UN official defends West Papuan rights – free speech, peaceful assembly

UN’s OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani … “there are many West Papuan grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent.” Image: UN interview screenshot

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

West Papuan rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been defended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in a response to the mass arrests of Papuan protesters during flag raising ceremonies earlier this month.

“These are indigenous people at the end of the day,” says spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

“So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefitted from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had.

LISTEN HERE: The full interview with OHCHR’s Ravina Shamdasani

“The rates of malnutrition are quite high.”

Shamdasani said in a radio interview with UN News that while President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been initiating development projects, “the problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted.

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“There haven’t been meaningful consultations [with] the people who are actually affected by this.”

In the interview, Shamdasani put into context the recent arrests of nearly 600 citizens who were detained for participating in West Papua’s national day, December 1, a global event for commemorating the first raising the Morning Star flag – banned by Indonesian authorities.

She also answered questions about development, armed conflict, and trying to gain access to the region.

Behind the West Papuan protests
The UN interview transcript:

[UN NEWS] The mass arrest of demonstrators in Indonesia who were attempting to mark a national day for indigenous people in the east of the archipelago, has been condemned by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

More than 500 activists were detained at the start of the month – though they’ve since been released.

Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani explained to UN News’ Daniel Johnson what’s behind these latest developments.

Ravina Shamdasani (RS): Last weekend there were peaceful protesters in the Papuan region of Indonesia who were celebrating what they call the “West Papua National Day,” and some 500 of them were arrested, detained. They were all subsequently released within 24 to 48 hours, but this does not take away from the fact that they should not have been arrested in the first place, and that this is not the first time this has happened.

It happens year after year and on several occasions during the year as well.

Daniel Johnson, UN News – Geneva (UN): What exactly are they protesting for apart from the fact that it’s their national day?

RS: Quite often these protests are protests for independence from Indonesia and of course we understand that the situation is complex. The Indonesian government is certainly not happy with these protests, but these people have their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. So there was really no reason to arbitrarily detain them.

UN: As a minority what particular rights are they trying to defend and what are they trying to say is being threatened?

RS: Well, these are indigenous people at the end of the day. So they are trying to defend their rights to be able to pray and to be able to retain their culture, their links to their land, but also the Papua region of Indonesia has not benefited from all the economic development that the rest of the country has had. The rates of malnutrition are quite high. Now the current president of Indonesia has been initiating development projects. The problem here is that the people haven’t really been consulted. There haven’t been meaningful consultations of the people who are actually affected by this.

UN: Why is that? What structures are there in Papua, in Indonesia, to do this or not?

RS:The president has his analysis that the problem is one of economic development, um so he is trying to tackle that. But what we have emphasised, and what our previous High Commissioner during a visit to Jakarta in February of this year emphasised, was that development can of course bring with it access to many fundamental goods and services that can vastly improve people’s well beings, but if they cannot voice their concerns, and if they can’t participate in these decisions, the resulting development may not really increase their welfare, because it doesn’t really address the problems that they have.

UN: Ok, and what is your presence on the ground in this part of Indonesia given that it’s a huge country archipelago?

RS: We do not have a presence in Indonesia but we have a regional office in Bangkok that covers Southeast Asia – So we are, you know, in close contact with human rights defenders, civil society, government officials as well.

We have actually been seeking access to this region for quite awhile now. In February the High Commissioner was promised access, and we are still in discussions with the government of Indonesia to make that happen.

UN: This issue is not one that I’ve seen very often having been here what four years now. What’s your hope for the follow up and how many other similar cases are there that go really beneath the radar of international mainstream media?

RS: Too many international mainstream media tend to focus on the big conflicts. However there are many places like Papua, which are quite small, which have historic kind of long standing structural issues and unfortunately may not come up to the radar until there is an outbreak of conflict

What our office tries to do is try to ring the alarm bells early on, before the situation rises to the level of an armed conflict.

UN: You’re not suggesting it’s at that level now? Of course.

