CMMD Perspectives

    CMMD Perspectives -- Treading Water at COP23 and Momentum Elsewhere

    In our second commentary, we take note of the growing attention that is being directed to the human dimensions of climate change - including this issue of climate refugees but also extending to concerns about health, livelihoods, innovation, trade, weather and development. In fact, just about every agency in Geneva has established links to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and we were especially struck by these linkages at “COP23” as it wrapped up its deliberations last week in Bonn. We reflect here on the significance of the progress made at COP23 for the initiatives relating to climate change at the WHO, ILO, WIPO, WTO, UNCTAD and even the ITU, along with the more obvious involvement of organizations like the WMO and the IPCC. It is just another illustration of the momentum of action that is really taking off around climate change in spite of the uncertainties over realistic and effective solutions.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Climate Refugees: An Example of Multi-Sectoral Linkages

    Climate refugees are not the same as refugees from persecution, but the plight of climate refugees is being raised as a distinct issue in numerous settings. We came across the issue last week, both at the “COP23” on climate change in Bonn and in the thematic consultations for a Global Compact on Refugees in Geneva. It is an excellent example of the linkages among issues that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development seeks to promote. In our first commentary this week we look at the implications for including or not including climate refugees in the Global Compact, along with our reflections on the overall progress in developing a Global Compact for Refugees.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Tobacco Dilemma at the ILO

    Contrary to our impressions from last week, the latest session (331) of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization did end up with a contentious, if brief, debate on whether to continue partnering with the tobacco industry on the financing of programmes to eliminate child labour in tobacco leaf production. We had reported last week that the dynamics of tripartite policy-making at the ILO seemed to convey the impression that formal decisions are only taken when the three parties had already reached a consensus. Well, we stand corrected! Much to our surprise, and after being rescheduled on the two-week calendar several times, the decision on the issue of “ILO cooperation with the tobacco industry in the pursuit of the Organization’s social mandate” was “gavelled” to conclusion without a consensus. We call this a real “tobacco dilemma” for the ILO, and we comment here on the implications.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Digital Neutrality in Cybersecurity?

    Supported by the Swiss Confederation, the fourth annual “Geneva Peace Week” on 6 to 10 November 2017 featured a “collective action initiative” between the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Graduate Institute and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform. It also mobilized a long list of event organizers, resulting in over 50 different events, with an overall theme of “prevention and effective pathways for implementation”. Resonating with our own mission on multi-stakeholder partnerships, we monitored several of these events on prevention through partnering with the private sector and with civil society. What especially captured our attention was the tenth annual edition of the Geneva Lecture Series – another collaborative effort to raise the profile of International Geneva – which was folded into the Geneva Peace Week this year. Its focus was on current Internet governance challenges, and we think it is useful here to raise some of the issues that were raised by the keynote speaker, Microsoft President and Legal Counsel Brad Smith. We seek to put this into the context of ongoing Geneva-based engagement with the issues of cybersecurity, privacy and data protection and a business role in promoting and protecting human rights.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Future of Work

    We return again to the theme of “the future of work” that has been catching our attention – and the attention of many deliberative bodies this year. Both the G20 and G7 have launched initiatives related to this theme, and we certainly saw how it permeated special sessions at the International Labour Organization in April and June and at the WTO Public Forum in September. Our intern Jacob Haddad had the opportunity last week to attend events featuring more updated insights into the murky world of fortune-telling about jobs and sustainable livelihoods. One was a Trade Dialogue event at the WTO on 30 October, another was a stimulating panel at the Graduate Institute, and yet another was a more pragmatic review by the ILO Governing Body on how the ILO is preparing to deliver a definitive ILO perspective on the future of work at its Centenary celebrations in 2019. Of course, we also appreciate the ongoing deliberations of the ILO’s Governing Body on so many related issues, as noted in our commentary below.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Prospects of Life after MC 11

    On trade, we realize that all eyes are diverted from Geneva, especially as the disruptive force of the current occupant in the American White House stirs up the troubled waters of US relations on an Asian tour while leaving behind further turbulence in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The prospects for any breakthroughs at the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC 11) are exceedingly modest, but we do take a look here at how the older issues are being addressed or set aside and how the newer issues are helping to create a “life after MC 11” at the WTO.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Elements, Activities and Divisions

    The Human Rights Council will once again have the opportunity to address the contours of a drafting process for a legally binding instrument on business and human rights. The return debate in the Council is not yet scheduled but will likely happen at its next regular session – which is not until March 2018. But we pick up on it here because the working group set up by the Council to prepare such a draft just held its third (and supposedly final) week of negotiations from 23 to 27 October 2017 without completing its mandate. Even with an impasse on finding a consensus for a way forward, however, the impetus for keeping the process alive will simply not fade away.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Linking Up with Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining

    The 13th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) met last week in Geneva, hosted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). We have been monitoring this IGF because it has been attracting a strong and growing level of public/private participation, serving as a successful offshoot of the Johannesburg Environmental Summit of 2002 from which it originated. It also represents an economic sector that has been targeted by advocates of regulating the human rights obligations of business. We benefited from the diligent participation and note-taking of our new intern, Jacob Haddad, in his first week of covering meetings in the Geneva international scene. We thank him for his “first impressions” and refreshing insights.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The New Catch-Phrase is “Human Capital”

    The jamboree surrounding the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was no exception for newsworthy socio-economic policy developments this year. On the traditional economic/financial/monetary front, relief over the signs of recovery (at last) from the financial and economic crisis was clearly evident – sharpened, as one might expect, with warnings to “shore up” the global economic recovery and to pay attention to the “downward tilt” of “medium-term economic risks and rising geopolitical tensions”. But there were also some Interesting signs of moving in new policy directions. We are especially interested in the convening of a first-ever “Human Capital Summit” by the World Bank and in an announcement by the IMF that it is merging its work on inequality with its work on gender inequality. One of the high-publicity events of the week was the launch event for a new Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, in the presence of both Ivanka Trump and Angela Merkel!

