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Good morning, this is Michelle. Human rights crises are worsening across the globe, as reflected by the ever-growing agenda of the Human Rights Council, which begins its 54th session today.

As it spirals into new depths of humanitarian and governance crises, Africa has been subject to renewed attention and is set to steal the spotlight over the next month.

A few metres away from the Palais des Nations, the World Trade Organization will also be busy with its annual public forum, and outer space will occupy Geneva’s security experts and diplomats.

photo journaliste

Michelle Langrand


On our radar

Photo article

Sudanese refugees who fled the conflict in Sudan gather 1 July 2023 at the Zabout refugee Camp in Goz Beida, Chad. (Keystone/WFP/AP/Marie-Helena Laurent)

🇺🇳 Chaos in Sudan leaves Human Rights Council members divided over next steps. As the conflict in Sudan intensifies, over 110 NGOs have reiterated their call to the Human Rights Council to set up an independent mechanism to investigate rights violations in the country. But after strong resistance at the last session in May, member states are still undecided on how to proceed.

Geneva Solutions

What else to watch this week 👀

Four weeks of human rights talks. The Human Rights Council kicks off today with an ever-growing list of human rights issues to tackle. Crises in Africa are poised to take the spotlight (see our story above), but others are expected to spark heated exchanges.

The special rapporteur on Russia, Mariana Katzarova, will present her first and only report on 21 September. Keeping the pressure on Moscow will be one of the priorities for western countries, especially the Europeans, who will seek to renew Katzarova’s mandate. Diplomats seem confident that they will garner the needed support for their bid, though they remain cautious about Russia’s ability to mobilise its allies.

Moscow is apparently running a fierce campaign to win back its stripped seat at the Human Rights Council at upcoming elections in New York on 10 October. But western countries are ready to put up a fight, according to a diplomat, who assured there is no "Russia fatigue" on their part. However, the question is whether other states are starting to feel it.

The Commission of Inquiry on Syria’s latest report is slated for the next day on 22 September. Renewed tensions and clashes since mid-August have pushed the UK and other supporters to consider slapping it with another resolution.

Honduras is the latest Latin American country to put itself on the agenda, after Colombia and Haiti in the last year. It announced it would table a resolution to request help to improve human rights in its jail system after it recently handed the keys of its prisons to the military to contain a gang problem that has gotten out of hand.

Other serious crises on the agenda are Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Palestine. There are no signs that the issue of Xinjiang will be brought up at this session, as western states are still licking their wounds from the defeat last year. But as one diplomat noted, it will be nearly a whole month before proposals are due on 4 October, meaning anything can happen.

Also on the agenda

  • 📌 12-15 September | WTO Public Forum. The World Trade Organization is organising a series of online conferences for the public to learn more about crucial issues relating to global trade. These include discussions on the digital tools to boost commerce, the impact of the US and China’s climate policies on developing countries, the harmful impacts of fishing subsidies and decarbonising transport and much more.

    Government ministers, private sector leaders and civil society representatives will join WTO’s director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former executive director of the International Trade Centre Arancha González and former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, in discussing those challenges and trying to find solutions.
    WTO (EN)
  • 📌 12-14 September | People-centric humanitarian response in conflict. Has aid work professionalised too much, to the point of doing more harm than good? How should humanitarian organisations prioritise aid response as needs continue to outgrow available resources? The world’s biggest relief groups are holding a two-day hybrid event to rethink their approach.
  • 📌 13-14 September | Outer Space Security Conference. As if war on Earth wasn’t already enough to worry about, fears about space becoming the next battleground are growing. Yet no initiative to set rules to avoid any sort of conflict up there seems to have gathered the needed consensus to materialise. Experts will evaluate what has been done so far and how to break the deadlock.
    Unidir (EN)
  • For more events, visit the Genève Internationale website.

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