Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth, and the UN

B-TAcMtIEAACyG6The DPI/NGO Briefing Division organized and led a panel to discuss topics centered on Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth, and the UN. Dr. Hunter opened up the panel by asking what youth empowerment means to the audience, and then went on to state that there are over 400 youth representatives that speak on behalf of NGOs worldwide. The next speaker, Ms. Nesheiwat emphasized the point that all youth representatives had the same underlying mission–to create a better future for the world. Ms. Viktoriia then stated, “youth is not an excuse for inaction or an excuse for lack of awareness or responsibility.” She continued by saying that creating a strong network of youth professionals would benefit not only the youth, but society and the United Nations as a whole. Giving a platform to speak about causes important to the representatives is central to empowering the youth. Ms. Taveras listed some of the successes of the UNADR, such as reaching out to over 6,000 students at the International Conference of the Americas. She also expressed social media engagement with youth as a key factor in worldwide change. She then spoke on behalf the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy, and its role in global involvement through its Center for UN and Global Governance Studies. Ms. Taveras spoke passionately about youth involvement,  saying that having a strong desire to change the world is unstoppable. Ms. Ukaigwe discussed ENDA’s various collaborations, such as their Youth in Action Team that partnered with the African Movement of Working Children and Youth to ensure the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals related to children. She also claimed that many of ENDA’s initiatives coincide with the SDGs. She, too, was animated when she discussed youth engagement, convincing the audience of the impact of youth action.

Meeting: Partnerships for Success: NGOs, Youth and the UN
Date & Location: 26 February 2015. Conference Room 2, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers:
Dr. Bill Hunter, Director, International Outreach; Lehigh University, Lehigh University representative at the United Nations; Ms. Amanda Nesheiwat, Youth Representative, Foundation for Post-Conflict Development; Ms. Viktoriia Brezhenuik, Youth Representative, World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations; Ms. Gabriela Taveras, Youth Representative, Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and the United Nations Association of the Dominican Republic; Ms. Joy Ukaigwe, Youth Representative, ENDA Tiers Monde (Environmental Development Action in the Third World, Dakar, Senegal)
Written By WIT Representatives: Elise Freeman and Daniel Cho
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

General Meeting of the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development

image18_866Ms. Reagan introduced the Sustainable Energy for All Forum that will take place this upcoming May at the United Nations. The main objectives of the forum are to address universal access to energy, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy. Mr. Sciarratta then discussed ecotourism and some of his involvement with FAF. Through his work, youth interested in activist movements and policy have been able to synthesize and join together through cultural experiences. Mr. Jordan touched upon groups like the International Ecotourism Society that work to unite communities and promote eco-friendly tourism. He stated that people must respect the systems of foreign lands. He used the example of an American throwing away a film wrapper in a small Indian town. This one action can have ripple effects, as the foreign land may not be equipped to further break down that material. In order to pursue sustainable livelihoods, individuals must develop platforms for educational purposes on fair trade, a mindset of less consumption, and land preservation. Dr. Kohona gave a historical presentation on Sri Lanka, which included information about its creation, the purpose of the Cultural Triangle, Buddhism, endemic species, and a multitude of artifacts. Sri Lanka has worked hard to retain the natural beauty of its land. Currently, 22% of land mass is maintained forests, and the government is working to raise this percentage to 30%. Ms. Flake discussed the endeavors of Honduras and its support of sustainable tourism, as 80% of Honduras’s economy is in the tourism sector. Honduras has a diverse ecosystem that includes the largest tropical forest in Central America, coral reefs, canyons, caves, parks, and protected areas. To uphold such rich biodiversity, Ms. Flake stated that the government must create a strategy instilling tourism sustainability.

