This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Top COVID probe urges bold overhaul of pandemic prevention measures
A World Health Organization (WHO) appointed panel has urged bold action to end the COVID-19 crisis, while also calling for the UN agency to be given greater authority to react more quickly to future threats.
“Our message is simple and clear: the current system failed to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
She added that “if we do not act to change it now, it will not protect us from the next pandemic threat, which could happen at any time.”
The panel also insisted that February 2020 was “a lost month” because “many more countries” could have done more to contain the spread of the coronavirus once the WHO declared a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January, after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China.
Among its recommendations the panel advised high-income countries with adequate vaccine supply to provide “at least one billion” doses to the 92 low and middle-income countries in the UN-led equitable vaccine scheme, COVAX, by September this year.
Top UN Middle East official calls for calm to avoid ‘full-scale war’
A top UN envoy has added his voice to calls for calm in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, warning that the situation is “escalating towards a full-scale war”, amid continuing air strikes and rocket attacks.
In a tweet ahead of a closed-door meeting with the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland appealed to Palestinians and Israelis for an immediate end to hostilities, before a devastating conflict breaks out.
The appeal echoes a plea for maximum restraint and calm to Israel and Palestinians from the UN Secretary-General and several UN agencies and organizations, including OCHA, the humanitarian coordination office.
The development comes after weeks of clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and police in Jerusalem’s Old City, fuelled by the potential eviction of Palestinian families from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan.
Late on Tuesday the UN reported that 10 children were among 28 killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, and that two women had been killed in Israel after rockets were fired from Gaza.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, urged all parties to adhere to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality when using force.
Myanmar: UN rights experts urge business ‘to take a stand’ against military junta
Top independent rights experts on Wednesday urged businesses in Myanmar to apply pressure on the military junta to halt grave human rights violations in the country since the coup.
Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, said that some businesses had cut ties with military leaders following their 1 February overthrow of the elected Government, but “many continue to engage in business with the military as if nothing has happened”.
Companies should act in line with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to avoid contributing to human rights violations, or becoming complicit in crimes if they continue to operate in the country, said Mr. Andrews, along with the Working Group on Business and Human Rights.
Now into its fourth month, the crisis in Myanmar has seen near-daily pro-democracy protests which have been met by force from the authorities, claiming at least 782 lives.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.