Home » Posts tagged "EU-Africa" (Page 23)

Speakers Focus on Ways to End Poverty, Gender Inequality, Structural Barriers, as High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Opens

The Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum tasked with reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development opened its second annual session today, with participants welcoming its focus on particular goals and targets, as well as its central theme of poverty eradication and the promotion of prosperity “in our changing world”.

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” stressed Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Council, as he opened the meeting.  Pointing out that it was the first time the Forum would discuss in-depth a particular set of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said the session would also include national presentations from 44 countries and discussions about poverty eradication through the lens of addressing its multiple dimensions, especially in countries in special situations.  In addition, there would be keynote presentations from a range of speakers focusing on “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.

Delivering one such keynote address this morning, Vivania Ditukana Tatawaqa of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and representing the major group for women, urged the Forum to pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Noting that the international community had the ability to reverse today’s profound climate, ecological and political crises, she said the Forum should be a space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level.  Stressing that the world was still far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were unwilling to address those barriers, she called for efforts to tackle the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices, and for countries to meet their various human rights and environmental obligations.

Keynote speaker Robert Johnson, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Pointing to the emergence of “dangerous discontents” resulting from the global economic system’s lack of sensitivity to people’s needs — especially in less-advanced economies — he said such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.  He also spotlighted several priority issues to be addressed going forward, including those related to gender inequality, the health of the world’s oceans and the production and pricing of new forms of energy.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, stressed in her keynote address that a holistic approach would be critical to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  While that agenda had created a new paradigm of development and a new theory of change, its current set of indicators — laid out in a framework adopted last week by the General Assembly — was still a work in progress.  Cautioning that many of the present indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, she also drew attention to several similar criticisms from non‑governmental organizations and other members of civil society.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report of the Secretary-General detailing progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We remain accountable to all people and to each other,” he told the Forum, noting that while nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million had still lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.  Among other challenges, gender inequality persisted worldwide and while maternal mortality had declined, that progress must be doubled to achieve the relevant global targets by 2030.  He also outlined some of the critical opportunities identified in the report, including building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation.

Participants also held two panel discussions today, addressing the themes, “implementation at the regional and subregional levels” and “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, respectively.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 July, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council, noted that the current session was the second since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the first since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 70/299, which had finalized the guidance on that Agenda’s follow-up and review.  It was also the first session of the High-Level Political Forum that would discuss in-depth a set of Sustainable Development Goals — namely, Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 — alongside Goal 17 on partnerships, which would be discussed every year.  In addition, the session’s theme, “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, was particularly pertinent as poverty remained “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” he said, underlining the importance of linking the planned presentations of 44 countries with the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature.  Each session on the Sustainable Development Goals would begin with a short statistical presentation leading to presentations by panellists on identifying challenges and progress and suggesting recommendations and possible solutions.  Keynote speakers would then discuss “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  The 2017 theme would be discussed through the lens of ways in which the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality were being addressed in countries in special situations.  Spotlighting the importance of the regional dimension, he said this morning’s panel discussion would enable the Forum to take that aspect into account in the rest of its deliberations.

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced a report of the Secretary-General entitled, “progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2017/66).  Noting that the 2030 Agenda recognized the international community’s common responsibility to address deprivations and ensure sustainable development for all, he stressed that “our aspirations touch all lives” and “we remain accountable to all people and to each other.”  The Forum provided the global platform to make that happen, he said, noting that an unprecedented number of stakeholders — some 2,400 — had registered to participate in the session and 44 countries planned to present their voluntary national reviews.

Outlining some of the main findings of the Secretary-General’s report — which reflected the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature by addressing, and then bridging, all the Goals under review — he drew attention to its basis in the new indicator framework adopted by the Statistical Commission in March, the Economic and Social Council in June and the General Assembly last week.  “I am struck by how far we have come and also how far we have left to go,” he said.  While nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million still had lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013, with many of the extreme poor were concentrated in regions where fragility, conflict and other challenges made interventions harder.  Many also lived in pockets of poverty in otherwise robust economies.

While maternal mortality had declined dramatically in recent years, he continued, achieving the relevant global targets by 2030 would require more than double the current rate of progress.  Gender inequality persisted worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities, and close to one fifth of women between 15 and 49 reporting having experienced some form of violence from a partner in the preceding 12 months.  Challenges still remained in protecting the world’s oceans, with a recent drop in global sea ice to the second‑lowest level in recorded history.  Noting that the impacts of those challenges were faced disproportionately by the poor — who often relied directly on the world’s natural resources — he went on to underscore the urgency of ending hunger and malnutrition, and ensuring universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.  Indeed, around 155 million children under the age of 5 were growth‑stunted and 11 per cent of the world’s population still suffered from hunger.

Identifying a number of critical opportunities, he highlighted the importance of building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation, pointing to a number of positive signals in global investment levels and the share of official development assistance (ODA) devoted to infrastructure.  Nevertheless, there were also signs that a stronger commitment to partnerships was needed, with ODA levels falling by more than 3 per cent from 2015 to 2016 in real terms.  “The evidence is clear and it shows us the direction we need to take,” he said, emphasizing that local, national, regional and global efforts must be better connected and stakeholders must avoid working in silos.  A stronger role was also needed for science, technologies and innovations that could help to accelerate progress.

Remarks by Major Groups and Stakeholders

VIVANIA DITUKANA TATAWAQA, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and major group for women, said that, as a young woman from the global South, she was speaking to the Forum at a time when the world faced profound climate, ecological and political crises, which the international community possessed the ability to address and end.  The Forum must pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Numerous public-private partnerships among Governments, organizations and societies were already building long-term solutions to those challenges.  Real strategies must be put in place and inadequate responses must be rejected.  The roles of multiple actors, including civil society, must be clearly and substantively reflected in the Ministerial Declaration, as well as in its implementation.  The Forum should be the space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level so that global solutions could be identified.  However, she feared that the Forum was failing in its mandate to provide space for accountability.  The major groups and other stakeholders’ consortium had worked for a higher standard for participation and accountability at every step of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The world was far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were still not willing to address existing structural barriers, she continued, calling for efforts to address the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices.  Policy coherence should also be pursued to move away from systems that prioritized corporate power above the well-being of people and the planet.  Developed countries must fulfil their financing for development commitments, and efforts must be made to ensure coherence between the 2030 Agenda and binding instruments, including on trade and human rights, to ensure that public interests were no co‑opted for corporate gain.  Governments must meet their human rights obligations in areas including health, housing, education, decent work and living wages, among others.  Stressing the importance of gender equality, she called for mainstreaming of gender issues across all policy plans.  Expressing concern that by 2030, it was estimated that there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans, she said the further exploitation of the ocean must end.  Leaders should not be speaking about sustainable development while rolling back progress on climate change.

Keynote Speakers

ROBERT JOHNSON, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, delivered a keynote address, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Capital markets were not “magical carriers of goodness”, but tools that reflected the desires of those with purchasing power — while Governments were not “magical entities”, but structures that needed to be informed by the desires of those they governed, he said, warning that today local governance was overwhelmed by global forces and lacked sensitivity to people’s needs.  Those “dangerous discontents” — in which the global system had not been designed to serve less-advanced economies — were now bringing dysfunction to those systems.  However, such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.

Outlining the benefits and drawbacks of various regional economic strategies, he described current efforts to set up a “Commission for Global Economic Transformation” aimed at addressing, among other things, challenges related to the production and pricing of new forms of energy.  Spotlighting the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, he warned that the “dreadful dysfunction” of gender discrimination and inequality could not be reversed simply by acknowledging it.  True healing, and particularly uncovering the anxieties of the perpetrators, was critical, he said, encouraging the Forum to make that issue one of its top priorities going forward.  On another urgent issue, Goal 14 on “Life Below Water”, he underlined the connection between the current devastation in the world’s oceans and poverty among its many coastal communities.

SAKIKO FUKUDA-PARR, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, cautioned that a holistic approach to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would be more effective than evaluating the implementation of the individual Goals.  Such analysis must be based on both quantitative and qualitative data, she said, pointing out that the new 2030 Agenda had created a new paradigm in development and a new theory of change.  What was particularly new was that the various development policies were integrated into a single agenda and that civil society, national Governments and the private sector played a critical role.  While the demand for data was very high, the indicator framework was still a work in progress.

Drawing attention to the 2030 Agenda’s priority on strengthening the capacity of data collection, she said not enough was being done in that respect, especially in developing countries.  Calling for more attention to national statistical agencies, in particular with regard to Tier 3 of the framework’s indicators, she also underlined the need to add disaggregation by ethnic groups, minorities, sex and other important factors.  She also noted that many of the current indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, pointing to a number of sharp criticisms from non‑governmental organizations in that regard.  Among other things, several such groups had expressed concern that the 2030 Agenda’s official monitoring and reporting arrangements omitted measurements of progress on some of its most ambitious propositions, as many of those were included in Tier 3.  Citing much discussion about “new data from new sources using new methodologies”, she said their usefulness remained an open question and could pose challenges to the accessibility, accountability and priority setting of national statistical agencies.

Panel I

Moderated by Mr. SHAVA, the first panel was titled “implementation at the regional and subregional levels”.  Panellists included Shamshad Aktar, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); and Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Adviser to the Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Opening the discussion, Mr. SHAVA noted that regionalism had been growing for decades and regional cooperation and integration had been increasingly playing critical roles in supporting sustainable development, including through South-South cooperation, peer learning and the sharing of experiences among countries in similar circumstances.  The regional commissions had been at the forefront of helping Member States, as well as regional and subregional organizations, articulate and align their efforts.  Their analytical work, capacity building and inclusive platforms were proving to be highly valuable.

Ms. AKTAR said that expectations for implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be realistic given that efforts towards implementation were on in their second year.  Nevertheless, work was already under way in the Asia and Pacific region as countries there pursued their sustainable development aims.  Available data varied considerably, with small island developing States and least developing countries struggling to collect representative data.  However, from the data that had been gathered, it was evident that there had been steady progress in implementing the Goals, although those efforts had fallen short in several critical areas.  Poverty rates had dropped in the region, yet 400 million people continued to suffer from income poverty.  In that context, she highlighted that more than half of the global poor were living in the Asia and Pacific region.  Trends towards gender equality were not as strong as desired due to low and declining women’s participation in the labour market, which she described as a lost opportunity.

Ms. BARCENA noted that there had been six pillars for action and cooperation agreed by the 33 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Nineteen of those countries had made political commitments towards intersectional high-level institutions and 14 countries from the region had agreed to provide voluntary national reviews as part of the Forum.  An inventory of national statistical capacities on the 17 Goals had been gathered in 26 countries, which indicated the need for some refinement and collection of supplemental information.  The Forum of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean had taken place for the first time in April, which included some 800 participants and nearly 290 civil society and private sector participants.  Progress on poverty reduction and inequality trends was threatened, while there had been steady but uneven progress on ending hunger.  She expressed worries about the lack of progress on gender equality, while also emphasizing that the threats to coastal areas were a persistent area of concern.

