Forgoing staffers many businesses turn to freelancers

NEW YORK — It hasn’t been lost on small business owners that Uber and other ride-sharing services are enormously successful without having employees doing the work. It’s one of the reasons why small companies are forgoing employees in favour of independent contractors.Todd Miller transformed his small business a year ago, shifting Classic Metal Roofing Systems of Kentuckiana from a company with employees to one using independent contractors. The change gives Miller more flexibility in doing roof replacements than he had with a small group of full-time employees.“We can hire independents who have the experience and skills that we need for each individual project. With employees, you are often asking people to do things they are not terribly experienced at,” Miller says.Using independent contractors or freelancers has many benefits besides flexibility. In a tight job market, owners can more easily find independents rather than full-time employees. Owners can also save on overhead, hiring only when they need help. They don’t have costs like employment taxes and insurance, nor do they face the administrative and management tasks that go along with having employees. But the government has rules about the use of independent contractors, contending that some owners misclassify employees and call them independents to avoid the costs associated with employees — starting with Social Security and Medicare taxes that combined cost owners 7.65 per cent of staffers’ compensation.Although companies have used independent contractors for generations, many small businesses began using them for the first time during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Owners have become more cautious about hiring employees unless they’re certain that they have enough revenue to justify the added risk and expense. The growth of Uber and other ride-sharing services has encouraged owners in other industries to adopt a similar business model, hiring independents to do the work. That has created another potential legal issue — Uber drivers have sued the company in several federal courts, seeking to be declared employees. So far, there’s been no definitive ruling.The IRS has criteria to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, including how much control a company has over a worker’s behaviour and the financial aspects of the job. How long the relationship between company and worker is expected to continue, and whether the services a worker performs are a key aspect of the company’s business are also factors.Owners are found to be misclassifying workers when they’re audited, increasingly by state officials who want the payroll taxes they’re owed, says Nannina Angioni, an employment law attorney with Kaedian LLP in Los Angeles. Owners can also land in legal trouble when there is a dispute with a worker classified as an independent contractor; when the worker complains to the government or files a lawsuit, the employment arrangement can come under scrutiny.But owners may not have ulterior motives in using independent contractors rather than employees, says Kyle Lawrence, owner of Berkshire Payroll Tax, a Sandisfield, Massachusetts, company that helps businesses comply with employment tax laws.“They’re busy running their businesses and they may not necessarily understand the nuances or the risks of classifying someone as an independent contractor,” he says.Eric Stanton consulted with attorneys and accountants before deciding to use independent contractors for his pool cleaning business, Thousand Oaks, California-based Stanton Pools. The people working for him have their own vehicles and buy their own equipment and chemicals and Stanton does not require them to take on a job.“It’s an option. If I got a call from a potential customer, I’ll say, ‘it’s on your Wednesday route, are you interested in taking it on?’” he says. Stanton says he has structured the business, which he says resembles the Uber model, so he could be in compliance with federal and state law. California’s Supreme Court last year issued a ruling that created more stringent tests for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor.Many owners use a mix of employees and independent contractors. Chris Richardson has three full-time employees at Talent Response, a website that helps small businesses find freelancers. He uses independents when he has a surge in demand or he needs expertise that his staffers don’t have.“Independent contractors are less risky, particularly in 2019’s uncertain macro-economic environment. Should business contract, it is much easier to end a project with a contractor than to pay severance or unemployment expenses associated with a layoff,” says Richardson, whose company is based in Boston.Richardson also doesn’t want to hire employees and then devastate them if business drops off.“It’s not responsible to be making fulltime hires if you’re going to be letting them go a few months,” he says.Many owners can’t afford to hire the people qualified to do the work they need. Jodi Echakowitz used an independent contractor for the first time in 2003, when she needed help for her then two-year-old public relations firm but couldn’t pay someone to work full-time. Echakowitz continued to use that strategy, partly because she wanted experienced people skilled in specific areas.“If I were to build a team of employees, each with at least ten years of experience, the salary cost would be way too high,” says Echakowitz, whose company, Boulevard Public Relations, is based in Thornhill, Ontario.One of Echakowitz’s 17 contractors lives in Quebec, handling projects for French-speaking clients. Another has expertise in financial services. All her contractors work for other companies.“Because they are working on other opportunities, they can bring diverse experiences and expertise to me and my team, and the clients we support,” Echakowitz says.___For more small business news, insights and inspiration, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here: http://discover.ap.org/ssb_____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.com/search/joyce%20rosenbergJoyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press read more

