- Improve Maternal and Newborn Health and Nutrition
- Meet the Demand for Modern Contraception and Reproductive Health
- Respect, Protect, and Fulfill Sexual Health and Rights
- Ensure Access to Comprehensive Health Services
- Dramatically Reduce Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices
- Ensure Equitable and Quality Education at All Levels
- Boost Women’s Economic Empowerment
- Strengthen Women’s Political Participation and Decision-Making Power
- Accelerate Access to Resources – Land, Clean Energy, Water, and Sanitation
- Invest in Women to Tackle Climate Change and Conserve the Environment
- Improve Data and Accountability for Girls and Women
- Build Sustainable Financing and Partnerships for Girls and Women
Last week, we complimented the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization for approving a new and revised ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (the MNE Declaration). We incorrectly referred to this setting the stage for the “70th anniversary celebration” of the MNE Declaration in November 2017 – a faux pas giving its an older age than it deserves. It will actually be its “40th anniversary celebration”. Maybe ageing is a good thing here, but we are relieved to report that this new and revised Declaration is still in the youthful stage of its life cycle. If only face lifts were so easy! Here is a bit more on the Governing Body’s relatively mellow 329th session.”Click
Even as the current US Administration wreaks havoc on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sacrifices its leadership role in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, its intentions to reduce its leadership role in the UN system on humanitarian, human rights and peacekeeping matters are still on the horizon. One wonders whether there are counter pressures to stay in the world at large are having some effect. At the Human Rights Council, for example, there are some encouraging signs, and we include some reflections on the US role at the latest (34th) session of the Council in our overall commentary on the outcome of this session, which ran from 27 February to 24 March 2017.”Click
The “younger generation” is showing a remarkably activist spirit in Geneva, with a plethora of “start-ups” that are joining together to convene a first ever Geneva Global Goals Innovation Day on 24 March 2017. (See our News and Events section for more information). We reflect here on the nature of this event and its relationship to other recent events, such as the launch of the SDG Global Campaign Centre in Bonn and the Influx Trust Global Hackathon. In particular, we wonder whether the momentum for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is no longer an intergovernmental momentum but one that is in the process of being taken over by a youthful element of civil society.”Click
With the awkward interaction between the two heads of state of the US and Germany on Friday, 17 March 2017, we wonder if the timing was a bit off as well as the physical dynamics. Chancellor Angela Merkel was originally scheduled to visit the White House on Tuesday, 14 March 2017 but had to postpone the visit by three days on account of a late winter snowstorm across the Northeastern United States. A major item of business on the Chancellor’s agenda was the annual G20 Heads of State Summit, which Germany is hosting this year in July in Hamburg. A Tuesday visit would have been a few days before the first gathering the of year for the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Baden Baden, Germany on 17 to 18 March 2017. This is traditionally the first basic preparatory event to prepare for the G20 Summit, and we do wonder if the delay made it a missed opportunity for the Chancellor to weigh in more persuasively on her priorities before this group issued its “communiqué”.
March is the month for the main session of the Human Rights Council and a policy-setting session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization – and, of course, the Geneva Auto Show (which sends hotel rates into the stratosphere)! We don’t have anything to say about the Auto Show this year. We have already covered major social and economic issues before the Human Rights Council in previous commentaries (see, e.g., 27 February 2017) and will include a wrap-up report at the conclusion of the Council’s March session in our commentary in our 27 March 2017 issue. Here we take a look at the ILO GB agenda and programme of work, including a new budget in this time of uncertainty for international organizations in the UN system and a few of the innovative initiatives that are defining the future direction of the ILO in spite of this uncertainty – on standards, on climate change, on enterprises - and even a new and revised approach to multinational enterprises. We also note an agenda item on whether the ILO should change its policy in dealing with the tobacco industry. All that said, though, we are also intrigued by something unrelated to the GB but scheduled to overlap with the last day of both the ILO GB and the Human Rights Council, called the “Geneva Global Goals Innovation Day”, at which the ILO is participating with what it is calling “The Decent Work Game”.”Click
International Women’s Day has been “celebrated” by the United Nations on 8 March ever since 1975 – and has an even longer history associated with protests involving working women and suffragettes going back a hundred years. This is a long learning curve for what we call “gender parity” or “gender equality”, but we are reminded of the remarkably poetic ways of Maya Angelou who once – and probably more than once – said “I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.” Here we are in 2017, caught up with an occasion that stirs our passion for a goal that seems to be so well laid out but that remains beyond our reach. Some say that it is even multiple generations away. Although we have learned a lot about this goal, it is clear that we still have a lot to learn. On 8 March 2017, it was an honour to moderate a panel at the WTO on one of these learning paths – on “Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment”. We share the learning from this event here, along with a multiplicity of very useful learning paths in and around the mapping of our respective journeys.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Changing Awareness of Cyber-Security and Its Potential Impact on Internet Governance
We learned a lot this past week about the important role of the ICT sector in upholding privacy and freedom of expression, but we also discovered some remarkable information about the interplay among the debates over surveillance and privacy and democracy and cyber-security, including a proposal for a Geneva Digital Convention.”Click
Among the many side events that have enriched this latest 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, we have been most interested in tracking the interplay between human rights and multi-stakeholder engagement on the Sustainable Development Goals. One such event was organized by the Community of Democracies and the Government of Canada, along with support from CIVICUS on “The Private Sector and Civic Space”. Basically, the focus here was on how to get the private sector to take an active role in protecting and enabling civic space.”Click
This title may be a bit unfair since the World Trade Organization (WTO) can count a couple of treaty-ratifying successes in these first months of 2017 - and a busy week of agenda-setting and lively debates during this particular week of transitioning from February to March. The narrowing of the horizons of the possible, though, has to do with putting the Doha Round to rest (whether this is a real sunset or just a twilight zone for a while). Some may well argue that this has opened up the horizons for newer possibilities - like new trade-related agendas on e-commerce or cross-border investment, for example. But we do have to acknowledge the horizon-contracting impact on the WTO of that “perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism” emanating from the US and its articulation in the forum of disturbingly virulent economic nationalism there. In a sense, and although we may all be caught up right now in a period of suspended animation, just waiting for the thunderbolt to hit, we can engage in certain flights of fancy if only to imagine what lays beyond that soon-to-be-blocked horizon.”Click
With an initial focus on reforms in the field of peace and security, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been emphasizing the need to “expand the horizons of the possible” – that is, to incorporate the prevention of conflict more effectively into the world’s peace and security strategy. On Monday, 27 February 2017, this was reflected in his remarks at the opening segment of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council and in the annual “mainstreaming” panel discussion on the contribution of human rights to peace building. Check our News and Events section for more on these events. We share some thoughts here about the contrast between this message and the announced plans by the Trump Administration to finance a substantial increase in military spending by decimating foreign aid and environmental programmes. This may even include US withdrawal from the Human Rights Council.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Disconnecting Business from Civil Society in the Working Group on Business and Human Rights
The Working Group on Business and Human Rights held one of its regular meetings in Geneva on 15 to 17 February 2017. It included informal consultations with governments, civil society and the private sector – in SEPARATE sessions! We are not a governmental entity, but we do consider ourselves to be a multi-stakeholder entity with both civil society and private sector representation. So we decided to attend both the civil society and private sector consultations. Much to our surprise we were ORDERED to LEAVE the private sector consultation! It may well have been that we were asked to leave that one because it was immediately after the civil society consultation. And perhaps if the two had been reversed in the schedule, we might have been asked to leave the civil society consultation instead. But this is actually the first time that we can recall being thrown out of a private sector consultation. Upon further investigation, we learned that the Working Group has actually been holding open consultations for civil society on a regular basis but has only held its consultations with business enterprises and business associations by telephone (and apparently not usually even publicly listed!).”Click