RS: No we’re not suggesting it’s at that level now, but there are many grievances, and we’ve seen this in many parts of the world where grievances are unaddressed, or there’s a suppression of dissent. And then people take the law into their own hands because they feel they are not being heard.

This is actually happening at a very low level in Papua at the moment. There are armed groups that are operating. In fact, just this week I believe a number of people were killed. These were government contractors who were there doing a development project.

They were killed by armed groups which of course is unacceptable, but you have to understand the root causes and you have to address the root causes.

UN Office of Human Rights defends Papuans right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Nations close ranks to stop ‘big four’ oil producers watering down UN report

By Sara Stefanini and Karl Mathiesen in Katowice, Poland

In a moment of drama in Poland, countries have closed ranks against a push by oil producers to water down recognition of the UN’s report on the impacts of 1.5C warming.

Four big oil and gas producers blocked the UN climate talks from welcoming the most influential climate science report in years, as the meeting in Katowice descended into acrimony yesterday.

By failing to reach agreement after two and half hours of emotional negotiations, delegates in Katowice set the scene for a political fight next week over the importance of the UN’s landmark scientific report on the effects of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature.

READ MORE: 12 activists denied entry to Poland for UN climate summit

The battle, halfway through a fortnight of Cop24 negotiations, was over two words: “note” or “welcome”.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia said it was enough for the members of the UN climate convention (the UNFCCC) to “note” the findings.

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But poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Pacific nations, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study – noting that they had commissioned it when they reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

“This is not a choice between one word and another,” Rueanna Haynes, a delegate for St Kitts and Nevis, told the plenary.

‘This is us’
“This is us, as the UNFCCC, being in a position to welcome a report that we requested, that we invited [scientists] to prepare. So it seems to me that if there is anything ludicrous about the discussion that is taking place, it is that we in this body are not in a position to welcome the report.”

The four opposing countries argued the change was not necessary. Saudi Arabia threatened to block the entire discussion if others pushed to change the single word – and warned that it would disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers next week.

The aim of the Cop24 climate summit is to agree a dense set of technical rules to underpin the Paris Agreement’s goals for limiting global warming to well below 2C, and ideally 1.5C, by the end of the century.

The scientific report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October. It found that limiting global warming to 1.5C, rather than below 2C, could help avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, and potentially save vulnerable regions such as low-lying Pacific islands and coastal villages in the Arctic.

But it also made clear that the world would have to slash greenhouse gases by about 45 percent by 2030.

Before the plenary on Saturday, the UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa said she hoped to see countries “really welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report… Even if the IPCC is very clear in saying how difficult it will be to achieve that goal, it still says it is possible”.

The US, which raised doubts about the science behind the report before it was finalised, said on Saturday that it would accept wording that noted the IPCC’s findings – while stressing that that “does not imply endorsement” of its contents.

Russia said “it is enough just to note it”, rather than welcoming the report, while Kuwait said it was happy with the wording as it stood.

Plenary push
The push in the plenary to change the wording to “welcome” began with the Maldives, which chairs the alliance of small island states. It was quickly backed by a wide range of countries and groups, including the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African countries, Norway (another large oil and gas producer), Argentina, Switzerland, Nepal, Bhutan, Marshall Islands, Belize and South Korea.

Negotiators huddled with the plenary meeting’s chair, Paul Watkinson, for nearly an hour to try and work out a compromise.

But Watkinson’s suggestion – welcoming the “efforts” of the IPCC experts and noting the “importance of the underlying research” – fell flat.

Delegates from Latin America, small islands, Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Africa and elsewhere argued it was not enough to highlight the work that went into the report, it needed to address the findings.

Watkinson said he was disappointed that they could not agree. But a negotiator said the talks would continue: “This is a prelude to a huge fight next week,” when ministers arrive in Poland. It will be up to the Polish hosts to find a place for the report’s findings in the final outcome of the talks.

Wording that welcomes, rather than notes, the 1.5C report should be the bare minimum, Belize negotiator Carlos Fuller told Climate Home News. However, “the oil producing countries recognise that if the international community takes it on board, it means a massive change in the use of fossil fuels”, he said. “From the US point of view, this is the Trump administration saying ‘we do not believe the climate science’.”

