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

Last Session of the OWG on SDGs Opened

As the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stepped into the final straight of its mandate, delegates reflected on their progress in achieving their objectives. Speaking on behalf of the G77 and China, Bolivia reminded the delegates the importance of the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities and ensuring that each target must be matched by a means of implementation. Libya, on behalf of the African group, affirmed the importance of following the guidelines in “the Future We Want” document in the absence of consensus within the group.1_TN_IMG_3695

The European Union alerted the group the wide gaps of views on proposed goal 13 on climate change and on the proposed goal 16 on peaceful society and rule of law. Brazil similarly noted the diverging views on goal 16, and urged delegates not to bring up “unpleasant surprises” for the synthesis report by renegotiating issues already settled in the remaining days of the group or in the SDGs process forward. Brazil also highlighted the need of fine-tuning the language of the current draft, as she believed that the current imprecise language may not align with that of the preexisting international agreements. Argentina stated their determination to finish the task by saying “If need be, for the last week, we have to stay until the hour we need to stay to get a good report”.

The Co-Chairs concluded by stating that the group has come along long way and now has a substantially good set of goals in hand. The remaining task is to adopt an “M&M approach” to simplify the wording of the clauses, so that Ministers and Mothers alike can read the goals. Therefore, they asked members to “resist the urge to engage into any new ideas” and promote group cohesion in the upcoming process.

Meeting Title : 13th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya and Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development; H.E. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of Hungary and Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development; Representatives from Bolivia, Libya, European Union, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, China and Benin
Date: July 14th, 2014
Location: Conference Room 3, United Nations HQ, New York
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

Second Meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

high_level_political_forum_on_sustainable_developmentThe discussion assembles a panel of eminent scientists, policy makers, as well as senior UN officials, who will address how science is instrumental in ensuring the integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The second meeting of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development commenced at the United Nations. A panel discussion that aimed to monitor the SDGs, build an effective review mechanism and strengthen science and policy networks was conducted as part of the negotiations.

Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic opened the discussion by stating that the SDGs were an aspirational and ambitious goal but with the right scientific and technical analysis they could be achievable. He highlighted the following four areas of interest that are crucial in writing the Sustainable Development Report for the Post-2015 agenda: Investments into institutions and niche markets, enhancing human capacity, learning and technology, deployment of system diffusions and conducting science based multi-stakeholder assessments.

H.E Csaba Körösi echoed similar points raised by Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic and Mr. Alexander Roehrl and stated that the scientific community has been involved with the SDGs since its inception. Scientists have been mastering the information and substance and are guiding the Open Working Group (OWG). However, he highlighted three focus areas for the scientific community that would accelerate the progress of the OWG. One, help setting indicators. Two, help testing the coherence of the system and three, report on system transformation as a whole. He concluded by stating that is was crucial to know, through tangible parameters, how much progress has already been made.

Ms.Tanya Abrahamse summed up the panel discussion by stressing upon the importance of accessibility of information and data. She posited that scientific evaluation should be presented in a manner that could be easily understood by local populations, which in turn would empower them to act upon that evidence.

Title: “Strengthening science-policy links for reviewing progress on sustainable development”
Organiser: International Council for Science (ICSU); UN DESA; UNEP
Speakers: Gordon McBean, President, International Council for Science; Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied System Analysis; Alexander Roehrl, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA; H.E.Csaba Körösi, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; Elliot Harris, Director, UNEP New York Office; Tanya Abrahamse, CEO, South African National Biodiversity Institute
Date: 30 June 2014
Location: Conference Room 5 (NLB), UN Headquarters
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Advancement of Women’s access to Justice around the World

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Ambassador Mamabolo highlighted the South African constitution’s provisions on gender equality, and detailed the extent to which provisions are translated into practice. One novel practice is the impending legislation that mandates the government and private institutions to achieve a 50:50 gender ratio in the makeup of the employees, especially those at the decision-making level. Another practice is the establishment of specialized Sexual Offences Court, which provides expedient judicial process with regards to gender-based crime.

