Category Archives: UN System-Wide Press Releases

Press Release: Stateless people in Zamboanga to get citizen benefits — UN Refugee Agency

As a young girl, Wanita Arajani lived the traditional life of her nomadic people, who roamed from the Philippines to Malaysia and Indonesia by boat, living from the sea. Few went to school, learned to read or write, or had citizenship.


“Before, having a birth certificate was not relevant or a priority,” explains Wanita, now a grandmother in her 70s, as she sits outside the wooden house on stilts, east of Zamboanga city in the Philippines where her family now lives.

That life changed abruptly in 2013 when the Zamboanga conflict erupted after armed militants attempted to assert autonomy. Ensuing clashes drove her family and thousands of others to seek shelter in government-run evacuation centres.

Teachers at the evacuation centres encouraged families to send their children to nearby schools. It was then that Wanita learned that her granddaughter would need a birth certificate to be able to progress through the education system.

She also discovered that documentation would be vital for family members to avoid arrest during security sweeps, and to allow the long-marginalized community access to health care and housing in the Philippines.

“It has been difficult for us to access services and we always feared discrimination.”

“It has been difficult for us to access services and we always feared discrimination, because we were Sama Bajau,” says Wanita. “But when we get a birth certificate, we will feel more respected and be able to live life with dignity. I will feel valued as a citizen.”

The Philippines is the only country in South-East Asia to have adopted a national action plan to end statelessness. It has identified the Sama Bajau as one of five population groups at risk. It is thought there are 10,000 -15,000 Sama Bajau living in Zamboanga alone, around 85 per cent of whom have no birth certificates.

  • Residents go about their lives in the Valle Vista resettlement community near Zamboanga city, Philippines. The community comprises Sama Bajau and ethnic Tausug people.
    Residents go about their lives in the Valle Vista resettlement community near Zamboanga city, Philippines. The community comprises Sama Bajau and ethnic Tausug people. © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

As part of a concerted push to resolve their situation, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has worked closely with the community, the local government authorities and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples since 2016.

A pilot project supported by UNHCR and UNICEF, which begins in October, seeks to register 1,500 people in the community. Working closely with the government authorities, including a mobile unit of the Civil Registrar’s Office, the aim is to issue families with documentation by mid-December.

“When they get their identification documents, it gives them better opportunities, particularly when it comes to getting an education and learning to read and write,” says Meriam Palma, UNHCR field associate for protection, who works on statelessness issues.

“It’s an important tool for them to be able to assert their rights as a tribe and as a people,” she adds.

Before the drive got underway, Wanita had already succeeded in obtaining a birth certificate for her 15-year-old granddaughter Pirina, which she needed to be allowed to graduate from elementary school and attend junior high.

Philippines. UNHCR helps marginalised indigenous group avoid statelessness

Pirina, 15, the granddaughter of Wanita Arajani, poses for a portrait at her family’s home near Zamboanga city, Philippines.  © UNHCR/Roger Arnold

“I’m the only one in the family to have completed my elementary schooling,” says Pirina, whose graduation photo hangs in pride of place on the wall of the family home.

She says that she loves school because she likes learning, and the teachers are kind and good to her. She is also clear about how having a birth certificate will help her in the future. “It will make it easier to have the chance to apply for jobs and find work.”

“You are our family’s hope,” interjects her grandmother. “Because I’m illiterate, we are clinging on to you to help us.”

Wanita is also excited that the rest of her family will soon benefit from the pilot project.

“The future is clearer and brighter. It’s like you are giving us a kerosene light to brighten our path.”

“I’m so happy.I will have peace of mind,” she says. “Although it’s too late for my sons and daughters, I’ll focus on trying to make sure all my grandsons and granddaughters can go to school. I feel it’s their new hope to have a better life. I’ll do my best to send them to school as long as I’m alive.”

The Sama Bajau regard the sea as their home and living far from it was not their choice. They were compelled to move under the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, which declared protected areas, including the coast where they live as no build zones. But having rights on dry land is also vital to them.

“The future is clearer and brighter. It’s like you are giving us a kerosene light to brighten our path and give us hope,” she says with a big smile.

