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Human Rights, International, UN

Rohingyas trying to get refugee certificate from UN for staying in India

Rohingya Muslims, who have illegally entered India, are trying to obtain certificate of refugee status from United Nations. This has come to light on Tuesday when Railway police arrested five Rohingyas from Guwahati Railway Station here.

The GRP officials said the five arrested Rohingyas were trying to go to Delhi to obtain a certificate of refugee status from United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) in New Delhi.

Police officials said the Government Railway Police (GRP) staff arrested them from platform no. 1 of the railway station.

At first, GRP staff had apprehended two boys and a girl when they were not able to provide valid identity proofs. After interrogation, two boys were also arrested along with the other three persons.

As per reports, the arrested persons are originally from Myanmar and were trying to go to Delhi. The arrested persons have been identified as Makakmyayum Sahenas, MD Zubar, Mohammad Kamal Hussain, Nurul Hakim and Mohammad Kalimula.

They had earlier been arrested by the Manipur police in 2018.

The GRP sleuths found Myanmar made preserved fruit packets, sweets , white coffee and various kinds of edibles in their possession.

Mizoram police had recently arrested 12 suspected Rohingya refugees—eight women and four boys—for illegally entering the state from Bangladesh.

The suspected Rohingyas entered Mizoram from Bangladesh sans valid travel documents. They were found in the residence of a woman in Bawngkwan area of Mizoram.

They had claimed that her cousin, who lives at Tahan in Myanmar, had asked her for a favour for keeping the “guests” before being taken to the neighbouring country.

Earlier in April, eight Rohingya women were detained at Vairengte along India-Myanmar border for trying to enter Mizoram illegally and were pushed back.

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017 after a military crackdown, triggering a massive refugee crisis. (Source: NE Now)

Sc. & Environment, UN

UN report: Humans accelerating extinction of species

By SETH BORENSTEIN

People are putting nature in more trouble now than at any other time in human history, with extinction looming over 1 million species of plants and animals, scientists said Monday.

But it’s not too late to fix the problem, according to the United Nations’ first comprehensive report on biodiversity.

“We have reconfigured dramatically life on the planet,” report co-chairman Eduardo Brondizio of Indiana University said at a press conference.

Species loss is accelerating to a rate tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past, the report said. More than half a million species on land “have insufficient habitat for long-term survival” and are likely to go extinct, many within decades, unless their habitats are restored. The oceans are not any better off.

“Humanity unwittingly is attempting to throttle the living planet and humanity’s own future,” said George Mason University biologist Thomas Lovejoy, who has been called the godfather of biodiversity for his research. He was not part of the report.

“The biological diversity of this planet has been really hammered, and this is really our last chance to address all of that,” Lovejoy said.

Conservation scientists convened in Paris to issue the report, which exceeded 1,000 pages. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) included more than 450 researchers who used 15,000 scientific and government reports. The report’s summary had to be approved by representatives of all 109 nations.

Some nations hit harder by the losses, like small island countries, wanted more in the report. Others, such as the United States, were cautious in the language they sought, but they agreed “we’re in trouble,” said Rebecca Shaw, chief scientist for the World Wildlife Fund, who observed the final negotiations.

“This is the strongest call we’ve seen for reversing the trends on the loss of nature,” Shaw said.

The findings are not just about saving plants and animals, but about preserving a world that’s becoming harder for humans to live in, said Robert Watson, a former top NASA and British scientist who headed the report.

“We are indeed threatening the potential food security, water security, human health and social fabric” of humanity, Watson told The Associated Press.

It’s also an economic and security issue as countries fight over scarcer resources. Watson said the poor in less developed countries bear the greatest burden.

A fisherman unloads his catch in the port of Suao, north eastern Taiwan on June 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

The report’s 39-page summary highlighted five ways people are reducing biodiversity:

— Turning forests, grasslands and other areas into farms, cities and other developments. The habitat loss leaves plants and animals homeless. About three-quarters of Earth’s land, two-thirds of its oceans and 85% of crucial wetlands have been severely altered or lost, making it harder for species to survive, the report said.

