Tag Archives: United Nations

Baghdad Court order Trump’s arrest after being permanently suspended

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Invoking it would require Vice President Michael Pence to lead the cabinet in a vote on removing him.

A Baghdad court has issued a warrant for the arrest of the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, as part of its investigation into the killing of a top Iraqi paramilitary commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

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Al-Muhandis, who was the Deputy Head of Iraq’s largely pro-Iran Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary network, was killed in the same US drone strike that took out Iranian general Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad airport on January 3 last year.

Trump, who ordered the strike, subsequently boasted that it had taken out “two (men) for the price of one”.

The UN special rapporteur for an extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, has called the twin killings as “arbitrary” and “illegal”.

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Iran already issued a warrant for the arrest of Trump in June and asked Interpol to relay it as a so-called red notice to other police forces around the world.

The court for east Baghdad has now issued the warrant for Trump’s arrest under Article 406 of the penal code, which provides for the death penalty in all cases of premeditated murder, the judiciary said.

The court said the preliminary inquiry had been completed but “investigations are continuing to unmask the other culprits in this crime, be they Iraqis or foreigners.”

Meanwhile, some members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet on Wednesday opened discussion on the possibility of removing Trump from office after his supporters stormed the Capitol, according to reports by three US news channels.

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The discussions focused on the 25th amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president’s removal by the vice president and cabinet if he is judged “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

NoRM quoted undisclosed Republican leaders saying the 25th amendment had been discussed, saying they had described Trump as “out of control.”

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: European Union approves first ever vaccine

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The European Medicines Agency recommended the vaccine developed by US pharma giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech for use, and the European Commission formally approved it hours later.

The EU finally gave the green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, paving the way for the first inoculations to start across 27 countries just days after Christmas.

The decision was rushed through under pressure from European governments after Britain and the United States authorised the jab weeks earlier.

The European Medicines Agency recommended the vaccine developed by US pharma giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech for use, and the European Commission formally approved it hours later.

The EMA added that the vaccine would “very likely” be effective against a new strain of the disease spreading through Britain.

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European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said vaccinations would start across the EU on December 27, adding that the vaccine was a “true European success story”.

“This is a very good way to end this difficult year and finally start turning the page on Covid-19,” von der Leyen said in Brussels.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the decision allowed a “road out of the crisis” while Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the EMA decision “is the news we have been waiting for”.

‘Historic scientific achievement’
The Amsterdam-based EMA, the drugs watchdog for the 27-nation EU, had moved the decision forward from December 29 under pressure from EU governments, particularly Berlin.

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“It is a significant step forward in the fight against this pandemic that is causing suffering and hardship,” EMA chief Emer Cooke told an online press conference as she announced the decision to recommend the vaccine.

“This is really a historic scientific achievement, within less than a year a vaccine will have been developed and authorised against this disease.”

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The urgency surrounding the virus has increased with the news that a fast-spreading variant is sweeping Britain, prompting a growing number of countries worldwide to suspend flights from the UK.

But EMA officials said they believed the Pfizer-BioNTech jab would be effective against it.

“At this moment there is no evidence to suggest this vaccine will not work against the new variant,” Cooke said.

The EMA’s head of vaccine strategy, Marco Cavaleri, added that while they were waiting for more data “for the time being we are not too worried”.

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“It is very likely that the vaccine will retain protection also against this new variant,” he said.

“What would scare us is if we see multiple mutations”, particularly on the “spike” that the virus uses to enter human cells, but those had not been seen yet, Cavaleri added.

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‘Cause for concern’
The EMA said it took longer than Britain — the former home of the agency — and the US because they used a special, short-term emergency authorisation.

The “conditional marketing authorisation” issued on Monday however lasts for one year and required more rigorous testing, it said.

The EMA also had to contend with a cyberattack in which data from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines was stolen.

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Cooke said the agency had “worked night and day” to speed things up, but needed to make sure the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was safe and effective, in order to avoid any doubts that could affect uptake.

“We know very well that the speed at which these vaccines were developed and authorised is a cause of concern for many Europeans,” said Harald Enzmann, chairman of the EMA committee that took the final decision.

But he said the authorisation followed “one of the largest trials we have ever evaluated for a vaccine” and that it “met the standards for robustness and quality that we have set out”.

The authorisation is for over-16s only and says that the vaccine should be given to pregnant women on a case by case basis, the EMA said.

