Addressing ISIS’ threat to international peace and security

Security Council

United Nations Security Council

The 7962nd Security Council meeting was held to discuss the threat that ISIS (Da’esh) poses to international peace and security, and to report the efforts that the United Nations has made to support Member States against this threat.

Reports made by various members of the Security Council all confirmed that ISIL is indeed succumbing to military pressures across Iraq and Syria. However, in spite of this pressure, all members of the Security Council acknowledge the need for persistent vigilance, as ISIL is constantly evolving its tactics to gain both funds and supporters.

Japan, in particular, raised concerns over ISIL’s increasing interest in South East Asia. As such, Japan has urged other Member States to join in with funding South East Asian countries’ implementation of resolutions that will buttress them against the threat of ISIL. Thus far, Japan has provided 30 million USD to countries in South East Asia to facilitate the development of resources including advanced passenger information and counter-propaganda plans.

In his closing remarks, the representative from Egypt called for a reconsideration of anti-terrorism vocabulary, in particular the phrase “Islamic extremism”. He asserts that Islam is a religion that does not know extremism; rather, individuals use Islam as a pretext to create violence.

MEETING: Security Council 7962nd Meeting
DATE/LOCATION: Thursday, 8th June, 2017; 10:00 – 12:00; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY
SPEAKERS: Members of Security Council
WRITTEN BY: WIT Representative Sophie Pu

Arctic Ocean Resilience: Can critical tipping points still be avoided?

This meeting was a side event for the Ocean Conference concerning the resilience of the Arctic. It was held by the Government of Sweden, Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centrum.

Oceans Conference

un.org

H.E. Ms Isabella Lövin opened the meeting with statistics and images’ displaying global warming’s effects on the Arctic Ocean. She emphasized that the Arctic has been changing due to global warming for much longer than the time these changes have received scientific and media attention.

Regarding the Arctic Resilience Report, Dr Marcus Carson believed that the Arctic communities could be highly resilient if they could be organized and integrated with knowledge. Dr Tom Armstrong emphasized that what happened in the Arctic didn’t stay in the Arctic; the Arctic-Pacific Ocean interaction increased the temperature and the acidity of the water which was the direct the evidence of human impact on climate and oceans. Ms Matilda Ernkrans asserted that we all had to be passionate and patient on the issue because it was never easy to get a broad agreement.

Meeting: Arctic Ocean Resilience: Can critical tipping points still be avoided?

Date/Location: Friday, June 9, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: H.E. Ms Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister; Dr Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Project Director, Arctic Resilience Assessment; Dr Tom Armstrong, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program; Mr Joel Clement, Director, Office of Policy Analysis, U.S Department of the Interior; Dr Pinsak Suraswadi, Director, Marine and Coastal Resources Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand; Ms Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General, WWF Finland, Chair – WWF Arctic Program; Ms Matilda Ernkrans, Member of the Swedish Parliament, Chair of the Committee for Environment and Agriculture; Dr Tom Arnbom, Senior Advisor, Marine and Arctic, WWF Sweden; Ambassador Jouni Laaksonen, Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN

Written by: WIT Representative Brady Leung

Edited by: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

The Rights of Refugees and Migrants with Disabilities

This meeting was a side-event of the Conference of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It explored the issue of refugees and migrants with disabilities.

The struggled integration of refugees with disabilities into the labour market bolsters the severity of the global refugee crisis.

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According to European Pillars of Social Rights, disability is taken into the humanitarian considerations when assessing refugee status, but untrained personnel frequently struggle to spot refugees with intellectual disabilities. Further problems emerge when reception centres are ill equipped to accommodate disabilities.

The international community has to reaffirm its commitments to New York Declaration by improving the Refugee Response Framework. Non-discrimination screening must be held and need-based assistance must be provided.

The World Food Programme has begun efforts to ensure food accessibility to all refugees. Ms. Iseminger anticipated that a data collection process will contribute to the creation of a disability handbook to assess and address disabled refugee needs going forward.

Refugees with disability must be protected to ensure no one is left behind.