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Where Are We on Nutrition?

    Last week we remarked on how unusual it was for so much to be happening on global health issues during the month of October – a Social Forum on human rights and health in epidemics, a new leadership team and strategic plan at the WHO, a health care summit in Geneva, a World Health Summit in Berlin, and yet another global conference on noncommunicable diseases in Montevideo. We build on last week’s commentary with this week’s commentary on the related issue of policies on nutrition, a focus which has also attracted a lot of attention this month! We look at the extent to which it was a featured topic at the latest session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome last week, but we also take note of an unusually short consultation process at the WHO on conflicts of interest in nutrition programmes that was held in September. On top of that, we look at the publicity around a new report on childhood obesity. And we encourage our readers to check our News and Events sections for even more programmatic information on nutrition, including a major conference in Buenos Aires.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- A Global Compact on Migration: Steady But Only Voluntary Convergence?

    We sat in on the final thematic consultation in Geneva last week for the preparation of a “zero draft” of a new Global Compact on Migration. We note that another set of thematic “discussions” is under way this week, also in Geneva, for a new Global Compact on Migration. Although the two processes came out of the same New York Summit and Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, and although both are oriented to presenting final work products by September 2018, they do appear to be moving along distinctively different paths. We focus here on the Global Compact on Migration but also have a few things to say about the Global Compact on Refugees.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- New Directions and a New Leadership Team at the World Health Organization

    We are quite taken by the signs of change in the world of global health as reflected in the multi-sectoral engagement at the Social Forum. This sets the stage for our fresh look at recent developments at the World Health Organization itself. A new senior leadership team has just been announced by the new WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus. We tie this new leadership to an inclusive consultation process that is under way for the first Tedros-driven Global Programme of Work for the WHO, with a 13 October 2017 deadline for interested parties, including non-State actors.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Signs of New Directions in Global Health: Starting with the 2017 Social Forum

    Normally a quiet month for global health issues, October 2017 is already producing a number of newsworthy developments in the health arena – most strikingly the announcement of a new leadership team at the World Health Organization but also a Social Forum with a high-powered health agenda, a major partnering announcement on a patent information platform and an odd one-day Health Care Summit right here in Geneva, to say nothing about the annual World Health Summit that attracts the global health elite to Berlin every October. And then there also the highly significant WHO Global Conference on Noncommunicable diseases in Montevideo. See our News and Events section for more on these forthcoming events.

    We actually start this commentary with reflections on the 2017 Social Forum, which was convened from 2 to 4 October 2017 on the theme of “the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic and other communicable diseases and epidemics”. Much to our surprise, we learned a lot from this Forum – and saw significant signs of forward momentum for a synergy between human rights and health communities.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Future: Made on the Internet

    The 2017 WTO Public Forum attracted a record number of 2,250 participants for a three-day jamboree from 26 to 28 September 2017. With an over-riding theme of “Trade: Behind the Headlines”, the Forum featured over 100 sessions filling up every meeting room of the WTO. The annual event is a well-received opportunity for non-state actors of varying sorts (civil society groups, private sector, economists and other academic types) to mingle with each other, with international bureaucrats and even with a growing number of member-States. This year was no exception. In spite of the malaise among the old guard in the traditional multilateral trade world, there was an atmosphere of things happening at an ever faster pace such that the interdependence of changes in trade and technology – and their impact on jobs – seemed to dominate the deliberations.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Action on Intimidations and Reprisals and LGBTI Rights

    The 36th session of the Human Rights Council wrapped up on 29 September 2017 with 33 resolutions and a Presidential statement – not a record but indicative of the variety of topics and country-specific initiatives that continue to preoccupy the Council with their human rights implications. We have been focusing our coverage of Council sessions on the economic, social and environmental issues. And at this session, these included the ongoing debates on implementing the human right to safe water and sanitation (through regulatory mechanisms) and in relation to hazardous substances and waste (through guidelines for business good practices). What caught our eye this time, however, was a new resolution in response to the escalating incidence and growing severity of intimidations and reprisals of individuals and civil society seeking to communicate their human rights concerns to the Council (and other UN bodies). We focus our commentary on the contentiousness of the deliberations on this resolution, along with the ongoing challenges of a role for civil society and other non-state actors in implementing specific human rights concerns.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Global Goals 2017 and Climate Week 2017: Patterns in the Cacophony of Side Events

    A sort of osmosis is setting in around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We are used to the cacophony of side events during the high-level week at the opening of the UN General Assembly every September, but this year we were struck by the phenomenon of consolidated reporting of at least a selected number of these side events under two parallel umbrellas – Climate Week 2017 and Global Goals 2017. What they conveyed, perhaps misleadingly, is that a variety of private sector interests, some old but many new, seemed to be penetrating the space vacated by the demise of the Clinton Global Initiative in such a way as to become a dominant presence in the world of the 2030 Agenda. READ MORE HERE.

