Tuesday, 21 May 2013
|Ban Ki Moon; UN Sec. Gen.|
(Being UN Secretary-General's message to the 12th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, delivered by Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs)
I am pleased to send greetings to all those gathered for the 12th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
This year, your deliberations will place special emphasis on the implementation of the Permanent Forum’s recommendations on health, education and culture.
We must treasure, reflect and protect the rich heritage and value systems of indigenous peoples, starting with education. We must also do more to improve the availability of health care services to indigenous peoples, while respecting traditions. And in all we do, we must have a better understanding of the views and values of indigenous peoples by engaging them in decision-making and providing a platform for issues affecting their lives and livelihoods.
As we intensify action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in less than 1,000 days and as Member States begin to define a post-2015 development agenda, we must work to ensure that all our development efforts address the priorities and vision of indigenous peoples, in keeping with their identity and culture. Let us also work together to help make next year’s World Conference on Indigenous Peoples a success.
Once again, thank you for joining forces to address these and other challenges.
I wish you all the best in your deliberations.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:48
Report By UN News Centre
Around 2,300 indigenous participants are expected to discuss culture, education and health during the 12th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will include a special focus on youth, indigenous groups in Africa and the importance of strengthening ties with international financial institutions.
“We must have a better understanding of the views and values of indigenous peoples by engaging them in decision-making and providing a platform for issues affecting their lives and livelihoods,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged in a message at the opening of the 12th forum delivered by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
The two-week gathering will be overseen by Paul Kanyinke Sena, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum, who stressed that culture, education and health are the basic rights for all people, “They are at the core of indigenous peoples’ right to life, our right to dignity and well-being.”
In his opening address, Mr. Sena noted that the concept of health and healing for indigenous people includes not only access without discrimination to social and health services, but also includes connections with family, land and language, as well as access to traditional plans, animals and minerals.
He also stressed the importance of local languages in school and the right of indigenous people to establish and control the education of their children in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
The day’s programme includes discussions about indigenous issues from the perspective of young people based on the findings of a report by the UN Expert Group Meeting, held in January 2013, on identities, challenges and hopes of indigenous youth.
Out of the 370 million indigenous peoples in the world, approximately 67 million are youths, according to figures cited in the report.
In addition to today’s official discussions, five side events with highlight issues of health and reproductive rights, investing in indigenous youth, education, the launch of an adolescent-friendly version of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as of a study on violence against indigenous girls, adolescents and young women.
Youth is one of Mr. Ban’s priority areas, and he launched the development of a System-Wide Action Plan on youth (SWAP) to deepen the youth focus of existing UN programmes, and appointed Ahmad Alhindawi as his envoy on the topic.
Later in the week, the Forum will focus on issues related specifically to the estimated 50 million indigenous people living in Africa, who in addition to fighting claims to their indigenous lands and competition for natural resources, also face challenges to recognition of their indigenous identity.
The Forum is expected to adopt recommendations at the conclusion of the discussion, addressing the main issues, challenges and positive measures of cooperation to improve the situation of indigenous peoples in Africa, according to the Forum organizers.
“It is time to turn the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into a reality around the world, especially in the African region,” said Mr. Sena who is the first African to chair the Forum, representing the Ogiek people in Kenya.
This year, the Forum will include an in-depth dialogue with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the International Finance Corporation in order to review the development and adoption of policies and mechanisms for the engagement and effective participation of indigenous peoples.
“The World Bank is sending a delegation of 30 people, the largest so far so you can see how seriously they are taking the Forum,” Mr. Sena told journalists in New York. He spoke in a press conference alongside Andrea Landry, Canadian Youth Representative; Setareki Macanawai, Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Disability Forum in Fiji, and other representatives.
Financial resources were also part of today’s discussion. In his opening statement, Mr. Hongbo highlighted the contributions of Member States to the UN Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues which issues small grants of $10,000 to indigenous organizations working on related issued, particularly in health and education.
