Post-2015 Development Advisor appointed; Syria briefings; Afghanistan attacks; Pakistan and Human Rights; and more

Post-2015 Adviser appointed: SG Ban Ki-moon appointed today Ms. Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria as his Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, and Parfait Onanga-Anyanga of Gabon as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB).

Ms. Mohammed brings to the position over 30 years of experience as a development practitioner in the public and private sectors as well as civil society.  The Special Adviser is currently the CEO and founder of the Center for Development Policy Solutions, a think-tank focused on addressing policy and knowledge gaps within the government, parliament and private sector in development and civil society for robust advocacy materials.

She also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, New York, and her past experience includes serving as the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the anti-poverty targets known as the MDGs. In addition, she currently serves on numerous international advisory panels and boards, including the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Secretary General’s Global Sustainability Panel.

Amid growing atrocities and little evidence that the Syrian Government is living up to its commitment to stop the ongoing violence, UN officials today urged the world community to act with one voice to end the crisis in the Middle Eastern country. “Syria is at a pivotal moment. And so are we,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of the General Assembly. “Syria and the region can quickly move from tipping point to breaking point. The dangers of full-scale civil war are imminent and real.”

Mr. Annan also reported to the Assembly that, despite the acceptance of the six-point plan and the deployment of UN observers to Syria, the plan is not being implemented. “It is your shared interest – and our collective responsibility – to act quickly. The process cannot be open-ended. The longer we wait, the more radicalized and polarized the situation will become, and the harder it will be to forge a political settlement,” said Mr. Annan.

The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Al Araby, said that the League does not call for the Security Council to resort to the use of force or military options, but rather for using political, economic and commercial pressures enshrined in the UN Charter.

The United Nations has strongly condemned yesterday’s attacks in four Afghan provinces which killed 40 civilians, including 10 children, and injured at least 67 others, and called for those responsible to be held accountable. According to media reports, the attacks include two Taliban suicide bombings and a NATO airstrike that Afghan officials say killed 18 civilians.

Since UNAMA began monitoring incidents of civilian casualties in the present armed conflict, the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide attacks by anti-government elements have by far caused the greatest number of civilian casualties.

“Yesterday’s attacks in Kandahar, Faryab and Paktika underlined the disproportionate impact that these internationally condemned tactics have on civilians, particularly on women and children,” the mission said in a statement.

Pakistan must boost its efforts to protect the human rights of its citizens, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today, calling on the Government to pass legislation on crucial issues such as torture, education and women’s rights.

“All rights should be available to all people in Pakistan, irrespective of their gender, religion, social group or any other consideration,” Ms. Pillay said at a press conference in Islamabad.

Ms. Pillay, who wrapped up a four-day visit, stressed that the country’s commitment to universal primary education must be accompanied by a reform in the school curricula to better promote tolerance and human rights, in particular with regard to religious and other minorities.

Ms. Pillay also welcomed the country’s adoption of a law to establish a National Human Rights Commission last week, and urged Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to ensure an open and transparent process to appoint commissioners, and reiterated her office’s readiness to assist the country in its efforts to protect and promote the rights of its citizens.

Also with regard to Pakistan, the Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent reports of threats to the life of Ms. Asma Jahangir, a former UN human rights special rapporteur and a prominent human rights lawyer and activist in Pakistan.

As the Secretary-General has stressed in the context of reprisals against human rights defenders, he urges the Government to investigate the nature and source of the threats and to take all possible steps to ensure her protection. The Secretary-General also calls upon the authorities to ensure the security of all human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers in Pakistan, who are an important pillar of efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

Sudanese refugees:
The top UN humanitarian relief official in Sudan today voiced deep concern at reports that more people are fleeing the country’s southern regions to escape fighting and severe food shortages, and stressed the need for humanitarian access to all those in need.

There are reports of raids and looting of markets by armed groups in both South Kordofan and North Kordofan states which have recently forced more civilians to flee their homes, according to a statement issued by the office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari.

There are also reports of high numbers of people who have been fleeing to South Sudan to escape the continued fighting and severe food shortages in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the statement added. Meanwhile, South Sudan’s Unity state is hosting another 38,000 refugees from Sudan’s South Kordofan state.