Wednesday, October 19th, the General Assembly celebrated and discussed the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). His Excellency Peter Thomson began by summarizing the success that the Human Rights Covenants have had over the past fifty years. He stressed that the covenants have transformed lives by changing constitutions and laws and legally obligating states to recognize and protect individual human rights. He iterated the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and argued the need for the Agenda and the covenants to proceed jointly. Additionally, he pointed out that the adherence to the covenants is necessary in achieving SDG 16 (promoting peace and inclusive societies for sustainable development), upon which all the other SDGs are reliant. Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed the idea that promoting human rights pushes states toward greater stability. Furthermore, he argued that the Paris climate change agreements found their roots in the ICCPR and ICESCR, and they promote the right to highest attainable standard of health. The Representative of Chile on Behalf of the Latin American states added that the ICCPR and ICESCR are both closely linked to sustainable development, an integral part of human rights.
Mr. Waleed Sadi expanded on the importance of the coordination and cooperation between both of the covenants. He pointed out that the United States had both signed and ratified ICCPR, but had only signed ICESCR. The Representative of the United States expressed the importance of promoting human rights in the United Nations and emphasized a strong commitment to doing so. Additionally, she argued that the ICCPR guarantees steady progress towards the goals outlined in ICESCR.
Meeting: “Implementation of Human Rights Instruments: Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”
Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, October 19th, 2016; 10:00; General Assembly Hall
Speakers: His Excellency Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly; His Excellency Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations; Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Waleed Sadi, Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Representative of the Asia-Pacific group; Representative of Georgia on behalf of Eastern European states; Representative of Chile on behalf of Latin American states; Representative of the United Kingdom and Ireland on behalf of the Western European states; Representative of the United States
Written By: Anna Prisco, WIT Representative
On the sideline of the Open-Ended Working Group’s deliberation on the protection of older persons’ right to a dignified life, the Kenyan Mission hosted an event to share Kenya’s experience of implementing cash transfers to ensure older person’s economic and social rights. Mrs. Muriuki detailed the methodology of the cash transfer programme, saying that it focuses on reaching those who are extremely poor and above the age of 65. This ensures the optimal use of resources in reaching those who are most in need. Each month, those eligible are given an amount of 2000 Kenyan shillings to buy food and other basic necessities. She described the plan as a “cushion” for the poor against the shocks of poverty. Since instituting the cash transfer programme, Kenya has seen increases in household purchasing power, savings, and capital investments. This benefits not only the elderly, but also children, who now have higher retention rates at schools due to increases in household income.
Speaking from the perspective of a charitable organization for the elderly, Mr. Mwega stated that the effect of the cash transfer programme has led to a reduction in the number of older persons seeking assistance from his organization for immediate food aid. Mr. Ole Sankok said that the same trend is also observed in his organization in the service of people with disabilities. Ms. Graham added that cash transfer programmes that make older persons the direct recipients of cash are important in enhancing their dignity, as older persons often feel disempowered when they cannot contribute to the family’s income.
Ambassador Kamau concluded the event by stating that the cash transfer programme is a novel initiative to solving problems related to poverty. He added that while much attention has been directed to the young in crafting the Sustainable Development Goals, the concerns of the old should not be overlooked.
Meeting Title: Event on Cash Transfers for Economic and Social Rights of Older Persons: Experiences from Kenya
Speakers: Mrs. Lydia Muriuki, Secretary (Social Development), the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services of the Republic of Kenya; Mr. Elijah Mwega, Karika; Mr. David Ole Sankok, Chairperson of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities; Ms. Ellen Graham, HelpAged International; H.E. Ambassador Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations.
Location: Conference Room 9, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 30 July 2014
Summary Written By: Harrison Chung
Edited By: Marli Kasdan
During the General Assembly meeting on Indigenous Peoples, the Moderator started the session by stating that the indigenous people feel that the current development model has resulted in global inequality, environmental degradation, climate change and the current economic crisis. This model has not valued economic, social, religious and spiritual aspects of indigenous people. Thus culture and identity rights need to be included in the new developmental model that provides a broad normative framework and a more holistic approach based on the collective rights and interests of all.
Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz highlighted that the indigenous people were included in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and also in the on-going Open Working Groups (OWGs) on the processes of the post 2015 development agenda. She and all speakers hereafter stated that the Alta Outcome Document should be the reference point for the ‘Indigenous Priorities for Sustainable Development’. The Zero Draft Outcome Document in her opinion provided very generic goals and had no mention of indigenous people. After further discussions and lobbying, the indigenous people were able to achieve five reference points in the Document. The development agenda should not just focus on market solutions (such as public-private partnership) but should also look at non-market solutions for a more comprehensive agenda. It is very important to work in partnership with states to address these issues.
The Representative of the Pacific Region and the Representative of Latin American and the Caribbean generally emphasised that cultural solutions are the drivers of the development agenda. Eradicating poverty amongst indigenous people and securing their economic, social, cultural and developmental rights is also imperative. The Representatives appealed that the outcome document should be concise and action oriented. The Permanent representative of Guatemala then emphasised that indigenous people should overcome exclusion and receive their right to education and expression. Finally she stated that there has been a lot of progress on paper, however this century should focus on action and implementation.
Meeting Title: Informal interactive hearings as preparatory process for the High-level meeting of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly, to be known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples: Interactive discussion 3 “Indigenous priorities for sustainable development”
Speakers: Moderator; Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Distinguished Representative of the Pacific Region; Distinguished Representative of South America and the Caribbean; Distinguished Representative of Guatemala.
Date: 18 June 2014
Location: General Assembly Hall (NLB), United Nations Headquarters, NY.
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan