Weekly News Recap (18-24 October 2021)

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE SECTION

PCA: A Hearing Regarding the Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels Concluded

On 18 October 2021, in a press release published by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the court concluded the hearing, which commenced on 11 October 2021, regarding the Russian Federation’s preliminary objections to the commencement of arbitration instituted by Ukraine, concerning the “Dispute of Ukrainian Naval Vessels and Servicemen.” The arbitral proceedings were first set in motion when Ukraine served a Notification and Statement of Claims on the Russian Federation on 1April 2019 under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Professor Donald McRae as President and constitutes 4 other members. The proceeding was held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Peace Palace, The Hague. It took place in a hybrid format, wherein, some of the members of the parties’ delegations and some of the members of the Arbitral Tribunal joined both in person and through videoconference.

https://pcacases.com/web/sendAttach/32601


ICJ: Conclusion of Public Hearing on Provisional Measures in Azerbaijan v. Armenia

On 19 October 2021, the public hearing instituted at the request of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the indication of provisional measures in the case of Azerbaijan v. Armenia, regarding the application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, was concluded. By the end of the hearings, both the parties made requests to the Court. The Republic of Azerbaijan requested the Court to indicate certain provisional measures including for Armenia to enable Azerbaijan to demine all of the landmines laid in the Azerbaijan’s territory, to quit threatening the lives of Azerbaijanis by planting or facilitating the planting of landmines in Azerbaijan’s territory, to facilitate necessary steps to prevent organizations working in Armenia from engaging in the incitement of racial hatred and racially-motivated violence targeted at Azerbaijanis, to initiate steps for collection and prevention of destruction of evidence linked to allegations of ethnically-motivated crimes against Azerbaijanis of which it is aware, to abstain from any operation that might make the process of dispute resolution more difficult, and to submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to its Order indicating provisional measures within three months, as from the date of the Order, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court. While the Republic of Armenia requested the Court to reject Azerbaijan’s requests in full for the indication of provisional measures. The decision for the same will be announced in the due course at a public sitting.

https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/181/181-20211019-PRE-01-00-EN.pdf


EC: Annual Report on EU Aspirant Countries’ Progress Towards Membership Criticises Serbia for Non-Compliance with IRMCT

The European Commission’s (EC) latest report published on 19 October 2021, criticises Serbian authorities for not cooperating with the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) in The Hague, in arresting two Serbian Radical Party politicians who are wanted for trial after being indicted for contempt by threatening, blackmailing and bribing witnesses during the trial of their leader, Vojislav Seselj. The UN Court has reported Serbia to UN Security Council (UNSC) several times for non-cooperation in the case. The European Commission in its report stated that the Serbian authorities have a weak track record in dealing with war crime cases and providing assistance to convicted war criminals. The report has urged Serbia to show genuine commitment towards the visions of fighting against impunity and reconciliation and to provide impetus to the process of investigation and prioritise cases involving senior ranking officials.

https://balkaninsight.com/2021/10/19/european-commission-raps-serbias-weak-war-crimes-case-record/

https://balkaninsight.com/2021/04/16/hague-tribunal-urged-to-report-serbia-to-un-security-council/

https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/serbia-report-2021_en


ECtHR: Turkey Held Liable for Violation of Freedom of Expression

On 19 October 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that Turkey’s Government violated the freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by prosecuting its citizens for insulting the president. In 2017, Vedat Şorli, a Turkish national was sentenced to imprisonment for 11 months and 20 days, for insulting the president by sharing two posts on his Facebook account. The case was brought before ECtHR in July 2019. The court held that the criminal proceedings, the suspension of delivery of judgment which, as a result, subjected Şorli to a five-year suspension period, amounted to a violation of his right to freedom of expression. Further, the Court observed that Article 299 of the Criminal Code was unreasonable and that the authorities could have taken civil-law measures instead of a criminal sanction. The Court observed that under the current law thousands of citizens are facing legal actions, thus, after the present case Turkey must make amends and maintain the sanctity of the office.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7157186-9706606

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/10/europe-rights-court-turkey-liable-for-freedom-of-expression-right-violation/


