Confrontation between the US, Russia, & China on the Crisis in Venezuela

The Security Council convened, by request of the US, for an emergency session discussing the Venezuelan crisis. While the meeting began typically, with briefings on progress and problems, the morning took a turn once US Vice President Mike Pence came to speak. After arriving late, Pence turned the conversation from humanitarian needs to the need for democracy and the rule of law. He blamed the crisis on the Maduro regime, which he claimed to, in the midst of deprivation and suffering, use violence against those who oppose it, killing protesters and jailing journalists. He called the international community to remove Maduro and recognize the interim president appointed by the national assembly, Juan Guaidó, which the US attempted to do in a resolution vetoed by China and Russia. Pence blamed these two nations for directly supporting the Maduro regime out of personal interests.

Russia retaliated, saying Russia would take as much time as it needs to speak, regardless of time. Russia denied Pence’s allegations and blamed US sanctions on Venezuela for the crisis. He claimed that US desire for intervention had to do with its own geopolitical interests, citing US involvement in Latin America going back to the Monroe doctrine. He questioned how the US can speak of humanitarian assistance when it still has own damage from Hurricane Maria. He ended saying that if American is trying to make itself great again, Russia is watching.

China also responded, insisting against intervention while also saying that while “On the one hand we hear tall talks about helping the people of Venezuela, on the other hand we keep seeing more sanctions.” China called the allegations unfounded, and said that China never interferes in other countries’ internal affairs, nor does it impose its will, leaving unsaid the suggestion that the US does exactly this.

Meeting​: United Nations Security Council: The Situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Date/Location​: Wednesday April 10, 2019; 10:30 to 1:30; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Secretary-General António Guterres, USG for Humanitarian Affairs, Joint Special Representative of the UNHCR, Dr. Kathleen Page, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, US Vice President Mike Pence, Russia, China,  France, UK, Peru, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Venezuela

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

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

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 

Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People

A special committee meeting was convened to discuss the situation of Puerto Rico, with regard to the granting of independence to colonial countries. The meeting was based on the General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) that affirms independence to colonial countries and people and recognises the passionate yearning for freedom in all dependent peoples and the decisive role of such peoples in the attainment of their independence.    

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Petitioners drew attention to the major political challenges facing Puerto Rico, resulting from its relationship with the United States: (i) the United States military presence in Puerto Rico; (ii) the imprisonment in the United States of pro-independence Puerto Ricans; and (iii) the application of the death penalty to Puerto Ricans convicted on federal charges. They, therefore, emphasised on the need to defend their inalienable right to sovereignty, which has been denied to them for many years.

Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, stressed that the government of the United States has the ministerial and moral duty to act upon the 54% of votes rejecting the commonwealth status. It is imperative upon the international community to find a common objective and a mechanism whereby the people of Puerto Rico can determine their status without any colonial restraints.

Ms. Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, highlighted the plight of workers who have been majorly challenged by American businesses and have consequently suffered economic damages. Furthermore, petitioners also underscored that Puerto Rico is the fourth country for military recruitment in the US. In 1917, 27,787 Puerto Ricans fought WWI and thousands of them lost their lives or are suffering from PTSD, arthritis, brain damage and severe disabilities.

Most petitioners posited that even though the US is seen as a major proponent of human rights, its colonial rule in Puerto Rico can be seen equivalent to a form of slavery. Mr. Juan Dalmau, denouncing the role of international community stated that the subordination of Puerto Rico is a testimony to the failure of the idea that the relation between nations should be conditioned as per international law.

Meeting Title: Granting of independence to colonial countries and people
Speakers: (Chair)H. E. Ambassador Xavier Lasso, Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations; Mr. Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commisioner of Puerto Rico; Wilma E. Reverón-Collazo, human rights activist; Mr. Juan Dalmau, Candidate of the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Location: CR2, CB, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Nusrat Laskar
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Vice President Biden to Travel to Ukraine

12 April 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – The Vice President will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine, for meetings with government leaders and members of civil society on Tuesday, April 22nd.  The Vice President will underscore the United States’ strong support for a united, democratic Ukraine that makes its own choices about its future path.  While in Kyiv, the Vice President will consult with government officials on the international community’s efforts to help stabilize and strengthen Ukraine’s economy and assist Ukraine in moving forward on constitutional reform, decentralization, anti-corruption efforts, and free and fair presidential elections on May 25th.

The Vice President will discuss the latest developments in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists, apparently with the support of Moscow, continue an orchestrated campaign of incitement and sabotage to destabilize the Ukrainian state.  In addition, the Vice President will consult on the latest steps to enhance Ukraine’s short- and long-term energy security.  The Vice President will also meet with various Ukrainian people to hear their aspirations and deepen the partnership between the United States and Ukraine.

 THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Vice President