In the headlines:

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UN Daily News
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Issue DH/6763
In the headlines:
• Amid ongoing Ebola outbreak, UN ramps up
• At General Assembly, UN experts urged global
• ‘Complex web’ of crises requires human rights-
• DR Congo: UN Mission comes under attack, steps
• Despite gains against tuberculosis, better research
• Forensic services must be independent from law
Organization-wide response
based solutions – UN rights chief
funding required – UN report
Growing use of drones in law enforcement may
violate human rights, warns UN expert
action on enforced disappearances
up security
enforcement – UN expert tells Assembly
• In fight against hunger, UN launches initiative
targeting threat of desertification
• Sustained response to Somalia piracy requires
• 'Immediate action' needed to support olive farmers
• ‘No alternative to silencing the guns,’ UN South
• Cambodia: UN-backed report reveals scope of
effective State governance – UN political chief
Sudan envoy tells Security Council
in occupied Palestinian territory – UN
violence against children
Amid ongoing Ebola outbreak, UN ramps up Organization-wide
22 October - A United Nations health committee has met for the third time in three months
to evaluate the Organization’s ongoing response to the global Ebola crisis amid broader
agency-wide efforts in confronting the deadly disease, UN officials confirmed today.
At a press briefing held at UN Headquarters in New York, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq
said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations Emergency
Committee on Ebola had begun consultations in Geneva as part of its mandate.
WHO welcomes the donation by the
Public Health Agency of Canada of 800
vials of one of the leading candidate Ebola
vaccines, rVSV-ZEBOV. Photo: WHO/M.
The Emergency Committee is convened periodically to advise the WHO Director General
on the risks associated with disease outbreaks and deliver recommendations on travel and
trade restrictions. The group first met in August after which WHO declared Ebola a public
health emergency of international concern and recommended the implementation of exit
screenings for travellers who were sick or were in contact with those infected.
The spokesperson added that the Emergency Committee would share its conclusions with the public on 23 October.
According to WHO’s latest situation report on the Ebola response, a total of 9,936 confirmed, probable and suspected cases
of Ebola have now been documented across five countries, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United
States, and two previously affected countries, Nigeria and Senegal, up to the end of 19 October. A total of 4,877 deaths have
been reported during the same period.
Although the outbreaks have been declared over in Nigeria and Senegal, the UN health agency warned that Ebola
transmission remained “persistent and widespread” in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
For information media not an official record
UN Daily News
22 October 2014
The outbreak has impacted not only the health sector but various other areas. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO), for instance, noted that the current Ebola outbreak is the world’s largest recorded to date, adding that the crisis is
“adversely impacting the food security of affected populations.”
“If not addressed now, the consequences of the outbreak could lead to long-lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and rural
economies,” FAO warned in a brief. “A multisectoral approach is required to contain the outbreak and stabilize affected
FAO is “urgently calling” for $30 million to support activities linked to its Regional Response Programme to the Ebola
Virus Disease Outbreak over the next 12 months in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and at-risk countries, and is following “a
twin-track approach to help halt the tragic loss of life while at the same time protecting incomes, nutrition levels and food
Against that backdrop, the head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, visited
the Guinean capital of Conakry, where he met with President Alpha Condé. Mr. Banbury arrived in the capital to present an
operational framework for the Ebola response and “ensure a shared understanding of the key challenges and priority needs
for Guinea,” the UN mission explained.
‘Complex web’ of crises requires human rights-based solutions
– UN rights chief
22 October - At the root of crises confronted by the United Nations usually lies a “complex
web” of violations of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights requiring solutions
that can only come from more emphatic and comprehensive protections, the Organization’s
top human rights official said today.
Addressing the General Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian, and
cultural issues (Third Committee), UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad
Al Hussein, said the world is currently facing “deepening turmoil” amid “biting
constraints” of funding.
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/JeanMarc Ferré
The High Commissioner presented a report on the work of his Office (OHCHR) between
August 2013 and July 2014, under his predecessor, Navi Pillay.
“From the relentless slaughter in Syria and its spill-over to a new wave of barbarity in Iraq; from the deplorable conflict in
Ukraine to the entirely avoidable bloodshed in South Sudan – and…the smouldering spread of Ebola – 2013-2014 was a
year of devastating impact on human rights,” Mr. Zeid said.
Moreover, a “toxic tide” of discrimination and xenophobia has undermined the rights of people in several States. The right
to development has been threatened by austerity policies that disproportionately burden the poor. Migrants have continued
to endure appalling suffering, with deadly events at sea. And women continue to be violently attacked in many countries.
