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UNIC Port of Spain - Caribbean UN - Displaying items by tag: human rights

Press statement by UNSDG for Latin America and the Caribbean on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

PANAMA CITY, 17 May 2019—In recent years, Latin America and the Caribbean have made significant progress in protecting and recognizing the rights of people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sexual characteristics. This progress is worthy of celebration and brings us closer to the path laid out by the ambitious Sustainable Development Agenda, which is anchored by the principle of leaving no one behind.

Some of the region’s most important achievements in the promotion of rights include the recognition of civil unions between people of the same sex1 , equal marriage2 and the recognition of gender identity for trans people3 . In terms of protection, some countries in the region have made progress in adopting anti-discrimination laws, due to the evidence regarding the prevalence of discrimination, violence and hate crimes experienced by people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

On the other hand, the Resolution to address the causes of disparities in access and use of health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, approved in September 2013 by the Ministers of Health of the Americas, recognizes that stigma and discrimination have real and adverse effects on the health of LGBTI people4 .

While these advances are important, we must recognize that progress has not been the same in all countries and there are still important challenges around ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. In the region, nine countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, with penalties that include life imprisonment.

Prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBTI people have a broad impact on human rights and public health, including the ability of LGBTI people to access justice, protection, healthcare, education, work and other rights inherent to citizens.

Laws that criminalize consensual relationships between adults of the same sex, that impose discriminatory restrictions on public discussion of the rights of LGBTI persons or the work of LGBTI organizations and human rights defenders, violate international human rights standards. There is no progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals while there are citizens whose rights and opportunities are restricted.

Public prejudice against LGBTI people can never justify such laws, nor restrictive measures. Rather, it requires states to take specific measures to protect LGBTI persons from violence and discrimination, to foster a context of respect and to overcome such prejudices through public education.

Recently, the Inter-American Human Rights System reiterated, through the Advisory Opinion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, that sexual orientation and gender identity are categories protected by the American Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, any rule, act or discriminatory practice based on these characteristics of people is prohibited.

The defense of human rights, without discrimination, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is one of the pillars of the United Nations. Under this mandate, the United Nations Sustainable Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean calls on States to comply with their human rights obligations, without any type of discrimination.

1 Chile and Ecuador 

2 Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and some states in Mexico

3 Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia

4Resolution CD52/18: Addressing the causes of disparities in health service access and utilization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans persons.


Dominica’s human rights record to be reviewed by UPR on 9 May

  • 06 May 2019 |
  • Published in Notices

Dominica’s human rights record to be reviewed by Universal Periodic Review

GENEVA (6 May 2019) – Dominica’s human rights record will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group for the third time on Thursday, 9 May 2019 in a meeting that will be webcast live.

Dominica is one of the 14 States to be reviewed by the UPR Working Group during its upcoming session taking place from 6 to 17 May.  Dominica’s first and second UPR reviews took place in December 2009 and May 2014, respectively.

The documents on which the reviews are based are: 1) national report - information provided by the State under review; 2) information contained in the reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; 3) information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups.

The three reports serving as the basis for the review of Dominica on 9 May can be found here.

Location: Room 20, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Time and date: 09.00 – 12.30, Thursday, 9 May (Geneva time, GMT +1 hour)

The UPR is a unique process which involves a periodic review of the human rights records of all 193 UN Member States.  Since its first meeting was held in April 2008, all 193 UN member States have been reviewed twice within the first and second UPR cycles.  During the third UPR cycle, States are again expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during their previous reviews which they committed to follow-up on, as well as to highlight recent human rights developments in the country.

The delegation of Dominica will be headed by Ms. Francine Baron, Minister for Foreign and CARICOM Affairs.

The three country representatives serving as rapporteurs (“troika”) for the review of Dominica are: China, Nigeria and Uruguay.

The webcast of the session will be at http://webtv.un.org

The list of speakers and all available statements to be delivered during the review of Dominica will be posted on the UPR Extranet[username:  hrc extranet (with space); password: 1session].

The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Dominica at 16.30 on 14 May.  The State under review may wish to express its positions on recommendations posed to it during their review.  The recommendations will be shared with the media on this day in advance.   


For more information and media requests, please contact Rolando Gómez at +41 (0) 22 917 9711


To learn more about the Universal Periodic Review, visit: www.ohchr.org/hrc/upr


Message on World Press Freedom Day 2019

A free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.

No democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power.

This is especially true during election seasons -- the focus of this year’s World Press Freedom Day.

Facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

Yet while technology has transformed the ways in which we receive and share information, sometimes it is used to mislead public opinion or to fuel violence and hatred.

Civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.

And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harssasment against journalists, including women.

I am deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity.

According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018.

Hundreds are imprisoned.

When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.

On World Press Freedom Day, I call on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help us to build a better world for all.

Thank you.


Secretary-General's statement on intolerance and hate-based violence

29 April 2019- Secretary-General's statement on intolerance and hate-based violence

Around the world, we are seeing a disturbing groundswell of intolerance and hate-based violence targeting worshippers of many faiths. In recent days alone, a synagogue in the United States and a church in Burkina Faso have come under attack.
Such incidents have become all-too-familiar: Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Jews murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Christians killed at prayer, their churches often torched.
Houses of worship, instead of the safe havens they should be, have become targets.
Beyond the murders, there is loathsome rhetoric: xenophobia aimed not only at religious groups but also at migrants, minorities and refugees; assertions of white supremacy; a resurgence of neo-Nazi ideology; venom directed at anyone considered the “other”.
Parts of the Internet are becoming hothouses of hate, as like-minded bigots find each other on-line, and platforms serve to inflame and enable hate to go viral.
As crime feeds on crime, and as vile views move from the fringes to the mainstream, I am profoundly concerned that we are nearing a pivotal moment in battling hatred and extremism.
That is why I have set in motion two urgent initiatives: devising a plan of action to fully mobilize the United Nations system’s response to tackling hate speech, led by my Special Representative on Genocide Prevention; and exploring how the United Nations can contribute in ensuring the safety of religious sanctuaries, an effort being led by my High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.
The world must step up to stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, persecution of Christians and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and incitement. 
Hatred is a threat to everyone – and so this is a job for everyone. Political and religious leaders have a special responsibility to promote peaceful coexistence.  I will count on the strong support of Governments, civil society and other partners in working together to uphold the values that bind us as a single human family.


UNHCR Saddened by news of Venezuelans missing in Caribbean Sea shipwreck

  • 25 April 2019 |
  • Published in Notices


UNHCR Saddened By News of Venezuelans Missing in Caribbean Sea Shipwreck

Port of Spain, April 25 2019 — UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is deeply saddened by the disappearance of 21 Venezuelans off the coast of Patos Island, in the vicinity of both Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. Reports have stated that the passengers included women and children.

“This tragic incident underscores the desperation of those forced to flee their homes, and the extraordinary difficulties faced on their journey,” said Leila Jane Nassif, UNHCR chief of mission in Trinidad and Tobago. UNHCR reiterates its thanks to and support for the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela as they continue search, rescue, and recovery efforts.


Top UN officials tell global forum: urgently address ‘defining challenges of our time’, to empower youth worldwide

Young people require “skills, values, jobs and livelihoods that empower them” so they can help forge a more sustainable world, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) said on Monday, kicking off its eighth Annual Youth Forum

“We need to urgently address the defining challenges of our time: access to quality education, unemployment, inequality, social exclusion and climate change”, Inga Rhonda King asserted in her opening remarks. “We cannot achieve this at the UN alone. We are all in this together”. 

Under the theme “Empowered, Included and Equal”, this year’s Forum aims to mobilize support for young people across the globe. 
While noting some encouraging signs concerning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she pointed to emerging evidence that suggests “the world is not yet on track to meeting many of the SDGs by 2030”. 

“I urge you to assess where we stand and mobilize together to move us forward” she stressed. 

The Youth Forum provides a platform for young leaders globally to engage in a dialogue among themselves and with UN Member States and to share ideas for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

It also gives youth the space to share their vision and contribute to upcoming UN meetings, including the 2019 ECOSOC Substantive Session in July, the 2019 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and the high-level events taking place on the margins of the General Assembly in September, including the Climate Summit, the High-level Meeting on Financing for Development and the SDG Summit

General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa called the Youth Forum "one of the most important mechanisms for young people to shape the 2030 Agenda”. 

