Guess Who’s Behind Paralysis on COVID19 in the UN Committee on World Food Security

Aid, Civil Society, COVID-19, Economy & Trade, Food and Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

ROME, Oct 19 2021 (IPS) – ‘COVID 19 has multiplied hunger and malnutrition challenges. We need transformative action!’ The first speaker at the UN Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) 49th Plenary Session, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, turned the spotlight on the disastrous impacts of the pandemic that have afflicted communities around the world for close to two years.


Nora McKeon

He was echoed by the presenter of the 2021 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World for whom ‘COVID is only the tip of the iceberg’, while keynote speaker, Jeffry Sachs, emphasized the multifaceted nature of the crisis, with chronic poverty and conflict at the center.

Delegation after delegation took the virtual floor to share their concerns: Kenya speaking for the Africa Group, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Norway, Morocco, Peru, Spain, Indonesia, Mexico, Malaysia, Mali, Cape Verde, South Africa, Uganda, Saint Lucia and more. The impacts of Covid 19 on food security and nutrition are heavy and lasting. The vulnerable are the most effected, within and between countries. Covid has deepened and exacerbated existing structural fragilities and injustices in our food systems. Its causes are multisectoral and cannot be treated in a siloed way.

‘Multilateralism, solidarity and cooperation are key to the way forward’, the President of ECOSOC added, and ‘the CFS is a unique multilateral forum because it brings all the actors together in the name of the right to food’. The text adopted at the end of Day 1 summarized all of these contributions, and deepened concern by drawing attention to the possibility of recurrent pandemics.

With this kind of an opening one could have expected a standing ovation when it was proposed, the following day, that the CFS put together a globally coordinated policy response to the impacts of COVID 19 on food security and nutrition and a proposed precautionary approach towards possible future shocks of this kind.

This proposal was a long time in the building. For a year and a half the CFS’s Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) had been documenting the experience and proposals of its constituencies and communities and bringing this evidence from the ground into the global debate. Earlier this year an informal ‘Group of Committed’ governments and other CFS participants had come together to push for the CFS to take determined action. How could it fail to live up to its mandate in the face of the most serious threat to global food security the world has faced since the 2007-2008 food crisis?

Just a week before CFS49 the Group of Committed had held a seminar where evidence and proposals for global policy action were presented by national governments, regional and local authorities, small-scale food producers, the urban food insecure, along with UN agencies, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and the CFS’s own High-Level Panel of Experts.

The seminar demonstrated that action is being taken by different actors and authorities at local, national and regional levels, while UN agencies have developed and adopted relevant policy instruments and programmes in their respective sectors. What has been missing thus far is a way of putting the different perspectives and initiatives together into a multisectoral, multilaterally coordinated approach. Filling this gap was the proposal that was put on the table in CFS49.

‘We need a globally coherent and coordinated response to support governments’ efforts and the CFS is the appropriate place for this to happen,’ the Ambassador of Mali had exhorted in his opening address.

So what about the standing ovation? The proposal was supported by countries from the Global South led by African countries, the most affected by injustice in access to vaccines, dependency on food imports, and indebtedness, but including also Mexico, Peru, Morocco, the CSM and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. ‘This is the place to deal with COVID!’ he said. ‘It is the priority food issue today. It wasn’t addressed by the UN Food Systems Summit. The CFS has the mandate and the tools, and the other UN agencies are highly committed to cooperate.’

But, incredibly and unacceptably, the proposal did not pass. It was blocked on specious, procedural grounds by a steamroller coalition of big commodity exporters who push back on any possible limitation that might be placed on global trade in the name of human rights, equity, environmental concerns: the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Russia. The EU, shamefully, was silent.

The implications for inclusive multilateralism, democracy, the needed radical transformation of our food systems are severe. ‘A key barrier to transformation is interference from corporations,’ stated the delegate of Mexico. ‘Governments need to assume their role as agents of change, regulators of food systems, and protectors of the planet, but we can’t do it alone. Global attention is needed and the CFS is the right place for it.’

But The CFS is being held hostage. The arrogance with which a few are ignoring reality, evidence and urgency is leading to an unacceptable increase in the violation of the human rights of the many. Patience is wearing thin. ‘If I’m in this room it’s to honor the concerns of those most affected in my region,’ a member of the Group of Committed asserted in the aftermath of the session.

And the people of her region, along with others from around the world, are raising their voices ever more loudly, as in the counter mobilization to transform corporate food systems organized last July in parallel to the Pre-Summit of the UNFSS [hyperlink]. Radical food system transformation is being built from the ground up and the CFS, however handicapped, is the most resounding global echo chamber for people’s claims.