“If, despite all the power and authority at its disposal, the future of a Government hangs on a tweet, a street protest or a
helpful report to an NGO [non-governmental organization] or UN agency, then that Government is in far deeper trouble than
it believes. For it has forgotten the fundamental principle that the State is the servant of its people – not the other way
round,” said Mr. Zeid.
During the period covered by the report, OHCHR conducted three monitoring missions to Mali, in the midst of the crisis;
rapidly deployed a comprehensive human rights monitoring mission to Ukraine; issued public reports on human rights
developments in Mali, Ukraine and Iraq; deployed a team to the Philippines to provide advice on key human rights
responses in the aftermath of the typhoon; and took part in the training, planning, review and reconfiguration of United
Nations peace missions – most recently in the Central African Republic.
In fact, OHCHR personnel were the first UN staff to arrive in conflict areas in Ukraine, in Mali and in Kyrgyzstan, as well
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22 October 2014
as several remote areas of the Central African Republic following the outbreak of the current conflicts, Mr. Zeid said.
As of July, the Office supported 68 human rights field presences, comprising 13 stand-alone country offices; 12 regional
offices; human rights components in 14 United Nations peace missions; and 29 human rights advisers.
As detailed in the report, OHCHR has provided technical assistance to dozens of countries on a very wide range of issues,
spanning our six thematic and cross-cutting priorities – discrimination; the rule of law and ending impunity; poverty;
violence; continuing efforts to improve international human rights mechanisms; and widening the democratic space – as
well as a cross-cutting theme, migration.
OHCHR’s work with the Human Rights Council has included assistance with panels and reports on issues such as privacy in
the digital age; the use of armed drones; and sexual orientation. OHCHR has also supported the work of the Council’s
Universal Periodic Review.
“When I took up my mandate as High Commissioner for Human Rights last month, I was startled to discover that all the
extensive work of this Office is achieved despite funding shortfalls that burden the Office with significant capacity deficits,”
said the High-Commissioner.
And the workload is only increasing, he added, underscoring the growing number of Special Procedures mandates, as well
as the Commissions of Inquiry and fact-finding missions mandated by the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.
At the end of July, there were 52 mandates and 73 mandate holders, including 38 thematic mandates and 14 country
OHCHR was also assisting or conducting three Commissions of Inquiry or mandated investigations – on the Syrian Arab
Republic, Central African Republic and Sri Lanka – with three more soon to become operational, on Eritrea, the occupied
Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem, and Iraq.
One of the UN pillars, human rights only receives only a fraction of the Organization’s resources. For the 2014-2015
biennium, $173.5 million was allocated to OHCHR – 87% less than the allocation to the peace and security pillar, and 84
per cent less than the allocation to development.
“This is not sustainable,” Mr. Zeid said.
“When human rights go wrong – when violations and abuses generate explosive crises and conflicts – the cost in bloodshed,
in wrecked economies and humanitarian aid is titanic,” he added, urging the world to enable his Office not only with the
capacity to detect and alert to violations, but to ensure that the “alarm bells” are followed by swift action.
Despite gains against tuberculosis, better research funding
required – UN report
22 October - The world is fighting a difficult battle against the spread of tuberculosis (TB),
the United Nations health agency announced today, as it released its latest report on the
disease, revealing a greater number of cases than previously estimated and a shortfall in
research funding.
The Global Tuberculosis Report 2014, published by the World Health Organization
(WHO), has confirmed almost half a million more cases of the disease than previously
estimated, noting that some 9 million people developed TB in 2013 while 1.5 million died,
including 360,000 people who were HIV positive.
Patients wait to take their daily
tuberculosis treatment at the Jigme Dorji
Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in
Bhutan. Photo: The Global Fund/John
The report stresses, however, that the mortality rate from TB continues to fall and has
dropped by 45 per cent since 1990, keeping the world on track to meet the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) target of reversing TB incidence, along with the target of a 50 per cent reduction in the
mortality rate by 2015.
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22 October 2014
At the same time, the number of people developing the disease is declining by an average 1.5 per cent per year while an
estimated 37 million lives have been saved through effective diagnosis and treatment of TB since 2000.
In a message marking the report’s launch, Dr. Mario Raviglione, WHO Director of the Global TB Programme, applauded
the data collection efforts by Member States, noting that it was helping the UN agency draw a broader and clearer picture of
the global epidemic.
“Following a concerted effort by countries, by WHO and by multiple partners, investment in national surveys and routine
surveillance efforts has substantially increased,” observed Dr. Raviglione.
