Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications

NYU panel discussion

The Razom Sponsored ‘White Papers’ were put together in a collaborative effort to assist government, media and civil society to understand what has happened in Ukraine from a legal perspective and to predict and prepare for what will happen next.

Ms. Ivanna Bilych, co-author of the white papers, reiterated the illegality of the Crimea referendum, which breaches the Ukraine Constitution, territorial integrity and voters’ rights. The referendum was completed in just ten days, holding citizens at gunpoint, clearly violations of democracy and international law.

Mr. Alexander Gudko explained that the closest precedent is the Turkey and Northern Cyprus annexation, which was not recognized by the international community as a separate state and therefore this legal framework and response should be exercised again for the Crimean situation.

Mr de Moura Sena reminded the meeting of the energy ties between Russia and Ukraine as Russia builds a new pipeline for natural gas. Russia would face much higher development costs if the pipe were built along the deep seabed, rather than using the Crimean coast. The tensions surrounding European energy needs and Russia’s ability to provide this energy are central to this Crisis.

Image

A key element to the Crimean situation is Russia’s violation of the Budapest Memorandum on security assurances, signed by all members of the Security Council and Ukraine. It was issued to ensure Ukraine would forfeit its nuclear weapons in return for complete political independence and freedom from threats or use of force against territorial integrity.

Dr. Paul Goble declared that Vladimir Putin has disregarded international law and human rights on his own personal agenda for power and expanding the Russian empire. Dr. Goble emphasised that a major step for western nations should be to provide alternative Russian language entertainment and news, to replace the existing Moscow TV. Moscow TV, being the Russian language entertainment monopoly, is manipulated to destabilise neighbouring countries in subversive attacks ordered from the Kremlin.

 

Meeting Title: Evolving Crisis in Ukraine and its Global Implications
Speakers: Mary Holland of NYU School of law, Ivanna Bilych General Counsel for Razom, Paul Goble expert in the post-Soviet region, Alexander Gudko and Matheus de Moura Sena co-author of the White papers, Giorgi Kvelashvili Senator Counselor for Georgia at the UN and Adrius Kalindra from the OSCE.
Location: NYU School of Law, New York
Date: 29 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Advertisements

Urban Prosperity and Urban Inequalities

Pathways and Concerns for the Future

Vladimir Drobnjak the Vice President of the Economic and Social Council opened the meeting by noting that 67 million new urban dwellers would reside in cities and towns within developing countries before 2020. It is therefore clear that leaders around the world have a very important role to navigate and plan for these impacts on their cities now to ensure equitable and effective urbanisation.

Mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Parks Tau explained that when communities took responsibility for inclusive programs by creating partnerships with the private sector, expenditures on the government went down and communities benefitted greatly. Mayor Tau also explained the importance for clean energy initiatives to meet the needs of urbanised areas, which Johannesburg has already begun approaching through 150 hybrid public buses; these buses run on a mix of biofuel and diesel and will be operational by the end of 2014.

ImageJohannesburg 

While the urbanization of African nations offers the chance for dramatic economic growth and empowerment through development there are strong concerns for the inequalities that could arise. Mr Carrasco, Prefect of Azuay in Ecuador, shared his conclusion that inequalities were due to limited access to services and the trend towards decentralization of the State. Mr Carrasco recommended that citizens be included in the processes of planning, building and implementing development procedures to encourage participation and strengthen the social fabric of new urban populations.

H.E. Michal Mlynár, Ambassador of Slovakia, and Ms. Carmen Griffiths explained the impact of urbanization could be disproportionately challenging on women. Ms. Griffiths emphasized concerns towards the large levels of crime in cities, particularly crimes against women. H.E. Mlynár explained inequalities among urban populations had increased in the last 20 years, and stressed that security was among the fundamental human rights that people expected, yet leaders failed to recognize that security challenges were often rooted in inequalities.

 

Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council 16th meeting: Dialogue on “Urban prosperity and urban inequalities”
Speakers: Vladimir Drobnjak Vice President of the Economic and Social Council, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira from UN-Habitat, H.E. Mayor Mpho Parks Tau of Johannesburg, Mr. Paul Carrasco Prefect from Azuay, Zoubida Allaoua representing Sustainable Development at the World Bank, Carmen Griffiths from Construction Resource and Development Center Jamaica, H.E. Michal Mlynár Ambassador of Slovakia, Professor Paul Romer from New York University
Date: 28 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Urbanisation a transformative tool for Sustainable Development

Image

This week the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is hosting a segment on the integration of sustainable development focusing on the role of Urbanisation. H.E. Vladimir Drobnjak, Vice-President of ECOSOC, expressed that urbanisation has and will play a transformative role to meeting economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. H.E. Drobnjak explained that cities are innovative spaces, which drive social change and provide opportunities that can lift populations out of poverty. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasised that expanding government capacities and planning urbanisation is critical to ensure that policies and frameworks create equitable and constructive environments.

