Human Rights 

Listen to older people’s ‘suggestions and ideas’ for more inclusive societies, urges UN chief

“Older people must be a priority in our efforts to overcome COVID 19”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons, celebrated annually on 1 October. He shone a light on the need to examine how the pandemic might change how we address age and ageing in our societies, stressing that more opportunities and increased access to health, pensions and social protection for older persons were “crucial”. In releasing his policy guidance on making the lives of older persons better,…

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Human Rights 

Redouble efforts against ‘global scourge’ of gender-based violence, intensified by pandemic: Guterres 

“Millions of women are living in fear, with long-term consequences for families and communities, and for all our efforts for peace and security, human rights and sustainable development”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message to a virtual high-level GBV event in the context of COVID-19.  Against the backdrop of his global call for a ceasefire and an end to all violence – from war zones to people’s homes – he acknowledged that some 146 Member States had increased resources and acted to protect women and girls but flagged that those measures were not enough.  “We urgently need new thinking and momentum on this critical issue”, Mr. Guterres upheld, underscoring the need to increase…

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Human Rights 

Most countries failing to protect women from COVID-19 economic and social fallout

And women have often become victims of domestic violence “locked down with their abusers, as unpaid caregivers in families and communities, and as workers in jobs that lack social protection”, adds the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. New data released by gender agency and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) taken from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, reveal that most countries are not doing enough to protect women and girls from the economic and social fallout being caused by the virus. Lacking support The analysis signals that one-fifth…

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Human Rights 

‘Eyes and ears’ of Human Rights Council facing funding crisis

In an appeal for Member States to help, they said that financing their work adequately had been a concern for several years, and that the COVID-19 crisis had made their work even more difficult. Today, Member States have only paid about 60 per cent of their commitments to the United Nations regular budget. As a result, some experts are unable to carry out their mandates properly, the Special Procedures coordination committee said in a statement, describing rights experts as the “eyes and ears” of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.…

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Human Rights 

Yemen’s warring parties agree to free more than 1,000 prisoners 

Delegates from the Yemen Government and the Ansar Allah, formally known as Houthi rebels, signed an agreement on Sunday to liberate 1,081 conflict-related individuals, in accordance with the lists of agreed-upon names. “Today is an important day for over a thousand families who can expect to welcome back their loved ones hopefully very soon,” said the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, after the fourth meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Prisoners’ Exchange Agreement, which was co-chaired by his office (OSESGY) and the International Committee…

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Human Rights 

Inclusion and more public participation, will help forge better government policies: Guterres

Speaking at the end of the annual high level week, Secretary-General António Guterres warned that such crises are an “enormous governance challenge” for all nations, and overcoming them requires approaches driven by unity, solidarity and compassion.  “For that, we need governance models and structures that work for the common good, with an intergenerational perspective. We need to prioritize the rebuilding of trust between people, institutions and leaders,” he highlighted.  Lead through equality  The UN chief called for leadership that is gender equal, noting recent studies that show women leaders have…

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Human Rights 

Impact on workers of COVID-19 is ‘catastrophic’: ILO 

The bleak news from ILO Director-General Guy Ryder coincided with an updated mid-year forecast from the UN body.  Lower and middle-income countries have suffered most, with an estimated 23.3 per cent drop in working hours – equivalent to 240 million jobs – in the second quarter.  Previously, the ILO had suggested a 14 per cent average drop in global working time, equivalent to the loss of 400 million jobs, relative to the fourth quarter of 2019.  Incomes cut by 15 per cent  Workers in developing nations had also seen their income drop more than 15 per cent, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told journalists in Geneva.  “On top of this, these are the places where…

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Human Rights 

Mali: Rights expert calls for ‘immediate release’ of former officials detained during coup

According to a news release by the UN human rights office (OHCHR), at least 13 people, among the 18 arrested by coup leaders on 18 August, are still being held illegally, at the Kati military camp in Bamako, in spite of calls for their release from global and regional leaders, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.  “There is no legal basis for detention of the former prime minister, the former president of the National Assembly, and other former Malian officials taken into custody…

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Human Rights 

Sign of the times: COVID-19 response and recovery must be accessible says Guterres

In his message for the day, Secretary-General António Guterres expressed encouragement that some countries have been providing public health announcements and information on COVID-19 with national sign language interpretation.  And he repeated his call for COVID-19 response and recovery measures to be “accessible to all”.  Disability plan The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy, which was launched last year, aims to strengthen efforts for the meaningful participation and full inclusion of people with disabilities “in all that we do, including in times of crisis”, the top UN official explained. He elaborated by…

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Human Rights 

Renew ‘collective commitment to multilateralism’, urges Assembly President

After banging the gavel to open this year’s General Debate, Volkan Bozkir painted a picture of pummeled economies, overwhelmed healthcare systems and disrupted education, due to the coronavirus. Highlighting that “the most vulnerable have suffered most”, he drew attention to the situation of refugees and migrants; surging risks of gender-based violence; children in the crosshairs of exploitation; and the rise of on ethnic and religious violence. #COVID19 has affected us far beyond our ability to attend this Debate in person. It has pummeled our economies. It has pushed our healthcare…

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