Our selection of useful news items from around the world on interest to international Geneva
We try to find you unusual but reliable sources. We usually update daily but our recommendation is to come here once a week. Stories are in reverse order. Just continue down until you find something you have already seen.
China's manufacturing drops in February amid epidemic
The purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China's manufacturing sector stood at 35.7 in February, down from 50 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Saturday.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below reflects contraction.
The PMI for industries, including chemical fiber and automobiles, were below 30, while that for food and beverages stayed above 42, supported by the government's production and supply guarantee polices.
Chinese experts, on the result of clinical trials, have confirmed that Chloroquine Phosphate, an antimalarial drug, has a certain curative effect on the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a Chinese official said Monday.
The experts have "unanimously" suggested the drug be included in the next version of the treatment guidelines and applied in wider clinical trials as soon as possible, Sun Yanrong, deputy head of the China National Center for Biotechnology Development under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), said at a press conference.
Days before an export ban took effect, 32 wild-caught elephants were flown out of Zimbabwe to China
"The secrecy around the ongoing capture and trade of Zimbabwe's wildlife exposes lack of accountability, transparency and a hint of arrogance by Zimbabwean authorities. They seem prepared to go ahead despite global outcry and advice. They also seem keen to go against local pressure, and local legal processes considering the case we launched early this year which is centred on the welfare and trading of these elephants."
Jimmy Lai: Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon arrested and charged
Jimmy Lai has been charged with illegal assembly and intimidation. The illegal assembly charge relates to a banned anti-government march on 31 August, which Mr Lai is accused of attending. The intimidation charge relates to a clash with a journalist in 2017.
UN demands "unfettered access" for China Uighur region visit
A team preparing for UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet''s possible visit to the tightly controlled Muslim-majority Chinese region of Xinjiang this year should be given "unfettered access", she said on Thursday.
Special Rapporteur on torture says Norway cuts lost him entire research budget
Presenting his report, Mr. [Nils] Melzer noted that his mandate could not deal with the many requests it received due to limited resources. The unprecedented measure by the Government of Norway to withdraw $100,000 from his mandate had deprived his office of its entire research budget and had caused significant delays in his thematic work.
After a visit to Julian Assange in prison, his conclusion was that over the years, Mr. Assange had been exposed to various forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, which cumulatively amounted to psychological torture. Despite the urgent appeals by the Special Rapporteur and follow-up letters to the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Ecuador, no measures of investigation or redress had been taken. Accordingly, he was seriously alarmed about the continued credibility and functionality of the global human rights system.
UN Rights Chief to Myanmar: Repeal laws discriminating against Rohingyas
"Review and repeal laws and policies that perpetuate discrimination on the basis of ethnic, religious, linguistic or cultural identity, including, but not limited to, those on citizenship, the four 'race and religion' laws, and laws perpetuating economic exclusion of minorities, such as in relation to land and natural resources,"" she said in her report on Rohingyas, other minorities in Myanmar submitted at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"The concept of 'national races' should be revoked to allow for self-identification on ethnic, religious and linguistic grounds for all official and legal purposes," she added in her recommendations for the government of Myanmar, religious leaders and communities, and social media platforms active in Myanmar with respect to the Rohingya community.
UNECE initiative to accelerate fashion industry's shift to more sustainable and circular model
"Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production amount to 1.2 billion tonnes annually, which is more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. This situation will get even worse unless the industry takes bold action and develops sustainable and innovative solutions.
Nowadays, on average a person buys 60% more items of clothing in comparison to 15 years ago, and overall the global rate of clothing items consumed reaches 100 billion items per year. At this rate, the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world's carbon budget by 2050.
2,390 people out of an estimated 13,000 illegal residents were issued with official residence permits according to the canton. Permits were issued to 1,403 family members (676 parents and 727 children), 24 couples and 939 single people. Not all undocumented foreigners qualified for the scheme. Only those able to prove ten years of residence, if they had no children, or five years of residence if they had children, were able to apply. They also had to show they could support themselves financially.
