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Government of Sudan and LJM: UNAMID’s Head welcomes the signing of final security arrangements between the two parties.

Posted by African Press International on November 21, 2013

KHARTOUM, Sudan, November 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The AU– UN Joint Special Representative/ Joint Chief Mediator (JSR/JCM) for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, attended the signing ceremony of the final security arrangements between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), stipulated under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), in the afternoon of 20 November 2013 in Khartoum.

The JSR/JCM welcomed the signing of these arrangements and expressed his hope that they would constitute a significant step towards the implementation of the DDPD. He also congratulated the Government of Sudan and the LJM for the commitment, flexibility and concessions both sides have demonstrated during the negotiations, which have brought them to this important moment.

In his brief remarks at the ceremony, Dr. Chambas reflected by saying “With this signing, a new chapter will begin for the LJM. The commencement of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of their forces will offer new opportunities for many of their troops; whether this is to join the Government forces or to seek a civilian future. It is this future away from war that the DDPD was intended to secure.”

 

SOURCE

United NationsAfrican Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

 

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Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2125 (2013), Tightening Anti-Piracy – considering Creation of Specialized Courts in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on November 20, 2013

A good step for enhancement of security in the African Continent

NEW YORK, November 19, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Reiterating its condemnation of all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, the Security Council today renewed for another year authorizations, first agreed in 2008, for international action to fight those crimes in cooperation with Government authorities.

Through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2125 (2013) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the Council renewed its call upon States and regional organizations that had the capacity to do so to fight ongoing sea crimes by deploying naval vessels, arms and military aircraft, and through seizures and disposition of boats, vessels and weapons used in the commission of those crimes.

It also decided that the arms embargo imposed on Somalia by resolution 733 (1992) did not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment, or to the provision of assistance, destined for the sole use of States, international, regional and subregional organizations taking measures in line with the authorizations.

By other terms, the Council underlined the primary responsibility of Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery off their coast, requesting them to pass a complete set of anti-piracy laws without further delay, and urging continued efforts, with international support, to adopt an exclusive economic zone, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Somali authorities were also called on to bring to justice those who were using Somali territory to plan, facilitate or undertake those crimes. All States were urged to adopt legislation to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, and to assist Somalia — at its request and with notification to the Secretary-General — in strengthening its maritime capacity. They were also called on to criminalize piracy under domestic law.

The Council affirmed that the authorizations, originally outlined in resolutions 1846 and 1851 of 2008, applied only with respect to the situation in Somalia, and followed receipt of the 12 November letter conveying the country’s consent. They did not affect States’ rights or obligations under international law, particularly the United Nations Convention. In that context, the Council reiterated its decision to consider the establishment of specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other regional States, with substantial international participation, as outlined in resolution 2015 (2011).

More broadly, the Council urged all States to take measures under their domestic law to prevent the illicit financing of piracy and laundering of its proceeds, and further, to investigate international criminal networks involved in piracy off the Somali coast, including those responsible for illicit financing and facilitation. Urging States to share information with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), for use in a global piracy database, the Council also noted the importance of securing the safe delivery of World Food Programme (WFP) assistance by sea.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and 10:07 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2125 (2013) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its previous resolutions concerning the situation in Somalia, especially resolutions 1814 (2008), 1816 (2008), 1838 (2008), 1844 (2008), 1846 (2008), 1851 (2008), 1897 (2009), 1918 (2010), 1950 (2010), 1976 (2011), 2015 (2011), 2020 (2011) and 2077 (2012), as well as the statement of its President (S/PRST/2010/16) of 25 August 2010 and (S/PRST/2012/24) of 19 November 2012,

“Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/623), as requested by resolution 2077 (2012), on the implementation of that resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia,

“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, including Somalia’s sovereign rights in accordance with international law, with respect to offshore natural resources, including fisheries,

“While welcoming the significant decrease in reported incidents of piracy off the coast of Somalia, which areat the lowest level since 2006, continuing to be gravely concerned by the ongoing threat that piracy and armed robbery at sea pose to the prompt, safe, and effective delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia and the region, to the safety of seafarers and other persons, to international navigation and the safety of commercial maritime routes, and to other vulnerable ships, including fishing activities in conformity with international law, and also gravely concerned by the extended range of the piracy threat into the western Indian Ocean and adjacent sea areas and increased pirate capacities,

“Expressing concern about the reported involvement of children in piracy off the coast of Somalia,

“Recognizing that the ongoing instability in Somalia contributes to the problem of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and stressing the need to continue the comprehensive response by the international community to repress piracy and armed robbery at sea and tackle its underlying causes, recognizing the need to undertake long-term and sustainable efforts to repress piracy and the need to create adequate economic opportunities for the citizens of Somalia,

“Recognizing the need to investigate and prosecute not only suspects captured at sea, but also anyone who incites or intentionally facilitates piracy operations, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from such attacks, and reiterating its concern over persons suspected of piracy having been released without facing justice, reaffirming that the failure to prosecute persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia undermines anti-piracy efforts,

“Noting the report of the Secretary-General (S/2013/623), particularly section IX on ‘Allegations of illegal fishing and illegal dumping, including of toxic substances, off the coast of Somalia’,

“Further reaffirming that international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (‘The Convention’), sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the ocean, including countering piracy and armed robbery at sea,

“Underlining the primary responsibility of the Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia; noting the several requests from Somali authorities for international assistance to counter piracy off its coast, including the letter of 12 November 2013, from the Permanent Representative of Somalia to the United Nations expressing the appreciation of Somali authorities to the Security Council for its assistance, expressing their willingness to consider working with other States and regional organizations to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and requesting that the provisions of resolution 2077 (2012) be renewed for an additional 12 months,

“Encouraging implementationof the Somali Maritime Resource and Security Strategy, which was endorsed by the President of the Federal Government of Somalia and participating states at the fourteenth Plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) in New York on 1 May 2013; at the International Somalia Conference in London on 7 May 2013, and at the European Union’s ‘New Deal for Somalia’ Conference in Brussels on 16 September 2013,

“Recognizing the work of the CGPCS to facilitate the prosecution of suspected pirates and, in accordance with international law, to establish an on-going network and mechanism for sharing information and evidence between investigators and prosecutors, welcoming the development of the Capacity Building Coordination Group under Working Group 1 of the CGPCS, and welcoming the work by Working Group 5 of the CGPCS to disrupt illicit financial flows linked to piracy,

“Welcoming the financing provided by the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Combating Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (the Trust Fund) to strengthen regional ability to prosecute suspected pirates and imprison those convicted in accordance with applicable international human rights law, noting with appreciation the assistance provided by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Counter-Piracy Programme, and being determined to continue efforts to ensure that pirates are held accountable,

“Commending the efforts of the European Union operation ATALANTA, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Operation Ocean Shield, Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151 commanded by Pakistan and the United Kingdom, as well as United States ships assigned to Combined Task Force 151 and NATO Task Force 508, the counter-piracy activities of the African Union onshore in Somalia and the naval activities of the Southern Africa Development Community, and other States acting in a national capacity in cooperation with Somali authorities and each other, to suppress piracy and to protect vulnerable ships transiting through the waters off the coast of Somalia, and welcoming the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction Initiative (SHADE) and the efforts of individual countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan and the Russian Federation, which have deployed naval counter-piracy missions in the region, as stated in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2013/623),

“Noting the efforts of flag States for taking measures to permit vessels sailing under their flag transiting the High Risk Area (HRA) to embark vessel protection detachments and privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP), and encouraging States to regulate such activities in accordance with applicable international law and permit charters to favour arrangements that make use of such measures,

“Noting the request of some Member States on the need to review the boundaries of the HRA on an objective and transparent basis, taking into account actual incidents of piracy, and noting that the HRA is set and defined by the insurance and maritime industry,

“Welcoming the capacity-building efforts in the region made by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)-funded Djibouti Code of Conduct, the Trust Fund and the European Union’s activities under EUCAP Nestor, which is working with the Federal Government of Somalia to strengthen its criminal justice system, and recognizing the need for all engaged international and regional organizations to coordinate and cooperate fully,

“Supporting the development of a coastal police force, noting with appreciation the efforts made by the IMO and the shipping industry to develop and update guidance, best management practices and recommendations to assist ships to prevent and suppress piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia, including in the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean area, and recognizing the work of the IMO and the CGPCS in this regard, noting the efforts of the International Organization for Standardization, which has developed industry standards of training and certification for Private Maritime Security Companies when providing privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in high-risk areas, and further welcoming the European Union’s EUCAP Nestor, which is working to develop the sea-going maritime security capacities of Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles and Tanzania,

“Noting with concern that the continuing limited capacity and domestic legislation to facilitate the custody and prosecution of suspected pirates after their capture has hindered more robust international action against the pirates off the coast of Somalia, too often has led to pirates being released without facing justice, regardless of whether there is sufficient evidence to support prosecution, and reiterating that, consistent with the provisions of ‘The Convention’ concerning the repression of piracy, the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (‘SUA Convention’) provides for parties to create criminal offences, establish jurisdiction, and accept delivery of persons responsible for or suspected of seizing or exercising control over a ship by force or threat thereof or any other form of intimidation,

“Underlining the importance of continuing to enhance the collection, preservation and transmission to competent authorities of evidence of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and welcoming the ongoing work of the IMO, INTERPOL and industry groups to develop guidance to seafarers on preservation of crime scenes following acts of piracy, and noting the importance for the successful prosecution of acts of piracy of enabling seafarers to give evidence in criminal proceedings,

“Further recognizing that pirate networks continue to rely on kidnapping and hostage-taking, and that these activities help generate funding to purchase weapons, gain recruits and continue their operational activities, thereby jeopardizing the safety and security of civilians and restricting the flow of free commerce, and welcoming international efforts to collect and share information to disrupt the pirate enterprise, as exemplified by INTERPOL’s Global Database on Maritime Piracy, and taking note of the ongoing efforts of the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (formerly the Regional Anti Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre), hosted by Seychelles to combat piracy,

“Reaffirming international condemnation of acts of kidnapping and hostage-taking, including offences contained within the International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, strongly condemning the continuing practice of hostage-taking by pirates operating off the coast of Somalia, expressing serious concern at the inhuman conditions hostages face in captivity, recognizing the adverse impact on their families, calling for the immediate release of all hostages, and noting the importance of cooperation between Member States on the issue of hostage-taking and the prosecution of suspected pirates for taking hostages,