Meeting: NGO Committee on Sustainable Development General Meeting
Date and Location: 25 February 2015; UN Church Center, New York.
Speakers: Ms. Margo LaZaro and Ms. Yvonne O’Neal, Co-chairs; Mr. Modou Cham, Secretary; Ms. Ornesha Reagan, Special Consultant for the UN Executive Office of the Secretary- General Sustainable Energy for All initiative- SE4ALL Forum and Independent Development Researcher on Eco-tourism; H.E. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN; H.E. Ms. Mary Flores Flake, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Honduras to the UN; Mr. Patrick Sciarratta, Executive Director of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Advisor to the Permanent Mission of Sao Tome and Principe; Mr. Richard Jordan, Representative of the Royal Academy of Science International Trust at the UN
Written by WIT Representative: Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

UNIDIRMr. Napolitano introduced UNIDIR and the institute’s goal to maintain autonomy. UNIDIR aims to ensure its own evolution, express member state support, maintain contact with Geneva to develop new projects, and build constituencies. Mr. Sareva emphasized how UNIDIR faces a threat to its existence and operation because of low funding. UNIDIR has an institutional budget, but no working capital. The budget, which supports resources needed to run the institute and its projects has been decreasing. This funding comes from a small budget subvention, overhead from projects (about 20%), and voluntary contributions. Mr. Sareva expressed that member states must provide the funds that they promised in Geneva. UNIDIR’s dependence on a small group of countries is risky, so they are looking to expand their donor base to NGOs and private donors. The current stability fund goal is $1 million, which can be allocated and replenished accordingly.

The UN has introduced a new, integrated resource management system, UMOJA, which makes UNIDIR’s business processes obsolete because they cannot continue providing staff contracts. UMOJA also prevents management systems from allowing fund cross borrowing and it requires UNIDIR to keep reserves (creating a lack of working capital). UNIDIR’s unique structure maintains institutional independence and allows for a wide mandate that covers arms control and related security issues like nuclear disarmament. UNIDIR works with new, emerging security issues and has crosscutting work that aids stakeholders. It also has strong convening power, is practical and effective, and frames agendas to inform and motivate collective action.

Switzerland’s representative expressed support of UNIDIR and agreed with Austria that a “Plan B” is needed as time continues to run out. Most members in the meeting agreed that the UN Disarmament Commission needs to be utilized to gain support on the political level.

 

Meeting: Meeting of the Group of Friends of United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) (organized by the Permanent Mission of France)
Date & Location: Wednesday, February 25th, 2015; 11:00 am to 12:15 pm; Conference Room E
Speakers: Jarma Sareva, Director of Disarmament Affairs of the United Nations; Moderator Tomas Napolitano, Representative of the French Mission to the United States (Political Affairs and Security Council)
Written by WIT Representatives: Ellie Guner and Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Peacekeeping in the Post-2015 Agenda (Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations)

width_650.height_300.mode_FillAreaWithCrop.pos_Default.color_WhiteThe Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations discussed what aspects of peacekeeping should be addressed in the post-2015 agenda.

Kazakhstan stated that the peacekeeping mandate needed to shift from being purely military to include non-military, food, and energy security; the Filipino representative also desired consideration for disease control. Kazakhstan called for the participation of women and consideration of differing ideologies and cultures in missions. The Zambian Permanent Representative echoed these sentiments while paying particular attention to the protection of civilians.

The Permanent Representative of Bhutan supported India’s proposal for a memorial to honor the sacrifices of deceased peacekeepers. Bhutan called for the integration of medical technology and aerial assets in operations. The representative looked forward to the annual report of the High Level Independent Panel on Peacekeeping for practical suggestions.

The Bangladeshi Permanent Representative hoped for effective communication channels between the Secretariat, Security Council, troop contributing countries (TCCs), foreign military contingents, and peacekeepers. Bangladesh pointed towards educating peacekeepers on dealing with specific demographics, having conducted child interaction training with peacekeepers last year.

Japan highlighted the importance of financial sustainability and longer training to increase efficacy.

The Venezuelan, Nepalese, and El Salvadorian representatives stated that force should be a last resort. Venezuela stated that an offensive mandate must respect the UN charter and cannot allow peacekeepers to abuse their legal immunity. However, he also noted that sending poorly equipped peacekeepers to carry out clearly unachievable mandates is counterproductive. To that end, El Salvador called for the recruitment of new TCCs and for their involvement in all stages of mandate drafting.

Algeria and Serbia were concerned of the increasing correlation between peacekeeper casualties and terrorist activity. The former supported training on organized crime and drug trafficking. He also advocated for regional decision-making, referring to the African Union as a successful precedent.