‘Won the fight’
Fuller added: “In my opinion we have won the fight, because the headline tomorrow will be: the UNFCCC cannot agree the IPCC report’, and people will say ‘Why, what’s in the report?’ and go and look.”

The 1.5C science wasn’t the only divisive issue after a week of Cop24 talks, with countries still mostly holding their ground on the Paris Agreement’s rulebook.

Contentious decisions related to the transparency of reporting emissions and the make up of national climate plans have all been refined, but ultimately kicked to the higher ministerial level. Several observers raised the concern that some unresolved issues may be too technical for ministers to debate with adequate expertise.

Financial aid is still contentious issue. The rules on how and what developed countries must report on their past and planned funding, and the extent to which emerging economies are urged to do the same, remains largely up for debate.

In a further moment of drama on Saturday afternoon, Africa stood firm as UN officials tried to finalise a draft of the rules that will govern the deal. Africa’s representative Mohamed Nasr said the continent could not accept the deal as it was presented, forcing the text to be redrafted on the plenary floor.

“You can’t bully Africa, it’s 54 countries,” said one negotiator, watching from the plenary floor.

The change will mean new proposals to be made to the text next week. That would allow African ministers to attempt to strengthen a major climate fund dedicated to helping countries adapt to climate change and push for less strict measures for developing countries.

‘Voicing our concerns’
“We have been voicing our concerns, maybe the co-chairs in their attempt to seek a balanced outcome they overlooked some of the stuff. So we are saying that we are not going to stop the process but we need to make sure that our views are included,” Nasr told CHN.

Mohamed Adow, a campaigner with Christian Aid, said the African intervention had “saved the process” by ensuring that dissatisfied countries could still have their issues heard.

“It’s actually much better than it’s ever been in this process at this stage,” he said. “Because this is the end of the first week and ministers have been provided with clear options. Of course nothing is closed but the options are actually narrower.”

This article is republished with permission from Climate Home News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers

GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORTGLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORT

“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.

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The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Climate change advocacy calls for more ‘action’ response to Ardern’s UN plea

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently addressed the UN General Assembly about the reality of climate change in the Pacific, and the threat inaction holds for the island nations. Maxine Jacobs reports for Asia Pacific Journalism that while climate and energy commentators welcome her leadership, they call for an even stronger “action” approach.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s challenge to United Nations members last month to reflect on the impact climate change is having on the Pacific has been welcomed by social justice advocates.

But they would like to see the rhetoric matched by even stronger action to give the world its “best shot”.

The Prime Minister spoke of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands as the Pacific’s most at risk nations which have contributed least to global emissions but are facing the full force of their consequences.

ASIA-PACIFIC JOURNALISM STUDIES – APJS NEWSFILE

“Our actions in the wake of this global challenge remains optional, But the impact of inaction does not,” she told the UN.

“If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?”

Ardern said that in the South Pacific there was a reality of rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather events and negative impacts on water supply and agriculture.

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“For those who live in the South Pacific, the impacts of climate change are not academic, or even arguable.

‘Grinding reality’
“We can talk all we like about the science and what it means … but there is a grinding reality in hearing someone from a Pacific island talk about where the sea was when they were a child, and potential loss of their entire village as an adult.”


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s speech at the United Nations. Video: UN

Although New Zealand represents less than 0.2 percent of global emissions, the Prime Minister then vowed to “play our part” in continuing to decrease in emissions and support the global climate change battle.

Goals have been set of:

• 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2035;
• zero emissions by 2050;
• a halt on offshore oil and gas exploration permits;
• a green infrastructure fund to encourage innovation, and
• a 10-year plan to plan one billion trees.

“These plans are unashamedly ambitious [but] the threat climate change poses demands it.”

Real commitment
A few days before her address to the UN in New York, the Prime Minister announced a $100 million increase to its global climate finance – an increase from $200 million, which will be spread in $25 million blocks over four years.

