DESA News Vol. 12, No. 10 October 2008

Global dialogue on development

Financial turmoil, climate change, food, energy price shocks cloud development outlook

The Economic and Financial Committee of the General Assembly meets starting 6 October in New York to address development cooperation in the face of widespread uncertainty

Following on the heels of a special high-level event on the Millennium Development Goals and against the backdrop of global financial volatility, the General Assembly’s Economic and Financial Committee – commonly known as the Second Committee – will begin to tackle its programme of work for the sixty-third session on 6 October in New York. Deliberations are expected to last through 5 December though delegations will likely aim to wrap up most agenda items before the Monterrey review conference gets underway in Doha at the end of November.

The recent financial turmoil, which markedly intensified over the course of 2008 leading to the collapse of several major United States banks in September, presents an ominous backdrop for the current round of deliberations. Among other things, the effects of the global financial crisis and steep rise in food and energy prices threaten to reverse hard-won progress on some of the MDGs, particularly the primary goal of reducing world poverty and hunger. Complicating matters further is the issue of climate change, which the Committee will consider alongside the wide-ranging sustainable development agenda.

As in previous years, the Second Committee will also consider macroeconomic policy questions; operational activities for development; follow-up to and implementation of the outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development; globalization and interdependence; sustainable development; information and communications technology; and poverty eradication. Other topics before the Second Committee are permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources; human settlements; and groups of countries in special situations, such as least developed and landlocked developing countries.

Professor Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard University will deliver a keynote address at the start of the session in which he will share his views on growth, macroeconomic stability, international finance, and the social dimensions of development. A number of side panels to be held over the course of October and November will further enrich discussions. Topics include challenges and emerging issues in external debt restructuring, the Second UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, globalisation and health, overcoming economic insecurity, and reconstructing public administration for conflict prevention, recovery and development.

Over the past year, the Second Committee took action on thirty-five draft proposals. Under the chairmanship of H.E. Mrs. Uche Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, the Committee is expected to act on a similar number of proposals in the sixty-third session.

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Social development, human rights in the spotlight

The General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee is expected to draft some sixty resolutions at its upcoming session, from 6 October and 25 November in New York

Year after year, the General Assembly allocates to its Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee – or more usually, the Third Committee – agenda items relating to a range of social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues that affect peoples all over the world. An important part of the Committee’s work focuses on the examination of human rights questions, including reports of the special procedures of the newly established Human Rights Council.  In October, the Committee will hear and interact with twenty-five such special rapporteurs, independent experts, and chairpersons of workings groups of the Human Rights Council.

The Committee also discusses the advancement of women, the protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of fundamental freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the promotion of the right to self- determination.  The Committee also addresses important social development questions such as issues related to youth, family, ageing, persons with disabilities, crime prevention, criminal justice, and drug control.

At the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, the Third Committee considered sixty-seven draft resolutions, more than half of which were submitted under the human rights agenda item alone.  These included a number of so-called country-specific resolutions on human rights situations. Under the chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Frank Majoor of the Netherlands, the Third Committee is expected to consider a similar number of draft resolutions in 2008.

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H.E Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann H.E Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, articulates his vision for the United Nations on assuming the Presidency of the 63rd session of the General Assembly on 16 September (40 minutes)

New global disability monitors to be elected

Conference of States Parties to disabilities convention will meet in New York to choose first group of independent experts to monitor implementation, starting 31 October

The first session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place on 31 October and 3 November in New York. Delegates will elect a bureau of officials on the first day, consider rules of procedure, and discuss any other matter with regard to the implementation of the Convention in accordance with Article 40 of the treaty.

On the following Monday, 3 November, the Conference will reconvene to elect members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Committee is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the agreement by States parties, which are obliged to submit regular progress reports. It is the Committee’s responsibility to examine each report, making such suggestions and general recommendations for consideration by the country concerned. The Optional Protocol to the Convention also gives the Committee competence to examine individual complaints of alleged violations by governments.

The Convention is serviced by a joint secretariat composed of the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, housed in the Division for Social Policy and Development of DESA, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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