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Monday’s Daily Brief: Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gender gap in Latin America, Syria talks in Geneva, human rights in Egypt, the future of digital telecommunications

‘Multi-generational tragedy’ in Israel and Palestine demands political will for two-State solution

Pervasive deteriorating facts on the ground in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “are pushing us every further” from achieving a viable two-State solution, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council on Monday.

With the spotlight on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Special Envoy Nicolay Mlandenov detailed “new dangerous flashpoints” emerging in the region, under rapidly shifting developments in the Middle East as a whole, which have snowballed into a growing threat to international peace and security. 

Here’s our story.

More women in Latin America are working, but gender gap persists, new UN figures show

More women are entering the workforce across Latin America, with an increase in 11 per cent in the last 30 years, putting the region ahead of the curve when it comes to growth in female labour force participation, according to new data published by the United Nations on Monday. 

The research gathered jointly by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the International  Labour Organization (ILO), spotlights the array of factors influencing women’s labour participation in the region, while highlighting the social and economic benefits of women in the workforce. 

Women’s access to paid opportunities, and the narrowing of gender gaps is “crucial for growth, equality and poverty reduction in the region,” the authors highlight in the new study. 

More in our story, here.

UN envoy urges prisoner release as Syria Constitutional Committee prepares to start work in Geneva

Forty-eight hours before a 150-member Constitutional Committee for Syria meets for the first time in Geneva to try to agree on a new foundational text for the war-ravaged country, UN Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen on Monday repeated his call for a nationwide ceasefire and the release of prisoners to build trust between belligerents.

Speaking in the Swiss city, Mr. Pedersen said that representatives from the Government of Syria and opposition groups had “ownership” of a political process that could end more than eight years of brutal conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions.

Talks between Syrian Government and opposition representatives, along with civil society voices, begin on Wednesday.

Egypt must end repression of protesters and rights defenders, UN experts decry

A group of UN rights experts has called on Egypt to protect people’s rights to freedom of speech, following a surge of arrests targeting demonstrators, rights defenders and journalists, and reported use of violent crackdowns by authorities. 

In response to a wave of peaceful protests across the country on 20 and 21 September which called for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s resignation, and an end to government corruption, authorities have reportedly used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas, and arrested at least 3,000 people including bystanders, academics, and lawyers in the upheaval.

The experts said “We express our concerns at the heavy-handed response by Egyptian security forces against the protesters and others… We recall that the primary duty of law enforcement is to protect peaceful assemblies”, adding that use of force is not permitted unless strictly necessary, and lethal force, should be a measure of last resort.

World Radiocommunication Conference to forge pathways for future digital communications

Over 3,000 delegates from most of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)’s 193 Member States are expected to attend the 2019 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19), which started on Monday, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt and will run until mid-November.  

At the opening, ITU’s Secretary-General Houlin Zhao highlighted the role of digital inclusion on improving the lives of millions across the world.

Addressing WRC-19 by video, UN Secretary-General António Guterres also highlighted that “technologies, such as 5G and satellite communications, offer great promise to close the digital divide and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

Providing the tools for effective climate action, the conference is expected to unlock great potential for human progress advancing many of the SDGs, by forging pathways for better access to health care, foster sustainable agricultural practices and reduce poverty and hunger, improve energy efficiency and make cities smart and communities more sustainable.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 28 October on SoundCloud:  

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