Reparations for Victims of Sexual Violence

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Today a panel discussion was held to discuss the Secretary General’s guidance note on reparations for conflict-related sexual violence. Beginning the discussion, Mr. Tolbert from the International Center for Transitional Justice stated that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s guidance report is a truly important policy document that can help design and implement these reparations. Victims of sexual violence have the right to prompt, adequate reparations, and reparations are one of several transitional justice measures states can use in post conflict scenarios to provide some repair to the victims. However, lack of political will and resources often hamper the implementation of reparations.

Following, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson stated that the drafting of the guidance note was led by UN Women and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the document outlines principals and guidelines for an international response to conflict related sexual violence in the form of reparations. Sexual violence leaves profound lasting wounds, and the international community has a duty to help restore the dignity of survivors. Furthermore, rule of law and access to justice are necessary to combat impunity and help victims.

Next, Ms. Bangura, the Special Representative of the SG on Sexual Violence, said that failure to provide reparations perpetuates the cycle of violence. Furthermore, shame and stigmatization still surround rape, and reparations provide an opportunity to combat this. Reparations can include skills training and microcredit, and have the potential to help eliminate the unemployment, homelessness, and rejection faced by victims. She concluded her statement by saying that reparations need to translate from policy to practice.

Next, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, gave a statement on UN Women’s work with women’s organizations and civil society to ensure that the voice of women are heard in building justice mechanisms. She stated that transformative reparations are needed, meaning not just one cash payment, but access to land rights, skills, and fistula surgeries for victims. Reparations are not only about justice; they are also about empowerment.

The Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, Mr. Simonovic, stated that the Secretary General’s guidance note includes a comprehensive overview of principles to be applied in reparations programs including that the programs must be accessible and inclusive, designed with the participation of victims in mind, and reparations should have the potential to transform the conditions within society that allowed the violence to occur in the first place. However, despite these efforts, many victims’ rights to reparations have not been fulfilled. For example, no victim of sexual violence in the DRC has received any reparations. In Conclusion, H.E. Ms. Mejia Velez and Ms. Betancur shared the experiences of Colombia in combating sexual violence, and providing reparations.

 

Meeting Title: Dialogue with Member States on the rule of law at the international level “Presentation of the Secretary-General’s Guidance Note on Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence” (organized by the Rule of Law Unit, Executive Office of the Secretary-General)
Speakers: Mr. David Tolbert, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General; Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Under-Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women; Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights; H.E. Ms. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, Permanent Representative of Colombia; Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur; Head of the Unit for Attention and Reparation Victims of Colombia
Date: 1 August 2014
Location: NLB 6, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Best Practices and Challenges in Implementing a Moratorium on the Death Penalty

abolitionThe Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Mission of Italy convened a meeting to discuss the best practices and challenges in abolishing the death penalty. Twenty-five years ago, only ¼ of UN member states did not practice the death penalty; today more than 4/5 UN member states have abolished it. However, there are many countries that still regularly use the death penalty, including the United States. H.E. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began the meeting with a stringent call for all member states to abolish the death penalty. He stated that the death penalty disproportionately has an impact on people who are poor/disadvantaged because they often do not have access to appropriate legal counseling, and further stated that 14 countries permit the death penalty on children.

The Secretary General called on member states to ratify the 2nd optional protocol in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (abolition of the death penalty), and called on member states to support a resolution in the General Assembly to place a moratorium on the death penalty. “The death penalty has no place in the 21st century, together we can finally end this cruel and inhumane practice around the world”, he concluded. Next, the Permanent Representative of Italy, H.E. Mr. Cardi, affirmed his country’s dedication to the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. He stated that capital punishment is degrading, and denies a person’s fundamental right to life. Following, Dr. Karman pointed out how some countries still use the death penalty as punishment when people speak out against their government, express their opinions, beliefs, thoughts, etc. She called on states to begin by eliminating the death penalty for these “crimes”, and to eventually abolish the death penalty as a whole.

Next, Mr. Garcetti, California’s former D.A., gave a statement on California’s challenges, and eventual success in instituting a de-facto moratorium on capital punishment. He also stated that there is no proof that capital punishment deters crime in the U.S. Furthermore, a study was done in the U.S. which found that it costs more to put a person to death than it does to imprison him/her for life, showing that the death penalty is not only a human rights violation, but an economic burden as well. Concluding the meeting, Dr. Paul Bhatti of Pakistan, and Mr. Maja of Zimbabwe, spoke about their countries’ experiences with the death penalty. Currently, Pakistan has the largest population (8,000) on death row; however, executions have been suspended since 2008. In Zimbabwe, no one has been executed since 2004, and the number of crimes punishable by death has significantly decreased in recent years.

Meeting Title: “Best Practices and challenges in implementing a moratorium on the death penalty”
Speakers: H.E. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; H.E. Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy; Dr. Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner; Dr. Paul Bhatti, Former Minister of National Harmony and Minority Affairs, Pakistan; Mr. Gil Garcetti, Former District Attorney for the state of California, United States of America; Mr. Innocent Maja, Attorney, Zimbabwe
Date: 2 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Private Sector’s Current State of Play in the SDG Process

masthead_resourcesDr Louise Kantrow opened the discussion by noting the paradigm transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, wherein the role of the private sector has grown. ICC coordinated the Global Business Alliance 2015, which brought together global and regional business organisations aimed at constructively engaging with the post 2015 process and the UN agencies. The key points from the private sector perspective are the following: effective governance, rule of law, and security are critical enablers to achieve the SDGs; poverty eradication involves economic growth and jobs creations; and therefore it is crucial to address the informal employment and low governance challenges arisen in many developing countries.

H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou recognised that the global environmental and social challenges should be addressed through mobilising private finance for SDGs, innovative and technologically advanced business models. There is a move in the approach of the private sector from maximising profits for shareholders to stakeholders and the planet should be considered a stakeholder. Ms Esin Mete, then addressed the importance of agriculture and rural development as primary drivers to address poverty reduction and food security.

Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro stated that 75 million young people are currently unemployed. It is imperative to not just address the quantity but the quality of jobs available. As economic growth does not automatically create jobs, the private sector is the core driver of jobs. He then addressed the critical need to create a safe environment for workers as every 15 seconds one worker is killed due to working accidents: making it a world epidemic.

Finally Ms Katharine Maloney underlined the fundamental beliefs of KPMG to explain their active participation in the consultations of the post 2015 agenda. First, they recognise the paradigm shift explained previously by Dr Louise Kantrow. Second profitability and developmental agenda are not mutually exclusive. Third, business and social values are inextricably linked. Fourth, the private sector can provide a lot more than money, for instance real ideas, innovation, technical know how and a lot more resources.

Meeting Title: Private Sector Briefing: Current State of Play in the SDG process
Speakers: Dr Louise Kantrow, ‎Permanent Representative to the United Nations at International Chamber of Commerce; H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, Permanent Representative of Republic of Benin to the UN; Ms Esin Mete, Director General, IFA (International Fertilizer Industry Association); Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro, Deputy Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations; Ms Katharine Maloney, Director, Development and Exempt Organizations (DEO) Practice at KPMG LLP.
Date: 3 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 5, NLB, United Nations, New York.
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

Doing Justice to Sustainable Development

Integrating the Rule of Law into the Post 2015 Agenda 

Professor Michael Doyle explained that law is a valuable reflection of human dignity and must be preserved for equality. Democracy based rule of law, entrenched with human rights is essential to ensure that laws are not changeable by any majority in a way that violates equality and social inclusion. Judit Arenas emphasised that rule of law and the sustainable development goals have to go beyond words on paper to ensure that this transformative agenda is actually changed for the better.

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Judith Arenas summarized the IDLO report that has been posted online explaining that the key points in the document include legal frameworks for sustainable governance of resources, access to fair market trade to stimulate the economy, and legal rights that ensure transparency and participation. The recommendations from Rio +20 require that economic growth creates employment and decent work to ensure the eradication of poverty; strong legal institutions promote investment and encapsulate development.

Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, via video statement, said that environmental degradation is an existential threat to all of us, and although it touches all, it will particularly affect the poor, vulnerable and indigenous people. The wealthy and developed nations’ citizens have the ability to move between countries but millions of poor and vulnerable people have to face climate change as a threat to their existence.

Justice Antonio explained that to have the legal framework in place is one thing, however as a society we need to ensure goals are actually fulfilled. In order to do this the world requires good governance, more than legislative text, but rather interlinked goals alongside systems of compliance and enforcement. Justice Antonio also declared that judges can not be influenced by political and economic pressure, they should not be afraid of favoring weaker parties for their legal rights.

