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Weekly News Update April 19-23, 2021

Greta Thunberg - Call for Vaccine Equity: WHO Briefing (19 April 2021)


Press Conference: UN Secretary-General on the report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020


NEW HRW Report: China Commits Crimes Against Humanity in Xinjiang

Mass Detention, Torture, Cultural Persecution of Uyghurs, Other Turkic Muslims

(New York, April 19, 2021) – TheChinesegovernment is committing crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Chinese leadership is responsible for widespread and systematic policies of mass detention, torture, and cultural persecution, among other offenses. Coordinated international action is needed to sanction those responsible, advance accountability, and press the Chinese government to reverse course.

The 53-page report, “‘Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots’: China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims,” authored with assistance from Stanford Law School’s Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Clinic, draws on newly available information from Chinese government documents, human rights groups, the media, and scholars to assess Chinese government actions in Xinjiang within the international legal framework. The report identified a range of abuses against Turkic Muslims that amount to offenses committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against a population: mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, cultural and religious erasure, separation of families, forced returns to China, forced labor, and sexual violence and violations of reproductive rights.

“Chinese authorities have systematically persecuted Turkic Muslims – their lives, their religion, their culture,” saidSophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Beijing has said it’s providing ‘vocational training’ and ‘deradicalization,’ but that rhetoric can’t obscure a grim reality of crimes against humanity.”

Crimes against humanity are considered among the gravest human rights abuses under international law. The Chinese government’s oppression of Turkic Muslims is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years it has reached unprecedented levels. In addition to mass detention and pervasive restrictions on practicing Islam, there is increasing evidence of forced labor, broad surveillance, and unlawful separation of children from their families.

“It’s increasingly clear that Chinese government policies and practices against the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meet the standard for crimes against humanity under international criminal law,” said Beth Van Schaack, faculty affiliate, Stanford Center for Human Rights & International Justice. “The government’s failure to stop these crimes, let alone punish those responsible, shows the need for strong and coordinated international action.”

Human Rights Watch and the Stanford Human Rights Clinic urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution to create a commission of inquiry with authority to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity, identify officials responsible for abuses, and provide a road map for holding them accountable. The UN high commissioner for human rights should also monitor and report on the human rights situation in Xinjiang and keep the Human Rights Council regularly informed.

Concerned governments should impose coordinated visa bans, travel bans, and targeted individual sanctions on authorities responsible for criminal acts. They should also pursue domestic criminal cases under the concept of “universal jurisdiction,” which allows prosecution of grave crimes committed abroad. And they should adopt trade restrictions and other measures to end the use of forced labor in China.

“It is increasingly clear that a coordinated global response is needed to end China’s crimes against humanity against Turkic Muslims,” Richardson said. “That China is a powerful state makes it all the more important for holding it accountable for its unrelenting abuses.”

“‘Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots’: China’s Crimes against Humanity Targeting Uyghurs and Other Turkic Muslims” is available at:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on China, please visit:

For more information, please contact:

In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile); Twitter: @SophieHRW

In Washington, DC, Maya Wang (English, Mandarin, Cantonese): +1-646-689-1620 (mobile); Twitter: @wang_maya

In New York, Kenneth Roth (English): +1-212-216-1201; Twitter: @kenroth

In Tokyo, Kanae Doi (English, Japanese): +81-3-5575-3774; or +81-90-2301-4372 (mobile);

In Geneva, John Fisher (English, French): +41-79-472-49-31; Twitter: @JohnFisher_hrw

In New York, Param-Preet Singh (English): +1-917-586-1140 (mobile); Twitter: @singhp_p

In New York, Louis Charbonneau (English, German, Czech): +1-212-377-9468; or +1-646-591-5178 (mobile); Twitter: @loucharbon

In Istanbul, Emma Sinclair-Webb (English, Turkish): +1-917-385-4161 (WhatsApp); Twitter: @esinclairwebb

In Jakarta, Andreas Harsono (English, Indonesian): +62-815-950-9000 (mobile); Twitter: @andreasharsono

In Brussels, Lotte Leicht (English, German, French, Danish, Swedish): +32-475-68-17-08 (mobile); Twitter: @LotteLeicht1

In Berlin, Wenzel Michalski (German, English): +49-151-419-242-56 (mobile); Twitter: @WenzelMichalski

In Paris, Bénédicte Jeannerod (French, English): +33-6-74-32-88-94 (mobile); Twitter: @BenJeannerod

In New York, Rachel Denber (English, Russian, French): +1-917-916-1266 (mobile); Twitter: @rachel_denber

In North Africa, Ahmed Benchemsi (English, French, Arabic): +1-929-343-7973 (mobile); Twitter: @AhmedBenchemsi

In London, Yasmine Ahmed (English): +44-7531-405-665 (mobile); or Twitter: @ yasmineahmed001


PRESS RELEASE UN calls for urgent action to feed the world’s growing population healthily, equitably and sustainably New York, 19 April –The COVID-19 crisis has added between 83 and 132 million to the 690 million people worldwide who were already undernourished, casting doubt on the chances of meeting global targets on food security and nutrition and prompting calls for an overhaul of the world’s food systems, which the fifty-fourth session of the UN Commission on Population and Development will discuss. This year’s meeting of the Commission on Population and Development will run from 19 to 23 April. Participants will examine the interlinkages between population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development. The Commission’s debates will inform the preparations of the Food Systems Summit, to be convened by the United Nations Secretary‑General in September 2021. “Our children’s future is in peril with unsustainable food systems,” said Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. “What is worse, even while wreaking havoc on the planet, our current food systems fail the hundreds of millions who still go hungry and the billions that cannot afford a healthy diet. It is time for a change.” “Too often, it is women and girls who eat last and least, even if they are pregnant or breastfeeding, with devastating effects on their health and that of their children,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. “Now, what was already bad has been made worse by COVID-19. We see spikes in gender-based violence and child marriage, and women face barriers to sexual and reproductive health services. It is a crisis with a woman’s face. Yet, it also offers lessons and opportunities for building forward better and fairer for everyone.” “The close linkages between population, food security and nutrition demonstrate that people lie at the heart of sustainable development and the creation of equitable food systems,” said Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2021 Food Systems Summit. Population changes and the demand for food The continuing growth of the human population, which is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, together with the growth in income per capita will substantially increase the demand for food, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The gradual ageing and urbanization of the global population will also affect food demand. The different food requirements of youth and older persons, as well as the different consumption patterns of urban and rural populations, will affect minimum dietary energy requirements and the demand for various types of food. Current food systems are failing us Globally, more than 3 billion people cannot afford healthy diets. Over 20 per cent of children under five suffer from stunting and 7 per cent from acute malnutrition. Meanwhile, 6 per cent of children under five and 39 per cent of adults are overweight, according to a UN report released ahead of the Commission’s annual meeting. Worldwide, only 19 per cent of children aged 6–23 months eat a minimally acceptable diet, while inadequate nutrition and anaemia among women of reproductive age contribute to poor health and development outcomes for mothers and children. Unhealthy diets are now estimated to be responsible for more adult deaths and disability worldwide than tobacco use, and older persons today face heightened risks of non-communicable diseases due to poor nutrition. Impacts of food production on the planet Occupying 50 per cent of the Earth’s habitable land, food production is a major driver of biodiversity loss, air and water pollution, deforestation, soil degradation and water scarcity. It accounts for 70 per cent of freshwater consumption and produces around one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. The impacts are especially severe in low- and middle-income countries, where many people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and where food security and adaptive capacity are low. Food security and gender On every continent, the prevalence of food insecurity is higher among women than men. This often occurs even in the same household and even if women are pregnant or breastfeeding. Food insecurity and malnutrition are also linked to child marriage. The COVID-19 pandemic has further deepened women’s vulnerabilities, undermining their access to food and disrupting important antenatal and postnatal services, including nutrition support for pregnant and lactating women. According to a recent UN report, food scarcity and restricted mobility due to COVID-19 lockdowns has increased the incidence of gender-based violence and child marriage and heightened the risk of sexual exploitation of women and girls. While women make up over 37 per cent of the world’s rural agricultural employment – a figure that rises to 48 per cent for low-income countries – they face disadvantages in access to productive assets, inputs and services, including land, inheritance, livestock, education and extension and financial services. COVID-19 is exacerbating food challenges In 2020, lockdowns and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disrupted food supply chains and unleashed an economic recession with massive loss of livelihoods and reduced spending on nutritious foods. School closures disrupted school feeding programmes for an estimated 370 million schoolchildren. The pandemic has also increased humanitarian needs. Urgent change in policies needed Government policies can create market incentives to encourage shifts in production, while also using consumer education and school curricula to affect consumption habits. Policy approaches including incentives, regulations and dietary guidelines can encourage people to adopt healthy diets based on foods that have lower environmental burdens. It is estimated that the livelihoods of about 4.5 billion people globally are tied to food systems. With food system workers often affected by poverty and hunger, economic transformation must allow for expanded off-farm job opportunities, while improving employment conditions in the agricultural sector. The introduction of new agricultural technologies can raise the productivity and incomes of family farmers and help to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector. Efforts to increase education, prevent child marriage, reduce adolescent pregnancy and improve nutrition and access to family planning can help reduce risks to women’s and children’s health. Programmes for education, social protection, food security and health care, including for sexual and reproductive health-care services, should include nutrition education and assistance. Targeted social protection programmes, protections for vulnerable food system workers, including migrant workers, protections for import-dependent countries, and increased diversity and resilience of production and distribution systems – including temporary measures implemented during the COVID-19 crisis – can also contribute to a long-term transformation of food systems. ********** Media contacts: Sharon Birch-Jeffrey, UN Department of Global Communications T: 1 212-963-0564 / E: Helen Rosengren, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs T: 1 212-963- 9492 / E: Eddie Wright, United Nations Population Fund T: 1 917-831-2074 /E:




Opening Ceremony of the 20th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 19 April 2021


Distinguished Members of the Permanent Forum,

Representatives of Indigenous Peoples,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great privilege to address you today at the opening ceremony of the 20th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I congratulate Madame Chair on her election and I wish her all the best during her endeavours.

I had hoped, that we would be able to meet together at an informal hearing, in line with GA Resolution 71/321, however I understand, and respect your request to postpone this interaction until it is safe to convene a large gathering in-person.

This has indeed been a challenging year; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for indigenous peoples who suffer from underlying health issues, poverty, and food insecurity at rates disproportionately higher than the general population.

I commend the indigenous peoples’ organizations that rallied to protect isolated communities with less access to healthcare.

Madame Chair,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is clear from your participation in the regional dialogues, that in order to ensure Vaccines4All, we must disseminate vaccines in a manner that is culturally appropriate and leaves no one behind. This is critical if we are to reach the most vulnerable and the elderly.

If we fail to do so, we risk not only losing beloved members of communities but also the elders who uphold traditions, cultures, and languages. In some communities, the elderly are the last speakers of endangered languages. The intrinsic link between language and identity is one of great importance, and one which I trust will be promoted throughout the International Decade of Indigenous Languages, beginning next year.

Furthermore, throughout planning efforts to recover better, we must ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making processes that facilitate the full engagement of indigenous peoples.

In our socio-economic recovery, we must address the impact that market closures and ecotourism disruption has had on indigenous peoples.

As we prepare for the next pandemic, we must engage indigenous communities who are at a higher risk for emerging infectious diseases as a result of the destruction of ecosystems from extractive industries and climate change.

In addressing the climate crisis, we must involve indigenous peoples who are the stewards of more than 80% of our biodiversity worldwide.

As we work to end gender-based violence and achieve gender equality around the world, we must engage indigenous women who experience sexual and gender-based violence at a greater rate, and have less access to education, employment and justice, than other women.

The fact is, decision-makers should reflect the population who is governed by the decisions made. This is the only approach that will end stigmatization, discrimination, and cultural threats, and improve access to vital services such as education, healthcare, and justice.

Considering the increasing migration of indigenous peoples to urban areas, I encourage all indigenous peoples joining us today to engage in the upcoming Special Session Against Corruption in June, and the high-level dialogue on urban safety, security and good governance which takes place this Thursday.

I also encourage policymakers in urban areas to enable the realization of individual and collective rights including the right to self-autonomy, the maintenance of identity, as well as the creation of decent work that is culturally appropriate. This is key to realising sustainable, self-determined development in the urban environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Madame Chair,

The Permanent Forum provides a central channel for sharing first-hand experience, advice, and recommendations on indigenous issues, which is essential to maintaining peace, justice and strong institutions. This advice must be heard and heeded by governments in order to create lasting change. I urge all Member States to promote respect for, and fully apply, the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons.

Sustainable Development Goal 16 represents the original aspirations of the founders of the United Nations, as they set out to create a multilateral system founded upon peace, justice, strong institutions, and the equal dignity and worth of each person.

75 years later, in this Decade of Action to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to recommit to these principles. This means including the voices of those who have, for too long, been silenced.

Our strength lies in our diversity. If we fail to realise this, we will not only fail indigenous communities, but everyone, everywhere.

I thank you all for your tireless commitment to your communities, and creating a better world for all. I look forward to working with you for the remainder of the 75th session and I wish you all the best throughout this meeting. Once again, I thank you Madame Chair and I wish you all the best in your endeavours.


Concert: Celebration of English & Spanish Language Days - UN Chamber Music Society



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