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

Open Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations held at UN

UNAOCH. E. Mr. Nassir Abdul-Aziz Al-Nasser opened the UNAOC Annual Ministerial Meeting and elucidated that currently, we are facing some level of tension in every region of the world and world leaders have expressed their concerns on these important worries. Further, he said that the present state of global harmony is worrisome and current conflicts have cultural, religious or ethnic dimensions. The conflicts in Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe all have features of identity based divisions and the alliance is mindful of the disturbing facts. Moreover, he spoke of UNAOC’s 6th Global Forum in Bali which was themed: Unity in Diversity.

At Bali, the UNAOC involved stakeholders such as, youth, civil society, religious leaders and politicians in an interactive dialogue that is urgent in the present-day geopolitical atmosphere. Most importantly, they advocated for the empowerment of young people to help solve some of the ongoing situation around the world because we will eventually inherent the problems the world is currently facing. Co-sponsors of the UNAOC, the Governments of Spain and Turkey, were represented by their Foreign Ministers as they echoed each other’s statements. They both spoke of the UNAOC’s mission and vision as a guide for all to follow.

Next, the Foreign Minister of Tunisia denounced the recent activities by the militant group in Algeria who are linked to ISIS. Following his statement, the Foreign Ministers of Algeria explain that 9/11 was an attack on human civilization. He then said that Algeria has suffered immensely from terrorism and the global community should stand together against the barbarism. Statements were made by numerous Foreign Ministers and the Deputy Secretary-General H.E. Jan Eliasson wherein they agreed on working together to defuse tensions while involving religious leaders, grassroots organizations, youth and women leaders. Near the end, the
Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan offered the capital city of his country, Baku, as the host of the 7th Global Forum in 2016. The membership of the Group of Friends endorsed the offer by consensus.

Meeting Title: Open Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations (at the ministerial level) (organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC))
Date: September 26th, 2014
Location: Conference Room 3, United Nations HQ, New York
Speakers: The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations chairs the meeting, welcomes participants and delivers opening remarks under the theme “New and Emerging Ideological Threats to Global Peace & Co-Existence”; Remarks by the President of 69th Session of the General Assembly (tbc); Remarks by the co-sponsors (Spain and Turkey); Remarks by the Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate; Remarks by the Director of the Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force; Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Bulgaria, Mangolia, Finland, Netherland, Lithuania, Spain, Algeria, Finland, Netherlands, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Bahrain.
Written By WIT Representative: Modou Cham
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Open-ended Working Group Discusses Ageing

On Friday, August 1st, 2014, member states met in the General Assembly to discuss ways to strengthen the rights of older persons through enhanced implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA). Ms. Rosita Kornfeld-Matte, the Independent Expert of the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons, led the discussion and answered various member states’ and NGOs’ questions and enquiries. Throughout her speeches, Ms. Kornfeld-Matte emphasized that it is not possible to do everything that needs to be done with regard to ageing in just three years. However, this does not mean actions should not be taken to defend the rights of older persons, women, disabled persons, and children. She promised that her organization will work with people to help vulnerable individuals. Many member states, including Uruguay, believe that there should be more binding aspects of MIPAA, as opposed to its current nonbinding properties. In their eyes, a binding mechanism will make it possible to generate an international standard for the treatment and rights of older persons. Many also believe that NGOs play an extremely crucial role in the area of older persons’ rights. This is because NGOs are the ones who tell member states what needs to be done, while working with and maintaining close contact with older persons. However, it was emphasized that member states need to be careful about working jointly with NGOs without paying close attention to the needs of older persons. According to member states, visibility of older persons is not nearly enough. The agenda also needs to include the right for people to bageinge as autonomous as possible until the very end of their lives. Preventive measures need to be taken so that people are not forced to live in nursing homes. The passion for older persons’ rights, as well as the motivation to work with all member states in achieving consensus on the “ageing” issue, were evident during this meeting. There were also a lot of questions asked and points made by NGO representatives, portraying the significance of civil society engagement in this issue. 

