The Latest discussion on Humanitarian Affairs in ECOSOC at the United Nations

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The Humanitarian Affairs Segment provides an important forum for discussing the activities and issues related to strengthening the coordination of the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The focus of this report is on the opening of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment where Member States provided their respective positions.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Ibrahim O. Dabbashi stated that together we could identify ways to strengthen our collective response to the humanitarian challenges facing us today. H.E emphasised that every crisis is different and thus its context should determine the nature of assistance. Following Ms. Valerie Amos highlighted the security situation in different parts of the world: the Middle East and Africa have witnessed the displacement of millions of people; inter-communal violence in Myanmar and Philippines have killed and displaced several thousand people; and the largest number of refugees are in Afghanistan. She acknowledged and appreciated the generous funding of the member states in 2013 towards response plans and complimentary humanitarian action.

A representative from Bolivia then delivered its statement on behalf of Group of 77 and China. In its statement they declared that special attention should be paid to the guiding principles of respect of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States, which should remain the overarching parameters in all efforts for coordination of humanitarian assistance. Ireland stated that inter-communal and ethnic violence are the outcome of years and indeed decades of endemic poverty, under-development, weak democratic institutions and neglect by the international community. Furthermore, Ireland stressed on the protection and gender based violence to be a crucial objective in humanitarian assistance.

Switzerland introduced three points of debate: question of efficiency of humanitarian aid; questions of protection of victims in armed conflicts; and wanted to question the current humanitarian assistance model. Canada, then stated that they remain committed to working with their humanitarian partners to provide life saving and effective assistance to affected populations, collectively improve their capacity to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, as well as to ensure coherence in humanitarian and development efforts, in order to achieve lasting and sustainable results.

Meeting Title: Humanitarian Affairs Segment
Speakers: His Excellency Ibrahim O. Dabbashi (Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Ms. Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Ms. Ingrid Sabja, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Plurinational State of Bolivia; Mr. Tim Mawe, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ireland; Ambassador Manuel Bessler, Head of Switzerland Humanitarian Aid Department; Ambassador Guillermo Rishchynski, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations
Location: ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations, New York.
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion

Recent events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have raised an array of challenging issues related to self-determination, secession, international intervention, and annexation. The panel aims to explore the legal and policy implications of these issues.

Note: It was recorded that no representative were present from the Russian Federation or from the 11 nation states that were against UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 that was adopted on 27 March 2014, entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine”

In the pursuit of conducting a balanced debate on the issue of Crimea, participants were shown a video of the Republic of Nicaragua delegation providing the UN General Assembly their reasoning for voting against resolution 68/262. The main point highlighted related to the issue of self-determination. This Managua believed validated both – the referendum itself hosted in Crimea on March 16, 2014 and its outcome to join the Russian Federation.

H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev strongly posited that the referendum was illegitimate as it was inspired by Russia and the plebiscite took place while Russian soldiers occupied the peninsula. A similar view is shared by the 100 nations states that were in favour of resolution 68/262 on respecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

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Christopher Borgen, acting as a legal advisor on the panel, stated that Moscow’s rationale of categorizing the events, as humanitarian intervention too did not have any legal biases, as matters of intervention do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Crimean Constitution [Article 1] as granted by the parent state; Ukraine. Furthermore, he argued that even if the idea of self-determination is condoned in this scenario, it by no means gives any right to entirely dismember the state.

H.E. Ambassador Yuriy further denounced Moscow for violating the 1994 Budapest Agreement and for acting in a manner inconsistent with international law and thus “creating an imbalance in the international security environment”. As part of the agreement of ‘94, Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons “on the basis of an explicit Russian guarantee of its territorial integrity”. However by breaching this guarantee, President Putin has undermined the foundational framework of the international order by disrespecting historical obligations that take expression in the form of treaties, pacts and agreements.

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Meeting Title:  International Law and Crisis in Ukraine: A Roundtable Discussion
Speakers: Bettina B. Plevan Proskauer Rose LLP, Chair, Council on International Affairs; Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations; Christopher J. Borgen, Associate Dean for International Studies and Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law; Mark A. Meyer, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Moldova in New York, Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C.
Location: The Council on International Affairs of the New York City Bar Association
Date: 4 June 2014
Summary by WIT representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark