“Cambodia at a crossroads”: UN expert calls on Government to choose path of human rights

PHNOM PENH (14 March 2018) – The UN expert on the human rights situation in Cambodia has expressed serious concerns about restrictions on the media, freedom of expression and political participation ahead of a national election in July, calling on the Government to choose the path of human rights.

“Cambodia is at an important crossroads and must embrace human rights as they are indispensable in sustaining hard-earned peace and development,” said Rhona Smith at the end of her fifth visit* to the country.

“Restricting Cambodians’ voices could ultimately threaten the very stability that the Government and the people have worked hard to build. Freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly should be protected and developed, not restricted, in a liberal multi-party democracy as guaranteed by the Constitution of Cambodia.”
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12 World Leaders Issue Clarion Call for Accelerated Action on Water

New York, 14 March― A High Level Panel on Water consisting of 11 Heads of State and a Special Advisor has issued a New Agenda for Water Action calling for a fundamental shift in the way the world manages water so that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular SDG6, can be achieved. This follows a 2-year mandate to find ways to accelerate solutions to the urgent water crisis.

“Making Every Drop Count: An Agenda for Water Action” presents many recommendations as part of an Outcome Report from the Panel, which was convened in January 2016 by the United Nations Secretary-General and the World Bank Group President.

“World leaders now recognize that we face a global water crisis and that we need to reassess how we value and manage water,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The panel’s recommendations can help to safeguard water resources and make access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation a reality for all.”

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UN-World Bank panel calls for ‘fundamental shift’ in water management

Making Every Drop Count: An Agenda for Water Action, released by a panel of 11 Heads of State and a Special Advisor, calls for a fundamental shift in the way the world manages water so that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 6 on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, can be achieved.

According to the report, 40 per cent of the world’s people are being affected by water scarcity. If not addressed, as many as 700 million could be displaced by 2030 in search for water. More than two billion people are compelled to drink unsafe water and more than 4.5 billion do not have safely managed sanitation services. More.


Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, on his visit to Bangladesh to assess the situation of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar

(Dhaka, 13 March 2018) From 7 to 13 March I visited Bangladesh to assess the situation of the Rohingya population who have crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh since the most recent incidents of violence in northern Rakhine state in October 2016 and August 2017. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet Bangladeshi authorities, civil society actors and members of the diplomatic community. I also visited refugee camps in Cox’s Bazaar, where survivors I met shared horrifying stories of what they have endured.

What I have heard and witnessed in Cox’s Bazaar is a human tragedy with the fingerprints of the Myanmar government and of the international community. The scorched earth campaign carried out by the Myanmar security forces since August 2017 against the Rohingya population was predictable and preventable. Despite the numerous warnings I have made of the risk of atrocity crimes, the international community has buried its head in the sand. This has cost the Rohingya population of Myanmar their lives, their dignity and their homes.

Let us be clear: international crimes were committed in Myanmar. Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are. All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine state of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide. However, whether or not we consider that the crimes committed amount to crimes against humanity or genocide, this should not delay our resolve to act and to act immediately. We owe this to the Rohingya population.

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International Women’s Day in Goulburn: Global, Urban and Rural Partnerships.

The United Nations Information Centre Canberra, the International Organization for Migration and the Goulburn Multicultural Centre came together on Friday, 9 March to celebrate International Women’s Day which consisted of a Zumba class, presentations followed by a light lunch and refreshments.

IOM opened the presentations with a short video and explanation on International Women’s Day and the Together Campaign.

The theme this year was “Time Is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives” which was a perfect fit for Canberra based Multicultural Community Activist Ms Diana Abdel-Rahman OAM, the keynote speaker whose address was appreciated by the many rural migrant women of Goulburn attending.

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UN supports the Government of Papua New Guinea in its earthquake response efforts

Relief supplies are starting to be distributed in earthquake affected areas of Papua New Guinea with water, food, shelter, medicine and the provision of health services identified as the priority needs.

“We are working closely with the Papua New Guinea government to coordinate the earthquake response to ensure that relief supplies and services meet people’s most pressing needs, and reach the communities that need them most ,” said UN Resident Coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla. More.

Myanmar: UN expert calls for accountability over violence in Rakhine State

GENEVA (12 March 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, told the Human Rights Council on Monday she was increasingly of the opinion that the events in Rakhine State bear the hallmarks of genocide and called in the strongest terms for accountability.

Lee, who was informed late last year that her access to the country was denied, also expressed serious concern that “the repressive practices of previous military governments were returning as the norm once more” in Myanmar, describing the situation faced by civil society across the country as “increasingly perilous”. More

The Secretary-General

Remarks at Signing Ceremony
of a New Maritime Boundary Agreement
between Australia and Timor-Leste
New York, 6 March 2018
[as delivered]

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me, first of all, to say that this is a particularly important day for me. One of my most important motivations in my political career in the past was the self-determination of the people of East Timor. And it was with an enormous joy that I was present the day East Timor became an independent country. To see this ceremony is like the complement of that day, and to be here today is an enormous privilege and fills my heart with joy.

This ceremony demonstrates the strength of international law and the effectiveness of resolving disputes through peaceful means. A central element in the Charter of the United Nations, the peaceful settlement of disputes is also a cornerstone of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both Australia and Timor-Leste are parties.

This event is historic as it marks the successful conclusion of the first-ever conciliation proceedings under Annex V to the Convention.

I congratulate both parties and the Conciliation Commission for their constructive engagement and relentless efforts to achieve an outcome that is agreeable to both States.

I also congratulate the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia and Timor-Leste for the ground-breaking recourse to this conciliation mechanism. In doing so, you have furthered the vision of the drafters of the Convention to provide a flexible approach to the resolution of disputes.

I trust that your example will inspire other States to consider conciliation as a viable alternative for dispute settlement under the Convention.

The Agreement being signed today is a further contribution to establishing legal certainty in the world’s oceans, an essential condition for stable relations, peace and security, and the achievement of sustainable development.

By delimiting the maritime boundary between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Timor Sea, and by establishing a special regime for the area comprising the Greater Sunrise gas field, this Agreement puts Australia and Timor-Leste in a better position to exercise their respective rights and obligations under the Convention in an effective manner. It should also ensure that both States fully benefit from the sustainable exploitation of natural resources in the Timor Sea.

I again salute the vision and determination of Australia and Timor-Leste in making this Agreement possible. I hope that its successful implementation will inspire other States to follow in your footsteps.

Sincere congratulations and thank you very much.