UN Labor Agency Warns 1.6 Billion Workers at Risk of Having Their ‘Livelihoods Destroyed’ by Pandemic

“As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent,” says International Labor Organization Director-General Guy Ryder.

by: Jessica Corbett,

Alex Hernandez prepares sells a "torta de tamal" in his tamales stand at Baja California Avenue on April 17, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico.

Alex Hernandez prepares sells a “torta de tamal” in his tamales stand at Baja California Avenue on April 17, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico. After the government suspended nonessential activities to halt Covid-19 spread, the informal food street industry suffered a drastic reduction of customers, between 60% and 80%, according to merchants. (Photo: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

The United Nations labor agency warned Wednesday that “1.6 billion workers in the informal economy—that is nearly half of the global workforce—stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed” by the worldwide economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security, and no future.”
—Guy Ryder, ILO

Lockdowns recommended by public health officials to stop the pandemic have meant business closures that have led to lost jobs and incomes. Global working hours fell 4.5%, the equivalent of 130 million full-time jobs, in the first quarter of 2020 compared with pre-crisis levels, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The ILO’s report (pdf) warns the world could see that decline hit 10.5% by mid-year, the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs. The new numbers follow an early April report from agency detailing how lockdowns across the globe were already affecting almost 2.7 billion workers, around 81% of the world’s workforce of 3.3 billion.

While the economic fallout of the crisis is expected to continue impacting the majority of global workers, that is especially true for those in the informal economy, which generally refers to workers whose employment conditions are “not recognized, registered, regulated, or protected under labor legislation and social protection.”

International Labour Organization@ilo

Nearly half of the global workforce is in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed, according to our latest research. https://bit.ly/2YkDFD5  #covid19

As the new ILO report explains:

More than two billion people worldwide work in the informal economy in jobs that are characterized by a lack of basic protection, including social protection coverage. They often have poor access to healthcare services and have no income replacement in case of sickness or lockdown. Many of them have no possibility to work remotely from home. Staying home means losing their jobs, and without wages, they cannot eat.

As of 22 April 2020, close to 1.1 billion informal economy workers live and work in countries in full lockdown, and an additional 304 million in countries in partial lockdown

The agency estimates “almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers, accounting for 76% of informal employment worldwide, are significantly impacted by the lockdown measures and/or working in the hardest-hit sectors.” The ILO projects income losses for these workers will be “massive” and further increase income inequality.

The sectors hardest hit by current global conditions are wholesale retail, trade and the repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; manufacturing; accommodation and food services; and real estate, business, and administrative activities. Other significantly affected sectors include arts, entertainment, and recreation as well as transport, storage, and communication.

“Among informal economy workers significantly impacted by the crisis,” the report notes, “women are overrepresented in high-risk sectors: 42% of women workers are working in those sectors, compared to 32% of men.”

Given the new projections about how the pandemic-related economic crisis will affect workers worldwide, the ILO urges governments to pursue “urgent and significant policy responses to protect both enterprises, particularly smaller businesses, and workers, especially those operating in the informal economy.”

 Potential impacts of the pandemic on poverty levels of informal workers

The report reiterates the ILO’s four-pillar policy framework to fight the economic impact of Covid-19 based on international labor standards: stimulating the economy and employment; supporting enterprises, jobs, and incomes; protecting workers in the workplace; and relying on social dialogue for solutions.

The ILO calls on governments to prioritize financial support for small businesses and informal economy workers, and to coordinate stimulus packages on a global scale. The report adds that “longer-term, large public investments are needed to boost employment and crowd in private investment.”

In addition to detailing the need for longer-term financial aid, the report makes a case for the necessity of improving labor conditions as part of the recovery phase, noting that “the impact of the pandemic is likely to be uneven, adding significantly to existing vulnerabilities and inequalities.”

“Greater attention should be paid to the strengthening of employment policies to support enterprises and workers,” the report says, “along with strong labor market institutions and comprehensive and well-resourced social protection systems, including care policies and infrastructure, that kick in automatically and in an inclusive way as crises occur.”

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder addressed the new report and the agency’s current focus on the informal economy in a short video shared on Twitter Tuesday:

“As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent,” Ryder said in a statement. “For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security, and no future.”

“Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing,” Ryder added. “They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don’t help them now, these enterprises will simply perish.”

Posted in Health, Politics, UN, World0 Comments

Amid Dual Crises of Climate and Covid-19, World Leaders Told ‘Empty Words Will Not Help Us’

“Despite promising statements, the [Petersberg] dialogue did not result in firm commitments to a green and just recovery.”

by: Jessica Corbett,

German Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze participates in the Petersberg Climate Dialogue XI.

German Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze participates in the virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue XI on April 24, 2020. (Photo: BMU/Christoph Wehrer)

As the year’s first major meeting of climate ministers—held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic—wrapped up Tuesday, climate campaigners welcomed world leaders’ calls for a “green recovery” from the ongoing public health crisis but demanded that the lofty rhetoric be matched by ambitious, detailed plans and actions.

“This pandemic has upended climate diplomacy and climate meetings until next year but countries, especially major emitters, must continue working to deliver strong commitments on climate ambition this year that put the world on a 1.5°C degree pathway.”
—May Boeve, 350.org

Ministers from a few dozen countries came together online for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD) XI. The two-day annual meeting was co-hosted by Germany and the United Kingdom. The U.K. will also host the next U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was set for November but is postponed because of the outbreak.

The German and British hosts announced last week that the livestreamed event would “focus on how we can organize economic recovery after the acute crisis management, and how countries can proceed with ambitious climate action despite the postponement of COP26. The goal is a green recovery.”

May Boeve, executive director of global environmental advocacy group 350.org, said in a statement Tuesday that “despite promising statements, the [Petersberg] dialogue did not result in firm commitments to a green and just recovery. The climate crisis has not taken time off so our response to the COVID-19 pandemic must also be up to the challenge of climate breakdown.”

Boeve, whose organization has joined with hundreds of groups fighting for a just recovery, added:

This pandemic has upended climate diplomacy and climate meetings until next year but countries, especially major emitters, must continue working to deliver strong commitments on climate ambition this year that put the world on a 1.5°C degree pathway. This must go alongside efforts to regenerate economies and social welfare measures. In fact they reinforce each other—it’s possible to make economic recovery measures that put people and the planet first.

The choices being made right now will shape our society for years, if not decades to come. Solutions for economic and social recovery must center on principles of justice, care, community empowerment, and international solidarity for the safety and long-term resilience of the most vulnerable. The choices must put people first, and accelerate our action against the climate crisis. We need a truly interconnected global approach which first and foremost invests in the safety and health of all people.

Fridays for Future Germany, the country’s chapter of the global youth climate movement launched by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, tweeted a demand for bold action ahead of a speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to PCD Tuesday.

“What we need is a clear commitment to increased climate goals that are in line with [1.5°C] degrees,” the group declared. “Empty words will not help us here—with the voice of hundreds of thousands of strikers we say: #FightEveryCrisis!”

EU Climate Action@EUClimateAction

Day of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue.
Tune in at 15.10 CET to follow live speeches by Chancellor Merkel, @antonioguterres , @TimmermansEU , @AlokSharma_RDG & more on #GreenRecovery plans and next steps to tackle the #ClimateCrisis
https://www.bmu.de/en/press/live-broadcast/ … #PCD11

View image on Twitter

In her address, Merkel reiterated her support for raising the European Union’s emissions reduction target for 2030 to as high as 55%. According to Euractiv:

The chancellor also said it was now time to “prove our steadfastness,” because the climate must not be excluded from the economic stimulus packages currently being put together.

Merkel’s speech came after officials from Germany and the U.K. promoted a green recovery in comments to the Associated Press. As Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind.”

However, Jennifer Morgan, executive director of advocacy group Greenpeace International, told the AP that “we are seeing the internal documents from industries indicating that they are trying to use this moment where public money is being put back into the economy to prop up their industries.” She specifically pointed to the oil and aviation industries.

“It’s just really important, particularly with the oil industry, to note that this type of volatility that we’re seeing right now, it’s a rehearsal for what climate chaos will bring to the oil market in the future,” she said. “These are risky investments. They were risky investments before this crisis, and they are risky investments moving forward.”

Jennifer Morgan@climatemorgan · Apr 28, 2020

As @antonioguterres said “The highest cost is the cost of doing nothing.”

The #ClimateCrisis does not stop for #Covid19.

Alongside a just, low carbon, green and sustainable recovery – needed for all of our sakes – we must have system change to #BuildBackBetter.
#PCD11 (1/2)

Jennifer Morgan@climatemorgan

(2/2) This unprecedented time calls for unprecedented action, reform, courage and hope. And brave collaborative leadership.

No doubt the biggest challenge in the long careers of @antonioguterres and Chancellor #Merkel, with people’s support, they will fulfil this task.#PCD11

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who also delivered a speech to PCD Tuesday, similarly emphasized the importance of moving away from energy practices that have contributed to the climate crisis.

“Looking forward, public funds should invest in the future, by flowing to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and climate,” said Guterres. “Fossil fuel subsidies must end, and carbon must have a price and polluters must pay for their pollution.”

