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Good morning, this is Michelle, back from our summer break! We have a packed month of September ahead of us, starting this week with UNCTAD’s illicit trade forum, where countries will discuss how to rein in a thriving shadow economy worth a staggering amount of two trillion dollars.

Ahead of the Human Rights Council meeting next week, we speak to its president, Federico Villegas, about the challenges it faces in the current geopolitical landscape. Plus, the son of a jailed media mogul joins a nobel peace prize winner to discuss free speech in Hong Kong at an event in Geneva.

photo journaliste

Michelle Langrand


On our radar this week

Photo article

Federico Villegas, president of the Human Rights Council. (Credit: Geneva Solutions/ML)

A new social contract for the Human Rights Council. States are gearing up for a third Human Rights Council session underpinned by the war in Ukraine and its ripple effects, which have plunged millions of lives into turmoil. But with geopolitical tensions at an all-time high and world powers locking horns at every turn, can the Council address the growing human rights plights of the world? We spoke to its president, Federico Villegas, about the challenges the UN rights body has to overcome if it is to have an impact on the lives of victims on the ground.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Tackling the shadow economy. From multi-billion dollar thefts of crude oil to counterfeit medical goods, to smuggled gold, trafficked wildlife or cultural artefacts stolen in war, illegal trading activities have thrived alongside global trade and are estimated to be sapping roughly two trillion dollars from the world’s economy each year. A UN forum being held in Geneva until Wednesday will gather states and representatives from different sectors targeted by illicit trade to address the impact on global development.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Also on the agenda

📌 6 September | Democracy and free speech in Hong Kong: the case of Jimmy Lai and Apple Daily. Media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been imprisoned since 2020 for taking part in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The founder of the now defunct Apple Daily is standing trial on national security charges and faces up to life in prison. His son and his lawyer will be in Geneva to give an update on his case and discuss China’s sweeping crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong. They will be joined by Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa, also legally targeted for her reporting in the Philippines.

Geneva Press Club (EN)

📌 7 September | Five years of SOS Méditerranée Suisse. For its fifth anniversary, the humanitarian rescue NGO is holding an evening of live Eritrean, Electro-pop and other styles of music at the 1890s steamboat turned cultural hangout Bateau de Genève. Entrance fees will go to the organisation and are at the discretion of the attendees. The organisation's recent call for the European Union to allow 460 migrants, who have been stranded on the rescue boat Ocean King for eight days, to disembark at an EU port is a stark sign of a worsening humanitarian crisis at the Mediterranean sea.

SOS Méditerranée Suisse (FR)

For more events, visit the Genève Internationale website.

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Have a good day!

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