131st IPU Assembly
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The 131st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and related meetings were held from 12 to 16 October 2014. Over 700 Member of Parliaments (MPs) from 145 countries convened in Geneva to address a range of issues related to gender equality, violence against women, maternal and child mortality, water governance, sustainable development, international humanitarian law, global drug problem, cyber warfare and nuclear disarmament.
A high-level delegation from Afghanistan led by the Speaker of the House of People, H.E. Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi participated in the Assembly and related meetings. The delegation included the Deputy Speaker of the House of Elders, H.E. Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, and prominent MPs from both Houses.
Outgoing IPU President, Mr. Abdelwahad Radi said that the Assembly had committed to enhancing its role in upholding democracy and towards ensuring equity, equality and justice for all. In a brief video message, UN Chief Mr. Ban Ki Moon said it was important for the IPU to champion the cause for gender equality as a means to realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Ms. Farkhunda Zahra Naderi, Member of the House of People, who was elected earlier this year as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights (SCDHR), presided over meetings of the SCDHR.
Ms. Shukria Barakzai, Member of the House of People participated in the meetings as Vice-President for the Asia-Pacific Group in the Standing Committee on Peace and Security (SCPIS).
Ms. Elay Ershad, Member of the House of People participated in the meetings as Substitute Regional Representative for the Asia-Pacific Group in the Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians (CCWP).
The Secretary General of the House of People, Mr. Khudai Nazar Nasrat, the Deputy Secretary General of the House of People, Mr. Rahimullah Ghalib and the Secretary General of the House of Elders, Mr. Sayed Hafizullah Hashimi participated in the meetings of the Association of the Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP).
One of the main highlights of the 131st IPU Assembly was the election of the IPU President. Mr. Saber Choudhary of Bangladesh was elected to succeed Mr. Abelwahad Radi as IPU President for a three-year term.
In a resolution adopted on the 15th of October 2014, the IPU called on governments and international donors to urgently mobilize increased financial, medical, and logistical assistance to Ebola-affected areas.
The Speaker of the House of People and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Elders presented their statements to the Assembly in the General Debate.
The delegation of Afghanistan held bilateral meetings with the parliamentary delegations from other countries including the Islamic Republic of Iran, India and the United Kingdom.
The delegation also paid a visit to the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva and awarded H.E. Dr. Nanguyalai Tarzi, Ambassador Plenipotentiary to Switzerland and Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva with the Certificate of Honor from the House of People and a commemorative medal from the House of Elders for his outstanding contribution during the 131st IPU Assembly.
It is worth mentioning that H.E. Dr. Tarzi is the recipient of the honor from the House of People for the fourth time and for the third time the House of People has honored him with the commemorative medal.
The 65th Annual Executive Committee (ExCom) Meeting of UNHCR
- Category: Humanitarian
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The 65th Annual Executive Committee (ExCom) Meeting of UNHCR in which delegates from more than a hundred countries participated, took place between 29 September and 3 October 2014. The delegation of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was led by H. E. Dr. Jamaher Anwary, Minister of Refugee and Repatriations (MoRR).
On the agenda of the ExCom Meeting were various international humanitarian issues related to refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced (IDPs), and stateless persons. Discussions were also held on the protection of the people concerned and UNHCR’s internal audit, accounting and budgetary issues.
The Meeting commenced with a high-level segment on ‘‘Enhancing International Cooperation, Solidarity, Local Capacities and Humanitarian Action for Refugees in Africa.’’ The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. António Guterres then presented his statement, in which he expressed concerns on the protracted crisis in different regions.
Also present in the Meeting was UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon, who expressed his concerns on the ongoing humanitarian crises in the world and commended the work of UNHCR and other UN agencies in helping people in need. In concluding his remarks, Mr. Ban Ki Moon shared his personal experience as an IDP during the Korean War and said that he saw the UN as a beacon of hope during those difficult periods.
H.E. Dr. Anwary discussed the situation of Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republics of Iran and Pakistan and expressed gratitude to their Governments for their continuous support in hosting Afghan refugees. He recognized the establishment of national unity government as a historical day for Afghans and emphasized that the new Afghan Government is committed to placing the issue of Afghan refugees high on the national priority agenda. He reaffirmed that the Afghan Government will take concrete measures to reassure donors and international community of its commitments for returns and sustainable reintegration of Afghan refugees and IDPs.
On 30 September 2014, on the sidelines of ExCom, a consultative session on the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) to support voluntary repatriation, sustainable reintegration and assistance to host countries: ‘‘A glass half full.’’ was held where in addition to the achievements, challenges and opportunities of SSAR implementation, country specific portfolios of projects were discussed with international partners.
The delegation of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also held bilateral meetings with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the delegation of Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in which issues related to Afghan refugees and returnees were discussed.
27th session of Human Rights Council
- Category: Human Rights
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The 27th session of Human Rights Council was held between 8- 26 September 2014. The newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein opened the session with an update on the activities of his office. In his remarks, Mr. Al Hussein recalled his experience of serving with the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia and said “there is no justification ever, for the degrading, the debasing or the exploitation of other human beings – on whatever basis; nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or caste.’’ He spoke on the Israel-Palestine conflict and on the human rights situation in different regions including Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka. He expressed his office’s concern on the human rights situation of migrants around the world.
Mr. Al Hussein stressed on the need for the international community to bend the course of humanity’s future into a destination of hope and enlightenment. He said that his office will extend all possible assistance, to States in efforts of heightening their protection and promotion of human rights.
During the three week session, the Council convened thematic Panel Discussions, interactive dialogues with Independent Experts, Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups on a range of human rights issues. The thematic reports of the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights were presented which were followed by general debates.
The report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was presented and Member States, Observer States, NHRI’s and NGO’s expressed their views. The human rights situations in Ukraine, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Sri Lanka and Iraq in light of abuses committed by the so called ISIL were also discussed.
The 47 member Council approved the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group reports on the following 14 countries: Norway, Albania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal, Bhutan, Dominica, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Costa Rica, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Qatar and Nicaragua.
The delegation of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan commended the Kingdom of Bhutan for the receptive and constructive manner in which it participated in the UPR process. The two recommendations that Afghanistan had made enjoyed the support of Bhutan and the delegation expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation of the fact.