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A Big Step from the UN on Global LGBT Rights

The NGO community was ecstatic the outcome of this vote. “The UN Human Rights Council today voted in a hotly contested decision to create a new “independent expert” to probe human rights violations against LGBT people worldwide. The debate leading up to the vote was intense. Culturally conservative countries opposed to the resolution tried furiously to scuttle the measure, or at the very least water it down. Saudi Arabia tried to block the resolution all together, and at one point Nigeria even tried to delete the title of the resolution. But in the end, it passed with strong Western and Latin American support: 23 to 18, with six abstentions. And now, for the first time, LGBT rights will be formally institutionalized into the human rights mechanisms of the United Nations.” (UN Dispatch

An Ignoble List…The United States added eight more countries Thursday to its blacklist of nations [known as “Tier 3” countries] it said are doing the least to end the $150 billion worldwide human trafficking industry…The new nations added include the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan along with the fledgling democracy of Myanmar, Haiti, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Suriname.  A Tier 3 rating can trigger sanctions limiting access to American and international aid.”  (VOA

Meet the First US Ambassador to Somalia in a Quarter Century…The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, Stephen Schwartz, has been sworn into office, making him the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years, and representing a landmark in U.S.-Somali relations. (VOA


Authorities in northern Cameroon say at least 15 people have died and dozens are wounded after two suicide bombing attacks carried out by Boko Haram. (AP

Ceasefire monitors in war-torn South Sudan warned Thursday of “appalling” violence in breach of a peace deal, as rivals battle despite the formation of a unity government in the world’s youngest nation. (AFP

The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur for a year despite fierce opposition from the Sudanese government. (AFP

Foreign investors in Zimbabwe will receive priority to repatriate all their profits and dividends despite a shortage of dollars that has forced the country to limit foreign payments and imports, a central bank official said on Thursday. (Reuters

Angola’s supreme court ordered the conditional release of 16 political activists, who have been in prison for the last 3 months. (VOA


Tens of thousands of Syrians stranded on the Jordanian border face starvation and dehydration, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said Thursday, calling for an immediate resumption of aid deliveries that were halted after Jordan sealed the border following a suicide attack. (AP

Israeli forces have blockaded a Palestinian village in the southern West Bank just hours after a teenage settler was allegedly stabbed to death by a Palestinian in a nearby settlement. (Al Jazeera

The three men who carried out Tuesday’s deadly attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport were all from parts of the former USSR, Turkish sources say. One is said to be from Russia’s North Caucasus region and the others from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. (BBC

3.6 million children in Iraq – one in five in the country – are at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups, according to a new UNICEF report. (UNICEF

Yemen’s warring sides have freed a total of more than 700 prisoners, including more than 50 children, since the start of the peace talks a little more than two months ago, the U.N. special envoy for Yemen said Thursday. (AP

The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing U.S.-supported rebels. (WaPo


A Malaysian opposition politician who has strongly criticized financial scandals involving Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with corruption Thursday but vowed to fight on. (AP

The World Bank signed an agreement on Thursday with the Indian-led International Solar Alliance to boost solar energy in developing countries by mobilizing $1 trillion in investments by 2030. (AP

Taliban insurgents bombed a convoy of buses carrying police cadets on the outskirts of Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Thursday, killing at least 33 people, including four civilians, according to government officials and the United Nations. (NYT

Nepal has finalized rules for granting aid money to families seeking to rebuild homes destroyed in a set of devastating earthquakes that hit the Himalayan country last year. (AP

The new Forbes magazine list of the most powerful women in the world includes nine Chinese women, a sign of women’s growing power in Chinese society. But many activists say women have a long way to go before achieving parity and equal rights with men. (VOA

The Americas

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Thursday removed one of the final barriers to military service by lifting the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the armed forces. (NYT

Urgent action by the international community and governments in the Dry Corridor of Central America is essential to help build resilience, food security, and restore livelihoods damaged by drought and other extreme-weather effects of El Niño, United Nations leaders said. (FAO

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has called on girls and young women in Spain and other developed nations to help promote her global girls’ education initiative. (AP

Babies with brains damaged by the Zika virus might still appear normal, a large study of Brazilian babies shows. Babies born with tiny heads – or microcephaly – is the main concern in the Zika outbreak. But the findings, published in the Lancet, show a fifth of babies that would be classed as normal actually had brain abnormalities. (BBC

A Boston-based publishing company has decided to donate proceeds from Adolf Hitler’s infamous manifesto “Mein Kampf” to a local organization that works with aging Holocaust survivors. (AP

The US Senate passed a bipartisan measure that would allow Puerto Rico to restructure its $70 billion debt just two days before the island was to careen into massive default. (AFP

…and the rest

At least 10 people died after an inflatable dinghy loaded with migrants began sinking in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the Italian coastguard said. (AFP

A Turkish court has decided to release a press freedom advocate and a human rights defender, two of three activists put under pre-trial arrest for participating in a solidarity campaign with a pro-Kurdish publication. (AP

Britain will aim to reduce emissions blamed for climate change by 57 percent by 2032, the government said on Thursday. (Reuters

A U.N. human rights expert is denouncing the conviction of two “whistleblowers” found guilty in Luxembourg for leaking secret documents to a journalist investigating sweetheart deals that saved billions of dollars in taxes for foreign companies including Apple, Pepsi and Ikea. (AP

The Hungarian prime minister’s chief of staff said on Thursday he would vote to leave the European Union or abstain if his country ever held a referendum on membership – though he added the government had no plans for such a plebiscite. (Reuters

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union a week ago has created uncertainty that poses a major threat to the global economy. (AFP


The international development implications of Brexit. An interview with ODI’s Mikaela Gavas (Global Dispatches Podcast

Violence around Lake Chad is leading nowhere – just deepening divides (Guardian

The Geography of Poverty (IPS

The plastic plague washing up on our shores (CNN

Currencies pressured amid Brexit: currency policy matters for development (ODI

Aid agencies are not getting their workers proper visas and that’s dangerous (Guardian