Meeting: Open-ended Working Group on Ageing – Fifth Working Session
Date:
Friday, August 1st, 2014
Time:
10:00 to 13:00
Location:
Conference Room 1 (CB), UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers:
Ms. Rosita Kornfeld-Matte, the Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons; Ms. Monica Roqué, Chair and Rapporteur of the 2014 Human Rights Council Social Forum; Representative of Costa Rica; Representative of Uruguay; Representative of China; Representative of the European Union; Representative of El Salvador; Representative of Brasil; Representative of Mexico; Representative of Chile; Representative of National Association of the Community of Central Australia (NGO); Representative of High Age International (NGO); Representative of the Grey Panthers (NGO)
Written by WIT Representative:
Suzy Hallak

Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People

A special committee meeting was convened to discuss the situation of Puerto Rico, with regard to the granting of independence to colonial countries. The meeting was based on the General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) that affirms independence to colonial countries and people and recognises the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence.    

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Petitioners drew attention to the major political challenges facing Puerto Rico, resulting from its relationship with the United States: (i) the United States military presence in Puerto Rico; (ii) the imprisonment in the United States of pro-independence Puerto Ricans; and (iii) the application of the death penalty to Puerto Ricans convicted on federal charges. They, therefore, emphasised on the need to defend their inalienable right to sovereignty, which has been denied to them for many years.

Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, stressed that the government of the United States has the ministerial and moral duty to act upon the 54% of votes rejecting the commonwealth status. It is imperative upon the international community to find a common objective and a mechanism whereby the people of Puerto Rico can determine their status without any colonial restraints.

Ms. Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, highlighted the plight of workers who have been majorly challenged by American businesses and have consequently suffered economic damages. Furthermore, petitioners also underscored that Puerto Rico is the fourth country for military recruitment in the US. In 1917, 27,787 Puerto Ricans fought WWI and thousands of them lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD, arthritis, brain damage and severe disabilities.

Most petitioners posited that even though the US is seen as a major proponent of human rights, its colonial rule in Puerto Rico can be seen equivalent to a form of slavery. Mr. Juan Dalmau, denouncing the role of international community stated that the subordination of Puerto Rico is a testimony to the failure of the idea that the relation between nations should be conditioned as per international law.

Meeting Title: Granting of independence to colonial countries and people
Speakers: (Chair)H. E. Ambassador Xavier Lasso, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations; Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commisioner of Puerto Rico; Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, human rights activist; Mr. Juan Dalmau, Candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Location: CR2, CB, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

General Assembly Debates the Future of Human Security

human-securityThe President of the General Assembly convened an open debate to “reflect on our perspectives on human security, safety and freedom”. The Deputy Secretary-General opened the debate by urging states to put human security at the center of the future development framework. He was followed by Professor Gasper, who defined the human security approach as a set of language for describing security challenges and highlighted the “human-centric, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-based” nature of the approach. Mr. Alia elaborated on this point by stating the holistic human security policies of his country, Benin, which provide for basic human needs such as education, AIDS prevention and child and maternal healthcare. He added that these basic provisions are enablers of state-building, and cited the example of literate citizens registering their identity to practice their full rights of citizenship. Ms. Dicapo highlighted the importance of members’ contribution in continuing the UN system’s promotion of the human security approach. The debate continued with Professor Pulhin who explained how the approach should be applied to alleviate the effects on migration and conflicts brought about by climate change. Ms. Keita, quoting the example of empowered Malian women in the nation’s reconciliation, called for more participation from civil society in applying the approach.

State parties speaking in the debate, including the EU, Slovenia, Japan, Costa Rica and South Africa, supported the UN’s work in promoting human security. Japan urged the Secretary-General to further mainstream the approach in the work of UN agencies and the SDGs. Brazil said that to prevent the approach from being only a set of rhetoric, the international community must also consider how it can be applied to contemporary challenges such as food security and large-scale surveillance. While Russia supported the approach, she believed that it is only the national governments that should decide how to implement it.

