Iran-Pakistan airstrikes, Sudan war crimes probe, AI and healthcare, human rights in global finance — Global Issues

Iran on Wednesday reportedly carried out surprise attacks both inside Pakistan and Iraq which involved using precision missile and drone strikes targeting Sunni terrorist training camps in southwest Balochistan, in order to deter a planned terrorist incursion.

The Iranian attacks followed a suicide bombing operation carried out by ISIL militants that killed more than 80 in the southeastern city of Kerman on 3 January.

Pakistan’s reprisal on Thursday came in the form of “specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts” not far from the Iranian border, according to Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

Iran reported that nine people had been killed in the attacks, including women and children, and none were Iranian citizens.

In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the “unbalanced and unacceptable” attacks by Pakistan, but added that it would not allow “enemies to strain the amicable and brotherly relations of Tehran and Islamabad.”

Maximum restraint’ needed

The statement issued by the UN chief’s Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Mr. Guterres was “deeply concerned about the recent exchange of military strikes between Iran and Pakistan, which have reportedly caused casualties on both sides.

“He urges both countries to exercise maximum restraint to avoid a further escalation of tensions.”

The Secretary-General underlined that all security concerns between the neighbouring countries “must be addressed by peaceful means, through dialogue and cooperation, in accordance with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and good neighborly relations.”

Sudan war crimes probe now underway

Experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council have begun their work to investigate grave allegations of crimes in Sudan, where nine months of fighting between rival military forces have left thousands dead and millions displaced.

The Chair of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan, Mohamed Chande Othman, said that Sudanese civil society organisations and others had started to share information with investigators this week in Geneva.

These allegations underscore the importance of accountability, the necessity of our investigations and the vital need for the violence to end immediately,” he said.

The fact-finding mission is comprised of three investigators who were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council last December.

Their work will pay “particular attention” to allegations of sexual violence and the military recruitment of children.

The experts are due to present their initial findings to the Human Rights Council later this year.

WHO issues guidance on generative AI use in healthcare

New guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to ensure appropriate use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) such as ChatGPT across healthcare.

The software is an example of a fast-growing technology known as large multi-modal models (LMMs), which includes other platforms such as Bard and Bert.

LMMs can accept one or more types of data prompts – text, videos, and images, for example – and generate outputs that are not limited to the type of data inputted.

They are unique in their mimicry of human communication and ability to carry out tasks they were not explicitly programmed to perform.

Risk analysis

WHO said generative AI technologies have the potential to improve healthcare but only if their associated risks are taken into consideration.

The guidance outlines five broad applications of LMMs for health, such as responding to patients’ written queries and documenting patient visits within electronic health records.

Risks can include producing false, inaccurate, biased or incomplete statements, which could cause harm.

Furthermore, LMMs may be trained on data that are of poor quality or biased, whether by race, ethnicity, ancestry, sex, gender identity, or age.

WHO underlined the need for engagement among governments, tech companies, healthcare providers, patients, and civil society to ensure that the technology is safe and effective.

Centre human rights within global financial overhaul

Human rights must be integrated into the heart of the international financial architecture if the world is to achieve sustainable development for all, UN human rights chief Volker Türk said on Thursday in Geneva.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how the system established 80 years ago has not protected countries from deep economic and financial crisis.

Progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 has also been knocked off course.

Recalling that the UN Secretary-General has repeatedly pushed for reform of the international financial system, Mr. Turk said “infusing the values and protections provided by human rights into this overhaul is critical.”

He outlined areas for action, starting with a “massive injection” of finance to get the SDGs back on track.

Focus should be on providing concessional financing, or loans with much lower interest rates and longer and fairer borrowing terms.

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