The G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Bonn and the Munich Security Conference might not have obvious connections to each other, nor with the official launching of the UN Global SDG Action Campaign Center in Bonn. We do believe there are strong connections in the informative pronouncements by world leaders at these events, especially as they focus on the strengthening of crisis prevention initiatives as a priority for 2017. See more in our News and Events section about these events. And read more here, too, for the linkages to International Geneva.”Click
With the recent announcement that the new UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was extending the tenure of the head of the UN Office at Geneva, Michael Moller, we think it is timely to update our readers with regard to a variety of appointments/elections here and there in International Geneva. Yes, it is still uncertain how International Geneva will be affected by the changing global political landscape, not only the sharp turn in US international policy under President Trump but also the significance of elections and policy shifts elsewhere. Nonetheless, we can sense that there are important leadership changes that we should be recognizing in International Geneva, regardless of the changing political landscape – or more accurately, to prepare for the changing political landscape. We also look at a few other leadership changes of global significance on the social, economic and environmental fronts – in New York, Rome, Nairobi and elsewhere - that we normally cover in the Geneva Observer.”Click
News is filtering through on a nascent Middle Eastern replication of the World Economic Forum but with a more futuristic “twist” in Dubai this week. Take a look at our News and Events section for more on this event. We are struck by the new centrality of Dubai in the globalization debate, but we are also struck by how the tensions of the Middle East are ever more vividly translated into parts of International Geneva. Here we take a look at the forthcoming 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council from 27 February to 24 March 2017, for which there was an important organizational session on Monday, 13 February 2017.”Click
As we note in our News and Events section, the World Trade Organization is celebrating the entry into force of an amendment to the TRIPS Agreement to allow the importation of affordable medicines into developing countries where there is no local manufacturing capacity to use the compulsory licensing provisions of the Agreement. These compulsory licensing provisions allow developing countries to circumvent, for a variety of public health reasons, the high costs of patent-protected medicines by licensing a generic version of the same thing. All this is very technical, but it is a morale booster for the WTO since it is the first amendment to WTO rules since the organization was established in 1995. The WTO’s modus operandi has been to combine technical information about trade with its mandates to oversee dispute settlements and to negotiate further liberalization of the global trading system. This latter activity has been woefully lacking in any successes except for little victories like the protocol on importation of affordable medicines Here we look at another, even more substantial amendment to the WTO rules that is about to enter into force – the Trade Facilitation Agreement. One might even agree that this TFA is about to be a “beacon of hope” for the advocates of a thriving WTO.”Click
The 140th Session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) adjourned on 31 January 2017, a day earlier than scheduled even though it had a longer-than-ever agenda – in part because they held three night sessions to get all the work done. We looked for a press release to summarize their accomplishments but did not find one. This is not unusual, of course, since the governance rules emphasize the Executive Board as a conduit for formal action on resolutions to be taken by the WHO’s World Health Assembly. Although we can appreciate the merits of waiting until the formal actions to report on any accomplishments, we do think that the issues that were raised in the debates of the Executive Board on this wide-ranging agenda merit some interim attention. We raised some of these concerns last week in our commentary on the election process that has narrowed to three the number of candidates running for Director-General of the WHO. But we think the issues justify some closer scrutiny here – especially on the escalating interest in doing something about the high price of medical products but also the growing tremors about the merits of multi-stakeholder collaboration.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- What is “Enhanced Cooperation” on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the Internet?
We don’t have an answer to this question, and we note here that there is a multi-stakeholder Working Group on this very subject that does not seem to have an answer either. The Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the Internet has a two-year mandate, 2016 to 2018, but it is only a continuation of a previous working group and yet more iterations emanating from the World Summit for the Information Society that was held in Geneva (2004) and Tunis (2005). The Internet continues to grow, with an appreciation for the evolving diversity of issues relating to governance”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Revisiting the Remaining Candidates for WHO Director-General and WHO Current Priority Issues
As expected, the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed to recommend three candidates for Director-General to succeed Dr. Margaret Chan on 1 July 2017 – Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia, Dr. David Nabarro from the UK and Dr. Sania Nishtar from Pakistan. Four months from now, the World Health Assembly will meet in Geneva to choose one from among the three. Their latest appearances at the WHO and before the press provide a glimpse at their strengths and at the current priority issues that are facing the WHO this year. Given the significance to global health governance of this election, we reflect on the candidates and the issues.”Click
Among the cacophony of controversial and catastrophic Executive Orders emanating from the hands of President Donald Trump in his first week in the Oval Office is one that was issued in the late afternoon of Friday, 27 January 2017, inaccurately entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. It suspends immigrant and non-immigrant visas to nationals of certain targeted countries “of particular concern”, even affecting some visas that had already been legitimately granted. This has wrought havoc with its immediate but erratically implemented effect at US airports over the weekend. Immediate responses criticizing Mr. Trump have been issued from world leaders - and from the United Nations by way of a joint statement from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization on Migration. Meanwhile, we are witnessing truly enlivened debates at a series of migration-related meetings in Geneva - and even at the WHO Executive Board – where the issue is no longer isolated from mainstream diplomacy.”Click
The UN Human Rights Council always has a full and varied agenda, given the breadth and depth of what we understand by human rights – most decidedly articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (See a quick summary of 15 basic principles in the Declaration here.) We have focused on the social and economic aspects of human rights in our coverage in this newsletter, like the human rights implications of climate change or access to water or access to healthcare or the responsibility of business to respect human rights, but on this occasion we highlight two somewhat different issues that merit our attention. One of these is the matter of human rights relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, while the other is the implications for human rights of issues related to the digital economy. We will, of course, be covering the more traditional social and economic issues as they come up in global policy debates here in Geneva, but we think these two are especially likely to be in the forefront of the 2017 agenda.”Click
The dramatic effects of the Brexit vote in the UK and the Trump Presidency in the USA are starting to show in the world of trade policy. The mega-regional trade agreements in the Pacific (the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP) and across the Atlantic (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP) are effectively blocked, with alternative dynamics emerging in both regions. But one may also see a revival of interest in the global arena and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in spite of the contrary signs of renewed protectionism like Trump rhetoric on raising tariffs. With the clear demise of the Doha Development Agenda as the prevailing negotiating framework at the WTO, there is an apparent shift to looking for – and actually supporting - “new negotiated outcomes”. And the latest news (as shown in our News and Events section this week) of the TRIPS amendment allowing pharmaceutical imports of generics for public health emergencies in countries with low or no capacity to manufacture them domestically is a good sign of a continuing important role for the WTO.”Click
We have been fans of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a means to mobilize transformative change to end poverty and enable inclusive well-being for all, but we see the immediate future in an uncertain light. The predictions of a disintegration of the current world order through the impending loss of constructive leadership from the United States are reinforced by the turmoil in the European Union (the aftermath of Brexit vote in the UK and major elections in France and Germany), as well as elections elsewhere, including both India and Iran. China’s heightened interest in multilateralism may actually be yet another illustration of an even more fragmented world. Nonetheless, the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva have an important operational role to play in facilitating a multilateral path to transformative change. This might not produce concrete forward momentum right away, but we do believe that multilateralism is the “way to go”.