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As War Keeps Poisoning Humanity, Organizing Continues to Be the Antidote

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Featured, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Peace, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

United Nations military personnel are the Blue Helmets on the ground. Today, they consist of over 70,000 troops contributed by national armies from across the globe and help keep the peace in military conflicts worldwide. Credit: United Nations

SAN FRANCISCO, USA, Sep 14 2021 (IPS) – Last weekend, U.S. corporate media continued a 20-year repetition compulsion to evade the central role of the USA in causing vast carnage and misery due to the so-called War on Terror. But millions of Americans fervently oppose the military-industrial complex and its extremely immoral nonstop warfare.


CodePink and Massachusetts Peace Action hosted a national webinar to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 — the day before Sunday’s launch of the Cut the Pentagon campaign — and the resulting video includes more than 20 speakers who directly challenged the lethal orthodoxy of the warfare state. As part of the mix, here’s the gist of what I had to say:

When we hear all the media coverage and retrospectives, we rarely hear — and certainly almost never in the mass media hear — that when people are killed, whether it’s intentional or predictable, those are atrocities that are being financed by U.S. taxpayers.

And so we hear about the evils of Al Qaeda and 9/11, and certainly those were evils, but we’re not hearing about the predictable as well as the intentional deaths: the tens of thousands of civilians killed by U.S. air strikes alone in the last two decades, and the injuries, and the terrorizing of people with drones and other U.S. weapons. We’re hearing very little about that.

Part of the role of activists is to make those realities heard, make them heard loud and clear, as forcefully and as emphatically and as powerfully as possible. Activist roles can sometimes get blurred in terms of becoming conflated with the roles of some of the best members of Congress.

When progressive legislators push for peace and social justice, they deserve our praise and our support. When they succumb to the foreign-policy “Blob” — when they start to be more a representative of the establishment to the movements rather than a representative of the movements to the establishment — we’ve got a problem.

It’s vital for progressive activists to be clear about what our goals are, and to be willing to challenge even our friends on Capitol Hill.

I’ll give you a very recent example. Two leaders of anti-war forces in the House of Representatives, a couple of weeks ago, circulated a “Dear Colleague” message encouraging members of the House to sign a letter urging the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, to stand firm behind President Biden’s 1.6 percent increase in the Pentagon budget, over the budget that Trump had gotten the year before.

The point of the letter was: Chairman Smith, we want you to defend the Biden budget’s increase of 1.6 percent, against the budget that has just been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee with a 3.3 percent increase.

That kind of a letter moves the goal posts further and further to the liking of the military-industrial complex, to the liking of war profiteers, to the liking of the warfare state. And so, when people we admire and support, in this case Rep. Mark Pocan and Rep. Barbara Lee, circulate such a Dear Colleague letter, there’s a tendency for organizations to say: “Yeah, we’re going to get behind you,” we will respond affirmatively to the call to urge our members to urge their representatives in Congress to sign this letter.

And what that creates is a jumping-off point that moves the frame of reference farther and farther into the militarism that we’re trying to push back against. For that reason, my colleagues and I at RootsAction decided to decline an invitation to sign in support.

I bring up that episode because it’s indicative of the pathways and the crossroads that we face to create momentum for a stronger and more effective peace and social justice movement. And it’s replicated in many respects.

When we’re told it’s not practical on Capitol Hill to urge a cutoff of military funding and assistance to all countries that violate human rights — and when we’re told that Israel is off the table — it’s not our job to internalize those limits that have been internalized by almost everyone in Congress, except for the Squad and a precious few others.

It’s our job to speak not only truth to power but also about power. And to be clear and candid even when that means challenging some of our usual allies. And to organize.

At RootsAction, we’ve launched a site called Progressive Hub, as an activism tool to combine the need to know with the imperative to act.

It’s not easy, to put it mildly, to go against the powerful flood of megamedia, of big money in politics, of the ways that issues are constantly framed by powerful elites. But in the long run, peace activism is essential for overcoming militarism. And organizing is what makes that possible.

Norman Solomon is the national director of RootsAction.org and the author of many books including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

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A Milestone Anniversary Reiterates The Culture of Peace is a Movement, not a Revolution

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Featured, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, North America, Peace, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: United Nations

NEW YORK, Sep 13 2021 (IPS) – Today, on 13 September 2021, the UN Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the General Assembly in 1999 will be turning 22.

You would recall that the 20th anniversary of The Culture of Peace of its adoption by the world’s highest multilateral body in 2019 was observed by the United Nations in an appropriate and befitting manner, as called for by the Assembly. It was an occasion for reiteration and recommitment by us all to create the culture of peace in our world, beginning with each one of us.