“This is providing us with much more and better data, bringing us closer and closer to understanding the true burden of
tuberculosis,” he added.
Although higher than expected, the overall figures fall within “the upper limit of previous WHO estimates,” the UN agency
said in a press release. Despite this, the report nevertheless underlines that a “staggering” number of lives are being lost to
what is effectively the “second biggest killer disease from a single infectious agent” and that “insufficient funding is
hampering efforts to combat the global epidemic.”
An estimated $8 billion is needed each year for a full response, but there is currently an annual shortfall of $2 billion.
Against that backdrop, the multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) crisis continues to wreak havoc through “severe epidemics”
affecting developing countries, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. According to WHO, 2013 saw an estimated
480,000 new cases of the difficult-to-treat strain while extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), an even more antibiotic
resistant strain of the disease, has spread to 100 countries.
“The progress that has been made in combatting MDR-TB has been hard won and must be intensified. Containing and
reversing the epidemic requires immediate and sustained efforts by all stakeholders,” commented Dr. Karin Weyer, WHO
Coordinator for Laboratories, Diagnostics and Drug Resistance.
Dr. Weyer noted that improved diagnostic tools and access to patients meant greater detection and treatment of cases, adding
that in countries such as Estonia and Latvia, where there is universal access to rapid diagnostics and treatment, the number
of MDR-TB cases has fallen “significantly.”
“But,” she warned, “the gap between detecting and actually getting people started on treatment is widening and we urgently
need increased commitment and funding to test and treat every case.”
The report also spotlights the ongoing challenge posed by the HIV and TB “co-epidemic” which affected an estimated 1.1
million people in in 2013. While the overall number of TB deaths among HIV-positive people has been falling for almost a
decade, the report notes, antiretroviral treatment, preventive therapy and other “key interventions” still need to be scaled up.
Amid the swarm of data and figures, the report issues a critical warning regarding the state of funding for the development
of new tools to combat the global TB epidemic.
Katherine Floyd, WHO Coordinator for TB Monitoring and Evaluation, lamented the “serious underfunding for research,”
adding that an annual allotment of $8 billion would be required for TB and MDR-TB prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
According to WHO estimates, there is currently an annual shortfall of $2 billion.
“Domestic and international financing needs to step up to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths,” she said.
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22 October 2014
Growing use of drones in law enforcement may violate human
rights, warns UN expert
22 October - The increasing use of armed drones within domestic law enforcement risks
depersonalizing the use of force and infringing upon the rights of individual citizens, a
United Nations independent human rights expert warned today.
Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial,
Summary or Arbitrary Executions
Christof Heyns. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré
In presenting his report on the use of armed drones within law enforcement to the General
Assembly body that deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee),
Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary
executions, stressed that such mechanized systems, controlled by a human from a distance,
“can hardly do what police officers are supposed to do” such as using the minimum force
required by the circumstances and assisting those who need help.
“The situation becomes even more problematic when the police use increasingly autonomous weapons – that is, weapons
that have on board computers which decide on the use of force,” Mr. Heyns continued. “The decreased personal
involvement of police officers in the deployment of force raises the question, among others, of who is responsible if things
go wrong.”
In his report, the Special Rapporteur reminded Member States that the protection of rights such as the right to life and
personal security and of human dignity outweigh the advantages gains from outsourcing police work to machines.
In addition, he noted the requirement under human rights law calling for authorities to use the minimum amount of force
required by the circumstances of each case, citing an increasing number of examples in which individuals were killed or
seriously injured as a result of improper use of weapons considered to be less lethal.
“The relationship between the State and those under its protection is very different from its relationship with those it regards
as its enemies during armed conflict,” Mr. Heyns said.
Turning to the issue of the death penalty, also addressed in his report, the Special Rapporteur voiced concern about the
resumption and extension of capital punishment in some countries which, he suggested, might constitute violations of the
right to life.
Although he welcomed the general trend of States moving toward the abolition of the death penalty, he warned that some
were still lagging behind.
“If executions were suspended for an extended period, it is unclear how authorities can provide objective reasons for
resumption at a specific point in time, or for specific prisoners,” he said.
“If the timing of execution and selection of prisoners for execution are decided upon at random, or are dictated by factors
such as deterioration in the law and order situation, then those executions are arbitrary.”
Recently, Equatorial Guinea, Pakistan, and the states of Washington, Maryland and Connecticut in the United States,
decided to establish a moratorium or suspend executions while last April, El Salvador, Gabon and Poland acceded to the
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – an international agreement aimed at
abolition. These countries join the more than 160 other Members States who have already either eliminated capital
punishment or do not practice it.
