DR Congo; South Sudan; UNHCR and OIC; and more

DR Congo: Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, today voiced concern over the human rights situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has experienced a recent upsurge in violence. Mr. Šimonovic said he was “appalled” by the heightened levels of recent violence triggered by defections in the Congolese armed forces, including former members of certain militia groups, and welcomed joint efforts between the peacekeepers of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), humanitarian actors and the authorities to protect civilians and respond to human rights violations.

South Sudan:
Welcoming South Sudan’s commitment to human rights, a top United Nations official today encouraged the country on its “very long and difficult path to peace, prosperity and a full realization of human rights,” and stressed the importance of addressing issues such as arbitrary detentions, torture and violence against women.

In a statement issued on the penultimate day of her five-day visit to the country, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that the young nation, which gained independence from Sudan last year following a referendum, must strive to put a legal framework in place that recognizes and protects the human rights of all its citizens.

Meanwhile, South Sudan has withdrawn its police from the disputed Abyei region on its border with Sudan, the United Nations said on Friday, after the U.N. Security Council threatened the African neighbors with sanctions to try and stop an escalating conflict.

Addressing a first-of-its-kind meeting on refugees in the Muslim world, the top United Nations refugee official today urged Islamic nations to take long-standing principles of providing asylum and enshrine them in national legislation.

The conference – organized jointly by the OIC and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – is the first ministerial-level meeting to deal specifically with the issue of refugees in the Muslim world. It seeks to highlight the continued generous hospitality and assistance extended by OIC member States to refugees and asylum-seekers, many of whom have been hosted in large numbers over a long period of time.

Its main themes are UNHCR’s role in enhancing refugee protection in OIC member States; multilateral cooperation, including burden and responsibility sharing to protect and assist refugees; and voluntary repatriation, as the most preferred durable solution for any refugee situation.

Land, fisheries and forests
: A United Nations-backed committee today endorsed a set of far-reaching global guidelinesto help governments protect the rights of people, especially the poor, to own or access land, forests and fisheries. The new Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security was adopted by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) – the leading global platform for discussions on food security issues – in Rome earlier on Friday.

Among the issues dealt with in the guidelines is the so-called ‘land-grabbing’ phenomenon, according to a news release issued by FAO. It recommends that safeguards be put in place to protect tenure rights of local people from risks that could arise from large-scale land acquisitions, and also to protect human rights, livelihoods, food security and the environment.