Tax havens cost governments $200 billion a year. It's time to change the way global tax works
About 40% of multinational profits or $650 billion are shifted each to tax havens by multinational firms from all countries. The price tag on this type of behavior? $200 Bn. lost in global tax revenue. The reason that this behavior is possible is an antiquated tax code designed in the 1920s.
Feminists Rev Up for Beijing+25 Reviews as the US Resists
The annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is an intergovernmental body that holds its session this year from March 9 to 20, and it will set the tone for the other UN commemorations marking women's rights. The session promises to be momentous, particularly on sexual and reproductive health rights.
Following the outbreak of the disease in northern Italy, the Italian government is forecasting severe economic losses. Tourism is responsible for 13 percent of the Italian gross domestic product. The measures effectively put an estimated 100,000 people under quarantine.
UN Envoy Urges Kenya to Stop Police Extrajudicial Killings
Kenya this month for the first time allowed the informal visit of the UN's envoy on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard, a French human rights expert. She met relatives of police victims in Nairobi and Mombasa and called on Kenyan authorities to do more.
"When after these killings there is no investigation, there is no prosecution, and there is no justice — that's the second killing." Callamard said. "And that killing is a killing of our society. Impunity kills our society."
Tragedy or Scandal ? Strategies Of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg
Author/campaigner Chris Rose: "I'm one of millions, perhaps billions of people who admire what they have achieved and hope they will continue to find success, for it's in all our interests that they do. But I also have questions and doubts about some of the strategies and tactics of Extinction Rebellion, and ‘XR UK' in particular."
threeworlds, originally posted 13 February 2020 (LINK)
High-level Panel on Internal Displacement Starts Work
It will be supported by a Secretariat based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is expected to meet four times over the next 12 months, hold regional and national consultations to learn from countries and organizations dealing with displacement and will submit its recommendations to the Secretary-General by February 2021.
UN migration agency to start Brexit project in France
The IOM's Brexit project in France will hire a legal adviser who will provide advice and legal counselling, hold outreach sessions with British residents, and keep track of French regulations. A second position is for a caseworker, also based in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany.
France pledges US$100 million (€90 million) for WHO Academy
The WHO Academy aims to reach millions of people worldwide, offering high-tech learning environments at a “hub” in Lyon with “spokes” in the six WHO regions. The Academy will provide learning opportunities for leaders, educators, researchers, health workers, WHO staff and the broader public, and will deliver high quality, multilingual learning, both online and in-person, alongside a cutting-edge simulation centre for health emergencies.
UN chief calls for human rights action in seven areas
Opening the Human Rights Council's main annual session, UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched a "call to action" to "people everywhere" to take action in seven areas — including halting violence against women and girls, boosting protection for people trapped in conflict and recognising the challenges created by the climate crisis and new technologies.
With human rights under attack, UN chief unveils blueprint for positive change
Heading the seven-point protocol is a call to put human rights at the core of sustainable development – a reference to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed to by the international community in 2015 under the Agenda 2030 banner.
More Than 10,000 Civilians Injured Or Killed In Afghanistan in 2019
Among the more than 3,400 civilians killed and nearly 7,000 injured last year, the Taliban was the single group responsible for the largest share of casualties, at 47%, and more than 1,300 deaths. It was followed by the Afghan national security forces, at 16% and 680 deaths, according to the report produced by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Former French prime minister and wife go on trial for fraud - and lawyers stage anti-Macron pensions protest
Charges say he used public funds to pay his wife and children for work they allegedly never performed. The trial formally began Monday in the presence of Fillon and his wife. But it was quickly suspended until Wednesday following a request from all lawyers who wished to display their solidarity with colleagues striking over President Emmanuel Macron's controversial pension reform.