USA: Afghan National Held by the US at Guantanamo Bay Won his Habeas Case

On 19 October 2021, Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a petition of habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Assadullah Haroon Gul. The Court identified the detention to be unlawful, as Mr Haroon did not qualify as a member of Al Qaeda or an associated force, the legal basis for detention at Guantánamo. Gul has been held at the Guantanamo since June 2007 after being captured by Afghan forces and later given to the US military. The Court rejected the contentions made by the US Government for continuing to hold Mr Haroon under detention. The details of the ruling have yet to be published. In the year 2008, the US Supreme Court held that the Guantanamo Detainees have a right to file petitions for a writ of Habeas Corpus. In 2016, Asadullah Haroon Gul filed a habeas petition challenging the basis for the US government’s claims against him. It was argued that Mr Haroon had been a member of Hezb-e-Islami, or the Islamic Party of Afghanistan. He was never affiliated with the Taliban, or al-Qaeda or any al-Qaeda linked group and did not fight against the US.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/20/us/politics/guantanamo-afghan-detainee.html

https://www.lawfareblog.com/guantanamo-courts-and-shrinking-scope-us-military-detention-authority

https://www.justsecurity.org/78696/what-comes-next-after-a-guantanamo-detainees-habeas-win/


Germany: Commencement of the Trial of a 96-year-old former Nazi Concentration Camp Secretary

On 19 October 2021, the trial of a 96-year-old former Nazi concentration camp secretary, Irmgard Furchner began. This hearing was a second attempt to start the proceedings against her after she fled from her retirement home. She is the first woman to be prosecuted for the crimes committed during the Nazi-era and has been charged for killing or attempted killing of more than 11,000 people at the Nazi Concentration Camp Stutthof, in occupied Poland. She is being tried in a juvenile court as she was a teenager when the alleged crimes were committed. She worked in the office of camp commander Paul Werner Hoppe between 1943 to 1945. Ms Furchner’s attorney argued that she did not deny the murders but disputed criminal responsibility.

https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20211019-trial-begins-in-germany-for-96-year-old-former-nazi-death-camp-secretary

https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/german-nazi-war-crimes-suspect-96-who-went-run-goes-trial-2021-10-19/


UK: Human Rights Lawyers Submit Dossier Against Saudi and Emirati Leaderships for their Involvement in War Crimes in the Yemen War

On 20  October 2021, Guernica 37, a team of Human Rights Lawyers based in London have filed a 200-page complaint against key figures in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for being involved in war crimes in Yemen. The dossier has been submitted to the Metropolitan Police Services and the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS). The dossier calls for their immediate arrest should they enter the UK. The list of names has yet not been released but the complaint focuses on three events that include the 2016 aerial bombing of a funeral, the 2018 air attack and the alleged torture and murder of the civilians in Aden. The team relies on the principle of universal jurisdiction under UK laws in order to file this case, which ensures prosecution of those guilty of certain offences, no matter where the crime was committed. Neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are parties to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, thus, it is not possible to file a case there. The war crimes in Yemen have subjected the population to relentless pain and suffering thus it is important to hold the warring parties accountable for the alleged offences.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/10/20/group-of-lawyers-to-submit-yemen-war-crimes-dossier-to-uk-police


Kosovo: Supreme Court Upholds Ruling Against Nenad Arsic for War Crimes

On 21 October 2021, the Supreme Court of Kosovo upheld the verdict finding policeman Nenad Arsic guilty of war crimes and confirming his sentence of six years imprisonment. Arsic was part of a police operation against Kosovo Albanian civilians in Pristina’s Emshir neighbourhood, wherein as a part of an uninformed group he went to the Shala family’s home and ordered them to leave and consequently beat up members of the family. Further, during the operation, he robbed ethnic Albanian residents in the neighbourhood stealing 3,200 litres of diesel oil, 120,000 German marks, five cars and one tractor. He was first sentenced to six years imprisonment by Pristina Basic Court in December 2020. Kosovo’s Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in May 2021. The Supreme Court observed that there were enough pieces of evidence and testimonials to prove the crime. While condemning the verdict, the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo stated that the judgment makes it clear that courts in Pristina are anti-Serb.

https://balkaninsight.com/2021/10/21/kosovo-court-confirms-serb-ex-policemans-war-crimes-conviction/


ECtHR: Violation of General Prohibition of Discrimination in Ukraine

On 21 October 2021, the European Court of Human Rights held that there was a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 (general prohibition of discrimination) to the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Selygenenko and Others v. Ukraine. In the present case, the applicants are Ukrainian nationals and had moved to Kyiv in 2014-15 after conflict broke out in Donetsk and Crimea. They were certified as internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 2014-15, however, their IDs continued to show them as residents of their towns of origin in Donetsk and Crimea. As a result, their applications to be registered to vote before the Kyiv local elections was denied. Upon complaining to the Central Electoral Commission and then filing a case before the Court, the applicants were told that the right to vote in the local election was conferred on those who resided within their respective voting constituencies and that the place of residence was to be found on their national identity cards. The decision was further upheld by the appellate courts. The applicants relying on Article 1 of Protocol No. 12 (general prohibition of discrimination) complained of being denied the right to vote in local elections in Kyiv in a discriminatory manner and applied with the ECtHR in April 2016. The ECtHR, in its judgment, held that the State has to provide reasonable justification when treating one person differently from the other, failing which, a violation can be found. The Court observed that by failing to understand the condition of the applicants the authorities had discriminated against them in the enjoyment of their right to vote in local elections.

http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press?i=003-7159702-9711375


IACHR: Precautionary Measures in Favor of Antônio Martins Alves in Brazil

On 21 October 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 86/2021, by which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Antônio Martins Alves, after considering that he is in a serious situation and Urgency of risk of irreparable damage to your rights in Brazil. According to the request, the whereabouts or fate of Antônio Martins Alves is unknown since 16 July 2021. It was alleged that Martins Alves is a traditional rural worker, lives in the Canaã Settlement area, and actively participates in the defense of his lands and the environment, which historically would have generated conflicts with groups interested in the construction of roads, deforestation, exploitation of tourism or other efforts with significant environmental impact. The IACHR requested Brazil to adopt the necessary measures to determine the situation and whereabouts of Antônio Martins Alves, in order to protect his rights to life and personal integrity; and report on the actions taken to investigate the alleged events that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure and thus avoid its repetition. Brazil argued that the present request for precautionary measures is not necessary, since effective measures are being implemented.

https://www.oas.org/en/IACHR/jsForm/?File=/es/cidh/prensa/comunicados/2021/281.asp


INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY SECTION

UNHCR: Better Support for 13 Million ‘Exhausted’ and Displaced Syrians is Needed

On 18 October 2021, Fillipo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees urged that greater international support for more than 13 million Syrians who have been displaced in the past 10 years is needed. Recently, Mr Grandi travelled to the town of Talbiesh, in Homs Governorate, where he met families who had returned home after years of displacement inside Syria or from neighbouring Lebanon. The agency is working with internally displaced people (IDPs) who are contemplating the dangerous journey home. At the same time, the agency is providing humanitarian support to those who have returned and their communities. A sharp devaluation of local currencies and skyrocketing prices have occurred due to economic crises compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria and host countries. According to the High Commissioner, the international community needs to provide support too, including resources so that people can fix damaged homes, have running water, healthcare and send their children to school. The UNHCR’s chief’s mission comes ahead of crucial talks on the political future of Syria, brokered by the top UN negotiator Geir Pedersen, in Geneva this week. The Special Envoy said late on 17 October that the Syrian and the Opposition have agreed to start “a drafting process” on a new constitution for the first time; the two Syrian Co-Chairs had sat down together with him for a “substantial and frank discussion” on how to proceed with overall constitutional reform during this week’s meeting in Switzerland.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103342

https://www.unhcr.org/en-in/news/press/2021/10/616d0f284/unhcrs-grandi-urges-increase-scope-humanitarian-assistance-syria-including.html


UN: Aerial Strikes on Tigray “Deeply Concerning”

On 18 October 2021, the UN received alarming reports of aerial attacks in the residential areas of Tigray’s capital, Mekelle. According to Stéphane Dujarric, the Secretary-General is “deeply concerned” over the escalation of the conflict in northern Ethiopia. Fighting erupted in Tigray nearly a year ago between the Ethiopian military and forces of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the main political force in the region. Thousands are feared killed amidst allegations of widespread human rights abuses, with more than two million forced to flee their homes.  Over the past few months, humanitarian needs have grown amid killings, looting and the destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems that are vital to production efforts. The Secretary-General, according to Mr Dujarric is stressing that all parties must avoid targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure and also reiterated his call for all hostilities to stop. He is further urging the parties to prioritize the welfare of the people and to provide the necessary support for critical humanitarian assistance, including facilitating the movement of fuel and medicine. The lack of essential supplies, especially cash and fuel is severely disrupting aid operations in Tigray where at least 400 000 people are now facing famine-like conditions. The conflict has spilled into the neighbouring regions of Amhara and Afar, where the ability to reach people in dire need of assistance has also been hampered. According to WFP in the three regions – Tigray, Amhara and Afar – up to seven million people are now in dire need of food assistance and the majority of them, around 5.2 million are in Tigray.  The UN is calling on all parties to urgently allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of relief supplies and aid personnel, to all areas with humanitarian needs including those affected by the recent fighting. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103372


