10 March 2014 Underscoring the Central African Republic’s (CAR) history of coups, violence and impunity, the head of a United Nations inquiry warned today that the spread of hate speech and the collapse of law and order in the strife-riven country are likely precursors to grave human rights violations, including genocide.
“We want to present to the [UN] Security Council a complete file so the appropriate action can be taken,” said Bernard Acho Muna, who chairs the International Commission of Inquiry tasked with probing reports of human rights violations in the CAR, compiling information, and helping identify the perpetrators of such abuses.
The three-person inquiry, established by the Security Council, is expected in the country on Tuesday and will begin gathering evidence amid what UN Emergency Coordinator Valerie Amos recently described as an “extremely grave” situation, after months of inter-religious violence has wrecked State institutions, left millions on the brink of starvation and now threatens to suck in the wider region.
Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the CAR and 2.2 million, about half the population, are in need of humanitarian aid as a result of the conflict, which erupted when Séléka rebels launched attacks in December 2012.
The fighting has taken on increasingly sectarian overtones as mainly Christian militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) have taken up arms. The UN estimates that some 650,000 have been internally displaced, while nearly 300,000 other have fled to neighbouring countries.
At a news briefing in Geneva, Mr. Muna said the spread of propaganda and the collapse of law and order in the CAR could be a precursor to serious human rights violations, including genocide.
“We would like to talk to the refugees, groups of Muslims or groups of Christians who are running away from violence. They have a story to tell [and] those stories might lead us to be able to give a better picture to the Security Council,” he said.
He said the investigators have also heard reports of genocide. “I can tell you from my Rwandan experience that there is definitely a question of hate propaganda. I think it is implied in our mandate to see that we don’t wait until genocide has been committed and then we call for prosecution,” said Mr. Muna, who is a former prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
“I think it is in our mandate to see how we can stop any advances towards genocide,” he said, but added: “I hope this is only noise and when you put troops on the ground then law and order, it might disappear.”
The Commission, which also includes Fatimata M’Baye of Mauritania and Jorge Castañeda of Mexico, is expected to submit its initial report to the Security Council within six months.
10 March 2014 International and well-coordinated support is vital to helping Libya through its democratic transition, a United Nations envoy told the Security Council today, as he described the recent polarization in the country, a dramatic increase in violence, including attacks on the media, as well as difficulties in strengthening the security sector.
“Libya faces the risk of embarking on a new trajectory of unprecedented violence,” Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in his briefing to the 15-member body.
Mr. Mitri has been heading the UN’s efforts to assist the Libyan Government and people as they undergo a democratic transition following the toppling of former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi three years ago. Recent months have witnessed worsening security and political divisions which threaten to undermine the country’s transition.
He recalled that, on 2 March, the General National Congress building was stormed by protestors demanding its dissolution. About 150 young men ransacked the main chamber and assaulted members, four of whom were injured.
“Intense efforts to resolve differences and negotiate an agreement on the management of the transitional period, including the future of the General National Congress and the Government, have not succeeded in bringing an end to the divisions that have paralysed the political process,” noted Mitri.
“Considerable differences remain over holding both parliamentary and presidential elections, and the extent of powers to be granted to a future president.”
The previous three months have witnessed a “dramatic” increase in violence across the country, he stated. This includes violence in Sabha in the south that resulted in over 100 fatalities, including children and the elderly, as well as the displacement of hundreds of families and shortages of fuel, food and medical supplies.
In the east, the unabated campaign of targeted assassinations, bombings and abductions in Benghazi has reached “intolerable” levels. Many victims have been security and judicial personnel. But civilians have also suffered unchecked terror and intimidation.
“In a city which prides itself on its role in putting an end to decades of tyrannical rule, the present public’s sense of anger is mounting,” said the envoy. “While the primary responsibility for reining in the perpetrators of this ugly campaign of terror lies with the State, this will only be possible with the concerted efforts by the Government, political, civic and revolutionary forces, aiming at the protection of the civilian population.”
In addition, Mr. Mitri reported that there has been an “alarming” increase in attacks on journalists and media institutions. Several television stations in Tripoli and Benghazi were the target of armed acts of vandalism. A number of journalists and media figures were abducted.
