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Vanuatu will seek International Court of Justice opinion on climate protection

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During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman called on the international community to urgently scale up efforts to address the climate crisis, and warned that its effects “are increasingly eluding the control of individual national governments.”

“For us and other small island developing states especially, our biggest threats are global — most notably climate change, the management of our oceans and of course the Covid-19 pandemic,” Loughman said.

The island chain of Vanuatu is home to nearly 250,000 residents, according to the UN.

Loughman’s comments followed a Vanuatu government statement announcing that it plans to ask the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the rights of present and future generations to be protected from the impacts of climate change, Reuters reported.

“Current levels of action and support for vulnerable developing countries within multilateral mechanisms are insufficient,” the government statement reportedly said.

The International Court of Justice’s role is “to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions,” according to its website.

The push from Vanuatu comes ahead of climate talks at the UN’s COP26 summit in Scotland in November.

Environmental advocacy group “Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change” welcomed the announcement, calling it “a huge milestone” in a Facebook post.

“We are overjoyed that the Vanuatu government has announced it will take #climatechange to the World’s Highest Court,” the post says.

“Our planet is suffering and we need to get moving again, rebuild communities and join efforts to rescue the planet, recover economies and restore hope,” Loughman said in his UNGA address.

“We must combine our efforts to address our global challenges and make sure that no one is left behind.”


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Myanmar will not address UN General Assembly after compromise

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No official representing Myanmar will address the United Nations General Assembly Monday, a reversal of what was previously scheduled, Reuters reports.

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Why it matters: The last-minute compromise comes amid competing claims for the country’s U.N. seat after a military coup last February ousted Myanmar’s democratically elected government from power.

  • The decision comes after the U.S., China, and Russia reached an agreement in which Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, could stay in his position for the time being so long as he did not address the gathering, per Reuters.

The big picture: Kyaw Moe Tun, an appointee of the toppled government, was scheduled to speak before the assembly Monday, but no longer appears on the lineup, per the New York Times.

  • “I withdrew from the speaker list, and will not speak at this general debate,” Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters.

Of note: Afghanistan is also now subject to competing claims to its U.N. seat.

  • Earlier this week the Taliban nominated a new envoy, Mohammad Suhail Shaheen, and asked to address the assembly in place of the current accredited ambassador Ghulam Isaczai, an appointee of the previous government.

  • When a UN seat is disputed, the General Assembly’s nine-member Credentials Committee is tasked with making a decision, but the group has not been able to meet and discuss the issue in time, per the Times.

  • “For now, the Afghanistan representative inscribed on the list for Monday is Mr. Ghulam M. Isaczai,” Dujarric told Reuters.

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Sabina Nessa’s murder and the grievability of women’s lives | Women’s Rights

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Just six months after Sarah Everard was kidnapped, raped and murdered in the UK by an off-duty police officer, Gabriella Petito’s disappearance while travelling with her fiancé in the US and her now-confirmed death made international headlines. The Everard and Petito stories, though very different, have compounded the sense that gender-based violence threatens women everywhere.

Then, a week or so after the Petito case gained media visibility, yet another woman’s violent death was reported in the UK, that of Sabina Nessa, a 28-year-old teacher who was walking to a nearby pub from her home in South London.

The Nessa case has intensified local fear that women are unsafe on the streets of London. But this fear is a global one. It is nothing less than a reaction to the other pandemic – gender-based violence – that plagues our society, and that COVID-19 has merely exacerbated.

Visibility for some

Between March 2021 and September 2021, many women have gone missing or been murdered around the world. Yet we do not even know the names or the circumstances of most of them – even those in the UK or the US – because their stories have not made national or international headlines.

So why do some stories make the news while others do not?

Feminist media scholars have long pointed out that the race, class, and age of victims of gender-related violence play a crucial role in determining whether stories become newsworthy as well as how they are framed; namely, whether the victims are portrayed as “innocent” or, conversely, shamed and blamed.

