Human Rights Protection in Closed Society: Myanmar and North Korea

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Aspects of the current humanitarian crises in Myanmar and the People’s Republic of Korea were discussed in this session. In Myanmar, Islamic members of the Rohingya community in Rakhine State are subject to extreme prejudice. Meanwhile, the citizens of the People’s Republic of Korea are attempting to recover, with insufficient aid, from damage caused by major flooding.

Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar, called for action against the systematic discrimination prevalent against vulnerable Islamic minorities in the Rakhine State. There is a shortage of medical care in the region. Ms. Lee discussed how this issue could be combatted through the ratification of core human rights treaties.

Despite six decades of armed conflict, Myanmar has recently been experiencing change at a rapid pace. A democratic governmental system has been put in place to promote the shift from a closed society to an open society. However, radical religious leaders trained by the Taliban still play a role in the nation’s politics.

The representative of the United States emphasized the value of global humanitarian aid and called for it in Myanmar. She strongly supported Ms. Lee’s proposed citizenship program for inhabitants of Myanmar. The US representative expressed concerned about the unwarranted arrest of journalists and political figures, but was pleased to hear of their releases.

The representative of the European Union questioned the role of women in the process of peace negotiations. Furthermore, the representative of Australia addressed the rights of the LGBTQIA community as some are targeted and imprisoned in Myanmar.

Additionally, Tomás Ojea Quintana, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, stated that despite the massive flooding in North Korea, the nation’s fifth nuclear test launch occurred. Only 10% of the required necessities have been attained for aid and with winter approaching, this was concluded to be an issue for North Korea and the international community.

Meeting: Third Committee, 32nd Meeting on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, 27 October, 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Yanghee Lee, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar; Representative of Myanmar; Representative of Norway; Representative of United States of America; Representative of China; Representative of Japan; Representative of Eritrea; Representative of Thailand; Representative of European Union; Representative of Australia; Representative of Switzerland; Representative of Egypt; Representative of Russian Federation; Representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Representative of Cuba; Representative of Czech Republic; Representative of Jordan; Representative of Singapore; Representative of United Kingdom; Representative of Philippines; Representative of Vietnam; Representative of Saudi Arabia; Representative of Iran; Representative of Organization of Islamic Cooperation; Tomás Ojea Quintana, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Representative of South Korea; Representative of Venezuela speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement; Representative of Syrian Arab Republic; Representative of Liechtenstein; Representative of Netherlands; Representative of United Kingdom; Representative of Belarus; Representative of Germany; Representative of Jordan; Representative of Maldives; Representative of Ireland; Representative of Argentina

Written By: Donna Sunny, WIT Representative

Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations

6365386329_f24a5e7976_zThe 5th Committee discussed the proposed UN budget outline for the 2016-2017 biennium. The chair introduced the Secretary General’s plan, which aimed to reduce the budget 3.1 million less than this year’s, while utilizing maximum strength. The eight priorities addressed were: sustained economic growth, sustainable development, human rights, justice and international law, disarmament, drug control, controlling terrorism, and increasing economic activity in Africa.

Bolivia, speaking on behalf of China and The Group of 77, focused on promoting transparency within the budget and stressed the importance of providing adequate resources to member states. Bolivia, Japan, and the European Union were concerned with the expansion of the budget. Bolivia and the European Union wanted a clear benefit realization plan to be approved. Bolivia opposed the mechanical request to change funding without jurisdiction.

The representative of Morocco spoke on behalf of 55 member states including Mexico, Switzerland, and Sweden, and was concerned with the resources needed for human rights mandates. Morocco and the European Union believed the budget should sustainably cover the UN’s mandates, and Morocco wanted an increase in the budget for human rights. The European Union believed there should be an evaluation of resource needs. Japan wanted to review the proposal to ensure efficiency.

The representative of the United States stated that the budget should ensure effective implementation of mandates after review. All funds provided to the UN must be effectively spent on what they are outlined for. The U.S. expressed its concern about re-costing and noted that the reduction does not go far enough for identifying efficiency and opening up resources. The representative of the Russian Federation requested clarification about diverging from previous approaches to the budget. The Russian Federation also wished that member states would study the benefits from implementation of certain projects before implementing of the budget.

Meeting Topic: Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations (item 131)
Date/Location: Wednesday, November 19, 2014; 10:00 am- 11:30 am; 5th Committee; Conference Room 3
Speakers: Representatives of Bolivia, Morocco, European Union, Japan, United States, and Russian Federation
Written by WIT Representatives: Brian Lee, Ellie Guner, and Paige Stokols

Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

The Human Rights Situation in North Korea

images (1)The Permanent Missions of Australia, Botswana, and Panama co-organized a panel discussion on the human rights situation in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, featuring the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK (COI). Kim Hye-Sook and Jung Kwang-Il gave statements on the “systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations” in political prisoner camps.

