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Warning against Great Fracture, Secretary-General calls on General Assembly to reconnect with UN founding values

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the opening of the seventy‑fourth ses..

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres remarks at the opening of the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly, in New York today:

The United Nations Charter sends a clear message to us all: put people first. The first words of the Charter — “we the peoples” — are a summons to place people at the centre of our work. Every day. Everywhere. People with anxieties and aspirations. People with heartbreaks and hopes. Above all, people with rights.

Those rights are not a favour to be rewarded or withheld. They are an endowment for simply being human. Across the first half of my mandate, I have had the good fortune to meet people around the world — not in gilded meeting rooms, but where they live and work and dream. And I have listened.

I have heard families in the South Pacific who fear their lives being swept away by rising seas; young refugees in the Middle East yearning for a return to school and home; Ebola survivors in North Kivu struggling to rebuild their lives; women demanding equality and opportunity; people of all beliefs and traditions who suffer simply because of who they are; and so many others.

We are living in a world of disquiet. A great many people fear getting trampled, thwarted, left behind. Machines take their jobs. Traffickers take their dignity. Demagogues take their rights. Warlords take their lives. Fossil fuels take their future.

And yet people believe in the spirit and ideas that bring us to this Hall. They believe in the United Nations. But do they believe in us? Do they believe as leaders, we will put people first? Because we, the leaders, must deliver for we the peoples.

People have a right to live in peace. One year ago, in this room, I spoke of winds of hope despite the chaos and confusion of our world. Since then, some of those currents continued to move in promising directions. Against the expectations of many, elections unfolded peacefully in Madagascar, Maldives, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few. Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia resolved their decades‑long name dispute. Political dialogue in Sudan and the peace process in the Central African Republic have brought renewed hope.

And a long‑sought step forward has just been taken on the political path out of the tragedy in Syria, and in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). As I announced yesterday, an agreement has been reached with all parties [involved] for a credible, balanced and inclusive Syrian‑owned and Syrian‑led constitutional committee. My Special Envoy just left Damascus after finalizing the last details with the Government and the opposition. The United Nations looks forward to convening the Committee in Geneva in the coming weeks.

But, across the global landscape, we see conflicts persisting, terrorism spreading and the risk of a new arms race growing. Outside interferences, often in violation of Security Council resolutions, make peace processes more difficult. And so many situations remain unresolved, from Yemen to Libya to Afghanistan and beyond.

A succession of unilateral actions threatens to torpedo a two‑State solution between Israel and Palestine. In Venezuela, 4 million people have fled the country — one of the largest displacements in the world. Tensions are elevated in South Asia, where differences need to be addressed through dialogue. And above all, we are facing the alarming possibility of armed conflict in the Gulf, the consequences of which the world cannot afford. The recent attack on Saudi Arabias oil facilities was totally unacceptable.

In a context where a minor miscalculation can lead to a major confrontation, we must do everything possible to push for reason and restraint. I hope for a future in which all the countries of the region can live in a state of mutual respect and cooperation, without interference in each others affairs. And I hope equally that it will still be possible to preserve the progress on nuclear non‑proliferation represented by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

From day one, I have emphasized prevention, mediation and a surge in diplomacy for peace to address the crises we face. Consider the lives we can save by intensifying our investments to sustain peace around the world. Across some of the most troubled corners of the world, some 100,000 United Nations peacekeepers protect civilians and promote peace.

Through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, we are strengthening our effectiveness and efficiency and we are renewing partnerships with troop- and police‑contributing countries, host countries and regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union.

I am also proud of the work of our humanitarians easing suffering around the world. Fully half of all international relief aid is channelled through the United Nations — ensuring that millions receive protection, food, medicine, shelter, water and other life‑saving forms of assistance. This year alone, in brutal attacks and other circumstances, we have lost at least 80 peacekeepers, humanitarians and others, all of whom gave their lives serving the United Nations trying to better the lives of others. I honour their service and their sacrifice.

We have bolstered our counter‑terrorism architecture and defined new strategies to tackle violent extremism and address root causes while respecting human rights. And I have put forward a new disarmament agenda to advance global peace. In the near term, the “New Start” agreement must be extended; we must work to address the heightened threat posed by ballistic missiles; and ensure a successful 2020 review of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula remains uncertain. I fully support the efforts towards a new summit between the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

And at this time of transition and dysfunction in global power relations, there is a new risk looming on the horizon that may not yet be large, but it is real. I fear the possibility of a great fracture: the world splitting in two, with the two largest economies on earth creating two separate and competing worlds, each with their own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, their own internet and artificial intelligence capacities, and their own zero‑sum geopolitical and military strategies.

