This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Fighting hate crimes in the courts: UN justice experts meet at Vienna conference
Warning in April of a "disturbing groundswell of intolerance and hate-based violence," UN chief António Guterres identified the fight against hate crime and hate speech as one of his top priorities for 2019.
Following the Secretary-General’s launch of a UN system-wide plan of action to tackle hate speech, the responsibility of criminal justice systems in preventing and countering these kinds of crimes, is being debated at the 28th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, currently taking place in Vienna.
Speaking at the opening session, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that crimes motivated by intolerance or discrimination can only be countered through international collaboration, and by ‘strengthening effective, fair, humane and accountable criminal justice systems that protect people and their rights."
The Commission is the main policy-making body of the UN in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, and a forum for the international community to discuss measures to stop hate crimes.
UK Government austerity measures have led to ‘record levels of hunger and homelessness’ : independent UN expert
“The results of the austerity experiment are crystal clear. Record levels of hunger and homelessness, falling life expectancy for some groups, even fewer community services and greatly reduced policing.”
This damning assessment of the UK Government’s austerity policies comes from Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, whose report on the UK was released in Geneva on Wednesday.
Mr. Alston condemned austerity as an “ideological project” which has seen UK standards of well-being descend fast “in a remarkably short period of time, as a result of deliberate policy choices.”
Although the UK unemployment rate is at a historic low, said the independent UN expert, millions of workers rely on charity to make ends meet. Close to 40 per cent of children are predicted to be living in poverty by 2021, and 16 per cent of people over 65 live in relative poverty.
The report comes some five months after his fact-finding mission to the country, which saw him warn that Brexit - the UK’s delayed departure from the European Union - risks driving more people into poverty.
Algeria and Argentina officially recognized as malaria-free
Two more countries are officially free from one of the world’s leading killers: malaria.
The UN health agency, WHO, announced on Wednesday that the disease is no longer present in Algeria and Argentina.
WHO guidelines say that a country can be said to be malaria-free if it can prove that it has interrupted transmission of the disease for at least three consecutive years. In Argentina’s case, malaria was last reported in 2010; in Algeria, the disease last surfaced in 2013.
The announcement follows years of improved surveillance, free diagnosis and treatment in both countries, that has allowed for “every last case” of malaria to be rapidly identified and treated, WHO said in a statement.
Malaria is contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito; it’s estimated to have claimed more than 400,000 lives in 2017.
Conor Lennon, UN News.