Tag Archives: United Nations

Update: Syria resume talks despite COVID-19 threat.

Advertisements

United Nations-backed talks on a new constitution for Syria resumed in Geneva on Thursday after Swiss health authorities gave the green light despite four delegates testing positive for Covid-19.

The discussions, aimed at rewriting the war-torn country’s constitution, were put on hold almost as soon as they started on Monday when the test results came through.

UN envoy Geir Pedersen, who is moderating the tentative talks between representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society, has voiced hope they could pave the way towards a broader political process.

Advertisements

His office said in a statement that “following additional testing and further medical and expert advice regarding four earlier positive tests for Covid-19”, Swiss authorities had determined the meeting could go ahead at the UN Palais des Nations. They resumed at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT).

The committee members — 15 each from the government, the opposition and from civil society — were tested for the new coronavirus before they travelled to Geneva, and were tested again on arrival in the Swiss city.

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.

The positive second tests were found among delegates who arrived from Damascus, opposition negotiations leader Hadi al-Bahra told a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

One opposition delegate, one from civil society and two representing the government, tested positive, he said.

Advertisements

Pedersen said further testing in recent days “indicates that the earlier positive cases do not pose any risk,” adding though that “out of an abundance of caution”, the talks would proceed at the UN “only with those who have tested negative.”

He stressed strict precautions would be followed during the talks.

The discussions had been scheduled to wrap up Friday, but Pedersen said the plan now was to extend the talks into Saturday.

He said committee delegates seemed eager to resume dialogue as “a signal of the importance of this process.”

Advertisements

He hailed a “constructive” first meeting on Monday, and said delegates appeared keen to have “substantive discussions” for the remainder of the week.

The Constitutional Committee was created in September last year and first convened a month later.

Disagreement on the agenda prevented a second round of planned talks from taking place in late November. The pandemic has delayed them ever since.

The United Nations has been striving for more than nine years to nurture a political resolution to Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than 11 million.


#Newsworthy…

Let’s ensure we stop GBV – Edward Kallon.

Advertisements

The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Edward Kallon has condemned the rising cases of rape and other forms of violence against women.

Speaking on Tuesday during a UN Spotlight Initiative Town Hall on Violence against Women and Girls, Kallon said Gender-Based Violence was no longer acceptable.

“It is just not acceptable anymore that we have to sit down and see the level of violence that is perpetrated against our womenfolk. This is not acceptable,” he said.

Advertisements

“It is a whole of society call and if we come together, we can stop this.”

The UN Coordinator called for a collective effort to ending the scourge of rape in the country.

While commending the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for declaring the rape menace as an emergency, he praised the Federal Government for the creation of an inter-ministerial Task Force on GBV.

In efforts to ending cases of violence in Nigeria, Kallon asked the judiciary to step up its game to ensure a GBV-free society.

Advertisements

“We want institutions to come on board, institutions that can bring the legal and justice-related aspect that are so critical in ensuring that victims actually realise justice when they are affected by this gruesome act.

“We need institutions onboard from the judiciary right down. We also need to be a little bit liberal on the issue of Gender-Based Violence and other gruesome act that it is not a woman’s issue, it is also an issue for men,” he said.

The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union and the United Nations, is determined to eliminate all forms of such Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


#Newsworthy…

United Nations Spotlight Initiative Town Hall On Violence Against Women.

Advertisements

According to the United Nations, “violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.”

The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), is determined to eliminate all forms of such violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An initial investment in the order of EUR 500 million has been made, with the EU as the main contributor.


#Newsworthy…

Buhari react to Boko Haram’s attack on United Nations building

Advertisements

President Muhammadu Buhari has again condemned the attack on the office of the United Nations (UN) by Boko Haram terrorists in 2011.

Speaking on Monday in Abuja when he received a delegation led by the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, the President noted that the attack by the terrorists was regrettable.

He, however, said the reconstruction of the UN building by the government was in full appreciation of the work of the international organisation.

“Thank you for what you have been doing in the country, especially for women and children. I am glad you have put together a dedicated team to work with us,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Advertisements

He also welcomed commendations by the UN on efforts to restore security, strengthen institutions against corruption, improve health facilities, and rebuilding of the multilateral institution’s office.

President Buhari commended the various programmes of the UN in Nigeria, saying, “I am very impressed with the number of programmes you are carrying out, and I hope that our ministers will continue to cooperate with you.”

On the reconstruction of the UN building and Boko Haram bombing incident, he said, “I assure that beyond the renovation of your headquarters after that incident, we will continue to make your job feasible and comfortable.

“If you need anything in the course of your assignments, talk to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.”

Advertisements

In his remarks, the UN Resident Coordinator praised the administration for the rebuilding and modernisation of the UN House in Nigeria, describing it as commendable support to multilateralism.

“The reopening of the UN House in October 2019, after eight years, was a day of celebration and remembrance.

“It was also an act of defiance in the face of terror and attack on our core values of peace, freedom, prosperity, tolerance and justice,” he was quoted as saying.

President Muhammadu Buhari with UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, and others at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja on August 24, 2020. (Noble Reporters Media //)

Kallon also commended President Buhari for his leadership and guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the wisdom in establishing the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and adding his voice to the global call for a people’s vaccine for coronavirus.

Advertisements

He congratulated Nigeria on the successful eradication of polio virus and promised to partner with the country in building more primary healthcare centres capable of sustaining universal health coverage.

The UN envoy extolled the President and his administration for the establishment of the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, as well as the continuous support in advancing gender issues, the girl-child, and rights of the child in general.

According to him, President Buhari should be praised for “legacy investments in the administration’s fight against corruption, electoral reforms, and census.”

