‘I have an opinion, but I’ll keep it to myself’

first_imgMumbai: After Kangana Ranaut slammed Alia Bhatt for not speaking over contemporary issues, the actor said while she respects the Queen star for voicing her opinions, she would like to keep hers private. Kangana had called Alia and her Gully Boy co-star Ranveer Singh’s comments of being apolitical “irresponsible” and lashed out at the duo for refusing to speak on politics. Asked about Kangana’s comments, Alia told reporters, “I definitely don’t have the ability to speak as candidly as Kangana Ranaut does, and I really do respect her for that ability and maybe in a way I think she is right, sometimes we do hold back.” “My dad also says that there are already so many opinions in the world that it can do with one less opinion,” the Udta Punjab actor asserted. “So, even if I have an opinion but I’ll keep it to myself. But, kudos to her as she genuinely speaks really well,” Bhatt further added. The Badrinath ki Dulhania actor was speaking at an event in Mumbai recently. “I am somebody who loves being an actor, I love acting. But in life I want to do so much more. I want to produce films, I won’t ever direct though. I want to work on social causes. I can do so much more with my life, this is just a beginning.” Alia will next be seen in Brahmastra and Kalank, both the films’ journey she described as “beautiful.” “Kalank is an unbelievable journey. It is an honour to be a part of such a great cast. The film’s director, Abhishek Varman is a dear friend. We all have really put in a lot of hard work for this one.”last_img read more

At the vanguard of struggle

first_imgAt the turn of the last century, thousands of thoughtful American women were deeply stirred at the denial of votes to women. Some protested politely in white-gloved Carnegie Hall gatherings. Some spoke on the street corners and were heckled: “Go home and wash your dishes!”, or asked, regardless of age, “Who’s taking care of your children?” One woman was queried, “How would you like to be a man?” She replied tersely, “I wouldn’t. How would you?” Some picketed the White House and burned President Wilson’s fine phrases about democracy in a pot outside his door. They were arrested and sent to a horrible workhouse which they exposed to the world. Also Read – A special kind of bondMaude Malone, a valiant fighter (who at her death was librarian of this newspaper) marched on Broadway when I was a young girl, bearing placards, “Votes for Women” front and back, like a sandwich man and lost her job in a library. Various reasons moved different groups. There were the staunch veterans, who had been ridiculed, ostracised, disowned by families, arrested for attempting to vote. There were rich women who represented the cause “Taxation with Representation.” Professional women resented the obstacles placed in their way in schools and colleges. Working women wanted “Equal pay for equal work,” and laws on hours, safety, child labour, and sanitary regulations. Also Read – Insider threat managementAll were convinced that votes would be a powerful weapon to remedy their grievances. They paraded, held meetings in churches, published papers, pamphlets, and leaflets, lobbied in state legislatures and in Congress. There was every type of organisation. They followed candidates around, forcing them to take a stand, as Mother Bloor described her suffrage work in Ohio. More and more women resented their second-class citizenship, their lack of control over their lives, their children, their property, their wages. A militant movement grew to enormous proportions, which finally won “Votes for Women” in 1920, when the 19th Amendment, known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was passed. The leaders of the suffrage movement were predominantly native-born, articulate, and aggressive. But working women were not adequately represented, and their needs were not sufficiently expressed in the official suffrage movement. In fact, the opposition was already evident in some quarters to “protective legislation” which actually restricted the rights of mothers and working women in the name of “equality.” But activism began to develop among working women as early as 1908, not least of which was the East Side demonstration of foreign-born, unorganised working women in New York’s needle trades sweatshops of the day. It was organised by the Women’s Committee of the Socialist Party, headed by Margaret Sanger. She was a nurse and later devoted her life to the advocacy of birth control. By the next year, 1909, 20,000 of these women workers were engaged in a great strike of waistmakers on New York’s East Side. It was called “the girls’ strike.” Eighty per cent of the workers were women, the majority between 17 and 25. They worked 56 hours a week in dirty firetrap buildings, sped up in the season and put out of work completely in slack time. The struggle started in two shops and spread after a meeting in Cooper Union at which a girl striker, Clara Lemlich, said, “I am tired of listening to speakers. I make the motion that a general strike be declared.” She is among those who should be honoured as a founder of unionism in the United States. Because of its working-class origin and these simultaneous struggles, Clara Zetkin, leading German woman Socialist, welcomed American Women’s Day. She had urged a lengthy struggle in Germany to include women’s suffrage in the demands of the Social Democratic Party. There was opposition from some of her male comrades at the time because “women will vote reactionary.” They said that “if you give women the vote, they’ll vote the way the priests say.” At the Congress of the Socialist International in 1910 – with the support from August Bebel of Germany, Vladimir Lenin from Russia, and Big Bill Haywood and others from the US – Zetkin’s proposal that March 8 be designated International Women’s Day was accepted unanimously. It was dedicated to the struggle for the full rights of women. It has spread around the world and is celebrated today in many lands – China, the Soviet Union, the Eastern democracies, France, Italy, and England particularly. (Courtesy: People’s World Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, 1890-1964, known as “The Rebel Girl,” was one of the premier labour activists and leaders of the struggle for women’s equality in the 20th century. She was an organiser for the Industrial Workers of the World, a founding member of the ACLU, and later in life the Chairperson of the Communist Party USA. In this article, originally printed under the headline “For the Rights of Women” in the Daily Worker on March 11, 1954, Flynn discusses the U.S. origins of International Women’s Day)last_img read more

Shami’s wife detained for creating ruckus

first_imgAmroha (UP): Cricketer Mohammed Shami’s estranged wife Hasin Jahan was detained for breach of peace after she allegedly created a ruckus at her husband’s house in Alipur village here, police said Monday. Police said they received a call from Shami’s house Sunday night. The cricketer’s mother alleged that Jahan had forcefully entered the house and created ruckus, SP (Amroha) Vipin Tada said. Jahan was detained for breach of peace and produced before a sub-divisional magistrate’s court. She was later released by the court after depositing bail bonds, the officer said. Talking to reporters after her release, Shami’s wife said, “These people are violating my rights. Shami is my husband and I have complete right over his house. But whenever I have tried to stay in that house, my in-laws have tried to throw me and my infant daughter out.”last_img read more

Sheila Dikshit slams Modi govt for sealing

first_imgNEW DELHI: Congress’ North-East Delhi candidate Sheila Dikshit said that she fully understands the difficulties of the voters, particularly the women voters, as before entering active politics, she had played the role of a devoted mother and a housewife. She said that she realizes the anger and helplessness of the people affected by the sealing and demolition drive, as these reckless moves by the BJP and AAP Governments have ruined the lives of lakhs of people. She said that these drives have particularly affected the mothers and their children, as they stare at an uncertain future with anxiety. Also Read – Odd-Even: CM seeks transport dept’s views on exemption to women, two wheelers, CNG vehiclesSheila Dikshit on Tuesday made extensive tour of her constituency, interacting with the people to seek their votes and support for her in the Lok Sabha election. She visited the Shiv Vihar tiraha, near dispensary, Mustafabad and Gali No 1, Vikas Samiti, Durgapuri. Dikshit alleged that due to the shadow boxing and theatrics by the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, the people of Delhi have been driven to the edge of ruin. “The BJP Govt at the Centre did nothing to stop the sealing, demolition drive, which could have easily saved the livelihood of lakhs of people, and protect the jobs of several lakh workers,” she said.last_img read more

