UN official wins top sustainable development award

Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, will share the $125,000 prize with Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of the Colombian capital, Bogotá, and Sören Hermansen of Denmark, who was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time Magazine last year.“With over 50 per cent of humanity now living in urban areas, the award highlights the urgent need for sustainable urbanization for the future of the planet,” said Ms. Tibaijuka.She joins former United States Vice-President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore as a recipient of the Göteborg Award, which is celebrating its tenth year and is funded by the Swedish city and private companies.The jury panel said that this year’s winners, who will receive their prizes at a ceremony in November, “are ambassadors for one of the most decisive factors for humanity – the battle for sustainable development in the cities and towns around the globe.” 22 June 2009The head of the United Nations agency tasked with promoting socially and environmentally sustainable housing is one of three winners of this year’s prestigious Göteborg Award, known as the “Nobel Prize in Environment.” read more

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First peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo an extraordinary opportunity for

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights (OHCHR), Andrew Gilmour, welcomed Mr. Tshisekedi’s inaugural speech in January, in which he made a “clear commitment” to respect citizens’ rights and end discrimination.The president’s recent decree ordering the release of all political prisoners was also to be welcomed, Mr. Gilmour said, in anticipation of their actual release and the closing of all unofficial detention centres. Mr. Tshisekedi’s unexpected election win on 30 December, despite a week’s delay due to logistical concerns, coming on top of a two-year delay due to former President Joseph Kabila’s reluctance to leave office, marked the first peaceful transfer of power in the country of more than 80 million, since independence from Belgium, almost 60 years ago.Mr. Kabila governed DRC for 18 years, before agreeing to step down last year, although his former ruling coalition has a majority in the legislature.In his inaugural speech in late January, according to news reports, the new president said he and his party were committed to building a modern, peaceful, democratic State, and pledged then to release all political detainees. Mr. Gilmour said that “such measures, if fulfilled, would represent an exceptionally positive development towards the opening up of democratic space, which has been increasingly restricted in recent years.” “During the electoral process, such restrictions were obvious. In the weeks just before and after the elections, the Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC documented the killing of at least 36 civilians in elections-related violence” said the OHCHR official, “most killed by security forces using disproportionate use of force, including the use of live ammunition.”The Assistant Secretary-General’s comments coincided with the publication of a report into DRC violence and rights abuses, in 2018.It found that more than 1,100 people were killed in conflict-related violence, almost 900 were subjected to sexual violence in a war-setting, including 279 children.On the continuing inter-communal violence in the province of Mai-Ndombe, around Yumbi town, that left hundreds dead last December following an orchestrated and well-planned massacre, Mr. Gilmour urged the authorities to extend the rule of law throughout the country.There is an urgent need to take measures to defuse tensions and promote reconciliation in the region and avoid further bloodshed, he said, and to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted. In reply, Marie-Ange Mushobekwa, Minister of Human Rights in DRC, said that those responsible for the Mai-Ndombe killings, in the west of the country, on the banks of the Congo River – and earlier massacres in the Kasais – would be prosecuted.And she said convictions had been announced in association with the killing of UN experts, Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan in Kasai on 12 March 2017.The highly-regarded experts on the region, were brutally murdered while investigating reports of mass atrocities in the Kasais, around conflict between the Kamuina Nsapu militia and Government forces. The fallout from the case continues, with a Congolese army colonel, reportedly arrested in connection with the killing of the two UN monitors, early in December. read more

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