UNHCR: Agency Responds to Worst Flooding in Decades in South Sudan

On 19 October 2021, Arafat Jamal UNHCR Representative in South Sudan stated that weeks of heavy rain have caused unrelenting floods, affecting more than 700,000 people across the country; sweeping away homes and inundating farmlands, and forcing families to seek safety on higher ground or in neighbouring towns. The UNHCR Representative stated that the UNHCR teams in Upper Nile State alone met around 1,000 people who had walked for seven days to reach Malakal, the state capital. UNHCR and humanitarian partners are helping the South Sudanese authorities to deliver urgently needed support to the most affected people, including hygiene items, food, emergency shelter and solar lanterns to provide light. The floods have primarily affected four States. Furthermore, he stated that communities, already struggling, are facing unprecedented floods and storms, unreliable rainfall, and distress under hotter and drier conditions as their basic needs and rights to water, food, livelihoods, land, and a healthy environment are hit hard. This observation of the UN Representative is in line with a report published on 19 October by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and partners, which reveals how climate change contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa during 2020. The UNHCR Representative stated that in some areas, communities have not seen flooding to this extent since 1962, meanwhile, other areas have seen three years of consecutive flooding. He also added that climatic stresses can also provoke inter-communal conflict and when flooding and droughts occur within the same year, it forces communities to seek and share refuge in ever-shrinking patches of higher ground. He also pointed to encouraging developments, amidst the storm clouds, as the Government of South Sudan, one of the poorest nations in the world, has allocated $10 million to flood response efforts.  Local governments are also working to address suffering, through efforts such as building dikes and installing systems to pump out floodwaters, while communities and displaced people “also continue to show incredible resilience and generosity.”

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103442

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103362


UN: 3 Million People in Urgent Need of Protection and Assistance in Myanmar

On 19 October 2021, Stephane Dujarric cited humanitarians in saying that “conflict, food insecurity, natural disasters and COVID-19” have left some three million women, children and men in urgent need of life-saving assistance and protection, and this includes one million people who were in need at the start of the year plus additional two million people identified as needing help after the military takeover on 1 February 2021. Since then, clashes between Myanmar Armed Forces, different ethnic armed organizations and the people’s defence forces have left some 219,000 people newly displaced. This comes at a time of increased COVID-19 rates, exacerbating a dire humanitarian situation. At the same time, floods in the Rakhine and Kayin states, have left tens of thousands without water and sanitation. Meanwhile, the agency on 18 October posted a detailed account of the deteriorating situation in Mindat which is located in the southern Chin state of western Myanmar and has been under martial law since May. According to a UN humanitarian report, Mindat is one of the worst affected places in the country, with residents there in urgent need of support. The UN Spokesperson stated that the UN once again calls on parties concerned to ensure that aid can be scaled up to reach people affected by the continued armed conflict. Despite the conflict and COVID, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have been able to reach more than 33,000 people with water and sanitation supplies, and the agency continues to help nearly 150,000 internally displaced people and others in Kachin, Northern Shan, Rakhine and Sagaing. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103482

https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Myanmar%20Humanitarian%20Snapshot%20July%202021.pdf