[ full story on UN News ]



‘Stand united against anti-Muslim hatred’ urges Guterres, after mosque shootings in New Zealand leave 49 dead

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged the international community to ‘stand united against anti-Muslim hatred’ following a mass shooting in New Zealand on Friday targeting two mosques, which has left at least 49 dead and many others wounded, some critically.

 “I’m saddened and strongly condemn the shooting of innocent people as they prayed peacefully in mosques in New Zealand”, tweeted the UN chef, expressing his “deepest condolences to the victims’ families”.

“Today and every day, we must stand united against anti-Muslim hatred, and all forms of bigotry and terror”, he stressed.

A gunman, who police have described as being in his late 20s, has been arrested and charged with murder. According to news reports, he live-streamed himself via a head-mounted camera online, firing at worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque in the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch. A second attack also took place at the city’s Linwood Mosque.

According to news reports, police have asked the public not to share the "extremely distressing" footage posted by the gunman online. Meanwhile Facebook has reportedly taken down the gunman's Facebook and Instagram accounts, which reportedly contained racist and anti-immigrant views.

Two other men and one woman were also reportedly detained in connection with the terror attacks, although one was subsequently released.

Other senior UN officials took to Twitter on Friday to express their condolences and horror at the attacks in New Zealand,

António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration, extended his “sincere condolences” to victims’ families and expressed deep sadness over “the terrible loss of life”, pointing out: “It is believed that among the dead and injured were many refugees and migrants”.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, tweeted a picture of the New Zealand flag with a message saying that UNHCR stands “firmly with the people and government of New Zealand “in mourning, prayer and solidarity”.

“We grieve with children facing the profound shock that a parent is never coming home”, tweeted Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund. Saying “our hearts break with news”, she called the aggression “a senseless attack on a peaceful community and the universal right to freedom of worship”.


The Secretary-General’s remarks at the opening of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women [prefaced by remarks about plane crash in Ethiopia on 10 March 2019] New York, 11 March 2019

The S-G’s remarks at the opening of the 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (11 March)


As you walked into the United Nations today, you saw our flags flying at half-mast. This is indeed a sad day for many around the world, and for the UN in particular.

Yesterday’s terrible air crash in Ethiopia took the lives of all those on board -- including at least 21 of our UN colleagues, according to the latest information, not to mention an undetermined number of people that have been working closely with the UN. 

A global tragedy has hit close to home — and the United Nations is united in grief.

I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims, to the government and people of Ethiopia, and all those affected by this disaster. 

We are working closely with government officials on the ground -- and mobilizing assistance, counseling and any other needed support during this difficult time. 

Our colleagues were women and men —junior professionals and seasoned officials — hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide array of expertise.

They all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all.

It is the same spirit that calls us to the UN every day — and that brings you to this General Assembly Hall today.

As we open this important gathering, let us honour the memories of our colleagues by keeping their spirit of service alive. Thank you.


This is the Commission on the Status of Women.

But it could equally go by another name: the Commission on the Status of Power.

Because that is the crux of the issue.

Gender equality is fundamentally a question of power.

For millennia, women have been systematically marginalized, ignored and silenced, in a male dominated world with a male dominated culture.

I recently came across an interesting book by the Cambridge historian Mary Beard.  It highlights how deep patriarchal roots in Western culture help explain deep power imbalances today.

I believe the same also applies to other regions of the world.

The truth is that, in the celebrated classics in ancient Greece and Rome, speech was quite literally defined as the business of men. 

Homer begins his epic with the son of Odysseus telling his mother to shut up and go back to weaving. 

Aristophanes wrote a play about women leading the state.  It was a comedy.

And, of course, we know that this isn’t ancient history.

You may be familiar with a cartoon of a group of executives sitting around a conference table – all men, one lone woman. 

The woman has just made an important point – followed by a long pause.

In the cartoon, finally, the boss pipes up and says “that’s an excellent suggestion, Ms. Triggs.  Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.”

I suspect many of you have had similar experiences.

Today, let us be clear about what needs to change.

As Professor Beard has written: “If women are not perceived to be fully within the structures of power, surely it is power we need to redefine rather than women.”

I thank you for leading that change and thank you for raising your voices.

We need you here, and we need you now.  And we need you more than ever.

I will be frank. 

Our world is a bit lost. 

Now, and I can recall my experience as a driver. I know men sometimes have difficulties recognizing when they get lost.

We don’t like to admit it. 

We have trouble asking for directions and trouble even looking at a map. 

