UN Coordinated Emergency Response Fund in Humanitarian Situations

Today a meeting was held to discuss the use of the UN’s Coordinated Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in large-scale emergency situations. Beginning the meeting, Ms. Amos, the Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, spoke about CERF’s response and effectiveness in Syria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. She said the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is increasing, and that CERF needs to systematically leverage the limited amounts of funding it has in order for its response to have the greatest impact in conflict areas.

Following, Mr. Mogwanja from UNICEF gave a statement about CERF’s partnership with UNICEF, and how CERF makes humanitarian responses faster, more predictable, and more coordinated. Since its launch in 2006, CERF has helped to shine a light on otherwise ignored emergency situations.

UFE Round I 2014

Next, Mr. Moustapha, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), emphasized how CERF can help respond to large scale cross boarder emergencies, like the humanitarian crisis in the DRC and the Central African Republic. Mr. Moustapha praised CERF for its flexibility, and its ability to efficiently unite and focus acute relief efforts in grave humanitarian situations. However, he called for CERF funds to be allocated in a more fair and inclusive manner, and for there to be a more serious reporting system on its progress.

Concluding the meeting, Mr. Guterres from UNHCR spoke about how to deal with a dramatic rise in the need for CERF funding. Population growth, climate change, water scarcity, and food insecurity are contributing to global humanitarian crises. New ways of funding for humanitarian situations are gravely needed. Mr. Guterres concluded the meeting by emphasizing that overall CERF works well because it is not bureaucratic, has low transaction costs, clear rules, and is speedy in its response.

 

Meeting Title: Use of CERF in Large-Scale Emergencies
Speakers: Ms. Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Mr. Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Moustapha Soumare, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Democratic Republic of Congo; Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Date: 24 June 2014
Location: Conference Room 2, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Nutrition as an Input and an Outcome of Resilience

The concept of resilience and its practical application in food security and nutrition, both in policy formation and implementation, has recently become a topical issue among humanitarian development communities.

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Today at the United Nations, a panel discussion on nutrition aimed to propose approaches and develop a concrete action plan that can be taken to strengthen resilience towards the root causes of malnutrition. Building upon the discussion and conclusions from the IFPRI 2020 conference held in Addis Ababa, the event aimed to provide insights for the preparation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the post-2015 developmental agenda. 

Chairperson, Sandra Aviles opened the discussion by highlighting the importance of understanding the term resilience not as jargon, but as a term that is practically defined as a tangible indicator that can help communities bridge the gap between short term goals and long term developmental agendas.

Mrs. Florika focused her address on locating target communities that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. She stated that, “children below the age of five and pregnant and lactating women were among those that are the most severe targets of hunger needs”. In response, ECHO and OCHA are developing a system to index risk factors, develop key indicators, and resilience markers and identify best practices to provide humanitarian assistance to these communities with maximum output. Mrs. Dolores highlighted natural disasters as another factor that threaten food security. Crises prone regions of developing countries are often ill equipped with coping up with natural disasters, and at times such disasters occur with little time gap which further threatens food security and enhances health risks.

In conclusion, Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, drawing upon a programme conducted with ECHO that addressed the challenge of access to land as an underlying causes of malnutrition, highlighted some of the practical problems that schemes faced when tested on ground. She posited that institutional silos existed across and within institutions that hinder the establishment of a common language of indicators. Furthermore, while institutions possess technical skills they lack the organizational and planning skills that are required to initiate programmes in countries with fragile governments, weak leadership and high levels of corruption.

 

Meeting Title: “Nutrition as an input and an outcome of resilience”
Speakers: Sandra Aviles; Senior Liason Officer, Programme Development & Humanitarian Affairs, FAO; Mrs. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mrs. Dolores Rio, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF; Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, Nutrition Officer, FAO; Mrs. Muriel Calo, Senior Food Security & Livelihood Advisor, Action Against Hunger
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7 (NLB), New York 
Date: 23 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Charting the Course For the Education We Want

To inform the community on the progress of achieving “Education for All” through the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO and UNICEF hosted an information meeting to provide updates on their work. Ms. Jensen highlighted the enormity of the task of incorporating education for all as a distinct developmental goal, which has its roots in the 1990s. She cautioned the audience that the visionary goal of ensuring “equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning” in the zero draft must not be watered down in subsequent deliberations, a mistake learnt from the lessons of the Millennium Development Goals.Image

Mr. Vedeler mentioned the importance ensuring quality education, and how it is reflected in the zero draft targets by aiming at educating children that are not only literate, but are also equipped to work and become global citizens. His remarks on the importance of qualified teachers are also echoed by Ms. Wulff, who stated that some countries have more than 50% of teachers who are not qualified to teach. Ms. Wulff also stated the importance of motivating teachers by means of improving their compensation and restoring respect to the profession.