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Following a “small number” of reports of allergic reactions in Britain and the United States, the EMA had recommended that people should be kept under “close observation” for 15 minutes after vaccination.

A European decision on another vaccine, produced by US firm Moderna, is due by January 6.

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#Newsworthy

United Nations make U-turn on Borno Massacre death claims

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The armed men are suspected to be members of the terrorist group Boko Haram.

The United Nations (UN) has retracted its initial casualty figure of farmers killed in Borno state during an attack on Zabarmari community in Jere local government area of the state.

UN said the “gruesome” massacre against farmers killed “tens of people”, amending an earlier statement putting the death toll at 110.

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Eve Sabbagh, UN’s head of public information in Nigeria, said the “110 casualty figure” was not properly sourced.

The killings took place in the early afternoon of Saturday in the village of Koshobe and other rural communities in the Jere local government area.

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“Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said in the statement.

“Tens of civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added.

According to Babagana Zulum, governor of the state, 43 residents were buried on Sunday while the government is still trying to retrieve some other corpses.

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Zulum described people facing desperate choices.

“In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation; on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.

But a presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said the farmers did not get a military clearance before resuming farming activities in the area.

Shehu who spoke to NoRM‘s known Media said the government was sad about the tragic incident, but added that the “people need to understand what it is like in the Lake Chad Basin area.”

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“The truth has to be said. Was there any military clearance from the military who are in total control of the area?” Shehu queried. “Did anybody ask to resume activity?”

He added that he had been briefed by military authorities that the villagers did not seek military advice before exposing themselves to “a window that the terrorists have exploited.”

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#Newsworthy

Just in: UN SG frowns at Borno massacre by Boko Haram. [Nigeria]

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Guterres reacted to the massacre in a statement by his spokesperson Mr Stéphane Dujarric, in New York on Monday.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has condemned “in the strongest terms” Saturday’s killing of 43 farmers by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in Borno.

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Reports say many others, including women were kidnapped in the attack on rice farmers in Koshobe village near Maiduguri, the state capital.

In what President Muhammadu Buhari tagged as “insane’’, the attackers reportedly tied up the victims before slitting their throats.

Describing the attack as “horrific”, the UN Chief said he hoped those responsible for “these heinous crimes” would be quickly brought to justice.

The statement said: “The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and to the people of Nigeria.

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“He wishes a swift recovery to the injured and calls for the immediate and safe return of the abductees and those still reported missing.

“The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the UN to support the Government of Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism and in its response to pressing humanitarian needs in the northeast of the country.”

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#Newsworthy

Iran slams United Nations over protests anniversary.

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Amnesty International said at the time it had obtained evidence showing at least 304 people, including children, were killed during the protests and thousands were arrested.

Roughly one year after protests over economic hardship broke out across Iran, officials have condemned a United Nations resolution that among other things calls for upholding human rights of people involved in the protests.

Last week, the third committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with human rights, adopted a resolution put forward by Canada.

The resolution welcomed some progress and continued efforts by Iranian authorities.

But it also expressed “serious concern” about executions for drug-related crimes and against minors, and urged Iran to ensure humane treatment of prisoners and cease “widespread and systematic use of arbitrary arrests and detention”.

The resolution further called for the release of prisoners arrested during the protests of November 2019 and said Iran should address the “poor conditions of its prisons”.

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In response, Iran earlier this week summoned the Italian ambassador to Tehran, who represents Canadian interests in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Iranian foreign ministry told the ambassador that Canada continues to refuse to offer consular services to 400,000 Iranians in the country and has become a “safe haven for the world’s economic offenders and financial criminals”.

A number of Iranians wanted for economic corruption in Iran have fled to Canada and the country refuses to extradite them.

Chief among them is Mahmoud Reza Khavari, the former CEO of state-run Bank Melli Iran, who was the central figure in a $2.6bn embezzlement case, the largest in Iran’s history.

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‘No legal credibility’
The secretary of the human rights committee of the Iranian judiciary also said the resolution has no “legal credibility” as its sponsors have a history of abusing human rights in their own countries and those of other nations such as Palestine and Yemen.

On Monday, Ali Bagheri-Kani called Canada a “systematic violator of human rights” as it suppresses its native people, violently treats women and supports “terrorist” groups.

He also slammed the resolution and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, for refusing to mention the impact of the United States’ unilateral economic sanctions on the Iranian people.