GJM goes on poster cleaning crusade after polls in bid to make Hills clean again

first_imgDarjeeling: With the polls having ended, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has taken up the onus of cleaning up all campaigning material from the Hills.”Polls are over. It’s time to clean up the town. The youth organisation of the GJM will be cleaning Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik. Our units will clean up the GTA area constituency-wise. We will remove the posters, banners and other campaign material. We also request other political parties to do the same,” stated Sanjiv Mothay, general secretary, Town Committee, Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaMembers of the Yuva Morcha went around town on Monday, removing campaign posters, banners and flexes. The campaign was flagged off from Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling. Anit Thapa, general secretary, GJM (Binay faction) had made a similar appeal on Sunday. In his appeal, Thapa, who is also the present chairman, Board of Administrators, GTA, stated: “One of the main issues that we fought elections on this time is to make the Hills beautiful, along with reviving the lost glory. In order to once again make Darjeeling the Queen of the Hills, we have to bring about a change in the mindset of the residents. We have to take care of our Hills and make her beautiful. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayWe have to unite to make her clean and green. A step in this direction would be to remove all the campaign material as the polls are over. We appeal to other political outfits to do the same.”With tourists thronging the Hills, clean and green is what should be presented, feels the GJM. The Opposition parties have hailed the move as well. “We welcome the move and we are also ready to pitch in,” stated Ajoy Edward, member, steering committee, GNLF.last_img read more

Morocco exports rise at start of 2014

Marrakesh- Moroccan exports totaled 46.6 billion dirham ($5.7 billion) in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 3.5 percent over the 45 billion dirham total during the same period last year, according to a report published by Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).Relatively new export sectors made a strong contribution to this increase including the auto industry, which saw shipments rise to 2.97 billion dirham during the first three months of the year, an increase of about 43 percent over the same period in 2013.  Statistics also showed that breakthroughs occurred in foreign sales of consumer electronics (21.2 percent), aviation products (5.9 percent) and pharmaceuticals (3.7 percent). However, exports of agricultural products dropped 3.4 percent in the first three months of 2014, according to Reuters, and are likely to fall even lower in the second half of the year. The agricultural sector accounts for 18 percent of Morocco’s GDP.The Minister of Investments, Moulay Hafid El Alamy, recently announced more promotional support for Moroccan exports. One of the key factors for increasing support for Moroccan exports has been identified as the rise in competition in the global marketplace.  The automotive and aviation sectors have proved that they can rise to the challenge while the textile industry faces ongoing challenges due to the tough global competition.Edited by Liz Yaslik read more

Morocco, China Discuss Boosting Military Cooperation

Rabat  –  The means to beef up military cooperation between Morocco and China were raised, on Thursday in Rabat, during a meeting between Supreme Commander and Chief of the General Staff of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR), General de Corps d’Armée, FAR’s General Inspector and commander of the Southern Zone, and Chinese Major General Yao Yunzho, Director of the Department of the World Military Research at the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Science.The meeting tackled the results of bilateral military cooperation as well as the opportunities for further boosting cooperation in areas of common concern, FAR’s General Staff said in a statement.Special focus was given to cooperation prospects between the Royal Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army notably in areas pertaining to training and the exchange of visits. The talks are part of the momentum that has been characterising the bilateral friendship ties, added the statement.Major General Yao Yunzhu is leading a Chinese military and civilian delegation on a visit to the Kingdom on December 10-13. read more

Around 90 Migrants Reported Dead Off Libya Coast

Rabat- As many as 90 migrants are feared dead after a migrant boat capsized off the Libyan coast near the city of Zuara on Friday, reported the United Nations migration agency.The majority of the migrants were from Pakistan, three survivors have told aid workers. Two of the three survivors were able to swim to the shore, while the third was rescued by a fishing boat.The tragedy occurred when the overloaded boat carrying the migrants capsized, according to Olivia Headon,  a spokesperson of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2016, nearly 171,000 asylum seekers arrived in Italy via boats and rafts, according to statistics from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.In recent years, thousands of migrants, including Moroccans, have traveled to Libya in order to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. Many, though, remain trapped in dire conditions in detention centers across Libya. International outrage followed reports last year that some migrants had been sold in slave markets.In December 2017, several videos taken by detained Moroccans were widely shared on social media, revealing the horrific conditions they faced in Libyan prisons. The trapped migrants cried for help and urged the Moroccan government to take immediate action to bring them back home. Hundreds were eventually repatriated in December following the efforts and intervention by King Mohammad VI. read more

