Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (centre left), President of Colombia, shakes hands with Timoleón Jiménez FARC Commander. ide is Raúl Castro Ruz (centre right), President of Cuba. Pictured looking on (from left): Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe 23 June 2016

Peace at Last

A peace deal to end Colombia’s 52 year civil war was signed yesterday. The final step in the peace process is a popular referendum to ratify the deal next month. “A conflict that lasted over five decades. An estimated 220,000 people killed. Five million displaced. These staggering figures will be on their way to being consigned to history as the Colombian government buries the hatchet with its long-time nemesis, the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group, better known by its Spanish acronym, FARC. In a symbolic gesture, the pens that will be used to sign the historic peace deal, years in the making, have been made from recycled bullets once used in the conflict. An inscription on the side of the pens reads: “Bullets wrote our past. Education, our future.” (CNN http://cnn.it/2cQEU2k)


Zika in the Philippines…”The Philippines on Monday reported its first known case of a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus that threatens unborn babies, as authorities warned people to avoid mosquitos… Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 12 cases of Zika had been detected across the Philippines this month, including a 22-year-old woman from the central island of Cebu who is 19 weeks’ pregnant with her first child.” (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dtWQ3Z)


Latest UNSG straw poll: Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres continues to lead the race to become the next United Nations Secretary-General after a fifth U.N. Security Council secret ballot on Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmlZBK)


Unexpected celebrity visiting Syrian refugees of the day: Turkey’s state-run news agency says American actress Lindsay Lohan has visited Syrian refugees at an Istanbul hospital and the home of a refugee family from Aleppo. (AP http://buff.ly/2dtSQAv)




New date for Somalia elex: The presidential election will now take place on 30 November 2016, while parliamentary elections will be held from October 23 to November 10 for both the lower and upper houses. (UNSOM http://bit.ly/2cQHm8Z)


Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s chances of becoming the next leader of South Africa got a boost on Monday when a powerful mining union backed him to succeed President Jacob Zuma. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtURfS)


Violence in DRC topped the agenda as Pope Francis II on Monday met with president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila at the Vatican during a private audience. (AfricaNews http://bit.ly/2cQIlGq)



Protesters called on Monday for Jordan’s government to resign over its failure to prevent the murder of Christian writer Nahed Hattar outside an Amman court. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2d3N7Dt)


A Canadian-Iranian professor who was arrested by Iranian intelligence officers in June was released on Monday, the government news agency IRNA reported. (NYT http://nyti.ms/2cQHZPN)


An Oman court on Monday ruled in favor of a government decision to shut down al-Zaman daily newspaper and jail three of its journalists, including its editor-in-chief, for reporting on alleged corruption within the judiciary. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cXfiTB)


Libya’s prime minister called for a national reconciliation initiative to repair the divisions in a fragmented country reeling from the turbulence that has followed the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2d3P0A3)


Turkey’s state-run news agency says British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has arrived near Turkey’s border with Syria where he is scheduled to visit a camp for Syrian refugees. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dbcz8A)


Only 30 doctors remain in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, where they are in dire need of medical and surgical supplies to treat hundreds of wounded people among a trapped population of 300,000, Syrian doctors said on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2cXfnGD)


Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said in a TV interview broadcast Monday that an internationally-brokered cease-fire for Syria is still viable, as rescue workers in Aleppo cleaned up from what they said were the worst airstrikes on rebel-held areas of the northern city in five years. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dmni3m)


Residents of Syria’s Aleppo faced worsening food and medical shortages on Monday as warplanes again pounded the city after Western powers at the UN accused Russia of war crimes. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmojsw)


President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said on Monday that Egyptians must join hands with his government to prevent a repeat of the tragedy that struck last week when a Europe-bound boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank in the Mediterranean off the Egyptian coast, with the loss of at least 170 lives. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cypCTE)


A human rights group urged soccer’s governing body, FIFA, on Monday to move matches being played by Israeli teams in the occupied West Bank to Israel, saying that playing in Jewish settlements meant they were playing on stolen land. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dtYItq)




Human Rights Watch called for Pakistan to overhaul its Colonial-era police system, alleging it is filled with “disgruntled” and “corrupt” officers who commit abuses with impunity. (VOA http://bit.ly/2d3QREV)


A United Nations rights rapporteur told AFP on Monday she intended to visit the Philippines to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on crime, but was seeking security guarantees for people she planned to speak with. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmooMu)


An angry mob in India attacked a low-caste pregnant woman and her family for refusing to clear away a cow carcass because of a weeks-long strike against such work, police said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dtYKSd)


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he would visit Russia and China this year to chart an independent foreign policy and “open alliances” with two powers with historic rivalries with the United States. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dmo1lj)


The Americas


The EU is preparing to suspend sanctions against Colombia’s FARC rebel group as soon as it signs a historic peace deal with the government later Monday, European sources said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmmED7)


Brazilian authorities have arrested a former finance minister who was part of the government of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe involving state oil giant Petrobras. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dlqkof)


Venezuela is in terrible shape. Two-thirds of voters say in polls they want President Nicolas Maduro gone amid worsening shortages and inflation. It seems like the job of the opposition would be easy. (AP http://yhoo.it/2cXgkin)


…and the rest


The EU warned Switzerland on Monday over a vote by one of its cantons backing curbs on migrants, an issue being closely watched in London as a possible template for Brexit negotiations. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2d3Ngqd)


Four British power generators have called on the government to maintain the country’s carbon tax until at least 2025, according to a letter seen by Reuters, putting them at odds with industrial groups who want it scrapped. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2cXeGxc)


Deals would put the majority of seeds, chemicals and GM traits in the hands of three companies, deepening poverty for small-scale farmers, argue campaigners. (Guardian http://bit.ly/2du0uL5)


French President Francois Hollande said Monday the sprawling “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais would be dismantled by the end of this year under a plan to spread asylum seekers around the country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmp6tv)


Amid international criticism, proposed constitutional changes that would extend the president’s term and increase the office’s power have come before Azerbaijan’s voters in a referendum. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dmp6JJ)


The European Union was set on Monday to launch a $391 million aid project to help the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey — part of a landmark EU deal with Turkey aimed at curbing the flow of migrants to Europe. (AP http://yhoo.it/2dmoy6O)


Ninety percent of carbon dioxide emissions by major advanced economies is not priced at a level that truly reflects the actual cost to the climate, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report on Monday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2dbdEx9)




This top US diplomat explains why UN week is like “speed dating for international relations” (Global Dispatches Podcast http://buff.ly/2d3Tq9Y)


Obama’s failed legacy on child soldiers (Washington Post http://buff.ly/2cylfZ3)


‘My father punched me and tore at my clothes’: confronting rape in Myanmar (Guardian http://bit.ly/2dtYxyj)


Colombia peace deal: key points (AFP http://yhoo.it/2dmmR9q)


How Colombia’s conflict evolved over decades (AP http://yhoo.it/2cXfFgZ)


If Colombia is to realise its potential, its people must vote for peace (Guardian http://bit.ly/2dbctxO)


Trans-Pacific Partnership in doubt, but does it matter? (The Interpreter http://buff.ly/2cyt3dg)