In May 2018, the US reneged on a landmark nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers and imposed harsh sanctions that have only escalated since. Iran has said that – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – the sanctions amount to “economic and medical terrorism”.

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In a statement late on Wednesday, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman also condemned the resolution, saying it is “unacceptable” since it is based on fabricated reports.

“It is unfortunate that a number of countries, including Canada, employ human rights and its international mechanisms as tools to advance their own political agendas,” Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

Khatibzadeh added that Iran sees the resolution as having no legal standing, and called on Canada to stop supporting US sanctions and providing a safe haven for Iranian criminals.

Meanwhile, the US Mission to the UN, a sponsor of the human rights resolution on Iran, has welcomed the resolution, saying it remains “deeply concerned” with the human rights situation in Iran.

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Deadly protests
The political back and forth comes one year after protests broke in dozens of cities across Iran in mid-November 2019 after a sudden increase in petrol prices.

In a surprise overnight move, the government of President Hassan Rouhani announced petrol would be rationed and prices would be up to tripled.

The move was implemented amid high inflation and unemployment as a result of a combination of economic mismanagement and US sanctions.

The government said the move was aimed at improving conditions for the poorest as revenues would be redistributed among low-income families. But the sudden price rise seemed to act as an immediate spark as people took to the streets and violence ensued shortly after.

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Authorities cracked down on protesters as internet access was almost entirely shut down for civilians and businesses alike for close to a week by the order of the Supreme Council of National Security.

Roughly eight months after the protests, the head of the national security commission of the Iranian parliament, Mojtaba Zonnour, said 230 people were confirmed killed. That included six official security officers, he said.

While a number of government officials acknowledged that some of the protesters had legitimate requests in the backdrop of declining quality of life, all authorities traced the hand of foreign influence and “mercenaries” in the protests.

They said a significant number of protesters were killed with weapons that are not standard issue for security officers.


#Newsworthy…

EndSARs: See how UN reacts to Burna Boy’s request after supporters pass 100,000.

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According to her, the tension in Nigeria has been noticed by organizations and are currently calling for an end to the violation of human right.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J Mohammed has given a positive response to Burna Boy’s request to the United Nations over the massive killings of citizens of Nigeria by the military.

The afrobeat giant called on the United Nations to support Nigerians following the killings of unarmed men and women who went protesting for a better government free from corruption, godfather-politics, police brutality among other things that threaten the safety of the citizens.

He was met with a positive response from the deputy secretary-general, Amina J Mohammed.

She added that herself together with the UN is stressing on the importance of respect for peaceful protest and also maximum restraint to be exercised by the security forces.

@newsworthywriter


#Newsworthy…

EndSARs: Get military involved – Hussaini asks Buhari.

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Can you try this nonsense during Obasanjo’s time? I blame Buhari for taking things lightly. There are certain things that should be handled with iron fist

– Hussaini Coomassie

United Nations Ambassador for peace and social justice, Hussaini Coomassie, has condemned the activities of the EndSARS protesters across the country.

Coomassie, who is the Deputy National Coordinator, Buhari Campaign Organization, in a viral video, said President Buhari is taking things lightly with the protesters.

He stated that such nonsense could never have happened during the ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure.

He added that the military should be used on protesters if the police have failed in putting an end to the ongoing protests.

In his words, “Can you try this nonsense during Obasanjo’s time? I blame Buhari for taking things lightly. There are certain things that should be handled with iron fist”.


#Newsworthy…

Yemi Alade gets United Nations appointment to be Goodwill Ambassador.

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Popular Nigerian songstress, Yemi Alade has been appointed by the United Nations to be her Goodwill Ambassador.

This comes after legendary singer, Innocent ‘2Baba’ Idibia was appointed a UNHCR goodwill ambassador for refugees

Receiving the appointment, the singer revealed that she is ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work in helping UNDP achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030 especially at this critical time where Covid-19 has impacted on many lives, further widening the gap between the rich and the poor.


#Newsworthy

Qatar Emir challenges global community silence on Israeli occupation.

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Qatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has questioned the credibility of the international community as it “stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence and its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land”.

In his video speech at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the emir questioned the role of countries and organisations for failing to uphold the resolutions against the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its expansion of settlement building.

He accused Israel of carrying out “flagrant violation of international resolutions and the two-state solution as agreed upon by the international community”.

