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News in Brief 16 November 2020

News in Brief 16 November 2020

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations. 

Israel should reverse new West Bank settlement expansion plans: UN’s Mladenov 

Plans to set in chain the building of a new Israeli settlement in Occupied Palestinian Territories should be reversed, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said on Monday. 

Mr. Mladenov’s comments follow the Israeli authorities’ decision to open bidding for some 1,200 homes in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Givat Hamatos. 

If built, the new homes “would further consolidate a ring of settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank”, the UN official said in a statement.  

The development “would significantly damage prospects for a future contiguous Palestinian State and for achieving a negotiated two-State solution based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states,” Mr. Mladenov added. 

“Settlement construction is illegal under international law”, the top official emphasized. 

Defending people’s rights in Cambodia is not a crime, says UN Special Rapporteur 

In Cambodia, at least 21 activists have been threatened, arrested or detained and subjected to excessive force in the past three months, UN-appointed rights experts said on Monday. 

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, was one of many experts highlighted tightening restrictions on civil society in the country, before insisting that the peaceful promotion and protection of human rights, “is not a crime”. 

Ms. Lawlor detailed the case of Rong Chhun, who was arrested in July after taking up the case of farmers after they lost their land when Cambodia’s borders were redrawn with Viet Nam.  

Following Mr Chhun’s detention, several other human rights defenders who demonstrated against the move were also arrested. Twelve remain in pre-trial detention, have been denied bail, and are facing charges punishable by up to two years in prison.  

Environmental defenders have also been detained, Ms. Lawlor said, while other activists have also been arrested for filming arrests of protesters taking part in a demonstration.  

Trade union leaders have also been subjected to threats over their plans to strike, the Special Rapporteur said, before insisting that “there seems to be no limit to who the authorities will target” in their “concerted attempt to erode civic space and stifle the work of human rights defenders”. 

‘World’s biggest trading bloc’ will create a manufacturing powerhouse: UN trade agency 

One of the world’s biggest trading blocs has just opened its doors for business. 

It covers more than 2.3 billion people and UN economists said on Monday that they believe it will help the 15-nation club recover better from the global economic crisis caused by COVID-19

Signed over the weekend, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP for short) has a combined economic worth of $24 trillion. 

Exports could grow as much as 10 per cent between now and 2025, according to UNCTAD, the UN trade and development organisation, and member countries could see their economies expand by 0.2 per cent by the end of the decade. 

The region is already a manufacturing powerhouse, accounting for nearly half of all global automotive products and up to 70 per cent of electrical goods.  

UNCTAD highlighted how streamlined customs procedures will likely result in increased productivity, as will non-tariff barriers and specific measures to promote greater cooperation and transparency, such as recognition of professional qualifications and licences between countries. 

The initiative dates back to 2012 but the 15 countries involved in the deal only signed it last Sunday, after years of negotiations. 

Daniel Johnson, UN News.

  • Israel should reverse new West Bank settlement expansion plans: UN’s Mladenov 

  • Defending people’s rights in Cambodia is not a crime, says UN Special Rapporteur 

  • ‘World’s biggest trading bloc’ will create a manufacturing powerhouse: UN trade agency 


Audio Credit
Daniel Johnson, UN News - Geneva
Photo Credit
UN Photo/Loey Felipe