INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
- Kosovo: Pristina Basic Court Convicted Former Policeman for Rape and Participation of Expulsion of Ethnic Albanians During the Kosovo War
- ECtHR: Russian Court Violated Rights by Stripping Parent of Contact Rights Due to Gender Reassignment
- Colombia: Special Jurisdiction for Peace Charged Ten Military Personnel and One Civilian with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
- IACHR: Trinidad and Tobago’s Failure to Commute a Death Penalty Sentence Referred to the IACtHR
- IACHR: Responsibility to Provide Effective Judicial Protection for Homosexual Individuals Referred to the IACtHR
- ECtHR: Failure of Georgian Authorities to Protect a Woman from Domestic Violence Ruled a Violation of Right to Life
- ECtHR: Violations of Prohibition of Collective Expulsion of Aliens in Summary Expulsion of Pakistani National Entering Hungary from Serbia
- Germany: Al-Khatib Trial Revealed the Role of Doctors and Hospitals in the Assad Regime’s Alleged Torture Practices
- ICC: Pre-Trial Chamber II Confirmed Charges of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Abd-Al-Rahman Case
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
- UNICEF: The Number of Children Facing Education Disruption in Yemen Could Rise to 6 Million
- UNHRC: ‘Full-Scale Assault’ on Human Rights Violations in Belarus
- UNICEF: 10 Years after South Sudan’s Independence, More Children in Need of Urgent Humanitarian Assistance than Ever Before
- UN: Political Crisis to ‘Multi-Dimensional Human Rights Catastrophe’ in Myanmar
- OHCHR: Iran Criticised for Silencing Human Rights Defenders with Long-Term Detention
- UN: Unrestricted Humanitarian Access Called for in Tigray Region
- The Netherlands & Belgium: Recognition of the Yazidi Genocide
- UN: To Fight Unrelenting Violence in the East DRC Sees Fresh Government Impetus
- UN: Assassination of President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse Condemned by the International Community
- UNHCR: Discrimination Against Women when Registering their Children Opens the Door to Statelessness
- UN: Time Running Out for Countries on Climate Crisis Front Line
- UNODC: UN Report Reveals Impact of COVID on Human Trafficking
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION
Kosovo: Pristina Basic Court Convicted Former Policeman for Rape and Participation of Expulsion of Ethnic Albanians During the Kosovo War
On 5 July, Kosovo’s Pristina Basic Court sentenced a former Kosovo Serb policeman, Zoran Vukotic, to ten years in prison for rape and for participating in the expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians from the town of Vushtrri/Vucitrn during the war in Kosovo in 1999. He was convicted of illegally detaining, beating and torturing ethnic Albanian inmates at the Smerkonica prison in the Mitrovica region from May to early June 1999. The former policeman was extradited from Montenegro to Kosovo in November 2016. The court’s decision is the first conviction in Kosovo for sexual abuse during the 1998-9 war, making it a historic decision. The indictment held that Mr. Vukotic raped his victim “as part of a broad and systemic attack on ethnic Albanian women,” thus underscoring sexual violence as a means of targeting an ethnic group during wartime. Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu called the verdict “very good news for all victims of sexual violence of war, for citizens but also for the history and future of Kosovo.” The Kosovar Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims welcomed the ruling, however, declared its intention to appeal the court’s sentence, stressing that such a crime deserved more than ten years in prison. The head of Kosovo’s Special Prosecution, Drita Hajdari, urged more people to report charges of rape during the war and pledged to take up these cases in the future. She added that the prosecution currently has 50 wartime rape cases on its files.
ECtHR: Russian Court Violated Rights by Stripping Parent of Contact Rights Due to Gender Reassignment
On 6 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held unanimously in the case of A.M. and Others v. Russia, a violation of Article 8, right to respect for private and family life and a violation of Article 14, prohibition of discrimination. The case concerned a court’s decision to end A.M.’s contact rights with her children because she had undergone a gender transition at that time. The Court found that there had been no evidence of any potential damage to the children from the transition and that the domestic courts had not examined the particular circumstances of the family. Furthermore, it found that the decision had been biased because it was clearly based on the applicant’s gender identity. The applicant, A.M., the mother of M.M. and K.M., is a post-operative transgender woman, legally recognised as female. The Court found that the Russian courts’ decisions had interfered with A.M.’s right to respect for family life. The decisions had been taken in accordance with domestic law and pursued legitimate aims (“protection of health or morals” and “protection of the rights and freedoms” of the children). The Court noted that the domestic courts had based their decision heavily on the expert report, which had not set out how exactly A.M.’s gender transition had represented a risk to her children. The experts had acknowledged the lack of reliable scientific evidence on the issue and cited only one, widely criticised paper. Furthermore, the Court held, that a decision to entirely deprive a parent of contact should only be taken in the most extreme situations. Finally, the Court reiterated that gender identity was covered by the prohibition of discrimination set out in Article 14. A.M.’s gender identity had played a significant part – indeed it had been the decisive factor – in the domestic court decisions. Thus, the Court also found a violation of Article 14 and Article 8.
