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Hello, this is Kasmira. Inside the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory, Cern, an important process that doesn’t require firing protons is in the works: finding its next director general. The first candidate to have thrown his hat in the ring is UK physicist and ex-Cern staffer Mark Thomson. We sat down with him last week in Geneva and discussed future giant colliders, competition from China, and when science and conflict collide.

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Kasmira Jefford


On our radar

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The United Kingdom has endorsed physicist Mark Thomson to be the next director general of Cern. (UK Mission)

UK physicist takes first-mover advantage in race for Cern top job. The race to find the next boss of Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is picking up speed. After officially nominating top physicist Mark Thomson for the job last month, the United Kingdom began its campaign efforts in earnest last week after holding an event in Geneva to present him to scientists and member states.

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🇵🇸JOINING THE CLUB. The UN General Assembly may vote today on a resolution that would back a Palestinian bid to obtain full UN membership.

What it would do. The UN granted the state of Palestine permanent observer state status in 2012, a de facto recognition. The draft resolution would upgrade this status with some extra perks such as allowing it to take the floor before UN organs and table resolutions and amendments.

No means no. Still, the US is opposing the move, saying it would set a precedent for other cases such as Taiwan and Kosovo. Israel has called on the US to defund the UN if it does go through – according to PassBlue’s calculations, the Palestinians have an overwhelming majority of 120 to 150 votes in favour.

🔀 UN TURNING POINT OR BUST? Countries are preparing to adopt in September a Pact for the Future, meant to show the way forward for the United Nations and give it a much-needed revamp. Despite it being of a non-binding nature, the agreement offers an opportunity for some “high-impact global governance innovations”, writes PassBlue – that is if great power tensions can be overcome and there is some serious follow-up.

Don’t forget human rights. As civil society groups meet in Nairobi this week to discuss the pact, Human Rights Watch called on states to make sure human rights are taken seriously in the outcome agreement. Specifically, the NGO says it should seek to reduce economic inequalities and ensure people’s right to a healthy environment.

Tug-o-war. To HRW’s relief, there are countries trying to strengthen the language on human rights, but China, Russia, Cuba, Iran and others are resisting.

Here's what else is happening

Food for thought

🧐There is opportunity in the rise of national aid organisations. States are increasingly relying on their local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. While imperfect and at times accused of being too close to those in power, they are a key aid actor, and steps can be taken to reinforce their independence. Devex

Devex (EN)

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Behind the UN liquidity crunch, a multilateral system in crisis? The United Nations has been facing its worst liquidity crunch, forcing it to adopt several aggressive cost-saving measures. We'll be joined by Michael Møller, former director general at the UN in Geneva, and Maya Ungar, UN analyst at the International Crisis Group, to discuss our latest reporting on the UN’s money woes and the wider implications for the multilateral system. Register to attend in person on 15 May at 5 pm at the Domaine de Penthes, where an apéritif will follow the event, or to participate online.

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