— Overfishing the world’s oceans. A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished.

— Permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive. Almost half of the world’s land mammals — not including bats — and nearly a quarter of the birds have already had their habitats hit hard by global warming.

— Polluting land and water. Every year, 300 to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the world’s waters.

— Allowing invasive species to crowd out native plants and animals. The number of invasive alien species per country has risen 70% since 1970, with one species of bacteria threatening nearly 400 amphibian species.

“The key to remember is, it’s not a terminal diagnosis,” said report co-author Andrew Purvis of the Natural History Museum in London.

Fighting climate change and saving species are equally important, the report said, and working on both environmental problems should go hand in hand. Both problems exacerbate each other because a warmer world means fewer species, and a less biodiverse world means fewer trees and plants to remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the air, Lovejoy said.

A couple walks through a forest with the Frankfurt skyline in background near Frankfurt, Germany on Oct. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The world’s coral reefs are a perfect example of where climate change and species loss intersect. If the world warms another 0.9 degrees (0.5 degrees Celsius), which other reports say is likely, coral reefs will probably dwindle by 70% to 90%, the report said. At 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius), the report said, 99% of the world’s coral will be in trouble.

“Business as usual is a disaster,” Watson said.

At least 680 species with backbones have already gone extinct since 1600. The report said 559 domesticated breeds of mammals used for food have disappeared. More than 40% of the world’s amphibian species, more than one-third of the marine mammals and nearly one-third of sharks and fish are threatened with extinction.

The report relies heavily on research by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, which is composed of biologists who maintain a list of threatened species.

The IUCN calculated in March that 27,159 species are threatened, endangered or extinct in the wild out of nearly 100,000 species biologists examined in depth. That includes 1,223 mammal species, 1,492 bird species and 2,341 fish species. Nearly half the threatened species are plants.

Scientists have only examined a small fraction of the estimated 8 million species on Earth.

The report comes up with 1 million species in trouble by extrapolating the IUCN’s 25% threatened rate to the rest of the world’s species and using a lower rate for the estimated 5.5 million species of insects, Watson said.

Outside scientists, such as Lovejoy and others, said that’s a reasonable assessment.

The report gives only a generic “within decades” time frame for species loss because it is dependent on many variables, including taking the problem seriously, which can reduce the severity of the projections, Watson said.

“We’re in the middle of the sixth great extinction crisis, but it’s happening in slow motion,” said Conservation International and University of California Santa Barbara ecologist Lee Hannah, who was not part of the report.

A lemur looks through the forest at Andasibe-Mantadia National Park in Andasibe, Madagascar on Dec. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Jason Straziuso)

Five times in the past, Earth has undergone mass extinctions where much of life on Earth blinked out, like the one that killed the dinosaurs. Watson said the report was careful not to call what’s going on now as a sixth big die-off because current levels don’t come close to the 75% level in past mass extinctions.

The report goes beyond species. Of the 18 measured ways nature helps humans, the report said 14 are declining, with food and energy production noticeable exceptions. The report found downward trends in nature’s ability to provide clean air and water, good soil and other essentials.

Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats, and it’s happening worldwide, Watson said. The report projects 15.5 million miles (25 million kilometers) of new roads will be paved over nature between now and 2050, most in the developing world.

Many of the worst effects can be prevented by changing the way we grow food, produce energy, deal with climate change and dispose of waste, the report said. That involves concerted action by governments, companies and people.

Individuals can help with simple changes to the way they eat and use energy, said the co-chairman of the report, ecological scientist Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany. That doesn’t mean becoming a vegetarian or vegan, but balancing meat, vegetables and fruit, and walking and biking more, Watson said.

“We can actually feed all the coming billions of people without destroying another inch of nature,” Lovejoy said. Much of that can be done by eliminating food waste and being more efficient, he said.

___

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter: @borenbears

UN

This 7-year-old girl from Manipur will represent India at a UN conclave on disaster management

A Class II student, Licypriya is currently working as a Child Disaster Risks Reduction Advocate in International Youth Committee (IYC).

