DESA News

Volume 15, No.1 - January 2011

Trends and analysis


Indigenous peoples’ rights to forests

International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Forests will be held in New York from 12-14 January

Forests account for 30 percent, or 3.2 billion hectares, of the earth’s land area and are the traditional territories for many indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples living in forests possess clearly defined rights to land and natural resources, including communal ownership of their ancestral lands. They manage the natural resources on their territories, exercise their customary laws, and represent themselves through their own institutions.

However, these rights are often denied by development and conservation schemes. Indigenous peoples suffer disproportionately from large-scale development and conservation projects and are often forced to relocate, while their rights to compensation are often denied or overlooked. These actions very often result in serious consequences for indigenous peoples.

In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests and invited Governments, the United Nations system, relevant non-governmental organizations, the private sector and other actors to make concerted efforts to raise awareness at all levels to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

Sustainable forest management is seen to contribute extensively to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals with respect to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. It is also seen to contribute towards the global effort to fight climate change and combat desertification and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, along with numerous other benefits for the betterment of the livelihoods of people.

For indigenous peoples, the International Year of Forests has the potential to have a central voice in the global debate on forests, as well as find a way forward to the often contentious interactions that occur between indigenous peoples, States, commercial and corporate forest interests.

At its ninth session, the Permanent Forum decided to hold an Expert Group Meeting, coinciding with the International Year of Forests. At its regular session on 22 July 2010, the Economic and Social Council approved the Permanent Forum’s recommendation in decision 2010/248.

The meeting will include indigenous experts from the seven Permanent Forum regions as well as Permanent Forum members, States, UN Agencies, Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations and academics. The findings of this Expert Group Meeting will be presented to the Tenth Session of the Permanent Forum in May 2011.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/workshops.html

Dealing with discrepancies and gaps of MDG data

Workshop on MDG Monitoring for Countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from 31 January – 3 February

The workshop, which is organized by DESA’s Statistics Division in collaboration with ECLAC, will bring together representatives from national statistical offices, line ministries and international agencies, to review recommendations for reporting of MDG data and to establish strategies for dealing with data discrepancies and data gaps at the national and international level; particularly for poverty, labor and health related MDG indicators.

In addition, the workshop will provide participants with skills needed to improve the production and dissemination of MDG indicators, and aims at explaining data differences between national and international figures.

For more information: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/newsletter/globalstat_unsd_calendar.htm

Advance international public policy issues for the Internet

Open consultations on enhanced cooperation on international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet took place in New York on 14 December

On 14 December 2010, Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, convened a face-to-face consultation with Governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector on the process towards enhanced cooperation on Internet-related public policy issues in response to ECOSOC resolution 2010/2. Participants were invited to reflect, above all, what international public policy issues are not being adequately addressed by current mechanisms and what specific processes should be pursued to enhanced cooperation in these areas.

While the range of issues continues to reflect the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society in broad terms, opinions are divided on how to pursue cooperation in different areas. Suggestions range from discussion within existing institutional frameworks to the creation of a new international Internet organization. Speakers included representatives from 14 Governments, 3 international organizations, 8 civil society organizations, and 5 from the private sector. DESA Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) also received written contributions from 7 Governments, 7 international organizations, 28 civil society organizations, and 9 from the private sector.

DPADM will continue to collect written inputs from accredited entities through 31 December 2010. All inputs, both written and oral, will be synthesized by the Secretary-General and submitted as a report to the United Nations General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council next year, which will be prepared by DPADM.

For more information: http://www.unpan.org/dpadm/wsisfollowup/

http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2010/12/special-event-consultations-on-enhanced-cooperation-of-international-public-policy-issues-pertaining-to-the-internet-am.html

Accountability, auditing and citizens’ engagement for development

International seminar on Strengthening External Public Auditing in the ASOSAI Region was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 13-18 December

The Development Management Branch (DMB) of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) represented DESA in the international seminar on “Strengthening External Public Auditing” in the Asian Organization for Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) Region. The seminar was hosted by the Board of Auditing and Inspection (BAI) and was attended by the Asian members of the International Association of Supreme Auditing Institutions (INTOSAI). Mr. Roberto Villarreal, Chief of Branch (DMB), delivered a keynote presentation in the seminar on the topic of Accountability, Auditing and Citizens’ Engagement: Public Policy Issues to Enhance Development.

BAI has hosted seminars on various issues for the ASOSAI member Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) every three years since 1983 with a view to enhancing audit capacity of member SAIs. This year, the BAI seminar functioned as a regional follow-up to the INTOSAI Conference on Strengthening External Public Auditing in INTOSAI Regions held in Vienna, Austria from 26-27 May, 2010, in which Dr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant-Secretary-General of DESA delivered a keynote presentation on “the Importance of Independent SAIs for the Implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals.”

Attended by high-ranking officials of the ASOSAI member SAIs, the seminar involved a series of discussion sessions where participants delivered presentations on their respective countries’ level of independence. Several expert lectures were also delivered by eminent audit experts, such as current and/or former heads of SAIs, and the INTOSAI Secretariat officials.

Preventing and combating corruption in the public service

First Intersessional Meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption was held in Vienna from 13 to 15 December

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) represented DESA in this high-level event, which was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The meeting was attended by over 100 national delegations for a total of approximately 500 delegates, including representatives from the World Bank, UNDP, OECD and others.

