Ambassadorial-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in the Sahel region

This meeting discussed the current status of peacebuilding in the Sahel region of Africa which includes the countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, as well as others. The mayor of the Burkina Faso town of Dori began this meeting calling for more accountability of finances as much monetary aid never reaches the Sahel region. He mentioned that 85% of people in the Sahel region are under the age of 30 with 85% of people involved in pastoralism. This a region with many young people but little opportunity for economic development. There needs to be an emphasis on resources to support education and more profitable jobs that develop the Sahel. Women and children need to be empowered and feel safe with more nurseries and subsidies to start projects that support economic development. Furthermore, it is clear that the young people of the region have the capability to transform the Sahel into a prosperous area but need stable governmental and financial institutions to accomplish this.

Meeting​: Ambassadorial-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining peace in the Sahel region

Date/Location​: Monday November 12th 2018; 15:00 to 18:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​:

Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth                                Ms. Åsa Regnér, Deputy Executive Director UN Women                                                                Mr. Ahmed Aziz Diallo, Member of Parliament and Mayor of Dori, Burkina Faso                H.E. Dr. Ion Jinga, Chair of Peacebuilding Commission

Written by: WIT Representative Mariam Elsaker

 

 

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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East: Plenary Meeting 26

This meeting, part of the 4th Committee on Decolonization Committee, discussed the need for the continued finance of UNRWA, a UN entity established in 1948  that provides humanitarian aid to Palestinian Refugees. UNRWA Commissioner General Krähenbühl mentioned that UNRWA continues to exist because of, “failure.”  Representatives of Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt preceded to claim Palestinians right to land when making their statements and explained they will continue to assist in its funding. The representative of the European Union claimed the need for more microfiancing for Palestinian refugees. The representatives of Australia and Jordan shared their views on the Palestinian question, mentioning a two state solution. The positive news was that the UNRWA deficit has decreased from 406 million to 66 million. Mr. Krähenbühl made his closing remark calling for prevention and conflict  resolution focus for member states so that UNRWA no longer needs to exist one day.

Meeting​: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Near East: Plenary Meeting 26

Date/Location​: Monday November 12th 2018; 10:00 to 13:00; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​:

Mr.Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner General

H.E Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, Permanent Representative of  Jordan

Representative of India

Representative of Tunisia           Representative of Malaysia

Representative of  Lebanon        Representative of Indonesia

Representative of Norway           Representative of Venezuela

Representative of   Egypt             Representative of UAE

Representative of   Kuwait           Representative of Sudan

Representative of    Ecuador        Representative of Russia

H.E Mr.Mauro Vieira, Permanent Representative of Brazil       

Representative of Holy See          Representative of   Japan   

 H.E Mr.Tore Hattrem, Permanent Representative of Norway        

Written by: WIT Representative Mariam Elsaker

 

Women, peace, and security

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Women with the Afghan National Army Air Force & International Force during an International Women’s Day celebration in Kabul. Photo: Sgt. Dustin Payne.

The meeting began with acknowledging the fact the first woman president had won the election in Ethiopia. This gave way into the discussion of the political and economic empowerment of women. Women need to be apart of peace and security agendas. Many already are, but they need to be further supported in reducing any challenges. There has been progression, especially within women’s groups who focus on this large issue. Although there has been progress, there is still a long way to go.

Women peace workers help. Women can be quickly drawn into the conflict and be severely affected by it, so more women need to be able to speak on their behalf. Women are better aware of their community needs. Gender equality programming is needed to address the devastating effects by building sustainable peace. There has been a systematic failure to bring women in peacekeeping. Women are constantly excluded. It was brought up that there is a significant gap with what it is said in UN chamber and what is actually going on in the world. Superficial efforts need to come to an end and they need to become concrete.

Women are active and resilient. They have negotiated ceasefires, safe zones, drawn up protection plans. This includes women from various countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, among others. They need to be enabled to do even more. One main way to give women this chance is education. During the conflict, girls are more likely to be out of primary schools. Child marriage is high in these conflict areas. Not only is a girl likely to not be attending school, but she is likely to get pregnant. Maternal mortality is almost twice the global ratio in conflict and post-conflict areas. Education is a catalyst for equal participation.

