Switzerland joins the UN Security Council
LE MACHIN Today in The Geneva Observer, as it has been a short week with the Pentecost holiday, we’ll jump right into it. This Thursday is a day of historical importance for Switzerland as it joins the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on a two-year term beginning in 2023. What does it mean for the country’s neutrality? What can it hope to achieve, with the body in crisis because of the war in Ukraine? What can Switzerland, with its long tradition of promoting peace and international cooperation, bring to the Council? There is plenty of great coverage in the Swiss press, starting with Le Temps.

But in The Geneva Observer, we return to a story we have dedicated a fair amount of space to over the last few weeks: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet’s trip to China and her unwillingness so far to publish her report on forced labor in Xinjiang. Her trip has been judged a complete debacle by human rights activists, NGOs, and Western governments alike; and from conversations we have had here, it is clear that as Beijing praises her visit, Michelle Bachelet’s credibility now hinges on the release of the report. As the Human Rights Council prepares for its 50th session, which will start on June 12, the corridors of the Council are abuzz with the story, almost overshadowing the war in Ukraine.

The pressure on Michelle Bachelet shows no sign of abating. With each criticism it becomes more difficult to imagine that, having failed her biggest test, she will be able to regain not only her credibility as the UN human rights chief but also her reputation as a savvy operator within the UN system. The latest salvo has come in the form of an open letter, published online by scholars from Europe, the US, and Australia, accusing her of having disregarded or contradicted their findings. The criticism is particularly scathing as the academics have sometimes diverged on Beijing’s actions and programs in Xinjiang, without, however, disputing that they amount to repression against the Uyghurs.

Forced labor is also on the agenda of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) annual conference. The Committee on the Application of Standards took up the report prepared by the ILO’s Committee of Experts—just as China has decided to ratify the ILO’s convention on forced labor. There are traditionally no general debates during the June session of the Human Rights Council. Several reports will be presented, among them one on the situation in Russia and one on Palestine. The G|O’s Jamil Chade went for an advance read of a third, close to home, about the challenges faced today by journalists.

It’s all below. As always, thank you for reading us.


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