Following a new United Nations Public Service Awards category on “Preventing and Combating Corruption in the Public Service”, jointly established by DPADM and UNODC, the Division was invited to make a presentation about the Awards programme and innovative practices in governance. During the same session, UNODC presented a background paper entitled “Good practices in the prevention of corruption and regulation models in the public sector”, highlighting, among others, the work carried out by DPADM “on the nexus between corruption, poor administration and mismanagement”. Particular emphasis was given to the United Nations Public Service Awards, analytical studies, compilations of laws and practices, the Charter for the Public Service in Africa and the Ibero-American Charter for the Public Service. DPADM was also invited to make a presentation on the role of e-procurement and citizen engagement in the fight against corruption.

The Working Group is to adopt a report on its meeting, which is expected to contain recommendations for consideration and action by the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption at its fourth session. The Working Group was established by the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption to advise and assist the Conference in the implementation of its mandate on the prevention of corruption.

The Conference also decided that the working group will:(a) Assist the Conference in developing and accumulating knowledge in the area of prevention of corruption; (b) Facilitate the exchange of information and experience among States on preventive measures and practices; (c) Facilitate the collection, dissemination and promotion of best practices in corruption prevention; (d) Assist the Conference in encouraging cooperation among all stakeholders and sectors of society in order to prevent corruption.

For more information:

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/working-group4.html , http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/2010/December/new-united-nations-public-service-award-category-on-corruption.html?ref=fs6 , http://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/WorkingGroups/workinggroup4/2010-December-13-15/V1056726e.pdf

Examining current trends in e-governance programmes

Expert Group Meeting on the United Nations e-Government Survey 2012: Towards a More Citizen-Centric Approach was held in New York from 6-7 December

A comprehensive revision of the United Nations e-Government Survey questionnaire was undertaken and new indicators were proposed at an EGM organized by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) to review and examine the Survey’s methodology in response to current trends in e-government programmes. A group of e-government experts from academia and research institutes participated in the EGM. The discussions mainly focused on six proposed initiatives: i) user take-up and training of the public service delivery through ICT tools; ii) accessibility of Internet or mobile connectivity to all; iii) accessibility of e-services to vulnerable groups; iv) citizen engagement in e-service delivery; iv) Whole-of-Government and one-stop service provision; and vi) information services on environment related issues.

Mr. Nikhil Chandavarkar, Chief of the Communication and Outreach Branch, represented the Division of Sustainable Development at the EGM, particularly contributing to initiative vi mentioned above. This exercise also helped address the contribution DPADM will provide to the Rio+20 Conference. A set of suggestions for consideration on the upgrading of the United Nations e-Government Survey methodology and questionnaire has been developed as a result of the EGM, which will be used as a reference for the preparation for the forthcoming e-Government Survey.

For more information: http://www.unpan.org/Events/BrowseEventsbyCalendar/tabid/94/mctl/EventDetails/
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Strengthening the use of ICT to achieve the MDGs

2010 GAID Global Forum and Annual Meeting took place on 5-6 December in Abu Dhabi

The Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) held its 5th annual Global Forum – “Information and Communication Technologies for achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Moving from Advocacy to Action” at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu-Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Forum convened relevant stakeholders for an action-oriented dialogue on emerging issues and challenges in the field of ICT for Development. Throughout the two days, the participants performed a collective ‘reality check’ on the progress made thus far in using ICT to achieve the MDGs and what still needs to be done to ensure that ICT fulfills their vast potential for accelerating development.

During the Forum the Alliance also presented its major, recently launched initiative – the MDG eNabler, a free web-based set of ICT-based tools and resources designed to assist governments and all development practitioners in their work towards achieving the MDGs.

In the afternoon of the first day of the Forum, seven “solution salons” were held and allowed participants to break into thematic groups of their choice for intimate, focused sessions on issues related to the use of ICT for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Led by leading UN organizations, private sector companies and academic leaders, including WHO, UNESCO, Intel and Columbia University, among others, each session’s participants worked to identify the key issues and problems of their respective salon subjects, design and present solutions to these issues and problems and then report back to the larger Forum group the following day on their results and recommendations for GAID and the broader development community. These sessions were lauded by the event’s participants and the recommendations will be used to guide the work of the Alliance moving forward.

The Alliance also held Board and Strategy Council meetings in Abu Dhabi, where the future plan of action for the Alliance and the future development of the MDG eNabler initiative were discussed. There was wide recognition of the positive and forceful impact that the Alliance was making in the expanding field of ICT for Development, in particularly in its recently streamlined mandate to promote the use of ICT for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information: http://www.un-gaid.org

Promoting Public Service Awards in Latin America

Briefing session to the Permanent Missions on the UN Public Service Awards 2011 was held on 23 November in New York

As a follow-up to a request by representatives of Permanent Missions to the United Nations who attended the briefing session on the UN Public Service Awards programme on 3 November 2010, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) organized a special briefing session on 23 November 2010 for representatives from Latin American countries.

DPADM briefed the representatives about the UN Public Service Awards programme and the 2011 call for nominations. Mr. Limon Rodriguez of UNIFEM (part of UN-Women) made a presentation about the new UN Public Service Award category on gender-responsive delivery of public services. Representatives of Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru attended the briefing and expressed great appreciation for this initiative. The session was very well received by the representatives and many offered to disseminate information to their respective capitals and to local levels.

For more information: http://www.unpan.org/DPADM/UNPSDayAwards/UNPublicServiceAwards/
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