Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
The United Nations human rights office is appealing to Member States to give generously to an important fund that has for the past 20 years given grants to grassroots initiatives that help victims of slavery transform their lives.
The UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery has seen a marked decrease in donations received in recent years, according to the office (OHCHR). This year it received a record number of 436 applications for grants amounting to more than $6 million, but the contributions received thus far amount to only about $365,000. “With the present funds, only six per cent of the projects requested will receive support,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that contemporary forms of slavery can still be found throughout the world, and that eradicating this scourge requires a focus on its root causes, including poverty, exclusion, marginalization, racism and discrimination, and a readiness to extend assistance to victims. “The Voluntary Fund has helped thousands break free from slavery and recover their lives – not through expensive projects, but through small grants to grassroots initiatives,” she added, noting that as little as $10,000 can make a difference in advancing concrete efforts to combat slavery.
The UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Gulnara Shahinian, added that the fund, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, has changed the lives of thousands by providing assistance to more than 400 projects. “I have visited projects funded through grants provided to local actors and seen the tangible results – I have met survivors, heard their terrible stories and hopes and witnessed real change,” she said. “These organizations are dealing with various forms of slavery, including forced marriages, caste-based slavery, debt bondage, the use of child soldiers and many others.”
To mark the fund’s 20th anniversary, a photograph exhibition entitled “Breaking free from slavery: a visual journey through 20 years of assistance to victims of contemporary forms of slavery” is on display at the UN office in Geneva. The exhibit brings together 56 pieces of art from two renowned photographers and 17 organizations which received grants from the fund and presents a visual journey from slavery to freedom.
The organizations featured in the exhibit have developed ground-breaking projects to combat contemporary forms of slavery, including assistance to former child soldiers and victims of sexual slavery in armed conflicts, and education to children working in quarries or locked in the basements of carpet factories.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The international law issue of the week is how one becomes a member of the United Nations. Article 4(1) of the U.N. Charter provides that "Membership in the United Nations is open to all other peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to and willing to carry out these obligations." And article 4(2) describes the mechanism for admitting new member states: "The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council."
Here's a new press release from the United Nations, advising us that Palestine will submit an application on Friday to become a member of the United Nations.
The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, told Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today that he intends to submit an application this Friday for Palestine to become a United Nations Member State.
During their meeting, which took place at UN Headquarters on the margins of the 66th session of the General Assembly, Mr. Ban informed Mr. Abbas of his intention to perform his duties under the UN Charter. Palestine currently has observer status at the UN.
According to the provisions of the Charter, the Secretary-General is tasked with verifying a letter requesting UN membership, following which he sends it to the Security Council and the General Assembly.
The application is considered by the Council, which decides whether or not to recommend admission to the 193-member Assembly, which has to adopt a resolution for the admission of any new Member State.
“The Secretary-General reiterated his support for the two-State solution and stressed his desire to ensure that the international community and the two parties can find a way forward for resuming negotiations within a legitimate and balanced framework,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, told reporters.
The Secretary-General also discussed with Mr. Abbas the ongoing efforts in this regard by the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the European Union, Russia, the UN and the United States.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September 2010 following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory.
That decision prompted Mr. Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had only resumed a few weeks earlier after a two-year hiatus.
In a related development, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, has just concluded a three-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
“At a time when the eyes of the world are turned to the region once again and when the question of Palestinian statehood is highly prominent on the international agenda, the Special Adviser is determined to continue his work in mobilizing the power of sport to open up channels of dialogue and mutual understanding, and driving social development in the region,” stated a news release issued by Mr. Lemke’s office.
Mayer Brown in Chicago is hosting a program on discovery in international arbitration. The event takes place on October 4, 2011 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Mayer Brown, 71 S. Wacker Drive in Chicago. Call Lea Felluss at (212) 703-5044 for more information.
Hat tip to Violeta Balan