Miss Crosco intervened on the point of monitoring and evaluation, and stressed the positive role that the civil society has played in shaping education development should be maintained in the SDGs monitoring process. On the technical aspect of monitoring, Mr. Antonisis stated the need to develop new measurable indicators for intangible goals such as students’ acquisition of problem-solving skills and equity in education achievement. However, he also made an encouraging statement on the positive progress in developing these new indicators so far. The Deputy Permanent Representatives of two sponsoring states, Argentina and Brazil, showed their support to UNESCO and UNICEF, and shared their countries best practices in achieving education for all.

Meeting Title: Beyond 2015: The Education We Want Information Meeting
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Guiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil; Ms. Josephine Bourne, UNICEF Global Chief of Education; Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in New York; Mr. Dankert Vedeler, Chair of Education for All Steering Committee, Ms. Antonia Wulff, Education International Coordinator for Education and Employment; Ms. Camilla Crosco, Co-Chair of EFA Steering Committee; Mr. Manos Antoninis, Senior Policy Analyst for Education For All Global Monitoring Report.
Location: Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 16 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities at the UN

HRWThe moderator, Nancy Maguire started the panel discussion by highlighting the importance to acknowledge that the ‘disability’ group is not like one homogenous group and is subject to different perspectives and experiences on the basis of where they are from.

Ambrose Murangira, then shared his personal experience in Uganda. He highlighted the discriminatory practices from childhood to the community level; and faced these challenges by performing, cooperating with his friends and leading his cause. Teachers are also very important in influencing young people. Apart from disability organizations, it is important that all people take the responsibility of ensuring that the disabled community gets their rights. The post 2015 agenda in his opinion, would give this cause the right platform to be heard.

Andrea Mazzarino shared her research on children with disabilities in Russian and Japanese state orphanages. In the case of Russia, the children are abandoned by the sate. According to UNICEF at least, 305,000 children lived in Russian orphanages, which is 2-5% of Russia ‘s total child population. The children with disabilities are victims of violence, neglect and isolation in Russian orphanages. Although a vast majority of these children have one living parent, due to the doctors stating that the children will never be able to develop like normal children under immense pressure from the society, those parents give up their children. In the case of Japan, 25% of 39000 Japanese children live in state institutions; group homes for independent living and foster care have a disability. The lack of inclusion in the educational system has severed consequences in the overall development of these children.  She recommended, that these children should be provided adequate support from communities, parents and foster parents, collectively and to create independent mechanism to ensure institutionalization is used as the only resort.

Finally Rashmi Chopra, shared her research and study on women and girls with disabilities. Women with disabilities are profoundly vulnerable to abuse and often their choices are not heard and abuses remain hidden. The social stigma and exclusion impacts their multiple rights such as health education and a family life. Chopra highlighted the stories of three women from Zambia and India, respectively. Mary and Charity from Zambia were both victims of HIV AIDS and rape. They were abused by their husbands and got limited schooling. Rekha from India suffered from an intellectual disability. Her mother, without any consent and knowledge from Rekha, sterilized her, to protect her from sexual violence. These cases represent the vulnerability of disabled women and girls to abuse and violence.

Meeting Title: Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities: from Uganda, Zambia, India, Japan and Russia
Speakers: Nancy Maguire, UNICEF Global Youth Council Member; Ambrose Murangira, Executive director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf; Andréa Mazzarino, ACLS Public Fellow, Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; Rashmi Chopra, Fellow, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.
Date: 11 June 2014
Location: Conference room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

 

UNICEF discusses Developmental Challenges and Human Rights in Context of CRPD

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A panel of five speakers gathered at the Henry Labouisse Hall of the UNICEF House, to discuss and respond to the overlooked development challenges. Ms. Yannis stated that one in seven human beings has a disability out of 7.8 billion people in the world. People with disabilities are also the single largest population excluded from school. Mr. Marrit followed by highlighting the purpose of having the legally binding convention to promote, protect and ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. It also aims at promoting respect for their inherent dignity.

Mr. Paul then summarized his thoughts towards eradicating the extreme poverty and hunger by three approaches. First, promote equality in opportunities, including access to education and health. Second, introduce good governance by encouraging the right of freedom and rule of law. Third, integrate respect for all human right as cross cutting throughout the whole SDG. Following, Mr. Nicholas, senior advisor of UNICEF, briefly outlined what UNICEF is doing to ensure that no one is left behind and also emphasised the human rights and rights of person with disabilities. He mentioned that the principle of leave no one behind, has emerged as one of the key foundations of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Further, Mr. Vinicius emphasised the significance of investments in a child’s well-being and their rights, as the most effective way to secure a more equitable, peaceful and sustainable world. He concluded his speech in three words: empowerment, protection, discrimination. Ms. Diane then made very powerful points concerning language, visibility and cost. She expressed, how uncomfortable she feels when people named them as a part of a vulnerable group. She ended her speech by encouraging more young people to join the CRPD committee, in order to achieve the goals as part of the post-2015 Development Agenda.