“Commending Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania for their efforts to prosecute suspected pirates in their national courts, and noting with appreciation the assistance provided by the UNODC Counter-Piracy Programme, the Trust Fund and other international organizations and donors, in coordination with the CGPCS, to support Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Somalia and other States in the region with their efforts to prosecute, or incarcerate in a third State after prosecution elsewhere, pirates, including facilitators and financiers ashore, consistent with applicable international human rights law, and emphasizing the need for States and international organizations to further enhance international efforts in this regard,

“Welcoming the readiness of the national and regional administrations of Somalia to cooperate with each other and with States who have prosecuted suspected pirates with a view to enabling convicted pirates to be repatriated back to Somalia under suitable prisoner transfer arrangements, consistent with applicable international law, including international human rights law and acknowledging the return from Seychelles to Somalia of convicted prisoners willing and eligible to serve their sentences in Somalia,

“Recalling the reports of the Secretary-General on the modalities for the establishment of specialized Somali anti-piracy courts (S/2011/360 and S/2012/50), prepared pursuant to paragraph 26 of resolution 1976 (2011) and paragraph 16 of resolution 2015 (2011),

“Stressing the need for States to consider possible methods to assist the seafarers who are victims of pirates, and welcoming in this regard the Trust Fund’s establishment in November 2012 of the ‘Hostage Support Programme’ to provide support to hostages during their release and return home, as well as to their families throughout the hostage situation,

“Recognizing the progress made by the CGPCS and UNODC in the use of public information tools to raise awareness of the dangers of piracy, highlight the best practices to eradicate this criminal phenomenon, and inform the public of the dangers posed by piracy,

“Further noting with appreciation the ongoing efforts by UNODC to support efforts to enhance Somalia’s maritime security and law enforcement capacities, also noting efforts by UNODC and UNDP and the funding provided by the Trust Fund, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and other donors to develop regional judicial and law enforcement capacity to investigate, arrest and prosecute suspected pirates and to incarcerate convicted pirates consistent with applicable international human rights law,

“Bearing in mind the Djibouti Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, noting the operations of information-sharing centres in Yemen, Kenya and Tanzania and the regional maritime training centre in Djibouti, and recognizing the efforts of signatory States to develop the appropriate regulatory and legislative frameworks to combat piracy, enhance their capacity to patrol the waters of the region, interdict suspect vessels, and prosecute suspected pirates,

“Emphasizing that peace and stability within Somalia, the strengthening of State institutions, economic and social development and respect for human rights and the rule of law are necessary to create the conditions for a durable eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and further emphasizing that Somalia’s long-term security rests with the effective development by Somali authorities of the Somali National Security Forces,

“Noting with appreciation recent high-level events on Somalia which have generated substantial pledges of support, and underlining the importance of delivering on any support pledged at these events,

“Taking note with appreciation the intention expressed by the Indian Ocean Rim Association at the thirteenth meeting of its Council of Ministers to bolster maritime security and safety, including through the upcoming Indian Ocean Dialogue in India, which will explore concrete options to enhance counter-piracy cooperation, including through improved maritime information-sharing arrangements and stronger national legal capacity and laws, and encouraging the Indian Ocean Rim Association to pursue efforts that are complementary to and coordinated with the ongoing work of the CGPCS,

“Noting that the joint counter-piracy efforts of the international community and private sector have resulted in a sharp decline in pirate attacks, as well as hijackings since 2011 and emphasizing that without further action, the significant progress made in reducing the number of successful pirate attacks is reversible,

“Determining that the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia are an important factor exacerbating the situation in Somalia, which continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1. Reiterates that it condemns and deplores all acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;

“2. Recognizes that the ongoing instability in Somalia is one of the underlying causes of the problem of piracy and contributes to the problem of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, while piracy, in turn, exacerbates instability by introducing large amounts of illicit cash that fuels additional crime and corruption in Somalia;

“3. Stresses the need for a comprehensive response to repress piracy and tackle its underlying causes by the international community;

“4. Underlines the primary responsibility of Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and requests the Somali authorities, with assistance from the Secretary-General and relevant UN entities, to pass a complete set of anti-piracy laws without further delay, and urges Somalia to continue efforts, with the support of the international community, to adopt an exclusive economic zone in accordance with ‘The Convention’;

“5. Recognizes the need to continue investigating and prosecuting those who plan, organize or illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy, urges States, working in conjunction with relevant international organizations, to adopt legislation to facilitate prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia;

“6. Calls upon the Somali authorities to interdict, and upon interdiction to investigate and prosecute pirates and to patrol the territorial waters off the coast of Somalia to suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea;

“7. Calls upon the Somali authorities to make all efforts to bring to justice those who are using Somali territory to plan, facilitate, or undertake criminal acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea and calls upon Member States to assist Somalia, at the request of Somali authorities and with notification to the Secretary-General, to strengthen maritime capacity in Somalia, including regional authorities and stresses that any measures undertaken pursuant to this paragraph shall be consistent with applicable international law, in particular international human rights law;

“8. Calls upon States to cooperate also, as appropriate, on the issue of hostage taking, and the prosecution of suspected pirates fortakinghostages;

“9. Recognizes the need for States, international and regional organizations, and other appropriate partners to exchange evidence and information for anti-piracy law enforcement purposes with a view to ensuring effective prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of convicted pirates, and with a view to the arrest and prosecution of key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance and profit from piracy operations, and keeps under review the possibility of applying targeted sanctions against individuals or entities that plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from piracy operations if they meet the listing criteria set out in paragraph 8, resolution 1844 (2008); and calls upon all States to cooperate fully with the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group including on information-sharing regarding possible violations of the arms embargo or charcoal ban;

“10. Renews its call upon States and regional organizations that have the capacity to do so to take part in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, in particular, consistent with this resolution and international law, by deploying naval vessels, arms, military aircraft, by providing basing and logistical support for counter-piracy forces, and by seizing and disposing of boats, vessels, arms, and other related equipment used in the commission of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, or for which there are reasonable grounds for suspecting such use;

“11. Commends the work of the CGPCS to facilitate coordination in order to deter acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, in cooperation with the IMO, flag States and Somali authorities and urges States and international organizations to continue to support these efforts;

“12. Encourages Member States to continue to cooperate with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea, notes the primary role of Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, and decides that for a further period of twelve months from the date of this resolution to renew the authorizations as set out in paragraph 10 of resolution 1846 (2008) and paragraph 6 of resolution 1851 (2008), as renewed by paragraph 7 of resolution 1897 (2009), paragraph 7 of resolution 1950 (2010), paragraph 9 of resolution 2020 (2011), and paragraph 12 of resolution 2077 (2012) granted to States and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, for which advance notification has been provided by Somali authorities to the Secretary-General;

“13. Affirms that the authorizations renewed in this resolution apply only with respect to the situation in Somalia and shall not affect the rights or obligations or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations, under ‘The Convention’, with respect to any other situation, and underscores in particular that this resolution shall not be considered as establishing customary international law; and affirms further that such authorizations have been renewed only following the receipt of the 12 November 2013 letter conveying the consent of Somali authorities;

“14. Decides that the arms embargo on Somalia imposed by paragraph 5 of resolution 733 (1992) and further elaborated upon by paragraphs 1 and 2 of resolution 1425 (2002) and modified by paragraphs 33 to 38 of resolution 2093 (2013)does not apply to supplies of weapons and military equipment or the provision of assistance destined for the sole use of Member States, international, regional and subregional organizations undertaking measures in accordance with paragraph 12 above;

“15. Requests that cooperating States take appropriate steps to ensure that the activities they undertake pursuant to the authorizations in paragraph 12 do not have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage to the ships of any third State;

“16. Calls upon all States, and in particular flag, port and coastal States, States of the nationality of victims and perpetrators of piracy and armed robbery, and other States with relevant jurisdiction under international law and national legislation, to cooperate in determining jurisdiction, and in the investigation and prosecution of all persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, including anyone who incites or facilitates an act of piracy, consistent with applicable international law including international human rights law to ensure that all pirates handed over to judicial authorities are subject to a judicial process, and to render assistance by, among other actions, providing disposition and logistics assistance with respect to persons under their jurisdiction and control, such as victims and witnesses and persons detained as a result of operations conducted under this resolution;

“17. Calls upon all States to criminalize piracy under their domestic law and to favourably consider the prosecution of suspected, and imprisonment of those convicted, pirates apprehended off the coast of Somalia, and their facilitators and financiers ashore, consistent with applicable international law, including international human rights law;

“18. Reiterates its decision to continue its consideration of the establishment of specialized anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other States in the region with substantial international participation and/or support, as set forth in resolution 2015 (2011), and the importance of such courts having jurisdiction over not only suspects captured at sea, but also anyone who incites or intentionally facilitates piracy operations, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy who plan, organize, facilitate, or illicitly finance or profit from such attack, and encourages the CGPCS to continue its discussions in this regard;

“19. Welcomes, in this context, the UNODC Counter-Piracy Programme’s continued work with authorities in Somalia and in neighbouring States to ensure that individuals suspected of piracy are prosecuted and those convicted are imprisoned in a manner consistent with international law, including international human rights law;

“20. Urges all States to take appropriate actions under their existing domestic law to prevent the illicit financing of acts of piracy and the laundering of its proceeds;

“21. Urges States, in cooperation with INTERPOL and Europol, to further investigate international criminal networks involved in piracy off the coast of Somalia, including those responsible for illicit financing and facilitation;

“22. Commends INTERPOL for operationalizing a global piracy database that consolidates information about piracy off the coast of Somalia and facilitates the development of actionable analysis for law enforcement, and urges all States to share such information with INTERPOL for use in the database, through appropriate channels;

“23. Commends the contributions of the Trust Fund and the IMO-funded Djibouti Code of Conduct and urges both state and non-state actors affected by piracy, most notably the international shipping community, to contribute to them;

“24. Urges States parties to ‘The Convention’ and the SUA Convention to implement fully their relevant obligations under these conventions and customary international law and to cooperate with the UNODC, IMO and other States and other international organizations to build judicial capacity for the successful prosecution of persons suspected of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;

“25. Acknowledges the recommendations and guidance provided by the IMO on preventing and suppressing piracy and armed robbery at sea; and urges States, in collaboration with the shipping and insurance industries, and the IMO, to continue to develop and implement avoidance, evasion, and defensive best practices and advisories to take when under attack or when sailing in the waters off the coast of Somalia, and further urges States to make their citizens and vessels available for forensic investigation as appropriate at the first suitable port of call immediately following an act or attempted act of piracy or armed robbery at sea or release from captivity;

