Volume 16, No.09 - September 2012

Global dialogue on development

Advancing the rights of persons with disabilities

The fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be held in New York on 12-14 September

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006, entering into force on 3 May 2008.

Convention article 40 states that “the States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention.” Since 2008, four sessions of the Conference of States Parties have been held at UN Headquarters in New York.

The theme of the fifth session is “Making the CRPD count for Women and Children”. The following are the sub-themes of the Conference: “Technology and Accessibility”, “Children with Disabilities” and “Women with Disabilities”.

For more information: Conference of States parties

World leaders gather for UN General Assembly

The sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly will convene at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 18 September

Following the opening on 18 September, the high-level meeting on the rule of law at the national and international levels will be held on 24 September to be followed by the start of the general debate on 25 September.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. Comprising all 193 Member States of the United Nations, it provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter. The Assembly meets in regular session intensively from September to December each year, and thereafter as required. 

Second and Third Committees 
The Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) and the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee (Third Committee) will discuss the items on the agenda related to economic questions and social and humanitarian issues, respectively. The Committees seek where possible to harmonize the various approaches of States, and present their recommendations, usually in the form of draft resolutions and decisions, to a plenary meeting of the Assembly for its consideration. 

The Assembly’s Second Committee deals with the economic and financial aspects of development and its Third Committee addresses social, humanitarian and cultural matters. Both the Second and Third Committees will convene in October.

For more information: United Nations General Assembly

Building the future we want

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will hold a Special Ministerial Meeting on 24 September from 3:00 pm to 7:45 pm at UN Headquarters in New York  

At the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), world leaders acknowledged the vital importance of an inclusive, transparent, strengthened and effective multilateral system to better address the urgent global challenges of sustainable development. In The Future We Want, world leaders also recognized the important role of the Economic and Social Council in achieving a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. 

The Special Ministerial Meeting will center on a moderated expert panel discussion followed by an interactive dialogue on strengthening the multilateral system for sustainable development and a better integration of the economic, social and environmental spheres.

The Meeting is a unique opportunity to discuss with Government Ministers from around the world, and other key players from the international community, the steps that are needed for a more effective multilateral system for sustainable development.

For more information:
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Protecting the rights of older people

The third substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing took place in New York on 21-24 August

Aimed at strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, the Working Group is mandated to consider the existing international rights framework for older persons, to identify possible gaps and how best to address them.

The third substantive session began with a panel discussion on discrimination with experts Mr. Charles Radcliffe, Head of Global Issues at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as moderator, Mr. Alejandro Morlachetti, Professor of Law at the University of La Plata, Argentina, Ms. Louise Richardson, Vice President AGE Platform Europe and Ms. Susan Ryan, Australia’s Age Discrimination Commissioner.

Outlining the scope of discussion, Mr. Radcliffe said, “The working group at its heart is really an invitation to look at the human rights challenges faced by older people today and think about what can be done to make sure everyone, regardless of their age, can enjoy the same rights on an equal footing. The right to be free of discrimination is a fundamental principle of international human rights law, not just for older people but for people of all ages. States have a legal duty to protect citizens against discrimination”.

The Report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing outlines that all too often older people face numerous types of discrimination surrounding; employment, healthcare, social and financial exclusion, and are often at risk of poverty or living in poverty.

Older people are more likely to face redundancy in tough economic times. They frequently don’t benefit from training opportunities and face severe barriers to re-entry into the workforce, often suffering long periods of unemployment and financial strain.

Healthcare was identified as an area fraught with discriminatory practices. Older people are vulnerable to the steep costs associated with complimentary healthcare insurance, co-payments or lack of health insurance, and in many cases have difficulty accessing health services at all due to age discriminatory practices in the allocation of healthcare. Lack of access or limited knowledge of technology can lead to exclusion. For example, now that so much information on benefits is available online, older people can find this difficult to navigate and miss out on information about key benefits and services. Multiple discrimination was highlighted as a major problem for older persons, be it because of gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.

Additionally, older people can face financial exclusion through unwillingness on the part of financial institutions to offer them credit and certain financial products. Ms. Richardson said, “When it comes to goods and services there is no binding legislation regarding discrimination. Age Platform Europe has recently demonstrated the persistence of age limits in access to travel insurance, complimentary health insurance, mortgages and bank loans. In many member states older people are charged prohibitively high fees or are denied access to insurance”.

Susan Ryan, Australia’s dedicated Age Commissioner spoke about the Australian experience handling age discrimination. “The Australian government created the role of the Age Commissioner because of demographic changes, the ageing population and the fact that people are living longer in better health. The combination of these factors persuaded the government that there should be specific protections for older people to protect against age discrimination in society and in the workplace particularly”.

The Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing also discussed issues surrounding autonomy, independent living and health care; life in dignity, social security and access to resources; abuse and violence against older persons; and access to justice.

For more informtion:
Third substantive session of the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing

Google+ Hangouts celebrate International Youth Day

Leading up to International Youth Day on 12 August, six live Google+ Hangouts were arranged by DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development on 8-10 August

The topics for the events were aligned with the themes set out for the Secretary-General’s System-Wide Action Plan (SWAP) on Youth currently under development. They include: Political inclusion; Citizenship and the protection of rights; Employment; Entrepreneurship; and Education, including on sexual and reproductive health.

“The feedback that we have received is overwhelming, well above our expectations,” said Sandra Lindblom, Consultant with DSPD, who managed this project. Reactions so far have praised this innovative new way of hosting discussions within the UN enabling participation and engagement from people located in all corners of the world.

Each hangout featured about five participants representing youth, Member States, the UN, the private sector and academia. Organizations taking part in the events included: UNDP, Forum for Youth Investment, UN-Habitat, MTV, Mexican Institute of Youth, Major Group on Children and Youth, Gap, ILO, USAID, YMCA World Alliance, Cornerstone Global Associates, UNIDO, Digital Opportunity Trust, Kenya, UNESCO, United Natives, Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity, the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN, the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN, and the Guttmacher Institute.

For more information:

Google+ Hangouts on DESA’s Youtube Channel