This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Kyrgyz lawyer wins top UN Refugee Agency award
A lawyer whose work helped the Kyrgyz Republic to become the first country in the world to end statelessness, has won a top honour from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Azizbek Ashurov, 38, was on Wednesday named the 2019 recipient of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award.
His organization, Ferghana Valley Lawyers Without Borders (FVLWB), has helped more than 10,000 people to gain Kyrgyz nationality after they became stateless following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The formation of new states in the aftermath left scores of people stateless: stranded across newly established borders, often with now invalid Soviet passports and without any means to prove where they were born.
Mr. Ashurov was motivated by his own family’s difficulties in achieving citizenship after arriving from Uzbekistan.
He told UNHCR: “I cannot stand still when I see an injustice. Statelessness is injustice. A stateless person is not recognized by any state. They are like ghosts. They exist physically, but they don’t exist on paper.”
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award was established in 1954. It is named for Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian scientist, polar explorer and diplomat who was the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the then League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.
Winners receive $150,000, donated by Switzerland and Norway, to pursue a project to assist displaced people, to be developed in close consultation with UNHCR.
UN envoy positive but realistic about upcoming Syria Constitutional Committee meeting
Less than 30 days before the newly-formed Constitutional Committee for Syria meets in Geneva to attempt to secure a peaceful end to years of conflict, the UN Special Envoy for the country acknowledged that progress depends on overcoming
several obstacles: from the release of prisoners to a reduction in violence in the country’s war-ravaged north-west.
Speaking on Wednesday to journalists in the Swiss city, Geir Pedersen appeared upbeat about the 30 October face-to-face meeting of the 150-member Committee, comprising 50 representatives each from the Government, opposition and civil society.
“A committee in itself will not solve the crisis in Syria, and I think no one has ever claimed that. But what we have said is of course a Constitution could help to bridge differences within the Syrian society, it could help to build trust, and it could also be a door-opener to the broader political process.”
A smaller body consisting of 45 members will also meet separately to prepare and draft proposals in line with agreed terms framed by the key principles of respect for the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, and Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
It too will be made up of equal members from the three groups: that is, 15 people each from the Government, opposition and civil society.
First-ever visit of a UN human rights chief to Malaysia
The UN Human Rights High Commissioner will be in Malaysia later this week: the first-ever visit by a UN human rights chief to the country. Michelle Bachelet arrives in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday for a two-day visit at the invitation of the Government.
She is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad and other high-level officials, as well as the national human rights institution, SUHAKAM, civil society organizations, the National Bar Association and the UN and diplomatic community.
The High Commissioner is also due to visit an alternative learning centre for Rohingya refugees.
Dianne Penn, UN News.