Read More →

EU Council Instructs European Commission to Include Western Sahara in Fisheries

Rabat- The 28 European Union member states have approved a mandate instructing the European Commission to open new negotiations to include Western Sahara in the EU-Morocco fisheries deal and to consolidate the partnership between the two parties.Earlier today, the Council of the European Union adopted the negotiations mandate, ordering the commission to include the adjacent waters into the new fisheries deal, Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported, quoting a European source.The source added that the mandate states that “the waters off the coast” of the region will be “covered by the fisheries partnership between Morocco and the EU.” According to MAP, the negotiating mandate falls within the framework of a joint statement issued by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Nasser Bourita and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, on February 27, 2018.The statement came in response to the ruling handed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the EU-Fisheries Agreement, which decided that the fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco is, “valid insofar as it is not applicable to Western Sahara or to its adjacent waters,” adding that, if the EU and Morocco included the Western Sahara region in their agreement, it would violate certain rules of “international law applicable to relations between the EU and Kingdom of Morocco.”The Moroccan and the European Union officials reiterated their commitment to the strategic partnership and their determination to preserve and strengthen it.Both parties have agreed to further reinforce their political dialogue and preserve the stability of trade relations. read more

Read More →

Yatim Responds To Paris Date Controversy She Is My Fiancee

Rabat – PJD Minister of Employment Mohamed Yatim has opened up about his controversial date.A 28-second-long video showing Yatim holding hands with a woman in Paris opened the door for rounds of criticism and controversy.In an interview with news outlet Al Omk Almaghribi, Yatim spoke about the video and his relationship with the unidentified woman. Yatim said their relationship was “legitimate” and known to her family.Read Also: Video: Yatim’s Paris Street Date stirs Polygamy Controversy“Since the engagement ceremony, I have been visiting her family for religious and social events. It is not a secret, even my family knows about it,” the minister said.Yatim, who had already proposed to the lady, is awaiting divorce papers to end his current marriage.Defending himself and his fiancee, Yatim said that the video dates back to Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, which fell in May and June in 2018.He noted that they met for dinner “during the month of Ramadan in a restaurant and we met in Paris.”He explained that they were not traveling or living together, emphasizing that her parents would have been the first to react if “they had thought that our relationship was not serious.”“Breaking the fast in Ramadan in summer in Europe is late, and the same thing for dinner, which is at the same time a pre-dawn meal,” he said.He continued to say that there is nothing unusual in him accompanying his fiancee to the building where she lives, because they finished their dinner late.Yatim, a member of the ruling Moroccan Islamist party (PJD), also explained his choice to marry a woman who does not wear a hijab.He said, “The hijab was previously associated with organizational or kinetic affiliation and is no longer the same.”He added that hijab is “no longer a criterion for religiosity and moral obligation.”Yatim described his future second wife as “religious.” He added that she is looking forward to improve her religious practice, taking into account and agreeing that the “legal status of her future husband requires a gradual shift in this level.”According to several news outlets, Yatim met his future wife while she was nursing him after he was injured with a fracture earlier this year.The woman is allegedly a 30-year-old psychotherapist and a nurse.The 62-year-old minister faced rounds of criticism in July when Moroccans accused him of being in a polygamous marriage.In response, Yatim condemned the act of polygamy, saying that he would never engage in it, no matter the circumstances. read more

