What are the General Principles of International Law?

 

Wooden justice gavel and block with brass

 

The Permanent Mission of Poland held a meeting to discuss the definition and usage of general principles of law and their role in international courts. H.E. Boguslaw Winid prefaced the seminar by speaking to Poland’s desire for peaceful conflict resolution and the country’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council. Mr. Wladyslaw Czaplinski began the discussion and argued that many scholars and practitioners in international law have not agreed upon a definition for its general principles. Ms. Marija Dordeska expanded by claiming that the general principles have three characteristics: substantive, regulating the conduct of actors, procedural, regulating states and justices in the procedure, and interpretive, guiding international tribunals. Additionally, Ms. Dordeska expressed that international courts and tribunals should identify the general principles. The ICJ (International Court of Justice) statute should reflect them.

Ms. Neha Jain also expressed a need for clearly defined general principles. She stated that unclear definitions can lead to many, or conflicting, verdicts. Two competing concepts, municipal and natural law were discussed. Using principles of domestic law, municipal law is used as a proxy for state consent at the international level. Natural law functions on its acknowledgement that human nature is rational at its basis. Ms. Jain argued that due to these subjective definitions, international courts should be wary of using them in concrete actions regarding international law. Mr. Christopher Waters followed by pointing out the inconsistencies in the use of general principles. However, he stated that general principles are not as problematic as the other panelists claimed them to be, as they are seldom used in reality.

Meeting: “General Principles of Law, Judicial Theory or Everyday Practice of International Courts?” Organized by the Permanent Mission of Poland

Date/Location: 26 October, 2016; 13:15 to 14:30; Conference Room 6

Speakers: H.E. Boguslaw Winid, Permanent Representative of Poland to the United States; Wladyslaw Czaplinski, Director of the Institute of Legal Sciences; Marija Dordeska, Doctor of Juridical Science; Neha Jain, Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School; Christopher Waters, Dean of Law at the University of Windsor

Written By: Anna Prisco, WIT Representative

 

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‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’

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Sustainable peace and development positively reinforce each other. The joint meeting provided an opportunity to explore links between the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace, particularly with regard to global targets of creating peaceful and inclusive societies, providing just and accountable institutions, as well as the drivers of conflict.

Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is predicted to be most difficult in conflict-affected countries where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were lagging further behind. Extreme poverty is increasingly concentrated in conflict-affected areas and leaving no one behind will require concerted efforts across the United Nations to deliver as one.

African countries richest in natural resources tend to be characterized by great inequality, which drives conflicts that consequently inhibit social development. Uneducated and unemployed youth is a common characteristic across countries experiencing conflict. Resolving conflicts through peacebuilding as well as reconciling social contracts between governments and civil society can lead to resilient and secure states in which development occurs.

Meeting: Economic and Social Council and Peacebuilding Commission Meeting on the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’

Date/Time/Location: June 24, 2016; 10:00 – 13:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: H.E. Mr. Oh Joon, President of the Economic and Social Council; H.E. Mr. Mancharia Kamau, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission; H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Dr. Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa; H.E. Mr. David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations; H.E. Ms. Annika Söder, State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden; H.E. Mr. Juan Sandoval Mendiolea, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations; H.E. Ms. Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Written By: Lena Courcol

Report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the global health architecture: implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises

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Today’s morning meeting revolved around strengthening the global health architecture to respond more effectively to health emergencies. This began with Mr. Lykketoft’s opening remark on global health crises and the importance of preparedness in the future. This is followed by the Secretary-General’s speech on the progress on some of the key recommendation made by the Panel on the Global Response on Health Crises. Three developments are highlighted – firstly, WHO’s capacity are consolidated and strengthened through the creation of the WHO Emergencies Programme, which changed the fundamental nature of the organization. Secondly, the recommendation of strengthening the UN system coordination during health crises has been taken seriously and the Deputy Secretary-General has been working to ensure there’s a senior level forum for coordination. Thirdly, the World Bank has launched the pandemic emergency financing facility, an innovative mechanism to protect the world against pandemics.

