El-Rufai Lauds Amina Mohammed’s UN Appointment

El-Rufai Lauds Amina Mohammed’s UN AppointmentKaduna state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, has commended the appointment of Amina Mohammed as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Governor, in a congratulatory message he issued on Sunday through his Spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, described Mrs Mohammed’s appointment as an excellent choice.

The Governor said that the appointment of the Minister of Environment as UN Deputy Secretary General,  is due to  “her honourable service to Nigeria and her substantial contribution to efforts to empower people and safeguard the planet.

“Just one year as Environment Minister, she has put environmental issues on the front burner of Nigeria’s political discourse.

“She has undoubtedly earned the trust and respect of not just Nigerians but environmentalists the world over.

“At the core of Amina’s work and passion is the welfare and right of citizens to peace and security wherever they may be.

“She addressed those challenges while serving in the government of President Obasanjo, then as Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General, Ban ki Moon and recently as Minister under President Buhari.

“As a global ambassador, she now gets to display her phenomenal skills on a world stage. Nigeria’s temporary loss is the world’s gain.

“President Buhari has made a great sacrifice in releasing Amina from the federal cabinet for service at the global level.

“Her appointment is a tribute to the President’s judgment in recruiting such a globally-respected personality.”

Governor El-Rufai urged Mrs. Mohammed to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in her new role, stating that he had no doubt that Amina Mohammed would continue to make Nigeria proud at the global level.

“Her tenacity and the passion she applied to secure global agreement on the SDGs will be required to get them implemented,” he added.

South Africa Set To Leave International Criminal Court

Zuma, al-Bashir
The failure of South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President has been a knotty issue in African politics.

South Africa has begun the legal process of formally withdrawing from the Roman Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

If it formally withdraws from the statute, it means the country would no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In the ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ signed South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, states that South Africa “has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute.”

Under that statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.

The United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, is however yet to confirm if  the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has received the notice of withdrawal from South Africa.

al-Bashir Brouhaha

South Africa is exiting the ICC after a controversial visit by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the tribunal over allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

President al-Bashir in June 2015 was in Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit but the South African government refused to arrest him.

During the visit, provincial court has ruled that the Sudanese president remains in the country while judges considered whether he should be arrested on the ICC warrants.

President al-Bashir left for Khartoum before the court ruled that he should be arrested.

South Afica’s Supreme Court of Appeal later ruled that the government’s refusal o arrest President al-Bashir was a “disgraceful conduct”.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda insists President al-Bashir as a sitting president, directed a campaign of mass killing, rape, and looting against civilians in Darfur.

The charges against the Sudanese president follow the unrest in the Darfur region which started in 2003.

The United Nations said 300,000 people died in the conflict while 2.7 million people were displaced.

Climate Change: ECOWAS To Adapt Paris Agreement   

ecowas, Climate Change, Paris AgreementRepresentatives of civil society organisations and the private sector in the ECOWAS sub-region are discussing ways to adapt the Paris agreement on climate change to realities in Africa.

This comes with a plan to give special attention to specific sectors including agriculture.

ECOWAS Director of Environment, Dr Johnson Boanuh, said that the African continent in 2015 got its fair share of extreme weather conditions, necessitating the adaptation of agreements reached by African leaders last April in New York.

The project coordinator of climate change agreement in the sub region, Tahu Kwame, also said that the input of the private sector is crucial, especially considering the sectors most affected in the sub region such as energy, forestry, transportation, industry and agriculture.

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, at the World Economic Forum in January 2016, asked countries of the world to quickly ratify the historical agreement reached at the last climate change deal in Paris, in December.

He pointed out that natural disasters have undermined the gains made in climate efforts.

“First, national climate plans must urgently be converted into bankable investment strategies and projects.

“Second, we must generate sufficient financing for developing countries to bypass fossil fuels and meet high energy demands with low carbon sources.

“Third, we need greater attention and resources for climate resilience.

“That is why I launched a new Climate Resilience Initiative in Paris called A2R – to anticipate risks, absorb shocks and adapt development approaches.

“Fourth, we need to rapidly increase climate actions at every level. I will work to help strengthen the action agenda and public-private partnerships.

“Fifth, governments must quickly ratify the Paris Agreement,” he said.

UN Approves Police Force For Burundi

United nationsThe United Nations (UN) Security Council is making moves to prevent the Burundi crisis from getting worse.

In order to ensure that, the council has approved a resolution to pave the way for a UN police force to be deployed in Burundi.

The resolution, drafted by France, calls on UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon to draw up a list of options for the proposed presence within 15 days.

The resolution welcomed the consent of Burundi’s authorities to increase the number of African Union human rights observers from 100 to 200 and allow 100 AU military experts.

It notes that 30 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed so far.

The final draft was changed to overcome an objection from the United States.

The United States had been concerned about linking the United Nations efforts to broker peace in Burundi with the country’s security forces, who have been accused of human rights abuses, one council diplomat said.

The United Nations said in January it has documented cases of Burundi’s security forces gang-raping women during searches of opposition supporters’ houses and heard witness testimony of mass graves.

The East African country has been hit by unrest since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to seek a third term. He went on to win his third term bid in an election in July.

Burundi Is On Brink Of Civil War, UN Warns

BurundiThe United Nations (UN) has warned that Burundi is on the brink of a civil war amid continued human rights abuses in the small Central African state.

Burundi has been embroiled in political violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced last April that he would seek a third term.

At least 439 people had been killed and more than 250,000 had fled the country.

The United Nations is under growing pressure to show it can halt the bloodshed in Burundi, more than two decades after the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda.

U.N. Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said there was no indication of a decline in reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions and there was an increase in reports of torture and ill-treatment.

“Continued human rights violations and impunity for perpetrators mean that many of Burundi’s people live in terror.

“The country remains on the brink of a sudden escalation of violence to even more massive proportions, ” Zeid said.

In January, the 15-member Security Council made its second visit to the landlocked state in less than a year, where fears of an ethnic war also led to an economic crisis. U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon also visited in February.

“I expressed my profound worry that the potential spiraling of violence risks relapse into civil war.

“I urge the government to take measures to address the continued violence and the impunity that fuels it,” Ban told the Security Council.

Syrian Opposition Sets Terms For Geneva Peace Talks

syrian opposition meet in genevaThe main Syrian opposition group has arrived in Geneva, a day after backing down from their threat to boycott the UN-sponsored peace talks.

But a spokesman said they stood by their demand for an end to air strikes and blockades before they would negotiate with the Syrian government.

Their delegation is due to meet UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura on Sunday.

Meanwhile, UN Chief, Ban Ki-moon called on all sides to put the interests of Syrians above their own.

“Children and women in particular have borne the brunt of this fighting and it is time now to see the end of the fighting and other human rights abuses that have dominated the war,” he said.

More than 250,000 people had died and 11 million had fled their homes in almost five years of civil war in Syria.

The violence has also been the biggest driver behind Europe’s migration crisis.

Al Jazeera reported that on Friday, HNC member, Farah Atassi, said that the delegation was coming “not to negotiate” with the government yet, but to talk to UN officials after receiving reassurances from the organisation.

Atassi spoke at a Geneva hotel not far from the UN offices where UN Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura and Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari were meeting.

HNC spokesman, Monzer Makhous, said that the opposition had not changed a previous position that it would not travel to Switzerland if specific conditions for talking politics were not met.

“Yes, we will go to Geneva to be present but we will not attend the talks at all unless the regime fulfils our humanitarian demands, which specify stoppage to bombings and starvation of civilians in besieged areas as a condition”, Makhous said.

Netanyahu Accuses Ban Of Encouraging Terror

Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has accused UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon of “encouraging terror”.

This came after Mr Ban said it is human nature for oppressed people to react to occupation.

While speaking at the UN Security Council, Mr Ban also condemned recent stabbings of Israelis by Palestinians.

More than 155 Palestinians, 28 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean had died in violence since October.

Mr Ban told the security council that the wave of attacks were driven by a “profound sense of alienation and despair” among some Palestinians, particularly the young.

He condemned the attacks, but said ‘Israel’s settlement-building programme casts doubt on its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state’.

But Mr Netanyahu said that the Palestinians were working against the creation of a state.

The BBC reported that on Monday, a 24-year-old Israeli woman was fatally stabbed in a West Bank settlement – the third such attack in 10 days. The two Palestinian assailants were shot dead by a security guard.

Most of the Palestinians killed had been attackers, Israel said, while others had been shot dead by Israeli forces during protests and clashes.

UN Backs Colombia Peace Deal Mission

 UN The UN Security Council has approved the creation of an unarmed mission in Colombia to oversee a bilateral ceasefire, if Farc rebels and the government signs a peace agreement.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a British-drafted resolution that would establish a political mission for 12 months “to monitor and verify the definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the laying down of arms.”

In a televised speech on Monday night, Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, said: “Today, Colombia is the synonym for hope in the world”.

“The decision taken by the Security Council means that from now we are not alone – but that we go hand in hand with the UN, with the whole world – toward the end of this war,” said Santos, who staked his 2014 re-election on the peace talks with Farc.

The mission would have a one-year mandate that can be extended if both sides request it.

Negotiators for the two sides issued a joint request for the UN’s involvement last week during peace talks in Cuba.

They have set a deadline of March 23 for the signing of a peace accord.

The UN “political mission” would consist of unarmed observers from Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Colombia has seen decades of fighting between the government and the left-wing Farc movement, with more than 220,000 people killed and millions displaced. It is the longest-running armed conflict in the western hemisphere.