Mr. ALHAKIM, highlighting that his Commission served 18 countries in the Western Asia region, said that, despite their varied development levels, member countries were committed to an Arab region and looked to ESCWA’s substantive support and convening power to bring everyone around the same table to ensure that women, men and children were all progressing together.  However, that work was more difficult than ever due to the existing political and humanitarian crises that had pushed countries in the region to the breaking point.  To move forward on the Sustainable Development Goals, the region needed peace, political solutions and inclusive democratic structures.  However, it also needed sustainable development and could not use conflict as an excuse to do less.  Eradicating poverty required a regional methodology to measure and analyse both poverty and inequality, which was at the heart of the Commission’s mandate.  The Commission also focused much of its work on the factors that contributed to the region’s migration trends, while also aiming to address the depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment due to climate change.

Ms. ALGAYEROVA said that, thus far, initial efforts in the European region had focused on revising, adapting and implementing new policy frameworks for the achievement of the Goals.  Policy coherence was critical for implementing the 2030 Agenda due to its multisectoral nature and required aligning domestic and international actions.  Still, further efforts were still required, even in the most advanced countries.  Progress was often mixed within and between countries.  One area that required significant improvement and in which ECE was heavily involved was road safety.  Progress in curbing air pollution had increased life expectancy, an important advancement given air pollution’s large human and economic cost.  The Sustainable Development Goals represented an important opportunity for increased international cooperation.  Many of the Goals had transboundary implications, which highlighted the need for cooperative solutions.

Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that ECA’s work took into account the shared interests of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 across the African continent.  In 2016, economic growth in Africa had declined to 1.7 per cent.  High population growth required good planning, and in that context, she highlighted that Africa’s population was estimated to continue increasing by 2.6 per cent annually and was projected to almost double by 2050.  Poverty reduction and eliminating extreme hunger were key policy challenges with implications for the realization of the other Goals.  African countries were being urged to increase spending on agriculture, infrastructure and public administration.  Discussions on tax evasion must remain at the forefront, she urged, noting that African countries suffered from weakening public institutions and the depletion of resources.  The lack of data was another critical challenge, as was the timeliness of the acquisition of any existing data.

Asked by the moderator about the key drivers to achieving the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda, Mr. ALHAKIM stressed the need for a fundamental shift with regard to gender equality to support the wholesale change that would be required to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed out that the overall policy and regulatory frameworks should encourage behaviours that would support the achievement of the Goals, while also underscoring the roles of civil society and public-private partnerships.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that one of the key drivers for the successful implementation of the Goals would be evidence-based policy making and the management of resources, while Ms. BARCENA highlighted the need to end the “culture of privilege” in Latin America and the Caribbean, which included tax evasion and corruption.  Ms. AKTAR underlined the importance of the global economy, while also noting that Asia had become the principle collaborator of South-South collaboration and the need for importance of new funding revenues.

When asked by the moderator to assess the means of implementation for the development agenda, Ms. AKTAR noted the importance of statistics as a dimension of the 2030 Agenda and that tax, trade and investment all had a role to play.  Ms. BARCENA said that the Latin and Caribbean region was simply not growing fast enough and it continued to be plagued by tax evasion totalling some $340 million annually.  Mr. ALHAKIM said that technology and innovation were important elements of means for implementation in the Arab region, particularly in the absence of strong financing for development.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed to the role of the private sector, as well as the need to strengthen international cooperation to mobilize investment through which effective change would take place.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that, in Africa, the lack of infrastructure was not only hurting development, but was also an impediment to the achievement of the Goals.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, Oleg Pankratov, Vice-Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, delivered a statement on behalf of the Eurasian Economic Union, recalling that the 2030 Agenda, which united 193 Member States, was key to the United Nations agenda.  The 2030 Agenda was unique in that each Goal was linked to human development, based on the realization that the planet’s true wealth was its people.  In pursuing the future development agenda, leaders had agreed to pursue a historic opportunity to put in place environmental and social changes that would ensure peace and security.  The Eurasian Economic Union, which included five countries, had been active in implementing the Goals as part of their long-term development policies for 2030.  Its most recent report contained a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of development priorities in achieving the Goals.  He noted that the unemployment rate across the Eurasian Economic Union was lower than that of many developing countries at 5.7 per cent, while the gender imbalance was also being flattened.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that sustainable development was a key priority for countries in the region, which had sought to transform the vision of the 2030 Agenda into concrete projects.  In that regard, ASEAN member States appreciated partnerships with various parts of the United Nations system.  The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said those nations were committed to achieving sustainable development through proposals that included common solutions for the benefit of all peoples and leaving no one behind.  Adequate financial and non-financial resources would be critical, in that regard.

The representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed concern that the region suffered from persistent, low growth and the erosion of human development gains.  The countries of the region were being hindered by large amounts of debt and their classification as middle-income countries.  The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of South African Development Community (SADC), said that the African continent was unique in that it was pursing two development agendas simultaneously.  Continued and predictable funding was crucial for implementing those agendas.

The representative of the European Union said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change was an essential, complementary step forward.  He went on to note the importance of the recent adoption of the European Consensus on Development.  The representative of the League of Arab States said that the bloc had established the Arab Institution for Sustainable Development, which would work toward implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Also speaking were the representatives of Bhutan, Belarus and Mexico.

A speaker representing the major group for women also spoke.

Panel II

Moderated by Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, the second panel was titled “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world:  addressing multi-dimensions of poverty and inequalities”.  Panellists included Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford; Claudia Vasquez Marazzani, Director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; and Anthony Lake, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Laura Stachel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WeCareSolar, and Emem Omokaro, Executive Director of the Dave Omokaro Foundation and Secretary-General of the African Society for Ageing Research and Development, were lead discussants.

