said Morales would not be allowed to participate in a new presidential election, which is supposed to be held within three months.

The ousted leader, meanwhile, contended this week that he is still president since the country’s legislature has not yet approved his resignation.

Morales has denied there was fraud, though an Organization of American States audit reported widespread irregularities.

Backers of the interim government deny there was any coup against Morales, saying police and the military withdrew backing from him only to avoid shedding civilian blood during the mass protests against him.

Supporters of Morales, who was Bolivia’s president for almost 14 years and was the last survivor from the “pink tide” of South American leftist leaders, have been staging disruptive protests since his resignation, setting up blockades that forced the closure of schools and caused shortages of gasoline in the capital.

Anez, who had been the highest-ranking opposition official in the Senate, proclaimed herself president after Morales resigned, saying every person in the line of succession ahead of her — all of them Morales backers — had resigned.

The Constitutional Court issued a statement backing her claim that she didn’t need to be confirmed by Congress, a body controlled by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that upheld term limits that barred him from seeking another term. He got the courts to declare the limits a violation of his human rights to seek office.


BREAKING: Israel, Palestine factions agree to ceasefire proposal

After two days of air strikes on the Gaza Strip which have killing 34 Palestinians and wounding 111 others, Israel and the Palestinian resistance this morning agreed to an Egyptian brokered ceasefire proposal.

Spokesman of the Islamic Jihad Mus’ab Al-Breem said that his movement set conditions to accept the ceasefire, which was mediated by Egypt and the UN, and Israel agreed to them.

Al-Breem said: “The occupation surrendered to the conditions of the resistance.”

The Israeli Hebrew newspaper Maariv reported a senior diplomatic source saying: “Israel achieved the goals of the operation. The Islamic Jihad suffered severe damage and we destroyed its infrastructure and killed more than 20 operatives.”

“Israel did not offer anything. The actions on the ground would decide. We will harm anyone who harms us.”

Haaretz reported sources saying that the ceasefire proposed by Egypt would see the Palestinian groups immediately stop firing rockets.

The sources also said, according to Haaretz, that Israel immediately stopped its attacks and assassinations in Gaza and would cease to use live ammunitions against the weekly Great Return March and Breaking the Siege protests.

On the ground, the sounds of Israeli military drones can still be heard buzzing overhead.

The ceasefire was announced after Israel killed 34 Palestinians, including eight from the same families, and wounded 111 others.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, said that the ceasefire was a fruit of joint Egyptian and UN efforts.

“Egypt and the UN worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in and around Gaza from leading to war,” he wrote on Twitter.

He added: “The coming hours and days will be critical. ALL must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars.”


More than 130,000 people displaced by fighting in northeast Syria: UN

More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around the northeast Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain as a result of fighting between Turkish-led Syrian opposition forces and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, the United Nations said on Sunday.

In a statement, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said OCHA and other relief agencies estimated up to 400,000 civilians in the Syrian conflict zone may require aid and protection in the coming period.


Takht-Ravanchi to be back in office soon: Iranian diplomat

“Doctors assess that the treatment will soon be completed with God’s grace and he will be back in the office,” said Miryousefi.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been in New York for the annual UN gathering of world leaders, had hoped to visit him as he is being treated for cancer and requested permission from the State Department, diplomats at the United Nations said. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue has not been made public. However, the United States said Friday that Iran’s foreign minister can visit Takht-Ravanchi at a New York hospital only if Tehran releases an American citizen, diplomats and the US State Department said.


Iran has committed ‘serious’ breaches of international law, says UK foreign secretary Raab

LONDON: Iran has undertaken “serious and systemic” breaches of international law, the UK’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday.

Raab said he hoped Britain could still work with Iran, but that could only happen if Iran “showed the respect required for the basic principles of the rules-based international system.”

The foreign secretary cited the recent attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities to highlight how Iran’s behavior destabilizes the region.

“Iran’s violations are not mere technical breaches of international rules. They are serious and systemic, destabilising actions, which undermine the international rule of law. And those actions must have consequences,” he said.

“Iran’s record of respect for the basic rules of international law is woeful and it is getting worse,” he told UK’s parliament.

“Take the recent attacks on the Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia, eighteen drones and seven cruise missiles hit an oil field and a processing facility.

“As the UK government, we took our time to assess the facts carefully and independently. We are now confident that Iran was responsible. The evidence is clear, and there is no plausible alternative explanation.

“We have condemned the attacks in coordination not just with Saudi Arabia and the US but also with our European partners,” he added.

Addressing the UK’s House of Commons, Raab said the attack on Aramco also reiterated the need to prevent Iran gaining nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s attacks on the Aramco facilities are a reminder of the importance of ensuring that Iran never gains access to nuclear weapons,” he said.

