Thursday News Briefs

International Human Rights Day
On International Human Rights Day, officials at the United Nation noted some progress but pointed to the refugee crisis as a sign that “many challenges remain” in fighting to secure basic rights for individuals.

International Human Rights Day is a commemoration of the date in 1948 when the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document outlining basic international rights norms.

The declaration and subsequent human rights treaties “have played an important role in securing better respect and recognition (of rights) during the past five at times turbulent decades,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

“In a year that marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, we can draw inspiration from the history of the modern human rights movement, which emerged from the Second World War,” said Mr. Ban in a message to mark the occasion.

Saudi Arabia Criticizes Iran, Calls For Assad’s Removal
Gulf Arab leaders meeting in Saudi Arabia renewed their calls for a political solution to the wars in Yemen and Syria, but Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s foreign minister, went a step further by criticizing Iran’s role in the region, reports ABC News.

The Saudi foreign minister also called for a negotiated departure for Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad, and said it that fails, forcible removal is an option.

“As I said before, Bashar Assad has two solutions: Leave through negotiations, which is easier and better for all. Or he will have to leave through fighting because the Syrian people refuse that this regime and person stays in power,” he said.

Is The European Union Tackling Root Causes Of Instability?
In the wake of the Paris attacks, there are growing calls for an EU policy that can confront the drivers of instability in the Middle East. But such a policy is unlikely to emerge anytime soon.

“Despite the recent discussion, however, little clarity has emerged about what attacking the root causes entails and to what extent EU governments are already doing so. Four challenges are key to a policy more focused on root causes: maintaining support for political aid projects; defining a clearer EU role in efforts to end the Syrian war,” contendd Richard Youngs and John Paul Gutman of Carnegie Europe.

They note that the EU is spending more than $5 billion on efforts to manage the refugee problem, but expending far less to deal with the underlying causes of the crisis or to fostering good governance.

“Of all European donors, only the European Commission, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the UK have given nonnegligible amounts of governance and civil society aid, with annual contributions of at least €100 million across the MENA region over the past few years. Denmark and Sweden alone currently give comparable sums for both governance reform and humanitarian relief; and the Swedish government is now switching a significant portion of its aid budget to measures dealing with the influx of refugees,” they write.




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