Placing the Displaced: Accomodating the Refugee Crisis

 

   The Third Committee hosted a meeting to address the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The report focused on the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to seek safety over the last few months. 60 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced as a result of war and persecution. In the past five years alone, the number of people forced from their homes every single day has quadrupled from under 11,000 in 2010 to 42,500.

   The meeting began with remarks from delegates. The first delegate was the representative of Kuwait, and he paid tribute to the High Commissioner for extending humanitarian efforts to the refugees even under every difficult conditions. He stated that Kuwait emphasizes continuation and support to the high commission, and that the country has participated voluntarily to 1 million dollars in aid. The representative also explained that he was very concerned by the suffering of refugees and displaced people in Iraq, which resulted from activity carried out by the Islamic State extremist militant group.

   Another notable speaker was the representative of Pakistan, who stated that the process of helping the refugees has been much too slow and inadequate, and that the international community has ignored this for far too long. The delegate explained that only 127,000 people were able to return home this year, which is the lowest number since 1983. One of the biggest issues is the lack of nutrition and education among children, which could lead to the risk of losing an entire generation.

   A representative who offered a different perspective was the delegate from Kenya, who explained that the burden of hosting refugees is enormous, especially financially. However, Kenya continues to welcome refugees in accordance to tradition.

Meeting: Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons and humanitarian questions

Date/Location: Wednesday November 4, 2015, 10:00 – 13:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Representative of Kuwait; Representative of Nigeria; Representative of Pakistan; Representative of Japan; Representative of Kenya; Representative of India

Written By: WIT Representative Kangho (Paul) Jung

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo Credit: Frank Augstein/AP

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 

 

Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications

NYU panel discussion

The Razom Sponsored ‘White Papers’ were put together in a collaborative effort to assist government, media and civil society to understand what has happened in Ukraine from a legal perspective and to predict and prepare for what will happen next.

Ms. Ivanna Bilych, co-author of the white papers, reiterated the illegality of the Crimea referendum, which breaches the Ukraine Constitution, territorial integrity and voters’ rights. The referendum was completed in just ten days, holding citizens at gunpoint, clearly violations of democracy and international law.

Mr. Alexander Gudko explained that the closest precedent is the Turkey and Northern Cyprus annexation, which was not recognized by the international community as a separate state and therefore this legal framework and response should be exercised again for the Crimean situation.

Mr de Moura Sena reminded the meeting of the energy ties between Russia and Ukraine as Russia builds a new pipeline for natural gas. Russia would face much higher development costs if the pipe were built along the deep seabed, rather than using the Crimean coast. The tensions surrounding European energy needs and Russia’s ability to provide this energy are central to this Crisis.

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A key element to the Crimean situation is Russia’s violation of the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances, signed by all members of the Security Council and Ukraine. It was issued to ensure Ukraine would forfeit its nuclear weapons in return for complete political independence and freedom from threats or use of force against territorial integrity.

Dr. Paul Goble declared that Vladimir Putin has disregarded international law and human rights on his own personal agenda for power and expanding the Russian empire. Dr. Goble emphasised that a major step for western nations should be to provide alternative Russian language entertainment and news, to replace the existing Moscow TV. Moscow TV, being the Russian language entertainment monopoly, is manipulated to destabilise neighbouring countries in subversive attacks ordered from the Kremlin.

 

Meeting Title: Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications
Speakers: Mary Holland of NYU School of law, Ivanna Bilych General Counsel for Razom, Paul Goble expert in the post-Soviet region, Alexander Gudko and Matheus de Moura Sena co-author of the White papers, Giorgi Kvelashvili Senator Counselor for Georgia at the UN and Adrius Kalindra from the OSCE.
Location: NYU School of Law, New York
Date: 29 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark