CGAP Launches Guide for Financial Service Providers to Better Meet the Needs of Low-Income Customers

Washington, D.C., Sept. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CGAP today launched the Customer-Centric Guide, a web-based collection of toolkits and experiments to help financial service providers deliver products and services that better meet the needs of low-income customers. The number of people with a financial account grew by 721 million between 2011 and 2014, reducing the […]

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Women drivers, corrupt cops, and dating refugees: The Cheat Sheet

Every week, IRIN’s team of specialist editors scans the humanitarian horizon to curate a reading list on important and unfolding trends and events around the globe:

Was letting women drive a Saudi PR stunt?

It would have been hard to miss the news that Saudi Arabia will soon let women drive, trumpeted as a major victory led by brave activists. The policy change is a big deal, but might it also have been a PR stunt to try to appease the West? Perhaps, distraction from the war in Yemen and today’s hotly debated UN Human Rights Council vote on an independent investigation into the war in Yemen? Don’t rule it out. Saudi Arabia was certainly nervous � it reportedly sent a letter warning other countries that such a probe could negatively affect trade and diplomatic ties with the kingdom. The proposal, which has been written and rewritten, negotiated and hashtagged (#YemenInquiryNow), was strongly supported by advocacy groups like Human Rights Watch.

Diplomacy has singularly failed to do anything for the people of Yemen, who are enduring the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. So, especially as Saudi Arabia has several friends in high places, expectations were low ahead of the vote. But as Cheat Sheet went to press the council passed a resolution by consensus that mandates a group of international experts to investigate abuses. Amnesty International Senior Director for Research Anna Neistat said the move sends an unequivocal message to all parties to the conflict in Yemen � that their conduct will be scrutinised and the abuses they commit will not go unpunished. The independent investigation falls short of a full-scale UN international commission of inquiry that could have led to referrals to the international criminal court, but it won’t leave the powers-that-be in Riyadh particularly happy. If allowing women to drive was a PR stunt, it was an epic fail.

Biafra redux

A growing secessionist swell in southeastern Nigeria is dividing the country once again, 50 years after the civil war that claimed a million lives (see an earlier IRIN report). Thousands of troops have been deployed to the region in a heavy-handed crackdown on pro-Biafra agitation, and the leader of the breakaway Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) campaign, Nnamdi Kanu, has gone missing � reportedly detained by the army. Secessionist sentiment has been building in recent years under the leadership of Kanu, a skilled propagandist. He won sympathy among Igbos in the southeast during a lengthy trial on terrorism and treason charges. A pro-Biafra social media campaign portrays President Muhammadu Buhari as a pro-Muslim northerner out to crush the southeast. In June, northern youth groups upped the ante by demanding that all Igbos must leave the north by 1 October � an uncomfortable reminder of the pogroms in the north that led to the declaration of Biafra in 1967. Kanu’s announcement of the formation of self-defence units and threat to prevent elections in the southeast has also worsened the tension. Igbos are a successful trading community, spread throughout the country. Many leading Igbos have condemned Kanu’s cause, including the southeastern governors. But the governors have also called for urgent dialogue, drawing parallels between IPOB, an inflexible government, and the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.

Drying out and dying out in Kenya’s Turkana

Turkana County lies in the 80 percent of Kenya’s landmass that is classed as drylands, where most inhabitants eke out a living raising livestock � cows, goats, sheep, and camels. Pastoralism is a way of life that is defined by environmental variation, with herders constantly moving their flocks across vast distances to the best available pasture and water points. Coping with the occasional failure of seasonal rains has always been a feature of this arduous livelihood. But as IRIN discovered on a just-concluded reporting mission to Turkana, the drought which for months has ravaged much of east Africa, and which the Kenyan government has termed a national emergency, is the worst in living memory. One local official said half a million head of livestock had succumbed to thirst, hunger, and disease, leaving many herders destitute. Much of the human population has fallen into crisis levels of food insecurity. The climate shock is all the more severe because of the Kenyan drylands’ chronic poverty, and the absence of basic services that would have served as a cushion. And while grassland tends to recover from droughts once rains return, this one is so severe and prolonged that there are fears that some pasture has been scorched beyond repair. All these issues and more � including the pernicious threat posed by an aggressive, invasive, and tantalisingly evergreen shrub � will be explored in depth in IRIN’s forthcoming package of stories.

The refugee’s dating coach

This week, we bring you something a bit different � dare we say it, even uplifting? It’s the final episode in the inaugural series of a new NPR podcast � Rough Translation � all about navigating the dating landscape in Berlin as a Syrian refugee. This is not yet another pieceabout teaching Arab men how to approach women in miniskirts in the aftermath of the Cologne attacks, although the repercussions of the media frenzy after those events certainly form a backdrop to this must-listen. Instead, this is the story of Aktham, known as Abu Techno for his role in getting the word about the Syrian uprising out � and his quest to find a relationship in a new language and culture, with a little help from his German flirt coach Sophia. There are misunderstandings aplenty, honesty, and some fresh perspective on how the little things matter even when you’ve fled something vast and terrible.

Did you miss it?

Unfair cop: Why African police forces make violent extremism worse

Studies indicate that the majority of young people who sign up to extremist groups do so because of the actions of government security forces, often the killing or arrest of friends or family members. Often the culprit in many African countries is the abusive and intimidatory behaviour of corrupt police officers. In this hard-hitting analysis, IRIN’s Africa Editor Obi Anyadike strikes at the heart of issue, offering his depressing but acurate critique of those paid to protect not endanger society. But in Kenyan senior sergeant Francis Mwangi, someone at the forefront of efforts to reform policing, Anyadike finds some hope. But are the lessons Mwangi is learning as he builds bridges in the Nairobi slum of Kamakunji being written down and taught in police academies across the continent? Probably not. Meanwhile, from Nigeria to Somalia, from Kenya even to South Africa, police forces are seen as subservient to the wishes of ruling elites. In insurgeny-prone areas, hit squads take priority over proper detective work. Tolerance of abuse is mainstream. Governance failures abound. All the talk is of the soft power of preventing violent extremism, or PVE. But if this is to work in an African context, policing needs a radical overhaul.

Anyadike’s story is part of IRIN’s special project exploring violent extremism in Nigeria and the Sahel.

Source: IRIN

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WCA Executive Summit And Family Office Forum 2017

MARRAKECH, Morocco, Sept. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — On October 1, 2017, all roads lead to Marrakech in the Kingdom of Morocco, for the 4th Annual WCA Executive Summit being held at the Four Seasons from October 1 to October 3, 2017 where 100+ of Africa’s leading family offices, heads of family-owned conglomerates, investors, ministers and award-winning […]

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General Assembly Adopts Political Declaration Affirming Commitment to End Human Trafficking, Amid Calls for Victim-Centred Approaches

‘I Didn’t Have Any Identity’, Survivor Recalls, Stressing that Outcome Document Must Come to Life in Communities Across Globe

Survivors of human trafficking today recounted painful stories of kidnapping, violence and rape � often the result of criminals exploiting their hopes for a better life � as the General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration aimed at combating that brutal practice.

The Assembly endorsed the political declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons by consensus at the outset of its two day high level meeting on human trafficking, which many speakers described as modern-day slavery. Member States reaffirmed their commitment to that instrument, and to the related 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular, they agreed to address the many social, economic, cultural and political factors that increased people’s vulnerability to trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, inequality, conflict, humanitarian emergencies and gender discrimination.

It is so important to hear the voice of survivors, emphasized Grizelda Grootboom, a civil society representative from South Africa, as she described her emotional personal experience. Having grown up in Cape Town in the Nelson Mandela era, she recalled that her expectations for a better life had been exploited by a friend who forced her into sexual slavery in Johannesburg. My journey ended up in the hands of someone who knew I was desperate for hope and for freedom, she said, recalling that upon her arrival the traffickers had injected her with drugs, duct taped her mouth and undressed her. When the first client arrived, he was told that fresh meat is on the market.

After years spent working from brothel to brothel, and later as a drug trafficker for her pimps, she said she eventually escaped after a beating landed her in hospital. However, she continued to be stigmatized for having been a sex slave. I didn’t have any identity, she said. Even today, it hurt to see headlines reporting that trafficking persisted. Sex slavery is just another form of oppression, especially for the black child, she emphasized, expressing hope that the Global Plan of Action would not exist merely on paper, but in every community, township and city across the globe.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said tens of millions of people around the world were victims of forced labour, sexual servitude, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation, with such abuse gripping the weakest and most vulnerable. Countless businesses in both the global North and South benefited from that misery, he said, adding that in recent years, conflict, insecurity and economic uncertainty had brought new tests, with millions of people spilling out of their countries towards safety. While thousands died at sea, in deserts and detention centres, many others found themselves at the mercy of merciless people, he said.

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia), stressing that the will to fight human trafficking must be manifested in action, said the horrors and complexity of that abuse affected people everywhere. Echoing calls for a victim and survivor centred approach, he said the United Nations had a duty to be a voice for victims. For people to live freely and peacefully, they must be free from the threat of trafficking. Prevention is better than cure, he asserted, urging States to prioritize efforts to starve traffickers of benefits, while also addressing both demand and supply side problems.

Mira Sorvino, actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said words must be transformed into meaningful, robust action to help those tormented by trafficking. Member States could not look away from the plight of victims. Conflict, climate change and the resulting migration patterns were creating massive displacement, she said, describing those factors as a direct pipeline to victimhood. Calling for private sector cooperation and the involvement of survivors at all levels of policymaking, she said law enforcement efforts must take a child centred, evidence based approach, and investigators must work to ensure that the testimony of victims was not their only hope of justice.

Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said today’s Political Declaration would help sharpen responses to an odious crime that exploited and victimized the most vulnerable. Since the adoption of the landmark Plan of Action in 2010, much had been done to reverse the phenomenon. Nevertheless, enforcement gaps remained, with more action required in prosecuting trafficking lords in particular. Calling for victim centred criminal justice responses and better evidence collection, he echoed calls to address root causes and urged States to support the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.

Speakers throughout the morning’s plenary session voiced support for both the new Political Declaration and the original 2010 Action Plan, while also outlining national laws and strategies to combat human trafficking. Some raised concerns about at risk populations � including refugees fleeing crises in Syria and other hotspots � while others warned that global instruments would do little to address the horrors of human trafficking if States failed to implement them.

Anifah Aman, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, noted that his was both a transit and destination country, and that its citizens were often targeted as victims. In response, the Government had aligned its national anti-trafficking strategy with the 2010 Action Plan, and was engaged in bilateral and regional cooperation efforts under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Expressing concern that the Rohingya people fleeing Myanmar could easily become victims, he repeated Malaysia’s calls to that country to end the violence, expressing hope that the measures outlined in today’s political declaration would serve as a strong basis for action going forward.

The European Union representative said the bloc had put in place a framework to address trafficking in a victims focused, human rights based, gender specific and child sensitive manner. As the world’s largest donor of aid and funding for related projects, the European Union was working with partners to build capacities and promote standards. She called for greater efforts to address trafficking in the context of migration and the refugee crisis, and for the purposes of sexual abuse and exploitation � including of children and online. We must step up our efforts to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation in both legal and illegal economies, she asserted.

Andrei Dapkiunas, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, asking whether the United Nations meeting would ignite the fire of hope in the hearts of victims, said we all know the answer to that question. Indeed, words would only matter if they took the form of practical action. Urging all States to place efforts to combat trafficking above national interests, he warned against attempts to use the issue to pursue narrow political aims. All countries, along with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, must adopt an open, honest approach. Until we do that, the human traffickers will sleep soundly, he stressed.

In the afternoon, the Assembly held two panel discussions featuring United Nations officials, civil society representatives and survivors of human trafficking, among others. The first addressed themes related to the Global Plan of Action and effective partnerships for the prevention and prosecution of trafficking in persons, with a focus on achievements, gaps and challenges. The second discussed the Global Plan of Action and effective partnerships, with a focus on the role of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.

Also speaking during the plenary session were Ministers from Luxembourg, Indonesia, Eritrea, South Africa, Qatar, Zimbabwe, Panama (also speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt (also speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking), Guyana, Namibia, Dominican Republic, Ukraine and Malawi, as did the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See.

Representatives of Sudan, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Israel and Turkey also participated.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 28 September, to conclude the high-level meeting.

Opening Remarks

MIROSLAV LAJCA�K (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said the will to fight human trafficking must be manifested in action. Human trafficking understood no borders. The horrors and complexity of trafficking in persons affected people everywhere. While today’s meeting would track progress made in the fight against human trafficking, it also must recognize how much work remained ahead. He pledged the Assembly’s recommitment to fight all forms of human trafficking and called for respect of human rights and the dignity of our people.

Stressing that mitigation efforts required a victim and survivor centred approach, and a multi stakeholder perspective, he said the United Nations had a duty to be a voice for victims. For people to live freely and peacefully, they must be free from the threat of trafficking. Prevention efforts must be strengthened, he said, recognizing that peace and security challenges amplified the threat of human trafficking. Thus, preventing conflict would help to prevent human trafficking. Prevention is better than cure, he asserted. The priority must be to starve human traffickers of benefits while addressing demand and supply side problems. Traffickers’ focus on women and children threatened to unravel the fabric of society, he warned.

Indeed, human trafficking was a complex and many-sided problem, he said, and to best address it, Member States must concentrate on existing plans while recognizing the new political declaration as an important instrument. He called for continued contribution to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, which was an important tool to assist victims in recovering, reclaiming dignity and minimizing the risk of revictimization. The scale of human trafficking also required resources that matched the scale of the problem, he said.

ANTA�NIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said tens of millions of people around the world were victims of forced labour, sexual servitude, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse. Human trafficking is all around us, he said, adding: It grips the weakest and most vulnerable � women, girls and boys cruelly exploited for sex and vital organs, children forced into endless begging and men into brutal labour. Countless businesses in both the global North and South benefited from that misery and the phenomenon was often intertwined with racial, gender and other forms of discrimination. In recent years, conflict, insecurity and economic uncertainty had brought new tests, as millions of people spilled out of their countries towards safety and often found themselves at the mercy of merciless people.

Indeed, he said, thousands of people had died at sea, in deserts and detention centres, and at the hands of traffickers. Criminal networks had used that disorder and despair to expand their brutality and reach. Terrorist groups including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram continued to attempt to capture and enslave women, girls and boys. These gangs and groups are global, he stressed. They were well organized, technologically savvy and highly proficient at exploiting gaps in governance and weak institutions. We must be equally determined in countering this menace, he said, emphasizing that too often human traffickers operated with impunity and received less attention than traffickers in drugs.

Fighting human trafficking required making greater use of the United Nation Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children � also known as the Palermo Protocol or Trafficking in Persons Protocol � among other instruments. The New York Declaration adopted in 2016 was a welcome step, and the Assembly’s seventy-third session would convene a conference to adopt a global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration, which would provide an additional milestone. Recalling that, as Prime Minister of Portugal, he had viewed the threat of drugs as a possible threat to his own children, he said he had not sufficiently recognized or acted on the risk posed by human trafficking. It was the responsibility of all world leaders to address that phenomenon. As refugees and migrants were especially vulnerable � and their plight was compounded when they were treated as criminals by host Governments and communities � the international community must create legal and safe migration channels, while also upholding the rights of refugees to asylum.

YURI FEDOTOV, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said today’s political declaration would help sharpen responses to an odious crime that exploited and victimized the most vulnerable. Since the adoption of the landmark Plan of Action in 2010, much had been done to reverse the phenomenon, with 171 Member States having acceded to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and most aligning their national policies to its provisions. Nevertheless, enforcement gaps remained, with more action required in prosecuting trafficking lords in particular. The UNODC was engaged in those activities, he said, calling on Member States to make better use of the established legal framework to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

Calling for more victim centred criminal justice responses, better evidence collection and greater common efforts were needed to achieve the anti trafficking targets under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. He said stronger inter agency and cross border cooperation was also critical. The root factors that made people more vulnerable to trafficking must also be tackled. Urging States to support the United Nations Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking, he said those efforts would help victims become survivors.

Action

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution titled, political declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons (document A/72/L.1).

Statements

MIRA SORVINO, actress and Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, called for words to be transformed into meaningful, robust action to help those tormented by trafficking, stressing that failure to protect the most vulnerable segments of society was unacceptable. Member States could not look away from the plight of victims, she said, adding that the scale of the problem required that everyone work to uplift victims and survivors in order to foster a freer and more prosperous world. Conflict, climate change and the resulting migration patterns were creating displacement on a massive scale, she said, describing those factors as a direct pipeline to victimhood.

She went on to call for private-sector cooperation in the fight against trafficking and for the involvement of survivors at all levels of policymaking. Law enforcement efforts must take a child centred, evidence based approach, and investigators must work to ensure that the testimony of victims was not their only hope of justice. Human trafficking called for a vigorous attack on the root causes of vulnerability, she emphasized. Donations to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking was a direct way to help victims, she said, noting Italy had recently donated $1 million to the Fund. She called upon all Member States to match or add to that gift.

GRIZELDA GROOTBOOM, civil society representative and human trafficking victim from South Africa, said that being a street kid in Cape Town during the Nelson Mandela era had meant expectations of hope and freedom. However, a friend had exploited that hope. My journey ended up in the hands of someone who knew I was desperate for hope and for freedom, she said. That hope had turned into a nightmare as she was trafficked all the way to Johannesburg. Entering a home in that city, she had lain down for a nap, only to be awakened by a punch to the stomach. The traffickers had then injected her with drugs behind the knees, duct taped her mouth and undressed her, she recounted. The first client had been told upon arrival that fresh meat is on the market.

