POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: ADDRESS CONFLICT ISSUES

Anna ShketBy Anna Shket, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

On May 26, 2015 informal interactive hearings were held with representatives of various NGOs, civil society, major groups and the private sector of the post-2015 development agenda. One of the major thoughts that all speakers brought to the discussions was the partnership of all parties taking part in the process of development, and the inability to work without civil society as a vocal member. New agenda is greatly distinguished from the previous years because it is based on a balanced relationship among all members – “together with no country left behind.” There were several distinct points that speakers put the accent on. First of all, the importance of accountability on local, national and global levels. However, parties were paying attention mostly to answerability and transparency constituents, but I noticed that the enforceability part of accountability did not receive enough attention. Secondly, all parties admit to the importance of climate change and its impact on the ecosystem. It breaks down economy and affects food prices and marine sources. Private business showed its willingness and commitment to cooperate and recognized the necessity to act immediately. Another point that received a lot of attention was gender equality issues. Parties demonstrated a high level of commitment to improve rights of women all over the world.

In my opinion, during both days of discussions there were not enough comments made on strengthening democracy and the rule of law. Interestingly, another crucial aspect that felt left out was conflict resolution. During both days I had several questions on my mind that, unfortunately, only few speakers touched – how can anyone achieve goals such as food security, gender equality, healthy living, and promotion of education in a country where is ongoing conflict? Why is there not enough attention to goals #16 (peaceful societies) and #17 (global partnership) because none of the others are possible without these two? The representative of Republic of Korea made a clear statement that these two goals require more awareness. What are the legal tools to hold governments accountable for their actions and what will happen to ones that fail the promises to establish and follow the goals? How can we trust ambiguous data, when, for example, the hunger report, issued the same day as the discussions were happening, did not include countries that are the largest recipients of the UN humanitarian aid (Somalia, Syria, DRC)? All of the speakers were right saying that Post-2015 agenda requires a holistic approach, but we should witness more attention to the decisive actions from member states in addressing conflicts such as civil wars, refugee crises, and corrupt and abusive governments. Building legitimate and strong institutions at all levels of governance is essential to the process. These issues are to be resolved prior in order to reach all 17 goals.

Notwithstanding some missing points, the meeting seemed to be quite informative and positive with all parties ready to work in a team. The moderator of the first roundtable, Nikhil Daffa, mentioned main distinguishing themes of the new outline, such as high expectations and ambitions and transformative and universal agenda from all parties. And we will observe the new steps and efforts of the whole process in its developing. Hopefully, all promises made by private sector and major groups will be redeemed.

FIRST DAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS: A DREAM COME TRUE

Fatima BrimahBy Fatima Brimah, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

I have always believed that the world has become a global village and, as a citizen of the world, I have an obligation to help in bridging gaps of disparity, in supporting and trying to understand diversity, and in playing an important role in the diplomatic corps. During my childhood and undergraduate years, I have been humbled to have had personal and professional experiences within the West African sub-region, Ghana in particular, and they have helped me not only with practical experience but also with developing working knowledge, comprehension and fluency in several languages important in the African continent. It has been a long term goal to someday work with the United Nations and gather as much as I could from that experience to be a better world citizen.

Fatima + AnnanJune 22nd, 2015 was my first day at the United Nations Headquarters’ in New York. My closest friends and family members were equally as excited as I was. A good family friend Naa Shika introduced me to Ms. Jean Stoner, who works with the Sisters of Notre Dame, an NGO affiliated with the United Nations, and they made this whole experience possible. On this day I remember going through the security point very excited, looking forward to this privilege. As I walked in with my supervisor Jean, the first picture I spotted was Kofi Annan’s (former UN secretary general). Being a proud and patriotic citizen of Ghana, I walked straight to my fellow Ghanaian’s portrait and took a “selfie”. I remember taking multiple selfies out of excitement.

With the help of my supervisor Jean, I found my way around the premises. The tour was very informative. I was able capture a lot of beautiful scenery, sculptures and paintings given to the United Nations as gifts from all over the world. The experience was overwhelming. It was a dream come true for me. I have always imagined myself at the United Nations in a meeting with presidents, delegates, civil servants and many others. I was given the privilege to share the same room with people who were trying to make a positive impact in society from all walks of life and all over the world. The moment I received my ID, I knew my dreams had come true. I had a big grin on my face while staring at my ID. I was humbled. I finally made it to the United Nations.

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES: OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTION

groundOn September 12 people around the world will honor the creativity, dignity, and resilience of communities affected by mining and oil and gas development. Become involved now with The Ground Beneath Our Hearts: http://bit.ly/1Ck6wm1

Watch a film about social and environmental conflicts in iron ore extraction in the  Amazon region of northern Brazil with connections to the German auto industry.
Iron ore, journey with no return:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPeInxf1jII

Support enhancement of the International Legal Framework for protecting Human Rights from Corporate Abuse:  www.treatymovement.com/sign-on  (English, español, français, português)

bh_WD_logo_EN_finalOn July 30 learn about and participate in an action to eradicate human trafficking: www.unodc.org/blueheart/index.html   (English, español, français, português, Русский)

CLIMATE CHANGE: SENDING SIGNALS TO THE PUBLIC AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Alla 1 cropBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

The recent High-level Event on Climate Change at the UN was an incredible opportunity to understand the issue about climate change better from the perspective of governments instead of the more familiar one of social media. The event helped to determine at which stage different countries are currently standing when it comes to preparation for the December political forum on this topic in Paris, France. I’ve noticed that one of the main focuses that was common for most of the countries’ governments was to “send signals” to private sectors and the public in general. It is one thing for people to see breaking news on TV how climate change is affecting the world and how it will destroy our planet before the next generations after ours grow old. The other thing, however, is for us to understand where we the people are standing in this situation, what we need to change in our ways of living, and how much we need to input, so the outcome can make the difference. Contrary to people in general, the private sector has big aims in particular because they are the ones who have money and who can financially help good and crucially necessary causes. However, the causes need to be specified and explained. This is how the “sending signals” technique is taking priority over any other technique and this is the reason many governments have absolutely agreed about it.