This week, we highlight some of the key areas where a “new twist” to multilateralism may make a difference - in health, intellectual property, food security and labour. Next week, we look at the possibilities for such a “new twist” for the operational role of international Geneva in the areas of trade and investment, human rights, and SDG coordination. And we draw as well on the daunting task of addressing how to combat the media manipulation that inflames this populist fire.”Click
Returning to the Geneva international scene after a long holiday spell, we are struck by the symbolism of an emerging new world order that is illustrated by the forthcoming joint meeting in Geneva on 18 January 2017 involving the newly elected UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Chinese President Xi Jintao. The meeting is being held in the Palais des Nations, headquarters for the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), and it is indeed ironic that it precedes the inauguration of Donald Trump as the new US President on 20 January 2017 in Washington, DC by a mere two days. Some would argue that these events symbolize the “sharp turns” that are defining the world of international diplomacy in 2017. To the contrary, we will argue here that both events – the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States and the first official visit of President Xi Jinping of China to Switzerland (and UNOG) are significant markers for an international diplomacy of multilateralism “with a new twist”. That said, one should not ignore the significance of the rallies that are scheduled in multiple locations around the US and the world, including Geneva, on 21 January 2017. These are indeed more readily described as illustrative of the “sharp turns”.”Click
In our weekly commentaries, we started the year with forecasts about implementation strategies for the 2015 Development Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. We mentioned several cross-cutting issue areas of significance to the Geneva international community – on trade, health, labour, human rights, intellectual property, just to name a few. Throughout the year, we have delivered our commentaries on activities affecting these issue areas. And, true to our name, we have done this from the perspective of the importance of and potential for multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral dialogue and collaboration in global governance. In this wrap-up issue for 2016, we have reviewed our weekly coverage and picked out the activities that we consider to have had the most significant impact from this multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral perspective.”Click
Are we about to witness the “unraveling of world order”? The year is climaxing with the repercussions of what we have described as a “Black Swan” event in the surprise election of Donald Trump as President-elect of the United States. Recent revelations suggest that cyber-hacking targeting the Democratic Party and others associated with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton has been linked to the Russian Government. We see these developments as the prelude to a dramatic change in the world order. Some critics, including US Senator John Glenn, are actually describing this as an “unraveling” of that world order. We cannot help but address these developments in our final commentary for 2016, even as we also want to summarize in a far more benign fashion that 2016 has been a pivotal year for International Geneva.”Click
Another important “day” and a longstanding one is Human Rights Day, 10 December. This year, the theme was “Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today”. But we also find it useful to link it up to the “TOGETHER” campaign through the “Geneva Mix and Mash” event on 13 December 2016. Well, there is more serious work on this campaign, too. And we are impressed by the listing of top human rights priorities affecting business in 2017, just issued by the Institute for Human Rights and Business in honor of Human Rights Day.”Click
Today, 12 December 2016, is Universal Health Care Day – or UHC Day. It is actually the third year for this event, but this year is a first for the launching of a new International Health Partnership for UHC 2030. It marks the beginning of a full week of activities, including a two-day conference to build a consensus on change for health system strengthening and collaboration of related initiatives in support of universal health coverage, and another two-day high-level ministerial on health employment and economic growth. The week’s activities stimulate us to reflect on the convergence of multi-stakeholder engagement around universal health coverage plus to comment on a number of other recent developments on financing and governance on health with a slightly different multi-stakeholder approach.”Click
Lest we forget, HIV/AIDS is the worst plague in modern history. Well, one might still argue that the Spanish Flu epidemic that abruptly swept the world in 1918 and then just as abruptly stopped in 1919 was the worst in modern history. But aside from that, the AIDS epidemic is a very current epidemic of far greater proportions than either the Ebola or Zika virus epidemics that have spurred recent reforms at emergency preparedness in the world of global health. These reforms are significant for the prevention of future epidemics, but we still revert to the symbolic importance of December 1st as World AIDS Day to reinvigorate our dedication to the cause of ending this most devastating plague. Furthermore, in this immediate time of changing leadership at the UN, the WHO and elsewhere, we are also inspired to integrate what has been learned about multi-stakeholder partnerships in the response to the AIDS epidemic to broader global policy challenges.”Click
The Fifth Global Forum on Business and Human Rights, meeting from 14 to 16 November 2016 in Geneva, will stand out as a strikingly harmonious gathering of participants striving for “leadership and leverage” to embed human rights in the “rules and relationships that drive the global economy”. The origin of this annual forum was to facilitate the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights that were adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011. The purpose is to take stock by discussing trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles but also, more generally, to “promote dialogue and cooperation on issues linked to business and human rights”. We have attended all five forums since then, and we consider this latest forum to be the most upbeat and positive, as well as informative and constructive.”Click
The the latest session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), met in Marrakech, Morocco from 7 to 18 November 2016. This particular jamboree was complicated by the early ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change such that it included the start of the “first session” for the Conference of the Parties of the Paris Agreement (CMA1), along with the related other “COPs” and special sessions associated with the UNFCCC. In addition to the strategy to lock in the treaty before the prospect of its being undone by President-elect Donald Trump, we comment here on the significant business role in Marrakech, as well as the linkages to the goals of eliminating hunger and achieving food security in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”Click
We have written about “black swan” events in the past. They are statistically unlikely events that can only be rationalized in hindsight but carry a potentially devastating impact that might have been avoided – if only we had known then what we know today. The Ebola outbreak is one such example. And now, we have another such “black swan” event. Contrary to almost all of the polling forecasts, the electoral victory for President of the United States went to Donald Trump - even though Hillary Clinton in fact won more votes nationally. In this week’s commentary, we discuss the implications of this unexpected development for International Geneva.”Click
Please take a look at the many events in our News and Events section for this week and next. This is the third annual Geneva Peace Week from 7 to 11 November 2016, and we are especially interested in the way that the themes of peace and conflict management are combined with themes of conflict prevention and sustainable development – including reflections on the powerful film about and influence of Mahatma Gandhi. At the same time, the celebratory atmosphere is evident in Marrakesh where the Climate Change Conference is gathering from 7 to 18 November 2016. This cuts into the media attention if not the attendance at UN-related events elsewhere, but we ourselves will follow Geneva Peace Week with a continued focus on Geneva, for the fifth annual Business and Human Rights Forum on 14 to 16 November 2016. This Forum will also be an opportunity to link back to the outcome of the second session of the Intergovernmental Working Group to develop a treaty on business and human rights, which also met in Geneva from 24 to 28 October 2016.”Click
The Governing Body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) re-elected Guy Ryder to a second five-year term as Director-General today, 7 November 2016. Congratulations and our best wishes to Mr. Ryder! On this momentous occasion, we reflect on the significance of his endorsement by all three of the ILO’s constituent groups for the ILO as a “joint endeavour” going forward. This is in sharp contrast to the divisiveness of electoral politics in other settings – and to the divisiveness that the ILO has recently weathered within itself. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Ryder compared the new unity to the way that mountaineers rope themselves together: “We will reach the peaks or fall as one”. We focus our commentary on a few of the illustrative issues where divisiveness at the ILO is being transformed into win-win joint endeavours. The context is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth, but we select three illustrative issues because of their linkages to other sectors and SDGs – on ending forced labour, on developing sustainable enterprises, and on the future of trade and labour standards. We also include some comparisons with the electoral process at the World Health Organization.”Click
The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals and Metals, which was one of the outgrowths of the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, has been one of those annual events hosted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that has caught our eye. Given the history of mining as an exploitative industry with a “dirty, dangerous and destructive past”, the ability of UNCTAD to attract both developing country ministers and private sector leaders in the mining industry to this annual forum is an impressive record. Imagine our surprise this year to discover that the Secretariat for the IGF has been transferred from Geneva to the Canadian-based International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Not only is this significant for the IGF, but it is also significant as an example of the transformative role of IISD in sustainable development issues.”Click
As a participant in the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul in 1996, we were interested in the convening of Habitat III in 2016. The UN Conference for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development or Habitat III met in Quito, Ecuador from 11 to 17 October 2016. The New Urban Agenda comes out of Habitat III in the form of the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All and the Quito Implementation Plan. It is a significantly broadened agenda from what came out of the first two conferences in 1976 and 1996 (every twenty years!), and the question is whether such a broadened agenda has a momentum of its own or whether other avenues are taking it over.”Click
October surprises have showered down upon us with abundance to lay the groundwork for saving the planet from global warming. First came the threshold of ratifications for putting the Paris Climate Change Treaty into effect, announced on 5 October for going into effect by 3 November 2016. Then came decisions on reducing carbon emissions from international aviation, followed by a breakthrough agreement on reducing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). And now at the end of last week, on 21 October 2016, came a welcome announcement from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on bold reporting.”Click
We had the good fortune to monitor two parallel meetings in which the challenge of aligning interests to support a common multi-stakeholder goal was being addressed in very different ways. The Global Dialogue on “Working Together to Tackle Non-Communicable Diseases”, organized by the Global Coordinating Mechanism for NCDs in association with the governments of France and Mauritius, met from 19 to 21 October in Balaclava, Mauritius. The 43rd Session of the Committee on Global Food Security met from 17 to 21 October in Rome, Italy. In both, we observed the evolving debate on alignment or non-alignment with the private sector – or to the complexity of aligning with multiple layers of the private sector interests. Participants in the Global Dialogue proposed experimenting with a multi-stakeholder initiative on workplace wellness – something that we have had quite a bit of direct experience in facilitating. Meanwhile, at CFS 43, the challenge to private sector engagement came from the Civil Society Mechanism, which held a side event on the issue and presented a comprehensive position statement during the closing session. One of the recommendations in the position statement was a call for clarity on who can choose to be associated with which mechanism and for protecting the space - specifically within the Private Sector Mechanism - from undue conflicts of interest that are not aligned with the CFS mandate. In both cases of the Global Dialogue and of the CFS, then, the issue of different levels of engagement and accountability has come to the fore. We appreciate the merits and look forward to sharing our insights on how to respond to this dramatically changing multi-stakeholder issue. Please contact us if you are interested in more information.