On the disaster management issue, she said,

“I get scared when I see on television people suffering and dying because of earthquakes, floods, and tsunami. I cry when I see children losing their parents or people becoming homeless due to dangers of disasters. I urge everyone to join their hands, minds, and passions to create a better world for all of us,” reports Indian Women Blog.

United Nations, disaster management
Licypriya is currently working as a Child Disaster Risks Reduction Advocate in International Youth Committee (Image: NewsD)

The session will be attended by governmental and inter-governmental organisations, the United Nations, and other international organisations. Groups such as the National Societies of Red Cross, and the Red Crescent Organisation will also be present at the event.

However, this isn’t the first time Licypriya has been invited to participate in an international event. In 2018, she was invited to the 2018 Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risks Reduction in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, which was held from July 3 to 7.

All of seven, Licipriya has been to eight countries, where she represented India at various levels. (Source: https://yourstory.com)

Environment, UN

U.N. meet dilutes Indian plan to phase out single-use plastic

An ambitious resolution piloted by India to phase out single-use plastics by 2025, was watered down at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that concluded on Friday in Nairobi.

At the World Environment Day summit on June 5, 2018 here, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had pledged to eliminate single-use plastics from India by 2022. This was lauded by then UN Environment Chief, Erik Solheim.

This pushed several States — notably Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh — to enforce previous commitments to ban plastic bags and similar disposables.

Ahead of the UNEA, the UN secretariat had invited inputs from member states to forge a common declaration regarding addressing a host of environmental challenges. India’s inputs on the February 16 read:

“…We will decisively address the damage to our ecosystems caused by the unsustainable use and disposal of single-use plastic products, including by phasing-out most problematic single-use plastic products as early as 2025, and we encourage the private sector to find affordable and eco-friendly alternatives…”

Deadline pushed back

However, the final declaration on March 15 removed the firm timelines and edited out the “decisively” and only committed to a “reduction by 2030.”

“…We will address the damage to our ecosystems caused by the unsustainable use and disposal of plastic products, including by significantly reducing single-use plastic products by 2030, and we will work with the private sector to find affordable and environment friendly alternatives…” says the document available on the UNEA website.

The UNEA, however, lauded India for playing a key role in advocating a time-bound ban on single use plastic. A person privy to negotiations told media that India didn’t work enough to garner international support to carry it all the way through. “We didn’t have enough subject experts at Nairobi,” he added.

Nitrogen pollution

Along with plastic, India also piloted a resolution on curbing nitrogen pollution.

“..The global nitrogen-use efficiency is low, resulting in pollution by reactive nitrogen which threatens human health, ecosystem services, contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone depletion. Only a small proportion of the plastics produced globally are recycled, with most of it damaging the environment and aquatic bio-diversity. Both these are global challenges and the resolutions piloted by India at the UNEA are vital first steps towards addressing these issues and attracting focus of the global community,” said a press statement by the Union Environment Ministry.

A top official in the Ministry told mediathat India’s commitment to phase out plastic would continue irrespective of the global resolution. “It’s a significant step that such a resolution was accepted at the UN. Timelines per se are matters of further negotiation and debate,” Secretary, Union Environment Ministry C.K. Mishra said. “However, our commitments and efforts to reduce plastic use will continue at our pace.”

A Central Pollution Control Board estimate in 2015 says that Indian cities generate 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily and about 70% of the plastic produced in the country ends up as waste. Seventeen States have plastic bans, on paper. Experts have rued the inadequacy of collection and recycling systems to address the burgeoning plastic waste problem.

Source : The Hindu

UN

China blocks effort at UN to ban Jaish chief Masood Azhar for 4th time

  • The proposal to designate Azhar under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of UNSC was moved by France, UK and US on February 27
  • Committee members had 10 working days to raise any objections to the proposal
  • Just before the deadline was to expire, China put a “technical hold” on the proposal

China yet again put on hold aproposal at the UN for a ban on Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, bringing to a halt a renewed push by France, US and UK to blacklist the Pakistan-based terrorist after the Pulwama attack.