Dr. Hofmeister celebrated the Austrian accomplishments in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and also listed the domestic reform on family, labour and criminal law that give effects to the convention. However, she also cautioned the audience that the Fritzl case of a girl being locked in a basement reminds us not to be complacent in ensuring women enjoy their full rights. Dr. Hofmeister highlighted the positive role of women jurists in advancing women’s access to justice, a point which Ms. Duncan expanded on when explaining the importance of involving women in the justice chain.

Ms. Duncan commended the practices in judicial reform tailored for women in Austria and South Africa, and explained how these policies are reformulated and emulated elsewhere around the world. She added that UN-Women and other organizations focus on helping countries to undergo gender-based judicial reform, develop legal aid, train judges to be gender-sensitive, and cultivate effective informal dispute resolution mechanisms. In reminding the audience that the work on women’s access to justice is unfinished, she said that a number of countries still allow customary laws to prevail over women’s fundamental entitlement to inheritance, marriage and employment.

Ambassador Sajdik concluded by urging the audience to passionately champion for women, “for not a single country can claim that it has achieved gender equality between women and men” yet.

Meeting Title: 12th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Speakers: H.E. Dr. Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representatives of Austria to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Jeremiah Nyamane Kinglsey Mamabolo, Permanent Representatives of South Africa to the United Nations; Dr. Lilian Hofmeister, Substitute Judge at the Constitutional Court and CEDAW-candidate, Austria; Ms. Beatrice Duncan, Justice and Constitutional Advisor, UN Women.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: June 23th, 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Reactions and Suggestions to the Sustainable Development Goals

An informal meeting convened by the Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was held this morning. Representatives of major groups and other stakeholders gathered to discuss their viewpoints on the Zero Draft of the SDGs.

Mr. Harris called for more ambitious targets under Goal 7 in a bid to provide all people with access to renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and ensure that new energy production is renewable. He used biomass as an example to illustrate the need to define qualifiers such as “clean”, “sustainable” or “modern” energy within targets under Goal 7, since biomass is renewable yet its potential negative social and environmental impacts can impede sustainability itself. He further made suImageggestions on the reformulation of targets under Goal 7, with more attention to women, indigenous people, farmers and entrepreneurs.

Ms. Hansen reiterated the necessity of the stand-alone goal on climate change towards a climate-resilient future and to drive urgent international action. She asked for more concrete and ambitious targets under goal 13 by taking into account the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), and setting a target of a less than1.5°C increase in global average temperature. She also suggested one additional target related to financing, since financing is one of the most critical means of implementing the SDGs.

Ms. Wright spoke about goal 9, industrialization, and raised concern in which the language and focus of goal 9 would counteract the real essence of sustainable development. She, on behalf of her group, proposed merging the “production related” target of goal 12, with some of the targets in goal 9. Melany Grout emphasized the need to address the multidimensional face of poverty and the target under goal 1, poverty eradication, should focus on the measure of well-being rather than on income alone. Furthermore, social protection should be universalized.

 

Meeting Title: Reaction to Zero Draft: Joint Statements
Speakers: Grove Harris, speaking on behalf of Women’s, Children and Youth, Indigenous Peoples, NGO Major Groups, Mining Working Group, Beyond 2015; Mette Bloch Hansen. speaking on behalf of the Major Groups of NGOs, Children & Youth and Women, Beyond 2015, Climate Action Network International; Nozipho Wright, speaking on behalf of Women’s Major Group, NGO Major Group, the youth Major and other stakeholders; Melany Grout, speaking on behalf of Plan International, Psychology Coalition at the UN, Commons Cluster, ATD Fourth World, Oxfam, Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, GNDR, Plan International, World Animal Protection, World Vision International, Major Group Children and Youth, Landesa.
Date: 19 June 2014
Location: United Nations, Economic and Social Council Chamber, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