Urbanisation leads to higher wages, provides basic infrastructure and services, while also stimulating the private sector that creates jobs and new stakeholders to provide public goods. As African nations become more urbanized people can be empowered to build secure futures. President Paul Kagame discussed his own nation Rwanda whom, twenty years after genocide, continue searching for solutions to repair the social dimensions of everyday life. President Kagame noted the capacity of urbanization to repair and unify his people whom are moving to cities faster than ever before in search of a higher quality of life.

Vice-President of Colombia, H.E. Angelino Garzon, insisted that the future agenda must not discriminate against the poor as part of the problem but instead include low-income workers as part of the solution. H.E. Garzon reminded states leaders of their duty to provide populations with education, safe water, basic sanitation, transport, a healthy environment, decent work and access to land.

H.E. Isabelle Picco, Vice-President of the general assembly raised concerns for the effects on climate change, as 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions are concentrated in cities. Mr. Joan Clos challenged governments to utilize innovative abilities towards energy strategies, ensure sustainable urbanisation and stimulate environmental protection alongside development.

Melbourne2

Meeting Title: Economic and Social Council’s opening of the Integration segment focusing on Urbanization
Speakers: Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, H.E. Vladimir Drobnjak, Vice-President of the General Assembly H.E. Isabelle Picco, Secretary-General of the United Nations H.E. Ban Ki-moon, President of the Republic of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagame, Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia H.E. Angelino Garzon, H.E. Michael Bloomberg of United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and Executive Director of UN-Habitat Mr. Joan Clos
Date: 27 May 2014
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Images: CBD of Hong Kong and Melbourne 

Continued Instability Leading up to Elections

The Ukrainian Crisis continues: Ukrainian women stand up for their right to participate

Image

The international community has watched as conflict has risen throughout Ukraine and Russia’s invasion of Crimea has lead to the displacement of over 10,000 people, mostly of the ethnic population, the Tatars. As the search to find effective resolutions continue the situation remains unstable and it is impossible to predict the outcome of this weekend’s Presidential election on Sunday the 25th of May.

Miss Natalia Karbowska from the Ukrainian Women’s Fund shared three key personal observations from her participation in Ukraine situation since November of 2013. The first was the power of civil society, as millions of people gathered at Maidan Nezalezhnosti throughout December, January and February. This active civil society protests for changing policies, rule of law that respects diversity and improving the life of Ukrainians. Secondly, women that were expected to hold stereotypical roles instead participated in protests in Kiev, and hundreds of women that were doctors, lawyers and other professional became the protectors of their communities from government sponsored rebels. Thirdly, the division across Ukraine has been historically significant and yet in the past 22 years since its democratisation none of the Ukrainian presidents have enforced a cohesive initiative to unite the Ukrainian people and bridge the cultural gap.

Professor Grigore Pop-Eleches from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University presented data on the separatist movement throughout Ukraine. Across political, economic and ethnic perceptions the country is clearly divided geographically between the West and the East, particularly the Southeastern region. This significant divide creates a nervous and unstable civil society, which is a risky and unpredictable environment for the upcoming Presidential elections. Alongside the rift within Ukraine geographically there is also a detachment between the civil society and politicians particularly towards women who are often excluded from political proceedings.

Meeting Title: Invest in Women for Peace: Conflict Prevention and Women’s Participation in Ukraine
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador of Liechtenstein Christian Wenaweser, Grigore Pop-Eleches from Princeton University and Natalia Karbowska from Ukrainians Women’s Fund
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 21 May 2014
Written by WIT representatives: Sophia Griffiths-Mark, Modou Cham and Rachel Lauren

Renewing the UN Development system

6365386329_f24a5e7976_zThe Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation has released a document with recommendations for a renewed UN development system, taking a determined step towards an effective 2015 agenda. Bruce Jenks discussed, in depth, that conditions of international affairs have dramatically changed in the last decade into a complex network of stakeholders including civil society, private companies and State leaders. Therefore the UN must adjust and innovatively restructure their operations to match the changing international sphere. The post 2015 agenda is a high profile moment for the world to participate in constructing a renewed vision for the UN into the future.

H.E. Ambassador of Sweden explained that the post 2015 agenda is a chance to transform global policies, norms and incorporate new public goods providers. H.E. the Ambassador of Ethiopia stressed that low-income developing nations continue to be in desperate need of UN financial and development support. H.E. confirmed that leaders of the African nations have consolidated common agendas including a critical focus on domestic financing. Geographically the African region continues to be the most vulnerable to poverty and therefore the upcoming months will be a critical transition period towards strategies to lift these communities out of poverty.