The rapes had continued for two weeks, she continued, adding that she had then been replaced by younger girls and kicked out into the Johannesburg streets. From that day onwards, she had worked from one brothel to another, raped by all kinds of men � old, young, black, white, rich, poor. She had fallen pregnant, and after six months, her madam had told her that her child’s breed was not welcome in the industry. An in house abortion had been conducted and she had returned to work just hours later. In that minute, I knew that the life I thought I was going to have was taken from me, she said, recalling that she had finally decided to say no. However, when she had refused the next client, she had been beaten badly and had ended up in hospital, marking the beginning of her exit journey.

I didn’t have any identity, she continued. Even after leaving the industry she had been stigmatized for having been a sex slave. She had returned to the pimps and then had become their drug trafficker, working from one city to another until she had found herself back in her home city of Cape Town. Today I stand here with images of girls that I’ve lost through the 18 years, she said, adding: I’m blessed to be alive. However, it hurt to see headlines reporting that trafficking continued unabated, she added, noting that today, serious health problems constantly reminded her of her past.

Welcoming the fact that the United Nations were gathered to address human trafficking � and that Member States had committed to implementing the Global Plan � she pointed out that women and girls made up 96 per cent of trafficking victims. Sex slavery is just another form of oppression, especially for the black child, she said. It is so important to hear the voice of survivors, she said, adding that it was also important for victims and survivors to see the commitment of the United Nations to helping them. She stressed that she was not speaking because she wished to be an activist, but because she understood the true pain of being a sex slave. She concluded by expressing hope that the Plan of Action would not take action merely on paper, but in every community, township and city across the globe.

FA�LIX BRAZ, Minister for Justice of Luxembourg, said human trafficking was a serious crime and gross violation of fundamental rights. His country combatted the phenomenon through a multidisciplinary approach focused on prevention, protection and promotion of victims’ rights, and prosecution of the perpetrators and co-perpetrators. Policies also focused on providing adequate training for law enforcement authorities.

RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, reiterated the importance of partnership and cooperation in curbing trafficking, particularly with source, transit and destination countries. Indonesia adhered to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Trafficking in Persons, and had taken actions to prevent crime, prosecute perpetrators and protect victims. Effective measures included imposing a minimum threshold to identify trafficking cases, increasing consular officers as first responders, creating an e platform for data collection, enhancing law enforcement to help the prosecution process, and compensating victims. Regionally, Indonesia supported efforts to implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention on Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children, and the Bali Declaration on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. In that context, she highlighted the situation in Rakhine State, which required measures to prevent refugees from being exploited by traffickers.

ANIFAH AMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, strongly condemning the phenomenon of human trafficking, said his country was both a transit and destination country, and that its citizens were also often targeted as victims. In response, the Government had put in place a national plan to combat human trafficking, which was aligned with the 2010 United Nations Plan of Action, and was engaged in many bilateral and regional cooperation efforts on that issue. For example, Malaysia was a party to the 2015 ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, along with other regional instruments. We believe in a comprehensive approach with an emphasis on victims, and addressing the phenomenon’s root causes, he said. Expressing concern that the Rohingya people currently fleeing Myanmar could easily become victims to human trafficking, he repeated Malaysia’s calls to that country to end the violence against the Rohingya, and expressed hope that the measures outlined in the political declaration would serve as a strong basis for action going forward.

OSMAN MOHAMMED SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, noting that his country was at the forefront of the fight against human trafficking, called for focused international cooperation to eradicate that phenomenon. If efforts did not address the root causes of trafficking, any future appraisal meetings would only expose gaps and not show progress. Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants were great causes of instability in Africa, he said, with young people most affected, facing abduction, torture and death. The problem had deepened as impunity persisted in the region. A clear assessment of human trafficking in the Horn of Africa was needed to bring an end to injustice and ensure those responsible faced punishment. No case could go unprosecuted, he said, adding that Eritrea would continue its fight against trafficking and expose its sponsors.

MICHAEL MASUTHA, Minister for Justice and Correctional Services of South Africa, said today’s political declaration demonstrated the global political will to end human trafficking. South Africa’s law enforcement and criminal justice systems were engaged in the constant fight against that phenomenon, having arrested, tried and convicted many perpetrators. South Africa also provided support to victims. Relevant laws had been consolidated under the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act, which centred on prevention and prosecution, and was in line with the Protocol. To ensure nationwide participation, the Government had established an intersectional committee comprising representatives from civil society, faith-based organizations, traditional leaders and others, which were working directly with communities. However, the transnational nature of trafficking required cooperation with and mutual assistance from both other countries and intergovernmental organizations.

ISSA BIN SAAD AL-JAFAKU AL-NUAIMI, Minister for Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs of Qatar, said efforts to tackle human trafficking should focus on causes, such as social, economic, cultural, political and ideological factors or the lack of the rule of law. The inability to find just and decisive settlements to conflict had led to the rise of terrorism and armed groups, which engaged in trafficking. Qatar had put anti-trafficking legislative measures in place and established a national committee to consolidate the work of State institutions and civil society. Regionally, Qatar worked in cooperation with UNODC and the League of Arab States to build and rehabilitate national capacities to combat trafficking. On the international level, Qatar was a member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking and the Group of Friends to End Modern Slavery. It was also a major donor to the United Nations Trust Fund.

PRISCAH MUPFUMIRA, Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe, said her country was a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in human beings. For that reason, it had ratified the Convention, and the Palermo Protocol. Zimbabwe’s response strategy was anchored on the four Ps: prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. Anti-trafficking programs had been decentralized to local levels for greater effectiveness, she added. Under the protection pillar, the Government had facilitated and funded the repatriation of 138 victims since 2016. Zimbabwe was also working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to establish income-generating projects for victims. Thus far, 100 women had each received up to $1,500, she added.

ALEXIS BETHANCOURT YAU, Minister of Public Security of Panama, speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, recognized efforts taken by the United Nations to tackle human trafficking and include the issue in both the 2030 Agenda, and the Global Plan of Action. He emphasized the need for universal ratification and implementation of all international legally binding instruments addressing that crime. A holistic approach to combating trafficking, by including the human security aspect, offered the most balanced solution to protect vulnerable groups, including women and children. He urged Member States to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said Panama had aligned its national anti-trafficking plans with the United Nations Convention, dismantling 14 trafficking networks and achieving three important convictions. Among other steps, it was working to bring perpetrators to justice, protect victims and establish partnerships. Panama had also established a National Commission against Trafficking in Persons, comprising private sector representatives, and was putting in place relevant laws. In October, the National Commission would meet to establish five strategic lines of actions, he said, adding that efforts were under way to raise public awareness and bolster prevention. As Vice-President of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund, he urged Member States to offer support, and cited his country’s shelter for victims as the only one in the region.

EMMANUEL ILUNGA NGOIE KASONGO, Minister in Charge of Congolese Nationals Abroad of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said Africa faced an acute migrant crisis that was exacerbating issues of human trafficking. Trafficking was a cross cutting threat with global implications, he said, stressing that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a transit and destination country, and that Congolese girls were trafficked for sexual exploitation. Legal measures had been taken to prevent trafficking, he said, drawing attention to an upcoming forum aimed at developing strategies in that regard. Preventive work and assistance was being offered to victims. Such efforts sought to help re establish peace in the east of the country and end cycles of war. He welcomed the expertise of all partners in efforts to implement relevant recommendations.

NAELA GABR MOHAMED GABR ALI (Egypt), on behalf of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, welcomed the political declaration as a meaningful supplement to the Global Plan of Action. The 2030 Agenda and the related Goals served as reminders to end this heinous crime, notably by reducing poverty and inequality. The international community has to bring forward a better, more just, more equitable and more comprehensive response to tackle this scourge, she declared. To that end, the Group of Friends would work with partners around the world, and recognized the role of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons. She invited all stakeholders to take part in the forthcoming review of the Global Plan of Action, and to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund.

Speaking in her national capacity, she said Egypt had been fighting trafficking since 2007, with a national strategy based on prevention, protection and prosecution. The national action plan and related legislation were closely aligned with the 2010 United Nations Plan of Action, and sought to raise awareness, support victims’ rights, accelerate development in slums and other poor areas and underscore the close connection between trafficking and illegal migration. Regional cooperation was also critical, she said, as was respecting the human rights dimension of trafficking. Noting that Egypt was working with non governmental organizations to raise awareness, she also cited the country’s participation in the Aware Migrant campaign, alongside Italy and IOM.

CARL GREENIDGE, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana, said trafficking in persons had become the second most profitable criminal enterprise in the world. Combating it called for a focus on awareness efforts, effective prosecution and assistance for victims. The fight against human trafficking also must be grounded in the principles of prevention, protection and prosecution. Guyana’s Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons had begun to engage in awareness raising efforts with law enforcement and civil society, while awareness campaigns encouraged civil society to assume responsibilities pivotal to mitigating trafficking in persons, he said.

