DESA News Vol. 13, No. 01 January 2009

Trends and analysis

Implementing rights for indigenous peoples

Workshop will bring together indigenous experts in New York from 14 to 16 January for further implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007. The Declaration is the most comprehensive statement of the rights of indigenous peoples ever developed, giving prominence to collective rights to a degree unprecedented in international human rights law. The adoption of this instrument is the clearest indication yet that the international community is committing itself to the protection of the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples.

The Declaration is a culmination of over twenty years of work that began in earnest at the Working Group which began the drafting of the declaration in 1985. The first draft was completed in 1993, and in 1995, the Commission on Human Rights set up its own working group to review the draft adopted by the human rights experts of the Working Group and the Sub-Commission. More than 100 indigenous organizations participated in the Working Group of the Commission annually.

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is also explicitly asked in article 42 of the Declaration to promote respect for and full application of the provisions of the Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.

This international expert group meeting on the role of the UNPFII in implementation of article 42 of the Declaration from 14 to 16 January in New York will discuss the way in which the UNPFII should address its mandate under Article 42 of the Declaration. The results of the workshop will be reported to the Permanent Forum at its eighth session. The meeting will be attended by indigenous experts and UNPFII members as well as interested Member States, United Nations Agencies and Indigenous Peoples' Organizations.

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Advancing gender statistics

Experts will meet in Accra, Ghana from 26 to 28 January to discuss the incorporation of a gender perspective in national statistical systems

Gender statistics cover a wide range of policy areas, including: population, families, health, education, work, and political participation. Governments, international organizations, and researchers among others need gender statistics for planning, analysis, advocacy and awareness-raising.

The 2009 Global Forum on Gender Statistics, held in Accra, Ghana from 26 to 28 January, is the second of a series of international meetings on gender statistics to be held annually with the purpose of promoting the advancement of gender statistics among decision makers and all other user groups. The 2009 Forum will serve to solidify the momentum gained with the launch in December 2007 of the Global Gender Statistics Programme and the Interagency Expert Group on Gender Statistics (IAEG-GS). In addition, the 2009 Forum will review best practices in the incorporation of a gender perspective in national statistical systems and in the measurement of women’s participation in and contributions to the economy.

During the Forum, national-level experiences on integrating gender into population and housing census and household survey data collection processes and analysis will also be presented. The Forum will serve to highlight the need for statistics to respond to requirements for monitoring progress towards the attainment of gender equity goals and targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Furthermore, the IAEG-GS will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with the Forum to review the work of the two advisory groups on gender statistics and propose future actions for the groups.

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E-parliament and Internet governance

Global Centre for ICT in Parliament concluded 2008 with two important events: World e-Parliament Conference 2008 and Second Parliamentary Forum on Shaping the Information Society

The World e-Parliament Conference, organized by DESA, the European Parliament and the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament in Brussels on 25-26 November 2008 was attended by more than 300 participants who exchanged views on new technologies as tools to strengthen the representative, legislative and oversight functions of regional and national assemblies.

Among the key recommendations that emerged from the discussions was the need for leaders and members of parliaments to exercise strong political will to foster e-parliament at both the national and international level. The Conference called for greater cooperation and coordination among parliaments, governments, international organizations and the donor community to assist legislatures in developing countries to achieve the goals of e-parliament and to support regional networks.

It also urged stronger inter-parliamentary cooperation in particular in the areas of information and research services, new interactive technologies to reach and more fully engage citizens in the democratic process, and open standards for parliamentary documents.

Participants also highlighted the importance of investments to accelerate efforts ensuring that information on the legislative process in every country is publicly accessible on the Internet, to assist parliaments in developing countries in building their technical infrastructure, and to develop training programmes for ICT staff and members of parliament.

The Second Parliamentary Forum on Shaping the Information Society: the role of Parliaments and Legislators was organized jointly by DESA, through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in Hyderabad, India, on 2 December 2008.

The Forum was convened on the eve of the third Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in order to encourage parliamentarians to bring a parliamentary dimension to the discussions on Internet governance-related issues as well as to discuss more in depth the themes of on-line child protection, cyber crime, and privacy during the parliamentary Forum. As a follow-up to the discussions of the parliamentary forum interested parliamentarians met again in a closed meeting.

The Global Centre for ICT in Parliament is a global initiative launched in 2006 by DESA, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and a core group of parliaments, to promote the role of parliaments and legislators in the development of the Information Society and the use and mainstreaming of ICT in parliamentary processes and to enhance inter-parliamentary cooperation.

The Global Centre’s activities in 2009 will start with the meeting of its Advisory Committee, a body composed of representatives of Presidents/Speakers of Parliament who are members of the Board of the Global Centre.

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Task Force on transnational-Eurasian Information Super Highway established

Regional meeting in Baku prepared way for high speed exchange of data between Europe and Asia

For the past three years, DESA has been a cosponsor of the regional ministerial meetings on emerging ICT for Development issues in transition economy countries. The recent regional meeting on "Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway", organized within the framework of "BakuTel2008", paved the way for the much-needed discussions and action for laying out the vision and strategy for creating collaboration among the countries on high-speed and cost-effective exchange of data between Europe and Asia which can bolster and accelerate economic development.

Information superhighway may become one of the best opportunities to date for the countries to ensure a foundation for economic growth and positive social change, enabling participation in today’s information society and providing tangible benefits to their citizens.

The prospect of universal access to information and hence the underlying infrastructure, are an integral component of today’s information societies. In this context the ability of regulators to ensure equity and fairness in a digital future is increasingly important; but also severely challenged by the speed of technological and global developments in information networks as well as communication and technology companies. Countries will intensify their efforts in future to establish transnational information superhighway and they will resolve arising problems on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation.

The meeting established recently the Task Force consisting of experts from the participant countries (Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Kazakhstan on voluntary basis) and organizations (DESA’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development, Regional Commonwealth in the field of Communications (RCC) and Fiber Optical Cable System Trans Asia Europe (TAE)) to co-ordinate the initiative and holding the meetings of the Task Force in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Task Force has to elaborate an Action Plan and convene the meetings in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Government of Azerbaijan will fund these activities and take the responsibility of organizing the meetings.

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Trends in Re-Imagining Cities

Symposium was held in Philadelphia, United States, from 6-8 November to discuss the future of cities in current global challenges

Today, we face a new reality comprised of climate change, growth of inequity spurred by globalization, financial crisis, food crisis, fuel crisis, governance arrangements necessary for attaining the internationally agreed development goals and other challenges which are re-shaping relations among governments, civil society and private sector.

The previous thinking and paradigms for urban development have apparently reached their boundaries. New trends have propelled the recent rise of civic engagement, including democratization, the success of selected NGOs in delivering development inputs, the exponential growth of all forms of media and the increasing enhancement of access to information and communication technology (ICT).

The symposium on Re-imaging Cities aimed to convene an interdisciplinary group of practitioners from around the world to propose new ideas, solutions and a manifesto for redesigning cities in the 21st century in response to current challenges.

Jonas Rabinovitch of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Policy focused in his keynote address on the issues of design, democracy and civic engagement as trends for future cities. He also outlined DESA’s work on governance and public administration, including the principles behind civic values, civic engagement and civic action in preparation for the World Civic Forum to be held in Seoul, Korea, from 5-8 May 2009.

The symposium was attended by professionals that directly or indirectly shape the form of urban areas, including mayors, policy advisors, urban planners, architects, urban design specialists, conservationists and environmental planners.

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