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Iran: UN condemns violent crackdown against hijab protests

OHCHR said it was very concerned about the continued violent response to the protests, as well as communications restrictions affecting phones, the internet and social media, Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told journalists in Geneva. 

Ms. Amini, 22, was arrested by Iran’s “morality police” in the capital, Tehran, on 13 September, for allegedly not wearing a hijab in full compliance with mandatory requirements.   

She fell into a coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre and died three days later from a heart attack, according to the authorities.  

Ms. Shamdasani said the Iranian Government had so far failed to launch an “adequate investigation” into the circumstances surrounding Ms. Amini’s death.  

Wave of demonstrations 

Since her death, thousands have joined anti-government demonstrations throughout the country. 

Security forces have responded at times with live ammunition, and many people have been killed, injured and detained in the protests. 

“Due in part to restrictions on telecommunications, it is difficult to establish the precise number of casualties and arrests,” said Ms. Shamdasani. 

Violent response to protests 

On Saturday, State media put the number killed at 41, she added. However, non-governmental organizations monitoring the situation have reported a higher number of deaths, including of women and children, and hundreds injured across at least 11 provinces.  

“We are extremely concerned by comments by some leaders vilifying protesters, and by the apparent unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against protesters,” said Ms. Shamdasani. 

“Firearms must never be used simply to disperse an assembly. In the context of assemblies, they should only be used in cases of an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.”   

Number of arrests unknown 

Meanwhile, reports indicate that hundreds of people have also been arrested, including human rights defenders, lawyers, civil society activists, and at least 18 journalists. The Government has not announced the overall number of arrests.  

Ms. Shamdasani reported that in the province of Gilan alone, the police chief said 739 people, including 60 women, had been detained during three days of protests. 

OHCHR called on the authorities to ensure the rights to due process and to release all who have been arbitrarily detained.  

‘Persistent impunity’ for violations 

“We are concerned that the disruption to communications services has serious effects on people’s ability to exchange information, to carry out economic activities and to access public services,” she continued. 

“This undermines numerous human rights, notably the right to freedom of expression. We call on the authorities to fully restore Internet access.” 

OHCHR also expressed concern over “the persistent impunity with respect to human rights violations in Iran”, including the recurring deaths of protesters due to the alleged use of lethal force by security forces in November 2019, July 2021, and May of this year. 

“Our Office reiterates our call upon the Iranian authorities to fully respect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, as a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Ms. Shamdasani. 

Referenda in Russian-controlled Ukraine ‘cannot be regarded as legal’: UN political affairs chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also briefed ambassadors, blasting the “sham referenda”, though Russia objected to his participation via videoconference. 

The country’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said the President should participate in person, in line with the rules.  “The Council should not turn into a forum for political shows or cinema,” he added.

Door-to-door voting 

The referenda were held over the past five days in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions for residents to vote on whether they wished to become part of the Russian Federation. 

Voting took place in polling centers, Ms. DiCarlo reported, and de facto pro-Russian authorities accompanied by soldiers, also went door-to-door with ballot boxes.  

These exercises – which were held during active armed conflict, in areas of Ukraine under Russian control and outside Ukraine’s legal and constitutional framework – “cannot be called a genuine expression of the popular will,” she said. 

“Unilateral actions aimed to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the attempted acquisition by force by one State of another State’s territory, while claiming to represent the will of the people, cannot be regarded as legal under international law.” 

Upholding Ukrainian sovereignty 

The political affairs chief underscored the UN’s full commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. She reminded Russia of its obligation to respect the country’s laws in the administration of occupied territories. 

This latest development is among recent actions that threaten to further escalate the conflict, now in its seventh month.  

Ms. DiCarlo spoke about heavy fighting in southern Ukraine in the past few weeks and escalating military operations in Donetsk and Luhansk.   

The Ukrainian military also conducted a successful counter-offensive this month to restore control over most of the Russian-held areas in the Kharkhiv region. 

Meanwhile, daily attacks on many Ukrainian cities have continued, including in Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as targeting of civilian energy and water infrastructure.  