Read More →

Prince Moulay Hicham Bouachrines Prosecution Has Political Motivations

Rabat – Moulay Hicham shared a statement on Twitter in which he criticized the sentence given by Casablanca’s Court of Appeal on Friday night. Bouachrine received a sentence of 12 years in prison.“We are deeply saddened about the absence of a fair trial in the case of journalist Taoufik Bouachrine,” the prince said.He added that the lack of a “fair trial “missed an opportunity to establish truth in a judicial case that was mainly intended to protect Moroccan women.” Bouachrine was arrested in February after several women journalists filed complaints against him for “sexual harassment, assault, human trafficking, attempted rape, and  rape.”Prince Moulay Hicham said that the absence of a fair trial in this case and the lack of “testimony [by] national and international human rights organizations, which are known for their credibility, lead automatically to the conclusion that there are national and Arab political motives behind the prosecution of a journalist, who was a nuisance because of his writings.”The prince also questioned press freedom in the country, saying that the target, in this case, is “freedom of expression and independent press.”For  Moulay Hicham, Bouachrine’s case is “a new episode of an ongoing series” wherein we witness the “targeting [of] news outlets and journalists.” He added that some of those journalists who were jailed or exiled include Abou Baker El Jamii, Ali El Merabet, Ali Anzoula, Hamid El Mahdaoui, and others.Moulay Hicham also criticized Morocco’s development model. He said that the recent cases come against the backdrop of the state’s admission that its development model has “failed.” “with the state acknowledgment of its failed development model.” read more

Read More →

Samsung poised to unveil new phones in bid to revive sales

SAN FRANCISCO — Samsung is expected to show off its latest smartphones Wednesday, the latest effort by a phone maker to come up with new features compelling enough to end a sales slump.The new models expected in San Francisco will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Samsung’s first smartphone.Samsung is also expected to provide a glimpse at a highly anticipated smartphone with a foldable screen.Apple touted the iPhone’s 10th-anniversary edition as a breakthrough when it was released in late 2017. But the iPhone X didn’t sell as well as analysts hoped, partly because it carried a $1,000 price tag.Smartphones made in recent years also haven’t made dramatic improvements from earlier models. The lull in innovation has given consumers little incentive to dump their current devices and buy something new.The Associated Press read more

Read More →

PM spoke to WilsonRaybould after SNCLavalin was denied a remediation deal

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould almost two weeks after federal prosecutors informed SNC-Lavalin it would not be invited to negotiate a settlement to help the company avoid criminal prosecution.Court documents show the Director of Public Prosecutions told the engineering and construction giant last Sept. 4 about its decision not to proceed with negotiations towards a remediation agreement to help SNC-Lavalin avoid bribery and fraud charges.Trudeau has said that he spoke with Wilson-Raybould about the SNC-Lavalin case 13 days later, on Sept. 17.The Sept. 4 decision date adds new information to the timeline of events — until now, it had appeared that Trudeau spoke with Wilson-Raybould before the prosecutor’s decision not to proceed with the settlement negotiation.The Globe and Mail newspaper has reported that Wilson-Raybould, who was shuffled into the veterans affairs portfolio in January, was pressured by staff inside the Prime Minister’s Office to help SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution related to contracts in Libya.Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week and has sought legal advice from former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell amid questions over the SNC-Lavalin controversy.The Canadian Press read more

Read More →

Cuba reduces newspaper length due to paper shortage

HAVANA — The Cuban government says a newsprint shortage is forcing at least six state-run newspapers to cut back on pages and circulation days in a potent sign of the cash shortage confronting the island.The newspaper Granma said in Thursday editions that the Cuban Communist Party organ and several other papers are cutting back from 16 to eight pages on Wednesdays and Fridays. The changes take effect Friday. The newspaper of the Communist Youth League, Juventud Rebelde, will stop publishing on Saturdays.Granma attributed the change to “difficulties in the availability of newsprint in the country.” The government has been suffering cash-flow problems forcing cutbacks in a wide range of imported products.The last major cutback in newsprint was during the “special period” after the fall of the Soviet Union.Associated Press, The Associated Press read more

Read More →

NTSB investigates American Airlines flight tipped by wind

NEW YORK — Federal safety officials are investigating an American Airlines flight in which the plane tipped in strong wind and a wingtip hit a runway marker during takeoff from New York’s Kennedy Airport.The pilots cut short the flight to Los Angeles and landed back at JFK about 30 minutes later. No injuries were reported.The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that it is investigating the April 10 incident with help from the Federal Aviation Administration, American, and the union for the airline’s pilots.On a recording by LiveATC.net, one of the pilots is heard telling air traffic controllers that the plane banked sharply to the left during takeoff, apparently from a strong crosswind.American says there were 102 passengers and eight crew members on the Airbus A321 jet.The Associated Press read more

