Second Committee discusses: Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly

2-new2The second agenda of the Second Committee was ‘Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly’. The representative of the European Union and Member States, stated all countries and partners need to work together to ensure that the work of the Second Committee that runs parallel to intergovernmental processes is not duplicated or that the negotiations are not pre-empted. They believe that the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be included in the agenda of the Second Committee. Therefore it should guide the Second Committee to rationalize and streamline their agenda. Next the representative of the United States of America supported the efforts to streamline the number of resolutions by combining related topics in specific clusters. The representative of Canada stated that in cases where broader discussions on biennialization or triennialization of resolutions or restricting of existing agenda items is required, it should be held off until the conclusion of the post-2015 discussion.

Meeting Title: Second Committee: Sixth Meeting
Date: 9 October 2014
Location:  Conference room 2, United Nations HQ, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

MDG Progress Review – Qatar, UK, and Kuwait

Millennium-Development-Goals-for-2015Today, as part of the Annual Ministerial Review on development, Qatar, the UK, and Kuwait gave their respective countries’ development reports, and had these reports reviewed by their peers as part of the monitoring and evaluation process of the millennium development goals (MDGs). Beginning the meeting, the representative from Qatar presented Qatar’s National Development Strategy (NDS), which covers the period from 2011-2016. So far it’s found that Qatar has done exceedingly well in GNI per capita (ranking 1st globally), and in having high levels of citizen satisfaction with life. However, the NDS report pointed out population growth as a major challenge to development in Qatar. Qatar’s population has grown from 1.4 million in 2008 to 2.1 million in 2013, with almost a quarter of a million more people expected by 2014. Population growth places a burden on schools, hospitals, housing, and other aspects of social infrastructure. Traffic congestion and accidents were also highlighted as main challenges for Qatar. Concluding the presentation, proposed future actions for development include creating a high-level sustainable development committee, ensuring the integration of environmental and social concerns, and improving quantitative and qualitative measures of well-being.

Next, the UK’s development report was presented. The UK is the only G8 country to reach the UN set target of allocating .7% of its GNI for official development assistance (ODA). Furthermore, the UK identified its key priorities for development as gender equality, education and health, humanitarian work, multilateral aid effectiveness, reducing barriers to economic growth, supporting capital market development in Sub Saharan Africa, and international efforts to combat tax evasion and corruption. To promote development, the UK has given 40% of its bilateral aid to Sub Saharan Africa. Furthermore, in 2013, the UK gave 4.4 billion pounds to 40 different multilateral aid agencies. The presentation concluded with a quote from the UK’s International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, “Development is in all of our interests. Helping other countries to grow and develop means a better, more prosperous future for Britain too.”

Lastly, Kuwait gave its presentation on its development progress. So far, Kuwait has done relatively well in meeting the MDGs. By 2011, only .33% of its population lived on less than $1.25 per day, by 2012 97% of children were enrolled in primary schools, and Kuwait has seen a significant improvement in maternal health – 1.7 deaths for every 100,000 births as of 2012. However, increasing CO2 levels in Kuwait remain a challenge, and water desalination and power stations are main sources of pollution. Thus far, Kuwait has been successful in building a global partnership for development – allocating 1.23% of its GNI for ODA, hosting the first Arab summit on economic and social development, and creating the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The meeting concluded with reviews by peer countries of the development reports.

 

Meeting Title: Annual Ministerial Review National Voluntary Presentations: Qatar, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Kuwait
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Saleh bin Mohammad Al Nabit, Minister of Development Planning and Statistics, Qatar; Mr. Anthony Smith, Head, International Relations, Department for International Development, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; H.E. Mr. Mansour Ayyad SH A Alotaibi, Permanent Representative of Kuwait
Date: 9 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 2, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

New ways to provide food assistance

ImageTo encourage innovative means to provide food assistance to regions in need of humanitarian aid, Ambassador Patriota convened a panel discussion on this matter. In doing so, the Ambassador highlighted the Brazilian application of cash transfer to implement the “Bolsa Familia” safety-net programme as a way to motivate families to send children to school and to clinic check-ups.