From the CMMD Geneva Observer 24 October 2016”Click
Nutrition as a part of zero hunger, food security and healthy lifestyles has been a fascination of ours ever since we witnessed the launching of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement in September 2010. It is a rather focused issue with many strong and conflicting views about what constitutes good or bad nutrition, but it is also an integrating issue that links health, agriculture, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, child development, women’s economic empowerment and plenty of other concerns. We appreciate a range of recent reports and current initiatives that seek to make some sense of its integrating value – a report/campaign targeting sugar-sweetened beverages, another Lancet series on cost-effective early childhood development, a progress report on linking nutrition to food systems and food value chains, and a global dialogue meeting on national multi-sectoral mechanisms to support action plans on non-communicable diseases, just to name a few.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Inequality and Protectionism: Taking on both challenges in a grim world economic outlook
The annual meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund were held in Washington, DC from 7 to 9 October 2016, but this was preceded by a week-long series of seminars and roundtables attracting some 11,500 participants. We share our impressions on a couple of the distinctive themes of this particular jamboree because of their implications for global policy debates going forward. First, the theme of linking efforts to eradicate extreme poverty by reducing inequality was given quite a boost here. And second, the theme of searching for ways to combat growing protectionism and opposition to trade liberalization was also remarkably prominent in the week’s events. Both of these themes were addressed in the overall context of a grim world economic outlook, but both themes benefited from the sharing of evidence and interpretation. We believe that they will have a significant spill over effect on the agendas and work plans of our Geneva-based international organizations.”Click
The “Assemblies” of the World Intellectual Property Organization are holding their annual session(s) in Geneva from 3 to 11 October 2016. The concept of a different “Assembly” for each IP treaty does have a serendipitous effect on this year’s latest WIPO theme of “living with complexity”. There may be various internecine power struggles at this comfortably well financed UN agency that preoccupy the IP insiders, but we are more interested in the long-run implications for the likes of IBM’s pet computer platform called “Watson” as an enabler of redefining the way we live and work.”Click
We almost threw in a reference in the title to “locker-room talk” but we can start with the “bitterwseet” remark and simply note that the public discourse in so many settings is still caught up in the call for gender equality. This is driven primarily by the continued recognition that inequality prevails in spite of what seems like years and years of a normative consensus in support of gender equality. We discuss our reactions here to the unanimous vote in the Security Council for the election of Antonio Guterres to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, but also to insistence by one of only 21 female CEOs among the Fortune 500 companies that she has experienced no gender bias in her career, and finally to the bizarre claim of mere “locker-room talk” to excuse misogyny.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Wrapping up the Human Rights Council’s Third Session for 2016 or 33rd Session in its Ten-Year History
We sat in on the closing debates at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council and reflected on the continuing and indeed heightened divisions in this tenth anniversary year, regarding different interpretations of between North and South on democracy and a democratic and equitable order. We also heard closing remarks of frustration from the Council’s President Choi Kyong-Lim about intimidation and reprisals against civil society representatives. And, of course, this is where conflict-driven abuses of human rights in Yemen or Syria or Burundi or Somalia are being addressed. Nonetheless, and in spite of these divisions, the Human Rights Council also manages to build a consensus on many of the human rights issues we follow in the economic and social spheres. We discuss the HRC33 decisions on these issues here, and we will relate them to some of the initiatives emanating from the UN General Assembly on these same issues in next week’s commentary.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Insights from the WTO Public Forum on gender, e-commerce and future negotiating priorities
In the context of a gloomy report on slowing trade growth and growing protectionism, the WTO Public Forum helped to promote the benefits of trade liberalization with its theme of “inclusiveness”, covering small and medium enterprises, improving access to trade finance, gender equality and the growing importance of e-commerce. We participated extensively in the gender and trade discussions but note that the most widely covered topic of interest was on the digital economy, including its prospects for a growing presence of small and medium enterprises in trade. We also happened upon a session in which the WTO Director-General and ambassadors from key member states spoke about the emerging priorities for future trade negotiations.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Global Leadership Changes at the United Nations and the World Health Organization
The United Nations General Assembly concluded its 71st session in New York on 26 September 2016. Our first September newsletter, dated 5 September 2016 had already covered the outcome documents and thrust of the main summits and high-level meetings of “UNGA Week” - on refugees and migrants, anti-microbial resistance and climate change. Check our News section for updates on the formalities from these main events. Our focus this week is on the leadership changes at the United Nations and at the World Health Organization and some speculation about the interplay between them.”Click
As we were watching the news coverage of the Hangzhou G20 Leaders’ Summit earlier this month, the attention was directed to a number of awkward diplomatic scenes. The lack of a red carpet to receive President Obama was especially noteworthy. We will monitor this coming week of high-level summits in New York to see if there is any spill over effect, but our focus here is on the substantive outcome of the G20. In its eleventh year, the annual gatherings of the G20 heads of state would seem to be pretty well established as an avenue for guidance on global policy, and we take note of some highlights here. We are also interested in how these leaders affect the UN Summits this week, too.”Click
As Geneva International picks up again after the traditional Geneva holiday of Jeûne genevois, the United Nations Human Rights Council continues to celebrate its tenth anniversary year by filling the calendar through the month of September with its 33rd session, meeting from 14 to 30 September. Even as we are aware of the key role that the Council is playing in political and civil rights in conflict situations like Syria and South Sudan, we focus here on the wide array of social and economic issues that the Council is addressing. Special rapporteurs presented their reports and engaged in interactive dialogues on the human rights perspective of such issues as the sound management of hazardous substances and wastes or access of people to safe water and sanitation, while other panels and side events touched on gender identity, violence against indigenous women and girls, the right to development and many more – quite like parts of a patchwork quilt.”Click
We conclude this week’s commentary with a brief look at yet another high-level meeting during the UN General Assembly in September. This one, also on 21 September 2016, is only the fourth time that a UNGA high-level meeting is directed to a major health issue.”Click
The “Climate Group” is a cluster of business entities that has been operating in support of climate change. It will be repeating a full “Climate Week” of activities in New York. This year, it benefits from heightened publicity from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who hopes to accelerate the ratification process for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change with a special event during the UN General Assembly.”Click
The International Organization for Migration becomes a “member” of the United Nations family on 19 September 2016, on the occasion of the High-Level Meeting on Large Movements of Migrants and Refugees at the UN General Assembly in New York. As we reflect on the growing numbers of migrants and refugees in the world today, we comment here on both the change for IOM and the thrust of the Summit itself – actually two summits. We also take a look at how some of the other key stakeholders from civil society and the private sector are addressing the crisis in migrant and refugee trends and policy. The September events are linked to the newly adopted “Agenda for Humanity” from the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016 and an opportunity for addressing the migrant and refugee challenges we are facing today.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- A “Maiden Voyage” for the High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
he High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) met in New York from 11 to 20 July 2016, with a high-level segment from 18 to 20 July. The HLPF was established by the UN General Assembly to be the main vehicle for reporting on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Although it has actually had two “pre-SDG” sessions in 2014 and 2015, as a replacement for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development as mandated by the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, this third session was the first opportunity to perform its primary function of oversight regarding the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs. There were over 1500 participants and 37 side events on the official roster, with many more of both participants and side events that occurred off-site. And there was a lot of hand-wringing about how this HLPF would be setting the precedents for the future of the 2030 Agenda. Building on the mid-way reporting of this turnkey HLPF that we did in our our 18 July commentary, we provide a wrap-up here of this important “maiden voyage”.”Click
As expected, UNCTAD XIV came to a successful end in Nairobi on the final scheduled day, 22 July 2016, and the adjournment was only five hours later than scheduled. Also as expected, the slight delay did reflect the fact that a final negotiating session on the major outcome document went well into the early morning hours of this final day. The final “consensus” document (called “Maafikiano”, the Swahili word for “consensus” or “outcome”) had been honed down to 30 pages from pre-conference negotiating text of 53 pages. This was accompanied by a final four-page declaration or “Azimio” (the Swahili word for “declaration”) to lay out the policy guidance for the coming four years at UNCTAD.”Click
We conclude this week’s newsletter with a note of thanks to the outstanding participants in the Interactive Dialogue on Gender and the SDGs that was part of the annual General Assembly of the Global Social Observatory on 5 July 2016. We will be posting this report on the GSO website soon, but we wanted you to see what these experts in research and practice, legal frameworks and communications saw as issues of today and solutions for dealing with these issues. Their photo is already there: www.gsogeneva.ch.”Click
Well over 230 special and side events are occurring during the first High Level Political Forum since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, from 11 July to 20 July 2016 in New York. The first week started with a “climate event” – the alignment of the East-West street grid of Manhattan to replicate the capturing of the setting sun, much like it is reputed to have determined the configuration of rocks at Stonehenge in the UK for the summer and winter solstice. On this occasion, the setting sun occurred in alignment with the city streets, with a full sun on 11 July and a half-sun on 12 July. The event does not relate in any way to the substance of the HLPF, but then the multiple events at the HLPF itself remain rather like a patchwork without a discernible pattern. We do note some key points from the first week here and hope to have more sense of things in our next newsletter.”Click
UNCTAD XIV is the fourteenth quadrennial conference to provide policy guidance to this oddly convenient if somewhat anachronistic part of the United Nations. UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, but it isn’t just a conference – it is the principal organ of the UN General Assembly dealing with trade, investment and development issues. It reports to the UN General Assembly and to the UN Economic and Social Council, but it has a separate membership, leadership and budget. Established in 1964 in response to demands from developing countries for a voice on trade and development concerns, its main goal is to address the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries. UNCTAD XIV is meeting in Nairobi from 15 July to 22 July 2016, with the primary objective of agreeing an outcome document that will define its policies and programmes for the coming four years. On this occasion, this main event has been intermingled with a cacophony of parallel forums – perhaps a jamboree? Or a seeding ground?”Click
With the multiple tragedies of human conflict and acts of terror this past week in Istanbul, Dhaka and Baghdad, we extend our condolences to those who are suffering from these horrible tragedies. We also mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with emotional tributes to the loss and suffering in this historic catastrophe, cited by many as the “byword for slaughter”. Beyond grief, however, we need each day to renew, reinforce, strengthen and act to align our many divergent interests in and for international cooperation. The most recent session of the Human Rights Council, meeting from 13 June to 1 July 2016, started with a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Council. On that occasion, the Foreign Minister of the Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter announced the launching of an “International Cooperation Initiative” for that very purpose – that is, for the purpose of supporting action to align our human rights concerns with our security policy concerns. The announcement was featured in our lead commentary for the 20 June 2016 issue of CMMD Geneva Observer, and we remain inspired by this initiative.
