25 April 2011Peace and SecurityA new United Nations report voices serious concern about the continued recruitment of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) and calls for measures to address the ongoing “protection crisis” in the country. In his latest report to the Security Council on the issue of children and armed conflict in CAR, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notes a number of factors contributing to the protection crisis, which affects women and children in particular. These include sporadic fighting between Government forces and armed groups – despite the signing of a peace agreement in June 2008 – and widespread banditry, as well as extreme poverty and the lack of capacity of the defence and security forces and the judiciary.“In spite of the Government’s commitment to end the use and recruitment of children, their mobilization into the ranks of rebel groups and self-defence militias throughout the country continued during the reporting period,” Mr. Ban says in the report, which covers the period from December 2008 to December 2010.The report notes continued grave violations, such as the killing of children, sexual violence, attacks on health centres and the denial of humanitarian access. In addition, in the south-east of the country, the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continues to abduct and forcibly recruit children and use them as combatants, spies, sex slaves and porters.The lack of systematic birth registration exacerbated challenges related to addressing grave violations, according to the report, since it is often not possible to prove the age of an individual. Official statistics show that only 49 per cent of births were registered nationally in 2010.Mr. Ban notes that during the visit of his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to the CAR in May 2008, the leadership of the two groups that signed the peace agreement with the Government – the Armée populaire pour la restauration de la République et la démocratie (APRD) and the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR) – committed to preparing action plans to stop child recruitment. A draft action plan to halt child recruitment by the APRD and ensure the release of all children associated with the group has been ready since June 2008, Mr. Ban points out. However, the Government has delayed its signature, arguing that a comprehensive action plan should be signed with all parties to the 2008 peace agreement instead. Meanwhile, disagreements between the UFDR and the Government on the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process for adults have impeded the completion of an action plan to halt the recruitment of children.Mr. Ban voices concern about the delays regarding the action plans and urges the Government to facilitate their preparation, as appropriate.He also urges the Government to ensure that grave violations against children, especially child recruitment, sexual violence and abductions, are addressed through the rigorous investigation and prosecution of those responsible for such crimes.In addition, the Secretary-General calls on the Government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all children associated with local self-defence militias. As an immediate priority, he urges the Government to issue clear orders, including at the local level, prohibiting the recruitment and use of children by these groups. “In order to ensure the durable separation of children from armed groups in the Central African Republic, I call on United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to support the Government in the development and implementation of long-term reintegration programmes for children formerly associated with armed forces and groups,” he adds.
OTTAWA – Even the most hardened politicians succumbed to the pain of global tragedy this week.Hit first by the shooting in Orlando on Sunday, then by the beheading of another Canadian hostage in the Philippines on Monday, and by the slaying of a British MP on Thursday, Parliament Hill reeled with shock and outrage.The business of Parliament kept a frantic pace, however, driven by the government’s wish to pass the assisted dying bill as soon as possible. The bill spent the week caught between the will of the House and the new-found determination of the Senate.Less noticeable were several moves to rejig policy in a way that could affect everyday lives in Canada.Here are three ways politics mattered this week:PENSION PROBLEMS: Federal and provincial finance officials have been burning the candle at both ends this week in the hopes of finding a compromise that would see the federal Liberals keep an election promise to expand the Canada Pension Plan.The federal goal, as vaguely outlined in speeches and documents, is to substantially increase the retirement payout to the next generation of middle-class retirees. Fewer people will be covered by private plans, and those who are covered will often have less generous benefits than today’s retirees.But there’s an open question about whether governments need to step into the breach. The price of an expanded CPP is higher premiums for employers and employees today. Some provinces have yet to be convinced that the higher price is worth paying right now, especially since there will be a political backlash from small business as well as conservatives who would rather see individuals take control of their own personal finances.Maybe after the federal and provincial finance ministers hash it out Monday in Vancouver, the public will see some hard numbers and be better able to engage in an informed debate about whether our retirement savings our adequate — and if not, whether an expanded CPP is the best solution.GIRL POWER: MPs of all stripes voted 225-74 to slightly change the words to the national anthem this week so that it would be gender neutral. But that wasn’t the biggest move MPs made to reflect the role of women in public life.The Status of Women committee had all-party support for its recommendation to subject every single government initiative to a gender-based analysis before it gets the green light. The committee wants legislation that would make the analysis mandatory. Minister Patty Hajdu seems open to the idea.The implications for regular people could be big or small, depending on how seriously the government takes the idea.With the government’s plan to spend $60-billion on infrastructure, for example, how would a gender analysis affect a program that would normally create jobs that overwhelmingly go to men? Committee member and Liberal MP Sean Fraser says a gender analysis would encourage the government to improve training for women in the skilled trades.But what would happen if instead of shaping women to fit the program, the government shaped the program to fit women?CANADIANS ON THE TELLY: The government, via the CRTC, has put in place its first policy building block to rescue local news.The broadcast regulator will require private English-language TV stations to air at least seven hours of local news every week — double that for big-city stations in Toronto and Vancouver. French-language stations will need to carry five hours of local news.Where will the money come from? Mainly from shuffling around parts of existing pots of money already put into community programming by the networks. Big companies such as Bell, Rogers and Quebecor can take some of the $156 million currently spent on community programming for local news production instead — on condition they keep all their stations open. Independent stations will see what is new money to them, but comes from the existing community fund.The CRTC order is only the first piece of the puzzle the government is working on. It sees a crisis in local news, not just in television but in print and digital media as well, and is actively looking for solutions on all fronts. by Heather Scoffield, Ottawa Bureau Chief, The Canadian Press Posted Jun 17, 2016 3:00 pm MDT Last Updated Jun 18, 2016 at 6:00 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Pensions, girl power, TV: three ways federal politics touched us this week