“The international community stands by, unable to take any effective action to confront Israeli intransigence, its continued occupation of Palestinian and Arab land, the imposition of a stifling siege on the Gaza Strip, [and] the expanding settlement policy, among others,” he said.

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“Peace can only be achieved when Israel fully commits to the international terms of reference and resolutions that are accepted by the Arab countries and upon which the Arab Peace Initiative is based.”

The Arab Peace Initiative was a plan put forth by Saudi Arabia in 2002 that called for normalising relations with Israel in exchange for an end to its occupation of Palestinian territories, the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution for Palestinian refugees.

Qatar’s ruler said Israel is trying to “circumvent these parameters” and any arrangements that do not take these factors into account “will not achieve peace”.

“Failure to find a just solution to the Palestinian cause, Israel’s continued settlements, and forcing a reality on the ground without being deterred, this is what raises the biggest question about the credibility of the international community and its institutions,” the emir added.

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He called upon the international community, particularly the UN Security Council, to assume its legal responsibilities and “compel Israel to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, and to put the peace process back on track through credible negotiations based on international resolutions and not on force”.

Speaking from outside the UN headquarters in New York, Noble Reporters Media knows that it was interesting to see many Arab states within the Arab League remain consistent in their views on Israel and Palestine – which revolves around the international consensus that there should be a two-state solution.

On September 15, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalise relations with Israel in a strategic realignment of Middle Eastern countries against Iran.

The ceremony was hosted by US President Donald Trump at the White House, capping a dramatic month when the countries agreed to normalise ties without a resolution of Israel’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, who have condemned the agreements


#Newsworthy…

United Nation’s consent on Iran reinstated – United States claims.

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Washington isolated as global allies and adversaries say its unilateral move targeting Tehran has no legal standing.

The United States has broken with all other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally declared the re-imposition of all UN sanctions against Iran – a claim rejected by Iran and the international community, including Washington’s close allies, as having no legal basis.

In a statement on Sunday following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened “consequences” for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures, which were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal that was signed between six world powers and Iran in 2015 but was abandoned by the US more than two years ago.

In addition to adhering to a conventional arms embargo that is due to expire next month, Pompeo said member states must comply with restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities; the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development; and sanctions on transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies.

“If UN Member States fail to fulfil their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo said.

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His statement came a month after the US officially triggered the process aimed at restoring all UN sanctions on Iran, claiming significant Iranian violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the 2015 deal that was endorsed by the Security Council.

Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a “participant” and could trigger the so-called “snapback”. This was a mechanism devised by the US negotiating team before the signing of the JCPOA that stipulated that if Iran breached its commitments, all international sanctions could snap back into place.

However, the international community, including the four other permanent Security Council members, insist the US no longer has the legal ability to force through any changes since it announced its exit from what Trump has branded “the worst deal ever” with a presidential memorandum titled Ceasing US Participation in the JCPOA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation directly in a live televised cabinet meeting on Sunday. He congratulated world powers since US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions “has reached its definitive point of failure”.

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Today, he said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy”.

Rouhani added should the US try to “bully” others into adhering to its declaration of reinstating UN sanctions, Iran will have a “decisive response” to match.

Pointing out how the US tried to garner the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the United States expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition against the Islamic Republic.

“Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”

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The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Iran will also fully implement its commitments.

Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its commitments, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran still continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a letter to the Security Council, the European signatories to the deal – Britain, France and Germany, or E3 – stressed UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue, adding any decision or action to reimpose them “would be incapable of legal effect”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told the council he would not take any action on the US declaration because “there would appear to be uncertainty whether or not any process … was indeed initiated”.

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On Sunday morning, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters the US is experiencing some of its “most bitter” times as it has chosen to stand “on the wrong side of history”.

“The message of Tehran for Washington is clear: Return to the international community. Return to your commitments. Stop this rogue and unruly behaviour. The international community will accept you,” Khatibzadeh said.

Transatlantic rift
According to Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), there are clear reasons why the European powers, as well as Russia and China, oppose the US demand.

“First, it would pave the way for further arbitrary interpretation of international treaties by Washington, that may one day come back to haunt the Europeans themselves,” Azizi said

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“Second, Iran’s reaction to sanctions return would be to leave the JCPOA or even NPT,” he added, referring to the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that pursues nuclear disarmament.

As to why the US would engage in such a move based on shaky legal arguments, Azizi says its goal is political.

