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

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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

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

 

 

Twenty years of the Rome Statute system and a look ahead to the future of the International Criminal Court

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http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/fight/Rome-Statute-20-anniversary-2018

This event took place on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. On this basis, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established to prosecute individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. The discussion began by focusing on the withdrawal of Burundi from ICC. Speakers acknowledged the need for sufficient resources to deliver efficient judgment.

Concerning the investigation power of ICC, Mr. Stephen J. Rapp, former US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, illustrated the mechanism that ICC considers cases only after referral by Security Council. He pointed out cases which failed to be brought to ICC, including Syrian crisis and Rohingya persecution in Myanmar. Also, Mr. Christian Wenaweser, permanent representative of Liechtenstein, recognized the political reality of the dysfunctional Security Council and the consequence it has on criminal justice.

The discussion ended with speakers’ vision of ICC in twenty years. Mr. Stephen J. Rapp expressed his will that ICC could operate like a regular court. Mr. Christian Wenaweser expected that ICC could safeguard criminal justice at the global level. In addition, he called for an effective use of principle of complementarity. In this regard, he hoped to see cases of serious crimes to be firstly dealt within national jurisdiction. All in all, speakers agreed that ICC should operate effectively and efficiently.

Meeting: Panel discussion: Twenty years of the Rome Statute system and a look ahead to the future of the International Criminal Court (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein and the Wayamo Foundation)

Date/Location: Monday 16th July 2018; 15:00-16:30; Conference Room 5, UNHQ, NY.

Speakers:

H.E. Mr. Christian Wenaweser, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the UN

H.E. Ms. Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein;

Mr. Stephen J. Rapp, former US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Situation in Palestine

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This meeting is about the situation in the Middle East, particularly on the Palestinian question. In the opening remarks, Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN, condemned Israeli government of their actions against international law. He stated that the escalation of conflicts poses a threat to international security. Seeing this, he supported the two-state solution.

In response, H.E. Mr. Danny Danon from Israel stressed that Israel will not give up any sovereignty over its territory. Concerning the suffering of Palestinian civilians, he emphasized the contribution made by Israeli government in humanitarian aid. Also, he pointed to Hamas, the rebel group in Palestine, that built terror tunnels to attack Israeli population and condemned Iranian authority of their support to Hamas. Overall, H.E. Mr. Danny Danon argued that Israel was countering Hamas for self-defense.

Following the exchange of opinions, countries gave their national statements. H.E. Ms. Nikki R. Haley, Permanent Representative of US to the UN, criticized Arab states of their zero contribution to UNRWA. She compared that with the donation made by China, Russia, Turkey, Kuwait and UAE to the education of Palestinian civilians. She called for Arab states’ financial contribution rather than speeches in resolving the question of Palestine.

Russian representative, H.E. Mr. Nebenzia Vassily Alekseevich, believed that the only way to achieve a settlement lies in the meeting between relevant parties. Thus, he revealed the undergoing process to convene a Palestinian-Israeli meeting in Russia. Another supporter of UNWRA, China, called for the two-state solution. Similarly, France agreed that there is no viable alternative solution than that. However, France called on the US to shoulder responsibility to make sure UNRWA budget can be filled.

Meeting: Security Council – meeting 8316

Date/Location: Tuesday 24th July 2018; 10:00-13:00; Security Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers:

Mr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the UN;

H.E. Mr. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN;

H.E. Ms. Nikki R. Haley, Permanent Representative of US to the UN;

H.E. Mr. Nebenzia Vassily Alekseevich, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the United Nations.

Written by WIT representative Vivian Wang

Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: Meeting 390

The recent volatile situation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was brought to the floor from the Permanent Representative of the Observer State Palestine and the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights. Two recent events were the theme of the conversation. First, the recent “Nation State Law”  passed by the Israeli Knesset reaffirming Israel as fully the home of Jews and abolishing Arabic as an official language of Israel. Arabic was an official language for over 70 years.  This also comes after the contested US move of its  headquarters to Jerusalem months prior.

The next event was the recent attacks on the Bedouins. Mr.Mansour, representing Palestine shamed Israel for a law that bluntly discriminates and is moving Israel to a state of “apartheid.” He called on representatives of experienced apartheid states, Namibia and South Africa to weigh in on the Israeli abuse of Palestinians. The South African representative echoed the universal scar of colonization in many countries and applauded Egypt’s involvement which resulted in a ceasefire.  He stressed that more states need to get involved and one measure includes stopping illegal business transactions in Israeli settlements.

Also, hundreds of Palestinian children have been put in jail without a trial, as a clear human rights violation.  The representative of Venezuela repeated the need to accept Palestine as a UN Permanent Member.  Evidently, the unrest and lack of peace between Israel and Palestine is historic, and it will take the global community to finally decide to take feasible action to attempt to resolve this sensitive conflict.

Meeting​: Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian
People – meeting 390

Date/Location​: Monday 23th July 2018; 10:00-13:00; Conference Room 3, United
Nations Headquarters, New York.

Speakers​:

Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights;

H.E. Dr. Riyad H. Mansour, Ambassador of Permanent Observer of the State of
Palestine to the United Nations;

H.E. Mr. Carmelo Inguanez, Permanent Representative of Malta to the United
Nations.

Written by: WIT Representative Mariam Elsaker

9th session of the OEWGA Side Event: National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) and Human Rights of Older Persons

In view of this week’s 9th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, the National Human Rights Instruments (NHRI) have submitted written submissions and oral statements, in response to the two focus areas of “autonomy and independence” and “long-term care and palliative care”. Following up UN recommendations, this side event addressed the main cross-regional concerns in regards to the rights of older persons.

Hearing briefings from the Philippines, Croatia, Africa and Latin America, this side event first identified that long-term measures on long-term and palliative care for older persons are not adequate across countries. During the event, representatives lobbied on long-term health care measures, particularly age ceilings of paid health insurance services and universal health care systems.

In addition, the event underscored the problem of inconsistencies with the definitions of autonomy and independence for older persons. In fact, they are often misinterpreted as decision-making processes and lack legally binding powers across countries. Member states are called upon to come up with consistent, legally binding international instruments to offer clarity on parameters of protection of older persons.

Older persons are the driving forces of our economic development and shall not be left as marginalised social groups. They should not be mistreated with social injustice or infringements on human rights. Integrated human rights-based approaches should be well incorporated with government institutions to safeguard the rights of older persons.

Date/Location:
Monday 23rd July 2018; 16:30 to 18:00; Conference Room E, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speaker(s):
Mr. Lee Sung-ho, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of the Republic of Korea and Chairperson of the GANHRI Working Group on Ageing
Ms. Lora Vidović, Ombudswoman of the Republic of Croatia
Ms. Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
Ms. Florence Simbiri Jaoko, Special Envoy, GANHRI
Ms. Liz Vela, Expert, Defensoía del Pueblo del Perú
Professor Andrew Byrnes, International Legal Advisor

Written by: WIT Representative LAU Chun Ki