Human Rights Council; Afghanistan; Youth employment; CSW; and more

Human Rights Council: Addressing the opening of the latest session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the public demand for the enjoyment of human rights has been most striking in the Arab region, where tens of thousands of women, men and young people have taken to the streets to voice their claims.

Although constrained by resources, the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR) has responded to the calls of those claiming the full enjoyment of their human rights through fact-finding missions and needs assessments, human rights advocacy, good offices activities and technical projects.

Ms. Pillay added that, despite progress, there is still much the Council can do to meet its responsibility to ensure that all people fully enjoy their human rights. It must be even-handed in its approach, improve in following up its recommendations and other actions, and develop ways to tackle States – including among its own members – which fail to cooperate with it.

: The United Nations said today it is relocating international staff from its office in the northern province of Kunduz which was attacked this weekend, reportedly by protesters angry over last week’s burning of copies of the Koran by United States soldiers.

UNAMA said it intends to put in place additional arrangements and measures to make sure that the office can continue to operate in safety.  “The UNAMA office in Kunduz will continue to deliver the critical programmes in the region for the people who need them the most,” said the mission, adding that the world body will continue to stand by the people of Afghanistan for as long as they want it to do so.

Youth Employment:
Governments, corporations and policy-makers must do more to realize the potential of young people worldwide, DSG Asha-Rose Migiro said today, calling for action to overcome the structures and problems that are keeping youth unemployment rates high around the worldwide.

In an address in New York to a partnership event organized by ECOSOC, Ms. Migiro said the lack of decent jobs for young people had become a “key source of social and political upheaval” around the world recently. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made the empowerment of youth one of his priorities for his second term in office. He is expected to soon appoint a UN special representative on youth issues who will be tasked with leading a UN youth volunteers’ program and implementing a youth agenda.

Today’s partnership event, which brought together representatives of government, civil society and the business community is a preparatory exercise for the 2012 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) to be held in early July.

Polio vaccination
: A UN-backed immunization campaign to eradicate polio among Central African Republic (CAR) children has been launched as part of urgent efforts to deal with the resurgence of the disease in the impoverished country.

Last year, CAR detected four imported cases of polio after two years without registering any cases. As a result, the Government is launching a vaccination campaign that seeks to reach children in hard-to-reach populations as well as those living in conflict and post-conflict zones where there is limited access to health services.

The campaign will have health workers going door to door to deliver polio vaccines, vitamin A supplements and provide de-worming treatment to hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of zero to five years old.

At the opening of the 56th two-week session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), DSG Asha-Rose Migiro today called for systematic and comprehensive strategies to empower women in rural areas to maximize their potential to combat extreme poverty and hunger, and help them facilitate sustainable development in their communities.

“If rural women had equal access to productive resources, agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline,” Ms. Migiro told delegates. “Yet the reality is that rural women and girls have restricted access to land, agricultural inputs, finance, extension services and technology. Rural women also face more difficulty in gaining access to public services, social protection, employment, and markets,” she said. The commission’s latest session focuses on the role of rural women and their contributions to fighting poverty and hunger, and how they can be empowered to become effective catalysts of sustainable development.