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UN migration agency rolls out regional response to ongoing Venezuelans exodus

As the exodus has considerably increased over the last two years, an estimated 1.6 million Venezuelans were abroad in 2017, up from 700,000 in 2015, with 1.3 million in the Americas, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“The plan is tailored to specific national contexts across 17 countries including eight South American countries, six Caribbean countries, two Central American countries and Mexico,” explained Marcelo Pisani, IOM Regional Director for Central America, North America and the Caribbean.

The exodus is not letting up. For instance, more than 800 Venezuelans are estimated to be entering Brazil each day, bringing the total arrivals to more than 52,000 since the beginning of 2017, according to the host Government.

IOM’s regional plan seeks to strengthen the response to the needs and priorities expressed by concerned governments and focuses on such activities as data collection and dissemination, capacity building and coordination, direct support and socio-economic integration.

Diego Beltrand, IOM Regional Director for South America, encourages host countries to consider adopting measures, such as regularizing the stay of Venezuelans, and called for the international community to contribute to the regional plan, which requires $32.3 million to implement.

[ this story was originally posted on UN News ]

Infographics

venezuela infographic1      venezuelainfographic2

student read iconNearly 800 Venezuelans arriving in Brazil each day, many seeking asylum, UN refugee agency says

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MUN 2018 - Port of Spain addresses Human Trafficking

  • 23 March 2018 |
  • Published in Youth

Model United Nations 2018 was hosted by the Rotary Club of Central Port of Spain, Trinidad.  110 students from 50 schools in Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago participated in six weeks of training activities that led up to the simulation of the General Assembly Plenary on 17 and 18 March 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain Trinidad. The Topic that was addressed was the situation of refugees related to armed conflict. The is year the UN also celebrates the 70th anniversary of the UDHR. The  President of the General Assembly of the MUN rang home the importance of the UDHR and its connection to refugee rights in his message to the Assembly. 

 This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was born out of and endorsed by the United Nations. It is unanimously accepted and was fashioned to guarantee fundamental human rights for every single person, regardless. 

 During this assembly’s deliberations, I urge you to talk about what comes next, to agree that every human life has to matter, regardless of borders, religious or political standing. Let us come to consensus, let us demonstrate to our people that we the peoples of this United Nations are determined to leave this abhorrent trade in human beings in the past forever!

 

Because of armed confilict in multiple regions across the world, particularly the Middle East and East Africa, there have been increases in the flow of people seeking asylum. The impact of armed conflict on women and girls is particularly grave and includes sexual exploitation and violence. The social and economic challenges of providing assistance to victims of human trafficking and refugees are complex and often the UN is looked on to take the lead in coordinating relief and negoiating the process for an international response. The Rotary Club and its sponsors felt compelled to involve the young people in this global dialogue which raises many questions and issues like racism, xenophobia and gender equality; more importantly there is hope that the dialogue will encourage youth to become more interested in standing up for human rights for peopole everywhere.

#STANDUP4HUMANRIGHTS


 PHOTOS:

MUN T&T delegates 2018 at the Hilton Hotel in Port of Spain

 

MUN2018 portofspain

 


 Delegates peforming at the night of culture - MUN 2018 Trinidad

MUN STUDENTSSINGING

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As Venezuelans flee throughout Latin America, UNHCR issues new protection guidance

In light of the continuing outflow of Venezuelans to neighbouring countries and beyond, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has released new guidance for governments to address the situation of persons in need of international protection and humanitarian assistance.

As a result of the complex political and socio-economic developments in Venezuela, a country that has traditionally been host to thousands of refugees, the number of people compelled to leave their homes continues to increase. The movements are taking place for a variety of reasons, including insecurity and violence, lack of food, medicine or access to essential social services as well as loss of income. While not all Venezuelans leaving are prompted to do so for refugee-related reasons, it is becoming increasingly clear that, while all may not be refugees, a significant number are in need of international protection.

There has been a 2,000% increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum worldwide since 2014, principally in the Americas during the last year. Although over 94,000 Venezuelans have been able to access refugee procedures in other countries in 2017, many more of those in need of protection opt for other legal stay arrangements, that may be faster to obtain and provide the right to work, access to health and education.

[ read the full story on OHCHR ]

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Message on International Women's Day 2018

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.  

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment. 

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

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International Women’s Day: The ‘time is now’ to transform global push for women’s rights into action – UN

“The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message on the Day, marked annually on 8 March and this year

From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds, said the UN chief, declaring that achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls “is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.”

“The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit,” he continued. “There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations.”  

However, some remaining serious obstacles include that more than a billion women lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence; over the next decade millions more girls will undergo genital mutilation; and women’s representation in parliaments stands at less than one quarter – and even lower in boardrooms.

“Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissmantled,” he lamented.

