Saint Lucia Citizenship Investment Programme makes top three in the 2022 CBI Index

Castries, Aug. 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — St Lucia took third place in this year's instalment of the CBI Index "" which ranked 13 countries with operational citizenship by investment programmes.

Seen as an industry voice and reliable source for those looking to vet CBI programmes around the world, the CBI Index is published annually by the Private Wealth Management magazine, a publication of the Financial Times, and in partnership with CS Global Partners.

This year, St Lucia was ranked alongside Antigua and Barbuda, Austria, Cambodia, Dominica, Egypt, Grenada, Jordan, Malta, Montenegro, St Kitts and Nevis, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

The CBI Index ranked these jurisdictions across nine pillars including Freedom of Movement, Standard of Living, Minimum Investment Outlay, Mandatory Travel or Residence, Citizenship Timeline, Ease of Processing, Due Diligence, Family and Certainty of Product.

Having recently welcomed Mc Claude Emmanuel to the position of Chief Executive Officer of its CBI unit, St Lucia was recognised its affordable minimum investment outlay, reasonable mandatory travel or residence requirements and ease of application processing.

"This recognition means a lot to us. The CBI Index is a globally recognised report that has been assessing CBI programmes for the last six years and not only will investors gain insight into our programme but it also gives us an opportunity to improve aspects of our programme to increase our scores next year," said notes Mc Claude Emmanuel, CEO of St Lucia's CPI Unit.

Investors can become a citizen of St Lucia in as little as 90 days by investing only a minimum of US$100,000 through its National Economic Fund, and busy entrepreneurs are not required to stay in the country for prescribed periods of time.

There weren't many significant changes in the minimum investment outlays since the 2021 CBI Index, this was reflected in no change in the order of the final scores.

There were also no changes from the 2021 CBI Index to scores under the Mandatory Travel or Residence Pillar "" Caribbean nations continue to rank highly in this area.

The country scored 87% overall.

St Lucia scored 9 out of ten for Due Diligence, Citizenship Timeline, and Family.

A very important aspect of any CBI programme is its ability to vet applicants and ensure that only honest individuals who can account for how they make a living are accepted into the programmes.

"We are on an ongoing drive to continuously enhance the due diligence processes of our programme as we are very keen to protect its integrity and value," noted Mc Claude Emmanuel.

With ongoing geopolitical tensions, special attention is now being given to jurisdictions that offer CBI programmes. The international community is concerned that these programmes may offer boltholes for suspect characters looking to evade the law.

International respect is vital for any CBI programme to thrive, and a layer of ongoing monitoring is becoming a key pillar of reputable CBI Units such as that of St Lucia. Caribbean nations are setting global best practices when it comes to advancements in due diligence processes.

The Citizenship Timeline Pillar looks at the average time taken for citizenship to be secured by the applicant. One of the key merits of CBI programmes is their ability to provide a rapid route to second citizenship; St Lucia was awarded top points for its short turnaround times, which takes three months for citizenship to be granted from the date the Authorised Agent is notified that the application has been accepted for processing.

The CBI Index recognises that the rise of increasingly complex family relationships is driving investors to seek programmes that allow for a more diverse range of family members to be included under a primary application.

As an additional layer of nuance to its scoring system, this year's CBI Index also draws a distinction between family members who are allowed to apply with and obtain citizenship at the same time as the main applicant and those who can apply at a later stage and because of the main applicant has already received citizenship.

Multiple family member categories were considered, with points being awarded for adult children, parents, grandparents and even siblings. Additional merit was also given to programmes with provisions for family members of the main applicant's spouse. Additionally, the degree of flexibility within each of these categories can differ radically from programme to programme.

St Lucia scored 8 out of 10 in the Certainty of Product pillar. This pillar encompasses a range of factors that measure a programme's certainty across five different dimensions: longevity, popularity and renown, stability, reputation, and adaptability.

Longevity measures the age of a given programme while Popularity and renown evaluate the number of applications and naturalisations under each programme per year, as well as a programme's eminence in the industry.

