DESA News Vol. 12, No. 03 March 2008

Global dialogue on development

Gearing up for annual development review

Economic and Social Council resumes organizing on 6 March so as to make the most of its new substantive functions

With the second Annual Ministerial Review and first Development Cooperation Forum a scant four months away, preparations are underway in the Economic and Social Council to ensure its high-level segment in July, of which the AMR and DCF are a part, lives up to expectations. On 6 March, a one-day informal meeting of the Council will be devoted largely to a discussion of essential procedural questions.

In the morning, delegates will discuss ways in which the AMR fosters progress towards implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and how best to highlight challenges, obstacles, solutions and so forth, calling for an international response. Delegates will be invited to draw upon other more established peer review mechanisms for ideas, such as those of NEPAD and the OECD. Consideration will also be given to the way in which environmental issues are integrated into the sustainable development policies of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, alongside economic and social concerns.

Attention will turn to the DCF in the afternoon and its role a fulcrum for global discussions on development cooperation. Later this year, for example, world leaders will take part in a follow-up conference on the Monterrey Consensus, in Doha, and a high-level forum on aid effectiveness, in Accra. There is a clear link with issues before the DCF. The question is how, in fact, to make the connection.

Two preparatory events for the DCF have been held so far. The first was in Vienna last April on the question of country-level experiences in managing development cooperation. The second took place in Cairo in January on the subjects of South-South and triangular cooperation, and aid effectiveness. Delegates will have a chance to hear about the outcomes, and reflect on their contribution to the Council’s July session.

For more information: http://www.un.org/ecosoc /


Doha review sessions on external debt, and international monetary, financial and trading systems

The General Assembly continues its review sessions in preparation for the Doha review conference on the Monterrey Consensus in November. On 10 and 11 March, the theme of external debt will be covered, while on 11 and 12 March the conversation will turn to systemic issues including coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial, and trading systems in support of development.

In a letter of 10 January addressed to all States, the President of the General Assembly, Srgjan Kerim, emphasized the importance of a successful outcome to the Review Conference and proposed a work programme for the preparatory process. The programme includes review sessions on the thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus and interactive hearings with representatives of civil society and the business sector, to be held at UN Headquarters in New York between February and June 2008.

In addition, UN regional commissions, with the support of regional development banks and other relevant entities, will hold regional consultations during the first half of this year. All stakeholders are invited to contribute actively to the preparatory process.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for his part, appointed Philippe Douste-Blazy of France as his Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development on 19 February. Mr. Douste-Blazy’s main remit is to promote sources of innovative financing for implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/


Violence against women “never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable”

Secretary-General launches global campaign against violence during 52nd session of Women’s Commission, in progress through 7 March

Launching a multi-year campaign to end violence against women, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an urgent call to world leaders, member states, lawmakers, United Nations entities, civil society, the private sector, the media and individuals to work together to end such violence.

Speaking during the opening of the Commission on the Status of Women’s fifty-second session, he said, “Violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable and never tolerable.”  Statistics made it clear that it was “an issue that cannot wait”.  At least one in every three women was likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, and the practice of prenatal sex selection meant that countless others were denied the right even to exist.

No country, culture or woman was immune, he said.  Horrific crimes – including rape, sexual violence and the abduction and sexual enslavement of women and children during times of armed conflict – went unpunished, and perpetrators walked free.  What’s more, gender inequality thwarted progress towards achieving the millennium targets.

“This is a campaign for them.  It is a campaign for the women and girls who have the right to live free of violence, today and in the future.  It is a campaign to stop the untold cost that violence against women inflicts on all humankind,” he said, stressing that the global campaign would continue until 2015, to coincide with the target date for the Millennium Development Goals.