    We call it “a sort of osmosis” because of the way that this biological concept has been applied to the social phenomenon of a gradual and “apparently effortless absorption of ideas, feelings, attitudes”. We refer here to the definitions in “Your Dictionary” where osmosis is also described as “picking up knowledge accidentally without actually seeking that particular knowledge”. We are struck by how the usual cacophony of side events has been supplemented by a pattern of coordination. It is not necessarily a displacement of the cacophony. We do see a whole variety of side events listed in a “master” list that shows the usual things like the many health-related events we normally attend organized by the NCD Alliance, the Global Health Council or the Rockefeller Foundation. And of course, there are the many side events co-hosted by member-states and UN agencies, too. But what was different this year was the plethora of side events organized under the umbrellas of “Climate Week 2017” and “Global Goals 2017” – and the role of Devex as a source of reporting on these two categories of events.

    “Climate Week” as such is not new. The 2017 version is listed as the ninth annual such event. And we do know that it has been a catalyst for progressive business interests to weigh in on climate change. So the list of events associated with Climate Week 2017 is not that unusual. What is significant, however, is the new “Global Goals Week 2017”. Here is an entirely new list of major side events, orchestrated by a collaboration of something called “Project Everyone”, along with the UN Foundation and the UN Development Programme. Project Everyone is a brainchild of Richard Curtis, the film-maker (whom we met in Geneva at a screening of his film on malaria a year or so ago). We knew that he was active in orchestrating something at the UN in both 2015 and 2016, and we now learn that these were pilots for the full-fledged launch of the 2017 Global Goals Week. Numerous business groups are sponsors of this activity – including MasterCard, Pearson, Unilever, Mars and Google (as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and a number of others not necessarily business-related).

    What this amounts to is that “Global Goals Week” offers quite a list of old and new side events – all of them very substantial and described as “a collective effort to maximize the value of events and activations” at UNGA 72 (i.e. the week of the high-level sessions at the UN General Assembly). The draw, of course, is the presence of heads of state. And the events do include some of the older stand-byes – the Social Good Summit at the 92nd Street Y and the International Conference on Sustainable Development (the fifth of these) at Columbia University. But there is a new batch, all of which appear to have popped up to fill the space vacated by the Clinton Global Initiative. Wow, we say. Here we have the first ever World Economic Forum event entitled Sustainable Development Impact Summit; the first ever report and event by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called “Goalkeepers”; the first ever “We the Future” event touting social entrepreneurship; and the Bloomberg 2017 Global Business Forum on “Why the SDGs are Good for Business”! All of them are indeed avenues for linking business to the development world of the 2030 Agenda. And here are some of the outcomes from these events.

    The WEF Impact Summit concentrated on the themes of growth and development, climate change, Internet for all and business leadership. It endorsed the “global deal”, much as the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report for 2017 called for a “new global deal”. It launched something called the “Fourth Sector Development Initiative” to boost private enterprise for public good, and it also launched a gender parity initiative.

    The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation followed a similar format to the WEF for their “Goalkeepers 2017” event featuring a dialogue with former President Barack Obama. The optimistic message was that progress has indeed been made but that it is fragile and requires constant renewal and a willingness to “roll up our sleeves to work” and to “reject cynicism”.

    At “We the Future”, the TED format was used to address transformative change strategies for “zero poverty, zero unemployment and net zero carbon emissions”. The message is that social entrepreneurship can join “corporate pioneers, government innovators, artistic geniuses and other changemakers” to accelerate achievement of the SDGs. The sponsors here were the UN Foundation with the Skoll Foundation and TEDx.

    The Bloomberg Global Business Forum focused on how data science can be used to solve problems for the social good. It launched the “Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data”.

    Of course, it is true that several other private sector events were part of the standard fare for UNGA 72. The UN itself hosted the annual Private Sector Forum on 18 September with a focus on financing for development and eliciting SDG-related commitments from business; and the UN Global Compact convened its own triennial event, the Global Compact Leaders Summit on 21 September. The dynamic programme included speakers from non-state actors and cities but also business – most visibly our long-standing CEO friend from Unilever, Paul Polman, who opined that “Business cannot be a bystander in a system that created it in the first place.” At the event, furthermore, the Global Compact issued several guides for business, including a Blueprint for Business Leadership on the SDGs; a guide on Business Reporting on the SDGs: An Analysis of the Goals and Targets; and a 2017 UN Global Compact Progress Report, based on a 2017 survey of the 9,500 companies participating in the UN Global Compact.

    Finally, this was the first year for the International Chamber of Commerce to have representation in the UN General Assembly itself – the first ever business group to be so accredited. We know, too, that the US Council for International Business was active with the ICC in a variety of events, providing an important channel to business participation in the International Labour Organization. We conclude here by praising the ILO for its participation with UN Women and OECD in a new Equal Pay International Coalition and in its widely reported survey of child and slave labour on the occasion of UNGA 72. It is in the context of the ILO that regular participation with the private sector is well established, and we are intrigued that so much osmosis was working to produce such a broad array of new initiatives involving private sector interests in the UNGA 72 setting. This is not to say that we think it is all forward momentum. There is still quite a bit of disgruntlement about the dangers of partnering with the private sector on development issues and even criticisms from some NGOs about the apparent embrace of the SDGs by the business world. This might not have been so evident during “Global Goals 2017”, but we do conclude this commentary by noting that concerns about business responsibility will be raised in many policy debates in the near future – including right here in Geneva this fall. So stay tuned once again.