Meeting: Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations 2015 Substantive Session – 241st meeting
Date & Location: 18 February 2015. Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Alis Yoo
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Panel Discussion on Sustainable Consumption and Production in the Post-2015 Agenda

SCP2Mr. Hoballah introduced the importance of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in the post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Patriota explained that sustainable development requires transforming consumption and production patterns. The the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) should accelerate the shift towards SCP, which will promote a universal, transformative agenda that eradicates poverty in a sustained fashion. All countries must promote SCP and change behaviors and values to balance overconsuming nations with greater responsibilities. Sustainable development is about teaching future generations to cooperate internationally and be aware and respectful of diversity and humanity. SCP promotes development that is socially inclusive, economically viable, provides access to sanitation and health services, increases wages, and encourages gender equality. It must be embraced by civil society and the private sector in order  to support negotiations for the post-2015 agenda. The Permanent Representative of Finland discussed three aspects of SCP: to promote effective, efficient use of resources, to innovate, and to fulfill basic needs in a sustainable manner. The 10YFP is an important tool for implementing SCP, but it requires public and private financing; therefore, private incentives must be aligned with public goals. Mr. Hoballah discussed financing, policy, and targets of SCP, including contributions to climate mitigation. Mr. Ngculu addressed the importance of SCP to support 10YFP. Poverty remains the greatest challenge confronting developing countries. The 10YFP has a large role to play in post-2015 for Africa. Ms. Alfieri discussed national SCP policies and cited indicators as key instruments for implementing the post-2015 agenda. She also discussed SCP’s relationship to statistics and the environment. Ms. Riddlestone addressed civil society’s role in implementation and warned that the world is consuming 50% more resources than it can replenish. Ms. Henley discussed the private sector’s contribution to SCP and the 10YFP, focusing on generating industry action and sustainable building practice.

 

Meeting: Interactive panel discussion on “Sustainable Consumption and Production and the post-2015 development agenda: what needs to be implemented and measured” (co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Brazil and Finland, the secretariat of the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP))
Date & Location: 18 February 2015.  Conference Room 11, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Moderator Mr. Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Lifestyles Cities and Industry Branch of UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE); H.E. Mr. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; H.E. Mr. Kai Jürgen Mikael Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations; Ms. Alessandra Alfieri, Chief of Environmental-Economic Accounts Section, United Nations Statistics Division; Ms. Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Bioregional; and Ms. Jane Henley, CEO, World Green Building Council; Mr. Thembela Ngculu, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, and board member of the 10YFP Several National Representatives
Written by WIT Representative: Ellie Guner
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Open Meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations

UNAOCMr. Nasser stated that radicalization, extremism, and terrorism continue to grow around the world, as they are driven by cultural and religious differences. UNAOC and OCHA are working together to ensure humanitarian action for natural and man-made disasters despite ethnic, political, or religious motives. Mr. Nasser expressed his support for the first World Humanitarian Summit, which will take place in Istanbul in May of 2016. The summit is placed in a symbolic location in hopes of promoting solutions for the world’s complex challenges. Ms. Amos noted that OCHA’s work is not politically motivated. By using “soft power,” OCHA aims to protect civilians, build confidence through communities, and facilitate humanitarian aid. She emphasized that political action, and not just humanitarian work, is needed to address underlying sources of conflict. Ms. Amos reflected upon how states turn to the UN for aid when the state itself is in a situation of conflict. In South Sudan, looking at two out of hundreds of attacks, at least 300 civilians were killed based on their ethnicity or nationality.
Ultimately, she expressed her support for the Alliance of Civilizations and dialogue across borders. All representatives that spoke during this meeting supported the Alliance of Civilizations and the belief that, with unity, the draft resolution can be adopted shortly. The Ambassador of Spain proposed three initiatives in an attempt to aid peacekeeping, which included having platforms for peaceful coexistence in areas like Syria, Israel, and Iraq. The Representatives of Turkey, Portugal, and the Republic of Korea, along with UNESCO, stated that education is crucial for preventing intolerance. The Representatives of the European Union, Italy, and Kazakhstan addressed the importance of private sectors and faith-based organizations that have an impact with regard to linking cultures and religions. At the end of the meeting, the Partnership Agreement was signed.