 

Meeting Title: Doing Justice to Sustainable Development: Integrating the rule of law into the post-2015 agenda
Speakers: H.E. Riitta Resch Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland; Professor Michael Doyle, Foreign and Security Policy Columbia University; Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, National High Court of Brazil; Professor Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chair of UN Permanent forum on Indigenous Issues; Nury Montiel, Director of Human Rights for Supreme Court of Justice of Paraguay, Andres Vazquez Coordinator Human Rights Projects for Supreme Court of Justice of Paraquay, Judit Arenas Director of External Relations IDLO
Location: United Nations UN, Conference Room 5 NLB, New York
Date: 17 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Human Rights as a road to eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainability

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A high level meeting on the contributions that human rights and the rule of law can make in supporting national and international efforts towards poverty eradication and sustainable development was held at the trusteeship council in UN Headquarters, New York. Ms. Kahn, the Director General of the International Development Organization, began the meeting by stating that we cannot eradicate poverty, promote sustainable development, or create inclusive economies without human rights and the rule of law. Next, H.E. Mr. Eliasson, the Deputy Secretary General, stated that the main human rights principles that need to be focused on are non-discrimination and equality. Furthermore, he spoke about the interdependence of civil, political, economic, and social rights, and how a stronger emphasis on the rule of law is needed to strengthen the Sustainable Development Goals.

The new post 2015 development agenda must reflect these rights, as well as reflect the ideal of “freedom from want and freedom from fear.” Following, Dr. Migiro addressed the challenge of closing the poverty gap between rural and urban settings. He also called for reforms in the security council and UN institutions to make them more accountable, as well the necessity of good governance for strengthening the rule of law. Mr. Strasser then spoke about how a human rights based approach represents a necessary paradigm shift in the way we approach development. He highlighted the importance of designing and implementing measures in the post 2015 development agenda in accordance with human rights law, and emphasized the importance of stakeholder participation.

Next, Mr. Kreutner spoke about the link between corruption, lack of human rights, and lack of development. He called for governments and political institutions to improve their reliability, accountability, and legitimacy, and called for a renewed global commitment to anti-corruption policies. Mr. Kreutner also said that checks and balances, separation of powers, anti-corruption mechanisms, and greater compliance networks are essential for good governance, and in turn poverty eradication and sustainable development. In conclusion, Mr. Lusiani gave a statement about how human rights norms and standards can be embedded into the existing framework of goals, targets, and indicators in the post 2015 development agenda. He called for an effective financing strategy, as well as an effective monitoring and accountability framework for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Meeting Title: Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Panel Discussion 1: “Exploring the contributions of human rights and the rule of law in supporting national and international efforts towards poverty eradication and sustainable development”
Speakers: Ms. Zarin Kahn, Director General of the International Development Organization; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General; Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of Tanzania; Mr. Christoph Strasser, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid; Mr. Martin Kreutner, Dean of the International Anti-Corruption Academy; Mr. Nicholas Lusiani, Director of Human Rights Policy Program at the Center for Economic and Social Rights;
Date: 10 June 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, Trusteeship Council, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

A “Human Rights For All” Approach to the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Assembling UN agencies and member states working on criminal justice reform and human rights promotion, the panel on “human rights for all” share their best practices and views on the way forward in propelling reform in post-2015 international development. Ambassador Al-thani opened the panel by restating the intertwined relations between the rule of law and sustainable development, and stated that Qatari commitment to promote criminal justice is exemplified by her hosting of the 13th UN Crime Congress in 2015.images

Likewise, H.R.H. Princess Bajrakitiyabha highlighted that women and children are often victims of ineffective justice system, and brought the audience’s attention to the work Thailand has done in facilitating the Bangkok Dialogue on the Rule of Law and Rules on Women Offenders and Prisoners. The Italian cooperation with Central American states was also mentioned by Ambassador Cardi, who called for more strenuous international cooperation in instituting rule of law and criminal justice reform.

On the issue of international cooperation, Mr. Eliasson suggested the fact that rule of law issue is domestic in nature should not be an excuse of rejecting international cooperation. He believed that now that the community has a consensus on the importance of the rule of law, focus should be put on identifying measurable benchmarks to evaluate the positive social and economic impacts in establishing trusted institutions of justice. Ms. Mohamed pointed out the inseparable link between addressing the underlying issues of poverty and crime prevention, a point which was reiterated by Mr. Shimonovich. He added while disputes remain as to whether access to justice is an enabler of other rights or a right in itself, it is undisputable that it is an element of both the freedom from fear and freedom from want originally enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Meeting Title : High-level event on “The Rule of Law, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in the United Nations Development Agenda Beyond 2015: Engendering a ‘Human Rights for all’ approach”
Speakers: H.E . Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, H .E. Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, H.E. Ms. Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the UN, H.R.H. Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN in Vienna, H.E. Mr. Sebastiano Cardi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN, H.E. Mr. Ivan Simonovic, UN Assistant Secretary General, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and Ms. Simone Monasebian, Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, New York Office.
Date: June 9th, 2014
Location: Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters
Summary Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung

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 

 

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