The reputation of a programme was determined by the amount of negative press or the number of scandals it has been linked to, affecting investors' broader perceptions of the countries in which they invest. Just as important, however, is evidence that programme funds are being utilised for social good. Points were awarded for a jurisdiction's transparent use of CBI funds, for example for the development of domestic healthcare, education, tourism and other infrastructure. One of the main ways that investors can become citizens of St Lucia is through its Economic Fund which Mc Claude Emmanuel has said will "benefit all St Lucians by investing in social interventions and assisting the country to be food secure as assistance will be given to local farmers."

Lastly, adaptability reflects a programme's ability to rapidly respond to, and sometimes even predict, the needs of applicants and the industry.

St Lucia continues to offer a popular programme with consistently high application volumes, stability with no caps on the number of applications or specific calls to end the programme, and adaptability both in respect of changes to keep the programme functioning during Covid–19 and its swift response to the Russian invasion.

St Lucia, along with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis scored seven out of 10 in the Freedom of Movement pillar. St Lucia has access to 15 of the 20 key business hubs assessed in the 2022 CBI Index.

Lastly, St Lucia scored six out of 10 for its decent freedom, GDP growth and GNI scores.

Download the full CBI Index here, to get further insights into the CBI industry and a full evaluation of the CBI programmes of the 12 other jurisdictions in the rankings.

In Zimbabwe, Auxillia Mnangagwa is Following in Grace ‘Gucci’ Mugabe’s Path

Zimbabwean First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa appears to be following the example of her predecessor Grace Mugabe. Credit: Wikipedia.

Zimbabwean First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa appears to be following the example of her predecessor Grace Mugabe. Credit: Wikipedia.

By Farai Shawn Matiashe
Bulawayo, Aug 26 2022 – On Friday, November 24, 2017, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn as interim leader during a colourful ceremony at the National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare, after the ouster of President Robert Mugabe in a military coup more than a week before.

Seated on Mnangagwa’s side is his wife, Auxillia, wearing a white costume and some expensive-looking gold jewellery. The couple looks on as the ruling party Zanu-PF supporters and Mugabe’s critics cheer the ushering in of a “Second Republic”, “New Zimbabwe”, and “New Dispensation”.

At this point, Auxillia, a former spy from the Central Intelligence Organisation and a former member of parliament who married Mnangagwa in 1984, was seen by many Zimbabweans as a “loving, peaceful and caring woman” popularly known as Amai. This Shona name translates to mother.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Auxillia focused on her philanthropic work supporting and uplifting marginalised communities, including women, young girls, and people with disabilities.

However, nearly five years later, Auxillia has gone into overdrive and seems to be following in the path of her predecessor, Grace Mugabe, nicknamed ‘Gucci Grace’ for her lavish shopping sprees in New York, Paris and Singapore.

Auxillia’s philanthropic work is now heavily funded by the State, she takes up space in the State-owned newspaper Herald and on Zimbabwe Television, and she officiates at the government’s official business.

Zimbabwean journalist and writer Douglas Rogers, in his book Mugabe: Two Weeks and journalist Geoffrey Nyarota with his Graceless Fall of Robert Mugabe: The End of a Dictator’s Reign, captures the story of Grace.

The shy receptionist Grace, who officially married Mugabe in 1996, was conferred a controversial Doctorate in Sociology by the University of Zimbabwe at a time her ally Jonathan Moyo was a Higher Education minister.

Reports emerged that Grace did not defend her thesis and did not spend enough time required for one to complete a doctorate, and the conferment was challenged in court.

Grace rose to power that same year when she got herself heavily involved in Zanu-PF’s shameful politics and State affairs.

She influenced her husband Mugabe to appoint young politicians from her faction, Generation 40, and even summoned government ministers and attended hearings.

Grace had Joice Mujuru and seven cabinet ministers aligned to the war veteran, fired by Mugabe in December 2014 before turning on Mnangagwa in a fierce battle that ended in November 2017 – a few weeks after Mugabe had sacked his deputy.

She used Zanu-PF gatherings to rant against her opponents, including military generals accusing them of working hand in hand with Mnangagwa to topple the long-time ruler and Africa’s strongman.

