The Security Council on Monday asked for peaceful, inclusive, credible and transparent one-person-one-vote elections in Somalia.
Holding such elections would be a historic step in the rebuilding of Somalia and would assist the country's continued democratic development, said the Security Council in a press statement.
In this context, the council members welcomed the commitment by the federal government of Somalia to adopt an electoral law by December 2019 in order to ensure that federal universal suffrage elections are held in late 2020 or early 2021.
The members of the Security Council noted that finalizing the election model would require a compromise, and called on all key actors and institutions in Somalia to set aside their differences and engage constructively in discussions.
The council members emphasized that the election process should be inclusive, allowing for engagement from all clans and regions, and should provide for the full, equal and meaningful participation of women at all stages, and the commitments made by Somalia to including at least 30 percent minimum quota for women parliamentarians.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the role of the National Independent Election Commission in preparing for the elections and reiterated the need for the Electoral Security Task Force to meet and to set out a plan as soon as possible for the creation of a safe and secure environment for elections.
The press statement was released after a Security Council meeting on Somalia on Thursday.
Somalia is making preparations for universal suffrage elections, which will be the first of its kind in more than two decades since the outbreak of the civil war that followed the collapse of the Somali government in 1992.
About two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. government is doing too little to protect the environment, according to a survey published Monday by the Pew Research.
Up to 67 percent said the federal government was doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change, and a similar proportion said the same about government efforts to protect air and water quality, according to the survey of 3,627 U.S. adults conducted in October this year.
The survey came as the Trump administration officially announced to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and kept rolling back environmental protection regulations.
It also showed that about three-quarters of Americans agreed the United States should focus on developing alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar power and hydrogen technology, rather than increasing the production of fossil fuels.
About 62 percent of Americans said climate change was affecting their local community either a great deal or some. Last year, 59 percent reported at least some local effects of climate change.
The vast majority of this group listed long periods of unusually hot weather as a major local impact of climate change. Other major effects included floods and intense storms, harm to animal wildlife and their habitats, damage to forests and plant life, and droughts and water shortages, according to the survey.
Overall, 49 percent of the respondents believed human activity contributed a great deal to climate change; another 30 percent said human actions had some role in climate change; and a total of 20 percent said human activity played not too much or no role at all in climate change, according to the survey.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on Monday welcomed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s proclamation of May 5 as World Portuguese Language Day, Lusa News Agency reported.
"I'm very happy," Rebelo de Sousa was quoted as saying. "It is the recognition of a great language in the world, one of the largest languages in the world, that we are proud of, Portuguese, and all who speak this language."
"The fact that UNESCO, which is a worldwide organization, recognizes the role of the Portuguese language is due to Portuguese diplomacy in general, is due to the value of the Portuguese language," he said.
"It is the first time that an unofficial language of that institution has received this consecration, and we all hope it will be a first step towards becoming a working language," said the president.
UNESCO on Monday ratified the proposal presented by the Lusophone countries to celebrate the World Day of Portuguese Language on May 5.
In ratifying the proposal, UNESCO said that "it is necessary to implement broader cooperation among peoples through multilateralism, cultural rapprochement and dialogue between civilizations, in line with what is stipulated in the Constitution" of this organization.
An international team led by Chinese and U.S. scientists has identified a missing link that affects haze formation in the atmosphere, lending new clues to air pollution prediction and control.
The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that alcohols such as methanol can reduce particle formation by consuming sulfur trioxide (SO3), one of the process' key ingredients.
Small clumps of molecules in the lower atmosphere, which are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in size, contribute to haze, clouds and fog, and could potentially harm the heart and lungs.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Beijing Institute of Technology, University of Helsinki and University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that, when combined with water molecules, SO3 forms sulfuric acid, a major component of acid rain and one of the most important "seeds" for growing particles in the atmosphere.
But they realized that SO3 could react with alcohols such as methanol when there is a lot of it in the atmosphere, resulting in a sticky compound, methyl hydrogen sulfate (MHS). The alcohols consume SO3 and therefore less sulfuric acid is produced, according to the study.
They also found that, although the reaction between methanol and SO3 requires more energy, the MHS itself could catalyze the methanol reaction.
In dry and polluted conditions, when alcohols and SO3 are abundant in the atmosphere but water molecules are less available, this reaction may play a significant role in driving down the rate of particle formation, according to the researchers.
They acknowledged that MHS has also been linked to negative health impacts, but the new insight into particle formation offers information that can power more accurate models for air pollution and even weather and climate, according to the researchers.
Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group are putting Lebanon's military and security forces in a delicate position, threatening to crack open the country's dangerous fault lines amid a political deadlock.
For weeks, the Lebanese security forces have taken pains to protect anti-government protesters, in stark contrast to Iraq, where police have killed more than 340 people over the past month in a bloody response to similar protests.