Marrakech Film Festival Screens Women-Centered Films

The 17th Marrakech International Film Festival kicked off on Friday.At a press conference on Saturday German actor Daniel Bruhl explained that the jury is “very interested to see fresh voices” in the fourteen films competing for the festival’s Etoile d’Or (Golden Star) prize.Asked about gender equality in the film industry, a topic broached at film festivals from Cannes to Venice, Fifty Shades star Dakota Johnson said, “There were almost as many women involved in cinema behind the camera, in front of the camera, behind film festivals and in film festivals.” Johnson continued by applauding the Marrakech International Film Festival for having more women than men on the jury panel. “This jury happens to have more women and perhaps there might be an avenue for this to occur more often in the future, and I think that’s awesome.”Women’s roles and treatment in the cinema industry is improving. Film narratives are changing as “there are lots of different films and roles that do great business at the box office with women in lead roles,” said Indian actress Ileana D’Cruz.The FIFM celebrates the achievement and talent of women in film this year with six films directed by women nominated among the 14 films competing for the Etoile D’or. The female directors include Alejandra Marquez Abella, Sudabeh Mortezai, Lila Aviles, Sayaka Kai, Nadejda Koseva, and Eva Trobisch.The second day of the festival offered screenings of two motion pictures with women in leading roles: Alejandra Marquez Abella’s “The Good Girls” and Sudabeh Mortezai’s “Joy.” “The Good Girls” shines a crystalline light on upper-class women facing social decay during Mexico’s 1982 economic crisis. Sudabeh Mortezai’s “Joy,” winner of Best Film at BFI London Film Festival, sheds light on women from a different spectrum in society. The drama tackles sex trafficking issues among Nigerian migrant sex workers.Many stars turned up on the red carpet for the event: Kevin Dillon from Oliver Stone’s “Platoon,” Laurence Fishburne from “The Matrix,” “Burnout” director Noureddine Lakhmari, and the godfather of cinema himself, Robert De Niro. FIFM paid homage to Robert De Niro, awarding him the Etoile D’or Saturday evening for his immense body of work.  Academy award winner and De Niro’s lifetime friend Martin Scorsese presented the award to De Niro. read more

Gone in 6 minutes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet’s final journey

A preliminary report by Ethiopian investigators on the March 10 crash that killed 157 people reveals a minute-by-minute narrative of the gripping and confusing scene in the cockpit.Pilots of an Ethiopian Airlines flight encountered problems with their new Boeing jetliner from nearly the moment they roared down the runway and took off. For six minutes, they were bombarded by warnings from the plane as they fought for control.Thursday’s report found that a malfunctioning sensor sent faulty data to the Boeing 737 Max 8’s anti-stall system and triggered a chain of events that ended in a crash so violent it reduced the plane to shards and pieces. The pilots’ struggle, and the tragic ending, mirrored an Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air Max 8 off the coast of Indonesia.David Koenig, The Associated Press read more

Syria says it will allow Qatar Airways to use its airspace

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s transport minister says Qatar Airways’ request to fly through Syrian airspace has been approved. Airlines have avoided Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, causing long detours.Ali Hammoud said Monday that the measure will save Qatar’s state-owned airline time and money.Qatar Airways did not immediately comment on the report.Hammoud said the detour around Syrian airspace had cost airlines up to 90 minutes. He said Syria agreed to Qatar’s request because it has not stopped Syrian airlines from flying to Doha.In a diplomatic row with its Gulf neighbours, Qatar had been banned from flying over Saudi and Bahraini airspace, costing the flagship carrier significant revenue losses. Qatar Airways has since been allowed over Bahrain because of waivers negotiated through the International Civil Aviation Organization.The Associated Press read more

How major US stock indexes fared Monday

Stocks closed sharply lower Monday as an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China rattled Wall Street.Technology companies, which would stand to lose greatly in an extended trade battle, led the broad sell-off. The losses handed the benchmark S&P 500 index its biggest loss since January.On Monday:The S&P 500 index fell 69.53 points, or 2.4%, to 2,811.87.The Dow Jones Industrial Average dove 617.38 points, or 2.4%, to 25,324.99.The Nasdaq composite slid 269.92 points, or 3.4%, to 7,647.02.The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks lost 49.99 points, or 3.2%, to 1,523.For the year:The S&P 500 is up 305.02 points, or 12.2%.The Dow is up 1,997.53 points, or 8.6%.The Nasdaq is up 1,011.75 points, or 15.2%.The Russell 2000 is up 174.44 points, or 12.9%.The Associated Press read more