After the UN Charter, this is the only major document of the UN which focuses on peace in a most comprehensive manner. We need to pay increasingly more attention to this landmark document for its full and effective implementation.

Last week another integrally-connected milestone gathering – the 2021 UN High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace – took place at the UN General Assembly convened by its President of the 75th session.

This day-long event organized on 7 September 2021 attained a special profile and attention as it was the 10th anniversary of the annual UN high level forums which was first initiated in 2012 during the 66th session of the Assembly by its then President, Ambassador Nassir Al-Nasser of Qatar.

His objective was to create a new platform for the culture of peace at the UN to be held on an annual basis for an opportunity to exchange ideas between the Member States and civil society organizations.

I happened to be his senior special advisor involved in conceptualizing and organizing that very first forum on 14 September, the day after the 11th anniversary of The Culture of Peace.

Ambassador Anwarul K Chowdhury

This year’s Forum was held in a hybrid format, both in-person and virtual platforms. With its focus on the theme “The Transformative Role of The Culture of Peace: Promoting Resilience and Inclusion in Post-Covid Recovery”, the Forum provided the opportunity to the participants and all stakeholders to exchange ideas and make suggestions on how to utilize the values of culture of peace in post-Covid recovery efforts, especially to ensure that the recovery, which unfortunately is yet to happen, is durable, resilient and inclusive.

The President of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir of Turkey, under whose leadership the 2021 Forum took place, earned the grateful tribute of all stakeholders for his guidance, initiative and encouragement in convening and holding this 10th anniversary forum under extremely challenging circumstances very successfully. The Panel Discussion was a fitting conclusion to this remarkable gathering.

As I was preparing for the Panel Discussion, I ran into the historical perspective that this year will reach the quarter century mark of my close association with and advocacy for the culture of peace at the United Nations. In 1997, I took the lead in proposing along with some other Ambassadors in a letter to the newly-elected UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to include a specific, self-standing agenda item of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on The Culture of Peace.

A new agenda item was thus agreed upon after considerable negotiating hurdles and the new item was allocated to the plenary of the General Assembly for discussion on an annual basis. That is the basis for the annual resolutions on The Culture of Peace by the General Assembly from that year.

Under this item, UNGA adopted in 1997 a resolution to declare the year 2000 the “International Year for The Culture of Peace”, and in 1998, a resolution to declare the period from 2001 to 2010 as the “International Decade for The Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World”.

In the year after that the United Nations adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action on The Culture of Peace, a monumental document that transcends boundaries, cultures, societies and nations. It was an honor for me to Chair the nine-month long negotiations that led to the adoption of this historic norm-setting document by consensus.

As I mentioned Secretary-General Kofi Annan earlier, let me quote his thoughts on the culture of peace – I cite this quote often: “Over the years we have come to realize that it is not enough to send peacekeeping forces to separate warring parties. It is not enough to engage in peace-building efforts after societies have been ravaged by conflict. It is not enough to conduct preventive diplomacy. All of this is essential work, but we want enduring results. We need, in short, the culture of peace.”

Absolutely right – we need “enduring results” and for that we need “The Culture of Peace”. The Culture of Peace is not a hollow phrase – or an empty sentiment. It has a transformational opportunity for humanity – it has the energy and enthusiasm of many of us individually and collectively around the world.

These annual forums are very special in their involvement of civil society. These are the only High-Level Forums in the UN which are fully 50-50 gender balanced in their panel compositions. I am proud to say that this was possible as the Global Movement for The Culture of Peace (GMCoP) which is the civil society partner in supporting the Forum has been very diligent in upholding these values.

The concept note of this year’s Forum forcefully reiterated that “…it is an imperative to inculcate the values of The Culture of Peace among nations, societies and communities, with particular attention to the younger generation, through promotion of compassion, tolerance, inclusion, global citizenship and empowerment of all people.”

The theme focusing on the transformative role of the culture of peace in relation to Covid recovery provided a platform to explore and discuss multiple ways and means for empowering all segments of the society, towards a resilient recovery, including by ensuring vaccine equity, asserting universal vaccination as a public good, bridging digital divide, ensuring centrality of women’s equality and empowerment, harnessing the power of youth and highlighting education, health and overall wellbeing of children.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen in his pre-recorded video presentation at the Forum articulated succinctly that “We must recognize that rebuilding from the COVID pandemic necessitates a renewed commitment and partnership of all stakeholders. Our efforts should be undergirded by the values of “The Culture of Peace’ as instilling these values contribute to building a resilient, inclusive and peaceful society.”