The UN resolution asked Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to make detailed recommendations on the mission’s size and operation to be approved by the security council within 30 days of a ceasefire.

Last week, the Colombian government’s lead negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, described the request to the UN as a “transcendental” moment.

He said it was an “unequivocal demonstration of our desire to end confrontation”.

Since official peace talks started in Havana in November 2012, negotiators have reached agreement on key issues such as the political participation of the rebels, land rights, drug trafficking and transitional justice.

WHO Declares Liberia Ebola Free

LiberiaLiberia has once again been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This is the third time the WHO will be doing so, putting an end to the worst outbreak the world has had to deal with.

The “end of active transmission” was declared, after 42 days without a case in the country.

This was not the first time the announcement would be made as Liberia had been down the road twice, only for the disease to resurface.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, has also urged West Africa not to throw caution to the wind but to maintain proper hygiene.

UN Condemns Saudi-Iran Dispute

SaudiThe UN Security Council has strongly condemned an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran by protesters angered by the execution of a Shia cleric.

Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic relations with Iran and is cutting trade and air links.

On Monday, some of Riyadh’s allies also joined diplomatic action against Iran.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government had urged both sides to calm their diplomatic row, saying the dispute will only worsen regional tensions.

Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, said that the Middle East is “already a powder keg”.

He criticised attacks on Saudi missions in Iran and he also criticized Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia Muslim cleric, which triggered the dispute.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are respectively the key Sunni Muslim and Shia powers in the region and back opposing sides in Syria and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia had earlier criticised UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who had spoken of his “dismay” at the executions, however, Mr Mouallimi described Mr Ban’s comments as “misinformed”.

Following the attacks on the missions, Saudi authorities announced late on Sunday that they were severing diplomatic relations with Iran. They said that all commercial and air traffic links were being cut and that Saudi citizens were banned from travelling to Iran.


Hope For Ambitious Climate Change Bill Heightens In Paris Conference

COP21-in-Paris on Climate ChangeThe hope for an ambitious climate change bill that will give birth to a transformed development pathway for different countries has increased, as world leaders meet in Paris Conference of the Parties (COP21).

While the talks are ongoing, the world looks to the COP21 to deliver a new climate agreement that will be realistic and reduce the effect of climate change on different continents of the world, especially Africa.

Success at COP21 can drive and accelerate the transition to a cleaner, healthier and more secure future, locking-in sustainable economic growth and development.

Participants at the conference say a low-carbon, climate resilient world by the end of this century is no longer a hope but a necessity.

Particularly Vulnerable

Talks on how to reduce the effect of climate change topped talks at the conference.

On the sideline of the ongoing COP21 meeting in Paris, the United Nation’s Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, held a high-level meeting on Africa and climate change.

Mr Ban said Africa was particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, where much of the economy depended on a climate-sensitive natural resource base, including rain-fed subsistence agriculture.

“Disruptions in food or water supplies pose serious risk not only for your economies but also for political stability, particularly in fragile states,” Mr Ban said.

He, however, stated that African countries had shown great determination and vision in attempting to reduce poverty and meet demands for growth without jeopardising sustainability.

The World Bank President and the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, said Africa had every reason to complain, stressing the continent had been short-changed by climate change.

“We must not abandon Africa. Africa must not be short-changed in climate finance,” Dr Adesina stressed.

One message that is common in the series of the meetings by different African leaders at the conference is to see the huge effect of pollution by other continents on Africa corrected through a profitable climate deal for Africa.

UN Condemns Yola Attack

UNThe United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned Tuesday’s bomb attack in Yola, Adamawa State, northeast Nigeria, which claimed many lives and left others injured.

Ki-moon, in a statement issued by the UN Information Centre in Lagos, extended his “condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the government and people of Nigeria, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured”.

The Secretary-General also reiterated that no political or ideological objective whatsoever justifies the loss of life and terror, to which civilians are being subjected.

The statement further restated the UN’s support to the Nigerian government in its fight against terrorism.

The scene of Tuesday evening’s attack is close to the main vegetable market in Yola and the suicide bomber is said to have targeted traders as they were closing for the day.

Members of the Boko Haram sect have carried out deadly attacks on the town a number of times, the last being October 2015.

In a condolence message to the families of the victims, President Buhari also reassured Nigerians that his administration was very much determined to wipe out Boko Haram and bring all perpetrators of the ‘heinous crime’ against humanity to justice.

The President urged all Nigerians not to despair in the face of cowardly terrorist attacks, but to have confidence in the ability of Nigeria’s reinvigorated, well-equipped and well-motivated Armed Forces and security agencies to overcome the Boko Haram terrorists very soon.

According to the President, “Vigilance is a potential life saver, since security agents cannot be everywhere to deter every planned attack.

“Citizen’s vigilance will therefore help to reduce the frequency of such attacks.”