Read More →

Morocco Cuts Irregular Migration Attempts to Spain by 70 in July

Rabat –  Morocco’s help in managing border control and the abortion of irregular migration attempts resulted in a “significant decrease” in the migration pressure on Spanish coasts, reported Spanish news outlet ABC.ABC said that the month of July ended with a significant decrease in irregular migration. Quoting data from the International Organization of Migration, the Spanish news outlet said that security services intercepted 2,362 migrants and at sea compared to 7,885 in the same period in 2018.The number of aborted attempts in July represents a 70% decrease. Data also show a decrease in irregular migration attempts in Ceuta and Melilla. ABC said that 226 people managed to enter Spain through the fences of Ceuta and Melilla, against 1,085 in 2018. ABC added that as of July 25, operations against irregular migration detected reached 24,117 in 2018 against 15,851. The number represents a 34.2% decrease in irregular migration attempts.Read Also: Morocco Arrests Spanish National Suspected of Organizing Irregular MigrationIn March, Spanish Minister of Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska  said that Morocco’s security services are “leading to a decline in the arrival of migrants to the Spanish coasts.”He added that “coordination with the countries of origin and transit in the fight against these networks has led, since February, to a decline in migrant arrivals that is being confirmed during this month of March.”Like Spain, the Moroccan government has also expressed satisfaction with the cooperation with Spain against organized crimes.Moroccan director of migration at the Ministry of Interior, Khalid Zerouali, explained in July in an interview with El Pais that border control “has helped to ease the migratory pressure, but we must continue to work to strengthen this.”“It is true that on the Spanish side, we feel that the migratory pressure has decreased, but on our side, it continues to increase,” he said, commenting on Morocco’s successful operations to decrease the flow of migrants entering Spain.Spokesperson of the government Mustapha El Khalfi said in May that the decrease reflects the “great” effort of Morocco’s law enforcement forces against the issue of undocumented migration and the trafficking networks active in this area.He added that the statistics “testify to the considerable efforts” made by Morocco to combat irregular migration networks, especially those active on the Morocco-Spain axis. read more

Read More →

Morocco Condemns Netanyahus Annexation Speech Reiterates Support for Palestine

Rabat – Morocco has “firmly” condemned Israeli Prime Minister’s recent comments about annexing the Jordan Valley and other territories in the West Bank, joining a growing chorus of critical voices that have warned against setting a dangerous precedent in the Israel-Palestine conflict.In a statement published yesterday by MAP, Morocco’s official news outlet, the Moroccan government said it was deeply concerned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on extending Isreali sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.Echoing the unanimous decision of the Arab League, Morocco said the comments from the Isreali Prime Minister constituted “a dangerous escalation” in a conflict that has lasted for far too long. For Morocco, annexation by Israel of the territories would further tensions, “torpedo” international law, and dampen any hopes of resolution for the lingering conflict.Like many in the international community, Morocco supports a two-state solution where the territories in question would be under Palestinian sovereignty.In response to Netanyahu’s annexation rhetoric, Morocco reaffirmed its commitment to safeguarding the dignity” and “inalienable rights” of the Palestinian people, arguing that the Israelis premier’s declaration was in large measure an ultimate act of hostility towards Palestinian’s rights.Morocco’s “firm” response comes after an equally muscular speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu, full of Israeli nationalism.In an electoral speech last Tuesday, Netanyahu exhorted Israelis to give him “a clear mandate” to annex most of the West Bank.“If I receive from you, citizens of Israel, a clear mandate to do so… today I announce my intention to apply, with the formation of the next government, Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” he said.He promised, however, that the move would be completed in “maximum coordination” with Washington.Netanyahu’s domestic critics have interpreted the “dramatic announcement” as an “election trick.” They have maintained the comments are an empty promise aiming at securing the support—and votes—he needs for winning next week’s elections.Outside of Isreali electoral calculations, however, the declaration has been deemed serious; it has consequently been met with equally serious condemnations.“He is not only destroying the two-state solution, he is destroying all chances of peace,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, told AFP.She described the move as “unquestionably reprehensible” and added: “This announcement is a declaration of war against the Palestinian people’s rights as well as the very foundations of the international rule-based order.” read more