At the same time, some States have resumed executing after decades while others reintroduced the death penalty for certain
offences causing concern among UN rights officials.
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22 October 2014
Mr. Heyns urged the General Assembly to take action in its upcoming resolution on the death penalty, expected for
December, noting that it provided an important opportunity for States to move away from “this form of punishment which
does not belong in the modern era.”
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based 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.
Sustained response to Somalia piracy requires effective State
governance – UN political chief
22 October - While noting the progress made to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia, the
United Nations political chief today said that a sustained long-term solution must include
the presence of effective Government and State institutions that provide basic services and
alternative ways for people to make a living.
Boarding a pirate vessel off the coast of
Somalia. Photo: EU (File photo)
Briefing the Security Council on piracy off the coast of the east African nation, UnderSecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman today said that this multi-pronged
approach may be “a daunting, but unavoidable task, for it will enable Somalia to effectively
address, and ultimately defeat, piracy.”
“We should not only ask what more needs to be done to ensure that the scourge does not return, but also what kind of
support could be provided to Somalia so that the country is able to respond to the threat of piracy without dependence on the
countries support of international navies,” he said.
The decline in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia is an opportunity to review current efforts and take a long-term
perspective on how best to contain Somali piracy including by addressing underlying conditions conducive to breeding
piracy, such as political instability and the lack of alternative livelihoods.
“State collapse in Somalia and other political challenges lie at the root of the problem,” Feltman said, adding that this was
acknowledged in relevant Security Council resolutions, including the most recent resolution 2125 (2013). Mr. Feltman also
introduced to the Council the Secretary-General’s report on piracy submitted pursuant to that resolution.
Since the adoption of the first Security Council resolution on the matter in June 2008, some of the most urgent responses
have revolved around the “twin axes of deterring pirate attacks and prosecuting and sanctioning of pirates,” he said.
Coordinated efforts by Member States, organizations and the maritime industry have caused incidents of piracy reported off
the coast of Somalia to drop to their lowest levels in recent years. Indeed, the last time a large commercial vessel was
hijacked was more than two years ago.
However, Mr. Feltman warns, that progress is in danger of reversing without continued deterrence from the international
naval presence and the self-protection measures adopted by the shipping industry.
“This progress is fragile and reversible. We still see pirates attempting to attack vessels and capture them for ransom,” Mr.
Feltman told the Council.
State-building and inclusive governance efforts in Somalia must be led and owned by Somalis themselves, he underscored.
Moreover, the international community must continue to support the Somali Government in its efforts to deliver on its
commitments outlined in Vision 2016 and the Somali Compact. Meanwhile, the UN must be involved in helping strengthen
the capacity of Somalia and other region countries to prosecute pirates and to sanction those convicted.
“It is imperative that more nations criminalise piracy on the basis of international law as reflected in the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said, emphasizing the need to deter the financing of piracy and the laundering of
ransom money.
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22 October 2014
It is critical that the international community support regional efforts to implement the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime
Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy), adopted by the African Union and other regional players to enable countries in the region to
better address this scourge.
As it stands now, Somali pirates continue to hold 37 seafarers, which remains a matter of serious international concern. It is
crucial that all efforts are made to secure and promptly release all hostages.
‘No alternative to silencing the guns,’ UN South Sudan envoy
tells Security Council
22 October - There is no alternative to silencing the guns and immediately agreeing a
comprehensive peace deal so South Sudan can return to the path of peace and stability, the
United Nations envoy for the strife-riven country said today, urging the Security Council
and regional leaders to help bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.
Briefing the Security Council, Ellen Margrethe Løj, head of the UN Mission in South
Sudan (UNMISS), said this is the message that she has consistently conveyed to all her
interlocutors, including President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.
Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral and Head of the UN Mission in
South Sudan (UNMISS), Ellen Margrethe
Løj, briefs the Security Council. UN
Photo/Eskinder Debebe
“I have told them that the guns must be silenced; peace cannot be delayed even for one
more day. The untold suffering of the people of South Sudan must stop,” declared Ms. Løj,
telling the Council that after 6 weeks in South Sudan as head of the UN mission, she is
convinced that every day without a political agreement, contributes to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground.
Forces loyal to political rivals Mr. Kiir and his former Vice-President Mr. Machar, have been battling for the past 10
months, turning what began as a political spat into all out conflict that has sent more than 100,000 civilians fleeing to
UNMISS bases around the country. The crisis has uprooted some 1.8 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk
of hunger and disease.
