Daily Archives: October 2, 2015

Hailing Somalia’s ratification, UN renews call for universalization of child rights treaty

2 October 2015 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon led a chorus of United Nations officials in hailing Somalia’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in renewing the call for the last remaining country that has yet to join the treaty to do so.

Somalia deposited its instrument of ratification at UN Headquarters in New York yesterday during the annual treaty event held in conjunction with the General Assembly’s high-level debate, formalizing the process of ratification started earlier this year.

In doing so, the Horn of Africa nation became the 196th State party to the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history. The United States is now the only country that has not ratified it.

“The Secretary-General welcomes the Government of Somalia’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an important measure which binds the Government to ensure specific protections for all children in the country,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

Adopted in 1989, the Convention is the world’s strongest commitment to promote and respect the human rights of children, including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence and from any form of discrimination, and to have their views heard.

Mr. Ban encouraged the US “to join the global movement and help the world reach the objective of universal ratification,” and affirmed the UN’s support in these efforts.”

Also welcoming Somalia’s ratification was Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; Marta Santos Pais, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children; and Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In a joint statement, they said Somalia’s action is “a significant and very welcome step” toward realizing the rights of the country’s 6.5 million children, who face enormous challenges. Somalia today has one of the highest under-five mortality rates in the world, alarming malnutrition rates, and very high levels of violence affecting children.

“By becoming the 196th nation to ratify the Convention, Somalia has committed to uphold the dignity and worth of every child and translate the obligations of the CRC into concrete actions, especially for those children in greatest need and at greatest risk,” they stated.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in a separate statement, also welcomed the ratification and repeated its call for universal ratification of the Convention, adding that it looked forward to engaging with the US.

The Committee, which monitors implementation of the treaty, also urged States to ratify the three Optional Protocols to the Convention that deal with protecting children from trafficking, prostitution and child pornography; prohibiting their recruitment in armed conflict; and allowing children to bring forward their complaints to the UN if their rights are being abused.

Somalia was among 24 Member States that undertook 31 treaty actions during this year’s event at UN Headquarters, on legal instruments covering issues such as human rights, international trade and development, penal matters, disarmament, and environment, among others.

Written question – VP/HR – Ceasefire violations on the line of contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan – P-013245/2015

Armenia has claimed that Azerbaijani soldiers have killed three Armenian civilians in attacks against several villages on the border between the two countries in September 2015. These attacks have since led to clashes between the two sides in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, resulting in the death of five soldiers.

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement on 26 September 2015 calling on both sides to accept an OSCE mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations, noting that without this mechanism each side ‘will continue to blame each other for initiating deadly attacks on the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border’.

1. Will the VP/HR issue a statement on the subject, welcoming the OSCE Minsk Group’s call for an investigation into the ceasefire violations?

2. What discussions has the VP/HR had on this topic with Herbert Salber, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia?

Written question – EU funds for Africa and the Middle East since 2005 – P-013110/2015

Never before have there been so many refugees in the world. At the same time, international aid organisations are faced with significant reductions in contributions from donor countries. On top of this, many donors are failing to meet their previous commitments. In 2015, the UN’s funding gap for covering essential humanitarian needs in connection with the crisis in Syria alone is around EUR 4 billion, i.e. 62%.

1. What commitments have the EU, EU Member States and third countries made towards Africa and the Middle East since 2005 in the context of international donor conferences?

2. What amount have the Council and the European Council committed towards these regions during the same period?

3. To date, how much money has actually been provided on the basis of these commitments?

Answer – Information campaigns aimed at migrants and asylum seekers in third countries – E-008260/2015

The two pilot information campaigns in Niger (developed and implemented in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration, IOM) and in Ethiopia (developed and implemented in cooperation with UNHCR) aim at informing potential migrants of the dangers that they can encounter along the migratory route to Europe, including the danger of exploitation, smuggling, trafficking or even death. Moreover, potential migrants shall be provided with a realistic picture of perspectives and possibilities in Europe as well as possibilities of obtaining international protection along the route and in the EU in order to enable them to make better informed migratory choices. Providing such information to potential migrants does not in any way affect the right to regular migration or to request international protection.

The budget designated for the pilot information campaigns is close to EUR 1 million each.

Ensuring safe access for persons in need of international protection is a priority for this Commission. Under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the Commission has supported the resettlement of 14 664 refugees in the 2014/2015 period. The Commission welcomes that the Council adopted conclusions on the resettlement of 22 504 persons in need of international protection on 20 July 2015, following a Commission Recommendation announced on 27 May 2015.

As far as support to developing long-term capacity building to providing protection in third countries is concerned, the Commission has earmarked EUR 30 million under the AMIF for support to Regional Development and Protection Programmes in North Africa and the Horn of Africa for 2015-2016. Further support from other financial lines is also envisaged.

Answer – Asylum – E-008254/2015

Following a Commission Recommendation on a European Resettlement Scheme and in line with the European Council Conclusions of 25-26 June 2015, the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 20 July 2015, agreed to resettle 22 504 persons in clear need of international protection, through multilateral and national schemes, reflecting the specific situations of Member States. Such resettlement would be carried out on request of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, from a third country to a Member State in agreement with the latter, with the objective of protecting them against refoulement and admitting and granting them the right to stay and any other rights similar to those granted to a beneficiary of international protection.

In the operation of such a resettlement scheme, Member States agreed to take account of priority regions for resettlement including North Africa, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, focusing in particular on the countries where the Regional Development and Protection Programmes are implemented.

Member States also use additional legal ways of admission of persons in need of protection and are encouraged to continue to do so and further step up their efforts in this regard.

These figures should not be seen in isolation from other measures set out in the European Agenda on Migration. The Agenda presents a comprehensive package of measures, that balance the principles of solidarity and responsibility, and all its proposals are interlinked with a view to addressing migration in the most effective way.