Tag Archives: TerroristAttack

DHS’ empty positions; agriculture security at risk; positive train control, and more

Our picksDHS’ empty positions; agriculture security at risk; positive train control, and more

Published 20 December 2017

· All the key Department of Homeland Security positions Trump has left unfilled

· The National Security Strategy papers over a crisis

· Is agriculture security at risk? More than you realize

· Reciprocal rage: why Islamist extremists and the far right need each other

· The Internet of Things is going to change everything about cybersecurity

· Cybersecurity in the Trump era

· What Trump’s National Security Strategy says on cyber

· Could positive train control have prevented the Washington wreck?

All the key Department of Homeland Security positions Trump has left unfilled (Heather Timmons, NextGov)
The Department of Homeland Security is tasked with keeping the US safe, from securing the country’s borders to protecting against attacks on its electrical grids and thwarting terrorism attacks. One of its biggest challenges in recent months has come from the White House itself: Since Donald Trump took office in January, dozens of top jobs have been left unassigned, hollowing out the massive agency.

The National Security Strategy papers over a crisis (Thomas Wright, Defense One)
The NSS is a stunning repudiation of Trump, and Trump’s speech was a stunning repudiation of the NSS.

Is agriculture security at risk? More than you realize (Sara Brown, Drovers)
When U.S. Navy Seals entered the hiding place for Osama Bin Laden they found a list of 16 deadly agricultural pathogens that Al Qaeda intended to use as bioweapons, said former Sen. Joe Lieberman during a recent Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing on agro-defense. Six of the bioweapons targeted livestock production. Four targeted crop production. Six more targeted humans.

Reciprocal rage: why Islamist extremists and the far right need each other (Sean Illing, Vox)
How two complementary extremisms are defining global politics.

The Internet of Things is going to change everything about cybersecurity (Yevgeny Dibrov, Harvard Business Review)
Cybersecurity can cause organizational migraines. In 2016, breaches cost businesses nearly $4 billion and exposed an average of 24,000 records per incident. In 2017, the number of breaches is anticipated to rise by 36%. The constant drumbeat of threats and attacks is becoming so mainstream that businesses are expected to invest more than $93 billion in cyber defenses by 2018. Even Congress is acting more quickly to pass laws that will — hopefully — improve the situation.

Cybersecurity in the Trump era (Wall Street Journal)
It isn’t much different than under President Obama, say Gregory Touhill and Christopher Krebs. That says a lot about the issue.

What Trump’s National Security Strategy says on cyber (Mark Pomerleau, Fifth Domain)
Here’s what the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy means for the nation’s cybersecurity strategy.

Could positive train control have prevented the Washington wreck? (David A. Graham, The Atlantic)
The NTSB said the train that derailed south of Seattle on Monday was traveling 80 miles per hour, 50 miles faster than the speed limit on the curve where it crashed.

General Assembly Adopts 59 Third Committee Draft Resolutions, Defers Action on 4 Closely Watched Texts, amid Discord over Agreed Language

Acting on the recommendations of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the General Assembly adopted 59 resolutions and six decisions today on a range of issues, from women’s rights, terrorism and refugees, to self‑determination and the human rights situations in individual countries. 

The Assembly deferred action, however, on some of the more closely‑watched questions, including a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, which would have had it request the Secretary‑General to appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and to offer assistance to that Government.  

Most of the resolutions adopted today were adopted by consensus and without discussion, whereas they in Committee were subjects of intensive debate, as was the case with a resolution on policies and programmes involving youth.  By that text, the Assembly urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behaviour. 

The Assembly’s votes on other texts revealed enduring divisions between Member States, such as on four country‑specific resolutions taking up the rights situations in Syria, Iran, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The Assembly deferred action on a fifth such text on human rights in Myanmar to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review its programme budget implications. 

The Assembly adopted without a vote the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, yet several countries took care to disassociate themselves with that outcome.  Pyongyang’s representative called the text a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy pursued by the United States and other hostile forces against his country.  Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the text, “which is not worth consideration”.  Instead, he called on delegates to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from consensus.

As in the Committee, Sudan’s representative took issue with resolutions mentioning the International Criminal Court, proposing oral amendments to remove those references.  The General Assembly, by subsequent recorded votes, overwhelmingly rejected all three attempts at deletion, retaining the references to the International Criminal Court in resolutions on torture and on assistance to internally displaced people. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Estonia, Iran, China, Syria, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Cuba, Venezuela and Indonesia.

Speaking in exercise of the right to reply were representatives of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Action on Third Committee Draft Resolutions

ANDRÉS MOLINA LINARES (Guatemala), Rapporteur-designate of the Third Committee, introduced the following reports of that body:  Social development (document A/72/431); Advancement of women (document A/71/432); Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions (document A/72/433); Report of the Human Rights Council (document A/72/434); Promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/72/435); Rights of indigenous peoples (document A/72/436); Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (document A/72/437); and Rights of peoples to self‑determination (document A/72/438).

He went on to present the Committee’s reports on Promotion and protection of human rights (document A/72/439); Implementation of human rights instruments (document A/72/439/Add.1); Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedom (document A/72/439/Add.2*); Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/72/439/Add.3); Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (document A/72/439/Add.4); Crime prevention and criminal justice (document A/72/440); International drug control (document A/72/441); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/480); and Programme planning (document A/72/485).

The Assembly began by taking up the report on Social development (document A/72/431), which contained seven draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Acting without a vote, it first adopted draft resolution I, “Persons with albinism”, expressing concern that those persons were disproportionately affected by poverty, and that women and girls, in particular, were targets of witchcraft‑related attacks. 

It then adopted draft resolution II titled, “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly” by recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions. By its terms, it urged States to strengthen social policies, focusing on the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups, and invited them to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

The Assembly adopted the remainder of its texts without a vote, namely: draft resolution III, “Promoting social integration through social inclusion”, stressing that States should prioritize the creation of a society for all, based on respect for all human rights and principles of equality, and calling on them to promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains;

Draft resolution IV titled, “Cooperatives in social development”, inviting Governments, relevant international organizations and others to observe the International Day of Cooperatives annually, on the first Saturday of July, as proclaimed by Assembly resolution 47/90;

Draft resolution V titled, “Follow‑up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing”, calling on States to address the well‑being of and health care for older persons, as well as cases of neglect, abuse and violence, notably by implementing more effective prevention strategies and stronger laws;

Draft resolution VI titled, “Follow‑up to the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond”, inviting States to invest in family‑oriented policies and programmes, and requesting the Secretary‑General to submit a report at its seventy‑fourth session, through the Commission for Social Development and the Economic and Social Council.

And draft resolution VII titled, “Policies and programmes involving youth”, stressing the need to strengthen the capacity of national statistical offices to collect and analyse age‑disaggregated data in reporting on the youth dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It urged States to address gender stereotypes that perpetuated discrimination and violence against girls and young women, notably by encouraging men and boys to take responsibility for their behavior.

By its draft decision, adopted without a vote, the Assembly took note of the report titled “World Social Situation 2017: Promoting inclusion through social protection”.

Next, the Assembly took up the report on the Advancement of women (document A/72/432), containing three draft resolutions and one draft decision.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty‑third special session of the General Assembly”, requesting the Secretary‑General to accelerate his efforts to achieve the 50/50 gender balance at all levels throughout the United Nations, and calling on the Organization to significantly increase its efforts towards that goal.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Improvement of the situation of women and girls in rural areas”, urging States to mainstream a gender perspective into decision‑making and governance of natural resources; leverage women’s influence in managing natural resources; and enhance the capacities of Governments, civil society and development partners to better address gender issues in such management. 

Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Violence against women migrant workers”, the Assembly called on all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender‑sensitive and people‑centred perspective into legislation, policies and programmes on international migration and on labour and employment.  It urged States to take measures to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers, and ensure that legislative provisions and judicial processes were in place for them to access justice.

It then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the Secretary‑General’s report on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The Assembly then turned to the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions” (document A/72/433), which contained three resolutions.

Acting without a vote, it adopted draft resolution I titled, “Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, inviting the High Commissioner to coordinate an effort to measure the impacts of hosting, protecting and assisting refugees, with a view to assessing gaps in international cooperation and promoting burden‑ and responsibility‑sharing that was more equitable, predictable and sustainable, and to begin reporting on the results to Member States in 2018. 

By other terms, it strongly condemned attacks on refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons, strongly reaffirming the Office’s purely humanitarian and non‑political character in providing protection to refugees and in seeking durable solutions, which included voluntary repatriation, the preferred solution.