“26. Encourages flag States and port States to further consider the development of safety and security measures on board vessels, including, where applicable, developing regulations for the use of PCASP on board ships, aimed at preventing and suppressing piracy off the coast of Somalia, through a consultative process, including through the IMO and ISO;

“27. Invites the IMO to continue its contributions to the prevention and suppression of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships in coordination, in particular, with the UNODC, the World Food Program (WFP), the shipping industry, and all other parties concerned, and recognizes the IMO’s role concerning privately contracted armed security personnel on board ships in high-risk areas;

“28. Notes the importance of securing the safe delivery of WFP assistance by sea, welcomes the on-going work by the WFP, EU operation ATALANTA and flag States with regard to Vessel Protection Detachments on WFP vessels;

“29. Requests States and regional organizations cooperating with Somali authorities to inform the Security Council and the Secretary-General in nine months of the progress of actions undertaken in the exercise of the authorizations provided in paragraph 12 above and further requests all States contributing through the CGPCS to the fight against piracy off the coast of Somalia, including Somalia and other States in the region, to report by the same deadline on their efforts to establish jurisdiction and cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of piracy;

“30. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council within 11 months of the adoption of this resolution on the implementation of this resolution and on the situation with respect to piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia;

“31. Expresses its intention to review the situation and consider, as appropriate, renewing the authorizations provided in paragraph 12 above for additional periods upon the request of Somali authority;

“32. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Presenting its action plan to Chief of UNOCI

Posted by African Press International on November 18, 2013

The Association of Women Lawyers of Côte d’Ivoire presents its action plan to Chief of UNOCI

 

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Association of Women Lawyers of Côte d’Ivoire, led by its president, Mrs Aimée Zebeyoux, general advocate of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, met with the head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, at the Mission’s headquarters in Sébroko, Abidjan.

Mrs Aimée Zebeyoux said that they had come to present the action plan of their association to Mrs Mindaoudou. «We need to revise our texts and our status in accordance with the legal norms, to provide an impetus for legal consultation and rethink the Association of Women, » she said at the end of their discussions with the Special Representative.

In conclusion, the president of the Association pleaded for support from the UN Mission in order to implement their projects.

 

SOURCE

Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire

 

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Discussing possible collaboration

Posted by African Press International on November 18, 2013

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, November 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mrs Aïchatou Mindaoudou, on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, met with the head of a delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Georges Comminos.

Georges Comminos, who came to present the activities of the ICRC in Côte d’Ivoire, said he highlighted the areas in which the two organisations complement each other and the possibility of collaboration.

«The ICRC is an organisation independent of the United Nations. However there are areas, especially in terms of humanitarian action, for which we discussed developing responses for the communities living in Côte d’Ivoire. In prisons for instance where ICRC is very active and in the west of the country, where we have a number of humanitarian programmes, it is important to see how we can collaborate and draw up strategies complementary to the work of UN agencies and UNOCI in order to attain our objectives, » explained Mr. Comminos.

The head of the regional delegation of the ICRC said he was satisfied with the discussions and in general, the level of cooperation between ICRC and UNOCI and with the different humanitarian agencies of the United Nations.

 

SOURCE

Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire

 

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Ghana’s criminal justice need critical attention to be more humane

Posted by African Press International on November 16, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 15, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, today expressed deep concern about the situation of overcrowding in prisons in Ghana. “The overcrowding rate in some places that I visited is easily between 200 to 500%,” he warned at the end of his first official visit* to Ghana.

“Overcrowding gives rise to other human rights violations such as poor quality and quantity of food, poor hygiene, lack of adequate sleeping accommodation, insufficient air ventilation, a high risk of contamination of diseases, as well as very limited access to medical treatment, recreational activities or work opportunities,” Mr. Méndez said.

“These conditions constitute in themselves a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” stressed the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor a report on the use torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the world.

The UN expert came across and documented a clear case of caning used as a disciplinary measure against several youth at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra, the only facility dedicated to juveniles. “I have urged the authorities to conduct an immediate independent and impartial inquiry to establish accountability for this serious act of torture against children,” he said.

“The Government must ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture as a matter of national urgency. Among other things, this will allow a national system of regular prison monitoring by independent experts,” the rights expert stressed.

Mr. Méndez learned that family visits from children under 18 years old are not allowed in the Ghanaian prisons. “Denial of visits by children constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment not only of the inmates but of the children as well,” he cautioned.

“The Government should reconsider this issue, which is not resource dependent and could go a long way to help the mental state of inmates, in particular of female prisoners with small children,” the independent expert noted.

“In all places visited,” the Special Rapporteur said, “an extremely poor standard of equipment, absence of qualified doctors, an apparent lack of medicine and limited medical screening.” He also received numerous complaints regarding the quantity and quality of the food provided by the prison authorities.

The human rights expert pointed out that family visits are an issue of survival in detention facilities throughout Ghana. “Inmates told me they are dependent on their families to bring them medicines,” he said. “If transferred to a prison far from the family inmates may not receive additional food or medicine.”

Visiting the Psychiatric Hospitals in Accra and Ankaful, Mr. Méndez noted the lack of resources, the insufficient training and limited medication. “I am particularly worried about the application of electro-shock therapy as practiced at the Psychiatric Hospital in Accra,” said the independent expert. “It is administered without adequate anesthetics, not as a last resort, nor with free and informed consent.”

 

During his eight-day mission, the Special Rapporteur also visited two prayer camps north of Cape Coast. “I saw patients chained to the floor or walls of their cells or chained or tied to trees for prolonged periods of time,” said the expert. The practice of shackling is alleged to be due to the risk of escape or the aggressive behavior of some patients. “Many of the patients say they have been shackled for extensive periods of time, from a number of months to several years.”

The rights expert, who visited Ghana at the invitation of the Government, met with relevant authorities, the judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society, international and regional organisations, victims and their families.

The Special Rapporteur will present a country report with his observations and recommendations to be presented at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March 2014.

(*) Check the long end-of-mission statement:http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13990&LangID=E

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Africa tour

Posted by African Press International on November 14, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in N’Djamena, Chad, from Burkina Faso, in the afternoon of Thursday, 7 November. This was the last leg of a four-country joint visit of the Sahel region with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim; the Commissioner for Development of the European Union, Andris Piebalgs; and the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka. Before arriving in Chad, the delegation had visited Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Early that evening, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the President of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno. At the beginning of the meeting, he congratulated Chad on its election to the Security Council and also thanked the country for its contribution to peacekeeping. He noted Chad’s role in regional stability and said that the United Nations was determined to assist the region and strengthen coordination at all levels. He added that this joint visit to the Sahel by five institutions symbolized their commitment. (See Press Release SG/SM/15455.)

Following that meeting, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters, telling them that challenges in the region did not respect borders and solutions should not either. He said progress had already been made in many areas and noted he was leaving Chad and the Sahel with hope and optimism.

Before departing, the Secretary-General attended a state dinner hosted by the President.

Having completed his four-country joint visit to the Sahel, the Secretary-General left N’Djamena late on 7 November to return to New York.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Security Council Extends Mandate of African Union Mission in Somalia

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The Security Council today extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to 31 October 2014, requesting the African Union to increase the troop strength of that regional peacekeeping body from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as part of overall efforts to combat the increasingly asymmetrical tactics of Al-Shabaab rebels in the country.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2124 (2013) under the Charter’s Chapter VII, the 15-member body also expanded the logistical support package for AMISOM for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014. It agreed with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia were not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, taking note of benchmarks for such efforts outlined in his 14 October letter (document S/2013/606).

By other terms, the Council underlined that increases in force strength were to provide enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity for 18 to 24 months, and further, were part of the Mission’s overall exit strategy, after which a decrease in force strength would be considered. It agreed with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent-owned equipment, including force enablers and multipliers, either from existing AMISOM troop contributors or other States, citing the particular need for up to 12 military helicopters. It encouraged Member States to respond in that regard.

Further, the Council requested the Secretary-General to work with the African Union to improve by 1 January 2014 the strategic management of AMISOM by strengthening command and control structures, the coordination of contingents, joint operations with the Somali National Army (SNA) and information management.

As for Somali institutions, the Council requested the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM to provide – as exceptional support — food, water, fuel, transport, tents and “in-theatre” medical evacuation to front-line units of the Somali National Army, the funding for which would be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund.

Regarding United Nations personnel, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a guard force to strengthen security at the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It requested details on its deployment “as soon as possible” and emphasized, in that context, the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling. On the political front, it urged increased collaboration among the African Union, United Nations and Somali Government towards a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development.

Speaking after adoption, the representative of the Russian Federation said he had voted in favour of the resolution to support African Union efforts in fostering settlement in Somalia, based on the key role that its mission had played in that regard. However, some of his Government’s concerns had not been borne in mind. He was seriously concerned by the wording in paragraph 21, which outlined the Somali Government’s requirement to provide full access to humanitarian organizations, which ran counter to the principles of humanitarian assistance.

He went on to say that the Federal Government was not in a position to control a significant part of the country and that humanitarian organizations were leaving Somalia not because they had been hindered by the Government, but rather, because of the security situation. In establishing humanitarian principles, the Council was getting into an area not covered by its remit — standard setting, which was covered by the General Assembly. Therefore, he did not consider the wording in paragraph 21 as setting a precedent.

The representative of Somalia said that, over the last year, the important parts of his country’s six-pillar policy had been implemented. While the Council had “sustained” Somalia for a long time, there was now a light at the end of the tunnel. Its partnership in support of critical priorities was at a turning point. Indeed, the Council had noted the achievements of AMISOM to liberate Somalia from the scourge of Al-Shabaab, as well as the assistance and training that had enabled his Government to liberate the residual components of that group.

