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Four countries on track to graduate from UN list of least developed countries

Bhutan, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands have increased national earning power and improved access to health care and education, making them eligible to exit the group of least developed countries (LDCs).

“This is an historic occasion,” said Jose Antonio Ocampo, chair of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), noting that only five countries have graduated since the UN established the LDC category in 1971.

LDCs are assessed using three criteria: health and education targets; economic vulnerability and gross national income per capita.

Countries must meet two of the three criteria at two consecutive triennial reviews of the CDP to be considered for graduation.

The Committee will send its recommendations to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for endorsement, which will then refer its decision to the UN General Assembly.

For CDP member Diane Elson, a professor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, Thursday’s announcement was good news for millions of women in rural areas.

She pointed out that the latest session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), currently under way in New York, is discussing the challenges facing this population.

“The success of the countries that are graduating reflects things like the improvement of the health and the education of the population, which extends to rural women, and the increase in incomes in the country, which extends to rural women,” she said.

However, Ms. Elson stressed that the countries will need continued international support because they remain vulnerable to external shocks, including the impact of climate change.

Mr. Ocampo said this vulnerability is particularly evident in Pacific Island states such as Kiribati.

UN Photo/Mark Garten

José Antonio Ocampo (centre), Chair of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), along with Committee member Diane Elson (right), briefs journalists as guests at the noon briefing. On the left is Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Globally, there are 47 LDCs, according to the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

The majority, 33, are in Africa, while 13 can be found in the Asia-Pacific region, and one is in Latin America.

In the 47 years of the LDC category’s existence, only five countries have graduated (Botswana, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives and Samoa)

The CDP said two more countries, Vanuatu and Angola, are scheduled for graduation over the next three years.

Nepal and Timor-Leste also met the criteria but were not recommended for graduation at this time, due to economic and political challenges.

That decision will be deferred to the next CDP triennial review in 2021, according to Mr. Ocampo.

Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar met the graduation criteria for the first time but would need to do so for a second time to be eligible for consideration.

News

Four countries on track to graduate from UN list of least developed countries

Bhutan, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands have increased national earning power and improved access to health care and education, making them eligible to exit the group of least developed countries (LDCs).

“This is an historic occasion,” said Jose Antonio Ocampo, chair of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), noting that only five countries have graduated since the UN established the LDC category in 1971.

LDCs are assessed using three criteria: health and education targets; economic vulnerability and gross national income per capita.

Countries must meet two of the three criteria at two consecutive triennial reviews of the CDP to be considered for graduation.

The Committee will send its recommendations to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for endorsement, which will then refer its decision to the UN General Assembly.

For CDP member Diane Elson, a professor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, Thursday’s announcement was good news for millions of women in rural areas.

She pointed out that the latest session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), currently under way in New York, is discussing the challenges facing this population.

“The success of the countries that are graduating reflects things like the improvement of the health and the education of the population, which extends to rural women, and the increase in incomes in the country, which extends to rural women,” she said.

However, Ms. Elson stressed that the countries will need continued international support because they remain vulnerable to external shocks, including the impact of climate change.

Mr. Ocampo said this vulnerability is particularly evident in Pacific Island states such as Kiribati.

UN Photo/Mark Garten

José Antonio Ocampo (centre), Chair of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), along with Committee member Diane Elson (right), briefs journalists as guests at the noon briefing. On the left is Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Globally, there are 47 LDCs, according to the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

The majority, 33, are in Africa, while 13 can be found in the Asia-Pacific region, and one is in Latin America.

In the 47 years of the LDC category’s existence, only five countries have graduated (Botswana, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives and Samoa)

The CDP said two more countries, Vanuatu and Angola, are scheduled for graduation over the next three years.

Nepal and Timor-Leste also met the criteria but were not recommended for graduation at this time, due to economic and political challenges.

That decision will be deferred to the next CDP triennial review in 2021, according to Mr. Ocampo.

Bangladesh, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar met the graduation criteria for the first time but would need to do so for a second time to be eligible for consideration.

