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WHO urges caution over travel bans linked to new COVID-19 variant

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, Nov 26: The UN health agency has urged all countries to adopt a risk-based and scientific approach to travel bans linked to a new COVID-19 variant identified in South Africa and Botswana.

The development on Friday came as a World Health Organization (WHO) panel prepared to meet to assess the potential impact of a new coronavirus variant identified as B 1.1.529.

According to WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the information is still limited.

“There are fewer than 100 whole genome sequences that are available, we don’t know very much about this yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations, and the concern is that when you have so many mutations it can have an impact on how the virus behaves”, she said during a Q&A on Twitter.

Dr. Van Kerkhove explained that researchers are currently trying to determine where the mutations are and what they potentially mean for diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.

“It will take a few weeks for us to understand what impact this variant has, there’s a lot of work that is underway. It’s a variant that’s under monitoring. The (WHO) technical advisory group will discuss if it will become a variant of interest or a variant of concern and if that’s the case, we will give it a Greek name, but it is something to watch”, she added.

The expert thanked researchers from South Africa and Botswana for openly sharing information to the UN health agency.

“Everyone out there: do not discriminate against countries that share their findings openly”, she urged, as countries such as Britain, France and Israel have moved to cancel direct flights from South Africa and surrounding nations.

According to South African health authorities so far, fewer than 100 cases of the new variant have been confirmed, largely among young people who have the lowest vaccination rate in the country.

“Countries can do a lot already in terms of surveillance and sequencing and work together with the affected countries or globally and scientifically to fight this variant and understand more about it so that we know how to go about…so at this point implementing travel measures is being cautioned against”, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told journalists in Geneva.

The WHO officials reminded previous advice: people can do a lot to protect themselves from COVID, including by continuing to wear masks and avoiding crowds.

“Everybody that’s out there needs to understand that the more this virus circulates the more opportunities the virus has to change, the more mutations we will see”, said Dr. Van Kerkhove.

“Get vaccinated when you can, make sure you receive the full course of your doses and make sure you take steps to reduce your exposure and prevent yourself from passing that virus to someone else”, she added.

On International Day, UN Chief says ‘violence against women is not inevitable’

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 24: In a virtual event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, commemorated annually on 25 November, UN Women chief Sima Bahous described gender-based violence (GBV) as “a global crisis”.

“In all of our own neighbourhoods, there are women and girls living in danger. Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women”, she said.

And according to UN Women, more than 70 per cent have experienced GBV in some crisis settings.

In both rich and poor countries alike, gender prejudice has fuelled acts of violence towards women and girls.

The top UN Women official explained that this type of violence “often goes unreported, silenced by stigma, shame, fear of the perpetrators and fear of a justice system that does not work for women”.

Moreover, COVID-19 has triggered a shadow pandemic, which enables unseen violence. She cited an increase in reports on helplines for violence against women and girls (VAWG) in all corners of the world.

Despite this, Ms. Bahous said that there is hope and new opportunities are opening.

Last summer, as part of a $40 billion commitment to the women and girls of the world, the Generation Equality Forum launched the Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence to spark collective action, drive investment and deliver concrete results.

“There will be concrete financial and policy commitments, and scaled-up initiatives in critical areas: survivor support services, legal frameworks and more resources for grass-roots organizations”, the UN Women chief assured.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said that “violence against women is not inevitable”.

“The right policies and programmes bring results”, including long-term strategies that tackle the root causes of violence, protecting the rights of women and girls, and promoting strong and autonomous women’s rights movements.

The UN has built this model through its partnership with the European Union in the Spotlight Initiative.

Partner countries last year witnessed a 22 per cent increase in prosecution of perpetrators; 84 laws and policies were passed or strengthened; and more than 650,000 women and girls were able to access GBV services – despite pandemic-related restrictions.

“Change is possible, and now is the time to redouble our efforts so that together, we can eliminate violence against women and girls by 2030”, he said.

General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid, said that one characteristic of gender-based violence is that it knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds.

“This issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries”, he argued.

According to the latest global estimates, nearly one-in-three women aged 15 and older have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate or non-sexual partner or both at least once in their lifetime.

These numbers have remained largely unchanged over the last decade, and do not reflect the impact of COVID-19.

Since the pandemic outbreak however, emerging data has revealed that all types of VAWG, particularly domestic violence, have intensified – with the world unprepared to respond to its rapid escalation.

And this does not include the full continuum of violence, including sexual harassment, violence in digital contexts, harmful practices and sexual exploitation across different contexts and geographic locations.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, feelings of safety have also been eroding among women, significantly impacting their mental and emotional well-being, according to a new report released by UN Women.