Representing the Commission of Inquiry, Justice Michael Kirby delivered a keynote speech. He, and later the representatives of Canada and the U.S., asserted the transparency of the COI’s 2013 Report on Human Rights in the DPRK. The report aimed to disclose North Korea’s “crimes against humanity” and the need for tribunal in the International Criminal Court. Though acknowledging the DPRK’s recent willingness for engagement, Justice Kirby requested a show of action in which, the DPRK makes the report available to its citizens and allows international machineries to enter the country.

Former North Korean citizen Kim Hye-Sook described the deplorable health and education conditions in labor camps. Former North Korean Jung Kwang-Il described the nine months of severe torture he endured in a prisoner camp, and the lasting physical and psychological damage.

The representative of the DPRK questioned the COI report’s “nature of political plots”, its use of leading questions, and the report’s assumptions of the DPRK’s legal handling of human rights. Justice Kirby assured the use of non-leading questions and lack of political motivation by directing the representative towards the online interview transcripts. Despite Kirby’s request, the representative of the DPRK denounced Kim Jung and other witnesses, as defectors.

The European Union and Japan mentioned a resolution based on the COI report, to soon be presented to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly. Botswana supported their resolution, having broken diplomatic ties with the DPRK upon release of the COI report.

Meeting: Panel discussion on “The Human Rights Situation in North Korea”
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 22 October 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Second Committee discusses: Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly

2-new2The second agenda of the Second Committee was ‘Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly’. The representative of the European Union and Member States, stated all countries and partners need to work together to ensure that the work of the Second Committee that runs parallel to intergovernmental processes is not duplicated or that the negotiations are not pre-empted. They believe that the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be included in the agenda of the Second Committee. Therefore it should guide the Second Committee to rationalize and streamline their agenda. Next the representative of the United States of America supported the efforts to streamline the number of resolutions by combining related topics in specific clusters. The representative of Canada stated that in cases where broader discussions on biennialization or triennialization of resolutions or restricting of existing agenda items is required, it should be held off until the conclusion of the post-2015 discussion.

Meeting Title: Second Committee: Sixth Meeting
Date: 9 October 2014
Location:  Conference room 2, United Nations HQ, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

Trends in Humanitarian Financing: do resources meet the needs?

UntitledHumanitarian crises and needs in 2013 was extraordinary, the level of international humanitarian response rose to a record high of US$22 billion. As crises developed or emerged over the year, the numbers of affected people fluctuated. In light of that, financial resources are increasingly stretched. At the United Nations panellists gathered to discuss and identify how resources can more effectively channelled in order to meet the needs of affected civilians.

H.E. Ambassador Nusseibeh commenced the meeting by highlighting 2012 as a year of “recurring disasters” during which there was a stark change in the number of high-level humanitarian crises in 2013. Millions of people were affected by various crises, which stretched international response and funding. In particular adversity in South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen affected hundreds of thousands of people and called for significant international humanitarian response.

Ms. Swithern emphasised that South Sudan and Syria now appear at the top of the list of nations in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. This is due to the ongoing conflict driven crises in these respective countries. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan were the largest government donors in 2013. He stressed that even though the international humanitarian response has increased significantly, it is still not enough to fully meet the ever-growing global needs.

Mr. Strohmeyer briefly explained the importance of looking at various funding mechanisms and developing multi-year strategies as funding moves through chains of transaction in varying lengths and complexity. He also stated that in order to improve the effectiveness of resources, it is necessary to provide independent, transparent and accessible information.

It is clear that national and local NGOs form an essential part of the humanitarian response. Ms. Genel introduced a Turkey-based NGO ‘Support to Life’, which works internationally on humanitarian principles. Despite NGO assistance Ms. Genel emphasised that domestic government resources are substantial and should continue to be the key driver of long-term development.

Meeting Title: Trends in humanitarian financing: do resources meet the needs?
Speakers: Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations; Ms. Sophia Swithern, Programme Leader, Global Humanitarian Programme of Development Initiatives; Mr. Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief, Policy Development and Studies Branch (OCHA); Ms. Sema Genel, Director, Support to Life (Turkey)
Location: Conference Room C, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited By WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Resources and Biodiversity

picture1Today an informal working group was convened to discuss the feasibility of an international instrument that would clarify existing legal gaps in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. While all delegations recognize both the need and the opportunity to address issues such as ocean acidification, unsafe fishing practices, and marine pollution, problems arose in discussions over the equitable use of marine genetic resources, the transparency of technology transfer, and the feasibility of such a comprehensive instrument.

Many countries agreed on the practicality of this instrument, stating that under the correct parameters, a consensus could be reached. The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago stated that if they are able to identify a government structure to control the assistance of states in their implementation of the agreed upon regulations, the instrument would be possible. The Representative from the United States, however, was one of the few dissenters, as he remained unconvinced of the need for a new international agreement. He stated that coordination and cooperation through existing bodies was a more cost effective and practical solution to the issues present.