Mr. ALKIRE, emphasizing that numbers could motivate action and ignite policies, explained that multidimensional poverty indices took a set of poverty-related indicators and linked them together to provide one headline figure that could, in turn, be unpacked to inform policy.  Creating such indices involved first defining the indicators of poverty, going door to door to see which deprivations each household was experiencing, and creating a deprivation score for each person.  Several countries had developed multidimensional poverty indices, she said, adding that comparable measures could be created to compare across countries.  While such indices were not a silver-bullet solution for ending poverty, such numbers could move the world and Governments had found they could be useful tools for governance and accountability.

Ms. VASQUEZ MAAZZANI said her country was unusual in that it was transitioning from a “trap of violence” into a peace process that would hopefully create the conditions necessary to address poverty.  With support from the University of Oxford, it had introduced a multidimensional policy index with the aim of demonstrating which factors needed to be taken into consideration to improve decision-making at a public policy level.  One lesson drawn from the index was that poverty eradication required not just resources, but also education, health care, employment, housing and access to public services.  The index also made it possible to better focus on needs at the territorial level, reducing urban-rural disparities and enabling sectors and institutions to work in greater harmony.

Mr. LAKE said addressing poverty and inequalities required more than narrowing income disparities.  It was also necessary to tackle the drivers.  Poverty was disproportionately about children, which comprised one third of the world’s population, but half of all multidimensionally poor people.  Defeating poverty in the next generation depended on giving children a fair chance today.  Reaching them required a deeper understanding on who was being affected and how.  Better data and a renewed focus on equity were needed.  The wealth of data being generated had a real potential to change how programmes were designed and delivered at national and community levels.  On equity, he said investing in the most disadvantaged children yielded the greatest results, as demonstrated in a new UNICEF study of 51 countries who were using such an approach.  The study, “Narrowing the Gaps:  the power of investing in the poorest children”, found that more lives were saved than by equivalent investments that did not reach the most disadvantaged groups.  A commitment to equity and detailed, disaggregated data offered the surest route to making the promise of the 2030 Agenda a reality for succeeding generations.

Ms. STACHEL, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, emphasizing the connection between maternal mortality and poverty, said reliable electricity supply was a largely overlooked aspect of health care.  In response to that problem, her organization promoted a compact and rugged solar electricity unit that could fit into a suitcase, enabling medical procedures after dark.  Such units had so far reached more than 2,000 health facilities in Africa, as well as Nepal and the Philippines.  However, she said, getting national data on health centres most in need of electricity was difficult.

Dr. OMOKARO, a gerontologist, said economic growth would be inconsistent with poverty reduction unless the poor participated in growth processes and shared in prosperity.  Policies that were not based on human rights or which did not recognize a citizen’s intrinsic worth could not enable the poor to be participants.  Aggravating the situation were restrictions on such bases as gender or age.  She hoped that every Member State would adopt multidimensional poverty indices in the knowledge that everyone was worthy of the outcomes of development.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, speakers raised a range of issues and concerns.  Some provided examples of national poverty-eradication programmes.

The representative of Kenya asked about ways to enable the poor to participate in their own development, as well as the importance of determining which of the Goals would have the greatest community impact.

The representative of China emphasized the need for a systematic approach to poverty reduction.  He said his country had, through many years of practice, come up with poverty-reduction approaches with Chinese characteristics.  Given current trends, he added, all of rural China would be out of poverty by 2020.

The representative of Finland, recalling how poor her country had been in the 1940s, emphasized the significance of a universal social policy in overcoming poverty.  As the world was changing, policy must change, she said, underscoring Finland’s introduction this year of a national universal income pilot scheme that including previously unrecognized forms of work, such as unpaid care work.  She added that poverty eradication could not be accomplished without changes that ensured equal outcomes for women.

ADRIAN MARIUS RÂNDUNICĂ, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, described a national multi-pronged approach that included a poverty-eradication strategy identifying and targeting 18 vulnerable groups and a gender equality plan aimed at ensuring women’s participation in decision-making in political, economic and public life.  In addition, an employment plan focused on leaving no one behind in efforts to reduce joblessness, while a strategy on caring for elderly persons included adopting specific policies and integrating all long-term services.

Responding to questions from the floor, Ms. VASQUEZ MARRAZANI said that by law, poverty-eradication programmes in Colombia were constantly measured over time.  Social programmes meanwhile featured various participation and consultation mechanisms that made tailor-made measures possible.

LAWRENCE CHANDY, Director, Data, Research and Policy at UNICEF, taking Mr. Lake’s place on the panel, underscored that under the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty measures were meant to be country-defined.  Such an approach recognized that poverty was different in different places, while, at the same time, creating an opening for the poor and youth to participate.  Leaving no one behind was not just about identifying those living in poverty, but also ensuring that their deprivations were identified and addressed in the first place, he said.

Ms. ALKIRE referred to experiences in several countries, including Chile, the first high-income country to release a multidimensional poverty index.  In highly developed countries such indices gave visibility to issues not necessarily seen through monetary-based yardsticks.  With regard to China, she said that country’s systematic approach included connecting every poor family with a civil servant.

The representative of Azerbaijan referred to his country’s active labour market programmes, which gave its poor an opportunity to earn money.  Those programmes reduced poverty and unemployment in a long-term and sustainable way while, in the process, lifting people out of the poverty trap.

The representative of Indonesia said the pace of progress against poverty in her country had flattened.  To break the cycle of multidimensional poverty, its Government was emphasizing such sectors as education, infrastructure development and creating new economic opportunities, including support for entrepreneurship.  She also underscored the important role of international cooperation.

The representative of Sierra Leone recalled the adage that “what gets measured, gets done”, adding that what got measured appropriately got done most efficiently.