He added that strengthening the State’s ability to assume its security responsibilities continues to be hindered by the absence of a political agreement over the rebuilding of a national army, the integration of revolutionary fighters and the collection of weapons.
“A solution to this problem will require a clear strategy and giving a number of assurances to the revolutionaries who are only nominally under state authority. These include recognition of their contributions to the revolution and safeguards for their legitimate rights and interests.”
The people of Libya, said Mr. Mitri, expect that the international community will assist them in the difficult task of building a State, with strong and accountable institutions.
“Support to Libya, however, can be meaningful and effective if there is unequivocal commitment on the part of Libya’s leaders to this goal and a political will to resolve, through dialogue and concerted efforts, the major problems of the country.”
The Council also heard today from the current chair of the committee set up to monitor UN sanctions imposed on Libya, which include an arms embargo, a travel ban and an assets freeze.
Highlighting some observations made by the panel of experts assisting the committee, Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana of Rwanda noted that the proliferation of weapons to and from Libya remained a major challenge for the stability of Libya and the region.
In that context, the panel noted that the control of non-State armed actors over the majority of stockpiles in Libya, as well as ineffective border control systems remained primary obstacles to countering proliferation and that Libya had become a primary source of illicit weapons. Also, trafficking from Libya was fuelling conflict and insecurity, including terrorism, on several continents, which was unlikely to change in the near future.
In discussing the report of the panel, the committee focused on serious concerns about persistent arms proliferation from Libya; the need to further clarify arms procurement structures and procedures in Libya; cooperation with UNSMIL concerning the storage and security of stockpiles; and how to carry forward the recommendations of the panel.
Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47315&Cr=Libya&Cr1=
10 March 2014 As the2014 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women got under way today, the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) spotlighted the agency’s joint efforts with the World Bank to address the multidimensional challenges that women and girls face in Africa’s Great Lakes and Sahel regions.
“These two regions are similar because they represent the future of Africa, you see young people everywhere, vibrant, wanting to make a difference in their own lives, the lives of their communities and in the lives of their countries,” said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin in an interview with the UN News Centre ahead of a high-level panel discussion on “Gender-Based Violence in the Great Lakes and Population Dynamics in the Sahel Region.”
The CSW panel is scheduled to feature Dr. Osotimehin, as well as several officials from sub-Saharan countries: Antonin Dossou, Minister for the Evaluation of Public Policies and Denationalisation Programmes of Benin, Genevieve Inagosi, Minister of Gender, Family and Child of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Maikibi Kadidiatou Dandobi, Minister of Population, Promotion of Women and Protection of Children of Niger, and Trina S. Haque, Sector Manager for World Bank Health, Nutrition and Population in West and Central Africa.
In his interview with UN News Centre, Dr. Osotimehin said: “When you look at the two regions, one of the things that I believe is common, is the issue of the adolescent girl who is not going to school, who is not being empowered, who doesn’t have access to skills, education or the ability to be able to determine who she wants to be.”
The World Bank/UNFPA special focus on women’s empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa was born following a 2013 historic trip to Africa by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. The purpose of the trip – in which Dr. Osotimehin took part – was “to send a signal that peace and security must go with development.”
The purpose of the trip – in which Dr. Osotimehin took part – was “to send a signal that peace and security must go with development,” and “the World Bank saw an opportunity in investing in women and young people. An additional $1 billion was invested in the region by the Bank. We came back very enthusiastic, exhilarated about those possibilities.”
It was very disturbing to notice that great degree of gender-based violence, often related to the conflict in the eastern part of DRC, he continued, adding that the officials felt that “if girls go to and stay in school, and if they are able to learn about sexual and reproductive health, and if they are able to make choices, then we can actually stop a lot of that gender-based violence.”
“Going forward we also want to make sure “girls and boys have access to skills, entrepreneurship training and the ability to secure jobs and start businesses themselves,” said Dr. Osotimehin. UNFPA is in consultations with the Bank to take this forward. “This is the first time that this is happening.”
Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47319&Cr=women&Cr1=