The ongoing absence of a concrete peace deal complicates the work of the Mission and risks negatively impacting the
region. As such, Ms. Løj called on the Council, regional leaders and all friends of this young nation to remain fully engaged
with the warring parties so that they make the necessary compromise required to translate their public statements of
commitment to peace into actions on the ground.
“The people of South Sudan deserve no less.”
On the security front, she explained that small scale skirmishes have continued between the two parties to the conflict. Two
weeks ago the Opposition forces mobilized from the Canal area of Northern Jonglei state and attacked and captured Dolleib
Hill to the south of Malakal in Upper Nile state.
In Unity state, “tensions remain high”, said Ms. Løj, particularly around the UNMISS protection site in Bentiu, with the
Sudan People´s Liberation Army (SPLA), continuing to allege that the UNMISS protection site is an Opposition stronghold.
Outside the traditional conflict zones, UNMISS is also keeping a close eye on Lakes state, where inter-communal violence
continues which, in the most recent spate, left 30 dead in Rumbek Centre in early October. “The Government is deploying
additional security forces to Rumbek in an attempt to bring the security situation under control,” she added.
Turning to other issues, Ms. Løj said that across the country, the humanitarian situation remains “dire”, with around four
million people, close to a third of the population, facing serious food insecurity. Aid agencies are working hard to support
those in need, with over 3.2 million people having been reached with some form of humanitarian assistance over the course
of the year.
“UNMISS will continue to support the humanitarian community to ensure the key needs of the people of South Sudan are
met” she said, noting that during the dry season, requests are likely to increase for the Mission to provide force protection to
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22 October 2014
relief convoys and sites where relief is prepositioned and stored. The arrival of the remainder of the authorized surge
capacity, including the proposed riverine capacity, will be key to respond to these needs.
“However, no amount of aid can solve the crisis or convince people to return home: only peace and reconciliation can and,
sadly, in the absence of both, the aid operation will have to be sustained if we are to continue to prevent the humanitarian
situation from further deteriorating,” cautioned Ms. Løj.
As for the human rights situation, she told the Council: “I must say that since I have been on the ground, I have been
shocked by the complete disregard for human life. Those responsible for committing atrocities and human rights violations
must be held to account and face justice.” In that regard, she looked forward to the findings of the African Union
Commission of Inquiry.
Highlighting another critical issue, Ms. Løj although relations between UNMISS and national authorities have improved at
the political level and the number of violations of the Status of Forces agreement has decreased over the past couple of
months, such violations have, in fact continued.
“I am seriously concerned by the recent spate of unlawful arrests and detentions, and abductions targeting UN and
humanitarian personnel. Two of our national staffs have remained in detention since August,” she said, adding that on 10
October, three UNMISS Individual Contractors were abducted at Malakal Airport, two of whom have since been released
but the third person is yet to be found.
Further, on 16 October a UN agency national staff member was abducted at Malakal Airport by unknown persons. “I urge
Government authorities to do everything within their power to see that the captured UNMISS individual contractor and the
UN agency staff member are freed quickly and unharmed,” she said.
At General Assembly, UN experts urged global action on
enforced disappearances
22 October - States must take full responsibility to solve all aspects of the issue of enforced
disappearances: prevention; search for the disappeared; punishment of the perpetrators; and
reparation for the victims, the Chairs of two United Nations expert bodies addressing the
General Assembly on the issue declared today.
Relatives of abducted children speak out
for the disappeared in Lamwo district,
northern Uganda. Photo: IRIN/Philippa
“All this needs a strong and committed institutional response, while too often it is left to the
initiative of the families of the disappeared or their associations,” said the two UN experts
on enforced disappearances as they addressed in New York the General Assembly’s main
body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee).
“Time for promises has passed. Now it is the time to act,” declared Ariel Dulitzky, from the
Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and Emmanuel Decaux, from the Committee on Enforced
Disappearances, calling for new and better strategies to prevent, eradicate and respond to enforced disappearances.
“The recognition of the problem and of its dimension is the first and essential step to develop effective and comprehensive
measures for its eradication,” the human rights experts said, emphasizing that States must now take full responsibility to
solve the issue in all its aspects: prevention; search for the disappeared; punishment of the perpetrators; and reparation for
the victims.
The independent experts also expressed deep concern at the fact that threats, intimidations and reprisals against families and
human rights defenders not only persist but seem to be on the rise.
“States need to take specific and strong measures to prevent and punish these acts and protect all those involved in the
search for the disappeared…We also call upon this Assembly to ensure a systematic response to reprisals against those who
cooperate with the United Nations.”
