Annan issues farreaching recommendations for preventing armed conflict

In a new report to the General Assembly and the Security Council, the Secretary-General details how both those bodies, as well as the International Court of Justice, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), development agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), regional groups, the private sector and others can contribute to building a culture of prevention. The report urges the General Assembly to consider ways of enhancing its interaction with the Security Council particularly in developing long-term conflict prevention strategies. The report recommends that the Council consider new mechanisms for discussing prevention on a continuing basis, and that ECOSOC devote attention to the roots of conflict and the role of development in preventing it. The Secretary-General also urges Member States to make earlier and more frequent use of the International Court of Justice in settling their disputes. For his part, the Secretary-General outlines a number of measures that he intends to take to prevent conflicts, including increasing the use of UN fact-finding and confidence-building missions to volatile areas and expanding an informal network of eminent persons for conflict prevention. He also pledges to strengthen the “capacity and resource base” in the UN Secretariat for preventive action. Other aspects of conflict prevention addressed in the report include action in such areas as disarmament, human rights, development, humanitarian relief, health care, public information efforts, gender equality and crime prevention. NGOs and the private sector are encouraged to play their respective roles in support of the UN’s conflict prevention activities. “It is high time that we translate the promise of prevention into concrete action,” writes Mr. Annan. “Let us make this endeavour a testament to future generations that ours had the political vision and will to transform our perception of a just international order from a vision of the absence of war to a vision of sustainable peace and development for all.” Introducing the report at a press briefing today, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Danilo Turk, expressed hope that the report would provide “a good basis for the Member States – for their discussion, their action, their formulation of policies for strengthening of prevention in the future.” read more

UN human rights expert aghast at killings of farmers in Okara Pakistan

In a statement released on Monday in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, said she was “aghast at the planned and deliberate killings.”The Special Rapporteur voiced regret that the Rangers, who are directly controlled by the army, deliberately used indiscriminate force. She cited “credible reports” that the injured peasants were chained to hospital beds and charged with terrorism.Ms. Jahangir warned the international community that “misuse of punishing marginalized sections of society in the name of terror will marginalize the prevailing war on terrorism itself.” She said she was “fearful for the lives of hundreds of peasants living on army-controlled lands who are being threatened and harassed by the Rangers in Pakistan” and called upon the Government to hold an impartial and independent inquiry into the incident and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Government was also urged to ensure that the Rangers do not carry out further violence, and that peasants are not harassed and intimidated through illegal means.According to the statement, the tenants had been tilling the farm for generations dating back nearly a hundred years. The Special Rapporteur received reports that the electricity of the farms was disconnected to punish the tenants, but when the farmers refused to negotiate with the authorities under pressure, the Rangers deliberately opened fire on the crowd, including women and children. The act, she said, “was malicious since the Government had publicly announced ownership rights to the landless farmers, who have been sitting on government lands for decades.”In a similar situation in Khanaewal, Pakistan, the Rangers have been threatening the farmers with violence, and on another previous occasion the Rangers killed one person, according to the statement. read more