“It wants to keep Iran under the international spotlight, continuing to introduce the Islamic Republic as a threat to international peace and security,” he said, adding that the US also wants to make Europeans more cautious in dealing with Iran.

According to Azizi, the snapback showdown is the latest and most evident sign of a rift in transatlantic relations.

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“Especially if Trump gets re-elected as the US president, this will work as fuel for further disagreements between the EU and the US,” he said, pointing out that Russia and China could use the opportunity to expand their influence in Iran and the wider region.

Arms embargo
The US attempt to trigger the snapback mechanism came on the heels of another demand it made at the Security Council that left it isolated.

In mid-August, the council resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend a global arms embargo on Iran that expires on October 18 under the JCPOA.

Washington only managed to secure the support of the Dominican Republic for its proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “Yes” votes required for adoption. Eleven members abstained while China and Russia opposed the resolution.

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Last week, Pompeo reiterated during a briefing with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that the US will move to reinstate UN sanctions to make the arms embargo permanent.

The US will “do its share as part of its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East”, he said.

Zarif fired off a tweet on Thursday, saying “nothing new happens on 9/20”. He also alluded to two recent opinion pieces by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who had pointed out that the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution clauses are “complex and potentially lengthy” to avoid UNSC confrontations.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters news agency reported on Friday that Trump is planning to issue an executive order in the coming days to impose secondary sanctions on anyone who would buy or sell arms to Iran, depriving them of access to the US market.

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Rising tensions
The culmination of the snapback showdown comes shortly after a fresh round of threatening rhetoric being exchanged between longtime foes, the US and Iran.

On September 13, US-based media outlet Politico published a report, citing unnamed officials, that the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa.

The plot, the report claimed, would be executed in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in early January.

In a tweet, Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, said the US will retaliate with “1,000 times greater” force against any Iranian attack on its interests.

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In response, Iran cautioned the US against making “a new strategic mistake” by believing false reports and warned of a “decisive response”.

On Saturday, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a stern warning directly addressing Trump, saying the killing of Soleimani will be avenged but Marks is not a proportionate target.

“We will target those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man,” Major-General Hossein Salami said.

On Friday, South Africa’s State Security Agency said in a statement there is insufficient evidence to sustain the allegation of a plot to assassinate Marks.


#Newsworthy…

Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile over set limit – IAEA, United Nations

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IAEA says Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium stands at more than 10 times the limit set in 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of limitations set in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but has begun providing access to sites where the country was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency said on Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at more than 10 times the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

As of August 25, Iran had stockpiled 2,105.4kg (4,641.6 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 1,571.6kg (3,464.8 pounds) reported on May 20.

Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia.

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Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8kg (447 pounds).

Iranian technicians work at a new facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor, just outside the city of Isfahan 410km south of the capital, Tehran [File: Vahid Salemi/AP]

The IAEA also reported that Iran has been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA. It said Iran’s stockpile of heavy water had decreased.

The deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

But in 2018, President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal, saying it needed to be renegotiated.

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Since then, Iran has slowly scaled back against the restrictions in an attempt to pressure the remaining nations to increase incentives to offset new, economy-crippling US sanctions.

Those countries maintain that even though Iran has been violating many of the pact’s restrictions, it is important to keep the deal alive because the country has continued providing the IAEA with critical access to inspect its nuclear facilities.

The agency had been at a months-long impasse over two locations thought to be from the early 2000s, however, which Iran had argued inspectors had no right to visit because they dated to before the deal.

Last week, Iran announced it would allow the IAEA access to the two sites, following a visit to Tehran by the organisation’s Director General Rafael Grossi.

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The IAEA said Iran had granted its inspectors access to one of the two sites.

“Iran provided agency inspectors access to the location to take environmental samples,” a separate IAEA report seen by the AFP news agency said on Friday.

“The samples will be analysed by laboratories that are part of the agency’s network,” it added.

The report said an inspection at the second site will take place “later in September 2020 on a date already agreed with Iran”.


#Newsworthy..

Shut all migrant detention centres in Libya – United Nations

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Report by Antonio Guterres says more than 2,780 people held in centres, with about one fifth of them being children.


United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for the closure of all detention centres holding refugees and migrants in Libya, condemning what he described as human rights violations committed there.

“Nothing can justify the horrendous conditions under which refugees and migrants are detained in Libya,” Guterres said in a report submitted on Thursday to the UN Security Council, according to Noble Reporters Media‘s known Agency.