In 2018, Mnangagwa and his Lacoste faction, who accused Grace of taking over government functions before the coup, warned his wife, Auxillia, from interfering with his government official duties.

Since then, however, things have changed. In the Herald, a team of reporters seems to have become Auxillia’s personal reporters. They cover her philanthropic work, and people from the ‘Office of the First Lady’ apparently have the final say on what the editors publish.

Kudakwashe Munemo, a political analyst, told IPS that there is a lack of transparency on sources of funds channelled to Auxillia’s philanthropic work.

“As a country, we do not have an official office of the spouses of whoever is elected President. That distinction is key, for we ought not to have a conflation between programmes conducted by the President’s spouse and those by the government, especially where state resources are involved at the expense of official government business,” he said.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, said the problem Zimbabwe is facing is that there is no clear distinction between Mnangagwa’s family, the ruling party, Zanu-PF and State business.

“What she is doing is part of the rot of party-State-military conflation and, in this case, first family-State conflation,” he said.

“She is certainly not learning from Grace and other first ladies elsewhere in Africa who did not keep to their lane while their husbands do government and state business. Everything she is trying to do is wrong.”

Auxillia, who travels around the country using blue lights security detail and sometimes with road-clearing and traffic-blocking police motorcycles, a privilege enjoyed by few top government officials, has been conferred various titles from ambassadors to patrons of some State institutions.

In May, Auxillia was conferred a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (Honoris Causa) degree at GD Goenka University in Gurugram Haryana, India, in recognition of her philanthropic work.

Also, in May, Auxillia officially opened the African Elephant Conference, held in Hwange, a resort town 335 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s second-largest city Bulawayo, ahead of the 2022 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Even though Auxillia is Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry patron, political analysts say that she took over a government function as the conference was an inter-State meeting attended by ministers from 14 African countries.

“Roles of First Ladies or spouses of leaders vary across political jurisdictions, with some preferring them to remain in the background while others allow a more active role,” Vivid Gwede, a political analyst, told IPS.

“Where they are allowed to play an active role, this does not clash or compete with officials and ministers of government being usually ceremonial.”

He said in Zimbabwe active first lady easily oversteps the boundaries and causes problems.

“This is apart from questions of transparency and accountability in the use of public resources,” said Gwede.

Rashweat Mukundu, a political analyst, said the “Office of the First Lady” should reflect the soft side of the President.

“There is nothing wrong with Auxillia doing philanthropic work. What is of concern is to abuse that office for partisan politics. It could be political campaigning or any other office that excludes other groups. This is because the Office of the First Lady must be a unifying office. It must be an office that reflects the interests of the generality of citizens across the political divide,” he said.

He said accountability is an area that needs to be looked at to guarantee that State resources are not used for partisan politics.

“The challenge is that we have no mechanisms for accountability determining how much the State allocates to the Office of the First Lady. If the First Lady is energetic as the current First Lady is, it is an opportunity for the First Lady to do activities that unite us rather than those that divide us further,” he said.

IPS UN Bureau Report


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Indian Workers Defend Their Steel with Their Lives

By External Source
Aug 26 2022 (IPS-Partners)

The long and distant epoch of pre-history, dated to the time before the start of the Common Era, is conventionally divided into three periods: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. Subsequently, in the era of written history, we generally have not relied upon specific metals or minerals to define our periods. Too many metals and minerals, harnessed by new production techniques and new labour patterns, have contributed to our immense capacity to generate large surpluses. There is the Age of Industry but not, for instance, the Age of Steel, the core metal of our period.

‘We grow out of iron’, wrote the Russian poet Aleksei Gastev in 1914. He watches the furnaces and the forges, the hammers and the machinery, and then:

Gazing upon them, I draw myself up straight.
Pouring into my veins is a new, iron blood,
And I begin to grow.
I myself am growing steel shoulders and infinitely strong hands.
I am merging with the iron edifice.
With my shoulders, I am pushing the rafters and the beams up to the roof.
My feet are grounded, but my head is higher than the building.
And while I am still choking from my inhuman efforts,
I am already crying out:
a word, comrades, a word!
The iron echo has heeded my words, the whole building
trembles with impatience.
I continue to rise upwards; I am on level with the pipes.
And there is no story here, there is no speech.
There is only the cry:
we will triumph!

