Secretary-General’s message on Nelson Mandela International Day

Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of a legendary global advocate for dignity, equality, justice and human rights.

Each year, on this day, Nelson’s Mandela’s birthday, we pay tribute to this extraordinary man who embodied the highest aspirations of the United Nations and the human family.

Madiba’s calls for solidarity and an end to racism are particularly relevant today, as social cohesion around the world is threatened by division.

Societies are becoming more polarized, with hate speech on the rise and misinformation blurring the truth, questioning science and undermining democratic institutions. Continue reading

UN chief says race to reach SDGs ‘can and must’ be turned around

The COVID pandemic has taken four million lives, devastated the global economy, pushed a further 124 million people into extreme poverty and continues to inflict profound suffering – dramatically impacting progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN chief said on Tuesday at a key international forum.

“Nearly one person in three around the world could not access adequate food in 2020 – an increase of nearly 320 million people in one year”, Secretary-General António Guterres told the Opening of the Ministerial Segment of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN’s core review platform of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs.

General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, called the future of sustainable development “inclusive, resilient and green” and encouraged the participants to “seize this moment” and build back better. More

Afghanistan: 270,000 newly displaced this year, warns UNHCR

The worsening security situation across Afghanistan in the wake of foreign troop withdrawal and Taliban advances, has forced an estimated 270,000 from their homes since January, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported, bringing the total internally displaced to more than 3.5 million.

The agency said that families were fleeing extortion by non-State armed groups and the dangers posed by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, along major roads. Many also reported a breakdown in welfare support and a loss of income, owing to the rising insecurity.

To help those with acute needs, UNHCR and partners have provided newly displaced Afghans with emergency shelter, food, health, water, sanitation and cash assistance, although many challenges remain in accessing vulnerable groups.

The agency is urging the international community to step up support to the Government and people of Afghanistan and its neighbours at this “critical moment”, stressed the agency Spokesperson, “in a spirit of solidarity and burden-sharing.” More

Video-Recorded Interviews by Fiji Police Force to strengthen human rights protection at early stages of criminal process

Suva, FijiThe Fiji Police Force is scaling up its initiative to strengthen early access to justice through implementing Video-Recorded Interviews. The digital equipment for video recording, which is  based on most recent and top-notch information and communications technology (ICT) solutions specifically designed for law enforcement, was provided to the Force by New Zealand and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to support effective and transparent criminal procedures based on international human rights standards.

Video-Recorded Interviews for criminal investigations will be implemented based on successful pilots and now be extended to other parts of the country. The initiative to strengthen early access to justice is part of the major achievement made by the justice institutions, following Fiji’s ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) in 2016.

First batch of the video recording equipment worth FJ$230,000 will enable police officers to record interviews and monitor what takes place in interview rooms. It allows them to operate both remotely and in the interview room and keep records on the server for a defined period. Continue reading

‘Tremendously off track’ to meet 2030 SDGs: UN Chief

Between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – some 161 million more than for 2019 – the UN Secretary-General said on Monday; “new, tragic data”, which indicates the world is “tremendously off track” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“High costs, coupled with persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality, continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people, in every region of the world”, added António Guterres, in a statement highlighting the importance of the global Food Systems Summit, due to take place in September. More

Ensure reproductive health rights for all on World Population Day: UN chief

In his message for World Population Day, observed on Sunday, the UN chief António Guterres called for closing gaps in access to sexual and reproductive health services which the crisis has created.

Last week, the global death toll due to COVID-19 officially surpassed four million. “In addition to the millions of lives tragically lost, there has been a less visible toll:  a shocking rise in domestic violence as women were forced into isolation with their abusers; empty maternity wards as women postponed motherhood; and unintended pregnancies due to curtailed access to contraceptive services,” said the Secretary-General. More

UN Human Rights Council Adopts Universal Periodic Review Outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal

The Human Rights Council in a midday meeting adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Australia, Saint Lucia, and Nepal.

Speaking on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia were Malawi, Marshall Islands, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, China, Syria, and Tunisia.

The following civil society organizations also took the floor on the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Australia: Save the Children International, World Jewish Congress, World Evangelical Alliance, Edmund Rice International, Earthjustice, Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Internazionale ONLUS, CIVICUS – World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Charitable Institute for Protecting Social Victims, and International Lesbian and Gay Association. More

Time running out for countries on climate crisis front line

The world’s running out of time to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, a matter of life or death for climate vulnerable countries on the front line of the crisis, the UN Secretary General reiterated on Thursday.

Speaking to the first Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit of 48 nations systemically exposed to climate related disasters, António Guterres said they needed reassurance that financial and technical support will be forthcoming.

“To rebuild trust, developed countries must clarify now, how they will effectively deliver $100 billion dollars in climate finance annually to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago”, he said.

The UN chief said that to get the “world back on its feet”, restore cooperation between governments and recover from the pandemic in a climate resilient way, the most vulnerable countries had to be properly supported. More

COVID death toll passes 4 million: Global Vaccine Plan Essential

The global death toll due to COVID-19 officially passed four million late on Wednesday, marking yet another “grim milestone” and underlining the urgent need for the world to put a Global Vaccine Plan in place to get the pandemic under control, said the UN chief in a statement.

“Many of us know this loss directly and feel its pain”, said Secretary-General António Guterres. “We mourn mothers and fathers who gave guidance, sons and daughters who inspired us, grandmothers and grandfathers who shared wisdom, colleagues and friends who lifted our lives.” More

Sustainable development report shows devastating impact of COVID, ahead of ‘critical’ new phase

The world was not on track to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before COVID-19 struck, and now the challenge has been magnified many times over, according to a new flagship UN report that indicates countries must take ‘critical’ steps on the road out of the pandemic, during the next 18 months.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, launched on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York, shows the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the 2030 Agenda, as the landmark annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) officially got underway. Read our curtain-raiser story here.

Gains rolled back
In addition to the almost four million deaths due to the coronavirus, between 119-124 million people were pushed back into poverty and chronic hunger, and the equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs were lost, the report indicates. More