Nuclear threat persists 

“We have also heard alarming rhetoric regarding the use of nuclear weapons. This is unacceptable,” said Ms. DiCarlo. 

The UN remains deeply troubled by reports of continuing attacks near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and she urged combatants to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

“It is imperative that all attacks on nuclear facilities end, and that the purely civilian nature of such plants be re-established,” she stressed.   

Human rights violations 

Ms. DiCarlo also expressed grave concern over allegations of human rights violations committed in areas of northeastern Ukraine, including after the recovery of more than 400 bodies from improvised graves in the city of Izium. 

The UN human rights office, OHCHR, is working with local authorities to investigate this and other allegations in areas in the Kharkiv region that were until recently under Russian control.  

Last week, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded that war crimes had been committed in the conflict.  

Ms. DiCarlo called for those responsible to be brought to account. 

“Rarely, if ever, has the international community collected so much evidence of human rights violations, potential war crimes and other atrocities as they were happening,” she said. 

“It is tragic that we have not been able to stop them. But it would be shameful if we were not able to ensure justice for the victims and their loved ones.” 

Extend grain deal

Overall, the war has resulted in some 14,844 verified civilian casualties so far, with nearly 6,000 deaths, according to OHCHR, though actual numbers are likely to be considerably higher. 

Its ripple effects continue to be felt by millions worldwide, affected by rising fuel and energy costs. Ms. DiCarlo highlighted the vital need to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is due to expire in November. 

More than five million metric tonnes of foodstuffs have been shipped from Ukrainian ports since the deal was signed in July, according to the UN Spokesperson briefing journalists in New York on Tuesday, heralding the 5,250,578-tonne figure so far, as “good news”. 

The initiative continues to gather pace, Ms. DiCarlo told ambassadors, while efforts to remove remaining obstacles to Russian food exports continue. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen) of Ukraine addresses the Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine.

UN Photo/Laura Jarriel
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (on screen) of Ukraine addresses the Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine.

Attempt to steal territory: Zelenskyy

Appealing for international action, President Zelenskyy called for Russia to be isolated in the international community.

“In front of the eyes of the whole world, Russia is conducting this so-called sham referenda on the occupied territory of Ukraine”, he said, speaking through an interpreter.

The alleged results have been prepared well in advance, “just as this compulsory issue of passports for the population of the occupied territories,” he continued, adding that Russia wants to annex these areas.

“This is the most brutal violation of the UN Charter,” he said.

“This is an attempt to steal the territory of another state. This is an attempt to erase the norms of international law. This is a very cynical attempt to force the male population in the occupied territory of Ukraine to mobilize into the Russian army in order to send them to fight against their own homeland.”

Referenda followed norms: Russia

Mr. Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador, defended the controversial referenda, which he said were monitored by more than 100 independent international observers from 40 countries.

He told the Council President Zelenskyy had stated in an interview that people who considered themselves Russian, or who liked Russia, should leave Ukraine.

“Now the inhabitants of Donbass, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia  oblasts are carrying out his cynical recommendation.  They’re returning to the homeland and they’re taking their land with them that their forefathers lived on for centuries,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“The referendum were conducted exclusively transparently with upholding of all electoral norms. This is an undisputed fact. However, the Kyiv regime and its backers want to say anything to the contrary.”

UN urges investment in clean, sustainable tourism, as numbers bounce back

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released encouraging news on Monday, with its latest World Tourism Barometer, which shows that international tourism arrivals almost tripled in the first seven months of 2022 (compared to the same period in 2021).

Cautious optimism

The agency’s Panel of Tourism Experts expressed cautious confidence for the rest of year, and into 2023, despite the uncertain economic environment: increasing interest rates, rising energy and food prices, and the growing prospects of a global recession, continue to pose major threats to the sector.

In a message released to mark the Day, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, hailed tourism’s ability to drive sustainable development, and called for more investment in clean and sustainable tourism, the creation of decent jobs, and for measures to ensure that profits benefit host countries and local communities.

Dekha Dewandana arrange words with flowers at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Putu Sayoga for ILO
Dekha Dewandana arrange words with flowers at Esa di Kubu Homestay in Sudaji Village, Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia.