Guterres’ speech, which outlined “six climate-related actions to shape the recovery,” echoed his public remarks on the 50th annual Earth Day last week as well as a Tuesday op-ed he published the New York Times.

“For years, we have failed our young by damaging the planet and failing to protect the people most vulnerable to crises,” he wrote for the Times. “We have a rare and short window of opportunity to rectify that—by rebuilding a better world, not reverting to one that is good for only a minority of its citizens.”

“We must act now to tackle the coronavirus globally for all of our sakes,” he declared, “and, at the same time, pursue immediate ambitious climate action for a cleaner, greener, more prosperous, and equitable world.”

Posted in Environment, Health, Human Rights, Politics, UN, World0 Comments

World COVID-19 Lockdowns Harmfully Impacting Millions of Children

About 60 percent of all children around the world are currently in a country that is maintaining some level of a lockdown.

Lack of access to healthcare, domestic life, education, increased presence online, are among the areas in which children could possibly be harmed. 

Millions of children worldwide are being vulnerable to countless threats due to the lockdowns arising from the global coronavirus pandemic, a new United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report has revealed Thursday. 

RELATED: Children Political Prisoners Face Hell in Egypt

The document called “The Impact of COVID-19 on children” details the different areas in which children could possibly be harmed, including lack of access to healthcare, domestic life, education, and risks as a result of an increased presence online. 

About 60 percent of all children around the world are currently in a country that is maintaining some level of a lockdown, which is impeding them to go to school. 

Many had their only meals provided by educational institutions previously. More than 368 million children in about 143 countries are now deprived of their food, and have to seek it through alternative means, the report says.

It also warned that amplified stress levels among quarantined families can expose children to family violence both as victims and witnesses. Other children’s rights advocates including international NGO Save the Children have also raised alarm bells about this specific issue. 

“Social disruption and high stress at home can have a deep impact on children, and millions of them now face an increased risk of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children, said Thursday in response to the report.

RELATED: 

COVID-19: Fears of Domestic Violence Rise as Millions Confined

On the other hand, as they are unable to physically attend schools, many children have to learn online, which requires digital tools. But, the disparity in this access means that not everybody can receive the same level of training.

Only 30 percent of low-income countries have been able to ensure digital courses for their students.

Children’s presence online for lessons or to stay connected with friends can also expose them to other kinds of risks.

The report points out that children are more prone to be at risk of grooming by online predators, being cyber-bullied, being manipulated to share content such as sexually explicit photos.

The UNICEF said governments must ensure that child protective services are open and accessible. Technology companies also have their role to play as they should make sure their services are built-in secure manners. Finally, parents must be careful and keep antivirus and software updates on their children’s phones and computers, the U.N. agency recommended.

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Warning of ‘Hammer Blow’ From Pandemic, UN Food Agencies Say Coronavirus Could Double Global Levels of Acute Hunger

A new report states 265 million people could face food insecurity by the end of 2020, up from 130 million last year. 

byJulia Conley,

Soacha's Mayor Juan Carlos Saldarriaga, delivers food to the community during the mandatory quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Soacha, Colombia on April 15, 2020. Colombia extended its national lock down until April 26 to control spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images)

Soacha’s Mayor Juan Carlos Saldarriaga, delivers food to the community during the mandatory quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Soacha, Colombia on April 15, 2020. Colombia extended its national lock down until April 26 to control spread of COVID-19. (Photo: Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress via Getty Images)

Top food security experts at the United Nations on Tuesday will present to the U.N. Security Council a new report on how the global coronavirus pandemic could double the number of people around the world suffering from acute hunger unless wealthy countries step up humanitarian aid immediately. 

The World Food Program (WFP), the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and a dozen other groups are imploring global policymakers to send $350 million in food aid to the most vulnerable countries on the planet, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, to keep people from starving as the pandemic shuts down economies and makes it more difficult to access food.

“Our utmost responsibility is to protect those who need us the most,” tweeted the WFP ahead of the meeting.

According to the “Global Report on Food Crises,” (pdf) published Tuesday, 265 million people are expected to face food insecurity and hunger by the end of 2020—more than doubling the number from the previous year, when 130 million people worldwide were already chronically hungry.

“It’s critical that commercial trade continues to flow. Hoarding food supplies or putting up trade barriers does not work. Starving your neighbor is not good policy.” 
—Arif Husain, WFP

The new coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, was added to the report’s list of key drivers of hunger, along with violent conflicts, weather extremes, economic shocks, and desert locusts—which were already threatening crops in East Africa before the pandemic began spreading across the globe in January, putting at risk enough food to feed 35,000 people per day. 

