DESA News Vol. 11, No. 10 October 2007

Technical cooperation

The role of judges and parliamentarians in fighting discrimination against women

Workshop in Amman seeks to increase legal application of women’s anti-discrimination convention

Eleven of thirteen countries in Western Asia have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Many have constitutional guarantees granting women equal rights with men. Yet de facto discrimination against women remains in education, employment, health, public life, decision-making, and in the family. To encourage judges and parliamentarians to protect and promote rights embodied in the treaty, DESA’s Division for the Advancement of Women, together with ESCWA, is organizing a regional workshop in Amman, Jordan, from 17 to 19 October.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women recently called for greater involvement of judges and parliamentarians in raising awareness of the Convention, and reporting on implementation of its provisions. While judges have the power to use international human rights law to protect the rights and interests of women and girls, and to interpret national laws in a gender-sensitive manner, too few know about the treaty or apply it in judicial settings.

Parliamentarians, for their part, drive legal reform by reviewing and enacting laws. Legislators can narrow the scope of reservations to the Convention, allocate resources for programmes that encourage gender equality, and ensure that domestic policy is in tune with a country’s international obligations.

About thirty judges and parliamentarians from the ESCWA region are expected to take part in the workshop. Among other things, presenters will shed light on the steps needed to enact and interpret laws that accord with the Convention, suggest ways to reconcile provisions of the treaty with Islamic law, and highlight some of the negative effects that reservations to the Convention can have on women of the region.

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Local women leaders of Africa on study tour

The Euro-Africa Partnership for Decentralized Governance is an initiative supported by DESA, the Regional Assembly of Tuscany in Italy, and the Conference of European Legislative Regional Assemblies, which aims to strengthen the capacity of local governments in Africa to engage in decentralization efforts. As part of this initiative, a group of local government leaders in Africa will gather in central Italy from 4 to 11 October.

Participants in the study tour include elected women leaders from local governments in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Rwanda and Uganda. These policy-makers will attend the Assembly of Local Institutions for Peace and Human Rights in Perugia, will meet officials of the Regional Assembly of Tuscany and of local Italian institutions, and interact with representatives from academia.

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Public governance and East Asian development

Public governance and East Asian development

DESA joins forces with Korean scholars to promote development through citizen engagement

Social justice and civil society engagement are not merely ethical principles of development, they are also necessary conditions for achieving stable economic growth. A comparative analysis of East Asian countries has shown that stressing human rights, setting in motion strategies for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, and boosting citizen participation in governance lead to more equitable, and sustainable, development. These ideas were the subject of a graduate course on global governance and East Asian development from the UN perspective, presented by the DESA Division for Public Administration and Development Management this summer at Kyung Hee University, in Seoul.

Visiting lecturers from DESA sought to create awareness of the relationship between global and national governance, and socio-economic development. Emphasis was placed the need to incorporate the UN development and human rights agendas in public governance, and boost civil society engagement in policy processes. Some forty students signed up.

DESA is currently working on a monograph intended for use as a reference in future courses. The department is also collaborating with Kyung Hee University on a world civic forum to be held in 2009 on the subject of just societies, from vision to action.

Geospatial technology and census mapping

Regional workshops in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean focus on census mapping

Three regional workshops this month will highlight the application of geographic information systems and other geospatial technology to census mapping with an emphasis on preparation of enumeration, enumeration operations, analysis and dissemination of data. The workshops will take place in Lusaka from 8 to 12 October, in Bangkok from 15 to 19 October, and in Port-of-Spain from 22 to 26 October.

The workshops will begin with a review of the fundamentals of geographic information systems and census geography concepts, especially geo-coding systems. It will then focus on practical data collection issues such as conversion to digital format, and on GIS-based data analysis and dissemination, showing examples of use with appropriate software. In addition to learning technical skills, participants will have the opportunity to discuss the institutional, organizational and financial aspects of GIS roll-out. The revised United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses will be presented.

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Compilation of economic statistics in Africa

The DESA Statistics Division, in collaboration with ECA, is organizing a second regional workshop on compilation of basic economic statistics for African countries in Addis Ababa, from 16 to 19 October. DESA has stepped up efforts in the region to disseminate knowledge of statistical data compilation norms and methods. The goal is to enable statistical offices in Africa to produce data that meets the needs of policy-makers and the business community that meets generally-accepted standards embodied in the revised 1993 System of National Accounts. Participants will also be able to exchange views on country practices, needs and actions required to improve compilation of basic economic statistics.

Public management in Latin America and the Caribbean

The third of a series of sub-regional training seminars on the implementation of the Ibero American Charter of Public Service will be held in Cartagena de India, Colombia from 16 to 19 October. The seminar will be attended by ministers and directors of public service in the Andean and Caribbean regions, and aims to analyze the management problems civil servants face in Latin American countries. Participants will also become familiar with the dynamics of institutional change, learn about reform strategies, and reflect on initiatives that may be introduced the Charter.

This training series is organized by DESA with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and the National Institute of Public Administration of Spain.

UNPAN e-knowledge management training

UNPAN members will be trained in the administration and maintenance of online information sources at a training workshop to take place from 23 to 26 October in Seoul. The UNPAN database includes events, articles, documents, and contact records. Trainees will not only be instructed on techniques of online information management, but also on sharing innovative practices in knowledge management as part of UNPAN’s underlying capacity-building efforts. The event is being organized by the Division for Public Administration and Development Management in DESA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs of the Republic of Korea, and the UN Project Office on Governance.

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Call for applications for 2008 public service awards

The DESA Division for Public Administration and Development Management is now accepting applications for the 2008 United Nations Public Service Awards. The United Nations Public Service Awards are considered the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service. Institutions worldwide are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is 30 November.

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