It then adopted draft resolution II on “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, deciding to increase the number of members of the Executive Committee from 101 States to 102 States, and request the Economic and Social Council to elect the additional members at a coordination and management meeting in 2018.

Adopting without a vote draft resolution III on “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa”, the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa to the seventy‑third session, taking into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

The Assembly next turned to the report titled, “Report of the Human Rights Council” (document A/72/434) containing an eponymous draft resolution.

The Assembly then took action on the text as a whole, adopting it by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 2 against (Belarus, Israel), with 58 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly took note of the report of the Human Rights Council, including the addendum thereto, and its recommendations.

Turning to the report on “Promotion and protection of the rights of children” (document A/72/435), which contained two draft resolutions, the Assembly first took up draft resolution I, titled “The Girl Child”.

Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly called on States to create an environment where the well‑being of the girl child was ensured.  It urged States to improve the situation of girl children living in poverty, acknowledge the different needs of girls and boys, and make adapted investments that were responsive to their changing needs.

It called on States, with the support of international organizations, civil society and non‑governmental organizations, to develop policies that prioritized formal, informal and non‑formal education — including scientifically accurate and age‑appropriate comprehensive education — relevant to cultural contexts.  Among other things, such education would provide adolescent girls and boys and young women and men in and out of school with information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention to enable them to build self‑esteem and make informed decisions.

Next, the Assembly turned to the report on “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/72/436) which contained an eponymous draft resolution, which the Assembly adopted without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly urged Governments and the United Nations to consult indigenous peoples, and implement measures to achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  It also stressed the need for them to mainstream indigenous rights into development policies and programmes at national, regional and international levels.

As the Assembly took up the report on “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” (document A/72/437), which contained two draft resolutions and one draft decision, a recorded vote was requested on draft resolution I titled, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

The Assembly then adopted the text as a whole by a recorded vote of 133 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 49 abstentions, expressing deep concern about the glorification of the Nazi movement, neo‑Nazism and former members of the Waffen SS organization.  It encouraged States, civil society and others to use all opportunities to counter the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred.

The Assembly next turned to draft resolution II titled, “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action”.

The Assembly then adopted the text by a recorded vote of 133 votes in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United Kingdom and United States), with 43 abstentions, outlining various actions related to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, among other international instruments, offices, mandate holders and activities.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote a draft decision, taking note of the reports of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its ninetieth, ninety‑first and ninety‑second sessions; and of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

It next turned to the report titled “Right of peoples to self‑determination” (document A/72/438), which contained three draft resolutions.

With a vote requested for a draft resolution I titled, “Use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, the Assembly adopted that text by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 51 against, with 6 abstentions (Andorra, Colombia, Mexico, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Tonga).

By its terms, the Assembly condemned recent mercenary activities in developing countries and stressed the need for the related Working Group to look into sources and root causes, as well as the political motivations of mercenaries.  It requested States to exercise utmost vigilance against any recruitment, training, hiring or financing of mercenaries by private companies offering international military and security services.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution II titled, “Universal realization of the right of peoples to self‑determination”, declaring its opposition to foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation which had suppressed that right.  It also deplored the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons uprooted due to such acts, reaffirming their right to voluntary return.

Turning to a text titled, “The right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination,” the Assembly adopted the text by a vote of 176 in favour to 7 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 4 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Togo, Tonga).  By its terms, it reaffirmed the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine.  It urged all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to support Palestinians in the early realization of their right to self‑determination.

Turning to the report titled “Promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/72/439), the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution titled, “International Day of Sign Languages”, designating 23 September as the International Day to be observed each year beginning in 2018.  It also adopted a draft decision, taking note of several related documents.

It then turned to the report on “Implementation of human rights instruments” (document A/72/439/Add.1), containing two draft resolutions.

Turning to draft resolution I on “Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: situation of women and girls with disabilities”, the Assembly adopted it with a unanimous recorded vote of 187 in favour.  By its terms, the Assembly urged States to repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full and equal participation in political and public life.  States should ensure the equal access of those women to decent work in the public and private sectors, that labour markets were open and accessible to persons with disabilities, and take measures to both increase the employment of those women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, and two draft amendments.

The representative of Sudan reiterated his country’s strong commitment to fighting torture.  However, the use of language in preambular paragraph 7 and operative paragraph 4, referring to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, had forced him to request votes on those paragraphs.  Emphasizing that the Court had been a major impediment to peace in Sudan, he said the Court was, at best, a threat to the peace and stability of his country and others around the world. 

“The Court is not an organ of the United Nations, despite the fervent attempt by some parties to paint it otherwise,” he stressed.  Recalling that, last week, the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute had decided to activate the “Kampala amendments” on the crime of aggression, he expressed deep concern that the principle of “opt‑in” — which was not applicable in other jurisdictional cases — was indeed allowed in cases of the crime of aggression.  The inclusion of language referencing the Court in the present text would only create discord and disunion between nations, he said, adding that it aimed to use the resolution to exert unacceptable pressure and force Member States to recognize the Court’s jurisdiction.

The Assembly then voted to retain preambular paragraph 7 by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 17 against, with 31 abstentions.

The representative of Denmark, speaking before the vote on operative paragraph 4, expressed regret that the vote had been called, and urged all Member States to vote in favour of retaining the paragraph.

The Assembly then voted to retain operative paragraph 4 by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 19 against, with 31 abstentions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution II, condemning torture and any action or attempt by States or public officials to legalize or authorize that practice under any circumstance.  It called on States to adopt a victim‑oriented approach in combating such behavior.

Next, the Assembly took up the report titled, “Human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (document A/72/439/Add.2*), containing 26 draft resolutions.

The Assembly first turned its attention to draft resolution I titled “Strengthening the role of the United Nations in enhancing periodic and genuine elections and the promotion of democratization”.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution I, as a whole, by a vote of 175 in favour to 0 against, with 13 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned any manipulation of election processes, coercion and tampering with vote counts, particularly by States.  It called on all Member States to respect the rule of law, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons and the will of voters.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution II titled, “International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism”, adopting it without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly proclaimed 21 August as the International Day, inviting all Member States, United Nations bodies and others to observe it within existing resources.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution III titled, “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South‑West Asia and the Arab Region”, by a recorded vote of 188 in favour to 0 against, with 1 abstention (Syria), noting with appreciation the Centre’s capacity‑building, technical assistance and training programmes.

By another recorded vote — 140 in favour to 10 against (Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States), with 38 abstentions — the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV, “The right to development”.

By its terms, the Assembly acknowledged the need to strive for greater international acceptance and realization of the right to development, while urging all States — at the national level — to undertake the necessary policy formulation and to institute measures required to implement that right as an integral part of all human rights. 

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution V titled, “Human rights and unilateral coercive measures”, by recorded vote of 134 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly strongly urged States to refrain from applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations.  It called on States that had initiated such measures to revoke them. 

Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote draft resolution VI, “Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights”, urging all actors on the international scene to build a global order based on inclusion, justice, equality and equity, human dignity, mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity and universal human rights.

The Assembly then adopted — by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 53 against, with 0 abstentions — draft resolution VII, titled, “Human rights and cultural diversity”.  In doing so, it urged States to ensure that their political and legal systems reflect the multicultural diversity within their societies, and relevant international organizations to study how respect for such diversity fostered global cooperation.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution VIII titled, “Strengthening United Nations action in the field of human rights through the promotion of international cooperation and the importance of non‑selectivity, impartiality and objectivity”, inviting States to consider adopting measures deemed appropriate to achieving progress on the matter.

By a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 54 against, with 5 abstentions (Armenia, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution IX titled, “Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order”.

By its terms, the Assembly affirmed that such a world order fostered the full realization of all human rights for all, while also calling on States to fulfil their commitment expressed during the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Draft resolution X, titled, “The right to food”, was adopted by a vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 0 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly considered it intolerable that 45 per cent of children who died every year before age 5 died from undernutrition and hunger‑related illness, and that an estimated 815 million people suffered from chronic hunger owing to the lack of food.  It urged States to give priority in their development strategies to the realization of that right.

