A collection of satellite photos depicting refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Turkey fleeing the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria. It is estimated that over four million people have been displaced according to a U.N. report released in early July.
On 23 July 2014, the Human Rights Council, by resolution S-21/1, decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after. Pursuant to resolution S-21/1, the President of the Council appointed three experts to the commission: William Schabas (Chair), Mary McGowan Davis and Doudou Diène.
UN Human Rights Report: The Role of Encryption and Anonymity in Protecting Privacy and Freedom of Expression
In the present report, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 25/2, the Special Rapporteur addresses the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communications. Drawing from research on international and national norms and jurisprudence, and the input of States and civil society, the report concludes that encryption and anonymity enable individuals to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age and, as such, deserve strong protection.
The present report has been prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/RES/S-22/1, in which the Council requested the High Commissioner to dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law committed by ISIL and associated terrorist groups, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such abuses and violations, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability.
U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2014 Annual Report
The intensification of conflict-related violence in Afghanistan took an extreme toll on civilians in 2014, with civilian loss of life and injury reaching unprecedented levels. UNAMA documented 10,548 civilian casualties (3,699 deaths and 6,849 injured), marking a 25 per cent increase in civilian deaths, a 21 per cent increase in injuries for an overall increase of 22 per cent in civilian casualties compared to 2013.2 In 2014, UNAMA documented the highest number of civilian deaths and injuries in a single year since it began systematically recording civilian casualties in 2009.
The Afghanistan Opium Survey is implemented annually by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN) of Afghanistan in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The survey team collects and analyses information on the location and extent of opium cultivation, potential opium production and the socio-economic situation in rural areas. Since 2005, MCN and UNODC have also been involved in the verification of opium eradication conducted by provincial governors and poppy-eradication forces. The results provide a detailed picture of the outcome of the current year’s opium season and, together with data from previous years, enable the identification of medium- and long-term trends in the evolution of the illicit drug problem. This information is essential for planning, implementing and monitoring the impact of measures required for tackling a problem that has serious implications for Afghanistan and the international community.
The current Ebola virus disease outbreak was declared a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’ by WHO on 8 August 2014. On 8 September, the UN Secretary-General activated the UN system-wide crisis framework and subsequently announced the establishment of the ‘United Nations Mission on Ebola Emergency Response’ – UNMEER. UNMEER is described as a ‘unified mission’, different from a ‘regular’ or ‘integrated’ mission, with HQ UNMEER in Accra, Ghana, and offices in each of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
National and foreign military forces can play a vital role in the response. In natural disasters, many national militaries are designated auxiliary or even primary first responders in-country. If a large-scale disaster exceeds the response capacity of an affected country, the Government may seek assistance from the international community or neighbouring and partner countries. As part of their response, foreign Governments tend to deploy their military forces, especially if these are already deployed in the region. In armed conflicts and complex emergencies, humanitarian and military actors share the same operating space, but not the same mission. They are likely to have very distinct roles and mandates.
Extremism is not a regional issue that just the nations of our region would have to grapple with; extremism is a global issue. Certain states have helped creating it and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price. Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism. Today’s anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism. Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one. All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors that have led to extremism. They need to apologize not only to the past but also to the next generation.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer and cultivator of opium poppies; it produces almost three quarters of the world’s illicit opium. While a significant amount of the opium produced in Afghanistan is trafficked out of the country, in 2009 it was estimated that almost 10 per cent of Afghans aged between 15 and 64 were drug users.
U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2013 Annual Report
Armed conflict in Afghanistan took an unrelenting toll on Afghan civilians in 2013. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented 8,615 civilian casualties (2,959 civilian deaths and 5,656 injured) in 2013, marking a seven percent increase in deaths, 17 percent increase in injured, and a 14 percent increase in total civilian casualties compared to 2012.
A total area of over 62,000 hectare of opium poppy cultivation took place in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar and Thailand in 2013. In order to assess the scope of opium poppy cultivation and opium production in the region, UNODC has been conducting opium surveys in cooperation with the Government of Lao PDR since 1992 and the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (GOUM) since 2002, while Thailand established its own monitoring system. This report contains the results of the 2013 UNODC-supported opium poppy cultivation surveys in Lao PDR and Myanmar. In addition, the results from the opium poppy surveys implemented by the Government of Thailand are presented in this regional overview.
UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions September 2013
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur focuses on the use of lethal force through armed drones from the perspective of protection of the right to life. Although drones are not illegal weapons, they can make it easier for States to deploy deadly and targeted force on the territories of other States. As such, they risk undermining the protection of life in the immediate and longer terms. If the right to life is to be secured, it is imperative that the limitations posed by international law on the use of force are not weakened by broad justifications of drone strikes.