The Secretary-General urged all states to review and, when necessary, revise or create applicable laws to ensure that violence against women was always criminalized.  In December, the General Assembly had adopted a historic resolution on rape and sexual violence.  Now it was time for the Security Council to create a mechanism to monitor violence against women and girls, under the framework of its landmark resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  He pledged to galvanize the United Nations system to provide stronger, more effective support to all stakeholders and said he would form a global network of male leaders to help him mobilize men in government, the arts and sports, business and the religious sphere, as well as work with women’s groups worldwide.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said DESA would do its part, noting that the recently concluded forty-sixth session of the Commission for Social Development had addressed the issue of gender-based violence in employment.  He urged the Women’s Commission to establish a set of indicators, supported by the DESA’s Statistics Division, as there were few reliable statistics on women’s discrimination.  Further, the Commission’s current session, which was considering the impact of climate change on women as an “emerging issue”, should seek ways to boost women’s representation and input in global efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

Similarly, Rachel Mayanja, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, said women accounted for most of the poorest people in disaster-prone areas and always faced the greatest obstacles to rebuilding their lives after disaster struck.  She called on the Commission to include human security in its agenda, in order to address climate change’s serious threat to humanity and hold a meaningful discussion on its impact on women, men and children.

Mayanja said the 2002 Monterrey Consensus had recognized gender equality, women’s empowerment and poverty eradication as development goals, but it provided little in the way of concrete action plans or specific policy recommendations.  More than 120 countries had national gender plans, but they were rarely integrated into national development strategies or funded adequately for effective implementation.  Sufficient, predictable and sustainable resources to reduce and eliminate gender bias across sectors were crucial.

Source: WOM/1664. For more information: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/52sess.htm


Consensus on promoting full employment and decent work for all

Commission for Social Development concludes 46th session on 22 February with texts on decent work, disability, ageing, Africa’s development partnership

Recognizing that a people-centred approach must be at the heart of economic and social development, the Commission for Social Development concluded its forty-sixth session on 22 February, calling on governments to match their words with deeds on decent employment for all. The Commission has also put forward resolutions urging greater attention to persons with disabilities and elderly persons, as well a text on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.  All resolutions except the text on ageing will be forwarded to the Economic and Social Council for final adoption in July.

Freedom of association, recognition of the right to organize and bargain collectively, and elimination of all forms of forced labour, child labour, and discrimination in respect of employment and occupation are at the heart of International Labour Organization conventions and core principles embodied in the Decent Work Agenda underpinning the consensus view.

Recalling the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development, which had embraced the notion of putting people at the centre of development, the text would have the Economic and Social Council stress that productive employment and decent work are key elements for the sustainable development of all countries, and reaffirm that decent work should be a made a central objective of relevant national and international policies and development strategies as part of the global efforts to achieve agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The text reaffirms that social integration policies should be designed to reduce inequalities, promote access to basic social services, education for all and health care, and increase the participation and integration of social groups and, to that end, stresses that policies and strategies to achieve full employment and decent work should include specific measures to promote gender equality and foster integration for social groups, such as youth, persons with disabilities, and older persons, as well as migrants and indigenous peoples.

Further, the Council is encouraged to call on the public sector to continue to play its important role in developing an environment that enables the effective generation of full and productive employment and decent work for all, while acknowledging its role as an employer, and likewise calls on the private sector to continue its vital role in generating new investments, employment and financing for development and in advancing efforts towards full employment and decent work.

On the disability issue, the Commission is urging governments, United Nations entities and the wider international community to incorporate the perspective of disabled persons in the formulation of policies, the conduct of their mandate and missions, and their budget allocations, aiming at the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents. If approved by the Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability would be called upon to advocate equal opportunities for disabled persons, promote awareness of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and act as a catalyst for international and technical cooperation on disability issues.

A resolution on ageing encourages governments to continue their efforts to mainstream the concerns of older persons in policy agendas, “bearing in mind the crucial importance of family, intergenerational interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development, and the realization of all human rights for older persons, and to prevent age discrimination and provide social integration.” In addition, data collection, sharing of ideas, information and good practices were recognized as important to the successful review and appraisal of the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, and should continue.

Finally, progress made by African countries in fulfilling the social dimensions of their NEPAD commitments will be brought to the attention of the Council. The Commission stresses, however, “a favourable national and international environment for Africa’s growth and development, including measures to promote a policy environment conducive to private sector development and entrepreneurship” are needed to advance.

The Commission recognizes the need for national Governments and the international community to continue efforts to increase the flow of new and additional resources for development financing, and welcomes the efforts by development partners to align their financial and technical support to Africa more closely with the priorities of NEPAD.

Source: SOC/4745. For more information: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/csd/csocd2008.htm