UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media during a news conference in Berlin, Germany. File/ Reuters
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday that white supremacy and neo-Nazi movements are becoming a “transnational threat” and have exploited the coronavirus pandemic to boost their support.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council, Guterres said the danger of hate-driven groups was growing daily.
“White supremacy and neo-Nazi movements are more than domestic terror threats. They are becoming a transnational threat,” he told the Geneva forum. Without naming states, Guterres added: “Today, these extremist movements represent the number one internal security threat in several countries.”
In the United States, racial tensions simmered during the turbulent four-year presidency of Donald Trump. His successor Joe Biden has said the Jan.6 siege of the US Capitol by Trump supporters was carried out by “thugs, insurrectionists, political extremists and white supremacists.”
“Far too often, these hate groups are cheered on by people in positions of responsibility in ways that were considered unimaginable not long ago,” Guterres said. “We need global coordinated action to defeat this grave and growing danger.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is to report to the council on March 18 on systemic racism against people of African descent. The global inquiry was launched after George Floyd died in Minneapolis last May when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Guterres also accused authorities in some countries of using the COVID-19 pandemic to deploy “heavy-handed security responses and emergency measures to crush dissent.”
“At times, access to life-saving COVID-19 information has been concealed - while deadly misinformation has been amplified - including by those in power,” he said.
Guterres warned about the power of digital platforms and the use and abuse of data.
“I urge all Member States to place human rights at the centre of regulatory frameworks and legislation on the development and use of digital technologies,” he said. “We need a safe, equitable and open digital future that does not infringe on privacy or dignity.”
“The response to Covid and to the financial aspects [of the crisis] has been fragmented, and geopolitical divides are not helping,” Guterres told the FT.
The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council that 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and declared that “at this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the largest disruption to education in history and prolonged school closures could further entrench inequalities in access to learning.
The head of the United Nations said he was deeply alarmed by fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, where federal troops have been exchanging fire with the powerful ethnic faction that led the ruling coalition for decades.
Karnataka Police have arrested a woman from Kerala, who threatened to explode a bomb at the Bengaluru International Airport while arguing with the authorities regarding delay to board the flight, police said on Monday.
Syrian toddler Raghad Ismail was rushed to safety from the rubble of her home after it collapsed in a huge earthquake that has wreaked devastation in Syria and Turkey. But most of her family, including her mother, did not make it out alive.
It is going to be “Babies’ Day Out” at the Philippine Consulate General in Al Qusais, Dubai (PCG-Dubai) on February 10, Friday, 7:30am to 3:30pm.