Applications are being assessed this month with the aim of “strengthening international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by indigenous peoples in such areas as culture, education, health, human rights, the environment, social and economic development by means of action-oriented programs and specific projects, increased technical assistance and relevant standard-setting activities,” according to its website.
In his speech, Mr. Hongbo reiterated Mr. Ban’s message of the importance of inclusion of indigenous issues and point of view in the UN agenda. “The United Nations has committed its unwavering support to a future where all indigenous peoples will enjoy peace, human rights and well-being. It has welcomed indigenous peoples as partners,” he said.
This year’s Forum will also look forward to the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September of next year and decide on a potential theme. Two-hundred indigenous participants from seven regions are to be invited.
The preparations for the World Conference coincide with ongoing discussions of a post-2015 development agenda to success the current eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
While there is no specific reference to indigenous peoples in the MDGs, the Permanent Forum have highlighted the relevance of indigenous concepts and practices of development, such as “living well” which translates to “sumak kawsay” or “sumaq qamaña” in the Kichwa and Aymara languages from the Andes.
“This is a unique moment for the Permanent Forum, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, to focus on its contribution towards change. I respectfully urge that Member States work with all actors to find a common understanding,” said Vice-President of the UN General Assembly, Abulkalam Abdul Momen.
Also addressing the opening session, the President of the UN Economic, Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC), Néstor Osorio, noted the importance of indigenous knowledge and experience in ECOSOC’s annual review, which this year focuses on science, technology and innovation, and culture for sustainable development and the MDGs.
Despite centuries of genocide, language loss, discrimination and forcible removal, indigenous people remained the custodians of many of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, Mr. Osorio said. He urged the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and innovations in UN efforts “not in the form of products to be appropriated but as knowledge that leads to improved well-being for all, especially indigenous peoples themselves.”
Today’s opening ceremony in the UN General Assembly Hall began with a traditional flute song and then welcome by Todadaho Sid Hill, traditional Chief of the Onondaga Nation, part of the Six Nations or Iroquois Confederacy, which originally inhabited parts of New York. Later in his speech, Mr. Sena thanked the chief “for the welcome into their beautiful territory once again.”
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:29
Monday, 20 May 2013
Nigeria offered an amnesty on Sunday to Islamist militants who surrender and said 17 people had been killed on the fifth day of a military operation to try to crush the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast.
In their biggest offensive since the insurgency began in 2009, Nigerian forces are trying to chase well-armed militants out of territory they control in remote semi-deserts around Lake Chad, along the borders with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.
They are also pursuing Boko Haram in northeastern cities such as Maiduguri, Borno state, where the sect has cells. A heavy military presence patrolled Maiduguri on Sunday, with checkpoints choking what little traffic there was.
Nigeria's defense spokesman Brigadier General Chris Olukolade said the operation was continuing on Sunday, with patrols sent out to secure towns and villages, and that special forces had killed 14 insurgents in battles that left three Nigerian soldiers dead and seven wounded.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. The operation has targeted areas of Africa's top energy producer where Boko Haram, which is fighting to create a breakaway Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria, has bases and weapons caches.
Nigerian forces used jets and attack helicopters to bombard militant camps in the northeast on Friday.
Some analysts fear the offensive may have rendered the already slim chance of a political solution to the conflict even slimmer, but the president's spokesman Reuben Abati denied this. Jonathan set up a committee to work out the terms of a possible amnesty for Boko Haram members last month.
"Mr President has urged Boko Haram members to surrender their arms and embrace the amnesty option, which is still open as the committee is working on the option of dialogue for a peaceful resolution," Abati said by telephone.
An amnesty for militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta in 2009 helped end a conflict there that cut oil output by nearly half at one stage. But Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau rejected the offer of amnesty last month.
At a meeting of ministers from Nigeria and the European Union in Brussels on Thursday, the EU voiced concern that military action could be counterproductive if it was so heavy-handed that people were alienated, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. The EU had urged the military to respect human rights, she said.
Human rights groups and the United States are also concerned about possible abuses against civilians by the army.
Phones have been largely cut to the entire northeastern region, to prevent the rebels communicating.
