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In historic move, 164 countries adopt the Global Compact on Migration

The Global Compact for Migration was adopted on Monday by leading representatives from 164 Governments at an international conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in an historic move described by UN Chief António Guterres as the creation of a “roadmap to prevent suffering and chaos”.

Speaking at the opening intergovernmental session, Mr. Guterres, said that the Compact provides a platform for “humane, sensible, mutually beneficial action” resting on two “simple ideas”.

“Firstly, that migration has always been with us, but should be managed and safe; second, that national policies are far more likely to succeed with international cooperation.”

The UN chief said that in recent months there had been “many falsehoods” uttered about the agreement and “the overall issue of migration”. In order to dispel the “myths”, he said that the Compact did not allow the UN to impose migration policies on Member States, and neither was the pact a formal treaty.

“Moreover, it is not legally-binding. It is a framework for international cooperation, rooted in an inter-governmental process of negotiation in good faith,” he told delegates in Marrakech.

The pact would not give migrants rights to go anywhere, reaffirming only the fundamental human rights, he said. Mr. Guterres also challenged the myth that developed countries no longer need migrant labour, saying it was clear that “most need migrants across a broad spectrum of vital roles.”

Acknowledging that some States decided not to take part in the conference, or adopt the Compact, the UN Chief expressed his wish that they will come to recognize its value for their societies and join in “this common venture.”

The United States did not endorse the Compact, and more than a dozen other countries either chose not to sign the accord or are still undecided. 

Marrakech Compact, reality vs myth

The Moroccan minister of foreign affairs, Nasser Bourita, banged his gavel announcing the adoption of the Compact, while outlining the various efforts his country has made to bring about global consensus on international migration.

Along with Climate Change, unregulated migration has become a pressing issue in recent years. Every year, thousands of migrants lose their lives or go missing on perilous routes, often fallen victim to smugglers and traffickers.  

Mr. Guterres welcomed the overwhelming global support for the pact, saying that for people on the move, “voluntary or forced; and whether or not they have been able to obtain formal authorization for movement, all human beings must have their human rights respected and their dignity upheld.”

The adoption of the pact, now known as Marrakech Compact, coincides with the 70th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document which is central to the pact. Mr. Guterres said “it would be ironic if, on the day we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we would consider that migrants are to be excluded from the scope of the Declaration.”

 

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70 years on, landmark UN human rights document as important as ever

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights reaches its 70th anniversary on Monday, a chance to highlight the many important breakthroughs brought about by the landmark UN document, and to remind the world that the human rights of millions are still being violated on a daily basis.

Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid.

High Commissioner hails continued relevance of Declaration

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement released on Wednesday that the document has gone from being an “aspirational treatise” to a set of standards that has “permeated virtually every area of international law.”

The Declaration has shown itself to be as relevant today, as it has always been, and is applicable to situations and scenarios that could not have been foreseen at its inception, such as the need to govern artificial intelligence and the digital world, and to counter the effects of climate change on people.

Ms. Bachelet said the she remains convinced that the human rights ideal, laid down in the Declaration, has been one of the most constructive advances of ideas in human history, as well as one of the most successful.

The human rights chief pointed out that women played a prominent role in drafting the document: Eleanor Roosevelt chaired the drafting committee, and women from Denmark, Pakistan, the Communist bloc and other countries around the world also made crucial contributions. Consequently, the document is, for its time, remarkably free from sexist language, almost always referring to “everyone,” “all” or “no one” throughout its 30 Articles.

Human rights violations perpetrated ‘on a daily basis’

Celebrating the resilience of the human rights system, and the contributions of the Declaration to advancing human progress, peace and development, a team of independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, in a statement published on Friday, echoed Ms. Bachelet’s comments, noting that the “protection provided by the international human rights system has increased including by addressing new and emerging human rights issues and demonstrating its capacity to evolve and respond to people’s needs and expectations.”

However, the experts detailed some of the many violations of international law and human dignity that are perpetrated on a daily basis in many countries: “Recent memory is replete with multiple examples of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Impunity reigns supreme in many countries undergoing conflicts or political upheavals, encouraged by narrow national objectives, geopolitics and political impasse at the United Nations Security Council.”

They also said that the upsurge of nationalism and xenophobia seen in countries of asylum, at a time of rising forced-migration, is “reversing the gains of international humanitarian cooperation of the last 70 years.”

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day.

In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, the UN is urging people everywhere to “Stand Up for Human Rights”: www.standup4humanrights.org.

 

This story was originally posted on UN News

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A safer, more dignified journey for all migrants, tops agenda at global conference in Marrakech

Top politicians and officials from across the world will gather in Marrakech, Morocco this weekend, ahead of a major conference convened by the UN, to formally adopt an all-inclusive, extensive global agreement aimed at making migration safer, and more dignified for all.

The text of the agreement, formally known as the Global Compact For Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, was agreed by Member States under the auspices of the UN General Assembly last July, and hailed by Secretary-General António Guterres as “a significant achievement.”