The way the world views the role of women needs to be changed. Women are perceived to not have the skills or knowledge to handle these important roles. Greater participation of women in political life causes a stronger path for peace. Global peace and security are enhanced when helping women. It was said that no woman needs to be given a voice, there just needs to be more listening.

Meeting:  Women and peace and security

Location/time/date: Security Council Chamber, UN HQ-NYC; 10:00 PM – 12:45 PM, October 25, 2018

Speakers:

  • Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
  • Ms. Randa Siniora Atallah, General Director of the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling
  • Her Excellency Mara Marinaki, Principal Adviser for Gender and the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women
  • Ms. Narjess Saidane, Permanent Observer of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
  • Ms. Amarsanaa Darisuren, Senior Advisor on Gender Issues of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
  • Ms. Clare Hutchinson, Special Representative of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General for Women, Peace and Security
  • Secretary-General, His Excellency António Guterres
  • Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden
  • Yoka Brandt, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands
  • Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Office of Germany
  • Simona Leskovar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia
  • Iryna Herashchenko, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

Globalization and Interdependence

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Globalization offers both opportunities and challenges to the world. The world has been progressing, however, some nations are extremely more developed than others proving that there is an inequality between countries. No concrete action in combating inequality between countries.  In order to properly move forward, developed nations must help developing nations advance in areas they lack in.

One trend that is always innovating is technology. New technologies have lead us to the fourth industrial revolution. The rapid pace of science and technology has fundamentally changed economies and societies. There has been economic growth as we are recovering from global economic crises. Developing nations have growing GDPs, however, they are far from reaching the goal of eliminating inequality by 2030. Therefore, while keeping progress within ethical boundaries, we must create and share opportunities with them.  Technology transfer is vital to the development of countries. In terms of the economy, international trade is also important for development. There needs to be both economic growth and an eradication of poverty. With respect to national policies, the trade should also be non-discriminatory.

We must also tackle climate change on a global scale. Emissions reduction are not meeting what is needed and environmental protection must be a priority. Without doing so, industries are promoting future natural disasters. Speakers also brought up the topic of global migration and refugee crisis. Migration is a population change, and governments need to be able to provide better transit and destination for these large flows of international migrants. Contrary to what some people believe, migrants provide economic and social development in host countries. They add fresh skills to the economy, making migration an enabler of development. However, they need full respect for human rights, regardless of their migration state. Effective social communications in host countries are needed to combat issues like xenophobia. Migrant children are also a vulnerable population, and measures must be taken to provide for their health and education.

Globalization will help the world, but as mentioned, it is far from being equal, and therefore, need more multilateral cooperation to prepare for the future.  There needs to be more of an equitable spread of globalization as we attempt to make progress toward the goal of sustainable development.

Meeting:  Economic and Financial Committee: Globalization and interdependence – Item 22

Location/time/date:Conference Room 2, UN HQ-NYC; 10:00 PM – 12:45 PM, October 19, 2018

SpeakersDirector of the International Organization for Migration (IOM),   Economic Analysis and Policy Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

Conflict Resolution and Ensuring Access to Justice in Developing Nations Workshop

This meeting, headed by Columbia Law School,  served as a workshop to understand the process of mediation in conflict resolution. Mediation involves parties attempting to negotiate to reach an agreement. Mediation was introduced with two case studies, from Nepal and well as Iraq and Syria. In the case of Nepal, Nepali women recieve training to serve as mediators in small towns and focus on issues of inequality. This initiative resulted in the 2010 Mediation Act of Nepal. In the case of Iraqi and Syrian refugee camps, leaders in the refugee camps work to stop clashes over access to water among the camp. After these case studies, attendees of the workshop were put into groups and given a conflict with a goal of creating an alternate dispute resolution.