Meanwhile, this most recent session of the Human Rights Council, the 32nd session, might well be characterized as a low point in the search for alignment of our human rights concerns, to say nothing about aligning these concerns with any of our security policy concerns. The Council approved 33 resolutions and one decision before suspending its work in the late evening of 1 July 2016. Sharp divisions were evident on a surprisingly large number of issues. The divisive atmosphere showed itself with a vengeance on an extended procedural debate over the appointment of special procedures mandate holders, ultimately leading the Chair to suspend rather than adjourn the meeting late in the evening of the final day.”Click
Moving beyond the speculation on how the international roles of the UK and the EU are likely to be affected, at least in the short run, by the Brexit vote, we also marvel at the underlying factors in the minds and lives of the UK voters that seem to have contributed to the outcome. We agree with the many commentators who have identified three main factors that influenced the “Leavers” in the Brexit referendum – (1) opposition to globalization, (2) rejection of labour mobility and migration and (3) hostility to the political and economic establishment. We reflect here on the role that global policy debates can play on these factors.”Click
The outcome of the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016 was a shocking surprise, with stock markets plunging around the world, British leaders in disarray, European leaders quickly scurrying to react and pundits positing their interpretations of why the vote turned out the way it did. In an advisory referendum, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by 51.9 per cent to 48.1 per cent. This was indeed a surprise since the polling had predicted up to the very end a close but contrary outcome. Our first thought here in Geneva was to wonder what this might mean for both the EU and the UK as major actors in the Geneva international scene – the Human Rights Council, the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization and all the other international organizations in Geneva and elsewhere. Because the Human Rights Council is currently wrapping up its latest session here, we focus on the likely implications for human rights, but we also reflect on the potential impact in some of the other issue areas (trade, migration, health, labour, climate change) that we have been following.”Click
The Dispute Settlement Body at the World Trade Organization is meeting on 22 June 2016 with an agenda that includes consultations on Appellate Body Matters. Normally we do not cover appellate bodies of international organizations since they are usually obliged to follow and interpret existing policy and are therefore not in the policy-making arena as such. However, a recent imbroglio about appointments to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body has stirred the waters. And on a more sedate front, but one that is more oriented to setting the policy agenda for the future, the WTO welcomed the first visit of its kind, a global coalition of business leaders from the International Chamber of Commerce and the B20, for the first of a WTO-sponsored “Trade Dialogue” series on 30 May 2016.”Click
The tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council was celebrated on the opening day of the Council’s 32nd session, which is meeting from 13 June to 1 July 2016. It featured the launch of a new “UN Cooperation Initiative”. We comment on this latest effort to address the strengths and weaknesses of the Human Rights Council. We also take a look at some of the main themes that have come to fill the ever-expanding agenda of the Council in the context of issues that are being addressed at this session. In this week’s commentary we take a particular look at the evolving approach to business and human rights that has parallel implications in the work of the International Labour Conference on global supply chains. (See our commentaries of 6 and 13 June 2016.) We also take note of the Council’s debate on a new initiative on the role of the private sector in the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. We will have more to say about these and other issues as we monitor the Council’s work in the next two weeks, but here is our commentary on the first week of this 32nd session.”Click
The 105th Session of the International Labour Conference came to an end on Friday, 10 June 2016 for the 5,982 delegates from the 197 member States of the ILO who filled the meeting rooms and hallways of the Palais des Nations in Geneva for a solid two weeks. We reflect on the outcomes of the two agenda items we followed throughout the Conference – on decent work for peace, security and disaster resilience, and on decent work in global supply chains. We add a few observations on the implications for ILO action on another major item at the Conference, the review of the landmark 2008 Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. We welcome the summary touching on all the major developments at the Conference in the wrap-up press release from the ILO, as listed in our News and Events section below. What follows here are more in-depth commentaries on the significance of the outcomes for our continuing interest in multi—stakeholder and multi-sectoral dialogue and collaboration.”Click
In contrast to the horrors of the anti-LGBT acts of killing and terror in Orlando, we look to the opportunities for bringing down the barriers and walls around us. One such occasion was the renewal and broadening of commitments – in fact, the “fast-tracking” of commitments at the High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS at the UN General Assembly on 8 to 10 June 2016.”Click
While we like to focus our commentary on what is happening in Geneva, we also like to alert our readers to developments elsewhere that have a bearing on the nexus of social, economic and environmental sustainability that is part of the “mapping of change” for the war of poverty. We have not participated in the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (held on 23 to 24 May 2016) or the second United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi (held on 23 to 28 May 2016) or the G7 Heads of State meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan (on 26 to 27 May) . We do try to include information on outcomes from these kinds of major events in our News and Events section, but we do think that all three merit a few words to draw your attention to what we think are some of the important action items – or even “inaction items” in some cases - coming out of these events. On another occasion, we might also take up the maneuverings in New York on the guidance for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development leading up to the next High-Level Political Forum in July in New York.”Click
Mohamed Ali passed away on 3 June 2016 and has stirred many reflections about his fascinating life, including his penchant for feisty poetry. Perhaps his most widely known poetic message was “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”. But he was known both as a boxer and as an opponent of war. Here is another Mohamed Ali quote: “Wars of nations are fought to change maps, but wars of poverty are fought to map change”. We like to think that we are on the side of mapping change. The spotlight for mapping change this week is on the International Labour Conference, which will be wrapping up its 105th two-week Session on 10 June 2016. The week’s agenda is tightly packed with final deliberations on committee work, a smattering of side events, a World of Work Summit, a long list of plenary speeches and adoption of committee reports and resolutions on Friday. We have been following the agenda items on decent work for peace, security and disaster resilience and on decent work in global supply chains. We will prepare a comprehensive report on outcomes in our next newsletter, but we identify some of the main issues facing these committees here to provide some insights into the timeliness of these two particular issues – and the unique challenges of tripartite governance in the ILO.”Click
CMMD Perspective -- Breaking Through to a New Direction for the Future at the World Health Organization
The 69th session of the World Health Assembly adjourned smoothly on Saturday, 28 May 2016 after six long days of deliberations on 76 agenda items, another record for the World Health Organization (WHO). We note that the high productivity included several surprise breakthroughs and only a few matters that had to be set aside for future consideration at the next annual Assembly. Defining the future of the WHO was essentially addressed with approval of a new programme for emergency preparedness to manage global health crises and adoption of a “first” new framework for engagement with non-State actors. Other matters that we have been following included agenda items on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, nutrition, non-communicable diseases and health and the environment. We also take note of progress on research and development of neglected diseases. The plethora of side events and technical briefings filled the days to overflowing and enriched the programme.”Click
The 105th Session of the International Labour Conference is meeting from 30 May to 10 June 2016 in Geneva, with a timely focus on migrant and refugee workers’ rights, along with a plenary discussion on the role of the ILO in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a soul-searching review of the impact of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and a boundary-stretching exercise on decent work in global supply chains. For starters, we note that the International Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade Union Confederation and their affiliates have announced a call for a "global, cooperative resettlement strategy" and will be distributing “refugees welcome” badges at the Conference.”Click
The fourth global Women Deliver Conference was held in Copenhagen on 16 to 19 May 2016. We monitored the closing ceremony and searched the website for the card that was distributed to all participants with a list of ten action items to do going forward, but could not find the list. We hope participants from the Conference who are reading this will share the list with us, and we’ll publish it in a future newsletter. Here we take note of another list that has been produced by the organization – a list of 12 investment measures in something called the “Deliver for Good” initiative. These have been identified by a participating group of partners as the best investments for high social and economic returns for global productivity and equality, for individuals and for societies. The deal here is that all are welcome to contribute to the briefs that support these 12 investment measures over the coming months. A final version of the Deliver for Good list and supporting briefs will be launched in September 2016, a year after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. See more about this project here.
