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Hello, this is Paula. This week, negotiators across Geneva race against the clock as they approach various key deadlines on issues, including on health and trade.

But before that, with most of Gaza’s buildings demolished in Israeli air raids, little of its ancient past remains. A few of the Strip’s antiquities have been kept safe over the years in Geneva’s free port and may soon be unsealed for the public to see once again.

Finally, join us on 26 February for our monthly talk in partnership with the Geneva Press Club. We'll be discussing expectations and challenges for the Human Rights Council, which will gather starting next week amid growing geopolitical rifts and worsening abuses.

photo journaliste

Paula Dupraz-Dobias


On our radar

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Jawdat Khoudary's archaeological museum sometime after the start of Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza following the Hamas 7 October attack. (Rights Reserved)

Unearthing Gaza’s archaeological treasures in Geneva. Since the beginning of October, over half of homes in Gaza have been destroyed in Israeli bombings. Also blighted now is much of the territory's history, both recent and more ancient. A free port in Geneva may be where some of the only remaining relics of Gaza’s distant past can be found.

Geneva Solutions

What to watch this week

⏰KEEP ON TRYING. The eighth and second to last round of talks for a pandemic treaty begins today. Negotiations were launched in 2021 after Covid-19 showed that few countries were prepared to deal with the fallout of global health crises.

Clock ticking. With just three months to go to the World Health Assembly when the plenary is expected to reach an agreement, time is running out to iron out contention points. A week after the World Trade Organization dropped attempts to waive intellectual property rights on Covid-19 treatments and tests, divisions over IP rights and access to all medical products are likely to persist in the WHO talks.

🚘 ROADRUNNER. Look out for commitments to make transport more sustainable at this week’s annual meeting of the UN’s Inland Transport Committee, which is being called to adopt a strategy to decarbonise inland transport by 2050.

Why it matters. The transport sector contributes 23 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, of which road transport churns up 77 per cent of those emissions. A new record in average global temperature rise in 2023, boosted by the emissions, put the warming dangerously close to limits set by the Paris deal.

What to do. The UN Economic Commission for Europe, which hosts the committee, says that to get on track for net zero, emissions from the transport sector – including road, rail and inland waters – need to drop three per cent per year by 2030.

🎂LITTLE TO CELEBRATE. On Saturday, it’ll be two years since Russia’s latest incursion into Ukraine set off the biggest security threat to Europe in decades. According to the UN, nearly 3.7 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, and roughly 40 per cent of the population require humanitarian aid. A recent report estimated the cost of rebuilding the country at nearly half a billion dollars.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, meanwhile, says that more than half of Ukrainians surveyed in Ukraine and abroad now experience financial difficulties, including many burdened by debt. But the Global Red Cross is also under financial pressure, as it reports a 38 per cent shortfall in contributions to its Ukraine appeal.

Join us!

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A litmus test for the Human Rights Council: navigating divides and global crises. The Human Rights Council is gearing up for its first session of the year on 26 February amid a tumultuous global landscape. From war in Ukraine to conflicts in Sudan, Syria, Myanmar and Gaza, a spectrum of human rights crises awaits the 47-member UN body. As geopolitical fractures deepen and accusations of double standards tarnish the West’s credibility, can the council stay relevant? How will the UN’s funding crisis impact its effectiveness? How will the freshly elected council president, Morocco’s ambassador Omar Zniber, chart the course through a jam-packed six-week session?

Join our journalists and human rights experts in person and online on 26 February at 12:15 pm at Chateau de Penthes, opening day as they debrief on their expectations in our monthly talk at the Geneva Press Club.

Sign up here.

Also on the agenda

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