The World of International Organizations

Weekend Update: UNSC, AI and U.N. chief

Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, before its destruction by the IS militant group (AN/Drouyn Cambridge)

GENEVA — A U.N. report cautioned a relative pause in Islamist terror attacks may end. Amnesty International said it is divesting from fossil fuel companies. The U.N. chief called for cooperation to end violence in the wake of U.S. mass shootings.

U.N. monitors concerned about renewed terrorism

United Nations experts warned that the global Islamist extremist movement could be preparing a new wave of international terrorist violence before the end of the year. The information is based on intelligence from some of the U.N.’s 193 member nations.

Special sanctions monitors submitted a 24-page report to the U.N. Security Council saying the leadership of the Islamic State militant group plans to use sleeper cells to prepare for “an eventual resurgence” despite losing the huge swath of territory it once held in Syria and Iraq.

The report said IS will “reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks” in unexpected locations when it has time and a secure base. “The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long,” it said, “possibly not even until the end of 2019.”

It also said there were as many as 30,000 foreigners who had fought for IS and “may join al-Qaida or other terrorist brands that may emerge. Some will become leaders or radicalizers.”

Days earlier, U.S. diplomat James Jeffrey, who serves as an envoy to the international coalition fighting IS, said the group’s fighters remain a “persistent” threat around Syria and Iraq.

Another U.S. official, State Department counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales, said IS networks are established throughout Africa. “They’ve increased the lethality of their attacks, they’ve expanded into new areas, and they’ve repeatedly targeted U.S. interests,” he said.

Amnesty International sends signal on fossil fuels

Amnesty International announced it will divest from fossil fuel companies, saying that in light of the global climate crisis, its financial positions are at odds with its mission of protecting and championing human rights.

The decision was made by the Global Assembly of AI, the world’s largest human rights organization. It said it believes that investment in coal, oil and natural gas companies undermines human rights.

The decision means that all of AI’s entities, including its secretariat and national offices, must now ensure none of their assets are invested in fossil fuel companies. The assembly also decided AI should be carbon-neutral by 2035, by reducing air travel and holding more virtual meetings.

“Fossil fuel companies know that their business model is resulting in human suffering because of its lethal contribution to climate change,” said Mwikali Muthiani, a human resources and organizational expert from Kenya, who chairs AI’s international board.

“We need to remember who is responsible and accountable for the crisis humanity is facing,” she said. “The primary reason we are in this mess is because governments and corporations are refusing to take the necessary steps to move away from dangerous fossil fuels and invest in developing clean technologies.”

U.N. chief condemns horrific U.S. violence

U.N. chief António Guterres expressed shock and outrage over the back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this past weekend that resulted in 31 fatalities in less than 24 hours, and said he condemned the violence in the “strongest terms.”

He also expressed solidarity with the peoples and governments of the United States and Mexico for their loss of life.

His spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said the secretary-general emphasized that everyone must “work together to counter violence rooted in hatred, racism, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination.”

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