Rights Violations Tarnish Democracy in South Asia

Cooks at the Tharanikulam Ganesh School in Vavunya, Sri Lanka

The mind-numbing daily reports of death and destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan obscure a larger issue: the prevalence of political and ethnic violence across South Asia, a region dominated by India that includes Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Bhutan. Recently, the publication of two annual global reports on human rights – from the … Read more

A Long, Long Way to Walk in Myanmar

Myanmar dissident

GENEVA — The victory of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar dissident, in winning a seat in Parliament has indicated a rapid shift toward democratic reform in the country. But Zoya Phan, a longstanding advocate for the Karen ethnic group in Myanmar, is cautious about the developments. Phan was here … Read more

Native Americans Still Suffer ‘Profound Hurt,’ the UN Says

apache dancers

The relationship between the United States government and the United Nations machinery of human rights reporting has been a troubled one. Over the years, numerous UN rights monitors – called rapporteurs — have often been unwelcome visitors, sometimes refused permission to visit institutions like prisons or courts in some American states. The reception got a … Read more

Nagging Hunger Undermines Millennium Poverty Goal

eradicating hunger

The first of the eight Millennium Development Goals makes an ambitious demand: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger worldwide. It is now widely accepted that progress has been made in many countries on cutting the percentage of people living with less than the rock-bottom $1.25 a day. But decreasing hunger by half is another sadder story. … Read more

Paying Attention to the Hidden Strengths of Rural Women

commission on status of women

Rural women are worse off than their urban counterparts and their male neighbors. They are generally poorer, less educated, discriminated against and left with limited health care choices and jobs, yet they are classic behind-the scene doers, often performing most of the unpaid work at home and on farms, while producing a majority of the … Read more

Worked to Death in Lodz

Polish ghetto

  In the Lodz ghetto in the center of German-occupied Poland, residents were not allowed to own cameras, but at least two professional photographers there, commissioned by the local Department of Statistics for the Jewish Council, documented the area’s slide, from 1940 to 1944, into near obliteration. The images by Mendel Grossman and Henryk Ross … Read more

Time for a Gray Revolution?

older people issues

The United Nations is the place to go for people who are oppressed or neglected to discuss their problems and try to find solutions. One of the most recent special-interest groups to meet at the UN highlighted the plight of older people, who, of course, have grievances and want to be heard. “No longer is … Read more

Fighting the Use of Child Soldiers With a List

The “naming and shaming” tool has been the most successful mechanism so far in the United Nations’ arsenal on ending the practice of child soldiers in the last 10 years, said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for children and armed conflict since 2006. Yet pockets of child soldier use still elude efforts by … Read more

A Story From Nagaland

It is a very long trip to the Indian Northeast, a singular region connected to the rest of the country by a mere strip of land that skirts Bangladesh. Few foreigners go to the area or get to know its ethnically distinct people. So for Athili Sapriina, a local human-rights advocate, it was also a … Read more

Human Rights Chief Calls for More Action in Syria

As violence continues unabated in Syria despite tough economic and travel sanctions from such big players as the Arab League, the European Union, Turkey and the United States, the head of the UN’s high commissioner for human rights has spoken out by calling for international intervention to protect civilians against government attacks. Navi Pillay, the … Read more

Congo Elections, Hardly a ‘Hinge Moment’

One of Africa’s largest, poorest and most violent countries will have its second election – presidential and parliamentary – on Nov. 28, after overcoming a dictatorship, a coup and two brutal civil wars. The Democratic Republic of Congo, independent since 1960 from Belgium, remains a glaring paradox, however, with enormous mineral wealth plumbed alongside extreme … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

In Washington, the Human Rights Council Endures Scrutiny

WASHINGTON — The United Nations Human Rights Council is attracting more attention here by both supporters and critics in the government and beyond. Some of the council’s defenders and naysayers, speaking at various Washington venues last month, ultimately expressed the same goal: to see the rights body improve. The council’s action last winter recommending that … Read more

GOINGS-ON

Tibetan Buddhists Mistreated by Chinese, Rights Experts Say

Six United Nations experts on human rights issues have faulted China for what they call “severe human rights restrictions” on Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Sichuan Province, where monks and nuns have been protesting, some setting themselves on fire. The monasteries are outside Tibet proper, where Buddhist opposition has simmered for decades after a Chinese military … Read more

Peace May Be More Elusive but Not Impossible

As you may have suspected, the world is becoming less peaceful. This marks the third year in a row that rising social and political turmoil has pushed indicators higher in assessing the lack of safety worldwide. New hot spots, as in the Middle East and North Africa, joined the list of old hot spots that … Read more

GOINGS-ON

First Global Human Rights Survey Completed

When the Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the woeful Human Rights Commission, one novelty assigned to the new body was the Universal Periodic Review, which would, over a period of four years, methodically assess the rights records of all UN member nations for the first time. On Oct.13, the process was … Read more

Nations Are Failing to Support UN Women Financially

  The world is letting down the newest and most promising agency created by the United Nations to raise the status of women, a key to more effective antipoverty programs and economic development. When UN Women was created by the General Assembly in July 2010, there were high hopes that it would have a billion-dollar … Read more

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