Colombia: Special Jurisdiction for Peace Charged Ten Military Personnel and One Civilian with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
On 6 July, the Reconnaissance Chamber (“la Sala de Reconocimiento”) charged 11 individuals including a Brigadier General, two colonels, two lieutenant colonels, a major, a captain, two sergeants and a corporal, and a third civilian with war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Catatumbo region (Norte de Santander province) between 2007 and 2008. This includes the forced disappearance of 24 people and murder of 120 civilians which State agents presented as “combat casualties.” The Chamber found that there was a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, stating the events would not have occurred without the institutional policy of the army. The Chamber found that the 120 murder victims were neither isolated events nor accidental repetition. Along with forced disappearances, the murders had the same characteristics and the same purpose: to respond to the pressure for “casualties” to “whatever the occasion” and thus satisfy the official statistical indicator of military success within the framework of the institutional policy of the body count. The military provided incentives, such as congratulations, medals, permits, and vacation plans. The 120 victims identified by the Reconnaissance Chamber were killed in a defenceless state by members of the security forces, without any “real” combat. The targeted victims were reported to be young men between 25 and 35 years old, inhabitants of the rural area of Catatumbo, mostly farmers, merchants and informal transporters. Under a criminal logic close to that of “social cleansing”, these victims were selected because they were informal workers or unemployed, had a disability or because they were unemployed or street dwellers. Based on the Political Constitution and the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, the Chamber classified the crimes based on the Colombian Penal Code under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. After being notified, the accused have 30 business days to acknowledge the facts and their responsibility or reject them. The accredited victims and the Public Ministry have the same term to react to what is determined in the Order. An Acknowledgment Hearing followed by a hearing before the Tribunal for Peace (on imposition of sanctions) will follow if the individuals charged respond to the Chamber’s charges.
IACHR: Trinidad and Tobago’s Failure to Commute a Death Penalty Sentence Referred to the IACtHR
On 6 July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it would refer a case regarding Trinidad and Tobago to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). The case concerns the international responsibility of the State for the imposition of the mandatory death penalty against Kevin Dial and Andrew Dottin, who were charged with murder. On 21 January 1997, they were convicted and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty by the High Court of Justice in Port of Spain. The convictions were affirmed by the Court of Appeal. Further appeals to the Board of the Privy Council were dismissed. In January 2005 the government accepted the Privy Council’s decision to commute the sentence, which was subsequently hindered as the Ministry of Security intervened and indicated its intent to begin the executions as soon as June 2005. However, in August 2005 a constitutional motion on the unlawfulness of the execution, which was granted by the Port of Spain High Court, commuted the sentences to life imprisonment. The IACHR concluded that, despite the existence of IACtHR jurisprudence that allowed the convicts to have their sentences commuted, Trinidad and Tobago failed to guarantee that the victims could effectively exercise their right to have their death sentence commuted. The IACHR further concluded that Mr. Dial and Dottin’s deprivation of liberty on death row for nearly 11 years, as well as the inhumane prison conditions, constituted a violation of the right to humane treatment, and not to receive cruel, infamous, or unusual punishment.
