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World Riddled with Genocide, War Crimes and Ethnic Cleaning; ‘We Must Do More’, Asserts UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

The UN Secretary-General believes that more efforts and stringent action must be taken to reverse the prevailing negative trends and save civilians from different crimes against humanity

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Wikimedia
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  • UN Secretary-General asserted that more efforts must be made to prevent growing crimes against humanity
  • He asserted that the need of the hour is to save civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and indiscriminate attacks happening all over the world
  • Antonio Guterres is the present UN Secretary General

United Nations, September 7, 2017 : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for more efforts to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Civilians, including women and children, are being killed either deliberately or as victims of indiscriminate attacks, resulting in the high number of refugees and internally displaced people,” Guterres told a UN General Assembly informal dialogue on the responsibility to protect civilians on Wednesday.

“We must do more, and we must do better, to reverse these negative trends,” he said.

He said the UN must give greater attention to conflict prevention and he gave strong commitment to improving the capacity and coordination of the UN in atrocity prevention, Xinhua news agency reported.

The responsibility to protect still generates some discomfort for a number of UN member states. The main concern is that the principle will be used to impose international approaches on national problems, in ways that may harm national sovereignty, he noted.

“I have deep respect for national sovereignty. Indeed, the success of the UN in implementing its mandates depends on national actors being able to deliver on their sovereign responsibilities,” said the UN Secretary-General.

“Our shared challenge is to use the principle of the responsibility to protect to achieve the goals that were originally envisaged. I am convinced that open and constructive discussion among concerned states can overcome any remaining differences,” he said, adding that the UN member states have the primary responsibility to protect their populations.

“But should national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, then we must be prepared to take collective action, in accordance with the (UN) Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis.” (IANS)

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U.N. Chief Returns To Climate Talks To Hopefully Reach a Deal With Countries

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a "just transition" for workers in fossil fuel industries

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U.N. Climate Conference
In this Dec. 11, 2018 photo a participant in U.N. climate conference walks by a photo of a satellite in Katowice, Poland. VOA

The United Nations secretary-general flew back to global climate talks in Poland Wednesday to appeal to countries to reach an agreement, as some observers feared the meeting might end without a deal.

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres opened the talks last week, telling leaders to take the threat of global warming seriously and calling it “the most important issue we face.”

But as the two-week meeting shifted from the technical to political phase, with ministers taking over negotiations, campaign groups warned of the risks of failure in Katowice.

Harjeet Singh of ActionAid International said the main holdouts were the United States, Australia and Japan, while the European Union was “a mere spectator.”

U.N., Climate
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses during the opening of COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

“A new leadership must step up,” said Vanessa Perez-Cirera of the environmental group WWF. “We cannot afford to lose one of the twelve years we have remaining.”

She was referring to a recent scientific report by a U.N.-backed panel that suggested average global warming can only be halted at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) if urgent action is taken by 2030, including a dramatic reduction in use of fossil fuels.

Endorsing the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change became a crunch issue over the weekend, with the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait opposing the move.

Jean-Pascal Ypersele, a former deputy chair of the panel, said whether or not countries believe the conclusions of the report was irrelevant because the science was clear.

Fossil Fuels, Climate
Youth and indigenous groups protest against fossil fuels during US-hosted event at the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 10, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

“Nobody, even the so-called superpowers, can negotiate with the laws of physics,” he said.

Ypersele called for the 1.5-degree target — already mentioned in the 2015 Paris accord — to be recognized in the final text.

“It’s a question of survival for a large part of humanity, and many other species,” he said.

Poland, which is chairing the talks, was expected to circulate a condensed draft text Wednesday running to about 100 pages, down from about 300 at the start of the talks.

The Dec. 2-14 meeting is supposed to finalize the rules that signatories of the Paris accord need to follow when it comes to reporting their greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them.

Li Shuo, a climate expert at Greenpeace, warned that the current text was riddled with loopholes. “A Swiss cheese rulebook is unacceptable,” he said.

Pollution, Climate
Clouds of smoke over Europe’s largest lignite power plant in Belchatow, central Poland, on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Poor countries also want assurances on financial support to tackle climate change.

A third objective of the talks is getting governments to make a firm commit to raising ambitions in the coming two years, albeit without any precise figures.

One issue that has risen to the fore at the talks is the proposal by Poland for countries to back the idea of a “just transition” for workers in fossil fuel industries facing closure from emissions-curbing measures.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

Germany’s environment minister, Svenja Schulze, told reporters that her country is committed to phasing out the use of coal, though the exact deadline has yet to be determined.

But in a nod to the recent protests in France over fuel prices, Schulze warned against governments forcing through measures, saying they would lose public support “faster than you can spell climate protection, and then people pull on yellow vests.” (VOA)