Read More →

SNCLavalin wins contract to design track upgrades for Network Rail in UK

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. says its Atkins business has won a contract to design track upgrades for Network Rail in the United Kingdom.The company says work is expected to begin in August.It says it will be worth up to roughly $500 million in revenue.Atkins will do the work as part of the Central Rail Systems Alliance, which includes Balfour Beatty and TSO.The group perform upgrades across London North West, London North East and East Midland routes for the next decade.The work includes track, crossings, points, and associated overhead lines and signalling. Companies in this story: (TSX:SNC) The Canadian Press

Read More →

UN refugee agency seeks to erase racial stereotyping in Italian media

1 March 2007The United Nations refugee agency is seeking to solve a number of thorny issues in Europe, ranging from thousands of people who suddenly found themselves declared illegal in Slovenia to racial stereotyping by the Italian media. Stung by the Italian media’s demonising of a Tunisian linked to a recent gruesome murder case, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has worked with the industry on drawing up a code of conduct for coverage of refugee and immigration issues.“Strong and rather unexpected evidence of xenophobic sentiments emerged, as did a media system ready to act as the sounding board for the worst manifestations of hate,” UNHCR senior regional public information officer Laura Boldrini said.When the bodies of Raffaella Castagna, her two-year-old son, her mother and a friend were found in the northern town of Erba – the three women stabbed while the infant’s throat was cut ¬– some sections of the press swiftly blamed Castagna’s Tunisian husband, who had served prison time on drug charges.But it soon emerged that Azouz Marzouk had been in Tunisia at the time and the police arrested Castagna’s two middle-aged neighbours on charges of murdering her and the others, apparently due to a feud over noise.UNHCR argued that the media’s attitude needed to change and Ms. Boldrini wrote to the editors-in-chief of major media organizations calling for serious dialogue on the role and behaviour of the press in such cases and on coverage of refugee and immigration issues, which she said was often characterized by alarmist and warlike language and had influenced public opinion.Since then, UNHCR, working with academics, two press bodies and other experts, has proposed a draft code of conduct modelled on a 1990 charter that provides protection for minors who are subjects of press stories.The aim is to produce “a sort of code of ethics that, without prejudice to the right to information, treats immigrants as persons, regardless of their origin, and which leads to a correct use of language and adequate protection for all those who have requested and obtained protection in Italy,” Ms. Boldrini said. A small working group is preparing an initial draft.In Slovenia the agency is trying to resolve the issue of some 4,000 people who were deprived of legal residency status and its benefits, including facilitated access to nationality, housing, employment, health insurance, pensions and access to higher education, after Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia, apparently due to the short window of opportunity when non-Slovenian residents could apply for citizenship.“They speak Slovene, they have professional qualifications,” UNHCR regional representative Lloyd Dakin said. “Many of them grew up in Slovenia. With sufficient political will, the whole issue could be resolved quickly.” Meanwhile UNHCR has welcomed draft legislation in Ireland that will, for the first time, allow refugees who are qualified medical doctors to register and practise. The agency estimates that from 100 to 200 doctors have gone through the asylum system in Ireland over the past decade, but most have not been able to practise. UNHCR country representative Manuel Jordão urged support for the draft as it moves through its various stages in the Dáil, or parliament. “Integration of its migrant and refugees will be a number one priority for Ireland in the next few years,” he said. “Although only one of many initiatives, the proposal to help refugee doctors to practise will be of immense benefit for their integration prospects and of great benefit to Ireland too.” read more

