A Call for the Collapse of Colonialism: Decolonization in a nutshell

Earlier this month (June 14), a Special Committee meeting was convened virtually to discuss the longstanding issue of decolonization, particularly the question of Gibraltar, Tokelau, and West Sahara. Decolonization appears to be a global trend, yet it continues to bring heated debates onto the international platform. Here is a simple overview of the contemporary view of decolonization.

Colonialism and its Impacts

Modern colonialism emerged in the 15th century when the New World became subjected to Spanish, French, Portugese, and Dutch colonial rule. Colonialism was at its peak before World War I and colonial rivalries contributed significantly to the outbreak of the war. The largest wave of decolonization in history was achieved after the Second World War pursuant to the right to self determination, which was embodied in Article I of the United Nations Charter.

It is widely known that the control by one power over a dependent area or people brings about coercion and forced assimilation. Human rights violations are prevalent. Additionally, colonial powers exploited natural resources of colonies and caused environmental degradation. Indigenous cultural development has been undoubtedly hindered with ethnic suppression. However, one must not shed light only on the downside of the story.

Colonial governments often invested in infrastructure and trade in the local territory, which laid a solid foundation for their future economic growth. To facilitate modernization and suit the needs of the governing countries, access to education was improved and literacy was encouraged. Medical and technological knowledge was also disseminated. We shall not disregard the positive effects of colonialism entirely, but allow a step-by-step decolonization process to ensure smooth transition. We must act responsibly and make sure dependent territories can stand on their own before independence.

Decolonization Today

Today, less than 2 million people live under colonial rule in 17 non-self-governing territories. Among them, diverse attitudes towards administering countries are exhibited. At the Special Committee meeting, Gibraltar and Tokelau both showed appreciation to the developmental support given by their respective administrators, the United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand. 

However, petitioners from Western Sahara illustrated their disapproval of the Moroccan administration. The human rights of the people in refugee camps are threatened. For instance, underaged detainees have been subjected to indoctrination, forced to attend military training, and sent overseas. Some member states showed support to the petitioners while some stood with Morocco and its autonomy to settle its own territorial dispute.

The contemporary obstacle to decolonization must be tackled at its root cause. The international community shall continue to strive to eliminate colonialism with a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution based on compromise.

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng






The Global Solutions Forum, which was organized by the UN Sustainable
Development Solutions Network (SDSN), seeks to gather experts in science,
technology, and public policy to attain the SDGs.
During the second day of the forum four speakers from different regions (Germany, Belgium, Mexico, and the Mediterranean) presented their respective initiatives and projects, which aim to advance the implementation of the SDGs.
In his keynote speech Dr. Jeffrey Sachs highlighted the need for complex,
interdisciplinary, digital solutions, and the importance of good, solution-oriented governance to address the current crises. Subsequently, he explained that quantified targets and a specific timeline, as formulated in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, are essential to handle these crises and need to be followed by explicit proposals developed by scientist on how to implement these political goals.
Both the projects from Belgium (InSusChem) and the Mediterranean (PRIMA Observatory on Innovation) seek to establish knowledge-sharing platforms to bring together different stakeholders to find solutions and maximize knowledge through cooperation. While the Belgian project focuses on understanding the complexity of CO2 emissions through cooperation of scientists, the project from the Mediterranean strives for innovation in the agri-food industry by bringing together researchers and
The Mexican project (Axolots in Xochimilco) concentrates on the preservation of Axolots by generating refuges for Axolotl which are easy to build for local farmers and at the same time increase the water quality, and thus the quality of the crop.
By facilitating the Dialogue of the Scientific Councils in Germany the fourth project offers a solution to the lack of exchange among the numerous Scientific Councils which report to the different German ministries, and play an important role in the German National SDG Implementation Strategy. All solutions were subsequently endorsed and commented on by the participants of the conference.

Meeting: Global Solutions Forum 2020, Day 2
Date/Location: 28th October 2020, 3:30-5pm UTC, online event
Moderator: Ms. María Cortés Puch, Vice President of Networks at UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Ms. Vera Meynen, Associate Professor at the University of Antwerp;
Mr. Simone Cresti, University of Siena;
Mr. Luis Zambrano, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México;
Dr. Anne Ellersiek, Research Associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik;
Dr. Jeffrey David Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.
Written by: WIT representative Leonie Gahn

COVID-19 AND GLOBAL POLITICS, Political challenges, disinformation and global ethics.