He went on to express hope that the Somali Army contingent fighting with AMISOM to defeat Al-Shabaab would be supported in a more consistent and timely manner by the United Nations, raising questions over when resources from the United Nations trust fund would arrive. AMISOM had been given 18 to 24 months to complete its mandate and he wondered if the trust fund would allow Somali armed forces to liberate the country in enough time for preparations for elections in 2015-2016 to proceed. All means should be applied to ensure those funds arrived as soon as possible. “Otherwise it will be a disaster for Somalia once again,” he cautioned.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:25 a.m.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2124 (2013) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its previous resolutions on the situation in Somalia, in particular resolutions 2036 (2012), 2093 (2013) and 2111 (2013), and statements of its President on the situation in Somalia,

“Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, and reiterating its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia,

“Taking note of the Joint African Union (AU)-United Nations Mission on the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation in Somalia and their assessment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Security Forces, and underlining the importance it attaches to greater peace, prosperity and stability in Somalia,

“Taking note of the AU Peace and Security Council’s 10 October Communiqué on the Joint AU-United Nations Review of AMISOM and the benchmarking exercise, and welcoming in particular its call to all AU Member States to contribute financially to AMISOM,

“Welcoming the constructive manner in which both the Secretariat and the AU conducted the joint review,

“Underlining its gratitude for the work of AMISOM, in particular the extraordinary sacrifices made by AMISOM forces and personnel in pursuit of peace in Somalia,

“Welcoming the support of the international community to peace and stability in Somalia, in particular the European Union for its substantial contribution in supporting AMISOM, and emphasizing the importance of new contributors sharing the financial burden of supporting AMISOM,

“Noting with appreciation recent high-level events on Somalia which have generated substantial pledges of support, and underlining the importance of delivering on any support pledged at these events,

“Condemning recent Al-Shabaab attacks in Somalia and beyond, which serve to undermine the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia, and expressing its solidarity with the people and Governments of Somalia and the region,

“Expressing serious concern at the Secretary-General’s assessment in his

14 October letter to the Security Council that recent security gains against Al Shabaab are at serious risk of being reversed, and noting that the Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM have now assumed a more defensive posture,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that there is an urgent need to resume and strengthen the military campaign against Al Shabaab, which requires an enhancement of international support to the Somali National Security Forces and to AMISOM,

“Noting the Secretary-General’s assessment that a comprehensive strategy that includes political, economic and military components is needed to reduce the asymmetrical threat posed by Al-Shabaab,

“Acting under Chapter VII of the charter of the United Nations,

AMISOM

“1. Decides to authorize the Member States of the AU to maintain the deployment of AMISOM, as set out in paragraph 1 of resolution 2093 (2013), until 31 October 2014, which shall be authorized to take all necessary measures, in full compliance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, and in full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, to carry out its mandate;

“2. Agrees with the Secretary-General that conditions in Somalia are not yet appropriate for the deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation, takes note of the benchmarks for a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter, and endorsed in the 11 October letter of the AU Commission Chairperson, and requests that the Secretary-General keeps progress against the benchmarks under continuous review, in consultation with the AU, and with a view to creating conducive conditions for the potential deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation and the hand-over of security responsibilities to national authorities;

“3. Requests the AU to increase AMISOM’s force strength from 17,731 to a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel as set out in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter;

“4. Decides to expand the logistical support package for AMISOM, referred to in paragraph 4 of resolution 2093 (2013), for a maximum of 22,126 uniformed personnel until 31 October 2014, ensuring the accountability and transparency of expenditure of the United Nations funds as set out in paragraph 6 of resolution 1910 (2010), and consistent with the requirements of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy;

“5. Underlines that, in line with the Joint United Nations-AU Review of AMISOM, the increases in the force strength decided in this resolution are to provide a short-term enhancement of AMISOM’s military capacity, for a period of 18 to 24 months and as part of an overall exit strategy for AMISOM, after which a decrease in AMISOM’s force strength will be considered;

“6. Agrees with the Secretary-General on the critical need for sourcing contingent owned equipment including force enablers and multipliers as provided for in paragraph 6 of resolution 2036 (2012) either from existing AMISOM Troop-Contributing Countries or other Member States, emphasizes in particular the need for an appropriate aviation component of up to twelve military helicopters, and encourages Member States to respond to AU efforts to mobilize such equipment;

“7. Reiterates paragraphs 5 of resolution 2093 (2013) regarding logistical support to AMISOM;

“8. Further reiterates paragraph 13 of resolution 2093 (2013) on the strengthening of women and children’s protection in AMISOM operations and activities;

“9. Requests the Secretary-General to work closely with the AU in order to support the implementation of this resolution, in particular by improving efficiency in the planning and strategic management of AMISOM, including strengthening command and control structures, the operational coordination of contingents, joint operations with the SNA, and information management, through a new Concept of Operations by 1 January 2014, with a view to enabling AMISOM to respond to the increasingly asymmetrical tactics used by Al-Shabaab, through an effective resumption of the military campaign against Al-Shabaab, which would rapidly reduce its capacity to control key strategic locations, and further requests the Secretary-General to continue to provide technical and expert advice to the AU in the planning, deployment and management of AMISOM through the United Nations office to the AU, and reiterates its request to the Secretary-General, in view of the substantial increases in AMISOM capabilities and support to the SNA, to enhance the provision of technical advice to the AU through existing United Nations mechanisms;

“10. Requests the AU to advance efforts to implement a system to address allegations of misconduct, which includes clear mechanisms for receiving and tracking allegations, as well as for following up with troop-contributing countries on the results of the investigations and disciplinary actions taken as applicable, and requests the United Nations to redouble its efforts to advise and provide guidance to the AU in this endeavour;

“11. Reiterates its request, and that of the AU Peace and Security Council, for AMISOM to develop further an effective approach to the protection of civilians, and stresses in particular the urgent need for AMISOM to establish and use a Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis and Response Cell, as requested in resolution 2093 (2013);

“12. Underlines the importance of AMISOM abiding by all requirements applicable to it under international human rights and humanitarian law, further underlines in particular the need for AMISOM to ensure that any detainees in their custody, including disengaged combatants, are treated in strict compliance with applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, including ensuring their humane treatment and further requests AMISOM to allow appropriate access to detainees by a neutral body, and to establish Standard Operating Procedures for the handover of any detainees, including children, who come into their custody during a military operation;

“13. Reiterates its call for new donors to support AMISOM through the provision of additional funding for troop stipends, equipment, technical assistance and uncaveated funding for AMISOM to the United Nations Trust Fund for AMISOM, and underlines the AU’s call for their Member States to provide financial support to AMISOM;

Somali federal security institutions

“14. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s recommendation of the need to provide targeted support to front line units of the Somali National Army (SNA), requests UNSOA to support the SNA through the provision of food and water, fuel, transport, tents and in theatre medical evacuation, decides that this exceptional support shall be provided only for joint SNA operations with AMISOM and which are part of AMISOM’s overall Strategic Concept, further decides that funding for this support will be provided from an appropriate United Nations trust fund, and encourages Member States to make uncaveated contributions to the trust fund;

“15. Underlines that the support outlined in paragraph 14 of this resolution must be in full compliance with the United Nations Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), further underlines its expectation that the Secretary-General will report on all UNSOA support to the SNA including on the implementation of the HRDDP, and also requests AMISOM to use its Civilian Casualties Tracking Analysis and Response cell as part of its reporting on joint AMISOM operations with the SNA;

“16. Underlines that all forces supported by UNSOA shall act in compliance with the Secretary-General’s Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP), and in that context further underlines its expectation that the Federal Government of Somalia will give its assurance to the Security Council, including in writing, that any Government forces being supported by UNSOA on joint operations with AMISOM will act in compliance with the HRDDP, and recalls the importance of training in this regard;

“17. Requests that to assist UNSOM to fulfil its mission, the Head of UNSOA shall keep the Special Representative of the Secretary-General informed on the implementation of the AMISOM support package, and further requests the Secretary-General to include this information in his regular reporting to the Security Council;

“18. Calls upon the Federal Government of Somalia to continue its efforts, with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), AMISOM (in accordance with their respective mandates), and other international partners to strengthen the Somali National Security Forces including by mapping the structure of these forces, establishing clear command and control systems, implementing appropriate procedures, codes of conduct and training including to ensure the safe storage, registration, maintenance and distribution of military equipment and finalizing and implementing a national program for the treatment and handling of disengaged combatants and promoting respect for human rights, including through implementing the relevant Somali Government action plans on children and armed conflict;

“19. Further requests UNSOM, in accordance with its mandate, to continue to assist in the rebuilding of Somali security institutions, and reiterates in particular UNSOM’s role in providing strategic policy advice on security sector reform (SSR) and assisting the Federal Government of Somalia in coordinating international donor support on SSR;

“20. Requests UNSOM, working closely with the AU, to assist the Federal Government of Somalia in developing broad principles on the nature of policing in Somalia with a view to proposing further options to support the development of an effective police force in Somalia;

“21. Requests the Federal Government of Somalia to ensure the protection and well-being of all internally displaced persons, including from sexual violence and exploitation, paying particular attention to ensuring that the human rights of internally displaced persons in Somalia are respected in relation to relocations, and to ensure a fully consultative process, providing prior notice and ensuring safe, sanitary new sites that have basic services, as well as full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations;

Security of United Nations personnel

“22. Takes note of the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy an appropriate United Nations Static Guard unit to strengthen security at UNSOM compounds, looks forward to receiving further details of its deployment as outlined in the Secretary-General’s 14 October letter as soon as possible, and strongly emphasizes the importance of AMISOM’s protection of Mogadishu International Airport Compound within the troop ceiling authorized in this resolution;

Political process

“23. Urges increased collaboration between the AU, United Nations and Federal Government of Somalia, including on a comprehensive approach to peace, security and development which integrates political, security, peacebuilding and development activities, recognizing that none can succeed in isolation;

“24. Recalls its 13 September 2013 statement welcoming the agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubba Administration, emphasizes the importance of all parties ensuring that the timelines as stipulated in the agreement are met, and further emphasizes the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia ensuring the right political conditions are in place to ensure greater peace and stability in Somalia;

“25. Welcomes in this context the efforts undertaken by the Federal Government of Somalia to consolidate security and establish the rule of law in areas secured by AMISOM and the Security Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia, and encourages it to continue to lead an inclusive national dialogue, with the support of UNSOM, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the AU to clarify and settle relations between the Federal government of Somalia and existing and emerging local administrations and initiate processes of national reconciliation in order to accelerate efforts to establish sustainable, legitimate and representative local governance structures across the country, especially in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab;

“26. Encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to finalize and adopt a federal Constitution by December 2015, to prepare for and hold credible elections in 2016; and to ensure the equitable participation of women, youth, minority groups and other marginalized groups in national political processes;

“27. Further encourages the Federal Government of Somalia to implement its “Vision 2016″ agenda which sets out the importance of a Somali-owned, inclusive, and transparent political process and economic recovery, consistent with the Provisional Constitution and including an effective federal political system and a comprehensive reconciliation process that brings about national cohesion and integration;

Sanctions

“28. Expresses concern at continuing violations of the Security Council charcoal ban requests the Secretary-General and his Special Representative to raise awareness amongst relevant Member States on their requirements to abide by the charcoal ban, as set out in resolution 2036 (2012);

“29. Underlines the importance of the Federal Government of Somalia and Member States complying with all aspects of the arms embargo, including the reporting and notification requirements set out in resolution 2111 (2013);

Reporting

“30. Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of all aspects of this resolution as part of his regular reporting to the Security Council on the situation in Somalia;

31. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Somali refugees to return home voluntarily from Kenya

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Nearly half a million registered Somali refugees in Kenya will get support when they return to their homeland in an orderly fashion — if they choose to do so — under an agreement signed Sunday by the UN refugee agency and the governments of Kenya and Somalia.