Kallon also commended the President’s “resolve to reform and return discipline in the public service, as well as the success in fighting corruption, including convictions and recovery of assets.”


#Newsworthy…

United Nations in Libya urges probe after violence.

Advertisements

The UN mission to Libya on Monday urged the Government of National Accord (GNA) to conduct an “immediate and thorough investigation” after violence at a protest in Tripoli a day earlier.

Hundreds gathered in the capital on Sunday evening to protest deteriorating living conditions and denounce corruption in the war-torn country, before security personnel fired into the air to disperse them, witnesses said.

“UNSMIL calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into the excessive use of force by pro-GNA security personnel in Tripoli yesterday which resulted in the injury of a number of protesters,” the UN mission said in a statement, without specifying how many people were wounded.

Videos and photographs circulating on social media showed men in military attire aiming their guns towards protesters in one of the capital’s streets.

Ayman al-Wafi, a young man in his twenties who attended the protest, told AFP that demonstrators had left Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square after “security forces started firing in the air”.

Advertisements

Angered by chronic water, power, and petrol shortages in a country with Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, the mostly young people had marched through the city centre chanting slogans including “No to corruption!”

Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha called those responsible for the violence “outlaws who infiltrated the security forces” supervising the protest.

The interior ministry on Sunday evening said in a statement that the men “do not belong to the security forces” and would be arrested.

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Advertisements

The country is plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that snuff out air-conditioners in the searing summer heat.

The situation has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has spread in the country despite social distancing measures.

Considering “the continuing immiseration of the Libyan people and the ever-present threat of renewed conflict, it is past time for Libyan leaders to put aside their differences and engage in a fully inclusive political dialogue,” the UN mission said.

The protest came just two days after the country’s warring rival administrations announced separately that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections.


#Newsworthy…

Insurgency: Military alone cannot resolve crisis – United Nations

Advertisements

Amid the insurgency in the northeast and security challenges in other parts of the country, the United Nations has sued for peace.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said military interventions and humanitarian efforts alone will not solve the conflict.

Kallon disclosed this on Monday when leading a UN delegation on a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Advertisements

The UN Coordinator also called for dialogue and a more robust framework to tackle the problem.

While commending President Buhari for his administration’s efforts in fighting corruption, he called for the strengthening of institutions as a final solution to the issue of corruption.

According to the UN delegation, the Nigerian government should take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to improve the health sector

The delegation says the virus has impacted negatively on the routine immunization exercise across the country.

Advertisements

The meeting is being held on the heels that Nigeria will be polio free by Tuesday.

The delegation is five of the 19 UN agencies which make up the UN country team in Nigeria.

Earlier, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria announced the progress made by the nation via its verified Twitter handle on June 19.

It described the development as historic for Nigeria, the African continent, and the Global Polio Programme in general.

Advertisements

This comes as the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) confirmed the success recorded.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said in a tweet that it was a proud moment for the people of Nigeria when they defended the complete documentation at a virtual meeting of African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ARCC).

Shuaib explained that at the meeting, the Nigeria team which comprised the NPHCDA and partners demonstrated evidence of the country’s polio-free status.

According to him, the presentation was accepted by the commission and the official announcement will be made at a meeting of Ministers of Health scheduled for July.


#Newsworthy…

United Nations Discuss Syria Constitution.

Advertisements

Members of Syria’s Constitutional Committee, tasked with amending their war-torn country’s constitution, met at the UN in Geneva on Monday for the first time since a failed attempt at talks last November.

Delegations from President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society arrived at the United Nations in separate minivans, with all delegates wearing facemasks, to start a week of discussions.

Ahmad Al-Kuzbari, who is heading the government delegation, and Hadi Al-Bahra, leading up the opposition, both waved as they entered the building but delegates did not speak to reporters.

Advertisements

A UN spokeswoman confirmed shortly before noon that the week-long session had begun.

UN special envoy for Syria Gail Pedersen said Sunday he had met with co-chairs of the government and opposition delegations and with civil society representatives over the weekend.

“I am looking forward to a week of substantial discussions on the agenda and moving the process forward,” the Norwegian diplomat said on Twitter.

The full constitutional review committee is made up of 150 delegates divided equally three ways into government, opposition and civil society groups.

Advertisements

But only 15 members from each of those groups were due to take part in this week’s small-scale meeting.

The Constitutional Committee was created in September last year and first convened a month later.

A second round of talks, planned for late November, never got going after disagreement on the agenda prevented government and opposition negotiators from meeting.

Since then talks have been delayed by the coronavirus crisis.

Advertisements

The UN has been striving for more than nine years to try to help find a political resolution to Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 380,000 people and has displaced more than 11 million.

Constitutional review is a central part of the UN’s peace plan for Syria, which was defined by Security Council resolution 2254, adopted in December 2015.

Pedersen on Friday stressed the urgent need to build confidence between the parties.

He told reporters nobody expected “a miracle or a breakthrough”; rather the meeting is about looking towards identifying areas where progress might be made.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: United Nations gains access to Boubacar Keita, Others.

Advertisements

The United Nations said Friday it had gained access to Mali’s ousted president while rebel troops said they had released two other detained leaders, in developments that followed mounting international pressure on the new junta.

“Last night, a team from MINUSMA #HumanRights went to #Kati in the framework of its mandate to protect human rights and was able to gain access to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and other detainees,” the UN peacekeeping mission said.

Kati is a military base near the capital Bamako where the detainees were taken during Tuesday’s coup in the troubled West African country.

Separately, a member of the junta, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it had authoritised a “UN human rights mission” to visit all 19 prisoners in Kati, including Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.