The families of victims whose stories have gone unheeded know this only too well. In a recent Washington Post article, they decried the silence surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. They insist that Gabriella Petito’s case has received such widespread international media attention precisely because she was white, middle-class and photogenic. Whereas their loved ones’ disappearances – women of colour, poor women, trans women – have gone publicly unremarked, at best.

Grievable lives

This differential media coverage, however, merely reflects a wider societal truth: Some people’s lives are deemed more grievable and, consequently, their deaths generate a public outpouring of sorrow. Other lives, as feminist philosopher Judith Butler has taught us, are considered less worthy.

We live, she says, in a society in which the distribution of liveable lives is profoundly unequal, and only those who are recognised as “mattering” become grievable in the wider social and public sense.

This also helps explain the power of the hashtag #SayHerName, which began as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the number of Black women and girls who have been killed by law enforcement officers in the US. It is now being used in relation to Sabina Nessa’s murder.

This public naming of victims is not only about raising awareness or even recognising the uniqueness of each individual victim, each one with her own specific history, passions and dreams. Rather, by naming these women, we refuse to make them into a number or statistic while also – crucially – claiming each and every life as mattering, and thus as grievable.

Making the media accountable

While Sabina Nessa’s brutal murder has indeed made the national and even international news, social media commentators have noted that there was an initial lack of mainstream media attention. This is because unlike Everard and Petito, Nessa was a woman of colour.

In the murder’s wake, a storm began on Twitter, emphasising the difference between the Nessa case and the kind of media attention Everard’s case received from the get-go.

Tweets like one by well-known actress and TV presenter Jameela Jamil, which demanded that “the same energy and level of outrage” be seen in the Nessa case as in Everard’s, have made it more difficult for traditional news outlets to ignore the increasing fury arising from the lack of commensurate coverage in the UK.

Given that the mainstream UK media is now following the case daily, it seems that the interventions across cyberspace have had an impact. Indeed, they appear to have propelled a racial reckoning within traditional media outlets, one driven by the power of influencers and social media.

But hashtag movements do not emerge ex nihilo. After all, the past few years have also seen growing anger, frustration and public mobilisation around gendered and racist violence. Thus, one cannot really understand the impact of influencers and the hashtag movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName and #MeToo without the mass protests on the ground – from the Women’s March to the hundreds of demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

This potent combination has helped to open the floodgates of rage at the way in which gender and race continue to render certain lives – and too often Black and Brown women’s lives – less worthy and thus less grievable than others.

So we can begin with #SayHerName: Sabina Nessa.

But we cannot stop there.

We also need to hold the media accountable for its coverage of all lives in equal measure, eradicate this gender-based pandemic, and work tirelessly towards a world where each and every life is grievable precisely because it is liveable.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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As Covid Wave Pushes Up Demand, Costco Limits Purchases of Toilet Paper and Water

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Last year, a frantic run on toilet paper that left store shelves bare across the United States became a symbol of the panic that seized Americans in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, at least one big-box retailer is trying to prevent a repeat of that frenzy as the Delta variant has driven caseloads higher in many parts of the country.

The retailer, Costco, which is known for its bargains on bulk food and cleaning supplies, confirmed in a fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday that it was “putting some limitations on key items” such as toilet paper, cleaning products and Kirkland Signature water.

The company did not specify what those limits were, but Richard A. Galanti, the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Costco, pointed to “the uptick in Delta-related demand.”

He said that supply chains had also been affected by “port delays; container shortages; Covid disruptions; shortages on various components, raw materials and ingredients; labor cost pressures, and trucker and driver shortages.”

“A year ago, there was a shortage of merchandise,” Mr. Galanti said, according to a transcript of the call posted on The Motley Fool website. “Now they’ve got plenty of merchandise, but there’s two- or three-week delays on getting it delivered.”

To keep store shelves filled, Costco has been “ordering as much as we can and getting it in earlier,” Mr. Galanti said. The company has chartered three ocean vessels to transport containers between Asia and the United States and Canada, he said. Each ship can carry 800 to 1,000 containers at a time.


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