Worldwide millions of people like Wanita are at risk of statelessness and millions more are not recognized by any country as citizens and are stateless. This can mean that basic things that most people take for granted, such as free movement, access to medical treatment, education, seeking a job or even buying a SIM card for a mobile phone, can be a daily battle. [Ends]

IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land

Land is a Critical Resource, IPCC report says
It is under pressure from humans and climate change, but it is part of the solution

GENEVA, Aug 8 – Land is already under growing human pressure and climate change is adding to these pressures. At the same time, keeping global warming to well below 2oC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its latest report on Thursday.

The IPCC, the world body for assessing the state of scientific knowledge related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options, saw the Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) approved by the world’s governments on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland.

It will be a key scientific input into forthcoming climate and environment negotiations, such as the Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14) in New Delhi, India in September and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Santiago, Chile, in December.

“Governments challenged the IPCC to take the first ever comprehensive look at the whole land- climate system. We did this through many contributions from experts and governments worldwide. This is the first time in IPCC report history that a majority of authors – 53% – are from developing countries,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

This report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, but is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2oC, if not 1.5oC.

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Press Release: Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2019

10 April 2019, Bangkok (ESCAP News) — Sixty-plus international organizations, led by the United Nations and including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group and World Trade Organization, jointly sounded the alarm in a new report, warning that unless national and international financial systems are revamped, the world’s governments will fail to keep their promises on such critical issues as combatting climate change and eradicating poverty by 2030.

In their 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, the international organizations find some good news: investment has gained strength in some countries and interest in sustainable investing is growing, with 75 per cent of individual investors showing interest in how their investments affect the world.

And yet, greenhouse gas emissions grew 1.3 per cent in 2017; investment in many countries is falling; and 30 developing countries are now at high risk or already in debt distress. At the same time, global growth is expected to have peaked at around 3 per cent.

Changing the current trajectory in financing sustainable development is not just about raising additional investment, says the report. Achieving global goals depends on supportive financial systems, and conducive global and national policy environments.

Yet the report warns that creating favourable conditions is becoming more challenging. Rapid changes in technology, geopolitics, and climate are remaking our economies and societies, and existing national and multilateral institutions — which had helped lift billions out of poverty — are now struggling to adapt. Confidence in the multilateral system has been undermined, in part because it has failed to deliver returns equitably, with most people in the world living in countries with increasing inequality.

“Trust in the multilateral system itself is eroding, in part because we are not delivering inclusive and sustainable growth for all,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his foreword to the report. “Our shared challenge is to make the international trading and financial systems fit for purpose to advance sustainable development and promote fair globalization.”

The international agencies recommend concrete steps to overhaul the global institutional architecture and make the global economy and global finance more sustainable, including:

  • supporting a shift towards long-term investment horizons with sustainability risks central to investment decisions;
  • revisiting mechanisms for sovereign debt restructuring to respond to more complex debt instruments and a more diverse creditor landscape;
  • revamping the multilateral trading system;
  • addressing challenges to tax systems that inhibit countries from mobilizing adequate resources in an increasingly digitalized world economy; and
  • addressing growing market concentration that extends across borders, with impacts on inequality.

At the national level, the report puts forward a roadmap for countries to revamp their public and private financial systems to mobilize resources for sustainable investment. It introduces tools for countries to align financing policies with national sustainable development strategies and priorities.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has produced a complementary report on “Financing for Development in Asia and the Pacific: Highlights in the Context of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, 2019 Edition”. Among other findings, the ESCAP report emphasizes the importance of raising public resources to finance urban infrastructure development in a context of breakneck urbanization and enhancing capacity-building efforts in the area of infrastructure financing and public-private partnerships.

The ESCAP report also underlines the need to scale up investments and international development cooperation to facilitate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in the region. “In a region as diverse as ours,” pointed out Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, “investment needs vary considerably. Least developed countries need to invest the most at 16 per cent of GDP while South and South-West Asia has an investment need of 10 per cent of GDP to reach the goals by 2030.”

Finally, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific in partnership with the Asian Development Bank has prepared another complementary report entitled “Integrated Financial Solutions: How Countries are Innovating to Finance the Sustainable Development Goals”. Based on more than 40 case studies from around the world, the report documents integration efforts across public and private financing of the SDGs, with a focus on the connection between planning processes, budgeting and policies to engage the private sector.

The Task Force report is available at http://developmentfinance.un.org/fsdr2019.