Go green to survive

“Governments, businesses and consumers must align their tourism practices with the Sustainable Development Goals and a 1.5 degree future”, said Mr. Guterres, referring to international agreements aimed at keeping global warming in check. “The very survival of this industry, and many tourist destinations, such as Small Island Developing States, depends on it.”

“The restart of tourism everywhere brings hope,” declared Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General, in his address at the opening of the official celebrations organized for the Day, in the Indonesian resort city of Bali.

Mr. Pololikashvili described tourism, which employs around 10 per cent of the global workforce, as the “ultimate cross-cutting and people-to-people sector, which touches on almost everything we do.”

Report card

To mark the day, UNWTO launched its first World Tourism Day Report, the first in an annual series of updates and analysis of the Organization’s work guiding the sector forward.

The report contains updates on the agency’s activities in key areas including gender equality, sustainability and climate action, tourism governance and investments and innovation.

Representatives of the G20 group of the world’s leading economies, including tourism ministers, will meet in Bali in November. Ahead of the event, UNWTO has produced a set of guidelines for ministers, to enable them to support resilient and sustainable tourist businesses, which take into account human capital, innovation, youth and women empowerment, and climate action.

Ensure zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation: UN rights expert

An independent UN rights expert released a statement ahead of the Day, to call for Governments to ensure that the tourism industry is free from child forced labour, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. 

Mama Fatima Singhateh, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, warned that the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and socioeconomic setbacks have caused enormous strains on child protection systems.

This, she said, has made children more vulnerable to sale, trafficking and sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism, especially in countries that have traditionally relied on the income generated from travel and tourism.
 

Tourism and the climate crisis

  • In response to concerns surrounding the impact of the tourism sector on the climate crisis, UNWTO launched the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism at the 2021 UN Climate Conference (COP26), which was held in the Scottish City.
  • Signatories commit to supporting global commitments to halve harmful emissions by 2030, and reach Net Zero as soon as possible before 2050, implement climate action plans, and report on their progress on an annual basis.
  • To date more than 530 organizations have signed the Declaration, including major international companies, and tourism boards from a wide variety of countries.
     

‘Dire’ and deteriorating pattern of rights abuse continues in Ukraine

Highlighting a wide range of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the report notes multiple cases of “willful killings”, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence.

“Hostilities continue to kill and injure civilians as well as destroy and damage civilian infrastructure”, said Head of HRMMU, Matilda Bogner, indicating that hostilities “not only endanger the lives of civilians, but also leave them living in degrading conditions and undermine their rights to health, education, housing, food and water”.

Litany of abuse

Since the Russian invasion of 24 February, the mission has recorded 5,996 civilian deaths, including 382 children, together with 8,848 injured, noting that the actual figures are much higher, as complete information from conflict zones cannot be obtained.

According to HRMMU, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention were widespread in territory controlled by Russian armed forces or affiliated armed groups, as well as cases of torture and ill-treatment of civilian detainees.

“The prohibition of torture and arbitrary deprivation of life is absolute and applies in conflict and non-conflict settings to all persons,” said Ms. Bogner. “Perpetrators must be held accountable, and victims and their relatives must enjoy their rights to remedy and truth”.

HRMMU also documented cases of rape, including of one girl; sexual violence used as torture or ill-treatment against men; forced public stripping – and other forms of sexual violence, such as forced nudity, unwanted sexual touching, sexual abuse and threats of sexual violence.

Prisoners of war

The report also found that Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) were subjected to torture or cruel and degrading treatment.

“Such mistreatment…appears to be systematic, not only upon their capture, but also following their transfer to places of internment both in territory of Ukraine occupied by the Russian Federation and in the Russian Federation itself,” said the HRMMU chief, calling it “a grave violation of international humanitarian law” that Russia must address.

Meanwhile, some Russian POWs were tortured and ill-treated by Ukrainian armed forces as well.

There must be timely and effective investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and sexual violence,” she continued, adding that “regardless of their affiliation,” perpetrators need to be “duly prosecuted”.