China has thrice earlier put the same proposal on a ‘technical hold’ before finally terminating the proposal. The hold can last up to a maximum of nine months, after which China can again use its veto power to formally block, or terminate, the proposal.

The Indian government said it was disappointed by the outcome. “This has prevented action by the international community to designate the leader of Jaish-e-Muhammed, a proscribed and active terrorist organization which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in J&K on February 14, 2019,” it said in a statement.

“The ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qaida sanctions committee (1267 Sanctions Committee), upon completion of the no-objection period on March 13, 2019, was not able to come to a decision on the proposal for listing Mohammed Masood Azhar Alvi under the UN Sanctions regime, on account of a member placing the proposal on hold,” it added.

The government said it was grateful for the efforts of the member states who moved the designation proposal. “We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” it said.

__________________________________________

It hardly matters that Masood Azhar has escaped once again

by Nirupama Subramanian

By the time you read this, Masood Azhar, the head of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), may have been listed under the United Nations Security Council resolution 1267 as a “global terrorist”. Or he may have escaped once again. Either way, it hardly matters. India loses too much sleep — and national energy — over 1267.

For sure, a listing will provide some satisfaction as a diplomatic victory. China had blocked Azhar’s listing over the years, and if it did not put up an objection this time, something has certainly changed. It will help India claim the shift as the result of the pressure brought to bear on Beijing in the days since the Pulwama attack and the India-Pakistan military standoff that followed. The NDA and BJP will use it as evidence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic prowess. In the event he is not, India will rage, mainly through its media, against the country that prevented it.

But beyond that, 1267, adopted unanimously in October 1998, and strengthened through more than a dozen other resolutions passed over the two decades since, has proved remarkably ineffective in ending the support and safe havens that India-focussed terrorists and terrorist groups get in Pakistan. The al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee set up to implement the resolution (now renamed The Daesh and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee) updates its list of terrorists and terrorist entities every year. When the “consolidated list” of the Sanctions Committee was updated in February 2019, of the 262 individuals and 82 entities who figure in it, more than 100 are from Pakistan — either Pakistan nationals, or Pakistani passport holders, or non-Pakistanis resident in Pakistan, or groups with a Pakistan address.

In the list is India’s own most wanted, Dawood Ibrahim, with three addresses in Karachi; Ayman al Zawahiri, who took over as al Qaeda chief after Osama bin Laden was killed by the US forces; Harkat ul Mujahideen; Lashkar-e-Jhangvi; Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan; and of course, Hafiz Saeed, who entered the list in 2008, following the outrage over the Mumbai terror attack, and is named as leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with a Lahore address.

Both the JeM and LeT have been in that list for nearly 20 years; the Jamat ud Dawa (JuD) since 2008, and JeM front groups such as Al Rasheed Trust from 2002 and Al Akhtar Trust International from 2005. The listing has made no difference to their activities in Pakistan, to carry out attacks in India, or their ability to spawn more proxies, such as Falah-i-Insaniyat Federation, a JuD front.

The 1267 regime requires states to freeze, without delay, the funds or financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals to prevent — the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals; the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities. States are also required to pass laws in order to align themselves to 1267 requirements.

Explained: Model Code of Conduct

But the events that unfolded after Hafiz Saeed’s listing are instructive on how Pakistan has adjusted to 1267 when it comes to its “strategic assets”. Days after he was listed under 1267, Saeed was among the 125 persons detained under a preventive law called the Maintenance of the Public Order. He and five other top leaders were placed under house arrest. When the maximum three-month detention term ended in March 2009, a review board extended it. It was extended again in May 2009, but this time, Saeed challenged his detention in the Lahore High Court, pleading that; one, he had not been shown the grounds for his detention within 15 days as required by the law; two, Pakistan’s sovereignty had been violated and accusing the UN of “bias against Muslim countries”; three, alleging India and the US had conspired to put him in jail; and four, the UN listing did not require the individual to be arrested.

