Category Archives: News

Online legal aid services available for gender-based violence survivors in Tonga

(Nukuʻalofa, Tonga) Survivors of domestic violence (DV) or gender-based violence (GBV) can now access justice with more comprehensive legal support provided online by the Tonga Family Protection Legal Aid Centre (FPLAC). The online portal with a mobile app, launched today, will enable survivors to obtain information on relevant laws and mechanism, establish safety plans and report family violence directly to FPLAC. The development of the online system for the legal aid services was made possible through the support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The digital platform will allow FPLAC officers to reach out to potential clients and provide remote legal counsels and referrals to other service providers within the National Referral Network, in line with the National Service Delivery Protocol. This will be one of the first integrated legal aid services provided on digital platforms for DV and GBV survivors globally.

Survivors will also be able to do so remotely, without the need to travel to and from the FPLAC office located in Nukuʻalofa, the capital of Tonga on the main island of Tongatapu, hundreds of kilometres and long boat rides away from the other major Tongan island groups. The online system ensures that they can access online legal services completely anonymously and safely, which is critically important given the stigma many survivors fear. Continue reading

The Role of Businesses to End Child Labour in Supply Chains

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) scheduled a seminar for FCEF members to discuss ways of eradicating child labour in supply chains and collaborate on
sustainable practical solutions in the context of COVID-19.

SUVA (FCEF / ILO Press Release) – A virtual seminar convened on Thursday, July 22, 2021.
The objective of this seminar are several folds, one being continue building businesses
knowledge and understanding on the structural drivers of child labour in Fiji, raise awareness
on the two fundamental ILO Conventions on child labour: Convention on the Minimum Age for
Admission to Employment,1973 (No. 138) and the Convention on the Worst Forms of Child
Labour, 1999 (No. 182). Further, the benefits of including child labour on the agenda at the
global regional, national level and industry level.

This seminar is aimed to build businesses practical capacity to prevent, identify and address
risks in line with the principles of responsible business conduct and due diligence. FCEF CEO Mr. Kameli Batiweti stresses that it is important that businesses know the legislative provisions that relate to child labour and what kinds of work children of different ages can carry out and under what conditions. He adds that FCEF will disseminate information to its members to raise awareness and encourage its members to share this information in their businesses and organizations. Continue reading

Pegasus: Human rights-compliant laws needed to regulate spyware

The UN human rights chief on Monday said the apparent widespread use of Pegasus spy software to illegally undermine the rights of those under surveillance, including journalists and politicians, was “extremely alarming” and confirmed “some of the worst fears” surrounding the potential misuse of such technology. 

“Various parts of the UN Human Rights system, including my own Office, have repeatedly raised serious concerns about the dangers of authorities using surveillance tools from a variety of sources supposed to promote public safety in order to hack the phones and computers of people conducting legitimate journalistic activities, monitoring human rights or expressing dissent or political opposition”, said High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a statement. More

Call for ‘dignity, equality, justice and human rights’ rings out on Mandela Day

Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of “a legendary global advocate for dignity, equality, justice and human rights”, the UN chief said.  

“Each year, on this day, Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message commemorating the 18 July celebration of South Africa’s first Black head of State.

Affectionately known as Madiba, his calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is under threat of division.

The pandemic has shown the “vital importance of human solidarity and unity”, values championed and exemplified by Nelson Mandela in his lifelong fight for justice, added the UN chief.

Noting that no one is safe until all are safe, he said everyone can play their part. Urging the world to honour Mr. Mandela’s call to action and be empowered by his legacy, the Secretary-General, said: “Let us be inspired by Madiba’s message that each of us can make a difference in promoting peace, human rights, harmony with nature and dignity for all”. More

Gearing up humanitarian assistance for Palestine refugees

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will received an additional $135.8 million after signing an agreement with the United States on Saturday establishing shared goals in support of humanitarian assistance, development, and refugee protection.

“The signing of the US-UNRWA Framework [for Cooperation] and additional support demonstrates we once again have an ongoing partner in the United States that understands the need to provide critical assistance to some of the region’s most vulnerable refugees,” stated the UN agency’s Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini.

Due to a larger number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty, UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services. The agency is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs.

This latest agreement reaffirms both UNRWA and the US’s commitment to the UN’s humanitarian principles, including the principle of neutrality. More

‘Deeply negative impact’ of COVID pandemic, reverses SDG progress

Closing a key international development forum on Thursday, the Deputy UN chief observed that a year of “immense challenges” has reversed progress on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

After eight “solid days” of deliberations at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Amina Mohammed attributed the COVID pandemic to “a reversal of SDG progress in some areas, and delayed action on many of the major transitions required to meet our 2030 goals”.

She said the pandemic has had a “deeply negative impact” on health and well-being; employment, businesses, incomes, education; and human rights, with “a particularly damaging effect on women and girls”.

With “political leadership, solidarity and unity of purpose”, the Deputy UN chief asserted that we can end the pandemic, secure improvements in people’s lives between now and 2030, and “keep the promise” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “We must not drop our collective ambition when the needs have never been greater”, she concluded. More

Coup, COVID fuelling ‘perfect storm’ in Myanmar, UN expert warns

Surging COVID-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads, a collapsed health system, and “deep mistrust” of the military junta, are a “perfect storm” of factors that could lead to further major loss of life in Myanmar, the UN independent expert on the human rights situation in the country warned.

In a statement, Special Rapporteur Tom Andrews said “emergency” assistance for Myanmar was desperately needed to save lives. “The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being and that right is being denied to most within Myanmar. The international community must act.”

He reiterated his appeal last week for an Emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar, to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the country, amid reports of severe shortages of vital medial supplies and oxygen.

The Special Rapporteur also raised alarm over the situation of Myanmar’s vulnerable communities, including prisoners held in overcrowded facilities. More

Secretary-General’s message on World Youth Skills Day

“Reimagining youth skills post pandemic”

Today, we celebrate youth resilience, drive and innovation in times of COVID-19.

Young people were already facing disproportionate levels of unemployment and under-employment before the pandemic.  More than one out of five youth were not in employment, education, or training,  the majority of them young women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated this troubling situation.  In many cases, it has forced organizations to pause skills development training.  Distance learning posed a particular challenge for Technical Vocational Education and Training, particularly among marginalized youth.

To recover better, we must address the longstanding disparities and challenges faced by young people.  That means ramping up skills development and education, with a particular focus on climate action, sustainable development, gender equality and inclusivity.  It is crucial to boost investments in Technical Vocational Education and Training, broadband connectivity and digital skills. Continue reading

‘Early stages’ of COVID third wave, amid Delta surge: WHO chief

The variant’s spread, along with increased social mobility and the inconsistent use of proven public health measures, is driving an increase in both case numbers and deaths, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent data in an address to the Emergency Committee on COVID-19, established under the International Health Regulations (IHR), a treaty that guides global response to public health risks.

Recalling the sustained decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths that was being driven, in recent months, by increasing vaccination rates in Europe and North America, he sounded alarms over the fresh reversal of that positive trend.

Secretary-General’s message on Nelson Mandela International Day

Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of a legendary global advocate for dignity, equality, justice and human rights.

Each year, on this day, Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family.

Madiba’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is threatened by division.

Societies are becoming more polarized, with hate speech on the rise and misinformation blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions. Continue reading