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

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United Nations Security Council: The Question Concerning Haiti

The Security Council met to discuss the situation in Haiti. The meeting began with a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations. Much progress had been made. Police in Haiti are more professional and are overall maintaining humanitarian standards in dealing with the country’s instability. On the socio-economic front, the IMF, Haitian central bank, and Haitian government reached a deal on March 8th for a three year loan to help the most vulnerable parts of the population. Problems do persist, however. Gangs are still clashing. The prime minister’s government has been subjected to votes of no confidence and has begun consultation for the selection of his 3rd government. Overall, the Under Secretary remained optimistic about the end of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti which is coming up soon. He recommended transitioning to a smaller political advisory group within Haiti, a sentiment echoed by later briefers and delegates.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights discussed the state of humanitarian aid going to Haiti. Structural challenges continue. There is limited employment opportunities, especially for youth. Natural disasters have inflicted damage over the past few years. Heavily armed gangs in the capital are taking advantage of the limited presence of the state. There is a 1,100 day average pre-trial detention period for prisoners, well over the limit established by international law. The results are overcrowding, lack of hygiene, and a lack of resources spent on prisoners.

Loune Viaud, the executive director of Zanmi Lasante, Partners in Health’s sister organization in Haiti, talked about sexual assault and gender inequality in Haiti. Haiti has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Cancer in Haiti primarily affects women, as 75% of Viaud’s patients are women. While the organization is doing its best, obstetric and cancer care are still lacking.

Meeting​: United Nations Security Council: The Question Concerning Haiti

Date/Location​: Wednesday April 3, 2019; 10:00 to 12:00; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Executive Director of Zanmi Lasante, United States, Belgium, Cote D’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Peru, Kuwait, South Africa  

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

The 22nd meeting of an intergovernmental conference met to discuss an instrument regulating treatment of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.

One of the debated points was the involvement of coastal states in research expeditions in such areas. Tonga stated that when and how consent must be obtained from coastal states must be clearly outlined, as should the criteria for a “meaningful” consultation. Chile and Singapore echoed that no provision should undermine the rights and obligations of coastal states. The US, however, strongly stated that coastal states do not have any special rights over areas beyond their exclusive economic zones.

Another question that was raised by Argentina was what happens with resources collected before the entry into force of this document. As it stands, the document focuses on the moment of collection to determine whether resources fall under its jurisdiction. Argentina argued that this limits the UN’s ability to prove when the resources were collected and proposed instead to focus on when the genetic material was used.

A hot topic was the consistency between this agreement and international law, namely United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China stated that the document should not undermine the jurisdiction of other countries or international law. For example, China claimed that the UNCLOS agreement of 1995 made very detailed fishing agreements on the high seas so this new agreement should not be applicable to fishing resources. Japan went further to say that any disagreements between the document and the convention should be interpreted in the manner of the convention.

Some countries like Japan also noted that the instrument was alarmist in its treatment of material genetic resource collection given that this collection requires very little water and has little impact on the marine environment.

Meeting​: Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction – Second Session

Date/Location​: Wednesday March 27, 2019; 10:00 to 13:00; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Facilitator, Argentina, Switzerland, China, Turkey, Singapore, Chile, Tonga, Japan, United States

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

 

Security Council Meeting 8493: Syria and the Situation in the Middle East

Resolution 2254, unanimously adopted on 18 December 2015, called for ceasefire and political settlement within Syria. This meeting discussed international progress since the adoption of resolution 2254 with briefings from Ms. DiCarlo as well as Mr. Rajasingham. Discussion of issues within Rukban including low levels of food and medicine as well as the importance of continuous improvements on the scale of humanitarian access were brought up. Lives and dignity must be restored.

Delegates reminded the council that the Assad regime and allies must de-escalate military efforts and release civilians while providing humanitarian access for those wishing to provide aid. While the resolution to this conflict is far from over, we must begin with full implementation of resolution 2254. IDPs should have accurate information on all aspects of what they are required to know and Syrian civilians should be protected from arbitrary detention. There has been a recent increase in violence of civilians and infrastructure from air strikes, and the council was reminded of the root purpose of what the security council was established for. Family unity must be ensured. While finding long term solutions for this crisis is favorable, it must not distract the council from solving urgent and immediate issues that may arise.

In terms of the economy, the Syrian economy has diminished by 60% since the start of the crisis. Many citizens are now living in extreme poverty, and humanitarian needs of both refugees and civilians must be addressed. Without the creation of a safe living environment, there will be no stability. Additionally, many delegates emphasized that military actions are not favorable to political discussion within countries as a step forward to resolving the Syrian crisis.