We must do everything possible to avert the great fracture and maintain a universal system — a universal economy with universal respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions. People have a right to security in all its dimensions. Every measure to uphold human rights helps deliver sustainable development and peace.

In the twenty‑first century, we must see human rights with a vision that speaks to each and every human being and encompasses all rights: economic, social, cultural, political [and] civil. It would be a mistake to ignore or diminish economic, social and cultural rights.

But it would be equally misguided to think that those rights are enough to answer peoples yearnings for freedom. Human rights are universal and indivisible. One cannot pick and choose, favouring some while disdaining others. People have a right to well‑being and dignified standards of life, with health, housing and food; social protection and a sustainable environment; education — not only to learn things but to learn how to learn and prepare for the future; and decent jobs, especially for young people.

These rights permeate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And they are among our best tools for preventing conflict. Yet we are not on track. Inequality is exploding. Our global economy generates great flows of income, but this prosperity is captured by a small number of elites. It is a sad fact of our world today that ones chances of leading a life free of want and in full human dignity still depend more on the circumstances of ones birth than ones innate capacities.

Todays Sustainable Development Goals Summit — and Thursdays dialogue on financing — are opportunities to ramp up ambition, including by utilizing the promise of technology and innovation as recommended by the High‑Level Panel on Digital Cooperation that has concluded its report.

As was emphasized at yesterdays Climate Action Summit, the climate emergency is a race we are losing – but it is a race we can win if we change our ways now. Even our language has to adapt: what once was called “climate change” is now truly a “climate crisis”. And what was once called “global warming” has more accurately become “global heating”.

We are seeing unprecedented temperatures, unrelenting storms and undeniable science. Ten days ago, in the Bahamas, I saw the ruin caused by Hurricane Dorian. That aftermath is a mere prelude to what science tells us is on its way. But something else is on its way: solutions. The world is starting to move — not yet fast enough but move in the right direction — away from fossil fuels and towards the opportunities of a green economy.

The Climate Summit highlighted some of the solutions we need to scale up in order to dramatically reduce emissions, keep temperature rise to 1.5°C and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. But we are not yet there. We must build on this momentum and do much more to be able to defeat climate change.

People have a right to the fundamental freedoms that every country has promised to uphold. Yet today, we are at a critical juncture where advances made across the decades are being restricted and reversed, misinterpreted and mistrusted. We see wide‑ranging impunity, including for violations of international humanitarian law. New forms of authoritarianism are flourishing. Civic space is narrowing. Environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others are being targeted.

And surveillance systems expand their reach day by day, click by click, camera by camera, encroaching on privacy and personal lives. These breaches go beyond the breakdown in rules governing the behaviour of States and businesses. They are also playing out at a deeper level, shredding the fabric of our common humanity.

At a time when record numbers of refugees and internally displaced people are on the move, solidarity is on the run. We see not only borders, but hearts, closing — as refugee families are torn apart and the right to seek asylum torn asunder. We must re‑establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime and fulfil the promises of responsibility‑sharing set out in the Global Compact on Refugees.

We must also build on the landmark adoption of the first‑ever Global Compact on Migration last December. That means strengthening international cooperation for safe, orderly and regular migration and countering the smugglers and criminals who enrich themselves on the backs of vulnerable people. All migrants must see their human rights respected.

Around the world, alienation and distrust are being weaponized. Fear is todays best‑selling brand. That is why I launched two initiatives. First, a United Nations system‑wide strategy to tackle hate speech.

Second, an action plan to support efforts to safeguard religious sites and uphold the right to religious freedom. Religious, ethnic and other minorities must fully enjoy their human rights. That requires a strong investment in social cohesion to ensure diverse communities feel that their identities are respected and that they have a stake in society as a whole.

To those who insist on oppression or division, I say: diversity is a richness, never a threat. It is unacceptable in the twenty‑first century for women and men to be persecuted because of their identity, belief or sexual orientation. We must also secure the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people. This year I launched the first United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy.

And, of course, the worlds most pervasive manifestation of discrimination affects fully half of humankind: women and girls. Let us never forget gender equality is a question of power. And power still lies overwhelmingly with men — as we see from parliaments to boardrooms, and even this week in the halls, corridors and meeting rooms of the United Nations. We will shift the balance when we truly see womens rights and representation as our common goal.

That is why I have worked to ensure gender parity at the United Nations, together with regional balance. Today we have achieved parity in my Senior Management Group and among those who lead United Nations work at the country level. I will not let up until we have reached gender parity at all levels at the United Nations — and full equality for women and girls around the world.

