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UN Week – 12/6/10

December 20, 2010

by John and Douglas Carey, Editors,  www.unweek.blogspot.com

Contents of this issue: S-G on corruption; Ban extols defenders; UN blacklisting requested by US, UK, France.

S-G on corruption

 Here is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for International Anti-Corruption Day, to be observed on 9 December:

“Corruption is a threat to development, democracy and stability. It distorts markets, curbs economic growth and discourages foreign investment. It erodes public services and trust in officials. And it contributes to environmental damage and endangers public health by enabling the illegal dumping of hazardous waste and the production and distribution of counterfeit medicines.

“The United Nations Convention against Corruption has helped the public sector to make progress in deterring these crimes. Last year, the Convention’s States parties, which now number 148, established a peer review mechanism to identify gaps in national anti-corruption laws and practices — a major breakthrough that can help Governments halt bribe-taking and the embezzlement of public funds.

“The private sector’s contribution is also essential. Corruption acts as a hidden overhead charge that drives up prices and erodes quality without any benefit to producers or consumers. Preventing corruption makes good business sense. Increasingly, investors are factoring not only environmental, social and governance considerations into their decision-making, but sound ethical performance as well.

“I call on business leaders worldwide to denounce corruption and to back their words with strict prohibitions against it. They should adopt anti-corruption policies in line with the United Nations Convention and put in place the necessary checks to strengthen integrity and transparency. I also urge corporations to work more closely with the United Nations on this issue. In particular, they should consider joining the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, which provides participants with tools to fight all forms of corruption, including extortion and bribery.

“What we urge upon the public and private sectors, we at the United Nations must practice ourselves. An ethical organizational culture is one of the best antidotes to corruption. The United Nations Ethics Office promotes accountability, integrity and transparency. A thorough policy protects staff against retaliation if they report misconduct or participate in audits and investigations that may expose unethical behavior.

“The United Nations is also working to combat corruption in the conduct of its activities, including procurement, by ensuring individual accountability, collaborating with law enforcement officials and investigating all possible instances of corruption that may arise. On 8-9 December at Headquarters in New York, the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services is bringing together organizations from around the world for a conference aimed at strengthening the role of internal investigations in combating corruption.

“On this International Anti-Corruption Day, let us all do our part to foster ethical practices, safeguard trust and ensure no diversion of the precious resources needed for our shared work for development and peace.”

Ban extols defenders.

Here is part of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for Human Rights Day, to be observed on the 10th:

“Laws to protect and promote human rights are indispensable.  But quite often, progress comes down to people, courageous women and men striving to protect their own rights and the rights of others, determined to make rights real in people’s lives.

“It is these human rights defenders to whom we dedicate this year’s observance of Human Rights Day. Defenders are a diverse group. They might be part of a civil society organization, a journalist or even a lone citizen, spurred to action by abuses close to home. But they all share a commitment to expose wrongdoing, protect the most vulnerable and end impunity. They stand up, speak out — and today they tweet — in the name of freedom and human dignity.

“Human rights defenders play a vital role in the fight against discrimination. They investigate violations and help victims gain justice and support. Far too often, their work entails tremendous risk. Defend-ers are harassed, stripped of their jobs and wrongfully imprisoned. In many countries, they are tortured, beaten and murdered.

“Their friends and family members are also subjected to harassment and intimidation. Women human rights defenders face additional risks, and therefore need additional support.

“This Human Rights Day is an occasion to salute the courage and achievements of human rights defenders everywhere — and to pledge to do more to safeguard their work.

“States bear the primary responsibility to protect human rights advocates. I call on all States to ensure the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly that make their work possible.

“When the lives of human rights advocates are endangered, we are all less secure. When the voices of human rights advocates are silenced, justice itself is drowned out.

“On this Human Rights Day, let us be inspired by those seeking to make our world more just. And let us remember that everyone — no matter their background, training or education — can be a human rights champion.

“So let us use that power. Let us each be a human rights defender.” SG/SM/13293-HR/5039-OBV/948.

UN BLACKLISTING REQUESTED BY US, UK, FRANCE.

France, the UK and the US submitted to the Security Council’s Committee established pursuant to Resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three FDLR leaders and one individual responsible for targeting children in situations of armed conflict, to be added to the list of individuals and entities subject to a worldwide travel ban and asset freeze.

These four individuals are: Gaston IYAMUREMYE, Félicien NSANZUBUKIRE, Innocent ZIMURINDA and Leodomir MUGARAGU.
Members of the Committee agreed on December 1st that these four individ-uals be placed on the Committee’s list of designees for DRC sanctions.

These designations are said to demonstrate the international commu-nity’s continued determination to fight against those who oppose the disarm-ament of rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and those responsible for the recruitment of children and serious human rights abuses.

The UN sanctions regime for DRC was renewed for a further 12 months on November 29th through the adoption of UNSCR 1952. As part of their work the Group of Experts have developed a clear set of due diligence guidelines for the minerals supply chain in eastern DRC. These guidelines, which the Security Council supported taking forward in SCR 1952, will help avoid financing further conflict in eastern DRC.

The Security Council Committee established by resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo is responsible for monitoring UN Member State implementation of the sanctions in place in the DRC. The Committee comprises all 15 members of the Security Council, and was authorized by Council Resolution 1596 (2005) to list individuals and entities for an assets freeze and travel ban.

In March 2010, 51 human rights groups working in eastern DRC posted a complaint online alleging that Lt Col Innocent Zimurinda was responsible for multiple human rights abuses involving the murder of numerous civilians, including women and children, between February 2007 and August 2007. Zimurinda has also been accused in the same complaint to be responsible for the rape of a large number of women and girls.

According to a May 21, 2010, statement by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Zimurinda has been involved in the arbitrary execution of child soldiers, including during operation Kimia II. According to the same statement, he denied access by the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to screen troops for minors. According to the Council Sanctions Committee’s Group of Experts, Zimu-rinda holds direct and command responsibility for child recruitment and for maintaining children within troops under his command.

On November 29th, Ambassador Rice had “. . . welcome[d] renewal by the UN Security Council of sanctions related to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The new sanctions resolution maintains the existing arms embargo on non-state actors operating in the DRC, as well as the travel ban and asset freeze for individuals linked to illegal armed groups, to the obstruction of humanitarian assistance, to the illicit trade of natural resources and to violations of human rights including sexual and gender based violence. These sanctions can play an important role in bringing stability to the DRC and holding accountable those who direct the massacre of civilians, recruit child soldiers, or use rape as a weapon of war.
          “I also welcome the Security Council’s unprecedented decision to support new due diligence guidelines for individuals and companies who import, process, or consume Congolese mineral products. If implemented, these guidelines could significantly limit the illicit minerals trade, which has for many years fueled violence in the DRC. The United States appreciates the work of the DRC Sanctions Committee and the UN’s DRC Group of Experts, and we will continue to support targeted sanctions designations against actors whose behavior under-mines progress toward peace and stability in Congo and the region.”

That’s all for this December 5th issue of United Nations Week: News and Views. We’ll be back with the next issue. Meantime, do send you own views on these or other UN-related issues to www.unweek.blogspot.com

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