From late 2011, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has recorded 27 cases of deaths in custody where there is significant information to suggest that torture was the cause, and is aware of allegations about additional cases which it has not been able to fully investigate. Eleven of the 27 cases, detailed in this report, took place in 2013, all in detention centres under the nominal authority of the Government but effectively under the authority of armed brigades.
Our world today is replete with fear and hope; fear of war and hostile regional and global relations; fear of deadly confrontation of religious, ethnic and national identities; fear of institutionalization of violence and extremism; fear of poverty and destructive discrimination; fear of decay and destruction of life-sustaining resources; fear of disregard for human dignity and rights; and fear of neglect of morality. Alongside these fears, however, there are new hopes; the hope of universal acceptance by the people and the elite all across the globe of “yes to peace and no to war”; and the hope of preference of dialogue over conflict, and moderation over extremism.
On the basis of the evidence obtained during our investigation of the Ghouta incident, the conclusion is that, on 21 August 2013, chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.
The present report analyses the implications of States’ surveillance of communications for the exercise of the human rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression. While considering the impact of significant technological advances in communications, the report underlines the urgent need to further study new modalities of surveillance and to revise national laws regulating these practices in line with human rights standards.
Afghanistan cultivates, produces and process narcotics that are a threat to the region and worldwide. However, the international community also needs to understand that Afghanistan itself is a victim of this phenomenon. The existence of hundreds of thousands of problem drug users, as well as decades of civil war, terrorism and instability are all related to the existence of narcotics in the country. According to the findings of this survey, the total area under cultivation was estimated at 154,000 hectares, an 18 per cent increase from the previous year. Comparisons of the gross and net values with Afghan’s licit GDP for 2012 also serve to highlight the opium economy’s impact on the country. In 2012, net opium exports were worth some 10 per cent of licit GDP, while the farmgate value of the opium needed to produce those exports alone was equivalent to 4 per cent of licit GDP. On the basis of shared responsibility and the special session of the United Nation’s General assembly in 1998, the international community needs to take a balanced approach by addressing both the supply and the demand side equally. In addition, more attention needs to be paid to reduce demand and the smuggling of precursors as well as provide further support to the Government of Afghanistan.
The findings of the 2013 Opium Risk Assessment in the Southern, Eastern, Western and Central regions points to a worrying situation. The assessment suggests that poppy cultivation is not only expected to expand in areas where it already existed in 2012, e.g. in the area north of the Boghra canal in Hilmand province or in Bawka district in Farah province but also in new areas or in areas where poppy cultivation was stopped. In eastern Afghanistan, in Nangarhar province, farmers resumed cultivation even in districts where poppy has not been present for the last four years. In the Northern and Northeastern region, the provinces of Balkh and Takhar which were poppy-free for many years are at risk of resuming poppy cultivation.
The large-scale population survey on the extent of bribery and four sector-specific integrity surveys of public officials undertaken by UNODC and the Government of Afghanistan in 2011/2012 reveal that the delivery of public services remains severely affected by bribery in Afghanistan and that bribery has a major impact on the country’s economy. In 2012, half of Afghan citizens paid a bribe while requesting a public service and the total cost of bribes paid to public officials amounted to US$ 3.9 billion. This corresponds to an increase of 40 per cent in real terms between 2009 and 2012, while the ratio of bribery cost to GDP remained relatively constant (23 per cent in 2009; 20 per cent in 2012).
Despite the eradication of opium poppy by Governor-led Eradication (GLE) having increased by 154% in comparison to its 2011 level (9,672 hectares eradicated in 2012), the total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 154,000 hectares (125,000 – 189,000) in 2012. While that represents a 18% increase in cultivation, potential opium production was estimated at 3,700 tons (2,800 – 4,200 tons) in 2012, a 36% decrease from the previous year. This was due to a decrease in opium yield caused by a combination of a disease of the opium poppy and adverse weather conditions, particularly in the Eastern, Western and Southern regions of the country.
Technology is one of the strategic factors driving the increasing use of the Internet by terrorist organizations and their supporters for a wide range of purposes, including recruitment, financing, propaganda, training, incitement to commit acts of terrorism, and the gathering and dissemination of information for terrorist purposes. While the many benefits of the Internet are self-evident, it may also be used to facilitate communication within terrorist organizations and to transmit information on, as well as material support for, planned acts of terrorism, all of which require specific technical knowledge for the effective investigation of these offences.
A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime research report from October 2011 that “attempts to shed light on the total amounts likely to be laundered across the globe, as well as the potential attractiveness of various locations to those who launder money” and “examine the magnitude of illicit funds generated by drug trafficking and organized crime.”