United Nations

United Nations human rights official Andrew Gilmour said on March 7 that it was impossible to safely send Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh back to their homes in Myanmar as documents released under freedom of information laws show that the Australian defence department plans to spend almost $400,000 on training members of the Myanma military in 2017-18.

Israel’s fight against the global boycott, divestments and sanctions campaign (BDS) has taken another turn with its attempt to prevent the publication of a database of companies operating in its illegal West Bank settlements.

Another United Nations climate conference (COP23) is over — though many people would have barely noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Paris Climate Agreement is locked in and, contrary to the Coalition’s inetrpretation, Australia needs to ratchet up its emissions reduction.

This is a useful time to reflect on where Australia sits globally on climate action and what areas are of concern.

The following statement from the Australia Burma Rohingya Organisation was read by Habib to a solidarity protest in Melbourne on September 7.

* * *

Today we raise our voices on behalf of the oppressed Rohingya and Kaman people, who are facing ongoing genocide in the Rakhine [Arakan] state of western Myanmar [Burma].

We are also protesting the continuous wars being waged against minorities in the Shan and Kachin states.

There are countless reports from NGOs, scientists and government agencies on climate refugees.

For example, last year more than 2 million people had to gather their possessions and flee as floods hit the Yangtze River in China. But, despite this becoming one of the world’s greatest issues there is very little activism around climate refugees in the developed world.

The United Nations adopted a historic resolution on December 24 to launch negotiations this year on a treaty to render nuclear weapons illegal.

Australia opposed the resolution. The government said US nuclear weapons are essential for security and their use could be justified in certain circumstances. This position was opposed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand which supported the resolution. The General Assembly vote was 113 nations in favour and 35 against, with 13 abstentions.

The United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report of its investigation into human rights violations in Sri Lanka found “reasonable grounds to believe that gross violations of international human rights law … were committed.”

The investigation deals with the period between February 2002 and November 2011. It thus includes the final years of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The LTTE fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka and was defeated in May 2009.


If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

A week out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure.

Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.

Moroccan occupation forces brutally attacked and destroyed the Saharawi Gdeim Izik protest camp on November 8, which had grown to over 20,000 since being established on October 9.

The camp, 15 kilometres outside the capital, El Aaiun, was established to protest lack of job opportunities for Saharawi under the Moroccan occupation and mistreatment of Saharawi by Moroccan authorities.


Subscribe to United Nations