"The insurgents have people who look out and tip them off by phone, which opens the military up to ambushes. Without phones, raids will have the element of surprise," a security source in Maiduguri said, adding a 24-hour curfew in some areas also aimed to limit their movements.
"It will be painful for the public without communications and movement, but it may be a price worth paying," he said.
In Adamawa state, 150 soldiers out of an expected extra 1,000 arrived, military spokesman Lieutenant Jaafaru Nuhu said.
The military says it has destroyed a number of camps in dry forests around Borno state, the epicenter of the insurgency and a region that once hosted one of Africa's oldest medieval Islamic empires, founded on trade connecting the continent's interior with its Mediterranean coast.
"Dislodged terrorists (are) in disarray," Olukolade said.
The crackdown is meant to finish off the rebels decisively, but efforts to do so in the past have failed, as they hid when under pressure and then popped up again when it eased.
President Jonathan, a Christian southerner, had been accused of not taking seriously enough the violence in the largely Muslim north, where some fear Islamist insurgents allied to al Qaeda could take over large swathes of territory, as they did in Mali before French-led troops ejected them this year.
After being pushed out of city centers, the Islamists had been re-arming this year, drawing on weapons still flooding into the West Africa region in the aftermath of Libya's conflict.
An attack on the town of Bama by 200 Boko Haram militants armed with anti-aircraft guns this month killed 55 people, and it may have been what finally prompted Jonathan's declaration.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 01:43
Sunday, 19 May 2013
ECOWAS and America’s GE Corporation are to explore areas of cooperation,including in energy projects and infrastructure development to boost regionaltrade integration.
This was a key outcome of a meeting between officials of the ECOWAS Commission and a GE delegation which paid a courtesy call on the Commission’s VicePresident, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh in Abuja on Thursday, 16th May 2013.
Receiving the four-member delegation led by Mr. Karan Bhatia, GE’s VicePresident and Senior Counsel, Global Government Affairs and Policy, Dr. McIntosh, on behalf of the President of the Commission, said the new managementat the Commission was calibrating its priorities for effective balance betweenpeace and security and economic development, to deliver on its mandate.
He explained that the inability of individual countries to harness the region’svast resources makes integration inevitable, and especially through public-private partnerships.
The Vice President named energy, transportation, oil and gas, health care and capacity building, as the potential areas of collaboration and partnershipbetween ECOWAS and GE.
Both sides agreed that the point of entry for this partnership could be throughthe programmes and activities of the Cape Verde-based ECOWAS Centre forRenewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREE) and other non-carbon basedenergy projects, including hydro and solar.
They also agreed that potential areas of engagement could be through tradeexpansion and integration leveraging on the Commission’s investment friendlypolicy and investment code, which will soon be finalized.
On oil and gas, Dr. McIntosh said the extension of the West African GasPipeline Project to more ECOWAS Member States is in progress and GE would beinvited to join other partners if the need arises.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Bhatia said that GE shared ECOWAS’ goals onregional integration, which are in consonance with the company’s shift in focusin the past five years to infrastructure, including the manufacturing andconstruction of power generation plants, health care equipment suited to theWest African market, as well as aviation assets, and oil and gas.
For GE with an asset base of US$160 billion, “it is not just about market and trade, we are also involved in human capacity development,” he said, addingthat this was necessary to create the requisite indigenous capacity that willdrive economic growth and regional integration.
Both sides agreed to follow up discussions on the areas of cooperation and mutually beneficial partnerships.
Mr. Bhatia is on a two-day visit to Nigeria for talks with various business leaders and stakeholders in the country.
Also on the GE delegation were Mr. Nils Tcheyan, Director, Government Affairsand Policy, GE Africa, Mr. Del Renigar, Senior Counsel, Global GovernmentAffairs and Policy, Africa, Middle East and South Asia, and Mr. Olaseni Ashiru,Government Affairs and Policy, West Africa.
On the ECOWAS side were Mr. Alfred Braimah, Director, Private Sector, and officials from the External Relations and Communication Director
Released By ECOWAS Department Of Information.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 09:05