This year’s Forum heard the inspirational keynote speech by Dr. Beatrice Fihn, the Executive Director of 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winning organization ICAN, International Coalition for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, by calling on all that “On this 10th anniversary of the culture of peace, I am urging you all to continue and strengthen your work to promote education, sustainable and economic developments, human rights, gender equality, democratic participation and international peace and security.

She is the sixth Nobel Peace Prize laureate as the keynote speaker at The Culture of Peace Forums, which also make us proud that all of them are distinguished women Nobel Peace laureates. Complimenting Dr. Fihn for her keynote, I underlined that the essence of her keynote message has now become more pertinent in the midst of the ever-increasing militarism and militarization that is destroying both our planet and our people.

Video message by the activist and globally respected Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima, the city which along with Nagasaki bear the scars of nuclear destruction and yearn for global peace, highlighted a major engagement of his world-wide peace organization announcing that “On the 7th of July this year, Mayors for Peace, which I preside over, adopted our new Vision, a set of concrete action guidelines, titled: “Vision for Peaceful Transformation to a Sustainable World.”

One of the objectives set forth by the new Vision is to ‘promote a culture of peace’.” Informing that the foundation of this policy change rests in the ability to build a consensus in favor of the abolition of nuclear weapons, he asserted that “To do this, first cultivating a culture of peace-a culture in which the everyday actions of each person are grounded in thinking about peace-is essential.

It is our belief, that this “bottom-up” approach is the most viable approach to peace, and is in line with the values which prompted the efforts of Ambassador Chowdhury and those in attendance.”

The Mayor’s passionate message included in the Peace Declaration, which he delivered in Hiroshima on 6th of August this year, advocated forcefully that “When like-minded people who seek peace unite for the same purpose, we can bring about a significant change in the world.”

Mayor Matsui encouraged the Forum by informing that “Mayors for Peace consists of over 8,000 member cities in 165 countries and regions around the world. With support from member mayors for our aforementioned cause, we will work to promote a culture of peace by expanding our membership and reaching out to a wider public.”

Often, I am asked how I assess the progress made so far since the Assembly adopted the Programme of Action in 1999. At this year’s High-Level Forum, as the Chair-Moderator of its Panel Discussion, I repeated my concern that lamentably, The Culture of Peace has yet to attain its worth and its due recognition at global and national levels as a universal mandate for the humanity to attain sustainable peace in the true sense.

When people wonder what are my plans to advance the concept in the UN system, my response verges on my advocacy message in general. The Declaration and Programme of Action on Culture of Peace adopted without any reservation is a landmark document of United Nations.

The Organization should, therefore, own it and internalize its implementation throughout the UN system. There seems to be lethargy in that direction because, I believe, the Secretary-General needs to make the culture of peace a part of his leadership agenda.

We should get that attention and engagement from him. Also, the UN entities, at least most of them, are preoccupied with what is known as “active agenda” which is a kind of daily problem-solving or problem-shelving.

That means no opportunities to focus on longer term, farsighted objective of sustainable peace with a workable tool that UN possess in the culture of peace programme adopted by its own apex body, the General Assembly. It is like a person who needs a car to go to work and has a car… but with a minimal interest in knowing how to drive it.

Many treat peace and culture of peace synonymously. There is a subtle difference between peace as generally understood and the culture of peace. Actually, when we speak of peace we expect others namely politicians, diplomats or other practitioners to take the initiative while when we speak of The Culture of Peace, we know that initial action begins with each one of us.

For more than two decades, my focus has been on advancing The Culture of Peace which aims at making peace and non-violence a part of our own self, our own personality – a part of our existence as a human being.

I believe The Culture of Peace is not a quick-fix. It is a movement, not a revolution!

Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury is Founder of The Global Movement of The Culture of Peace (GMCoP); former Under-Secretary-General of the UN and the Chair of the negotiations which resulted in the consensus adoption of the UN Declaration and Programme of Action on The Culture of Peace in 1999. He was the Chair and Moderator of the virtual Panel Discussion at 2021 UN High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace on 7 September 2021.

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South-South & Triangular Cooperation to Help Achieve UN’s Development Goals

Civil Society, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Global, Global Governance, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Poverty & SDGs, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Students of the Lira Integrated Fish Farm in Uganda, a South-South Cooperation Facility for Agriculture and Food Security, eat their lunch. Credit: FAO/Isaac Kasamani

UNITED NATIONS, Sep 10 2021 (IPS) – The 2021 high-level commemoration of the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, organized ahead of the opening of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly, provided an opportunity to discuss Southern solidarity in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future while effectively responding to the global COVID-19 crisis across the global South.