Read More →

As Kosovo nears final status decision UN mission organizes outreach meetings

The activities, including town hall and youth meetings, public gatherings and round table discussions have been organized and facilitated by the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Multi-Ethnicity and Outreach Unit as part of the Office of the Strategy Coordinator (STRATCO) in its efforts to help Kosovo society attain a better life in line with European and international standards. This includes bringing to the forefront the role the majority population plays in integrating minorities in the province where Albanians outnumber Serbs and others by 9 to 1, with an emphasis on the so-called Standards, eight targets that include building democratic institutions, enforcing minority rights, creating a functioning economy and setting up an impartial legal system. “By coordinating the efforts to promote Standards implementation and in the outreach process for minorities, UNMIK has analyzed, evaluated and offered guidance on ways to ensure that Kosovo becomes a vibrant multiethnic society,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Joachim Rücker said. The meetings come as Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy for the status process Martti Ahtisaari continues discussions with Serbia and the province’s ethnic Albanian-led government on a plan he presented earlier this year, which would give Kosovo the right to govern itself and conclude international agreements, including membership in international bodies, under international civilian and military supervision to help to ensure peace and stability. The plan does not specifically mention independence, which Serbia rejects but which many ethnic Albanians seek, and Mr. Ahtisaari reported last week that the sides remain “diametrically opposed” on his proposals. Following further talks he plans to present a further version to the Security Council by the end of the month. Asked last month whether he would characterize his proposals as independence in all but name, he said both sides were interpreting them as meaning independence supervised by the international community, but he would make “a very clear statement on that” when he presents the final version. 7 March 2007The United Nations mission in Kosovo is arranging dozens of outreach meetings focused on the integration of minorities and good governance as the Albanian-majority Serbian province which the world body has run since Western forces drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid ethnic fighting nears a decision on its final status. read more

Read More →

Top UN human rights official very concerned over state of emergency in

17 September 2007The United Nations top human rights official has voiced deep concern over the re-imposition of a state of emergency in Fiji. Under accepted rules of international law, “such far-reaching restrictions of rights may only be introduced in time of a public emergency when the life and existence of the nation is threatened,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement issued in Geneva. “Restrictions may only be applied to the extent and time strictly required by the situation and they may not be discriminatory in application. The impact of the measures imposed in Fiji is heightened by the increased pressure being placed on the independence of the country’s judiciary,” she added. Six expatriate Court of Appeal judges in the South Pacific country resigned earlier this month to protest against the acting Supreme Court Chief Justice’s handling of the administrative matters of the Court. Extended delays are said to continue in the formation of an independent tribunal to hear the case of the removal of the Chief Justice in January, the statement said, noting that the ability of truly independent institutions to function effectively and vindicate rights is indispensable, particularly in the current circumstances. Ms. Arbour underlined the need for the Fiji Human Rights Commission to play an effective and independent role in addressing current human rights challenges in the country, fully in line with the international standards applicable to national human rights institutions. read more

Read More →

UN maritime agency endorses campaign for fair treatment of seafarers

The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has given his backing to a new campaign to raise the awareness of seafarers of their rights to fair treatment in the case of accidents at sea. The campaign is spearheaded by the International Shipping Federation (ISF), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to promote guidelines on the issue developed by the IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO). According to the guidelines, all necessary measures should be taken to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly when detained by public authorities in the event of a maritime accident. “Seafarers serving throughout the shipping industry will not only have a clearer understanding of the fundamental elements of fair treatment in the unfortunate event they are caught up in a maritime accident, but they will also feel encouraged by the knowledge that they have the international community at their side, which, should the situation arise, is prepared and willing to pay attention to their plight,” IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said. He added that the campaign will, among other things, reassure young people considering a career at sea that” seafarers are not alone and unprotected when something goes wrong while at sea.” Through the use of posters, seafarers around the world will be informed of the guidelines, which state that seafarers are recognized as a special category of worker. As such, and given the global nature of the shipping industry and the different jurisdictions with which they operate, they need special protection, especially in relation to contact with public authorities. The guidelines recommend steps to be taken by all those who may be involved in an incident: the port or coastal State, flag State, the seafarer’s State, the owner of the ship and seafarers themselves. They also seek to ensure that no discriminatory or retaliatory measures are taken against seafarers because of their participation in investigations. 25 February 2008The head of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has given his backing to a new campaign to raise the awareness of seafarers of their rights to fair treatment in the case of accidents at sea. read more