In the context of short-term action, Mr. Mogwanja highlighted the difference between direct provision of food aid and cash-transfer style food assistance, the latter being preferable as it is a more economically sustainable tool. Mr. Janz stated that cash-transfer is a viable form of food assistance, as it pinpoints to the problem of lack of purchasing power of disaster victims without having crippled the local agricultural market by flooding the market with relief food. Mr. Janz elaborated on the benefit of cash-transfer food assistance, stating that it gives disaster victims dignity by giving them choices in food and enhances efficiency of aid by reducing the logistical cost of transporting food aid. Ms. Souza stated how the World Food Programme implemented the cash-transfer in conjunction with local purchase of relief material to further enhance food assistance’s positive impact to the local economy, a point which Ambassador Boureima echoed when detailing the “Nigerien feeds Nigerien” initiative in his country.

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Ms. Fink-Hooijer stated that the donor community in general support the cash-transfer initiative, but adopts a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the effectiveness of large-scale implementation in disaster relief. Ambassador Shearman echoed this point, and added that he hopes future cash-transfer can be implemented in form of cash handout instead of voucher to further reduce its distortion of the local market.

Meeting Title: Cash Transfers, Local Purchases and Social Safety-Nets: Bridging the Divide between Assistance and Development
Speakers: Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Ambassador Boubacar Boureima, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations; Darana Souza, Programme Coordinator for World Food Programme; Udo K. Janz, Director of UNHCR Office in New York; Israel Klug, Project Coordinator of PAA Africa Programme; Minister Counsellor Nuria Mohammed, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Florika Fink-Hooijer, Policy Director of ECHO; Martin Shearman, Ambassador for Development and Human Rights, UK Department for International Development; H.E. Ambassador Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations; Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Advisor of OXFAM; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch of UN OCHA
Location: Conference Room 5, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Trends in Humanitarian Financing: do resources meet the needs?

UntitledHumanitarian crises and needs in 2013 was extraordinary, the level of international humanitarian response rose to a record high of US$22 billion. As crises developed or emerged over the year, the numbers of affected people fluctuated. In light of that, financial resources are increasingly stretched. At the United Nations panellists gathered to discuss and identify how resources can more effectively channelled in order to meet the needs of affected civilians.

H.E. Ambassador Nusseibeh commenced the meeting by highlighting 2012 as a year of “recurring disasters” during which there was a stark change in the number of high-level humanitarian crises in 2013. Millions of people were affected by various crises, which stretched international response and funding. In particular adversity in South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen affected hundreds of thousands of people and called for significant international humanitarian response.

Ms. Swithern emphasised that South Sudan and Syria now appear at the top of the list of nations in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. This is due to the ongoing conflict driven crises in these respective countries. The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Turkey and Japan were the largest government donors in 2013. He stressed that even though the international humanitarian response has increased significantly, it is still not enough to fully meet the ever-growing global needs.

Mr. Strohmeyer briefly explained the importance of looking at various funding mechanisms and developing multi-year strategies as funding moves through chains of transaction in varying lengths and complexity. He also stated that in order to improve the effectiveness of resources, it is necessary to provide independent, transparent and accessible information.

It is clear that national and local NGOs form an essential part of the humanitarian response. Ms. Genel introduced a Turkey-based NGO ‘Support to Life’, which works internationally on humanitarian principles. Despite NGO assistance Ms. Genel emphasised that domestic government resources are substantial and should continue to be the key driver of long-term development.

Meeting Title: Trends in humanitarian financing: do resources meet the needs?
Speakers: Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations; Ms. Sophia Swithern, Programme Leader, Global Humanitarian Programme of Development Initiatives; Mr. Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief, Policy Development and Studies Branch (OCHA); Ms. Sema Genel, Director, Support to Life (Turkey)
Location: Conference Room C, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
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