The virus of deindustrialisation that beset North America and Europe in the 1970s created a field of scholarly literature on post-work and post-industrial society. These writings led to the curious assumption that the digital economy would be the primary motor of capital accumulation; there was marginal interest in the fact that even the digital economy needed infrastructure, including satellites and undersea cables as well as plants to generate electricity and gadgets to link to the digital highways. This digital economy is grounded in a range of metals and minerals – from copper to lithium. Old steel, tempered in large factories, however, continues to be the foundation of our society. This steel – a thousand times stronger than iron – is as ubiquitous in our world as plastic.

Visual Capitalist, 50 Years of Global Steel Production Visualised, 2021.

Over the past fifty years, steel production has tripled. The major steel producers are now China, Europe, India, Japan, Russia, and the United States. During the pandemic, steel production only fell by 1%, largely because internal demand in countries such as China and India kept the furnaces burning. While steel production in China decreased moderately due to concerns about overproduction, Indian steel factories have increased steel production over the course of the pandemic.

Many of these factories in India are in the public sector, built with state funds and administered by state and para-statal entities. Amongst these factories is Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), a steel complex in Visakhapatanam in India’s south-eastern state of Andhra Pradesh. The factory, affectionately called Visakha Steel, was born out of a mass struggle led by the people of Andhra Pradesh that began in 1966 and lasted till the furnaces were lit in 1992. The factory complex was established at a time when the Indian state – under pressure from the Indian ruling class and the International Monetary Fund – began to liberalise the economy, including through the privatisation of state assets. The factory was born into a liberalised world with the government eager to scuttle its possibilities to sell it off to private capital in a wave of privatisation that could better be called piratisation.

The inspirational story of Visakha Steel is the subject of our dossier no. 55 (August 2022), The People’s Steel Plant and the Fight Against Privatisation in Visakhapatanam. The dossier describes the struggles of the people of Andhra Pradesh to force the government to build a factory, a ‘temple of modern India’, as India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru called them. Visakha Ukku, Andhrula Hakku, the youth and students chanted: ‘Visakha Steel is the Andhra people’s right’. In 1966, the struggle was met by terrible state violence that resulted in the death of thirty-two people and the arrests and torture of many, many more. Unable to crush the movement, which was shaped by the communists, and understanding the imperative of more steel for an India that desperately sought to transcend the problems of hunger and illiteracy, the government agreed to build the factory and spent Rs. 17 billion till the mid-1980s to start building the plant.

Since Visakha Steel emerged at a time when the religion of privatisation had become dominant, the Indian government sought on several occasions to scuttle its ability to survive in the public sector by preventing the steel factory from acquiring captive mines, building a captive port nearby in Gangavaram, building sufficient capacity in its steel melt shop (to process the crude iron into steel), and receiving adequate and timely government funding. The government instead tried to let a private company set up a steel melt shop that would use molten iron from Visakha Steel’s blast furnaces to produce processed steel which could be sold in the market at high profit margins – a move that the workers defeated. At no point did the government demonstrate its commitment to either the production of steel or to improving the living conditions of the steel factory workers and their families.

The workers, on the other hand, had their own ideas. Led by the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and other unions, the workers fought to restructure government loans and convert them into state equity, to allot a captive iron ore mine for the plant, and to increase the capacity of the steel melt shop. As our dossier notes, the steel workers have been ‘strongly committed to the company’s growth as a technically efficient and financially viable plant, whether by fighting to expand the plant, gain captive mines, or resolve technical glitches and issues. Whenever a technical problem has arisen in the plant, be it with coke ovens, power plants, steel melt shop, or otherwise, the workers and trade unions have tirelessly conducted thorough study and analysis to come up with and implement adequate solutions’. What we have here is a government eager to cannibalise Visakha Steel and workers committed to production at ‘the people’s steel plant’.

Instead of setting up the Gangavaram Port in the public sector as initially envisaged, the government has given the port to the Adani Group – whose owner has intimate ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi – which charges Visakha Steel substantial fees. It is important to note that this port was built on land that originally belonged to the steel plant. Further, while Visakha Steel pays property taxes in the city, Adani’s private port is exempt from paying taxes. At the same time, Modi’s government tried to deliver Visakha Steel’s land to the South Korean steel giant POSCO to set up its own rolling mills to produce special auto grade steel products using the steel from the Visakha plant. In a typical example of privatisation by stealth, the dossier explains, ‘Visakha Steel was being asked to handle the most complex, dangerous, and messy kinds of work – procuring ore, running coke ovens, oxygen plants, and various furnaces – while POSCO would take over the most lucrative part of the value chain’.

Nothing doing, said the workers. Drawing from the historic struggle that built the plant in the first place, the workers began a movement to save Visakha Steel. The tidal wave of this movement – which has received key support from the farmers’ struggle, unionised rural childcare workers, and the people of Andhra Pradesh – stayed the hand of the government. While the government dithered during the pandemic, it was the steel workers who ran their oxygen plants continuously to produce medical grade oxygen for the hospitals.

Not much is written about struggles such as this one, led by the brave steel workers who are mostly forgotten or, if remembered, then maligned. They stand beside the furnaces, rolling the steel out, tempering it, wanting to build better canals for the farmers, to build beams for schools and hospitals, and to build the infrastructure so that their communities can transcend the dilemmas of humanity. Our dossier is built through our interactions with the steel workers and their union, who told us how they see their past and how they understand their struggle. They also shared with us their photographs (as well as photographs taken by Kunchem Rajesh of the Andhra Pradesh-based newspaper Prajasakti), out of which our art department made the collages which illustrate the dossier (some of which are shared in this newsletter).

At their demonstrations, the workers sing, chant, and recite poems that tell them to get ready for battle ‘before the earth disappears under our feet, before the steel slips away from our hands’. If you try to privatise the factory, they sing, ‘Visakha city will turn into a steel furnace, North Andhra into a battlefield… We will defend our steel with our lives’.

Source: Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

The Journey to Defend Human Rights Never Ends

By Michelle Bachelet
GENEVA, Aug 26 2022 – As you know, after four years as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, my mandate ends next week, on 31 August.

The world has changed fundamentally over the course of my mandate.

Michelle Bachelet

I would say the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-increasing effects of climate change, and the reverberating shocks of the food, fuel and finance crisis resulting from the war against Ukraine have been the three major issues.

Polarization within and among States has reached extraordinary levels and multilateralism is under pressure.

Important protest movements occurred in every region of the world demanding an end to structural racism, respect for economic and social rights, and against corruption, governance deficits and abuse of power – in many instances accompanied by violence, threats and attacks against protesters and human rights defenders, and at some times against journalists.

Some led to real change in the country. In other cases, rather than listening to the voices of the people, governments responded by shrinking the space for debate and dissent.

Over the past few months – once the COVID situation allowed me to resume official country visits – I have been to Burkina Faso, Niger, Afghanistan, China, Bosnia, Peru and Bangladesh. I have been able to see first-hand the impact of climate change, armed conflict, the food-fuel-finance crisis, hateful rhetoric, systematic discrimination, and the human rights challenges around migration, among other issues.

The UN Human Rights Office has worked, in a myriad of ways, to help monitor, engage and advocate for the protection and promotion of human rights. As I have said before, at the UN, dialogue, engagement, cooperation, monitoring, reporting and public advocacy must all be part of our DNA.

We have worked to try to help bridge the gap between government and civil society, to support national implementation of human rights obligations and advise on reforms to bring laws and policies into compliance with international standards, to expand our presences in-country so we are a in a better position to work closely with the people on the ground. We have spoken out in private and public on country-specific and broader issues. And we have seen some progress.

The recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the UN General Assembly last month marked the culmination of many years of advocacy by civil society. I am proud of my Office’s support and strong backing of this movement throughout the course of my mandate.

