This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Ongoing assault on Yemen’s Hudydah can only cause more suffering: UN’s Deputy rights chief
In Yemen, the ongoing offensive against the key Red Sea port of Hudaydah threatens “only further suffering” for millions of people, the UN’s Deputy rights chief said on Wednesday.
Kate Gilmore was addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where Member States mandated a probe into allegations of war crimes committed by Coalition forces supporting the internationally recognized Government and by “de facto” Houthi opposition forces.
The Group of Eminent Experts, as they are known, compiled a list of names of individuals who may be responsible for these crimes, which is now with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Here’s Kate Gilmore speaking in Geneva:
“Excellencies, the Eminent Experts’ first report, and the list of names, are significant contributions to efforts to ensure accountability mechanisms are established for victims of the conflict in Yemen. And as the High Commissioner has stated, so long as the conflict continues, there must be independent international investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and war crimes. That is the least we can do.”
Hudaydah, which is under Houthi control, is an essential point of entry for most of Yemen’s basic needs.
Ongoing blockades and the coalition’s offensive against the port and city will only result in further suffering and loss of life, Ms. Gilmore said, before urging all parties to the conflict to support UN-led efforts to open a “life-saving air bridge” to evacuate sick people out of the country.
Cambodia facing ‘departure’ from democratic trend, says Special Rapporteur
Also at the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia has highlighted ongoing concerns about electoral freedom there and restrictions on civil society and the media.
Addressing Member States on Wednesday, Rhona Smith said that while recent elections had raised expectations that opposition parties could gain government if they had sufficient support, the 2018 poll represented “a departure” from this trend.
The ruling Cambodian People’s Party is led by President Hun Sen, who has been Head of State for more than 30 years.
In an update to the Council, Ms. Smith pointed out the arrest of Kem Sokha, leader of the main opposition party, the CNRP, and its enforced dissolution, which has had a dramatic effect on this year’s national elections:
“In accordance with laws fast-tracked whilst the court was seized of the matter, all CNRP seats were redistributed to other political parties who at that time held no seats in the National Assembly and commune positions were also reallocated. This dramatically affected the previous results of the 2013 national elections and the 2017 commune elections by disenfranchising the more than 40 per cent of the electorate that had voted for CNRP representatives.”
Other worrying developments in Cambodia include the introduction of treason laws, the Special Rapporteur said, and other legislation designed to restrict debate and target political opponents, human rights defenders and the media.
In response, Cambodia’s delegation at the Council expressed the country’s commitment to upholding human rights and the principle of multiparty democracy.
The delegation also rejected what it called politically motivated and insufficiently accurate reporting by the Special Rapporteur.
Fragile world economy driven by tax cut ‘sugar rush’: UN trade agency report
And finally, a word about the world’s economy, which remains on “shaky ground”, according to the UN trade agency, UNCTAD, which highlights escalating trade tariffs, a global debt spike and powerful multinationals as causes for concern.
According to this year’s Trade and Development report from the UN Conference on Trade and Development, global debt has risen sharply to $250 trillion; that’s three times the size of the world’s output.
A decade ago – when the global financial crisis hit – the deficit was $140 trillion.
Here’s Richard Kozul-Wright, UNCTAD Director of Globalization and Development Strategy:
“The world economy is walking a tightrope between debt-fuelled growth and financial instability. There’s certainly been a recovery in the United States. The question is whether that’s an economic sugar rush driven by tax cuts and military spending, or whether there’s a sustainable growth parked behind that. We tend to think it’s the former, but it’s certainly a performance that is far better than is happening in most of Europe, which is softening across the continent, and Japan, which is also demonstrating rather weak performance and, of course, we’re seeing recessions now in a significant number of larger emerging economies.”
According to UNCTAD, emerging economies’ global share of debt rose from 7 per cent in 2007 to 26 per cent this year.
Despite these potentially worrying indicators, by the end of 2018, global output is forecast to remain unchanged from last year, at 3.1 per cent, UNCTAD says.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.