UNHCR Current Affairs

Indian-origin lawyer Yasmin Sooka to chair UN commission on human rights in South Sudan

South African Indian-origin lawyer Yasmin Sooka has been appointed to chairman of three member UN commission (committee) to monitor the human rights situation in South Sudan.

The committee was constituted by the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) resolution 31/20 which was adopted by consensus, the 47-member body.

Key Facts

  • Other two members of the committee are Kenneth R. Scott (US) and Godfrey M. Musila (Kenya).
  • The committee has been tasked to monitor human rights violations in South Sudan and make recommendations for the process of transitional justice, healing and reconciliation.
  • The Commissioners will serve in their personal capacities and shall provide guidance to the South Sudan Government on transitional justice, accountability and reconciliation issues.
  • It will also engage with regional and international mechanisms to promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses.
  • The committee will have tenure of one year and shall present a comprehensive written report to the UNHRC at its 34th regular session in March 2017.

About Yasmin Sooka

  • She has vast experience in global human rights matters. Currently she is serving as the Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) in South Africa.
  • She was also a leading anti-apartheid activist and had served on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) established by former President Nelson Mandela.
  • She also had served on the UN’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone from 2002-2004.
  • She also had advised the UN Secretary General on accountability for war crimes committed during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka

Background

The UNHRC had constituted Commission following calls for investigation into alleged atrocities committed by the government and rebel forces before an independent South Sudan was carved out of the larger Sudan in 2011 over the issue of ethnicity.

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June 20: World Refugee Day

Every year June 20 is observed as World Refugee Day to raise awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world.

The observance of the day seeks to draw attention to the plight of refugees and also to celebrate their courage and resilience and renew commitment to solve refugee problems.

On this day, United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA) also  known as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) hosts various events and announces a theme for its campaign.

With this UNRA seeks to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have fled their homes forcefully due to war, conflict and persecution.

Background

  • United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had proclaimed 20 June as World Refugee Day by passing a Resolution 55/76 on 4 December 2000.
  • The resolution was passed to mark 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Since then it is observed annually with different themes.
  • Prior to passing of this resolution in 2000, African Refugee Day was formally celebrated on 20 June in several countries especially by Organization of African Unity (OAU) member states.

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