UNSC: Need for a Consensus in the Middle East

On 19 October 2021, Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warned the UNSC that political stagnation is “fuelling tensions, instability and a deepening sense of helplessness.” He further described the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) which continues to deteriorate, with no progress towards a two-State solution. He also painted a picture of an “increasingly desperate reality” shaped by extremists and unilateral actions on all sides that threaten to heighten risks for Palestinians, Israelis and the entire region. Meanwhile, the UN has launched reconstruction efforts to rebuild up to 1,800 destroyed or severely damaged homes and in late September, Egypt began repairing one of the Gaza enclave’s main coastal roads. While welcoming the issuance of permits and improved movements of goods in and out of the occupied Gaza Strip, the Special Coordinator told the Council that “much more is needed to facilitate sustainable access” reiterating that “the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism remains best placed to enable the entry and accountable delivery of items and materials that would otherwise not be allowed into the Strip.” The UN envoy described “nightly clashes” between Israeli and Palestinian citizens, and underscored that all perpetrators of violence must be “held accountable and swiftly brought to justice.” The Special Coordinator stated that despite the enormity of the current challenges, “we cannot afford to be pessimistic or passive” and must “begin to restore hope in a peaceful, sustainable, negotiated resolution of the conflict.” He stressed that political dialogue is not the “end game” but a stage on the road to ending the occupation and suppressing extremist voices. A consensus must be built for engagement or an increasingly desperate reality would be needed to be faced.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103422


IOM: Amid Clashes Humanitarian Assistance Steppe up on Yemen’s West Coast

On 20 October 2021, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) stated that humanitarian assistance on Yemen’s west coast has been stepped up where ongoing violence has increased the needs of communities displaced by years of conflict. The response has been focused on the two governorates of Ta´iz and Hudaydah, where active frontlines continue to cause instability and force families to flee. According to IOM, since 2017, when mass displacement in the area began, tens of thousands of people have struggled to survive in hard-to-reach areas where public services and humanitarian assistance are extremely limited. More than 17,000 displaced families are now living in more than 140 displacement sites, while ongoing fighting continues. Most recently, clashes in eastern Al Tuhayta district have displaced more than 200 families, to safer areas in the west. IOM is one of the few international humanitarian organisations that has been operating in the area and has implemented various lifesaving interventions in 13 displacement sites includes providing shelter, clean water, latrines, cash and other essential relief items to thousands of families in need. The agency has further expanded the availability of healthcare to affected populations, by enhancing child and maternal health care, addressing malnutrition, promoting mental health and psychosocial support, providing incentives to healthcare workers and deploying mobile medical teams in underserved areas. At the moment the IOM is calling for more help and cooperation to fund its operation in Yemen, with Christa Rottensteiner urging donors and other partner organisations to commit more significant investments for easing the levels of desperation being faced by too many people on the west coast. The agency noted that the Government of Canada has been instrumental in the scale-up of the humanitarian response.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103522

https://www.iom.int/news/iom-steps-help-yemens-west-coast-clashes-heighten-desperation


UN: Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Eroded by COVID-19 Need to be Restored

On 20 October 2021, an independent UN expert on the right to health reminded Member States in the General Assembly that sexual and reproductive health rights are human rights and it was essential to restore services in the field that have been eroded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur stated that millions of women globally had limited or no access to maternal and newborn healthcare, while some 14 million lost access to contraception, and specialised services for victims of gender-based violence became inaccessible. While presenting her report titled “Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” shementioned the effect pandemic has had on physical and mental health services, along with “new measures and laws in place across regions, further restricting access to safe abortion, a component of sexual and reproductive services encompassed in the right to health.” The Special Rapporteur also pointed out that lockdowns, movement restrictions and diversion of funds due to COVID-19 have “jeopardized access to essential sexual and reproductive health services.” As part of the right to health, the UN expert called on States to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuild and strengthen health systems for advancing sexual and reproductive health rights for all. She urged that governments must remove obstacles and ensure full access to quality services, including maternal health care, contraception and abortion services, screening for reproductive cancers and comprehensive sexual education.” She further reminded governments that sexual and reproductive rights are rooted in binding human rights treaties, jurisprudence and international conferences, and called upon States to respect and protect the key principles of autonomy, bodily integrity, dignity and the well-being of an individual, especially concerning these health rights.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103562

https://www.undocs.org/en/A/76/172


WFP: World’s First Climate Change Famine Could Be Spurred By Severe Drought In Madagascar

