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News in the Humanosphere: Kofi Annan to lead ethnic conflict commission in Myanmar

Former UNSG Kofi Annan. (Credit: U.S. Mission Geneva/flickr)

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will head a commission to discuss ethnic conflict and clashes in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the government and the foundation named after him announced Wednesday. A statement issued by the Kofi Annan Foundation said the commission “will initiate a dialogue with political and community leaders in Rakhine with the aim of proposing measures to improve the well-being of all the people of the State.” More than 100 people were killed in Rakhine in 2012 and 100,000 remain in camps following clashes between the Rohingya Muslim minority and the Buddhist majority. Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party ended decades of military rule in a landslide vote earlier this year, has been widely criticized by the international community for not doing more to combat institutionalized discrimination, particularly against the Muslim minority. (VOA

U.N. panel finds evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria…The results set the stage for a Security Council showdown between the five veto-wielding powers, likely pitting Russia and China against the United States, Britain and France over whether sanctions should be imposed in the wake of the inquiry. The inquiry found that there was sufficient information to conclude that Syrian Arab Air Force helicopters dropped devices that then released toxic substances in Talmenes on April 21, 2014 and Sarmin on March 16, 2015, both in Idlib governorate. Both cases involved the use of chlorine. (Reuters

Another term for Jim Kim? World Bank President Jim Yong Kim formally declared his intention to seek a second term, as the bank’s executive directors approved a new, three-week process to select the institution’s next leader. (Devex


Zimbabwean police used tear gas, water cannons and batons on Wednesday to disperse opposition youths who were demonstrating in the capital against alleged brutality by security agents. (Reuters

The World Health Organization and partners are scaling up emergency operations in northeast Nigeria to reach people impacted by the Boko Haram insurgency. Aid groups recently regained access to some 800,000 people who were previously cut off from outside humanitarian aid. (VOA

Opponents of Congolese President Joseph Kabila went on strike on Tuesday to demand that he step down when his constitutional mandate expires in December. (Reuters

South Sudan opposition leader, Riek Machar, is in Khartoum for medical treatment, a Sudanese minister told the state news agency SUNA on Tuesday, after he left the country to escape government forces. (Reuters

The United States said it had imposed economic sanctions on the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony’s two sons, saying they were commanders in the rebel group blamed for extreme violence in a large part of central Africa. (Reuters

More than 600,000 Ethiopians have fled their homes since March, largely due to flooding, the United Nations said on Wednesday, with more rain predicted up to December. (Reuters

Zimbabwe’s government plans to abolish about half the jobs in the agriculture department, a government official said on Wednesday, as President Robert Mugabe’s administration struggles to pay public service wages. (Reuters


Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish tanks have crossed into Syria as part of a military operation to free a border town held by the Islamic State group. (AP

Two journalism advocacy groups have jointly written to Oman‘s sultan over the trial of three reporters and the shuttering of their newspaper. (AP

A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and was shot dead, the army said. (AFP


Gunmen attacked the American University of Afghanistan during classes Wednesday evening, setting off an explosion and trapping students and professors inside the building for several hours while dozens fled to safety, witnesses and officials said. (LAT

North Korea fired a submarine-launched missile on Wednesday that flew about 500 km (311 miles) towards Japan, a show of improving technological capability for the isolated country that has conducted a series of launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions. (Reuters

A powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Myanmar on Wednesday, killing at least three people including two children, local officials said, and damaging some of the famous pagodas in the Southeast Asian nation’s ancient capital of Bagan. (Reuters

Indian government forces fired shotguns and tear gas in India’s portion of Kashmir on Wednesday to break up new protests demanding an end to Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region, killing a young man and wounding at least 50 other people. (AP

Heavy monsoon rains have ended two successive drought years in India with the Ganges River and its tributaries rising above the danger level, triggering evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people from flooded homes in north and eastern India, an official said Wednesday. (AP

The Indian government plans to ban foreigners, single parents and gay couples from using India’s surrogacy services under a proposed law intended to protect poor women from exploitation. (AP

The United Nations waited for more than a decade for Beijing to accept an invitation for its special envoy on extreme poverty and human rights to visit China. But when Beijing finally approved the request and allowed U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston to visit this month, he was tailed by authorities and barred from meeting with academics. (VOA

The Americas

Colombia’s government and leftwing Farc rebels have reached a final and comprehensive peace deal to end the country’s 52-year war that has left more than 220,000 people dead and six million displaced. (Guardian

Venezuelan public sector workers who signed a petition backing a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro could face dismissal, a spokesman of the governing Socialist Party said. The spokesman said President Maduro had ordered that any manager in five key ministries who signed the petition should be sacked. (BBC

…and the rest

Norway is putting up a steel fence at a remote Arctic border post with Russia after an influx of migrants last year, sparking an outcry from refugees’ rights groups and fears that cross-border ties with the former Cold War adversary will be harmed. (Reuters

Everything is up for discussion in an intensified phase of ongoing Cyprus peace talks, including “taboo” issues that rival leaders had previously opted to tackle at a later stage, a U.N. envoy said Wednesday. (AP

Turkish authorities fired more than 2,800 judges and prosecutors on Wednesday, in the latest purge related to the July 15 coup, broadcaster CNN Turk reported. (Reuters

Germany on Wednesday urged its population to stockpile food and water to prepare for possible terrorist or cyber attacks, as it adopted its first civil defense strategy since the end of the Cold War. (AFP


Can Kofi Annan Bring Peace to a Troubled Region? (UN Dispatch

Direct democracy: lessons from Trump and Brexit for international development (ODI

How to Save the Clinton Foundation. (New Yorker

Mexican education reform should start at the top (Cherokee Gothic

Some Thoughts on the al Mahdi Trial and Guilty Plea (Justice in Conflict

The way home (IRIN

When Markets Discipline Politics (An Africanist Perspective

Zika Images Show ‘Worst Brain Infections That Doctors Will Ever See’ (Goats and Soda

Blockchain and bitcoin: Global development game changers? (Devex

Report shows IMF in need of reform (The Interpreter


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