The foreign secretary also mentioned the Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), and the UK’s work with the US, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to ensure freedom of navigation in the region.

“And, as the attack on Aramco demonstrates, we must also bring into scope Iran’s wider destabilising activities. That includes putting an end to Iran’s violations of the freedom of navigation, which are disrupting shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, and undermining the international law of the sea,” he said.

Raab used his speech to urge an end to Iranian interference in Yemen, which he said has led to the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world and which has stoked further conflict through support for the Houthi militia.

“A political solution is the only viable way to bring peace to that terrible conflict. Iran must start to play a constructive instead of a destructive role in that conflict,” he said.

Raab also made reference to the number of UK dual-nationals imprisoned in Iran, confirming that prime minister Boris Johnson raised the issue with Iranian president Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“Today, there are a range of UK dual-nationals languishing in jail in Iran, typically arrested on spurious charges, denied due process and subject to mistreatment contrary to the basic tenets of international human rights law. This practice causes great anguish and suffering not just to those detained, but also to their families.

“Iran’s behavior is unlawful, cruel and it is totally unacceptable. I have raised all of these cases, along with Iran’s wider conduct with Foreign Minister Zarif,” he said.

“So, Iran’s record of respect for the basic rules of international law is woeful. And it is getting worse. Let’s be clear about this and the Iranian government’s responsibility for the plight of its own people. It is a matter of political choice. Their government’s choice,” he added.


Iran is moving in the wrong direction’ says UK minister for the UN

A panel of British legal experts including the UK’s minister for the UN condemned on Wednesday Iran’s human rights record at a meeting at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), highlighting Iran’s failure to uphold its international obligations.

“If Iran is going to come in from the cold it must comply with the basic rules of international law. It has got to stop seizing vessels unlawfully, fulfil its commitments set out in the nuclear deal, and start respecting the basic principles of human rights instead of arbitrarily detaining dual nationals,” said the UK Minister of State for the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon.

“Iran is moving in the wrong direction, and we have a moral duty as part of the international community to shine a light on their violations and hold them to account,” Lord Ahmad added, according to a Foreign and Commonwealth Office press release.

The event was attended by independent legal experts including Caoilfhionn Gallagher, a leading QC who represents BBC Persian, and Hossein Ahmadiniaz, a human rights lawyer who was arrested after openly criticizing Iran’s judicial practices.

The panel gave evidence of Iran’s failure to uphold international obligations. Lord Ahmad also drew attention to Tehran’s ongoing arbitrary detentions of British and other foreign nationals, which violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

High profile detentions include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been kept under solitary confinement for long periods since she was detained in 2016. Her husband Richard Ratcliffe has campaigned her release and attended the UN event.

Travel blogger Jolie King, an Australian-British national, and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin were recently arrested for allegedly flying a drone without a license.

Iran’s human rights record also came under the spotlight at United Against Nuclear Iran’s Iran Summit, which took place concurrently with the UNGA. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that “The world is awakening to the truth” about Iran, while Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said that Tehran “has gotten away with murder for 40 years.”

US President Donald Trump also addressed Iran in his speech at the UNGA, where he described the Iranian regime as “one of the greatest security threats facing peace-loving nations.


EU hails announcement of Syria constitutional committee

The EU on Thursday welcomed the announcement of agreement on the formation of a Syrian constitutional committee.

“The EU has consistently affirmed that any sustainable solution to the conflict requires a genuine political transition as outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communique negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process,” according to a statement from the office of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday announced the formation of a body to write a new constitution for Syria following more than eight years of war that have devastated the country and its people.

Guterres said the constitutional committee can and must be the beginning of a political process to end the conflict.

“The EU therefore looks forward to the inaugural meeting of the committee at the earliest possible opportunity and will monitor developments thereafter most closely. This is a definite step forward, and one that is certainly full of potential,” the statement read.

The EU also underlined the urgent need for positive developments in parallel to the work in the constitutional committee.

“To recall, the EU will be ready to assist in the reconstruction of Syria when a comprehensive, genuine and inclusive political transition, in the framework of UNSCR [UN Security Council Resolution] 2254 and the Geneva process, is firmly under way,” it added.

The bloc also expressed willingness to support the developing peace process in Syria in whatever way it can, in close conjunction and coordination with the UN Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.


Anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali launches global bid to protect girls

Every country must ban female genital mutilation to protect girls and help end poverty, Somali-born British campaigner Nimco Ali said as she launched a global project to end the practice by 2030, reports Reuters.

About 3.9 million girls have their external genitalia partially or totally removed every year despite health risks, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and this could rise to 4.6 million by 2030 due to population growth.

Ali said FGM was at the heart of gender inequality and called on all countries to act to end the abuse in line with the United Nations’ global goals agreed upon in 2015 and save 68 million girls at risk between now and 2030.