The extreme weather events of the past few months have again driven home, powerfully, the existential need for urgent action to protect our planet for current and future generations. Meeting this need is the greatest human rights challenge of this era – and all States have an obligation to work together on this, and to walk the talk, to fully implement the right to a healthy environment.

The response to the triple planetary crisis of pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss must be centred in human rights, including the rights to participation, access to information and justice, and by addressing the disproportionate impact of environmental harms on the most marginalized and disadvantaged.

There has also been steady progress towards abolition of the death penalty – some 170 States have abolished or introduced a moratorium, in law or in practice, or suspended executions for more than 10 years. The Central African Republic, Chad, Kazakhstan, Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea are among those who have taken steps to fully abolish the death penalty.

Other States, including Liberia and Zambia are also actively considering abolition. Malaysia announced that it will abolish the country’s mandatory death penalty, including for drug related offences. As of today, 90 States have ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the key international treaty prohibiting the use of the death penalty.

Concerns remain, however, about the increased use or resumption of capital punishment in other countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Singapore, and others like China and Viet Nam continue to classify data on its use as a state secret, limiting the possibility of scrutiny.

I have – from the beginning of my mandate – pushed for greater recognition of the indivisibility and interdependence of economic, social and cultural rights with civil and political rights. The effects of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have brought into stark focus this interdependence.

States must draw lessons from the pandemic and the current food-fuel-finance crisis by designing long-term measures to build better and stronger universal public health and social protection systems.

Social protection coverage must facilitate access to health care, protect people against poverty and ensure essential economic and social rights, including food, water, housing, health and education. I also call on States to adopt proactive measures, including food, agriculture and fuel subsidies, to mitigate the impact of the crises.

All of this needs to be designed with people as part of the solution, through investment in inclusive, safe and meaningful channels for debate and participation at all levels.

Governing is tough – I know because I have twice been President of my country, Chile. There are always many pressing demands, challenges and problems to address. But governing is about prioritizing – and human rights must always be a priority. In many situations my Office has been covering, there is a lack of political will to take the necessary steps to really tackle a situation head on. Political will is key – and where there is a will, there is a way.

States often invoke their own particular context when faced with allegations of human rights violations and when called upon to take steps to address them. Context is indeed important – but context must never be used to justify human rights violations.

In many instances, sustained advocacy on key human rights issues, grounded in international human rights laws and standards, bears fruit. In Colombia this month, the incoming administration has pledged a shift in its approach on drug policy – from a punitive to a more social and public health approach.

By addressing one of the deep-rooted causes of violence in Colombia, this approach could be instrumental to better protect the rights of peasants, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and of people who use drugs, both in Colombia and globally.

My Office has been advocating – globally – for a human rights-based approach on drug policy, and is ready to assist.

The worldwide mobilization of people for racial justice, notably in 2020, has forced a long-delayed reckoning with racial discrimination and shifted debates towards a focus on systemic racism and the institutions that perpetrate it.

I call on all States to seize this moment to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice. My Office is working on its second report to the UN Human Rights Council on this issue, to be presented next month.

I have always sought – even on the most challenging issues – to encourage dialogue, to open the door for further exchanges. This means listening as well as speaking, keeping our eyes and ears to the context, identifying entry points and roadblocks, and trying to build trust incrementally, even when it seems unlikely.

During my four years as High Commissioner, I had the privilege of speaking to so many courageous, spirited, extraordinary human rights defenders:

The brave, indomitable women human rights defenders in Afghanistan;

The determined mothers of the disappeared in Mexico;

The inspirational staff working at a health centre in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, serving victims of sexual violence;

The wisdom and strength of indigenous peoples in Peru, who are on the frontlines of the impact of climate change, illegal mining and logging, and defend their rights in the face of serious risks;

And the empathy and generosity of communities hosting internally displaced people in Burkina Faso.

I found allies in traditional village leaders in Niger, who were working in their own ways to advance human rights in their communities; I met young people from Malaysia, Sweden, Australia, Costa Rica and elsewhere whose resourcefulness, creativity and ambition was palpable;

I shared the pain of the father in Venezuela who showed me the sports medals his teenage son had won, before he was killed during protests in 2017;

And I shared the tears of the mother I met in Srebrenica who carried hope that 27 years after her son disappeared, she will one day find his remains and lay him to rest next to his father’s grave.

Last week, I spoke with Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.

One teacher I met told me he had earned distinctions in all his classes at school in Myanmar and had dreamed of being a doctor. Instead, he has spent the past five years in a refugee camp, having had to flee his country – because he is Rohingya. “I still cry at night sometimes when I remember my dream,” he told me, adding that “my Buddhist friends are now doctors in Myanmar.”

My own experience as a refugee was much more comfortable, with the means to continue my education and with a good standard of living – but the yearning for one’s homeland, the desire of so many of the Rohingya to return home resonated deeply with me. Sadly, the conditions needed for them to be able to return to their homes in a voluntary, dignified and sustainable way are not there yet.

Today marks five years since more than 700,000 Rohingya women, children and men were forced to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh – and Myanmar’s human rights catastrophe continues to worsen, with the military (the Tatmadaw) maintaining military operations in Kayah and Kayin in the southeast; Chin state in the northwest; and Sagaing and Magway regions in the Bamar heartland.

The use of air power and artillery against villages and residential areas has intensified. Recent spikes in violence in Rakhine State also seemed to indicate that the last fairly stable area of the country may not avoid a resurgence of armed conflict. Rohingya communities have frequently been caught between the Tatmadaw and Arakan Army fighters or have been targeted directly in operations. Over 14 million need humanitarian assistance.

We continue to document gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law on a daily basis, including repression against protesters and attacks against civilians that may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

I urge the international community to intensify pressure on the military to stop its campaign of violence against the people of Myanmar, to insist on prompt restoration of civilian rule, and accountability for violations committed by security forces.

Yesterday marked six months since Russia’s armed attack. Six unimaginably terrifying months for the people of Ukraine, 6.8 million of whom have had to flee their country. Millions of others have been internally displaced. We have documented at least 5,587 civilians killed and 7,890 injured. Of these casualties, nearly 1,000 are children.

Six months on, the fighting continues, amid almost unthinkable risks posed to civilians and the environment as hostilities are conducted close to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

I call on the Russian President to halt armed attack against Ukraine. The Zaporizhzhia plant needs to be immediately demilitarized.

Both parties must respect, at all times and in all circumstances, international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The international community must insist on accountability for the many serious violations documented, some of which may amount to war crimes.

I am alarmed by the resumption of hostilities in northern Ethiopia. Civilians have suffered enough – and this will only exacerbate the suffering of civilians already in desperate need. I implore the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to work to de-escalate the situation and immediately cease hostilities.

I also urge a renewed focus by the international community on protracted – often forgotten – crises including the situation in Yemen, Syria, the Sahel and Haiti.

And I urge continued support for the UN Human Rights Office, the UN human rights treaty bodies, and the UN Special Procedures mechanism, all of which work tirelessly in defence of international human rights laws and standards.

The journey to defend human rights never ends – and vigilance against roll-backs of rights is vital. I honour all those who, in their own ways, are working to defend human rights. As a woman and a lifelong feminist, I want to pay particular tribute to women human rights defenders, who have been at the forefront of social movements that have benefitted all of us. They have often been the ones bringing to the table the unheard voices of the most vulnerable. I will continue to stand with you as I return home to Chile.

To end, I would like to thank you journalists, based here in Geneva and across the globe, for the indispensable work that you do. When we in the UN Human Rights Office raise the alarm, it is crucial that it rings loudly, and this is only possible when the world’s media gets the stories out there.

Michelle Bachelet is the outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. This article is based on her address to reporters on August 25. She was elected President of Chile on two occasions (2006 – 2010 and 2014 – 2018). She was the first female president of Chile and served as Health Minister (2000-2002) as well as Chile’s and Latin America’s first female Defense Minister (2002 – 2004).

IPS UN Bureau


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