#HumanRightsDay: We Have A Duty To Ensure Young People’s Voices Are Heard – UN

The United Nations in commemoration of Human Rights Day says it is the duty of everyone to ensure that the voices of young people are heard.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in a statement issued in Geneva on Monday said the world owe a debt of gratitude to children, teenagers and young adults who have been standing up and speaking out more and more loudly about the crisis facing our planet.

“We have a duty to ensure young people’s voices are heard.

“All human beings have a right to participate in decisions that have impact on their lives. In order to ensure more effective decision-making, and to build greater trust and harmony across their nations, the leaders of every society should be listening to their people – and acting in accordance with their needs and demands,” the statement read in part.

She also shared on her Twitter picture from her meeting with popular teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg noting the importance of giving audience to young people

“We have a duty to ensure young people’s voices are heard. I had the pleasure to meet @GretaThunberg for & we had an inspiring conversation. She is a living proof that we all have a role to play to create the future we want. We need to !she posted.

The United nations a tweet also stressed that young people are drivers of political, economic and social transformation and their participation is essential for achieving Global Goals.


Bachelet however stressed that young people are rightly pointing out that it is their future is at stake and they cannot be left alone to handle these challenges.

According to her, joint effort is needed to tackle these challenges.

young people will have to bear the full consequences of the actions, or lack of action, by the older generations who currently run governments and businesses, the decision-makers on whom the future of individual countries, regions and the planet depends.

“It cannot, of course, be left to young people alone to tackle the climate emergency, or indeed the many other human rights crises that are currently causing simultaneous turbulence in so many countries across the world.

“All of us must stand together, in solidarity, and act with principle and urgency.

“We can, and must, uphold the painstakingly developed universal human rights principles that sustain peace, justice and sustainable development. A world with diminished human rights is a world that is stepping backwards into a darker past, when the powerful could prey on the powerless with little or no moral or legal restraint,” she concluded.

Sri Lanka Army Chief’s Appointment Violates Human Rights – UN

Sri Lanka army 58 division chief, Brigadier Shavendra Silva (R) marches to collect his scroll from Sri Lanka army chief Sarath Fonseka (L) in Colombo on May 28, 2009. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday she is “deeply troubled” by Sri Lanka’s appointment of an accused war criminal as army chief, as global concern mounts over the nomination.

Major General Shavendra Silva, 55, was elevated to the army’s second-highest position of chief of staff in January before his latest promotion by President Maithripala Sirisena to commander of the Sri Lankan army.

“The promotion of Lieutenant-General General Silva severely compromises Sri Lanka’s commitment to promote justice and accountability,” Bachelet said in a statement.

Silva, who commanded an army division in the long-running civil war with Tamil separatists, has been accused by the United Nations of war crimes during the conflict’s final stages.

“I am deeply troubled by the appointment … despite the serious allegations of gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against him and his troops during the war,” Bachelet said.

The US embassy in Colombo, along with civil society groups, have also criticised the appointment as a move likely to undermine reconciliation efforts.

Sri Lanka’s armed forces crushed the separatist rebels in 2009 in a no-holds barred offensive that ended a 37-year war which killed 100,000 people.

There were mass atrocities against civilians in Sri Lanka’s predominantly Tamil north towards the end of the conflict, with rights groups saying some 40,000 ethnic Tamils were killed by government forces.

A UN report said Silva played a major role in orchestrating war crimes.

AFP

Michelle Bachelet Inaugurates Construction Of World’s Largest Telescope

Construction began in Chile on Friday on the European Extremely Large Telescope, which when completed will be the world’s largest optical telescope, some five times larger than the top observing instruments in use today.

The size of the ELT has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe, say its backers, with its main mirror that will measure some 39 meters (43 yards) across.

The head of the European Southern Observatory, Tim de Zeeuw, and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet were on hand for the ceremony to inaugurate construction.

Located on a 3,000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert, it is due to begin operating in 2024.