In ordering Saeed’s release, the three-judge bench said a “bald allegation (was) being levelled by the Indian lobby” that the JuD and Saeed had links to the Mumbai incident or to al Qaeda and the Taliban. The court declared there was no evidence that the petitioners are involved in anti-state activities and are a security risk. The judgment was described as evidence of the “independence” of the judiciary, which was fresh out of its battle with the then recently ousted military ruler, Pervez Musharraf.

Saeed has gone from strength to strength since then, starting a new group called Difa-e-Pakistan Council, comprising 40 or so like-minded groups, with the stated objective of protecting Pakistan from India and the US. Last year, the group held a meeting in which a Cabinet minister from the Imran Khan government participated. Saeed also has a political party to his name, that participated in the 2018 election.

The JeM’s relationship with the Pakistan state has been more complicated than with the JuD and Saeed, but judging by the resources the security establishment has thrown into protecting Azhar and building up the group, it appears no less solid. A 1267 listing of Azhar would not change anything, unless Pakistan itself changes in fundamental ways to stop using these groups as instruments towards achieving its strategic objectives in India or Afghanistan. Every time the world’s attention has focussed on Pakistan for terrorism emanating from its soil, it has rushed to take so many steps against these groups that they should have disappeared by now. The groups have been banned under Pakistan’s own laws, their leaders and cadres detained, their funds frozen. Twice during his time as the military ruler of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf denounced these groups as terrorists, and said Pakistan would not give them room anymore. But these steps have always proved to be cosmetic. That is why no one believes the latest arrests will lead to any real changes, at least in the foreseeable future. Pakistan is not yet ready to make any of the structural changes that would really matter.

That means irrespective of the outcome at the UNSC, India would be better served ensuring that such groups get no opportunity to find their way across into the country in the first place. That not only means securing our borders better, it means putting our own house in order. Not long ago, to Sri Lanka’s accusation that the LTTE was India’s creation, India would lecture Colombo on a political resolution to Tamil rights. That was not far wrong. Same here. It would require much introspection into what has gone so horribly wrong in Kashmir that the JeM, and LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen have all been able to make a comeback in Kashmir today. Unless we fix what’s so broken in Kashmir, global lists of terrorists will be just that — lists.

This article first appeared in the print edition on March 14, 2019, with the title ‘Beyond Masood Azhar’. Write to the columnist at nirupama.subramanian@expressindia.com.

UN

Senior UN gender and youth official sacked over sexual misconduct

Hannah Summers

A senior UN official tasked with promoting gender equality and youth partnerships has been sacked for sexual misconduct following claims made against him by younger male colleagues.

Ravi Karkara, an Indian national based in New York, was dismissed from his post at UN Women on Friday following an investigation lasting nearly 15 months.

In a statement on Monday, the executive director at the division said an investigation into the allegations had upheld findings of sexual misconduct, and the UN was ready to work with police on any further investigation.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the dismissal of Karkara, who was not named in the statement, was the strongest disciplinary measure available within UN rules.

She added: “I can also confirm emphatically that the former staff member cannot be protected by diplomatic immunity.

Sexual harassment and assault rife at United Nations, staff claim

“Although UN Women does not have the authority to prosecute, the UN is guided by its obligation to bring credible allegations of criminal conduct to the attention of the relevant national authorities.”

Karkara was suspended on full pay last year following allegations that included those in a 23-page complaint filed in June 2017 by policy advocate Steve Lee, 25. He said the senior adviser had sent him links to pornography and grabbed his genitals through his trousers when they were alone in a hotel room.

Others, including Muhammad Junaid Mandoori, 26, told the Guardian that they had been stalked online, bombarded with indecent images, and asked for sexual favours in return for opportunities within the UN.Advertisement

Mandoori, who said he had been sexually harassed online for two years, welcomed the news of Karkara’s dismissal. “The decision is a relief for me and other victims. I hope a police investigation will now follow and there will be justice for those affected.”

However, campaigners said the positive steps taken by UN Women should be considered against the backdrop of “deep systematic failings” of the UN at large.

The legal adviser for campaign group Code Blue, Sharanya Kanikkannan, said: “Many of the actions taken by UN Women surpass the actions taken in recent months by other UN entities.