Turning to draft resolution XI, “Promotion of equitable distribution in the membership of the human rights treaty bodies”, the Assembly adopted it by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 52 against, with 0 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly recommended, when considering the allocation of seats on each treaty body, the introduction of flexible procedures that encompassed three criteria: that each regional group was allocated seats in equivalent proportion to the number of States parties to the instrument in that group; periodic revisions of seat allocation to reflect relative changes in treaty ratification; and automatic periodic revisions to avoid amending the instrument when quotas were revised.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution XII titled, “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity”, condemning all violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention.  Such attacks also included intimidation threats and harassment, including through attacks on, or the forced closure of, their offices. 

Adopting without a vote draft resolution XIII on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief”, the Assembly condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.  It called on States to create an appropriate mechanism within Governments to identify and address potential areas of tension between religious communities

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution XIV, titled, “Freedom of religion or belief”, stressing that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, and urging States to ensure that their constitutional and legislative systems provided effective guarantees of such to all without distinction.

Next, the Assembly turned to draft resolution XV titled, “The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation”.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 1 against (Kyrgyzstan), with 2 abstentions (South Africa, Turkey), reaffirming that the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, as components of the right to an adequate living standard, were essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life and all human rights.  States should identify patterns of failure to respect, protect or fulfil the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation for all persons without discrimination.

The Assembly went on to adopt without a vote draft resolution XVI on “Protection of migrants”, calling on States to respect the human rights and inherent dignity of migrants; draft resolution XVII, “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, urging States in such efforts to comply with their international legal obligations regarding the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; and draft resolution XVIII, “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights”, reaffirming the importance of independent and pluralistic national human rights institutions.

The Assembly then turned to draft resolution XIX titled, “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons”.

The representative of Sudan expressed concern about any reference to the International Criminal Court, and use of the resolution to refer to that Court.  That jeopardized efforts to safeguard internally displaced persons in Sudan.  Since 2003, the International Criminal Court had impeded peace in Sudan by creating an imaginary conflict and concocting discord between peace and justice.  The Court was not an organ of the United Nations, despite fervent attempts to paint it as such.  Sudan distanced itself from the Court and requested a recorded vote to delete preambular paragraph 26.

The representative of Norway said he understood that Sudan’s representative had called for a vote on deleting preambular paragraph 26.

The representative of Mexico asked whether the draft amendment had withdrawn or whether the Assembly would be voting on that amendment, as well as if the Assembly would also be voting on the oral amendment. 

A Secretariat official clarified that Sudan’s proposed written amendment had been withdrawn, and an oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 had been submitted.  There had been no official call for a vote on that amendment.

The representative of Estonia asked for a recorded vote on the proposal by Sudan’s delegate.

The representative of Sudan called for a recorded vote on deletion of the paragraph. 

The Assembly rejected the oral amendment to delete preambular paragraph 26 by a recorded vote of 22 in favour to 111 against, with 32 abstentions.

The representative of Sudan said he had done his best to develop accommodating language and approached the sponsors, working cooperatively and with all good intentions.  Having exhausted other options, Sudan reverted to the position of its Government, he said. 

Approving draft resolution XIX as a whole without a vote, the Assembly recognized that internal displacement was not only a humanitarian but a development challenge and called on States to address possible obstacles in that regard.

Next, the Assembly took action on draft resolution XX titled, “International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”.  Adopting it without a vote, the Assembly expressed deep concern over enforced or involuntary disappearances, including arrest, detention and abduction, and reports of harassment, ill‑treatment and intimidation of witnesses or relatives of persons who have disappeared.

The Assembly then postponed action on draft resolution XXI titled, “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights” and draft resolution XXII titled, “Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, to allow time for the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to review programme budget implications. 

Taking up draft XXIII, “Effective promotion of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities”, the Assembly adopted the text without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly called on States to ensure the protection of children belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities who were at risk of, or had experienced violence, and to give special attention to the specific needs of older persons and persons with disabilities belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. 

By a recorded 129 in favour to 53 against, with 3 abstentions (Greece, Mexico, Tuvalu), the Assembly then adopted draft resolution XXIV titled, “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights”.

By its terms, the Assembly called on States, the United Nations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization.  It underlined the need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in global economic decision‑making and norm‑setting.

The Assembly then went on to adopt draft resolution XXV titled, “The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights”, encouraging States to endow such national human rights institutions with an adequate constitutional and legislative framework, financial and all appropriate means; and draft resolution XXVI titled, “Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa”, requesting the Secretary‑General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide additional funds and human resources to the Centre.

Next, the Assembly took up the report on the “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/72/439/Add.3), containing five draft resolutions.

Action on draft resolution V titled, “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” was postponed to allow time for the Fifth Committee to review its programme budget implications.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explaining his delegation’s position, rejected the draft resolution titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, which was a product of the political and military confrontation, plot and conspiracy by the United States and other hostile forces.  Decrying the “extreme manifestation of politicization, selectivity and double standards”, he said the United States sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had reached a vicious and barbarous level, while it consistently attempted to violate the nation’s sovereignty, and the rights and dignity of its people.  Calling for sincere dialogue and cooperation to resolve outstanding issues, he said his country would not call for a vote on the item, “which is not worth consideration”.  However, he called on Member States to oppose the text’s adoption by disassociating from the consensus.

The representative of Iran said the greatest atrocities in recent history had been committed by allies of Canada.  The cause of human rights was being advanced by nations with hegemonic attitudes.  The Assembly’s credibility was being eroded; the greatest threat to human rights came from the hypocrisy of Governments criticizing their political foes.  Canada should have realized that such a futile exercise was a disservice to human rights.  Observing Canada’s voting record was helpful to understanding its stance on human rights, he said, noting that Ottawa supported Israel, a level of hypocrisy and double standards that was “mind‑boggling”.  Iran had never practiced slavery nor advocated racial supremacy.  Iran viewed the protection of human rights for all its citizens as essential, and had proven that human rights were part of its national security policy.  The situation of human rights in Iran did not warrant a special resolution.

The representative of China said constructive dialogue should be carried out on the basis of equality, rejecting the practice of exerting pressure on other countries.  China opposed country‑specific resolutions on human rights and would vote against them.

The representative of Syria said the resolution had been presented by those who could not be trusted, who spread chaos in the world and invaded sovereign countries.  Those who spread lies and lacked any respect for human rights should not be allowed to abuse the notion of promoting and protecting human rights, as that would undermine machineries set up to protect those rights.  Syria would vote against all the country‑specific draft resolutions, he said, adding that their promoters were allied in terrorism.  Qatar’s terrorism had reached Syria, and in Yemen, a humanitarian crisis had been met with silence.  For Saudi Arabia to present the resolution was an irony; the country should be the last to speak of human rights given its own record of backwardness.  Saudi Arabia was spreading Wahhabi notions “by the sword,” he said, adding that it had established the practice of chopping off hands and feet “like ISIS”.  Turkey had joined Saudi Arabia and Qatar in sponsoring terrorism by allowing foreign fighters into Syria.  He called on all Member States to vote against the text on human rights in Syria.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation regularly voted against country‑specific resolutions which frequently sought to pursue political agendas or “settle scores”, added that such texts also eroded the Organization’s credibility and had never led to an actual improvement of a human rights situation on the ground.  On the draft related to human rights in eastern Ukraine, he said any Member State which supported that text should understand they were enabling and sharing in the responsibility for human rights abuses committed there.  The resolution was hypocritical, he said, citing “obvious” attempts to maintain trade and energy links.  Citing Ukraine’s adoption of a scandalous law prohibiting students in the east of the country from receiving education in their own language, he said support for the draft would send the wrong signal to Kiev and he urged States to vote against it.

The representative of Ukraine, thanking those delegations that planned to vote in favour of the draft concerning Crimea, recalled that 42 countries had helped to initiate that resolution in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural).  The situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol continued to worsen, and there was no sign that the Russian Federation would comply with Assembly resolution 71/205.  Recent United Nations reports, released in compliance with that resolution, revealed a significant deterioration of the human rights situation under the Russian Federation’s occupation, he said, adding that the latter’s violations disproportionately affected Crimean Tatars.  The international community must ensure the full expression of human rights, he said, noting that residents of Crimea were Ukrainian citizens despite the occupation.  Calling on all States to unite around common values to protect Crimea residents against “the tyranny of their invaders”, he urged them to vote in favour of the text.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution I titled, “Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, condemning long‑standing and gross rights violations in that country. 

By a recorded vote of 81 in favour to 30 against, with 70 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution II, “Situation of human rights in Iran”.  By its terms, the Assembly expressed serious concern over use of the death penalty and urged Iran to eliminate all discrimination and rights violations against women and girls. 

