Category Archives: UN System-Wide Press Releases

Press Release: UN General Assembly approves creation of new UN Counter-Terrorism Office

15 June​, New York​ – The General Assembly today approved the establishment of a new United Nations office to help Member States implement the Organization’s global counter-terrorism strategy.

Adopting a consensus resolution, the 193-nation body also welcomed Secretary-General António Guterres’ initiative to transfer relevant functions out of the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and into the new United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism.

As a result, the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office (CTITF) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), currently in DPA, will be transferred to the new office, together with their existing staff and all associated regular and extra-budgetary resources. The new Office would he headed up by an Under-Secretary-General.

In his report on this issue to the Assembly, the Secretary-General proposed that the new Under-Secretary-General would Chair the Task Force and Executive Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre.

According to the report, the Office would have five main functions:

  • ​P​rovide leadership on the General Assembly counter-terrorism mandates entrusted to me from across the United Nations system;
  • ​E​nhance coordination and coherence across the 38 Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force entities to ensure the balanced implementation of the four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy;
  • ​S​trengthen the delivery of United Nations counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to Member States;
  • ​I​mprove visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for United Nations counter-terrorism efforts; and
  • ​E​nsure that due priority is given to counterterrorism across the United Nations system and that the important work on preventing violent extremism is firmly rooted in the Strategy.

“The Secretary-General considers counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism to be one of the highest priorities of the United Nations to address a growing threat to international peace and security,” said his Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement issued just after the Assembly’s action.

“He therefore hopes that this reform of the UN Counter-Terrorism architecture will contribute to the UN’s broader efforts to promote conflict prevention, sustainable peace and development,” the Spokesman said.

For his part, General Assembly President Peter Thomson said “this resolution will enhance the United Nations’ capability to assist Member States in implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy across its four pillars by ensuring greater coordination and coherence across the UN system, and by improving visibility, advocacy and resource mobilization for United Nations’ counter-terrorism efforts.”

[Ends]​

At Ocean Conference, UN agencies commit to cutting harmful fishing subsidies

6 June, New York City – As the international community focuses this week on preserving the health of global oceans and seas, the United Nations agencies on agriculture, environment and trade are committing to the sustainable trade of fisheries.

The agencies – the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – are due to announce the commitment today at The Ocean Conference, which opened yesterday at UN Headquarters in New York and wraps up on Friday, 9 June.

“Trade and trade-policies can facilitate the transition to sustainable ocean-based economies by increasing resource efficiency, improving the environment, enhancing inclusiveness and creating new green business opportunities,” according to the voluntary commitment.

One of outcomes of the commitment is the removal or reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies which are estimated to be as high as $35 billion.

The issue is “complicated and thorny,” according to the UN agencies. “For the majority of fisheries subsidies, there is a strong correlation with overcapacity and overfishing.”

The commitment likely involves requesting countries to provide information on what subsidies they provide and prohibiting those that contribute to overfishing, as well as potentially giving differential treatment to developing countries.

The Ocean Conference, which runs through Friday, focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.

The commitment on fisheries is one of some 850 commitments made at the Conference so far. The voluntary commitments are meant to be taken individually or in partnership by Governments, the UN system, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and others, to support SDG14.

In addition to marking voluntary commitments, participants this week are also due to adopt, by consensus, a “Call to Action” to protect the world’s oceans and seas.

For day-to-day updates on the Ocean Conference, please follow this link: https://oceanconference.un.org/

UN Ocean Conference opens with calls for united action to reverse human damage

5 June – Opening a “game-changing” international conference on the health of the world’s oceans and seas, top United Nations officials today urged coordinated global action to protect the planet.

Speaking in the UN General Assembly Hall, Secretary-General António Guterres cautioned Governments that unless they overcome short-term territorial and resource interests, the state of the oceans will continue to deteriorate.

“Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail,” the Secretary-General said addressing his first major UN conference since taking on his post.

“We must jointly address the problems of governance that have held us back,” he said, calling for a new strategic vision of how to govern the oceans and marine resources.

One of the main challenges, he said, is to end “the artificial dichotomy” between jobs and healthy oceans: “The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin.”

He called for strong political leadership and new partnerships, based on the existing legal framework, and concrete steps, such as expanding marine protected areas and reducing plastic waste pollution.

Among other specific actions, Mr. Guterres urged Governments to allocate the promised funding for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, as well as

improving data collection and sharing their best experiences.

These works are supported by the UN, he added, which among its work, is building partnerships with Governments, the private sector, civil society and others, and working with international financial institutions to allocate resources.

Also addressing the thousands of participants – including heads of State and Government, civil society representatives, business people, as well as actors, and ocean and marine life advocates – was the President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson.

