News in Brief 9 May 2017 – (PM)

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Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Deputy Chair of the Elders, addressing journalists. She is flanked by fellow Elders Lakhdar Brahimi (left), former Joint Arab League-UN Special Representative for Syria; and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former High UN Commissioner for Human Rights. UN Photo/Mark Garten

"The Elders" explain why multilateralism matters

A group of independent global leaders working together for peace and security called the "The Elders" spoke on the importance of multilateralism at the UN on Tuesday.

They also discussed the role of the UN in sustaining peace and tackling global challenges from climate change to mass migration.

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, chairs the group with his deputy, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway.

The two were joined by Lakhdar Brahimi, former Joint Arab League-UN Special Representative for Syria, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ms Bruntland said the group was mandated by the late former South African President Nelson Mandela to "speak truth to power without fear or favour and to give a voice to the voiceless in the fight for democracy, peace and human rights."

A decade later, the mission is as vital as ever, she underscored.

"The challenges we face are bigger than any country can solve alone. We have all been senior UN officials. We know the UN needs revitalization, it needs support, it needs reform."

Speaking to the press, Mary Robinson said the Elders wanted to see a "greater focus on a positive narrative about migration" and the defence of refugees' human rights.

On climate change, she noted that there was a strong "business lobbying" at the moment for the United States to stay in the Paris Agreement which calls for lowering carbon emissions to slow global warming.

Maldives urged to investigate murder of journalist Yameen Rasheed

A group of UN independent experts are calling on the authorities in the Maldives to conduct an investigation into the murder of a prominent journalist and human rights defender, Yameen Rasheed.

The statement was issued on Tuesday by Special Rapporteurs David Kaye, in charge of promoting and protecting of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Michel Forst, specializing on the situation of human rights defenders, and Ahmed Shaheed, whose mandate covers freedom of religion and belief.

Yameen Rasheed, an outspoken critic of the government who wrote about alleged public corruption and human rights violations, was found stabbed in the stairway of his home in Malé on 23 April.

His murder is the latest in a series of attacks against journalists and human rights defenders expressing liberal views.

A law criminalizing defamatory speech or comments "against any tenet of Islam, threatening national security or contradicting general social norms" was passed on 9 August last year.

The UN experts emphasized the Government's obligation to promote "a free and safe space" for all forms of expression and called on the authorities to take active steps in law and practice to promote tolerance.

New camp opens for Iraqis fleeing western Mosul

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has opened a new camp, Hasansham U2, to house thousands of newly-displaced Iraqis who continue to flee the military offensive in western Mosul.

Hasansham U2 is one of 12 camps UNHCR has built in order to respond to the large-scale displacement from Mosul and surrounding areas.

The new camp can house more than 9,000 people.

Meanwhile, the re-intensification of hostilities in northwestern Mosul city is significantly affecting the humanitarian situation, the UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

"Humanitarians continue to respond to families on the move, those displaced, and to people inside Mosul wherever access allows. Emergency response packages with basic food, water and hygiene items have been distributed to meet the needs of 2.6 million people since October 2017. Humanitarian partners are trucking 3.1 million litres of water per day into eastern Mosul to meet water shortages."

Serious concerns remain regarding the protection of civilians in the west of the city, where approximately 360,000 people are still living in Da'esh-controlled areas, Mr Dujarric said.

Duration: 4'09''

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