Time is limited. Time is what we are mostly talking about here. If glaciers melt before we take appropriate actions there will be nothing that we can do. Governments all agree that each one of their inputs is inevitable in order to save this planet. However, governments could not cover all the necessary expenses and needs while the private sector is not trying to do anything differently, but, in contrary, making this problem accelerate with time. Therefore the real solution is hidden in that message that private sector needs to get from a legitimate institution, such as the government of one’s country. If this message, or in other words “the signals”, are being delivered properly, stating the points accurately and providing explanations, the private sector will have no choice left but to participate and take some kind of action. At first sight the action one private company can potentially take might not seem like big input to solve the problem; however, when all those private companies add up the result will be seen, and hopefully, as a result, the world can reduce climate change to its goal point: limit warming to less than two degrees Celsius.

 

CONFERENCE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT: BE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS SO THAT THEIR VOICES CAN BE HEARD

Sebastien NkoaBy Sébastien Nkoa Ayissi, OP, Cameroonian economist, banker, and student of Theology at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, and SNDatUN delegate to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

“The Financing for Development Conference which will take place this month in Addis Ababa inspires great hope in me as I consider the quality (Heads of State) and the quantity (constituents in society) of the members taking part in different panels. Important decisions will be made affecting the direction of Sustainable Development Goals for the planet. Since I myself come from a country classified as ‘less developed’, I have long been an advocate for all people to take responsibility for all persons living on our planet.  The conference offers me an opportunity to be the voice of the voiceless so that their voices can be heard.

For these reasons I am focusing on the following questions: 1) national public finance, given that basic development rests on healthy and proper management of public goods; 2) entrepreneurship and private national and international finance, because of their interconnection. Member States need to develop a regulatory framework which promotes private sector initiatives favoring the marginalized and those excluded from the system. International public finance is a particular interest of mine because of the role it plays in the systemic failures as seen in the financial crisis of 2007-08; this points to the need for change from the top because of its impact on the bottom.”

DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS: RIGHT TO NATIONALITY AND LEISURE

Fatima BrimahBy Fatima Brimah, Intern in SNDatUN Office  

The United Nations’ purpose is to bring peace to all nations of the world. The human rights declaration was documented by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and declares the rights that every human being all around the world should have.

nationality

Graphic by Octavio Roth

My first favorite United Nations Declaration of Human Rights article says that “everyone has the right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.” Talk about people being citizens of the world! Even though people are citizens of a country, they are also citizens of the world. The world is now a global village. It belongs to everyone. No one should feel confined or restricted by their citizenship in one state. If the beliefs, values and traditions no longer serve their interests or impose on what they believe in, they should have the autonomy to move to a different land and embrace it. As long as they aren’t leaving to cause harm or danger to that land they should be welcomed. Every citizen has the right to vote and to own a passport. Every country has a constitution that contains rights of citizens used to govern the country.

leisure

Graphic by Octavio Roth

My second favorite United Nations Human Right is “everyone has the right to rest and leisure including reasonable limitations of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. “. This quote is self explanatory. Everyone is entitled to holidays, paid holidays for that matter. No one should over work and not rest. Paid holidays are necessary. It will serve an incentive that motivates people to work better. Every human being is entitled to the right to leisure which includes the right to play, learn, and enjoy the community’s recreation centers.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS, TARGETS AND INDICATORS: TOBACCO USE

Alla 1 cropBy Alla Baranovskaya, Intern in SNDatUN Office

As I have attended Informal Hearings with representative of Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society, Major Groups and the Private Sector on the Post-2015 Agenda, I have listened to many great speakers. One speech that caught my attention was given by Ms. Sandra Mullin from the World Lung Foundation and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance. She brought up the issue of tobacco use in the world. She gave the following statistics: tobacco is used the highest among poor countries. The more developed the country, the fewer people demand this drug. This is because least developed countries (LDCs) have higher social pressure which makes quitting almost impossible. Also the prices on cigarettes are relatively affordable. As a Russian immigrant – a country that has been developing in the past decade – I have observed the changes which have occurred during the development process. Smoking is slowly becoming less trendy although it still continues to be a significant problem. The Russian government has taken some actions to reduce tobacco use: cigarette packages have dramatic phrases and pictures of different diseases and birth defects caused by tobacco use.

2014_10_14_warninglabelsNo matter how much we discuss reasons why LDCs use tobacco more than other developed countries, Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” needs to be expanded and explained more clearly. Reducing tobacco use is one of the main components of this Goal, but in order for the world to achieve it we need to make sure we specifically mention “Tobacco use reduction” in the Goal 3 statement. One way to implement tobacco use reduction, mentioned by Ms. Sandra Mullin, is to increase tobacco taxes. Taking the United States as an example, cigarette costs there are much bigger in comparison with LDCs, and we can draw a parallel of how few American people smoke. Laws and restrictions on where people can smoke, high fees on breaking the rules, and social nonacceptance of smokers has made it difficult for a smoking habit to develop for the United States citizens. These techniques need to be shared with the rest of the world to stop tobacco use because it causes a lot of diseases and deaths.

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