ERASTUS AMUTENYA UUTONI, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration of Namibia, said traffickers had taken advantage of an imbalanced global economy. As long as there is a rich global North and a poor global South, traffickers will continue to take advantage of the need for labour in rich countries, he said, where laws providing labour migration favoured highly skilled workers and prevented semi-skilled personnel. In Namibia, some suspects had been acquitted due to a lack of evidence. Although trafficking was criminalized under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, efforts were underway to enact a law to specifically address that crime. A manual also was provided to immigration and law enforcement officers, and joint trainings carried out for border officials, police and immigration officials. He called for training migration officials, providing shelter for trafficking victims, enhancing cooperation between the North and South, facilitating lawful migration, and respecting the human rights of migrants.

ANDREI DAPKIUNAS, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, asking whether the fact that the United Nations was meeting to address the crime of human trafficking would ignite the fire of hope in the hearts of its victims, said we all know the answer to that question. Indeed, the Organization’s words would only matter if they took the form of practical action. Urging all States to place efforts to combat trafficking above national interests, he warned against attempts to use the issue to pursue narrow political aims. All nations, along with United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations, must adopt an open, honest approach. Until we do that, the human traffickers will sleep soundly, he stressed. Participation in the Convention and its Protocol was a moral imperative, he said, noting that the global community remained divided. Belarus had recently made its third contribution to the Trust Fund and he urged others to do the same, also calling on States to take decisive and uncompromising action against trafficking at the national level.

MARJORIE ESPINOSA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said that following her country’s ratification of the Convention and its Protocols, and the 2010 Global Action Plan, it had begun to align its national laws and policies with those instruments. The Foreign Ministry had held several meetings to develop and implement a national plan against trafficking and migrant smuggling, and now was devising a second such plan for the period 2017 2020, bringing together Government agencies and various sectors. The Dominican Republic was developing campaigns to prevent the exploitation of children and teenagers in particular, with the help of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and IOM. She also cited the creation of a victims assistance unit and the building of shelters for victims, stressing that efforts to combat trafficking must include countries of origin, transit and destination, both through bilateral agreements and regional instruments to exchange information.

NATALIA FEDOROVYCH, Deputy Minister for Social Affairs of Ukraine, expressed support for commitments in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants to combat trafficking, noting that Ukraine had set up a counter-trafficking response and a national referral mechanism to identify, assist and protect victims. While Ukraine had ratified the Convention, the Palermo Protocol and the Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings instruments could not be implemented in non-Government controlled areas. Three years of Russian aggression against Ukraine had led to numerous cases of trafficking and forced labour in areas outside Government control. They had been largely unaddressed due to lack of safe access of monitoring missions. She pointed out that the Russian Federation did not have comprehensive mechanisms for effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.

ABD ELGHANI AWAD ELKARIM, Under-Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said his country supported all international efforts to prevent and restrict trafficking. Economic and social dimensions, particularly poverty, must be taken into account when tackling its root causes. Sudan was a transit country that had made tireless efforts to fight organized crime, including police operations that had freed hundreds of trafficking victims, most of them women and children. Emphasizing the need for integrated action and a holistic approach, he called on the international community to meet its commitments under the European Union-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative (Khartoum Process).

JEAN KALILANI, Minister for Home Affairs and Internal Security of Malawi, called for stronger efforts to end the degrading modern day slavery of human trafficking, whose barbarism had no place in the world. Noting that the Global Plan of Action was now complemented by the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals � three of whose targets specifically addressed human trafficking � she recalled that Malawi had ratified the United Nations Convention and two of its Protocols in 2005. Today, the national Trafficking in Persons Act provided a legislative framework for prevention, based on a human rights approach, and sought to provide victims with care and support. Noting that Malawi’s implementation efforts included specific and time-bound measures, she nevertheless said more support was needed. She called for greater efforts to mobilize resources and create more effective partnerships.

MYRIA VASSILIADOU, Anti-Trafficking Coordinator of the European Union, said the bloc had put in place a comprehensive framework to address trafficking in a victims focused, human-rights based, gender specific and child sensitive manner. The European Union had demonstrated its commitment to implement the Global Plan of Action and to uphold the legal standards enshrined in the United Nations Convention, its Protocols and other international legal instruments. As the world’s largest donor of aid and finances for projects promoting anti trafficking, the European Union was working with partners to build capacities and promote anti trafficking standards.

She said greater efforts were needed to address trafficking in the context of migration and the refugee crisis, the nexus between conflict and trafficking, the risk of trafficking in supply chains and trafficking for the purposes of sexual abuse and exploitation � including of children and online. The factors that made people vulnerable also required attention, and the European Union would work towards achieving its 2030 Agenda commitments in that regard. While it was crucial that traffickers were legally punished, she said prevention and partnerships were also essential. We must step up our efforts to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation in both legal and illegal economies, she asserted.

IGOR DJUNDEV, Director for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, associating himself with the European Union, said combating trafficking in human beings should be set in the context of the two compacts regarding migrants and refugees. Special attention should be also given to prevention through awareness raising initiatives at all levels. Further, a more resolute and comprehensive approach on the ground was needed to protect and assist victims, and prosecute criminal groups.

NOA FURMAN (Israel), noting that the Israelite people had been slaves in biblical Egypt, said their past had informed current efforts to end trafficking and all forms of modern slavery. Israel had two national plans aligned with a range of ministries, and had enacted legislation covering all forms of trafficking. As a result, the United States Department of State had classified Israel as a tier 1 country in the battle against trafficking. Further, Israel had reduced the most severe form of trafficking of women for prostitution, thanks primarily to a focus on prevention, prosecution, protection and partnership. Israel also had established shelters for victims, and through the appointment of an Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, expanded its partnerships with civil society. She called on all countries to ratify the Palermo Protocol and to transcend borders in the fight against human trafficking.

MEHMET SAMSAR (Turkey) said the four pillars of prevention, prosecution, protection and partnership were critical to fighting trafficking, as were inclusive, human rights-based approaches. As existing international humanitarian systems had failed to respond properly to the needs of people affected by catastrophes and emergencies, criminal networks had found fertile ground and exploited the vulnerabilities of migrants. Regrettably, trafficking had become a profitable business for such terrorist groups as Da’esh, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Recalling that the activities of the latter had been underlined in the United States 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, he said that, as the country hosting the most refugees in the world � including 3.1 million Syrians � Turkey would undertake all necessary measures to prevent human trafficking, forced labour and slavery among those fleeing conflict. Underscoring the importance of ensuring legal pathways for migrants seeking a decent life, he also called for breaking down barriers to safe, regular and orderly migration, including through the 2018 adoption of the two Global Compacts on migration and for refugees.

PAUL RICHARD GALLAGHER, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, said addressing the demand that fostered trafficking, especially of women and girls, would require a frank and courageous examination of practices which encouraged sexually addictive behaviour and the dehumanization of people as objects of gratification. There must be long-term investment in rehabilitation for victims, he said, emphasizing also the positive role to be played by partnerships between law enforcement agencies and faith based groups.

Panel Discussion I

The Assembly’s first panel discussion was titled The Global Plan of Action and effective partnerships for the prevention and prosecution of trafficking in persons: achievements, gaps and challenges, also taking into consideration the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Chaired by Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), it featured presentations by Purna Sen, Director of the Policy Division, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); Kevin Cassidy, Senior Communications and External Relations Officer, International Labour Organization (ILO); and Rani Hong, Chief Executive Officer, The Tronie Foundation.

Mr. PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE said interventions during the high level meeting had highlighted the emergence of new crises involving armed groups and the use of trafficked persons by terrorist groups in pursuit of their goals. While the Political Declaration took migration into consideration, it was now time to move from words to action. Human trafficking took place every day and everywhere in the world, and the international community must focus on establishing and enhancing effective partnerships to prevent it, as well as to ensure the effective prosecution of culprits and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda in strengthening anti trafficking efforts.

Ms. SEN said the Global Plan of Action and the Political Declaration renewed the commitment to combat trafficking, a manifestation of the violence and discrimination that women and girls faced around the world. Its eradication would require comprehensive approaches. Noting that women and girls accounted for 71 per cent of victims, she said that clearly demonstrated that trafficking was a gender based problem and should be addressed as such. In order to eliminate all forms of violence, the international community must address the sexual exploitation of women and girls in all contexts, she emphasized. Additionally, it must address the root causes, including poverty, unemployment, migration and labour laws. Greater attention should be given to the linkages connecting trafficking, migration and gender, as there were numerous gender specific vulnerabilities and risks that made women especially susceptible. Member States must ensure specific responses to the gender dimensions of trafficking, including tailored health care services for victims, efforts to address stigmatization and providing economic empowerment programmes. Member States should also create conditions in which victims would feel safe enough to discuss their experiences, including by ensuring the availability of female police officers, building trust with high risk groups, establishing support centres and working with officials and other relevant personnel. Describing trafficking as a human rights violation, she stressed that victims must not be criminalized. Human rights must be recognized, and the safety of victims prioritized through trust, supportive policies and practices, assistance with reintegrating into society and supporting the prosecution of perpetrators, she said, highlighting the latest brief on the gender dimension of trafficking by the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, of which UN Women was a member.

