UN mission to open new human rights office in eastern Sierra Leone

In addition to promoting the work of the TRC, the new office will discharge a range of activities including training, monitoring and reporting human rights abuses, and raising public awareness on human rights issues and international humanitarians principles. During the opening ceremony on 2 May, addresses are expected to be made by Alan Doss, UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Governance and Stabilization, and Rodolfo Mattarollo, the head of the UN Mission’s Human Rights Office.UNAMSIIL was established by the Security Council in October 1999 to cooperate with the Government and the other parties in implementing the Lomé Peace Agreement and to assist in the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan. The Council revised the Mission’s mandate in February 2000, and expanded its size, which it did again in May 2000 and last March. As part of its mandate, the peace operation is to support the activities of UN civilian officials, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and his staff, human rights officers and civil affairs officers.The decision to establish a truth commission in Sierra Leone was made in 1999, to allow victims of human rights abuses to tell their stories. read more

New chief of UN Women highlights girls education as priority to combat

“Education is one of the founding services that all women and girls need to access in order for us to make a difference,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, told reporters during her first press conference in New York. She was appointed in July and took up the post in August. “Education is the foundation for everything we need to do to succeed,” she stressed, adding that this issue will feature prominently in the entity’s agenda as part of a push to accelerate the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One of the goals is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, who focused on several of her priorities for UN Women, underlined that it is not only crucial to facilitate access to education for girls but also to reduce the number of girls who drop out of school. Another key priority will be ensuring women’s reproductive health rights, she said. “I see reproductive health and reproductive rights as an essential building block on which we need to serve the women, and I see economic empowerment as another important layer. Having those layers we can then address poverty and we will be able to lead to women’s emancipation. All of these are integral,” she said.Working with men and boys is also important as they play an important role in actively fighting for the emancipation of women, she added.During the press briefing, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka noted that while it is important to empower women and have their voices be heard, it is also important strengthen national institutions to better serve women’s needs.“It is my hope and vision that together, and using the existing agreements as well as conventions, we are at a position where we can be game changers as far as supporting women’s emancipation,” she said. “Women’s voices need to be heard but the public institutions that we lead need to serve women and women must feel the service that we are bringing to them.”She added that UN Women will seek to collaborate and coordinate with organizations and institutions within and outside the UN with both the expertise and the resources to do advance women’s interests. In addition, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka said another priority in her agenda will be to increase funding for the entity. UN Women will seek to work with Member States to increase their contributions, as well explore ways to diversify funding sources from the private sector, foundations, philanthropists and individuals, she said. UN Women is currently looking to raise $100 million by the end of 2013. read more