Europe 

Fresh Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes over disputed region – UN chief urges ‘stop fighting’ 

According to news reports, at least 16 people have been killed along the line of contact in the worst fighting between the two former Soviet Republics in four years. “He condemns the use of force and regrets the loss of life and the toll on the civilian population”, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement.  This latest skirmish between the two countries, which fought a war in the 1990s as the Soviet Union was dissolving, has heightened fears of instability in the South Caucasus, a region that provides crucial…

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Europe 

Belarusian Minster denounces Western attempts to sow ‘chaos’, says threats against his country must end

In a pre-recorded video address to the Assembly’s annual debate, being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Makei regretted what he described as cynical attention paid by some to recent events in his country. While acknowledging that the situation had become complex, he said this was “by dint of circumstances imposed upon us, primarily from elsewhere.” He rejected “statements brimming with cynicism” from several Western countries under the pretext of being concerned over Belarusian sovereignty and prosperity, but which “are actually nothing more than attempts to…

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Europe 

‘We must open our eyes to the weaknesses this pandemic has laid bare’, Belgium leader tells UN General Assembly

“COVID-19 must not blind us. On the contrary, we must open our eyes to the weaknesses that this pandemic has laid bare to our societal models, for example,” she said in a pre-recorded statement.    Due to the pandemic, the annual debate for Heads of State and Government in the UN General Assembly Hall is mainly being held virtually.  Prime Minister Wilmès pointed to COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on people who already suffer heavily due to inequality, such as women, girls, children, the elderly and persons with a disability.  Geopolitical tensions…

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Europe 

Repair ugly rifts and unite against common foe, COVID-19, ‘or everyone will lose’, warns UK’s Johnson

“And yet the crisis has also been an extraordinary force for division”, Boris Johnson said in a pre-recorded video address to the Assembly’s annual debate, being held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although the world is “up against the same enemy”, he pointed out that borders have been springing up “between friends and allies” and global supply chains disrupted with “cheque book wars on airport tarmacs” as nation vie for PPE. “The very notion of the international community looks, frankly, pretty tattered”, Mr. Johnson observed. “We simply…

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Europe 

Belarus must release opposition leader Maria Kalesnikava, stress independent rights experts

In a news release, on Friday, the experts also called on the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the enforced disappearance of Ms. Kalesnikava, who, they said was “snatched off the streets” of the capital, Minsk, threatened with death or deportation, and then secretly imprisoned.  It is particularly troubling that the authorities have resorted to enforced disappearances in an effort to quash protests, stifle dissent and sow fear –  Independent experts “It is particularly troubling that the authorities have resorted to enforced disappearances in an effort to quash protests,…

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Europe 

Cyprus committed to resuming peace talks

Cyprus has been divided for more than four decades, and leaders from its Greek and Turkish communities last met three years ago at a UN-facilitated conference in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.  Discussions in the alpine village centred around six main issues, including security and guarantees, new territorial boundaries, and power-sharing. Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom served as guarantors, with the European Union as an observer. The talks stalled after a week.  “Unfortunately, despite our positive engagement and the submission of credible and realistic written proposals, the negotiations were unsuccessful due to…

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Europe 

European unity is an example to the world: Bosnia and Herzegovina Head of State

With help from our friends In a pre-recorded video address, Mr. Džaferović thanked those who came to the aid of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the crisis, and expressed his appreciation for the EU’s decision to include the country in its public procurement programme, which means that it has been able to purchase material needed to combat COVID-19, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) in a cost-effective way. “Just like any other great misfortune”, he said “this one has also reminded us how important it is to have friends.” At a…

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Europe 

Spain violated inclusive education right of child with disabilities, independent committee finds

The case, concerning Rubén, a child with Down syndrome, was brought before the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2017 by the child and his father. Rubén was sent to a special education centre by Spanish authorities, despite his parents’ objections.  It was also alleged that Rubén was ill-treated and abused by his teacher. Criminal charges were also brought against Rubén’s parents by the authorities, for their refusal to send him to a specialized school. It does not appear that the authorities have carried out a thorough assessment … of…

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Europe 

Switzerland: Draft anti-terrorism law sets ‘dangerous precedent’, rights experts warn

The draft legislation, currently before the Swiss Parliament, expands the definition of terrorism and no longer requires the prospect of any crime at all, they said, in a plea for a last-minute reversal by legislators.  ‘Expansive’ definition of terrorism  Citing international standards, the experts defined terrorism as the intimidation or coercion of populations or governments through violence that causes death or serious injury, or the taking of hostages.  Under the bill, “terrorist activity” may encompass even lawful acts aimed at influencing or modifying the constitutional order, such as legitimate activities…

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Europe 

Belarus: Ensure ‘full respect’ for workers’ rights during protests, ILO urges President Lukashenko

According to ILO, six trade unionists were detained by the authorities after participating in peaceful protests and industrial action.  I wrote to the President of Belarus today to urge Mr. Lukashenko to prevent human rights violations and ensure full respect for workers’ rights and freedoms. I raised concern over the charges against six trade unionists detained during peaceful protests. https://t.co/0gZ7RKWKGQ — Guy Ryder (@GuyRyder) September 9, 2020 In a letter to President Lukashenko, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder urged the President to release and drop charges against those detained and called…

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