Advertisements

The source said the junta had released former economy minister Abdoulaye Daffe and Sabane Mahalmoudou, Keita’s private secretary.

“Two prisoners have been released. There are still 17 in Kati. This is the proof that we respect human rights,” the junta member said.

Rebel soldiers seized Keita and other leaders after staging a mutiny at Kati, a base about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Bamako.

They named their organisation the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, under the leadership of a colonel named Assimi Goita, and vowed to stage elections “within a reasonable time”.

Advertisements

The West African bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, United States and UN Security Council have all condemned the putsch and demanded the release of Keita and other detained leaders.

The coup is Mali’s second in eight years and deals a body blow to a country struggling with a jihadist insurgency, moribund economy and deep public resentment over its government.

A putsch in 2012 was followed by an insurrection in the north of the country which developed into a jihadist insurgency that now threatens neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thousands of UN and French troops, along with soldiers from five Sahel countries, have been deployed to try to stem the bloodshed.

Advertisements

The junta’s spokesman, Ismael Wague, said on Thursday that “a transitional council, with a transitional president who is going to be either military or civilian” would be appointed.

The transition “will be the shortest possible,” he told France 24 television.

Those detained, according to various sources, include Defence Minister Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele; Security Minister M’Bemba Moussa Keita; and the president of the National Assembly, Moussa Timbine, according to various sources.

Others are army chief of staff General Abdoulaye Coulibaly; the president’s personal chief of staff General Oumar Dao; air force chief General Souleymane Doucoure; and the head of the National Guard, Ouahoun Kone.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: UN chief order immediate release of President Boubacar and PM.

Advertisements

United Nations head Antonio Guterres demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Mali’s president and members of his government Tuesday after they were seized by rebel soldiers.

“The secretary-general strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.

“To this end, he demands the immediate and unconditional release of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and members of his cabinet,” added the spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

The sudden mutiny marked a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis in the fragile West African country.

Guterres is following the unfolding developments in the capital Bamako “with deep concern,” Dujarric added.

Advertisements

“The secretary-general reiterates his calls for a negotiated solution and peaceful resolution of their differences.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 4, 2020 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press briefing at United Nations Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

“The secretary-general urges all stakeholders, particularly the defence and security forces, to exercise maximum restraint and uphold the human rights and individual freedoms of all Malians,” the spokesman said.

The United Nations Security Council is due to hold emergency talks on the crisis on Wednesday afternoon, diplomats in New York said.

The meeting was requested by France and Niger and will take place behind closed doors, a UN diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.


#Newsworthy…

Mali crisis: UN security council to hold meeting

Advertisements

The United Nations Security Council will hold emergency discussions on Mali Wednesday, a day after an apparent military coup in the crisis-torn West African country.

The meeting was requested by France and Niger and will take place behind closed doors on Wednesday afternoon, a senior UN diplomat told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, United Nations head Antonio Guterres demanded “the immediate and unconditional release” of Mali’s president and members of his government Tuesday after they were seized by rebel soldiers.

“The secretary-general strongly condemns these actions and calls for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali,” a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.


#Newsworthy

COVID-19: UN experts call governments to ban evictions.

Advertisements

A UN rights expert called Tuesday for governments to ban evictions until the COVID-19 pandemic ends, warning the number of people being expelled from their homes was rising globally.

Warning of an impending “tsunami” of evictions, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations’ top expert on the right to housing, stressed that “losing your home during this pandemic could mean losing your life”.

The independent expert, who is appointed by the UN but does not speak on its behalf, stressed that “the right to housing is central to any response to the pandemic”.

“But now we are seeing an acceleration in evictions and home demolitions.”

Advertisements

Rajagopal said that while some governments have implemented temporary bans on forced evictions, many people are continuing to lose their homes.

He pointed for instance to Kenya where more than 8,000 people were forcibly ejected from their homes in a single day in May, and Brazil where more than 2,000 families have been evicted amid the pandemic.

But he emphasised that the danger was global.

“Temporary bans in many countries have ended or are coming to an end, and this raises serious concerns that a tsunami of evictions may follow,” he warned.

Advertisements

“Governments must not allow people to become homeless during this pandemic because they lose their job and cannot pay their rent or mortgage.”

His comments came as activists and relief groups in the United States — the country hardest hit in the pandemic — scramble to avert seeing millions pushed into homelessness.

The Aspen Institute has estimated that more than 40 million people in the country could be at risk of eviction in coming months.

“Forced evictions are an outrageous violation of human rights,” Rajagopal said.


#Newsworthy…

United States bid to extend Iran arms embargo rejected.

Advertisements

Crisis looms as UNSC overwhelmingly rejects US resolution to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran.


The United Nations Security Council has resoundingly rejected a bid by the United States to extend a global arms embargo on Iran.

In the Security Council vote on Friday, Washington got support only from the Dominican Republic for its resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “yes” votes required for adoption.

Palestinians slam ‘traitor’ UAE for normalising
Eleven members on the 15-member body, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, abstained.

Russia and China strongly opposed extending the 13-year ban, which was due to expire on October 18 under a 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and six world powers.

Advertisements

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, announced the defeat of the resolution ahead of a very brief virtual council meeting to reveal the vote.

“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” he said in a statement.

Israel and the six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension “know Iran will spread even greater chaos and destruction if the embargo expires”, Pompeo said, “but the Security Council chose to ignore them”.

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement that the result “once again shows that unilateralism receives no support and bullying will fail”.