IACHR: Responsibility to Provide Effective Judicial Protection for Homosexual Individuals Referred to the IACtHR
On 6 July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it would refer a case regarding Peru to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR). The case concerns the international responsibility of the State for the violation of the rights of Crissthian Manuel Olivera Fuentes to equality and non-discrimination, privacy, judicial guarantees and judicial protection, as a consequence of acts of discrimination based on the expression of his sexual orientation. On 11 August 2004, Mr. Olivera and his same-sex partner were reprimanded by the staff of a supermarket in San Miguel, for publicly displaying affectionate behaviour. On 17 August 2004, Mr. Olivera went to another shopping centre of the same company with a heterosexual couple who also engaged in affectionate behaviour. However, only the victim and his partner were reprimanded for expressing such conduct. In October 2004, Mr. Olivera filed a complaint for discrimination before a national body which was rejected and ultimately ended in a final, unfavourable decision in cassation in April 2011. The IACHR particularly analysed whether the State guaranteed the right to effective judicial protection in the face of the allegations of discrimination given the facts refer to the actions of a private entity. The IACHR considered that the high standard of proof imposed by the domestic courts, in the presence of all the existing evidence and indications, nullified the right to effective judicial protection to which the victim was entitled. The IACHR also concluded that State violated the guarantee of reasonable time due to the time that each authority took to resolve the appeals filed.
ECtHR: Failure of Georgian Authorities to Protect a Woman from Domestic Violence Ruled a Violation of Right to Life
On 8 July, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held unanimously in the case of Tkhelidze v. Georgia, a violation of Article 2 (right to life/investigation) taken in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination). The case concerned the Georgian authorities’ failure to protect the applicant’s daughter, M.T. from domestic violence and to conduct an effective investigation into the matter. The Court found that although various protective measures could have been implemented, the police had failed to prevent M.T.’s death. The Court found that the police had to have been aware that M.T. was in danger of domestic (gender-based) violence, observing that domestic violence has been reported as a systematic issue in the country, “mainly affected women, who accounted for roughly 87% of victims. Several authoritative international monitoring bodies, as well as the Office of the Public Defender of Georgia, attested to this blight on society, reporting that the causes of violence against women were linked to, inter alia, discriminatory gender stereotypes and patriarchal attitudes, […]the Court finds that the law-enforcement authorities demonstrated a persistent failure to take steps that could have had a real prospect of altering the tragic outcome […]. In flagrant disregard for the panoply of various protective measures that were directly available to them.” Regarding the procedural obligations, the Court found there was a pressing need to conduct a meaningful inquiry into the possibility that gender-based discrimination and bias had been behind the police’s lack of action. The Court held that the obligation imposed by Article 2 to set up an effective judicial system does not necessarily require the provision of a criminal-law remedy in every case […]. However, there may be exceptional circumstances where only an effective criminal investigation would be capable of satisfying the procedural positive obligation imposed by Article 2. Such circumstances can be present, for example, where a life was lost or put at risk because of the conduct of a public authority that goes beyond an error of judgment or carelessness. […] the Court considers that their negligence went beyond a mere error of judgment or carelessness.” The State had thus breached its obligations under Article 2 of the Convention read in in conjunction with Article 14 to protect the life of the applicant’s daughter and to carry out an effective investigation into her death.
ECtHR: Violations of Prohibition of Collective Expulsion of Aliens in Summary Expulsion of Pakistani National Entering Hungary from Serbia
On 8 July 2021, the ECtHR held unanimously in the case of Shahzad v. Hungary, a violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens) and violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy). The case concerned the applicant’s entry from Serbia to Hungary as part of a group and his subsequent summary expulsion by the police. The Court found that the applicant had been subject to a “collective” expulsion as his individual situation had not been ascertained by the authorities. Furthermore, it found that the applicant had not been provided with an adequate legal remedy. The Court found that despite having been removed to the strip of land on the other side of the border fence, which was technically Hungarian territory bordering on Serbia, the applicant had been expelled within the meaning of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4. The Court stressed that the decisive criterion for an expulsion to be characterised as “collective” was the absence of “a reasonable and objective examination of the particular case of each individual alien of the group.” The Court noted that the applicant had entered Hungary as part of a group. However, the government had not argued that that had created a disruptive situation or a public safety risk. There had been sufficient government agents to control the situation. The Court reiterated that Contracting States like Hungary, which had an external Schengen Area border, the effectiveness of the Convention rights required that those States make available genuine and effective means of legal entry. The Court finally held that Hungary failed to provide an effective means of remedy, especially in light of the low daily admission limits and lack of formal procedure accompanied by appropriate safeguards. As a result, the Court found that the applicant’s “collective” expulsion was a violation of his rights under Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Germany: Al-Khatib Trial Revealed the Role of Doctors and Hospitals in the Assad Regime’s Alleged Torture Practices
On 8 July, it was reported that in the Al-Khatib trial in Koblenz, Germany, a doctor testified about treating prisoners in the Syrian Secret Service’s Branch 251. The Koblenz trials revolve around a former secret service officer, Anwar Raslan who is accused of crimes against humanity. The doctor recounted severe injuries and death on almost a daily basis. Contrarily, witness testimonies including a witness completing his obligatory medical training at the Red Crescent Hospital in Damascus, detailed how the hospitals served as places of torture with doctors participating in the abuse of detainees by the government’s security services. A witness, who worked as a clinical engineer, supplying hospitals in and around Damascus with medical devices testified that the hospital had turned into a secret service branch. More than 70 survivors, experts and secret service insiders have testified since the beginning of the trial in April 2020.
