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United States Quits UN Human Rights Council

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The Trump administration withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, making good on a pledge to leave a body it accused of hypocrisy and bias against Israel.

“For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abuses, and a cesspool of political bias,”Nimrata Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, said Tuesday at the State Department in Washington. She said the decision was an affirmation of U.S. respect for human rights, a commitment that “does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

The 47-member council, created in 2006 and based in Geneva, began its latest session on Monday with a broadside against President Donald Trump’s immigration policy by the UN’s high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. He called the policy of separating children from parents illegally crossing the southern border of the U.S. “unconscionable.”

The Trump administration is under intense criticism from business groups, human rights organizations and lawmakers from both parties over the recently imposed policy.

While the timing was jarring, the U.S. withdrawal had been in the works for some time and reflects broader scepticism among conservatives toward it. National Security Adviser John Bolton had opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006.

Haley warned a year ago that the U.S. would pull out if the council didn’t address what she saw as its bias toward Israel and the fact that many of its current members — they include China, Saudi Arabia and Egypt — have poor human rights records themselves.

“China is sorry to see the U.S. withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing Wednesday in Beijing. “The council is an important platform for all parties to conduct cooperation and communication on human rights issues.”

“It’s an imperfect body, but it has a decent track record,” said Stephen Pomper, director of U.S. programs at the International Crisis Group and a former National Security Council director under President Barack Obama. “It could get better, but it stands a worse chance of doing so if the U.S. takes its ball and goes home and allows it to become a playground for strongmen.”

The council also has been a forum for criticism of Trump’s economic policies. In a report on the U.S. due to be submitted to the Human Rights Council this week, Philip Alston, the UN’s envoy on poverty, said the president’s tax overhaul “overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality.”

The report says that while the U.S. has long been the most unequal among developed nations, it’s getting worse. “The policies pursued over the past year seem deliberately designed to remove basic protections from the poorest,” it said.
Source: Bloomberg

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Chris Cash: The UK Parliamentary Researcher Accused of Spying for Beijing Authorities

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In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.

Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.

Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.

China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.

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Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000

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On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.

The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.

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African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants

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The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.

The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.

Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.

They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.

African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.

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