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78th session of UN General Assembly opens

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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — The 78th session of the UN General Assembly was declared open on Tuesday by new General Assembly President Dennis Francis.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in his opening remarks read on his behalf by his deputy, Amina Mohammed, warned of a world of deep challenge and division that is testing the United Nations.

“Despite profound global challenges, this is not a moment for pessimism. This is a moment for action,” he said. “Action for peace and human rights; action to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle the existential threat of climate change; action to create productive jobs and expand economic opportunity, especially for women and young people; action to ensure that rapid evolutions in technology like artificial intelligence are a help, and not a harm, to humanity; action to build a world of hope and promise for all that leaves no-one behind.”

“More than any room on earth, the General Assembly represents our common humanity and our shared commitment for peace, sustainable development and human rights. Let’s forge the solutions that all people expect and make progress toward a better, and a more peaceful and prosperous future, and a healthier planet,” said Guterres.

In his opening remarks, Francis said the new session of the General Assembly began “amid a daunting global agenda, beset by a series of cascading challenges.”

He called on member states to push for and nurture peace by empowering those most vulnerable; to deliver shared prosperity by unlocking the resources required for transformational results; to accelerate progress by capitalizing on the enablers of youth, innovation, and technology; and to drive sustainability.

“This session, I will commit to engaging regional and other groups to collectively collaborate to bring to life a renewed atmosphere of global cooperation and shared commitments. My ambition is for the General Assembly to address the array of challenges it faces in the most effective and inclusive way possible,” said Francis.

He called on member states to adopt a true spirit of multilateralism for problem-solving “so that we can better protect, if not guarantee, the security and dignity of humankind.”

Francis, a diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago, was sworn in at the closing of the 77th session of the General Assembly on Tuesday morning.

The intertwined challenges of climate, conflict, and poverty continue to make peace more elusive. Sharp geopolitical divides have brought the world to a dangerous new era of nuclear uncertainty. They have bred skepticism of the multilateral system and have forced many countries to navigate a narrow strategic space to drive change for their societies, he said.

“As the UN’s chief policy-making body, the General Assembly bears a special responsibility to ensure that our efforts must be anchored in a robust multilateral system, faithful to the cherished values and principles enshrined in the Charter, our Charter — one that draws its strength — and legitimacy — from greater inclusion and meaningful opportunities for enhanced engagement to shape decisions.”

As the world’s poorest bear the steepest costs of violence, long-term investments are needed to leave no one behind, he said. “To this end, we must find tailored solutions to the specific challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. The General Assembly must lend its weight to enhancing financing, technology, debt sustainability and capacity-building in places where development is in deficit and where assistance is most needed.”

As things stand, 680 million people — 8 percent of the global population — will still be facing hunger in 2030, he said. “Without a quantum leap in our commitments, without a radical transformation of our action, we risk sorely missing the mark on the promises we made to leave no one behind. There are specific objectives that demand an immediate and essential reinforcement of our efforts, including through accelerating the implementation of our sustainable development agenda. This is particularly important for already disadvantaged and marginalized groups.”

Women and girls are systematically denied their most basic human rights — from education and employment to equal pay and land ownership. It is time to confront the epidemic of violence against women. It is imperative that the multilateral system and its institutions be built for the advancement and success of women and men, not either or, not one or the other. And this means closing the gender gaps that have festered for far too long, to the detriment of far too many, and to society itself, said Francis.

Ethnic, racial, sexual and religious minorities, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and others are all vulnerable to intersectional forms of discrimination. The General Assembly must redouble its efforts to tackle the insidious spread of human rights violations and extremism, in all their declinations — from hate speech to institutionalized discrimination, he said.

“We must firmly repudiate any ideology that seeks to sow fear and division. We must, instead, lead the conversation on equality, equal rights, and nondiscrimination as legitimate and imperative social norms that undergird strong, cohesive productive societies.”

Francis called for efforts to build sustainable societies that are in harmony with each other and with nature, which he said is the only way to ensure humanity and the planet’s survival.

“The General Assembly’s historic recognition of the newest human right — the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment — reinforces its key role in protecting our global commons. With a population set to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, it is imperative that we transition to a mode of producing, consuming, and living that is respectful of, and in equilibrium with all people, species and ecosystems,” he said.

“The ‘future we want’ requires a pre-emptive nurturing of Nature, that we work proactively and purposively, not just responsively, that we embrace bold, progressive, and visionary action, that prioritizes long-term strategies to promote sustainable development for future generations, ensuring both their well-being and quality of life,” said Francis.

Source(s): Xinhua

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DPRK, Russia sign comprehensive strategic partnership agreement: KCNA

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The top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the president of Russia on Wednesday signed the Treaty on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership following their summit in Pyongyang, state media reported on Thursday.

The treaty was the culmination of the state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which also featured a bilateral summit meeting and private talks between him and Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the DPRK, as well as a welcoming ceremony at Kim Il Sung Square and a grand performance, among other high-profile events, according to multiple reports by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

In a joint statement, the DPRK top leader said the conclusion of the treaty put the relations of the two countries on a new higher stage – relations of alliance – calling it “the most powerful treaty in the history of the DPRK-Russia relations,” the KCNA reported.

The Russian president said the treaty is an “actual breakthrough document” reflecting the desire of the two countries to put bilateral ties on a new level, the report said.

The treaty includes a clause stipulating mutual support if one of the signatories to the treaty is invaded, and Russia “does not rule out military technical cooperation with the DPRK under the treaty,” the KCNA said.