That means continuing to push back against the pushback against womens rights. It means calling out a troubling commonality in terrorist attacks, extremist ideologies and brutal crimes: the violent misogyny of the perpetrators. And it means stepping up our efforts to expand opportunity.

At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. We cannot accept a world that tells my granddaughters that equality must wait for their granddaughters granddaughters. As we continue all this vital work and more, I have launched ambitious reforms to make the United Nations more effective. I count on you to place our Organization on sound financial footing.

In an ever more divided world, we need a strong United Nations. Next year we will mark the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations — a critical moment to renew our common project. The problems we face are real. But so is hope. As we strive to serve people, we also can be inspired by people.

Over the past two and a half years, I have spent time with young African girls learning to code; with teachers equipping young people with new skills for the future; [and] with entrepreneurs in many fields leading the world, innovation by innovation, into the green economy. They and so many others are helping to build the future we want. Their aspirations and their human rights must always be our touchstone.

We are here to serve. We are here to advance the common good while upholding our shared humanity and values. That vision united the founders of our Organization. At a time of division today, we must reconnect with that spirit. Let us restore trust, rebuild hope and move ahead, together.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.

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Thomson Reuters World-Check slammed as Islamophobic, Misleading and Unreliable  

Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters W..

Shaun Cunninghame – An investigative documentary by Aljazeera TV Network described Thomson Reuters World-Check as misleading and deliberately Islamophobic. The renowned documentary exposed how the Thomson Reuters World-Check London based company destroyed the lives of innocent civilians who were banned from travel and had their bank accounts closed.

The 52-mintue long documentary, “The Hidden is More Immense” revealed how the World-Check product – part of Thomson Reuters Company – has sourced a database of millions of names of Journalists, politics, political activists and member of the public and labelled them as “Terrorists”, “Convicted Terrorists” or involved in financial crimes, money laundering and terrorism. It also added that many charities, NGOs and even mosques have had their bank accounts closed due to being falsely labelled as “terrorists”

The documentary presented by investigative Journalist Tamer Misshal traced how World-Check built its database which turned to be on unreliable and inaccurate sources as fake blogs, unknown websites (with no ownership declared). Additionally, the documentary revealed that many of the sources used are often sent by repressive governments in the Middle East such as Israel, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and other countries. In some cases, some of sources are published by intelligence agencies and semi government agencies.

The documentary interviewed two Law offices in London and Brussels which confirmed that World-Check service is relying on “basic search on google” to source information against individuals.

Thomson Reuters World-Check has already lost several lawsuits in London and expected to concede in some ongoing cases.

Meanwhile, World-Check claims to help protect businesses from financial crime and “reduce risk by fulfilling your KYC due diligence screening obligations with accurate and structured information. World-Check Risk Intelligence is used and trusted by the worlds biggest companies” It also state on its website that it is an Intelligence database which delivers accurate and reliable information to help entities such as banks, financial and other institutions make informed decisions.

It also claims to have “hundreds of specialist researchers and analysts across the globe, adhering to the most stringent research guidelines as they collate information from reliable and reputable sources – such as watch lists, government records, and media searches.”

Contrary to the literature and objective of World-Check the Aljazeera Documentary raises the alarm of integrity and ethics on how this service operates. For example, journalists interviewed in the documentary argued clearly that the World-Check staff dont spend more than two minutes on reviewing or updating profiles of names included.

Pathetic, this contradiction has been apparent in 2017 where World Check confessed that its staff were incompetent and disqualified as elaborated by Tom Keatinge who argued, “According to the Particulars of Claim between Finsbury Park Mosque and World-Check owner Thomson Reuters, the information provided by World-Check to banks consists of “continually updated intelligence” providing an “early warning system for hidden risk”. Yet, it is claimed, the profile reports are compiled by “unqualified staff on the basis of open source data, in particular by means of Google searches”. Furthermore, “the profile reports are not subject to independent checks” and those that are the subject of these compiled profiles are not given an opportunity to check or correct these reports.”

Peter Oborne has accused World-Check earlier of abusing the definition and concept of terrorism and described the service as “inflammatory and toxic”. Oborne who extensively wrote on World-Check revealed that, “Banks are unfairly targeting Muslims. Now ministers must end this injustice”

Distributed by Newswire Now. A non-profit news publisher,

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Closure of detention centre exposes migrants and refugees to even worse conditions

Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to oth..