Read More →

Situation in Burundi still very fragile SecretaryGeneral warns

The fresh outbreak of fighting in Burundi could roll back valuable progress made since a peace agreement was reached in 2000, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned in a new report made public today.“The recent rapid relapse into violent conflict is alarming evidence of the extreme fragility of the situation in Burundi,” Mr. Ban wrote in his report, covering the period from 23 November last year to 7 May, to the Security Council.Strongly condemning the continued deadly clashes between the Government and the Palipehutu-FNL – the last major rebel hold-outs after the end of the brutal civil war between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority – he said that “nothing justifies the loss of innocent lives resulting from this fighting.”More than 100 people have been killed in and around the capital Bujumbura in the past few weeks, despite the signing of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement in 2006.The Secretary-General warned that unless this pact is not “put back on track, the new cycle of violence could undo all the gains painstakingly made by the people of Burundi since the signing of the Arusha Agreement eight years ago.”Furthermore, he voiced concern that the resumption of hostilities and political instability in the small Central African nation could threaten the stability of neighbouring States and the entire Great Lakes region.Ultimately, the responsibility for ending over 10 years of clashes rests with the Government and the FNL, Mr. Ban stressed, calling on both parties to end fighting and jump-start dialogue in a bid to push the peace process forward.He urged the FNL to return to Burundi and take part in the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Political Directorate, which are components of the ceasefire, while appealing to the Government to prioritize that Agreement’s implementation.In addition to putting the ceasefire into place and breaking the political stalemate, the Secretary-General said other issues spurring insecurity must be tackled.Reintegration of ex-fighters must press ahead, and “in an environment characterized by abject poverty, high unemployment, and sharply rising fuel and food prices, former combatants are likely to turn to violent crime or join armed elements,” he said, adding that the current global food crisis is also a cause for concern.On human rights, the report noted that while numbers of violations committed by the national defence forces remained the same, those committed by the police have risen while new cases of torture and summary executions by the national intelligence service have been reported.Mr. Ban welcomed the work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, established to help countries recovering from war from sliding back into conflict, for its “valuable support to efforts at promoting stability in Burundi.” 20 May 2008The fresh outbreak of fighting in Burundi could roll back valuable progress made since a peace agreement was reached in 2000, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned in a new report made public today. read more

Read More →

UN agency gives laptops to youth at technology conference

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is handing out the laptops at the opening of the Youth Forum, a branch of its ITU Telecom Asia 2008 conference, as part of its effort to increase access to cheap information and communications technology across the world. Some 100 XO laptops are being donated by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the non-profit organization which developed and manufactured the machines, continuing its long-standing partnership with the ITU in the “Connect the World” initiative. “ITU is committed to connecting the world,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. “And to achieve this goal, affordable devices have to be made available for people everywhere to access the benefits of a knowledge-based information society,” Dr. Touré added. The low-cost and child-friendly XO computer, designed to inspire the cognitive development of children, has environmental safeguards as well as an innovative security system that protects children from cyber threats and the laptop from theft. At the launch of the prototype OLPC at the 2005 World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded the initiative as a “truly moving expression of global solidarity,” adding the laptop could unlock the “magic within each child, within each scientist, scholar or plain citizen-in-the-making.” 28 August 2008The United Nations technology agency announced today that it will give away free laptops to each of the young participants attending its Asia conference in Bangkok this weekend. read more

Read More →

Tennis ace bound for Belarus to visit UN projects helping youth after

The tennis star and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Maria Sharapova will head from the Wimbledon tournament, where she is currently competing, to Belarus to visit an area in the southeast affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.Ms. Sharapova will travel to the Gomel region, where her charitable foundation has helped fund several UNDP projects focused on providing opportunities for youth and improving their communities.The three-time Grand Slam champion from Russia is slated to visit a local arts centre where children work on projects to beautify the town and learn about the environment, tour a health facility that takes a therapeutic approach to treating emotional and mental stress, and meet students who have won university scholarships from her foundation.Ms. Sharapova, 23, whose family fled Gomel a year before she was born because of radiation concerns in the wake of the nuclear accident, said she wanted to contribute to the recovery of a region where she had such a personal connection.“Giving young people the tools they need to reach for their dreams is a good way to overcome the Chernobyl legacy,” she said. “Helping people help themselves is at the heart of UNDP’s mission, and I am eager to see the results first-hand.”The Sharapova Foundation, in partnership with UNDP, supports seven youth-oriented projects and a scholarship programme in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that were affected by the Chernobyl accident.“Maria Sharapova’s work in this region will convey a message of optimism to young people, in a once-blighted region, where a return to normal life is now a realistic project,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.Ms. Sharapova, who won the Wimbledon women’s singles crown as a teenager in 2004, today won her second-round match at the tournament, which concludes at the end of next week. 24 June 2010The tennis star and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Maria Sharapova will head from the Wimbledon tournament, where she is currently competing, to Belarus to visit an area in the southeast affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. read more