The conflict involved the fictional country of Hogsmeade with two ethnic groups, the wealthier Slytherins and the Gryffindors, who continue to fight over access to a river as a water source. After working in groups, the meeting came to an end with each group sharing their alternative dispute resolution. Each group resolved the conflict with different factors as priorities and details varied. Overall, the workshop helped stimulate the very difficult process of conflict resolution in the international arena. 

Meeting​: Conflict Resolution and Ensuring Access to Justice in Developing Nations Workshop

Date/Location​: Friday October 26th 2018; 15:00 to 18:00; Conference Room E, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers​:

H.E Mr.Marco A. Suazo, Head of Office, UNITAR UNO

Ms.Alexandra Carter, Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School

Mr.Shawn Watts. Associate Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School

Written by: WIT Representative Mariam Elsaker

Gender-responsive Disarmament

 

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All over the world, people have access to weapons. However, in some areas, it is much easier to gain access to a weapon than others. The increase of these weapons leads to an unnecessary increase in violence. This puts those who are in these communities at a disadvantage because they are much more vulnerable to victimization. Disarmament refers to reducing military efforts as well as weapons. There is actually a UN Office for Disarmament Affairs.

It is important to note that this armed violence can be in both con conflict and non-conflict areas. One speaker mentioned how young boys in South Sudan were reported to have guns. In fact, thousands of children have been recruited and armed for fighting a conflict in areas like South Sudan and Somalia. In the meeting, it was noted that the non-conflict areas also need great attention because of the severe and large quantity of injuries that are occurring. Guns can be easily accessed in both legal and illegal contexts by citizens and there has been an increased spread of small arms.   

The main point of this meeting was discussing how gender, just like in other issues, plays a vital role in this violence. While men are reported to be the majority of small arms users, women are noted to be at a disadvantage- economically, socially and psychologically.  A systematic approach, which would require the help of many members states, would be needed to combat this widespread issue. Gender plays a role in the issue, so therefore, it is crucial in implementing the solution. Although women are the primary victims, they should be empowered leaders in fixing the problem. It was brought up that women are underrepresented at government talks and negotiations. It was noted that usually, only 1 in 4 delegates are women and that this number must increase if we hope to make progress.

Meeting: International Gender Champions Disarmament Impact Group Securing our common future: Promoting gender-responsive disarmament and security

Location/time/date:Conference Room 4, UN HQ-NYC; 1:15 PM – 2:30 PM, October 15, 2018

Speakers:

  • H.E. Michael Gaffey, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva
  • Izumi Nakamitsu, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
  • Päivi Kannisto, Chief of Peace and Security at UN Women
  • H.E. Neville Gertze, Permanent Representative of Namibia to the United Nations in New York
  • H.E. Pennelope Beckles, Permanent Representative of Trinidad & Tobago to the United Nations in New York
  • Victoria “Mavic” Cabrera Balleza, founder/CEO Global Network of Women Peacebuilders.
  • Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, UNIDIR
  • H.E. Michael Gaffey, Ambassador of Ireland to the United Nations in Geneva

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnership, Team of Specialists on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies (CICPPP)

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The CICPPP reconvened at the UNOG this week to revisit international and regional innovation, with a particular focus on sustainable technology invention and deployment. Initially, the conference debated emerging global CO2 emissions data and its implications for climate change. In addressing climate change holistically, its broader knock-on effects on a variety of industries was presented. The agriculture, water, energy, transport health and urban development sectors were concentrated on. Only the transport sector noted potential benefits if artic ice recession reduced shipping costs through the region. The conference moved to debate efficacious and cost-effective policy adaptation tools currently being utilized in various states. These tools include improving pricing signals, reforming experimental and standardization regulations, restructuring financing tools, introducing novel global insurance schemes, galvanizing R&D through incentivization and avoiding duplicating policy reform.

The afternoon session demonstrated a shift in focus towards how to track and evaluate innovation progress in nations and across sectors. One suggestion emphasised the value of regional rather than global innovation indices. Importantly, global rating measure can dilute local innovation successes. Regional index schemes would increase regional policy index dialogue, helping policy makers uncover dimensions previously overlooked by an insular approach to policy reform. Comparing innovation inputs to outputs can offer insight into national innovation effectiveness. Creating reliable metrics in this domain would help uncover what underpins an integrated national policy framework that effectively unites a melange of innovation-policy tools.