The representative of the major group for working people and trade unions said poverty eradication could not be addressed without taking up the question of low wages.

Also taking the floor were representatives of Kenya, China, Finland, Chile, Argentina, Comoros, India, Sudan, Mali, Romania, Azerbaijan, Norway and Sierra Leone, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also spoke.

Speakers representing the major group for women, persons with disabilities, children and youth, and non-governmental organizations also spoke.

Read More

Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development

South Africa’s National Assembly recently passed a bill to set up a new border management agency. The Border Management Authority will fall under Home Affairs, a government department long distinguished by its lack of respect for immigrant and refugee rights. But there are other, deeper causes for concern.

Whereas previously, police and customs officers were under strict (if not always effective) civilian oversight, this new agency will be able to circumvent constitutional constraints. Broader changes to immigration and asylum policies are also in the works, such as a “risk-based” vetting system that could be used to justify barring most people from entering the country overland. Bolstering these efforts are plans to detain asylum seekers at processing centres dotted along the border. 

South Africa’s new border management strategy has equivalents across the continent that likely do little to prevent smuggling and human trafficking or to stop terrorism – the justifications often used for such securitisation. Instead, they help reinforce authoritarian leadership and undermine regional governance initiatives. In the longer term, they are likely to impact development.

Free movement – within countries or to neighbouring areas – is central to people finding work and surviving in these precarious times. Constraints on such movement, whatever the source, are fundamentally anti-poor and anti-freedom. They treat migrants as suspected criminals, rather than as people legitimately seeking protection or employment. Many of these policies are being implemented with aid from the European Union and strong domestic support. Countries like Eritrea already maintain a repressive “exit visa” system while Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan are all planning enhanced border management strategies, including bio-metric tracking and militarisation.

Containment era

Militarising the margins has become an integral plank in the continent’s new approach to “migration management”. Following the Valletta Summit in late 2015, the EU created a trust fund that is funnelling billions of euros of development aid through bilateral arrangements with African states, including those with appalling human rights records, such as Sudan and Eritrea. Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home. 

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), already has a working protocol, it has been compromised by fears of terrorism and EU-funded programmes to deter migration through the region. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), proposals modelled on the ECOWAS framework are now less likely to move forward. This domesticates politics in ways that weaken the regional governance mechanisms needed to address collective development concerns and negotiate more favourable global trade positions. In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

Growth industry

What is perhaps most worrying is how emergent border management approaches are likely to extend and proliferate beyond borders. Efforts promoted by the EU, with complicity from many African leaders, effectively seek to limit movement and freedom across and within countries. Europe fears that any movement – typically towards cities – will beget further moves, some of which will be towards the European motherland.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain.

(TOP PHOTO: South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Guy Oliver/IRIN)

ll-ck/ks/ag

Read More

Answer – 'Goat economy' in Mugabe's Zimbabwe – E-002899/2017

Since the lifting of the appropriate measures in November 2014, the EU and its Member States have agreed on a gradual and cautious reengagement with Zimbabwe. The EU’s objective in Zimbabwe is the full normalisation of relations with the country and to support the Zimbabwean people’s aspirations on the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability, prosperity and sustainable development.

To that end, development aid under the bilateral envelope of the 11th European Development Fund focuses on three main areas: health, agriculture-based economic development and good governance and institutional building. All EU programmes follow the standard EU procurements procedures, subject to audit.

Read More

Answer – 'Goat economy' in Mugabe's Zimbabwe – E-002899/2017

Since the lifting of the appropriate measures in November 2014, the EU and its Member States have agreed on a gradual and cautious reengagement with Zimbabwe. The EU’s objective in Zimbabwe is the full normalisation of relations with the country and to support the Zimbabwean people’s aspirations on the consolidation of democracy, peace and stability, prosperity and sustainable development.

To that end, development aid under the bilateral envelope of the 11th European Development Fund focuses on three main areas: health, agriculture-based economic development and good governance and institutional building. All EU programmes follow the standard EU procurements procedures, subject to audit.

Read More

Sahel Deterioration Due Partly to Lack of Development, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Economic and Social Council, Peacebuilding Commission

Despite numerous strategies to improve security, governance and development, the situation in the Sahel remained fragile, speakers in a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council and Peacebuilding Commission agreed today, amid calls for Governments and international partners to improve coherence on the ground by matching short-term objectives with a longer term vision for the region.

Opening the session, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said deterioration in the Sahel stemmed in part from the lack of development, good governance, and respect for human rights.  While Mali was at the centre of Islamist violence, other countries had experienced attacks from across the border.  Niger faced a triple threat from Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), along with spillover effects from the Libyan conflict.

Those and other groups were competing for ungoverned spaces, she said, and vigilantism was replacing legitimate authority.  Thirty million people in the Sahel struggled daily with food insecurity.  One in five children suffered from acute malnutrition, while more than 5 million people faced displacement and required protection.  That confluence had spurred a deadly flow of migration through the desert towards the Mediterranean and beyond.

She said reversing those conditions required regional and international cooperation, along with renewed efforts to close the gap between humanitarian needs and development imperatives.  Governments must link short-term objectives in pursuit of a long-term vision, with efforts to address root causes coordinated with the United Nations Development Group and the resident coordinators in Sahel countries.

She also expressed support for consistent efforts to reassert State authority, cautioning against a disproportionate emphasis on security.  Any approach must be based on increased financing by Governments and partners alike, while full use must be made of the Ministerial Coordination Platform for Sahel Strategies.  “We have set in motion reforms to enable faster, more effective, inclusive and sustainable action,” she said, stressing that improved partnership between the Council and the Commission was part of that approach.

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said today’s meeting built on last year’s joint meeting on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace.  “We need to make sustaining peace part of the coordinated approach for implementing the 2030 Agenda”, he said.  Against that backdrop, the Council had joined forces with the Commission to focus on the situation in the Sahel, which remained fragile.  “This is a region with complex and multidimensional challenges” he said, ranging from socioeconomic inequalities, to climate change, to a lack of jobs.

He said today’s meeting would take stock of strategies for the region, and offer ideas about long-term stability and development, especially in taking a cross-border approach to building resilience.  It would explore how to coordinate strategies and plans to achieve results on the ground.

Cho Tae-yul (Republic of Korea), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that body had responded to the 20 January Security Council presidential statement encouraging it to assist the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in implementing the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the region.  The Commission had convened a meeting on 6 March, where participants welcomed such a role.

Further, he had attended the 14 June Ministerial Coordination Platform meeting in N'Djamena, where the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the African Union High Representative and the European Union Special Envoy had reviewed progress since the launch of the Strategy in 2013.  Participants reiterated their commitment to maintaining the Platform as the political coordination framework to address transnational challenges.  They also welcomed efforts to expand it to include thematic groups focused on security, resilience and governance.

In the ensuing panel discussion, Mohammed ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said that while the idea of a multidimensional approach was as valid today as in 2013, the complexity of the Sahel required a flexible response.  Marginalization and radicalization, as well as human, drug and arms trafficking existed alongside demand for employment and education access.  Success depended on collaboration in conflict prevention, prompt humanitarian intervention, early recovery and peacebuilding efforts that built on locally defined solutions.

Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said fragility in the Sahel had a number of causes, stemming from deficiencies in resilience, governance and investment, especially in agriculture and youth employment.  Many of the 17 strategies to address them were reactionary:  partial, short-term responses that covered limited territory.

It was important to have a vision of the future, which defined nature and scope of public and private investment, he said.  Creating that vision should include border communities.  The United Nations Integrated Strategy could be streamlined to serve as a framework for unifying initiatives around the region.  As border issues had been the “Achilles heel” of many strategies, building security required making the borders a link, not a barrier.  The 2016 Bamako Declaration on border management was a strategic frame of reference that would allow for organizing a response.

Speakers from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, joined delegates in posing questions to panellists, outlining both critical challenges and efforts to address them.  Mali’s delegate said G-5 Sahel countries sought to empower local communities to manage their own affairs and requested international support for those choices.  “We need resources,” he said, which must target their priorities.  Chad’s delegate, meanwhile, said the 14 June Ministerial Platform meeting highlighted the need for initiatives based on recommendations made at that meeting, the most important of which was communication of the actions already under way.

Mauritania’s delegate cautioned against making the Sahel a “laboratory” for different concepts.   He advocated support for “integrationist thinking” among regional countries, as an “ideology of dehumanization” was gaining ground.  Respect for State sovereignty was also essential in ensuring that what was done was actually viable.

Panel

The joint meeting then heard presentations by Mohammed ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mr. CHAMBAS, speaking via video link, said the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) defined three strategic goals for tackling security challenges:  enhancing inclusive and effective governance, strengthening national and regional security mechanisms, and integrating humanitarian and development plans in order to build resilience.  Those areas were considered complementary and offered an integrated response to the multiple challenges in the Sahel.

Yet, he said, “a lot has changed and the situation has evolved since the strategic approach of 2013”, citing political and security developments, institutional changes in the United Nations field presence, and a growing number of partnerships and programmes.  While the idea of a multidimensional approach was as valid today as it was in 2013, the complexity of the Sahel required a flexible response, as challenges existed in different contexts.  Marginalization and radicalization existed, as well as human, drug and arms trafficking alongside demand for employment and education access.  Success depended on collaboration in conflict prevention, prompt humanitarian intervention, early recovery and peacebuilding efforts that built on locally defined solutions.

He underscored the need to redefine “the how” and address any duplication of efforts, pointing to a document titled “elements of an action plan for the UNISS” adopted during the Strategy’s steering committee meeting on 23 June, and which just today, he had sent to the Department of Political Affairs for transmission to the Deputy Secretary-General.  It outlined a clear division of labour for United Nations actors to separate coordination and advocacy functions from implementation of the Strategy’s programmes.

As the Sahel hosted 17 bilateral and multilateral strategies, which had grown difficult for countries, “we are compelled to have coordinated regional approaches to tackle security, governance, resilience and development challenges”, he said.  He underscored the need to focus on common objectives and consider the role of Sahelian countries, regional institutions and international actors.  An overemphasis on security or humanitarian response must be avoided, as that would only tackle the effects of the crisis, rather than its roots.

Mr. DIEYE said the fragile situation had a number of different causes, all of which were “well known and overstudied”.  They stemmed from deficiencies in resilience, governance and investment, especially in agriculture and youth employment.  There was also an enormous security challenge, stemming from trafficking, transnational crime, unregulated migration, identity issues, the war in Libya and emergence of extremist groups, along with the fact the Sahel linked the Atlantic with the Red Sea, and had enormous mining and energy resources.  Many of the 17 responses were reactionary in nature.  They were partial, short-term, and covered limited territory.  They were not coordinated and carried high transactional costs.  “Their aggregated effect is thus quite limited,” he said.

