UN System-Wide Press Releases

Press Release: UN Office for Outer Space Affairs calls for applications to Fellowship Programme on Nano-Satellite Technologies – 26 August 2015
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Government of Japan are calling for applications for students from developing countries and non-space-faring nations for a Fellowship Programme on Nano-Satellite Technologies.
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Media Advisory: Calling professional and amateur journalists to join the Lorenzo Natali Media Contest

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Professional and amateur journalists, including bloggers–working online, on print, radio, TV and blogs–are invited to submit their work for the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize, by 31 August 2015. Winners will be awarded in Brussels in December 2015 and will receive a cash prize of 5000 euros, or over a quarter of a million pesos.The Prize rewards outstanding contributions by journalists who report on development and eradication of poverty.
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World Humanitarian Day 2015 – Digital Storytelling Campaign Reaches Over Half a Billion WorldwideUnited Nations and partners kickstart momentum towards World Humanitarian Summit with #ShareHumanity campaign(New York, 19 August 2015) – More than half a billion Facebook and Twitter feeds were saturated with real-life stories from survivors of humanitarian crises as part of a massive digital storytelling campaign launched by the United Nations and partners in the name of inspiring the world’s humanity.“On this World Humanitarian Day, I urge everyone to show solidarity as global citizens by signing up to the #ShareHumanity campaign,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, at a special event on the eve of World Humanitarian Day. “By donating your social media feeds for just one day you can promote humanitarian action and help to give a voice to the voiceless by sharing their stories of crisis, hope and resilience.”

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UN disrupts social media platforms to inspire world’s humanity

World Humanitarian Day storytelling campaign calls for greater sense of global citizenship using the power of social media 

(New York, 13 August 2015) – The social media pages of millions of people around the world will look drastically different over the coming days following today’s launch of #ShareHumanity, a global digital storytelling campaign designed by the United Nations and partners to mark World Humanitarian Day 2015.

Stories from people affected by humanitarian crises in countries like Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan will flood the social media feeds of celebrities, influencers and the public in a bid to draw the world’s attention to human suffering across the globe.

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Asia-Pacific countries adopt roadmap to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 – 5 June 2015

ESCAP and UNAIDS welcome commitments by countries to accelerate efforts in response to HIV

BANKGOK (ESCAP News) — Heads of government, ministers and other high-level officials from 50 countries and territories in Asia and the Pacific endorsed the Report of the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV and AIDS, along with the Regional framework for action on HIV and AIDS beyond 2015 at the 71st session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

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UN torture body urges Philippines to tackle “chronic” prison overcrowding – 3 June 2015

GENEVA (3 June 2015) – The UN’s torture prevention body has urged the Philippines to deal urgently with prison overcrowding and improve independent  monitoring of places of detention as part of efforts to protect people deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

The call came at the end of the first visit to the Philippines by the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), when the six member delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Filipino authorities.

“We hope, and expect, that the Government of the Philippines will use our report to improve the conditions of people deprived of their liberty, in particular by dealing with the chronic problem of overcrowding in places of detention.  We encourage the Government to find solutions to overcrowding as a priority,” said Suzanne Jabbour, who headed the SPT delegation.

The SPT also highlighted the importance of the Philippines enacting a law to establish an effective national independent monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) as soon as possible this year,

“We believe that an effective, independent and well-resourced National Preventive Mechanism will be crucial to prevent torture and ill-treatment and to improve conditions of detention through a system of regular visits,” said Ms. Jabbour.  She noted that the Philippines, to meet its treaty obligations, should have set up such an NPM by April 2013 and encouraged the Government to move swiftly to establish such a body this year.

Among the places the experts visited during their 10 days in the Philippines were police stations, pre-trial facilities, prisons, a juvenile rehabilitation centre, correctional institute for women and a psychiatric hospital.  Members of the delegation carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and persons deprived of their liberty.  The SPT delegation met the relevant authorities, including the Senate, the House of Representatives, members of government departments, and civil society representatives.

Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Government of the Philippines, containing its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.  As with all other States, the SPT is encouraging the Philippines to make this report public.

The SPT delegation was composed of Suzanne Jabbour, Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovic, Lorevan González Pinto, Milos Jankovic, and Aneta Stanchevska.

Asia-Pacific countries map regional priorities for post 2015 sustainable development agenda – 23 May 2015

Bangkok (ESCAP News) — A people-centred and human rights based approach, inclusive and green economic development strategies, and concerted regional cooperation were highlighted as key to delivering on an ambitious and transformative post 2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the closing of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.

Convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Forum held from 21 to 22 May in Bangkok was the second regional meeting under the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) – the preeminent United Nations global body providing political leadership and guidance on sustainable development.

As the United Nations transitions from a development agenda driven by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to a post-2015 development agenda anchored by sustainability, the Forum outcomes will serve as the regional input into the global HLPF and enrich negotiations for the General Assembly summit in September, where the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda will be adopted.

Over the past two days, regional priorities and perspectives on the United Nations post-2015 development agenda and pathways towards operationalization of a balanced, integrated sustainable development were shared by ministers and high-level representatives from across the region, along with civil society, United Nations and private sector organizations.

“This Forum provides this region with an exciting opportunity,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her closing remarks. “We agreed on the need to focus on a more inclusive, balanced and sustained growth path, while respecting planetary boundaries and social needs, and called for region-wide acceptance of social justice and ecological sustainability, as fundamental policy objectives.

“Recognizing that the sustainable development agenda must be firmly embedded in national policy frameworks, and requires national and local ownership, we also called for enhanced political commitment and leadership to realize sustainable development aspirations,” she added.

The importance of shifting policy frameworks to serve as fundamental drivers of sustainable development, where the quality of growth is redefined to go beyond GDP towards expanded notions of well-being, and where the region’s economic dynamism delivers on inclusive and green growth were highlighted as regionally specific priorities.

Although the primary responsibility for sustainable development lies with governments, the role of the private sector will be vital in delivering on the post-2015 development agenda. The SDGs should cascade from the global to national levels, with direct business involvement in operationalization of goals, supported by proper incentives to deliver on sustainability.

Other key priorities include supporting mainstreaming of environment in financial and budget planning systems in partnership with ministries of finance, central banks, stock exchanges and the private sector; adopting sustainability principles as a central development paradigm; aligning national budgeting and finance with sustainable development priorities and putting in place appropriate policies, laws, regulations and economic instruments.

As the United Nations g ears up to adopting its post-2015 development agenda, streamlined and nationally appropriate follow up and review mechanism, based on robust statistical data and multi-stakeholder participation were deemed as important elements of delivering on the ambitious goals and targets.

Outcomes from the meeting will be shared with 71st Session of the Commission in Bangkok next week, and then with the HLPF, to be convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in July 2015.

For further information, contact:

Ms. Katie Elles, Public Information Officer, Strategic Communications and Advocacy Section, ESCAP, M: (66) 9481 525 36 / E: elles@un.org

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UN torture prevention body to make first visit to the Philippines

GENEVA (21 May 2015) – The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) is due to make its first visit to the Philippines from 25 May to 3 June 2015 to assess the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, as well as the safeguards for their protection against torture and ill-treatment.

Among the places the SPT delegation is due to visit are prisons, police stations, military detention facilities, correctional rehabilitation facilities for women and juveniles and psychiatric hospitals. The experts will meet government officials, the Commission on the Human Rights of the Philippines, and representatives of civil society to seek ways of strengthening the authorities’ efforts to prevent and eliminate torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees.

During the visit we will be exploring the steps the Philippines needs to take to effectively prevent torture and ill-treatment of people deprived of their liberty,” said Suzanne Jabbour, who will head the SPT delegation. “We will also assist the authorities in the full implementation of their treaty obligations, including the establishment of a national independent body to monitor places of detention.”

The SPT has a mandate to visit all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). States parties are obliged to set up a monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism, within a year of ratifying OPCAT. Although the Philippines ratified OPCAT in April 2012, an NPM is yet to be established.

At the end of the visit, the SPT will present its confidential preliminary observations to the Government of the Philippines. For the SPT, the key to preventing torture and ill-treatment lies in building constructive relations with the State concerned, and its guiding principles are cooperation and confidentiality.

The SPT delegation will comprise: Suzanne Jabbour (Head of Delegation), Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovich, Lorena Gonzalez Pint, Milos Jankovic and Aneta Stanchevska.

Inclusive growth required to achieve sustainable development in Asia-Pacific, says UN

ESCAP’s flagship report introduces innovative new inclusiveness index for region’s economies

14 May 2015, Bangkok (ESCAP News) – Developing economies in the Asia-Pacific region continue to fare well in comparison to the rest of the world, but structural weaknesses constrain growth prospects, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said in its latest regional macroeconomic outlook report released today, emphasizing that more inclusive economic growth is key to ensuring sustainable prosperity for all.

Growth in the region’s developing nations will increase only slightly, to 5.9 per cent in 2015 from 5.8 per cent last year, with no significant change expected in 2016, according to the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2015, ESCAP’s annual flagship publication. Inflation is also forecast to further decline and remain low, largely due to lower international oil prices, which have led to interest rate cuts in many economies of the region.

The growth potential of Asia-Pacific developing economies is being held back by infrastructure shortages and the excessive commodity dependence of some countries. The fragile global economic recovery, and consequently subdued global trade, pose additional challenges.

Launching the Survey in Bangkok, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Shamshad Akhtar emphasized the need to promote quality growth and shared prosperity in the region, calling on regional policymakers to integrate and mainstream inclusive growth by adopting a mixed set of measures to achieve better social and environmental outcomes, to enhance public welfare.

To provide guidance to Asia-Pacific economies, ESCAP has also introduced a new multidimensional Index of Inclusiveness. Applying a core set of 15 indicators of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, the Index assigns equal weighting to each variable, to more comprehensively assess the degree of inclusive outcomes. The Index also allows comparative scoring of the multidimensional aspects of inclusiveness across different time periods.

“Adopting ESCAP’s new multidimensional Index will assist policymakers to better review and monitor progress on inclusive growth,” Dr. Akhtar explained. The sample of 16 regional economies assessed in terms of the Index showed overall progress at the national level, but that significant socioeconomic disparities within countries remain, for example across gender, rural and urban divides, and geographical regions.

Inclusiveness demands continued stability and sustainable growth. In this context, the recent uneven trend and pattern of economic growth requires proactive economic policy stances and close vigilance.

Other findings of the Survey reveal mixed progress, with significant reductions in extreme poverty, accompanied by rising income inequality, particularly in urban areas of major developing countries, as well as slow growth in the availability of productive and decent employment. Developing economies in Asia and the Pacific also need to make better progress in ensuring equality of opportunity for all, especially women and girls, by broadening access to quality education and adequate health care.

The Survey projects that China’s planned moderation will lower its growth to 7 per cent in 2015, from 7.4 per cent last year, which is expected to be partially offset by an acceleration of growth in India to 8.1 per cent, from 7.4 per cent last year. Indonesia is also forecast to see growth pick up to 5.6 per cent, from 5 per cent last year. However, in the latter two countries, this outlook depends critically on solid and sustained domestic reforms.

Additionally, ESCAP highlights critical policy issues for subregions, including excessive dependence on natural resources and worker remittances for economic growth in North and Central Asia; as well as employment and climate-related challenges in Pacific island developing countries. Macroeconomic imbalances and severe power shortages are key concerns in South and South-West Asia, along with weaknesses in infrastructure and skilled labour shortages in South-East Asia. The recent earthquake in Nepal is a fresh reminder of how natural disasters can reverse economic and social gains, with massive loss of life and livelihoods.

The region will remain susceptible to a range of risks and uncertainties – among others, possible fresh bouts of financial market volatility, delays in addressing structural impediments, and political disruptions. In this context, ESCAP urges stronger macroeconomic management, coupled with targeted macro-prudential policies to cope with volatility in capital flows expected from current and emerging monetary policy conditions in the advanced economies. The ESCAP analysis also argues in favour of caution as far as the monetary policy stance of developing economies of the region is concerned. One reason for this advice is the increase in volatility of oil prices on a rising trend since mid-March, with ESCAP predicting that $60-$70 per barrel is the likely floor to the oil price during 2015.

ESCAP also advocates promoting equality of opportunity and boosting decent job creation through the development of small and medium sized enterprises and rural industrialization, with the private sector taking on a critical role in making growth more inclusive. “Without a vibrant and strong private sector, tackling poverty and rising levels of inequality and creating jobs will not be possible,” notes the Survey.

Public expenditures should be more development-oriented, particularly enhancing access to quality education and healthcare, as well as strengthening social safety nets to help break the vicious cycle of deprivation, which further intensifies poverty.

“To enhance well-being, countries need to go beyond just focusing on ‘inequality of income’ and instead promote ‘equality of opportunities’,” Dr. Akhtar explained.

The Executive Secretary also urged Asia-Pacific Governments to focus on domestic resource mobilization, making a series of recommendations for Governments to not only increase their own revenues but importantly to also better tap private sector resources for sustainable development – in particular for climate-friendly infrastructure and social financing.

“While traditional sources of finance such as tax revenues and official development assistance are important, in order to bridge the wide financing gap, efforts to deepen the region’s capital markets and engage the private sector must be intensified,” said Dr. Akhtar.

Secretary-General appoints Mbaranga Gasarabwe of Rwanda as Deputy Special Representative for Mali – 8 May 2015

8 May 2015, New York–United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Mbaranga Gasarabwe of Rwanda as his Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), where she will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ms. Gasarabwe succeeds David Gressly of the United States who served as Deputy Special Representative from July 2013 to April 2015.  The Secretary-General is very grateful for Mr. Gressly’s dedicated service at a critical moment in Mali’s history and during the establishment of MINUSMA’s presence.

Ms. Gasarabwe brings more than twenty years of experience with the United Nations in development and humanitarian assistance with particular focus on Africa.  From 2001 to 2011, she served as Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Benin, Djibouti, Guinea and Mali.  She was appointed Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Safety and Security in 2011.

Born in 1959, Ms. Gasarabwe holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Burundi, as well as a Master’s degree in Management and Business Administration from the Arthur D. Little School of Management, now known as the Hult International Business School, in the United States.

Secretary-General appoints Mourad Wahba of Egypt as Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti – 8 May 2015

8 May 2005, New York–United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of Mourad Wahba of Egypt as the Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), where he will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mr. Wahba will succeed Peter de Clercq of the Netherlands.  The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. de Clercq’s dedicated service and contribution to the work of the United Nations in Haiti.

Mr. Wahba brings to the position extensive experience in development, policy making, as well as programme and operations management. He currently serves as Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for the Regional Bureau for Arab States of UNDP in New York, positions he has held since 2013.

Prior to this role, Mr. Wahba was the Director of the Security Office in the Bureau of Management of UNDP in New York from 2009 to 2013, and United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Morocco from 2006 to 2009. He served as Director of United Nations Affairs in UNDP in New York, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Guyana and held several senior officer and advisor positions in UNDP and the United Nations Secretariat in New York from 1993 to 2001. Before joining the United Nations, he worked in media and academia.

Mr. Wahba holds a doctorate degree from the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1959, he is married and has two children.

Secretary-General appoints Robert Piper of Australia as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process – 4 May 2015

UNIS Press Release (29 April 2015): Statement of the UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov on the use of the death penalty in Indonesia