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Good morning, this is Kasmira. The year has gotten off to a slow start in international Geneva, with the cash-stricken UN prolonging the semi-closure of its headquarters for another week until Sunday to scrimp on energy costs.

But for the 47 members of the Human Rights Council, activity is in full swing as they prepare to elect their next president on Wednesday. The vote is expected to be a close call between South Africa’s ambassador and Morocco’s, with observers calling for countries to put aside their political inclinations and make their choice based on the candidate’s human rights track record.

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Kasmira Jefford


On our radar

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The next president of the Human Rights Council will be tasked with overseeing the forum amid an increasingly polarised environment. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

🗳️ Morocco and South Africa jostle for rights council top role, exposing legitimacy stakes. The Human Rights Council will vote on Wednesday to select its next president after African states reached an impasse over which of the two candidates – Morocco or South Africa – to put forward. The vote comes at a time of unprecedented challenges to human rights worldwide and amid calls by NGOs for a legitimate candidate from a country with a credible track record.

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What else to watch this week

🏔️Peace appetiser in Davos. National security advisers from several countries will gather on Sunday to discuss Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula, which was presented in late 2022 by Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Chaired by Swiss federal councillor Ignazio Cassis and the head of the Ukrainian president's office, Andriy Yermak, the meeting will take place in Davos a day before the WEF’s annual summit kicks off.

What’s in it? The plan includes ensuring Ukraine can export its grains to the world’s poorest countries, restoring safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and releasing war prisoners and returning children deported to Russia. Among the more ambitious goals are the withdrawal of all Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity (including Crimea) and a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s war crimes.

Out of reach? This is the fourth time countries will gather to discuss the plan, with the last meeting in Malta having gathered around 90 states. But hostilities remain high between the warring nations, with Russia launching one of its greatest aerial attacks over the holidays, killing over 30 people in Kyiv. This makes any prospect of peace rather elusive.

Also on the agenda

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