Next, the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 70 in favour to 26 against, with 76 abstentions, draft resolution III titled, “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.  In so doing, the Assembly urged the Russian Federation to uphold all its international legal obligations as an occupying Power and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare the second thematic report by the end of the current session.

By a recorded vote of by a recorded vote of 109 in favour to 17 against, with 58 abstentions, the Assembly adopted draft resolution IV titled, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic”, urging States, especially members of the International Syria Support Group, to create conditions for negotiations on a political solution to the conflict, and demanding that Syrian authorities meet their responsibilities to protect citizens. 

The representative of Cuba, in explanation of vote, disassociated from consensus on the resolution on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Only genuine international cooperation was suitable for the effective promotion and protection of all human rights.  The universal periodic review was the appropriate forum for such discussion, he said, stressing that Cuba could not join consensus on a draft seeking to uphold punishments of the Security Council in situations which did not threaten peace.

The representative of Iran said in explanation of position that he disassociated from consensus on the resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Regarding draft resolution IV, he said those outside the United Nations questioned how the Organization could both condemn terrorism and those effective in fighting such violence.

The representative of Venezuela, disassociating himself from the resolution on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, rejected the adoption of country‑specific human rights‑related resolutions, which were selective in nature and violated the Charter of the United Nations.  Associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, he said the Human Rights Council and the universal periodic review were the forums for promoting cooperation on human rights.  Passing country‑specific resolutions in the Assembly only weakened those mechanisms.

The representative of Sudan said his country had abstained in the vote on the draft related to the human rights situation in Syria for the same reasons as it had previously stated.  Moreover, the reference to the International Criminal Court in this year’s version of that text was a “step backward” and he disassociated himself from that language.  That the resolution had not been adopted by consensus demonstrated that his country’s position had not been taken into account during its drafting.

The representative of Indonesia, expressing concern about the deteriorating situation in Syria, voiced support for the ceasefire agreement and called for unhindered humanitarian access to all those in need in the country.  All parties including the Syrian Government must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including refraining from indiscriminate attacks.  Also citing with concern the findings of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ report on chemical weapons use, he called on all parties to refrain from using such weapons.  Nevertheless, his country respected Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Calling for the creation of conditions conducive to an inclusive, Syrian‑led political process to the conflict, he said that, for those reasons, his delegation had abstained in the vote on that text.

The representative of Syria stressed the principled stance of the Non‑Aligned Movement which was against using practices which went against the Charter of the United Nations.  “North Korea” had cooperated with the United Nations, and had also signed a number of conventions, including optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and conventions on women’s rights.  Syria disassociated from consensus on the resolution and rejected the draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Iran, which jeopardized the reputation of the Iranian government.  The resolution was a new violation of the mandates of the agencies dealing with the issues in question, he said.  The question of human rights must be exclusive to the Human Rights Council.  Syria also rejected the “political” resolution on Crimea, rejecting attacks on specific countries for specific motives.  The General Assembly was wasting its time discussing propaganda, and the resolution did not reflect reality; the resolution was an attempt at interfering in the affairs of the Russian Federation.

Right of Reply

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply to comments by Syria’s delegate, said his country was hosting over two million refugees.  Comments about the position of Palestine were beside the issue.  Saudi Arabia had never sold its territory, as Syria had done with the occupied Golan. 

The representative of Turkey rejected allegations made by Syria’s delegate and attempts to distract from that regime’s violations against its own people.

The representative of Syria, outlining a series of historical events that included millions of deaths perpetrated by Saudi Arabia across the Middle East, said today’s situation in Yemen reflected that history.  Saudi Arabia’s actions included cooperating with Israel to conduct an illegitimate war, creating the Al‑Qaida terrorist group and its deployment to Afghanistan, as well as efforts to put down a civil demonstration in Bahrain.  Saudi Arabia sponsored terrorist attacks across the Middle East and pursued a “scorched earth” policy in Yemen, while the Wahhabi group it supported spread an ideology of hatred throughout the Arab world.

Under the agenda item of “Comprehensive implementation of and follow‑up to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/72/439/Add.4), the Assembly took note of the eponymous report of the Third Committee.  

The Assembly then turned to the report on “Crime prevention and criminal justice” (document A/72/440), containing five draft resolutions and one draft decision.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted draft resolution I titled, “Follow‑up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”, deciding that the main theme of the Fourteenth Congress would be “Advancing crime prevention, criminal justice and the rule of law: towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda”; 

Draft resolution II, “Promoting the practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)”, by which it encouraged States to improve prison conditions and promote application of the Rules as the universally acknowledged updated minimum standards;

Draft resolution III titled, “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter‑terrorism”, urging States to consider becoming parties to such instruments, and requesting the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to enhance its assistance related to legal and judicial cooperation in such efforts, including regarding foreign terrorist fighters;

Draft resolution IV titled, “Improving the coordination of efforts against trafficking in persons”, calling on States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector to increase prevention efforts in countries of origin, transit and destination by focusing on demand, and the goods and services produced as a result of trafficking in persons; and

Draft resolution V titled, “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity”, inviting its President to hold a high‑level debate marking the fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The Assembly also adopted a draft decision taking note of the report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its eighth session, held in Vienna from 17 to 21 October 2016.

Next, the Assembly turned to its report on “International drug control” (document A/72/441), containing two draft resolutions.

It adopted without a vote draft resolution I titled, “Promoting the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development and related commitments on alternative development and regional, interregional and international cooperation on development‑oriented, balanced drug control policy addressing socioeconomic issues” without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly urged States to strengthen regional and international cooperation to support sustainable alternative development programmes, as well as to consider devising sustainable urban development initiatives for those affected by illicit drug‑related activities.

The Assembly then adopted omnibus draft resolution II titled, “International cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem” without a vote.  By its terms, it called on States to intensify efforts to address the drug problem based on the principle of common and shared responsibility, and through a comprehensive and balanced approach.

The Assembly then took up the report on “Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/72/480), adopting without a vote the draft decision therein on the “Programme of work of the Third Committee for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly”.

In its final action, the Assembly took note of the report “Programme planning” (document A/72/485), which contained no proposed action.

Human Cost of Arms Trafficking ‘Runs Deep’, Disarmament Chief Stresses as Security Council Debates Halting Illicit Trade on ‘Dark Web’

At a time of deepening regional tensions, expanding terrorist and criminal networks, and traditional and non‑traditional conflicts wreaking havoc on communities, the pressing issue of the spread of small arms, light weapons and their ammunition were key determinants of crises, demanding swift action to curb their illicit trade, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs told the Security Council this afternoon.

Introducing the Secretary‑General’s report on the matter (document S/2017/1025), Izumi Nakamitsu said the multidimensional and cross‑cutting nature of small arms was indisputable — from arms embargoes, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, child soldiers, counter‑terrorism and the protection of civilians in armed conflict to transnational crime.

“The human cost of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms runs deep,” she said, adding that the increased links among transnational organized crime, illicit small arms trafficking and terrorism, as well as the mounting use of the Internet, including the “dark web”, were of growing concern.  Nearly all violent deaths were caused by firearms, and the rate of firearms‑related homicides in post‑conflict societies frequently outnumbered battlefield deaths.  Small arms were also key determinants in the lethality and longevity of conflicts, and their rampant spread contributed to violations of international humanitarian and human rights, often playing a role in the deaths of United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.

“To invest in effective management of small arms and light weapons, including their ammunition, is to invest in conflict prevention,” she said, noting that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had acknowledged the inextricable link between peace and development.

In the ensuing debate, delegates agreed that the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons constituted a serious threat to peace and security around the world, contributing to instability, violence and insecurity while undermining development efforts.  Their spread also contributed to terrorism and international organized crime.

Representatives also suggested ways to disrupt the network of transnational organized crime syndicates, including by controlling arms trafficking online, in particular through the “dark web”.  They urged for mainstreaming the issue into all relevant Council discussions and called for coordinated action to tackle the problem at the national, regional and international levels.

The representative of Italy, recalling that arms trafficking usually began with legally produced weapons, emphasized the importance of implementing the International Tracing Instrument.  In addition, the Arms Trade Treaty was a crucial instrument carrying the potential to mitigate risks.

Several delegates said Africa and the Middle East were regions deeply affected by the illegal arms trade.  Egypt’s representative noted that the core of the current challenge was due to the deliberate contributions of some countries that provided illicit weapons to terrorists and armed movements.

Bolivia’s representative said the seriousness of the problem had its roots in the breadth of the illicit trade, which reached $6 billion in 2014 alone.  At the same time, trafficking produced parallel profits in the financial system and tax havens, he said, adding that the global arms trade required international controls.