Published a day prior to the International Day and kicking off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, it revealed that across 13 countries, almost half of all women reported that they or a woman they know experienced gender-based violence during the pandemic.

And almost a quarter reported more frequent household conflicts with a similar proportion saying they felt less safe at home.

This year, the UNiTE campaign set “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!” as the official theme.

Pfizer, UN Agency pact on Covid Pill will benefit 53 % of the world

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, Nov 16: Access to a new COVID-19 drug will be expanded in low- and middle-income countries following a voluntary licensing agreement between the pharmaceutical company Pfizer and a UN-backed global health initiative, announced in Geneva on Tuesday.

The oral antiviral therapy PF-07321332 is designed to block the activity of the SARS-CoV-2-3CL protease, an enzyme the coronavirus needs to replicate.

It is administered together with low dose ritonavir, used in some treatments for HIV and hepatitis C.

The agreement will allow the UN-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to sub-license PF-07321332 for production and distribution by qualified generic medicine manufacturers worldwide, pending regulatory authorization and approval.

“This is the first license allowing generic manufacturing of this drug”, said Hervé Verhoosel, spokesperson with Unitaid, the global health agency that created the MPP a decade ago.

“It is an important first step to help ensure that the latest tools for fighting COVID-19 are available in low- and middle-income countries at the same time as they become available in the wealthiest nations.”

PF-07321332 is administered with ritonavir so it can remain active in the body for longer periods of time at higher concentrations to help combat coronavirus. 

The combination was found to reduce risk of hospitalization or death by nearly 90 per cent, according to an interim analysis of phase two trials of non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.

Under the agreement, qualified generic medicine manufacturers that are granted sub-licenses will be able to supply PF-07321332, in combination with ritonavir, to 95 countries, covering around 53 per cent of the global population.

They include all low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as nations which have achieved upper-middle-income status in the past five years.

Verhoosel said Pfizer will not receive royalties on sales in low-income countries. The company will also waive royalties on sales in all countries covered by the agreement while COVID-19 remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, as classified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Unitaid, which is hosted by WHO, funds initiatives that address major diseases through innovative, low-cost and effective solutions.

It established the MPP in 2010 to increase access to, and facilitate development of, life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries.

Since then, agreements have been signed with patent holders for medicines and technologies against HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and now COVID-19.

“During a pandemic, saving time means saving lives. This agreement will help us to reach more people more quickly as soon as the medicine is approved and, when coupled with increased access to testing, bring benefits to millions,” said Dr. Philippe Duneton, the Unitaid Executive Director.

There have been more than 253 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and nearly 5.1 million deaths, according to latest WHO figures.

Unitaid is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which has distributed millions of vaccines globally through the COVAX solidarity mechanism.

As co-lead of the Accelerator’s therapeutics pillar, the agency advocates for equitable and rapid access to new treatments.

“To achieve this, multiple generic manufacturers must be ready to supply products to meet potential high demand, as soon as the new drug is approved by regulatory authorities,” said Verhoosel.

Secretary-General Appoints Shombi Sharp as the UN Resident Coordinator in India

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 16: UN Secretary‑General António Guterres appointed Shombi Sharp of the United States as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in India, with the host Government’s approval.

Sharp will serve as the representative of the Secretary-General for development at the country level. He will lead the work of the UN team on the ground, including ongoing UN India support to the national COVID-19 response plans to recover better for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sharp has devoted more than 25 years of his career to promoting inclusive and sustainable development internationally, bringing experience he has acquired at the United Nations and externally to this new position.

Within the Organization, he most recently served as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Armenia, after holding several leadership positions at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where he was Resident Representative in Armenia, Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia, Deputy Country Director in Lebanon, Regional HIV/AIDS Practice Team Leader for UNDP Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States in the Russian Federation, Programme Manager for the Western Balkans in New York and Assistant Resident Representative in the Russian Federation.

Prior to joining the United Nations, Sharp began his career in development with the international non-profit CARE International in Zimbabwe. He is a published author of works in health economics and was a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) “Policy Champion” as well as a nominee for the UNDP Administrator’s Award.

Sharp holds a postgraduate diploma in HIV/AIDS management from the National Medical University of South Africa and Stellenbosch University, in South Africa; a master’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado, in the United States; and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas, United States.

He is fluent in English and Russian.

Conviction of US journalist symbolic of media repression in Myanmar: UN rights chief

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, Nov 12: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday urged authorities in Myanmar to immediately release all journalists who have been jailed for practicing their profession.

Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said the conviction and harsh sentencing of American journalist Danny Fenster was emblematic of a wider plight of journalists in the country who have faced constant repression, in the wake of a military coup in February.