Bird flu UN health agency reports encouraging progress in producing vaccine

Experts meeting over the past two days at the UN World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters discussed latest developments, with 16 manufacturers from 10 countries developing prototype pandemic influenza vaccines against the H5N1 virus and five of them also focusing other bird flu strains such as H9N2, H5N2, and H5N3. “For the first time, results presented at the meeting have convincingly demonstrated that vaccination with newly developed avian influenza vaccines can bring about a potentially protective immune response against strains of H5N1 virus found in a variety of geographical locations,” WHO said in a news release. “Some of the vaccines work with low doses of antigen, which means that significantly more vaccine doses can be available in case of a pandemic,” it added. But it warned that in spite of the encouraging progress, “the world still lacks the manufacturing capacity to meet potential global pandemic influenza vaccine demand as current capacity is estimated at less than 400 million doses per year of trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine.” To counter this challenge, WHO last year launched the Global pandemic influenza action plan to increase vaccine supply, a $10-billion effort over a decade. One of its aims is to transfer technology to developing countries so they can set up their own influenza vaccine production units, providing them with the most sustainable and reliable response to the threat of pandemic influenza. WHO is currently working with several vaccine producers, mainly in developing countries affected by H5N1 to facilitate in-country influenza vaccine production. There have so far been 273 confirmed human cases worldwide, 167 of them fatal, the vast majority in South-East Asia. Indonesia has recorded the highest death toll – 63 out of 81 cases. UN health officials have been on constant alert to detect any mutation that could make the disease more easily transmissible in humans. Nearly all human cases so far have been traced to contact with infected birds. The so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1920 is estimated to have killed from 20 million to 40 million people worldwide. More than 200 million birds have died from either the virus or preventive culling in the current outbreak. At present, more then 40 clinical vaccine trials have been completed or are ongoing. Most have focused on healthy adults. Some companies, after completing safety analyses in adults, have initiated clinical trials in the elderly and in children. All vaccines were safe and well tolerated in all age groups tested. More than 100 influenza vaccine experts – from academia, national and regional public health institutions, the pharmaceutical industry and regulatory bodies throughout the world – attended the Geneva meeting, the third that WHO has convened in just two years to review progress in developing vaccines against pandemic influenza viruses and to agree on future priority activities. 16 February 2007The United Nations health agency today reported “encouraging progress” in producing a vaccine against human bird flu, which in a worst case scenario could cause a deadly pandemic that could kill millions, but warned that the world still lacks the manufacturing capacity to meet potential global demand. read more

SecretaryGeneral recommends 6month extension of UN mission in Cyprus

7 June 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a six-month extension of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) while pointing out that some are questioning the value it adds in the absence of political progress. “UNFICYP has played an important role in maintaining peace and security in Cyprus,” Mr. Ban said in his latest report to the Security Council covering the past six months.At the same, time he observed that, “After 43 years of presence in Cyprus, the value added of UNFICYP, particularly in the absence of significant progress on the political process, is increasingly being questioned by various actors in the international community.”The situation along the ceasefire lines has stayed “generally calm and stable,” but he noted security concerns regarding civilians endeavouring to seek their property rights in the buffer zone, disregarding security considerations.Mr. Ban underscored his “firm belief that the responsibility of finding a solution lies first and foremost with the Cypriots themselves,” and said that “it is essential that the parties demonstrate their readiness to match words with deeds through sincere efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement.”Despite the lack of any significant advancement, “the parties have taken small but incremental steps in the right direction,” he observed, welcoming the sustained dialogue between representatives of the two leaders regarding bicommunal working groups and technical committees.He voiced regret that the atmosphere in which the two parties are allowed to engage in bicommunal contacts has not improved substantially, and said he believes an active civil society could aid the political process. read more

