Syria; Human Rights Council; Indonesia; Bahrain; and more

Syria: Russia said Tuesday it was ready to support a United Nations resolution endorsing Kofi Annan’s plan for settling the Syrian crisis, signaling it is prepared to raise the pressure on its old ally.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the resolution shouldn’t turn into an ultimatum to the Syrian government, setting the stage for tough bargaining over the wording of the document at the U.N. Security Council. But Lavrov’s statement appeared to indicate growing impatience with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Lavrov said that Annan’s proposals should now be unveiled, adding that Moscow stands ready to back a U.N. Security Council resolution supporting it.

HRC panel on HIV
: A top United Nations official today stressed the importance of protecting the rights of individuals with HIV/AIDS, as well as of populations who are more vulnerable to the epidemic.

During the first UN Human Rights Council panel on HIV, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay underlined that although there has been much progress since HIV was first discovered 31 years ago, there is still much to be done to ensure that no human rights violations are committed which make individuals more vulnerable to the disease.

Ms. Pillay underscored that a human rights approach to HIV also needs to address a wide range of abuses which may increase vulnerability to the disease such as violence against women and girls, in addition to ensuring that current laws and practices do not discriminate against people living with HIV.

: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Indonesia’s regular contribution of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions as a remarkable expression of international solidarity on peace and security, noting that the country’s president is himself a former blue helmet.

The UN chief said he had asked Mr. Yudhoyono to also consider contributing air assets, such as helicopters, to the peacekeeping missions, which are in great need of them.

While in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, Mr. Ban met with Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with discussions centred on ways to implement the recently adopted ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership in all areas, including disaster risk reduction and peace and security.

The United Nations human rights office today voiced concern over the alleged excessive use of force against protesters, including teargas and rubber bullets, by security forces in Bahrain and called on the Government to investigate the reports.

OHCHR called on the Government to investigate the alleged use of excessive force, and said it hoped that the implementation of a new code of conduct requiring the police force to adhere fully to human rights principles will be “carefully monitored.”

DR Congo:
Serious human rights violations, including killings, disappearances and arbitrary detentions, were committed by Congolese and security forces during last year’s presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a United Nations report released today.

The report documents the killing of at least 33 people by security forces in Kinshasa, the capital, between 26 November and 25 December, as well as the wounding of 83 others, most of them by bullets. In addition, 16 people remain unaccounted for and 265 people were arrested, many of them saying they were arbitrarily detained and tortured while in confinement.

The UN Joint Human Rights Office noted that despite initial difficulties accessing detention facilities, victims and witnesses, the Government showed engagement by opening a judicial investigation in December

: The top United Nations envoy in Iraq has strongly condemned today’s series of deadly bomb attacks in a number of cities that claimed the lives of dozens of people and injured many others. He urged authorities to make every effort to identify the perpetrators of the “atrocious acts of violence” and bring them to justice.

Media reports indicated that a series of apparently coordinated bomb blasts went off in over a dozen cities and towns, including the capital, Baghdad, as well as Karbala, Kirkuk, Falluja and Mosul, killing more than 40 people and wounding scores of others.

: The United Nations refugee agency today expressed concern over the resumption of mortar attacks in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu, which led to the deaths of at least four internally displaced persons (IDPs), including two children.

Mortars landed in a small IDP settlement in the Wardhigley district on Monday morning, marking the first attack of its kind since August when anti-government forces withdrew from the majority of districts in the capital.