The 2021 United Nations Day for South-South cooperation presented the opportunity for stakeholders to highlight concrete follow-up to the twentieth session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (HLC), which took place from 1 to 4 June 2021 in New York.

“South-South and triangular cooperation must have a central place in our preparations for a strong recovery”, says Secretary-General António Guterres, reminding us that “we will need the full contributions and cooperation of the global South to build more resilient economies and societies and implement the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The General Assembly High-level Committee (HLC) on South-South Cooperation met in June to review progress made in implementing the Buenos Aires Action Plan (BAPA+40) and other other key decisions on South-South cooperation.

This HLC session considered follow-up actions arising from previous sessions and hosted a thematic discussion on “Accelerating the achievement of the SDGs through effective implementation of the BAPA+40 outcome document while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and similar global crises”.

The HLC hosted 75 member states – including a Head of State and Ministers from around the world – as well as 23 intergovernmental organizations, 25 UN entities, civil society and the private sector. More than 400 people participated during side events which HLC Bureau Members took the lead in organizing on issues of importance to the South.

Deliberations focused on actions arising from the Report of the Secretary-General to the nineteenth session, which proposed concrete ways to enhance the role and impact of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, as well as the key measures taken to improve the coordination and coherence of UN support to South-South cooperation.

In terms of important messages and statements, Member States highlighted that COVID-19 has taught the world that South-South development cooperation is critical to an effective response to emergencies.

South-South cooperation was strongly reaffirmed as the means to support countries’ national development priorities, alignment with the SDGs, and the acceleration of achievement toward the 2030 Agenda.

South-South cooperation was also recognized as an effective approach to accelerate and deepen the efforts to build back better, healthier, safer, more resilient and sustainable.

It was emphasized that over the past decade, the world has witnessed the increase in the scale, scope, and diversity of approaches of South-South and triangular cooperation.

Countries of the Global South have strengthened institutional capacities for cooperation by formulating and implementing national development policies, strategies, and agencies, and by developing information and performance management systems for data gathering, expertise and technology mapping, and impact assessment.

With the strengthening of national capacities on South-South and triangular cooperation there is opportunity to collect and exchange evidence of how much South-South and triangular cooperation is being done, how it benefits people, and how to create institutional mechanisms to help countries align South-South collaboration with their national and regional agendas.

As the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic and strives to build back better, international development organizations must offer innovative, timely responses to remain relevant. This includes new forms of coordination based on more “coherent” and “integrated support” capable of unleashing change on the ground.

Traditionally, South-South and triangular cooperation has taken place among governments on bilateral terms. As development becomes more dynamic in nature and unprecedented in scale, South-South and triangular cooperation is now used to source innovation from wherever it is.

Also highlighted was that South-South and triangular cooperation is increasingly recognized as an important complement to North-South cooperation in financing for sustainable development.

UNOSSC will continue to promote, coordinate and support South-South and triangular cooperation globally and within the UN system. It will also continue to support governments and the UN system to analyse and articulate evolving and emerging trends, dynamics and opportunities in South-South cooperation.

Adel Abdellatif. Credit: FAO/Isaac Kasamani

In response to Member States requests, UNOSSC consistently demonstrates strong convening power across the UN system and serves as secretariat of UN Conferences including BAPA+40. UNOSSC has developed research networks at the global level, compiling evidence of good practices in South-South cooperation toward achievement of the SDGs, and created a global network of think tanks on South-South and triangular cooperation. UNOSSC also offers the South-South Galaxy platform for sharing knowledge and brokering partnership. The Office also manages a number of South-South cooperation trust funds and programmes.

Given UNOSSC’s mandate to support South-South and triangular cooperation globally and within the UN system, the Secretary-General requested UNOSSC to coordinate the preparation and launch of the UN System-wide Strategy on South-South and Triangulation Cooperation for Sustainable Development with the engagement of the UN Inter-Agency Mechanism for South-South and Triangular Cooperation, and other stakeholders.

The Strategy’s objective is to provide a system-wide policy orientation to UN entities in order to galvanize a coordinated and coherent approach to policy, programmatic and partnership support on South-South and triangular cooperation and increase impact across UN activities at all levels: national, regional and global. Implementation is governed by each entity individually, based on its own mandate and programme of work.

UNOSSC is also currently developing its 2022-2025 Strategic Framework. It is an opportunity for the Office to catalyze the use of South-South and triangular cooperation to accelerate the speed and scale of action towards achieving the SDGs.