Arif Husain, chief economist for WFP, told reporters Tuesday that people in regions that were already experiencing such shocks, as well as displaced people living in refugee camps in countries like South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, and Syria, are among those most at risk for starvation.

“These are the people I’m most worried about,” said Husain. “They did not need COVID-19. Even without it their lives were hanging by a thread. They literally depend on us for their lives. If we cannot get to them for any reason they end up paying the ultimate price. We need to prioritize the people and make sure we’re there. Because if it’s not us, it’s no one else.”

To protect vulnerable populations, the WFP is expected to tell the Security Council, governments must avoid export bans and should begin releasing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, only a quarter of which has been made available so far.

In recent weeks, countries including Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan have suspended exports on certain crops, raising concerns over high food prices in the developing world—and evoking memories of unrest in 2007 and 2008 during the global economic meltdown.

“It’s critical that commercial trade continues to flow,” Husain said. “Hoarding food supplies or putting up trade barriers does not work. Starving your neighbor is not good policy. We have seen this many times in the food and fuel crisis in 2008 and the financial crisis of 2009.”

In addition to limits on exports, people in developing countries face restricted movement which will make harvesting and distributing crops difficult if not impossible and labor shortages as people become ill, which could threaten food production.

The effects of the pandemic, Husain said, amount to a “hammer blow” for millions of people “who can only eat if they earn a wage.”

“We all need to come together to deal with this because if we don’t the cost will be too high—the global cost will be too high: many lost lives and many, many more lost livelihoods,” Husain told the press.

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Though ‘Children Need Peace Now More Than Ever,’ US and Russia Block UN Efforts to Impose Global Ceasefire

American and Russian diplomats have publicly praised calls for a global ceasefire, but say they cannot sign on to a blanket agreement. 

by: Julia Conley,

Protesters display signs as they march to mark the third anniversary of the war in Iraq March 19, 2006 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Greg Wahl-Stephens/Getty Images)

The U.S. and Russia are reportedly standing in the way of an international agreement for a global ceasefire called for by the United Nations, claiming their militaries must retain the ability to attack enemies even as countries around the world face thousands of coronavirus cases.

The Trump administration is reluctant to agree to a universal ceasefire, Foreign Policy reported Friday, because of U.S. counterterrorism operations and partially because a ceasefire could impede key ally Israel’s ability to conduct military operations throughout the Middle East.

President Donald Trump’s position puts him at odds with “a broad global consensus for a ceasefire over all violent conflicts in the midst of COVID-19,” tweeted author Henry Tam.

Dr. Henry Tam@HenryBTam

There is a broad global consensus for a ceasefire over all violent conflicts in the midst of #COVID19;
Except for Trump & Putin, who insist conflicts, deaths, & their countries’ arms exports should continue: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/19/us-and-russia-blocking-un-plans-for-a-global-ceasefire-amid-crisis …

While both the U.S. and Russia have “publicly praised” the idea of a global ceasefire, according to Foreign Policy reporter Colum Lynch, White House officials insist the U.S. must be able to continue its operations around the world despite the pandemic, which has killed more than 160,000 people worldwide so far and has infected more than 2.3 million. 

“The U.S. pushback against a globally encompassing ceasefire may come from the Trump administration’s increasingly heavy dependence on elite counterterrorism operations and covert strikes to kill Islamic State and Iranian-linked military operatives over the past six months,” wrote Lynch.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly reluctant to support a blanket ceasefire due to Russia’s continued operations in Syria and its support for groups in Libya and other countries, according to The Guardian.

Luc Dockendorf, a career diplomat from Luxembourg, summarized the American and Russian positions as supporting the ceasefire for other countries only.

Luc Dockendorf@LucDockendorf

Great powers be like: “We support @antonioguterres’s call for a #GlobalCeasefire for *everybody else* but reserve our right to continue blowing shit up” https://twitter.com/columlynch/status/1251227453806252033 …columlynch@columlynchExclusive: While U.S. and Russia publicly praised U.N. call for a global ceasefire, their diplomats quietly sought to weaken the scope of the UN appeal to ensure their forces have a free hand in their anti-terror campaigns https://bit.ly/3euOhVO

Since U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres first called for an immediate global ceasefire last month—saying that “the fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”—French President Emmanuel Macron attempted to garner support from Trump and Putin by making the agreement non-binding. 

Under Macron’s proposal, countries could be exempt from the ceasefire “to continue to carry out military operations against individuals and armed groups designated as terrorists by the U.N. Security Council,” Lynch reported.

