UN experts urge Kenya to repeal discriminatory sections of marriage property act

“It is expected that very few women will be able to demonstrate such a contribution under the new provisions, since few Kenyan women have land title deeds in their own names and even less hold deeds jointly with men,” warned independent expert Frances Raday, who currently heads the UN Working Group on discrimination against women in law and practice. Calling the provisions “serious retrogressive steps” in the protection of women’s equal access to land and property, Ms. Raday stressed in a news release issued by the Geneva-based Working Group, that they are also in violation of Kenya’s international and regional human rights obligations. “They clearly discriminate against Kenyan women and are squarely at odds with equality provisions enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution.” The Act, which came into force on 16 January 2014, could result in many Kenyan women losing access to the lands where they live and farm. Many rural households in Kenya are headed by women, who rely on the land not only to produce food, but also on the income generated by it to access health care services and educational opportunities for themselves and their families. “Women will effectively have no security of tenure, or place to live with their children if their husband leaves them or dies, which will also increase their risk of experiencing violence,” said Ms. Raday, adding: “The passage of the Act will have a detrimental impact on the right to food, the right to adequate housing and the right to an adequate standard of living for Kenyan women, children and communities.” Ms. Raday’s appeal has been endorsed by a host of other UN independent experts, including: Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda; the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter; the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik. “We regret the promulgation of this legislation in its current form and urge the Government of Kenya to repeal discriminatory sections of this Act, and to continue with the country’s advances towards full equality between men and women as established in the Kenyan Constitution,” the group of experts stated. According to the new release, the Special Rapporteurs have engaged with the Kenyan Government concerning the provisions of the Act in question, and expressed their readiness to assist the authorities in reviewing and bringing the Act into line with international human rights standards. Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. read more

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Remembering Holocaust victims Ban urges unity to eradicate antiSemitism all forms of

“As we remember what was lost in the past, and as we recognize the perils of the present, we know what we must do – and we know we must do it together,” said Mr. Ban in opening remarks to the UN General Assembly’s annual commemoration of the Day. Joining the Secretary-General at the event this afternoon were, among other speakers, Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel, and Denis Antoine, Vice-President of the General Assembly, as well as Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans. Maher Nasser, the acting UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Information, presided over the event.The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on 27 January, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. This year’s observance, on the theme ‘Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors’, coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War’s end and the founding of the UN. Recalling his visit to the Auschwitz Birkenau camp in November 2013, Mr. Ban said: “I saw the full machinery of murder: the railway platform where the infamous selections were made; the barracks that held Jews, Roma, Sinti, non-Jewish Poles, Soviet prisoners of war, dissidents, disabled persons and homosexuals; and finally the ovens where human beings were turned to ashes.” “I was especially moved by the displays of photographs and films of European Jewish life before tyranny took hold – family meals, weddings and other rituals, performances by the singers and actors who enlivened the cities in which they lived. We can still feel the pain of all that was lost and destroyed in a frenzy of cruelty,” the Secretary-General added. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pays a visit to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland (November 2013). UN Photo/Evan Schneider ‹ ›The images of emaciated camp survivors and piles of dead bodies were prominent in the minds of those who gathered to establish the United Nations, Mr. Ban continued. A determination to uphold human dignity was written into the Organization’s founding Charter 70 years ago – and has defined the UN’s work ever since. But there is still a long way to go. The struggle for justice and tolerance faces widespread challenges. “Anti-Semitism remains a violent reality; Jews continue to be killed solely because they are Jews. Extremism and dehumanization are present across the world, exploited through social media and abetted by sensationalist press coverage. The targets are as diverse as humankind itself,” the Secretary-General said. In Europe and elsewhere, Muslims are under attack, the victims of bigotry at the hands of political opportunists and ultra-nationalists. Vulnerable populations everywhere bury their dead and live in fear of further violence. “I take heart from counter-demonstrations, rallies and interfaith dialogue. We must all remain on our guard. We must uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk. And we must respond to terrorism and provocation in ways that resolve – instead of multiply – the problem,” he underscored.In his address, Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel, recalled the “brutal”, “perverted” extermination of Jews during the Holocaust “in the most horrifying crime ever committed in the history of the human race.” The United Nations rose on the ruins of the Second World War, he said, stressing that the International Day was not just a gesture because the pledge ‘Never again’ was “the very essence of the UN,” and the principle and primary reason for its existence. However, since the UN was founded, more nations and communities had been slaughtered. “We must ask ourselves honestly: is our struggle – the struggle of the General Assembly against genocide – effective enough?” he said. “Are we shedding too many tears and taking too little action?”Mr. Rivlin noted that the Convention on Genocide was now 64 years-old but remained a merely “symbolic document” that had not realized its objectives. The international community had a duty to lay down the red lines defining genocide and to make clear that crossing those lines must mean intervention. Humanitarian and moral considerations had to take precedence over economic, political or other interests in the fight against genocide.“Nations cannot be saved and must not be saved as an afterthought or from considerations of cost-benefit,” Mr. Rivlin said. “Unless the moral fire burns within us, the lessons of the Holocaust will never be learned.”The General Assembly must act as a determined and unified international community or else risk leaving the ‘Never again’ oath hollow and defiled.“We must remain silent no longer. We must rise up and take action,” he said.Also in opening remarks, General Assembly Vice-President Denis Antoine also underscored the importance of drawing lessons from the tragedy of the Holocaust and the need to “pass them on to the present and future generations,” particularly as the world continued to conf read more