For example, the Office aims to offer a platform whereby: (i) countries of the Global South can exchange knowledge, develop capacities, and transfer technologies to address their own development priorities as well as coordinate and co-design solutions to shared development challenges; (ii) UN agencies, programs, and funds can strengthen their support to SSTC at the global, regional and country levels.

No country is too poor to contribute to South-South cooperation for development, and no country is too rich to lean from the South. All partners have important elements to contribute. So, it follows that triangular cooperation is an important element of our work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare severe and systemic inequalities.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of the digital revolution. Building institutional capacity in sub-Saharan Africa and LDCs through South-South and triangular cooperation is essential for countries to fully harness digital transformation and recovery.

Triangular cooperation is a flexible platform where partners can mobilize different funding capacities in support of developing countries’ priorities.

Triangular cooperation demands horizontality and shared governance approved by all parties. It is based on a clear respect for national sovereignty and the seeking of mutual benefit in equal partnerships.

Recovery from pandemic requires additional support, innovative development solutions and arrangements between public and private sectors. We must facilitate opportunities to expand development cooperation and its processes and to improve the effectiveness of multilateral cooperation. Fostering multi-dimensionality and multi-stakeholders approaches is the way forward to enhance development impact.

During the June HLC Member States highlighted that in the COVID and post-COVID era, the below priority areas for triangular cooperation could be considered: 1) health, 2) data infrastructure, 3) manufacturing capacity and supply chain for relevant medical material and equipment, as well as treatment; 4) solar energy and reducing carbon footprint; 5) a coalition for disaster resilient initiatives; and 6) currency swap arrangements from international financial institutions.

Adel Abdellatif is the Director, a.i., of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation. Before joining UNOSSC, he served as Deputy Director, a.i., and Senior Strategic Adviser in the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He came to UNDP following a two-decade career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.

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“Time Is A-Wasting”: Making the Case for CEDAW Ratification by the United States

Civil Society, Featured, Gender, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: UN Women

NEW YORK, Sep 7 2021 (IPS) – The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that has yet to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), rendering it “strange bedfellows” with Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Tonga, and Palau.


Twenty years ago, after Harold Koh*, made a clear foreign policy case for ratification, we develop three more reasons as to why now—during the Biden Administration— the U.S. is at a critical moment to finally ratify the CEDAW.

1) A New Public Reckoning: Advancing our Domestic Policy on Gender and Race Intersectionality

For four decades, Congress failed to rally enough votes to ratify the CEDAW, but today, social justice movements are building new momentum like never before.

At a time of a public reckoning spawned by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) and #MeToo Movements, the Convention represents an important vehicle to address institutional and structural sexism through an intersectional lens.

As Harold Koh argued in 2002, “a country’s ratification of the CEDAW is one of the surest indicators of the strength of its commitment to internalize the universal norm of gender equality into its domestic laws.”

The potential for the CEDAW to inspire necessary change in the US directly relates to some of the United States’ current policy objectives.

The National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (2021) illustrates the Administration’s commitment to place women and girls at the center of global recovery. The Rescue Plan recognizes that COVID-19 has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, thereby creating a “shadow pandemic.”

As the Biden Administration looks toward the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA), it must now look to the horizon—to the ratification of the CEDAW. Ratifying the Convention will give the Biden Administration significantly more legitimacy in its effort to end violence against women and would demonstrate the solidarity needed to achieve this goal.

As President Biden himself stated, the renewal of the VAWA “should not be a Democratic or Republican issue—it’s about standing up against the abuse of power and preventing violence.”

Our data analysis of the State Party Reports to the CEDAW Committee from 2016 to 2020 reveals a significant focus by the CEDAW Committee on two issues that are central to the Biden Administration and to the United States’ national security and foreign policy in general: (1) violence against women; and (2) an intersectional focus on gender.

In every Concluding Observation across all five years between 2016 and 2020 (107 countries reported to the CEDAW Committee during this period), the CEDAW Committee mentioned intersectionality and gender-based violence 100 percent of the time.

2) Ratification of the CEDAW is part of the U.S.’s Transformative Power Arsenal: From Soft Power, Smart Power, to Transformative Power

In response to global challenges, CEDAW continues to be one of the standard-setting policy tools to advance gender and intersectional equality and we address this in our analysis of CEDAW’s impact on drafting domestic legislation, national constitutions, judicial decision making and in changing the national conversations and public discourse in countries in the Arab region.

As Ambassador Melanne Verveer, one of the authors, testified before Congress in 2010: “[I]t is true many countries do not live up to that treaty, but we know how effectively that lever is for rights advocates to seize and to use effectively to bring about the kind of consistent application of the principles of the treaty to their own lives.”

3) The Women Peace and Security and its Linkages to CEDAW

The Women, Peace, and Security (“WPS”) agenda is one gender issue that has near total bipartisan support, as demonstrated by over a decade of concerted legislative efforts by both Democrats and Republicans.

We explore how the United States’ strong bipartisan commitment to the WPS agenda and how its global security goals can be advanced by ratifying the CEDAW. From the United Kingdom to Afghanistan, the CEDAW has played a role in strengthening commitments to the WPS agenda.

The United States has emerged as a global leader in WPS, both by spearheading U.N. Security Council Resolutions to condemn sexual violence against women and girls in armed conflict, and by codifying its commitment to pursuing the WPS agenda in domestic law.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice introduced what later became Security Council Resolution 1820 (2008). In proposing this Resolution, Secretary Rice confirmed that sexual violence against women in conflict was an imperative which the U.N. Security Council was charged to address.

A year later, Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1888, introduced by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reaffirmed Secretary Rice’s premise, acknowledged that the CEDAW is inextricably connected to women’s security.

The U.S. needs to leverage the bipartisan support for the WPS agenda to piggyback support for the Convention. After all, global security is in our best national interest.

In 2020, during the 75th Anniversary of the U.N., the CEDAW Concluding Observations for Afghanistan, the Congo, and Zimbabwe had sections dedicated specifically to WPS, providing substantial suggestions for improvement in state action in this issue area.

For instance, the CEDAW Committee observed in detail that “Afghan women are systematically excluded from formal peace negotiations, such as the 2018 Kabul Process and the negotiations that followed the conference held in Geneva in 2018.”

Today as we bear witness to the fall of Afghanistan, history will judge us on how we protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

As we fight the forces of a pandemic, the global and domestic recovery will be measured by whether it created greater gender and racial equity.

Ultimately, the arc of American engagement, both in foreign and domestic policy, must bend toward ratifying the CEDAW. After decades of lawmakers failing to muster the political will for ratification, the demand for change has now reached a fever pitch both nationally and globally.

The Biden administration must rally bipartisan support to ratify the CEDAW as a tool to advancing the human rights of women around the world. In then- Senator Biden’s words in 2002, “Time is a Wasting” for the U.S. ratification of the CEDAW.

This summary is excerpted from the article by Rangita de Silva de Alwis, faculty at Penn Law and Hillary Rodham Clinton Fellow on Gender Equity at GIWPS, Georgetown (2020-2021); and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. Rangita thanks Dean Theodore Ruger, Dean of Penn Law for his support in writing the paper.

*Footnote: On September 10th, Columbia Law School’s Journal of Transnational Law will convene a High Level Roundtable highlighting “Time Is A-Wasting”: Making the Case for CEDAW Ratification by the United States by Professor Rangita de Silva de Alwis and Ambassador Melanne Verveer to be published in Volume 60 of the Columbia Law School’s Journal of Transnational Law. The goal of the High-Level Roundtable is to raise national attention to elevate the importance of the CEDAW ratification ahead of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly.

Commentators will be led by Harold Hongju Koh– former Dean of Yale Law School, Sterling Professor of Law, former Legal Adviser and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, currently Senior Advisor in the Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. State Department for the Biden Administration and repeat witness before Congress on behalf of the CEDAW.

The Roundtable will be opened with a welcome by Dean Gillian Lester, Dean of Columbia Law School. More information on remote participation in the Roundtable can be found here: Roundtable landing page

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South Korea’s Women Fire Back

Civil Society, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations, Women’s Health

Opinion

UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, KOICA President Lee Mikyung and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (from left) launched a partnership in 2018 that Ms. Lee characterized as “a key foundation and platform for solidarity and collective engagement for gender equality.” The new tripartite agreement– between UNFPA, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and UN Women—has combined the strengths of the three partners to improve the lives of women and girls and accelerate the achievement of gender equality, as expressed in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.
Credit: UNFPA/Tara Milutis

SEOUL, South Korea, Sep 1 2021 (IPS) – A strong movement of feminism is sweeping South Korea. While women feel empowered to stand their ground, the men are retaliating.

When South Korean archer An San won two gold medals in just two days during the recent Tokyo Olympics, the response the 20-year-old received at home was a mixed. Some men were angered and said her medals should be taken away. Why? Because her short hair was a sign that she was a ‘man-hating’ feminist.


