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United Nations in Trinidad and Tobago supports efforts to end Child Marriage

Monday 16 January 2016 - The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago (UNTT) welcomed the resurgence of the debate on child marriage in Trinidad and Tobago and reaffirmed its support for all efforts to end this practice. the UN in T&T  said that it was looking forward to "Trinidad and Tobago’s adoption of a bill that would protect girls from child marriage and promote gender equality, for such action could enhance the well-being of its citizens and advance achievement of its sustainable development vision".

Child marriage – defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a formal or informal marital union engaged in by a person under age 18 – violates human rights and threatens the health and prospects of, in particular, young girls. In this way, it slows progress towards gender equality, and towards ending poverty – in all circumstances and at all levels; and it undermines all dimensions of sustainable development.   

It has been shown that child marriage undermines the rights of freedom of expression, protection from all forms of abuse, and protection from harmful traditional practices identified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  It deprives the girl child of an education, exposes her to violence and abuse, and can lead to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth that are life threatening for both mother and baby – contravening State obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 These violations against children’s human rights and opportunities for personal development, also slow achievement of globally established Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as they relate to ending poverty, ensuring good health and well-being, attaining quality education and realising gender equality. Failure to achieve such goals can also directly undermine national development aspirations.  

 

 

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The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago supports efforts to end Child Marriage

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United Nations System in Trinidad & Tobago

Press Release


Monday 16 January 2016

 

The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago supports efforts to end Child Marriage

 

The United Nations System in Trinidad and Tobago (UNTT) welcomes the resurgence of the debate on child marriage and reaffirms its support for all efforts to end this practice.

 

Child marriage – defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a formal or informal marital union engaged in by a person under age 18 – violates human rights and threatens the health and prospects of, in particular, young girls. In this way, it slows progress towards gender equality, and towards ending poverty – in all circumstances and at all levels; and it undermines all dimensions of sustainable development.   

 

It has been shown that child marriage undermines the rights of freedom of expression, protection from all forms of abuse, and protection from harmful traditional practices identified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  It deprives the girl child of an education, exposes her to violence and abuse, and can lead to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth that are life threatening for both mother and baby – contravening State obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 

These violations against children’s human rights and opportunities for personal development, also slow achievement of globally established Sustainable Development Goals, particularly as they relate to ending poverty, ensuring good health and well-being, attaining quality education and realising gender equality. Failure to achieve such goals can also directly undermine national development aspirations.  

 

The UNTT therefore looks forward to Trinidad and Tobago’s adoption of a bill that would protect girls from child marriage and promote gender equality, for such action could enhance the well-being of its citizens and advance achievement of its sustainable development vision. 

 

Contacts

Narissa Seegulam, UN Coordination Analyst, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Trinidad and Tobago: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 1-868-280-8632, 1-868-623-7056

 

Aurora Noguera-Ramkissoon, Liaison Officer, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago Branch Office:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 1-868-623-7056


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Message on International Day for Persons with Disbilities

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MESSAGE ON The International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2016

Ten years ago this month, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  One of the most widely ratified international human rights instruments, with 169 Parties, the Convention has spurred significant progress in commitment and action for equality, inclusion and empowerment around the world, with disability being increasingly incorporated into the global human rights and development agendas. 

This year, United Nations Member States have embarked on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our blueprint for peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.  With its 17 interdependent Sustainable Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda is based on a pledge to leave no one behind.  Achieving this requires the full inclusion and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development.

Much remains to be accomplished before persons with disabilities can realize their full potential as equal and valued members of society.  We must eliminate the stereotypes and discrimination that perpetuate their exclusion and build an accessible, enabling and inclusive environment for all.  For the 2030 Agenda to succeed, we must include persons with disabilities in implementation and monitoring and use the Convention as a guide. 

On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I urge national and local governments, businesses and all actors in society to intensify efforts to end discrimination and remove the environmental and attitudinal obstacles that prevent persons with disabilities from enjoying their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.  Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity.

