This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Lead us out of our environmental ‘mess’, UN’s Guterres urges summit
Global wellbeing is at risk – and it’s in large part because we haven’t kept our promises on the environment – UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday.
The UN chief issued the stark warning to the Stockholm+50 summit, which marks half a century since world leaders pledged to prevent nature loss, so that humanity could enjoy peace, prosperity and sustainable development.
Although there have been successes in protecting the planet since 1972, including rescuing the ozone layer, Mr. Guterres warned that “Earth’s natural systems cannot keep up with our demands”.
“Lead us of this mess”, he urged delegates, in a call for action against our “triple planetary crisis” comprising the climate emergency – “that is killing and displacing ever more people each year” – biodiversity loss - that threatens more than three billion people – and pollution and waste “that is costing some nine million lives a year”.
Among the UN chief’s recommendations, he repeated his call to all countries to abandon fossil fuel subsidies and invest in renewable energy, and to developed nations to “at least double” support to poorer nations to adapt to a growing number of climate shocks.
“If we do these things we can avert climate catastrophe, end a growing humanitarian and inequality crisis and promote inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.
COVID-19: Omicron infection offers ‘limited protection’ against reinfection
To the ongoing COVID pandemic and new data from the UN health agency that suggests that people who’ve been infected with the Omicron variant can expect “limited protection” against catching it again.
Latest evidence also suggests that immunity against severe COVID illness is more robust among those who’ve been infected by the coronavirus and vaccinated against it, than it is for people who’ve only been infected or only been jabbed.
The priority for national health agencies should be to vaccinate all adults, focusing on healthcare workers, people with low immunity and older persons, the World Health Organization said.
Threats, intimidation and obstruction’ could disrupt Cambodia elections
To Cambodia, where the UN rights office, OHCHR, on Thursday condemned threats, intimidation and obstruction facing opposition candidates ahead of elections on Sunday.
OHCHR said that candidates had faced “restrictions and reprisals” and that a number had been imprisoned.
Four days before the election, at least six opposition candidates and activists remain in detention awaiting trial, while others have gone into hiding, said OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell.
The latest bout of political obstruction follows what Ms. Throssell called “the systematic shrinking of democratic space” in recent years, which has undermined fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public affairs.
North Korea in spotlight over missile tests at top UN disarmament forum
Geneva is home to the world’s top disarmament forum, and it’s where recent missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK - were in the spotlight this Thursday.
DPRK, or North Korea, faced criticism from mainly Western nations at the Conference on Disarmament, where it is presiding over a new session of discussions this month, in line with the rotating presidency system.
On behalf of dozens of nations, Australia announced that it was gravely concerned by the DPRK’s continued efforts to make weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles – and by reports that the country was preparing to carry out its seventh nuclear test.
“Since the beginning of 2022, the DPRK has conducted an unprecedented series of missile tests, including launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, alleged hypersonic weapons, ballistic missiles with the stated intent for the operation of tactical nuclear weapons, and at least one submarine-launched ballistic missile. These tests are all clear violations of UN Security Council resolutions and demonstrate the DPRK’s continued efforts to expand and further develop its ballistic missile capabilities.”
France, representing the European Union, also condemned the “unprecedented” number of ballistic missile tests carried out this year, and the resumption of work on the nuclear test site at Punggyeri.
North Korea’s Han Tao Song rejected the criticism levelled against his country, saying there was nothing new in the allegations.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.