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UNEP: Building sector can play key role in combating global warming

unep.gifA new report released by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that the right mix of government regulation, energy saving technologies and behavioral change can reduce global-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the building sector. The building sector, the report notes, accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of total energy use.
"The savings that can be made right now are potentially huge and the costs to implement them relatively low if sufficient numbers of Governments, industries, businesses and consumers act," UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said of the measures that range from revamping ventilation systems to replacing the traditional incandescent light bulb."By some conservative estimates, the building sector worldwide could deliver emission reductions of 1.8 billion tonnes of C02. A more aggressive energy efficiency policy might deliver over 2 billion tonnes or close to three times the amount scheduled to be reduced under the Kyoto Protocol," he added, referring to the pact setting legally binding emission reduction targets for 35 industrialized countries in the 2008-2012 period.
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Sudan agrees to give humanitarian groups better access

The Sudanese government, which has been accused of holding up aid in the Darfur area, signed an agreement yesterday with the United Nations pledging to give humanitarian groups better access to the region.
Under the deal, the Khartoum government would speed up visas for humanitarian workers and take other measures that the United Nations has been pressing for....The Sudanese government reiterated it would adopt "fast track" measures to help aid groups with their work, a term it has been using since the first of such agreements was signed in 2004.
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UN launches initiative to end human trafficking

Partnering with governments and non-governmental organizations, the United Nations launched The Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking yesterday.
"Slavery is a booming international trade, less obvious than 200 years ago for sure, but all around us," UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told a ceremony in London today, which is also the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire."Perhaps we simply prefer to close our eyes to it, as many law-abiding citizens buy the products and the services produced on the cheap by slaves," he added, noting that most victims of this modern-day slavery are women and young girls, many of whom are forced into prostitution or otherwise exploited sexually.
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SC tightens sanctions against Iran

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously decided to tighten sanctions on Iran in response to the country's uranium-enrichment activities.
Following the adoption of resolution 1747, Iran's Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, immediately rejected it as illegitimate, maintaining Teheran's longstanding claim that the country's nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and therefore outside of the Council's brief.He also charged that the sanctions were not being imposed in response to the nuclear programme but were rather "schemes of the co-sponsors" carried out "for narrow national considerations aimed at depriving the Iranian people of their inalienable rights."
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UN report: Women at risk in Liberia

A new United Nations human rights report on Liberia says that violence against women persists in the country.
Covering the period between August and October 2006, the report pays particular attention to the fact that the Rape Amendment Act is not yet adequately implemented by the national authorities charged with the investigation, prosecution and trial of suspects, despite clear legislative provisions.
The report says that "the very small number of cases indicted and tried to date is an indicator that far more needs to be done to ensure that the various institutions of justice coordinate to address rape as a crime and as a human rights violation."The report also notes that women and girls in some areas of Liberia remain at risk of female genital mutilation.More
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Ban speaks out against racial discrimination

Yesterday marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, commemorating March 21, 1960 when police in apartheid South Africa fired on peaceful demonstrators.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that while the world has made strides in fighting against racial discrimination, there is still work to be done."Racist practices hurt their victims, but they also limit the promise of entire societies where they are tolerated...They prevent individuals from realizing their potential and stop them from contributing fully to national progress. They perpetuate deeply embedded social and economic inequalities. Where unaddressed, they can cause social unrest and conflict, undermining stability and economic growth."More
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UN seeks new sites for the internally displaced in Darfur

The UN has started to seek sites for new camps for displaced persons in Darfur after UNICEF reported that the existing camps were filled to capacity.
The most recent UN humanitarian update from Darfur noted the need to locate a site for a new camp in the vicinity of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur province. A new site has been identified near Zam Zam camp, which is nearing maximum capacity.Last week, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that IDP camps were sheltering 50,000 to 100,000 people apiece. "We simply cannot absorb any more displaced," UNICEF country representative Ted Chaiban said on his return from a visit to Darfur.
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UN increases efforts to attract female police officers

A police workshop in Italy is the UN's latest effort to attract more women into the force. The 4-day conference at the UN Training Centre will bring together 30 gender experts from the UN and elsewhere to strategize on ways to encourage Member States to provide more female officers.
Progress has been made over the last two years in attracting more female officers into the UN Police, including the recent introduction into Liberia of an all-female specialized unit, but while the Peacekeeping Department's (DPKO) Police Adviser Mark Kroeker is full of praise for all his officers worldwide - both men and women, he says the current figure of just 6 per cent of the force made up of female officers is unacceptable.
The Peacekeeping Department's (DPKO) Police Adviser Mark Kroeker said, "I am extremely gratified by the increase in the numbers of women who serve in police components in UN missions. But this is way too few. Our attempts at getting our Members States to contribute police are difficult but the attempts in addition to add women to their contribution, this is almost impossible: we need to have women police officers so that we send the signal that women are co-equals in police work and that's the way it should be because they're available for every assignment as every man is in policing."More
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UN human rights mission to Darfur presents report

A high-level mission to Darfur--led by Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winner and anti-landmine campaigner--has told the Human Rights Council that the abuses in Darfur continue.
[She] told the Council that ineffective justice mechanisms, the free flow of weapons and a climate of impunity meant Darfur had become a stranger to the rule of law.She said civilians had become the main target in the conflict, which has also exacerbated the underlying social and economic deprivation in Darfur.
More than 200,000 have been killed and 2 million displaced since 2003.More