“I renew my appeal to the Libyan authorities … to fulfil their obligations under international law and to close all detention centres, in close coordination with United Nations entities,” he added.

According to the secretary-general’s report, more than 2,780 people were being detained as of July 31 in centres across Libya. Twenty-two percent of the detainees were children.

“Children should never be detained, particularly when they are unaccompanied or separated from their parents,” Guterres said, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure the children are protected until “long-term solutions” are found.

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Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, with warring rival administrations based in the country’s west and east battling for power.

Guterres: ‘Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money’ [File: Mahmud Turkia/AFP]

As the country slid into conflict, traffickers have exploited the unrest to turn the North African country into a key route for migration towards Europe, across the Mediterranean. In the past three years, however, crossings dropped sharply due to European Union and Italian-backed efforts to disrupt trafficking networks and to increase interceptions by Libya’s coastguard.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the systematic return of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean to Libya, where they are held in crowded detention centres nominally under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

“The conditions in these centres are crazy,” Alkaol, 17, a migrant from The Gambia, told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media earlier this year.

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“Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don’t. If they give you bread, you eat half and save half. You don’t know when you will eat next. If you don’t have money, your only way out is either escaping or death.

“If they catch people running away, they shoot at you. They may shoot you in the leg, they may shoot you in the head.”

Guterres also cited reports of torture, enforced disappearances, and sexual and gender-based violence in the centres, committed by those running the facilities.

He also mentioned a reported lack of food and healthcare.

“Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money,” he wrote.

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“Migrants and refugees have been shot at when they attempted to escape, resulting in injuries and deaths,” the report said, alleging that some are even “left on the streets or bushes to die” when they are deemed too weak to survive.

In centres where arms and munitions are stored, some refugees and migrants are recruited by force, while others are forced to repair or reload firearms for armed groups, it said.

More than a year after a July 2019 air raid killed more than 50 refugees and migrants and wounded dozens more at a detention centre near Tripoli, no one has been forced to account for the deaths, Guterres said.

The attack followed repeated warnings about the vulnerability of people detained close to Libya’s conflict zones and raised tough questions about whether it was necessary to lock them up in the first place.


#Nnewsworthy…

COVID-19 endangers refugee schooling crisis: United Nations

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A new UNHCR report warns that many refugee children, especially girls, will not be able to return to school.


The United Nations has warned that the coronavirus pandemic risks deepening a schooling crisis for refugee children, nearly half of whom were already out of school before the emergence of COVID-19.

A new report published on Thursday by the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) cautioned that many refugee children – especially girls – who had attended school before the pandemic would not be able to return.

“After everything they have endured, we cannot rob them of their futures by denying them an education today,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in a statement, calling for action to support refugees’ right to an education.

The report, using data from 12 countries that host more than half of the world’s refugee children, found that more than 1.8 million of them – or a full 48 percent of all refugee children of school age – are out of school.

Attendance is particularly lacklustre in secondary school and higher.

About 77 percent of the refugee children were enrolled in primary school, but only 31 percent attended secondary school and 3 percent were in higher education, according to the report.

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While the UNHCR said a shift in methodology made it difficult to compare with data from previous years, it noted the statistics, dire as they look, actually represent a small improvement.

A 2019 report indicated that only 1 percent of refugees worldwide were in higher education. But the pandemic is now threatening to undo even the small advances made, it said.

‘Chilling prediction’
The report found that while children in every country have been hit by the impact of the pandemic and containment measures put in place to rein in the virus, refugee children have been especially disadvantaged.

They are far more likely than others to face difficulty returning to their studies, with many refugee families no longer able to afford school fees, uniforms and books as income sources dry up.

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They are also less likely to have access to the technologies needed for remote learning and could be required to work to help keep their struggling families afloat.

This is particularly true for refugee girls, who already had less access to education than boys.

By the time they reach secondary level, refugee girls are half as likely as their male peers to be enrolled in school, according to the UNHCR, which warned the coronavirus crisis risked widening the gender disparities.

Children walk to their United Nations-run school in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City [File: Mohammed Abed/AFP]

Using UNHCR data, the Malala Fund, which works towards removing barriers preventing girls from going to school, estimated that half of all refugee girls who were attending secondary school when the pandemic hit will not return when classrooms reopen this month.