Meeting: Security Council Meeting 8493: Syria and the Situation in the Middle East

Date/Location: 27 March 2019, Security Council Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Rosa DiCarlo (Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs), Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham (Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis), USA, Germany (also on behalf of Kuwait and Belgium), United Kingdom, Kuwait, South Africa, Poland, Dominican Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Russian Federation, Peru, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Belgium, China, France, Syrian Arab Republic

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi

Overview of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women for March 20th

With the CSW 63 still ongoing, topics ranged from societal aspects of femininity, to the effect of economic forces on the gender gap, to the role of government in advancing women’s rights. The Deputy Permanent Observer of the Holy See claimed the identity of a woman is based on her biological characteristics. He expressed his beliefs that people who do not identify with their gender make a conscious choice to do so. Mary Rice Hasson, Director of the Catholic Women’s Forum, also talked about the topic. She defined sex by the reproductive capacity of a person, but did not comment on what this meant for women born with an inability to carry a fetus or those who have gone through menopause.

CSW63

Other topics touched on the economic aspects of gender inequality. The specific breakdown of these factors included ownership of enterprises, ownership of land, especially in places where it is often used as collateral, income, with women earning half of what men earn in some countries, lack of account ownership, and education. Even in places where girls receive the same amount of schooling as boys, they often score lower on literacy due to responsibilities at home and social pressure.

What are the roles of the public and private sector? A large fund in Africa, FSDT, has shown that private projects, even those in developing countries where economic problems are often more severe, can do a great deal in addressing the gap. The fund focuses on agricultural and rural finance, digital finance, enterprise finance, and insurance. It works with women in rural areas without access to financial resources. The role of government can also be pronounced. For example, Tanzania’s central government has invested in female projects, planned strategies to mobilize women, and worked on ensuring that money is given to women.

Meeting​: Overview of the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women for March 20th

Date/Location​: Wednesday March 20, 2019; United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Various CSW speakers

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

High Level Intergenerational Dialogue “Take the Hot Seat”

One of the major events of this year’s CSW was the Youth High Level Dialogue: Take the Hot Seat. The dialogue consisted of a panel of experts, each “taking the hot seat”: answering questions posed by youth from the audience.

The dialogue itself was moderated by a high school student and the entire event was geared towards the UN’s push to have more youth involvement in crafting the policies of the future.

The dialogue held a great amount positive sentiment and calls to action, particularly for youth. One of the experts on the panel, Ms. Marta Lucia Ramirez, noted that while it is easy to criticize, it is much harder to take action yourself. Ms. Nadine Gasman, another expert also said that she was excited that young people are the ones asking questions. She went further to elaborate on the progress of her country, Brazil, in building programs to engage with youth and combat gender inequality. She mentioned a program for young people who are building a future for themselves, which targets people who are neither studying nor working. This is particularly important for young women as they often do not have the chance to do either, taking care of a family member instead. Gasman noted an expanded healthcare program and places for dialogue with young women, bringing more youth involvement into government policies.

Ms. Adriana Salvatierra, the youngest female president of Bolivia, was also on the panel. She also talked about her country’s efforts to close the gender gap after being asked about how she will use her position to ensure equality for women. President Salvatierra responded that she was addressing the issue in several ways, including laws that guarantee youth and female rights, political youth councils, and a great deal of youth representation in legislature.

Meeting​: High Level Intergenerational Dialogue “Take the Hot Seat”

Date/Location​: Wednesday March 13, 2019; 11:30 to 12:45; Conference Room 1, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Dialogue Moderator, Ms. Marta Lucia Ramirez, Ms. Nadine Gasman, Ms. Adriana Salvatierra, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, Ms. Geraldine Byrne Nason

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference 63: Overview

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Throughout the 63rd conference of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), all meetings revolved around improving and developing social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of all females. Meetings ranged from being entitled “Steer Any Diplomatic Conversation by Asking the Right Questions” hosted by UNITAR and Columbia Law to typical plenary GA meetings to plan and discuss logistics of new ideas and vote on final statements.

Floating around from meeting to meeting, a point that was frequently brought up and emphasized was the importance of maintaining culture while developing female personal character. Instead of changing culture and straying further away from these roots, we should be working with and integrating new aspects into it. This is just a baby step in removing the gender gap and equalizing the gender lifestyle. Specifically with Afghan women, the role of the female is heavily depended on to take care of the household as well as the children while the males are unavailable to do so. Even young females are expected to help their mother, as only around 26% of females are in school. Discussion on closing the gender gap was productive, not through increasing attendance in school buildings, but increasing the accessibility of these educational means. Providing a simple laptop will allow for a greater entry into the world of computer science coding, which is something these females can do at home while taking care of their duties.