The Prime Minister said the additional funding would focus on practical action, helping Pacific states to build resilience and adapt to climate change.

“The focus of this financial support is on creating new areas of growth and opportunity for Pacific communities. We want to support our Pacific neighbours to make transition to a low carbon economy without hurting their existing economic base.”

The Prime Minister said she planned to bring greater attention to the impact of climate change alongside Pacific leaders and ensure global awareness of the cost of inaction.

“We recognise our neighbours in the Pacific region are uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“We have a responsibility to care for the environment in which we live, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond our domestic boarders.”

Communications accounts manager for the Ministry for the Environment, Karen Goldsworthy, says two thirds of the global climate funding would be going towards Pacific nations to help adapt to their warming climate.

“We recognise that New Zealand alone cannot fix the challenge climate change poses to our region: it is a global problem that requires a global solution.

“New Zealand will continue to work actively to contribute to an effective global response to climate change through which Pacific resilience improves … and lose work more widely to encourage ambition through our leadership.”

A global model
Renewable energy and climate change consultant Dr Bob Lloyd, a former director of energy studies at Otago University, says New Zealand’s commitment to climate change is a show of leadership to the rest of the world of what is achievable.

Lloyd called New Zealand a small-scale model of what can be achieved on a global scale, however this issue is one which cannot be resolved by one small nation.

“It’s up to countries like Australia, New Zealand, Europe and unfortunately the US to bring their emissions down.

“The big dilemma at the moment is that a lot of the poor countries want to increase their emissions and they’re not going to consider bringing their emissions down unless the big countries bring their emissions down first.

“The other onus is on the rich countries to actually help the poor countries come down, which means they need to transfer money to them to achieve their goals.”

Lloyd said the extra $100 million from New Zealand towards the global climate change fund was a good effort but would not have a huge impact. To achieve emissions reductions, developing countries would need trillions of dollars.

“The amounts of money which are needed just for the Pacific region – which are tiny compared to the rest of the world – are enormous,” he said.

Putting over ideas
Although Lloyd, a self-proclaimed pessimist, thinks the world would not be able to outrun climate change he does not want to stop people from giving it their “best shot”.

“Without some countries trying, then the poorer countries and other countries will give up completely, so I think it’s extremely good that Jacinda is putting these ideas over and they’re trying to help as much as possible.

“She’s doing a remarkable effort. It’s also enthusing government. I was pleasantly surprised at how much influence Jacinda and the Labour Party is having on both New Zealand and internationally.”

Dr Kevin Clements, the foundation professor of Otago University’s National Centre for Peace  and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) and current director of the Japan-based Toda Peace Institute, says the Prime Minister’s plea for climate change awareness has powerful emotional and normative appeal, but at the end of the day it is a numbers game.

“Every little bit helps. New Zealand’s voice on its own isn’t going to change Donald Trump or the behaviours of the major US multinational companies, but on the other hand it’s all part of creating a normative order which acknowledges the centrality of climate change and what it’s doing to us.”

Dr Clements says the Pacific is feeling the brunt of global emissions and has little capacity to do anything about it. However, the moral weight of New Zealand and the South Pacific can help larger nations become more proactive.

The Prime Minister advocating for climate change issues humanises her, says Dr Clements, but she needs to be stronger to be seen as a serious political leader on these issues.

“She really needs to make sure she’s coupling her soft power appeal and her own personal charisma with some hard-headed arguments and evidence based research so she is seen both as a wonderful human being but equally as a hard-headed negotiator on the issues that matter.”

Maxine Jacobs is a postgraduate student journalist on the Asia Pacific Journalism Studies course at AUT University.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Refugee children on Nauru ‘living without hope’, says advocacy group

Children outside RPC3 tents in Nauru … situation “untenable”. Image: Refugee Action Coalition/RNZ Pacific

By RNZ Pacific

A legal advocacy group has told the UN Human Rights Council that more than 100 asylum seeker and refugee children are living without hope on Nauru.

The Human Rights Law Centre addressed the latest council session in Geneva.