The overnight violence — some of the worst since protests against the country's ruling elite began last month — gave a preview into a worst-case scenario for Lebanon's crisis, with the country's U.S.-trained military increasingly in the middle between pro- and anti-Hezbollah factions.
By attacking protesters Sunday night, Hezbollah sent a message that it is willing to use force to protect its political power. Confronting the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah, however, is out of the question for the military as doing so would wreck the neutral position it seeks to maintain and could split its ranks.
"The army is in a difficult position facing multiple challenges and moving cautiously between the lines," said Fadia Kiwan, professor of political science at Saint Joseph University in Beirut.
She said the military has sought to protect the protesters and freedom of expression but is increasingly grappling with how to deal with road closures and violence.
The U.N. Security Council urged all actors in Lebanon on Monday to engage in "intensive national dialogue and to maintain the peaceful character of the protests" by respecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
Calling this "a very critical time for Lebanon," the U.N.'s most powerful body also commended Lebanon's armed forces and state security institutions for their role in protecting the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
Sunday night's clashes brought into full display the political and sectarian divisions that protesters have said they want to end.
"Shiite, Shiite, Shiite!" Hezbollah supporters waving the group's yellow flag shouted, taunting the protesters, many of them Christians. The protesters chanted back, "This is Lebanon, not Iran," and "Terrorist, terrorist, Hezbollah is a terrorist" — the first time they have used such a chant.
The violence began when supporters of Hezbollah and the other main Shiite faction, Amal, attacked protesters who had blocked a main Beirut thoroughfare known as the Ring Road — a move the protesters said was aimed at exerting pressure on politicians to form a new government after Prime Minister Saad Hariri offered his resignation Oct. 29.
Carrying clubs and metal rods, the Hezbollah followers arrived on scooters, chanting pro-Hezbollah slogans. They beat up several protesters. Both sides chanted insults, then threw stones at each other for hours.
Security forces stood between them but did little to stop the fighting. Finally, after several hours, they fired tear gas at both sides to disperse them. The road was eventually opened before daybreak Monday.
By that time, protesters' tents were destroyed in areas close to the Ring Road. The windshields of cars parked near Riad Solh Square and Martyrs Square — the central hubs of the protests — were smashed as were the windows of some shops.
The nationwide protests have so far been overwhelmingly peaceful since they started Oct. 17.
Politicians have failed to agree on a new Cabinet since Hariri's government resigned Oct. 29. Hezbollah and Amal insist Hariri form a new government made up of technocrats and politicians, but Hariri — echoing protester demands — says it must be made up only of experts who would focus on Lebanon's economic crisis.
As the deadlock drags on, tempers are rising.
"The situation is moving toward a dangerous phase because after 40 days of protests, people are beginning to get tired and frustrated and might resort to actions that are out of control," Kiwan said.
One person has been killed by security forces during the protests, while six have died in incidents related to the demonstrations. In the latest, a man and his sister-in-law burned to death Monday after their car hit a metal barricade erected by protesters on a highway linking Beirut with the country's south.
Hezbollah issued a blistering statement Monday condemning the road closure, painting the protests as a danger to the country. It called the deaths the result of "a militia attack carried out by groups of bandits who practice the ugliest methods of humiliation and terrorism against people."
In the increasingly tense atmosphere, "the role of the army is getting bigger," Kiwan said.
The army is one of the few state institutions that enjoy wide support and respect among the public as it is seen as a unifying force in the deeply divided country. It has for the most part worked to defuse tensions and protect protesters, though on two occasions it allowed Hezbollah and Amal supporters to wreck tents at the main protest site in downtown Beirut.
Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese general who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research, said the army is in a "delicate" position and could not have done more than it did Sunday night.
The military is already at the center of a debate in U.S. policy-making circles. The Trump administration is now withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress, without providing an explanation for the hold.
That has raised concerns among some in the U.S. security community who see the aid — largely used to buy U.S.-made military equipment — as key to countering Iran's influence in Lebanon. Others, however, including pro-Israel lawmakers in Congress, have sought to defund the military, arguing it has been compromised by Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization.
U.S. administrations have long believed that a strong Lebanese army could be a counter to Hezbollah's weapons and could deprive the militants of the excuse to keep their arms.
The 70,000-strong force split along sectarian lines during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war. Since then, it has largely succeeded in achieving a level of stability by maintaining a tough balancing act that includes coordinating with Hezbollah on security matters.
Jaber said it is impossible for the security forces to clash with Hezbollah because "this will lead to divisions within the army."
"Hezbollah is a main part of the Lebanese people," he said. "Getting the army into a battle with them would lead to pulling away part of the Lebanese army, and this could be followed by other groups splitting from the army."
"The Lebanese army is the pole of the tent. If the pole collapses, the whole country will collapse. It is the duty of the army to protect state institutions."