‘Shrinking civic space’

Hostilities have severely impacted the rights of persons with disabilities and the elderly, the majority of whom are women, leaving them without healthcare, adequate housing, heating, water and electricity.

Furthermore, some journalists, media workers, and bloggers have been killed in areas controlled by the Russian military or affiliated armed groups.

The report emphasized that freedom of expression, including access to media, has been restricted in occupied areas.

“We are concerned that the shrinking civic space and highly restrictive environment in areas occupied by the Russian Federation deter people from reporting the human rights violations they have experienced or witnessed,” said Ms. Bogner said.

A twelve-year-old girl stands in front of her school which was destroyed in an air strike during the conflict in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

© UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson
A twelve-year-old girl stands in front of her school which was destroyed in an air strike during the conflict in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Recommendations

The report made recommendations to both Governments and the international community and called for their swift implementation to improve human rights in the country, better protect civilians, and strengthen accountability.

Ms. Bogner assured that HRMMU would “continue to document and report the facts on the ground and give a voice to victims”.

“We consider this to be an essential part of seeking to prevent further violations and hold those responsible accountable for the violations already committed”.

World ‘must engage’ or risk Afghanistan’s collapse, Security Council hears

Despite some positive developments over the past few months, the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan said they have been “too few and too slow and they are outweighed by the negatives”.

Women’s rights

He drew attention to the ongoing ban on girls’ secondary education and growing restrictions on women’s rights, as “signals that the Taliban are indifferent to more than 50 per cent of the population” and are willing to risk international isolation.

“The relegation of women and girls to the home not only deprives them of their rights, but Afghanistan as a whole is denied the benefit of the significant contributions that women and girls have to offer,” he detailed.

Terrorism concerns ‘dismissed’

Meanwhile, from armed clashes to deadly terrorist attacks, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has monitored a steady rise in security incidents by terrorist groups and others.

“Our earlier warnings about the capabilities of Islamic State Khorosan Province (ISKP) were dismissed by the Taliban”, he told ambassadors.

“But ISKP has demonstrated in the last few months alone that it can carry out assassinations of figures close to the Taliban, attacks against foreign embassies, as well as fire rockets across Afghanistan’s border to attack its neighbours – all while maintaining its long-standing sectarian campaign against Shia Muslims and ethnic minorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

Provincial rights violations

And armed clashes are continuing between Taliban security forces and armed opposition groups in the Panjshir, Baghlan, Kapisa, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces, the UN envoy continued.

“There are disturbing reports, as well as videos and photos, indicating possible serious human rights violations committed in Panjshir,” he said, calling for an investigation into allegations of extra-judicial killings there.

The mission will continue to carefully monitor these and other reports of serious human rights violations, he added.

UN bolstering cash economy

As per capita income has collapsed to 2007 levels – erasing 15 years of economic growth – the country’s economic situation “remains tenuous” (with little detail forthcoming from the Taliban) due in part to Afghanistan’s isolation from the international banking system.

Liquidity remains heavily dependent on the cash that the UN continues to bring in for humanitarian operations – cash, I must stress, that supports the needs of the Afghan people and does not directly reach the de facto authorities,” said Mr. Potzel.

But even the funding is uncertain as the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan has only received $1.9 billion out of a $4.4 billion requirement.

No representation

Humanitarian and economic measures will not meet the Afghan people’s longer-term needs, and the emergency aid cannot replace essential service delivery systems, such as health and water, or hold off an economic collapse, he warned.

Moreover, a continued lack of political inclusivity and transparency in decision-making leave most Afghans without any government representation.

“There are no consistent mechanisms for citizens to provide feedback to the authorities and little indication that the Taliban wish to even hear any,” the UN envoy said.

‘We have to engage’

While the Taliban’s self-identified emirate has not been recognized by any State, the international community also does not want to see the country collapse, Mr. Potzel stressed.

“If the Taliban do not respond to the needs of all elements of Afghan society and constructively engage within the very limited window of opportunity with the international community, it is unclear what would come next,” said the Deputy Special Representative.

“Further fragmentation, isolation, poverty, and internal conflict are among the likely scenarios, leading to potential mass migration and a domestic environment conducive to terrorist organizations, as well as greater misery for the Afghan population.