Read More →

Ban calls for immediate end to violence in Kashmir

“The Secretary-General regrets the latest loss of life,” his spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in response to questions. “He calls for an immediate end to violence and urges calm and restraint by all concerned.”Media reports indicate that dozens of people have been killed in Kashmir since June. 21 September 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for an immediate end to violence in Kashmir after recent deadly clashes there.

Read More →

UN chief encourages philanthropists to invest more in education

“The world needs you to do even more: more giving, more advocacy, more sharing best practices and more teamwork, including with the United Nations,” the Secretary-General said in a speech delivered on his behalf by his Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar, to a special event in New York to strengthen partnership between the United Nations and the philanthropic community.The event, “Partnering with the philanthropic community to promote education for all,” organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), brought together four hundred philanthropists, corporate and civil society leaders to UN Headquarters to share best practices and lessons to boost global private funding for the education of boys and girls.In his remarks to the event, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the role played by philanthropic investments in spearheading innovation and providing the impetus for wider reforms.“They are leveraging technology and providing new models of community involvement; they are bringing added value to your companies and society alike,” the Secretary-General said, while also thanking the philanthropic community for its wide-ranging engagement.He outlined three ways in which more could be done: first, by making multi-year commitments to investments in education that address the root of the education deficit; second, by joining existing multi-partner efforts; and thirdly, by solving critical bottlenecks such as in teacher preparation, the monitoring of school and student performance and finding alternatives for scarce school supplies such as textbooks.Mr. Ban noted that the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has said that achieving the Education for All goals will require a global investment of $16 billion. Launched in 1990, the Education for All movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults, through six key education goals which aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.The Secretary-General also noted that nearly two million teachers will be needed by 2015 to achieve the global goal of universal primary education. “All of this requires greater investment. That is where the philanthropic community can play such a critical role,” he said.Mr. Ban acknowledged the austerity characterizing current economic conditions but pointed out that education is a long-term investment that will help countries to recover and spur economic growth.“Let us support proven efforts, take these to scale and find innovative ways to help those hardest to reach,” the Secretary-General said in his remarks, adding “those 67 million children waiting for a chance for education and opportunity should not have to wait any longer.”In his remarks to the event, the President of ECOSOC, Lazarous Kapambwe, encouraged philanthropists to continue supporting the less fortunate and also explore other ways of improving the quality of education. “Philanthropy should continue to do what it does best – helping the marginalized and vulnerable catch up, while not shying away from risk either,” he said.Addressing the event, UNESCO’s Executive Director, Irina Bokova, praised the role the philanthropic community played in increasing learning opportunities and stimulating innovation. “We need to strengthen this dialogue and work together with governments and communities to accelerate progress and enable all children, youth and adults to enjoy access to quality education,” Ms. Bokova said.Of the grants announced at the event today, the Dublin-based Cathal Ryan Trust contributed $14 million to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to build schools in Sri Lanka for 6,000 children and rehabilitate health-care facilities for 25,000 children under the age of five, 5,000 pregnant women and 5,000 lactating women.Symantec’s contribution of $900,000 – in addition to $100,000 given last year to the non-governmental organization, Room to Read – will enable more than 20,000 boys and girls in India gain access to quality education programmes.Western Union Foundation’s $500,000 contribution to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) will enable migrants from the Philippines and Morocco living and working abroad to contribute to sustainable local development, including education, in their home countries. The contribution is part of a $1.1 million grant from the Western Union Foundation to support UN efforts to advance the Millennium Development Goals.Last November, telecommunications giant Nokia contributed between $5 million and $10 million to UNESCO to promote the use of mobile technologies in education projects worldwide. 28 February 2011Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lauded the role philanthropists play in facilitating access to education and encouraged them to commit more resources to improve quality and ensure that even the most marginalized children have opportunities to acquire education. read more

Read More →