Meeting: Open meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations (at the ambassadorial level) (organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC))
Date & Location: Wednesday, February 18th, 2015. Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al- Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC); H.E. Ms. Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary- General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA); Mr. Ramon Oyarzun, Ambassador of Spain; Mr. Yasar Halit Cevik, Ambassador of Spain; Representative of Hungary; Representative of the European Union; Representative of Qatar; Representative of Azerbaijan; Representative of Portugal; Representative of Brazil; Representative of Benin; Representative of Kazakhstan; Representative of Iran; Representative of Palestine; Representative from UNESCO; Representative of Fao; Representative of Italy; Representative of Mexico; Representative of the Republic of Korea; Representative of Malaysia.
Written by WIT Representative: Paige Stokols
Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

Informal Meetings of the Plenary on Stocktaking in the Process of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

mww_thumb_post-2015This meeting started with several countries relating their sentiments regarding the post-2015 development agenda. China, Chad, the Russian Federation, and Ecuador all gave similar statements about desiring more transparency, stronger follow-up, and resolutions to implementation issues. Following this, the floor was opened up to major groups and stakeholders. The representative of Freshwater Action Mexico said that though the MDG indicator for clean water had been achieved, “the water did not reach the people.” A representative of indigenous people called for segregated data, land resources, special measures, access to justice, participation, and representation to end marginalization.

The representative of “Regional CSO Engage Mechanism: Asia” called for better integration of SDGs in technology facilitation and capacity building. The representative of the Voice Beyond 2015 stated that no MDG has been achieved until it has been met for all socioeconomic groups, especially the marginalized. The UCLG called for rural and local inclusion and involvement, as outlined at the Rio+20 Conference and by the Secretary-General recently. Helpage International wanted to see data desegregation by age, gender, income, and disability status. Education International wanted to clarify the confusion between decent jobs versus decent work through job creation, workers rights, social protection, and dialogue. The VSO representative discussed that providing grassroots community leaders with access to info, meaningful participation in decision-making, education, training, grassroots infrastructure, healthcare, and other social services would greatly aid in their development. The Arab Network for Environment and Development called for an understanding of extremist ideologies that plague the Middle East as calls to end all forms of occupation. Finally, the Pacific Youth Council mentioned both the unique challenges facing SIDS as well as the idea that Caribbean youth want to become involved in the eradication of gender-based violence, want a spiritual approach when promoting a cultural identity, and desire social inclusion through sports.

Meeting: Informal meetings of the plenary on stocktaking in the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, pursuant to resolution 69/244 and decision 69/550
Date & Location: Wednesday, January 21, 2015. Conference Room 2, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Representatives of Chad, the Russian Federation, China, Ecuador, the Philippines, Austria, and the following major groups and stakeholders: Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Human Rights Caucus, MexFam, World Farmers Organization, International Disability Alliance, Youth Beyond Disasters, International Council of Science, ATD Fourth World, Regional CSO Engagement, Freshwater Act Mexico, Regional CSO Engage Mechanism: Asia, Voice Beyond 2015 Campaign, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Helpage International, Education International (Workers and Trade Unions Major Group), VSO, Arab Network for Environment and Development, and the Pacific Youth Council
Written By WIT Representatives: Alis Yoo and Brian Lee
Edited By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

United We Stand

Image From: www.un.org

Image From: http://www.un.org

The meeting opened with spoken word by Ms. Imani Woomera, whose poem “Cultural Choice” celebrated diversity. She then performed the poem “Mosquito” with her son, Zion, about environmental sustainability. The title refers to how something so small can impact people, much akin to how one person with one action can have a profound effect on the world around them. Following this, Ms. Morris, a survivor of 9/11 in the 88th floor in one of the twin towers, gave a heartfelt recollection of the attack. She described descending numerous flights of stairs before receiving a car ride from a stranger to see her four-year-old daughter at her school in Midtown.

Next, Mr. Abouelnaga, with his organization Practice Makes Perfect, supplies over 500 low-income children with education tools. Despite the modest living conditions of his neighborhood, he desired to help the children in his community rather than focus on his own need. He was resourceful in attempting to fund Practice Makes Perfect, sharing his cause on social media and writing to wealthy donors. He emphasized that change comes from within, in that the solutions for environmental sustainability and positive world change stem from the will to act and make connections with their fellow communities.

