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The Weekly Brief

Just a quick update in case you missed it.

Released on 06.01.2023

Volker Türk: the man charged with protecting the world’s human rights

Mild-mannered, but with a tough message to convey, the new UN high commissioner pledges a return to ‘the basics’ of the Universal Declaration laid down 75 years ago. A career UN official and human rights lawyer, mild-mannered, dapper and bespectacled, he has less name recognition than his predecessor, the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet. When he saw her before he started, he says, “she was very worried, and I share her worry, about how divisive human rights has become.”

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Benedict XVI’s “Non-Negotiable Principles” for a Dialogue with China

Did Pope Francis radically change his predecessor’s position on how to deal with the Chinese Communist Party? When the Holy See and China were getting ready to sign the Vatican-China deal of 2018, later renewed twice in 2020 and 2022, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, published on his blog a very harsh attack against Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. He accused him of manipulating Benedict XVI’s “Letter to the Bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China” of May 27, 2007, and even falsifying its text.

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Undercurrents: Tech, Tyrants and Us

Smartphones, social media, and surveillance tech are sold to us as ways to build a safer, more connected and convenient world. Many of us were hopeful this tech would also lead to a more open, more free society. But with authoritarianism seemingly on the rise across the world, did we get it wrong? Maybe tech is just making life easier for the tyrants.

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The Fight for Women’s Rights is a Fight Against Authoritarianism

We know progress is never linear, and defense of human rights can be a difficult task. Women’s rights gains, however, are particularly fragile. Often disguised in concepts that are presented as harmless, such as the protection of the family and children, or the protection of societal traditions, governments limit women’s autonomy, as if these restrictions were not politically motivated and did not amount to human-rights violations.

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Do not reduce UK's modern slavery protections, Theresa May warns

Rishi Sunak needed to avoid unintended consequences as he explores changes to legislation. Mr Sunak has promised to make it harder to be considered a modern slave in a bid to cut illegitimate asylum claims.Mrs May also said Mr Sunak could revive the Tories and win the next election. Speaking about the Modern Slavery Act introduced in 2015 in her time as home secretary, Mrs May said the legislation offers "world-leading protections" for victims.

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National security law: can Beijing influence court disputes after decision leaving key power in Hong Kong’s hands?

Beijing can still exert its influence in disputes involving national security cases in Hong Kong despite last week’s ruling that left power to decide whether foreign lawyers can represent defendants in the hands of city authorities, legal experts have warned.

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The House’s New China Agenda

When the Republican Party takes over the House of Representatives in January, the new group of lawmakers will bring a wide-ranging — and decidedly hawkish — China agenda with them. Republican House members have vowed to take action on issues like critical supply chains, Chinese influence campaigns, and U.S.-China tech competition. And to coordinate those efforts, the House will set up a special Select Committee on China, led by Representative Michael Gallagher from Wisconsin.

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