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Rights experts call for 2nd UN Decade for people of African descent

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United Nations International Children Education Foundation (UNICEF)

Human rights experts on Wednesday urged the UN General Assembly to declare a second International Decade for People of African Descent starting in 2025 as more action is needed to combat racism and other intolerance.

They stressed that more than ever, the world urgently needed humanity to unite and collaborate in a spirit of equality and non-discrimination.

“This demands political will to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, inequality and stratification at both the domestic and international levels.

“Achieving this goal means that inequalities within and among countries will need to be drastically decreased, and the legacies of colonialism, apartheid, enslavement and genocide effectively resolved,” they said in a statement.

The General Assembly proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent with actions at the national, regional and global levels.

The objectives include promoting respect, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by people of African Descent, and greater knowledge of their diverse heritage, culture and contributions to society.

“The cause of people of African descent for recognition, justice and development is a cause for humanity,” the experts stated.

They said the UN Decade, together with the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, had contributed significantly to combatting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

“However, there is much more work to be done and the momentum gained must be sustained,” they said.

They urged the General Assembly to consider proclaiming a second International Decade for People of African Descent from 2025 to 2034.

This is with a view to taking further action to address systemic discrimination and legacies of the past to bring about the full recognition, justice, and development for people of African descent worldwide.

The 13 experts were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council and are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

They issued their appeal on the eve of the International Day for People of African Descent.

In his message for the Day, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, highlighted “the enormous impact” that both the African continent and people of African descent have had on the development, diversity and richness of world civilisations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humankind.

“At the same time, we acknowledge the pervasive discrimination faced by people of African descent around the world, and the many obstacles they face to realising their full human rights,” he said.

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement

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Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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