The non-binding Global Compact is grounded in values of State sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights. It recognizes that a cooperative approach is needed to optimize the overall benefits of migration, while also mitigating its risks and challenges for individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination. 

The UN chief said, in a statement, the Global Compact “also recognizes that every individual has the right to safety, dignity and protection.”

With more than 68 million forcibly on the move today, migrants and refugees have made headlines across the globe in recent years; from the refugee crisis in Europe, to the migrant caravans hailing from Central America and heading to the southern borders of the United States.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the two-day Marrakech Intergovernmental Conference beginning on Monday:

 

Regular migrants, irregular migrants, and refugees...What’s the difference?

The Conference in Marrakech will focus on migration. And regular migration, as the Special Representative for International Migration Ms. Louise Arbour puts it, “refers to people who enter or stay in a country in which they are not a national through legal channels, and whose position in that country is obviously known to the government and in conformity with all the laws and regulations.” Regular migrants represent the “overwhelming majority of people who cross borders,” Ms. Arbour added in a recent interview with UN News.

While irregular migration “is the situation of people who are in a country, but whose status is not in conformity with national requirements”, the vast majority of them, explains the senior UN migration official, have actually entered the country legally, perhaps with a tourist or a student visa, and then extended their stay: “They can be regularized, or if not, they need to be returned to their country of origin,” she said.

Refugees, on the other hand according to the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR), is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. They have “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group”.

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80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

  • 30 November 2018 |
  • Published in Youth

By 2030, around 80 adolescents will be dying of AIDS every day if “we don’t accelerate progress in preventing transmission,” the head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday.

In a report released on Thursday, Children, HIV and AIDS: The World in 2030, current trends indicate AIDS-related deaths and new infections are slowing, but the downward trajectory is not happening fast enough.

“The report makes it clear, without the shadow of a doubt, that the world is off track when it comes to ending AIDS among children and adolescents by 2030,” said UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore, The end of AIDS is an ambitious goal envisioned by the UN agency coalition established to tackle the epidemic, known as the UNAIDSFast-Track strategy.

More than half of those children known to be dying of AIDS won’t reach the age of five, the report reveals.

Currently, 3 million persons 19 years and younger, are infected with HIV worldwide.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

 

 

 

 

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Message on World AIDS Day

1 December 2018

Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day, the response to HIV stands at a crossroads. Which way we turn may define the course of the epidemic—whether we will end AIDS by 2030, or whether future generations will carry on bearing the burden of this devastating disease.

More than 77 million people have become infected with HIV, and more than 35 million have died of an AIDS-related illness. Huge progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, and prevention efforts have avoided millions of new contaminations.

Yet the pace of progress is not matching global ambition. New HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough. Some regions are lagging behind, and financial resources are insufficient. Stigma and discrimination are still holding people back, especially key populations— including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgenders, people who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants—and young women and adolescent girls. Moreover, one in four people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, impeding them from making informed decisions on prevention, treatment and other care and support services.

There is still time -- to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.

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UN General Assembly President defends ‘landmark’ migration compact

Addressing recent reports that some countries are backing out of the United Nations global migration compact set to be adopted in December, UN General Assembly President Maria Espinosa on Wednesday defended the accord as a tool that would ensure all migrants everywhere have their rights safeguarded.

“The Compact allows enormous flexibility for countries to use the parts of the compact that can be adapted to their sovereign decisions and existing legal frameworks…it is a cooperation instrument,” said Ms. Espinosa, briefing reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

She described the Global Compact for migration as a landmark agreement which will help ensure that migrants everywhere in the world have their rights safeguarded and are treated fairly.

The compact, which is due to be adopted at a conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, in December, sets clear objectives to make migration safe, orderly and regular; addresses the concerns of signatory governments and reinforces national sovereignty; and recognizes the vulnerabilities faced by migrants.

Ms. Espinosa said that she has been encouraged by the commitment of Member States and expects the Morocco conference to be a success: “Migration is part of the way the world develops, interacts and interconnects. We have seen lately unusual migration flows that need to be tackled and addressed multilaterally. And the response is precisely the Global Compact.”

As for reports that a number of countries are backing out of the agreement, the Assembly President said that the decisions of Member State governments must be respected: “We fully understand the decision of some countries that have decided they are not ready to commit, and it’s perhaps because they are taking the issue migration very seriously, and they need to have greater discussions and conversations domestically.”

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Ending inequality means ending ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women – UN chief

Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, commemorating theInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked annually on 25 November.

“At its core, violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect­ ­– a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women,”

Mr. Guterres said at a special event at UN Headquarters observing the Day, which highlights that violence against women is as serious cause of death and incapacity as cancer, among women of reproductive age.

The Day kicks off the 16 Days of Activism under the Secretary-Generals’ UNiTe campaign, which calls on people of all sectors to join in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo,’ and as in previous years, the color orange is used to draw global attention to the issue, while the hashtag is encouraged to amplify the message of survivors and activists and to put them at the centre of the conversation and response.