“That’s why we have to engage”, he declared, adding that “continued qualified engagement” was the most realistic way of helping the Afghan people.

DPRK lashes out against international system governed by ‘exclusive Western values’

“The present reality urgently calls for the UN to promote more than ever before cooperation and reconciliation, and unity and solidarity among its Member States, and to discharge its righteous missions and role,” Ambassador Kim Song said.

Security Council reform

He said the UN Security Council is not “fully discharging” its mandate to safeguard international peace, because of the “unjust and double-dealing acts” of the United States and other States following in its footsteps.

The Council “does not say even a word about the high-handedness and arbitrariness, reckless arms build-up and war crimes of the US, but picks a quarrel with his country at every chance in its righteous efforts to bolster national self-defence capabilities”.

Mr. Song argued that the 15-nation body has lost international confidence and is in urgent need of reform.

To put an end to the arrogance of specific countries including the US and restore confidence, he advised that “urgent priority should be given to the expansion and strengthening of the representation of developing countries, which account for the absolute majority of the UN membership”.

Korean peninsula security

Turning to regional security, the Ambassador maintained that the Korean peninsula is caught in “a vicious cycle of tension and confrontation due to the increasing hostility of the US” and its forces against the North.

Noting that “it is heading into a much more dangerous phase,” he drew attention to US President Joe Biden’s address to the Assembly in which “he picked on us saying that despite their ‘efforts to begin serious and sustained diplomacy,’ the DPRK continues to blatantly violate UN ‘sanctions’”.

“To put it clearly, we have never recognized such ‘resolutions’ of the UN that impose pressure because we do not abide by its ‘rules’ made by the US unilaterally,” said the Ambassador, stressing that his country never would.

He observed that even though several countries in the world possess nuclear weapons, only the DPRK has been “subjected to the most brigandish and brutal” sanctions resolutions.

“This is because the UN connived at and allowed the high-handedness and arbitrariness of the US antagonizing the independent DPRK with an absurd reason that it differs in its ideas and systems and opposes its unjust policy,” said Mr. Song.

Against the backdrop that the US is planning to conduct joint military exercises in the region, he described it as “an extremely dangerous act of igniting the fuse to drive the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war”.

“The United States should clearly understand that its heinous and hostile policy against the DPRK over the past 30 years had just brought about today’s reality and ask and answer itself and ponder over how far it would prolong this situation in the future,” he added.

Foreign policy stand

In closing, the Ambassador upheld the DPRK’s foreign policy stance to maintain independence, peace and friendship.

He pledged broad cooperation with all countries and nations that “oppose and reject aggression and interference, domination and subordination” and to develop “multifaceted exchanges and cooperation even with the capitalist countries that respect our country and take friendly attitude to it”.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sets great store by sovereign equality and international justice…and it will fulfil its responsibilities and role in ensuring peace and security on the Korean peninsula”.

 

 

Russia school shooting: Guterres ‘deeply saddened’ by attack which left 15 dead

According to news reports, the gunman who was known to authorities and was a former pupil at the school Number 88, was wearing a Nazi swastika on his T-shirt during the attack, and Russian authorities are investigating the perpetrator’s suspected neo-Nazi links.

In a statement issued by his Deputy-Spokesperson, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, strongly condemned the “act of violence, and expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the Government and people of the Russian Federation. He wishes those injured a speedy and full recovery.

News reports said that the attacker, who was in his early 30s, killed two security guards at the school then opened fire on students and teachers. All but two of those wounded were children. He had been armed with two pistols and a large supply of ammunition.

The school is located in western Russia, some 600 miles (965 kilometres) east of Moscow. Izvesk is the capital of the Udmurt Republic.  

‘Make schools safe’

The head of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, tweeted that she was deeply shocked by the shooting of children and their teachers at the school.

“I strongly condemn this horrendous attack. Deepest condolences to (the) families of victims and the Russian people. We need immediate action to stop this senseless violence, and make schools safe.”

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) chief, Catherine Russell, tweeted later on Monday that “every child has the right to be safe in school, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances.”