Mr. Kikwete discusses the findings of the panel, and stressed that donor countries should give serious consideration in supporting building capacities ahead of crises and effective communication and engagement should be given high priority. He urged for a reform of global health architecture to prevent worse situations in the future and outlined two recommendations: the establishment of High-level Council on Global Public Health Crises within the General Assembly, and the organization of the High-level Summit on Global Public Health Crises in 2018.

Mr. Aylward mentioned that disease can exert huge environmental, societal and economic costs and expressed the importance of preparedness and response capacity in preventing catastrophic consequences. He revealed more than 60 partners were identified to work with WHO to implement the Strategy Response Framework, with the focus on putting women in the centre and protecting them and children from Zika virus infection.

This meeting concludes with Mr. Nabarro’s remark on how global health and the sustainable development agenda are interlinked. He stated that global health is a universal attribute and is indivisible to all SDGs as ill health will undermine society’s ability to develop sustainably.

Meeting: Informal meeting of the plenary to hear a briefing on the report of the Secretary-General on strengthening the global health architecture: implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises (A/70/824).

Date/Time/Location: 20 June 2016, 11:00am, Conference Room 3

Speakers: Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the United Nations General Assembly; Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Chair of the High-level Panel on the Global Response to Health Crises/President of the United Republic of Tanzania; Bruce Aylward, Assistant Directors-General of the World Health Organization; David Nabarro, Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Written by: Susan Liu

Edited by: Modou Cham

HLPF Informals

www.un.orgThe session was organized by the co-facilitators to get comments from member states and permanent observers of the United Nations, on the Ministerial Declaration for the 2016 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. Ambassador Gustavo, in his opening remarks, stated that this is the first to follow-up and implement the 2030Sustainable Development Agenda.

Ambassador Gustavo explained that the Ministerial Declaration, which was sent in a letter from the Co-facilitators to all permanent representatives and permanent observers on 13 June 2016 contain potential elements of the draft Ministerial Declaration.

Ambassador Gustavo further highlighted the importance of the “Global Sustainability Development Report” which was included in the Ministerial Declaration, stating that the scope of the report is one important component of the follow-up and review process for the 20130 Agenda on Sustainable Development and will inform the HLPF to make policy decisions to reduce poverty.

After the brief introductory statement, Ambassador Gustavo opened the floor to all permanent representatives and member states to comment on the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.

After comments from member states, Ambassador Gustavo opened the floor for other organizations or permanent observers to the United Nations to comment on the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.

The major call from the different organizations was the need for global partnerships at all levels to achieve the global sustainable development agenda.

Ambassador Gustavo ended the session by thanking all for the interventions and participation despite the short notice to prepare for this session. He handed over the floor to his Co-facilitator, Ambassador Gillian to give her final comments.

In her final words, Ambassador Gillian thanked everyone for their constructive work and that she looks forward to working with all on the HLPF.

Meeting: Informal consultations on the draft ministerial declaration of the high-level political forum on sustainable development for 2016, convened under the auspices of the Council, and the high-level segment of the 2016 session of the Council, convened by the co-facilitators (Australia and Peru).

Date/Time/Location: 16 June 2016/15:40 to 18:00/ Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: Co-facilitators from Peru (Ambassador Gustavo) and Australia (Ambassador Gillian Bird), delegates member states, stakeholders and NGO representatives.