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22 October 2014
Mr. Dulitzky stressed the importance of ensuring that all the information which may be useful to shed light on
disappearances be available and accessible: “All archives where such information may be found shall be open to the public
and appropriate legislation on access to information needs to be adopted to allow individuals to request information from the
“The institutional reaction has to be immediate when an enforced disappearance occurs,” he said, while calling for a wider
use of new technologies and programs and protocols for the search for the disappeared. “There can be no delays as the first
hours and days are crucial for a successful investigation and many times to save the lives of the disappeared,” he noted.
Presenting the third report of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances to the General Assembly, Mr. Decaux said that
“enforced disappearance, a heinous crime, is the negation of the rule of law and ultimately of the recognition of the
existence of a human being before the law. States must reaffirm the primacy of human rights through internal and
international guarantees.”
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearance offers a set of international
guarantees, he noted, urging all Members States that have not done yet so to ratify the Convention.
“The Convention is clear,” Mr. Decaux added. “Families and friends of a disappeared person are themselves victims, and
they have the right to know the truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearance, the progress and results of
the investigation, and ultimately the fate of the disappeared person.”
“We call on States to commit to adopt effective policies and take adequate measures to prevent and eradicate the plague of
enforced disappearances and ensure truth, justice, reparation and memory for the victims,” concluded the UN human rights
DR Congo: UN Mission comes under attack, steps up security
22 October - The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as
MONUSCO, has stepped up its security following several attacks on its bases in North
Kivu, including one this morning, when a large number of youths converged on the
premises, and another yesterday which required the evacuation of 12 staff members.
According to the Mission, Congolese forces and Mission troops intervened this morning to
disperse the crowd throwing stones at the MONUSCO premises at Mavivi Airport in Beni
territory, which lies in the vast country’s restive North Kivu province. They have since
secured the area.
Also, the Mission also reports that yesterday a Joint patrol of the Congolese Forces
(FARDC) and MONUSCO was blocked by a large group of armed civilians near Mbau.
Two civilians were reportedly killed and one injured. The Mission is ascertaining the facts
about the incident.
Head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler,
comforting a Beni, North Kivu, resident
who had several family members killed
during recent attacks attributed to ADF
rebels, in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC). Photo: MONUSCO
The incidents come on the heels of two deadly attacks by suspected Ugandan-based rebels near the town Beni, which began
last Wednesday. Mission chief Martin Kobler called for “decisive joint military actions” by the Congolese army and UN
peacekeeping troops to end the group's reign of terror.
In a statement issued over the weekend, Mr. Kobler, urged “decisive joint military actions of FARDC [Congolese army] and
MONUSCO to start as soon as possible in order to relieve the population from the terror imposed by the ADF [Allied
Democratic Forces], once and for all.”
Around two dozen of people in Eringeti, North of Beni were killed by suspected ADF elements in the night between 17 and
18 October, the Mission says. This follows an incident in the early evening of 15 October, when a group of assailants
presumed to belong to the ADF attacked the Ngadi and Kadu localities in Beni area leading to the death of more than two
dozen people.
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22 October 2014
“This sequence of violence, killings, assassinations, and human rights violations in Beni territory needs to stop immediately
and I strongly condemn these atrocious acts” added Mr. Kobler, who is also the Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral in the DRC.
Mr. Kobler travelled to Beni on Friday to pay tribute to the families of the victims of these atrocious attacks. While there, he
and the Mission's acting Force Commander stressed MONUSCO's full and unwavering determination to neutralize all illegal
armed groups in eastern DRC, including the ADF.
Also on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative (SRSG) Martin Kobler
congratulated Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist who has been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of
Thought by the European Parliament.
Mr. Kobler said this award shed light on Dr. Mukwege’s fight against sexual violence in the DRC. He added that this Prize
underscored the commitment of the international community to support peace and security in the country.
Forensic services must be independent from law enforcement –
UN expert tells Assembly
22 October - To be effective, an investigation into torture must be prompt, impartial,
independent and thorough, but that seems to be the exception in many countries, where
forensic services are closely linked with law enforcement agencies, the United Nations
Special Rapporteur on Torture told the General Assembly.
Presenting his latest report to the Assembly’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian,
and cultural issues (Third Committee), Juan E. Méndez noted yesterday the conflict of
interest out of fear of jeopardizing their employment or other reprisals.
“If medical staff, including forensic doctors, serve under law enforcement or security
agencies or the prison sector, they may have conflicted loyalty between their employer and
their professional obligation to report torture or ill-treatment,” he warned.
