This is the news in brief from the United Nations.
UN chief calls for deeper efforts to stop widening inequality
“We need to dramatically accelerate our efforts” if we don’t want to “fall further behind” in the struggle against rising inequality and other global challenges, the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday, speaking to ambassadors from around the world in New York.
“In this fast-changing world, standing still means falling further behind. And on three key 21st-century challenges, we need to dramatically accelerate our efforts in 2019. Quite simply, we must put our pedal to the metal.”
António Guterres presented his top five priorities for 2019: diplomacy for peace; ambitious climate action; acceleration towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); better governance over new technologies; and stronger UN values worldwide.
The UN chief called for deeper efforts to “show that we understand people’s anxieties, fears and concerns” and to “address the root causes that lead people to feel marooned in our rapidly changing world”.
Here’s Mr Guterres again:
“Across this work, across the world, what really matters is people – “we the peoples”. And what guides us is a set of values – the universal values of the United Nations Charter that bind us together. Peace. Justice. Human Dignity. Tolerance. Solidarity. Today, those values are under attack around the globe.”
Countries failing to protect the interests of all their people: UN Human Rights chief
Many countries are failing to protect and promote the interests of all their people, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday.
In a special meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva to review progress on achieving the 17 SDGs by 2030, Michelle Bachelet insisted that “overall, we are not on track” to meet its ambitious aims.
“The 2030 Agenda is a commitment to achieve greater international cooperation for a more equitable international order, but above all, it is a promise extended to people previously locked out of development: the marginalized, disempowered and excluded communities; the millions of women, children and youth, racial, religious and caste minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, persons with disabilities, Roma and the poor.”
At Ms. Bachelet’s side, one of her predecessors as UN rights chief, Mary Robinson, echoed the need to address widening inequalities, insisting that wealth and opportunities were “increasingly concentrating in the hands of the few”.
She added that such inequalities, create winners and losers, serving to “catalyse social unrest, deepen divides and increase xenophobia; all major concerns for the realisation of rights”.
890 people killed western DRC violence: UN Human Rights chief calls for justice
And staying with the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), it warned on Wednesday that at least 890 people were reportedly killed in the western Democratic Republic of the Congo last month.
Human rights reports suggest that the massacre happened between 16 and 18 December in four villages in the Yumbi territory, Mai-Ndombe province, in what appear to have been clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities.
In a statement, the UN rights chief condemned the “shocking violence” and highlighted the importance of “investigating and bringing the perpetrators to justice”.
Michelle Bachelet added that it is essential to “ensure justice for the victims of these horrific attacks, but also to prevent new episodes of intercommunal strife, and to address the anger and feelings of gross injustice that may otherwise lead to repeated cycles of violence between communities.”
Ana Carmo, UN News.