On 21 October 2021, according to World Food Programme (WFP) more than one million people in southern Madagascar are struggling to get enough to eat, due to what could become the first famine caused by climate change. Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, has a unique ecosystem that includes animals and plants found nowhere else on the planet. The country experiences a dry season, usually from May to October, and a rainy season that starts in November. Recently, it has been hit hard by successive severe drought, forcing families in the rural communities to resort to desperate measures just to survive. Alice Rahmoun, WFP Communications Officer stated that climate change has disrupted the cycle affecting smallholder farmers and the impacts have been so strong that harvests are constantly failing. People do not have anything to harvest nor anything to replenish their diminished food stocks. WFP is collaborating with humanitarian partners, and the Malagasy Government, to provide two types of response to the crisis. Some 700,000 people are receiving life-saving aid, including supplementary products to prevent malnutrition. WFP ultimately aims to support up to one million people between now and April and is seeking nearly $70 million to fund operations. They are also involving more partners to find and fund climate change solutions for the community to adapt to the impacts of climate change in southern Madagascar. Ms Rahmoun also stated that the COP26 climate change conference which is just over a week away is also an opportunity for WFP to ask governments and donors to prioritize funding relating to climate adaptation programmes, and to help countries to build a better risk management system. This is especially necessary for Madagascar because if nothing else is done, hunger will increase exponentially in the coming years due to climate change. This will not only affect Madagascar but all countries.

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103712

https://www.wfp.org/news/climate-crisis-driving-hunger-warns-wfp-world-food-day


WHO: Plans for Transformation Following Sexual Abuse Allegations in DRC

On 21 October 2021, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced a Management Response Plan to address the findings of an independent commission regarding sexual abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The plan outlines the changes that would be made as an organisation to prevent any opportunity for sexual exploitation and abuse to happen, with no impunity if it does. The plan outlines several short term actions which focus on the most urgent recommendations of the independent commission, with the agency to begin its work by supporting the survivors and their families, complete ongoing investigations, launch a series of internal reviews and audits and reform its structures and cultures. The agency in the next 15 months would initiate an overhaul of its policies, procedures and practices to increase safeguards against sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) in its programmes and operations. In the field, this means that the agency will provide livelihood support for victims and survivors including more medical and psycho-social support, help them with job opportunities and resources to potentially start a small business. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa stated that the agency is already putting into action many of the recommendations, for instance during the current Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, as part of the first wave of deployments, the agency sent an expert in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, to Beni. In the past week, nearly 40 WHO and UN partner employees have received training on the issues and have been briefed on how to protect the population and report suspected cases.   

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103722


UNEP: By 2030 Plastic Pollution to Double

On 21 October 2021, UNEP released a report titled ‘From Pollution to Solution: a global assessment of marine litter and plastic pollution’ showed that there is a growing threat across all ecosystems, from source to sea, further highlighting that dire consequences for health, the economy, biodiversity and the climate. It also says a drastic reduction in unnecessary, avoidable and problematic plastic, is crucial to addressing the global pollution crisis overall.  To help reduce plastic waste at the needed scale, it proposes an accelerated transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies, the removal of subsidies and a shift towards a more circular approach towards reduction. The document which is being released 10 days ahead of the start of the crucial UN Climate Conference, COP26, stresses that plastics are a climate problem as well.  For example, in 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from plastics were 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent; by 2050, they’re projected to increase to approximately 6.5 gigatonnes and that number is representative of 15 per cent of the whole global carbon budget – the​​ amount of greenhouse gas that can be emitted, while still keeping warming within the Paris Agreement goals. According to Inger Andersen, Executive Director UNEP this assessment “provides the strongest scientific argument to date for the urgency to act and for collective action to protect and restore the oceans from source to sea. She further stated that a major concern is what happens with breakdown products, such as microplastics and chemical additives, which are known to be toxic and hazardous to human and wildlife health and ecosystems. Currently, plastic accounts for 85 per cent of all marine litter; by 2040, it will nearly triple, adding 23-37 million metric tons of waste into the ocean per year which means that about 50kg of plastic per meter of coastline. Due to this all marine life, from plankton and shellfish to birds, turtles and mammals face a grave risk of toxification, behavioural disorder, starvation and suffocation. According to the report, there are also significant consequences for the global economy. In 2018 alone, the impacts on tourism, fisheries and aquaculture together with the price of such projects clean-ups, was estimated to be 6 to 19 billion dollars per year. By 2040, it could be $100 billion (annually) for governments to cover waste management costs. This can also lead to a rise in illegal domestic and international waste disposal. The report will inform discussions at the UN Environment Assembly in 2022, where countries will come together to decide a way forward for more global cooperation. 

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103692

https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/press-release/comprehensive-assessment-marine-litter-and-plastic-pollution

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