UN-Women Discusses Gender Equality

One of the key issues that has been discussed this week at the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is “promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment”. Today, representatives of UN-Women gathered to discuss this issue. The central role of UN-Women is to promote system wide accountability on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

WomensEmpowermentHeaderDeputy Executive of UN-Women, Mr. Hendra started the meeting by introducing the Joint Gender Programmes (JGPs), which aim at promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a development cooperation modality in the UN system to operationalize the important agendas at the country level. Next, Mr. Bories highlighted the six key objectives of JGPs. First, JGPs contribute to creating shared understandings of gender equality. It increases the visibility and legitimacy of gender issues on the national agenda. Next, it improves upstream results on policy reform and advocacy. It also expands the opportunity for translating normative gender work into operational initiatives. Furthermore, it enhances outreach on gender issues by strengthening synergies with other ministries. Lastly, it permits a more multi-dimensional approach to addressing gender inequality.

However, Ms. Ngcuka pointed out that evaluation on JGPs was conducted in 2012 and there are several areas that need to be improved upon in terms of design and implementation of the next generation of JGPs. These include the modality of JGPs, coherence and efficiency, design process in terms of analysis, and ownership and accountability should be maximized within the national context. Mr. Segone suggested several ways to strengthen the evaluation by carrying out United Nations Evaluation Group peer reviews, Joint Inspection Unit reviews, and United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services’ assessments in the coming years. With such, JGPs will greatly benefit by addressing systematic barriers within the UN system. This also has a high potential to improve the UN system’s contribution to gender equality and women’s empowerment through the JPGs.

 

Meeting Title: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Woman (UN-Women): 3rd meeting – Joint Evaluation of Joint Programmes on Gender Equality in the UN System
Speakers: ; Mr. John Hendra, Deputy Executive Director, Policy and Programme Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Jean-Luc Bories, Secretary of UN-Women Executive Board; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women Mr. Marco Segone, Evaluation Officer of UN Women
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 2
Date: 18 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

 

Orientating the Post-2015 Agenda

The second day of the Forum on Youth focused on young people’s input into the post-2015 development agenda. Image

Mr. Russell-Moyle opened the proceeding by reaffirming that it is the tradition for young people to be agents of change. He urged young people to adopt various roles and strategies to make their voices count, whether it be respectfully communicating their wishes or passionately protesting against the darker shades of society. He encouraged advocates not too lose sight of the long-term goal of making young people the center of decision-making, for their work may “not reach our skyscraper of ambition, but will build our foundation of success”.

Mr. Awasthi briefed the conference on the consultation of young people on the post-2015 agenda. He believed that the crowdsourcing exercise of the Global Partnership on Youth on the post-2015 agenda provides a good reference point on which member states can refer to when consulting youth domestically. Mr. Awasthi pointed out several differences between the ideas raised by the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development and that in the crowdsourcing process, and said that such differences illustrate the need to consult young people on issues of their concern. For instance, young people spoke out strongly in demanding the SDGs to enshrine provision for education in ICT, reproductive health and human rights, which is overlooked by member states in the Open Working Group.

The Forum continued with breakout sessions on the five thematic priorities identified in the crowdsourcing process, namely education, employment and entrepreneurship, health, peace and personal security and governance and participation. Meetings discussed the youth collaborative document proposing goals and crucial targets for the youth population: ‘The Global Youth Call: Prioritizing Youth in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’. 

 

Meeting Title: Post-2015 working sessions (“#Youth2015: Realizing the future they want”)
Speakers: Mr. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Vice-President, European Youth Forum (Keynote Speaker); Mr. Prateek Awasthi, Technical Analyst, Adolescents and Youth, United Nations Population Fund (Moderator of Interactive Dialogue); Various Youth Delegates.
Location: United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room 1
Date: 3 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited 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