News in Brief (AM)

“Collective shoulder” needs to be put behind international court

The “collective shoulder” of the international community needs to be put behind the International Criminal Court (ICC) on behalf of victims of “core crimes” the world over.

That’s the view of the UN Human Rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, speaking on Wednesday, following the decision to withdraw from the ICC by South Africa, Burundi and Gambia.

Zeid said their withdrawl appeared to be aimed at “protecting their leaders from prosecution” by the ICC, established in 2000, with a mandate to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

According to news reports, Russia has said it is formally withdrawing its signature from the founding statute, although it has never ratified the decision to join the ICC.

“Today’s challenges are not the first stern test faced by the court and they will not be the last” said Zeid, adding that “it will take all the nerve and resources of the truly committed States Parties to resist such challenges.”

He commended Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Malawi, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia and Sierra Leonne for signalling their intention not to abandon the ICC.

Values of tolerance “facing profound tests around the world”: UN chief

The “values of tolerance and mutual understanding”, embedded in the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are “facing profound tests around the world”, according to the UN chief.

In his message for the International Day for Tolerance, marked each 16 November, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that refugees and migrants were facing “closed doors and clenched fists” while violent extremism and bigotry remained a growing threat.

He singled out the UN’s new Together campaign to promote tolerance, respect and dignity around the world, which aims to highlight the benefits of diversity and migration.

“Too many armed conflicts have sectarian dimensions” said Mr Ban, adding that “too many politicians use the cynical math that says you add votes by dividing people.”

Peace prize recognition that “diplomacy works”

The award of an international peace prize to a senior UN official who has worked extensively in the Middle East is a recognition that diplomacy works.

Sigrid Kaag was due to receive the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize for 2016 on Wednesday for her “successful efforts in accomplishing sensitive and dangerous missions in the Middle-East.”

The Dutch national who is now the United Nations Special Coordinator in Lebanon led the OPCW-UN joint mission on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons up until September 2014.

Here’s Sigrid Kaag on the importance of the award.

“It’s, of course, a recognition for the work of teams; all the people that I have had the privilege to lead and work with. And I believe it’s also a recognition for multi-lateral efforts, it’s a recognition for the UN and the fact that international diplomacy works, should always be pursued and that it’s important in times of crisis but also to prevent conflict.”

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 2’41”

Source: United Nations Radio.