This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Tigray: UN rights chief highlights likely international law violations
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet spoke out on Monday about continued violence against civilians in Ethiopia’s Tigray region “by all parties to the conflict”, more than six months since fighting began.
Addressing the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Bachelet cited reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights violations and abuses linked to clashes between central government troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front:
“Including extrajudicial executions; arbitrary arrests and detentions; sexual violence against children as well as adults; and forced displacement. Credible reports indicate that Eritrean soldiers are still operating in Tigray and continue to perpetrate violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The humanitarian situation is dire, with reports of denial of humanitarian access in some localities and looting of aid supplies by soldiers. An estimated 350,000 people are threatened by famine.”
The alert follows repeated warnings from humanitarian agencies that the situation in the northern region of Ethiopia is dire, with an unknown number of people in need and impossible to reach.
In her statement, Ms. Bachelet told Member States that an investigation into the situation in Tigray had begun on 16 May, in partnership with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
Its work should conclude in August and the findings and recommendations will be made public, the High Commissioner said, before noting that “in many other parts of Ethiopia” there had been “alarming incidents of deadly ethnic and inter-communal violence and displacement” – all linked to longstanding grievances.
These complaints should be addressed through a nationwide dialogue, the High Commissioner said, before adding that the ongoing deployment of military forces was “not a durable solution”.
Human Rights Council urged to spearhead ‘new social contract’
Staying with UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet who on Monday also urged UN Member States to promote a more inclusive post-pandemic recovery, to help the world’s most vulnerable people recover from the impact of COVID.
Citing a rise in “extreme poverty, inequalities and injustice” in the last 18 months, Ms. Bachelet also warned that democratic and civic space have been eroded.
All were problems that could be addressed if countries embraced the UN Secretary-General’s call for a “New Social Contract”, Ms. Bachelet said, adding that this initiative would be supported by a “New Global Deal of solidarity”, which shared power, resources and opportunities more fairly.
“Navigating an … inclusive, green, sustainable and resilient future, will be the work of this generation of world leaders – or their downfall”, the High Commissioner for Human Rights said, while acknowledging that many countries were facing “collapsing global trade, falling remittances, turmoil in commodity prices and debt burdens”.
Nonetheless, Ms. Bachelet, who is a former President of Chile, also insisted that it was possible to deliver on economic and social rights by using proven techniques to combat corruption and illicit financial flows, deploying progressive fiscal policies and increasing budget transparency, participation and accountability.
“The evidence is conclusive,” she said. “Countries that had invested in social protection have been better able to weather the crisis.” Ms. Bachelet also maintained that a “New Social Contract” would rebuild public trust “through stronger support for fundamental rights”.
Pandemic ‘rolled back’ sustainable development funding for weak economies
Financial assistance to the world’s 83 weakest economies fell by 15 per cent in 2020, to $35 billion as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, UN trade and development experts UNCTAD said on Monday.
According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2021, total foreign direct investment also dropped by more than a third globally, to $1 trillion.
This level was last seen in 2005 and it is an urgent problem because foreign direct investment is vital to promoting production and sustainable development in the world’s poorest regions, said Isabelle Durant, Acting Secretary-General of UNCTAD.
Regionally, Europe saw foreign direct investment fall 80 per cent last year, while flows to North America fell by 42 per cent. The African continent saw a 16 per cent fall to levels last seen 15 years ago and Latin America and the Caribbean saw foreign direct investment “plummet” by 45 per cent.
UNCTAD also noted that the number of investment policy measures of a regulatory or restrictive nature more than doubled in 2020.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.