Recent gains threatened by terrorism and drugs Afghan leader tells UN Assembly

Thanking the international community for its “steadfast support” since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and the subsequent establishment of democratic government, Mr. Karzai said “the journey of Afghanistan’s stability and reconstruction is resolutely apace.”More Afghans now enjoy access to health and education services than ever before, he said, noting that the child mortality rate has been slashed by over 25 per cent in two years, ensuring that at least 85,000 children remain alive today.The country, which was torn apart by decades of war and misrule, is once again about to become self-sufficient in cereal production, according to the President, who said “already the fruits of relative stability and increased prosperity in Afghanistan are spilling over our borders to the wider region.”Afghanistan joined the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) earlier this year to help with its plans to eventually serve as a commercial bridge between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.Mr. Karzai told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate that while the economic and institutional gains have been impressive, so too are the “momentous challenges” that Afghanistan still faces. He cited poverty, underdevelopment and climatic hardships as well as the leading threats – terrorism and narcotics.The President denounced the sharp rise in terrorist attacks within Afghanistan in the past two years, and particularly the “new and brutal tactics such as beheadings, kidnappings and the burning of schools and clinics.”Stressing that “terrorism was never, nor is it today, a home-grown phenomenon in Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai said the threat can only be truly overcome if dealt with regionally and internationally.He described the recent holding of a joint peace jirga between Pakistan and Afghanistan as a symbol of the benefits of constructive cooperation in devising a counter-terrorism strategy. Sustained international support so that Afghanistan’s national army and police can lead anti-terror efforts was also necessary.Turning to the issue of illegal drugs, Mr. Karzai said his Government would prioritize the provision of alternative livelihoods to farmers and speed up its poppy eradication programmes and interdiction of traffickers.But other countries needed to play their part in defeating the global narcotic trade by battling international drug mafia and crime groups, strengthening border controls and reducing the demand for illegal drugs in foreign markets. 25 September 2007Afghanistan’s economy is posting serious gains, its nascent institutions are taking root and its health indicators are on the rise, but the twin perils of terrorism and illegal drugs place enormous obstacles to any further improvements, President Hamid Karzai told the General Assembly today. read more

DR Congo UN steps up emergency aid for children affected by new

18 September 2008The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is scaling up existing emergency programmes in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where increased fighting has forced over 100,000 people to flee their homes, social services to close, and humanitarian organizations to suspend aid. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is scaling up existing emergency programmes in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where increased fighting has forced over 100,000 people to flee their homes, social services to close, and humanitarian organizations to suspend aid.“This fighting is again having a brutal impact on the children and women of the Kivus,” UNICEF’s eastern DRC Chief of Field Operations Julien Harneis said of the two provinces affected by the new hostilities that erupted two and a half weeks ago between the army and rebels loyal to the former general Laurent Nkunda.“Many children are split up from their families as they flee; in displacement they are even more vulnerable to malaria, measles, cholera, and malnutrition. Over the last year we were able to bring down rates of malnutrition below emergency levels but this renewed fighting puts that all into question.”Some 1,000 children have been separated from their families with many being exploited and abused. Water springs have been sabotaged cutting off clean water to thousands of civilians and communicable diseases such as cholera and measles are at risk of spreading. Malnourishment is again in danger of rising past emergency levels, access to school is being reduced and the farming season is stunted, reducing children’s survival and healthy development prospects. With its non-governmental organization (NGO) partner Save the Children, UNICEF has identified some 500 separated children and launched family tracings to reunify them. Mercy Corps is trucking clean water to over 60,000 people on the Goma-Rutshuru road and Oxfam Quebec is reinstalling chlorination points in Kirotshe to meet the needs of 35,000 people.Emergency measles vaccinations for up to 100,000 children are being prepared with the Government and assessments in nutrition, essential household items and emergency shelter, and education sectors are being coordinated to ensure all new needs are met. Children continue to be abused, exploited, and to die from easily preventable diseases from the ongoing instability in North Kivu, UNICEF reported, calling on all armed groups to respect children’s rights and ensure that they have access to the protection of their family, their community, clean water, health care, and education. Hostilities have continued in eastern DRC despite stabilization in much of the rest of the vast country, which was torn by years of civil war. read more