“It’s very important to underline that no one is forcing Somalis to leave Kenya,” said Raouf Mazou, UNHCR’s representative in Kenya.

“The government and people of Kenya have tirelessly provided protection and assistance to Somali refugees for two decades. The agreement we signed on Sunday does not mean Kenya is no longer willing to do so.”

The agreement, known formally as a Tripartite Agreement, establishes a legal framework and other support for Somali refugees in Kenya who might eventually wish to return to their homeland. It defines the roles and responsibilities of the three parties in accordance with international standards.

“Among other things, this means any refugee has the right to choose whether to go home, after they have been given information about conditions on the ground in Somalia so they can make an informed decision,” Mazou added. “It also means returns should be conducted in safety and dignity.”

In the five camps that make up the Dadaab refugee camp complex in north-eastern Kenya, there are more than 388,000 Somali refugees. There are 54,000 Somali refugees in Kakuma camp in north-western Kenya and 32,500 living in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, for a precise total of 474,483.

UN High Commissioner António Guterres, on a visit to Somalia earlier this year, acknowledged that Somali refugees are already voting with their feet and returning home by themselves to areas they deem safe. He said it would be inconceivable for refugees themselves to decide to go home and UNHCR not be there to assist them. For this reason, the Tripartite Agreement adopted an incremental approach to repatriation, starting with the provision of support to refugees who return on their own, leading to formal returns organized by UNHCR whenever conditions are right.

“This also means the agreement acknowledges the need for continued protection of Somali refugees in Kenya, and the need for other durable solutions to their plight,” Mazou said.

Signing of this agreement became possible after formation of the Federal Government of the Republic of Somalia in August 2012 that allowed for open dialogue to gradually find solutions to Somali displacement. Consolidating peace in Somalia is challenging and the situation in parts of the country remains fragile. The process, however, is moving in the right direction and there are positive signs paving the way for solutions to displacement.

“We ask the international community to support efforts towards the creation of conditions conducive for safe and dignified voluntary return to Somalia,” said Alessandra Morelli, UNHCR representative for Somalia based in Mogadishu. “No one wants to see refugees go home and have to flee again, or become displaced inside Somalia” She added that:

“UNHCR will work closely with the donor community and development actors to ensure sustainable reintegration in areas of return.”

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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ACTION NEEDED TO PULL CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC OUT OF CRISIS

Posted by African Press International on November 12, 2013

NEW YORK, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the meeting of the International Contact Group on the Central African Republic, as prepared for delivery by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, in Bangui on 8 November:

I thank the African Union and the Mediator of the Economic Community of Central African States for the Central African Republic crisis, His Excellency President Sassou Nguesso, for inviting the United Nations to participate in the third meeting of this International Contact Group. I thank the Government of the Central African Republic for hosting this first meeting of the Group in Bangui.

We meet at a moment of real urgency for the people of the Central African Republic. They are suffering. They are vulnerable. Their security, dignity and future must be foremost in the discussions today and in the actions that must be taken as soon as possible to pull the country out of this dire crisis.

All too often in the past, the Central African Republic has been described as a forgotten crisis. But, today more is being done to sound the alarm and mobilize a response. Since the last meeting of the International Contact Group in July, there has been increased awareness about the situation and the plight of its people.

The African Union and Economic Community of Central African States for the Central African Republic have strengthened their efforts to support the transitional authorities and agreed to deploy the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic. A high-level meeting on the Central African Republic was organized by the European Union, France and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. And, the Security Council adopted its resolution 2121 on 10 October 2013.

The international community is speaking with one voice. We must now translate awareness and concern into effective action to ensure that the crisis is addressed in all its dimensions — security, political, human rights and humanitarian. We must help stop the suffering and act now, without delay.

There has been some movement on the political track. Most of the transitional institutions and implementation mechanisms are now established. The Government has developed a draft road map for operationalizing the transitional commitments. A key milestone on the horizon will be the holding of free and fair elections within 18 months of the inauguration of the Head of State of the Transition. I encourage the National Transitional Council to adopt the draft road map and promulgate the electoral code as soon as possible. I also encourage the authorities to establish the National Authority for the Elections. The United Nations stands ready, once the National Authority for the Elections is in place, to provide assistance in identifying the technical requirements for the successful organization of elections, defining a more specific calendar and mobilizing resources.

Security remains the most immediate priority and pressing concern. I am profoundly concerned about the rapid deterioration of security and the rule of law in the Central African Republic, particularly in the countryside, and the corresponding deterioration of the humanitarian situation.

Elements of the ex-Séléka coalition have continued to terrorize the population, with rampant looting and grave human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, targeted killings and the recruitment of child soldiers. We have also seen the emergence of local self-defence groups and a cycle of targeted attacks and reprisals with religious underpinnings. This is planting the seeds for a long-lasting conflict between communities that have always co-habited peacefully. We must do everything in our power to de-escalate the religious tensions between Muslim and Christian communities.

I remind the national authorities of their responsibility to ensure respect for human rights, to bring perpetrators to justice and protect all Central Africans from abuse. I call on them to take all necessary measures to restore security and the rule of law and to facilitate humanitarian access. The regroupment and cantonment of former Séléka fighters should take place as soon as possible, in compliance with international standards.

I encourage ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) to help the authorities organize a national conference as soon as possible, as decided by ECCAS leaders at their last Summit. I urge the international community to provide support to MISCA. A Technical Assessment Mission led by my Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations ended its visit yesterday, and I will report to the Security Council shortly.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has earmarked $2.5 million through the Peacebuilding Fund to support the refurbishment of police and gendarmerie stations in Bangui and the interior. Additional support has also been approved in principle by the Peacebuilding Fund to support the regroupment of former Séléka elements.

Finally, let us all recognize that the Central African Republic faces a financial crisis that limits its ability to address the current crisis. While I encourage the international community to help, the level of assistance will depend on the Central African Republic authorities themselves. You must help us to help you. I therefore encourage the Government to make every effort to improve the transparency in the management of the available financial resources.

Excellencies, let me return once again to the urgency of the situation, and the need to act while there is time to prevent any further deterioration. Sparing the people of the Central African Republic more suffering and insecurity must be our collective goal. There is a chance to work together to reverse the downward spiral in the Central African Republic and to set the country on a path toward peace and stability. Time is of the essence. We cannot let the people of the Central African Republic down at this moment of pressing need. Thank you for your attention.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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SUPPORT EFFORTS FOR WELL-COORDINATED SOLUTIONS

Posted by African Press International on November 10, 2013

NEW YORK, November 7, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the National Assembly of Niger, in Niamey, 6 November:

It is a distinct privilege to address the Members of the National Assembly of Niger. It is particularly meaningful to do so with Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. We are joined by Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Development of the European Union, and my Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi.

Together, we are on a journey of solidarity with the people of the Sahel. We are here to listen — and we are here to act.

Our message is simple and clear. It is drawn from many years of experience around the world. Peace is not sustainable without development. Development is not sustainable without peace. The two challenges must go hand in hand. And so, we have come to Niger to join hands with you.

The United Nations is proud to have worked with the people of Niger over the years to forge sustainable solutions. We are teaming up to accelerate progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals — including through the ambitious agricultural transformation plan, the 3N Initiative — Nigeriens Feeding Nigeriens.

We are committed to assisting in your efforts to advance good governance and build effective, trustworthy institutions. We are partnering to support your initiatives to expand opportunities and sustainable livelihoods, particularly for young people. We are resolved to do all we can to open doors for the women and girls of Niger — to quality schools, good jobs, safe communities, decent health care and greater political participation, including here in this parliament.

Earlier today, I was pleased to join President [Mahamadou] Issoufou’s call to action on demographic issues. I am doing my part at the United Nations to empower women. For the first time in history, five UN peacekeeping operations are led by women. I selected a distinguished daughter of Niger, Aïchatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, to head our mission in Côte d’Ivoire — one of the largest in the world. She is doing an outstanding job. I am proud of her and I know you are, too.

Niger is contributing to global peace and security in so many other ways. I pay tribute to the almost 2,000 brave Nigerien citizens serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations — from Mali to Haiti, from the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond. I honour the memory of the 19 who lost their lives serving under the UN flag. I also appreciate Niger’s continued assistance to thousands of Malians who have taken refuge in your country.

Throughout the Sahel, we see instability and unrest, more people being displaced, rising food and fuel prices, severe drought and people sacrificing everything to migrate for greater opportunity.

I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those who so tragically perished in the Sahara last week. Even had they survived the desert crossing, we know their journey would have remained treacherous. Their hopes for a better life may have remained simply a mirage.

Our debt to them must be a solemn commitment to prosecute the human smugglers who stole their lives, to address the food crises that plague Niger, to improve conditions in the communities from which they came so that others do not feel compelled to leave, and to create safe opportunities for willing migrants to work abroad. The United Nations is devoted to protecting human rights, and the rights of migrants are of urgent concern to me.

Across these complex and difficult challenges, the people of Niger and the Sahel are teaching the world something very important. You are proving that problems can no longer be confined within borders, and so solutions must also rise above dividing lines — across borders and bureaucracies, across communities and cultures, across politics and parties.

This is our twenty-first century test. We must dig deeper to get at the root causes of conflict. In the Sahel, those roots can be traced to scarcities of water and food, pressures on land, the lack of development and rampant insecurity. We must deal with these issues in a comprehensive way — not merely as isolated, unrelated problems of armed conflict, political instability or economic development.

That is why our United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel is based on identifying crucial connections — and supporting your efforts to drive hard at them with well-coordinated solutions.