The centre’s Daniel Webb told the council that despite the fact the Australian government was professing its committment to human rights in Geneva, it continued to indefinitely imprison 102 children in its offshore detention centre on Nauru.

“Imprisoned for fleeing the same atrocities our government comes here and condemns. And after five years of detention, these children have now lost hope.

“Some have stopped speaking. Some have stopped eating. A 10-year-old boy recently tried to kill himself.”

Webb said if the detention was not stopped there would be deaths.

-Partners-

He said even the government’s own medical advisers were warning that the situation was untenable.

“Yet the Australian government still refuses to free these kids, and is fighting case after case in our Federal Court to deny them access to urgent medical care. Mr President, we are talking about 102 children.”

Australia presented their concerns regarding human rights around the world at the same session but did not mention their detention camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Plea for PM to be ‘game-changer’ in Pacific support for West Papua

A protest in support of West Papuan self-determination in Apia, Samoa. Image: PRN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A New Zealand-based West Papua advocacy group has appealed to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other leaders meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru next week to support Vanuatu’s United Nations initiative.

Vanuatu has pledged to take a resolution to the 2019 UN General Assembly endorsing West Papua’s right to self-determination and calling for West Papua to be re-inscribed on the list of nations overseen by the UN Decolonisation Committee (the Committee of 24).

Vanuatu has the strong backing of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP).

READ MORE: PMC director condemns targeting of journalists and silence on West Papua

A statement from West Papua Action Auckland group said today New Zealand had the opportunity to be a game-changer at this Forum meeting.

“New Zealand is influential at the Forum and its support for the issue to go to the UN is crucial,” said spokesperson Maire Leadbeater, author of the recent book See No Evil about NZ’s “betrayal” of West Papuan aspirations.

-Partners-

“The people of West Papua were cruelly denied their right to self-determination in the 1960s, setting the stage for decades of state sanctioned violence at the hands of the Indonesian military.

“The 1962 New York Agreement brokered by the United States delivered West Papua to Indonesian control without any consultation with West Papuan representatives.

‘Fraudulent exercise’
“The so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ held in 1969 was a fraudulent exercise carried out under extreme duress.

“This issue is extremely urgent. The people of West Papua are experiencing slow genocide due to ongoing human rights abuses and the harmful conditions of life experienced by so many Papuans.

“Authoritative human rights reports document the routine use of torture and killings as well as the denial the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Not to mention the constant inflow of migrants and the marginalisation of indigenous Papuans.

“It is time to stand up for our Melanesian neighbours. West Papuans risk their lives to speak out for self-determination and freedom.

“New Zealand should have nothing to fear by joining in a call to involve the United Nations in what is the most grievous human rights crisis in our region.”

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tough dilemmas face soldiers on peacekeeping duties, says ex-colonel

An image from Baniyan, Afghanistan, during former Colonel Richard Hall’s public lecture about the role of peacekeeping. Image: Richard Hall

By Rahul Bhattarai

Military forces on peacekeeping duties often face dilemmas that are difficult to resolve, says a retired colonel who is now an education consultant.

Colonel Richard Hall, who retired from the British Army after 25 years’ service, peacekeeping roles in several countries, and led a New Zealand mission to Afghanistan in 2008/9, told an audience at Auckland University of Technology he had faced a challenge when a local tribal chief asked for security for young schoolchildren.

The chief was running a small school where he was teaching young children, but he was getting death threats from the Taliban who wanted him to stop teaching.

READ MORE: 10 years, eight lives, and $300 in Bamiyan – was New Zealand’s time in Afghanistan worth it?

Colonel Hall had to decline the request.

“Sadly, I couldn’t,” he said.

-Partners-

This kind of dilemma was rather common for military officers, especially when they were engaged in an operation with limited military resources or mandate that did not allow such activity, said Hall.

He was speaking at a public event organised by the Auckland branch of the United Nations Association of New Zealand on the theme “peacekeeping and the use of force”.