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As 2016 draws to a close, UN rights chief outlines enormity challenges to human rights

30 November 2016 – Highlighting the challenges to human rights around the world, the United Nations human rights chief called on the international community to act collectively for the common good and to do “everything possible” to prevent the situation from deteriorating

“The pursuit of narrow interests and agendas at the expense of all other States will do tremendous damage, both to States’ interests, and to their peoples,” warned Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in an informal briefing to the Human Rights Council – the primary rights body at the UN.

Voicing concern at withdrawals from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the top UN human rights official added: “These withdrawals, in my view, are a betrayal of the rights of victims of the most grave human rights violations.”

He also spoke out against recent actions, the consequences of which would undermine the legitimacy Human Rights Council. Expressing relief that these actions were unsuccessful, he called on all members of the human rights body to continue to stand by it.

“It is essential to maintain consensus on the authority of the Council’s collective decisions,” Mr. Zeid stressed.

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Also, recalling his report to the 33rd session of the Council wherein he noted a number of challenges concerning access, the High Commissioner said that there had been no significant improvement and that in some cases, the situation had actually worsened.

“Most shockingly, my Office (OHCHR) has no access to any area of Syria, even as the vast majority of the people of eastern Aleppo are still trapped in a sharply worsening siege,” he said.

High Commissioner Zeid also expressed worry at what he called an “erosion of consensus” on international institutions which are being ignored, neglected or attacked.

“To erode their legitimacy and impede their action threatens essential forces for moderation and progress – at a time of heightened risk,” he underscored.

Recalling his missions to Western Europe and North American, Mr. Zeid spoke of increasingly worrying levels of incitement to racial or religious hatred and violence, whether against migrants or racial and religious groups.

“Discrimination, and the potential for mob violence is being stoked by political leaders for their personal benefit, and the number of recorded hate crimes appears to be rising in several States,” he cautioned.

On the upcoming Human Rights Day (10 December), High Commissioner informed the Council that OHCHR will be will be launching a global public-information campaign targeted against mutual suspicion and distrust. “We need to nurture tolerance and respect, as well as stronger awareness of the universal capacity of everyone to stand up for the rights of others in daily life,” he said.

Further in his briefing, he spoke of worrying human rights situation in Myanmar and Burundi.

Following High Commissioner Zeid, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore and UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour also informed the Council of their own missions.

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ILO releases new guide to promote diversity and inclusion at the workplace

GENEVA (ILO News) – On the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (marked annually on 3 December), the International Labour Organization (ILO) is releasing a new publication to provide step by step guidance on how and when to provide workplace adjustments – also called accommodations – for workers with specific needs. 

Promoting diversity and inclusion through workplace adjustments: A practical guide highlights that while all workers should enjoy equal access to employment, some of them face barriers that may put them at a disadvantage. Such barriers can prevent them from accessing or remaining in employment and, if not addressed, they can also deprive companies of a broader, more diverse pool of workers from which to recruit. 

“Reasonable adjustments contribute to harnessing the full professional potential of workers and thereby to business success,” says Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch 

While recognizing that the need for a reasonable accommodation may arise in a variety of situations, the guide focuses on four specific categories of workers: workers with disabilities, workers living with HIV, workers with family responsibilities and workers with a particular religion or belief. 

Reasonable accommodation means providing one or more modifications that are appropriate and necessary to accommodate a worker or job candidate’s individual characteristics so that he or she may enjoy the same rights as others. 

Taking effective measures for the inclusion of all workers in the workplace is essential for the promotion of equality and to ensure that the rights and protection contained in International Labour Standards are a reality for all. “This guide constitutes a great tool for those committed to the realization of this objective,” states Horacio Guido, Chief of the Application Branch of the International Labour Standards Department. 

They also point out that these adjustments can be done at little or no cost to the employer and result in concrete benefits to both the employer and the worker. 