“Journalists have been under attack since 1 February, with the military leadership clearly attempting to suppress their attempts to report on the serious human rights violations being perpetrated across Myanmar as well as the extent of opposition to the regime”, she said.

“Myanmar has quickly reverted to an environment of information control, censorship and propaganda seen under military regimes in the past”.

Since the military takeover, at least 126 journalists, media officials or publishers have been detained in Myanmar, the UN rights chief said. Forty-seven are still in detention, 20 of whom have been charged with crimes related to their work as journalists.

She added that nine media outlets have had their licences revoked, while 20 others have had to suspend operations. Dozens of journalists are reportedly in hiding due to outstanding arrest warrants.

Fenster, 37, is the managing editor of an independent magazine called Frontier Myanmar. On Friday he was sentenced to 11 years in jail by a military court in Yangon, the country’s largest city, for violating visa laws, unlawful association with an illegal group, and sowing dissent against the military.

The sentencing followed what Bachelet described as “a closed door, unfair trial”. Fenster still faces a second trial with charges of high treason and violations of the country's counter-terrorism law.

In deploring the persecution of journalists, Bachelet said that attacks against them further increase the vulnerability of huge sections of society who rely on accurate and independent information.

“With the crackdowns on journalists, internet shutdowns, restrictions on free access to online and other data sources, people are being deprived life-saving information”, she added.

“I urge the military authorities to immediately release all journalists being detained in relation to their work".  

COP26: Promises ‘ring hollow’ when fossil fuels still receive trillions in subsidies; UN chief calls on negotiators to pick up the pace

Nov 11: Governments need to show the necessary ambition on mitigation, adaptation, and finance in a balanced way, and they can’t settle for the “lowest common denominator”, the UN Secretary-General has said in Glasgow, where crucial climate negotiations are in the final stretch. Meanwhile, 13 countries launched a new alliance to end gas and oil, and cities were the theme of the day.

António Guterres told delegates on Thursday that he was inspired by the mobilization of civil society, including young people, indigenous communities, women’s groups, cities and private sector, highlighting that the climate action struggle requires all hands-on deck.

“We know what must be done. Keeping the 1.5 goal within reach means reducing emissions globally by 45 per cent by 2030. But the present set of Nationally Determined Contributions – even if fully implemented – will still increase emissions by 2030,” he reminded participants during a High-Level Event at the plenary.

He then referred to the latest joint analysis by the climate and environment UN agencies, which shows that even with the latest pledges and commitments made at COP26, we remain on track for a catastrophic temperature rise well above 2 degrees Celsius.

“I welcome the recognition of this fact in yesterday’s US-China cooperation agreement – an important step in the right direction. But promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies, as measured by the IMF. Or when countries are still building coal plants or when carbon is still without a price,” he emphasized.

Guterres called on every country, city, company and financial institution to “radically, credibly and verifiably” reduce their emissions and decarbonize their portfolios, starting now.

While the UN chief recognized that current efforts to tackle climate change are far from enough, he highlighted the progress achieved during COP26 in Glasgow, including the commitment to halt and reverse deforestation, several net-zero commitments from cities and other alliances and pledges on the phasing out of coal and the investment in clean energies around the world.

“We need pledges to be implemented. We need commitments to turn concrete. We need actions to be verified. We need to bridge the deep and real credibility gap,” he added, saying that as an engineer, he knows that durable structures need solid foundations.

Guterres announced that he will establish a High-Level Expert Group to propose clear standards to measure and analyze net zero commitments from non-State actors which will submit a series of recommendations next year.

“We must be able to measure progress and to adjust when off track…We must now zoom in on the quality and implementation of plans. On measuring and analyzing. On reporting, transparency and accountability,” he said, asking actors to cooperate with the UN and hold each other accountable.

“Only together can we keep 1.5 degrees within reach and the equitable and resilient world we need,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, COP26 President Alok Sharma gave an update on the negotiations over the last 24 hours. He said discussions on the global goal of adaptation were concluded, and that he hoped they would be adopted.

Sharma recognized there has been progress and acknowledged the spirit of cooperation and civility demonstrated throughout the negotiations, but he cautioned that “they are not there yet” on the most critical issues.

“There is still a lot more work to be done, and COP26 is scheduled to close at the end of tomorrow. Time is running out,” he told journalists, assuring them that negotiators are “rolling up their sleeves” to find solutions that have been elusive for six years right now.

“Negotiations on finance need to accelerate and they need to accelerate now,” he added.

The COP President also said, echoing Guterre’s words, that the world needs to rise to the challenge and increase ambition.

