Syria condemned; Secretary-General travel; Darfur and the ICC; Occupy Wall Street

Syria: The United Nations Human Rights Council today strongly condemned the continued abuses by the Syrian authorities as part of its violent crackdown against protesters which has led to the deaths of more than 4,000 people since March, including over 300 children. The 47-member body also urged the Syrian Government to meet its responsibility to protect its people, in a resolution adopted during a special session in Geneva to discuss the report of the independent international commission of inquiry into the crackdown that was released this week. The text – which received 37 votes in favor to four against (China, Cuba, Ecuador and Russia), while six countries abstained – also established a mandate of a Special Rapporteur, or investigator, on the situation of human rights in Syria

Secretary-General Travel:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Bonn this weekend to attend an international conference on Afghanistan hosted by the German Government, before heading to South Africa for the opening of the high-level segment of the United Nations conference on climate change. In Bonn, Mr. Ban will confer with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who will chair the International Afghanistan Conference. He will also meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several foreign ministers who will attend the conference.

At the 17th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa, Mr. Ban will meet with President Jacob Zuma and delegates from other governments. The Secretary-General will also launch the ‘Momentum for Change’ initiative to show cooperation between public and private sectors in combating climate change.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today requested an arrest warrant against Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur.  According to a news release issued by the court, the evidence led the prosecutor to conclude that Mr. Hussein is one of those who bears the greatest criminal responsibility for the same crimes and incidents presented in previous warrants of arrest for government minister Ahmed Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, both of whom have been indicted by the court. This is the ICC’s fourth case in Darfur, which the Security Council referred to it in 2005 after a UN inquiry found serious violations of international human rights law.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the private sector to play a more active role in combating modern forms of slavery, saying that humanity still lives in a world blighted by serfdom and other practices despite efforts by governments and civil society to end the scourge. “To eradicate contemporary forms of slavery, we need new strategies and measures that can unite all actors,” said Mr. Ban in his message to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. “While governments bear the primary responsibility, the private sector has an integral role to play.”

The Right to Development:
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged leaders to respond to people’s calls for the right to build a better future for themselves, stressing that women and youth, in particular, must be helped to enjoy lives of dignity, equality and opportunity. “Today we are at a decisive moment in history,” said the Secretary-General in a statement to mark the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development. “As calls for change echo across the world, we cannot take refuge in silence. ”Next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development [Rio+20] will offer a critical opportunity to chart a course to the future we want,” the Secretary-General added.

Occupy Wall Street
: The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities. Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights. “Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there’s no need to use public force to silence that dissension,” he said.