The top leaders had a “tete-a-tete” which lasted for more than two hours, during which they reached a consensus on building a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and came to a “satisfactory” agreement on defending regional and global peace and international justice and on the matters of immediate cooperation, the KCNA reported.

Prior to the private conversation, the two sides held an extended bilateral meeting involving senior officials from both countries, where Kim hailed Putin’s visit as an event of strategic significance in developing the DPRK-Russia good-neighborly relations, and reaffirmed “the full support and solidarity of the DPRK government and people to the Russian government and people as regards the special military operations in Ukraine,” the KCNA said.

In addition to the treaty, the two governments signed agreements concerning the construction of a motorcar bridge over the River Tuman on their shared border and bilateral cooperation in the fields of public health, medical education and science, the KCNA said.

Also on Wednesday, the DPRK side awarded Putin the Order of Kim Il Sung, the highest medal of honor of the country, and hosted a banquet in his honor, the KCNA reported.

Putin concluded his state visit and left the DPRK capital on Wednesday night, as Kim took senior DPRK officials to Pyongyang International Airport to see him off, it added.

Source(s): CGTN

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The World Demands Justice for Palestine

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In the latest conflict between Palestine and Israel which has consumed more than 36,000 lives in the ceaseless bombing and crossfire during the past eight months, the international community has shown unprecedented solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for justice and dignity. From celebrities to politicians, from human rights activists to students, many around the world have expressed their support for the Palestinian people.

A subtle but powerful gesture of solidarity was made recently on the red carpet of the Palais des Festival in Cannes, France. Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett lifted the hem of her dress, the colors of which against the red carpet resembled that of the Palestinian flag. Blanchett, who is also a UNHCR goodwill ambassador, has been a vocal advocate for the rights of refugees. Last November, she spoke at the European parliament, “I am not from Israel or Palestine. I am not a politician. I am not even a pundit. But I am a witness, and having witnessed the human cost of war, violence and persecution visiting refugees from across the globe, I cannot look away.”

Her feelings and her conscience is shared by many. Indeed, countries around the world are choosing not to look away. Global support for Palestine was seen in the historic and courageous decision of Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognize the State of Palestine on May 22. This reflected the growing consensus among European

countries that the two-State solution is the only viable way to end the conflict and achieve peace. The three countries also called on other European countries to follow their example.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Israel have found themselves increasingly isolated and condemned by the international community for their aggression and violations of international law. The U.S. is facing a crisis of conscience within its own borders. Several U.S. officials resigned over the government’s policy on Gaza, which they considered to be biased and immoral. Lily Greenberg Call, the first Jewish appointee to resign from the Biden administration over the war in Gaza, wrote in her resignation letter that she could not “in good conscience continue to represent” the administration. Veteran State Department official Stacy Gilbert resigned because the administration is “twisting the facts” to justify continued U.S. military support to Israel. Annelle Sheline, a former State Department official, said she quit the agency because she thinks the President “must know what’s happening to people in Gaza, and yet the policy doesn’t change.”

Israel has been denounced by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Human Rights Council, and many countries for its war crimes and violations of international law. The prosecutor of the ICC has applied for arrest warrants for two senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, for their involvement in the military operations. The Human Rights Council has launched an investigation into the human rights violations committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory. Many countries have condemned the Israeli attacks on Gaza, and some have imposed sanctions and boycotts on Israel, such as Türkiye, South Africa, and Malaysia.

In March this year, U.S. President Joe Biden set a red line by stating that if Israel goes into Rafah, “we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used.” Then, when Israel bombed the Rafah refugee camp on May 26, the Biden administration decided that Israel did not cross the “red line”, keeping the greenlight on for U.S. military aid to Israel. Since October 7, a number of high-ranking U.S. officials have come out posturing on the issue, apparently raising concerns over Israel’s tactics but again repeating the rhetoric of “Israel’s right to defend itself” and paying lip service to “the need for a two-State solution” without taking any concrete action to stop Israeli aggression. Instead, they have vetoed or blocked U.N. resolutions that would hold Israel accountable, give Palestine full U.N. membership or facilitate an early ceasefire.

The world stands with Palestine in its quest for peace and justice. This is no longer a regional issue, but an issue of universal human values. The U.S. and Israel must face the consequences of their policies and actions, which have provoked the wrath and condemnation of the world. The time has come for the U.S. and Israel to change course and respect the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.

Source(s): see.news / Xin Ping

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Netanyahu disbands war cabinet as pressure grows on Israel’s north

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move following the departure from government of centrist former general Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet.

The move was announced as U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein visited Jerusalem, seeking to calm the situation on the disputed border with Lebanon, where Israel said tensions with Hezbollah were bringing the region close to a wider conflict.

The Israeli military said on Monday it had killed a senior operative in one of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile sections in the area of Selaa in southern Lebanon.

The military also said its operations were continuing in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip, where its forces have been battling Hamas fighters in the Tel Sultan area of western Rafah, as well as in central areas of the enclave.

Hochstein’s visit follows weeks of increasing exchanges of fire across the line between Israel and Lebanon, where Israeli forces have for months been engaged in a simmering conflict with Hezbollah that has continued alongside the war in Gaza.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes on both sides of the so-called Blue Line that divides the two countries, leaving eerily deserted areas of abandoned villages and farms hit by near-daily bombardment.

“The current state of affairs is not a sustainable reality,” government spokesperson David Mencer told a briefing.

Netanyahu had faced demands from the nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet. Such a move would have intensified strains with international partners including the United States.

The forum was formed after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the Gaza war in October. It also included Gantz’s political partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.

Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war.

Source(s): CGTN

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