UN General Assembly votes in symbolic non-binding resolution

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The United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution, declaring Crimea’s referendum on independence illegal.

Ukraine proposed the resolution, which was backed by the United States and the European Union. It passed with 100 votes in favor, 11 against and 58 abstentions.

According to reports, the resolution does not identify Russia by name. It describes the referendum as having no legitimacy and encourages countries not to recognize the redrawing of Ukraine’s borders.

The report also calls on states involved in the Crimea situation to abstain from actions aimed at the disruption of Ukraine’s national unity.

Russian diplomats argued that the referendum simply recognized Crimeans’ desire to rejoin Russia.

As it stands, the resolution has no enforcement power, but it is significant in the history of General Assembly votes.

In the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, Crimea sought reunification with Russia, a move backed by over 96 per cent of voters in the referendum.

Mali ends female genital cutting in some neighbourhoods

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The West African country of Mali is celebrating the United Nations-recognized international day promoting the abandonment of female genital cutting.

Fourteen neighborhoods of Yirimadio, a suburb outside the capital city Bamako, will no longer support the practices of female genital cutting and forced marriages for children.

This is the second public declaration in Mali in the last eight months by societies who have participated in a community empowerment program hosted by the non-governmental organization Tostan.

Tostan has worked with 7,000 communities in Africa to condemn genital cutting.

Prior to making public declarations, communities work with Tostan for a period of three years to complete an educational empowerment program which emphasizes human rights.

Female genital cutting is a procedure that removes the clitoris and some parts of the labia. These procedures are mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15.

In many communities, females who are not cut are unable to take up the traditional role as mother or wife.