This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Guterres speaks out in support of affordable COVID vaccine for all
“We need an affordable (COVID) vaccine for everybody everywhere, because we will only be safe if everybody’s safe.”
That’s the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who’s been speaking to UN News ahead of the upcoming General Assembly, which Heads of State will likely attend virtually.
Outlining his priorities, Mr. Guterres warned that solidarity is essential, if we are all to overcome and move on from the tragic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is absolutely essential that we have a …People’s Vaccine…We need a vaccine for everybody, everywhere, in affordable conditions. Because we will only be safe if everybody’s safe. To think that we can preserve the rich people and let the poor people suffer, it’s a stupid mistake.”
A global ceasefire is still hugely important, the UN chief insisted, so that the world can truly unite against the virus.
So too is making sure that the world keeps global warming below 1.5 degrees Centigrade and achieves carbon neutrality through climate action, by 2050, Mr Guterres said, while also calling for greater power for women and an end to inequalities through a change in attitudes on gender, disabilities and equal rights.
To hear the full interview, go to UN News/audio hub or look for our latest “The Lid Is On” UN podcast on your usual streaming platform.
Ozone treaties ‘inspiring examples’ of political will: Guterres
Taking to the skies for some good news now, which comes in the form of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which is celebrated on Wednesday.
Although it constitutes a very small part of the atmosphere, ozone is vital for life on Earth, as it shields us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
It came under attack from harmful gases used in aerosols and cooling appliances which caused a hole to develop.
To prevent further damage, States agreed to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, 35 years ago, the first of three major international accords to help fix the problem.
Today, about 99 per cent of these harmful gases have been replaced, helping the ozone layer heal.
In a message welcoming this global cooperation, UN chief António Guterres said that the ozone treaties were inspiring examples that show that, where political will prevails, there is little limit to what we can achieve.
Venezuela abuses amounted to crimes against humanity: UN-appointed panel finds
Rights violations against anti-Government protesters in Venezuela “amounted to crimes against humanity”, UN-appointed rights investigators have said in their first report.
Announcing their findings on Wednesday, the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela cited evidence of unlawful executions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture since 2014.
Senior military and ministerial figures were likely aware of the crimes, said the investigators, who were appointed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva, in September last year.
“They gave orders, coordinated activities and supplied resources in furtherance of the plans and policies under which the crimes were committed,” the report stated.
President Nicolas Maduro also likely “side-tracked the chain of command” to ensure the commission of crimes, including the head of the National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) the report’s authors maintained.
Here’s investigator Francisco Cox:
“We have reasonable grounds to believe that the President Maduro did give orders to the director of SEBIN as to who to target. After that, these people were surveilled, information was gathered, their communications were intercepted and finally they would be detained without judicial order, just because there was such an order by the President.”
The report will be presented to the Human Rights Council next Wednesday.
Daniel Johnson, UN News