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Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Israeli settlements, World Children’s Day, fossil fuel overuse

Children leading calls for a sustainable future: UN chief

On Wednesday, in a message to mark World Children’s Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres hailed the leadership role that children are taking, when it comes to building a more sustainable world for all.

2019’s international day marks the thirtiethanniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a historic commitment which has guided the work of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as Mr. Guterres explained, the Convention has made a positive difference to the lives of millions of children, but much more still needs to be done:

Mr. Guterres’s message was echoed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michele Bachelet, who urged countries to strengthen child protection measures, and warned that, with the world grappling with the effects of climate change and a rapidly changing digital environment, millions of children are still being left behind.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the General Assembly, marked the occasion by delivering a speech to an audience made up primarily of children and young people, in which he reiterated calls for increased access to quality education.

He said more investment is needed, and that barriers to access must be removed: adding that the world is facing a “crisis of learning”, describing the lack of equal access as a scandal.

Find our full coverage of World Children’s Day here

UN position on illegality of Israeli settlements unchanged, confirms envoy

Speaking in the UN Security Council on Wednesday, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, confirmed that the United Nations considers Israeli settlements “a flagrant violation under international law”.

On Monday the United States Government announced that it no longer views settlements as inconsistent with international law: Mr. Mladenov said that the UN regrets the new US position, and called the settlements “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”.

Briefing ambassadors inside the chamber, the Special Coordinator noted the Council was meeting just a few days after “the most serious recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza”. He acknowledged that the immediate crisis had died down, but maintained that “the situation remains highly volatile”.

Full story here

Huge disconnect between global warming goals and fossil fuel production: new UN report

A new report from the UN and leading research organizations shows a major disconnect between the amount of fossil fuels that countries plan to produce, and the commitments they have made to cut global warming.

The Production Gap report, the first of its kind, shows that Governments are projected to produce 120 per cent more fossil fuels by 2030, than can be burned if the world is to limit warming to an increase of 1.5 degrees.  

The head of the UN Environment Programme, Inger Anderson, said on Wednesday that the report calls for a long overdue focus on fossil fuels, which still dominate the world’s energy supplies.

The authors of the report point out that there are many options available for closing the production gap, including limiting exploration and extraction, removing subsidies, and aligning future production plans with climate goals.

UN experts call for release of lawyer detained in ‘double jeopardy’ case

UN human rights experts have condemned the Egyptian government for arresting a lawyer twice, on apparently identical charges.

The group of Special Rapporteurs, whose conclusions and statements are independent of the UN, said on Wednesday that Ibrahim Metwally was arrested two years ago, on the way to discuss the issue of enforced disappearances with the UN in Geneva.

According to the rights experts, Mr. Metwally was subsequently cleared of all charges in October of this year, but was then re-arrested, the following month, on charges that appear to be identical to those in the previous case.

In a statement, the Special Rapporteurs said that Mr. Metwally is a victim of “double jeopardy”, and that his prosecution may be linked to his engagement with the UN: the statement expresses concern about his deteriorating health whilst in detention and calls on the Egyptian authorities to guarantee Mr. Metwally due process under the law.

The same group of experts have previously raised concerns at the use of counter-terrorism legislation to target people expressing dissent, and seeking to protect and promote human rights.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 12 November on SoundCloud:    

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