News

Motion for a resolution on mercy killings in Uganda – B8-2018-0173

The European Parliament,

– having regard its previous resolutions

– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

– having regard the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

– having regard to the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT))

– having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

– -having regard to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement (‘Cotonou Agreement’)

– having regard to the Constitution of Uganda,

– -having regard the ACP – EU JPA report on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the developing countries of 23 November 2011, Togo

– having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, and in particular to Article 32 thereof, which states that all parties must include disability and persons with disabilities in their international cooperation efforts,

– having regard to UN Human Rights Council’s latest resolutions on the human rights of persons with disabilities of 14/04/2014 and 14/07/2014,

– having regard to the EU Guidance Note on Disability and Development for EU Delegations and Services,

– having regard to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) press releases of 19 September 2017, entitled ‘Ground-breaking step to tackle impunity for witchcraft related human rights violations’,

– -having regard the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs adopted in New York on the 25th September 2015

– having regard to Uganda’s review report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda entitled “Ensuring no one is left behind” of July 2016 and presented to the HLPF (UN), New York

– having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.whereas ritual killings of children are taking place in Uganda each year ; whereas many, in particular among the rich elite, believe sacrificial rituals can bring quick wealth and health; whereas many women have been also brutally killed in the name of such a “sacrifice”

B.whereas witchdoctors perform the brutal ritual that destroys the lives of the children who are dying in agony and torture; whereas survivors are usually physically and mentally damaged for life as are their families;

C.whereas in Uganda, the false association between child sacrifice and wealth acquisition poses a severe threat to children’s life;

D.whereas the government of Uganda created a National Action Plan to stop the murders and approved a bill to regulate healers, some of whom were practising as real doctors; whereas the businessmen who pay thousands of dollars for the sick rituals are rarely prosecuted because witch doctors refuse to give up their clients; whereas the majority of the witchdoctors performing the ritual killings are not prosecuted either

E.whereas other countries in Africa reported to be practising child sacrifice include Tanzania, Nigeria, Swaziland, Liberia, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe; whereas albino children and multiple births are also considered in some ethnic groups as evil spirits

F.whereas outrageous cases of mercy killings of disabled children are also taking place in some areas of the country because of the belief that they are better off dead than having to endure a painful and incurable disability and are in particular seen as a burden for their parents who are marked by poverty and social stigma and rejected by the society;

G.whereas there are no official numbers available as neither the police nor the justice system in Uganda investigate the phenomenon, whereas the lack of data makes the fight against this practice difficult;

H.whereas according to the Uganda Population and Housing Census Report 2014, for the population aged 2 years and above the disability prevalence rate was 12.4 percent while the equivalent for 5 years and above was close to 14 percent;

I.whereas the government of Uganda has a number of general laws and policies that contain clauses on disability; whereas the country has disability-specific legislation;

J.whereas in April 2016, Uganda’s record on the implementation of the CRPD was reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, whereas the Committee expressed concerns about the fact that legislation and policies fail to provide protection for the rights of children with disabilities; whereas the Committee observes with particular concern harmful practices and sexual abuse of women with disabilities;

K.whereas there is a lack of information to make the general public aware of cultural practices that stigmatize and hinder the development of persons with disabilities to enjoy rights like all other persons in society;

L.whereas disability tends to disproportionately affect vulnerable populations, where the likelihood of disability increases with the incidence of poverty; whereas disability is therefore a development issue;

M.whereas Uganda has committed to the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals; whereas the country presented its voluntary implementation report to the HLPF in July 2016 in New York; whereas there are 11 explicit references to persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda, and disaggregation of data by disability is a core principle;

N.whereas despite the progress made Uganda still has significant room for improvement in the sustainable development agenda as its economy is still heavily reliant on natural resources and agriculture; whereas the current demographic structure implies a high dependency ratio and low domestic savings;

1.Expresses its utmost concern over the brutal ritual killings of children and “mercy” killings of disabled children in Uganda and calls for outrageous acts of violence, cruelty and torture towards children to be ended immediately;

2.Expresses its deep concern about persisting discrimination against persons with disabilities, including in particular persons with albinism, persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities, and on other grounds, such as gender identity and sexual orientation

3. Strongly urges the government to conduct an immediate investigation into those crimes and take legal action against those responsible, to bring them to justice and hold them accountable;

