This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Inequality risks splitting society apart ‘on scale not seen since industrial revolution’
A new generation of inequalities risks splitting communities around the world on a scale not seen since the industrial revolution.
That’s the message from the 2019 Human Development Report, produced by the UN Development Programme, UNDP.
It suggests that although people worldwide have seen “some progress” in securing access to education, healthcare and technology, disparities “are high or increasing” between the so-called haves and have-nots.
Taking the example of two 20-year-olds – the first from a highly developed country and the second from a poor one - UNDP said that while the first individual was likely to be a healthy, highly-skilled graduate, the second was “much less likely to be alive”.
Achim Steiner, head of the UN agency that produced the report, highlighted the “wave of demonstrations sweeping across countries” as a sign that “something in our globalized society is not working”.
And in a warning that inequality weakens people’s trust in government, institutions and each other, Mr. Steiner noted that those who are well-positioned today appear set to get even further ahead tomorrow.
The situation is set to get worse because of the climate crisis and accelerating technological change, he added.
Bachelet: mobilize everywhere to protect climate and dignity for everyone
As the Climate Summit continues in Madrid, and ahead of Human Rights Day on Tuesday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has appealed for people everywhere to mobilise to protect the planet and fight discrimination.
In a message to mark the day on 10 December 1948 - when UN Member States adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Ms. Bachelet asked whether world leaders today still stood by its opening statement, that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” and “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Highlighting how 2019 had seen tremendous activism by millions of young people over the climate emergency, the High Commissioner insisted that “hostile nationalism” and short-term financial gain “would tear our world apart”.
World leaders everywhere should do more to fight discrimination, Ms. Bachelet said, and reply to people’s concerns with more effective, and more principled strategies.
Official: it’s now a war crime to intentionally starve communities in civil wars
Finally, protection for besieged communities has been given a boost after International Criminal Court (ICC) States Parties agreed to prosecute intentional starvation in civil wars as a war crime.
The move – brought by Switzerland – amends the court’s statute, which already includes starvation as a war crime - but only for international conflicts.
The initiative received the unanimous support of 122 member states to the court in The Hague at last week’s annual meeting.
In a statement, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said that the majority of the over 800 million people who suffer from hunger every day, live in conflict zones.
The fact that the International Criminal Court will now be able to prosecute such acts as a war crime will help to prevent this crime and bring justice to victims, the Swiss ministry maintained.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.