News in Brief

UN chief heads to Switzerland for Cyprus talks

The UN Secretary-General will attend talks underway in Switzerland to decide the future of Cyprus.

Antonio Guterres has previously urged the leaders of the island’s Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities to seize “an historic opportunity” to reach an agreement.

This week, the UN chief was in Washington where he met with senior US leaders including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

He also held talks with Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al Thani.

Stephane Dujarric is the UN Spokesperson:

“The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister had a good exchange of views. The Secretary-General delivered and repeated the message that he has delivered to other parties dealing with the crisis in the Gulf: mainly that he strongly supports the Kuwaiti mediation efforts and hopes that they will lead to a progressive de-escalation of the situation, gradually creating the conditions for a meaningful dialogue to take place.”

Women’s rights facing “growing backlash” in world, says UN expert

A group of UN independent experts has warned about a growing backlash or resistance against women’s rights in many parts of the world .

The very concept of gender equality is being contested in some quarters, they underscored in a statement.

Alda Facio is the Chair of the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice.

“For a few years now there has been a growing backlash against the gains that women made during the last decade of the 20th Century and then now we’re seeing a more open backlash or resistance to women’s gains and some States here at the UN Human Rights Council openly hostile to women’s equality and to women’s rights �especially sexual and reproductive rights- but some even saying that there is no such thing as the right to equality for women.

The Working Group is urging countries to repeal laws that discriminate against women on traditional, cultural or religious grounds.

The experrts are also asking for the roll back of laws that “exclusively or disproportionately criminalise action or behaviour by women and girls.”

Diversity and vulnerability focus of first International Day of the Tropics

The “extraordinary diversity” of the Tropics as well as the challenges and opportunities facing nations in the region were in the spotlight on Thursday, the first ever International Day of the Tropics.

The UN estimates that by 2050, most of the world’s people, including two-thirds of its children, will be living in the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

This region accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s total surface and hosts roughly 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity as well as much of its language and cultural diversity.

It also is home to nearly 95 per cent of the planet’s mangrove forests, which the UN says has decreased over the past four decades.

Source: United Nations Radio