Security Council African Union agree to bolster cooperation

16 May 2009Members of the United Nations Security Council today held talks with their African Union (AU) counterpart in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, agreeing to enhance cooperation, especially in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping and peace building. During today’s consultative meeting, a follow-up to two previous gatherings in 2007 and 2008, the Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) “agreed to pursue their consultations on ways and means to strengthen their cooperation and partnership,” according to a communiqué issued after the talks. They reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing collaboration in areas including the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Africa. Among topics discussed by members of the Security Council and the PSC were the situations in Somalia and Sudan relations between Sudan and Chad and unconstitutional changes in African governments. The meeting at AU Headquarters today is part of the Security Council members’ week-long trip to Africa, which will also take them to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Liberia. The Ambassadors of France, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States will lead or co-lead the different segments of the trip, which wraps up on 21 May. Last June, the 15-member body visited Djibouti, Sudan, Chad, DRC and Côte d’Ivoire last June during a 10-day trip to the continent. read more

UN crime watchdog helps Iran set up unit to combat moneylaundering from

9 February 2010Iran has teamed with the United Nations anti-crime agency to set up a financial intelligence unit tasked with tackling the spread of money-laundering in the country, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced today. Iran has teamed with the United Nations anti-crime agency to set up a financial intelligence unit tasked with tackling the spread of money-laundering in the country, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced today.The move is a major step forward towards fighting the use of illicit earnings in Iran – mostly connected to opium trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan – to finance serious criminal activity, undermining peace and security in the country.In a 2009 report, UNODC estimated that trafficking in opiates has created an illegal market worth some $65 billion annually, more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of at least 120 countries and 65 times the value of the market for firearms trafficking.“The time has come to celebrate progress on anti-money-laundering by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” UNODC’s country representative Antonino De Leo said at the inauguration of the new unit.“UNODC is proud of having contributed to these national achievements through its technical assistance programme,” added Mr. De Leo.The new unit, initially consisting of 15 officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, will analyse suspicious domestic and international financial transactions, and help the judiciary investigate and prosecute those involved in money-laundering.UNODC has also assisted Iran in establishing a computer-based training centre in its capital, Tehran, which is “a centre of excellence to train officials on international best practices in tackling money-laundering and financing of terrorism,” said Mr. De Leo. read more

UNICEF seeks to end use of child soldiers across Central Africa

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping to find ways to ensure that children do not serve as soldiers in Central Africa, a region plagued by conflicts in which minors have been fighting on behalf of both militias and national armies.A regional conference organized by Chad, with UNICEF’s help, opened today in the capital, N’Djamena, to end the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups.“There are thousands of child soldiers involved in the conflicts affecting Chad, Central African Republic [CAR] and Sudan,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Chad. “Children have no place in conflict and their recruitment is a tragedy that must be stopped.”He stressed that groups recruiting children can be held accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC).Four former child soldiers – including the writer Ishmael Beah, a UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War, and Emmanuel Jal, now a hip-hop artist – will take part in the gathering.Specialists of other child recruitment issues such as gender-based violence and psycho-social reinsertion will participate in the three-day event.Government representatives from Chad, Sudan, the CAR, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon are expected to sign the N’Djamena Declaration, highlighting countries’ commitment to stop recruitment of children in armed forces.The Declaration also seeks to enhance opportunities for children – including in education and employment – once they have left armed groups.“Most countries in the region have signed international agreements and they must now take this one step further and signal stronger commitment by ratifying the additional protocols on the Convention of the Rights of the Child,” Dr. Babille said. Chad and Sudan have signed and ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, while Cameroon and Nigeria have signed the pact, but have not yet ratified it. Niger and the CAR have neither signed nor ratified.UNICEF has voiced concern that refugee children in nations where conflicts have spread beyond national borders are also at risk of being recruited by armed groups. “Failing to protect children from being recruited and used by armed forces and groups will impede the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, Dr. Babille said.Last month, the UN launched a major campaign for the universal adoption of treaty protocols that outlaw the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.“The sad truth is that too many children in today’s world suffer appalling abuse,” Mr. Ban told a ceremony at UNICEF headquarters in New York marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the two optional protocols strengthening the Convention on the Rights of the Child by providing a moral and legal shield for youngsters vulnerable to prostitution and pornography or caught up in armed conflict.“Two thirds of all Member States have endorsed these instruments. On this tenth anniversary of their adoption, I urge all countries to ratify them within the next two years.”Despite recent progress, “much remains to be done,” the Secretary-General declared. “In too many places, children are seen as commodities, in too many instances they are treated as criminals instead of being protected as victims, and there are too many conflicts where children are used as soldiers, spies or human shields.”The Optional Protocols, said the agency’s Executive Director Anthony Lake, “represent a promise made to the world’s most vulnerable children – children born into extreme poverty and despair, children in countries torn apart by conflict and children forced into unimaginable servitude by adults who regard them as commodities.” To date, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict has been ratified by 132 States, while the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, has 137 ratifications. 7 June 2010The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is helping to find ways to ensure that children do not serve as soldiers in Central Africa, a region plagued by conflicts in which minors have been fighting on behalf of both militias and national armies. read more

