People and Nature – Solutions to Accelerating Progress Towards the 2030 Agenda and Averting Planetary Catastrophe

Co-organised by Costa-Rica, the Delegation of the European Union with YouNGO, UNEP, WWF and UNDP, delegations and civil organizations convened to discuss solutions that can accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. The meeting specifically called for collaborative climate action, where the balance between nature and humans can then be restored and sustained.

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Law of the Sea meeting turns into South China Sea Dispute

The delegate of Vietnam opened the meeting with criticism towards China for illegally placing vessels and commencing deep-sea mining in the continental edge of Vietnam. Vietnam accused China of infringing sovereignty as they invade the economic zone and shelf of Vietnam including the use of military ships to fire canons at Vietnamese fishing vessels. A delegate of the Philippines fully supported statements by Vietnam. The delegate of the Philippines also emphasized that maritime zones are declared and mapped so that there is greater certainty of sovereign rights and jurisdiction. These mappings, he continued, should be based on charts, historical evidence of sovereignty as well as conventions.


A delegate of the People’s Republic of China responded to these remarks explaining that commissions on the limits of the continental shelf give China sovereignty over the region. In particular the Xisha Islands that are an inherent part of China’s territory despite Vietnam’s claims that historic evidence gives Vietnam sovereignty over the islands and surrounding waters. China explained to the meeting that as Chinese companies started gas exploration drilling in the region armed Vietnamese boats attacked the operation undermining stability of the waters. The delegate of Russia expressed that this bilateral dispute is inappropriate to discuss on the Law of the Sea multilateral platform, Sri Lanka agreed with Russia in hope that the states would in their own time find a peaceful solution.

Delegates of Malaysia, India and Kenya all expressed concerns for long-term sustainable fisheries and conservation of the natural sea environment. A delegate of Pakistan shared that there are over 1.5 million seafarers each year, many of whom are migrating by sea and there continues to be significant safety concerns. Despite the ever increasing human, technological and financial capacity of the world today, legal frameworks and human rights regarding international waters continues to be a fragmented system needs to be repaired.


Meeting Title: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – 175th Meeting
Speakers: Delegates on behalf of: Vietnam, India, Philippines, Kenya, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Costa Rica, Russia, Japan, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, an Cyprus; Director of the Secretariat
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 1, New York
Date: 13 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark


Cross-Regional Perspectives on Democratic Accountability


This afternoon a meeting was convened on the linkages between human rights, rule of law, and democracy, and their effects on public service delivery. Ms. Miculescu began the meeting by stating that transparent and accountable institutions, as well as active participation and inclusion of all citizens in policy-making processes, are imperative for efficient public service delivery, democracy, and human rights.

Following this introduction, Dr. Spehar spoke about how democratic accountability is relevant for development, how to ensure democratic accountability in public service delivery through horizontal accountability (state institutions that hold each other accountable) as well as through vertical accountability (the role of citizens, civil society, and the media to hold government institutions accountable), and how democratic accountability can be assessed by using various governance indicators. The most effective democratic accountability comes from the interplay between formal accountability mechanisms like checks and balances within the government, and civil society working together.

Mr. Hilale then spoke about how Morocco has worked to decrease corruption, and promote human rights by reforming and creating accountable institutions. Furthermore, Mr. Hilale stated that gender equality and the empowerment of women, as well as human rights education and training, are necessary to uphold the rule of law and have good governance in order for democratic accountability in public service delivery to exist.

Next, Ms. Tan spoke about how Singapore’s strong commitment to rule of law and democratic accountability in public service delivery helped by Singapore’s relatively quick development. She also highlighted how holding democratic elections, equality of opportunity, and a collaborative relationship between the government and its citizens are necessary for democratic accountability.

Mr. Ulibarri then spoke about how in 2004, two former Costa Rican presidents were prosecuted for corruption charges. He stated how shocking this was for the nation, and that in order to promote accountability and eradicate government corruption a country needs strong legislation, guaranteed access to public information for its citizens, and an accepted and enhanced role for civil society to promote good institutions. To conclude, Mr. Massimo stated that democratic political processes are fundamental to inclusive development, and necessary for democratic accountability. It’s important to take into account how responsive government institutions are, and the role that actors and policy makers play in public service delivery.


Meeting Title: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Sharing Cross-Regional Perspectives on Democratic Accountability in Public Service Delivery
Speakers: H.E. Ms. Simona Miculescu, Permanent Representative of Romania; Dr. Elizabeth Spehar, Director of European Division, UN Department of Political Affairs; H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco; H.E. Ms. Karen Tan, Permanent Representative of Singapore; Mr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer for International IDEA to the UN
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7, New York 
9 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 


Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 15 January 2014

The Permanent Mission of Norway and The Lancet Commission on Investing in Health hosted an event at the UN headquarters titled, “Towards a Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015.” Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN, replaced the Permanent Representative of Norway and gave introductory remarks. She said that health is one of the top priorities and goals on the post 2015 agenda. She noted that the report produced by an independent group of commissioners from the Lancet commission on investing in health analyzes why we should be leaning towards a grand convergence in global health.


Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and one of the 25 commissioners of the report, introduced the panel. She said that the world diverged in many different ways 200 years after the industrial revolution. The Lancet report, she said, is an independent academic analysis of how to narrow the gap and bring the world back to convergence. The report highlighted that dedicated and targeted investments into the health systems can bring low and middle income countries like Chile, China, Costa Rica and Cuba to a point where their mortality rates are quite similar to most developed countries. Such investment in the health sector, Dr. Kruk said, “will not only bring great health outcomes but also vibrant economic growth because people will be productive.”

Dr. Gavin Yamey, one of the report’s lead authors, highlighted the four key findings of the report. It says that a grand convergence in global health can be achieved within our lifetimes. The commissioners found, from their analyses, that the returns from investing in health are enormous. The report also suggested that fiscal policies, particularly tobacco taxation, are very powerful for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries. Fourth finding is that pro-poor pathways are an efficient and fair way to achieve both health and financial protection.

H.E. Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda, said that Rwanda is one of the rare countries which are going to achieve their MDGs. She said that “we have prepared the country by managing the communicable diseases to be ready for non-communicable diseases.” Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID, said that the international donor community needs to engage the lower and middle income countries in new ways and encourage them to mobilize their own domestic resources. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, ended the presentations with a quote saying, “If we do not create the future, the present extends itself.”

Meeting Title: Towards A Grand Convergence in Global Health: What Convergence Means for Health after 2015

Key Speakers: Mrs. Jeanne d’Arc Byaje, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Rwanda to the UN; Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Assistant Professor in Health Policy and Management, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Gavin Yamey, Lead, Evidence-to-Policy Initiative, Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco; H.E. Dr. Agnès Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda; Dr. Ariel Pablos Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, USAID; Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India.

Written by WIT intern: Shan Cheema