It was possible, however to build a Sahel that was not a prisoner to fatalism, he said, noting that such efforts would require a structural response.  First, it was important to have a vision of the future, which defined nature and scope of public and private investment.  Creating that vision should not be left to States alone; participation, especially by border communities, was appropriate.  The second imperative was the need to coordinate actions in the Sahel.  The United Nations Strategy could be streamlined to serve as a framework for unifying initiatives around the region.  Structures including the Lake Chad Basin Commission must be strengthened.  The third imperative related to optimal management of border regions, as border issues had been the “Achilles heel” of many strategies.  In a region of boundaries that often were artificial, building security required making the borders a link, not a barrier.  The 2016 Bamako Declaration on border management was a strategic frame of reference that would allow for organizing a response.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, joined delegates in outlining the critical challenges and efforts to address them.  The representative of the World Bank said that, as of this month, the financial institution will have delivered on the $1.5 billion commitment made by its President in 2013 while on a visit to the region.  A further $1 billion from the International Development Association would start 1 July and focus on irrigation, solar power and a Lake Chad initiative.  The Bank viewed the drivers of fragility as unequal benefit-sharing, demography, climate risk, the spread of extremist ideology and the trafficking of drugs, people, weapons and finance.  The speaker from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meanwhile, said 13.7 million people in the region were severely food insecure, the most vulnerable of whom were in urgent need of food and livelihood assistance.  FAO was working with the World Food Programme (WFP) to improve resilience, especially in the Lake Chad Basin, where they provided humanitarian and livelihood assistance.

The representative of Mexico said the presentations made today reflected the inconsistencies and lack of coherence of the United Nations system and Member States alike.  There was clarity around the problems.  “It seems like the formulas we have get lost on route to implementation on the ground,” he said.  He asked what was happening, questioning whether the Organization was fragmented or if agencies were competing with one another.

The representative of Mali expressed concern over the security situation, which had worsened with the rise of terrorist groups and traffickers.  As the impact of both factors transcended individual countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad had formed the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel), which aimed to re-establish security and promote development.  Noting that the Security Council had recently endorsed the creation of a regional force to improve security, he said “we won’t be able to guarantee development for our populations until we’ve emphasized security,” stressing that the Group had also launched transport, farming and energy projects.  On the issue of governance, he said G-5 Sahel countries sought to empower local communities to manage their own affairs and he requested international support for those choices.  “We need resources,” he said, which must target their priorities.

The representative of Senegal, recalling a 2017 Security Council presidential statement, said “we have to recognize that poverty affects a very high proportion of the population”, in a region with limited economic prospects and faced with the impacts of climate change.  The positive trend of reinforced cooperation must be welcomed.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had become a platform for dialogue and he recalled the objective of promoting peaceful, inclusive societies.  Regional approaches were essential to sustaining peace in the region, he said, given the cross-cutting nature of the challenges ahead.

The representative of Indonesia registered his disapproval with how the term “jihadism” had been related with terrorism and violent extremism in the joint meeting’s concept note.  Jihad had no relation to terrorism and must not inadvertently validate such an understanding of it.  He supported the African Peace and Security Architecture 2016-2020 Roadmap for the peace and security architecture, calling for greater support for Strategy’s goals of governance, security and resilience, which must be adequately financed.

The representative of Norway, stressing that stability and development in the Sahel was important for her own region, said her State had increased political dialogue, as well as its contributions to humanitarian action and to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  “We must use our resources more strategically,” she said, linking long-term investments with humanitarian action.  In addition to health and education initiatives, she advocated mobilizing the private sector to create jobs.

The representative of Japan advocated a holistic approach to the Sahel, stressing that, as focal point for institution-building in the Peacebuilding Commission, his delegation had held a meeting earlier today on cross-border issues in the Sahel.  Participants had advocated greater partnerships and expanded support for cross-border projects, stressing that international assistance should support national and regional strategies.

The representative of Chad, noting that his country was recently declared eligible for peacebuilding funds, said such resources would help build national cohesion.  Chad was an integral part of the Sahel situation and he supported tackling deep-rooted security problems with a regional approach.  There were various plans and strategies under way, all of them requiring effective coordination.  The 14 June meeting of the Ministerial Platform in N'Djamena, attended by the Peacebuilding Commission, highlighted the need for initiatives based on recommendations made at that meeting, the most important of which was communication of the actions already under way.  “What is missing is a certain prioritization of actions,” he said, expressing support for the creation of a mechanism to promote coordination.

The representative of the United States advocated the whole-of-system perspective, stressing that breaking down institutional siloes was essential to meet the needs of countries in conflict or transition.  He expressed strong support for countries in the region to foster stability and enhance economic opportunities.  The situation in the Sahel had been over-strategized and over-studied by the United Nations and efforts should focus on deploying funds towards existing strategies and frameworks.

The representative of Cameroon said that many doctors had come to the bedside, yet the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin were still “very ill”.  Questions centred on whether the treatments were correct, whether those treatments had been administered in a timely manner, and whether the dosage was the right amount.  For some issues, the timing and dosage were off.

The representative of Mauritania said the relevant diagnoses had been made.  “We now just have to find the ways and means to guarantee peace and development in the Sahel,” he said, underscoring the need for both investment and an integrated United Nations strategy for development, which promoted initiatives from national communities and stakeholders.   He advocated support for “integrationist thinking” among regional countries, including through partnerships with national communities, especially as an “ideology of dehumanization” was gaining ground.  “Let’s avoid making the Sahel a laboratory for different concepts,” he said.  “We’re talking about peace and sustainable development,” for which there was much potential.  Respect for State sovereignty was also essential in ensuring that what was done was actually viable.

Also speaking today were representatives of Brazil, Russian Federation, Egypt, Chile, France, China and Australia.

Read More

General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Text Creating United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office; Elects 18 Members to Economic and Social Council

President Hails Action as New Secretary-General’s First Major Institutional Reform

In what its President called the first major institutional reform presented by Secretary-General António Guterres, the General Assembly unanimously decided today to establish the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, while also electing 18 members to the Economic and Social Council.