Advertisements

Washington could now follow through on a threat to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran using a provision in the nuclear deal, known as snapback, even though US President Donald Trump had unilaterally abandoned the accord in 2018. On Thursday, the US had circulated to council members a six-page memo outlining why Washington remains a participant in the nuclear accord and still has the right to use the snapback provision.

In a statement after the vote, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said Washington has “every right to initiate” the snapback mechanism, and added: “In the coming days, the United States will follow through on that promise to stop at nothing to extend the arms embargo.”

The 13-year embargo is due to expire on October 18, under a 2015 deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP]

‘Diplomatic catastrophe’
Reporting from New York, NRM learnt the US’s defeat on Friday was not a surprise.

“But it’s a surprise that the US bid failed so miserably,” she said.

Advertisements

“Any party to the nuclear accord could trigger the ‘snapback’ provision if Iran is seen to be in violation of the accord. But Russia and China say the US’s withdrawal from the deal two years ago means it has forfeited its right to do that. Other members of the council would seem to agree,” she said.

“The Europeans have expressed some misgivings about conventional weapons going into Iran. But at the end of the day, they say their concern about a nuclear weapon is paramount.”

Under the deal, Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief and other benefits. Following the US withdrawal and imposition of unilateral sanctions, Tehran has already scaled back compliance with parts of the accord. Diplomats have said triggering the “snapback” provision would put the fragile agreement further at risk because Iran would lose a major incentive for limiting its nuclear activities.

Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi warned Washington against trying to trigger a return of sanctions.

Advertisements

“Imposition of any sanctions or restrictions on Iran by the Security Council will be met severely by Iran and our options are not limited. And the United States and any entity which may assist it or acquiesce in its illegal behavior will bear the full responsibility,” he said in a statement.

Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) the US’s failed bid amounted to a “diplomatic catastrophe”.

“It demonstrates that President Donald Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that the US couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.”

But some analysts said they suspect that Washington put forward a hardline draft purposefully, knowing that council members would not be able to accept it.

Advertisements

“The fact is that everybody at the UN believes this [resolution] is just a prelude to a US effort to trigger snapback and sink the Iranian nuclear deal,” Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)

While voting on the US draft resolution was under way, Russia said its President Vladimir Putin called for a meeting of leaders of the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany and Iran to avoid escalation over US attempts to extend the Iranian arms embargo.

In statement released by the Kremlin, Putin said “the question is urgent”, adding that the goal of the videoconference would be “to outline steps to avoid confrontation and exacerbation of the situation in the UN Security Council”.

“If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Putin said. “The alternative is to further build up tension, to increase the risk of conflict. This development must be avoided.”

Advertisements

Asked if he would take part, Trump told reporters: “I hear there’s something, but I haven’t been told of it yet.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed France’s “availability in principle” to Putin’s proposal. “We have in the past deployed initiatives in the same spirit,” it said.

Jarret Blanc, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called the US’s failed bid a “diplomatic catastrophe”.

“It demonstrates that President Donald Trump and his team are not only bad at the strategy of approaching Iran, they are bad at the day to day tactics of diplomacy. It is unconscionable that it couldn’t round up more than one vote for a resolution like this.”


#Newsworthy…

Beirut explosions: UN experts demand probe.

Advertisements

United Nations human rights experts on Thursday demanded a swift, independent investigation into the catastrophic Beirut explosion, citing deep concern about irresponsibility and impunity in Lebanon.

The group also called for a relatively-rare special debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council this September.

UN experts do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it.

Lebanon’s president has rejected any international probe into the Beirut port blast, as demanded by protesters.

Advertisements

“We support calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and independent investigation based on human rights principles, to examine all claims, concerns and needs in relation to the explosion as well as the underlying human rights failures,” some 38 UN experts said in a joint statement.

The investigation should have a broad mandate to probe “any systemic failures of the Lebanese authorities and institutions to protect human rights”.

“We are deeply concerned about the level of irresponsibility and impunity surrounding human and environmental devastation on this scale,” they said.

The investigation should protect the confidentiality of victims and witnesses, and its findings should be made public, the experts said.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Vaccine cannot beat pandemic – WHO

Advertisements

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned against “vaccine nationalism,” saying vaccine-hogging richer countries would not be safe coronavirus havens if poor nations remained exposed.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it would be in wealthier nations’ interests to ensure that any vaccines eventually produced to protect against the new coronavirus were shared globally.

“Vaccine nationalism is not good, it will not help us,” Tedros told the Aspen Security Forum in the United States, via video-link from the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.

“For the world to recover faster, it has to recover together, because it’s a globalised world: the economies are intertwined. Part of the world or a few countries cannot be a safe haven and recover.

“The damage from COVID-19 could be less when those countries who… have the funding commit to this.”

Advertisements

He said the existence of the deadly respiratory disease anywhere put lives and livelihoods at risk everywhere.

“They are not giving charity to others: they are doing it for themselves, because when the rest of the world recovers and opens up, they also benefit.”

– Race for the vaccine –

The United Nations health agency also said that multiple different types of vaccines would likely be needed to combat COVID-19.

Twenty-six candidate vaccines are in various stages of being tested on humans, with six having reached Phase 3 wider levels of clinical trials.

Advertisements

“Phase 3 doesn’t mean nearly there,” explained the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan.

“Phase 3 means this is the first time this vaccine has been put into the general population, into otherwise healthy individuals, to see if the vaccine will protect them against natural infection.

“We’ve got a good range of products across a number of different platforms, across a number of different countries,” he said of the leading candidate vaccines, which use different methods to provide immunity.

However, “there’s no guarantee that any of these six will give us the answer — and we probably will need more than one vaccine to do this job.