Well, the fact is that our world today needs direction, and I know you can help guide the way.

Sometimes it feels like we are travelling at full speed … in both directions at the same time. 

People are more connected, yet societies are becoming more fragmented. 

Big challenges are growing outward – climate change, insecurity, conflict. 

Yet people are turning inward. 

More than ever, we need global responses to global challenges.

Yet more than ever, multilateralism – international problem solving – is under fire. 

You are living that paradox, too.

After all, advocates for gender equality are mobilizing like never before. 

You are building global movements.  Raising awareness.  Inspiring change.

At the same time, something else is happening. 

And we must tell it like it is. 

Around the world, there is a pushback on women’s rights. 

That pushback is deep, pervasive and relentless. 

We witness increased violence against women, especially human rights defenders and women running for political office.

We see online harassment and abuse of women who speak out.

In some countries, homicide rates are going down – but murders of women are going up.

In others, we see a rollback of legal protection against domestic violence or even female genital mutilation.

As the ILO just found, women last year were 26 percent less likely to be in employment than men.  Fewer than one-third of managers are women – even though they are likely to be better educated. 

We all know women’s participation makes peace agreements more durable, but we still struggle to make sure women are included in negotiating teams.

Even governments that are vocal supporters of this agenda fail to back their words with action where it counts.

Meanwhile, we see wide and persistent digital divides – an ongoing uphill battle for reproductive rights – terrible endemic sexual and gender-based violence.

And nationalist, populist and even austerity agendas are tearing the social fabric – aggravating inequality, splintering communities, curtailing women’s rights and cutting vital services.

We have a fight on our hands.  And it is a fight we must win – together.

So let us say it loud and clear:

We will not give ground.

We will not turn back.

We will push back against the pushback.

And we will keep pushing. 

For wholesale change.  For rapid change.  And for the meaningful change our world needs, starting by addressing the imbalance in power relations.

That is why here at the UN, I have been pushing for gender parity.  And I am proud to report to you, we are making good progress.

Today, if you look around the table of my Senior Management Group, you will find more women than men. Ms. Triggs is no longer alone.

A first in United Nations history.

Look around the world and you will find parity among our Resident Coordinators – our top officials on the ground.

Again, a first in United Nations history. 

We have the most female heads and deputy heads of peace operations in UN history.  And there is still a long way to go.

We are well on our way to parity in all senior ranks by 2021 – and across the board in the UN by 2028.

But that is not coming without pushback. 

I am told that even within the system some critics have even dared to play the competency card.

I heard it all before when I pushed for greater empowerment in my own political party decades ago in my country. 

The United Nations Charter states: “the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff … shall be the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity”.

The point is: men and women are equally efficient, equally competent, and with the same levels of integrity. 

It is the present situation that penalizes women and the organization as a whole.

With these facts in hand, I have reached a very clear and scientific conclusion: what these critics are saying about competency is complete and utter nonsense.

Or, and I say to our critics, do you truly believe that men are on average more competent than women?  If not, parity is a must for the Charter to be respected.

The way to take profit of all the competence that women bring is to achieve parity. 

The General Assembly made it clear in a resolution all the way back in 1975, stating that 
“a major principle governing the recruitment policy of the United Nations” must be the “equitable distribution of the positions between men and women”. A very strong recommendation unfortunately almost completely forgotten for decades.

And let us be clear – parity is about far more than numbers.

We are striving for greater opportunity for so many outstanding, talented, qualified women for a far more fundamental reason.  Dare I say, a more selfish reason.

Because it is good for us all.

When women are at the table, the chance of sustainable peace increases. 

When women have equal opportunities in the labour force, economies can unlock trillions, as it was forecast recently.

When gender is at the heart of humanitarian assistance, vital assistance goes farther and has greater impact for everyone – men, women, girls and boys.

Parity is about our very effectiveness in securing peace, advancing human rights and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Put simply, when we exclude women, everyone pays the price.

When we include women, the whole world wins.

One of your main themes this year is sustainable infrastructure – a vital issue. 

But you also are focusing on infrastructure in its largest sense:  building better societies.

We know women must be engaged as equal participants in all aspects of society.  That is how we build a better world.

This means changing power relations, closing gaps, tackling biases, fighting to preserve hard-won gains and winning ever-greater ground. 