Meeting: Persons with disabilities on the move- the rights of refugees and migrants with disabilities

Date/Location: Tuesday, 13th June 2017; 13:15 to 14:30; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Ms. Diane Kingston, Deputy Director of CBM International Advocacy and Alliances; Mr. Michel Servoz, Director General for Employment, European Commission; Ms. Mia Farah, Inclusion International – ‘Working with refugees with disabilities in Lebanon;’ Mr. Andrew Painter, Senior Policy Advisor of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – ‘Global Compact on Refugees;’ Mr. Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Assistant Secretary-General, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – ‘Global Compact on Migration;’ Ms. Michelle Iseminger, Senior External Partnerships Officer-in-charge, World Food Programme – ‘Including persons with disabilities in mainstream programmes.’

Written by: WIT Representative Edward Chan

Edited by: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

UN establishing a new Counter-Terrorism office to strengthen international cooperation on combatting terrorism and ensuring human rights and the rule of law.

The 87th plenary meeting of the General Assembly established a new Counter-Terrorism Office to counter transnational threats: the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. A new Under-Secretary- General will head it.

H.E. Peter Thomson remarked that the new office would strengthen international cooperation in all forms while reaffirming UN’s determination on anti-terrorism regarding the four pillars set in 2006 – addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, preventing and combatting terrorism, building states’ capacity and strengthening the role of the UN and, ensuring human rights and the rule of law.

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Canada and Turkey welcomed the adoption, with Representative from Canada exhorting the UN in finding the best person for the post of USG. Representative from India viewed the adoption as demonstrating a new path for collective and coordinative actions, while Representative from Norway wished the New Office to perform better in terms of external and internal communication. Representative from Israel was confident that his government could act as a role model for the New Office as it had ample experiences in combating terror.

Representative from Iraq, however, doubted the decision in two aspects. First, the financing structure of the New Office depended on voluntary funds from member-states, which might cause misgivings of impartiality and inefficiency; second, there was no guarantee for transparency and inclusiveness. He urged for a more equal and translucent election process.

Representative from Syria expressed a reserved attitude to the 3rd paragraph of the draft resolution, which he alleged contains serious and unjustified precedence while offending the collective work. He then explicitly accused Saudi Arabia of funding terrorist groups in Syria. Representative from Saudi Arabia responded by blaming the Syrian government in violating human rights such as using excessive arms towards civilians, which he thought they were not qualified to blame terrorism. Representative from Syria, exercising his right of reply, criticized Saudi Arabia in intervening their domestic affairs. He lastly promised to cooperate with the international community to combat terrorists supported by Saudi Arabia.

Meeting: General Assembly 87th plenary meeting – the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy

Date/Time: Thursday, June 15, 2017; 10:00-12:30; General Assembly Hall, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers:  H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the General Assembly of the UN; Representatives from 188 countries

Written by: WIT Representative Jason Lai

Transforming Tourism: Sustainable Futures for Coastal Fishing Communities in the era of Tourism Development

While the exchange of visitors can contribute to economic growth, the tourist industry has unexplored and detrimental environmental ramifications.

Because tourists visit a location temporarily, there is a psychological disconnect that de-emphasizes problems facing a particular nation, thereby creating a sense that the tourist will not leave a longstanding effect on the nation they are visiting. On one hand, increased tourism encourages local investment in infrastructure projects, but influx of visitors drastically increases trash, litter, and transportation-based fuel emissions.

In this meeting, the speakers addressed how rampant use of plastic and large amounts of trash deposited in coastal island tourist communities circle through the ecosystem and have international ramifications. Health of communities is interconnected.

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traveltourismblog.com

Solution to waste reduction in small coastal tourist destinations begins with morphing global mindset to see the whole world as home, rather than a specific country or region. The representative from Germany explained the sustained recycling efforts that have been underway for many years. Machines designed to collect waste and return fiscal benefit to those who recycle offer hope for transforming areas with high concentrations of tourism. While new initiatives and technologies are crucial to decreasing excess waste, the speakers suggested that new mindsets are necessary for a long-term sustainable solution.

Meeting: Transforming Tourism: Sustainable Future for Coastal Fishing Communities in the era of Tourism Development

Date/Time: Thursday, 8 June 2017; 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM; German Mission to the UN; UNHQ, New York, NY

Speakers: German Mission to the United Nations; Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany (Bread of the World); National Fisheries Movement; Tourism Watch; Instituto Terramar; Fair Oceans

Written by: WIT Representative Elia Sampayo Meza

Edited by: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

 

The Blue Economy: Perspectives from the private sector

One important side event during the Ocean Conference held last week at the United Nations was the meeting co-organised by the Ocean Foundation and Rockefeller & Co. on the topic “The Blue Economy”.