Advertisements

– ‘Americas remain epicentre’ –

The novel coronavirus has killed over 708,000 people and infected more than 18.8 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

“The Americas remain the current epicentre of the virus and have been particularly hit hard,” said Tedros, with the United States, Brazil and Mexico suffering the most deaths.

Asked about the virus raging in the Americas, Ryan said no country had always found all the right answers, and a vast expansion of the public health workforce was required.

“We need to take a step back, we need to look at the problem again and we need to go at the problem again,” he said.

Advertisements

“That requires strong, sustained and trusted leadership.”

US President Donald Trump has accused the WHO of being a “puppet” of China and mismanaging its handling of the global pandemic.

Washington last month handed in its 12-month notice to leave the WHO, depriving the UN organisation of its biggest donor.

Tedros said the biggest “problem” with the US departure was “not about the money” but the fracture in international solidarity in fighting the virus.

Advertisements

“We hope the US will reconsider its position,” he said.

The Ethiopian former health minister claimed any problems Washington had with the WHO could be resolved without the US leaving.

“I hope the relationship will return to normal and be a stronger relationship than ever before,” he said.

“I urge all leaders to choose the path of cooperation… it’s the only choice we have.”


#Newsworthy…

UN report – Thousand of Migrants ‘dying’ on trek across Africa

Advertisements

Thousands of migrants have died after suffering “extreme” abuse while crossing Africa, according to a UN report on Wednesday that estimated 72 people perish each month on the continent’s routes.

There has been considerable focus on the thousands lost at sea while trying to cross from Africa to Europe, but a new report found that routes from West and East Africa up towards the Mediterranean can be equally perilous.

Entitled “On this journey, no one cares if you live or die”, the report published jointly by the UN refugee agency and the Danish Refugee Council’s Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) details horrific realities many face along the way.

Most migrants making such journeys experience or witness “unspeakable brutality and inhumanity” by smugglers, traffickers, militias and sometimes state actors, the UNHCR said.

In 2018 and 2019 alone, at least 1,750 people died, corresponding to an average of 72 a month or more than two deaths each day, “making it one of the most deadly routes for refugees and migrants in the world,” the report found.

Advertisements

“For too long, the harrowing abuses experienced by refugees and migrants along these overland routes have remained largely invisible,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi said in the statement.

The report, he said, documents “killings and widespread violence of the most brutal nature, perpetrated against desperate people fleeing war, violence and persecution.”

Nearly a third of those who die along these overland routes tried to cross the Sahara desert. Others perished in the south of war-ravaged Libya, while another deadly route crosses conflict-ridden Central African Republic and Mali.

File photo: Illegal migrants of different African nationalities arrive at a naval base in the capital Tripoli on April 22, 2018, after they were rescued off the coast of Zlitan from two inflatable boats.  MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP

– ‘Appalling conditions’ –
Those who survive are often left severely traumatised.

Advertisements

This is particularly true for the many who pass through Libya, where random killings, torture, forced labour and beatings are widespread, the report found.

Tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, often sub-Saharan African and Asian migrants hoping to make it across the Mediterranean, have been stranded in chaos-wracked Libya, now a key route for illicit migration to Europe.

And many of those who try to cross the Mediterranean are stopped and turned back by the Libyan coastguard.

More than 6,200 refugees were forced to disembark in Libya so far this year alone, the report said, stressing that many are then detained in “appalling conditions”.

Advertisements

Women and girls, but also men and boys, face a high risk of rape and other sexual abuse along the various routes, in particular at checkpoints, in border areas and during desert crossings, the report found.

Refugees stand at a makeshift camp before being evicted by French police, in Aubervilliers, near Paris, on July 29, 2020. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Smugglers were the main perpetrators in North and East Africa, while in West Africa police and security forces were held responsible for a quarter of the reported sexual assaults.

Around a third of those who reported witnessing or surviving sexual violence said it had occurred in more than one location.

“Strong leadership and concerted action are needed by states in the region, with support from the international community, to end these cruelties, protect the victims and prosecute the criminals responsible,” Grandi said.


#Newsworthy…

UN says COVID-19 cost global tourism $320bn from Jan – May

Advertisements

The coronavirus crisis cost the global tourism sector $320 billion in lost revenue between January and May, the UN World Tourism Organization said Tuesday.

This is “more than three times the loss during the Global Financial Crisis of 2009,” the Madrid-based organisation said in a statement.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Sudan to send troops into Darfur amid fresh killings

Advertisements

United Nations officials reported a fresh massacre of more than 60 people in Sudan’s West Darfur, as the country’s prime minister promised fresh troops for the conflict-stricken region.

Attackers targeted members of the local Masalit community, looting and burning houses and part of the local market, a statement said.

Around 500 armed men attacked Masteri Town, north of Beida, in Darfur on Saturday afternoon, said the Sunday statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Advertisements

“This was one of the latest of a series of security incidents reported over the last week that left several villages and houses burned, markets and shops looted, and infrastructure damaged,” said the statement, from the OCHA’s Khartoum office.

Following Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged a protest demanding more protection from the authorities.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the government would send security forces to conflict-stricken Darfur to “protect citizens and the farming season.”

Advertisements

The force will include army and police, he said in a statement after he met a delegation of women from the region.

Land conflict
On Friday, armed men drove into a village and killed 20 civilians returning to their fields for the first time in years, an eyewitness and a tribal chief told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

Darfur has been devastated since 2003 by a conflict between ethnic minority rebels and forces loyal to now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, including the feared Janjaweed militia, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes.

West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.
West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.

Advertisements

A government scorched-earth campaign to crush the rebels left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million.

Violence in Darfur has eased since Bashir’s ouster by the army amid mass protests against his rule last year.