As representatives closest to the people of Niger, you are essential to success. You are the crucial link between the local and global. As part of our strategy, we are working to establish a regional platform of parliamentary committees to share experiences, discuss common challenges and define common priorities. We want to help strengthen parliaments and empower all political parties to build a culture of peace across the Sahel. We invite your active engagement.

No country or organization can do it alone. We must work together so that we hear all voices, take in all political views and build peace and stability that lasts. That is the twenty-first century test that Niger and the Sahel are putting forward to the world. Together, let us join forces and pass this test. Together, let us take strength from your great country’s motto: “Fraternité, Travail, Progrès”. Thank you.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Kampala Talks and the Situation in the Great Lakes Region

Posted by African Press International on November 9, 2013

WASHINGTON, November 7, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Special Briefing

Russell D. Feingold, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Via Teleconference

Washington, DC

November 6, 2013

MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. We’re pleased today to have Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russ Feingold, who will brief us on the Kampala talks and the situation in the Great Lakes region. Just a reminder that this is an on-the-record briefing. Special Envoy Feingold will open with a few introductory remarks, and after that point we’ll be ready for your questions and answers. With that, Special Envoy Feingold, if you’ll start us off.

MR. FEINGOLD: Good morning, everybody, and thank you for your interest and your participation. I’ll just make a few comments and then, of course, will be happy to answer any questions.

I started this position in July, but I’ve been trying to follow events in this region throughout my career in the Senate, where I was either a member or chairman or ranking member of the Africa subcommittee in the Senate. So when Secretary Kerry contacted me and asked me to take this position, I already realized that this was one of the most serious crises in the world, as you – many of you already know. Some five to six million people have died in the course of 20 years of this conflict. There is unspeakable violence, sexual violence against women and children, children being conscripted into the military, and there continues to be something like dozens of – as many as 40 to 45, perhaps – armed illegal groups in eastern Congo.

So it’s one of the greatest crises in the world, but it’s easy for people to confuse what’s really happening in terms of the attempt to try to turn this around. There are really two different processes that are in place and they are unconnected to each other formally, but are related to each other. One is the framework agreement, which is the agreement that was signed in Addis Ababa by 11 nations from the region, including the critical ones – DRC – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. But these agreements were signed also under the auspices of the African Union and the United Nations. And that is where the significant international involvement in trying to resolve this problem under the Framework for Peace, Security and Cooperation really started in its most recent phase last – and that’s just this past February. So that’s one part of the process, and in my view, and I think the view of the international community and the envoys, that’s the most important avenue for trying to resolve the fundamental problems. So that’s one of the processes.

The other one, though, is what you’ve been hearing about in the last few days that has a significant relationship to this, and that’s the so-called Kampala talks. Before the framework, last year in December, after the M23 rebel group had taken over Goma and had further roiled the situation in eastern Congo, independently of the United Nations, President Museveni, the President of Uganda, tried to broker talks between the M23 and President Kabila and Democratic Republic of Congo. These, sponsored by the so-called ICGLR, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, are what are known as the Kampala talks being held in Kampala, Uganda.

These have sort of sputtered over the last few months. They were only supposed to take a couple weeks, and contemplated that the result would be the elimination of this one group, the M23, that that would somehow be negotiated. This really sputtered until late July, late August, when fighting broke out and the group of special envoys that had been appointed to take on this issue – Mary Robinson of the UN, myself, a representative of the European Union, a representative of the African Union, and Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General – when all of us decided that it was urgent to stop the fighting, to go to Kampala and try to re-stimulate the process. So we made a first trip there and there were negotiations going on at the time that we observed and tried to support. They were going to take care of getting rid of the M23 and making arrangements for that within 14 days in September, but that didn’t happen.

And so we went back for another round just two, three weeks ago. And I was personally involved in five different evenings of negotiations that greatly narrowed the difference between the Democratic Republic of Congo and then – and the M23. Much of the question was resolved at that point, but there didn’t seem the will on the part of the M23 to actually sign. That led to a final round of negotiations this past weekend that also went late in the night in Kampala, and the result of that is what you’ve been reading about, that after all these negotiations, it was agreed that a first step to resolve the M23 issue was the M23 would announce that it is disbanding, that it is renouncing its rebellion. They have made that statement. The second is that the Democratic Republic of the Congo would say they would stop military action against the M23. Those two steps have essentially happened.

The third step, though, has to occur yet, and that is the actual signing of an agreement or engagement that has been worked out in great detail. It’s not like this has to be negotiated; it’s already negotiated. It’s ready to be signed. And I and the other special envoys are standing by, ready to return to Kampala for that sort of a ceremony or meeting as early as tomorrow or early next week. Again, though, this would only resolve one aspect of the issue, the very serious problem of the M23. It does not deal with the root cause – all the other root causes of the problem, does not deal with the so-called FDLR and the ADF and other armed groups and all the issues about what the Democratic Republic of the Congo has to do in order to reform itself. That is part of the broader framework. But we believe this signing would not only solve this one problem; it would lead and give momentum to the broader effort where, we hope, through a broader mediated dialogue, the actual countries involved would be at the table. Not the M23, per se, or that kind of a group, but the people and the entities at the table would be Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and perhaps other countries from the region.

So I hope I didn’t get too deep into the weeds with that, but the distinction between the Kampala talks and the framework is important for understanding exactly what’s going on here.

Okay. Happy to take questions.

MODERATOR: Hi, Cynthia. If you could just again read the instructions to our callers for how they would ask a question, and then we’ll stand by for a moment for those first ones to come in.

OPERATOR: Certainly, and once again, for any questions or comments, press * and then 1. That’s * and then 1 for your questions or comments. And one moment, please, while we order the queue.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Cynthia. I think we can start with our first question in queue, Michele Kelemen from NPR.

QUESTION: Yeah, hi. Thanks for doing this. I’m wondering if you can – can you hear me?

MR. FEINGOLD: Yes, I can.

QUESTION: Yeah, okay, sorry. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about the role of this more assertive UN force in Congo and how much that is working and whether or not that can be translated to other conflicts as you look across the continent.

MR. FEINGOLD: That’s a very important question and important part of this.

First of all, the effort of the intervention brigade, which is a part of the MONUSCO UN operation force, is one of a series of major signs that the international community is giving unprecedented – I like to call it sustained attention to this problem. So it should be looked at not only in terms of strengthening the abilities and the capacity and the mandate of MONUSCO, but also it is combined with this framework under the auspices of the United Nations, the special envoys being appointed, the fact that the World Bank pledged over $1 billion if this process can be successful.

All of this occurred, and then in addition to that, this intervention brigade was given the ability to take offensive action to disarm and demobilize these armed groups, and as I indicated, the estimates vary, but there are certainly dozens of these groups. Most people believe this is an exceptional approach, some would say unprecedented, but in any event, it’s a very strong approach that stands in great contrast to, frankly, often criticized role of the UN forces in this region in the past which did not have this capacity.

So how does it work? Well, the IB, and in fact, the MONUSCO itself stand in support of the efforts of the federal army of the Congo. So this does not lead – they do not lead and take the – make the decisions unilaterally to decide who to go after or when, but they do provide coordination. Sometimes it’s more in the form of a backup such as making sure that civilians are protected. In some cases, it’s direct action. This occurred both at the end of July – excuse me, at the end of August – and also just recently, where in some cases, the FARDC was in the lead, in some cases it was in cooperation, and sometimes this intervention brigade or MONUSCO itself, with the intervention brigade as a part of it, do this.

So it’s a creative mechanism. I think your question really goes to the central issue, as not only is this very important for the confidence of the Congolese military and going after these illegal groups, but this may have long-term consequences for what people believe could happen if United Nations peacekeeping forces were given a stronger capacity to deal with violence and threats to civilians. This has exciting potential and the initial signs are that this is a very successful operation under the leadership of Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary General, and General dos Santos Cruz, who is a commander who had good, strong experience in Haiti. And I met with him and seeing that they are – these two are an exceptionally strong combination for this effort which certainly will be pointed to, whether for good or bad, as to whether this kind of an operation can work. The initial signs are that it is successful, so far is a good concept, and is working well, at least in this context.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Just a reminder to our callers, to ask a question, you dial *1. Again, *1 to ask a question. Cynthia, I believe our next caller is Deb Riechmann from AP, if you can open her line. Thank you.

OPERATOR: And Deb, your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, I have several questions. Do you have any information about the whereabouts of some of the M23 leaders who are wanted for serious abuses? Any information on that that you could offer? And is there any details about how they will go – they will now go about disarming the rebels? And how can you ensure that the M23 won’t disappear across the border, regroup, and reemerge?

MR. FEINGOLD: I do not at this point have specific information about where some of the top leaders of M23 might be at this point. What I have seen is press speculation. I expect to get some more information in the near future, but that is something that is not clear at all.

In terms of how the process will work – disbanding the M23 and demobilizing them, disarming them – the agreement that is yet to be signed has very specific provisions that provide for the sequencing of how the group will be disarmed; where, for example, they would be in a cantonment zone, which is important because they need to be protected from other armed groups. To disarm them and not provide them protection would be obviously unreasonable and not something they would sign on to. So there is a very carefully worked out sequence of steps.

It also raises the question of groups of those who cannot get amnesty. You were sort of referring to some of those individuals. There is also an important step that has to be taken, which is the passing of a national amnesty law by the Congolese Government. That amnesty law will not provide amnesty for war crimes or crimes against humanity for people who have committed those crimes. It will only – if this agreement goes through the way I hope it will and believe it will – it will only provide amnesty for the – sort of the rank-and-file members of M23 for purposes of having been part of a rebellion. In other words, they’re forgiven for having started or been involved in a rebellion as long as they pledge individually to not rebel again. And if they do rebel again or participate in rebellion, they lose their amnesty, but no amnesty for the type of people who have committed crimes against humanity and international crime.

So that’s a major distinction between this and the 2009 agreement, actually the March 23 – M23 agreement in 2009 that did give that kind of amnesty to people who committed major crimes. In fact, they allowed them to come back into the Congolese military. That is not happening in this case if this agreement goes through the way I believe it will go through, and certainly, the international community and the United States would not support such an agreement. I also believe that the Congolese Government would never sign such an agreement this time.

So there has to be accountability. There’s no impunity in this this time.

QUESTION: So there will be some accountability for crimes committed, then?