    From the CMMD Geneva Observer 25 September 2017

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Prevention as a Cross-Pillar Priority

    The opening of the 72nd session of the United Nations was the first opportunity for the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres to welcome the heads of the 193 member-states of the United Nations to the UN General Assembly. While his term commenced in January, and while he had probably done a good deal of diplomatic visits to member countries in the months since then, this UNGA was his first opportunity to receive heads of state and government at the UN itself. This year, furthermore, there was no issue-specific summit to distract from the more basic flow of high-level pronouncements on the state of the world as such. But there was a bigger distraction in the form of “No. 45”, the latest version of a US President, who was also making his first official appearance at the UN. Although the critics in the media have concentrated on President Trump’s inflammatory remarks about North Korea and Iran, we are intrigued by the unusually supportive role of the new US Administration for the management reform initiatives of the new UN Administration. We focus here on the implications of this unexpected alignment with the US for the new Secretary-General’s approach to reform, including its implications for Geneva-based UN agencies. We note that Mr. Guterres did describe the underlying theme of his first draft for UN reform as “prevention as a cross-pillar priority”, which segues very well into the operational world of International Geneva.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Calls for a “UN-Urban”

    In October 2016, we reported on “Habitat-III” which met in Quito, Ecuador to adopt a “New Urban Agenda”. We were fairly skeptical about this at the time, and we continue to be skeptical. But we don’t seem to be alone on this one. The UN General Assembly just held a two-day summit on this “New Urban Agenda” and received a report evaluating the role of the UN’s prospects for advancing this “New Urban Agenda”.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Harvey, Irma, José, Katia, Mudslides, Floods and Forest Fires

    If climate change is a shark, then water is its teeth. So goes a saying that has recently picked up in frequency and popularity. The fish might not be aware of the shark lurking nearby until it is suddenly attacked. The argument goes that climate change is invisible like a shark, but we are all feeling its effects through water – or the lack thereof. We have recently been preoccupied by the intensity and devastation of hurricanes. But we are also confronting extremes of dryness and drought in some parts of the world and severe flooding in other parts of the world. Water, furthermore, is essential for sustainability, and it is no wonder that issues of availability, accessibility, quality and safety, and affordability of water are being so widely debated.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the Platform Economy, the Next Production Revolution and the Future of Work We Want

    Back in April, we attended a “global dialogue” at the International Labour Organization on “The Future of Work We Want”. Our impression was that the participants in this global dialogue were describing a big “disconnect” between the “want” and the reality for the “future of work”. But we also noted that this was only one event in an extended consultative process involving over 110 national dialogues and numerous regional ones – all contributing fodder for a high-level global Commission on the Future of Work, soon to be appointed. On 21 August 2017, the ILO Director-General did in fact officially launch the establishment of this Commission and joined with its co-chairs in describing its vision for an 18-month work programme – and for the ILO. This will culminate in a Commission report for the Centenary Anniversary of the ILO in 2019. On the whole, the launch event was far more optimistic than the April global dialogue.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Jackson Hole and the Merits of Financial Regulatory Reforms

    Summer’s end is marked by the early signs of returning from beach and lake front (later sunrises and dew on the grass), in anticipation of renewed energy and lofty work agendas. We find both the Stockholm Water Week and the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium as charming symbols of this transition time. They offer lovely summertime settings, whether the urban but water-filled bustle of Stockholm or the magnificent wide open spaces and distant panorama of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, for a first shot of rejuvenated and high-powered exchanges. And yet they give us enough time to go back to our last glimpses of summer sunsets and our last celebration of kebabs on the grill before the serious stuff begins again. We touched on Stockholm’s messages in our most recent commentary, while we focus this issue’s commentary on the significance of Jackson Hole. Our focus here is especially on the threat to financial regulatory reforms in the US, but also on the remarkable success of the voluntary approach to financial regulatory reform at the Financial Stability Board.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Reflections on “Hydrodiplomacy”

    Global water governance – or “hydrodiplomacy” as enthusiasts describe it – has suffered from a lack of a specific international agency or treaty to serve as an oversight body with any clout. Even though there is an interagency body, UN Water, that meets at least once a year, its function is primarily to coordinate and channel UN inputs into an annual report for World Water Day in March of each year. It does not have any governing role. However, much like its physical qualities – fluid and easily transformed (from ice, to steam, etc), water permeates almost everything we know and operates as an issue in almost every international setting. No wonder there are so many disparate initiatives associated with global water issues! On the occasion of the major annual event on water - not World Water Day in March but the World Water Week in August in Stockholm – we reflect on the state of play regarding these disparate initiatives. We do agree that water is looming as the greatest risk to sustainable development, and we do wonder if the haphazardness of uncoordinated streams might eventually converge or simply dry up.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Summer Break at the WTO: Another Turning Point?

