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Hello, this is Pip, with international Geneva’s major news headlines from February. On 24 February, the world commemorated the one-year anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The war and its repercussions across the globe have dominated discourse in the international community in recent months. In Geneva, organisations have been working tirelessly to provide aid, services and other support to alleviate suffering from the conflict. In Ukraine, we spoke to a Kyiv-based NGO leading efforts to document war crimes against Ukrainian civilians – work that earned it the Nobel peace prize in October.

It was also a jam-packed month for conferences and meetings here in Geneva, from negotiations for a pandemic treaty to fundraising conferences for education in emergencies and the crisis in Yemen. The 52nd session of the Human Rights Council also opened this week, with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine taking centre stage. And over the pond in New York, countries have been meeting for the final stretch of talks to create a long-awaited treaty to protect the high seas.

Meanwhile, we looked into the WHO’s efforts to tackle sexual abuse in the organisation following a wave of allegations and sat down with Feliciano Reyna, a Venezuelan rights activist who was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals award at a ceremony in Geneva this month.

photo journaliste

Pip Cook


One year of war in Ukraine

Photo article

An anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in front of the United Nations office in Geneva, 26 February, 2022. (Keystone/Reuters/Pierre Albouy)

One year of war: how international Geneva stepped up for Ukraine. In the year since Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine on 24 February 2022, humanitarian organisations have made their presence felt in the war-torn country and beyond. Geneva-based groups have played an important role in providing critical aid on the ground in Ukraine as well as supporting major agreements between the warring parties that offer some hope for the future.

Paula Dupraz-Dobias

Ukrainians seek justice for war crimes. The Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) has been documenting rights violations in Ukraine since 2014, but Russia’s full-scale invasion in February last year added new urgency to its work. The Nobel laureate has led efforts to expose the horrors inflicted on civilians since the start of the conflict, collecting evidence of over 33,000 probable war crimes to date. CCL’s executive director Oleksandra Romantsova says the organisation will not stop seeking justice.

Pip Cook

The must-reads

🇭🇹Haiti: gang violence testing humanitarian response. A recent visit to Haiti by the UN human rights chief provided a reminder of the challenges in delivering aid amid worsening gang violence as well as what international presence in the country has meant for the population.

Paula Dupraz-Dobias

📄Pandemic treaty: what does (and doesn’t) the draft say? After agreeing to negotiate a deal on how to handle future health crises, an early proposal reveals the divides countries will have to overcome before they can reach an agreement.

Michelle Langrand (EN)

⚕Minding the gap on sexual abuse at WHO. After a wave of sexual abuse allegations at the WHO, the agency says a mechanism now exists to tackle the issue. But for survivors, little appears to have changed.

Paula Dupraz-Dobias

🗣️Mediation expert on Ukraine-Russia negotiations: ‘It’s important to explore the various options’. Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, the Geneva-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue last year brokered an agreement for the free passage of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea. Its director speaks to Swiss newspaper Le Temps about other ongoing projects.

Luis Lema

Here’s what else happened this month

Profile of the month

Photo article

Feliciano Reyna, health rights advocate in Venezuela, was awarded the Martin Ennals award for his work in Geneva on 16 February 2023 (Geneva Solutions/Michelle Langrand)

When health and human rights collide in Venezuela. Three human rights defenders were honoured with the prestigious Martin Ennals award in Geneva this month. One of the winners, Feliciano Reyna, told us how personal tragedy prompted him to take a life-changing decision that would put him at the helm of the battle for health rights in Venezuela, and often bring him to Geneva.

Michelle Langrand

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