- The presence and activities of mercenaries and private military and security companies in Africa, is the main focus at United Nations meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, which kicked off yesterday.
“This regional consultation in Africa is of particular importance given that the region is becoming a key market for the security industry,” said Shaista Shameem, who currently heads the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries.
“However, private military and security companies have remained largely unregulated, insufficiently monitored and rarely held accountable for the international crimes and human rights abuses they have committed,” Ms Shameem added.
Representatives of 25 African nations are participating in the meeting, which is the fourth of a series of five regional consultations that will end with the consultation with the Western European and Others Group in Geneva in April 2010.
During the meeting, participants were expected to share good practices and lessons learned on the monitoring and regulation of the activities of private military and security companies, particularly on the adoption of a possible draft convention regulating their activities.
The Working Group “welcomes this opportunity to build on national experience in the continent to discuss general guidelines and principles for national and international regulation and oversight of the activities of private companies with the aim of encouraging the protection of human rights,” it stated.
The five-member body, whose full title is the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination, was established in 2005 by the now defunct UN Commission on Human Rights.
It is composed of the following independent experts who serve in their personal capacities: Ms Shaista Shameem (Chairperson-Rapporteur, Fiji), Ms Najat al-Hajjaji (Libya), Ms Amada Benavides de Pérez (Colombia), Mr José Luis Gómez del Prado (Spain), and Mr Alexander Nikitin (Russia).
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.