Above all it means believing – never, ever giving up.

I have hope. 

You give me hope, by your commitment.  Your energy.  Your example.  Your resilience.

I am with you.

I am a proud feminist. 

You have my full support.

As we look to next year’s 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action – the 20th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security – the 75th anniversary of the United Nations – to keep giving direction to our world. 

Keep leading us to a place where women and men enjoy equal rights, equal freedoms and equal power.

We need you more than ever.

Thank you.


Women’s empowerment ‘essential to global progress’ says Guterres, marking International Day

Women’s empowerment and gender equality are “essential to global progress”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stressed in his message for International Women's Day which this year puts “innovation by women and girls, for women and girls”, at the heart of efforts to achieve gender equality.

“Last year, for the first time, we achieved gender parity in the UN’s Senior Management Group and among those who lead UN teams around the world”, the UN chief said, adding that the Organization is “working to achieve parity across the whole United Nations system within a decade.”

The UN began celebrating the International Day in 1975, which was designated International Women's Year. Over the decades it has morphed from recognizing the achievements of women to becoming a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation, in the political and economic arenas.

“Gender equality is essential to the effectiveness of our work, and we cannot afford to miss out on the contributions of half of the world’s population”, Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed explained.

Moreover, “women’s equal participation in the labor force would unlock trillions of dollars for global development” she continued.

“Let us be clear,” she spelled out: “We cannot build the future we want and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without the full participation of women”.

Achieving a gender-equal world requires social innovations that work for both women and men and leave no one behind, according to the overarching UN strategy. E-learning platforms that take classrooms to women and girls; affordable and quality childcare centres; and technology shaped by women, are a few examples of the innovation needed to meet the 2030 deadline set out in the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“And we need more women leaders participating in public life and taking decisions”, flagged General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa, urging everyone to redouble their efforts “against the discrimination and violence women and girls face every day”.

[ read the full story on UN News ]

Video - UN S-G's joint message on International Women's Day 2019

Read the S-G's message   | Learn more about the Day 


UNAIDS ‘greatly encouraged’ by latest scientific breakthrough showing cure is possible

The UN agency leading the global effort to end AIDS, said on Tuesday that a new case of a patient who has been “functionally cured” of HIV infection, is greatly encouraging, but there is still a long way to go before the illness can be eradicated.

The male patient, who was being treated for lymphatic cancer at a London hospital in the United Kingdom, underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016, with cells from a donor carrying a rare genetic resistance to the HIV virus.

Both his cancer and HIV went into remission, and 18 months on, he is no longer taking HIV drugs and all traces of infection have become undetectable, according to doctors treating him. Researchers reportedly say that it is too early, however, to say the patient has been fully cured.

“UNAIDS is greatly encouraged by the news that an HIV-positive man has been functionally cured of HIV”, said the agency in a press statement.

“Although this breakthrough is complicated and much more work is needed, it gives us great hope for the future that we could potentially end AIDS with science, through a vaccine or a cure,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

“However, it also shows how far away we are from that point,” he added saying it emphasized “the absolute importance of continuing to focus HIV prevention and treatment efforts.”

video: Where? How many? What part of the world?

Treatment ‘not viable’ for large numbers of patients

The agency stressed that as stem cell transplants are “highly complex, intensive and costly procedures with substantial side-effects”, they were not a “viable way of treating large numbers of people living with HIV.”

“However, the results do offer a greater insight for researchers working on HIV cure strategies and highlight the continuing importance of investing in scientific research and innovation,” added UNAIDS.

The so far anonymous London patient, is only the second reported case of a functional cure for HIV, the first being a patient in the German capital, Berlin, who received similar cancer treatment in 2007.

There is currently no cure, and UNAIDS is working to ensure that all people living with and affected by HIV have access to life-saving HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

In 2017 – the latest annual figures available - there were just under 37 million people living with HIV and 1.8 million people became newly infected with the virus. In the same year, almost 1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses and 21.7 million people had access to treatment.

Stigma and discrimination against HIV, continue to hold back key vulnerable population groups such as sex-workers, transgender people, intravenous drug users and migrants, and only one in four, living with HIV, are aware of their status.

Marking World AIDS Day in November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said that the world stood at a “critical juncture”, and the direction of the response to the on-going epidemic, would determine whether or not the world could end AIDS by 2030, in line with the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

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