Meeting: Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Conference 63

Date/Location: 13 March 2019, UN Headquarters

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi

Economic and Social Council: Statistical Commission, 50th Session

Meeting​: Economic and Social Council: Statistical Commission, 50th Session Conference Room 4

Date/Location​: Wednesda

y March 6, 2019; 15:00 to 18:00; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: Chair of Statistical Committee, Angola, China, Colombia, South Korea, Libya, Philippines, Bangladesh, Hungary, Egypt, Mongolia, Gambia, Morocco, Kyrgystan

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

This meeting focused on various statistics and accounting, namely industrial statistics, price statistics, disaster-related statistics, and environmental-economic accounting. It also touched on the International Comparison Programme. Different countries represented different areas of focus in international accounting. China, for example, looked to the future in its speech. China has developed accounting for 3 new business models and modalities, the results of which are now published. It made the point that the new world economy is the digital economy which accounts for 15-16% of the GDP. However, while considering further technological development, China also noted the need for improvement of capacity-building in developing countries. It said that when assessing new economies, one has to take the level of development into account. This was a discussion area further emphasized by countries such as Philippines, Libya, Gambia, and Morocco. All of these countries noted the need for further capacity building measures.

Philippines further advocated for a phase by phase approach for the implementation of the current agenda, with the feasibility of implementation strategies ensured depending on the capacity of each member country. On the same note, Morocco complained that despite its earnest efforts to implement the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA), an international statistical standard for the national accounts, adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission, it suffers from limited human and financial resources. Mongolia established the concern that currently many international resources are not free and require money to download.

Countries conversed about the limited extent of international knowledge on the SNA, asking for more efforts to educate stakeholders. Libya, for instance, stated that it would support a conference for users, while Mongolia suggested trading seminars and the sharing of good practices. All delegates agreed that despite great progress, work remains to be done.

 

 

High-Level Debate on International Migration and Development

Meeting​: General Assembly: High-Level Debate on International Migration and Development

Date/Location​: Wednesday February 27, 2019; 10:00 to 12:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​: President of the GA, Panel Moderator, Vice Minister for Human Mobility in Ecuador,  Representative of Rwanda, Director General of the IOM, Civil Society Chair on the Global Forum of Migration and Development for 2018, Vice Minister of Guatemala, Palestine, Finland

Written by: WIT Representative Bertina Kudrin

This was a debate on International Migration and Development with this session acting as the opening panel. The GA president mentioned that today’s debate should address migration and sustainable development. Almost all SDGs involve migration whether directly or indirectly. Thus, it is impossible to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without addressing the problems related to migration. These include health, housing, education, and a path toward peaceful and inclusive societies. Things to tackle in the coming months include trafficking and smuggling, safety and equality for female migrants, and access to work for migrants.

Next came comments from the debate moderator. She stated that 10 targets from the SDGs relate to migration directly but all SDGs relate to migration in some way, including climate change and gender equality. These points we echoed by several panelists, including the Vice Minister for Human Mobility in Ecuador, the Representative of Rwanda, and the Director General of the IOM. The latter reemphasized the concerns women face, burdened by both the ordeal of migration and vulnerability often faced by this gender.

The Vice Minister for Human Mobility in Ecuador noted accomplishments of the UN in this topic. The 2030 Agenda is a turning point which charts the path for including migration in a multilateral agenda for the first time in history. The global compact is also historic, as it asks for international cooperation in helping these people despite their legal status. The Civil Society Chair on the Global Forum of Migration and Development expanded on these international agreements by explaining the chain of collaboration that should occur between the regional, national, and finally global level. While the problems of migrants were not overlooked, the panel gave a sense of hope for more cooperation between all societies in reaching these important goals.

Girls Rock the SDGs

Inspired by the SDG motto to “Leave No One Behind” all speakers in the meeting today spoke briefly about their own personal projects and how their role as a female within their environments are contributing to the UN SDGs. While all speakers were connected to the UN with their career or education choices, emphasis was placed on being able to bring the SDGs to all individuals in a casual setting to raise awareness and promote education on the 17 topics. The importance of the butterfly effect was mentioned that stated if one school or workplace is educated on the SDGs they will eventually serve as a model to follow for others. 57298822244__E8FCCA9D-C387-44BC-99D8-7989C057128E

Ms. Nishimwe spoke about her experiences as a survivor from the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi as a young teenager and highlighted how she advocates for SDG #3 of good health and well-being for all individuals, especially those who have experienced what she experienced. Ms. Deng, Ms. Vargas, Ms. Sharma, and Ms. Ubiñas all spoke on the importance of representation and equality in terms of SDGs as a whole. By slowly implementing these SDGs to the lives of the youth, who are to be the future leaders of the world, it will become more of a natural habit to gravitate potential solutions to the issues of SDGs.

Meeting: Girls Rock the SDGS

Date/Location: 27 February 2019, Salvation Army International Social Justice Commission Auditorium (221 East 52nd Street), NYC

Speakers: Margo LaZaro, Consolee Nishimwe, Annie Deng, Mariana Vargas, Nandita Sharma, Julia Wykoff, Akari Tomita, Rosleny Ubiñas

Written By: WIT Representative Jessica Shi