Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Trump Presidency Could Keep Some International Students From Studying in the United States

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its June 10th issue that 60% of prospective international students said they would be less likely to study at an American college if Donald Trump is elected as President of the United States. Karin Fischer, A Trump Presidency Could Keep Some International Students Away, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 10, 2016, at A12. The findings came in a survey of more than 40,000 students in 118 countries (but not including China or Saudi Arabia). The Chronicle reports that the United States hosts nearly one million international students.


July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Protecting the Right to Vote for Older Persons After Brexit

A United Nations human rights expert yesterday deplored the wave of ageist attacks in the wake of the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, including calls for age ceilings for the exercise of the right to vote. “We have seen a number of European national newspapers and social media outlets stigmatizing older persons as the scapegoats for Brexit and calling for restrictions on ‘grey’ votes,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. “General exclusions of the exercise of certain rights based on age are unacceptable under international human rights law,” she stressed.

The decision to leave the EU reportedly received strong support from voters over the age of 65.

“One magazine even suggested that the pensioners’ right to vote should be taken away, just as their driver’s licenses are, after they reach certain age,” she said.

Ms. Kornfeld-Matte warned that age-based discrimination may also be incorporated in laws and policies, such as those on job recruitment or legal capacity to exercise their rights. “Old age should not be misused to challenge a person’s political competence. The full respect of the equal right of all individuals in public life and decision-making is fundamental to a democratic society,” she stated. “As societies worldwide are ageing, there is a need to invest more to build intergenerational solidarity and foster societies’ understanding of the valuable contribution of older persons,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte concluded.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Terrorist Attacks in Saudi Arabia

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the terrorist attacks in the cities of Jeddah, Qatif, and Medina in Saudi Arabia. “These crimes are all the more despicable as they were carried out as residents were preparing for Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan,” the Secretary-General said in a statement issued today by his spokesperson’s office.

Two security officers were wounded in the city of Jeddah shortly after midnight in Monday’s first bombing attack, according to reports. The second attack took place outside a Shia mosque in the city of Qatif, while four security officers were reportedly killed and five others were injured in another attack near the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.

Expressing his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Saudi Arabia, the Secretary-General said he hoped that those responsible for the crimes will be identified and brought to justice. “He stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to prevent and combat terrorism,” the statement said. Mr. Ban also wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

Also today, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, deplored the attack in Medina. “This is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and for such an attack to take place there, during Ramadan, can be considered a direct attack on Muslims all across the world,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a press briefing note. “The significance of this attack cannot simply be measured in terms of the four policemen who were reported to have been killed, and the physical damage. It is an attack on the religion itself,” the spokesperson added.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Human Rights Chief Deplores Terrorist Bombing in Baghdad; Also Calls for Iraqi Authorities to Find and Free Hundres of Men and Boys Abducted by a Militia Group

The United Nations human rights chief has deplored the terrorist bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that reportedly killed more than 150 people, calling on Iraqi authorities to do more to protect civilians as well as halt uncontrolled militias from continuing to take revenge on civilians fleeing towns recaptured from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh).

“I utterly condemn this latest horrendous ISIL atrocity, targeting innocent civilians who were celebrating Ramadan in the heart of Baghdad,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued by his Office (OHCHR). “Along with other recent abominations associated with ISIL in Dhaka, Istanbul and Orlando, the sheer unrestrained viciousness of these people defies belief.” The High Commissioner warned, however, that “acts of revenge and hasty, injudicious policy decisions in reaction to such attacks are simply helping ISIL carry out its strategy to divide societies and promote hatred.”

Emphasizing that ISIL “needs to be defeated, and defeated soon,” Mr. Zeid stressed that in trying to defeat them, the international community must be careful not to react to their provocations in the way ISIL predicts and wants the community to react. “We need not just to be stronger than they are, but cleverer than they are. And in this we are failing badly, not just in Iraq but in a variety of responses all over the world, enabling them to tap into resentments about heavy-handed or unlawful responses to recruit more followers, create more fanatics and suicide bombers,” he said.