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Afghanistan UN mission condemns deadly bombing near governors office in Kunar province

According to the Mission, earlier this morning in Asadabad city, in front of the Provincial Governor’s office, a suicide attacker detonated his vehicle full of explosives, causing more than 40 civilian casualties.Reiterating that the indiscriminate use of explosives in areas crowded by civilians is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, the Mission reminded all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan that they are bound to uphold their legal obligations to at all times avoid harm to civilians.The Mission extended its sincere condolences to the families of those killed and a speedy recovery for those injured. “UNAMA once again affirms its continued support to the people of Afghanistan,” said the Mission.

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Dialogue peaceful dispute settlement indispensable to achieving peace El Salvador tells UN

. “As a country that has experienced an internal armed conflict for more than a decade that could yet find lasting solutions only through dialogue and negotiation, we know very well the importance of peaceful means to resolve differences,” he explained in his address to the UN General Assembly’s annual general debate. Citing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said that it is essential to recognize the positive contributions of migrants in destination societies. To that end, he advocated that the United States Government extend the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) to the thousands of Salvadorans living in that country. Turning to national issues, he stressed that El Salvador allocates more than half of public spending to education, health and safety. He also emphasized that his preventive approach to dealing with violence has halved homicides and extortion. Finally, he reiterated El Salvador’s commitment to disarmament, arms control, the fight against organized crime and the unity to address the challenges of climate change.Full statement (in Spanish) available here read more

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In Colombia UN political chief urges parties to stay the course set

“I arrived this week, at the request of the Secretary-General, to convey a sense of growing concern about how the peace process has been evolving over the past several months,” the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told reporters there on Wednesday. Despite a range of commendable activities under way by the Government, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the international community, Mr. Feltman highlighted three concerns, beginning with the lack of an overall strategy for reintegration, concrete plans and resources to enable its success. “The drifting of a number of FARC members out of the zones, for a range of reasons that include joining the so-called ‘dissidents’ is a troubling sign of what could be the result on a wider scale if reintegration efforts are not very substantially accelerated,” Mr. Feltman stated. Secondly, he underscored his apprehension over the security situation in former conflict zones, particularly areas in which FARC vacated while their laying down their arms to convert to an unarmed political movement. “We share the deep concern about the reported vacuums of authority in many of these areas and the resultant insecurity for communities as other illegal groups move in to fill the void,” he underscored. Mr. Feltman’s final concern was about legal uncertainties, predominantly affecting FARC members, which have resulted in delays in approving key legislation. Citing Monday’s decision by the Constitutional Court on the Tribunal, he expressed hope that Congress would quickly adopt the implementing legislation, asserting, that: “This would only be consistent, in our view, with the decision of the same Parliament to ratify the peace agreement one year ago.” On the ceasefire between the Government and the National Liberation Army, the Under Secretary-General said: “We hope that the parties can come to a timely decision on its extension past 9 January, and to communicate that as soon as possible to the Security Council.” While recognizing that the peace process is subject to legitimate debate, Mr. Feltman appealed to all of Colombia’s institutions, parties and to the public at large, saying that despite differing views, “all surely can also see the national interest in ensuring that regions which for more than five decades have been besieged by lawlessness, violence and under-development are now stabilized and integrated fully into the economy and governance.” “It is our strong view that this can be achieved by the robust implementation of the Peace Agreement,” he added. read more

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Security Council extends mandate of UN Interim Force in Lebanon for a

Adopting resolution 2433 (2018), on Thursday, the 15-member Security Council also called on the Lebanese Government to develop a plan to increase its naval capabilities, with the goal of decreasing the Mission’s Maritime Taskforce and transitioning activities to the country’s armed forces.The Security Council also stressed the need for UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to improve its management of civilian resources by fostering cooperation with the Special Coordinator for the country. It also urged all parties to ensure that the Mission’s freedom of movement and access to the so-called ‘Blue Line’ –  separating Israel and Lebanon – in all its parts, is fully respected and unimpeded.Originally established in 1978, UNIFIL was greatly reinforced after the 2006 fighting to oversee the cessation of hostilities between Israel and the Lebanese group Hizbollah. It is tasked with ensuring that the area between the ‘Blue Line’ and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets. It also cooperates with the Lebanese Armed Forces so they can fulfil their security responsibilities. read more

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Nearly seven million drivers feeling blue with their car…

Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) …while just over six million see red every time they drive.Information in the SMMT Motor Industry FACTS 2002 booklet says that blue is the most popular colour for cars on UK roads, closely followed by red.The full list is:Blue 6.76 millionRed 6.58 millionSilver 3.16 millionWhite 3.14 millionGreen 2.93 millionThe information, taken from SMMT 2000 Motorparc data gives a detailed outlook on just what we British drive. The data suggests that the car in front of you is most likely to be UK-built, between one and three years old, with an engine size of 1900 – 2000 cc, driven by a man aged between 30 and 39.Information can be found on page 4 of the Motor Industry FACTS – 2002