As bizarre and surreal as it may sound, the attack on An is a bleak reminder of the deep-rooted gender stereotypes in the economically advanced, yet deeply sexist South Korea – and the enormous pressure on women and girls to look and act ‘feminine’. It’s also another episode of the escalating culture war between the country’s increasingly outspoken feminists – and antifeminists seeking to silence their voices.

Lowest in the ranks

South Korea is the world’s 10th largest economy, a tech giant that is home to Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, and a cultural powerhouse whose K-pop stars like BTS enjoy global followings. But despite all the economic and technological advances, the deep-seated patriarchy and gender discrimination remained little changed.

South Korea is ranked at the 102nd in the world in terms of gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum. The gender pay gap in the country is the widest among the advanced economies of the OECD member nations.

It has consistently ranked as the worst place to be a working woman in the Economist magazine’s Glass Ceiling Index. Women account for 19 per cent of parliamentary seats, almost on par with North Korea.

Hawon Jung

Women are under enormous pressure to look perfect at all times and all costs – as shown in the country’s reputation as the world’s capital of plastic surgery. On the busy streets of Seoul, it’s not difficult to find plastic surgery adverts screaming ‘being pretty is everything!’ and rail-thin K-pop starlets presented as role models for teenage girls and young women. The stars’ extreme diet regimens are widely shared on social media and avidly followed by many.

Typical beauty ideals in South Korea for women include pale yet glowing skin, a youthful ‘babyface’, long and luminous hair, wide eyes, a thin nose, and pin-thin body (nearly 17 per cent of South Korean women in their 20s are underweight, compared to less than 5 per cent for their male counterparts, according to a study in 2019).

The pressure begins early: more than 40 per cent of female elementary school students wear makeup, and the number goes up to over 70 per cent for middle schoolers.

Escape the Corset

But women started to fight back. A powerful wave of feminist movement has taken the country by storm in recent years, allowing many women to speak up against sexual discrimination, assault, and objectification like never before.

Since 2018, women have rallied together to bring down many sexual predators, including a popular presidential contender, in one of the most successful cases of #MeToo in Asia.

Tens of thousands took to the streets for months in 2018 to call for tougher crackdown on the so-called ‘spycam porn’ crimes that secretly film women in public space from workplaces to public toilets and share the footage on the internet.

They successfully campaigned to end the abortion ban. The so-called ‘Escape the Corset’ movement was part of that awakening, meant to defy the pressure to follow the rigid beauty ideals.

Women and girls who joined the campaign cut their hair short, destroyed their makeup, refused to wear tight, revealing, or uncomfortable clothes to instead opt for something more comfortable and practical. Since then, short hair has become something of a political statement among many young feminists.

The wave of awakening, however, has also drawn a strong pushback by men who thought – like many around the world – that the women had gone too far, and many labelled feminists as ‘man haters’ who should be punished.

More than 40 per cent of female elementary school students wear makeup, and the number goes up to over 70 per cent for middle schoolers.

The backlash has reached a fever pitch since May when members of many online forums popular among men started to cry ‘misandry’ over a adds that use an image of a pinching finger, a universal gesture to indicate something small.

Online crusade

In a campaign likened by many as a McCarthyian witch-hunt, they claimed whoever created the image must be feminists and out to ridicule the size of their genitals. Despite having no possibility of any political plot, many of the accused companies and government institutions – including the national police agency and the defense ministry – bent down quickly, apologized for hurting the men’s feelings and removed the images from their posters.

These online mobs even enjoyed political backing; Lee Jun-Seok, a young member of the rightwing People’s Power Party, rose to prominence by amplifying the conspiracy theory over the ‘misandrist’ finger gesture, and eventually became the leader of the party in July.

Feeling supported by a powerful politician and emboldened by groveling apologies from companies and the government, the online mobs moved on to their next target—the star Olympian whose appearance didn’t fit into their ideal of traditional femininity.

‘Why did you cut your hair?’ An was asked on her social media, to which she replied, ‘’coz it’s convenient’. The answer was not enough.

A campaign to extract an apology from An for being a feminist began, with some even demanding that the Korea Archery Association take away the gold medals from the ‘man hater’.

But women fought back again. Lawmakers, activists, entertainers, and thousands of ordinary women rallied behind An, many sharing the photos of their short hair on social media as a show of support.

And as the cyber-bullying targeting An raged on, many women across the country watched as An won yet another gold – becoming the first archer in Olympic history to win three golds at a single Game.

Hawon Jung is a journalist and former Seoul correspondent for the AFP news agency. She is the author of ‘Flowers of Fire,’ a book about South Korea’s #MeToo campaign.

Source: International Politics and Society (IPS), published by the Global and European Policy Unit of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastrasse 28, D-10785 Berlin.

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