Finally, many states and bodies, namely Tajikistan, Ukraine, Sweden and Shiffer Institute of Advanced Studies shed light on the difficulties many actors face in sizing representative innovation metrics and that such innovation indices can potentially distort real economic output perspectives. CICPPP aims to deploy a pilot program in Georgia to assess the value of innovation indicators. Specifically, increased transparency and cross-border dialogue regarding innovation strategy would increase the value of relative quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Date and Time: Saturday, 3 November 2018

Location: Salle XI, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Speakers: Ms. Sedef Yavuz Noyan (Chairman, CICPPP), Mr. Rafis Abazov (Vice Chairperson), Mr. Nikita Ponomarenko (Vice Chairperson), Jakob Fexer (Project Manager of the SEE Competitiveness Outlook, OECD South East Europe Division)

Countries represented: Georgia, Armenia, United Kingdom, Tajikistan, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Sweden, Poland

Bodies represented: UNIDO, UNCTAD, WIPO, Shiffers Institute of Advanced Studies

Author: WIT Representative, Farri Gaba

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 71st Session

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Led by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), this conference engaged in a number of topics surrounding gender inequality in South-East Asia, specifically in Laos. First addressing the imbalanced gender ratios in education, a lack of data in Laos’ unsystematic education system was evinced, rendering some conclusions drawn in a recent CEDAW report dubious. Remaining in the education sector, the conversation shifted to whether educational capacity investment is being matched by the necessary supporting infrastructure. Developing countries often suffer from virtuous investment being deployed in silos – in Laos’ case, girls seeking education are frequently burdened by inordinate transportation costs or distances. Dual-gender class resistance was another complication barring women from entering education, particularly when educational capacity is limited. Furthermore, there was a floor-wide call to gather more data regarding which educational paths girls are pursuing. If women are being driven into traditionally female fields such as cooking or needlecraft, presenting uncategorised educational data could belie its message. Laos’ 25% female inclusion targets was criticized as too low and as sending the wrong public message about social ideals.

Keeping education in focus, more data was requested regarding the impact that premature pregnancy has on educational drop-out rates amongst women. Collecting such data would provide more precise insights into targeting responsible sexual behaviour and sexual education. However, high birth, maternal death and female STD rates point to ineffective sexual education efforts in Laos. Building on this, it was posited that women are too often seen just as procreators and mothers. This makes efforts to assuage high maternal death rates too parochial. Specifically, are there lifestyle choices or societal pressures that increase a woman’s risk of retracting fatal diseases that are independent of gender? Is this an unaddressed dimension when discussing high maternal death rates? The floor also enquired into how Laos’ illegal abortion rates, unsafe abortion rates and its current prohibitive abortion policies contribute to its substandard maternal death rates.

Moving onto gender violence, four forms of women-directed violence were outlined: physical, phycological, sexual and economic property violence. This delineates four avenues to approach female discrimination by with to approach Laos’ current state of affairs, although they were not elaborated upon in the conference. In closing, the panel was questioned whether current Laos gender equality programs are financially designed to withstand funding cuts, or are they more comparable to ‘window shop’ programs.

Date and Time: Friday, 2 November 2018

Location: Salle XVI, Palais des Nations, Geneva

Speakers: Hilary Gbedemah (UNHCR), Mr. Gunnar Bergby (OHCHR), Magalys Arocha Dominguez (OHCHR)

Countries represented: Laos People’s Democratic Republic

 Bodies represented: Author: WIT Representative, Farri Gaba

SDG Two: “Zero Hunger” is Currently Unattainable by 2030

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Goal Two of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve “Zero Hunger,” or further explained as  “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” According to the World Food Programme, 821 million people (1 in 9 persons) go to sleep without food each night. An even greater statistic is that 1 in 3 people suffer from some form of malnutrition. In a global perspective, these issues are not necessarily from a shortage of food, but rather, a lack of access to it. Some may not be able to afford it, while others may be in areas with a supply that doesn’t support their whole population. There are even “hunger seasons” which occur in agricultural areas and communities in some countries. This is when food runs out between planting and harvesting. This is especially detrimental to people living in rural areas and farmers, who only rely on what is grown.