Mr. CASSIDY said the appraisal of the Global Plan of Action had come at a timely moment as ILO released new global estimates. Of the 25 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million were female, 9 million male and 4.3 million children located across the globe, he said, adding that those numbers could not be ignored. The ILO was working across multiple fronts to end human trafficking, supporting partnerships at the national, bilateral, regional and sub regional levels, as well with Governments, civil society, media, the private sector and NGOs, including Alliance 8.7, which was committed to eradicating forced labour and child slavery. No single actor could solve the problem alone, he emphasized, adding: We must work together. Alliance 8.7 objectives also included accelerating the end of human trafficking, boosting research and innovation capacities, and increasing and sharing funding resources. In cooperation with the United Kingdom, Alliance 8.7 and the United Nations had created a knowledge platform that would be hosted at United Nations University, he said, encouraging everyone to share data sets and draw from that platform once it became operational.

Ms. HONG, sharing her experiences as a former victim, said that she had been trafficked as a little girl, and had lived in a cage for months before being sold into the international adoption black market. There were 40 million slaves in the world today, but everybody forgot the one, she said. Beneath all of us, there is a human being just like you, and we look for somebody to love us and take care of us, she added. The way forward should be guided by the reinforced political will that States had pledged at the launch of the Global Plan of Action, she said, noting that she had partnered with local communities to bring tangible solutions on the ground. The Tronie Foundation had created the Freedom Seal as a symbol that could represent freedom in the workplace, she said, urging companies to be transparent and prevent slavery in the entire supply chain.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates underlined the need to address root causes, appealed for enhanced cooperation and suggested possible measures.

MICHAEL MASUTHA, Minister for Justice and Correctional Services of South Africa, emphasized the need to look at underlying factors, including inequality within and between nations, organized crime, drug trafficking, illicit capital transfers and illegal migration. He also stressed the importance of cooperation between Government and civil society, as well as among States.

PRAMILA PATTEN, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said that for hybrid terrorist criminal networks, girls were currency in their political economy of war, noting that trafficking by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Boko Haram and other such groups had sent shockwaves around the world. Whether it occurred during or after conflict, trafficking was a gender based human rights violation as well as a criminal act, she said, underlining that no isolated response could end it. She recommended, among other measures, the enforcement of relevant legal instruments, increased awareness of conflict related trafficking, and rehabilitation programmes for trafficking survivors, in collaboration with grass-roots women’s organizations. Prosecution of traffickers would also help prevention, she said, emphasizing that vulnerable populations would be empowered if trafficking was confronted head on.

KATALIN ANNAMA�RIA BOGYAY (Hungary) described trafficking in women and girls as an open wound on the body of humanity, the transnational nature of which called for enhanced international cooperation. The 2030 Agenda represented the best chance to address and hopefully eliminate that deeply rooted challenge, she said, adding that survivors must be empowered and feel safe to speak out about their experiences.

YASMEEN HASSAN, Coalition against Trafficking in Women, said it was critical to invest in gender specific approaches and to address root causes. The Coalition welcomed partnership with Member States to incorporate the Global Plan of Action where trafficking existed, she said. Any knowledge platform must include disaggregated data on gender, age and type of exploitation, she added.

The representative of Ethiopia emphasized the need to recognize the positive role of migration, asking the panel about measures to expand legal channels for fair migration and ethical recruitment, and about ways to address legislative or administrative gaps.

The representative of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development said that a better understanding of the demand side of trafficking was needed in order to inform policy decisions.

The representative of Morocco emphasized the close links connecting trafficking, terrorism and transnational organized crime. More must be done to dismantle such networks, he said, emphasizing that effective responses must go beyond criminal sanctions to include preventative measures.

Ms. HONG said recommendations would be directed where gaps remained. She encouraged participants to take the comments and recommendations from today’s discussion to their national civil society organizations, and to seek partners who could help them advance the anti trafficking movement.

Mr. CASSIDY said the Political Declaration and the ongoing Global Compact for Migration process would require a large, systematic approach. The general principles and guidelines of ILO addressed fair recruitment, while numerous conventions signed by Member States addressed migration and trafficking as well as the profits gained from them. The structures are there and we must make use of them, he said. The ILO looked forward to working in the General Assembly’s Second and Third Committees, and to strengthening their resolutions and language. Alliance 8.7 had been created to complement that important work, he said, encouraging all participants to join it.

Ms. SEN said the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons provided numerous recommendations and remained available on the General Assembly website. The recommendations of UN-Women on the gender perspective of the Global Compact for Migration were available on the UN-Women website and on other valuable resources. She encouraged participants to consider carefully the connections between migration and trafficking, and to note where they overlapped and diverged. She also encouraged pursuit of partnerships with NGOs and survivors in order effectively to combat trafficking in persons.

Also speaking were representatives of the Dominican Republic and Egypt, as well as the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe.

Panel II

The Assembly’s second panel discussion addressed the theme, the Global Plan of Action and effective partnerships for the protection of and assistance to victims, including through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, also taking into consideration the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Chaired by Alya Ahmed Saif al Thani (Qatar), it featured three panellists: Benita Ferrero Waldner, Chair of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons; Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in New York; and Joy Ezeilo, Executive Director of Women Aid Collective.

Ms. SAIF AL THANI said today’s Political Declaration spotlighted the importance of respecting the human rights of victims and survivors, and of incorporating their voices into anti trafficking policies. It also stressed the need to ensure that survivors were not criminalized for having been trafficked, and encouraged States to support established channels of assistance. She urged participants to provide examples of good practice and lessons learned, especially from partnerships. Other questions should address how the Voluntary Trust Fund could increase strategic support to victims, how to better incorporate a human rights approach, and how those issues related to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. FERRERO WALDNER, recalling that this morning, a survivor from South Africa had shown the courage to share her story, said 40 million victims existed around the world, and much more must be done. The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund was instrumental in that regard, and she urged Member States not to forget that hands on aid should be provided through the grassroots. The Trust Fund had assisted an average 2,500 victims per year, but that is not enough. Efforts must help victims reunite with loved ones, repatriate if necessary, and find appropriate redress in court. The work of non governmental organizations (NGOs) supported by the Trust Fund was closely coordinated with national efforts, she said, adding that it provided strategic legislative support. Describing examples of good practice � including by NGOs in Mexico and Canada � she stressed that those efforts required money, and urged all States to contribute to the Trust Fund.

Mr. GILMOUR said that growing threats to human rights called for greater awareness of the scourge of trafficking in persons. Acknowledging links between security, human rights and development was crucial to mitigating the drivers of human trafficking and modern slavery. Conflicts and the desire for economic stability had resulted in increased migration, he noted, adding that people forced to migrate could easily be targeted by traffickers. He pointed to the positive shift towards a human rights based approach in combating trafficking and assisting victims. By grounding mitigation efforts in human rights, the causes of trafficking could be targeted, he said, urging Member States to implement non discriminatory assistance mechanisms for victims. He called for consolidating the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking and that for Contemporary Forms of Slavery as a means to provide life saving support.

Ms. EZEILO said economic resources did not match the political will to eradicate trafficking. For every four trafficked persons, one was from Africa and two were from Asia, with the rest from other parts of the world. Africa was a major source of trafficking due to intertwining problems of poverty, conflict, ease of travel and demand for cheap labour. She advocated moving from one-size-fits-all to tailor made solutions that facilitated the recovery and reintegration of victims. However, the bulk of assistance for victims was borne by NGOs, civil society and faith-based groups, all of which received little support and faced fundraising constraints. Other issues requiring attention related to partnerships, cooperation and funding, as well as victims centred and gender centred approaches, and the provision of technical assistance to victims organizations. Reiterating the need for resources, she said the multi-billion-dollar trafficking business could not be combated with a few million dollars. The world can no longer pretend to be deaf to the cries of victims, she said.

In the ensuing discussion, many speakers emphasized that the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund and its support to grass roots and community anti trafficking efforts was critical. Many highlighted the importance of both prevention and partnerships and outlined national strategies and policies in that regard.

Others, including the representative of Sudan, described particular challenges faced by their countries in combating human trafficking. Noting that hers was both a source and transit country, she said internal displacement, migration, foreign debt, the effects of climate change and unemployment � all of which threatened the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals � affected some countries more than others.

Many speakers also drew attention to the massive profits resulting from human trafficking around the world, underscoring the need to address both supply- and demand side issues and calling for the involvement of both formal and informal economies in that regard. With that in mind, the representative of Mexico called for better engagement with the private sector.

Meanwhile, the representative of the Netherlands emphasized the importance of identifying hidden victims. Not all victims are the same, he said, urging stakeholders to provide a variety of support services.