The representatives of Kazakhstan, China, Ethiopia, United States, Sweden, United Kingdom, Senegal, Russian Federation, Uruguay, France, Ukraine and Japan also spoke.

Taking the floor a second time were the representatives of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

The meeting started at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 5:06 p.m.

Briefing

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that at a time of deepening regional tensions, expanding terrorist and criminal networks, and traditional and non‑traditional conflicts wreaking havoc on communities, small arms, light weapons and their ammunition were key determinants of crises.

Introducing the Secretary‑General’s report on the matter (document S/2017/1025), she said the multidimensional and cross‑cutting nature of small arms was indisputable — from embargoes, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, child soldiers, counter‑terrorism and civilian protection in armed conflict to transnational crime.

She said the impact of their wide availability, misuse and destabilizing accumulation was well documented.  Nearly all violent deaths were nowadays caused by firearms, and the rate of firearms‑related homicides in post‑conflict societies frequently outnumbered battlefield deaths.  Small arms were force multipliers and key determinants in the lethality and longevity of conflicts.

High levels of illicit arms also contributed to violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and were often used in killing, maiming, rape, torture and recruiting children, she said.  Small arms often played a role in the deaths of United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.  “The human cost of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms runs deep,” she said.

Listing growing concerns, Ms. Nakamitsu pointed out the increased links among transnational organized crime, illicit small arms trafficking and terrorism, as well as the mounting use of the Internet, including the “dark web”, and the issue of improvised explosive devices manufactured with diverted ammunition.  Weapons and ammunition management had become a critical component of United Nations peacekeeping operations, she said, citing examples of operations in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.

She said that the Secretary‑General had made 48 concrete recommendations to the Council on how to best address small arms, light weapons and ammunition, including on their management, peacekeeping, embargoes, community safety and law enforcement, civilian protection and armed violence.  Consideration had also been given to gender mainstreaming.  The Secretary‑General had also examined best practices from various mechanisms in United Nations field missions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had acknowledged the inextricable link between peace and development, she continued, adding that target 16.4 closely connected adequate arms regulation with properly functioning institutions and would create security conditions conducive to social and economic development.  Arms regulation should be pursued through the concept of measurability.  The sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects had noted that the illicit trade had implications on the realization of several Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to poverty reduction, economic growth and health.  “To invest in effective management of small arms and light weapons, including their ammunition, is to invest in conflict prevention,” she said.

Statements

INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons constituted a serious threat to peace and security around the world, contributing to instability, violence and insecurity while undermining development efforts.  Security Council resolution 2220 (2015) underscored the need to implement urgent measures.  Addressing arms disposal efforts was critical in post‑conflict situations, he said, noting how illegal trafficking could contribute to institutional instability.  In that vein, he highlighted actions and tools that could be deployed by Member States.  Turning to the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he said its third Review Conference in June 2018 was an opportunity to achieve concrete progress by mobilizing stakeholders.  Recalling that illegal arms usually began with legally produced weapons, he emphasized the importance of the implementation of the International Tracing Instrument.  Meanwhile, the Arms Trade Treaty was a crucial instrument with the potential to mitigate risks.  Pointing at the acute impact of small arms and light weapons in Africa, he expressed support for any initiative taken by those States, including the Central African Convention for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, their Ammunition and all Parts and Components that can be used for their Manufacture, Repair and Assembly (Kinshasa Convention).

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan), emphasizing that the spread of illicit weapons impeded the goal of sustainable development, called for the universal application of measures such as improved stockpile management and the protection of military arsenals.  Raising other issues of concern, he said it was equally necessary to take a range of actions, including those aimed at disrupting the network of transnational organized crime syndicates and eliminating their weapons storage sites.  In addition, efforts should aim at controlling arms trafficking online, in particular through trading platforms of the “dark Internet”.  For its part, Kazakhstan had been actively implementing the Programme of Action on Small Arms and had put in place strict export, manufacture and supply control measures to mitigate any possible illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said the illicit arms trade fuelled regional conflicts and facilitated the spread of terrorism while being detrimental to efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  China had proposed that the international community must commit to implementing diplomatic solutions to achieve peace and stability.  There was also a need to strengthen peacekeeping in order to swiftly restore stability.  Only a multi‑pronged approach could root out the problem of small arms.  China paid great attention to the Secretary‑General’s latest report and supported his efforts, various United Nations organs and Interpol in playing an active role in combating the illicit weapons trade.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD (Egypt) said illicit trafficking and supply of small weapons had a great security and economic impact, especially if such weapons fell into the hands of terrorist groups and armed movements.  The Middle East and Africa were most affected by the rise of that phenomenon, he said, noting an increase in a number of civilian and security force injuries in that regard, stemming from some countries who deliberately supplied illicit arms to terrorist and criminal organizations.  He called upon the international community to spare no effort to combat that dangerous trend.  On the Secretary‑General’s report, he said many recommendations, which were directed to the Security Council, should be directed to the General Assembly and the Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) underscored the devastating consequences of small arms and light weapons in her region.  Such weapons enabled international conflict and civil war, resulting in major harm to civilians.  Concerned about the risk of such weapons falling into the hands of domestic and transnational terrorist groups, she supported mainstreaming the issue into all relevant Council discussions and called for coordinated action to tackle the problem at the national, regional and international levels.  Highlighting the African Union’s strategy on combating the illicit trafficking of such arms and its corresponding action plans, she called on Member States to support such regional efforts.  Already, positive progress had been made at the national level in confidence‑building measures, she said, also underscoring the importance of addressing resources and capacity constraints.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said her country remained committed to the landmark Programme of Action on Small Arms and the International Tracing Instrument.  The United States was a leading donor in the field, including through its conventional weapons destruction programme.  However, challenges persisted and more needed to be done.  Instead of trying to identify every gap, the international community needed more countries to sign up to existing commitments.  Turning to the Secretary‑General’s report, she said it went beyond its remit in discussing domestic misuse in countries that are not in conflict, and the United States did not support its reference to the International Small Arms Control Standards, as they were not in fact standards, and had been created by a small group of self‑selected experts.  She expressed hope that future reports would more accurately describe the control standards as voluntary guidelines and not practical recommendations.  The United States was taking concrete steps to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons and urged all countries to strengthen the implementation of existing related obligations.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said his was a peaceful State that did not produce, store or export weapons, and that mitigation in the trafficking of light weapons was vital for stabilizing countries in conflict.  The fight against illicit trafficking had not been won by the United Nations or the international community, and the use of such weapons promoted terrorism and transnational organized crime.  The seriousness of the problem had its roots in the trade of those weapons, which amounted to $6 billion in 2014, as highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s report.  Illicit trafficking produced parallel profits in the financial system and tax havens.  Further, non‑State actors to whom weapons were provided illegally helped to worsen conflicts, leading to war crimes and massive violations of human rights.  The global arms trade required international controls to make progress on reducing the risk of small arms proliferation, which endangered the lives of millions of people.  Also important were effective mechanisms to prohibit the supply of those weapons.