The Vietnamese representative for the organization ‘UN-Women’ emphasized the strong need for leadership in any form of successful UN reform, and a secure commitment from all development partners. John Hendra explained that the document recommended a horizontal, multidimensional approach to encompass the community in a rights based agenda. Representative of the Korean mission insisted that any transformative agenda depends on the civil society engagement; while member states vote and debate where the agenda will fall there has to be the sense the world is watching and States have expectations to live up to. It is clear that at this significant turning point the UN has to adapt in this changing world to continue its effective development programs.

Meeting Title: Core elements of reform for the United Nations Development System
Speakers: Annika Soder on behalf of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, H.E. Ambassador of Ethiopia, H.E. Ambassador of Sweden, representative of UN-Women Vietnam, Bruce Jenks, John Hendra, representative of the Royal academy of Science and International trust and from the missions from; Canada, Ireland and Korea
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 19 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

Financing the Sustainable Development Agenda

Ecology_Society_Economy_diagram_Environment_backgroundCo-Chairs, H.E. the Ambassador of Kenya and H.E. the Ambassador of Hungary, gave a brief summary of the progress from the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing, and the way forward leading up to mid-august when the proposal will be given to the attention of the secretary general. The committee’s major concern is quantifying needs across all three areas of Sustainable development especially the social and environmental elements. Quantifying the financial need of socio-climates amounts to an immense task however H.E. the Ambassador of Kenya was confident the committee would be able to reach a consensus on an effective financial document and policy implementation in the near future.

Co-Chair H.E. the Ambassador of Hungary expressed his belief that previous funding towards sustainable development neglected the private sector and for the most effective policies the international system should combine public and private assets. The private sector now has a much stronger role in the international trading system especially in states that have show substantive economic improvement such as China, India and Brazil. H.E. emphasized the role of private trade as a means of providing employment opportunities, new industries and income tax to developing and developed states.

H.E. Ambassador of Kenya reflected on the effective dialogues shared in Latin America and Africa. These ESCA organized outreach efforts provide platforms for discussion between states, stakeholders and regional experts. The meetings are an effort to reach out for feedback and to facilitate regional input for a holistic financial network in support of sustainable development. These outreach programs will next meet for discussion on finances from the Asian and Pacific region.

The Co-Chairs anticipate that the committee’s dynamic work will amount to concrete actionable policies for the long term funding of sustainable development incorporating state leaders, private funders and civil societies.

 

Meeting Title:Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (Fourth Session) – Open briefing on the progress of the Committee’s work by the co-chairs
Speakers: Co-Chairs; H.E. Ambassador of Kenya and H.E. Ambassador of Hungary, as well as questions from H.E. Ambassador of Singapore, Norbert Kloppenburg, Canada, Switzerland and Djibouti
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 16 May 2014
Written 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.

Image

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

 

Break the Silence

“Break the silence.
When you witness violence against women and girls do not sit back.
Act.”
~ Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General

stop_violence_against_women 

Violence against women is one of the gravest infringements of human rights and affects women across every country in the world. Chairman H.E. Michel Spinellis opened the meeting by discussing the continued gap between an emotional commitment to ending violence against women and action that eliminates its occurrence.

The European Union formulated a union-wide survey with the FRA (European Union agency for fundamental rights). The Survey interviewed 1,500 women in each of the 28 member states to gather data that showed the areas in which intervention had been a success in the EU and exposed dimensions that lead to the continued attack against European women in their own homes everyday.

Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of the Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department at FRA, explained that the interviews involved questions about physical, sexual and psychological violence and the results were distressing; 1:3 women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence (at least once since they were 15) and 1:5 women had been sexually abused by a current partner in the previous twelve months (2011-2012). The interview discussions revealed that new technologies had enabled contemporary forms of sexual and psychological violence through online sites and messaging. Mr Dimitrakopoulos insisted the European community needed to change the cultural perception of law enforcement and other services so that women felt more empowered reporting the attacks, rather than ashamed or fearful, and then perpetrators could be convicted.

Mr Ioannis Vrailas explained that all EU member states have formed aligned legislation for the protection of women and insisted on the continued need for active political dialogue to continue promoting the inherent rights of every woman and young girl.

Ms Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN-Women, expressed her admiration of the EU’s groundbreaking efforts to create an extensive survey with the ability to be replicated worldwide.

 

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Violence against women across the European Union: Presentation of a 2014, European Union-wide survey”
Speakers: H.E. Michel Spinellis, Mr Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Mr Ioannis Vrailas, and Ms Lakshmi Puri
Location: United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 14 May 2014
Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Barrel Bombs: Syria’s Indiscriminate Killers

Image

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.

Image

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

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

1_FR_IMG_3695

Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark