UN organizations address the 13th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The seventh meeting for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues facilitated a comprehensive dialogue from United Nations organisations on their progress in promoting the rights of indigenous persons with responses from Permanent members of the forum. Interventions from many UN bodies revolved around three major issue areas; the full participation of indigenous persons in their right to self-determination, ‘free, prior and informed consent’ in regards to Indigenous land rights, and the sufficient funding of organisations for long term protection of indigenous rights.

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Denmark, Bolivia, UNDP, IFAD, and the IFC all directly addressed concerns that governments are favoring the demands of the private mining industry and the sustainable development of our natural resources requires the collaborative consultation of indigenous persons. The African Caucus recognized that natural resources are usually extracted from heritage sites with unique and spiritual ties to indigenous traditions and ancestry. Therefore it is of paramount importance that indigenous persons be involved in the decisions directly affecting their sacred land.

UNECSO and FAO demonstrated that indigenous people have a unique understanding of the sustainability and protection of their environments through systems such as pastoral farming, which could enable a more resilient response to climate change for our fragile ecosystems. The IFAD, ILO and permanent member of the forum Joseph Goko Mutangah insisted that the United Nations should be capturing the wealth of agricultural, medicinal and ecological innovations that indigenous traditions encompass.

Representative of the American Indian Alliance and chairperson of the forum Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, expressed concerns that the United Nations organisations are only authorised to serve indigenous persons from developing countries. Statistics demonstrate that indigenous persons are equally marginalised in both developing and developed nations. They called for a revision of the policy to allow indigenous persons in all countries access to the United Nations’ agencies and funds.

Meeting Title: 7th meeting – Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds
Speakers: Chairperson Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Permanent members of the forum Gervais Nzoa, Joan Garling, Kara-Kys Arakchaa, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, Joseph Goko Mutangah, Raja Devasish Roy
Representatives on behalf of organizations; UNICEF, FAO, ILO, IFAD, UNDP, IFC, UNESCO, World Bank, Ministry of foreign affairs Denmark, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the African Caucus, Indigenous Parliamentarians, Alliance of Indigenous women of Central America and Mexico, WIPO (New York), Central & Eastern Europe, Russian federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, Bolivia, and the American Indian Law alliance
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 15 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

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The Syrian government is bombing its citizens using barrel bombs; weapons filled with violent explosives and shrapnel. Most recently the barrel bombs have contained chlorine, transforming the already illegal bombs into chemical weapons. Due to the extreme heights at which the bomb is released it is impossible for the Syrian government to target the exact location of the explosion, resulting in an in-discriminative weapon destroying everything in its path.

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Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch explained that the HRW team has been monitoring attacks using satellites and witness testimonies. This map Ms Hicks shared demonstrates the location of the bombs in the last nine months; they are clearly aimed at the residential region of opposition civilians; there have been approximately 200 strikes since February 2014.

Syrian activist Ibrahim Al-Assil explained that these unpredictable bombs put the Syrian civilians in a state of constant fear and panic, unable to resume any semblance of normal life, including schooling for children.

Ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States were unanimous that the current events in Syria are crimes against humanity and declared their full support for the motion from H.E. the Ambassador of France that the ICC should trial the Syrian government for the violation of international law and war crimes.

Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vietconcluded the conference with a call for the United Nations member states to unite on concrete action plans for the immediate termination of barrel bomb use and to enable the distribution of necessary food and medical supplies to civilians in Aleppo, who are in desperate need of security and support from the international community.

 

More extensive images on barrel bomb destruction in Syria can be viewed here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/28/syria-new-barrel-bombs-hit-aleppo

 

Meeting Title: Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Speakers: Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vliet, Ibrahim Al-Assil, Dr Samer Attar, Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Representatives of the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States Mission

Location: United Nations HQ, New York

Date: 14 May 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

The White Paper Presentation – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimensions”

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From left to right: Ivanna Bilych, Mary Holland, Ambassador of Ukraine H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev and Alexander Gudko

Today at the United Nations Headquarters, an international team of legal scholars from the organization RAZOM, presented their report, The White Paper – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimension”. RAZOM is an NGO established to support the people of Ukraine in their continued quest for democracy, justice, and human rights. The report gives policy makers and diplomats the legal tools to help stop further escalation of the current crisis threatening Ukraine’s peace and the international order. Lawyer and co-author of The White Paper, Ivanna Bilych, elucidated that, it is the first and only report that provides an in-depth look at the current situation in Ukraine. It also gives the International Community a solid recommendation on how to deal with the Russian Federation. Recommendations include reframing from recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, which the UN GA established back in March 27th, with 100 votes against the Crimea Referendum.

The Ambassador of Ukraine made it clear that Ukraine is NOT at civil war. The current situation is due to unilateral actions by the Russian government violating international law and the principles of sovereignty, which are central to the United Nations. Russian polls suggested that 97% of Crimean residents wanted to join the Russian Federation, however The White Paper shows that the fate of Crimea was decided by just 15% of the population who were in favor of the Russian invasion. Ambassador Sergeyev insists that much of Russian voting statistics should be disregarded due to duress, as violence and force played a major role in their illegal placement in Crimea.

In response, the delegate of Canada openly affirmed their strong support for the Ukraine, having already placed sanctions against Russia and travel bans on Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the illegal Crimea Referendum. Canada has also promised to provide monitors, to ensure a free and democratic environment for the upcoming election, and will be financially supporting Ukraine with $240 million in loans and bilateral assistance. Poland and Latvia also declared their support for Ukraine and insisted that Russia has fundamentally broken international law with their invasion of Crimea. These delegates commend The White Paper’s recommendations going forward in ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty based on their signing of the Budapest Referendum.

Ambassador Sergeyev, the Razom Organization and the international team of legal scholars that put together this document, encourage all people to access The White Paper and ensure that they keep actively informed.

 

Meeting Title – The White Paper Presentation – “Crisis in Ukraine: Its Legal Dimensions”
Speakers – The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev, Delegates from Canada, Poland, Latvia, and Norway, Mary Holland, Ivanna Bilych, Alexander Gudko, Kateryna Kuntsevich, Matheus de Moura Sena, Malvika Seth, and Olena Sharvan.
Location – United Nations Headquarters, NLB 6
Date – May 8th, 2014
Summary Written By – Modou Cham, Rin lee, and Sophia Griffiths-Mark