UN Recap: October 24-29, 2021

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what has been atop the international community’s agenda this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.  

 

Military seizes control in Sudan:

In a year of coups and attempted coups, Sudan is the latest country to see a military takeover. Thousands of protesters demonstrated in the streets following Lt. General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan’s announcement Monday that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other officials of the formerly ruling Sovereign Council had been arrested and a state of emergency declared. Latest on the situation here:

Climate summit opens Sunday in Glasgow:

The international community will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, for the next two weeks to try to stop the countdown to what U.N. chief Antonio Guterres warns is a “climate catastrophe.” Watch here:

The United Nations took a creative approach to raising the climate alarm, producing a short, special effects-filled video starring “Frankie the Dino” urging people to climate action so they won’t become “extinct” like him. Watch it here:

Africa faces a syringe shortage threatening COVID-19 vaccinations:

The World Health Organization says only 6% of Africa’s 1.2 billion people are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Now, as vaccine shipments are increasing, the continent faces a new complication: a shortage of syringes to inject the vaccine.

News in brief

 

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran said Monday the death penalty continues “to be implemented at an alarming rate” in that country. Javaid Rehman told the U.N. General Assembly committee that deals with human rights issues that Tehran executed more than 250 people last year, and more than 230 so far this year. “I urge the government to initiate reforms in this area, starting most urgently with a moratorium on the death penalty against child offenders,” he said.

 

The United Nations said Wednesday that worldwide, 28 of its civilian staff died in 2020 and the first half of 2021 because of “acts of violence and safety-related incidents.” There also was an alarming rise in the number of staff who were abducted – 17 in 2020 – compared with six in 2019.  

 

Good news:

 

Thousands of refugees return home:

The U.N. refugee agency reports it has restarted a voluntary repatriation operation for thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic who were living in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Quote of note:   

 

“Many of the women I have spoken to as I have been out across the country in Mazar, Herat, areas of Kabul, tell me they haven’t eaten in days as they spare what they have for their children. I had women falling at my feet crying for food.” Mary-Ellen McGroarty, World Food Program Representative and Country Director in Afghanistan, to reporters Tuesday on the severe hunger conditions affecting millions in that country.  

 

What we are watching next week:  

 

An important report from the U.N. Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on their joint investigation into alleged human rights violations committed by all parties in the conflict in the northern Tigray region will be launched Wednesday by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

 

The COP26 climate summit gets underway Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.N. secretary-general says it may be the last chance for leaders to make ambitious and meaningful commitments to lower carbon emissions in order to keep global warming this century to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.  

 

Did you know?  

 

The United Nations loves acronyms. COP stands for “Conference of the Parties.” The Glasgow meeting on climate is the 26th session, hence COP26. There is another COP on biodiversity, which takes place every two years — COP15 — which met this month in China. And next year, there will be a COP on desertification, which – this is where it gets tricky – also will be a COP15. 

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