CARL ORRENIUS SKAU (Sweden) said preventing armed conflict and building sustainable peace hinged on addressing the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  For that reason, the issue must be mainstreamed into all relevant discussions on the Council’s agenda.  Welcoming the inclusion in the Secretary‑General’s report, he underlined the complex linkages between illicit trafficking and the vulnerabilities of post‑conflict States.  Improved arms control was also necessary to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda.  Welcoming the report’s focus on gender, she noted Sweden’s support for projects aimed at increasing women’s participation in disarmament work.  Underlining the importance of controlling ammunition as well as weapons, she noted the issue’s inclusion in the European Union’s strategy.  He also pledged Sweden’s continued commitment to combating the illicit small arms trade.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said the majority of deaths in conflict situations in developing countries were the result of small arms and light weapons.  They facilitated the most heinous human rights violations, and in many countries were the preferred instrument of war.  He cited South Sudan as an example, where local disputes were resolved with guns, and small arms had become the norm.  In a culture of weapons, such disputes escalated faster and resulted in widespread casualties, he noted, adding that the transfers of weapons only spread that threat to other States.  To tackle those challenges, the international community must strengthen arms control, with the Arms Trade Treaty being one of the most powerful tools in that fight.  Its universalisation was a priority.  However, such efforts must go hand in hand with the implementation of existing commitments.  He praised the Programme of Action on Small Arms, while encouraging States to devote resources for stockpile security and destruction efforts.  If the world embraced action and quelled conflict, 1.2 million lives could be saved by 2030, a fitting goal for the body charged with upholding international peace and security.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said arms control was crucial for the maintenance of international peace and security.  Given current tensions around the world, the Secretary‑General’s report had come at an opportune time, especially in Africa and the Middle East.  Achieving peace and stability was a battle that was far from over.  West Africa and the Sahel could not escape the scourge and faced many threats, such as the proliferation and trafficking of conventional weapons and drugs, as well as terrorist attacks.  Small arms and light weapons also fuelled conflict.  Such challenges were an obstacle to sustainable development, which depended on peace and security.  Nevertheless, the last two years witnessed success in the management of conventional weapons, he said, citing among other steps the outcome document from the sixth Biennial Meeting of States to Consider the Implementation of the Programme of Action on Small Arms and the recommendation of confidence‑building measures.  Highlighting the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty, he called for universalization of the instrument and its firearms‑related protocol.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said that his country had spoken in favour of enhancing the role of the United Nations to tackle the illicit arms trade.  The pace of implementing the Programme of Action on Small Arms remained insufficient at a time when the black and grey markets supplied terrorist groups and street gangs and fuelled conflicts.  It was time to add to the Programme of Action on Small Arms; to provide, for example, controls over States for brokerage activity in areas of their jurisdiction related to exports.  There should also be a ban on the re‑export of small arms without the consent of the initial State.  The Russian Federation had very developed legislation in that area and stood ready to provide assistance to States wishing to draft their own legislation.  Turning to the Arms Trade Treaty, he said the openly weak document failed to tackle all the tasks it contained and did not include a direct ban on provisions regulating the re‑export of military goods.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), noting that the Secretary‑General’s report highlighted the negative consequences of the unjust use of small weapons, said his country was committed to disarmament and had joined relevant regional and international treaties.  The proliferation of small arms was a fundamental part of armed conflict and a means of perpetuating them.  Selling small arms to warring parties had a direct impact on the suffering of civilians.  Access to small arms and light weapons and the lack of adequate controls negatively affected human rights and sustainable development, he said, citing the Secretary‑General’s report and noting that the illegal trade had topped $6 billion in 2014.  To combat that trade, international cooperation and the provision of assistance should be strengthened, with particular emphasis on developing national capacity.  States should adopt national standards to strengthen arms controls, and weapon‑producing countries must honour their responsibilities.  In that regard, the Arms Trade Treaty was a game changer toward the international regulation and responsible trade of small arms.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said small arms and light weapons led to the highest number of victims in the world and were responsible for 90 per cent of conflict casualties and more than 500,000 deaths every year.  The illicit trade also fuelled conflict, organized crime and terrorism.  Like others, France had faced terrorist attacks, he said, urging Member States to mobilize.  Potential areas of collaboration included the development of national legislation, reduction of stockpiles, improving the security and physical management of stocks, and police and customs controls.  Increasing international cooperation on marking and tracing small arms was also essential, as was the exchange of information.  Moreover, international assistance was needed and must be adapted to the needs of beneficiaries.  Looking at the challenges ahead, he called on Member States to strengthen efforts and accede to all relevant instruments, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  Concerning the Programme of Action on Small Arms, he said France would preside over its third Review Conference in 2018, which was a unique opportunity to move forward and take steps toward mobilizing actors in various areas and tap into existing synergies.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said that while fuelling armed conflicts, the illicit arms trade had a wide range of negative human rights, humanitarian and socioeconomic consequences, in particular for the security of civilians.  Armed conflicts driven by the spread of those weapons also served as the main cause of people fleeing their homes in search of a more secure environment.  There was an increased link among transnational organized crime, illicit arms trafficking and terrorism.  Ukraine was facing a challenge with regard to the spread of illicit conventional weapons, including small arms and light weapons, as a result of the Russian Federation’s military aggression against his country, including the occupation of Crimea and a part of the Donbas region.  His delegation had drawn the Council’s attention to the continued illicit supplies of deadly weapons, ammunition and gunmen to Ukraine by the Russian Federation through the uncontrolled sections of the Ukrainian‑Russian border.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) said that small arms and light weapons prolonged and intensified conflicts, hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction and development efforts, even in post‑conflict areas.  The Secretary‑General’s call for “disarmament that saves lives” represented an important vision, he said, welcoming the latest report’s recommendations and best practices.  Especially in post‑conflict areas, he called for a focus on capacity‑building for national institutions.  For its part, Japan had provided approximately $3 million to Côte d’Ivoire from 2015 to 2017 and had, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme, provided capacity‑building assistance for the national commission in charge of the collection and disposal of such weapons, and helped to set up arms control guidelines.  While emphasizing the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty and expressing Japan’s support in universalizing the instrument, he pointed out that since its entry into force in 2014, only 93 States had joined, including just 6 in the Asia‑Pacific region.

Mr. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) took the floor a second time, saying the implementation of the Minsk agreements was being hampered by general instability in certain areas.  Tracing the turnover of weapons was something that the authorities were incapable of doing.

Mr. VITRENKO (Ukraine), also taking the floor a second time, noted that given the number of deadly weapons used by Russian separatists, including the famous missile that took down an airplane, killing almost 300 people on board, the Russian Federation had no right to lecture any Council member.

Mr. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said that Canada had publicly stated that it would issue its companies licenses to supply arms to Ukraine.  Companies from the United States, particularly manufacturers of electronic grenade launchers, were already providing Kyiv with weapons, even though the United States had said there had been no official decision on that matter.  Pumping Ukraine with American and Canadian weapons of war was sabotaging the Minsk agreements, he said.

Mr. VITRENKO (Ukraine)said his Russian counterpart had forgotten to mention that Ukraine was defending its territorial integrity against the Russian Federation’s aggression.  His counterpart had very seriously prepared for the meeting and for making his statement, which had sounded ominous, as though the Russian Federation was preparing another stage of its military aggression against Ukraine.

Mr. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said that his delegation prepared very carefully for every single session.

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

**Migrants Day

Today is International Migrants Day.  In his message for the Day, the Secretary‑General stressed that solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent.  He said that evidence overwhelmingly shows that migrants generate economic, social and cultural benefits for societies everywhere and yet hostility towards them is growing around the world.  He called for international cooperation in managing migration to ensure that its benefits are most widely distributed and that migrants’ human rights are protected.

Today at 2 p.m., the Secretary‑General will be taking part in a panel discussion at UNICEF House, which you are welcome to attend.  And my guests today at the briefing will include Béla Hovy, Chief of the Migration Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Béla will be discussing the International Migration Report 2017, which the Department produced, and also here will be Leonard Doyle, the Head of Communications for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

**Middle East

Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed members of the Security Council today in an open meeting — that’s part of the regular, the periodic briefing on the situation in the Middle East, as well as the briefing on the follow‑up to resolution 2334 (2016), passed just about a year ago.  He said that he is particularly concerned as to the future of our collective efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  The Secretary‑General, he recalled, has been clear that ending the occupation and realizing the two‑state solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, is the only way to achieve such a vision.  Today, however, he warned, there is a growing risk that the parties may revert to unilateral actions.  His full statement is online and I believe the Council went into closed consultations.

**Mali

Our colleagues from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) tell us that a patrol — a UN patrol — hit a suspected improvised explosive device in Kidal city this morning.  One peacekeeper was slightly wounded.  In response to the attack, the Mission deployed a Quick Reaction Force and an explosive ordnance disposal team to secure and clear the incident site and to recover a vehicle that was damaged.  This follows four separate attacks against peacekeeping personnel and premises in Kidal on Friday, all of which were repelled by peacekeepers.  One peacekeeper was severely wounded.  Two UN Mission staff and two civilians were slightly wounded, as well, and they were immediately given medical attention.  In a statement over the weekend, the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned the attacks on peacekeepers that also put civilians at risk, adding that the Mission would continue to repel all attacks in a similar robust manner.

**Nigeria

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, today deplored Saturday’s deadly ambush on a convoy carrying humanitarian food supplies for people impacted by conflict.  He also expressed grave concern over the limitations that attacks of this nature may have on the delivery of life‑saving supplies to people in need in north‑east Nigeria.  Four civilians are reported to have been killed in the ambush that took place on the road between Dikwa and Gamboru, in Borno State.  Aid items destined to alleviate the suffering of thousands of people have also been destroyed.