The publication is designed to help the user understand the concept of reasonable adjustments, accompanying measures, as well as the process and steps to provide workplace adjustments throughout the employment cycle, including practical examples. 

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Ban urges all parties in Venezuela to reduce polarization and engage sincerely in dialogue process

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Vatican’s joining of the ongoing initiative by former Heads of State and Government to promote dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the country’s political opposition, under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

According to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also called on all national actors to take tangible measures to reduce polarization and to engage sincerely in the dialogue process.

Underscoring the importance of adhering to the rule of law and the Constitution and ensuring respect for human rights, including freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, the UN chief further called on all Venezuelans, regardless of their political perspective, to exercise those rights responsibly.

“Above all,” noted the statement, “the Secretary-General reiterates his strong conviction that the Government and the opposition should make concerted efforts to focus on the country’s current challenges, including to effectively address the socio-economic needs of the country, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.”

In the statement, the Secretary-General also welcomed the expressions of support for the UNASUR initiative from the international community.

 

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UN S-G says death penalty practice 'has no place in the 21st century'

10 October 2016 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called the death penalty a cruel and inhumane practice – one that 65 countries globally retain for terrorism-related offenses – which is the focus of this year's World Day against the Death Penalty.

“It has no place in the 21st century,” Mr. Ban stressed in his message for the Day, commemorated annually on 10 October. “To be legitimate and effective, counter-terror measures, like all security operations, must be anchored in respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he added.

Yet death sentences for terrorism are often handed down after unfair and speedy trials by military or special courts.

In his message, the UN chief noted that confessions were often obtained under duress or in other ways in which the right to appeal is not respected. Some States even sought to criminalize the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms by including vague definitions in counter-terrorism legislation.

“Let us be clear: participation in peaceful protests and criticism of a government – whether in private, on the Internet, or in the media – are neither crimes nor terrorist acts,” underscored Mr. Ban. “The threat or use of the death penalty in such cases is an egregious violation of human rights,” he added.

Some may argue that capital punishment would diminish terrorism, he went on to say, but, emphasized: “This is not true. Experience has shown that putting terrorists to death serves as propaganda for their movements by creating perceived martyrs and making their macabre recruiting campaigns more effective.”

He urged everyone to continue working to abolish the death penalty in all circumstances and places.

“Let our actions always be guided by the moral compass of human rights – the most effective route to a safer, more just and secure world,” concluded Mr. Ban.

No deterrent for terrorism

In Geneva, a group of UN human rights experts meanwhile has reminded Governments around the world that capital punishment is an ineffective deterrent for terrorism – and most times an unlawful one.

In a press statement, the UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and on human rights while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, stressed that the threat of terrorism does not justify departing from international standards for the protection of human rights.


UN experts in Geneva spoke about the death penalty
  • 610641 Callamard
  • 532731 Mendez
  • 12 09 2014Special Rapporteur
  • Agnes Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Credit UN Photo/Loey Felipe
  • Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. credit : UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
  • Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré


Faced with terrorist attacks or terrorist threats in their countries, some governments have recently turned to the death sentence in an attempt to curb terrorist action, by either expanding the scope of offenses punishable by death or resuming executions for terrorist-related offences after years of moratoriums in executions.

“These measures are problematic in many ways,” warned the UN rights experts. “Reintroducing the death penalty in countries that were de jure or de facto abolitionist runs contrary to the international trend towards the progressive abolition of the death penalty.”

The General Assembly has repeatedly called on Member States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of crimes susceptible of such punishment.

In almost all regions in the world, Governments invoke the death penalty in anti-terrorism campaigns – with 15 nations having carried out executions over the last 10 years. In 2015capital punishment was imposed for these offences in at least seven countries, with most executions taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.

According to the UN experts, some countries made legal changes to introduce or expand the scope of the death penalty to terrorism-related offences.

They continued: “Many of those offenses do not amount to 'most serious crimes'– meaning those involving intentional killing – for which the death penalty may be imposed under international law.”