“Everyone knows that FGM is wrong,” Ali, 36, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations’ key annual meeting.

“We need to lobby governments to act, but we also need to fund African women at the frontline as they are the orchestrators of their own destiny.”

She said she hoped to launch her campaign, entitled The Five Foundation, The Global Partnership to End FGM, on Wednesday would build a network of activists and find new sources of funding to end the abuse of women that she called away “to put them in their place”.

“You will never end poverty or have peace if you pin girls down aged 5, cut them, break them and sell them for some cows,” said Ali who moved to Britain from Somaliland when she was 4 years old.

“There is a massive link between the way countries treat 50% of their population – women – and their prosperity and success.”

Ali’s campaigning stems from her own childhood when she was cut at age 7 while in Djibouti, in East Africa, on holiday with her family which led to health complications and reconstructive surgery.

FGM is linked with severe long-term complications including cysts, infections, and complications in childbirth. In the most severe cases, the vaginal opening is sewn up.

“For me the act of FGM was not the most painful experience, but the fact that it just didn’t mean anything,” said Ali.

“I only forgave my mother finally last year.”

After studying law and joining the civil service, Ali began actively campaigning against the practice that is still widespread in about 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Many people believe the ritual is an important tradition and religious obligation, although it is not in the Q’uran, and up to 96% of women in countries like Somalia, Egypt and Sudan are cut.

In 2010 Ali set up Daughters of Eve to support girls in Britain affected by FGM, but her public lambasting of FGM and its acceptance in many African societies came at a price.

“I received death threats, my family stopped talking to me, I was heckled by other Somalis,” said Ali, whose work led to her receiving an Order of the British Empire (OBE) this year.

“But a lot of young Somali women are thankful that I took one for the team although it is a massive sacrifice to be so public about being different.”

Ali, who published her first book this year, said the aim of The Five Foundation was to get FGM further up the global agenda and raise funds for grassroots organizations working to end the practice that 200 million women alive today have undergone.

The United Nations says the global prevalence of FGM has fallen one-quarter since 2000 due to grassroots work but this is not keeping up with population growth so the number is rising.

Ali said she was confident the world could end FGM.

“In my family, FGM has stopped with my nieces not being cut. That is what the end of FGM looks like,” said Ali, who ran – unsuccessfully – for a seat in Britain’s 2017 general election.

She ruled out running again for office to achieve her aims.

“I was heckled and abused. It was a really horrible experience so I won’t repeat that again,” she said.


China denounces UN aviation emissions plan

China has denounced a landmark United Nations deal that caps emissions from international flights, in a setback for an industry eager to placate the growing international movement to curb air travel’s effect on the environment.

In a paper posted in advance of the UN aviation agency assembly that kicked off on Tuesday, China – once a critical early supporter of the 2016 UN plan – joined Russia in arguing the proposal would unfairly penalize emerging and developing countries because it raises costs.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which holds its assembly every three years in Montreal, set out the major climate initiative at its last full gathering in 2016, but aviation leaders are under pressure to do more after overall carbon emissions hit record highs last year.

Commercial flying accounts for about 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions, and its share of emissions is expected to rise as air travel becomes accessible to more travelers.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired a ‘flight-shaming’ protest movement against aviation, is expected to join a protest march on Friday in Montreal.

The ICAO plan, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the first of its kind for a single industry, is a medium-term scheme to help airlines avoid adding to their net emissions from 2020.

China has one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation systems and its participation in CORSIA’s first phase from 2021 is seen as critical for the deal.

“Given the difference among countries in development stage, historical responsibility and coping capability, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for CORSIA implementation orchestrated by developed countries is a de facto reversion to the law of the jungle,” said the paper, which hardens the country’s public stance.

China’s absence could discourage other countries from participating. The United States, which left the Paris emissions deal in 2017, has said it supports CORSIA with the understanding “that it is applied by other major aviation states,” a US State Department official said.

China joined the US and Europe in 2016 to signal its support for the agreement but publicly cooled on the deal last year, declining to commit to a pilot phase.

A source said at the time China was probably distancing itself as a negotiating tactic.

The Chinese delegation could not immediately be reached for comment during the assembly’s opening day on Tuesday. But a Chinese delegation representative told the assembly that the country supports some kind of global climate plan for aviation.

A spokeswoman for the Russian delegation declined to comment.

Privately, China is taking preparatory steps that would allow it to implement the climate deal, which requires most airlines to limit emissions or offset them by buying credits from environmental projects.

It has asked for its environmental projects to be eligible for purchase by airlines through the programme, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private matter.

While China is a major source of emissions now, its relatively recent growth means its cumulative share of emissions is well below that of the US or Europe.

Industry says about $40bn in climate financing will be generated between 2020 and 2035 through the deal.

ICAO cannot impose rules, but sets standards for its 193 member countries that are widely followed.