**Lebanon

The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Pernille Dahler Kardel, met separately this morning with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.  She said she also met with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri last week.  Ms. Kardel, who arrived in Lebanon last week, discussed with Lebanon’s top leaders the key issues that are on the agenda between Lebanon and the UN.  She underscored the UN’s continued support for Lebanon on crucial issues related to peace and security, stability and socioeconomic development.

**Yemen

Humanitarian organizations working in Yemen released a joint statement yesterday on allegations of corruption and bias in the provision of relief assistance, in which they condemned in the strongest terms allegations put forward by the parties to the conflict in Yemen without proper substantiation.  The humanitarian partners in Yemen emphasized that they maintain their neutrality and do not take sides with any of the parties to the conflict.  Meanwhile, clashes and air strikes are reportedly continuing in southern Hodeidah Governorate, about 100 km south of Hodeidah.  Renewed clashes along the south‑west coast have reportedly caused significant civilian displacement, although comprehensive displacement estimates are not yet available.  That’s it.  I will stop there and take some questions, and then we’ll have Brenden [Varma], and then we’ll go to our guests.  Mr. Lee.  Why not?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I’m… And I’m… you’ve just spoke about Yemen, and I… I may have missed it.  This airstrike in Ma’rib, did you address that?

Spokesman:  No.  We’re aware of the… we’re very much aware of the reports, and we continue to call on the parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law not to target civilians or civilian infrastructure, among other items.

Question:  Sure.  I guess just to follow… it seems it’s a pretty well‑sourced report, and it seems these were women on the way to a… to a wedding…?

Spokesman:  I mean, we’ve seen… as I said, you know… I’ve seen the reports.  We’re just not in a position to confirm them.  I mean, the reports as they stand are fairly horrific by any standard…

Question:  What I meant to ask was this… in… in creating that list under Children and Armed Conflict, it seemed that the Secretary‑General concluded or said that the Saudi‑led Coalition had taken steps to… to avoid these things.  And so I’m wondering whether an incident like this calls into… is it… is it… is it an aberration?  What were those steps that they took?

Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the steps they had briefed us upon is better command and control and more detailed information as to where… I guess, better targeting.  I mean, I… you know, they’ve told us they’ve taken steps.  I mean, obviously, those are for the military side of the Coalition led by Saudi Arabia.  All of these events, as events around the world, are obviously… continue to be checked and rechecked by our staff and would be then put into the relevant reports.

Okay.  And I do have a statement on the attacks over the weekend in Pakistan:  The Secretary‑General strongly condemns the attack on a Methodist church in Quetta in Pakistan.  He extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to those injured.  He calls for the perpetrators of the attack to be brought to justice.  Yes, in the back?

Question:  Thank you.  On Honduras, the Organization of American States (OAS) have asked for the elections… presidential elections to be held again because of the many irregularities.  Does the Secretary‑General share these concerns, or what is his opinion on the elections?  And I have another question afterwards.

Spokesman:  Sure.  I mean, we’ve been, obviously, following the developments over the last few weeks in Honduras very closely, especially in the wake of the elections.  As far as the Secretary‑General is concerned, he reiterates his call for leadership with responsibility in this crucial moment and for a solution to differences within the mechanisms established by the Electoral Law.  He again urges calm and restraint.  He’s aware of the questions raised by the preliminary electoral observation reports of the Organization of American States and the European Union and of the pronouncements of the Secretary General of the OAS.  Yes, ma’am, and then Walter.  Yes, you.  Yep?

Question:  Hi.  [Inaudible] a few weeks ago, [António] Guterres proposed several internal change at the UN.  Could you please make some comments about the progress in the process of reforms?

Spokesman:  Sure.  The process of reform of the United Nations is not an easy one.  The proposals on management reform, on the peace and security pillar, on the development system reform are continuing.  There are very deep and detailed consultations with Member States, often led by the Secretary‑General himself.  We do hope to have more a public update, at least on the development system report, in the next few days to share with you.  But the work is continuing, and we very much continue to hope and hope we will receive the full support of the Member States for these efforts.  Ma’am?

Question:  Hi.  Eve from Al Arabiya.  So, we saw the Secretary‑General’s report on the implementation of 2231 (2015).  Does the Secretary‑General believe that there’s clear evidence of Iran’s involvement in supplying the Houthis with weapons?

Spokesman:  Sure, I mean, I know there was some exchanges last week with the Spokesman characterizing the conclusions of the report to 2231.  I just want to make it clear that we do not wish to characterize the conclusions and information contained in the report in any way.  The information and the Secretary‑General’s words in the report are clear, and the conclusions speak for themselves.  Walter?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  This morning, a new Government was sworn in in Austria.  It includes the right‑wing Freedom Party.  Does the Secretary‑General have any comment?

Spokesman:  You know, we obviously… we’re aware of these latest developments and the formation of the government.  Austria is obviously a very important partner to the United Nations, and I hope to have a bit more to say on this shortly.  Evelyn.  Sorry.  I thought you had raised your hand but… Sorry, Linda, or one of you.  Whoever’s holding the mic, so since Linda is holding the mic, go ahead.

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  I just wanted to ask a question about the migration report that said that there are about 260 million people living in countries other than their birth, that of their birth, and that it’s… there’s been a 50 per cent rise since 2000.  I just have a question about policy… UN policy towards migration.  I mean, within those numbers, are they… does that include legal immigration, you know, where there are patterns and people follow that, or does it include sort of everyone, migrants who decide that they want to leave their countries, go wherever they go, and then have the right to stay in the country…?

Spokesman:  I think it’s a very interesting and detailed questions, and I will let our guest, Béla Hovy, from Department of Economic and Social Affairs, answer that question, because [he] is much more learned in this process than I ever will be.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I… this is… it may be a different kind of UN reform or changes, but I’d wanted to ask you, I’ve become aware that… that… that… you know, throughout the building, there’s various changes to called like flex… flex space or hot desking.  So I learned of… protocol… the protocol office, which is here on this floor, is being moved down to 3B, and I’m told that it’s going to cost $500,000 to essentially rip out the… the configuration that was put in just under the Capital Master Plan.  So, I’m wondering, I mean, I know that there are competing mandates on the Secretary‑General, but how can you justify the… the… the… the… a recently renovated space being torn down at… at pretty substantial cost when the… when the UN is also saying it shouldn’t face budget cuts?

Spokesman:  I don’t know the exact cost.  The whole point of shared space is to make much more efficient use of the space that we have in this building, which enables us to stop renting and paying tenants outside of the UN Headquarters.  So, we’re freeing up a space that we’re paying rent on.  So, obviously, there are some costs involved in the creation of that space, but in the long term, it will be a cost saving.

Question:  But in the case of protocol, like, are there prot… are there offices of protocol that are based in the Albano or in other buildings?  And… and… and was it considered sort of, basically for the next three months at least, you’re going to have diplomats going down to 3B to get whatever information they need and…

Spokesman:  I think anytime an organization is being reformed or a space is being refurbished, it involves some inconvenience.  The whole point is about better use and more efficient use of the space that we have and cutting down on costs of rental properties.

Question:  But was any of this known at the time that the Capital Master Plan built up these spaces that they would, in fact, be torn out at greater costs within two years or three years?

Spokesman:  That I cannot answer.  Yes, sir.  And then… sorry, then we’ll go to you, Evelyn.

Question:  Thank you again.  On Mexico, Congress just approved a national security law that could further endanger human rights, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other experts of the UN in Geneva.  Does the Secretary‑General has… have any comments, or is he concerned about this decision?

Spokesman:  I can’t speak to that, because I haven’t seen those reports.  So, right now I would leave you with what the High Commissioner says and what other experts have said.  If I have something from the Secretariat, I will share it with you.  Walter, I know you… I have some more information for you, which is that the Secretary‑General congratulates the Austrian government led by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.  As Austria is a long‑standing partner of the United Nations, the Secretary‑General trusts that the new government will continue to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation, uphold shared ideals, and play a leading role in the promotion of peace and security and to promote human rights, foster greater equality and minority rights.  Evelyn?

Question:  Thank you, Steph.  On Yemen, [inaudible] months ago [inaudible] investigate, quote, mishaps, tragedies that their air force had inflicted and that these would be publicized.  Has the UN ever seen any of these or…

Spokesman:  I will check if we’ve gotten any updates.

Correspondent:  And the SG gave a very nice comment on his reform on Friday night.

Spokesman:  Alright, I will leave you with Brenden for a brief briefing, and then we will go get our guests.  Thank you.