“The time has come for us to correct our wrongful ways,” said Mr. Thomson, who hails from the island of Fiji, which is co-hosting the event alongside Sweden.

He spoke out against “inexcusable” actions, such as dumping the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute of every day, driving fish stocks to the points of collapse, and destroying marine life through acidification and deoxygenation.

“We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the Ocean,” he noted.

Also speaking at the opening was Wu Hongbo, the Secretary-General of The Ocean Conference, who pointed out that without oceans and seas, where would be no life on the planet.

Mr. Wu, who is also the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted that everyone must work together – not in silos – to achieve the goals of the Conference.

The Ocean Conference, which runs through Friday, focuses on the targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Governments in 2015. In particular among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Goal 14 highlights the need to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources to benefit present and future generations.

The main areas of work at The Ocean Conference will be a political call to action, a segment on partnership dialogues and voluntary commitments. Hundreds of commitments were already registered by the time the conference opened earlier today.

Updates on the Ocean conference may be found at: https://oceanconference.un.org/

 

UPR Working Group releases report on the Philippines

(Manila, 11 May 2017) The report of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group (UPR WG) on the Philippines has just been distributed to states.

However, please note that the report is still scheduled to be adopted by the UPR WG today, 11 May 2017, at at 16.30 in Geneva, or 22.30 in Manila. Nevertheless, since the report has been distributed to states, there is no embargo on this report.

In brief, the Philippines received a total of 257 recommendations from the 95 participating states.   Simply to note, 220 is the average number of recommendations received thus far from states during this session; so the 257 is not extraordinary (e.g., India and Brazil received 250 and 246, respectively).

The dominant issues cited in the Philippines recommendations relate to extrajudicial killings and the campaign against illegal drugs (as reported widely in media), the death penalty and human trafficking.

Here is the Report: A_HRC_WG.6_27_L.10_Philippines

Press Release_10 March 2017: UN announces new approach to ‘stamp out’ sexual exploitation and abuse

9 March 2017, New York–The Secretary-General today released his report on Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: A New Approach for consideration by the General Assembly.

During his first week in office, in January 2017, the Secretary-General established a diverse High-Level Task Force, led by his Special Coordinator Jane Holl Lute, to develop as a matter of urgency a strategy to achieve visible and measurable improvements in the way the Organization prevents and responds to sexual exploitation and abuse.

“Such acts of cruelty should never take place.  Certainly no person serving with the United Nations in any capacity should be associated with such vile and vicious crimes,” said the Secretary-General in a video message.

The report emphasizes that sexual exploitation and abuse is not exclusive to the peacekeeping forces, but can occur within any Organization just as any other part of the United Nations. It is therefore imperative that the United Nations addresses this problem through a system-wide approach.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that “the vast majority of UN troops and personnel serve with pride, dignity and respect for the people they assist and protect, very often in dangerous and difficult conditions and at great personal sacrifice.” However, he added that the “Organization continues to grapple with the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, despite great efforts over many years to address it.”

The report outlines a victim-centered strategy rooted in transparency, accountability and ensuring justice. It focuses on four main areas:

  • Putting the rights and dignity of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse at the forefront of our efforts;
  • Establishing greater transparency on reporting and investigations in an effort to end impunity for those guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse;
  • Building a truly multi-stakeholder network to support the UN effort to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse; and
  • Raising awareness and sharing best practices to end this scourge.

Sexual exploitation and abuse are deeply rooted in gender inequality and discrimination. The Secretary-General is convinced that increasing the number of women throughout UN activities, including service as uniformed peacekeepers, would help advance the UN efforts to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Secretary-General’s new approach to combat sexual exploitation and abuse also seeks to build a strong partnership with Member States and stamping out this scourge will require all relevant actors to find strength in unity. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to deliver on these goals together: “Let us do so in the name of all who look to the United Nations for life-saving protection and support – and on behalf of the tens of thousands of United Nations personnel around the world who deliver that assistance with courage and commitment to the highest ideals.”

The Secretary-General is committed to the implementation of this strategy and has instructed and expects all his leadership to take immediate action. “We owe it to the people we serve, to all of those women, men and children who see the UN flag as a symbol of something as invaluable as it is intangible: hope”.

Here is the S-G’s report:

SG’s Report on Special measures for protection from SEA – a new approach -English

You may view the S-G’s video message here

UNIC Manila Media Advisory_28 February 2017: UN opens nominations for Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG)

WHAT: Call for Nominations for Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG)

WHEN: Deadline 15 April 2017

DETAILS: http://bit.ly/2lhdp5m

The Secretariat of the United Nations (UN) is requesting nominations for the generic position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) Political and/or for the Rule of Law in United Nations field missions/peace operations.

Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and their deputies serving in field missions are appointed by the Secretary-General. These high level leadership posts are graded at the level of Under-Secretary-General (USG) or Assistant Secretary-General (ASG).

In order to ensure a wide pool of candidates for these high level positions, the UN is opening a call for nominations to identify the most talented men and women to lead our UN field missions. This call supplements the Secretary-General’s own search and consultations.

Nominations must include a CV and vision statement and be submitted via the online platform https://leadershipcall.unmissions.org/ no later than 15 April 2017.

For more information, contact: leadership@un.org

Press Release_7 February 2017: Philippine journalists invited to apply for 2017 fellowship program

United Nations, New York.  The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists is now accepting applications from professional journalists from developing countries for its 2017 fellowship program. The application deadline is March 20, 2017.

The fellowships are available to radio, television, print and web journalists, age 25 to 35, from developing countries who are interested in coming to New York to report on international affairs during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.  The fellowships will begin in early September and extend to late November and will include the cost of travel and accommodations in New York, as well as a per diem allowance.

The fellowship program is open to journalists who are native to one of the developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America/the Caribbean and are currently working for media organizations. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in and commitment to international affairs and to conveying a better understanding of the United Nations to their readers and audiences.  They must also have approval from their media organizations to spend up to three months in New York to report from the United Nations.

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Human rights “under unprecedented pressure” world-wide: Zeid calls on people to stand up for rights of others

GENEVA (8 December 2016) – “Unprecedented pressure on international human rights standards risks unravelling the unique set of protections set in place after the end of World War II,” according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Speaking in the run-up to Human Rights Day on 10 December, Zeid also stressed it was within the power of every individual to play a role in pushing back against such pressures, and that many are already doing so.

“2016 has been a disastrous year for human rights across the globe, and if the growing erosion of the carefully constructed system of human rights and rule of law continues to gather momentum, ultimately everyone will suffer,” Zeid said.

“Many of us are fearful about the way the world is heading,” he said. “Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Conflicts and deprivation are forcing families from their homes. Climate change darkens our horizons. Discrimination, yawning economic disparities and the ruthless desire to gain or maintain power at any cost are the principal drivers of current political and human rights crises. Humane values are under attack – and so many people feel overwhelmed, unsure what to do or where to turn.”

“Many leaders are failing to grapple effectively and honestly with these complex social and economic issues,” Zeid said. “So people are turning in desperation to the siren voices exploiting fears, sowing disinformation and division, and making alluring promises they cannot fulfil.”

“But we have learned, through the bitter lessons of history, that humanity will only survive, and thrive, if we seek solutions together. Human rights were intended to be, and still are, the antidote to all of this: everyone has rights – economic and social rights, as well as civil and political rights and the right to development –  and it is time to stand up for those rights, not just for yourself but for everyone else.”

The UN human rights chief urged people everywhere to defend a system that was designed precisely with the aim of making the world a better place for everyone.

“A world where people focus only on the needs of their narrow social, national or religious group, and ignore or attack the equal needs of others, is a world which can very quickly descend into misery and chaos,” Zeid said.

“Human rights are the basis of effective policy, in societies where people know they can trust government and rely on the law. Tearing up the laws and institutions that were so painstakingly built up over the last half of the 20th century – designed to protect all individuals, as well as promote stability and economic well-being – is shortsighted and dangerous. These are not trifles to be tossed aside for personal or political gain,” he added.

“Syria is the starkest example of failure across the board. A conflict that was totally avoidable, had President Assad chosen to listen to the voices of those protesting peacefully and legitimately against human rights violations. Then, instead of working together to stop the fighting and restore order, individual States stoked the conflict, supported the murderers, provided arms, encouraged extremists – in short, collectively, threw international humanitarian law and human rights law out of the window.”

“The results? The strengthening of Da’esh and other extreme groups, who then stimulated another war and massive abuses — very probably including genocide — in Iraq. The repeated use of chemical weapons. A vast movement of Syrian refugees, which overran the capacity and goodwill of neighbouring countries, and spilled into Europe – where the suddenness and scale of the influx provoked fears which blended with existing economic strains and anti-foreigner sentiment and led to political upheaval.”

“In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the ‘Deep Net.’ It is becoming part of normal daily discourse.”

“And that is just one set of problems facing one part of the planet,” Zeid said. “In South Sudan, Myanmar and potentially Burundi, ethnic or religious tensions and violence risk billowing out of control. In Yemen, the rules of war with regard to the protection of civilians have routinely been flouted, and the humanitarian crisis is so great children are starving. In the Philippines, drug users and dealers are routinely being killed in the streets, with the not-so-tacit encouragement of the authorities. Other countries are bringing back the death penalty. Elsewhere civil society organizations are being bullied and banned, human rights and political activists and investigative journalists who try to speak truth to power, or stand up for human rights, are being jailed, or killed. And what are we doing about it?”