Most speakers were on the same page when speaking on this issue, in which, the world is not on track to achieve Goal 2 by 2030 unless changes and improvements begin now. The main topics and issues that were continuously brought up were agriculture, poverty, and climate change.  

Agriculture was brought up by most speakers who mentioned how it plays a crucial role, and therefore, must be prioritized and expanded. The representative of Mali talked about how the agriculture sector is the backbone of their country but is facing challenges like ensuring food to their growing population, especially in the context of climate change. Climate change is a huge issue which affects many other matters aside from food insecurity. Climate change deals with natural disasters, droughts, and floods which affect food production and distribution. Many also brought up the link between poverty and hunger/malnutrition. Poverty and hunger are in a cyclical pattern. Poverty is a driver of hunger, especially how most impoverished people in the world live in rural areas and therefore rely on agriculture to support them.

Meeting: Committee on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition; 73rd Session
Location/time/date: Conference Room 2, UN HQ-NYC; 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM,
October 12, 2018
Speakers:
● The Chair (Guatemala) Representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77 and
China), Myanmar (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Malawi (on
behalf of the Least Developed Countries), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean
Community), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Morocco (on
behalf of the African States), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin
American and Caribbean States), India, the Russian Federation, Costa Rica, the Sudan,
Algeria, Afghanistan, Nicaragua Jamaica, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ukraine, Cambodia,
China, the United Arab Emirates, Tonga, Mozambique, Morocco, Brazil, Ethiopia,
Zambia, the Philippines, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mali,
Finland, Indonesia, Nepal, Burkina Faso, and Saudi Arabia, as well as by the observer for
the Holy See.
● The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Written by: WIT Representative Yasmeen Razack

 

 

 

The right to say no: 72nd session Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

1506685855_eeb204dc36061d725f5db3e393c34229-1.jpgBad mothers. Loose Morals. Lack of femininity. That is how world leaders such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump refer to women’s rights activists. Both men have continuously made women the butt of the joke of their presidencies with Donald Trump’s famous “Grab her by the pussy” and President Duterte’s continuous rape jokes and command to shoot women rebels in the genitals. According to the Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, this is the continued norm of how the world treats women.

The conference held on July 26th, 2018 shed light on the deeply rooted patriarchy engrained into our international system that has resulted in the championing of white males in human rights movements and the vilification of the women actually affected.

Lolita Chavez has been the target of 5 assassination attempts, two massive hate attacks, lynching attempts, accused of illegal entry, and has had more than 25 petitions filed against her in court resulting in a forced exile from Guatemala. What could cause this type of horrific backlash on a 5-foot-tall mother of 2? Her advocacy for indigenous people and the environment. In Uganda, Brenda Kuganza has been punched in the gut by a policeman, slaughtered on social media for defending victims of sexual violence and has had to witness her friends be brutally attacked, arrested, and/or killed for wanting the right to say no.

People trying to defend their territories and rights are sidelined – jailed, tortured, raped. Now more than ever, there is a need for concrete action from the international community but also a needed refrain by states in legislation and policy of repression action against human rights defenders. The governments in places such as Guatemala, Uganda, Nicaragua need to make the role of human rights defenders facilitative not restrictive.

There needs to be an understanding that human rights defenders are not performing a job. There is a deep commitment to protecting life, livelihood, and the dignity of communities. That is what empowers these women to endure layers of oppression and brutality.

Meeting: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; 72nd Session

Location/time/date: Conference Room 2, UNHQ-NYC; July 26th, 2018

Speakers: Michéle Forest, Special Rapporteur; Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights; Marusia Lopez Cruz, Senior Associate, Power & Protection of Women’s Activist; Lolita Chavez; Brenda Kuganza; Asha Kowtal; Miriam Miranda

Written by: WIT Representative Ariel Granat