Macron’s draft would make the ceasefire “impossible to enforce,” Simon Tisdall wrote at The Guardian Sunday, potentially putting vulnerable populations in as much danger of violence as they are now.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Foreign Policy of Macron’s proposal that “the United States supports the Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire, but have noted that we will continue to fulfill our legitimate counterterrorism mission.”

Although U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Knight Craft indicated last week that an agreement based on Macron’s limited, non-binding proposal could be reached in the coming days, even that process has met impediments due to the Trump administration’s objections. The U.S. demanded in March that the resolution include the phrase “Wuhan virus” to refer to the coronavirus, and last week demanded that language praising the World Health Organization (WHO) for its response to the pandemic be removed—an impasse which had not been resolved as of Friday. Trump held funding for WHO last week—at least temporarily—drawing condemnation from public health experts.

Humanitarian group UNICEF urged all countries to halt violent conflicts during the pandemic, calling on world leaders to “protect children under attack.”

Kent Page@KentPage

As we face the unprecedented challenges of #covid19, children need #peace more than ever.

To protect #ChildrenUnderAttack, we need a global ceasefire, NOW.

Please RT if you agree with these #FridayFeelings! v/@unicef@un @unpeacekeeping @unpeacebuilding @unmissmedia

View image on Twitter

“As we face the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, children need peace more than ever,” tweeted UNICEF strategic communications advisor Kent Page.

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Online safety advice issued in response to 400% increase in coronavirus scams

Posted by: Birminghamworker.org

Coronavirus scams alert

Updated figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1 February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000. 

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived. Other frauds being reported include ticket fraudromance fraudcharity fraud and lender loan fraud. See more here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/coronavirus-related-fraud-reports-increase-by-400-in-march

Get Safe Online has issued some tips on how to help avoid being scammed:

  • Be wary of approaches from supposed travel agents, tour operators, airlines, cruise companies, insurance companies or compensation fi rms promising to arrange travel, accommodation or event entry refunds: they may well be fraudulent. If in doubt, call the company you have been dealing with, on the phone number you know to be correct. These approaches can take the form of emails, texts, social media posts, direct messages, online advertisements and phone calls.
     
  • Be wary of ads for products such as facemasks, hand sanitiser, vaccines, cures and hard-to-get goods, as they could be for non-existent products. Never pay by bank transfer, and where possible pay by credit card as doing so provides additional protection.
     
  • As always, don’t click on unknown links in emails, texts or posts, or email attachments. They could link to websites that capture your passwords and other confidential details or cause a malware infection, both of which can result in financial or identity fraud. They could also link to adult, hate, extremist or other content.

Read Get Safe Online safety advice about avoiding online coronavirus-related scams and working safely from home during the outbreak here: https://www.getsafeonline.org/coronavirus/

To report crimes and scams please follow the following guidance:

  • Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report incidents of fraud online and offline at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
  • Call 101 to report non-emergency incidents to your local police.
  • Call 999 if you’re reporting a crime that’s in progress or someone is in immediate danger.
  • Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to report crime completely anonymously.

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UN Chief Warns World ‘Way Off Track’ on Tackling Climate Crisis as New Report Underscores Need for Bold Global Action

“Let us have no illusions: the climate crisis is already causing calamity and more is to come,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. “This is a battle we can—and must—win.”

by: Jessica Corbett,

A fire rages in Bobin, Australia on Nov. 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes across the state of New South Wales.

A fire rages in Bobin, Australia on Nov. 9, 2019, as firefighters try to contain dozens of out-of-control blazes across the state of New South Wales. (Photo: Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a stark warning about the necessity of ambitious global climate action Tuesday with the release of an annual report detailing the latest science on rising greenhouse gas emissions that drive up air and ocean temperatures, leading to devastating sea level rise and more severe extreme weather.

“Time is fast running out for us to avert the worst impacts of climate disruption and protect our societies from the inevitable impacts to come,” Guterres wrote in a statement included in the new World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report, which concluded that 2019 was 1.1°C warmer than the pre-industrial era and concluded the hottest decade on record.

“We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5°C or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050,” Guterres continued in the WMO report. “And for that, we need political will and urgent action to set a different path.”

António Guterres@antonioguterres

Let us have no illusions: the climate crisis is already causing calamity & more is to come.

I call on all countries to show more #ClimateAction ambition – and on individuals to hold your governments to account.

This is a battle we can – and must – win. pic.twitter.com/zYtRPyZnbC

Guterres reiterated his warnings and demands for bold action during a Tuesday event to unveil the WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019 (pdf) at U.N. headquarters in New York City.