Title: Inspiring Voices: Transforming the World, Lives and Communities

Date/Location: Thursday, 22 January 2014; 11:00-12:30; Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium

Speakers: Imani Woomera, Lyricist and Poet; Zion Miyonga, high school student; Roszel A. Morris, Counter-Terrorism Committee, Executive Directorate United Nations; Karim Abouelnaga, Founder and CEO Practice Makes Perfect;

Written By: Elise Freeman

Edited By: Modou Cham

Special Event: Responsibility of States: State of Play and the Way Forward

6365386329_f24a5e7976_zThe Permanent Missions of the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Portugal, and South Africa co-organized a special event on the legally binding status of the “Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts.” Opening statements were made by Mr. Divel Tladi and Mr. Pavel Šturma, members of the International Law Commission (ILC). Professor Šturma stated that the draft articles are not yet “legally binding documents but enjoy a high level of authority” i.e. they are often referred to by international courts and tribunals.

Mr. Tladi asserted that the current trend of treating the ILC’s products without further deliberation and the input of states was dangerous for the international community. Assessment of the Commission’s approach should be addressed through a convention in which developing states could contribute. The Director of the Czech Republic’s International Law Department echoed a concern of Daniel Bethlehem, that codification would enable broad responsibility for states. Thus even those who provided military aid to other states have committed a wrongdoing in certain cases.

Dr. James Crawford, one of the contributors to the “Responsibility of States Act”, emphasized that though a convention may be progressive, countermeasures and varying views on multinational criminal responsibility would make consensus “virtually inconceivable”. The legal advisor to the Polish Foreign Minister also did not support the provocation of a conference, to which Portugal firmly disagreed. Earlier, a Portuguese legal advisor called conventions “the natural output of ILC work” that enables more stability.

Meeting: Special event on “Responsibility of States: State of Play and the Way Forward”
Location:
Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date:
29 October 2014
Written By WIT Representatives:
Alis Yoo and Brian Lee

Edited by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey and Aslesha Dhillon

Strengthening Accountability of the Post-2015 Framework Through Citizen Engagement

volunteerThe current High Level Political Forum (HLPF) addresses the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. Volunteerism is a key component; it is an effective way to engage people in addressing development challenges in the post-2015 development agenda. Ms. Dennis started off by highlighting how volunteering bridges communication and understanding among people. She mentioned volunteering is a unique opportunity to increase networking, and learn advocacy skills, participation at regional and international conferences and knowledge development in the field of volunteering, which are also the four pillars of volunteerism. She quoted Martin Luther King – “The right time is always right to do what is right” and stressed that everyone has something to give, receive and contribute.

Ms. Sen introduced her own organization, VSO International in the United Kingdom, which aims at promoting volunteering as a powerful way to tackle poverty and inequality. She described volunteerism is a bridge between the development outcomes. “We see volunteers as complementing but not substituting the work force”, she said. Accountability and effectiveness are the catalysts of citizenship and participation in decision making. She then explained how volunteering helps increasing social capital within a community that brings about social inclusion.

Mr. David stressed that sustainable development is about people. He related to his own personal experience as the MDG coordinator in Haiti. He explained that peoples engagement is the key to trigger long-term changes of mind-sets and life choices in all countries. He encourages partnership with civil society in order to integrate civic engagement at local level in the SDG framework. This would also be able to strengthen the overall accountability through multi-stakeholder partnership at national level. Ms. Quintero concluded by outlining the magic recipe of volunteering. She briefly discussed the critical role of volunteers and how volunteering fosters concrete actions to address the social, environmental and economic challenges ahead.

Meeting Title: Volunteer Action Counts for sustainable development: How to strengthen accountability of the post-2015 framework through citizen engagement
Speakers: Ms. Simona Costanzo Sow, Manager, Post-2015 project UN Volunteers; Ms. Kathi Dennis, Executive Director, International Association for Volunteer Efforts (IAVE); Ms. Anjali Sen, International Board Member, VSO International (UK); Mr. Jonasson David, National UN Volunteer (Haiti); Ms. Maria Francisca Cepeda Quintero, Officer Colombia Presidential Programme (Colombia)
Location: Conference Room 7, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 3 July 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT Representatives: Aslesha Dhillon