The ESCAP report is available at https://www.unescap.org/resources/financing-development-asia-and-pacific-highlights-context-addis-ababa-action-agenda-2019

The UNDP report is available at http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/library/sustainable-development/integrated-financing-solutions.html

Application open for Reham Al-Farra Journalism Fellowship

Manila, 21 March 2019 — The Department of Global Communications (DGC) is accepting applications for the 2019 Reham Al-Farra (RAF) Memorial Journalism Fellowship, which will be held at UN Headquarters in New York from 15 September to 5 October 2019.

The Fellowship will bring a select group of young journalists from around the world to United Nations Headquarters to cover the General Assembly, interview senior officials, and attend special briefings and workshops.

The Fellowship is open to full-time journalists between the ages of 22 and 35 from countries with developing and transitioning economies. A full list of eligible countries is available at https://outreach.un.org/raf/eligibility.

The Fellowship covers the cost of roundtrip air travel to New York and provides a daily subsistence allowance.

Applications must be submitted online at https://outreach.un.org/raf/applyThe application deadline is 15 April 2019.

This Fellowship commemorates the memory of Reham Al-Farra (photo above), a Jordanian diplomat and journalist who was murdered in the Canal Hotel bombing in 2003. Only 29 years old when killed, she served as a Minister of Public Information and for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Victims focus of UN strategy to stop sexual abuse by UN personnel

On Monday, 18 March, the Secretary-General’s report on “Special Measures for the Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse:  Implementing a Zero-Tolerance Policy” was issued in New York.

The report contains information on and a series of charts that outline the nature of allegations reported for UN peace operations, for UN entities other than peace operations, implementing partners, and for non-UN forces operating under a Security Council mandate.

In his report, the Secretary-General updates the General Assembly on the efforts that the UN system has undertaken in 2018 to address this scourge, including highlighting the victim-centered approach.

Please find below the Report highlights.

Highlights of the Report:

Overview of 2018 Data on Allegations

In 2018, there were 148 allegations system-wide and 111 for non-UN related entities. The total in 2017 and 2016, respectively was 138 and 165 allegations.

Peacekeeping and Special Political Missions

The number of cases of sexual exploitation and abuse reported for peacekeeping has decreased, with 54 allegations reported in 2018, compared with 62 and 104 reported in 2017 and 2016, respectively. The majority (74 per cent) of the allegations received in 2018 are from the peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), with the remaining 26 per cent associated with the operations in Mali (MINUSMA), Haiti (MINUSTAH), Liberia (UNMIL), and South Sudan (UNMISS).

The allegations reported for peacekeeping missions were associated with 94 victims, of whom 83% cent were adults and 17% were children. Alleged perpetrators included 64 military, 14 police and 14 civilian personnel. Of the allegations reported in 2018, 20 (37% involved sexual abuse and 34 (63%) sexual exploitation of an adult

There were no allegations reported for special political missions in 2018.

Other United Nations system entities and their implementing partners

In 2018, 94 allegations against UN personnel in entities other than peacekeeping were reported.

Reports of allegations related to personnel of implementing partners has increased to 109 in 2018, from 25 in 2017, suggesting that awareness-raising and outreach efforts are having an impact and that there is increased trust among victims and witnesses and increased understanding of the need to report.

Non-United Nations forces authorized by a Security Council mandate

2 allegations were reported for such forces in 2018.  There was 1 allegation in 2017 and 20 in 2016.

You may download the Report at the link below:

2019 — SG Report on SEA — Key Messages and Highlights

Annexes are available at the link below:

https://www.un.org/preventing-sexual-exploitation-and-abuse/sites/www.un.org.preventing-sexual-exploitation-and-abuse/files/data_annexes_to_the_sgs_special_measures_report_20190318.pdf

 

Last interview with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

The four-year mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, ends on 31 August 2018.

His last major interview with UN News went live today, 15 August (New York time).

The script of the interview is herein attached: 10 Aug 18 Zeid SCRIPT_FINAL

Below are the links to the UN News story, video (English) and podcast (English, 15 min.)
News link:
https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/08/1017052

Video link:

https://youtu.be/0-btEj2J2bM

Podcast link:
https://news.un.org/en/audio/2018/08/1017022

UN Human Rights Office to hold 10th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria are inviting students from around the world to participate in the 10th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which will be held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, on 15 – 20 July 2018.