The experts pointed out that arbitrary sentencing exists in a small minority of countries around the world, which most frequently resort to capital punishment. They added that many States that use it for terrorism-related offences lack a system of fair trial.

“Executions carried out without adherence to the strictest guarantees of fair trial and due processes are unlawful and tantamount to an arbitrary execution,” emphasized the experts. “We have called on those governments once and again to halt such executions and to retrial the defendants in compliance with international standards,” they said.

The experts see the World Day against the Death Penalty as an opportunity to reflect on the worrying development.

Noting the world trend towards abolition, with new countries each year eradicating capital punishment, they said it was disturbing that a small minority of States disregarded international standards “in their quest to thwart a real or perceived threat posed by terrorism.”

Finally they encouraged everyone to reflect on the role that the international community can play in confronting the practice.

“We call on agencies and States offering financial or technical cooperation to counter terrorism to ensure that the programmes to which they contribute do not ultimately result in violations of the right to life,” concluded the UN experts.

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'We have to be the hope' for people most in need, says top UN humanitarian official

18 August 2016 – Praising the spirit and drive of relief workers, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, has said the global humanitarian community is determined to not let political disagreements, conflicts or natural disasters get in the way of their ability to help the people who are most in need.

 

“We have to be their hope; that we can be the ones to reach them, even if nobody else can,” said Mr. O'Brien in an interview with UN News Service.

He added that it is also equally important that humanitarian actors, who are neutral and impartial, are provided with safe and unimpeded access.

Speaking specifically about the desperate humanitarian situation Syria, the UN relief chief underscored the urgency of ensuring safe access for relief workers.

“[Parties to the conflict] and all those who have influence on them [need] to recognize [that now] is the time to have a ceasefire […] and that there is safety for humanitarians to get in to meet those needs,” he stressed.

Mr. O'Brien also praised the bravery of humanitarian workers in the country, where intense fighting has not only put the lives of many at risk, but also severely impeded their ability to access or deliver humanitarian assistance to the people in need.

 

Turning commitments into action is vital

 

In the interview, taken just ahead of World Humanitarian Day, Mr. O'Brien, who is also the UN Under-Secretary-General for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Day is an occasion for everyone, as global citizens, to reflect on the opportunity and to make a real contribution to meeting the needs of the human beings on this planet who're the most vulnerable.

He added that the Day is also linked to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit which was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in late May.

The Summit provided a common purpose and understanding of the need to have strong political will to sustain the resources necessary to be able to respond to the needs of the more than 130 million people who require urgent live-saving assistance, explained Mr. O'Brien.

“We have about $21.6 billion this year [to] meet the needs of people, who have suddenly been – through no fault of their own – cast into crisis,” he said, underscoring that turning the commitments expressed at the Summit into action is vital.

“Those who made the commitments will become the champions for delivering on these commitments, and to build the will and support […] to help us better meet the needs of humanitarian suffering,” he added.

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UN agrees to appoint human rights expert on protection of LGBT

1 July 2016 – The top human rights body at the United Nations has voted to appoint an independent expert on protection from violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) people.

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council debated the issue for nearly four hours on Thursday before adopting a resolution to create the new post. Twenty-three Council members voted for the new position, 18 members against, and six abstained.

Speaking today to reporters in New York, the UN spokesperson said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move.

“I can tell you that the Secretary-General believes that the Human Rights Council marked another important step forward when it decided to appoint a UN Independent Expert to monitor and report on levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT people globally,” said Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

“It is clear that there’s still so much that needs to be done to protect people from violence, tackle discrimination at work, end bullying in schools and ensure access to healthcare, housing and essential services,” he added.

For the first time, work on this issue will be effectively institutionalized at the Human Rights Council and there will regular reporting on these issues through the Council and the General Assembly.

The expert, to be appointed in September for an initial 3-year term, will carry out country visits, take up individual allegations with Governments and work to support and protect human rights defenders.

The position will look at issues related to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, but not intersex.

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