    The end of July has often been a dramatic climactic time for WTO negotiations, although the last of these climactic events ended in a bit of a crash for the Doha Development Agenda (way back in 2008, as we recall). The WTO culture still does have a turning point view of wrapping up the first half of the year with a series of meetings filled with exhortations of what remains to be done, especially in the odd-numbered years, like this one, when a major ministerial conference is in the offing. Everyone is then sent off for a six-week break, to reconvene in mid-September with a refreshed approach to the negotiating agendas of one sort or another after the Geneva-based Jeune Genevois holiday. This year, one might interpret this latest round of exhortations as a sort of throwing down of the gauntlet – not necessarily a climactic event - but a turning point sort of situation, nonetheless.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Spill-over Effects of the 2017 High-Level Political Forum

    The 2017 High-Level Political Forum on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was held in New York from 10 to 19 July 2017. It seemed to be mostly an introspective affair but with important warning signals for key global policy guidance, especially on trade, gender and environmental concerns. As strong supporters of the 2030 Agenda and for multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral initiatives, we recognize that implementation is largely at the national level, and the Forum did feature a lot of information about national – and even local - momentum. In fact, the HLPF is a crucial setting for information exchange – but also for policy coherence and for inspiring all stakeholders to apply and adapt the 2030 Agenda as a far-reaching, comprehensive and effective catalyst for sustainable development. We do note that some dedicated souls are urging the kinds of changes that could bring this about – and we add a few ideas of our own.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Anti-Corruption at the G20

    We have been aware of the G20 involvement in anti-corruption measures but have not featured it in years past. It has always seemed to be just one of those subject areas where the heads of state give lip service to their shared common concern but then don’t really do much to tackle it. At the Hamburg G20 Summit, however, we noticed an uptick in activity that caught our attention. German leadership has been strong in anti-corruption initiatives, and this is evident in the outputs from the Hamburg G20 Leaders Summit. Of course, we understand that corruption scandals have also hit German companies (e.g. Siemens or Volkswagen) to produce heightened corporate activism to address corruption, whether in the public or private sectors. But on the whole, we think this is a positive development.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The G20 in Transition

    As we followed the Bastille Day celebrations – and commemorations - in Paris and Nice this past week, we were quite struck by the spill-over implications for global policy of the return visit of the US President to Europe. He had already appeared at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, preceded by an interesting side visit to Warsaw, the G7 Summit in Taormina and the NATO gathering in Brussels. Media attention has been quite taken by the bilateral meetings that these various gatherings have facilitated. It is no wonder that the bilateral interplay between the US and French Presidents in Paris could be interpreted as a continuation of this phenomenon, even as the larger global political scene of multilateral prognostications is the essential backdrop for giving these bilateral encounters their substance. We are especially interested here in the outcome and immediate aftermath of the Hamburg G20 Summit.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Forays into the World Trade Organization

    On the same day as the farewell roundtable for Dr. Margaret Chan, we stopped into morning and afternoon sessions of a symposium at the World Trade Organization on the twentieth anniversary of the Information Technology Agreement. The ITA has become quite popular, and the symposium attracted an overflow crowd in the famed Room W at the WTO. We were a bit taken aback by the gender disparity in the programme – eased somewhat by a female moderator throughout the day – but well under 15 per cent of the speakers were women. Coincidentally, this was also the day that WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced the appointment of his four deputies for his second term – yet another fully male slate. Oh dear….

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    CMMD Perspectives -- From Hong Kong to Addis Ababa and Beyond!

    The transition to new leadership at the World Health Organization happened over this past weekend, on Saturday, 1 July 2017. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gibreyesus from Ethiopia is officially the new Director-General. The past week featured several farewell events to honour the departing Director-General Margaret Chan, who is returning to her home in Hong Kong. Although any global leader must necessarily be global in his or her vision or allegiance to the organization he or she has been elected to lead, we also understand that each of these global leaders, at least in the UN system of which the WHO is a part, has to pass through the initial threshold of sponsorship (and official nomination) by his or her home country. So there is a dynamic interchange of the home base with the global mission, and we are inspired to reflect on this context for global leadership, both in terms of the significance of Dr. Chan’s leadership of the WHO over the past ten years, and in terms of the significance for the WHO and for global health of Dr. Tedros’s leadership going forward.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Kaleidoscope of the Digital Revolution

    Recent events in Geneva on the information society or the digital revolution or innovation have reminded us of a kaleidoscope – fascinating to look through a tube and spin the parts around, reflecting an endless variety of patterns. Pretty soon, though, one tires of the changing display and looks for some kind of purpose to it all. What is the message? What does it all mean? We don’t have the answers, but we do think it is useful to reflect on the latest “ICT jamboree”, also known as the 2017 WSIS Forum.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Gender and Other Divisions at the Human Rights Council

    As usual, during the concluding days of the latest session (the 35th) of the Human Rights Council, the parking area inside the Palais des Nations was filled with the sleek, black limousines of Geneva’s ambassadors during the concluding days of the latest session (35th) of the Human Rights Council. We are used to maneuvering our way through the impeccably spotless and shiny black sedans – and the haze of tobacco smoke among the clustered groupings of waiting chauffeurs - in anticipation of witnessing the heightened diplomatic attention to the deliberations inside the building. We happened to enter the Council’s magnificent chamber from an unusually hot and bright summer day in the parking lot just as the Council was deliberating one of its several gender-related resolutions. The votes were predictable, and no major new initiative was expected this time around, but we did find the diplomatic exchanges to be indicative of a fundamental gender divide that merits our comments here – along with some reflections on the future of this important Council.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Accomplishments of the 2017 International Labour Conference: Gender

    The insularity is unfortunate because there are such a variety of stakeholder groups with an interest in the world of work issues that define the mandate of the ILO. And the leadership of the ILO Secretariat under Director-General Guy Ryder is making considerable headway to produce influential reports and to engage in significant outreach initiatives, such as the G20 Task Force on Employment or the Global Compacts for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and on Refugees. At the 2017 ILC this was evident in the timing of the release of a major ILO publication on women in the world of work on 14 June 2017, the day before the main ILC event, the World of Work Summit featuring Women in the world of work. The ILO is truly in the forefront of gender awareness.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- 2017 ILC Accomplishments: Labour Migration and Resilience in Crisis Situations