COVID-19 AND GLOBAL POLITICS, Political challenges, disinformation and global ethics. The spread of misinformation has infiltrated our daily lives. False news is on the rise. During this pandemic, how can we think critically and differentiate fact from fiction? What can we do to contain the spread of misinformation? Welcome to Virtual Voices, a series of webinars hosted by the World Information Transfer as part of its constant effort to promote fact-based, science-backed news. 

Join the conversation with H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev. 

This first session will look at:Tensions between global players: how the pandemic has signaled the importance of national defense against health emergencies.Pandemic, disinformation and authoritarianism: the case of Belarus, Hungary, Russia, China and North Korea.COVID-19, the global economy and crime threats: fraud, scams and counterfeit medical supplies.  This online webinar is free and open to the public
  H.E. Yuriy A. Sergeyev.
Former ambassador of Ukraine to France, UNESCO and the United Nations. Senior Fellow of the Department of Political Science at Yale University.
  Moderator: Apurv Gupta.
Apurv is a Strategy Consulting professional at Accenture. He is on the board of World Information Transfer, that advocates for the nexus between health and climate. 
May 22, 2020 12:00-13:00 EST
Meeting ID: 81955609790
Password: 861379

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Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth Day


The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on Earth Day held a webinar on Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day.

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970 by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

The theme of the webinar ‘Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day’ was chosen by the SDSN. According to the World Happiness Report, happiness is a better measure of a nation’s progress than GDP and using social well-being as a goal drives better public policy.

The webinar was split into 6 sessions, and participants discussed how to engage with experts and community leaders on how various sustainable development initiatives across the globe are creating a more just and thriving society and how happiness is still alive amidst a global pandemic.


During the 5th session, participants discussed how Education for Sustainable Development(ESD) relates to happiness, discussed the importance of ESD in the context of COVID-19, and the future of ESD. 

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO, said that ESD empowers learners to take informed decisions and responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability in a just society for present and future generations. Also, education is a key enabler to prepare this generation and the next to create a sustainable and happier world for all.

Meeting: Happiness and Sustainable Development for Earth day

Date/Location: April 22th, 2020; 09:00-11:00; Webinar

Speakers: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network         

Florencia Librizzi, SDG Academy  (Moderator)

Mr. Alexander Leicht, Chief of the Section of Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO 

Ms. Monika Froehler, CEO of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens

Dr. Oren Pizmony-Levy, Associate Professor of International and Comparative Education & Director of the Center for Sustainable Futures, Teachers College, Columbia University

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH

A Workshop on Leadership and Self-awareness organized by Columbia Law School and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)


The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and Columbia Law School organized a workshop to enhance the leadership capacities of the attendees by focusing on their awareness of ‘self’. The workshop was organized in two sessions, the morning and the afternoon session, and both sessions constituted a series of workshops on Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Negotiation in theory toward the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. The programs are designed for delegates at any level who wish to achieve mastery of negotiation, mediation, and multilateral conflict resolution processes.

Professor Alexandra Carter, Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School, spoke on understanding the connection of leadership and self-awareness. The goals of this workshop were to discover the importance of self-awareness, how to give effective feedback, and how these are important for leadership. It was a highly interactive session, and all participants exchanged their opinions and thoughts on the definition of self-awareness, self-reflection and how we find our feelings, etc. They engaged in asking questions and participating in group activities.

The morning session focused on understanding and navigating the self as an instrument of impact and change by a deeper appreciation of internal and external self-awareness. This would involve learning about effective communication with a focus on self-awareness and using self-reflection as a tool for effective communication. Udoka Okafor in Columbia Law School Medication Clinic emphasized that active listening skills could lead to empowering leadership. To make effective communication, we need to be an active listener. Summarizing the facts, feelings, issues, and interests of individuals as they discuss their conflicts can be helpful.

In the afternoon session, the topic of discussion focussed on cultural intelligence, the ability to adapt to people that are from different cultural regions based on three components, physical, emotional, and cognitive. The participants were reminded to adapt to different cultural norms, one needs to be internally and externally self-awareness. All the participants took part in an exercise to highlight how to be mindful of different cultural values and dynamics and how this plays a crucial role in the negotiation process.

The workshop enabled participants to realize the importance of positive feedback through several activities. Representatives addressed that being able to hear and accept feedback without becoming defensive is an essential skill for a leader and one that reflects an emotionally intelligent one. Participants made comments that this workshop fosters a deepened conception of internal and external self-awareness.

