António Guterres promotes new disarmament role for UN
The head of the United Nations has said that he’s soon to announce “concrete, practical actions” to promote disarmament amid deteriorating global security and the return of “cold war tensions”.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres made his comments in a video posted on Twitter late on Thursday evening, in which he said that he will launch a “disarmament agenda” on 24 May in Geneva.
“It will address weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons and future technologies and weapons systems. It will be based on concrete, practical actions. It will focus on disarmament that saves lives. By placing human lives firmly at the centre of our efforts, I hope to generate new momentum and mobilize new partnerships for peace and sustainable security.”
The initiative comes at a time when military spending is at its highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall, according to Mr. Guterres, who also warned against States that “strongly believe weapons of mass destruction make them safer”.
Special session on Gaza killings begins at Human Rights Council
A special session of the UN Human Rights Council has ended with a resolution by Member States to investigate weeks of violence on the Israeli border with Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 100 people in the enclave and left thousands wounded.
The resolution was adopted by 29 votes in favour, with 2 against and 14 abstentions.
The draft text called for the Council to “investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and particularly the occupied Gaza Strip, since 30 March.
The development follows a request on Tuesday by Palestine and the Arab Group of States.
A day earlier, 43 demonstrators in Gaza were killed by Israeli forces.
Many Palestinians were protesting at the official move of the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The death toll continues to climb as some of the more than 1,300 people injured with live ammunition succumb to their wounds, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
Here he is speaking at the council on Friday:
“Palestinians have exactly the same human rights as Israelis do. They have the same rights to live safely in their homes, in freedom, with adequate and essential services and opportunities. And of this essential core of entitlements due to every human being, they are systematically deprived…. But they are, in essence, caged in a toxic slum from birth to death; deprived of dignity; dehumanized by the Israeli authorities to such a point it appears officials do not even consider that these men and women have a right, as well as every reason, to protest.”
Zeid said that some demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and used slingshots to throw stones at Israeli soldiers.
But this did not justify the use of lethal force and may be a breach of international law, he said.
Israel responded to the special session at the Human Rights Council as evidence of its politically motivated “anti-Israeli obsession”.
Ambassador Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, said that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority had incited people to violence, placing “as many civilians as possible — including women, children and journalists — in the line of fire.
Under the rules of the Human Rights Council, an extraordinary session can only be called by the body’s 47 Member States; it must also have the support of at least one third of the membership.
UN warns of ‘deteriorating climate’ for human rights defenders in Guatemala
The murder of three indigenous rights activists in Guatemala in the space of only 10 days has prompted the United Nations human rights office, OHCHR, to warn of increasing dangers faced by civil activists there.
In a statement on Friday, OHCHR warned about a “deteriorating climate” for the defence of human rights in the Central American republic.
The two most recent killings took place in an area of Guatemala where civil society organizations have been working with the Government on an agreement to address land conflicts.
The third killing claimed the life of a rights officer working on behalf peasants and indigenous peoples in the town of San Luis Jilotepeque Jalapa.
Other rights defenders have also suffered threats and attacks in recent months, OHCHR said, before calling for accountability.