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And in countries where less than 10 percent of refugee girls were enrolled in secondary school, all of them were at risk of dropping out for good.

That is “a chilling prediction that would have an impact for generations to come”, the UNHCR said.

Matthew Saltmarsh, a UNHCR spokesman, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) from London on Thursday: “We think there are a number of steps that need to be taken. First of all, we think inclusion is the most important thing and a number of countries have included refugees in their national education system.

“More can be done by the international community to provide a medium-term sustainable aid for education, but also for education in emergencies. Private sector and other actors can come in,” he said.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Update: Syria resume talks despite COVID-19 threat.

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United Nations-backed talks on a new constitution for Syria resumed in Geneva on Thursday after Swiss health authorities gave the green light despite four delegates testing positive for Covid-19.

The discussions, aimed at rewriting the war-torn country’s constitution, were put on hold almost as soon as they started on Monday when the test results came through.

UN envoy Geir Pedersen, who is moderating the tentative talks between representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, the opposition and civil society, has voiced hope they could pave the way towards a broader political process.

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His office said in a statement that “following additional testing and further medical and expert advice regarding four earlier positive tests for Covid-19”, Swiss authorities had determined the meeting could go ahead at the UN Palais des Nations. They resumed at 2:00 pm (1200 GMT).

The committee members — 15 each from the government, the opposition and from civil society — were tested for the new coronavirus before they travelled to Geneva, and were tested again on arrival in the Swiss city.

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on September 5, 2018, Palestinian school children raise the victory gesture over a UN flag during a protest at a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school, financed by US aid, in the Arroub refugee camp near Hebron in the occupied West Bank. HAZEM BADER / AFP.

The positive second tests were found among delegates who arrived from Damascus, opposition negotiations leader Hadi al-Bahra told a virtual press briefing on Tuesday.

One opposition delegate, one from civil society and two representing the government, tested positive, he said.

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Pedersen said further testing in recent days “indicates that the earlier positive cases do not pose any risk,” adding though that “out of an abundance of caution”, the talks would proceed at the UN “only with those who have tested negative.”

He stressed strict precautions would be followed during the talks.

The discussions had been scheduled to wrap up Friday, but Pedersen said the plan now was to extend the talks into Saturday.

He said committee delegates seemed eager to resume dialogue as “a signal of the importance of this process.”

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He hailed a “constructive” first meeting on Monday, and said delegates appeared keen to have “substantive discussions” for the remainder of the week.

The Constitutional Committee was created in September last year and first convened a month later.

Disagreement on the agenda prevented a second round of planned talks from taking place in late November. The pandemic has delayed them ever since.

The United Nations has been striving for more than nine years to nurture a political resolution to Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than 11 million.


#Newsworthy…

Let’s ensure we stop GBV – Edward Kallon.

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The United Nations Resident Coordinator to Nigeria, Edward Kallon has condemned the rising cases of rape and other forms of violence against women.

Speaking on Tuesday during a UN Spotlight Initiative Town Hall on Violence against Women and Girls, Kallon said Gender-Based Violence was no longer acceptable.

“It is just not acceptable anymore that we have to sit down and see the level of violence that is perpetrated against our womenfolk. This is not acceptable,” he said.

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“It is a whole of society call and if we come together, we can stop this.”

The UN Coordinator called for a collective effort to ending the scourge of rape in the country.

While commending the Nigerian Governors’ Forum for declaring the rape menace as an emergency, he praised the Federal Government for the creation of an inter-ministerial Task Force on GBV.

In efforts to ending cases of violence in Nigeria, Kallon asked the judiciary to step up its game to ensure a GBV-free society.

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“We want institutions to come on board, institutions that can bring the legal and justice-related aspect that are so critical in ensuring that victims actually realise justice when they are affected by this gruesome act.

“We need institutions onboard from the judiciary right down. We also need to be a little bit liberal on the issue of Gender-Based Violence and other gruesome act that it is not a woman’s issue, it is also an issue for men,” he said.

The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union and the United Nations, is determined to eliminate all forms of such Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


#Newsworthy…

United Nations Spotlight Initiative Town Hall On Violence Against Women.

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According to the United Nations, “violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.”

The Spotlight Initiative, a new, global, multi-year initiative from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN), is determined to eliminate all forms of such violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The Initiative aims to bring focused attention to the issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the centre of efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An initial investment in the order of EUR 500 million has been made, with the EU as the main contributor.


#Newsworthy…