The competition, which is held in English and French this year, is open to undergraduate and masters students from universities around the world. It will bring together up to 150 participants from as many as 30 universities representing Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and other regions.

Below is a formal invitation to students to the moot court competition.

Nelson Mandela WHRMCC 2018 Invitation letter EN

The deadline for registration is 16 April 2018.

More information and registration are available at www.chr.up.ac.za/worldmoot.

Students who wish to participate in the Competition submit written legal arguments for the opposing sides in a fictional dispute (attached below) involving some of the burning human rights issues of the day.

10th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition Hypothetical Case Version 20 December 2017

The teams with the highest scores from each of the five regions are then invited to participate in the final, oral rounds in the Human Rights Council Chamber in the Palais des Nations. The case is heard by a panel of eminent international jurists, including judges from international tribunals.

The teams that are selected to participate in the final rounds in Geneva are expected to cover their own traveling costs as well as accommodation and meals, although limited financial assistance is available.

The World Human Rights Moot Court Competition has been presented every year for the last nine 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.

2018 marks not only the tenth year of the Competition, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

If you have questions, please contact Martina Donlon (donlon@un.org) in DPI’s Palestine, Decolonization and Human Rights Section.

Press Release: Managing migration is one of the most urgent and profound tests of​ ​international cooperation in our time

New York, 11 January 2018–​“Migration is an expanding global reality” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres maintains in his report released today. “The time for debating the need for cooperation in this field is past”, and “managing it is one of the most urgent and profound tests of international cooperation of our time.”

“Making Migration Work for All,” the report released to the UN General Assembly on 11 January 2018, is the Secretary-General’s contribution to the process of developing a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular. The report offers the Secretary-General’s vision for constructive international cooperation, examining how to better manage migration, for the benefit of all – the migrants themselves, their host communities and their societies of origin.

The report may be downloaded at: http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/sites/default/files/sg_report_en.pdf

The Secretary-General emphasizes that “migration is an engine of economic growth, innovation and sustainable development”. The reports highlights that there is a clear body of evidence that, despite real challenges, migration is beneficial both for migrants and host communities, in economic and social terms.

The Global Compact will provide Member States the opportunity to maximize those benefits and better address migration challenges.

The report points to an estimated 258 million international migrants, or 3.4% of the world’s population, with levels expected to increase.

While the majority of migrants move between countries in a safe, orderly and regular manner, a significant minority of migrants face life-threatening conditions. The report notes that around 6 million migrants are trapped in forced labour, and that recent large-scale movements of migrants and refugees, in regions including the Sahel and South-east Asia, have created major humanitarian crises. The report calls for the Global Compact to include a special strategy to address this.

The report underscores the economic benefits of migration. Migrants spend 85% of their earnings in their host communities and send the remaining 15% to their countries of origin.

In 2017 alone, migrants sent home approximately $600 billion in remittances, which is three times all official development assistance. Women, who make up 48% of all migrants, send home a higher percentage of their earnings than men, yet they face more restrictive labour policies and employment customs than men, thus restricting their economic income and social contribution. Member States are urged “to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” as a central element of the Global Compact.

The Secretary-General encourages governments to work together to establish a productive and humane global migration system which would enhance, rather than detract from sovereignty. If governments open more legal pathways for migration, based on realistic analyses of labour market needs, there is likely to be fewer border crossings, fewer migrants working outside the law and fewer abuses of irregular migrants.

The Secretary-General maintains that a new approach to migration is necessary. “It is now time to draw together all parts of the UN system, including International Organization for Migration (IOM), to support Member State efforts to address migration.” The Secretary-General commits to work within the UN system to identify new ways to help Member States manage migration better based on the Global Compact.

Further information:
UN Member States will soon undertake the final negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Global Compact will then be finalized in 2018.

More information on the Global Compact: http://refugeesmigrants.un.org/migration-compact

Please contact:
Nora Sturm, sturm@un.org+1 212 963 9338
Office of the UN Special Representative for International Migration (UNHQ, New York)
Jon Greenway, greenway@un.org+ 1 212 963 2124
Donna Cusumano, cusumanod@un.org+1 212 963-1148
Strategic Communications, UN Department of Public Information (UNHQ, New York)

 

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]​