“The indications are crystal clear. Global heating is accelerating,” Guterres said. “We count the cost in human lives and livelihoods as droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme storms take their deadly toll. We have no time to lose if we are to avert climate catastrophe. This is a pivotal year for how we address the climate emergency. We have to aim high at the next climate conference in Glasgow in November.”

Although experts worry that the COP26 summit could be derailed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Guterres’ outlined his main focuses for the upcoming meeting:

  1. “National climate plans—the Nationally Determined Contributions, as they are called—must show more ambition.”
  2. “All nations need to adopt strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050.”
  3. “A robust package of program, projects, and initiatives that will help communities and nations adapt to climate disruption and build resilience.”
  4. “Developed countries must deliver on their commitment to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020.”

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, who joined Guterres at the unveiling event, told U.N. News in an interview that there is increasing public awareness—from young people to the financial sector—of the unparalleled threat posed by the climate crisis, “so there are plenty of good signs that we have started moving in the right direction.”

“Last year emissions dropped in developed countries, despite the growing economy, so we have been [able] to show that you can detach economic growth from emission growth,” Taalas said. “The bad news is that, in the rest of the world, emissions grew last year. So, if we want to solve this problem we have to have all the countries on board.”

The WMO leader highlighted that countries are still failing to meet their commitments under the Paris climate accord, which puts the world on track to endure a global temperature rise of up to five degrees by 2100, so “there’s clearly a need for higher ambition levels if we’re serious about climate mitigation.”

The key takeaways from the WMO’s new #StateofClimate report are:

  • The global mean temperature for 2019 was 1.1±0.1°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Global atmospheric mole fractions of greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2018.
  • The year 2019 saw low sea-ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • The ocean absorbs around 90% of the heat that is trapped in the Earth system by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases.
  • Over the decade 2009–2018, the ocean absorbed around 23% of the annual CO2 emissions, lessening the increase in atmospheric concentrations.
  • As the ocean warms it expands and sea levels rise.

“This annual litany of climate change impacts and inadequate global responses makes for a gut-wrenching read,” Dave Reay, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, told the Guardian Tuesday.

View image on Twitter

Imperial College London professor Brian Hoskins emphasized to the Guardian the importance of the international community continuing to address the climate crisis.

“The report is a catalogue of weather in 2019 made more extreme by climate change, and the human misery that went with it,” he said. “It points to a threat that is greater to our species than any known virus—we must not be diverted from the urgency of tackling it by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible.”

Hoskins’ comments come as experts express concerns that although the coronavirus outbreak will likely reduce planet-heating emissions from China and other countries with high infection rates, the ongoing pandemic “could complicate the challenges of climate change—which presents serious, if longer-term, threats of its own—at a point when it was crucial to make rapid strides,” as MIT Technology Review reported Tuesday.

“Emissions in China are down because the economy has stopped and people are dying, and because poor people are not able to get medicine and food,” Gernot Wagner, a clinical associate professor at New York University’s Department of Environmental Studies, told MIT Technology Review. “This is not an analogy for how we want to decrease emissions from climate change.”

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I was meant to talk about Palestinian kids at the UN. ‘Israel’ forced me out

Belgium caved into Israeli pressure to disinvite me from the Security Council. In doing so, they helped undermine human rights work for Palestinian children.

By Brad Parker 

Fadi Ibrahim Abu Khusa (4) holds the photo of his two killed siblings, Shahed (9) and Mohammed (2), in their home in Zawaida village, central Gaza Strip, February 24, 2015.  The two children were killed with their parents, Ibrahim and Sabreen, and 4 other members of their family by an Israeli attack on their home which occured on July, 30, 2014. Ibrahim and Sabreen went to the home of Sabreen's father one week before the attack thinking they would be safer. (Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

Fadi Ibrahim Abu Khusa (4) holds the photo of his two killed siblings, Shahed (9) and Mohammed (2), in their home in Zawaida village, central Gaza Strip, February 24, 2015. The two children were killed with their parents, Ibrahim and Sabreen, and 4 other members of their family by an Israeli attack on their home which occured on July, 30, 2014. Ibrahim and Sabreen went to the home of Sabreen’s father one week before the attack thinking they would be safer. (Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

Last week, the government of Belgium caved in to intense Israeli government pressure and effectively disinvited me from briefing the UN Security Council in New York today.

Ironically, the decision to exclude my voice as a representative of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), a Palestinian human rights organization, exemplifies and reinforces the message I had prepared to deliver before the Council.

I was invited by Belgium’s Permanent Mission to the UN in late January to brief members of the Security Council on violations of children’s rights in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.Get Our Weekly NewsletterSign up

Belgium, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for this month, is a leader of the UN’s global agenda on children and armed conflict, and as such wanted to highlight these specific themes during the Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East and Palestine Question. The Belgians wrote in their invitation that this focused discussion would help “to enrich the debate” on the Palestinian issue.