From the CMMD Geneva Observer 23 May 2016”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Defining health as a “reliable marker of overall progress” in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The 2016 World Health Assembly (WHA 2016) has a very full agenda – another record number of agenda items and perhaps also a record number of some 3500 participants. Many of the issues are having the effect of linking health policy to various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, above and beyond the focus on health in SDG3. In fact, the agenda items are serving to reinforce the image of health as CENTRAL to the SDGs or, as expressed by the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, defining health as a “reliable marker of overall progress” of the 2030 Agenda. We include highlights on a couple of these agenda items – the health-related aspects of environmental concerns and of nutrition.”Click
The 69th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) is meeting from 23 to 28 May 2016 in Geneva. Some are describing this as a session dominated by global concerns about the Zika and Ebola outbreaks, and we do expect a lot of attention to be directed to the emergency preparedness reform in response to these outbreaks. But this session is also being described more broadly and more significantly as a session that is “defining the future” of the World Health Organization. Combining emergency preparedness reform with the reform of the organization’s engagement with “non-State actors” makes this a potentially pivotal session.”Click
New executives will be taking the helm at both the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and both are convening major meetings in the coming weeks with overlap. The Climate Change Conference is meeting in Bonn from 16 to 26 May 2016, and the United Nations Environment Assembly is meeting in Nairobi from 23 to 27 May 2016. We note that next week will also feature the World Health Assembly from 23 to 28 May 2016 in Geneva and the World Humanitarian Summit from 23 to 24 May 2016 in Istanbul. Our focus next week will be on the WHA and the WHS, but for now we share some thoughts about the Bonn and Nairobi events.”Click
The fourth “Women Deliver” Conference is meeting in Copenhagen from 16 to 19 May 2016. While it is not intended to be a global decision-making event, it has attracted such an enthusiastic following that over 5,000 participants are expected from over 2000 different organizations and over 150 countries. Even as the International Geneva Gender Champions gather here for their mid-term review and UNCTAD prepares a special gathering on gender empowerment and trade, we reflect on the gathering momentum for infusing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a gender perspective. All of these initiatives merit our attention.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- The Future of the World Trade Organization through “Trading” to the Sustainable Development Goals
The European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, came through town last week and delivered a speech about the evolving EU trade agenda at a special event at the Graduate Institute. We take the opportunity of her speech to reflect on the changing dynamics of trade growth and the efforts to reinvigorate trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Dealing with the alarming signals of growing protectionism in the US Presidential campaign is included in the commentary.”Click
The 2016 WSIS Forum was held with great fanfare on 2 to 6 May 2016 in Geneva, hosted by the International Telecommunications Union but co-organized with several other UN agencies (UNDP, UNESCO and UNCTAD) and in close collaboration with more than a dozen UN entities. As one might expect, the overall theme was on the integration of information and communications technologies (ICTs) as a means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals and their targets. In many of the sessions, we picked up the theme of “connecting” to the SDGs.”Click
Last week we reviewed some new senior officials in Geneva-based international organizations, along with the unusual procedures for more transparency in the selection/election of the United Nations Secretary-General in New York and the Director-General of the World Health Organization in Geneva. This week we take a look at the prospects for turnover in the leadership of two other organizations – the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Various Iterations on the Environment – Looking Back and Looking Forward and the Impact of Heat
Last week we reported on the worldwide celebrations for Earth Day (22 April) including the signing ceremony and celebrations for the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at the UN General Assembly and the special event at the International Labour Organization in Geneva in collaboration with the Geneva Environment Network on the linkages between climate change and the world of work. This week we note two disparate events in Geneva – one, a “farewell address” as it were from the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Achim Steiner and the other a panel discussion and report on the impact of heat on productivity.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- FENSA and Emergency Preparedness are moving toward resolution by the World Health Assembly
The 69th World Health Assembly is meeting from 23 to 28 May 2016 this year – abbreviated more than ever to a one-week timeframe. We have been following the preparations for policy-making resolutions on emergency preparedness and engagement with non-state actors. We review some key issues regarding the decentralized governance structure of the World Health Organization as well as its continuing preoccupation with categorizing non-state actors. The two issues have intersected in matters related to emergency preparedness reform. We also share additional information on the process for election of the next Director-General.”Click
The Olympic Flame stopped by in Geneva and Lausanne last Friday, 29 April 2016, on its way from Greece to Brazil, to “pay its respects” to the United Nations (UNOG - in Geneva) and the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC - in Lausanne). We reflect on the symbolic implications of the Olympic Games and the IOC’s collaboration with the United Nations for sports as a means to support the UN mission for world peace – and yes, also for well-being.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Solar Impulse, Climate Change Signatories and Earth Day at the International Labour Organization (ILO)
The Solar Impulse Two was in the global limelight on Earth Day (22 April 2016), as a record number of 175 world leaders converged on New York to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, while climate change implications for the world of work attracted our attention in Geneva.”Click
E-Commerce Week at the UN Conference on Trade and Development offered a menu of topical discussions and updates on the latest e-commerce trends from 18 to 22 April 2016 in Geneva. The focus was on e-commerce topics and trends everywhere, not just in developing countries, reinforcing the role of UNCTAD as a secretariat for the whole UN system on e-commerce. It included opportunities to contribute to proposals for new global initiatives on measuring cross-border e-commerce and consumer protection as well as international cybersecurity.”Click
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) convened a Conference on the Global Digital Content Market on 20 to 22 April 2016 in Geneva. In the midst of the Conference, one of the great creative artists of the music world, known by the single name of “Prince”, passed away – unexpectedly, at the relatively young age of 57 - on 21 April 2016 at his home and studio complex known as Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. While the WIPO Conference might not have been as stimulating or provocative as a Prince performance, it proved to be an excellent forum for showing the latest trends in the interplay between creativity, technology and the marketplace. The life and times of Prince are a striking illustration of the marketing revolution in music world, but we focus here on what we learned about these trends and what they mean for the rapidly changing creative markets of today.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Highlights for Further Inspiration on the Sustainable Development Goals, Courtesy of the UN’s Special Adviser, Dr. David Nabarro
The week concluded with a briefing for academic and civil society representatives on “the biggest upheaval” that we are facing with regard to mobilizing activism to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. We see the “week of reports” as indicative of the various steps that are being taken towards the kind of transformational thinking espoused by Dr. David Nabarro, the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs), who wrapped up the week with a briefing on the SDGs going forward, for Geneva-based representatives of academic and civil society organizations. READ MORE HERE:”Click
This was the week for consequential reports to stimulate a variety of policy debates that we have been following – (a) on the interplay between patents and access to medicines, (b) on intellectual property for development generally, (c) on an ambitious and systemic approach to global food policy in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and (d) on mapping the interlinkages between trade policy and the 2030 Agenda. We cluster them together here to show the varied steps in transformational thinking on sustainable development that are part of our Geneva international scene.”Click
Here is some more “UN-Speak”. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is an organization, not a conference. But it was first a conference – held in 1964 – and was institutionalized to meet every four years, supported by a secretariat and a variety of intergovernmental bodies on trade and development issues of concern to developing countries. And now the UNCTAD secretariat is preparing for its Fourteenth quadrennial conference (UNCTAD XIV), for which the first civil society hearing was convened last week. This civil society hearing was facilitated by bringing in civil society representatives from developing countries, thanks to the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- An Implications Paper delivers insights for the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors by the World Health Organization
One can call it the “plague of UN-speak” although it is a plague that has many iterations, mostly in the form of acronyms, some of which are more widely recognizable, such as WHO or ILO, while others take a bit more guessing, such as UNOG, DESA, OCHA, UNHCR, OHCHR, and still others are indecipherable, such as SSFFC or FENSA or IGWG or TRIPS. But UN-speak also comes in the form of carefully crafted diplomatic language to obfuscate the real meaning of things. We focus here on FENSA and leave it to you to “GTS” (Google that S---) for the other acronyms. FENSA stands for “framework of engagement with non-State actors” at the World Health Organization (WHO), and we now have a new “implications paper” that seeks to move us closer to understanding the implications of FENSA as something the paper describes as a new “alignment of the policy context with specific policy requirements”. READ MORE HERE.
