Wednesday’s Daily Brief: COP25 latest, Aung San Suu Kyi at the ICJ, Asia-Pacific malnutrition, rights in Egypt

11 December 2019

A recap of some of Wednesday’s stories: Italy and Mexico take action on climate education; defending Myanmar from genocide accusations; malnutrition in the Asia-Pacific region; the 2020 Palestinian aid plan launched; UN experts on Egypt; and tapering off residual criminal tribunals.

COP25: Italy and Mexico pave the way on climate education

A commitment by Italy and Mexico to ramp up climate and environmental education has been welcomed by the UN office which supports global efforts to respond to climate change. 

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change (UNFCCC), expressed hope that more nations will follow their initiative, announced this week at the UN COP25 climate change conference in Madrid. 

Read more here.

Aung San Suu Kyi defends Myanmar from accusations of genocide, at top UN court

Myanmar will have “no tolerance” for human rights abuses committed in Rakhine state and will prosecute the military, if war crimes have been committed there, Aung San Suu Kyi told the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s main judicial body, on Wednesday.

Ms. Suu Kyi was testifying in defence of her country, which is facing charges of genocide committed against the mainly-Muslim Rohingya minority group, brought by The Gambia, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Click here for our full coverage.

Malnutrition sweeping Asia-Pacific region

Four UN agencies said on Wednesday that three million undernourished people a month across the Asia-Pacific region, be must be lifted out of hunger, until the end of 2030, if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be reached.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO), are calling for urgent action to put nutrition at the heart of social protection programmes throughout the region.

A new joint report highlighted that an estimated 77 million children under-five were stunted last year, and 32.5 million suffered from wasting.

The latest figures make for grim reading on top of rising numbers of children and adults who are overweight or obese across the region.

While social protection can potentially help to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, the report notes the need for more research into how they are impacting the poor - especially women and children - people with disabilities, and indigenous people.

The UN agencies hope these findings will inform dialogues in member countries to improve food security and nutrition across Asia and the Pacific.

Palestinian aid plan for those in ‘greatest need’

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh  and UN Humanitarian Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick, launched on Wednesday a Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2020.

Calling for $348 million, Mr. McGoldrick explained that the plan “prioritizes aid to those in greatest need”.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator painted a picture of years of occupation, including an ongoing blockade of Gaza, which has left one-in-two Palestinians in the territory in need of protection and assistance.

About 76 per cent of the requested funds target the Gaza enclave.

Multi-sector efforts will be made to deal with on-going emergencies, including rights protection and providing access to basic services for the most vulnerable.

While working towards political solutions to reduce humanitarian need, Mr. McGoldrick spelled out that it’s “critical the international community strongly supports the plan”.

Egypt: UN experts fight for Coptic Christian rights defender

Independent UN human rights experts called on Egypt to end the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of human rights defender Ramy Kamel Saied Sali.

Mr. Ramy Kamel, who had documented attacks on Coptic Christian churches, was arrested, questioned and allegedly tortured on two occasions last month.

Currently in pre-trial detention in Cairo, he is charged with being part of a terrorist organization and using social media to spread “false news threatening public order”.

However, neither he nor his lawyers have seen any documentation relating to the charges.

Both arrests coincided with the rights activist’s application for a Swiss visa to speak at a UN Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva on 28 and 29 November.

Mr. Ramy Kamel has worked with UN rights bodies in the past regarding the forced displacement of Coptic Christians.

Since September, more than 3,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested in nationwide crackdowns, including academics, lawyers, media representatives and prominent opposition leaders.

The independent experts asserted that “no person should face intimidation, harassment or reprisals of any sort” for participating in or contributing to the work of the UN and its human rights mechanisms.

The experts have been in contact with the Government of Egypt seeking clarification on the case.

International tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia need more cooperation, Security Council hears

Top officials from the UN mechanism created to finish the work of the international tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, told the Security Council on Wednesday that more cooperation and financial support is needed so they can continue their work through next year.

Carmel Agius, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, said all officials, judges and other staff were aware of the importance of succeeding and were working tirelessly to that effect.

 “There are many milestones within our grasp,” he said, emphasizing that 2020 would be an extremely important year.  Most of the judicial caseload should be completed by year’s end, but other residual functions would continue as planned within a small and efficient structure. 

He noted that further cooperation from Member States was needed in enforcement of sentences and arrest of fugitives who remain at large, adding that adequate financial support was critical.

Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the Mechanism, described steps taken to protect witnesses and prosecute contempt of court at the Arusha branch, underscoring that contempt of court is a form of genocide denial that must be opposed for the sake of peace, reconciliation and the truth.  

Reviewing efforts to locate and arrest the remaining eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, he said that after his Office had submitted its report to the Council — and nearly one and a half years of inaction — South Africa said it had finally submitted the arrest warrant to the competent judicial authorities for execution.

You can read more on the Security Council briefing, here, from our colleagues at UN Meetings Coverage.

 Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 11 December on SoundCloud:

 

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Aung San Suu Kyi appears at ICJ as UN rights expert urges greater protection for Myanmar activists

Authorities in Myanmar and social media companies are being urged to take greater action to protect activists in the south-east Asian country who are fighting for justice and accountability for crimes committed against the minority Rohingya population in 2016 and 2017. 

'Alarmingly high' number of children malnourished worldwide: UNICEF report

Across the globe, at least one-in-three children under-five are malnourished and not developing properly, UNICEF revealed on Tuesday, in its most comprehensive report on children, food and nutrition in 20 years.