Among other capabilities, it will add to and refine astronomers’ burgeoning discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, with the ability to find more smaller planets, image larger ones, and possibly characterise their atmospheres, a key step in understanding if life is present.

The dry atmosphere of the Atacama provides as near-perfect observing conditions as it is possible to find on Earth, with some 70 percent of the world’s astronomical infrastructure slated to be located in the region by the 2020s.

The ELT is being funded by the European Southern Observatory, an organisation consisting of European and southern hemisphere nations. Construction costs were not available but the ESO has said previously that the ELT would cost around 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) at 2012 prices.

Huge Earthquake Off Chile’s North Coast Sparks Tsunami

People are evacuated from their shelter after a tsunami alarm at Antofagasta cityA major earthquake of magnitude 8.2 struck off the coast of northern Chile on Tuesday, causing five deaths and triggering a tsunami that pounded the shore with 2-meter-tall waves.

Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or were killed by heart attacks.

The government evacuated Chile’s northern coast and President Michelle Bachelet declared the area a disaster zone, promising troops and police reinforcements to maintain public order while damage was repaired after landslides blocked roads.

“We’re leaving with the children and what we can, but everything is clogged up by people fleeing buildings by the beach,” said 32-year old Liliana Arriaza, who was driving away with her three children.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed and struck about 100 km northwest of the mining port of Iquique near the Peruvian border.

Mining in the world’s No. 1 copper producer did not appear significantly interrupted, but about 300 prisoners took advantage of the emergency and escaped from a female penitentiary in Iquique.

About 26 of the women were soon recaptured, authorities said, while security forces fanned out through the area amid reports of power outages and isolated looting.

Photos showed Chileans calmly evacuating coastal areas on foot, with policemen helping bundled-up elderly people and some residents loading up vehicles with their belongings.

Some schools were being used to shelter people, and classes were canceled in most of the country on Wednesday. LATAM Airlines said it had canceled some flights to and from Antofagasta, Iquique and Arica in northern Chile.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake generated a large tsunami with the biggest wave reported at about 2 meters. The Chilean navy said the first big wave hit the coast within 45 minutes. Early on Wednesday Chilean authorities canceled their tsunami warning for most coastal areas.

Jonathan Vows To Empower More Women

President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged that his Administration will not rest on its oars over the economic and political empowerment of Nigerian women, but will do more before the expiration of its tenure to give women even greater access to elective offices and opportunities for wealth creation.

Speaking after being commended by the United Nations Under-Secretary and Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet for appointing women to very important positions in the Federal Government, President Jonathan said that he was determined to take women empowerment a step further by working to ensure that more women contest and win future elections in the country.

President Jonathan also assured Ms Bachelet who was the first female President of Chile that the Federal Government remains fully committed to taking Nigeria as far as is possible towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

Reaffirming his personal commitment to the accelerated reduction of maternal and infant mortality, the president said that he has directed that a comprehensive status report on Nigeria’s current standing on the achievement of the MDGs be produced with a view to identifying urgent actions that need to be taken to move the country rapidly towards their attainment.

Ms Bachelet, who was accompanied to the Presidential Villa by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Joy Ogwu, recommended and endorsed the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund by Nigeria, saying that from her personal experience as President of her country, she had learnt that savings and investments made under such funds were very important for countries which rely on extractive industries.

She praised President Jonathan for having already done a lot to fulfil his campaign promises on the empowerment of Nigerian women, including the appointment of the first female Chief Justice of the Federation and female ministers for very important ministries such as Finance, Petroleum, Communications Technology, Education, Water Resources, Housing, Environment, Power and Defence.

The United Nations Women Executive Director thanked Nigeria for being one of the strongest political and financial supporters of her agency in Africa.

She also applauded President Jonathan’s efforts as co-Chair of the United Nations Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children, and called for Nigeria’s support for the UN’s new initiative for the prevention of violence against women.