The meeting started with a speech from Mr Mark J. Spalding’s, who highlighted that the ocean generated economic values that were not usually quantified, and that we should stop taking the ocean for granted. He further stated that the old ocean economy, such as offshore oil and gas, was short-sighted and unsustainable. Mr. Spalding has worked with the Ocean Foundation to identifying business activities that comprise a sustainable blue economy.

In addition to the discussions, Mr Rolando F. Morillo presented the concept of ‘circular economy’: a restorative and regenerative model which emphasizes on reducing, reusing and recycling. It can enable increased value while reducing dependence on scarce resources. Mr. Rolando has faced challenges at the Rockefeller Foundation on how to crack the linear mindset as some companies may felt ‘locked in’.

Meeting: The Blue Economy (Perspectives from the private sector)

Date/Location: Thursday, June 8, 2017; 18:15-19:30; Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters,NewYork,NY
Speakers:  Mr Mark J. Spalding, the President of the Ocean Foundation; Mr Rolando F. Morillo, Vice President and Equity Analyst for the Sustainability and Impact Investing Team, Rockefeller & Co.

Written by: WIT Representative Brady Leung

Ocean Health, Climate Change and Migration: Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

This meeting aimed to highlight the linkages between migration, climate, and declining ocean health, and to show the international, regional, national, and local impacts of marine overexploitation. At the nexus of climate change and detriment to ocean health discussed in this meeting also lies fights to eradicate poverty, improve food security and quality of life, the increasing severity of natural disasters, and climate change’s impact on migration.

Oceans Conference

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Mr. Ashraf El Nour opened this meeting by outlining how climate change-related ecological modifications to the ocean have direct consequences on the economy, environment, and quality of life for island and coastal populations, particularly in Small Island Developing States.

Data collected by the International Displacement Center suggests that since 2008, around 22.5 million people are displaced annually as a result of natural disasters of climate change ramifications; most of these individuals come from coastal areas and small island states. Millions of people are still at risk for future displacement, but contemporary initiatives have begun looking towards indigenous populations architectural and agriculture traditions for their flexibility and harmonious congruence with the environment.

The ocean is a transit platform for irregular migration and contributes to migrants missing at sea, border problems, humanitarian problems, and international insecurity. The panelists called for an innovative approach to migration and reconfiguring how we conceptualize refugees so that we might include those who are forced to relocate because of climate-related circumstances.

 

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Meeting: Ocean Health, Climate Change and Migration: Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

 

Date/Location: Monday, June 5, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room A, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Mr. Ashraf El Nour, Director, IOM Office to the United Nations; Mr. Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, Director General of the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Center, Madagascar; Ms. Francoise Gail, Scientific Advisor, Ocean and Climate Platform; Mr. John Tanzer, Leader WWF Global Ocean Practice; Ms. Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, Thematic Specialist, Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM; Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Madagascar in New York; Lead Organizer: International Organization of Migration (IOM) with Partner: WWF

Written By: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

2017 Executive Board Annual Session of UNDP, UNPF, and UNOPS

The Annual Session 2017 of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), and the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS) met for the second day in New York on Wednesday, 31 May 2017.

In the morning, the Executive Board called upon the Member States to provide feedback on its Draft UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021. Delegates agreed that the UNDP should “focus more on its comparative advantage,” but not “overreach.” In particular, the UNDP should prioritize areas such as the strengthening of national capacity, poverty eradication, gender equality, and environmental sustainability, etc. They also agreed that an integrated approach to coordinate with other UN development agencies and cooperate with the private sector was necessary.

In the afternoon, the Executive Board members discussed the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO)’s assessment reports on the UNDP’s evaluation policy and institutional effectiveness. Indran A. Naidoo, IEO Director, reported that there were signs of improvements in both areas. However, he noted that the budget allocated to evaluation had not been fully utilized. The new measures to increase institutional effectiveness may also not be sustainable due to the lack of resources and sustainable funding models.