“The same UN organisation which promises to refer this case to the authorities is responsible for sitting on dozens of cases of civilian peacekeepers, from as far back as 2015, among which not a single one has ever been referred to justice.”

Kanikkannan said questions remained unanswered regarding the Karkara case, including the issue of why UN Women had declined to name him, why a copy of the report would not be shared with victims, and why the adviser had not been referred to police earlier in the process.

She said: “Firing a staff member is not a punishment proportionate to the severity of the crime. It remains to be seen if the UN follows through on its obligation to cooperate with the authorities. Its system-wide policy of jumping the line ahead of police action has undoubtedly already jeopardised the justice process.”

The investigation into Karkara was carried out by the UN Development Programme’s Office of Audit and Investigation, which delivered a report to UN Women at the end of August.

Speaking to the Guardian before the announcement, Purna Sen, UN Women’s spokesperson on sexual harassment and discrimination, said she had not been privy to the document so was not aware of how many victims were involved.

And she said the division was unable to name Karkara in its statement due to a General Assembly resolution that protects the privacy of those facing disciplinary action.

However, she added: “While the spotlight has been on the UN in light of the #MeToo movement we hope this a very clear, categorical expression of our actions which are of no tolerance to sexual harassment.”

Sen said that once the executive director was passed the report, a decision was taken as swiftly as possible to impose the maximum possible sanction.

She explained: “This is UN Women showing that we take this seriously, while the executive director has made clear to staff she understands there is still work to be done and we will work to further create a climate where people feel safe to report.”

Since being seconded to her specialist post in March, Sen has been talking to UN employees and holding consultations about how to improve the response to sexual harassment. “It is hoped we can find a harmonised approach to sexual harassment across the UN system,” she said.

Source; The Guaridan. If somebody has experienced abuse by UN officials and want to share story, he/she can contact development@theguardian.com in confidence.

UN

Myanmar army should be removed from politics: UN probe

YANGON: Myanmar’s powerful army should be removed from politics, UN investigators said Tuesday (Sep 18) in the final version of a damning report reiterating calls for top generals to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A brutal military crackdown last year forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh. Demands have mounted for those who waged the campaign to face justice.

The UN’s 444-page probe is the most meticulous breakdown of the violence to date. It says the military’s top leadership should be overhauled and have no further influence over the country’s governance.

Myanmar’s military dominates the Buddhist-majority nation, holding a quarter of seats in parliament and controlling three ministries, making their grip on power firm despite political reforms which began in 2011.

But the report said the country’s civilian leadership “should further pursue the removal of the Tatmadaw from Myanmar’s political life”, referring to the nation’s armed forces.

The UN’s analysis, based on 18 months’ work and more than 850 in-depth interviews, urges the international community to investigate the military top brass for genocide, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.

Myanmar’s army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents who staged deadly raids on border posts in August 2017.

But the UN team said the military’s tactics had been “consistently and grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”.

The report says an estimated 10,000 people were killed in the crackdown and that was likely a conservative figure.

Investigators said the Tatmadaw should be restructured and the process should begin by replacing the current leadership.

Myanmar only recently emerged from almost a half century of military junta rule and Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically-elected government remains in a delicate power balance with the generals.

Their presence in parliament gives them an effective veto on constitutional changes, making any transition to full civilian control extremely difficult.

ARMY “ATROCITIES”

Three key ministries – home affairs, border and defence – are also in their hands, giving them carte blanche to conduct security operations with little oversight.

“It is impossible to remove the army out of political life without changing the constitution, and the military have a veto over constitutional changes,” Mark Farmaner, from Burma Campaign UK, told AFP.

The UN team said there were reasonable grounds to believe that the atrocities – including systematic murder, rape, torture and arson – were committed with the intention of destroying the stateless Rohingya, warranting the charges of genocide.

The mission, created by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2017, did not focus its sights entirely on the army.

It directed specific criticism at Suu Kyi, whose global reputation has been shattered by her failure to speak up for the Rohingya against the military.

While acknowledging that the civilian authorities have little influence over military actions, the report said that their “acts and omissions” had “contributed to the commission of atrocity crimes”.

