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Committee against Torture — Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America

December 3, 2014 Comments off

Committee against Torture — Concluding observations on the third to fifth periodic reports of United States of America (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

“The Committee welcomes the State party’s unequivocal commitment to abide by the universal prohibition of torture and ill-treatment everywhere, including Bagram and Guantanamo Bay detention facilities, as well as the assurances that U.S. personnel are legally prohibited under international and domestic law from engaging in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment at all times, and in all places. The Committee notes that the State party has reviewed its position concerning the extraterritorial application of the Convention, and stated that it applies to ‘certain areas beyond’ its sovereign territory, and more specifically to ‘all places that the State party controls as a governmental authority,’ noting that it currently exercises such control at ‘the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and over all proceedings conducted there, and with respect to U.S.-registered ships and aircraft.’ The Committee also values the statement made by the State party’s delegation that the reservation to article 16 of the Convention, whose intended purpose is to ensure that existing U.S. constitutional standards satisfy the State party’s obligations under article 16, ‘does not introduce any limitation to the geographic applicability of article 16,’ and that ‘the obligations in article 16 apply beyond the sovereign territory of the United States to any territory under its jurisdiction’ under the terms mentioned above.’

However, the Committee is dismayed that the State party’s reservation to article 16 of the Convention features in various declassified memoranda containing legal interpretations on the extraterritorial applicability of U.S. obligations under the Convention issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2001 and 2009, as part of deeply flawed legal arguments used to advise that interrogation techniques, which amounted to torture, could be authorized and used lawfully. While noting that these memoranda were revoked by Presidential Executive Order 13491 to the extent of their inconsistency with that order, the Committee remains concerned that the State party has not withdrawn yet its reservation to article 16 which could permit interpretations incompatible with the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

The Situation in Ukraine: Quick Guide

November 26, 2014 Comments off

The Situation in Ukraine: Quick Guide
Source: United Nations (Dag Hammarskjöld Library)

This guide provides Security Council documentation, news, and other resources related to the situation in Ukraine.

Categories: Ukraine, United Nations

UN Says Global Carbon Neutrality Should be Reached by Second Half of Century, Demonstrates Pathways to Stay Under 2°C Limit

November 21, 2014 Comments off

UN Says Global Carbon Neutrality Should be Reached by Second Half of Century, Demonstrates Pathways to Stay Under 2°C Limit
Source: United Nations Environmental Programme

In order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C and head off the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon neutrality should be attained by mid-to-late century. This would also keep in check the maximum amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted into the atmosphere while staying within safe temperature limits beyond 2020, says a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Exceeding an estimated budget of just 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO2) would increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible climate change impacts.

Released days ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014 is the fifth in a series that examines whether the pledges made by countries are on track to meet the internationally agreed under 2°C target. It is produced by 38 leading scientists from 22 research groups across 14 countries.

Building on the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report shows the global emission guardrails that would give a likely chance of staying within the 2°C limit, including a peaking of emissions within the next ten years, a halving of all greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century; and in the second half of the century, carbon neutrality followed by net zero total greenhouse gas emissions.Released days ahead of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2014 is the fifth in a series that examines whether the pledges made by countries are on track to meet the internationally agreed under 2°C target. It is produced by 38 leading scientists from 22 research groups across 14 countries.

Building on the findings of the Fifth Assessment Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report shows the global emission guardrails that would give a likely chance of staying within the 2°C limit, including a peaking of emissions within the next ten years, a halving of all greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century; and in the second half of the century, carbon neutrality followed by net zero total greenhouse gas emissions.

Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries
Source: United Nations

As the data in this new edition of the Innocenti Report Card series show, in the past five years, rising numbers of children and their families have experienced difficulty in satisfying their most basic material and educational needs. Most importantly, the Great Recession is about to trap a generation of educated and capable youth in a limbo of unmet expectations and lasting vulnerability. League Tables, the flagship tool of the Innocenti Report Card series, rank the change, since the onset of the crisis, in the poverty levels of children and the impact of the recession on youth. The Report also explores the effects of the recession on youth seeking to enter or remain in the labour force in the middle of a recession.

UN — Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (PDF)
Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The present report in the fourth annual report submitted to the General Assembly by the current Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freesoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson.

The key activities undertaken by the Special Rapporteur between 17 December 2013 and 31 July 2014 are listed in section II of the report. In section III, the Special Rapporteur examines the use of mass digital surveillance for counter-terrorism purposes and considers the implications of bulk access technology for the right to privacy under article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Who Runs the International System? Power and the Staffing of the United Nations Secretariat

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Who Runs the International System? Power and the Staffing of the United Nations Secretariat
Source: Center for Global Development

National governments frequently pull strings to get their citizens appointed to senior positions in international institutions. We examine, over a 60 year period, the nationalities of the most senior positions in the United Nations Secretariat, ostensibly the world’s most representative international institution. The results indicate which nations are successful in this zero-sum game, and what national characteristics correlate with power in international institutions. The most overrepresented countries are small, rich democracies like the Nordic countries. Statistically, democracy, investment in diplomacy, and economic/military power are predictors of senior positions–even after controlling for the U.N. staffing mandate of competence and integrity. National control over the United Nations is remarkably sticky; however the in influence of the United States has diminished as US ideology has shifted away from its early allies. In spite of the decline in US influence, the Secretariat remains pro-American relative to the world at large.

New Data Show Child Mortality Rates Falling Faster Than Ever

September 16, 2014 Comments off

New Data Show Child Mortality Rates Falling Faster Than Ever
Source: UNICEF, WHO, World Bank

New data released today by the United Nations show that under-five mortality rates have dropped by 49 per cent between 1990 and 2013. The average annual reduction has accelerated – in some countries it has even tripled – but overall progress is still short of meeting the global target of a two-thirds decrease in under-five mortality by 2015.

New estimates in Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014 show that in 2013, 6.3 million children under five died from mostly preventable causes, around 200,000 fewer than in 2012, but still equal to nearly 17,000 child deaths each day.

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