The representative of Thailand was among the speakers voicing concern that political will to fight human trafficking was not being matched by financial resources. Noting that his country had contributed to the Trust Fund, he called for deepened partnerships between origin and transit countries, as well as efforts to address the root causes of trafficking.

The representative of Namibia, describing the practice of luring trafficking victims online, said many who were offered marriage and a better life instead found themselves trafficked, enslaved or forced into criminal activities. He proposed that the United Nations and Governments use social media channels to raise awareness.

The representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joined other speakers in stressing that children must be placed at the centre of anti trafficking efforts. Noting that almost a third of trafficking victims were boys and girls, and 8 out of 10 young migrants in the Mediterranean route had reported exploitation, she said all children were entitled to protection under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Social workers must be in place on the ground and officials must be closely linked to child protection services, she stressed.

The representative of the civil society organization Smile of the Child, striking a similar tone, expressed hope that today’s Political Declaration would give an extra boost to efforts to benchmark national anti trafficking legislation and the training of magistrates, police, airline staff, border guards and other critical personnel.

Some speakers, including the representative of the Holy See, emphasized the important work of faith based organizations around the world.

The representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), pointing to the Political Declaration’s references to the special risks faced by refugees and migrants, recommended that all persons be provided, upon their arrival in a new country, with instructions on how to report trafficking. Registration of all new arrivals should be prompt, comprehensive and accurate in order to identify those in special need of protection, while guardians should be appointed to unaccompanied minors. Young people also should be provided with safe and confidential spaces to meet with caseworkers, she said, as persons who were trafficked across international borders might be legally entitled to status as refugees or asylum seekers.

Responding to a question by the representative of the United Kingdom on how to better support victims, Ms. FERRERO-WALDNER said it was crucial first to identify victims, and then to provide them with financial and legal resources.

Mr. GILMOUR said a human rights based approach was critical, and required training at many levels.

Ms. EZEILO reiterated that there is no one-size-fits-all support for victims. We are dealing with human beings who have gone through tremendous crises and trauma, she stressed, also urging developing nations not to play victims but to address such push factors as poverty and poor governance.

Also participating were the representatives of Qatar and Kiribati, as well as the civil society groups Good Shepherd International and Apne Aap Women Worldwide.

Source: United Nations

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A post-disaster map of Caribbean politics and aid status

No, Dominica is not the same as the Dominican Republic; Montserrat is a British territory, but the UK can send it help and call it aid; there are a lot of Virgin Islands not owned by Richard Branson: Newcomers among relief workers, more familiar with the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa, have had to master the map of the Caribbean quickly this hurricane season.

From the US territory of Puerto Rico to the tiny half-Dutch, half-French island of Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten, the region is a bewildering collection of languages, economies, and populations.

Some are low-income independent nations eligible for aid and concessional finance from institutions such as the World Bank, and some are post-colonial territories, not fully independent and still linked to the UK, France, or the Netherlands.

Parallel relief operations are all happening in the same geographic region, but they’re often separate and quite different. The politics of the Caribbean and its various groupings and blocs are also complex and will shape the humanitarian and reconstruction response.

National wealth determines which countries are eligible for aid and concessional loans, while membership of regional bodies such as CDEMA and CARICOM can play an important part in reconstruction and preparedness activities.

In the diagram below, the territories are sized by population and grouped in these categories:

CARICOM � (The Caribbean Community) � a grouping of Caribbean developing countries, not all of which are islands.

SIDS � (Small Island Developing States) � a global alliance and grouping used at the United Nations.

OECS – (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) � an economic bloc, some of whose members have a common currency.

ODA-eligible � (Official Development Assistance-eligible) � The richer parts of the Caribbean are not eligible for aid under the rules of the OECD, but developing economies are. This may influence sources and quantities of aid for relief and reconstruction.

CDEMA � (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency) � the region’s disaster management authority, currently leading coordination and response in multiple locations.

Source: IRIN

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General Debate Concludes Amid Clarion Calls for Diplomacy, Reform of United Nations to Create More Equitable World Order

General Assembly President, with Focus on People, Vows to Prioritize Peace, ‘Do Even More’ in Tackling Myriad Challenges

Following a week of clarion calls for diplomacy, promises to build a more equitable world order and impassioned accounts of such crises as war and climate change, General Assembly President Miroslac Lajcak (Slovakia) closed the seventy-second annual general debate today with a vow to do even more to resolve those myriad challenges.

Over the course of the debate, we heard about people running from gunshots or the exploding force of bombs, people living for a week on the same amount some of us spend on a cup of coffee, said Mr. Lajcak. People around the world were being forced to choose between risking their lives to stay, or to flee. They wondered when the next hurricane would hit or if their village would be under water in the coming decades. Emphasizing that the Assembly’s session would respond to calls for prioritizing peace, prevention and diplomacy, he said more must be done to ensure that human rights, gender equality and the rule of law were the norm � not the exception � and underlined the importance of looking beyond labels such as refugee or migrant to see, simply, people.

While speakers had reaffirmed their commitment to the United Nations and a global system based on multilateralism and dialogue, he said some had nevertheless noted that the world was changing rapidly, and not all messages delivered had been positive. Many criticized both other nations and the United Nations itself. This is part of the package, he said, and it is your right to do so. However, he urged delegates to remember that differences in unilateral positions did not prevent multilateral agreement. The people we all represent [] need us to focus on action, now more than ever.

During six days of debate during which speakers criticized both the United Nations and one another, some expressed particular concern over allegations levied against their countries, including charges of human rights abuses and sponsoring terrorist groups. Meanwhile, several representatives focused on the global economic and political systems � including within the United Nations � as unfair and unrepresentative, with many stressing that the Organization’s reform must include a reorientation of the Security Council’s membership.

Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, echoing former President Hugo Chavez’s famous 2006 declaration that the stink of sulphur was in the air at the Assembly, said President Donald J. Trump of the United States had last week defamed the United Nations by issuing threats of war and the total destruction of another Member State. Venezuela’s own people had been directly menaced by President Trump, including through military threats and the imposition of unilateral sanctions intended to make them suffer and achieve a change in Government. Member States must respond to those illegal actions through solidarity, he stressed, also condemning the United States sanctions against Iran and the Russian Federation, and noting that its continued criminal blockade against Cuba revealed that the direction the new winds of United States unilateralism are blowing.

Also taking the floor to rebut accusations was Iran’s representative, who exercised his right of reply to address remarks by his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. While the former two countries had long employed interventionist policies that brought about death and destruction across the region, they had the audacity to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism, he said, calling claims by Bahrain’s delegate desperate efforts to cover up that Government’s human rights violations and justify its blatant trampling of its own people.

Myanmar’s representative, also exercising the right of reply, condemned irresponsible remarks about the situation in Rakhine State. Accusations of ethnic cleansing must not be used lightly, he stressed, noting that the exodus from Rakhine State � not just affecting Muslims � could largely be attributed to the scorched earth strategies of terrorist groups. He assured Member States that the Government was working to restore normalcy and prioritizing humanitarian assistance, and that it was fully committed to resolving the situation and implementing recommendations by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

Among those speakers spotlighting challenges embedded in the United Nations itself was Mozambique’s delegate, who stressed that unregulated migration and massive refugee flows were in large part due to unresolved crises or poorly settled conflicts. Lack of consensus among Security Council members to initiate text-based negotiations on reforming that body constrained the ability of Governments to enhance its credibility by making it more representative, he said, calling the Council a fundamental pillar for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Striking a similar tone, Angola’s representative also voiced support for the Council to better reflect today’s realities. In line with the common African position on that issue, known as the Ezulwini Consensus, he said the number of permanent members should be increased to ensure a fair geographic balance. It is unfair that the African continent, which accounts for almost 40 per cent of the Member States of the United Nations, is not represented among the permanent members in the main body in charge of maintaining peace and security in the world, he stressed.

Also speaking today were the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay and the Secretary for Foreign Relations of the Holy See.

Representatives of New Zealand, Turkmenistan, Peru, Norway, Timor-Leste and Nicaragua also participated.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Indonesia, India, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Pakistan.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 September, to hold a high-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Statements

RODOLFO NIN NOVOA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, said strengthened international coordination bodies were needed more than ever, urging respect for the principle of sovereignty. The United Nations must become stronger, and the Assembly must gain greater prominence. Uruguay’s foreign policy was based on the pillars of democracy, human rights, the defence of international law, and pursuit of peace. Those principles had retained prominence despite the changes of political power in the country, he said, underscoring Uruguay’s commitment to making its voice heard on the international stage. Unprecedented violence, arms proliferation, and the increase in terrorism, cyberattacks, hunger and climate change required a strong commitment from the international community. Today, millions were affected by armed conflict with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. We should not get used to standing idly by, he stressed.

