News in the Humanosphere: Inaugural U.N. secretary-general candidate hearings kick off

At 9 a.m. EDT, the first-ever public hearings for candidates for secretary-general commence in New York. Each candidate will face two hours of questions from member states. Civil society will pose questions to the candidates via short videos they submitted. It will all be webcast for your viewing pleasure. On the docket today: Igor Luksic, former Prime Minister of Montenegro at 9 a.m.; Irina Bokova, former foreign minister of Bulgaria and current director general of UNESCO, at 11 a.m.; Antonio Guterres, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Portuguese prime minister, at 3 p.m. UN Webcast http://webtv.un.org/ Context http://bit.ly/1S84V9N

Global Dispatches Podcast #NextSG candidate interview series: Former president of Slovenia Danilo Turk discusses his childhood in postwar Yugoslavia, how he discovered human rights law, and why he cares so much about water and peace. (Global Dispatches podcast http://bit.ly/1XqIml6)

Polio ending soon? The World Health Organisation is confident polio is in its dying days and could be eradicated within 12 months, despite challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the virus is still endemic and vaccination campaigns are sometimes targeted by extremists. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1N4EcyT) This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1N66hG9)

Human rights case to watch…A Chinese arbitration panel held a hearing Monday in what is believed to be the country’s first transgender employment discrimination case, according to the lawyer in the case. (AP http://yhoo.it/1UW6ZYZ)

Roaring good stat of the day: The number of wild tigers across the globe has increased for the first time in more than a century thanks to improved conservation efforts, wildlife groups said. Data compiled by the WWF and the Global Tiger Forum show that the global population of wild tigers has risen to an estimated 3,890 from an all-time low of 3,200 in 2010. (Yahoo http://yhoo.it/22pb4UM)

Africa

Rebel troops in South Sudan have completed their return to the capital Juba as part of a peace deal, days ahead of the expected arrival of their commander, ceasefire monitors said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1S5rCyr)

A former journalist who joined the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab was executed Monday by firing squad in Somalia’s capital for the killings of five Somali journalists. (AP http://yhoo.it/1VNFTlQ)

The Central Bank of Kenya is cracking down on commercial banks accused of illegal lending practices. Police issued arrest warrants Friday for eight bankers for alleged unethical conduct. (VOA http://bit.ly/1WnOoEL)

Harvesting a crop in Cameroon’s Far North Region is becoming an increasingly uncertain proposition. Armed conflict between Boko Haram militants and Cameroon’s armed forces in the region has made it difficult for some farmers to access their fields, deepening food security, said Felix Gomez, the World Food Programme’s country director. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1WnOnRh)

A three-day referendum for Sudan’s Darfur region begins Monday despite concerns from the United States that it would not be credible and would also undermine the current peace process. (VOA http://bit.ly/1S5uiMp)

The World Bank on Monday lowered its 2016 sub-Saharan African growth forecast to 3.3 percent from a previous forecast of 4.4 percent in October, citing plunging global commodity prices. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1WnPXmb)

Activists and some African countries fear big corporations and the OECD club of rich nations are not going to fix the tax system any time soon. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1XrhDoF)

Ivory Coast’s All-Female Band Breaks Social Barriers (VOA http://bit.ly/1WnOn3N)

MENA

The Syrian government told a visiting U.N. envoy on Monday it was ready for peace talks without pre-conditions starting from April 15, state TV reported. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/22pb07r)

The United Nations special envoy for Yemen welcomed the start of a tentative truce in the country’s year-old conflict on Monday and said peace talks due to start later this month would require difficult compromises for all sides. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S5uewj)

Egypt is closing down domestic non-governmental organizations and putting travel bans on their staff in order to obstruct scrutiny of human rights issues, three independent U.N. human rights investigators said on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1WnOrQT)

Egypt’s former agriculture minister, Salah El Din Mahmoud Helal, and his office manager were each sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges on Monday.  (Reuters http://bit.ly/22pb86W)

Regret of the day: U.S. President Barack Obama says the biggest mistake of his presidency was a lack of planning for the aftermath of the fall of late Libyan leader Muammar Ghadhafi, with the country spiralling into chaos and grappling with violent extremists. (AFP http://yhoo.it/22p8gai)

Asia

Pakistan on Monday announced a ban on demonstrations in Islamabad after recent rallies by Islamic extremists led to the destruction of property and forced four days of road closures in the heart of the capital. (AP http://yhoo.it/1WnOk7V)

U.S. forces in Afghanistan are investigating a series of airstrikes last week that some locals say killed more than one dozen civilians. (VOA http://bit.ly/22p8o9G)

Cambodian police have arrested an opposition lawmaker who has been a strong critic of the government’s handling of demarcating the border with neighboring Vietnam, reviving a campaign of pressure Prime Minister Hun Sen launched last year against his foes and critics. (AP http://yhoo.it/1WnPXm3)

Thailand may be going through its driest period in 20 years, but the country’s military government wants visitors from around the globe to know that the biggest water fight in the world is still on. (AP http://yhoo.it/22p8qyj)

New Zealand’s government on Monday said it would begin a review of its foreign trust laws after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm highlighted vulnerabilities in its legal framework that made it a possible link in international tax avoidance structures. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1S5ugUM)

The World Bank says economic growth in the East Asia Pacific region will grow moderately this year and next, due to China’s changing economy and possible weaker demand in the overall global economy. (VOA http://bit.ly/1VNJkJc)

The Americas

Brazil is awaiting the outcome of a congressional committee vote – a key step in the process to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. The 65-member committee will decide whether to recommend impeachment over allegations she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit. (BBC http://bbc.in/22p8cHk)

Haiti artists forge int’l reputation with art made of junk (AP http://yhoo.it/1S5uefF)

Refugee Crisis

A rift between Macedonia and Greece over the refugee crisis deepened Monday, with Macedonia accusing its southern neighbor of not reacting to prevent hundreds of migrants and refugees from attempting to breach a border fence between the two countries. (AP http://yhoo.it/1qEbMBG)

Aid groups, including the Red Cross, said on Monday they would resist plans by the Austrian government to toughen its asylum process, shifting decision-making to centers near its borders. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/22pb3Ah)

The next United Nations secretary general must commit to a new global deal for refugees and to end the death penalty during his or her tenure, the world’s leading human rights groups said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1S5ufAa)

…and the rest

Top climate scientists will launch a study this week of how hard it would be to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, although many of them fear it might be too late to reach that level. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/22p8i1E)

The French government announced about half a billion euros in aid for students on Monday in an attempt to defuse anger from protesters who said they would gather again on a central Paris square for the 12th night in a row. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1WnOwnL)

British Prime Minister David Cameron fought back Monday after days of criticism over his finances, lashing out at what he called hurtful and untrue claims about his late father’s investments sparked by leaked details about the offshore accounts of the rich and famous. (AP http://yhoo.it/1qEbRpb)

Opinion/Blogs

The end of polio is near(ish) (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/20vJoht)

Brazil’s impeachment saga: six key moments (AFP http://yhoo.it/1qE7eeO)

Can India’s military veterans join the fight for women’s rights? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1N4yxsE)

A year after Nepal quake, billions unspent and little rebuilt (IRIN http://bit.ly/1VNQmh5)

Excuse me Mr. Can’t you see the children dying? (Development Impact http://bit.ly/1WnRGrJ)

Drift Equals Disaster: When Public Policy is frozen in the headlights (Daily Maverick http://bit.ly/20vHvl3)

A human-centered approach to design for development (Devex http://bit.ly/1WnRysj)

Myanmar can flourish by sowing seeds of agricultural prosperity (Guardian http://bit.ly/1qEbPO6)

No place for rapists in peacekeeping. (LAT http://lat.ms/1oRSYxs)

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