COP26: Enough of ‘treating nature like a toilet’, says Guterres

By Deepak Arora

GLASGOW, Nov 1: As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community.

“We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating.

It was a grey and windy morning, as dozens of world leaders arrived at the Scottish Event Campus, of the key United Nations climate conference, in the city of Glasgow.

The stage was set to hear from Heads of State as COP26 got underway, including the co-host, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, of the United Kingdom, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A live performance by young Scottish piper Brìghde Chaimbeu kicked off proceedings this morning, in the main plenary hall.

Addressing leaders at the first major global gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, COP President Alok Sharma said: “The science is clear that the window of time we have to keep the goal of 1.5℃ alive , and to avoid the worst effects of climate change, is closing fast. But with political will and commitment, we can, and must, deliver an outcome in Glasgow the world can be proud of.”

The first leader to speak at the ceremony, which started at 12.30 pm local time, was the UK’s Boris Johnson, who made a comparison between the climate crisis, and a doomsday device featured in one of the James Bond movies, shot on set in Glasgow.

“We need to make this COP26 the moment we get real about climate change. We can get real”, he said, advocating for the end of coal and the greening of transport.

“COP26 will not, and cannot be, the end of the story of climate change”, he added, emphasizing that the work will not end, even if the conference finishes with the needed commitments.

“We might not feel like James Bond, or look like James Bond, but COP26 must be the start of defusing that bomb. Yes, it is going to be hard, but yes, we can do it”, he concluded.

Two young activists followed on from the Prime Minister, calling on leaders for bold action.

“You all have the power together to be better, to remember that in your words you have the weapons that can save us or sell us out. You don’t need my pain or my tears to end the crisis. We are not just victims of this crisis, we are resilient agents of hope. We are not drowning, we are fighting”, they said.

Kenyan environment and climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti said: “We need you to respond with courage to the climate and ecological crisis…for these next two weeks – which are so critical for the children, for our species, for so many other living beings – let us step into our hearts.”

Leaders were also addressed by poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, whose specially commissioned poem Earth to COP includes the lines: “Anything less than your best is too much to pay. Anything later than now, too little, too late. Nothing will change without you.”

On his part, Secretary-General António Guterres took the podium with a blunt opening message: “The six years since the Paris Climate Agreement have been the six hottest years on record. Our addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanity to the brink”

“We face a stark choice. Either we stop it - or it stops us”, he added, delivering five key messages to world leaders.

“Enough of brutalizing biodiversity, killing ourselves with carbon, treating nature like a toilet, burning, and drilling and mining our way deeper.”

“We are digging our own graves”, Guterres said, adding that our planet is changing before our eyes from melting glaciers, to relentless extreme weather events.

He reminded that sea-level rise is double the rate it was 30 years ago, that oceans are hotter than ever, and that parts of the Amazon Rainforest now emit more carbon than they absorb.

“Recent climate action announcements might give the impression that we are on track to turn things around. This is an illusion”, he stated, referring to the latest report on national plans to reduce emissions, known as NDCs, which indicates that even when fully met, the result would still condemn our world to a “calamitous” 2.7- degree increase.

“And even if the recent pledges were clear and credible - and there are serious questions about some of them - we are still careening towards climate catastrophe. So, as we open this much anticipated climate conference, we are still heading for climate disaster”, he emphazised.

The UN chief called for greater ambition on mitigation and immediate concrete action to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030; an effort that should be led by developed countries.

“G20 countries have a particular responsibility as they represent around 80 per cent of emissions”, he said, making clear however, that emerging economies must also go the extra mile.

“We need maximum ambition – from all countries on all fronts – to make Glasgow a success”, he added.

Guterres urged nations to build coalitions to create the financial and technological conditions to accelerate decarbonization of the economy and the phase out of coal.

Also, referring to a key negotiating issue during this COP26, the Secretary-General said that countries must revisit their national climate plans and policies, not every five years, but every year, if commitments fall short by the end of COP26.

“There is a deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics”, he said, announcing the establishment of a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyse net zero commitments from non-State actors.

Over the last decade, nearly four billion people suffered climate-related disasters, and the devastation will only grow, said the UN chief.

Guterres highlighted that adaption measures work, and that early warning systems as well as climate-smart agriculture and infrastructure, save lives and jobs.

“All donors must allocate half their climate finance to adaptation. Public and multilateral development banks should start as soon as possible”, he said.

The UN chief reiterated his call for a $100 billion climate finance commitment in support of developing countries, to become a reality.

He said delivering on that promise made at COP15 in Copenhagen, was critical to restore trust and credibility, but beyond that, developing countries need far greater resources to fight COVID-19, build resilience and pursue sustainable development.