4.Calls on the authorities of Uganda and all countries affected by ritual and mercy killings of children to commit to tackling the harmful superstitious beliefs perpetuating the targeting of children

5.Recalls that the primary responsibility of a state is to protect its citizens, including vulnerable groups; calls the Ugandan authorities to protect all children on its territory , to ensure their rights are defended as well as to amend the Children’s Act in line with the CRPD in order to mainstream rights of children with disabilities across all programmes and provide necessary budget and resources for their protection;

6.Calls for quality support services to families of children with disabilities in both urban and rural areas, as well as for sufficient financial support and benefits for families to care for their disabled child and to ensure the availability and effective dissemination of information on services and benefits, and training courses for parents and care-givers of children with disability so they are equipped to facilitate children’s participation in the community ;

7.Stresses the importance of an increased awareness of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, especially families whose children are disabled, with the aim of combating stigma which can lead to discrimination against persons with disabilities among the public in general, and in particular in rural and urban areas;

8.Urges the government of Uganda to implement measures aimed at promoting the right of children with disabilities to be consulted in all matters concerning their lives and at enabling them to receive assistance appropriate to their age and disability; to provide essential community-based services, including accessibility to education and health care,

9.Urges the authorities to ensure registration of all children with disabilities at birth

10.Welcomes the creation in 2009 of the Equal Opportunities Commission Act that aims at promoting equal opportunities for marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities;

11.Welcomes the creation of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) under the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; calls on the UHRC to develop a concrete national plan to guide the execution of its monitoring function

12.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative/Vice-President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President of the Republic of Uganda, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly and the African Union and its institutions.

News

Press Releases: Winter Paralympic Games Highlight Importance of Adaptive Sports Diplomacy Programs

As the PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games commence on March 9, the U.S. Department of State is recognizing the important issues of disability rights and equal access by expanding its support for adaptive sports diplomacy exchange programs worldwide in 2018.

The State Department’s International Sports Programming Initiative is supporting a delegation of American coaches and young athletes with disabilities to attend the games in partnership with the Utah-based National Ability Center. The coaches and athletes will receive training for adaptive alpine skiing and snowboarding and will also attend the Paralympic Games’ opening ceremonies, in partnership with Yonsei University. A reciprocal visit of Koreans with disabilities will also take place to the United States later this year. In addition, a separate program for training in adaptive sport and recreation programs will occur in Thailand through the National Ability Center in collaboration with Clemson University.

From March 24-April 29, the State Department will partner with the University of Tennessee for its annual disability sports mentorship program, Sport for Community. Drawing upon themes from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this five-week exchange pairs emerging global leaders in sports with mentors from U.S. adaptive sports organizations. The goal is to expand opportunities for people with disabilities through sports-based action plans.

Additionally, a slate of Sports Envoy and Visitor programs are planned in 2018 for expert American coaches and athletes to provide clinical lessons and promote the development of community organizations for persons with disabilities. The first Sports Envoy program will be held March 10-16 in Kuwait and will feature Paralympian and National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Famer Trooper Johnson. Envoy programs in May and June will send American Paralympians and disability sports leaders to China, Botswana, and Venezuela. Throughout the year, youth athletes and coaches in wheelchair sports from around the world will come to the United States to participate in Sports Visitor programs.

For press inquiries, contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at ECA-Press@state.gov. To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy, follow our programs on Twitter @SportsDiplomacy. </span></span>

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General Assembly Adopts Resolution Seeking Alignment of Efforts to End Illicit Diamond Trade, Achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The General Assembly, welcoming progress made by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme to break links between the diamond trade and conflict, today adopted a consensus resolution aimed at intensifying that work and aligning it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, introduced the draft resolution titled, “The role of diamonds in fuelling conflict:  breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts” (document A/72/L.41).  Noting that Australia was the outgoing Chair of the Kimberley Process — established by the United Nations in 2003 to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream market — she said that scheme had made a valuable contribution to international security, development and human rights.