The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago also discussed the need for equitable distribution of marine resources in areas not covered by national jurisdiction, stating that the resources belong to neither the US nor the EU, but instead “are the common heritage of mankind.” In response, the US Representative expressed concern about this proposed benefit sharing regime. It was his belief that the transaction costs of implementing such a program would be so high as to impede the actual research itself, thus doing more harm to all countries involved. The Representative of Cuba addressed the issue of transparency, expressing the belief that it should be universal. Those beliefs were echoed by Representatives from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, as they all believe that this proposed instrument could facilitate access and transfer of marine technology to all states.

 

Meeting Title: Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction
Speakers: Representative of Algeria; Representative of New Zealand; Representative of the Dominican Republic; Representative of Guatemala; Representative of Ecuador; Representative of Trinidad and Tobago; Representative of Costa Rica; Representative of the United States; Representative of Iceland; Representative of Cuba
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 18 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

 

 

The 12th Session of the Open Working Group on the SDGs Begins

Following rounds of informal consultations last week, the twelfth session of the open working group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was convened by the member state delegations at the United Nations headquarters today. The agenda of this Open Working Group was to discuss the 17 goals and 212 targets as proposed in the zero draft of the SDGs that would succeed the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

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The relation between the efforts at the national and international levels was drawn upon to emphasize the importance of incorporating the national efforts into decision-making at the international level in order to produce a crisp final document. The global goals and targets in the post-2015 agenda, therefore, should not be solely a result of collective action at the international level; it should also reflect the progress made by individual member states in their national development towards the SDGs.

The Minister of Germany, H.E Dr. Maria Böhme, while acknowledging the solid basis the SDGs would provide for our society and its future generations, challenged the draft on its strategies and approaches. Though the global goals outlined contain a number of good targets, they lack transformative strategies for environmentally friendly goals. Also, the primary focus on economic and social goals leaves other equally vital aspects neglected, such as the much-required visionary and holistic approach.

Both the delegations of the EU and G77 laid stress on the importance of maintaining universality and a balance between the three dimensions of the SDGs: the environmental, social, and economic. They suggested that the international community must count on each other’s support in order to move forward.

The representative of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) called attention to the need to provide modern energy technology to LDCs on a preferential basis. LDCs will have to quadruple their efforts to enhance energy efficiency in order to keep up with the doubling of efforts at the global level. The international community should recognize the particular challenges faced by the LDCs and thus, the LDCs need enhanced global support and an appropriate mechanism for the achievement of the SDG goals and targets.

Meeting Title: Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (12th session)
Speakers: Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations; Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative Hungary to the United Nations
Date: 16 June 2014
Location: Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

UNICEF discusses Developmental Challenges and Human Rights in Context of CRPD

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A panel of five speakers gathered at the Henry Labouisse Hall of the UNICEF House, to discuss and respond to the overlooked development challenges. Ms. Yannis stated that one in seven human beings has a disability out of 7.8 billion people in the world. People with disabilities are also the single largest population excluded from school. Mr. Marrit followed by highlighting the purpose of having the legally binding convention to promote, protect and ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. It also aims at promoting respect for their inherent dignity.

Mr. Paul then summarized his thoughts towards eradicating the extreme poverty and hunger by three approaches. First, promote equality in opportunities, including access to education and health. Second, introduce good governance by encouraging the right of freedom and rule of law. Third, integrate respect for all human right as cross cutting throughout the whole SDG. Following, Mr. Nicholas, senior advisor of UNICEF, briefly outlined what UNICEF is doing to ensure that no one is left behind and also emphasised the human rights and rights of person with disabilities. He mentioned that the principle of leave no one behind, has emerged as one of the key foundations of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Further, Mr. Vinicius emphasised the significance of investments in a child’s well-being and their rights, as the most effective way to secure a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable world. He concluded his speech in three words: empowerment, protection, discrimination. Ms. Diane then made very powerful points concerning language, visibility and cost. She expressed, how uncomfortable she feels when people named them as a part of a vulnerable group. She ended her speech by encouraging more young people to join the CRPD committee, in order to achieve the goals as part of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Meeting Title: The intersection of human rights and development within the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Speakers: Yannis Vardakastanis, President of European Disability Forum; Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office OHCHR; Paul Gulleik Larsen, Senior Advisor for the Agenda of the Nor Wee General; Nicholas Alipui, Director of Program and UNICEF Senior Advisor; Vinicius Pinheiro; Diane Mulligan, Member of UN CRPD Committee, Representative of IDBC and CBM
Location: Henry Labouisse Hall, UNICEF House, New York.
Date: 10 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Cross-Regional Perspectives on Democratic Accountability

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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 
Date:
9 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark