U.S. UPR: today the U.S. underwent its UPR in Geneva, and the opening statement made by Brimmer, Posner and Koh can be found here. Among the recommendations made by States, several European countries called on the U.S. to ratify core human rights treaties including CEDAW, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; abolish the death penalty and consider issuing a standing invitation to Special Procedures. Speaking to U.S. civil society in Geneva and D.C. in the “Town Hall” State organized, one issue which became evident is that civil society wants the U.S. to replace its Council on Civil and Human Rights with a Human Rights Commission via an Executive Order, which Posner indicated is being seriously discussed. Asked about ratification of several treaties, the Administration said CEDAW and Disabilities are at the top of the list, though Tuesday’s elections will make the 67 Senate votes much harder to attain. Civil liberties (Guantanamo, torture) and Native American issues were also discussed at length.
SG to Seoul: next week, the SG will travel to Seoul to discuss development issues with G20 leaders. He sent a letter to the leaders, expressing that “we cannot afford to let the recovery falter at this stage. Otherwise, the world’s poor and the vulnerable will again have to pay an unacceptable price.” He also elaborated on the discussions he has had with Member States in the letter, emphasizing that the G20 can contribute to development by dealing with climate change, food security, and other key issues. For the first time, development will be on the G20 Summit agenda, and the SG plans to discuss these issues thoroughly.
Report on Climate Change Financing Released: this morning the SG received the final report of his High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing co-chaired by PMs Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Jens Stoltenberg of Norway. The report identifies new, innovative sources of financing to meet the $100 billion goal by 2020, asproposed by industrialized countries at Copenhagen. He argued that the options presented in the report are financially feasible and politically viable. The report will feed into the UNFCCC process, with the hope that it can help governments address climate change finance.
Sudan: Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, is currently in Sudan. Today, she said that the January referendum could create new humanitarian needs if violence breaks out. She further explained that the already difficult humanitarian operation climate there had deteriorated, noting increased interference in humanitarian work by state authorities in Southern Sudan. Since February, 118 cases of interference, harassment, and restriction of aid workers’ access to beneficiaries have been reported.
Haiti: the UN is continuing to prepare for Hurricane Tomas, as OCHA appeals for more emergency supplies, as the tarps and tents currently available only account for 60% of the people estimated to be affected. In regards to efforts to contain cholera, WHO is currently sending health kits with enough medicine to treat 10,000 people for three months to Port-au-Prince and other areas.
Pakistan: the SG’s Special Envoy is reporting that 100 days after the initial flooding, an estimated 14 million people are still in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Pakistan, while the UN Floods Relief and Early Recovery Response Plan remains only 40% funded.
GA on Afghanistan: yesterday, the GA adopted a resolution on Afghanistan (co-sponsored by the U.S.) welcoming the commitment of the Afghan Government to its people and the international community to Afghanistan, and supporting the recent communiqués of the London and Kabul Conferences, as well as the recent parliamentary elections, while also expressing its concern about the security situation and condemning all attacks targeting civilian and international forces, including violence against women and girls and “honor killings”. In her remarks, U.S. Ambassador DiCarlo commended the UN’s work in Afghanistan, including that of the SG, SRSG, UNAMA and agencies on the ground, and underlined its commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan.
Third Committee: yesterday the Third Committee considered several resolution, including one which declared June 23 International Widows’ Day, another which addressed violence against women and a third welcoming the establishment of UN Women. Regarding the violence against women resolution, co-sponsored by France and the Netherlands, the text strongly condemns all acts of violence against women and girls – including a paragraph which stresses the importance of States refraining from invoking religion to justify violence, which prompted reservations by some regional groups, but who ultimately joined the consensus. A number of resolutions were also introduced; namely, on situation of human rights in the DPRK (EU, co-sponsored by U.S., discusses torture and treatment of returned asylum-seekers), Myanmar (EU, co-sponsored by the U.S.) and Iran (Canada, co-sponsored by the U.S.). Unfortunately, the Myanmar resolution does not call for the establishment of a commission of inquiry (as the Special Rapporteur recommended), but rather “urges” Myanmar to undertake its own investigation into reports of human rights violations). It does, however, “strongly condemn” systematic human rights violations, strongly urges the release of all prisoners of conscience and removal of restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression, and expresses grave concern about arbitrary detention, rape and sexual violence.