Meeting Title: The intersection of human rights and development within the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Speakers: Yannis Vardakastanis, President of European Disability Forum; Maarit Kohonen Sheriff, Deputy Head of Office OHCHR; Paul Gulleik Larsen, Senior Advisor for the Agenda of the Nor Wee General; Nicholas Alipui, Director of Program and UNICEF Senior Advisor; Vinicius Pinheiro; Diane Mulligan, Member of UN CRPD Committee, Representative of IDBC and CBM
Location: Henry Labouisse Hall, UNICEF House, New York.
Date: 10 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

UN organizations address the 13th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The seventh meeting for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues facilitated a comprehensive dialogue from United Nations organisations on their progress in promoting the rights of indigenous persons with responses from Permanent members of the forum. Interventions from many UN bodies revolved around three major issue areas; the full participation of indigenous persons in their right to self-determination, ‘free, prior and informed consent’ in regards to Indigenous land rights, and the sufficient funding of organisations for long term protection of indigenous rights.

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Denmark, Bolivia, UNDP, IFAD, and the IFC all directly addressed concerns that governments are favoring the demands of the private mining industry and the sustainable development of our natural resources requires the collaborative consultation of indigenous persons. The African Caucus recognized that natural resources are usually extracted from heritage sites with unique and spiritual ties to indigenous traditions and ancestry. Therefore it is of paramount importance that indigenous persons be involved in the decisions directly affecting their sacred land.

UNECSO and FAO demonstrated that indigenous people have a unique understanding of the sustainability and protection of their environments through systems such as pastoral farming, which could enable a more resilient response to climate change for our fragile ecosystems. The IFAD, ILO and permanent member of the forum Joseph Goko Mutangah insisted that the United Nations should be capturing the wealth of agricultural, medicinal and ecological innovations that indigenous traditions encompass.

Representative of the American Indian Alliance and chairperson of the forum Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, expressed concerns that the United Nations organisations are only authorised to serve indigenous persons from developing countries. Statistics demonstrate that indigenous persons are equally marginalised in both developing and developed nations. They called for a revision of the policy to allow indigenous persons in all countries access to the United Nations’ agencies and funds.

Meeting Title: 7th meeting – Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds
Speakers: Chairperson Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Permanent members of the forum Gervais Nzoa, Joan Garling, Kara-Kys Arakchaa, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Miriam Wallet Aboubakrine, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, Joseph Goko Mutangah, Raja Devasish Roy
Representatives on behalf of organizations; UNICEF, FAO, ILO, IFAD, UNDP, IFC, UNESCO, World Bank, Ministry of foreign affairs Denmark, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, the African Caucus, Indigenous Parliamentarians, Alliance of Indigenous women of Central America and Mexico, WIPO (New York), Central & Eastern Europe, Russian federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia, Bolivia, and the American Indian Law alliance
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 15 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

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The Syrian government is bombing its citizens using barrel bombs; weapons filled with violent explosives and shrapnel. Most recently the barrel bombs have contained chlorine, transforming the already illegal bombs into chemical weapons. Due to the extreme heights at which the bomb is released it is impossible for the Syrian government to target the exact location of the explosion, resulting in an in-discriminative weapon destroying everything in its path.

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Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch explained that the HRW team has been monitoring attacks using satellites and witness testimonies. This map Ms Hicks shared demonstrates the location of the bombs in the last nine months; they are clearly aimed at the residential region of opposition civilians; there have been approximately 200 strikes since February 2014.

Syrian activist Ibrahim Al-Assil explained that these unpredictable bombs put the Syrian civilians in a state of constant fear and panic, unable to resume any semblance of normal life, including schooling for children.

Ambassadors from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States were unanimous that the current events in Syria are crimes against humanity and declared their full support for the motion from H.E. the Ambassador of France that the ICC should trial the Syrian government for the violation of international law and war crimes.

Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vietconcluded the conference with a call for the United Nations member states to unite on concrete action plans for the immediate termination of barrel bomb use and to enable the distribution of necessary food and medical supplies to civilians in Aleppo, who are in desperate need of security and support from the international community.

 

More extensive images on barrel bomb destruction in Syria can be viewed here: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/28/syria-new-barrel-bombs-hit-aleppo

 

Meeting Title: Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Speakers: Chairperson H.E. Peter Van der Vliet, Ibrahim Al-Assil, Dr Samer Attar, Peggy Hicks the Global advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, Representatives of the Permanent Missions of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey, and the United States Mission

Location: United Nations HQ, New York

Date: 14 May 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark