This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
‘Immediate’ moratorium call, on use of surveillance technology
Surveillance technology should be banned immediately until “effective” national or international controls are put in place, a UN-appointed independent rights expert said on Tuesday.
David Kaye, who’s the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, made the appeal as he prepared to present his latest report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
He highlighted that while States were largely responsible, companies appeared to be “operating without constraint” too, in a private surveillance industry “free for all”.
According to the Special Rapporteur, “surveillance tools can interfere with human rights, from the right to privacy and freedom of expression to rights of association and assembly, religious belief, non-discrimination, and public participation”. But “they are not subject to any effective global or national control”, he said.
Among the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations is an appeal to States to adopt domestic safeguards to protect individuals from unlawful surveillance, in line with international human rights law.
20,000 migrants rescued in Sahara since 2016
Nearly 20,000 people have been rescued from the desert in Niger since 2016 after trying to reach North Africa and being abandoned by traffickers, the UN migration agency IOM said on Tuesday.
Ten days ago, IOM found more than 400 migrants in the Tenéré desert in south-central Sahara, among them seven women and four children.
In Geneva, spokesperson Joel Millman said that although the migrant routes were not a secret, it was extremely difficult for rescuers to find the migrants, whose trucks often break down or who are simply abandoned:
“We know that probably thousands of victims…the remains aren’t even evident because they’re covered by sand or consumed by animals. We can only rely on luck, I would say mostly, and the ability to get resources marshalled. Sometimes local authorities can be really helpful, sometimes resources are really stretched. So it’s a big region and we do our best with the .”
In the latest rescue mission, Mr. Millman said that migrants had come from 14 West African countries, mainly Guinea, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire.
Of all those rescued, 98 per cent opted for voluntary return to their countries of origin, he noted.
Concern over slow decline of malnutrition in India
And finally to India, where the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that despite progress in combating malnutrition, more than three in 10 children are stunted in much of the country.
According to WFP, large numbers of India’s 1.3 billion people do not get enough vitamin A, iron and iodine, especially women and children.
Prolonged periods without an adequate diet can have an irreversible impact on a child's physical growth and brain development, the agency says.
This is despite the fact that India is self-sufficient in food grain production and has seen a large increase in rice, wheat and cereal production.
In a report published jointly by WFP and the Indian Government assessing the country’s progress towards achieving zero hunger by 20 30, it notes that in the last decade, the body mass of Indian women and men dropped by 10 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
While stunting has declined by one fifth in India in the last decade, it is still seeing the slowest rate of decline of other emerging economies and most countries in Asia, WFP says.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.