Introducing the Counter-terrorism text (document A/71/L.66), Assembly President Peter Thompson (Fiji) said “This resolution will enhance the United Nations capability to assist Member States in implementing the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism strategy across its four pillars by ensuring greater coordination and coherence across the UN system.”

Through the resolution, the Assembly welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to transfer into the new Office the current Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, together with their existing staff and all associated regular and extra-budgetary resources, out of the Department of Political Affairs of the Secretariat.  The Assembly emphasized the need to ensure that the new Office, to be headed by an Under-Secretary-General, was provided with adequate resources for the implementation of its mandated activities.

Speaking in explanation of position, several speakers representing major groups took the floor to welcome the adoption, called for the text’s swift implementation and adequate resourcing, and stressed the need to focus on preventing violent extremism.  They also emphasized the importance of ensuring strong leadership in the form of an Under Secretary-General who had experience in a range of areas and was able to foster a balanced approach that included human rights, gender equality and development.

In similar vein, Michael Grant (Canada), speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the action had come after years of efforts by those countries to improve the counter-terrorism architecture.  He praised the Assembly for creating a greater focus on prevention.

On behalf of the MIKTA countries, comprising Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia, Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu (Turkey) stressed the importance of timely, adequate and effective delivery of counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to Member States upon their request, while underlining that the new Office would have no competence to monitor, supervise or interfere with Member States to implement the Global Strategy and the rest of the international legal framework against terrorism.

Stressing the need for a strong and efficient United Nations that drove all pillars of the counter-terrorism and extremism-prevention strategies and extensive coordination of all actors, the European Union’s representative emphasized that the bloc would closely coordinate with the Office once it was established.

Representatives of Syria, Norway, India, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia also welcomed the adoption of the resolution while emphasizing a need for effectiveness, coherence and adherence to all United Nations principles.  Syria’s representative called the establishment of the Office “a quantum leap” in the fight against terrorism, which he claimed was funded in his country by some Member States, including Saudi Arabia.  The Office must avoid politicization and financial polarization, he stressed.

India’s representative said the creation of the Office was a much-awaited first step to align the United Nations with the ever-changing global reality.  Terrorist networks, he stressed, were not bound by the bureaucratic inertia that bound the United Nations.  They used modern platforms, cyberspace and social media, and existed in a parallel world of hidden transnational networks.

Norway’s delegate, concurring that the Office would enable the Organization to implement all four pillars of the global counter-terrorism strategy in a more cohesive way, stressed that key qualifications of the Under-Secretary-General should be experience in development, as well as security, and an ability to work with a range of stakeholders.

While also welcoming the new Office, Iran’s representative said, however, that further work was needed to improve the efficiency, transparency, and impartiality of United Nations counter-terrorism efforts.  Without the provision of adequate financial resources, he noted with concern that most positions in the new Office would be funded by voluntary contributions, possibly affecting impartiality.

Citing a recent proliferation of horrific terrorist attacks worldwide, Israel’s representative stressed the urgency of measures to strengthen the fight against that scourge, adding that United Nations efforts would only succeed if the issue was not politicized and the entire international community was united in genuine commitment.

Saudi Arabia’s delegate meanwhile said he looked forward to a smooth transfer of resources devoted to counter-terrorism in the new arrangement.  He reiterated that terrorism could not be associated with any religion or ethnicity, and rejected any suggestion by Syria’s delegate that his country supported terrorism, calling on it to end its own terrorist support in the form of ties to Hizbullah.  Thanking Iran’s representative for his comments, he assured him that transparency and all United Nations principles would be respected in relation to the counter-terrorism centre.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, Syria’s representative called on Saudi Arabia to allow the Syrian people to exercise their rights, end interference in its domestic affairs and stop financing terrorist groups.  Syria would, in the meantime, continue to combat Wahhabi ideology.

Regarding the elections to fill vacancies on the Economic and Social Council — held by secret ballot — the successful candidates included Belarus, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Turkey and Uruguay.  They will hold three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2018.

The 18 outgoing members were:  Argentina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, India, Ireland, Japan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

The new members were elected according to the following pattern:  five from African States; three from the Asia-Pacific States; one from the Eastern European States; four from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and five from the Western European and Other States.

As of 1 January 2018, the remaining States making up the 54-member body will be:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Guyana, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and Viet Nam.  That includes three members elected earlier to fill the unexpired terms of office for Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Sweden.

The Assembly will reconvene at a date to be decided.

Voting Results

African States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

0

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

126

Number of Votes Obtained

Malawi

184

Togo

184

Ghana

183

Morocco

177

Sudan

175

Tunisia

1

Zambia

1

Asia-Pacific States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

0

Number of members voting:

188

Majority required:

126

Number of votes obtained

Japan

185

India

183

Philippines

182

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

1

Pakistan

1

Eastern European States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

3

Number of members voting:

185

Majority required:

124

Number of votes obtained

Belarus

182

Estonia

1

Montenegro

1

Ukraine

1

Latin America and Caribbean States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

1

Number of members voting:

187

Majority required:

125

Number of votes obtained

Ecuador

182

Mexico

182

El Salvador

181

Uruguay

180

Cuba

2

Western European and Other States

Number of ballots:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid votes:

188

Number of abstentions:

3

Number of members voting:

185

Majority required:

124

Number of votes obtained

Germany

182

Spain

181

Ireland

180

Turkey

179

France

177

Israel

1

Liechtenstein

1

Switzerland

1

Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, the following 18 States were elected members of the Economic and Social Council for a three‑year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Japan, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Philippines, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Turkey and Uruguay.

Read More

Subcribe to my feed Follow on Twitter Like On Facebook Pinterest

Search News

Calendar

March 2019
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Advertisement

Archives