News in Brief 13 September 2017 – Geneva (AM)

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Bernard Duhaine, Vice-chair of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, said that the practice was a “modern-day reality” which the international community should address. Photo: UN Photo

States "reticent" at tackling global enforced disappearances crisis

"Thousands and thousands of people" are victims of enforced disappearance around the world and the number shows no signs of falling, a UN human rights panel said on Wednesday.

The UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances also said that an increasing number of armed groups with State links are involved in the practice.

Here's Bernard Duhaine, Committee Vice-chair, briefing journalists in Geneva on a new report into enforced disappearance and migration:

"This is what we say in the report, it's widespread, we're talking about thousands and thousands of cases of course…it's a widespread phenomenon, it's current, it's not well addressed by the international community, it's not well documented by the international community and it needs an urgent response by States and other stakeholders to limit this tragedy."

The UN panel also noted a worrying shift to shorter periods of detention, which take place on the pretext of fighting terrorism or organised crime – as well as increasing intimidation and threats to human rights defenders and their families.

The committee also highlighted how some Member States are proving "reticent" in inviting UN-appointed experts to assess their application of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

To date, 57 States have ratified or acceded to the international accord, which came into force in 2010.

Ghana Vice-President: our sustainable future “leaves no-one behind”

Ghana's future depends on developing the country's skill-base with free education for all and a "Marshall Plan" for farmers, its Vice-President said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a UN trade meeting in Geneva, Mahamudu Bawumia insisted that his country's economy needed to diversify in order to rely less on commodities, like cocoa beans, precious metals and bauxite.

"We don't want to just be raw material-producing economies. We want to add value to our raw materials. And in the process of adding value you build productive capacity…We are encouraging every district in Ghana to set up a factory. We have a one-district, one-factory initiative to try to boost industrial productivity and we believe that that enhances productive capacity."

Dr Bawumia said that the aim of providing free secondary school education for all was to build a "core of human capital" in Ghana.

This would leave it less vulnerable to fluctuating commodity prices, which have helped some of the world's poorest countries grow during boom years, without translating into long-term benefits.

In reference to the Marshall Plan – a US-funded recovery plan for Europe after the Second World – Dr Bawumia said that an initiative was being prepared next year to help the country's agricultural sector.

He added that well-structured partnerships with the private sector would be key, as governments have tended to "take on too much" in the past.

International trade in small arms worth more than $6 billion

The global trade in light weapons is now worth at least US $6 billion – and ammunition accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the total.

That's according to a new report by the UN-partner the Small Arms Survey.

It shows that the sector grew in value from just under US $3billion in 2001 to at least twice that in 2014.

Top exporters of small arms with annual exports of at least US $100 million were the United States, Italy, Brazil and Germany.

The US was also the top importer, followed by Canada, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

In terms of exports transparency, the Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer puts Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Serbia at the top of the table.

Iran, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the least transparent major exporters, it says.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’49″

 

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