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Good morning, this is Kasmira. Overlooking the Place des Nations, the International Telecommunications Union has had an important presence in Geneva ever since it relocated from Bern in 1948. Its sprawling campus is due for a revamp, with a new headquarters building fit for an organisation sprinting alongside the latest technological advances. However, those plans seem to have been put on hold – at least for now – after increased construction costs put a spanner in the works, in what could deal a major blow for international Geneva. We investigate what happened.

Plus, more from the second day of the Human Rights Council and the World Trade Organization warns of the growing dangers of a fragmented global economy in a new report, as it struggles to assert its place amid increased trade tensions.

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Kasmira Jefford


On our radar

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A rendition of the proposed ITU headquarters building, Geneva (Credit: ITU)

🚧 ITU rethinks plans for new Geneva HQ. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is reviewing its plans to build a new headquarters in Geneva after delaying the project due to budget constraints. The United Nations’ agency was due to begin the first phase of works in January to replace the oldest of its three buildings – the Varembé – with new, state-of-the-art offices. However, it was forced to return to the drawing board after the building contractors' offers exceeded its initial budget estimates.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Straight from the Palais

*Bringing you the latest from UN press briefings in Geneva.

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Delegates at the Human Rights Council’s 54th session observe a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya over the weekend. (Geneva Solutions/Michelle Langrand)

‘No sign of hope’. The council’s last session of the year has already gotten to a heavy start, with the ever-worsening situations in Sudan, Nicaragua and Afghanistan presented before the Geneva-based body on Tuesday. Independent expert on Sudan Radhouane Nouicer regretted seeing “no sign of hope, no sign of peace and of justice” since the war broke out in April. “The more the conflict goes on, the more the country will be dislocated, the more the people will suffer,” he said. UN high commissioner for human rights Volker Türk criticised Nicaragua’s continued crackdown on dissenting voices, noting people were now afraid to leave the country, even briefly, for fear of not being allowed back in. The plight of Afghan women and girls, who have been essentially barred from public life, was highlighted by Türk and member states while some called on sanctions to be lifted.

Illusions. Meanwhile, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented its latest report to the press. Commissioner Hanny Megally said he was concerned about the world thinking “peace has returned to Syria”, with its return to the Arab League giving the false impression of stabilisation, while protests in Suweida motivated by inflation and the dire economic situation were just the latest example that the country was far from being a safe place for Syrians to return.

A minute of silence. Tragedy in the Sahel also took centre stage despite not being on the official agenda. Delegates stood for a minute of silence in solidarity with victims of the earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya. At the morning press briefing, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) informed reporters about the ongoing rescue operations and the delicate politics that go with it. IFRC head of delegation Tamer Ramadan said up to 10,000 people have been confirmed missing after storm Daniel slammed Libya. Responding to questions about Morocco only accepting aid from a handful of countries, global director of operations Caroline Holt said it’s “an issue of coordination to ensure we don’t introduce further chaos into an already chaotic situation”.

-By Michelle Langrand

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