    We had been pessimistic about the prospects of ground-breaking outcomes on the ILC committees addressing policy guidance on labour migration and a new recommendation covering workers in crisis situations. We don’t know if the consensus was achieved through a significant watering-down of the policy or if it was a matter of effective campaigning for stronger policy. We do know that labour migration was only a general discussion producing guidance but not a standard, while the standard-setting for crisis situations was the updating of a non-binding “recommendation” and not a legally binding “convention”. And yet, in both cases, a creditable outcome was accomplished.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Insularity of the International Labour Organization

    The insularity of the International Labour Organization continues to amaze us. Perhaps it shouldn’t. We are very fond of the ILO as a multi-stakeholder organization, but we also recognize that it is not an open-to-all multi-stakeholders kind of organization. It is insular. And this is so in spite of the estimated record number of 6,000 delegates who attended the 2017 International Labour Conference from 5 to 16 June 2017. Some have even estimated this to be 7,000 delegates this year! In contrast, the WSIS Summit attracted a record 2,500 delegates at the same time as the second week of the ILC, 12 to 16 June 2017, also in Geneva. Of course, the WSIS Summit also attracted thousands through remote participation, but it is truly phenomenal that the ILC was so well attended. And was yet, so limited.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Oceans Conference: Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action

    We chose the title for this week’s newsletter to be a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge about a sailor surrounded by salt water that he cannot drink – “water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”. More correctly, the phrase by Coleridge is “nor any drop to drink”. While the poem is more about loneliness in the midst of plenty than about the barrier between fresh and salt water, we think it is apt to connect lamentations about the looming scarcity of fresh water in our first commentary with the abundance of salt water in the oceans in our second commentary. Even as Geneva has been the setting for various initiatives oriented to addressing water scarcity, New York was the setting for the first (and perhaps only) UN Conference on Oceans, which met there from 5 to 9 June 2017. We thought there might be some interesting connections between the two – fresh water issues and salt water issues.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Water Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

    We have written from time to time about the looming crisis in water. Some call it a greater crisis than the crisis of climate change. We happened to touch on it during the interactive dialogue convened by the Global Social Observatory on “Disruption as a Force against Hunger: Calling Us into Action” on 11 May 2017. The dialogue among participants devoted considerable attention to the relationship of water and sanitation to eradicating poverty and hunger. This served as a prelude, as well, to an unusual forum convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization with Waterpreneurs and WaterVent to link impact investors with challenges in water-related development and projects offering solutions from an entrepreneurial perspective.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Labour Migration, Refugees and Global Compacts

    The International Labour Conference is the bigger of the main events this week in International Geneva, with over 4000 delegates filling up the hotels and restaurants for the coming two weeks. We have already reflected on the 2017 thematic report of the Director-General to the ILC on Work in a changing climate: The Green Initiative in our 22 May 2017 commentary. We will be curious to see how the delegates respond to his messages of transition and change in the context of the radically contradictory assertions about jobs and decent work in the neo-Luddite rant coming from the US Administration. Meanwhile, we note that the D-G’s report is a stage-setting exercise for future policy deliberations, whereas this year’s ILC policy-setting function is devoted in large part to tackling yet another controversial topic of current significance, the “governance challenges in the changing labour migration landscape”. We reflect on the challenges facing the tripartite constituents of the ILO on both migration and refugee issues at this year’s ILC.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Make Our Planet Great Again

    The shock of the announcement on Thursday, 2 June 2017 of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was the dominating news event of the past week. We join with French President Emmanuel Macron in recognizing the dramatic effect of the decision on the planet’s future environment while also reinforcing the unifying potential of working around the US Administration. The signs are powerful that the momentum for climate change is being harnessed by leadership from France, Germany, China and India but also from the states of California, Washington and New York and hundreds of US cities as well. The larger implications, however, are serious – that a US with this chronic underlying current of regressive populism and disengagement from the world will no longer be a reliable beacon of democracy and human rights going forward. As the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council opens on Tuesday, 6 June 2017, the spillover effect of the climate change decision is further exacerbated by the current US Administration’s response to the latest terrorist attack in London. Here again, we join with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan in expressing our condolences while also cheering on the unity of compassion and resolve. The forthcoming Human Rights Council is an essential venue for a continuing global dialogue on the meaning of democracy and human rights.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- New Leadership at the World Health Organization – and New Paths?

    As we reported last week, the World Health Assembly opened its 70th session on Monday, 22 May, with two immediate and important tasks –electing a new Director-General and adopting a two-year budget with an increase in assessments at a time when the entire UN system is facing budgetary cuts. We congratulate Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia, who won the election handily, while the budget and its accompanying 3 per cent increase in assessed dues were also approved without a protest. What lies ahead for Dr. Tedros? It may be premature to do any forecasting, especially since the WHA is still in session but also because Dr. Tedros only starts his new mandate on 1 July. But here are some reflections from the first week of the WHA.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Signs of Progress

    Signs of progress on trade policy – or at least a return to consensus – were evident at the G7 Taormina Summit on 26 to 27 May 2017. More importantly, the singling out of the United States on climate change at this event reflected a forceful consensus of everyone BUT the current President of the USA. And in spite of the failure to make any headway on migration, a top concern of the host, Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the G7 gathering did commit to a number of other new or ongoing initiatives of interest to CMMD. Terrorism was clearly an elevated concern following the tragedies of Manchester and the attack against Coptic Christians south of Cairo. But there were also a couple of supplementary initiatives on on gender and on innovation, skills and labor. Are these last two the real “sleepers” of the Summit?