The attacker had reportedly been registered with a local psychiatric facility.

There have been several school shootings in Russia in recent years including in the provincial capital of Kazan, in May 2021, when nine people were killed by a gunman – seven students and two employees – and last September, when six were killed and 47 injured, on a university campus, in the city of Perm.

In response to those incidents, the Russian Government reportedly tightened gun ownership laws.

 

In a world of new challenges, ‘we need to build on what unites us’, Assembly President tells UN Member States

“This year, we heard from 190 speakers, including 76 Heads of State, 50 Heads of Government, four Vice-Presidents, five Deputy Prime Ministers, 48 Ministers and seven Heads of Delegations,” said General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi as he summed up the first in-person General Debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While only 23 speakers were women, he echoed the words of former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who moderated this year’s first General Assembly Platform of Women Leaders, in saying that they “pack a punch”.

‘New era’ of humanity

Unable to boil down 190 statements into a few phrases, Mr. Kőrösi instead focused on some of the common themes, beginning a growing awareness that “humanity has entered a new era”.

Facing complex challenges and multi-layer crises, he said that significant transformations are underway, pointing out that “basic conditions” of global cooperation have changed, leaving “a world of new challenges, changing priorities, changing roles, and changing ways”.

“Fresh pages of history are being written, with new divisions and new alliances, new grievances, and new successes on them,” said the Assembly President.

Spotlight on Ukraine 

Next, he said the Hall reverberated in accord that the war in Ukraine should end.

He recapped Member States’ concern over shortages, inflation, refugees, nuclear safety and the “dangers of misinformation and propaganda”. 

“Yet, be it the largest and the most acute, the war in Ukraine is one of nearly 30 armed conflicts worldwide,” said the senior UN official, adding, “and none of them is improving”.

Climate change 

The third topic resonating throughout the speeches highlighted the dangers of climate change.

Discussions ensued about countries simultaneously experiencing droughts and flooding; unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; and plastic pollution filling oceans and killing fish, “even as waves of rising seas drown shorelines,” he continued.

Yet, despite calls to achieve global net-zero and for climate justice, some still seem unconvinced that “growing our economies can be balanced with limiting emissions and preserving biodiversity,” said Mr. Kőrösi. 

Human rights 

Calls were also heard for improving human rights and meeting the needs of those most vulnerable to exploitation. 

“There is a cost to speaking out about human rights violations,” he acknowledged, “but the freedom of speaking out is strongly supported”. 

The Assembly President recalled addresses affirming diversity as “a strength, not a liability,” and drew attention to the high-level event on minorities marking 30 years since an historic Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

Revitalization and reform

He also noted the support to revitalize the General Assembly to respond better to interlocking global crises and reform the Security Council to reflect the realities of this century.

The senior UN official then pointed to the goal of a peaceful post-COVID world with increased trust, where together we can work to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He reminded that his vision statement for “solutions through solidarity, sustainability and science” is a step in that direction.

“We need to build on what unites us,” and frame “the most burning challenges” in terms of crisis management and transformation, he said.

“To deepen solidarity, we must build trust”. 

Next steps

With the aim of strengthening universally accepted and owned actions, the Assembly president plans to launch a series of consultations, including with the scientific community.

He said that he is also looking ahead to preparations for the UN Water Conference, the Sendai Midterm review and the SDG Summit.

“When I addressed you a week ago, I said that things…go wrong when we fail to seize the opportunities before us,” said Mr. Kőrösi. “Our opportunity is here and now. Let us act”.

Before concluding, he thanked everyone who made the High-Level Week a success.

ILO welcomes first global agreement on professional footballers’ rights

“Free, independent, strong and representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, together with trust, commitment and respect by the governments for the autonomy of the social partners are key conditions for effective social dialogue in football,” said Guy Ryder, head of the International Labour Organization (ILO), at the signing ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Standing united

The agreement creates a new international bargaining framework between the World Leagues Forum (WLF) – representing 44 national professional football leagues comprising some 1,100 clubs – and FIFPRO, the global footballers’ union – representing more than 60,000 professional football players as employees in the international football industry, through 66 national player unions in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

Employer and employee representatives signed the Global Labour Agreement (GLA) for professional footballers (the sport is referred to as soccer in the United States), agreeing to take greater responsibility in finding collective solutions to the challenges facing the industry.

