Libya: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated the Libyan people for the national election which took place on Saturday – the country’s first free poll in almost half a century.

Some 2.7 million people in the North African nation registered to vote for members of the new National Congress, which will be tasked with drafting a new constitution for Libya. More than 3,000 candidates ran for office, including more than 600 women.

Mr. Ban hailed Libya’s High national Election Commission and the thousands of electoral staff “who ensured well-conducted and transparent polling. He looks forward to the successful completion of the Libyan-managed electoral process, which the United Nations has been pleased to support,” the statement read.

HIV/AIDS Report: Punitive laws and human rights abuses are costing lives, wasting money and stifling the global AIDS response, according to a report released today by a UN-backed commission.

Entitled HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights and Health, the report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law – made up of former heads of state and leading legal, human rights and HIV experts, and supported by UNDP on behalf of UNAIDS – finds evidence that governments in every region of the world have wasted the potential of legal systems in the fight against HIV. With its report based on 18 months of extensive research and analysis, as well as first-hand accounts from more than 1,000 people in 140 countries, the Global Commission found that punitive laws and discriminatory practices in many countries undermine progress against HIV.

Sudan: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the people of South Sudan on the first anniversary of their country’s independence.

“I had the honour of attending the independence ceremonies last in year in Juba, and was deeply impressed by the country’s commitment to peace,” Mr. Ban said in a message.

Last week, the Security Council extended UNMISS for 12 months, focusing its mandate on civilian protection and the improvement of security in the country. In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council stressed the need for UNMISS to focus on its capacity-building efforts, and called on the Government of South Sudan to take greater responsibility for the protection of its civilians, and encouraged its cooperation with the Mission.

Syria: In a discussion described as “very candid and constructive,” Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, agreed on an approach to ending the violence on Sunday, which Mr. Annan will next share with the armed opposition.

Put forward by Mr. Annan earlier this year, the six-point peace plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.

Philippines: Two United Nations independent experts called on the Government of the Philippines to urgently adopt measures to protect human rights defenders and investigate the increasing number of threats and killings targeting them over the past months. “A number of cases have been reported to our mandates involving death threats and, in the worst of cases, killings of human rights defenders since the killing of Fr. Fausto Tenorio in Mindanao last year,” the Special Rapporteurs on human rights defenders and extrajudicial killings, Margaret Sekaggya and Christof Heyns, respectively, said in a news release.

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