He urged all countries to increase efforts to combat human trafficking, and ensure development and social growth, citing inequality and the persistence of international forces as drivers of those threats. He expressed support for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, noting that Uruguay had recently presented its Voluntary National Report to the Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. He expressed deep concern over the threat of terrorism, stressing that arms trafficking and trade had contributed to civilian deaths. Thus, he voiced support for the historic Arms Trade Treaty and related international instruments. The Security Council’s permanent members had produced 74 per cent of arms exported between 2011 and 2015, and military spending continued to grow. Many needs could have been addressed if those resources had been redirected to social and economic development.

Without diplomacy, the consequences of nuclear arms proliferation could be devastating, he said. Yet, nuclear Powers continued to update their stockpiles, and more than nine countries were in a state of high alert, with arsenals ready to be used just a few minutes after a threat is announced. Welcoming the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which Uruguay had just signed, he urged other Member States to do the same. He condemned recent launches and tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and called on the United States to avoid a verbal escalation of violence. Those dynamics of antagonism could make it impossible to turn back. He expressed hope that an instrument would be negotiated to end attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers, reaffirming Uruguay’s support for the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers. He welcomed progress made in the peace process in Colombia and rejected the United States blockade against Cuba.

PAUL RICHARD GALLAGHER, Secretary for Foreign Relations of the Holy See, said focusing on people meant not only protecting them from heinous crimes but also placing them above all national and geopolitical interests. It also meant safeguarding their dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially the rights to life and freedom of religion from which all other rights flowed and which provided the common foundation for peace, security and human development.

He went on to say that the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change were effective measures to eradicate the evils and indignities faced by many today. Pope Francis had called the Agenda an important sign of hope, but also had pressed the world to ensure that the legal commitments of that accord and others were fulfilled. Compliance with such instruments could help countries work together for peace and avoid the dangerous game of exchanging threats.

Environmental degradation must be urgently addressed, he said, stressing: Any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity, of today and tomorrow. While voicing support for efforts to facilitate obligations under the responsibility to protect concept, he said without a legal framework and respect for the rule of law, application of that principle would not be feasible. Voicing concern over the situations in Yemen, Syria and Venezuela, among other places, and describing corruption and terrorism as other challenges to be addressed, he said that ultimately, people could only be protected if there was durable peace. Lamenting the situations of migrants and refugees fleeing war and other challenges in Nigeria, Myanmar and Somalia, he reiterated Pope Francis’ call on countries to welcome, protect and integrate people fleeing such adverse conditions. There was also a need to address the causes forcing people to leave, including persecution and both economic and environmental hardship.

ANTA�NIO GUMENDE (Mozambique) said development partners must honour and scale up the funding pledges they had made in the areas of disaster prevention and climate change resilience, adaptation and mitigation. A robust and efficient United Nations system, and its partnerships with regional bodies, could play a catalytic role in accelerating national development and strengthening democratic political systems. He reaffirmed Mozambique’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing that a focus on people had always been at the core of its national development efforts.

Unregulated migration and massive refugee flows were in large part due to unresolved crises or poorly settled conflict situations, he said, urging the international community to redouble efforts and build consensus to prevent senseless loss of life. He conveyed Mozambique’s concern over the risk of nuclear confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, and the lack of progress on Western Sahara’s decolonization. Lack of consensus among Security Council members to initiate text-based negotiations on reforming that body constrained Member States’ ability to enhance its credibility by making it more representative, he said, calling the Council a fundamental pillar for the success of the 2030 Agenda.

ISMAEL ABRAA�O GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) voiced support for the Secretary-General’s reform priorities, especially for the Security Council, so it would better reflect reality. In line with the common African position on that issue, known as the Ezulwini Consensus, he said the number of permanent members should be increased to ensure a fair geographical balance. It is unfair that the African continent, which accounts for almost 40 per cent of the Member States of the United Nations, is not represented among the permanent members in the main body in charge of maintaining peace and security in the world, he stressed. Emphasizing the importance of multilateralism with recognition of the legitimate interests of all States, he described Angola’s role in resolving threats to peace in the Great Lakes region, where it had engaged in diplomacy in the context of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Despite advances made by those negotiations, he warned that the path towards stabilizing that part of Africa was long, and that the parties bore the main responsibility for ending violence. Urging the international community to support those efforts, he said the United Nations should also become more engaged in the fight against terrorism by combating its causes, such as social crisis and institutional instability. The case of Libya is the blatant example of this reality, he said. Outlining Angola’s efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and underscoring its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, he said the newly-elected Government would focus on economic development with special attention to combating poverty, reducing inequalities, fighting unemployment and improving governance. The promotion and protection of human rights was another priority, which was why Angola had submitted its candidature for Human Rights Council membership in the body’s upcoming October elections.

CRAIG HAWKE (New Zealand), describing his country as an outward-looking nation that relied on global stability for trade and the safety of its people, said recent activities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were a most pressing challenge, as Pyongyang continued to disregard Security Council resolutions and the well-being of its own people. The Council must take a strong, unified response, and he voiced hope that tensions would be defused and a path to dialogue found. Recalling that New Zealand had, last week, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, he went on to describe efforts to address the humanitarian situation in Syria. Alongside Spain, Jordan and Egypt, New Zealand had managed to renew and improve cross-border access arrangements. However, it had consistently raised concerns over the Security Council’s failure to bring about a political solution to that crisis.

In Iraq, New Zealand Defence Force personnel were working to strengthen the Iraqi forces in their battle against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), he said. While strides had been made, the group’s influence was not limited to Iraq and Syria, and defeating it in those countries would not spell its end. New Zealand was working with others in its own region to ensure that such groups did not inflict similar suffering elsewhere. He described New Zealand’s contributions to stability in Afghanistan as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Resolute Support Mission, noting that Afghanistan’s future ultimately lay in the hands of its Government and people. Also expressing strong support for the Paris Agreement, he said small island developing States faced unique challenges and vulnerabilities and pledged to assist them in the sustainable management of the ocean, including by making substantial investments to improve sustainable fisheries in the Pacific and reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. He added that New Zealand had taken a lead role in advocating international reform of fossil fuel subsidies.

AKSOLTAN ATAEVA (Turkmenistan) said global cooperation was the key to resolving such issues as hunger, terrorism and the drug trade, among others. Terrorism, in particular, threatened to undermine global efforts towards prosperity and was among the gravest menaces. Voicing support for the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and its implementation at all levels, and for the Ashgabat Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Framework in Central Asia, she recalled that the Organization’s Preventive Diplomacy Centre in Central Asia � based in Turkmenistan � marked its tenth anniversary this year. Her country would submit a related resolution to the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) during the session.

Describing the Sustainable Development Goals as another critical area for cooperation, she outlined Turkmenistan’s national focus on sport for the achievement of peace and development and said Turkmenistan would host the upcoming Seventh International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for sport. Underlining the importance of Assembly resolutions 69/217 and 70/217 on sustainable transport, she recalled that the United Nations global conference on that issue had been held in Ashgabat in 2016 and said Turkmenistan would submit a resolution on that topic as it related to the Goals of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial). Turkmenistan would also be the next chair of the International Energy Charter, working to develop new global policies on sustainable energy, and it invited States to take part in the group’s next conference to be held later this year in Ashgabat.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) called for more inclusive globalization based on multilateralism and dialogue. Peru was working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing policies to eradicate poverty, with a focus on access to water and hygiene among its priorities. Strengthening institutions and eliminating impunity had been identified as key tools for mitigating corruption. Protecting democracy and human rights in Latin America was a necessity, he said, expressing profound concern over the worsening crisis in Venezuela. Negotiation was the only path to stability in that country and any attempts to intervene would violate the United Nations Charter.

In addition, he said Peru was preparing to take its non-permanent seat on the Security Council for the term 2018 2019. The Council would provide the platform for Peru to more actively promote nuclear non-proliferation, he said, condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The Government would work to foster debate that would lead to the peaceful resolution of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he assured. Stressing that borderless threats such as terrorism and climate change posed clear challenges to development, he advocated adherence to international mechanisms designed to mitigate those threats in broader efforts to foster stability.

JORGE ARREAZA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, said that while the General Assembly was the home of peace, its podium � a sacred space for people who worked for global understanding and equality � had last week been defamed by the representative of a Power intent on imposing its rules of war, suffering and pain on other nations. As Venezuela’s former President Hugo Chavez had famously said in 2006, the stink of sulphur was in the air at the podium, and this is still the case. Severe unilateral threats to peace and security remained, with President Donald J. Trump of the United States having threatened war and the total destruction of another Member State, judging as if he was emperor. In a paradoxical gesture of brazenness and hypocrisy, he had claimed those words were based on the principles of peace and sovereignty. Venezuela’s own people had been directly threatened by President Trump, including by military threats and the imposition of unilateral sanctions intended to make its people suffer and achieve a change in Government. While Venezuela would always deal with the United States and other nations through mutual respect, it was nevertheless prepared to defend itself in any way.