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Pivotal Events at the World Health Assembly

    The 70th Session of the World Health Assembly is meeting in Geneva from 22 to 31 May 2017. This should be a turning point sort of assembly this year. The first-ever competitive election of the next Director-General and a highly mobilized membership appear to be making headway on linkages between health and overall concerns about sustainable livelihoods, even with a new “Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors”. We are also impressed by a heightened effort among many constituent groups to address gender equality in global health governance.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- New Thinking and Pivotal Events on Labour and Climate Change

    The transition from spring to summer is a great time to be in Geneva – as long as one has a place to stay! The World Health Assembly attracts thousands from health ministries and the public health world in late May, and the International Labour Conference (ILC) attracts even more thousands from the tripartite constituencies of labour ministries, labour and employer organizations in early June. In both cases this year, the gatherings have benefited from the German leadership of the G20, with quite an array of summits and declarations filtering down from Berlin and other German cities to stir the policy waters on health and labour issues. On the health front, the first ever G20 summit of health ministers in Berlin on 19 to 20 May helped to set the tone for the week ahead at the World Health Assembly (see below). On the labour and employment front, there were two separate summits for a B20 (business) and an L20 (labour) building up to a combined summit of Workers and Employers with Labour Ministers in Bad Neuenahr on 18 to 19 May 2017, that produced a declaration on “Towards an Inclusive Future: Shaping the World of Work”. The thematic highlights from this declaration link up very well with the ILO Director-General’s thematic report for this year’s ILC on “Work in a Changing Climate”.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Implementing FENSA at the WHO

    The Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2016. At the time and throughout the multi-year process of negotiations to adopt a new policy for WHO relations with NGOs, we have disagreed with the classification of NGOs into four categories. These four are NGOs, private sector entities, foundations and academic institutions. We believe that the classification is flawed because of the mix of funding and membership practices that are characteristics of many non-State actors and because of the implications that conflict of interest is only a matter of commercial versus public interests. Because the implementation of the FENSA classification scheme has not yet been implemented, it is only now, as we approach the 2017 World Health Assembly, that the WHO Secretariat is preparing to offer the main tools for its implementation. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- A Dramatically Changing System – Including for Non-State Actors

    We had the good fortune to visit Bonn last week to catch a glimpse of the transformation under way in the governance at the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a result of the Paris Agreement. Although there was a sense of suspension pending the absence of any decisive signals from the US, we also witnessed a steady momentum to integrate what many described as a “dramatically changed system” into the usual acronym-driven structure of negotiating sub-groups, contact groups, workshops, forums and side events. While the US decision to stay or leave has been postponed (once again) until after the G7 Heads of State Summit in Taormina, Italy on 26 to 27 May 2017, we focus here on the impact of this “dramatically changed system” on the changing engagement of non-State actors in the UNFCCC framework. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Voluntary Norms and Commitments on Cybersecurity

    Emmanuel Macron not only survived a massive cyber attack just at the end of the French Presidential election campaign but scored a surprisingly strong 65-plus per cent of the vote in the run-off vote on Sunday, 7 May 2017. As we join others in congratulating President-elect Macron, we also express a huge sigh of relief that the reports of this latest cyber attack have given it negative reviews in terms of its impact on the French electorate. And we use this as a taking off point for our commentary this week on the growing policy debates on responding to cyber attacks, especially where they appear to be state-sponsored. 

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    CMMD Perspectives --  Interpreting the Voluntary Norms and Commitments in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

     The future of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is a concern of heightened interest this week as the UN Conference Center in Bonn hosts a round of subsidiary bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change starting on Monday, 8 May 2017 and running to Thursday 18 May 2017. We will have a chance to experience the dynamics of these gatherings first-hand, even as we anticipate a possibly decisive announcement on Tuesday, 9 May in Washington, DC on whether the United States will remain a signatory of the Paris Agreement. We reflect here on the diversity of groups who are weighing in on this significant up or down decision. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Alignments and De-Risking at the 2017 Spring Meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions

    We have already noted the transformations in policy at the Bretton Woods Institutions (the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund) to embrace ever-more ambitious targets on eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, while also ensuring shared prosperity among all segments of the global population, and tackling income and gender inequality. These were already visible in the official policy pronouncements of the Bank and Fund in 2016, but the pronouncements coming out of Spring Meetings of the Bank and Fund on 21 to 23 April 2017 were nuanced by the presence of the new US Administration. The linguistic maneuvering was mostly driven by an effort to respond to the new US protectionism in trade policy but with an underlying strategy of reaffirming the benefits of “free, fair and global trade” for global economic growth and stability. We also picked up on the not-so-subtle efforts to incentivize and embrace private sector financing for development with a "de-risking" approach for projects, sectors and even countries. We take a look at outcomes from these Spring Meetings and reflect on their implications for trade and development policies going forward, especially at the World Trade Organization. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Marching for Science – and Innovation