MR. FEINGOLD: There has to be. And in fact, the United States –

QUESTION: But not rank-and-file guys. How do they determine who is held – which ones are held accountable? Does it depend on what they –

MR. FEINGOLD: They have a very good sense –

QUESTION: — or – depending on what the crime was, or depending on who they were?

MR. FEINGOLD: Yeah. Sure. Well, of course, it’s based on evidence that they committed war crimes –

QUESTION: Okay.

MR. FEINGOLD: — whether it be crimes of rape or crimes of conscripting child soldiers or any of the sort of acts – there’s plenty of information out there, and the ability to indict individuals, some of whom have already been indicted by Congolese justice system. There’s plenty of information to identify, and we have a very good sense of the people who would be subject to that kind of a process.

So, yes, there has to be accountability. The accountability would be most likely through the Congolese justice system, and that is going to need some help. One of the ideas that is out there that the United States believes is a good idea, and the international community, is a piece of legislation that is currently pending before the Congolese parliament for what’s called mixed courts. Mixed courts provide – it’s a model that’s been used, I believe, in other places, where a court is composed of some Congolese judges but also international judges with experience in these sorts of things, probably from other African countries, so to sort of upgrade and improve the quality of the process so there can be appropriate indictments and prosecution and punishment. This will be one of our very top priorities, for the special envoys and for the Congolese Government, so that this has a very different face than what happened with – on the previous two occasions, where this – an agreement was made but it essentially just set up a system where this would happen again. The goal here is to make sure this can’t happen again.

QUESTION: Okay.

MODERATOR: Cynthia, I believe our next caller in line is Arshad Mohammed from Reuters. Can you please open Arshad’s line?

OPERATOR: And Arshad, your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for doing the call. Two things: Can you explain to us how you hope the Kampala Declaration, once it is signed, may help pave the way to addressing some of the root causes of the conflict in eastern Congo, and notably, how it might over time help address questions such as the return of Tutsi refugees from Rwanda? And secondly – and guarantees of land for Tutsi pastoralists in eastern Congo.

MR. FEINGOLD: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: And then, secondly, do you anticipate any change in the U.S. position on defense assistance to Rwanda in the light of the current situation on the ground?

MR. FEINGOLD: Your question goes right to the heart of this matter and what I started the conversation about, the distinction between the Kampala talks and the broader talks – hopefully, mediated talks – that need to happen under the framework agreement. The Kampala talks preceded and were not directly related to the framework, but it was our judgment as special envoys that it would be extremely important to resolve the M23 issue to get on to those root causes. In other words, if it was still actively, with its military capacity at the time, causing war in eastern Congo, it would be extremely hard to get the parties to sit down and talk about the broader context. So that’s why we put so much focus on trying to get what we hope is the resolution, conclusion of the talks, and the disbandment of the M23. But it is only a series of talks that have to do with M23 and its rebellion. It does not go to the root cause of the problem.

So how do we get to the next step? The next step is to get the parties in the region, hopefully with the help of the African Union and others, to agree on actual talks and an agenda for talks – mediated talks, I would hope – under African leadership, where the items on that agenda are not just the M23 but are things exactly what you just described. How can refugees be returned? And that’s just not a problem of how do you – where do you return them to. The question is, have you resolved and given protection for ethnic tensions, Rwandaphone populations that live in eastern Congo, land tenure issues, and others? In so doing, you have to be careful to not get into matters that are purely or largely matters within the context of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There needs to be some sensitivity to those issues that are properly within the sphere of that government and our work with them, and then some issues are international and some are regional. The framework agreement contemplates that because it has benchmarks, separate benchmarks, for international, regional, and national progress in these areas.

My belief is the only way you get those benchmarks enforced and integrated with each other is by having actual talks where countries like Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo are represented at the table, and probably other countries in the region who have an interest in this matter, because as the summit in Pretoria that I just returned from illustrates, the entire continent, particularly the SADC region and the ICGLR region, are extremely concerned about this instability in Congo and see it as threatening the entire continent, not just the specific Great Lakes region.

The other – only other point I would make is that, in the somewhat narrower context of being able to deal with other armed groups in the area, the successful disbandment of the M23 clearly opens the door for the absolute necessity to go after groups like the FDLR, which, of course, is associated with the Rwandan genocide in the past, and the ADF, which is a group that has been antagonistic to the Ugandan Government over the years and is largely operating in eastern Congo, as well as other groups. So Kampala is a jumping off point to get more serious about those other armed groups, but also fundamentally to have a series of negotiations that actually get at some of the issues that have led to this extremely complicated situation in eastern Congo.

QUESTION: How – as I understand it, there are no such additional negotiations scheduled. How quickly do you think that may happen, and what are the impediments to that happening once the M23 issue is substantially resolved, if it is?

MR. FEINGOLD: It will require the political will of the countries in the region. These countries have all signed the framework agreement in which they pledged no support for these armed groups, in which they agreed that issues about reform within the Democratic Republic of Congo and issues about the return of refugees and all – and as well as positive opportunities in terms of economic development. There’s already this piece of paper that talks about that and benchmarks. But in the end, there’s no requirement in any of that, that this be a face-to-face process where there’s a mediator who actually encourages them to come to serious agreements that can be enforced and watched over time. That is something that all of us have been working on. I have discussed this myself with President Kagame, President Kabila, Mrs. Zuma, the head of the African Union, and there’s a healthy conversation going on about whether such talks could occur, what they would look like, who might be involved in those talks.

But in the end, if the African leaders do not want such talks, they won’t happen. There’s nothing in the framework itself that mandates that that particular process occurs. It’s my belief as a special envoy that, without that, this is not likely to be a successful effort at getting at the root causes. They’re too complex to simply do by sort of a shuttle diplomacy approach.

QUESTION: Lastly, can you comment on the U.S. posture on military assistance to Rwanda?

MR. FEINGOLD: Yes. The United States has chosen this year to be firm with regard to our concern that there is a credible body of reporting that Rwanda has given support to the M23, at least in the past. Rwanda is a friend and an ally, and we have a lot of admiration for what they’ve accomplished; but any such support for the M23, of course, is inconsistent with our views, with international law, and in particular, Rwanda’s own position as a signatory to the framework.

So we have been candid with our friend. We have, in some cases, put sanctions because of a concern – concerns about, for example, the support – the recruitment or assistance in terms of children soldiers for the M23 and involvement of Rwanda in that. If it turns out that Rwanda is no longer involved in such activities, if it turns out that their role here has been a positive one and there is much that they have done during this process to be positive, with President Kagame issuing a statement that he wanted these talks concluded – if that bears out that there is a different approach here than the one we have believed is happening, then we would certainly review whether it’s appropriate to continue these sanctions. They are based specifically on certain actions that we believe occurred, and if those actions cease, there would certainly be a serious review of whether it’s appropriate to continue.

QUESTION: And do you believe that they have ceased?

MR. FEINGOLD: We don’t know for sure. This is just like the questions about where some of these individuals might be. That is still up in the air. And I think it’s going to be a fact-based investigation with the sincere hope that we find out that that support has terminated, and certainly with an open mind in that regard.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for a couple more questions here. Next in line we have Nicolas Revise from AFP. Cynthia, can you open up his line?

OPERATOR: And Nicolas, your line is open.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you for doing that. A follow-up on Arshad’s question: Is it correct to say that the surrender of M23 is partly due to huge U.S. pressures put on Rwanda to cut off ties with M23 rebellion, and especially thanks to very recent phone call between the Secretary Kerry and President Kagame? Thank you.

MR. FEINGOLD: I would say, first of all, that the United States has taken a much more involved role in this entire region, that that has included efforts to try to bring the Kampala talks to a successful conclusion. And a part of that has been Secretary Kerry’s willingness to call not once but more than once to suggest to all the leaders in the region that this process must conclude.

In addition, the United States has shown tremendous interest in this by allowing me to work full-time as the first full-blown special envoy, and I have traveled to the region now three times since early September to work with the other special envoys. This is a level of engagement that is probably unprecedented for the United States. So it clearly – the decision by President Obama and Secretary Kerry to make this one of their leading priorities in Africa, and frankly, one of the leading priorities in their national policy, is really significant. And when Secretary Kerry – in addition to his phone call, when Secretary Kerry had an opportunity to chair the United Nations Security Council for the first time in his tenure as Secretary of State, he could have chosen a lot of topics to discuss, to make the topic. He chose this.

And that was an important moment to signal the very intense American involvement in this, which is continuing on a daily basis. So I am proud to be part of that effort. The leadership shown by this Administration and the engagement, I think is being noticed. In fairness, it is combined, of course, with the rest of the international community. The fact that the United Nations chose Mary Robinson, a distinguished former president of Ireland, to be an envoy, to have the full-time envoy from the European Union, an envoy from the African Union, and Mr. Kobler’s involvement.

These are levels of diplomatic sustained attention combined with the United States efforts that are unprecedented. And what’s really striking is that we are there all the time. It is not as if we have a meeting in New York or we go to Africa every once in a while. The leaders, and particularly the people at the Kampala talks, noticed that we were around even at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning on occasion to observe the proceedings. I believe all of that, including, of course, Secretary Kerry’s phone calls, were helpful in making it clear that we would not go away until this was resolved.

MODERATOR: I believe we have time for that one last question, and the last question here is from Dana Hughes from ABC. Cynthia, can you open up Dana’s line?

OPERATOR: Dana, your line is open.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you again for doing this. Just a couple of follow-up questions. One, I was interested in what you were talking about with the accountability and the international sort of justice with Congolese judges and international judges as well. Can you talk a little bit about getting to the heart of the problem of the security sector reform and what role the United States is playing in that? Are – is the United States providing trainers? Are there still military trainers on the ground?

MR. FEINGOLD: Well, first of all, the accountability issue and justice issues is one of the three aspects of security sector reform. Number one, of course, is the military. Number two is police. And number three is the justice system. So I’ve already talked about the way in which perhaps mixed courts legislation could assist in that part of the process.

But there needs to be a greater reform of the military itself. Now, some steps have been taken, and I think the success of the Congolese military is an indication in its recent actions that those steps are helping. For example, they put in new, more effective commanders, they have better logistical actions.

On the other hand, there’s much more that has to be done to modernize the military. In fact, the soldiers are not even paid in an effective way. There needs to be a much better system for making sure that this is a professional army where people are paid, and aren’t encouraged to sort of get their payment by abusing local citizens, which is something that has happened in the past. We have to make sure that this army is one that would no longer take advantage of a military situation to take reprisals against citizens, or take advantage of people in a community just because they happen to be in an area that they’ve successfully taken over during a military operation.

