Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres came out on Thursday against changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and backed Security Council resolutions, of which the main one requires Pakistan to withdraw all its nationals from Kashmir.
His Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General calls on all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.”
The Council’s Resolution 47 adopted on April 21, 1948, said Pakistan should withdraw its nationals from Kashmir before a plebiscite can be held. Pakistan, however, continues to occupy a significant part of Kashmir making a plebiscite impossible.
Since then, India has said a plebiscite was moot because of Pakistan’s continued occupation and because Kashmiris have had their say in state and national elections.
“The Secretary-General also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement, which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.
While calling for maximum restraint, “the Secretary-General is also concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region”, he added.
The Charter provisions directly applicable to the India-Pakistan situation require members to settle their disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of any nation.
The Charter also says that the UN cannot “intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”.
The Simla Agreement signed in 1972 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was Pakistan’s President at that time, also said that Kashmir was a bilateral issue, thus ruling out third-party intervention.
The Secretary General’s office circulated to members of the Security Council a letter written by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to Guterres on August 1 expressing concern about the situation in Kashmir. He also asked Guterres to set up a “fact-finding mission” for Kashmir and to appoint a special representative.
Dujarric said that the letter was being studied and no decision has been taken on appointing a special representative.
He said that the Secretariat was in contact with the Permanent Missions of India and Pakistan over the recent developments.
Joanna Wronecka, the President of the Security Council, refused to answer a reporter’s question about Qureshi’s letter and if there would any action on it. (IANS)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned a Monday attack by Sudanese security forces that broke up a protest site in Khartoum and killed or wounded dozens of people.
“He condemns the use of force to disperse the protesters at the sit-in site, and he is alarmed by reports that security forces have opened fire inside medical facilities,” said a spokesman for Guterres at the United Nations in New York. “The Secretary-General reminds [Sudan’s] Transitional Military Council of its responsibility for the safety and security of the citizens of Sudan. He urges all parties to act with utmost restraint.”
Explosions and heavy machine gunfire were heard as security forces stormed a site outside the Defense Ministry where demonstrators had maintained a protest for the past eight weeks, demanding the military hand power over to a civilian authority.
Witnesses say that by mid-afternoon, the area had been cleared.
The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, which is close to Sudan’s protest movement, now says the death toll stands at 30 with many more injured.
In remarks from the spokesman, Guterres also called for unimpeded access for first responders at the sit-in site and in hospitals where the wounded are treated, and called on Sudanese authorities to conduct an independent investigation and hold people accountable for the deaths.
U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet also condemned the attack and urged the security forces to stop immediately.
“Those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression must be protected, not targeted or detained,” Bachelet said in a statement. “This is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law.”
The U.S. embassy in Khartoum tweeted that the attacks on protesters “must stop.”
The British embassy condemned the attack and called it an “outrageous step that will only lead to more polarization and violence.”
Details of the raid
The sit-in began in April as civilians and military officials argued over the makeup of a transitional government, following the military overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in April, after mass protests against his 30-year rule.
With batons in hand, Sudanese forces dressed in police and military uniforms surrounded protesters near the military headquarters and began forcing the demonstrators to leave. Video on several media outlets shows Sudanese forces beating protesters lying face down on the ground.
Protesters say rapid response forces and paramilitary units surrounded two Khartoum hospitals.
The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces — a coalition of political parties leading the protest — issued a statement calling on all demonstrators to continue with”the revolution.”Protesters later blocked roads leading into and out of Khartoum.
Protest organizers have suspended further talks with the Transitional Military Council and called for civil disobedience across the country until the military hands over power to civilians.
The organizers also say in the statement that security forces who killed protesters must be brought to justice.
Media reports quote Transitional Military Council spokesman Shams El din Al Kabashi as saying the forces only targeted what he called “dangerous groups” that infiltrated the protesters in the sit-in area.
Kabashi says he believes that a return to negotiations is the quickest way to resolve the problem. (VOA)
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that climate change was moving faster than international efforts to mitigate it.
“It is important that we tackle climate change with much greater ambition,” Guterres told reporters at the launch of a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) annual report on the subject. The report warns that key climate change indicators are becoming more pronounced.
Levels of carbon dioxide — a main driver of global warming — are the highest they have been in 3 million years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As a result, oceans are heating up and their waters are becoming more acidic, affecting all kinds of marine life.
Temperatures on land are also rising — 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record, and the years 2015 to 2018 were the four warmest in global temperature record-keeping, the WMO report said.
The secretary-general said it was necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade in order to be carbon neutral globally by 2050.
“If not, it will be irreversible, not to be able to achieve the goals that were established in Paris,” Guterres said of the 2015 climate agreement. “We are very close to the moment in which it will no longer be possible to come to the end of the century with only 1.5 degrees. We have very few years to reverse these trends, because the concentrations of CO2 [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere will not disappear.”
The aim under the Paris Agreement is to keep the planet from warming well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Scientists hope to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“We have both the technical and financial means to reach the 1.5 percent target,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas told reporters at the launch.
But if the world fails to make the necessary changes quickly, the U.N. warned, a warming planet can lead to all sorts of difficulties. Droughts and floods could destroy crops and livestock, causing food insecurity; changes in the oceans will affect fishing and ecosystems; rising sea levels could jeopardize large coastal cities; and humans will feel health effects from pollution and heat waves. Such upheavals will also lead to more displaced persons, increased migration and social instability.
Extreme weather events are already on the rise, with this month’s Cyclone Idai just the most recent example. The storm’s deadly winds and huge rainfall struck parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, killing hundreds and wiping out homes and livelihoods. Last year, the report counted 14 weather- and climate-related disasters in the United States, costing nearly $50 billion in damage.
The U.N. is hosting a summit in September on the margins of the annual General Assembly gathering of leaders that it hopes will mobilize new climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. (VOA)
Seven in 10 people worldwide die from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, according to a study published in The Lancet earlier this month.
These diseases not only rob people prematurely of their lives, they cost enormous amounts of money. The Lancet report estimated that over the next 15 years, the costs to developing countries alone is projected to total more than $7 trillion.
Three years ago, world leaders pledged to reduce premature deaths from these non-communicable diseases by one-third by the year 2030.
At Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said less than half of the world’s countries will meet that target, urging world leaders to recommit to these goals.
Tedros called for more political commitment and domestic investment. He said he knew from his own experience that “with political commitment, anything is possible. Without it, progress is slow.”
Tedros mentioned a list of what he called “best buys,” policy changes that cost little but produce huge rewards. “WHO’s best buys are cost-effective and affordable for all countries. Spending to build a healthier population is not a cost. It’s an investment in human capital that pays a rich reward.”
Tedros urged countries to increase tobacco taxes, restrict advertising for alcohol, and lower the amount of salt, sugar and fat in food products. Doing this will lower the risks for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. He advised countries to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer.
Tedros also recommended that countries provide universal health coverage as the best way to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases.
He said if these policies were implemented globally, they would save 10 million lives by 2025 and prevent 17 million strokes and heart attacks by 2030. And, again, focusing on economic benefits, Tedros said implementing “best buys” would generate $350 billion in economic growth in the poorest countries between now and 2030. (VOA)