ICC: Pre-Trial Chamber II Confirmed Charges of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity in Abd-Al-Rahman Case
On 9 July, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision confirming all the charges brought against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman. Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is charged with 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between August 2003 and April 2004, in areas surrounding Darfur, Sudan including Kodoom, Bindisi, Mukjar, and Deleig. Mr Abd-Al-Rahman was transferred to the ICC’s custody in June 2020, after surrendering himself, voluntarily in Central African Republic (CAR).
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION
UNICEF: The Number of Children Facing Education Disruption in Yemen Could Rise to 6 Million
On 5 July, according to a new report by UNICEF ‘Education Disrupted: Impact of the Conflict on Children’s Education in Yemen’ Yemeni children’s education has become one of the greatest casualties of Yemen’s devastating and ongoing conflict. The report looks at the risks and challenges children face when out of school, and the urgent actions needed to protect them. Over 2 million school-age girls and boys are now out of school as poverty, conflict, and lack of opportunities disrupt their education which is double the number of out-of-school children in 2015 when the conflict started. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative to Yemen stated that access to education is a basic right for every child which provides a sense of normalcy in even the most desperate contexts, and protects them from multiple forms of exploitation. UNICEF calls for all stakeholders in Yemen to uphold children’s right to education and to work together in order to achieve lasting and inclusive peace which includes stopping attacks on schools, as there have been 231 since March 2015. UNICEF also calls for ensuring teachers get a regular income so that children can continue to learn and grow, and for international donors to support education programmes with long-term funding.
UNHRC: ‘Full-Scale Assault’ on Human Rights Violations in Belarus
On 5 July, Anaïs Marin, UN human rights expert in her annual report to the Human Rights Council, said she had received reports of massive police violence against protesters since last August’s disputed presidential election, which brought millions onto the streets to contest the result. The annual report documents cases of enforced disappearance, allegations of torture and ill-treatment, and the continuous intimidation and harassment of civil society actors. She also noted significant deterioration of human rights in Belarus, starting from late spring 2020 and climaxed in the aftermath of the presidential election on 9 August. The UN expert further pointed towards the politically biased judicial system in which impunity seems to prevail for massive human rights violators, but where hundreds of criminal cases against human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists and medical staff are lodged. The UN expert called upon the Belarusian authorities to put an end to their policy of repression, to immediately and unconditionally release those arbitrarily detained, and to ensure full respect for the human rights and legitimate democratic aspirations of people in Belarus; warning that a further aggravation of the human rights crisis and international self-isolation could have disastrous consequences for the whole country.
UNICEF: 10 Years after South Sudan’s Independence, More Children in Need of Urgent Humanitarian Assistance than Ever Before
On 6 July, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the South Sudan independence, UNICEF warned that a record of 4.5 million children; in which two out of three are in desperate need of humanitarian support. UNICEF reported on the impact of the humanitarian crisis on children and stated that the hopes of independence bringing a new dawn for the country’s children, has faded as bouts of violence and conflict, recurring floods, droughts and other extreme weather events fuelled by climate change, and a deepening economic crisis have led to an extremely high food insecurity, and one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The recent peace agreement, which has only partially been implemented, has so far failed to bring about any remedy to the challenges facing the country’s children and young people. Andrea Sully, UNICEF South Sudan Representative, stated that if sufficient funding is not received the health and nutrition centres will be closed, and drinking wells will not be fixed. UNICEF has appealed for US$180 million to assist the most vulnerable children this year, 2021 and only halfway into the year, this appeal remains only one-third funded.
UN: Political Crisis to ‘Multi-Dimensional Human Rights Catastrophe’ in Myanmar
On 6 July, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights while speaking at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council, reiterated that the situation in Myanmar has evolved from a political crisis in early February to a “multi-dimensional human rights catastrophe.” The UN High Commissioner further explained that the catastrophic developments since February have had a severe and wide-ranging impact on human rights, peace and security, and sustainable development. She denounced indiscriminate airstrikes, shelling, civilian killings and mass displacement. Civil voices are also being silenced with over 90 journalists having been arrested, and eight major media outlets shuttered. Furthermore, there have been multiple reports of enforced disappearances, torture and deaths in custody, and the arrest of relatives or children in lieu of the person being sought. She further expressed her concern towards how the escalation in violence could have horrific consequences for civilians, stating that any future democratic government in Myanmar that comes must have the authority to exercise effective civilian control over the military. The UN High Commissioner appealed to the international community, to build upon the range of international accountability mechanisms already engaged until transitional justice measures also become genuinely possible at the national level
OHCHR: Iran Criticised for Silencing Human Rights Defenders with Long-Term Detention
On 6 July, Mary Lawlor, Special Reporter on the situation of human rights defenders criticised the Islamic Republic of Iran’s practice of sentencing human rights defenders to long-term detention and called upon the government to release all those detained for their human rights work. The UN expert also stated that she was deeply troubled by reports that current long-term defendants such as Nags Mohammad, who was sentenced in May, to receive a further two and a half years in prison, with 80 lashes, and two fines, just seven months after her release under the Sentence Reduction Law. The alleged new offences are related to human rights campaigns she carried out in prison. She described the provision of medical care in Iranian prisons as “wholly inadequate.” She stated that the security, health and livelihood of prisoners were under threat from a prison system that systemically denied them adequate medication and care. Furthermore, visits and phone calls are often restricted, and prisoners are sometimes transferred to areas far from their homes so that their families are never fully sure of their wellbeing. Ms Lawlor further remarked that until all human rights defenders are released, and laws are made that specifically protect them, this grim cycle of detentions will not be broken.
UN: Unrestricted Humanitarian Access Called for in Tigray Region
On 6 July, Stéphane Dujarric the UN Spokesperson reported that 23 displacement sites in the regional capital, Mekelle, did not have access to water as pumps could not operate due to the lack of fuel with transportation of humanitarian and commercial supplies into the region also being affected. Meanwhile, commercial flights to and from Mekelle have not resumed after being halted roughly two weeks ago; adversely affecting the deployment of humanitarian workers. Last week Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN Security Council, in his statement warned that 400,000 people in Tigray have “crossed the threshold into famine” with another 1.8 million on the brink of following them. The UN continues to monitor developments in Tigray, where eight months of fighting between Ethiopian troops and regional forces have left more than five million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Mr Dujarric, UN Spokesperson reiterated that it is critical to get additional staff and humanitarian and commercial supplies into Tigray, to restore electricity and telecommunications, and ensure that cash and fuel are available throughout the region for the continuity of humanitarian operations. Antonió Guterres UN Secretary General renewed his call for fully-respected ceasefire to pave the way for a dialogue that would lead to a political solution
The Netherlands & Belgium: Recognition of the Yazidi Genocide
On 7 June, both the Dutch and Belgian parliaments’ foreign affairs committee decided in favour of recognising the Islamic State crimes against the Yazidis as genocide. A majority of Dutch MPs have backed the motion, which also recognised the acts of crimes against humanity. The resolution passed by the Belgian parliament’s foreign affairs committee was submitted by two MPs who visited the Kurdistan Region, as well as, the autonomous region in northeast Syria last December, to assess the humanitarian and political situation of Belgian ISIS prisoners. In June, the Belgian parliament heard from Yezidi activist and Nobel laureate, Nadia Murad, and Pari Ibrahim, executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation.
UN: To Fight Unrelenting Violence in the East DRC Sees Fresh Government Impetus
On 7 July, Bintou Keita, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stated that, fresh strides towards peace and stability are prerequisites for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), to responsibly withdraw, in line with its planned drawdown. The UN representative also told the Security Council that a new government action plan in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the potential to reverse the urgent and tragic deterioration in the east of the country where thousands of human rights abuses are being committed against civilians by armed militants. The security and humanitarian situations in the eastern Congolese provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu, continues to be a source of grave concern to the international community. The ongoing violence by armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), along with the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo on 22 May 2021 has led to large-scale population movements, exacerbating existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgent cases of Ebola. A joint strategy for the Mission’s drawdown, laid out in 2020, is progressively consolidating the UN’s footprint in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, with MONUSCO’s operations in the Kasaïs region already ended. According to the joint strategy, the Mission will also withdraw from Tanganyika province by mid-2022, should conditions allow.