I gladly accepted. The fact that Belgium was willing to invite a local Palestinian human rights organization like DCIP to brief the Council was commendable, as civil society space at the UN has been shrinking for years. While they urged me to be “balanced” in my statement (which I had shared with them for feedback), they understood that Palestinian children overwhelmingly and disproportionately bear the brunt of the kinds of violations they sought to highlight.

Then the troubles began.

The UN Security Council, December 18, 2015 (United Nations Photo)

The UN Security Council, December 18, 2015 (United Nations Photo)

As soon as Israeli diplomats were informed of my attendance, Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israeli Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, reportedly asked the Belgian government in early February to cancel the invitation. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned Belgium’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel, Pascal Buffin, on two separate occasions to formally object to the invitation. These requests were initially rejected.

Israeli officials and right-wing organizations, like NGO Monitor, and their affiliates subsequently mounted a well-orchestrated political and media disinformation campaign to press the Belgians to capitulate.

Then, four days ago, I received an early morning phone call informing me that Brussels had decided to change the Security Council event from an open meeting to a closed meeting — meaning that I was no longer a participant.

Targeted defamation campaigns

Belgium’s acquiescence to Israel’s demands is a frustrating and devastating blow. Not only is it a shameful act of censorship, but it also boosts longstanding efforts to delegitimize human rights work and basic tenets of international law when it comes to Palestinians.

Over the past two weeks, I have falsely been called everything from an “extreme anti-Israel activist” and “minor American propogandist,” to a “terror supporter” and “diplomatic terrorist.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, even wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres calling DCIP “an arm of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) in order to enact diplomatic terror against Israel,” adding, “A place that promotes peace and security in the world has no room for people like Parker.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon seen during a meeting of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon seen during a meeting of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

DCIP and other civil society organizations in Palestine and Israel have been increasingly targeted and attacked by Israeli officials, government ministries, and a rising network of right-wing and nationalist social forces in Israel, the U.S., the U.K., and across Europe. A key strategy of these forces is to launch targeted and organized defamation campaigns, based on a range of allegations that try to link us to national counter-terrorism legislation in order to undercut our work.

For DCIP specifically, officials like Ambassador Danny Danon, the Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry, NGO Monitor, and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) are alleging that we support and further terrorist acts. They amorphously claim that DCIP board and staff members are “affiliated,” “linked,” or have “alleged ties” to the PFLP.

Yet, no evidence is presented on how DCIP’s work — our field research, documentation, legal services, and advocacy — is in any way involved in supporting terrorist acts. Moreover, no trials or indictments have been initiated by Israeli authorities against DCIP board or staff members on such accusations during their time with the organization.

Rather than demand Israeli authorities stop unlawfully killing Palestinian child protesters in Gaza with live ammunition, or end ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian child detainees, or hold perpetrators accountable, these actors are disseminating misinformation aimed at silencing, defunding, and eliminating legitimate human rights work and criticism of illegal Israeli policies toward Palestinians. And unfortunately — wittingly or unwittingly — governments like Belgium are helping them.

Exempted from UN blacklist

So, if Belgium had not crumbled to the pressure, what did the Israeli government not want me to tell the UN Security Council today?

Four-year-old Palestinian girl Shayma Al-Masri, who was wounded in an Israeli air strike that killed her mother and two of her siblings, lies next to her doll as she receives hospital treatment in Gaza City, July 14, 2014. (Emad Nassar/Flash90)

Four-year-old Palestinian girl Shayma Al-Masri, who was wounded in an Israeli air strike that killed her mother and two of her siblings, lies next to her doll as she receives hospital treatment in Gaza City, July 14, 2014. (Emad Nassar/Flash90)

First, using largely UN-verified information, I would have explained how Palestinian children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict at the hands of Israeli forces. Second, I would have highlighted how the persistent failure of the UN Secretary-General to hold Israel accountable has fostered impunity for such grave violations against children.

My planned statement offered a solution. Each year the UN Secretary-General submits a report to the Security Council detailing the situation of children’s rights in specific situations of armed conflict, including Israel and the State of Palestine.

Security Council Resolution 1612, adopted in 2005, formally established a UN-led, evidence-based monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children during armed conflict. The six violations include killing and maiming; child recruitment; sexual violence; attacks on schools or hospitals; denial of humanitarian access for children; and abduction.

Where armed forces or groups are found to commit such violations against children, the Secretary-General is obligated to list them in the annex of his annual report. This list has become known as the UN’s child rights “blacklist” or “list of shame.”

