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UNITED NATIONS (AFP)-29/7/2010 – The UN General Assembly on Wednesday (28/7/2010) recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right, a move hailed by water advocates as a momentous step toward a future treaty.

After more than 15 years of contentious debate on the issue, 122 countries voted in favor of a compromise Bolivian resolution enshrining the right, while the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and 37 other nations abstained.

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New York: UN, 7/7/2010: 7 July 2010 – The targeting of civilians, sexual violence and the denial of humanitarian access remain widespread in armed conflict, senior United Nations officials told the Security Council today, urging greater efforts to end impunity for such acts.

“The conduct of parties to conflict is inevitably affected by their sense of susceptibility to punishment and accountability to their victims, and clear signals that impunity will not be tolerated,” UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said during the debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

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UNITED NATIONS(Agencies: 3/7/2010): – THE General Assembly on Friday unanimously approved the establishment of a single UN agency to promote equality for women.

The resolution adopted by consensus by the 192-member world body will put four existing UN bodies dealing with the advancement of women under a single umbrella that will be known as ‘UN Women.’ Diplomats burst into applause when Assembly President Ali Abdessalam Treki banged his gavel signifying approval.

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New York, (Agencies:June 29/6/ 2010): An independent United Nations expert today urged Israel to prevent further rights violations in East Jerusalem, warning that population transfers in or from occupied territory are war crimes under international law.

Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, cited in particular the situation of four Palestinians threatened with the loss of their right of residence, as well as the plan by the Mayor of Jerusalem to demolish 22 buildings housing Palestinians in Silwan as part of a redevelopment of the area.

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Geneva:(Agencies: 25/6/2010): UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

"Torturers, and their superiors, need to hear the following message loud and clear: however powerful you are today, there is a strong chance that sooner or later you will be held to account for your inhumanity," Pillay said.

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Lagos —(AFRICA: 20/6/2010):  Member States of the International Criminal Court (ICC), including Nigeria, have agreed on what constitutes the crime of aggression, a long-running source of contention in international law, after nearly one decade of discussion.

 Under the resolution adopted at the end of the two-week-long ICC review conference in Kampala, Uganda last weekend, blockades of ports or coasts of a State by armed forces of another State, as well as an invasion or attack by troops of one State on the territory of another, are considered as acts of aggression under the statute.

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BEIJING — South Korea said Sunday that it will ask the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its deadly attack on a South Korean warship, a move that could ratchet up pressure on the isolated Stalinist regime and add a new flash point in U.S. relations with China.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will make the request in an address to his nation Monday during which he will detail a package of measures in response to the March 26 torpedoing of the 1,200-ton Cheonan and the killing of 46 sailors, said his spokesman Lee Dong-kwan.

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UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Libya was elected Thursday (13/5/2010) to the United Nations Human Rights Council, over the objections of numerous NGOs that said the country was unfit to serve on the body. 

But the appeal fell on deaf ears, and a General Assembly secret ballot produced 155 votes in favor of adding Libya to the council, significantly more than the 97 votes needed.

UN ambassador Susan Rice opted not to wade directly into the dispute, and suggested in remarks issued after the vote that such rifts are part and parcel of international diplomacy.

and 13 other nations ran unopposed for 14 of the council’s seats in a ballot process in which regional groups for the first time each put forward the same number of candidates as the number of seats available to them, ensuring they would be elected without competition.

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WASHINGTON (Agencies):  – Is the CIA’s secret program of drone strikes against terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen a case of illegal assassinations or legitimate self defense? 

That was a central question Wednesday as the program came under fire from several legal scholars who called for greater oversight by Congress, arguing the attacks may violate international law and put intelligence officers at risk of prosecution for murder in foreign countries.

Four law professors offered conflicting views, underscoring the murky legal nature of America’s nine-year-old war against extremists. The conflict has spread from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a complex campaign against al-Qaida, the Taliban and other insurgents worldwide.

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have defended the use of attacks from unmanned aircraft. But they have also tiptoed around the issue because the CIA program — which has escalated in Pakistan over the past year — is classified and has not yet been acknowledged publicly by the government.

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Geneva:(Agencies: 27/3/2010): The Human Rights Council closed its thirteenth regular session this afternoon, adopting 28 texts on a wide range of issues, including adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, in the context of mega-events; the human rights of persons with disabilities; the protection of human rights defenders; the role and responsibility of judges, prosecutors and lawyers with regard to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the fight against sexual violence against children; on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; on the grave human rights violations by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; combating defamation of religions; and the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

By virtue of the texts adopted, the Council established a committee of independent experts to monitor proceedings by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side with regard to investigations into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the Council’s Fact-Finding Mission.

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