Mr. Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on
Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment. UN
Photo/Rick Bajornas
“In the context of allegations of torture or other ill-treatment, the provision of forensic services from within the police force
and lack of independent oversight has been criticized by me on previous occasions and my mandate has recommended that
systems be reorganized to ensure independence from the police,” Mr. Méndez said.
“In those cases,” the Special Rapporteur stressed, “it should be mandatory to submit the person to an independent
assessment, external from prison medical services.”
In his report, the human rights expert urges Governments to undertake effective investigations whenever there are
indications of torture or other ill-treatment, even without an express or formal complaint.
“Forensic science has a key role to play regarding the obligation of States to investigate and prosecute allegations of torture
or other ill-treatment, especially with regard to individual responsibility and the fight against impunity,” he said.
“During my visits, I often observe that States are reluctant to carry out criminal investigations into torture allegations and
that accurate statistics on the incidence of torture are difficult to obtain. The lack of investigation, together with the lack of
accountability, perpetuates the practice of torture and other ill-treatment,” the UN expert cautioned.
Torture may cause physical injury such as broken bones and wounds that heal slowly, or may leave no physical scars. It
often takes place in secret, behind closed doors where there are no witnesses, and many torture methods used are becoming
increasingly sophisticated and designed to be as painful as possible without leaving physical marks.
The same applies when torture is predominantly of a psychological nature, such as sexual humiliation and threats to the life
or physical integrity of the person detained or of his or her family.
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UN Daily News
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22 October 2014
States have an obligation to put in place and apply an effective process of evidence collection in line with the Manual on the
Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
It is an exception that victims are examined shortly after the torture actually happened. More commonly, while the victim is
in custody, the State often is the only one in a position to undertake examinations, he noted in the report.
In these circumstances, Mr. Méndez warned, “examinations are frequently conducted that are neither independent nor
impartial or victims are examined only after alleged victims manage to get released from detention and some even flee the
country, in which case the lesions have healed, leaving no scars or only a few.”
During his country visits, the Special Rapporteur has reviewed samples of medical certificates by State health experts and
forensic assessments and found the majority of those reviewed of very poor quality and accuracy, not performed in
accordance with the minimum international standards for clinical forensic assessment of victims, and unacceptable as
forensic evidence.
“Governments often argue that a high standard of forensic evidence is out of the reach of States with limited resources,” he
said. “However, in my report I noted that the diagnosis of torture is usually not based on ‘high-tech’ methods or cost
intensive equipment and that forensic assessment of torture is less a question of financial resources than of training and
commitment by the authorities to ensure effective investigation into allegations of torture.”
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based 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.
In fight against hunger, UN launches initiative targeting threat
of desertification
22 October - The growing menace of desertification poses a distinct threat to the world’s
agriculture and eco-systems, the United Nations agriculture agency warned today, as it
announced a new initiative aimed at curbing the spread of land degradation and building
resilience to climate change.
The programme, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African,
Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering
sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight
hunger and poverty.
Recent successes show that problems
related to desertification and land
degradation are not insurmountable.
Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano
“Desertification and land degradation are very serious challenges. They lead to hunger and poverty, themselves at the root of
many conflicts,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in a press release marking the programme’s launch.
“But recent successes show that these problems are not insurmountable. We can boost food security, improve livelihoods
and help people adapt to climate change.”
The FAO reports that more than 70 per cent of people living in drylands and other fragile ecosystems across Africa, the
Caribbean, and the Pacific derive their livelihoods from natural resources. At the same time, an uptick in population growth
and climate change has placed increasing pressure on these ecosystems, intensifying degradation and desertification and
putting millions of lives at risk.
In an effort to thwart the costly effects of desertification in Africa, the Action Against Desertification will build on an
already existing “flagship programme” – the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative – which supports
local communities, Government and civil society in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal with the
sustainable management and restoration of their dryland forests and rangelands.
UN News Centre •
UN Daily News
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22 October 2014
Two-thirds of the African continent is classified as desert or drylands and climate change has led to prolonged periods of
drought; over-intensive farming and over-grazing have caused land degradation; and deforestation has turned once fertile
land into desert in many areas.
On that note, the FAO-backed programme it will support agro-forestry while also incentivizing the creation of farmer field
schools where farmers can learn about the causes of desertification and the best ways to combat and prevent it.
Meanwhile, in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, the new initiative will target the problems of soil loss and degraded
natural habitats by helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land and forest management practices.