“Those suffering the most – namely, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – need urgent funding. More public climate finance. More overseas development aid. More grants. Easier access to funding”, he urged.

A number of countries have made credible commitments to net zero emissions by mid-century, may have pulled the plug on international financing of coal, and over 700 cities are leading the way to carbon neutrality, he said.

The Secretary-General said the private sector is also waking up and building new alliances to catalyse change.

“The climate action army - led by young people - is unstoppable. They are larger. They are louder. And, I assure you, they are not going away. I stand with them”, he said.

Guterres warned that we are fast approaching tipping points that will trigger escalating feedback loops of global heating, but investing in the net zero, climate-resilient economy, will create feedback loops of its own — virtuous circles of sustainable growth, jobs and opportunity.

“On behalf of this and future generations, I urge you: Choose ambition. Choose solidarity. Choose to safeguard our future and save humanity”, he concluded.

'We are the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed': Attenborough

Following the UN chief, COP26 people’s advocate David Attenborough delivered a passionate speech which was accompanied by clips of activists around the world.

“We are, after all, the greatest problem-solvers to have ever existed on Earth. We now understand this problem, We know how to stop the number rising, and put it in reverse. We must halve carbon emissions this decade. We must recapture billions of tonnes of carbon from the air. We must fix our sights on keeping 1.5 degrees within reach”, he said

The famous environmental activist and broadcaster said that if working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, working together, we are powerful enough to save it.

“In my lifetime, I have witnessed a terrible decline, in yours, you could, and should witness a wonderful recovery. That desperate hope, ladies and gentlemen, delegates, excellencies, is why the world is looking to you and why you are here”, he underscored.

Biden: 'decade of ambition' needed

Later in the day as leaders made national statements, US President Joe Biden, said that world leaders could keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees if they come together and commit.

“Glasgow must be the kick-off of a decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future”, he said, reminding that climate change is already costing nations millions of lives and dollars.

The US leader said that his country will be announcing new commitments over the next few days to mobilize action. These will include measures on the agriculture, oil and gas, and forestry sectors.

He also announced that he will release soon a long-term plan enabling the US to become net zero by 2050.

“We’re still falling short…there is no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves. This is a challenge of our collective lifetime”, he emphasized.

62 journalists killed in 2020, just for doing their jobs: UNESCO

GENEVA, Nov 1: In 2020 alone, according to UN cultural agency UNESCO, which works to protect media workers, 62 journalists were killed just for doing their jobs. Between 2006 and 2020, over 1,200 professionals lost their lives the same way. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished.

This year, because of statistics like these, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists is highlighting the important role of prosecutorial services, not only in bringing killers to justice, but also prosecuting threats of violence.

In a message marking the day, marked on Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, noted that many journalists had lost their lives while covering conflict, but the number of media workers killed outside conflict zones, has risen in recent years.

“In many countries, simply investigating corruption, trafficking, human rights violations or environmental issues puts journalists’ lives at risk”, the UN Chief said.

Crimes against journalists have an enormous impact on society as a whole, because they prevent people from making informed decisions

Journalists face countless other threats, ranging from kidnapping, torture and arbitrary detention, to disinformation campaigns and harassment, particularly in the digital sphere.

For Guterres, “crimes against journalists have an enormous impact on society as a whole, because they prevent people from making informed decisions.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shadow pandemic of misinformation, has demonstrated that access to facts and science is literally a matter of life and death”, he said. “When access to information is threatened, it sends a disturbing message that undermines democracy and the rule of law.”

Guterres also noted that women journalists are at particular risk.

According to UNESCO’s recent paper, The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists, 73 percent of the women journalists surveyed, said they had been threatened, intimidated and insulted online in connection with their work.  

The Secretary-General urged Member States to stand in solidarity with journalists around the world, showing the political will needed to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, also marked the day with a message, saying that, for too many journalists, “telling the truth comes at a price.”

According to her, “when attacks against journalists go unpunished, the legal system and safety frameworks have failed everyone.”

“States thus have an obligation to protect journalists and to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against them are punished. Judges and prosecutors in particular, have an important role to play in promoting swift and effective criminal proceedings”, she said.

In recent years, UNESCO has trained nearly 23,000 judicial officials, including judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The training covered international standards related to freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, and has placed a particular focus on issues of impunity.

This year, the agency’s #EndImpunity campaign is highlighting some of the specific risks which journalists face, in their quest to uncover the truth.

“Only by allowing the truth to be spoken can we advance peace, justice and sustainable development in our societies”, Mrs. Azoulay concluded.

Commemorations in 2021 will also pave the way for the 10-year anniversary of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, to be marked in 2022.

 

 

 

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