Briefing by the United Nations System Senior Coordinator of Ebola Virus Disease

imagesDr. Nabarro stated that the current response to Ebola is the most extraordinary mobilization around a health issue he has ever seen. The current breakout is an issue that is deeply affecting society, economies, governments, and many aspects of global affairs—way beyond what ministries of health and health professionals are personally responsible for. People across many disciplines must therefore work together.

Although there have been “some signs of positive progress,” said Dr. Nabarro, “they are small signs.” In parts of West Africa, where communities are fully involved in the response and have proper resources, there are signs of a slowing of the outbreak. However, there are hotspot areas in which transmission is fierce. The response must learn to be flexible, bending to address the needs in areas where new hotspots emerge.

Essential services in affected countries are being undermined—access to health service for regular, typical accidents and health problems is limited; central services for poverty eradication have faltered; agriculture is being disturbed; access to education has suffered; and other functions of government are not working.

However, the World Bank and African Development Bank have given money directly to the governments of affected countries, ensuring that the capital exists to get health workers and responders the resources they need; communications capacities in affected countries are being increased; NGOs and UNICEF are involved in responding to the increasing number of orphans created by Ebola; UNMEER works to ensure community care facilities are created in areas touched by new outbreaks; and vaccines and experimental drugs have been in testing and production.

            A representative of Sierra Leone reminded listeners that we must also begin thinking about comprehensive post-Ebola recovery—we must invest in recovery so that affected countries can get back on track and working on development once Ebola is beaten.

Meeting: Briefing by the United Nations System Senior Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease
Time: 12 November 2014
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN HQ, New York
Speakers: Dr. David Nabarro, UN Special Envoy for Ebola
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Threats of Social Inequality

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 20 January 2014

On Martin Luther King day, an important meeting was held by the Economic and Social Council on the threats of social inequality. Illustrating the link economic inequality has with social, racial, and many other types of injustice and inequalities, the meeting began with a quote by Martin Luther King, “The inseparable twin of racial injustice is economic injustice.” The keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, an economist and Professor from Columbia University, spoke on issues regarding America’s struggle with social inequality, and the model the US has passed on to much of the world. Dr. Stiglitz spoke further on topics such as: unequal opportunity, access to health, access to education, and exposure to environmental hazards. 

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OxFam Report

It is not just economic law and monetary policy that determine the gap of inequality, it is the politics and policies that often manipulate how deep the gap recedes, Dr. Stiglitz explained. The world is imbedded in a global economic trade system that not only has it’s own set of rules effecting intercontinental situations, but also effects issues within individual countries. Dr. Stiglitz emphasized this issue in an effort to promote responsibility and thoughtfulness in policy making.

One panel member, Irene Khan, a lawyer and humanitarian, spoke further on the importance of politics and policies in changing social inequality in the world. Ms. Khan commented on situations where people can be excluded from laws, like a homeless person without an address, or a woman who has no rights against sexual violence. She asked why the Millennium Development Goals have been silent on human rights and questioned the worlds allowance of justice to become privatized. In her final comments she emphasized the need for laws to be relevant and people empowered to gain equality and security.

The final panel member, Elliot Harris, the UN environment director for the New York Headquarters, supplied his strategies for how inequality can be addressed in the field of sustainable development. He explained how trade, production, and consumption weigh on the poor with their insufficient funds for labor, dependance on a degrading environment, and an almost non-existent voice in comparison to that of the wealthy. One solution Mr. Harris shared was a focus on job creation and greater income generation in areas the poor already work. In giving the poor a higher share of their own markets, income security and sustainable use of natural resources becomes possible. In closing, the conversation on how to use green growth as a means to social and economic equality in the world will continue.

Meeting Title: ECOSOC: Threats of Social Inequality

 Key Speakers: Joseph Stiglitz, Claudio Bisogniero, Michael Doyle, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Irene Khan, Elliot Harris

Written by WIT Representative: Stephanie Harris