'Immediate action' needed to support olive farmers in occupied
Palestinian territory – UN
22 October - Nearly half of all cultivated land in the occupied Palestinian Territories is
planted with olive trees making them a major driving force of the economy, said a senior
United Nations official today as he travelled to two Palestinian olive-producing
communities in the central West Bank.
“The annual olive harvest is a key economic, social and cultural event for Palestinians,”
said UN Humanitarian Coordinator, James W. Rawley, during his visit.
Olive trees in the Palestinian town of
Ni'lin in 2008 were very close to
expanding Israeli settlements. Photo:
IRIN/Shabtai Gold
“Immediate action in support of olive farmers is required. This includes ensuring protection
from attacks by settlers; accountability for settler violence; the lifting of restrictions on
Palestinians' access to their agricultural land; and continued support to olive producing
communities,” said Mr. Rawley.
Joining Mr. Rawley on his field visit were members of the diplomatic and donor community, the Palestinian Ministry of
Agriculture, and representatives of humanitarian organizations.
They heard from community representatives and olive farmers in the towns of Al Janiya in the Ramallah governorate, and
Biddu in the Jerusalem governorate describe the negative impact that continued settler violence and access restrictions to
their olive groves have on their livelihoods.
Every year, communities with olive groves located between the barrier and the “Green Line”, and in the vicinity of Israeli
settlements in the West Bank, face serious challenges in maintaining and harvesting their olive crops. This undermines
livelihoods and increases dependency on aid.
The olive oil industry constitutes 25 per cent of the occupied Palestinian Territories' agricultural income. From 2006 to the
end of September 2014, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded over 2,300 settlerrelated incidents resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
From 2009 to the end of August 2014, nearly 50,000 fruit-bearing trees, mainly olives, were destroyed or damaged in such
incidents. Approximately 150 Palestinian communities have land located between the Barrier and the Green Line.
Only some 50 per cent of permit applications for farmers' access to their own agricultural land are approved during the olive
harvest, based on monitoring by OCHA over a four-year period.
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22 October 2014
Cambodia: UN-backed report reveals scope of violence against
22 October - Over half of Cambodian children have experienced at least one form of
violence before the age of 18 while roughly a quarter have been emotionally abused, a new
United Nations-backed survey has revealed, exploring the magnitude and nature of violence
against children in the Southeast Asian country.
The first assessment of its kind in East Asia and the Pacific region, Cambodia’s Violence
against Children Survey (CVACS) asked 2,376 children and young people aged 13 to 24
from across the country about their experiences of physical, emotional and sexual violence
before the age of 18.
Children in school in Cambodia. Photo:
UNICEF Cambodia/Andy Brown
The report – coordinated by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and conducted by the Government of Cambodia –
discovered that, along with the vast scope of the violence, those children who were physically abused were harmed by
people they knew and trusted while those who were sexually abused were often victimized by friends and neighbours, as
opposed to strangers. The report also highlighted that mothers and male teachers were most likely to be the perpetrators of
physical violence against children.
Speaking at the report’s launch in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, Marta Santos Pais, the UN Secretary-General’s
Special Representative on Violence against Children, praised the Government for conducting the “ground-breaking” survey
and encouraged it to integrate the findings into its overall policy agenda.
“The elimination of all forms of violence against children must be a core indicator of national social improvement,” Ms.
Santos Pais declared.
“It should be a reference for all Government sectors, for the budget and for relevant coordinating mechanisms, with a clear
monitoring and evaluation plan to assess progress and maintain momentum,” she added.
According to CVACS, the impact violence has on children resonates long after the abuse has ended and can affect the
quality of their lives in the long-term. Many young victims experience short term health consequences and risk taking
behaviour, with those who experience violence more likely to report moderate mental distress, sexually transmitted
infections, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Other physical and mental health problems may linger on throughout their lives.
Ms. Santos Pais outlined six steps which she said would help governments address violence against children and work to
eliminate it outright, including the enacting of an explicit legal ban on violence against children backed by effective
enforcement; increased efforts to make violence against children socially unacceptable; ensuring the social inclusion of girls
and boys who are at special risk; building or enhancing strong data systems and sound evidence to prevent and address
violence against children; and joining with other governments to ensure the protection of children from violence as part of
the post-2015 international development agenda.
“The economic returns from investment in early child development are now well established, yet violence severely limits
young children from reaching their full potential resulting in huge losses to society,” Ms. Santos Pais continued.
“Ending violence is an ethical imperative, but it also makes economic sense as the figures on the costs of violence show.”
The UN Daily News is prepared at UN Headquarters in New York by the News Services Section
of the News and Media Division, Department of Public Information (DPI)