Secretary General of the United Nations discusses Human Rights and Rule of Law

UN SECRETARY GENERAL MEETS WITH SPANISH PRESIDENTThe Human Rights and the Rule of Law meeting spoke on ways to support the integration of these objectives into the post-2015 agenda. Human rights fall into categories that either can enhance development or harm development. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN, spoke of promoting freedom of opinion and well-functioning institutions, along with better strategies and results. More than 1 billion people remain extremely poor, despite efforts to eliminate poverty. A key element in the ongoing agenda is to secure land for agricultural production.  The Rule of Law will prevent corruption and organised international crime, which H.E. Ki-Moon explained is require to balance the needs of people, while exterminating poverty. The agenda needs to close social and economic gaps.

The UN AIDS Goodwill Ambassador shared that despite decreasing incidence, AIDS continues to be the 2nd largest contributor to adolescent death. More than 40% of people with AIDS are 14 and younger. The Ambassador reported that in 9 of the world’s highest AIDS-prevalent countries, less than 9% of boys and girls have been tested. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, spoke of the success from programs that have been established in damaged areas. Mr Lake elaborated on more governments-based programs to keep children educated, vaccinated and sheltered. In a video message from Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented four suggestions for the new agenda; that the agenda must address both “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear”, the framework must include the principles of human rights and equality, must contain a strong global partnership and must be based on a strong accountability.

Meeting Title: Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Speakers: Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General; Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF; Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; President on Human Rights; Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Location: United Nations HQ, Trusteeship Council, New York
Date: 9 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Leslie Anokye
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 

 

The Right of the Child – The UN takes a stand

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This meeting focused on framing points of views of the right of children and adolescents. UN Representative Sajdik spoke about the atrocities being committed against children especially young girls in Nepal. In Nepal girls can be married as early as 72 months old to 12 years old. Such young marriage violates a young girl’s innocence and early pregnancy results in extreme physical pain, as their bodies have not had time to mature to a safe child bearing state.

The organization SOS Children’s Villages works with children who are orphaned, abandoned or neglected. They give these children the opportunity to build lasting relationships within a family. Their family approach is based on four principles: Each child needs a mother, and grows up most naturally with brothers and sisters, in his or her own house, within a supportive village environment.

Nadine Kalpar, the Youth delegate to Austria, spoke of her personal experiences and the abuse that she witnessed other Austrian children go through. According to the information and statistics she gave, all violence against children, including parents, is prohibited. However 30% of parents in Austria aren’t aware or are not threatened by this law, therefore the violence continues. Ms. Kalpar also discussed ageism in the job market. Adolescents and teenagers are viewed as “lazy” and “unreliable” when it comes time to land a job. This is an attitude that needs to be reversed for young people to receive their right to safe, secure work.

Ravi Bajrak, the Youth Delegate to Nepal, insisted that we cannot change the future if we don’t respond to the current violence and injustices against the youth population. Judith Diers, closing the meeting, stated that we can achieve anything with hard work, dedication, and most of all, trust within humanity to do the right

ImageMeeting Title: The Gov. of Austria, The Gov. of Nepal and the SOS Children’s Villages
Speakers: Judith Diers, UNICEF Representative; Mr. Sajdik, Representative of Nepal; Nadine Kalpar, Youth Delegate to Austria; Ravi Bajrak, Youth Delegate to Nepal
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7, North Lawn Building
Date: 3 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Leslie Anokye
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Intellectual Property Rights And Access to Medicine

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 19 February 2014

During a meeting on intellectual property and access to medicine, issues such as trade, HIV, responsibility and the ethics of patent laws were discussed. James Love, the director of Knowledge Ecology International, a NGO that deals with intellectual property on public health, cyberlaw, and competition, spoke about the differences between a research and development approach and a intellectual property approach. The current AIDS drugs, Mr. Love explained, are more heavily patented than ever. The existence of some organizations and programs, like The Global Fund, have allowed for new markets in even the poorest countries, and these new markets have also pushed more patents. Mr. Love emphasized that the purpose of trade agreements is not to increase prices or expand patent laws, but to sponsor research and development. He asked, “How can groups promote the efforts of research and development and detach it from the price of those drugs?” Mr. Love proposed ideas for how to rectify the current situation by incentivizing research and development, and eliminating patents for HIV drugs, at least in America. 

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Yawo Tenou, a representative of UNDP, shared his own experiences growing up in Botswana, a poor country severely affected by AIDS and a lack of access to medicine. He described many experiences where friends would loose both of their parents to AIDS and then be sent off to distant family, unknown would be the continuation of their education or livelihood. Mr. Tenou described the contextualization of intellectual property rights and how they impede on access to healthcare, proposing a balance for international trade laws to not affect treatment of diseases. Citing the Venice Statue of 1474 that rewards inventors and retains the right of government to act in the publics interest, Mr. Tenou advocated for generic competition to drive price down and allow access to higher quality treatment. Eleven out of the twelve treatments for non-communicable diseases approved by the FDA, cost over 100,000 USD per year per patient in the USA. The UNDP provides policy and technical assistance in the countries that need help accessing treatment and medicine. 

Meeting Title: Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines 

Key Speakers: Jean-Francis R. Zinsou (UN Ambassador of Benin), UNAIDS representative, James Love (Director of Knowledge Ecology International), Yawo Tenou (UNDP), Dr. Harry Ostrou (Researcher and geneticist)

Written By WIT Representative: Stephanie Harris