The pact acknowledges that collectively agreed upon standards, will improve labour relations in the professional game, and improve the multi-billion dollar sport’s viability and growth.

Setting ground rules

The agreement will provide a platform for discussing rules for protecting players’ health and safety along with a commitment to improve the representation and involvement of domestic leagues, their member clubs and players’ unions.

Moreover, it recognizes the need for greater representation and consideration for women’s football – including issues related to domestic competitions, clubs, and players.

Negotiations may also include issues such as employment standards, concussion management, measures to tackle discrimination and racism – including on social media – and other forms of abuse.

Under the GLA, ILO may be asked to provide expert advice in areas where it has expertise, including implementation of the agreement.

Football has the power to inspire and unite people of all nationalities and walks of life, irrespective of gender and ethnicity,” upheld the ILO chief, adding that the players “need to be protected by the fundamental principles and rights at work.”

More on the agreement

The GLA follows the fundamental principles and rights at work set out by ILO in the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which was amended in 2022.

It is also in line with the Points of Consensus of the ILO Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in the World of Sport (2020).

Specific reference is also made to the ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87)  and the ILO Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98) .

The International Labour Organization has welcomed the signing of the first ever Global Labour Agreement (GLA) covering the working conditions and rights of professional football (soccer) players.

© Marcel Crozet
The International Labour Organization has welcomed the signing of the first ever Global Labour Agreement (GLA) covering the working conditions and rights of professional football (soccer) players.

Central African Republic: Said trial opens at International Criminal Court

Mahamat Said Abdel Kani – a top-ranking leader of the mostly-Muslim Séléka militia – pleaded not guilty to all charges, which relate to atrocities carried out in 2013, in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui.

Much of the violence stemmed for clashes between Séléka and the mostly-Christian Anti-balaka faction.

Occupation

Before the crimes were committed, from late 2012 to early 2013, Séléka militia advanced towards the capital, attacking police stations, occupying military bases, capturing towns and regional capitals, and targeting suspected supporters of President François Bozizé.

They seized Bangui in March 2013 and with forces numbering up to 20,000, looted homes while searching for sympathisers of Mr. Bozize, shot those fleeing in the back or killed others in their homes.

“Women and girls were raped and gang-raped in front of their children or parents; some died as a result of their injuries,” the arrest warrant for Mr. Said stated.

Civilians targetted

“Part of the civilian population was targeted through multiple acts of murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, persecution on political, ethnic and religious grounds, and pillaging of houses belonging to non-Muslims and others perceived to be complicit with or supportive of the Bozizé government,” the warrant continued.

Mr. Kani’s charge sheet includes imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts, committed in Bangui between approximately April and November 2013.

He saw “oversaw the day-to-day operations” of an infamous detention centre where men were taken after being arrested by Séléka members.

The Judges of Trial Chamber VI at the opening of the Mahamat Said Abdel Kani trial case at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands).

© ICC-CPI
The Judges of Trial Chamber VI at the opening of the Mahamat Said Abdel Kani trial case at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands).

Appalling conditions

“Prisoners were held in small, dark, crowded cells with only a bucket as a toilet and little or no food, causing detainees to drink their own urine,” the ICC statement read.

Detainees were whipped with strips of rubber, beaten with rifle butts and told: “We’re going to kill you one by one”.

It was common for prisoners to spend several hours in a specific stress position so painful that some “would ask to be killed”. The position, known as “arbatacha”, involved tying a detainee’s hands and legs are tied behind their back, with their legs touching their elbows.

Extracting confessions

Mr. Said allegedly referred to the technique as “the most effective to obtain confessions”, the ICC warrant explained, while also noting that he was responsible for deciding which prisoners should be transferred to an underground cell located under his office.

At another detention centre known as CEDAD, where conditions were described as “inhumane”, the court maintained that Mr. Said was the “operations commander” and “kept a list of persons to be arrested” or ordered their arrest.

The trial continues.

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