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CBI chief to join Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group

Sir Digby Jones, outgoing director-general of the CBI is to join Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group (PAG) as a part-time corporate and governmental affairs advisor from 1 October 2006. He will provide Ford Motor Company’s operations in the UK and Europe with strategic input on global political, business and trade issues.In his six-and-a-half years at the CBI, Sir Digby became well-known for his role as the leading ‘voice’ of British business. Announcing the appointment, Lewis Booth, executive vice president for Ford Motor Company overseeing Ford of Europe and PAG, said, ‘Sir Digby has a depth of knowledge, strategic mindset and an ability to communicate – qualities which are hard to beat in the business world. I believe his ability to instill passion and his wise counsel will be invaluable assets to Ford Motor Company’s management teams here in Europe, and I’m delighted Sir Digby is joining us.’Sir Digby Jones said, ‘I’ve been a loyal Jaguar customer for years and as a born and bred Brummie, I am a passionate advocate of the British motor industry. It is hugely important to remember that Ford Motor Company is a vital part of our domestic motor industry. Ford has significant engineering and manufacturing presence in the UK in Essex, Bridgend and Southampton. And every Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin is designed, engineered and built in the UK. There are close to 35,000 employees and it is one of our biggest exporters. It also accounts for almost 80 per cent of all automotive R&D in Britain.‘I am delighted to be joining a company that has shown such tremendous long-term commitment to the industrial, economic skills base of this country. And what excites me about Ford’s operations today is the focus on the future – its emphasis on hi-tech, premium, value-added products is spot on – and exactly what all successful businesses should be doing to ensure they remain globally competitive,’ said Sir Digby.SMMT chief executive, Christopher Macgowan welcomed the appointment, ‘Having someone of the calibre of Sir Digby Jones championing the motor industry is great news for Ford, and for everyone involved in motor manufacturing in the UK. He has been a staunch supporter of British industry during his tenure a the CBI and we look forward to working with him as he begins his new role.’Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

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Week in Westminster – week ending Friday 9 May 2014

DOWNLOAD1. New car and bus and coach registrations register strong April performance.2. Reports on better roads and national policy statement on national networks published.3. Growth in orders and output increases optimism.4. Leading STEM organisations offer over 2,000 new jobs and apprenticeships.5. Week ahead.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

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Science Without Borders connects Brazilian students with research and Canadian winter

Brock University is playing host to 39 students from Brazil as part of the Science Without Borders program. The students were recently welcomed at a ceremony in their honour.Nothing spells challenge like SWB.Short for the Science Without Borders program, SWB has resulted in Brock University welcoming 39 students from Brazil who are here for one year to tackle a program of intensive English, academic studies and a short-term research internship.The program’s goal is to consolidate and expand science, technology and innovation in Brazil by means of international exchange and mobility.The Brazilians, including 25 who began classes in January, are here on full scholarships from their government and come from 29 different federal and state universities across their homeland. Their fields of study include biology, biotechnology, chemistry, child and youth studies, computer sciences, digital humanities, health sciences, physiotherapy, radio and television and more.Student Bruna Razzolini, 22, from in Porto Alegre, a city of about 1.5 million people in southern Brazil, is learning English now but starting in September, she will study health sciences for two terms.“I think this is a great opportunity for the Brazilian students to know a different culture and improve their knowledge,” Razzolini said. “It is also a good deal for Brazil, too, because this experience will (allow us to) bring new technologies and new information back to Brazil.”Although she’s been here a short time, Razzolini is an unabashed fan of Canada.“I think Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live. Canadians are really polite and make us feel comfortable,” she said.“Brock University has good infrastructure to receive exchange students, and the facilities are awesome,” she added.Aline Del Giudice Penha is a 21-year-old health sciences student from São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city with 11 million inhabitants.You don’t have to sell Del Giudice Penha on the SWB program, which started last year and will run for four years.“I am loving it,” she said. “I think it’s a unique opportunity to improve my English, which will have significant importance on my professional life, to get in touch with another culture and see another country and education system.”Like Razzolini, she thinks the academic experience “is an excellent opportunity to get in contact with new knowledge and technologies to bring it back to our home country.”Del Giudice Penha said she finds Canada “an amazing country. Every aspect here is fascinating.”She’s a fan of St. Catharines, too, which she described as a lovely, friendly city with many things to do.“Also, it is very close to Niagara Falls, which is one of the most wonderful places on Earth,” she said.“Brock is amazing,” Del Giudice Penha added. “I live on campus, so for me it is very easy to go everywhere I want, anytime I want … and the teachers really care about students. I have been well received by all and I feel at home here … I made friends from all parts of the world.”And winter? “I was really scared about winter before coming to Canada,” Del Giudice Penha said. “But we are used to it and we just learned how to deal with it.” read more

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