Reported by:   Fred Yonghabi

Launch of “Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster”

The launch of the report, “guidelines to protect migrants in countries that are experiencing either conflict or natural disasters”, served as a concrete contribution to addressing the problems that migrants could face come the large movement of refugees in September. Panelists commented on the fact that recent events have shown how vulnerable migrants really can be during a crisis in their host country. Sir Peter Sutherland was thanked for his efforts in 2013, calling on the United Nations to make take initiative on this issue and urging both government agencies and community organizations to work harder in ensuring beneficial knowledge to all, regardless of immigration status. It was also mentioned that there will be two UN summits this summer that will focus primarily on migrant protection during vulnerable times and discussing the global responsibilities all countries share in helping these migrants. Noted, was that the MICIC guidelines have served as a model for state-led guidelines that are focused on practical application. It is also important to note that MICIC has not produced anything binding or legally obligating, but rather a piece of a much larger set of policies to improve migrant protection.

Ms. Lourdes Yparraguirre mentioned that 10% of Philippinos are located in over 200 countries worldwide, which is why policies and programs have been created to address their crisis situations. Many other countries are said to have no record of who the incoming migrants are and where they are from. It has become obvious that guidelines are needed to be set to protect these migrants and the United States and Philippines are the ideal leaders, said panel members. The 10 key principals were then reviewed by the panel on the notions of the need to focus on preparedness, emergency response, and post-crisis action.

Meeting: Launch of “Guidelines to Protect Migrants in Countries Experiencing Conflict or Natural Disaster” (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of the Philippines, the United States Mission and the International Organization for Migration (IOM))

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 15, 2016; 10:00-13:00; Economic and Social Council Chamber

Speakers: Ms. Lourdes Yparraguirre, Representative of Philippines mission to the UN; Sir Peter Sutherland, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for International Migration;

Written by: WIT Representative, Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

 

Ghost Fishing Gear

The session began this afternoon with introductory remarks from the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, Ambassador Per Thoresson, and H.E Ambassador Mahe Uli’ Uli Sandhurst Tupouniu, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga, both highlighting the necessity to protect global marine resources for sustainable development and finding  the role of governments to achieve SDG 14.

Ambassador Per Thoresson, welcomed the panelist, and the new Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden  as the keynote speaker.

Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin in her presentation addressed the problem of lost fishing gear in Sweden and in the Baltic sea, highlighting that lost fishing gear is a major pollutant in oceans (microplastics) affecting marine life and reduces fish stock. Less fish means fishermen will spend more time fishing and some will fish illegally. She also said that Sweden is leading several initiatives to address lost fishing gear in the Baltic Sea and introducing drifting nets to decrease the flow of plastic waste into the sea.  The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that multi-stakeholder platforms are very necessary to push this agenda to significantly reduce marine debris as offered by SDG 14. She concluded by saying that if we all assume shared responsibilities and work together, it will be possible to solve the problems worldwide.

Elizabeth Hogan of the World Animal Protection introduced a project that she works on called Sea-change. She said that approximately 640000 tons of fishing gear has been abandoned in the oceans, and they persist in marine environments for over 600 years. She also reiterated that it is important to get the lost fishing gear out of the oceans to protect marine species and reduce wildlife entanglement which is causing a decline in marine biodiversity. She talked about the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), which provides a cross-sectoral multi-stakeholder framework committed to driving solutions to the problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear worldwide.

Meeting: Special event on “Implementing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2030 Agenda: The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) – Protecting oceans and marine animals”

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, 08 June 2016, 1:15pm – 2:45pm / Conference Room 6

Speakers: Ambassador Mahe Uli’ Uli Sandhurst Tupouniu, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations, Ambassador Per Thoresson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lovin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, Sweden (Keynote address), Elizabeth Hogan, World Animal Protection Sea Change Campaign Manager (Briefing on ghost gear initiative progress and call for support), Respondents: Permanent Mission of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Palau, the Kingdom of Thailand and Vanuatu

Written By: Fred Talah, WIT Representative

Summary By: Modou Cham, WIT, Administrator

Dimensions of Marine Debris

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Dede’s trash barrel. Java 2012. Mandatory photo credit: Noyle/A-Frame

At this afternoon’s meeting panellists provided several comprehensive overviews regarding marine debris, plastics and microplastics, allowing for an overall description of the problem and the knowledge gaps present, sources of land and sea based debris, as well as insights on potentially scalable solutions that have previously been implemented.