Date/Location: March 4th, 2020; 10:00-17:00; Conference Room F

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Marco A. Suazo, Head of Office, UNITAR NYO

Ms. Alexandra Carter, Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School

Melissa Meza, Columbia Law School Medication Clinic

Udoka Okafor, Columbia Law School Medication Clinic

Jeeyoon Chung, Columbia Law School Medication Clinic

Jessica Barragan, Columbia Law School Medication Clinic

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH

Briefing by the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women on the preparations for Session 64


In light of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) will be shortened to one day.

Despite the fact that all speakers expressed disappointment about reducing the length of CSW64, they agreed that we cannot let COVID-19 spread.

CSW decided that only one day meeting will be held, and all side events will be cancelled. The 11-day meeting, the largest single gathering of women delegates from 193 countries, is significantly scaled down.

In 2020, it is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). 2020 is therefore a pivotal year for the accelerated realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

So CSW was planned to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 9 to 20 March 2020. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world were invited to attend the session. About 12,000 people were supposed to attend.

More than 550 feminist organizations worldwide submitted a letter to UN Women calling for the postponement of CSW. But it was not accepted.

International Women’s health Coalition (IWHC) President Françoise Girard expressed concern “The global feminist movement has been clear that a one-day, New York-based diplomat only session on March 9 would be inadequate and would shut the voices of women’s groups out of the world’s largest annual meeting on gender equality.”

Meeting: Commission on the Status of Women

Date/Location: March 2nd, 2020; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 2

Speakers:H.E. Mr. Mher Margaryan (Armenia), Chair (Eastern European States Group)

Ms. Zahraa Nassrullah (Iraq), Vice-Chair designate (Asia-Pacific States Group)

Ms. Jo Feldman (Australia), Vice-Chair (Western European and other States Group)

Ms. Ahlem Sara Charikhi (Algeria), Vice-Chair designate (African States Group)

Ms. Devita Abraham (Trinidad and Tobago), Vice-Chair designate (Latin American and Caribbean States Group)

Written By: WIT Representative Sehee OH

Addressing Homelessness

During the long week of meetings at the Commission for Social Development (CSocD58) at the United Nations headquarters, several meetings were held on the theme of the affordable housing and the social protection systems for all to address homelessness. In one of the meetings held on February 12, 2020, Mr. Srinivas Tata, Director of the Social Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific asserted that universality is what we have to pursue now by social protection and that should include affordable health system, timely manner, accessibility and profound resolution for homelessness. 

Ms. Christina Behrendt, Head of Social Policy Unit, Social Protection Department, International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasized the importance of universal social protection system for relevant systems and inadequate housing in all different categories of population. For example, social pension, child benefit and maternal care should be implemented to all people that is excluded by 55% of people currently. She asserted that not so high percentage of GDP is needed for the achievement of adequate of housing for all and SDGs, so that we need strong consensus for the effective policy making and adaption. In addition, not only ensuring coverage is a problem but also stable policy and making people to believe in this system too, since those plans need tax and contribution of the society. To conclued, she mentioned 6 keys for the achievement, which are coverage, risk addressing, quality, monitoring, coordinating and adapting. 

Mr. Marco Toscano-Rivalta, Chief of the New York Liaison Office of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction made sure that housing is a different type of disastrous risk since there are unintended consequences. He mentioned that as there are also some differences even in the same family, diversity should be cared in the process of policy making and implementations. Also he pointed out that the strong collaboration in UN and other regional offices is necessary. And he emphasized that data would help the country to understand their risk and situation thoroughly so the UN Habitat and the other organizations should work on that.

Ms. Francesca De Ferrari the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) of the New York Office asserted that the affordable housing and accessible housing is a start of every other rights like employment and SDGs consequently. She claimed that housing is not a roof, it is a fundamental human right and people should be considered as the center of actions. Also she emphasized that the coverage of the policy should include women, children, people with disability, refugees and migrants in all socio-economic factors.


Date/Location: Tuesday, 12th, February, 2020 ;15 :00 to 18:00 ; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Mr. Srinivas Tata, Director of the Social Development Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Ms. Christina Behrendt, Head, Social Policy Unit, Social Protection Department, International Labour Organization (ILO)

Mr. Marco Toscano-Rivalta, Chief of the New York Liaison Office of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Ms. Francesca De Ferrari, the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) of the New York Office

Written By: WIT Representative Jinhong Eom