Former Colonel Richard Hall speaking on the dilemmas of peacekeeping. Image: David Robie/PMC

‘Victors’ peace’
Hall said World War 2 was a “victors’ peace” and the United Nations Charter was written by the Allies who had won the war – China, France, United Kingdom, United States and the Soviet Union were the principal authors.

They “preserved” their power through enabling a veto in the Security Council. That gave them the ability to influence their “common interest”.

“It wasn’t long before the political divide between the East and West came out,” he said.

This was when the permanent members were often in complete disagreement with each other.

The common interest became difficult, and often it led to the creation of “mandates” by the UN.

“Those [mandates] were a compromise, they were weakly worded to avoid a veto,” Hall said.

This was a major concern as it caused lots of difficulties for the people on the ground, including confusion over the role of UN peacekeeping force.

The public generally confuse the UN’s role with providing security to the host country, but that is incorrect.

Peacekeeping job
The key aspect of peacekeeping operation was the UN being totally impartial.

It was not about taking sides – except for two exceptions; the Korean War in 1950 and the war against the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The UN tried to bring various sides of a conflict together through a political process to reach a peace agreement – while the military worked in the background facilitating the process.

UN Charter’s chapter six is devoted to the peaceful settlements of disputes.

“Political negotiation between warring parties were the preeminent way of resolving conflicts”, Hall said.

Some roles for the military in peacekeeping tended to be completely unarmed or lightly armed troops doing a “couple of things”.

Hall said the UN military might be observers ensuring there was going to be a ceasefire agreement, or they might be creating a buffer zone between warring factions to prevent the conflict reigniting due to breach of a ceasefire.

Health impact
UN peacekeeping soldiers also suffered seriously from post-traumatic stress disorder as they were not allowed to intervene.

According to the United Nations (UN) Principles of Peacekeeping, there are three basic principles that set UN peacekeeping operations apart as a tool for maintaining international peace and security – consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence, and defence of the mandate.

UN peacekeeping forces were not allowed to engage in any kind of offensive, unless it is for self-defence which created a huge problem for their mental well-being, Hall said.

Soldiers witness “killing and raping” and they could not do anything about it and that caused more psychological distress.

Hall said that if the public did not support the mission, that was demoralising for soldiers.

“They feel they have been committed to an operation and there is no political, moral support from the government of the day and also the general population,” he said.

Referring to the Vietnam War and how much New Zealand soldiers had gone through, “you [the public] let down those soldiers very, very badly”.

“It wasn’t their fault that they were there, they were filling a mandate,” he added.

Hall has been decorated with the New Zealand Order of Merit and has had a distinguished military career with service in Bosnia, Cyprus, Kosovo, Middle East and Northern Ireland as well as Afghanistan.

He was seconded to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to establish regional peacekeeping centres in Africa, working extensively with local military, politicians and NGOs.

Hall’s book A Long Road to Progress: Dispatches from a Kiwi Commander in Afghanistan is an autobiographical account.

Currently he is a senior educational consultant in the deputy vice-chancellor’s office at Auckland University of Technology.

Afghan women under the watchful eye of a soldier. Image: Richard Hall

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG needs to ‘pull its weight’ over Bougainville vote, says Momis

Bougainville President John Momis … considering going to the United Nations for advice. Image: Ramumine

By RNZ Pacific

The President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has raised concerns that the Papua New Guinea Government is not pulling its weight as the region prepares for its referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea next year.

Two weeks ago John Momis met with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in a meeting of the Joint Supervisory Board tasked with preparing for the vote.

However, outstanding financial commitments of hundreds of millions of kina which the PNG state owes to the Autonomous Bougainville Government remain an obstacle to preparations.

LISTEN: Momis speaking on Dateline Pacific

After a long wait, PNG finally made a payment of $US1.49 million to Bougainville last week, but then the cheque bounced.

Momis said in an interview with RNZ Pacific’s Dateline Pacific programme Port Moresby was continually failing to deliver on commitments and he was considering approaching the United Nations, New Zealand or Australia for advice.

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The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing partnership with RNZ Pacific.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media