New ways to provide food assistance

ImageTo encourage innovative means to provide food assistance to regions in need of humanitarian aid, Ambassador Patriota convened a panel discussion on this matter. In doing so, the Ambassador highlighted the Brazilian application of cash transfer to implement the “Bolsa Familia” safety-net programme as a way to motivate families to send children to school and to clinic check-ups.

In the context of short-term action, Mr. Mogwanja highlighted the difference between direct provision of food aid and cash-transfer style food assistance, the latter being preferable as it is a more economically sustainable tool. Mr. Janz stated that cash-transfer is a viable form of food assistance, as it pinpoints to the problem of lack of purchasing power of disaster victims without having crippled the local agricultural market by flooding the market with relief food. Mr. Janz elaborated on the benefit of cash-transfer food assistance, stating that it gives disaster victims dignity by giving them choices in food and enhances efficiency of aid by reducing the logistical cost of transporting food aid. Ms. Souza stated how the World Food Programme implemented the cash-transfer in conjunction with local purchase of relief material to further enhance food assistance’s positive impact to the local economy, a point which Ambassador Boureima echoed when detailing the “Nigerien feeds Nigerien” initiative in his country.

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Ms. Fink-Hooijer stated that the donor community in general support the cash-transfer initiative, but adopts a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the effectiveness of large-scale implementation in disaster relief. Ambassador Shearman echoed this point, and added that he hopes future cash-transfer can be implemented in form of cash handout instead of voucher to further reduce its distortion of the local market.

Meeting Title: Cash Transfers, Local Purchases and Social Safety-Nets: Bridging the Divide between Assistance and Development
Speakers: Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Ambassador Boubacar Boureima, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations; Darana Souza, Programme Coordinator for World Food Programme; Udo K. Janz, Director of UNHCR Office in New York; Israel Klug, Project Coordinator of PAA Africa Programme; Minister Counsellor Nuria Mohammed, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Florika Fink-Hooijer, Policy Director of ECHO; Martin Shearman, Ambassador for Development and Human Rights, UK Department for International Development; H.E. Ambassador Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations; Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Advisor of OXFAM; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch of UN OCHA
Location: Conference Room 5, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

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 

Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate Illicit Arms Trade

An open-ended informal consultations session was held today at the United Nations Headquarters to consider the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects. This meeting focussed on compiling a draft based on the recommendations by the member states in preparation for the upcoming Fifth Biennial Meeting of states from 16th to 20th June 2014.

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In their recommendations, the speakers underscored the nature of present day conflicts as being mostly fought with small arms and therefore, stressed upon the importance of combating this illicit trade. Small arms have become major instruments of tactical and strategic use to terrorists in recent years, thereby, calling for an immediate and a proactive action by the international community.

The delegations of Member states endeavored to produce a collective document at the Fifth Biennial Meeting of states to reflect a collective consensus. The delegation of Cuba recommended that each state establish their own rules, standards, and indicators, conforming to and in consistency with their national priorities, which have to be agreed upon collectively.

Many delegations spotlighted the key role of the civil society in catalyzing international cooperation. Non-governmental organizations can contribute to this process by providing expertise and raising awareness about the devastating consequences of the illicit trade of small arms and light weapons.

The delegation of Mexico proposed to include targeted control measures for illicit brokering, special attention to countries affected by endemic violence and the promotion of synergies between PoA and other instruments, such as the Firearms Protocol and the ATT. The idea of promoting synergies between different instruments will be a stepping-stone towards providing a mutual reinforcement for achieving a control at global level. The cooperation and consensus, hence achieved, would foster a culture of peace, which is the ultimate objective of preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Meeting Title: Informal consultation on the Programme of Action (PoA) to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit arms trade
Chair: H.E. Dr. Zahir Tanin, Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations
Date: 13 June, 2014
Location: CR 2, CB, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Nusrat Laskar