The High Commissioner said that following the loss of Ramadi and Fallujah, with Mosul likely to be the next big battleground, he fears there will be more of such atrocities by ISIL, as they “seek to make Iraq implode once more.” “The way we react, in Iraq and elsewhere, will in many ways decide whether ISIL benefits from its indiscriminate acts of mass murder, or is ultimately destroyed by them,” the UN human rights chief said.

Mr. Zeid also urged the Iraqi authorities to take immediate action to locate and free more than 600 men and boys reportedly abducted by a militia group involved in the recapture of Fallujah from ISIL in June.

On 1 June, according to various witnesses interviewed in Iraq, approximately 8,000 civilians, including some 1,500 men and boys over the age of 14, left their village in Saqlawiyah, near Fallujah, the High Commissioner said. Nearly all belonged to the Albo Akash clan of the al Mahamda Tribe. In the distance they saw what appeared to be a line of government forces, who hailed them with loudspeakers, saying the villagers had nothing to fear from them. However, once they reached the line, witnesses said that hidden behind the Iraqi flags they saw the flags of a militia called Kataaib Hezbollah.

The militia fighters immediately separated the men and teenage boys from the women and children, who were transferred to government-run camps for displaced people near Amiryat al Fallujah. On 5 June, the males were separated into two groups – one consisting of 605 men and boys, and the other of around 900, and the fate of the larger group is currently unknown, the High Commissioner said.

Noted that “this appears to be the worst – but far from the first – such incident involving unofficial militias fighting alongside government forces against ISIL,” the UN human rights chief urged the Government of Iraq to take serious action to prevent further occurrences, including bringing those responsible to account. “These crimes are not only abhorrent,” Mr. Zeid said, “they are also wholly counterproductive. They give ISIL a propaganda victory, and push people into their arms. They increase the likelihood of a renewed cycle of full-throttle sectarian violence.”

“People who escape from ISIL should be treated with sympathy and respect, not tortured and killed simply on the basis of their gender and where they had the misfortune to be living when ISIL arrived,” he added.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 4, 2016

On the Passing of Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust Survivor and Nobel Prize Laureate

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he was “deeply saddened” to learn the passing of Elie Wiesel, 87, a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and long-standing UN Messenger of Peace.

“The world has lost one of its most important witnesses -- and one of its most eloquent advocates of tolerance and peace,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, describing him as “a powerful voice” for Holocaust remembrance. “Elie Wiesel turned the nightmare of his youth into a lifelong campaign for global equality and peace,” Mr. Ban said. “As a UN Messenger of Peace since 1998, he called for constant vigilance in combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.”

According to the statement, Mr. Wiesel was a regular presence at the UN, including at the first-ever International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and often spoke about his experiences at the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp and appealed to the world to “reject indifference” in the face of genocide, discrimination and other horrors.

Extending his condolences to Mr. Wiesel's wife, family and all others touched by this loss, the Secretary-General said that the UN is grateful for Mr. Wiesel's contributions and remains strongly committed to Holocaust remembrance and the wider struggle for human rights for all, the spokesperson added.

His family said, according to media reports, Mr. Wiesel died peacefully after a long illness.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), also paid tribute to the memory of Mr. Wiesel. “Elie Wiesel was a pillar of the conscience of humanity, a moral compass for human rights, human dignity, human strength,” said Ms. Bokova. “Through his work, he put words on the unspeakable, to awaken all minds to the horror of the Holocaust.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iraq: More than 100 Dead in Bomb Attack on Baghdad Shopping Area

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the terrorist bombing in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad tthat reportedly killed more than 100 people in a busy shopping street – an attack which the top UN official in that country described as an “avenge by the terrorists of Da'esh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront.”

The Secretary-General “condemns" the terrorist attack and “is appalled by the utter disregard for human life displayed by the perpetrators, who struck as residents prepared for Eid al-Fitr celebrations,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

The Secretary-General appeals to the people of Iraq to reject any attempts to spread fear and undermine the unity of the country, calling on the Government to ensure that the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice as soon as possible, the spokesperson added. In the statement, Mr. Ban expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the Government and people of Iraq, wishing the many injured a speedy recovery. He also wished the people of Iraq a peaceful remainder of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to preliminary reports, a bomb hit a neighborhood of Karada shortly after midnight, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) has claimed responsibility.

Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), joined Mr. Ban in condemning the terrorist bombing.

The terrorists of Daesh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians

“This is a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions, to target peaceful civilians in the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan including shoppers preparing for the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday. This shows Daesh's wanton intentions to kill, maim and demoralize,” said Mr. Kubiš. “The terrorists of Daesh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians,” Mr. Kubiš added. He also said that despite the pain and agony, the Iraqi people will not surrender to the designs of those terrorists, will continue to reject their ways through displaying steadfast national unity and will eventually triumph.

Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, has also condemned the attack. “This horrific act of violence perpetrated upon people, including many children, just going about their business during the holy month of Ramadan is outrageous,” he said."This despicable attack is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

International Community Should Not Undermine Human Rights in Myanmar by Rushing to Forge Political and Economic Ties

A United Nations human rights expert today urged the international community rushing to forge or strengthen political or economic ties with Myanmar not to undermine the country's rights priorities. “International actors must continue to prioritize human rights, particularly in business and investment relations,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, at the end of a visit to Myanmar from 20 June to 1 July. These actors should neither remain silent when confronted with human rights concerns nor become complicit in perpetuating human rights abuses, she said.

“Myanmar's young democracy can only advance if human rights are fully mainstreamed into its institutional, legal and policy framework,” the expert said. “Building a culture of respect for human rights must be a priority now and in the future.”

Ms. Lee visited Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, recommending that future political dialogues tackle the root causes of conflict and the long-standing grievances of ethnic communities. Additionally, she called for an end to the institutionalized discrimination against the Muslim communities in Rakhine State.

“It is clear that tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society. Incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance continue to be a cause for concern,” Ms. Lee said.

The Special Rapporteur will present her report to the UN General Assembly in October 2016, which will include her observations and recommendations to the Government.

(UN Press Release)


July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Security Council Condemns Attack on a Café in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The United Nations Security Council has joined an international chorus condemning the terrorist attack on a café in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, for which Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) has claimed responsibility. In a press statement, the Council “condemns the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack […], which resulted in more than 20 Bangladeshi nationals and foreigners, including development workers, killed and many injured.”

The 15-member body reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” underscoring the need for all States to combat such threats by all means.

The Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice, urging all States to cooperate actively with all relevant authorities in this regard.

The Council also reiterated that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is “criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation and wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed,” and “should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group.”

The Council expressed their deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, to the people and Government of Bangladesh, as well as peoples and Governments of foreign victims, wishing speedy and full recovery to those who were injured.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution on the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution on the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy, with the aim of security peace and prosperity for succeeding generations. The 15-page resolution, adopted by consensus, “calls upon Member States, the United Nations and other appropriate international, regional and subregional organizations to step up their efforts” to implement, in an integrated and balanced manner, the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, an instrument adopted by the Assembly in 2006 to enhance national, regional and international efforts to counter terrorism. The text also “reiterates its strong and unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes.”

The Assembly reviews the Strategy every two years, and the adoption of a new resolution came on the second and last day of the fifth review held at UN Headquarters in New York, on the tenth anniversary of the Strategy.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Attack on Bangladesh is an Attack on Freedom

Senior United Nations officials have condemned the terrorist attack in a café in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka that reportedly killed 20 hostages over the weekend.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “condemns the terrorist attack” and “hopes that those behind this crime will be identified and brought to justice,” his spokesperson said in a statement, adding that Mr. Ban “stands firmly by Bangladesh as it confronts this threat and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to prevent and combat terrorism.”The Secretary General also assured the Government that the UN is prepared to assist in efforts to prevent violent extremism in all its forms, the spokesperson said.

A condemnation also came from the UN tourism agency. “UNWTO [World Tourism Organization] strongly condemns the hideous attack perpetrated yesterday in a cafe in Dhaka, Bangladesh,” Taleb Rifai, the agency's Secretary-General, said in a statement. "This is not an attack on Bangladesh but is once again an attack on our way of life, an attack on freedom,” he added.

Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, also condemned the terrorist attack. “We must stand together again terror,” Mr. Lykketoft said. “This deadly and cowardly act must not go unpunished,” he said. Mr. Lykketoft said he hoped that the perpetrators of this crime would be identified and brought swiftly to justice.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), reiterated his solidarity with the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violent extremism.

The UN officials all conveyed their heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the victims, as well as the people and Government of Bangladesh.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Human Rights Council Approves independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT people

The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted to appoint an independent expert on protection from violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people. The Human Rights Council debated the issue for nearly four hours on Thursday before adopting a resolution to create the new post. Twenty-three Council members voted for the new position, 18 members against, and six abstained.

Speaking to reporters in New York, the UN spokesperson said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move. “I can tell you that the Secretary-General believes that the Human Rights Council marked another important step forward when it decided to appoint a UN Independent Expert to monitor and report on levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally,” said Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. “It is clear that there’s still so much that needs to be done to protect people from violence, tackle discrimination at work, end bullying in schools and ensure access to healthcare, housing and essential services,” he added.

For the first time, work on this issue will be effectively institutionalized at the Human Rights Council and there will regular reporting on these issues through the Council and the General Assembly.

The expert, to be appointed in September for an initial 3-year term, will carry out country visits, take up individual allegations with Governments and work to support and protect human rights defenders.

The position will look at issues related to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but not intersex.

(Adapted from a UN Press Relase

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Expresses Support for Turkey After Attack at Istanbul's Airport

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the terrorist attack at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport. According to initial media reports, at least 28 people were killed in the attack and at least another were 60 wounded.

The UN chief stands firmly by Turkey as it confronts the threat of terrorism and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

The attack also drew condemnation and condolences from other parts of the UN system. In a statement, the High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the attack, describing it as “a heinous and despicable crime.” He reiterated his solidarity with the Government and people of Turkey in their efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, and re-affirmed the commitment of the UNAOC to promote tolerance, understanding and peaceful dialogue.

In another statement, the head of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also spoke out on the attack. "On behalf of the entire international tourism community, UNWTO conveys its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and expresses its full solidarity with the people and the Government of Turkey,” said UNWTO's Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. Mr. Rifai also noted that safety and security is a priority for the tourism sector and that the sector is being targeted as a pillar of the economy and livelihoods in many countries.

Later in the evening, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft expressed anger and grief over the attack. “Once again we experience the senseless killing of innocent and peaceful civilians. Once again we mourn the lives lost and sympathise with those left behind. The international community must – through much closer cooperation – redouble efforts to contain and fight radical and violent extremism,” he said.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sweden, Bolivia, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan Elected to UN Security Council

The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have elected Sweden, Bolivia, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan to serve on the world body’s Security Council for a period of two years, starting from 1 January 2017.

After rounds of voting at UN Headquarters in New York last week, only one non-permanent Council seat remains to be filled. Italy and the Netherlands had been vying for the remaining seat, but the voting yielded no clear winner. The two countries then suggested sharing the two-year term, each with a one-year period, with a decision on this proposal postponed to Wednesday.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council has the primary responsibility for international peace and security, with all UN Member States required to comply with Council decisions. The Council’s 10 non-permanent seats are allocated according to a rotation pattern set by the Assembly in 1963, to ensure a proportionate representation over time from the different parts of the world: five from African and Asian States; one from Eastern Europe; two from Latin American States; and two from Western European and Other States.

The General Assembly members voted by secret ballot for five seats divided by geographical grouping – two from Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, two from the Western Europe and Others Group, and one from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Bolivia and Ethiopia were chosen by their regional groups and had no competitors. Kazakhstan won the seat reserved for Asia Pacific against Thailand, while Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden had competed for two seats for Western Europe.

The newly-elected countries will replace Spain, Malaysia, New Zealand, Angola and Venezuela.

The Security Council has 15 members, including five permanent. The five permanent members, each with the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Other current non-permanent members are Japan, Egypt, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay.

The Security Council is also responsible for determining the existence of a threat against peace and to respond to an act of aggression. It is also responsible for finding peaceful means to settle a conflict or a dispute between States. In some cases, the Council can resort to sanctions or even authorize the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.

The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary General and the admission of new Members to the United Nations.

(adapted from a UN press release)

July 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Save the Date: Central States Law Schools Scholarship Conference in September

The Central States Law Schools Association Scholarship Conference will be held on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, North Dakota. CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend. 

Registration will open in July. Hotel rooms are already available, and more information about the CSLSA conference can be found on the conference website at
Hat tip to Christopher Odinet.

July 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Detention, Heavy Fines, and Alleged Torture for Artistic Expression in the Islamic Republic of Iran

UN human rights experts on cultural rights and on freedom of expression have expressed concern at the imprisonment and imposition of heavy fines against three artists in the Islamic Republic of Iran earlier this month and have called for their immediate release. In a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, and Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression , David Kaye said that the conviction and sentencing of artists is entirely unacceptable and is in complete violation of Iran’s obligations under international human rights law.

They have also called for all charges to be dropped.

The expert’s call has also been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez.

Musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian were sentenced to six years in prison and fined 50 million Rials (about $1,658) each for “insulting Islamic sanctities,” “propaganda against the State,” and for “conducing illegal activities in the audiovisual affaires including through producing prohibited audiovisual material and performing an illegal and underground music site.” On appeal, the prison sentence was reduced to three years.

Use of torture is also alleged against Mr. Rajabian, founder of Barg Music, an alternative music distributor in Iran. Barg Music was the main medium broadcasting alternative music in the country and had introduced a large number of songs and Iranian alternative musicians, as well as female singers, to Iranian audiences. It shut down by Revolutionary Guards in 2013.

“We take note that the sentence of the artists was reduced by the appeals court,” Mr. Kaye said. “However, this verdict is still unacceptable: detaining someone on the grounds of ‘insulting the sacred’ and ‘propaganda against the State’ is incompatible with international human rights standards.”

Ms. Bennoune expressed “dismay” at the allegations that the artists were forced to make self-incriminating televised “confessions” to the charges of producing prohibited audiovisual materials, and apologize for broadcasting the voice of female singers. She said that the action of the authorities against the artists has serious repercussions for others in the country and that it results in unjustifiable restrictions on the right of all persons in Iran to have access to and enjoy the arts. “Artistic expression is simply not a crime,” Ms. Bennoune concluded.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(UN Press Release)

June 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Following the vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the United Nations looks forward to continuing to work with both “important partners.”

“The Secretary-General expects the European Union to continue to be a solid partner for the United Nations on development and humanitarian issues, as well as peace and security, including migration. He also expects that the United Kingdom will continue to exercise its leadership in many areas, including international development. He very much hopes that this will continue,” said a statement released by the office of Mr. Ban's spokesperson. “When we work together, we are stronger,” the statement also said.

In the statement, the Secretary-General said he has closely followed discussions surrounding the referendum in the UK, and that the vote to leave the EU came at the end of “intensive deliberations and rich discussions,” not just in the UK, but across Europe. “Now, as the United Kingdom and other EU Member States embark on the process of charting a way forward, the Secretary-General trusts in Europe's well-proven history of pragmatism and common responsibility in the interest of European citizens,” the statement said. “At the UN, we look forward to continuing our work with the United Kingdom and the European Union – both important partners,” the Secretary-General also said in the statement.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Meanwhile, in the United States, the U.S. television news agency Fox News erroneously reported the that United Kingdom had voted to leave the United Nations.



June 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Security Council Condemns North Korea's Launch of Ballistic Missles

The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 21 June, noting that these repeated acts are in grave violation of obligations under the relevant resolutions adopted by the Security Council.

In a statement issued to the press, the Council deplored that these activities contribute to the development of the country’s nuclear weapons delivery systems and increase tension, and regretted that DPRK is diverting resources to the pursuit of ballistic missiles while its citizens have great unmet needs. Expressing serious concern that DPRK flagrantly disregarded the body’s repeated calls, the Council urged the country to refrain from further actions, including nuclear tests, that violate the relevant Council resolutions.

The Council called upon all Member States to redouble their efforts to implement fully the sanctions imposed on the DPRK by the Council, especially the measures set out in its most recent resolution.

Reiterating the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in North-East Asia at large, the Council agreed to continue monitoring the situation closely and take further significant measures in line with its previously expressed determination.

The text of the UN Security Council Resolution will be available on the Security Council's website.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


June 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Colombia Signs Ceasefire Agreement with FARC-EP

The Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) have signed a bilateral ceasefire agreement and laying down of weapons.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of the historic event as an exemplary implementation of peace. “On this day, in a world beset by seemingly intractable wars, the peace process in Colombia delivers on a key commitment: an agreement on a ceasefire and the laying down of weapons,” the Secretary-General said. “Today the Colombian peace process validates the perseverance of all those around the world who work to end violent conflict not through the destruction of the adversary, but through the patient search for compromise,” he added.

Since 2012, the FARC and the Colombian Government have been in talks hosted in Havana, Cuba, seeking to end a 51-year conflict. Throughout the discussions, negotiators have reached agreement on key issues such as political participation, land rights, illicit drugs and victims’ rights and transitional justice.

Mr. Ban expressed admiration for the negotiating teams, which he said have demonstrated that it is possible to “achieve peace with dignity for all concerned.”

“They have overcome tense moments and challenging issues to arrive at an historic achievement,” he stressed.

Congratulating the Governments of Cuba and Norway for devoting “considerable diplomatic skills” to the peace process, the Secretary-General said that they, together with the accompanying countries, Chile and Venezuela, have shown how national peace efforts can be supported faithfully, discreetly and effectively. He also recalled that six months ago, the UN Security Council and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) had responded to the call of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP, and made a commitment to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the laying down of weapons.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


June 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Human Rights Experts Highlight Need to Protect LGBTI People from Violence and Torture in Detention

Ahead of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (Sunday, June 26, 2016), UN human rights experts highlighted the lack of policies and methods to recognise people’s self-identified gender, and the need to carry out proper risk assessments in order to protect LGBTI people from stigmatization and violence in detention.

In a joint statement, the Chair of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the Chair of the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture called on Member States to redouble their efforts to prevent the ill-treatment and torture faced by LGBTI people in places of detention.

Underscoring the risk of torture and ill-treatment that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons are at, particularly where they may be deprived of their liberty, Jens Modvig, Chair of the Committee against Torture, said “The Committee is striving to protect LGBTI people from being forcibly sent back to countries where, based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics, they may face torture, criminalization, detention, ill-treatment and even murder.”

“For transgender women and men, for example, it is often a situation of complete abandonment, resulting in some transgender women being placed in male-only prisons, where they are exposed to a high risk of rape, often with the complicity of prison personnel,” said Sir Malcolm Evans, Chair of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. In its ninth annual report, the Subcommittee identified measures for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of LGBTI people in detention.

Drawing the attention of countries to their obligations under international human rights law and standards, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez said, “LGBTI people are often stigmatized and dehumanized, leaving them particularly vulnerable to violence and ill-treatment, that in many cases amounts to torture.”

“Breaking the silence on torture and ill-treatment endured by LGBTI people is critical,” said Gaby Oré Aguilar, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, calling for increased support for the rehabilitation of victims, including LGBTI people. “The UN Fund for Victims of Torture thus supports programmes providing specialized assistance to LGBTI victims of torture,” added Ms. Aguilar.

“It is crucial that LGBTI people are fully involved in discussions and decisions concerning how detention systems can respond most effectively to their needs and respect their human rights,” the experts stressed.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


June 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thailand to Vote on New Constitution on August 7th; U.N. Secretary General Express Support for Thailand's Return to Democracy

In a telephone call with the Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-O-Cha, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reaffirmed the UN’s readiness to support Thailand as the country prepares to vote on a final draft Constitution.

“The Secretary-General reaffirmed the UN’s readiness to support Thailand during this critical juncture to facilitate a swift return to democracy,” said a statement released by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

Referring to reports about restrictions on the freedoms of expression, opinion and assembly ahead of the 7 August referendum on the draft Constitution, the Secretary-General stressed that an open and inclusive debate would be essential to ensuring the legitimacy of the constitution and achieving national unity, according to the statement.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

June 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)