File photo of Sudanese members of the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force backed by the Sudanese government to fight rebels in 2017. AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY

The government and a coalition of nine rebel groups, including factions from the region, signed a preliminary peace deal in January.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the conflict.

Advertisements

Farmers displaced by the fighting had since started to return to their land under a government-sponsored deal reached two months ago, in time for the July-November planting season.

But the bloodshed has continued, particularly over land rights, according to expert Adam Mohammad.

“The question of land is one cause of the conflict,” he said.

“During the war, peasants fled their lands and villages to camps, and nomads replaced them and settled there.”

Advertisements

Harvests threatened
The recent killings have targeted the African farming communities in conflict with the nomadic Arab tribes over the land.

In late June and early July, hundreds of protesters camped for days outside a government building in the Central Darfur town of Nertiti to demand that the government beef up security after multiple killings and looting incidents on farmland and properties.

After Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged their own protest demanding more protection.

“The escalation of violence in different parts of Darfur region is leading to increased displacement, compromising the agricultural season, causing loss of lives and livelihoods and driving growing humanitarian needs,” said the OCHA statement.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Hunger worsens, obesity rises globally – UN

Advertisements

Nearly one in nine people in the world are going hungry, with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating already worsening trends this year, according to a United Nations report published on Monday.

Economic slowdowns and climate-related shocks are pushing more people into hunger, while nutritious foods remain too expensive for many, contributing not only to undernourishment but to growing rates of obesity in adults and children.

“After decades of a long decline, the number of people suffering from hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014,” said the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World annual report.

Advertisements

Not only did people need enough food, but nutritious food, the study said, citing costly “health and environmental consequences” of sub-par diets.

Nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of people around the globe, are hungry, the UN found.

That number rose by 10 million people in just one year to 2019, and by 60 million in the past five years, found the study, which said eradicating hunger by 2030 – a goal set five years ago – will be impossible if trends continue.

Advertisements

By 2030, over 890 million people could be affected by hunger or 9.8 percent of the world’s population, it estimated and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Last year, the report estimated that over 820 million people were going hungry, but estimates were recalculated following revised data from China for prior years.

– More undernourished people –
When measuring both moderate and severe food insecurity in 2019, the number balloons from 690 million to 2 billion people without “regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food”.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit hard in nations with widespread poverty, could cause another 83 to 132 million people to become undernourished this year, the report said.

Advertisements

Global trends had already been worsening before coronavirus, it said.

About a quarter of Africa’s population could go hungry by 2030 from 19.1 percent today, already twice the world average.

In Asia, the number of hungry people fell by 8 million people since 2015, although the continent remains home to more than half the world’s undernourished people.

Trends in Latin America and the Caribbean are worsening, with 9 million more hungry people last year than in 2015.

Advertisements

– Too expensive –
“A key reason why millions of people around the world suffer from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is that they cannot afford the cost of healthy diets,” found the report.

In all regions, adult obesity is on the rise, with healthy diets of fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods unaffordable to some 3 billion people.

Over 57 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia cannot afford a healthy diet.

Low-income countries rely on starchy staples like cereals and tubers that can cost 60 percent less than healthy diets but lack necessary proteins and key vitamins and minerals to reduce infections and ward off disease.

Advertisements

The report found 21.3 percent of children under five, or 144 million, experienced stunted growth due to malnutrition, most of them in Africa or Asia.

Another 6.9 percent were “wasted” with nutritional imbalances, while 5.6 percent were overweight.

Of the overweight children, 45 percent come from Asia, and 24 percent from Africa, underscoring how malnutrition takes the form of both undernutrition and obesity.

Current patterns in food consumption are estimated to result in health costs of over $1.3 trillion per year by 2030.

Advertisements

But healthier diets could lower those costs by up to 97 percent, the report estimated, citing a vegetarian diet with associated health costs of less than $100 million.

Costs are also associated with greenhouse gas emissions caused by today’s food production system which could also be reduced by alternative diets.

While acknowledging high prices for healthy food are due to a variety of factors from insufficient diversification and inadequate food storage to domestic subsidies that favor staples, the report called an “urgent rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives.”


#Newsworthy…

China, Russia veto United Nations cross-border help to Syria

Advertisements

The two nations veto UN resolution to maintain two border crossing points from Turkey to deliver aid to northwest Syria.


Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution to extend aid deliveries from Turkey to Syria, which the UN says is crucial to save millions of lives.

The six-year-long UN approval of aid deliveries to Syria from Turkey is authorised until Friday. The remaining 13 UNSC members voted on Tuesday in favour of the resolution drafted by Germany and Belgium.

The Security Council will now vote on a rival Russian proposal to approve one Turkish crossing for aid access for six months. During the coronavirus pandemic, the UNSC has been operating virtually, which means members have 24 hours to cast a vote on a draft resolution.

Earlier on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said cross-border access was “vital to the wellbeing of the civilians in northwest Syria … Lives depend on it.”

The UNSC in January allowed cross-border aid operation to continue from two Turkish crossings for six months, but dropped crossing points from Iraq and Jordan due to opposition by Russia and China.

Displaced Syrians sit in the back of a truck loaded with belongings as they flee along the M4 highway, in Ariha in the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on June 8, 2020, heading north.

Advertisements

Tuesday’s vote was the 15th time that Russia used its veto since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.

“We are seeing a repeat of what happened six months ago. Until that point, the UN had four border crossing authorised for aid delivery,” said Media editor (known to Noble Reporters Media) reporting from New York.