UN food standards body sets new limits for melamine in food

The maximum melamine allowed in baby formula was set at one milligram (mg) per kilogramme (kg) and 2.5 mg/kg in other foods and animal feed, according to a news release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) jointly runs the UN Codex Alimentarius Commission.Melamine is a chemical used in a variety of industrial processes, including the manufacture of plastics used for dishware, kitchenware and can coatings. Traces of it unavoidably get into food by contact without causing health problems, but the substance is toxic at high concentrations.“Establishment of maximum levels will help governments differentiate between low levels of unavoidable melamine occurrence that do not cause health problems, and deliberate adulteration – thereby protecting public health without unnecessary impediments to international trade,” said Martijn Weijtens, chair of the Commission’s committee on contaminants in foods.While not legally binding the new levels allow countries to refuse to allow the importation of products with excessive levels of melamine.The Commission, whose 33rd session in Geneva is being attended by 500 delegates from about 130 countries, also came up with new hygienic measures for safer fresh salads and seafood.The new measures provide specific guidance for production, harvesting, packing, processing, storage, distribution, marketing and consumer education to reduce food safety risks associated with these products. Guidance covers such aspects as the control of irrigation waters, cooling and storage and correct washing of hands by consumers.The Commission also gave specific advice on how to control bacteria in seafood throughout the food chain. In recent years, there has been an increase in reported outbreaks of food-borne disease caused by bacterial species called Vibrio, which are typically associated with the consumption of seafood – especially oysters that are often eaten raw. The new measures will help to minimize the risks.On aflatoxins, the Commission set maximum levels of 10 micrograms/kg for Brazil nuts and 15 micrograms/kg for shelled Brazil nuts, which are intended for further processing, while it also adopted a code of practice to prevent this contamination.Aflatoxins are carcinogenic fungal toxins that can contaminate corn, peanuts and other food crops such as tree nuts under certain conditions.The Commission also adopted new measures on sampling food for inspection and control analysis.The new guidelines will make it possible to run tests to determine if foods are derived from modern biotechnology, to authenticate food varieties such as fish species and to establish the presence of allergens.Agreement on the guidelines marks an important international consensus in the area of biotechnology where the commission has already developed a number of guidelines related to food safety assessments for foods derived from modern biotechnology.The 47-year-old Commission sets international food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. The results of its work form the Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “food code”), a set of international food safety and quality standards.The standards, when introduced in national legislation, contribute to the safety of foods and to help guide international food trade. 6 July 2010In an effort to help prevent dangerous contamination of food with melamine, a toxic chemical, the United Nations food standards body today set new limits for the amount of the substance that can be present in baby formula, other foods and animal feed without causing health problems. read more