FENSA is the latest version of the lingering part of the overall WHO reform that started in 2011 to develop a new and comprehensive policy on WHO’s engagement with non-State actors. It has proven to be a thorny issue – sprouting even more thorns along the way! The hope is that FENSA will be cleared for approval by the 69th World Health Assembly following a final session of an Open-ended Inter-Governmental Meeting (OEIGM) on 25 to 27 April 2016, but the WHO Executive Board in January 2016 also mandated the Secretariat to prepare an “implications” paper on FENSA. This paper has now been posted online here, with recommendations on how the OEIGM might proceed, but it uses some “UN-speak” in the form of carefully phrased terminology to make it not entirely clear what it is recommending.
By way of some background, the FENSA draft document intends to replace two current policies, one that covers any and all engagements with private sector entities and another that regulates “official relations” for all NGOs, including associations with private sector members. In FENSA, non-State actors (NSAs) have been classified into four different groups in order to provide separate policies on engagement by the WHO with (a) NGOs (that is non-governmental organizations but not any with predominantly private sector members), (b) private sector entities, (c) philanthropic foundations and (d) academic institutions. We ourselves have been of the view that these classifications don’t allow for multi-stakeholder non-State actors that may include private sector individuals or entities in their activities but are not organized to promote those entities or individuals and, furthermore, that all NSAs should be subject to similar due diligence and risk assessment procedures and conflict-of-interest policies.
When the Executive Board agreed to request an “implications paper” from the Secretariat prior to the final session of the OEIGM, it was not intended to influence the final negotiations on FENSA. The April meeting of the OEIGM is supposed to finalize the draft first and then discuss the implications, but we sense that this has changed. First, the Secretariat opted to strengthen the “balanced and objective” nature of the report by calling upon the WHO’s External Auditor (currently the Commission on Audit of the Republic of the Philippines) to assist in aspects of validation and commenting on the surveys it was conducting, and even to write a final report on the matter. So the report contains the “results of the independent assessment conducted by the External Auditor”. And this includes recommendations for taking FENSA “as an overarching framework” that “can already stand on its own” but leaving “specific policies” to be worked out later “to clarify the mechanism of the framework”. Further, the External Auditor recommends considering “a phased implementation of the framework and its operational procedures” and accepting that the concerns that have “impeded” the adoption of FENSA can be left to developing “specific guidelines” in the future. This is certainly one way of kicking the can down the road, as it were!
The report does include a table (Table 4 on pp. 17-18) summarizing feedback on the “policy components” of a “policy matrix”. It starts with a policy component on “overall engagement principles” where the feedback suggests concerns about complexity of the text, lack of clarity or even inconsistency of terminology and a high risk of over-regulation. These appear to be very fundamental concerns. The matrix then continues with more specific concerns about definitions and distinctions of actors, resources, evidence, the absence of any policy on individual conflicts of interest, due diligence and risk assessment procedures, risk management, the new register of non-State actors, oversight of engagement and applicability to emergencies. The matrix table is followed by a paragraph (Para 51 on pp. 18-19) that suggests that “the FENSA policy has to further improve in terms of clarity of the framework itself and the acknowledgement that specific policies and guidance must be crafted”.
The paragraph also refers to concerns about cumbersome processes and about reluctance to provide “certain proprietary information” for fear that it would appear on the register of non-State actors. We wish the OEIGM well, especially as it grapples with what the report describes as the number of types of engagements by types of non-State actors. In the surveys that were conducted with all of the regional offices, selected country offices and the major clusters at headquarters, each reported incident was treated as a separate engagement. One table shows a total of 22,386 such incidents, including headquarters, regional offices and country offices. Another table shows a total of 16,084 incidents broken down by type of engagement (participation, resources, evidence, advocacy, or technical collaboration). How can one possibly make all of this manageable? Again, see the External Auditor’s report here, and additional materials, including the latest FENSA draft, here. There is also an interesting earlier critique of the FENSA negotiations by Third World Network here. We don’t fully agree with TWN’s analysis, but it does reflect the kinds of concerns about private sector engagement that need to be worked out – preferably with an across-the-board framework for all non-State actors.
From the CMMD Geneva Observer 11 April 2016”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- The World Intellectual Property Organization hosts a major learning experience on IP and Development
We attended a stimulating two-day Conference on Intellectual Property and Development on 7 to 8 April 2016 in Geneva. This was a genuine learning experience for our team at CMMD, and we hope it has created a collaborative environment for the work of the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property, which continues with its deliberations on 11 to 15 April 2016.”Click
Last week we wrote about the newly adopted “Decade for Action on Nutrition”. This week we pick up on an aspect of the nutrition agenda, “beating diabetes”, which is the theme chosen by the World Health Organization (WHO) for World Health Day on 7 April 2016. We welcomed this theme since it was the focus of a series on “Diabetes and Social Responsibility” with which we had been associated through the Global Social Observatory and which culminated in the development and dissemination of a Workplace Strategy for Diabetes and Wellness. We share the lessons learned from this series and take a look at how the WHO’s first-ever Global Report on Diabetes reinforces the urgency of cross-cutting and proactive steps to halt the spread of diabetes.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Transforming the 2030 Agenda Commitments into Lasting Results through Partnerships?
The annual Partnership Forum of the Economic and Social Council, with the overall topic “From Commitments to Results: Leveraging Partnerships for the 2030 Agenda” was held in New York on 30 March 2016. We found this event to be rather scattered and amorphous, but we listened to panellist and friend Dr. David Nabarro for clues to his perspective on partnerships in his capacity as the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the SDGs.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- The High Commissioner for Refugees Looks for New Refugee Pathways in this New “Era of Human Mobility”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, convened a high-level Ministerial meeting on the Syrian refugee crisis on 30 March 2016 in Geneva. He was joined by the Secretary-General of the UN to campaign for globally shared responsibility and identifying new pathways for a new “Era of Human Mobility”.”Click
The United Nations has a way to focus awareness and action on issues, as we noted last week with the whole series of “international days” on forests, water and meteorology. We also noted their cross-cutting approaches to forests and water, water and jobs, meteorology and climate change. This week, we shift to a United Nations “decade” – a new one for “Action on Nutrition”.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- A New Life for the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy
As we reported last week, the 326th session of the ILO Governing Body was meeting from 14 to 24 March 2016 and wrapped up its work with some 39 official “decisions” while also taking note of several other reports that did not require decisions. See the full list here. We were especially interested in the decisions taken on the Enterprises Initiative, on partnerships, and on the Standards Initiative, as we reported last week. In addition, we were curious to see how the debate would unfold on a proposed revision of the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, a declaration that was originally adopted in 1977. We report here that a consensus was reached to “review the text” in its entirety – and to review as well its “interpretation procedure”. This will be done through a “tripartite ad hoc working group” of 8 Government members, 4 Worker members and 4 Employer members over the next year or so. See the final decision here. This keeps alive a Tripartite Declaration that has seen many others occupying the space - the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, and many others. Perhaps this one will continue to have its place as a truly tripartite declaration and one that focuses on social policy issues quite broadly.