[ read the full story on UN News Centre ]


 

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Migration should be an act of hope not despair - UN Secretary-General

11 January 2018  - this morning, the Secretary-General presented his report Making Migration Work for All to Member States. He emphasized that migration is a positive global phenomenon that powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. He noted that migrants make a major contribution to international development – both by their work and by sending remittances to their home countries, which last year added up to nearly $600 billion, that is three times all development aid. However, he said global migration remains poorly managed, as evidenced by the humanitarian crises affecting people on the move & in human rights violations suffered by them.

The Secretary-General said the report recognizes countries’ sovereignty as the basis for better managed migration, but also stresses the need for international cooperation to make progress on the challenges surrounding this issue.

For her part, the Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, said that sound and smart policies on this topic must be based on facts, not assumptions or myths, and added that countries must consider all the people affected by migration which includes not just migrants but also the families who depend on them.


More information about the report and migration
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UN Special Rapporteur calls for fresh steps to tackle violence against women in the Bahamas

GENEVA (20 December 2017) – The Bahamas should enshrine the principle of gender equality in its constitution as part of a series of measures to clamp down on discrimination and violence against women, a UN human rights expert has urged after an official mission to the country.

Sex-based discrimination against women is not prohibited in all fields and the principle of equality between women and men is not enshrined in the legislation, which, in turn, results in a weak legal framework for the protection of women and girls against gender-based violence, noted Dubravka Šimonović, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, after her visit from 11-15 December 2017.

She urged the Government to adopt a comprehensive law on violence against women and domestic violence and to close other legal gaps, for example by outlawing marital rape and by tackling a discrepancy between the age of sexual consent and the age at which women can receive contraceptive and other health services without parental consent.

She said that there was no recognition of linkage between violence against women and the broader context of sex-based discrimination against women.“Violence against women is deeply rooted in persisting gender stereotypes and patriarchy, and sex-based discrimination against women,” the Special Rapporteur said in a statement at the end of her mission.

 

“In my view, violence against women is hidden, denied and, even more worryingly, accepted as normal.”

Dubravka Šimonović
UN Special Rapporteur for Ending Violence against women

“The Bahamas has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go to eliminate violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, that are entrenched in a broader framework of different forms of discrimination against women.”More education on gender equality and gender-based violence, awareness, the setting up of an observatory on data collection, and analysis were needed to help fully reveal the extent of violence against women and tackle gender-based violence, along with more shelters, especially in the Family Islands, a 24/7 hotlines and free legal aid for victims, the expert said.

[ read the full story at OHCHR ]

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THE SECRETARY-GENERAL REMARKS AT HUMAN RIGHTS DAY EVENT New York, 11 December 2017

I am very pleased to be with you today to begin a year-long celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Over seven decades, this mighty document has helped to profoundly change our world.

It establishes the equality and dignity of every human being.  

It stipulates that every government has a duty to enable all people to enjoy their inalienable rights and freedoms.

And it establishes that these rights are universal.

Wherever we live, whatever our circumstances or our place in society, our gender or sexual orientation, our race or religion or belief, we are all equal in human rights and in dignity.

Let me emphasise this point: human rights are not bound by any single tradition, culture or belief.

When the world’s nations adopted the Universal Declaration in 1948, they acknowledged the diversity of cultures and political systems.

But they also affirmed the Declaration as a “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.

And it is by this essential yardstick that history will judge the leaders of nations and the United Nations itself.

Have we, through our actions and our advocacy, advanced respect for human dignity, equality and rights?

Have we created equitable and inclusive societies, based on justice and fair opportunities and services for all?

Have we advanced freedom from want and fear?

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enters its 70th year, we can take stock of some of the achievements it has enabled.

Over seven decades, humanity has achieved considerable progress.

People around the world have gained progressively greater freedoms and equality.

They have been empowered to oppose discrimination, fight for protections, and gain greater access to justice, health, education and development opportunities.

Conditions of profound economic misery and exploitation have been improved.

Women’s rights have advanced, along with the rights of the child, the rights of victims of racial and religious discrimination, the rights of people with disabilities and a multitude of economic, social and cultural rights.

Oppressive dictatorships have been replaced by participatory systems of governance.

Perpetrators of horrific human rights violations – including sexual violence and genocide – have been prosecuted by international tribunals.

So, there is much to celebrate, and many to thank.

We have to thank a generation of world leaders, who emerged from a world war convinced that only justice would build peace among and within nations.

And we have to thank activists and human rights defenders – hundreds of thousands of ordinary people around the world who have mobilized to defend fundamental rights with immense courage, often in the face of extreme danger.

But as well as celebrating, we must also take stock of where we have fallen short.

In practice, recognition of the inherent dignity and equal rights of human beings is still far from universal.

Millions of people continue to suffer human rights violations and abuses around the world.

And human rights defenders still face persecution, reprisals are rising and the space for civil society action is shrinking in very many nations.  

But the founders of the United Nations were right.

Lasting peace and security can never be achieved in any country without respect for human rights.

The Sustainable Development Agenda – which aims to lift millions from poverty and enable them to access their economic and social rights -- is deeply rooted in respect for human rights.