Millions of people have fled Syria since the conflict began in 2011 and millions are internally displaced [File: Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP]

“After using its veto in December, Russia managed to get that reduced to two crossings,” he said, adding that the “clock was ticking until the existing authorisation runs out on Friday”.

‘Despicable and dangerous’
Last month, Germany and Belgium proposed reopening the Iraq crossing for six months to help Syria combat the coronavirus, but it was cut from the draft resolution that was put to a vote on Tuesday, again due to opposition by Russia and China.

Advertisements

It was an “extremely negative development”, a European diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“They want to strangle the population even more,” the diplomat continued, adding that aid “cannot reach the population from one” crossing point.

“Insisting on only one crossing point is cynical and it doesn’t meet the needs of the people,” said the diplomat.

Sherine Tadros, head of Amnesty International’s UN office, said it was “impossible to overstate the importance of ensuring the crossing points”.

Advertisements

“For millions of Syrians, it is the difference between having food to eat and starving,” she said. “For hospitals, it is about having enough supplies to save lives. That’s why Russia and China’s abuse of the veto power is despicable and dangerous.”

The International Rescue Committee was also quick to condemn the Russian and Chinese vetoes.

“Blocking access to food, healthcare supplies, vaccines, and ventilators is unacceptable anytime but in the year of COVID-19, it is even more reprehensible,” said IRC president David Miliband in a statement.

Refugee tents replaced with homes in Syria’s Idlib
In January, Moscow, Syria’s closest ally, succeeded in having the crossing points reduced from four to two and in limiting the authorisation to six months instead of a year, as had been done previously.

Advertisements

Russia, like China, argues that the UN authorisation violates Syria’s sovereignty and that the aid could be distributed by the Syrian authorities.

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun blamed unilateral sanctions against Syria, imposed by the United States and the European Union, for exacerbating the country’s humanitarian situation and urged they be lifted.

Western nations and the UN secretariat, on the other hand, insist that cross-border aid is the only credible option in Syria, and that the flow of relief supplies would face multiple obstacles if it had to pass through Damascus’s control.

According to a report published by the UN on Tuesday, the humanitarian situation in Syria is disastrous.

Advertisements

“Syria’s economy is devastated,” said Hanny Megally, one of the authors of the report. “The country has been in a nine-year conflict. People are suffering.”

“An estimated 2.8 million people in northwest Syria – 70 percent of the region’s population – require humanitarian assistance,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told the UNSC on June 29.

A crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to a civil war, with Moscow backing al-Assad and Washington supporting the opposition.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, some estimates say at least 500,000 people have been killed. Millions of people have fled Syria and millions are internally displaced.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

UN react to Iran top general’s murder – blame US

Advertisements

The US drone strike that killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani was “unlawful”, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings concluded in a report released Tuesday.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, concluded it was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the UN charter.

The US had provided no evidence that an imminent attack against US interest was being planned, she wrote.

The independent rights expert does not speak for the United Nations but reports her findings to it.

Advertisements

Her report on targeted killings through armed drones — around half of which deals with the Soleimani case — is to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Thursday.

The United States withdrew from the council in 2018.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 26, 2019 United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard delivers a report during the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. – The US drone strike that killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani was “unlawful”, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings concluded in a report released on July 7, 2020, concluding it was an “arbitrary killing” that violated the UN charter. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Soleimani in a January 3 drone strike near Baghdad international airport.

Soleimani, a national hero at home, was “the world’s top terrorist” and “should have been terminated long ago”, Trump said at the time.

Advertisements

Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the drone strike.

“In light of the evidence that the US has provided to date, the targeting of General Soleimani, and the deaths of those accompanying him, constitute an arbitrary killing for which, under IHRL (international human rights law), the US is responsible,” Callamard said in her report.

‘No evidence’ imminent attack planned
She said the strike violated the UN Charter, with “insufficient evidence provided of an ongoing or imminent attack,” she wrote.

“No evidence has been provided that General Soleimani specifically was planning an imminent attack against US interests, particularly in Iraq, for which immediate action was necessary and would have been justified,” Callamard said.

Advertisements

“No evidence has been provided that a drone strike in a third country was necessary or that the harm caused to that country was proportionate to the harm allegedly averted.

“Soleimani was in charge of Iran’s military strategy, and actions, in Syria and Iraq. But absent an actual imminent threat to life, the course of action taken by the US was unlawful.”

The killing of Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, provoked massive outpourings of grief in Iran.

Tehran retaliated by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at US troops stationed in Iraq. While the attack on the western Iraqi base of Ain Al-Asad killed no US soldiers, dozens suffered brain trauma.

Advertisements

Callamard’s report addresses targeted killings through armed drones, in light of the proliferation in drone use and their expanding capability over the last five years.

It makes recommendations designed to regulate their use and enhance accountability.

Callamard said that while incidents like the killing of Soleimani and the September 2019 hit on Saudi Arabia’s oil processing facilities generated strong political reactions, “the vast majority of targeted killings by drones are subjected to little public scrutiny”.

Drone technologies and drone attacks were generating fundamental challenges to international legal standards, she added.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

UN deny Dbanj as Ambassador over Rape Allegations

Advertisements

The United Nations (UN) has debunked the report that Nigerian musician, Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, better known as D’banj, who is accused of raping a woman named Seyitan Babatayo, is one of its ambassadors.

Director of Information at the United Nations Information Centre for Nigeria, Joseph Kayanja, stated this in an interview published on Wednesday.

This is contrary to the claim made by the singer’s team in 2012, hailing him as the first Nigerian to be appointed a UN Youth Ambassador.

Following the rape allegation, over 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the United Nations and other organizations to strip D’Banj of his appointment.