It is clear that scientific research and data collection is an important element in tackling the problem of marine debris, with many knowledge and data gaps remaining: understanding the distribution, sources and types of plastics that make their way to oceans can help develop recovery mechanisms and the prevention of further plastic accumulation; learning the impacts of previously under-researched microplastics can help evaluate the effects on food chains and marine biodiversity; and innovative development of plastic alternatives can shift business production to ‘cleaner’ goods. Awareness and education also has the power of changing consumptive habits and waste disposal patterns to more eco-conscious practices. Along with shoreline clean-ups, the need for more efficient port waste disposal sites and incentive schemes for all target groups, including commercial and recreational fishing, has been shown to be a successful method for reducing material dumping at sea. Lessons-learnt should continue to be shared in order to learn the best-practices and help develop more efficient mechanisms to deal with plastic waste.

Meeting: Discussion panel: The environmental, social and economic dimensions of marine debris, plastics and microplastics and progress made in preventing, reducing and controlling pollution from marine debris, plastics and microplastics

Date/Time/Location: 13th of June, 2016; 15:00 – 18:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Mr. Peter Kershaw, Chairman of GESAMP and Chairman of the GESAMP Working Group on Microplastics; Ms. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator, Former Joint Coordinator of the Group of Experts of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects; Ms. Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia; Ms. Kelsey Richardson, Former Marine Debris Consultant, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Peter Van den Dries, Policy Advisor, Flemish Waste Agency; Stefan Micallef, Director Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization

Written By: Lena Courcol, WIT Representative

Edited By: Modou Cham, WIT Administrator 

100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

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The meeting was operated for countries to declare their commitment against AIDS as well as implement political declarations. The President began with the opening remarks on addressing the above importance. Soon after, Mr. Sey revealed the key to preventing AIDS was to monitor the HIV transmission together with maintaining economic growth, where prosperity could alleviate poverty, with fewer women getting HIV. In addition, Prof. Randrianarimanana stated AIDS could be eradicated by focusing on high impact intervention, effective decentralization, and strengthening the health-care system. He admitted the epidemic was still existed, even if the current prevalence was low.

On the other hand, Dr. Numbi recalled the dedication on the previous declaration cheered the international commitment, technical and financial partners with a multisector approach to combat AIDS. Meanwhile, Dr. Al-Jasser added with a compliment on the comprehensive national program, safeguarding the access on treatment, had enhanced the community responsibility, cooperation and civil societies’ engagement. Moreover, Mr. Hamach reminded the stigma and discrimination would implicitly harm the Universal Health Coverage program where social restructuring was demanding. He ended his speech by reiterating political leadership and devotion to international community were vital to the Fast-Track to ending AIDS. Then, Ms. Skogen appealed to all members, to provide funding to high-burden and developing countries on quality education, sexual education, reproductive services along with well-trained health-care workers.

Last but not least, the above speakers declared their unceasing allegiance to combating AIDS financially or putting efforts on regulation compliance, demanding stronger prevention of AIDS.

Meeting: 100th plenary meeting on Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment and the political declarations on HIV/AIDS held by the General Assembly

Date/Time/Location: Thursday, June 08, 2016; 15:00-18:00; General Assembly Hall

Speakers: His Excellency, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the General Assembly; His Excellency, Mr. Omar Sey, the Minister of Health & Social Welfare of Gambia; His Excellency, Prof. Dieudonné Randrianarimanana, the Minister of Health, Family Planning and Social Protection of Madagascar; His Excellency, Dr. Félix Kabange Numbi, The DRC Minister of Public Health; His Excellency, Dr. Sulaiman bin Mohammed Al-Jasser, the Minister of Economy and Planning of Saudi Arabia; His Excellency, Mr. Masakazu Hamach, the Parliamentary Vice-Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Japan; Her Excellency, Ms. Tone Skogen, the State Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway

Written By: WIT Representative, Kelvin HO

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Photo: https://twitter.com/unaids

WORLD OCEAN’S DAY

Goal-14

In his opening remarks, H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, addressed the issue of environmental justice with regard to rising sea levels, ocean temperature rise, and fishery decline – all of which pose increasing threats to the wellbeing and livelihoods of Pacific island nations whose actions towards global climate change have remained minimal. Palau calls upon stronger global partnerships that allow for a united mobilization towards SDG 14: Life Below Water, as well as funding to help island nations face the challenges they will come across in the upcoming years.

During the keynote address, Mr. Nainoa Thompson shared his first-hand experiences whilst aboard the Mãlama Hanua Worldwide Voyage, Polynesian Voyaging Society, and their visitation to 27 countries. Bringing awareness on the environmental issues faced by island nations, as well as expressing their values and indigenous knowledge, the organization seeks to connect with diverse communities and scientific practices in order to strengthen innovation and capacity building. Inspiring the world to navigate toward sustainability, the Voyage reminds us of our ‘Island Earth’ and the responsibilities we have to protect it. By understanding and caring for our natural environment we can set it as a priority, and only then, develop an economy around it. The Voyage articulates an identity based on the ocean, and calls upon leaders to not simply read and sign declarations but to commit to solutions, foster innovation, and use entrepreneurship to support and achieve SDG14.

Meeting: Permanent Mission of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations: World Oceans Day – Voyaging to a Sustainable Planet

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 8, 2016; 15:30 – 18:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: H.E Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau; Pomai Bertelmannn; Nainoa Thompson, Master Navigator and President, Polynesian Voyaging Society; U’ilani Hayes Halau Ku Mana; Dr. Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of Palau to the UN

Written By: WIT Representative, Lena Courcol

Edited By: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham

Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

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Today’s afternoon meeting held by the UNAIDS council presented a panel of well renowned HIV/AIDS activists, expressing their plea for the continued support of the UNAIDS program in order to one day have an AIDS-free society. The President of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, began by praising UNAIDS’ commitment in acting swiftly and their intensified efforts to end HIV transmission. Five years since the UN has joined forces in the global fight to end child transmission of AIDS, significant progress has been made. Noted, was the fact that since inception, 33% of pregnant women now have access to treatment that allows them to stop AIDS from transferring to their newborns. Speakers addressed that an AIDS-free generation requires much more action that is aligned with Agenda 2030. Transmission rates must decrease significantly between mothers and their children by scaling up treatment for the mothers. Work on the ground, directly with the affected population and promotion of access to treatment and funding to countries that are overwhelmed by the epidemic need to be considered.

The Executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, then took the stand and thanked all the countries that are joining the UNAIDS mission to eliminate children born with AIDS. He mentioned that stigma is still one of the biggest challenges behind the fight against HIV/AIDS and that member states must all partner up to stop it. A video was shown of the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya thanking the 21 Sub-Saharan African countries for their unwavering support and partnership. It was mentioned that the only 100% effective way to stop the transmission of AIDS from mother to child is to target adolescent girls and ensure their prevention from getting infected. The meeting ended with the General Assembly President thanking all who participated and showed.

Meeting: Delivering an AIDS-free Generation

Date/Time/Location: Wednesday, June 8, 2016; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 3

Speakers: Ms. Whoopie Goldberg, Host of the View; Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of UN General Assembly and Ambassador of Denmark; Mr. Michel Sidibé, Executive director of UNAIDS; Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health in South Africa, Monica Geingos, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; Annie Lenox, acclaimed singer and songwriter and founder of SING; Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to combat HIV/AIDS; Piyasakol Sakolsataydorn, Minister of Public Health of the Kingdom of Thailand

Written by: WIT representative, Amirali Agha-Khan

Edited by: WIT Administrator, Modou Cham