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News in the Humanosphere: U.N. arms treaty enters into force

Credit: Scott Beale/flickr

On the night before Christmas, the United Nations brings some good tidings for the human rights community. The Arms Trade Treaty, which establishes rules of the road for the $85 billion international arms trade, officially enters into force today. “A total of 130 countries have signed the treaty and 60 have ratified it, including Israel which joined the movement just this month. U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon Tuesday said it was “critical that we continue to promote universal participation” in the treaty and encouraged all states “particularly major arms exporters and importers to join.” Those nations which have not yet adhered to the pact should “accede to it without delay,” he said. U.N. High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein hailed the treaty as providing a framework “to end the flow of weaponry that may be used to commit atrocities and other serious human rights violations.” (AFP


The Ebola epidemic threatens rural banking in three West African countries with the potential to disrupt agriculture next year as farmers won’t have access to credit to buy seeds and fertilizer, two UN officials warned. (Reuters

Ebola in Liberia: ‘Healthcare workers are dying because of unsafe working conditions’ – video (Guardian


At least 18 people have been killed and dozens injured in fresh attacks in the Central African Republic, where dozens have died in a new flare-up in inter-ethnic violence, officials said Tuesday. (AFP

Kenya’s opposition on Tuesday lodged a legal challenge in the High Court against a controversial new anti-terrorism law, arguing the east African nation was at risk of becoming a dictatorship. (AFP

Tanzania has arrested a Kenyan businessman suspected of trafficking ivory and other big-game trophies, the police said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Gambian authorities arrested three men and accused them of committing homosexual acts, which are punishable with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment under a law signed in October, state television said. (Reuters


Hundreds of civilians in Libya have been killed in fighting since late August, the United Nations said on Tuesday, warning commanders of armed groups that they could face prosecution for possible war crimes including executions and torture. (Reuters

Women and girls from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority forced into sexual slavery by the Islamic State jihadist group have committed suicide or tried to, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. (AFP

Satellite imagery indicate that 290 cultural heritage sites in Syria, whose history stretches back to the dawn of civilization, have been damaged by its ongoing civil war, the United Nations’ training and research arm said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Three months of U.S.-led strikes in Syria have so far killed at least 1,171 people, mostly Islamic State militants, a British-based Syrian monitoring group said on Tuesday. (Reuters

Cities in the Arab region should introduce stronger standards for green building and promote sustainable communities if they are to have a chance of tackling climate change, experts say. (TRF

Fighting between armed groups in Libya has killed hundreds of civilians and could lead to prosecution for war crimes, the U.N.’s top human rights official said Tuesday. (AP

Extremists are working to excise women from public life across the territory controlled by the Islamic State group, stretching hundreds of kilometers) from the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo in the west to the edges of the Iraqi capital in the east. (AP


A former junior minister in a Bangladeshi military government was sentenced to death on Tuesday after a war crimes tribunal found him guilty of atrocities during the country’s war of independence from Pakistan more than four decades ago. (Reuters

Villagers refusing to leave their homes for the expansion of a Chinese-backed copper mine in northwestern Myanmar remained in a tense standoff with security forces for a second day Tuesday, with two reported hurt. (AP

The Americas

A Honduran immigrant has taken refuge in a Philadelphia church to avoid deportation while her supporters work to gain legal status for her. (AP

A federal judge has ruled that a California-based labor contractor must pay $8.7 million in damages to Thai workers who were exploited while working at Hawaii farms, but it’s not clear whether any of them will get the money. (AP

Nicaragua launches the construction of a canal that aims to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and to rival Panama’s waterway. (BBC

A media bill that prohibits foreign ownership and is designed to prevent Uruguayan radio and television stations from becoming concentrated among a few powerful commercial interests was approved by lawmakers. (VOA


Is the U.N. sure it wants Mexican soldiers keeping the peace? (GlobalPost

2014: A year of tragedy, crises and hope (Guardian

Will international development in 2015 see radical change, or more of the same? (ODI

As the U.N. launches its biggest ever humanitarian appeal, here are five things the numbers tell us (ODI

Q&A: “The economy needs to serve us and not the other way around” (IPS

Ebola: This catastrophe must never happen again (Africa Renewal

WaterCredit extends access to safe water and sanitation to over 100,000 East Africans (Center for Financial Inclusion blog

The most serious and ignored public health crisis of the 21st century? (Chris Blattman

Thomas Piketty’s Capital and the Developing World (Ethics & International Affairs


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]