Advertisements

The UN has now distanced itself from the singer, claiming that position was conferred on him by a UN youth association and not the organisation itself.

“I would like to confirm that the said Mr. Oladapo Oyebanjo aka D’Banj is NOT a UN Ambassador. The title was accorded to him by an obscure UN youth association which has nothing to do with the United Nations. I hope this clarifies,” the statement by Kayanja reads in part.

Meanwhile, Seyitan had earlier released a statement on Twitter, confirming that she was indeed unlawfully detained by the police and D’banj and coerced into withdrawing her allegation.

Advertisements

She was charged with no offence, upon her release, after signing a gag order by the police and D’banj team.

Since then, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has ordered an investigation into her case.

D’banj, however, on Monday maintained that he is innocent until proven guilty.

“Innocent until proven guilty…., Stop social media trial #SAY no to rape and human rights violation,” he captioned an Instagram video of himself singing and dancing.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

United Nations to probe U.S over Racism against ‘Blacks’

Advertisements

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday slammed Iran for reportedly executing two juvenile offenders in four days and urged Tehran to call an immediate halt to such killings.

The U.N.’s top human rights body agreed unanimously Friday to commission a U.N. report on systemic racism and discrimination against black people while stopping short of ordering a more intensive investigation singling out the United States after the death of George Floyd sparked worldwide demonstrations.

The Human Rights Council approved a consensus resolution following days of grappling over language after African nations backed away from their initial push for a commission of inquiry, the council’s most intrusive form of scrutiny, focusing more on the U.S.

Instead, the resolution calls for a simple and more generic report to be written by the U.N. human rights chief’s office and outside experts. The aim is “to contribute to accountability and redress for victims” in the U.S. and beyond, the resolution states.

Advertisements

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the measure fell far short of the level of scrutiny sought by hundreds of civil society organizations, but nonetheless set the stage for an unprecedented look at racism and police violence in the United States — over the efforts of U.S. officials to avoid the council’s attention — and showed even the most powerful countries could be held to account.

Iran and Palestine signed on among the co-sponsors for the resolution condemning “the continuing racially discriminatory and violent practices” by law enforcement against Africans and people of African descent “in particular which led to the death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in Minnesota,” it says. Any state can sign on as a resolution co-sponsor at the council.

The approved text asks U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to examine governments’ responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and to report back to the council in June next year. It asked her to also include updates on police brutality against Africans and people of African descent in her regular updates to the council between now and then.

The African countries that brought the issue to the Human Rights Council measure insisted upon the urgency of the moment, citing an exceptional chance to train a spotlight on decades of racial discrimination in the United States.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements

Nuclear Monitor presses Iran for access to sites

Advertisements

The body has called on Tehran to give access to two sites where past nuclear activity allegedly took place.


The board of governors at the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has passed a resolution critical of Iran, the first of its kind since 2012, as tension mounts over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Friday’s resolution was put forward by European states and urges the Iranian government to provide inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with access to two sites to clarify whether undeclared nuclear activity took place there in the early 2000s.

It “calls on Iran to fully cooperate with the Agency and satisfy the Agency’s requests without any further delay, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency”.

Iran has been blocking access to the sites for months, prompting a growing diplomatic row.

Advertisements

The resolution was carried by 25 votes in favour versus two against, with seven abstentions: South Africa, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Mongolia, Azerbaijan and Niger.

Russia and China voted against.

The resolution was proposed by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and supported by the United States – though the US ambassador to the UN in Vienna had said “the text could be strengthened”.

‘Iran categorically deplores this resolution’
Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s ambassador to the UN in Vienna, told Friday’s meeting that the resolution will not “encourage Iran to grant access to the Agency based on fabricated and unfounded allegations”.

“Iran categorically deplores this resolution and will take appropriate action in response, the repercussions of which would be upon the sponsors of this resolution,” he added.

Advertisements

“While stressing the need for Tehran and IAEA to settle this problem without delay, we believe that the resolution can be counterproductive,” Russia’s Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted after the resolution was passed.

Even though the sites in question are not thought to be directly relevant to Iran’s current nuclear programme, the agency says it needs to know if activities going back almost 20 years have been properly declared and all materials accounted for.

Despite the row over the two sites, the IAEA says it still has the access it needs to inspect Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, as per its mandate under the landmark deal between Iran and world powers reached in 2015.

However, the latest dispute comes as that deal further unravels, with Iran continuing to scale back its compliance in retaliation to the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and the reimposition of punishing sanctions against Tehran.

Advertisements

Iran has previously hinted that a resolution along the lines of the one passed on Friday could cause “complication and difficulties” for the future of the 2015 accord, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In his statement, Gharib Abadi warned the IAEA against actions that could lead to “the destruction of the JCPOA”.

‘No exceptions’ in IAEA agreements
Speaking to reporters after the resolution was passed, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said it would be “absolutely unacceptable” if an example were to be set that states can be selective in their implementation of agreements with the UN agency.

“There are no exceptions. There is no Additional Protocol a la carte,” Grossi said, referring to the agreement under which the IAEA requested access to the sites.

Advertisements

“I intend to sit down with Iran very soon and to try to solve this as soon as possible,” he said, adding that Gharib Abadi would be his first port of call.

Earlier this week, Iran said the IAEA’s access requests were based on allegations from Iran’s archenemy, Israel.

Additional information provided by the IAEA to back up its requests “were merely some commercial satellite imageries that contained no convincing underlying reason” to provide access, Tehran argues.

Also on Friday the British Foreign Office said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would be meeting his French and German counterparts in Berlin to discuss “a diplomatic solution to Iran’s destabilising activities in the Middle East”.


#Newsworthy…

Advertisements