The United States is prepared to assist, through the United Nations and through our own programs, with a wide range of reform measures involving the military. That’s one of the things I’m working with various donor communities about how we might help with something like that. An example might be sort of the online, cell phone type of bank account that’s available. Mobile banking is a way to pay a soldier, rather than having a bag of money go to a commander and being sent that way.

These are innovative ways that we can help with the process, and I think that those kinds of things to modernize the military might be among the things we can do in the near term. True reform of a military like that is going to take many years – five to 10 years. And we need some signs of confidence building to build on the other things that the Congolese military has done to make it clear to people that this military is reforming itself. And so I think those kinds of modernization things would be high on the list. We’re not looking here to provide bricks and mortar for the Congolese military. We’re looking more to modernizing it.

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you very much. I want to thank Special Envoy Feingold for his time today in doing this call, and to all of you for your participation.

SOURCE

US Department of State

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Human rights in Eritrea

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 7, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth , will undertake an official visit to Tunisia and Malta from 11 to 20 November 2013 to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Since her appointment in November 2012, the Special Rapporteur has made several requests to visit Eritrea, which have so far not been granted. She has repeatedly urged the Eritrean authorities to collaborate with her mandate with a view to addressing its human rights challenges.

Due to lack of access to Eritrea, the Special Rapporteur has decided to collect first-hand information from Eritrean refugees. The Special Rapporteur appreciates that Tunisia and Malta have agreed to provide her access to the Eritrean refugee population residing in those two countries.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur will interview Eritrean refugees about the situation of human rights in Eritrea to corroborate allegations of widespread and systematic violations of human rights in Eritrea contained in reports she has received from a variety of interlocutors . The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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WHEN WOMEN DETERMINE THEIR OWN FUTURE, THEY ADVANCE DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

NEW YORK, November 7, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the launch of the call to action on demographic issues in the Sahel region, in Niamey, Niger, 6 November:

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming together today. This call to action on demographic issues is based on sound statistics. But it is not about numbers. It is about people. When we give women the education they deserve, society becomes stronger. When we protect women’s human rights, society becomes more just. And when we allow women to determine their own future, they will advance development for all. Throughout my visit to the Sahel, I am calling on leaders to listen to girls and women. Hear their needs and concerns. Give women a voice in decision-making.

I also have a special message for the men: speak out for gender equality. To benefit from the demographic dividend, we need many concrete steps. We need to invest in young people to unleash their full potential. We need better health care for women and girls. We need to increase access to family planning. We need to raise the marriage age. We need more girls in school. We need to address HIV/AIDS.

These steps are important — but they are not enough. We also need to change mindsets. Women should be able to demand their rights. But I also want men to join this call. Help us create conditions where your daughters, your sisters and your wives have full equality. Help us create a society where women never have to fear violence at the hands of men. Help us create families where mothers and fathers decide together how many children they want to have. The time to do this is now.

I have full confidence that the men of Niger and the Sahel can support the women here, and that together you can open a new future. The United Nations is your dedicated partner as you advance along this path to progress. Thank you.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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Stop threatening women with flogging

Posted by African Press International on November 7, 2013

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Flogging women, including for “honour-related offences” amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in international law and must stop, two independent UN human rights experts said Wednesday in the wake of recent cases involving women in Sudan.

Amira Osman Hamed, a 35-year-old Sudanese civil engineer and women’s rights activist appeared in court on Monday charged with dressing indecently or immorally – for refusing to cover her hair with a headscarf. If she is found guilty, she could be sentenced to corporal punishment of up to 40 lashes. Following Monday’s hearing, the woman remains in legal limbo while the prosecution decides if additional hearings will take place or if the case will be dismissed.

Premarital sex, adultery, failing to prove rape, dressing ‘indecently’ or ‘immorally’, being found in the company of a man, or committing acts that are deemed incompatible with chastity – these are some of the “offences” for which women have been chastised with flogging in various parts of the world,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo. “This needs to stop. Women like Amira must not be forced to live in fear of being flogged. Governments need to stop flogging women and girls.”

Frances Raday, the chairperson of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice, added that it was women who were disproportionally found guilty of offences that were punishable by flogging.

“Given continued discrimination and inequalities faced by women, including inferior roles attributed to them by patriarchal and traditional attitudes, and power imbalances in their relations with men, maintaining flogging as a form of punishment, even when it applies to both women and men, means in practice that women disproportionally face this cruel punishment, in violation of their human rights to dignity, privacy and equality,” Ms. Raday said.

The experts called for the immediate release of Ms. Osman Hamed and for the Sudanese Government to review its legislation related to flogging. Under international human rights law, corporal punishment can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or even to torture, and States cannot invoke provisions of domestic law to justify violations of their human rights obligations under international law.

Corporal punishment of women and girls is usually linked to the control and limitation of their freedom of movement, freedom of association, as well as their personal and sexual choices. Punishment usually has a collective dimension, and is public in character, as the visibility of the issue also serves a social objective, namely, influencing the conduct of other women,” the experts said.

“We call on States to abolish all forms of judicial and administrative corporal punishment, and to act with due diligence to prevent, respond to, protect against, and provide redress for all forms of gender-based violence,” the experts said.

The experts are in contact with the government of Sudan to clarify the issue in question.

 

SOURCE

United NationsOffice of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

 

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Humanitarian access in Blue Nile State has long been difficult

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2013

Humanitarian access in Blue Nile State has long been difficult

LONDON, – Gaining humanitarian access to places like South Kordofan and Blue Nile states or Darfur in Sudan has long been a tricky business, but things may well be getting even tougher for many of today’s larger and more risk-averse international NGOs, say aid experts.

As the UN issues urgent appeals for access to mount a large-scale polio immunization campaign in southern parts of Sudan, two new publications from the UK’s Overseas Development Institute set out the story of how people in parts of Sudan have ended up cut off from virtually all humanitarian help.

It has not always been like that. During Darfur’s long-running conflict, there have been times when it was possible to work on both sides of the lines. The paper on Darfur describes what author Jonathan Loeb calls “a golden age”, between 2004 and 2006, when the government of Sudan was for a time prepared to allow access, and when there were channels to negotiate safe passage with Darfuri rebel groups.

Loeb sets out in detail how this was done. Peace talks outside the country allowed donors and UN agencies to meet the rebel leadership, which then appointed a humanitarian coordinator to act as a contact point with international agencies. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) took the lead in negotiating access, working closely with the UN’s own security department, whose officers built up a strong network of contacts among rebel commanders.

The paper details the way agencies picked their way through a minefield of moral dilemmas. Should a UN agency like OCHA sign an access agreement with armed non-state actors? (They did.) Should they allow those groups to issue access permits – effectively visas – for their territory? (This was a step too far, and the rebels backed down.) And, trickiest of all, should the rebels, fearing some staff were spying for the government, be allowed to pick and choose, on an individual or tribal basis, which staff worked in their areas.

This is a vexed question in Sudan to the present day, and although it might be against normal humanitarian practice, NGOs were not totally unsympathetic. “This sympathy and understanding,” says Loeb in his paper, “largely stemmed from international NGOs’ observation of the HAC (Sudan’s official Humanitarian Aid Commission) and its attempts to control which Sudanese nationals were hired by UN agencies and NGOs; many aid agency staff had been personally pressured by HAC officials to hire particular staff who had close ties to the government.” Agencies negotiated their way round the demands as best they could.

But all these careful arrangements deteriorated after 2006 as the rebel groups fragmented, and collapsed altogether after 2009, when President Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court, and retaliated by expelling NGOs, targeting those organizations which had worked across the lines in rebel areas. Those which remained became unwilling to risk their work with the much larger populations in government zones. The UN retreated. By the end of last year only two NGOs, the Danish Refugee Council and Médecins Sans Frontières Spain were even trying to provide help in the rebel stronghold of the Jebel Marra (Darfur) – and that only on a very limited scale.

Too risk-averse?

The problems further south in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan provinces spring from more recent conflicts, which flared after the Southern vote for independence. By then, agencies had already become what Irina Mosel and Ashley Jackson in their paper on these areas call “very risk averse and anxious about their relationship with the government”. In addition, opposition movements are now suspicious and hostile towards the UN because of the failure of their peacekeeping forces to prioritize the protection of civilians. In these conflicts there has never been a “golden age” for access.

Nicola Bennett, OCHA’s humanitarian policy adviser in South Sudan, says she is hearing calls for a stronger push to get OCHA and other UN actors involved. “In part”, she says, “it’s perhaps to pave the way, or shield NGOs from some of these difficult positions they feel they are in, if they are sticking out their neck above the rest. It does mean working more closely with the security part of the UN… whether that’s through having humanitarian actors as part of risk assessments [and even that’s a challenge] or having, where possible, security officers who are dedicated to this, and really have a focus on supporting humanitarian actors. The majority tend to work for the peacekeeping mission and so their view of what security management looks like and who their major client is, is going to be completely different.”

“Swashbuckling” aid workers

Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan could be reached across the border from South Sudan or – in the case of Blue Nile – from Ethiopia, with or without Sudanese government consent. Twenty years ago, during the Sudanese civil war, a small number of aid agencies and churches were able to reach these states. Peter Moszynski, a journalist and activist who was there during that period, says attitudes have since changed.

“It got a lot worse,” he told IRIN, “in the context of Darfur, because of the expulsions. Some organizations used to do things which they might not admit to and certainly wouldn’t do now. It was quite a swashbuckling generation of aid workers. Now they have the mindset, ‘We won’t do anything to compromise our other operations.’ You have now got this whole `professionalism’ thing; people are doing it as a career path. The aid agency world has changed.”

Such help as these areas do get is from tiny, more or less freelance operations, and is certainly not enough to mount a full vaccination campaign. But, says Moszynski, “You really have to argue the merits of getting small amounts of aid in, versus getting things sorted out properly.”

Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile are also victims of the geographical position and their relatively small populations. For aid agencies they are a lower priority than Darfur; for diplomats a lower priority than ensuring war does not break out along the Sudan/South Sudan border.

Irina Mosel says this cannot go on for ever. “We have to continue engaging, but one of the key issues is, until when? Many actors felt that there has to be some timeline set, and if we continue to say there’s an agreement and then it isn’t implemented, when do we have to look at other alternatives? And that of course is very much determined by the level of need… There is more and more information that the humanitarian situation is severe, and that should be an indication to us that there has to be a certain end to this timeline.”

eb/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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