United Nations Decries Nearly 50% Increase in Killings of Women Activists in Colombia
Killings of women engaged in community organising and defending human rights in Colombia increased nearly 50% in 2019 compared to the year before, the United Nations said as it urged the government to redouble protection efforts.
Over 1200 journalists from 99 countries have condemned the treatment of Julian Assange
Their statement at https://speak-up-for-Assange declares: "Julian Assange, publisher of Wikileaks, has been charged under the US espionage act for publishing the Afghanistan and Iraq war diaries and US embassy cables, important documents that many of us around the world used and helped to publicise."
It quotes United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer who investigated the case: "It finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News."
Swiss signatories include several senior news executives and investigative reporters. The first signatory is Serena Tinari, Chairwoman of investigativ.ch and Co-founder of Re-Check. Others include two Swiss editors of Global-Geneva.
The Washington Post is suspicious of Dana Rohrabacher's account. "One of the ways you can beat extradition is by arguing that you are being targeted politically. This would seem to feed into such an effort."
Sri Lanka says it will withdraw from UN rights resolution
The announcement came days after the U.S. State Department imposed a travel ban on Sri Lanka's army commander, Shavendra Silva, and his family over alleged human rights violations in the final stages of the civil war in 2009.
World Leaders Urged to 'Act Now' to Save Biodiversity
Ahead of government negotiations scheduled for next week on a global plan to address the biodiversity crisis, 23 former foreign ministers from various countries released a statement urging world leaders to act "boldly" to protect nature. The foreign ministers' statement specifically expresses support for "setting a global target of strongly protecting at least 30 percent of the land and 30 percent of the ocean by 2030."
IUCN: The World's Most Influential Animal Conservation Group Has Links To Trophy Hunters
An investigation by BuzzFeed News shows that trophy hunters and luxury fashion brands have been working for years to influence the IUCN, to expand the billion-dollar trade in endangered animal species.
Some conservation experts have been shut out of the IUCN groups involved in the crucial decisions about which species should be classified as the most threatened.
BuzzFeed News has spoken to conservation experts worried about the influence trophy hunters have on IUCN policies; tracked flows of money from big game hunters to organizations with links to IUCN members; heard that experts were censured for speaking out against the leather trade; learned that efforts to support the protection of animals were suppressed by the IUCN; and seen an email sent from the account of an IUCN member asking trophy hunting lobbyists and rhino breeders to publicly support China for expanding the trade on tiger and rhino parts.
What companies spend on lobbying against green policies
"In the oil and gas sector, the annual climate lobbying spend of the five largest public companies is $201 million, according to InfluenceMap, with an additional $195 million for climate positive branding. BP, which has fought carbon taxes and supported diluted federal reviews of its environmental impact, proclaimed last week that it would look at lobbying as part of a new net zero plan. The oil giant says it plans to 'stop corporate reputation advertising and redirect resources to active advocacy for progressive climate policies'."
UN Road Safety Fund will finance 10 projects to address gaps in 12 countries' road safety systems
"Globally, almost 1.35 million people die on the roads each year, and an additional 50 million are injured. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years. Unfortunately, the scale of this challenge has not received the attention that it has deserved and the funds for road safety have not kept pace with the demand."
Nestlé appeals to Swiss supreme court against harassment judgement
"Nestlé admits 'moral harassment' took place but says it took steps after learning of the situation and the transfer proposed after she accused the multinational of failing in medical security of its food proudcts did not constitute harassment. 20 Minutes notes: "Shouldered aside and persecuted, she was finally fired in 2010 before lodging a legal complaint one year later."
Yasmine Motarjemi, former Nestlé director of food safety, after a career at the World Health Organization, has asked for a symbolic CHF1 franc damages, and CHF2.1 million in costs and lost revenues.
"In 2018 alone, 17.2 million people were forced to leave their homes due to disasters in 148 countries and territories and 764,000 people in Somalia, Afghanistan and several other countries were displaced following drought."