This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Myanmar crisis: following orders is no defence for brutality, says rights expert
A senior UN-appointed independent rights expert has urged the security forces in Myanmar to “stand down before there are more casualties” from demonstrations linked to last week’s military takeover.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, issued the online appeal amid unconfirmed reports of the use of lethal force against a young woman who sustained a serious head wound, after being shot.
“Security forces have a moral and legal obligation to defy any unlawful orders to use excessive force against peaceful protesters”, Mr. Andrews said in a tweet on Tuesday.
He added that everyone in the chain of command “can be held liable for committing crimes against humanity” such as killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture, and that "following orders" was no defence.
East Asian countries led economic recovery in last quarter of 2020
To the global economy now, where UN data indicates that without East Asia and the Pacific, there would have been no overall trade recovery at the end of last year.
The finding, from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that exports of goods which came from East Asian economies grew about 12 per cent in the last quarter of 2020, while imports increased by about five per cent.
Most other regions and countries saw continuing “negative trends”, UNCTAD said, including Brazil – whose fourth quarter 2020 goods and services exports were down four per cent and 17 per cent respectively.
Russia saw a 19 per cent fall in goods exports over the same period, while India registered a five per cent drop, like the United States.
By contrast, China saw a 17 per cent boost to goods exports and a two per cent increase in services exports. South Africa also saw a 15 per cent rise in overseas trade, while Japan and the European Union each saw a three per cent increase in goods exports.
WHO and UNICEF chiefs urge vaccine solidarity to end COVID
An urgent appeal for vaccine solidarity now from the heads of the UN health agency and the UN Children’s Fund.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Henrietta Fore, from UNICEF, called on leaders “to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can actually end the pandemic and limit variants”.
Of the 128 million doses administered so far, more than three quarters of vaccinations have been in just 10 of the wealthiest nations, they said.
This is a “self-defeating strategy” that will cost lives and livelihoods, the UN officials said, before warning that it would also give the virus the chance “to mutate and evade vaccines”, while also undermining economic recovery.
So that vaccine rollouts can begin in all countries of the world in the first 100 days of 2021, the WHO and UNICEF chiefs said it was imperative that health workers who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in lower and middle income settings should be protected first.
They also called for the COVID response initiative known as Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT) to be fully funded, to help developing countries to deploy vaccines.
If fully funded, the ACT Accelerator could return up to $166 for every dollar invested, the UN officials maintained.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.