Sumanthiran said that the statement was made despite Sri Lanka signing three Resolutions which note that Sri Lanka will agree to have foreign judges in the judicial process related to human rights. Sri Lanka has agreed to foreign judges by cosponsoring the last three Resolutions on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said today.He told Parliament it was disappointing to note a statement made by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana that Sri Lanka will not allow foreign judges to be part of the judicial process in Sri Lanka. The TNA MP asserted that the Constitution of Sri Lanka does not prevent foreign judges from being part of the local judicial mechanism. The MP warned that if Sri Lanka fails to include foreign judges then the Tamils will push to refer Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court. (Colombo Gazette)

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The Accra meeting was the latest in a series of UN-sponsored talks in the run-up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009. The aim of the negotiations is to create a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, with first-round commitments ending in 2012, on greenhouse gas emissions reduction.“We’re still on track, the process has speeded up and governments are becoming very serious about negotiating a result in Copenhagen,” Yvo de Boer told reporters on the final day of the week-long session.Mr. de Boer, who is the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the “absolute highlight” of the session had been the mandate given by governments to the Chair of the working group on long-term cooperative action to compile proposals made so far and to be made in the coming weeks. The achievement of the Accra meeting had therefore been in “providing the basis for real negotiations to begin in Poznan,” he said, referring to the Polish city that will host this year’s UN Climate Change Conference from 1 to 12 December. Highlighting the progress made during the past week, Mr. de Boer said there was an “encouraging and important” debate on the important topic of deforestation and forest conservation, which was crucial since deforestation accounts for about 20 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions for which humans are responsible.“We cannot come to a meaningful solution on climate change without coming to grips with the question of deforestation,” he stated, adding that countries had made it clear in Accra that they want that issue to be part of a Copenhagen agreement. Discussions also focused on ways of improving the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows industrialized countries to offset some of their own emissions by investing in cleaner energy projects in developing countries.Insufficient investment in Africa was cited as one of the CDM’s shortcomings. “There is a real risk of Africa becoming the forgotten continent in the context of the fight against climate change unless we manage to design a regime going into the future that takes into account in a much more comprehensive way what Africa’s specific needs are not only on adaptation, but also on fuelling clean economic growth,” said Mr. de Boer.The meeting also discussed “sectoral approaches” – through which countries can address emissions from a whole sector of their economy. Mr. de Boer said the debate made it clear that such approaches were not about imposing targets on developing countries, but rather about what governments may or may not choose to do on a voluntary basis at the national level.Some 1,600 participants, including government delegates from 160 countries and representatives from environmental organizations, business and industry and research institutions, attended the Accra meeting – the third major UN-led negotiating session this year and the last before the Poznan conference in December. 27 August 2008Important progress has been made during the latest round of United Nations-led climate change talks in Accra, Ghana, on key issues relating to a new international agreement to tackle global warming, the world body’s top official dealing with the issue said today.

29 July 2010A new joint report by the United Nations and Laos recommends that authorities in the South-East Asian country invest more in education as well as promote good health and decent jobs to achieve their economic and social development targets. The latest National Human Development Report, produced with the help of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), provides a set of recommendations on how to improve human development in Laos through employment.Sonam Yangchen Rana, UNDP Resident Representative in Laos, said at the report’s launch yesterday that its theme could not be “more relevant or timely,” given that the Government is formulating the next national socio-economic development plan for 2011-2015.“Central to the achievement of the economic and social targets set out in the plan for the next five years will be the issue of labour,” she stated.She added that human development is about putting people at the centre of development. “It is about people realizing their potential, increasing their choices and abilities to make informed decisions to live full and creative lives with freedom and dignity.“At its most basic level this means making it easier for people to lead long and healthy lives, by acquiring the knowledge and skills to engage in economic activities, having equal access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and by participating in their community.”Laos has recently improved its ranking in the Human Development Index (HDI), standing at 130th out of 177 countries, according to the 2007-2008 Global Human Development Report. The new report suggests that human development is the highest in the capital, Vientiane, and lowest in the provinces of Sekong, Oudomxay, Attapeu, and Phongsaly.Ms. Rana noted that in a rapidly changing Laos it is important to think not only about economic growth but also about how it can be enjoyed by everyone. For example, she said, it is important to think how women can participate as productive members of society at their workplace on a par with men; how young people can gain skills for employment across all sectors; how the benefits of 8 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) can also be shared by the vulnerable groups. In Laos, as in any society, this relies on the human capacities available to carry out quality work under decent conditions, she stated. “To achieve this we must invest in people from the very beginning, through an improved formal and informal education system, and by promoting good health.” The other recommendations in the report include improving people’s livelihoods through more and better jobs in the non-farm sector, promoting decent work and ensuring that social safety nets are available to migrant workers.

20 December 2011The internationally stated goal of improving access to safe drinking water across the globe is likely to be achieved well ahead of the 2015 deadline, but large numbers of people in the world’s least developed regions will still not benefit, according to a United Nations report released today. The internationally stated goal of improving access to safe drinking water across the globe is likely to be achieved well ahead of the 2015 deadline, but large numbers of people in the world’s least developed regions will still not benefit, according to a United Nations report released today.Reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 is one of the global targets under the internationally-agreed poverty and social development vision known as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have a 2015 achievement deadline.The new study by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN World Health Organization (WHO), entitled Drinking Water Equity, Safety and Sustainability, shows that between 1990 and 2008, the proportion of the world’s population with access to improved drinking water sources increased from 77 per cent to 87 per cent.“The good news is that almost 1.8 billion more people now have access to drinking water compared to the start of the 1990s,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s associate director and water and sanitation chief. “The bad news is that the poorest and most marginalized are being left behind.”However, the report stresses, even though significant progress has been made, at the current rate, 672 million people will still not be using improved drinking water sources in 2015. There are still many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia and South-East Asia that are not on track to meet the target, according to the report.In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, total access has significantly increased since 1990, jumping from 49 per cent to 60 per cent, and reaching an additional 126 million people in urban and 111 million in rural areas. However, population growth has outstripped the progress to the extent that the actual number of people without access was greater in 2008 than it was in 1990, according to the report.The study also found that the richest 20 per cent in sub-Saharan African countries are more than twice as likely to use an improved drinking water source as the poorest 20 per cent. In addition, poor people in rural areas have the lowest access to safe drinking water, with the greatest burden in collecting water falling to women and girls.Globally, more than eight in 10 people without improved drinking water sources live in rural areas. However, the proportion of the rural population in developing regions using piped drinking water on premises was still only 31 per cent in 2008, up from 21 per cent in 1990. In urban areas it went from 71 per cent to 73 per cent during the same period.Investment in water and sanitation is not being optimized, with almost two thirds of total official development assistance for drinking water and sanitation going to the development of large urban systems, the report points out.Water quality surveys showed that many improved drinking water sources such as piped supplies, boreholes and protected wells, do not conform to WHO guidelines. On average, half of all protected dug wells may be contaminated, along with a third of protected springs and boreholes.

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