The mechanism has proven to be a strong tool to bolster protections for children during armed conflict over the past decade. But despite persistent reports by UN agencies like UNICEF and local groups like DCIP, both Guterres and his predecessor Ban Ki-moon refused to include Israeli armed forces on the blacklist.

Secretary-General António Guterres during press conference on the theme on violence against women in conflict. 25 February 2019. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

Secretary-General António Guterres during press conference on the theme on violence against women in conflict. 25 February 2019. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

This was despite the fact that Ban Ki-moon, for example, noted in his 2014 report that there had been a “dramatic increase in the number of children killed and injured, especially in Gaza,” with at least 557 Palestinian children and four Israeli children killed, and 4,249 Palestinian children and 22 Israeli children wounded.

While he expressed alarm at the “unprecedented and unacceptable scale” of destruction and harm caused by Israel’s military operation that year, he still omitted Israel’s forces from the annex. Reportedly, he caved in to significant pressure from the U.S. and Israel.

Defending international law

Ban Ki-moon’s decision, and Guterres’ continuation of that decision, has effectively transformed a strong accountability mechanism into a politicized process where powerful governments can exempt themselves from scrutiny and the rules of international law.

As I wrote in my planned statement to the Security Council, Israel’s absence from the blacklist essentially gives it “tacit approval to continue committing grave breaches of international law with impunity. We are still, today, dealing with the impact of this decision.”

Mourners carry the body of 13-year-old Palestinian boy Ahmed Sharaka, who was killed by Israeli troops after being hit in the head by a plastic-coated metal bullet, in Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, October 12, 2015. (Flash90)

Mourners carry the body of 13-year-old Palestinian boy Ahmed Sharaka, who was killed by Israeli troops after being hit in the head by a plastic-coated metal bullet, in Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, October 12, 2015. (Flash90)

Today, I had hoped to reaffirm a message that Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of the human rights organization B’Tselem, had brought to the Council in 2018: a rules-based international order will not defend itself.

If the UN’s children and armed conflict agenda is to remain relevant and credible, it is imperative that the listing process does not give an exception to Israel for its grave violations. Year after year, Palestinian children must deal with the compounded failures of these policymakers, and without accountability, these violations will continue bleeding from one year to the next.

Given the attacks and campaigns against Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society, Belgium’s actions are entirely irresponsible. When a supposed champion of these values lifts you up, knowing full well that it may place a target on you, it is disheartening to seem them give in to such pressure. This lack of political will all but ensures systemic impunity will remain the norm for Palestinian children.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights, UNComments Off on I was meant to talk about Palestinian kids at the UN. ‘Israel’ forced me out

U.N: Says committed to pre-1967 borders, stresses settlements illegal

Responding to Trump proposal, secretary general says peace attainable based on UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements

By TOI

The Times of Israel live blogged the official announcement of the US administration’s Mideast peace proposal and other news Tuesday as it unfolded.

Russian FM urges coordination on Mideast peace plan

Russia’s foreign minister is calling for multilateral efforts in helping negotiate peace in the Middle East.

The Trump administration is set to announce its long-awaited peace plan on Tuesday. The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel and to pave the way for it to annex large parts of the West Bank.

Asked about the US plan, Sergey Lavrov says the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers — America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — should analyze the proposal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Lavrov also emphasizes that it’s essential to listen to the Palestinians’ position. He says it’s also important for the Arab League to weigh in. The league has already put forth its own peace initiative.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on U.N: Says committed to pre-1967 borders, stresses settlements illegal

UN Rejects Trump’s “Deal of the Century”?

By Middle East Monitor

Global Research,

United Nations has rejected US President Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ and reiterated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be solved based on UN resolutions and international law.

In a statement, a copy of which sent to MEMOStephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said:

“The position of the United Nations on the two-State solution has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound.”

He added:

“The United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis in resolving the conflict on the basis of United Nations resolutions, international law, and bilateral agreements and realizing the vision of two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.”

It is worth noting that Trump has ignored the two-state solution adopted by the UN and the international community and proposed his own view of the two-state solution, which ignores the 1967 borders and has all of Jerusalem under full Israeli sovereignty.

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Featured image: Trump and Netanyahu’s love affair around Jerusalem and Palestine’s fate – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]Netanyahu Response to Trump’s Advocacy of Two-State Solution: “Palestinians Will Never Have a State”The original source of this article is Middle East MonitorCopyright © Middle East MonitorMiddle East Monitor, 2020

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Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, UNComments Off on UN Rejects Trump’s “Deal of the Century”?

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