    Earth Day is the April version of raising awareness for the environment that got a boost this year by the inspired vision of three science geeks who decided it was time to “March for Science”. The result was over 600 such marches on Earth Day 2017, Saturday, 22 April, all around the world, including in Geneva. The main event was in Washington, DC, where the March for Science was just the beginning of a week of activism, entitled Climate Education Week. This will conclude with another march, a “People’s Climate March” on Saturday, 29 April. Meanwhile, in the midst of the week, we have World Intellectual Property Day which may not be as flamboyant as a march but does give us an opportunity to explore how innovation is indeed a part of the march for the application of science to our daily lives. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Shaping the Digitization for an Interconnected World

    The Internet has become so pervasive that it is difficult to treat it as a single topic. Readers are encouraged to sign up for five days of policy discussions at E-Commerce Week, hosted as a landmark annual event at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva from 24 to 28 April 2017, two weeks hence. It is a very timely event and follows other recent developments of note on the digitization (or “digitalization”) of the global economy. We focus here on the first ever G20 Digital Ministerial Meeting, and related civil society forums on the digital economy in Dusseldorf, Germany but also something known as the 2017 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index. Check our News and Events section for links to information on these developments. For our reflections on their implications, with specific attention to the issue of cybersecurity, 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Rationale for an International Labour and Leisure Organization

    We participated in the high-powered and highly publicized forum on “The Future of Work We Want: A Global Dialogue” at the International Labour Organization, on 6 to 7 April 2017. This seems to be the season for work-related discussions – at the ILO, to be sure, but also at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings and even at preparations in Germany for the G20 Summit. See our News and Events section for more. Here we focus on the ILO Forum, which featured a keynote address from Professor Robert Skidelsky, followed by lively panels that combined academic experts from around the world with leaders from the ILO’s three constituent groups (governments, workers and employers). The six major sessions were each moderated by prominent media interviewers who effectively engaged the panellists in an interactive dialogue while they also monitored an elaborate “slid-o” tracking system on the Internet for audience reactions and questions. It was quite a show – and we learned a few things, too. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Depression – A Year-Long Campaign

    In celebration of the official establishment of the World Health Organization (WHO) on 7 April 1948, the WHO has adopted the theme of “Depression: let’s talk” for its 7 April 2017 World Health Day. Instead of a World Health Day report, however, the theme is encapsulated into a campaign with posters, tweets, videos, hand-outs, toolkits and even a Facebook Live event. See our News and Events section for more on this event. For our perspective on the policy significance of this event 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- “Multilateralism guarantees equity, “fair play”, peace, democracy, human rights and cooperation among different peoples and cultures.”

    We were pleased last week to join in welcoming Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, to Geneva where she delivered two important statements, one at the Human Rights Council and one at the World Trade Organization. We appreciate the leadership of Chile in the Human Rights Council and the leadership role that the Government has agreed to take on a Council initiative on torture. True to her instincts as a feminist, President Bachelet referred to the importance of addressing not only physical and psychological torture but also sexual abuse as a form of torture. At the WTO, President Bachelet’s focus was on the benefits of multilateralism in trade, and we use her observations as a taking off point for our reflections on current trade policy debates involving the WTO. Our particular emphasis is on linking the benefits of multilateralism in trade to the benefits of integrating sustainable development priorities into these current trade policy debates, but we also have some things to say about recent developments on both the “pro- and anti-multilateralism fronts”. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- A Relatively Quiet Governing Body at the International Labour Organization

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Wrap-up on the Human Rights Council

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Geneva Global Goals Innovation Day

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Moving into “Truly Uncharted Territory”

    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”.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Decent Work Game and the ILO Governing Body

    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”.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- International Women’s Day: We still have a lot to learn

    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. 

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    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Protecting Civic Space: Challenges to Engaging the Private Sector

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Narrowing the Horizons of the Possible at the WTO

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Expanding the Horizons of the Possible

    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. 

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    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!). 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Connecting Munich with Bonn on the Sustainable Development Goals

    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.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Continuing with the “New Twist” in Multilateralism

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Signals of a New Twist to Human Rights at the Human Rights Council

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Trade Facilitation Agreement – a Beacon of Hope?

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Costs and Conflict of Interest Issues at the World Health Organization

    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. 

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    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 

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    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Hasty process? Harmful policy?

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Human Rights and the Challenges of Terminology and Tolerance

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Shifting to “new negotiated outcomes” on trade and investment

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Addressing the Underlying Causes of Discontent through Multilateralism

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Multilateralism with a New Twist

    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”. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Highlights from 2016

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Unraveling of World Order

    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.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Standing Up for Someone’s Rights Today

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Acting with Ambition

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Worst Plague in Modern History

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Leveraging Human Rights to Make Globalization Work

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Locking in the “Irreversible Momentum” of Global Action on Climate Change

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Black Swan Events

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Peace, Human Rights and Climate Change – When it rains, it pours

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- “We will reach the peaks or fall as one”

    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.

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Moving beyond the “dirty, dangerous and destructive past of mining”

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Is the New Urban Agenda going anywhere?

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- A Positive Spirit Prevails on the Climate Change Front

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Changing World of Conflict of Interest in Food Security and Nutrition

    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

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Nutrition, Sugary Drinks and Conflict of Interest Issues

    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. 

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    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Watson and Complexity on Intellectual Property

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- “Bittersweet” is better than nothing, but….

    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. 

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    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. 

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    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.

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    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The G20 provides broad guidance with a “Hangzhou Consensus”

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- The Human Rights Council 33rd Session

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Climate Change Momentum

    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. 

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    CMMD Perspectives -- Migrants and Refugees

    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. 

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