“It is time to change course.”

Zeid announced that on Human Rights Day, the UN Human Rights Office will launch a campaign entitled “Stand up for someone’s rights today.”

“At a time of enormous turmoil and rapid change, the values which uphold peace across the world are too important to be left to international institutions and governments alone. It is within the power of every woman, man and child to stand up for respect and tolerance and push back the violence and hatred which threaten our world.”

“In the coming years, the protections provided by international and national human rights laws and systems will be of the utmost importance, not just for those who have yet to fully enjoy them, but also for those who currently take them for granted,” the UN human rights chief said. “Ultimately, human rights are for everyone, and everyone will be affected if we do not fight to preserve them. They took decades of tireless effort by countless committed individuals to establish, but – as we have seen all too clearly in recent months — they are fragile. If we do not defend them, we will lose them.”

“We don’t have to stand by while the haters drive wedges of hostility between communities – we can build bridges. As well as understanding our own rights, we can make a real difference by supporting others. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media, at home and on the sports field. Wherever there is discrimination, we can step forward to help safeguard someone’s right to live free from fear and abuse. We can all lobby for better leadership, better laws and greater respect for human dignity.”

“The time for this is now. ‘We the peoples’ can take a stand for rights. Local actions can add up to a global movement to save the rights that a global movement, composed of countless committed individuals and some inspired leaders, created in the first place. [Ends]

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21002&LangID=E

UN Human Rights office invites law students to int’l moot court competition; deadline 12 June 2017

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The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other partners, is organizing the 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 18 to 21 July 2017.

The competition, which is held in English, is open to undergraduate and masters law students from universities around the world. Students are invited to argue a hypothetical human rights case before a panel of top international lawyers.

The competition is expected to bring together up to 75 participants from as many as 25 universities representing the five UN regional groups.

The deadline for registration is 12 June 2017.

The rules of procedure, the hypothetical case, and registration details are available at www.chr.up.ac.za/worldmoot. The attached poster and invitation by the University of Pretoria also provide more details.

As a new feature, the 2017 edition of the competition will include a one-day event designed to expose students to the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the Human Rights Council. This will involve personal interaction with senior staff members of both institutions who are involved in key activities and processes.

The World Human Rights Moot Court Competition has been presented every year for the last eight years, and has become a leading human rights educational event. It is unique in bringing together some of the brightest law students from universities around the globe to debate contemporary human rights issues on the basis of a common UN human rights system, influenced by national and regional perspectives and experiences.

The executors of the estate of Nelson Mandela in 2014 agreed to have the competition renamed after him, and the competition will be promoted in the context of Nelson Mandela International Day (18 July).

For further information, please contact the coordinator at the University of Pretoria, Mr. Eduardo Kapapelo (eduardo.kapapelo@up.ac.za).

Media Advisory_23 September 2016: UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to review the Philippines

Media Advisory 

23 September 2016

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to review the Philippines

GENEVA (23 September 2016) – The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is due to review the Philippines on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 September. The Philippines is one of the 164 States* that have ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and so is required to undergo regular review by the Committee.

The Committee, which is composed of 18 independent human rights experts, will discuss a range of issues relating to the Philippines’ implementation of the ICESCR with a Philippine delegation. The Committee’s meetings with the delegation are public and will take place on 28 September from 15:00 to 18:00 (21:00 to 24:00 in Manila) and on 29 September from 10:00 to 13:00 (16:00 to 19:00) in Room XVI at Palais des Nations in Geneva. The meetings are public and will be webcast at http://webtv.un.org/.

The Philippines has submitted a report to the Committee which is available here:   http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1060&Lang=en

Any information submitted by civil society organisations can be accessed through the same link.

The Committee will issue its findings on the Philippines and the other States being reviewed – Costa Rica, Cyprus, Poland, Tunisia, Lebanon, Dominican Republic – on 10 October and publish them at the above link.

ENDS

For more information, please contact: Liz Throssell + 41 22 917 9466 / +41 79 752 0488 ethrossell@ohchr.org

Read the advisory online: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20557&LangID=E

Media accreditation for the Palais des Nations:   http://unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/70991F6887C73B2280256EE700379C58?OpenDocument

Background: Members of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty. More information:  http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/cescr/pages/cescrindex.aspx

*Check which countries have ratified the two Covenants and the other main international human rights treaties: http://indicators.ohchr.org/