Meeting: Annual Session 2017 of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services

Date/Location: Wednesday, May 31, 2017; 10:00-17:00; Conference Room 3, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN; Tegegnework Gettu, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Acting Administrator; Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Bureau for Policy and Programme Support; Indran A. Naidoo, Director, UNDP Independent Evaluation Office; Helge Osttveiten, Director, UNDP Office of Audit and Investigations; Representatives of the Republic of Moldova, Japan, Belarus, Norway, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Cuba, Brail, and the Russian Federation

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

How scientific knowledge on oceans contributes to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes

Oceans Conference

The Ocean Conference held at the United Nations from 5-8 June, 2017 brought together many experts on oceans, civil societies and governments to organize different side events. Some of these events were co-organized and facilitated by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with Governments and relevant organizations  by sharing on-the-ground experiences, lessons learned, and insights into transformative actions and partnerships, including partnerships through the Sustainable Ocean Initiative.

One of the first side events on June 5th, organized to bring in marine scientists and discuss the contribution of scientific knowledge on oceans to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes. The moderator Jessica Faieta from UNDP opened the meeting by reminding the audience that the deadlines for achieving the SDG 14 (Oceans) were 2020 and 2025. Considering how pressing the issue was, she said, this side event was crucial to identify knowledge gaps and contribute towards ocean national action plans. Echoing Faieta’s view, representatives of the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and UNDP shared the challenges their countries and organization were facing, and their work in this area.

Marine experts also shared their knowledge about the ocean, including its importance, the impact of its change on the ecosystem, and the way the ocean works. In addition, Dr. Alberto Piola and Dr. Jose Muelbert highlighted that the warmer the ocean is, the lower would be the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Also, because the speed of ocean warming differs in different countries, some countries’ oceans are warming much faster as a result. Due to the fact that 40 percent of the global population live near the ocean, and 11 percent of the largest cities are very close to the ocean, the implications of warming causes a considerable impact on the human population, and the ecosystems. “Life started in the ocean,” Muelbert cautioned, “if we are not careful, life will end because of changes in the ocean.”

Meeting: How scientific knowledge on oceans can contribute to the implementation of national action plans on climate and human-induced changes

Date/Location: Monday, June 5, 2017; 09:00-10:30; Conference Room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers:

Ms. Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary-General and Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); H.E Francisco Domínguez Brito, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Government of Dominican Republic; H.E. Diego Moreno, Vice Minister, National Secretary of Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Government of Argentina; Dr. Alberto Piola, Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling project (SOCCOM), and Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI);  Dr. Jose Muelbert, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande and IAI;  Dr. Rebecca Klaus, Senior advisor and expert in Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas, Cousteau Society;  Mr. Nik Sekhran, Director for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.

Written By: WIT Representative Jadice Lau

Families, Education and Well-Being

This briefing was co-organized by the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) and the Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI NGO) in observation of the International Day of Families on May 15th, 2017.

International day of families

World family organization

The speakers discussed the vital role of early childhood education in a child’s development and the role of parental education to ensure family well-being. In addition, the relation between corporate responsibility, work-family balance, and the global home index was depicted. Furthermore, the speakers conveyed the role of media within a child’s development and within the promotion of parental involvement.

 

 

Eduardo Garcia Rolland conveyed how the relationship between genes and the environment is closer than ever before. He expressed that within the first year of life, the brain grows at a pace of 700/1000 new neural connections per second. The plasticity of the brain is greatest within the first year of life. This stage is considered as the most important for a child’s development. Rolland discussed how 204 million children are not developmentally on track. He cited an increase in attendance to early childhood education as a way to augment a child’s development.

Patricia Debeljuh discussed how parents working long hours in a job that lacks flexibility can cause damage to the quality of their life. She expressed the necessity of families for the maintenance of sustainable societies.  Diego Barroso depicted how parenting education is highly effective. He cited the importance of legislative support for families. Following this, Michael Robb discussed how media can impact the development of a child. Background television was cited as an issue which can have a negative impact on the quality and quantity of the interaction between a parent and a child.

Meeting: Briefing entitled “Families, Education and Well-Being”

Date/ Location: Thursday, May 18, 2017; 11:00-12:45; Conference Room 4
Speakers: Esuna Dugarova, Policy Specialist, UNDP; Eduardo Garcia Rolland, Early Childhood Development ECD-Specialist, UNICEF; Patricia Debeljuh, IAE Business School, Austral University; Diego Barroso, Director of Family Enrichment Courses. Coordination and Expansion, International Federation for Family Development; Michael Robb, Director of Research, Common Sense Media
Written By: WIT Representative Donna Sunny