While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, March 30

Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau delivers a speech before the UN General Assembly in New York, on March 29, 2023. PHOTO: REUTERS

UN adopts landmark climate-rights resolution

The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution by the tiny Pacific nation of Vanuatu to ask the world’s top court to consider the question of climate-related violations of human rights by nations and corporations.

The resolution, backed by a slew of states including Singapore, and adopted by consensus – that is, without a vote – asks the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to look into the obligations of big polluters to consider the human rights of those affected by the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

It applies particularly to vulnerable, poorer nations including low-lying island states, who, although they are among the least responsible for the crisis, are the most threatened by more intense storms and rising sea levels.

Decades of burning fossil fuels and deforestation are the main sources of emissions heating up the planet, driving extreme weather events and melting ice caps.


IAEA chief says trying for deal on Russia-held nuclear plant

The chief of the UN atomic watchdog said on Wednesday he was working on a compromise security plan for the Moscow-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and warned of increased military activity around it.

There are persistent fears over the safety of the plant in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, where there has been frequent shelling since Russian troops invaded last year.

During a rare visit to the facility, Europe’s largest, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr Rafael Grossi, said he was working to find a compromise that would suit both Moscow and Kyiv.


Biden aims to bolster democracies with funding

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced new funding to bolster democracies around the world, amid criticism his administration has made little progress in advancing human rights and democracy as a focus of its foreign policy.

Mr Biden announced he planned US$690 million (S$900 million) in funding to help fight corruption, support free and fair elections and advance technologies that support democratic governments, at a second White House-led Summit for Democracy.

He announced over US$400 million for similar programmes in 2021, when he last held such an event.


China, Brazil strike deal to ditch dollar for trade

China and Brazil have reached a deal to trade in their own currencies, ditching the US dollar as an intermediary, the Brazilian government said on Wednesday, Beijing’s latest salvo against the almighty greenback.

The deal will enable China, the top rival to US economic hegemony, and Brazil, the biggest economy in Latin America, to conduct their massive trade and financial transactions directly, exchanging yuan for reais and vice versa instead of going through the dollar.

“The expectation is that this will reduce costs... promote even greater bilateral trade and facilitate investment,” the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil) said in a statement.


Fifa strips Indonesia of Under-20 World Cup hosting rights

Indonesia has been removed as host of the Under-20 World Cup, global governing body Fifa said on Wednesday.

The decision to strip Indonesia of its right to stage the May 20-June 11 event was taken after its football federation (PSSI) said it had cancelled the draw, following the refusal of the governor of the largely Hindu island of Bali to host Israel’s team.

Earlier in March, protesters marched in the capital Jakarta waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags, and demanding Israel not be allowed to participate.


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