“Fifteen years ago […] the global diamond trade looked very different than that of today,” she said.  At that time, diamonds were mined in conflict zones, while at the other end of the supply chain, customers had little or no way to know where the diamonds had originated.  The Kimberley Process cut the flow of diamonds to insurgencies and rebel groups, who would sacrifice peace and development for their own power.  By safeguarding the legitimate diamond trade, it improved the livelihoods of those relying on it to feed and educate their families.

Noting that young people today were three times more likely than older generations to avoid diamonds unless they had been responsibly sourced, she nevertheless emphasized that more work remained to be done.  The international community should examine new ways to align the diamond trade with the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace, and should seek a diamond market free from human rights abuses and forced labour.  The resolution was a critical link between the Kimberley Process’ excellent work and its potential to contribute to the broader United Nations agenda by requesting the establishment of a dedicated secretariat and a multi‑donor trust fund to support broad‑based participation.

Antonio Parenti, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that the bloc — which had been at the forefront of the Kimberley Process from since its inception — had been selected to Chair the certification scheme for 2018.  Welcoming the decision to set up an Ad Hoc Committee on Review and Reform, which would enhance administrative and financial support to the Process, he pledged to use the 2018 Chairmanship to promote open dialogue among the three pillars of the Kimberley Process:  Governments, industry and civil society.  Overall, the European Union would aim to strengthen the mechanism’s effectiveness in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and the promotion of in‑country due diligence.

Noa Furman (Israel) declared:  “Conflict‑free diamonds bring the world a step closer to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity.”  The Kimberley Process intertwined with the 2030 Agenda, as the diamond industry provided almost 40,000 jobs in sub‑Saharan Africa alone.  Revenues had broadened access to education and health care.  What had appeared as an unprecedented goal in 2003 had today become a reality, with 99.8 per cent of the world’s diamonds being considered conflict‑free.  However, that 0.2 per cent must be addressed, she said, emphasizing that Israel had been the first to harness technology for use in the Kimberley Process by computerizing diamond imports, which were examined at customs, and leaving zero margin for error.

Charles T. Ntwaagae (Botswana) said his country had benefited from diamond‑related socioeconomic gains over the past century, having graduated from being one of the world’s poorest countries to a middle‑income nation.  Indeed, diamond sales had fostered the implementation of national development plans alongside the 2030 Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063.  The proper management of diamonds was crucial to achieving peace.  Noting that Botswana was a founding member of the certification scheme, he cited a 2017 report detailing significant strides in regulating and monitoring the diamond trade.  However, there was an urgent need to reform and strengthen the Kimberley Process to address the emerging challenges of synthetic diamonds and Government capacity constraints in establishing regulation.

In other business, the Assembly took note of the decision by the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States to appoint Brazil to the Committee on Conferences for a term beginning on 7 March 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2020, as well as Ecuador for a term beginning on 7 March 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2018.

The Assembly also took note of the letter from the Secretary‑General to the President of the Assembly (document A/72/713) and its addenda (documents A/72/713/Add.1, A/72/713/Add.2 and A/72/713/Add.3 ), in which he informed that Dominica, Grenada, the Marshall Islands and Suriname had made the necessary payments to reduce their arrears below the amount specified by Article 19 of the United Nations Charter.

[Article 19 states that a member of the United Nations which is in arrears in payment of its financial contributions to the Organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds that of its contributions due for the preceding two full years.]

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

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Botswana Signs a Country Programme Framework (CPF) for 2018–2022

Dr Alfred Madigele, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology signed Botswana’s Country Programme Framework (CPF) for the period of 2018–2022 on 25 January 2018. The signing took place during a ceremony in Gaborone attended by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director, Division for Africa, Department of Technical Cooperation. The CPF had been signed by Mr Dazhu Yang, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation in Vienna prior to the ceremony. A CPF is the frame of reference for the medium-term planning of technical cooperation between a Member State and the IAEA and identifies priority areas where the transfer of nuclear technology and technical cooperation resources will be directed to support national development goals.

Botswana has been an IAEA Member State since 2002. Its 2018–2022 CPF identifies six priority areas:

  1. Radiation safety
  2. Food and agriculture
  3. Human health
  4. Water resources management
  5. Energy planning
  6. Human resources capacity building