  • Following the closing of a detention centre in Misrata, refugees and migrants have been moved to other facilities in Libya
  • They are being exposed to increasingly inhumane and dangerous detention conditions.
  • More life-saving evacuations outside Libya are needed, as are alternatives to detention. Without such measures, vulnerable people will continue to be condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering.

On 14 October, Libyan authorities closed the Karareem detention centre in Misrata, in the central coastal region of Libya, and transferred more than a hundred refugees and migrants arbitrarily detained in this facility to two other detention centres in the same region, Zliten and Souq Al Khamees.

The conditions of detention in these two centres are known by Libyan authorities and UNHCR to be extremely bad, as reported by MSF teams on several occasions.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance.” – Sacha Petiot, MSF Head of Mission in Libya.

Men, women and children arbitrarily detained for months and, in many cases, years, with little access to food, water and open air, will be exposed to the same inhumane conditions. Some of them suffered torture and trafficking during their stay in the country.

“Closing one detention centre would be a positive step if refugees and migrants were provided freedom of movement, protection and assistance,” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya. .

“But here, they are moved from one detention centre to another, seeing their conditions go from bad to worse and stuck in an endless cycle of despair and violence. At the bare minimum, they should have been released and taken care of in a safer environment.” says Sacha Petiot, MSF head of mission in Libya.

The armed conflict that started in April around Tripoli has made the situation more dangerous for the refugees and migrants detained in the areas where clashes occur. In this grim context, the tragic death of an estimated 60 people during an airstrike on Tajoura detention centre late at night on 2 July prompted renewed calls for the closure of Libyas detention centres, including by Libyan authorities themselves.

There are currently no safe locations in Libya where refugees and migrants can find protection and assistance. The only UNHCR-managed facility, the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, is now saturated and UNHCR has claimed that it cannot accommodate more vulnerable people.

“We need more life-saving evacuations outside Libya. And it is urgent to develop an alternative to detention, such as setting up shelters to provide immediate, temporary protection in Libya. Otherwise, the most vulnerable refugees and migrants are condemned to endless detention and exposed to major threats and suffering,” says Petiot.

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New refugees arrive to Iraq in a week of violence in northeast Syria

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be..

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

For the fourth consecutive day, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has been receiving hundreds of refugees crossing the border into Iraq from northeast Syria. Refugees mainly come from towns in northern Syria – Kobani, Amoda and Qamishly and surrounding villages.

As of this morning, over 1,600 Syrian refugees have been transported from the border areas to Bardarash refugee camp, some 150 kilometres east of Syria-Iraq border. The site has been prepped to receive the latest arrivals fleeing the fighting in northern Syria.

Newly arrived refugees told our staff that it took them days to get to the border as they fled amid shelling and fighting. Most of the new arrivals are women, children and elderly. Their general physical condition appears to be good, but some required psychosocial support.

In support of the response led by local authorities, our teams and those of other aid agencies and partners have been working round the clock to transport refugees to the Bardarash camp and meet their immediate needs. Family tents are being pitched to provide shelter, water and sanitation systems have been put in place together with other basic facilities.

Upon arrival refugees are given hot meals, water, basic aid items including mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerrycans and other items. Medical teams with ambulances and a mobile medical unit are present to provide medical assistance if needed. Our teams are working with partners to provide services needed including pyscho-social support and protection services. The refugees are registered using biometric iris-scanning and their specific needs are assessed to determine what kind of assistance they may require.

Meanwhile in Syria, after a week of violence in countrys northeast, we and our partners have been able so far to provide life-saving assistance to nearly 60,000 newly displaced Syrians as well as to those forced to flee from one camp to another. Nearly 23,000 people have received core relief and winter items in the camps. UNHCR also provided same assistance to another 35,700 living in collective shelters and host communities.

The UN currently estimates some 166,000 people have been forced to flee their homes over the past seven days. Newly displaced families continue to seek shelter in camps, makeshift sites, communal shelters, with family, friends or acquaintances. Many of them have been displaced multiple times from one area to another in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Raqqa.

Where possible, UNHCR teams conduct protection assessments and our response continues. Our protection partners identify those in need of specialized care and attention every day.

Violence has wreaked chaos among civilians, hitting the most vulnerable hardest. Our teams reported story of a child, a 13 year-old boy from Ras-Al-Ain, who ran for his life amid intense fighting and got separated from his parents. He followed the crowds and reached one of the communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh where UNHCR outreach volunteers tirelessly went through communal shelters until they were able to reunite the boy with his family.

Given the new and significant humanitarian needs, UNHCR reiterates its calls for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. It is also critical that humanitarian workers are given unfettered humanitarian access to reach those newly displaced and assist them wherever this is required.

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