The theme also aims to broaden the global conversation and highlight the voices and activism of all survivors of violence and advocates around the world – many of whom are often missing from the media headlines and social media discussions.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, the Organization’s gender equality entity, highlighted that UN initiatives shifting the livelihoods of women signal hope for progress.

“A culture that changes from questioning the credibility of the victims, to pursuing the accountability of the perpetrators within due process, is possible,” she said.

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 play   Related Video - UN Women on Violence agains Women in the Caribbean

 

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See the recording of Belize's review at the UPR 2018

  • 13 November 2018 |
  • Published in Notices

See Belize's review by peers at the 3rd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.

--- check back for the list of recommendaitons -- 

 

12 Nov 2018 -  UPR of Belize
- National Report of Belize: A/HRC/WG.6/31/BLZ/1
- Compilation prepared by the OHCHR in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to HRC resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to HRC resolution 16/21: A/HRC/WG.6/31/BLZ/2
- Summary prepared by the OHCHR in accordance with paragraph 15 (c) of the annex to HRC resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to HRC resolution 16/21: A/HRC/WG.6/31/BLZ/3

play  Recording of the live event ( 12 November 2018)

 

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On Kristallnacht anniversary, UN chief urges renewed fight against 'crime' of anti-Semitism

Political leaders have not yet taken up their responsibility to speak out loudly against neo-Nazism, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Friday, warning that anti-Semitism is on the rise.

Meeting Norbert Strauss on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi Kristallnacht attack on Germany's Jews, the Secretary-General said that testimony from Holocaust survivors needed to be heard anew, and fully understood as an ever-present reminder of what can happen if societies let down their guard. 

“Anti-Semitism is back and it needs to be fought as the crime it is,” Mr. Guterres said. He called on leaders and Governments to “clearly denounce and make evident the real risk of anti-Semitism in our societies today.”

In an intimate meeting in his office at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Guterres listened as Mr. Strauss recounted what it was like as an 11-year-old, to witness attacks and desecration of Jewish sites and monuments in Germany, and ultimately to flee the country.

Today’s meeting took place on the anniversary of Kristallnacht or “Night of Broken Glass".

The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass found on streets after windows of Jewish-owned buildings and synagogues were smashed during that night of violence in 1938.

Mr. Guterres said that he was particularly touched by the imagery, since crystals had  been symbols of beauty,  horribly transformed since then, now coming to symbolize “the end of the age of denial about the Holocaust.”

Mr. Strauss was among a group meeting the UN chief, including members of non-profit organizations advocating for the Jewish community. They gifted Mr. Guterres books related to the Holocaust.  “Only the truth can allow humanity to progress,” Mr. Guterres said, encouraging young people to continue to learn about history. “If we hide the past, we will never be able to overcome it.”

The visit comes just days after an anti-Semitic gunman went on the rampage in the US city of Pittsburgh, killing 11 Jewish worshippers in a mostly-Jewish suburb, while they attended Shabat services at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The UN chief condemned the "horrendous act" noting that anti-Semitism is the "oldest and more permanent kind of hatred" to have endured "in the history of humankind". 

Also on Friday, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) held an educators’ workshop titledPractical Tools for Celebrating Diversity and Antidiscrimination, in observance of  the Kristallnacht Pogrom and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event featured Facing History & Ourselves and a new online resource for teachers called Stories That Move – a  toolbox for antidiscrimination.

 

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US must abide by humanitarian refugee accords: UN refugee agency

Responding to United States President Donald Trump’s proclamation which would deny political asylum to migrants crossing illegally into the country,  the UN refugee agency UNHCR, released a statement on Friday saying that the US must abide by international refugee protection accords.

The Presidential Proclamation would reportedly ban migrants applying for asylum outside official ports of entry, which will impact migrants attempting to illegally enter the country from the southern border with Mexico, although legal challenges are expected to follow the move.

The agency noted that, among the people in Central America and Mexico on the move northward today, many are fleeing life-threatening violence or persecution and are in need of international protection: “UNHCR expects all countries, including the United States, to make sure any person in need of refugee protection and humanitarian assistance is able to receive both promptly and without obstruction, in accordance with the 1967 refugee Protocol to which the United States is a party."

The statement points out that it is unrealistic to expect all asylum seekers to present themselves at the border and request protection, because the reality of refugee flight is complex and requires management in a structured way with dignified reception arrangements.

Official US southern border ports of entry have had a long-standing lack of sufficient capacity to receive migrants, which is forcing many vulnerable asylum-seekers to turn in desperation to smugglers and cross the border irregularly.

Many asylum-seeking families, says UNHCR, who are making this desperate choice, are not trying to evade border authorities.

Offering to support the United States, to guarantee that any person fleeing life-threatening violence or persecution is able to reach safe ground and is able to have their claim reviewed, the UNHCR statement concludes with the message that national security and dignified reception of refugees and asylum-seekers are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing.

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