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Archive for June 4, 2022

Newsline: US embassy criticizes Cuba over religious freedom violations

The US embassy in Havana on Friday accused Cuba of violating religious freedom, just days before the start of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, to which Cuba has not been invited. During unprecedented anti-government protests last July, “state forces committed acts of violence, arrested and harassed leaders from numerous religious communities taking part in peaceful demonstrations throughout the country,” said the embassy on Twitter. (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/world/us-embassy-criticizes-cuba-over-religious-freedom-violations/ar-AAY3xaV) The tweet makes reference to the US State Department’s annual report on religious freedom around the world. It also mentioned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s decision last November to place Cuba on a special watch list of countries where religious freedom is of particular concern. The criticisms come just three days before the Summit of the Americas begins in Los Angeles. As host, the US did not invite Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, three countries it sees as undemocratic. Several Latin American leaders have said they would boycott the event in “solidarity” with the excluded countries.

Newsline: U.N. environmental diplomacy has evolved since first conference 50 years ago

In 1972, acid rain was destroying trees. Birds were dying from DDT poisoning, and countries were contending with oil spills, contamination from nuclear weapons testing and the environmental harm of the Vietnam War. Air pollution was crossing borders and harming neighboring countries. At Sweden’s urging, the United Nations brought together representatives from countries around the world to find solutions. That summit — the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm 50 years ago on June 5-16, 1972 — marked the first global effort to treat the environment as a worldwide policy issue and define the core principles for its management. From a diplomacy perspective, the Stockholm Conference was a major accomplishment. (https://www.upi.com/Voices/2022/05/31/UN-environmental-diplomacy/6601654001119/) It led to the creation of the U.N. Environment Program to monitor the state of the environment and coordinate responses to the major environmental problems. The 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference is an important opportunity to think about development rights and responsibilities for the future while using environmental diplomacy today to preserve and regenerate the Earth.