Pointing to “deeply entrenched” impunity in Myanmar, the investigators said the only chance to obtain accountability was through the international justice system.

They also pointed to failings of the UN’s office within Myanmar, alleging that “quiet diplomacy” was prioritised and that those who tried to push the UN’s Human Rights Up Front approach were “ignored, criticised, sidelined or blocked in these efforts”.

The independent UN team will present its findings to member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva later on Tuesday, after which Myanmar will have a chance to respond to the allegations.

It also repeated suggestions that crimes against the Rohingya be referred to the International Criminal Court, which concluded in August that it had jurisdiction to investigate even though Myanmar is not a member of the treaty underpinning the tribunal.

Myanmar has dismissed the tribunal’s authority and analysts have pointed to the court’s lack of enforcement powers.

The investigators also recommended an arms embargo and “targeted individual sanctions against those who appear to be most responsible”

.Source: AFP/a

UN

Facebook’s definition of terrorism could help govts curb dissent: UN expert writes to Mark Zuckerberg

The UN Special Rapporteur on promoting and protecting human rights has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the social media giant’s “overly broad” definition may lead to “over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access”.

Facebook needs to narrow its “sweeping” definition of terrorism to stop governments arbitrarily blocking legitimate opposition groups and dissenting voices, a UN Human Rights Council independent expert said in a statement on Monday.

The UN Special Rapporteur on promoting and protecting human rights, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, while countering terrorism has written to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to express concern about the company’s efforts to block “terrorists” from using its platform, according to a statement.

“The use of overly broad and imprecise definitions as the basis for regulating access to and the use of Facebook’s platform may lead to discriminatory implementation, over-censoring and arbitrary denial of access to and use of Facebook’s services,” said Ní Aoláin.

Facebook’s definition, she said, equates all non-state groups that use violence in pursuit of any goals or ends to terrorist entities.

The social media network’s polices prohibit terrorists from using its services, and it uses detection technologies and a growing team of moderators to find and remove content.

“The use of such a sweeping definition is particularly worrying in light of a number of governments seeking to stigmatise diverse forms of dissent and opposition — whether peaceful or violent — as terrorism,” Ni Aolain said.

“The definition is further at odds with international humanitarian law as it qualifies all non-state armed groups party to a non-international armed conflict as terrorists, even if these groups comply with international humanitarian law,” she stressed.

She also voiced concern over a lack of clarity about the methods Facebook uses to determine if a person belongs to a particular group, and if that person has “the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such determination.”

“The absence of any independent processes of review, oversight and monitoring of Facebook’s actions is also highly problematic,” she added.

UN

Satya Tripathi is New UN Asst. Secretary General

A development economist and lawyer with over 35 years of experience, Satya Tripathi has worked for the United Nations since 1998 in Europe, Asia and Africa on strategic assignments in sustainable development, human rights, democratic governance and legal affairs.

United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed veteran Indian development economist and UN official Satya S Tripathi as Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tripathi, who will succeed Elliott Harris of Trinidad and Tobago, has since 2017 served as Senior Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at UNEP.

A development economist and lawyer with over 35 years of experience, Tripathi has worked for the United Nations since 1998 in Europe, Asia and Africa on strategic assignments in sustainable development, human rights, democratic governance and legal affairs, spokesman for the Secretary-General Stphane Dujarric told reporters here on Monday.

Tripathi was previously the Director and Executive Head of the United Nations Office for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries Coordination in Indonesia, as well as for the United Nations Recovery Coordinator for the USD 7 billion post-tsunami and post-conflict recovery efforts in Aceh and Nias.

He participated as Chair of the Committees on Laws and Treaties for the United Nations-mediated Cyprus unification talks in 2004.

Earlier in his career he acted as a Senior Distinguished Fellow on Natural Resources Governance with the World Agroforestry Centre and on the World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council on Forests. Tripathi holds honours, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in commerce; and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law from Berhampur University, India.

UN Environment is the leading agency at the world body focussed on environment. It works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organisations across the world.