April 14, 2024

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The Secretary-General of the United Nations warns that the world is becoming less safe every day

The Secretary-General of the United Nations warns that the world is becoming less safe every day

The UN Secretary-General said that attacks on human rights take many forms, and repeated his repeated calls for debt relief for some of the world's poorest countries and increased spending to combat climate change. He defended UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency, as the “backbone” of relief efforts in Gaza at a time when senior Israeli authorities called for its dismantling.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, also criticized “attempts to undermine the legitimacy and work” of the UN and its affiliates.

“The United Nations has become a lightning rod for manipulative propaganda and a scapegoat for policy failure,” he said. “This is extremely destructive to the public good, and cruelly betrays many of the people whose lives depend on it.”

The Council began its six-week session on Monday as human rights crises intensify. On the minds of many will be the death this month of opposition leader Alexei Navalny while in prison in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The council's agenda has swelled in recent years, and its sessions – three a year – have become longer. On the agenda this time will be rights violations in conflict situations, repression by governments, as well as issues such as religious hatred, racial discrimination, the right to food, and the rights of children, or people with disabilities and albinism.

The ambassador said: “It is time to evaluate what the Council has achieved since its establishment, that is, nearly 18 years ago.” Moroccan Omar Zniber, who assumes the rotating presidency of the Council this year, in reference to his position established by the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2006.

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Zniber expressed his regret at the increasing “polarization” between countries, especially between those that emphasize national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, and others that say that governments should be obligated to carry out their responsibilities before the Council.

The 47-nation council, whose membership rotates annually, has faced bouts of controversy over the years. Russia was almost expelled for its invasion of Ukraine; China regularly denounces criticism of what Beijing insists are internal affairs. The United States has regularly criticized what it sees as too much focus on Israel over the years, although Israel's war in Gaza has once again drawn much international criticism of its policies.