Meeting Title: UN General Assembly Thematic Debate: “Responding to the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century: Human Security and the post-2015 development agenda”
Speakers: H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, President of the United Nations General Assembly; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General; Professor Des Gasper, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam; Ms. Sonia Dicapo, Chair of the Advisory Group of the UN Trust Fund for Human Security; Professor Juan Pulhin, University of the Philippines; Ms. Oulie Keita, Director of Programs Freedom House, Board member of WANEP Mali.
Location: Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 18th June, 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Forum on Youth 2014

In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 68/1, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should further promote the integration of youth into its deliberations, building on the past positive experiences of informal youth forums.

From the 2-3, June 2014 the United Nations was home to youth delegates, representatives from the Children and Youth Major Groups, youth representatives from Member States, including those from National Youth Councils, representatives of regional youth organisations as well as youth-led and youth focused organisations and networks, including those in consultative status with ECOSOC.

The aim of the Youth Forum was to bring the voice of young people into discussion on addressing the challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals and shaping the post-2015 development agenda. During the opening ceremony, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon remarked, “There is a world of need out there, but also a world of opportunity. So I urge you to keep doing your part. Keep showing your leadership as global citizens” while urging attendees to “keep making a difference”. The Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi spotlighted five thematic areas; education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, peace and security, and governance  as the greatest concern that threaten youth development in nation states. These areas were condensed after engaging more than 1.2 million young people through the My World 2015 survey and a crowdsourcing platform convened by UN agencies and partners. World Information Transfer’s DPI Representative, Apurv Gupta, was ranked 5 in the overall community, sharing recommendations on all thematic issues.

It was observed at the forums conclusion that employment was the key area young people wanted world leaders to focus on during the construction of the post-2015 development agenda. Currently, 75 million youth are unemployed, and more than 600 million jobs need to be generated globally in the life span of the new development agenda to absorb current unemployment levels and provide jobs to new labour market entrants.

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Meeting Title: ECOSOC Youth Forum 2014
Speakers: H.E. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, H.E. Martin Sajdik (Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, H.E. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations and Co-Chair, Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goal, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth, Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Youth Representatives.
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 1 (CB)
Date: 3 June 2014
Written by WIT representatives:  Apurv Gupta and Aslesha Dhillon

ATT: Race to Fifty

The Arms Trade Treaty regulates the international trade of conventional arms.
It aims to promote peace and security by preventing ‘un-governed’ trade of arms in conflict regions;
prevent human rights violations; and ensure that weapons aren’t acquired by criminal groups.

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                       Today at the United Nations Headquarters, a special event marked one year of the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and a ceremony for newly ratified nations. Eight countries, namely: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago ratified the ATT. Thus raising the total number of ratifications to 40, one year after the agreement was opened for signatures. The historic treaty has now been signed by 118 states and will become legally binding in international law after 50 countries ratify.

At least 500,000 people die every year on average as a result of armed violence and conflict, and millions more are displaced and abused. H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia stated that, “by establishing, for the first time, globally-agreed standards for the regulation of the international conventional arms trade, the Arms Trade Treaty will help reduce illegal and irresponsible transfers of weapons which threaten the security of so many countries”. The ambassadors of the respective missions, hosting the event acknowledged and appreciated the commitment of the civil society in ensuring that the states remain honest in their road to the ratification of this treaty. They also urged and encouraged all states, especially those who are the biggest exporters and importers of arms to ratify the treaty.

 Meeting Title: Special event and ratification ceremony: “The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Approaching entry into force”
Speakers:  Permanent Missions of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Japan, Luxembourg, Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Dag Hammarskjöld Auditorium (CB)
Date:  3 June 2014
Summary Written by WIT representatives:  Apurv Gupta and Aslesha Dhillon