UN: Assassination of President of Haiti Jovenel Moïse Condemned by the International Community
On 7 July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in the strongest terms, according to a statement issued by his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric. President Moïse, 53, was shot dead in an overnight attack in his private residence in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince and according to media reports his wife, Martine, was also injured and is receiving treatment. The entrepreneur and politician was elected in November 2016 and began serving the following February. Speaking at the outset of its meeting on Wednesday, Security Council President Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière of France said members were saddened by the death of the Haitian leader. “The members of the Council express their deep shock at the assassination of President Moïse, which occurred earlier today in Port-au-Prince, and their concern [for] the fate of the First Lady, Martine Moïse” he said. The 15 ambassadors also expressed their deep sympathy to the family of the late President, and to the government and people of Haiti. The political division combined with the worsening humanitarian crisis and shortages of food in the country has created fears of widespread disorder.
UNHCR: Discrimination Against Women when Registering their Children Opens the Door to Statelessness
On 7 July, a joint report titled “Sex Discrimination in Birth Registration” which was released by UNHCR and UNICEF, showing that in many countries women face discrimination which obstructs or hinders their ability to register births, exposing their children to the risk of becoming stateless. The latest analysis in the report found that such barriers may exist in legislation or due to cultural norms which informs birth registration practices. Guinea, South Sudan, Mozambique and Nepal have taken steps to reform civil registration laws, affording equal rights to women for birth registration. Grainne O’Hara, UNHCR’s Director of International Protection stated that to prevent childhood statelessness it is necessary that both parents have the ability to register their children at birth, further stating that preventing women from having equal rights to register their children risks leaving a child without a crucial form of legal identity and proof of entitlement to a nationality. Cornelius Williams, UNICEF Associate Director of Child Protection stated that it is necessary that all children are registered at birth to ensure their health and wellbeing because without a birth certificate, a child is at greater risk of statelessness and exclusion from essential services including health care and education. Today, one in four children under the age of 5 are not registered at birth, according to UNICEF data and even when they are, they may not have proof of registration. An estimated 237 million children under 5 years old worldwide are currently without a birth certificate.
UN: Time Running Out for Countries on Climate Crisis Front Line
On 8 July, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, while speaking to the first Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit of 48 nations systemically exposed to climate-related disasters, stated that they needed reassurance that financial and technical support will be forthcoming to rebuild trust. Developed countries must clarify now, how they will effectively deliver $100 billion in climate finance annually, to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago. Mr. Guterres asked for a clear plan to reach established climate finance goals by 2025, something he promised to emphasize with the G20 finance ministers at their upcoming meeting this week. He added that development finance institutions play a big role in supporting countries in the short term, and they will either facilitate low carbon, climate-resilient recovery, or it will entrench them in high carbon, business-as-usual, fossil fuel-intensive investments. The Secretary-General reiterated that the climate impacts we are seeing today – currently at 1.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, endanger the survival of many in climate vulnerable countries. The UN chief also welcomed a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which reveals that an estimated 23,000 lives per year could be saved – with potential benefits of at least $162 billion per year – through improving weather forecasts, early warning systems, and climate information, known as hydromet. According to WMO, investments in multi-hazard early warning systems create benefits worth at least ten times their costs and are vital to building resilience to extreme weather and currently, only 40 percent of countries have effective warning systems in place.
UNODC: UN Report Reveals Impact of COVID on Human Trafficking
On 8 July, a new study was released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) which illustrates the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on victims and survivors of human trafficking. It highlights the increased targeting and exploitation of children during the course of the pandemic. Ghada Waly, UNODC Executive Director stated that the pandemic has increased vulnerabilities to trafficking persons, while simultaneously making trafficking even harder to detect and leaving victims struggling to obtain help and access to justice. The report shows that measures to curb the spread of the virus have increased the risk of trafficking for people in vulnerable situations, exposed victims to further exploitation and limited access to essential services for survivors of trafficking. Ilias Chatzis, Chief of UNODC’s Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, stated that the experts who contributed to the study found that children are being increasingly targeted by traffickers who are using social media and other online platforms to recruit new victims and profiting from the increased demand for child sexual exploitation materials. He further hoped that the findings of the study and its recommendations would contribute towards developing strategies on how to continue anti-human trafficking activities on a national and international level even during a crisis such as the pandemic.