Europe 

Violations continuing against Belarus protesters, UN human rights office warns 

In a statement, OHCHR’s Rupert Colville expressed deep concern over the use of force by law enforcement officials, against Belarusians who have taken to the streets across the country in peaceful mass demonstrations to voice their grievances, since the contested result was announced of the 9 August presidential election.   Some 231 individuals, including three journalists, were reportedly detained on 1 November as suspects in a criminal case concerning the organization and active participation in actions that, it’s alleged, “grossly violate public order” – a charge that potentially carries a prison term of three years, the statement added.   Excessive use of force …

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Europe 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Some politicians still ignore ‘core European values’ 25 years after peace deal

Valentin Inzko briefed ambassadors on the achievements and shortfalls of the Dayton Agreement which ended the Bosnian war following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, among the bloodiest fighting in Europe in the past century.  While the agreement has been “a huge success” – stopping bloodshed and promoting state-building in a country divided among Bosniak, Serb and Croat communities – it brought “an imperfect peace”, according to the envoy.   Nationalistic, divisive policies  “Regretfully, the international community made one great conceptual flaw during the implementation of the Dayton Agreement. We…

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Europe 

UN brings Cyprus leaders together, mulling future talks on divided island

The meeting is the first between the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, since the latter assumed his post following elections last month. #HappeningNow: Top @UN official in #Cyprus, Ms. Elizabeth Spehar, hosts the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Ersin Tatar, and the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, for their first informal meeting as the leaders of the Greek Cypriot & the Turkish Cypriot communities. pic.twitter.com/QNeF8842ZV — UN Cyprus (@UN_CYPRUS) November 3, 2020 Both representatives had “expressed their determination to positively respond to…

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Europe 

Belarus targets women human rights defenders after disputed August elections 

“Belarus has effectively criminalized human rights work at a time when the work of human rights defenders is more essential than ever”, said Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.  ‘Special courage’  As the Government continues to crack down on demonstrators protesting the election, Ms. Lawlor said that “women human rights defenders are being particularly targeted”.  At least three of them have come under attack simply for doing their job during September and early October: “In Belarus, as in many other countries, it takes special courage for women to stand up for human rights”, upheld the UN expert.  Lodging charges  Ms. Lawlor drew attention…

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Europe 

UN chief condemns deadly attacks in Austrian capital Vienna

According to media reports, gunmen opened fire Monday evening (local time) at multiple locations in central Vienna. One of the victims was killed at the scene of the shootings, while a second died of their injuries. At least fourteen wounded people are in hospitals, some with serious injuries.  I’m following with grave concern the violent attacks of terror in Vienna, one of our UN HQ. I condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and reaffirm the @UN‘s solidarity with the people & Government of Austria. https://t.co/WQfbKhsMg6 — António Guterres…

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Europe 

UN rights chief warns of possible war crimes in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Michelle Bachelet on Monday expressed alarm at continuing indiscriminate attacks in populated areas in and around the border region, in contravention of international humanitarian law, despite a recent agreement by the two sides.  “Since the conflict reignited in September with the terrible consequences we are now seeing, there have been repeated calls, including by myself, for the parties to take all feasible steps to avoid, or at the very least minimize, the loss of civilian life and damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals – as well as to…

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Europe 

Guterres urges continued dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Secretary-General António Guterres condemns the violence and reiterated that “both sides have the obligation, under international humanitarian law, to take utmost care to spare and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations”, according to a statement issued by Stéphane Dujarric. Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since they fought a war in the 1990s as the Soviet Union was dissolving. The latest conflict between the two countries, which began on 27 September, marked the worst escalation of fighting…

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Europe 

UN ‘stands ready to assist’ in Aegean Sea earthquake tragedy – Guterres

At least 28 people in Turkey and Greece have perished after a fierce quake struck off the shore of a Greek island in the eastern Aegean Sea – also leaving more than 800 injured, according to news media.  The tremor triggered tidal waves that hit coastal areas and islands in both countries. In a message through his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, the UN chief extended his condolences to “the bereaved families and to the Governments and people of Greece and Turkey” and wished the injured a speedy recovery. Rescue efforts Rescue…

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Europe 

FROM THE FIELD: Planning a route to green cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered extensive flooding in 2014., by UNDP/Sulejman Omerbasic With one of the world’s highest levels of air pollution, the central Bosnian city of Zenica, an industrial hub, is now attempting to turn around its fortunes, with the backing of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). A host of projects are underway in Zenica, including river-bed cleaning (to avoid flooding), ending the use of coal for municipal heating and, as part of UNDP’s Go Green Initiative, tree-planting.  UNDP-supported initiatives are also designed to have a beneficial effect on surrounding…

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Europe 

Poland ‘slammed the door shut’ on legal and safe abortions: Human rights experts

In a statement on Tuesday, the rights experts also called on the Polish authorities to safeguard the rights of men and women protesting against the ruling.  #Poland has slammed door shut on legal and safe abortions on account of protection of the right to life of the unborn in violation of its international human rights obligations – UN experts stand in solidarity with women, in their quest for equality. Read: https://t.co/lgbX56hIKZ pic.twitter.com/2JjTe3ZHAe — UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) October 27, 2020 Across the country, thousands have taken to the streets in…

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