So, Excellencies and ladies and gentlemen, we are here today not just to mark another anniversary and then go about our usual business.

We are here to reflect on the core and enduring importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to engage those around us to put its powerful words into practice.

We are here to affirm the existential commitment of the whole UN system to ensure that the central focus of all our policies is the advancement of human dignity, equality and rights.

And we are here to speak out and take a stand for human rights.

All of us have a role to play -- at work, in the street, in our daily lives.

As Secretary-General, I take the pledge that we are all being asked to take today by the UN Human Rights Office – the pledge is the following:

“I will respect your rights regardless of who you are.

I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you.

When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone’s rights are undermined, so I will stand up.

I will raise my voice.  I will take action.  I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.”

As Secretary-General, I am committed and will remain engaged in human rights, including by speaking out for those in need, promoting justice for all, and by ensuring that human rights are integrated throughout the work of the United Nations.

This is the path to a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.

Thank you very much.

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“When we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism," UN Secretary-General

Noting that at least 11,000 terrorist attacks occurred in more than 100 countries last year, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed on Thursday that “terrorism is fundamentally the denial and destruction of human rights.” Therefore, “when we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism. For the power of human rights to bond is stronger than the power of terrorism to devastate,” he said.

“Terrorism has been unfortunately with us in various forms across ages and continents,” Mr. Guterres said in a lecture on counter-terrorism and human rights at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. 

“But modern terrorism is being waged on an entirely different scale, and notably its geographic span. No country can claim to be immune,” he added. 

Last year, more than 25,000 people died and 33,000 injured in at least 11,000 terrorist attacks in more than 100 countries. 

In 2016, nearly three-quarters of all deaths caused by terrorism were in just five states: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia. The global economic impact of terrorism is estimated to have reached $90 billion in 2015. That year, terrorism costs amounted to 17.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in Iraq and 16.8 per cent in Afghanistan. 

Recalling how the Magna Carta 800 years ago established the principle of the rule of law, the Secretary-General said that at its core, human rights are a true recognition of common humanity. 

“When we protect human rights, we are tackling the root causes of terrorism. For the power of human rights to bond is stronger than the power of terrorism to devastate,” he said.

Read the full story

 

 

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Please stop the executions: The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.
Excerpts from the remarks by the UN Secretary-General at the Panel "Transparency and the death penalty" on World Day Against the Death Penalty

Read the full statement below:

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
Remarks at Panel on “Transparency and the death penalty”
New York, 10 October 2017

[as delivered]

I thank the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Member States who have co-sponsored this important event.

We are here to explore a very urgent and troubling human rights issue: the continued use of the death penalty, and the secrecy that surrounds it.

This is my first public statement as Secretary-General on the death penalty.

I want to make a plea to all States that continue this barbaric practice:

Please stop the executions.

The death penalty has no place in the 21st century.

I am proud to say that my country, Portugal, abolished capital punishment 150 years ago – one of the first countries to do so. As a matter of fact, I was told in school that we were the first country, but I don’t want to create any incident with any other country that claims … but this is indeed something I am very proud of.

The reasons were those that we call on today:

The death penalty does little to serve victims or deter crime.

And even with meticulous respect for fair trials, there will always be a risk of miscarriage of justice.

This is an unacceptably high price.

The world is now moving in the right direction.

Ever more countries are abolishing the death penalty and establishing moratoria on its use. Some 170 States have either abolished it or stopped using it.

Just last month, two African States – The Gambia and Madagascar – took major steps towards irreversible abolition of the death penalty. I welcome these developments and congratulate both governments for their principled stance.  

In 2016, executions worldwide were down 37 per cent from 2015.

Today just four countries are responsible for 87 per cent of all recorded executions.

But at the same time, we are concerned by the trend of reversing long-standing moratoria on the death penalty, in cases related to terrorism.

And those countries that do continue executions also have international obligations. In many cases, they are failing to meet them.

Transparency is a prerequisite to assess whether the death penalty is being carried out in compliance with international human rights standards.

It also honours the right of all people to know whether their family members are alive or dead, and the location of their remains.

But some governments conceal executions and enforce an elaborate system of secrecy to hide who is on death row, and why.

Others classify information on the death penalty as a state secret, making its release an act of treason.

Some limit the information that can be shared with defence lawyers, limiting their ability to appeal for clemency.

Still others grant anonymity to companies that provide the drugs used in executions, to shield them from negative publicity.

This lack of transparency shows a lack of respect for the human rights of those sentenced to death and to their families.

It also damages the administration of justice more generally.

Full and accurate data is vital to policy-makers, civil society and the general public. It is fundamental to the debate around the death penalty and its impact.

Secrecy around executions undermines that debate, and obstructs efforts to safeguard the right to life.

Today, on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, I reaffirm my opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

I invite all those states that have abolished the death penalty to support our call on the leaders of those that retain it, to establish an official moratorium, with a view to abolition as soon as possible.

I wish you a successful and thought-provoking discussion, and I thank you very much.

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