Urging the United States to neutralize its bellicose pretentions and reverse its threats to multilateralism, he recalled that, in March, the Non Aligned Movement had condemned the imposition of unilateral coercive measures by some States in flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter. Indeed, Member States must respond to those illegal actions through solidarity. He condemned all such actions against Iran and the Russian Federation, as well as the criminal blockade against Cuba which demonstrated the direction the new winds of United States unilateralism are blowing. Expressing support for dialogue to resolve the current nuclear crisis, he rejected claims that Venezuela should not be allowed to serve on the Human Rights Council. It was the United States, not his country, that did not deserve to belong to that body, as the former was responsible for unjustified wars, clandestine jails, unilateral coercive measures and unacceptable migratory polices. The United States was also the only country that had ever used nuclear weapons.

Recalling that in 2003 the United States had invaded Iraq based on false claims that it possessed weapons of mass destruction, he said it now sought to build a wall on its southern border and reduce the flow of critical remittances around the world. The United States had failed to ratify 72 per cent of global human rights treaties and lacked national systems to protect human rights within its own borders. Abuses being committed in the United States included the killing of African Americans by police officers, large numbers of homeless people and gender discrimination. That country had also fabricated reasons to launch wars in Libya and Syria. Thanking the Secretary-General for his good offices in the territorial dispute between Venezuela and Guyana, which he hoped would soon be peacefully resolved, he welcomed progress being made in Colombia’s peace process but voiced concern about drug production taking place there. Venezuela is not a drug producing country, he stressed, adding that countries accounting for the largest demand for drugs were most responsible for that phenomenon.

Voicing solidarity with those affected by recent natural disasters, he said such events had made millions of people victims of a war they did not choose, stressing: Let us not change the climate, let us change the system. The responsibility must not fall on developing countries alone; it was especially unfair for the United States � the world’s largest emitter � to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Venezuela, subject to constant aggression from hegemonic Powers that sought to seize its natural resources, had suffered numerous attacks, including most recently four months of induced political violence intended to displace President Nicolas Maduro. However, those attempts had been neutralized by the Venezuelan people through their election of a National Constitutional Assembly aimed at restoring peace and stability. The country had always employed social dialogue to deepen its democracy and he welcomed the decision of the opposition to return to that path and engage in future elections. Finally, he said United Nations reform must aim to create a more equitable world order free from hegemonic aggression, and provide people with the highest degree of happiness, peace and stability.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) called for the consolidation of development progress. Stability required common interests, security, adherence to international law and the rejection of protectionism, he said, stressing that investment in human rights propelled sustainable development. He pointed to the Colombian peace process as proof that inclusive approaches to peace could succeed, noting that those efforts required the active participation of women and greater investment in education. He said that institutional and economic development could underpin conflict resolution.

There could be no development without security, he asserted. The resolution of humanitarian crises called for greater commitment from the Security Council. He encouraged support for Norway’s candidacy for a seat on the Council during its 2021 2022 term, welcoming the Secretary-General’s vision for the Organization. However, the United Nations must be realigned to improve its ability to prevent conflict. Mitigating climate change and protecting the oceans also called for greater inclusion, and in that context, he urged all small island developing countries to join forces to promote healthy, sustainable oceans.

MARIA HELENA PIRES, (Timor-Leste), expressed gratitude to the United Nations which had helped end the bloodshed in her country and paved the way for national independence. She also thanked the Secretary-General, then Prime Minister of Portugal, who had greatly contributed to the self-determination of the Timorese people and been decisive in Timor-Leste becoming a success story. As global integration was fundamental for peacebuilding and reconciliation, Timor-Leste valued deeply its friendship with Australia and Indonesia, as well as its relations with neighbouring Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. Stable and solid institutions were essential to development, which was why Timor-Leste had created the G7 plus group in 2009, bringing 20 fragile States into cooperation with development partners. The impact of climate change on food security was at the core of her country’s concerns, making implementation of the Paris Agreement an inalienable responsibility of all states.

She said Timor-Leste had prioritized the fight against transnational crime, and more broadly, called for an end to human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and all forms of terrorism, extremism and radicalism, stressing that women must play an important role in development. She called on all parties to respect international conventions and resolutions on the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and engage in dialogue to reduce tensions. She welcomed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) findings on the absence of non-compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more broadly calling decolonization the greatest victory in human history. However, that process was not yet complete as the right of people in Western Sahara to exercise self-determination had been postponed. The United Nations must seek an urgent solution to that issue, work to end the war in the Middle East and lift the embargo against Cuba.

MARA�A RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) said the 2030 Agenda would have no meaning without political will and a commitment to solidarity. A re-foundation of the United Nations was urgently needed, including reform of the Security Council to ensure that its composition and function reflected geopolitical and economic realities. She called for more dynamic negotiations in that regard, adding that a negotiating text should be elaborated to ensure reforms advanced during the current session. Ambitious action was also urgently needed to combat climate change. Developed countries must change their unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and fulfil financial and technology transfer commitments. It was painful to see a revival of United States measures against Cuba, she said, rejecting threats of the use of force against Venezuela by the President of the United States. She expressed best wishes for the successful implementation of Colombia’s peace agreement, and expressed solidarity with the peoples of Puerto Rico, Western Sahara and the Government and people of Syria.

Expressing great concern about the situation in the Korean Peninsula, she called for negotiations leading to the Peninsula’s denuclearization and reunification. Unilateral coercive measures must be repealed if the Sustainable Development Goals were to be achieved, she continued. It was imperative that no one be left behind and that included the 23 million people of Taiwan, which had the capacity to contribute to a wide range of United Nations programmes. She went on to condemn the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2016, a bill before the United States House of Representatives, saying it would block her country’s access to poverty-fighting funding from international organizations. Nicaragua hoped that the United States Congress would reject such legislation and approve compliance with a judgement by the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordering the United States to compensate Nicaraguans for acts of terrorism committed during the Reagan administration of former President Ronald Reagan.

Right of Reply

The representative of Myanmar, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, condemned irresponsible remarks made by Member States regarding the situation in Rakhine State. Accusations of ethnic cleansing must not be used lightly. The exodus from Rakhine State, not just affecting Muslims, could largely be attributed to scorched earth strategies employed by terrorist groups in the region. He assured the Government was working to restore normalcy, prioritizing humanitarian assistance. Myanmar was fully committed to resolving the situation and implementing recommendations by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State.

The representative of Iran replied to remarks by his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and echoed by others, saying the former had made unfounded allegations against his country, resorting to the same lies as in past sessions. While the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia had long employed interventionist policies that brought about death and destruction across the region, they had the audacity to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism. The three islands of Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb were part of Iran’s sovereign territory, he stressed, rejecting claims to the contrary. In line with its policy of good neighbourliness, Iran was willing to engage in discussions on those matters, but its sovereignty was not negotiable. Noting that the term Persian Gulf was the appropriate name for the body of water in question, he responded to accusations by Bahrain’s representative as desperate efforts to cover up that Government’s human rights violations and justify its blatant trampling of its own people.

The representative of Indonesia, responding to remarks by the representatives of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands concerning Papua and West Papua, and echoed by others, said their false allegations were economically motivated. Those countries were blindfolded and refused to understand that the provinces had enjoyed great strides in economic growth and development. They were growing at 9.21 per cent, the fastest in Indonesia, and remained integral and sovereign parts of her country. Those making such claims were motivated by individuals with separatist agendas to exploit the issue of human rights, she said, asking why those concerns � if accurate � had not been raised in the appropriate forum of the Human Rights Council. Stressing that those countries’ own human rights records were not perfect, she said illegal attempts to dismember the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a Member State violated the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. We cannot let this happen.

The representative of India said remarks by her counterpart from Pakistan had attempted to divert attention from that country’s actions. Referring to Pakistan as a hub of terrorism, she said there had been a concerted effort to mislead the international community. Pakistan had used falsehoods to support its own false narrative. Given those actions, she was forced to display a real photo of Indian citizens tortured and killed by Pakistani terrorists. Such treatment of Indians in Jammu and Kashmir portrayed the reality of the situation, she said, adding that the true face of Pakistan was not hidden from anyone.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates, to remarks by her counterpart from Iran, referred to three disputed islands as an integral part of her country. She called on the international community to help resolve that dispute. Iran’s expansionism was interfering in the internal affairs of Arab States and destabilizing the region, while its support of terrorist groups and illicit weapons transfers were exacerbating the crisis in Yemen, she said, assuring that only a political process could be successful.

The representative of Bahrain, also responding to remarks by Iran’s delegate, said the entire world condemned Iran’s expansionist actions. Iranian interference, aggression, support for terror and hatred were the cause of serious human rights violations. Iran’s expansionist practices served to undermine peace and security, she added, calling on the international community to confront those threats to stability.

The representative of Pakistan, in response to India’s delegate, said India was diverting attention from the plight of people in Jammu and Kashmir, desperate to conceal its actions in the region. Kashmiris will never be defeated, he said, and India must answer for its crimes. India’s hegemonic desires and animosity towards Pakistan were its real enemy, he said, adding that the people of Kashmir would rise again.

Source: United Nations

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