From the CMMD Geneva Observer 28 March 2016”Click
The 31st session of the Human Rights Council came to an end on Thursday, 24 March 2016, with a record number of sessions and several interventions to encourage streamlining of the deliberations. Nonetheless, it would appear that the next sessions of the Council, in June and September 2016 will be just as packed, although shorter in length. The March session is usually a three-week bonanza that brings the heads of state or at least the senior ministers from member States to advance or defend their human rights records in the first week, followed by a heavy agenda of panels, reports by special rapporteurs and reviews of individual countries. That said, this latest March session did produce a respectable number of 37 resolutions, two decisions and one Presidential statement, mostly without any major fireworks.
The Global Social Observatory has been facilitating interactive dialogues in Geneva on global social issues since 2004, including an ongoing series on the potential for multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At a brainstorming session in February 2016, participants recommended a GSO role to stimulate cross-cutting collaboration and an information exchange for diplomatic missions and the diverse NGO community in Geneva. In anticipation of a UNOG briefing for NGOs by Dr. David Nabarro, the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, on Wednesday, 6 April 2016, we include a commentary on the GSO perspective on partnerships for the SDGs and climate change. See our News and Events section (below) for more information on this event and”Click
The past week was shorter by a day because of a long holiday weekend, and both of the main annual events in Geneva in the month of March wrapped up a day early as a result. We comment below on the conclusions reached at the 31st session of the Human Rights Council, which met from 29 February to 24 March 2016, and on some of the concluding work at the 326th session of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization, which met from 10 to 24 March 2016. But we also are inspired to comment on the “special days” of this last week – the annual special days approved by the United Nations on such topics as forests, water or meteorology – related topics on the three consecutive days of 21, 22 and 23 March. These are not necessarily policy-making events, but we do note this year that they are benefiting from euphoria from the adoption of the all-encompassing 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to feature linkages that merit our compliments.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Migration, Refugees, Jobs and Skills in the Nexus of Humanitarian Relief and Development
Debates on migration and refugees are catching our attention as emerging issues of concern for international policy makers, above and beyond the immediate decisions in Europe to respond to the dramatic increase in migration flows of mostly refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan into Europe. The European Council has adopted a preliminary agreement for exchange of migrants in Greece for refugees in Turkey, and the European context is driving much of the public debate. But the debates are looking at the implications of the European actions for the broader circumstances of the largest number of forced migrations in history. We have heard from the newly appointed High Commissioner for Refugees, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Migration and Development, Director-General of the International Labour Organization, the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration and others in the humanitarian and development communities.”Click
After a rough start requiring several revisions, the ILO policies on engagement with the private sector through an “Enterprises” initiative and another on public-private partnerships have settled into a growth phase with a fine-tuning role from the Governing Body oriented to improving the implementation of existing policies. The ILO has certainly had its share of lively debates, especially with regard to how to interpret the standards on a right to strike or how to manage the ILO’s relationship with specific enterprises. While we don’t expect the chronic tensions between the social partners about the interpretation and enforcement of international labour standards to fade away, there are numerous innovations that are starting to work well. One area, however, where renewed tensions are emerging has to do with long-needed revisions in the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (adopted way back in 1977) but with a menu of options that is stirring the tensions.
The Governing Body engaged in a review of the 2016 to 2017 biennial programme and budget for “Outcome One”, as included in a report on “More and better jobs for inclusive growth and improved youth employment prospects”, and in a related report on global policy developments entitled “Decent work and inclusive sustainable growth: Challenges for global policy”. The first of these reports contains an overview of the five areas of ILO work, starting with support to countries on developing “comprehensive employment frameworks”, followed by more detailed attention to youth employment, macro-economic policies, sector-specific (i.e. industrial, sectoral, trade, skills, infrastructure, investment and environment policies), labour market institutions, and finally, global advocacy and partnerships. The second report describes the ILO’s activities with the G20, the BRICS and the UN system in the various 2015 summits on financing for development, sustainable development goals and climate change commitments. We take note of a number of interesting opportunities for the ILO emanating from a generally positive and enthusiastic response from Governing Body members on these reports.
CMMD Perspectives -- Human Rights Approaches to Privacy, Food, Migrants and Trans-National Corporations
During the second week of the 31st session of the Human Rights Council, the agenda was primarily devoted to thematic reports and special sessions on thematic issues, including the rights of the child and human rights in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, along with the High Commissioner’s own annual report. Side events tended to complement these plenary debates, although many governments also got started on drafting sessions for resolutions to be adopted at the end of the four-week session. A common theme seemed to be the protection of human rights defenders, whether for civil and political rights or for social, economic and environmental rights. Last week, our commentary featured reflections on the opening high-level debate on human rights in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with specific attention to gender, climate change and environment. In the second week, our attention was drawn to the debates on the thematic reports and pronouncements on the right to privacy in the digital age (especially in the light of the US versus Apple controversy), the right to food, the rights of migrants and the report from the Open Working Group on drafting a legal instrument on business and human rights. The first of these seems to be the most action-oriented for 2016, but all four merit our attention.”Click
The four-week 31st session of the Human Rights Council opened on 29 February 2016 in the midst of growing anxieties about the complex conflicts in Syria and their recent spillover effects on the huge increase in migration flows into Europe. Even as the HRC debates the human rights situation in Syria and many other country settings, the Palais des Nations will host the peacekeeping efforts of the UN Special Advisor on Syria, Staffan de Mistura. The HRC is at one end of the Palais, and the peace dialogues are at the other end. It vividly symbolizes the divisions that still exist even among the different pillars of the UN – peace and security, human rights and “well-being” (otherwise meaning the social, economic and environmental nexus of sustainable development). This latter pillar has no specific Geneva locus, although UNDP might qualify – located a distance away at International Environment House, but there are also the ILO, WHO, UNCTAD, WTO and others scattered throughout Geneva. We all recognize that human rights cannot be realized without peace and security and cannot be realized without development. The reverse is true, too, and in fact they are like a three-legged stool – all are needed and support each other.
We focus here on the HRC side of the Palais activities and address how the human rights perspective is integral to these other two pillars – and how the events at this 31st session of the Human Right Council are illustrating the emerging array of linkages that are being inspired by the phenomenal outcomes of the 2015 summits. Special mention is made this week of the human rights links to climate change and health, but we will touch on other linkages in future newsletters. We feature the debates that are arising in the many side events at the HRC, since the plenary sessions themselves are summarized with considerable detail in OHCHR press releases and are also webcast and can be downloaded.”Click
International Women’s Day is 8 March, and the 2016 theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The theme is pertinent to linking and mainstreaming gender equality throughout the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Women has organized this around an initiative targeted to member-States entitled the “Step It Up Initiative”. In Geneva, a complementary initiative – and one that ties it to the International Geneva Perception Change Project – is called the International Geneva Gender Champions. We focus our commentary this week on the many events that are oriented to the idea of “getting to equal” by 2030 in this gender context at least, as well as commitments for action that are being shared by participants in these various initiatives. Check our news and events calendar this week for a listing of events.”Click
The Director of the United Nations at Geneva (UNOG), Michael Moller held an exchange with the representatives of NGOs in Geneva on 25 February 2016. He reaffirmed his commitment to holding these exchanges twice a year – at the beginning of each year and in September during the fall session of the Human Rights Council so that the NGO representatives who are in town for that but not otherwise based in Geneva can also benefit from the exchange. The turnout for this particular exchange filled the meeting room to overflowing, while the discussion illustrated the growing interest among NGOs in Geneva to participate in supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”Click
CMMD Perspectives -- Finding the “Lens of Environment” for Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals
We are intrigued by the complexity of global environmental standards and the lack of a single coordinating agency, in spite of the fact that the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was established in 2013 to elevate the standing of at least the UN Environment Programme, if not the rest of the myriad environmentally related entities. The preparations for the second Assembly were addressed by the Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives at UNEP at a week-long meeting in Nairobi from 15 to 19 February 2016. As we read the reports from this meeting, we find it useful to use this as a take-off point for a variety of recent environmentally related events, including climate change and water-related developments that illustrate how these are all being affected by the dynamics of a post-2015 or 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”Click