EXCLUSIVE: Inside the Congolese army’s campaign of rape and looting in South Kivu

Her face was tired and bruised, her arms bone-thin, her dress torn in several places. “Look at my body,” she whispered. “Is this the body of somebody who is normal?” There was a short pause before she responded herself: “This is death.”

The 36-year-old, who asked not be named, is one of dozens of women to accuse soldiers battling a new insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern South Kivu province of rape and sexual violence.

The abuses documented by IRIN began in late September after government soldiers reoccupied areas briefly captured by a new alliance of local Mai-Mai militias called the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of the Congo (CNPSC).

The CNPSC is one of three Mai-Mai coalitions that have recently emerged in eastern Congo, an area mired in conflict since the mid-1990s, when the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide fled there, triggering two regional wars.

The coalitions say they are fighting against Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who refused to step down and hold elections last year when his constitutionally mandated two-term limit expired.

An agreement between the government and opposition, reached last December, stated Kabila would leave office and hold elections by the end of 2017. But Congo’s electoral commission now says that a vote will not be held until December 2018.

In September, the CNPSC launched a fresh offensive in the Fizi region, capturing a string of strategic villages before attempting an audacious naval assault on Uvira, the second largest town in South Kivu.

                                                                  

The group was eventually driven back by MONUSCO, the UN’s peacekeeping mission, which deployed attack helicopters to protect the town.

Congolese army moves in

As the Mai-Mai coalition withdrew from nearby villages, Congolese soldiers began systematically raping women and arbitrarily arresting young men, according to dozens of interviews IRIN conducted over several weeks with victims and witnesses.

In Makobola, 15 kilometres south of Uvira, the representative of a local peace organisation said at least 25 women were gang raped by Congolese soldiers over the course of one day in late September, after the army retook the town.

Sat in a small, two-roomed hut, away from the main road where soldiers lounged around in a makeshift barracks, four women took turns to tell their stories. They all spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the army and stigmatisation by friends and families.

The still-bruised 36-year-old women said she was gang raped by soldiers alongside her 65-year-old blind mother at 10 in the morning. The attack was so brutal she said her mother was subsequently paralysed from the waist down and died shortly afterwards.

“She couldn’t move; she couldn’t even go to the toilet,” the woman said.

Nearby, a 35-year-old mother-of-four said she was stopped by soldiers outside her home at 10am while taking her two-year-old son to the toilet. The soldiers asked where her husband was. When she replied that he was travelling, they accused her of collaborating with the rebels.

“They told me, ‘You are telling us this because your husband is Mai-Mai and you have sent him to the bush’,” she said.

The soldiers stole her phone and money hidden in her underwear before entering her house. “They said, ‘Today we will rape you until you regret being alive’,” she recalled.

Five men then raped her in front of her children until she fell unconscious.

“I woke up to the sound of my children shouting Mama, Mama!,” she said.

See also: War on Women, our film exploring sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In a restaurant on the main road through Makobola, five women tried to hide but were caught and raped by 15 soldiers, according to the peace organisation representative.

One of the women, passing through the town to visit a hospital further south in Baraka, subsequently died. Another was hospitalised after being penetrated with a wooden object.

The owner of the restaurant told IRIN the five women were eventually freed after she paid soldiers the equivalent of around $100.

“After what happened, I felt very bad,” she said.

At another restaurant, an owner said she was raped at night on 11 October, after soldiers accused her of providing a place for Mai-Mai to sleep. Two more women inside her restaurant were also raped, with soldiers shooting into the air to stop them screaming. The soldiers then stole $130, leaving the owner broke.

“I have nothing to restart my business,” she said.

Further south in Sebele, another village in the Fizi region, three men were killed by Congolese soldiers and eight women raped after the the army regained control, according to village deputy chief Elias Feruzi.

The rebel alliances

The CNPSC label has been in use since late 2013 but only recently gained traction when Babembe warlord William Amuri Yakutumba rallied behind it.

Yakutumba’s group, Mai-Mai Yakutumba, is the largest component of the CNPSC, which claims to unite several Mai-Mai groups and has expanded into the western end of Fizi Territory as well as Maniema and parts of southern Shabunda.

Yakutumba and the Babembe have a long, fractious history with the region’s Banyamulenge community, who are ethnic Tutsi and often perceived as “foreigners”.

Ethnically targeted massacres have occurred on both sides over the past two decades. Analysts say the presence of a small number of Banyamulenge commanders in units deployed against the CNPSC, could aggravate these tensions.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring North Kivu province, another coalition called the National Movement of Revolutionaries (MNR) has also recently emerged to take advantage of the current political crisis. It includes several ethnic Nande Mai-Mai leaders from groups including Corps du Christ and Mai-Mai Mazembe.

                       

MONUSCO sources told IRIN that the MNR also includes allies from the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan rebel group accused of the attack earlier this montn on a UN military base near Beni that left at least 14 blue helmets dead.  

                                                                                       

The CMC, a third new coalition, brings together various factions of Nyatura, a Congolese Hutu militia. The coalition was recently able to take over a large amount of territory in Kalehe when army units withdrew to fight the CNPSC.

The strong anti-government rhetoric of the coalitions marks a shift in direction for Mai-Mai groups, which have traditionally focused on local grievances and ethnic rivalries. It remains to be seen whether they will be capable of building popular support outside their usual constituencies.

“At the moment, none of them represent a major national threat, and, given geographical distance, ideological divergence, and the risk of co-option, it appears unlikely they will merge into something bigger,” said Christoph Vogel, a researcher on Congo at the University of Zurich.

Nonetheless, fighting in both North Kivu and South Kivu continues to cause massive population displacement and major problems for Congo’s overstretched, demoralised army. Areas retaken from the CNPSC are now covered with army checkpoints, where soldiers harass and extort money from the local population.

In the South Kivu town of Mboko, which was occupied by the CNPSC for a week, locals told IRIN that soldiers subsequently looted houses, including a compound belonging to the Congolese NGO GEADES, and that they continue to rob people at night.

A 32-year-old teacher in Mboko said he was robbed by a soldier on a recent evening.

“The solider put his gun on my chest and said, ‘You are a Mai-Mai; you must say your last prayers.’ He then put his hands in my pocket, took out two phones and money and told me to run.”

Arrests and extortion

In Sebele, deputy chief Feruzi said 30 young men had been arrested and accused of being Mai-Mai since September.

“[The soldiers] use it at as an excuse to extort money,” he explained. “Once people are arrested they have to pay [$100] to be set free.”

IRIN also received reliable reports of arbitrary arrests of young men in Simbi, Mboko, Lukoke, and Fizi town, where 20 youths were arrested while watching a football match on 23 October and some were subsequently tortured.

In many villages, locals said the actions of Congolese soldiers are helping to build sympathy for the CNPSC.

After the coalition withdrew from Mboko, dozens of young men and children were recruited into the group, while others told IRIN they would consider joining in the future.

“There are two options people have here,” said the teacher. “Go to Tanzania and join the refugee camps or join the Mai-Mai and fight for the country.”

“His image comes into our minds and we start running”

Rapes victims spoke of their trauma, the stigma they felt in speaking about it, and their anger at the impunity as the abuse continues.

A 39-year-old woman from Sebele said she was raped alongside her 14-year-old daughter at 3pm in late September while farming in a nearby field. Her account was confirmed by medical certificates.

                                                                       

“Today, whenever we go to our field and reach the place where the solider raped us, his image comes into our minds and we start running,” said the women.

The Congolese NGO, Solidarity of Volunteers for Humanity, told IRIN that several women were also raped in Lulimba and the mining town of Misisi, both sites of recent clashes between the CNPSC and the army.

A reliable report from local researchers, shared with IRIN, claims that eight women were also raped by soldiers on 8 November in the hills above the village of Sangya. The women were asked what they knew about the Mai-Mai before being assaulted.

According to the same report, on 10 November, a woman arrived at Mboko health centre claiming she had been raped by two soldiers who accused her of providing information to the Mai-Mai. That followed two other cases of rape in Mboko, reported on 6 October.

In Makobola, women told IRIN the soldiers responsible for the attacks remain in the village and continue to rape women despite the cases being reported to army commanders.

“The rapes are still going on in the fields,” said the peace organisation representative. “Because of stigmatisation, women don’t say anything. They are afraid of being abandoned by their families.”

The women said they are now too afraid to farm or leave home at night. Some said they have decided to flee the country.

“I am waiting for some money and then I will go [to Tanazania],” said the 35-year-old mother-of-four.

 

A spokesperson for the Congolese army in South Kivu did not respond with comment in time for publication.

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