Sri Lanka Remains Committed To Reconciliation

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

COLOMBO (IDN) - Rejecting the resolution passed at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on March 27 to mount an ‘independent’ international investigation into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapkase said that Sri Lanka would continue with its own reconciliation process that was started after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was defeated in May 2009.

The resolution, which was adopted by 24 votes to 12 with 12 abstentions, has been described by the government as a lop-sided vote where most of those voting for it were Europeans. “The EU votes as a block and the US had more than a dozen votes already in the bag while we started with none,” Rajapakse pointed out in a meeting with foreign media representatives in Colombo.

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Death Sentences in Egypt ‘Mockery of Justice’

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By Jaya Ramachandran

NEW YORK (IDN | UN News) - A group of eight United Nations human rights independent experts have urged the Egyptian authorities to quash the 529 death sentences announced in Egypt and give the defendants new and fair trials, in line with international human rights law.

“The right to life is a fundamental right, not a toy to be played with. If the death penalty is to be used at all in countries which have not abolished it, international law requires the most stringent respect of a number of fundamental standards,” the experts said in a news statement.

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Three Conferences To Focus On Nuke-Free World

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By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - As tension mounts in relations between the U.S. and Russia on Ukraine amid apprehensions of a nuclear fallout, three international conferences scheduled for April 2014 have acquired added significance in promoting efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

The first in the series is a meeting of foreign ministers on April 11-12 in Hiroshima, nearly two months after the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Mexico. It will be followed by an inter-faith conference organised by the Tokyo-based Soka Gakkai International (SGI) on April 24 in Washington. From April 28 to May 9 the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will hold its third session at the United Nations in New York.

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UNHRC - Part II: Prioritising Economic Aspects Of Human Rights

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - “As a result of the financial crisis, the ability of individuals to exercise their human rights and that of States to fulfill their obligations to protect human rights has diminished,” noted Bat-Erdene Ayuush, Head of the Right to Development Section at the UN Human Rights Office speaking at a UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) panel discussion at last year.

But, at its 25th session from March 3 to 28 in Geneva, only two out of about 100 reports tabled, address the economic and development aspects of human rights. Almost all other reports address individual rights specific to countries, rather than collective rights of people.

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UNHRC - Part I: Navi Pillay Faulted For Abuse Of Power

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By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

SINGAPORE (IDN) - UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) head Navi Pillay’s current campaign against Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations – along with similar campaigns against Libya and Syria earlier – could jeopardize the cause of human rights around the world, analysts say.

Pillay released a report in February calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes when the Sri Lankan armed forces crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a final battle in May 2009.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Envoy in Geneva conveying the Sri Lankan Government’s response to Pillay’s report stated that the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations, “reflect the preconceived, politicised and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka”, and in a 18-page document pinpointed her double standards accusing her of giving “scant or no regard to the domestic processes ongoing in Sri Lanka”.

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Peace Forum At UN Pleads For Nuke Abolition

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By Jamshed Baruah | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NEW YORK (IDN) - The UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser has expressed deep concern about “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to international peace and security”. Launching the book titled A Forum for Peace and opening a discussion on Global Citizenship and the Future of the United Nations at the UN headquarters in New York, he also stressed the importance of the culture of peace.

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HRE 2020 To Promote Human Rights Education

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN | GENEVA (IDN) - “Everyone has the right to know, seek and receive information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms and should have access to human rights education and training,” says Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration adopted by the General Assembly on December 19, 2011.

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Swiss Aid Helps UN Agencies Ban Hunger

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By Richard Johnson | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) - The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation has come up with a Christmas and New Year gift that has the potential of feeding some 2 billion people around the world. The international cooperation agency, based in Berne, is placing $2.7 million at the disposal of three United Nations agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – to launch a joint project to tackle the global problem of food losses, beginning with pilot programmes in Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

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Warsaw UN Climate Meet Bears Promising Fruit

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By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN | South Centre) - The UN Climate Conference held in Warsaw has set up a new international mechanism to help developing countries affected by loss and damage from climate change, such as the Philippines typhoon.

The setting up of a loss and damage international mechanism was the major achievement of the 19th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (COP19) that ended on November 23, a full day after its scheduled conclusion.

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Syria: UN Should Ensure Unimpeded Humanitarian Access

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By International Crisis Group | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BRUSSELS - The U.S.-Russian agreement to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has led many observers to hope for a political breakthrough. A more immediate and realistic objective, as well as a more reliable yardstick by which to measure various parties’ good-will, should be on the humanitarian front, where the situation is deteriorating rapidly and relentlessly.

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UN Drone Reports Chide US Transparency Gap

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW YORK (IDN) - Armed drones are the subject of two landmark reports presented to the 193-nation General Assembly – the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN – in October: one urging transparency over the killing of civilians by U.S. drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen; and the other warning against “the use of drones by States to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats”.

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