On Human Rights Day, UN shines spotlight on role of rights defenders

The United Nations marked Human Rights Day today by shining the spotlight on the hundreds of thousands of “largely unsung heroes,” the human rights defenders who risk dismissal, harassment, torture, jail and even death for their activities.

Iraq paves way for UN treaty on enforced disappearance to enter into force

The United Nations human rights chief today welcomed the approaching entry into force of a landmark new treaty to deter enforced disappearance after Iraq became the 20th State to ratify the convention, paving the way for it to become effective in the next 30 days.

UN experts urge South Africa to strengthen control over private security firms

A group of independent United Nations experts today urged South Africa to strengthen oversight and control over private military and security companies exporting their services abroad, saying regulations currently in place face implementation challenges.

Review of UN rights council an opportunity to boost effectiveness, Assembly told

The upcoming five-year review of the United Nations Human Rights Council should help it make a greater difference on the ground, reacting more swiftly and effectively to chronic and urgent abuses, the body’s president told the General Assembly today.

Anti-leprosy laws must be repealed, say UN human rights experts

United Nations independent human rights experts have urged the repeal of all laws discriminating against people affected by leprosy, which has been eliminated as a public health problem in most countries but still carries a strong social stigma.

Nepal: UN receives assurances that discrimination verdicts will be enforced

The United Nations human rights office in Nepal today said that it has been assured by local Government officials that two landmark verdicts on cases involving caste-based discrimination will be swiftly enforced.

UN launches campaign for universal ban on sale, prostitution of children

The United Nations today launched a major campaign for universal adoption of treaty protocols that outlaw the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.

UN body urges support for treaty regulating private military, security companies

A United Nations expert body is urging broad support for the creation of a new global treaty to regulate the activities of private military and security contractors, stressing the need for strict control mechanisms for this “highly specific and dangerous trade.”

Rural women around the world deprived of their human rights, say UN chief

Women living in rural areas in many parts of the world face severe deprivations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today in a message on the International Day of Rural Women calling for greater support of their rights.

UNICEF lauds first-ever children's rights law in Southern Sudan

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has hailed the first-ever law recognizing children's rights launched today in Southern Sudan, extolling the Government for its efforts to create a society in which children can grow and develop to their full potential.