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27 Sep

At UN, Jamaica urges partnerships to tackle climate impacts, economic fragility in small islands

Galvanizing an effective global fundraising campaign to address climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth is key for small island developing States, Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, told world leaders at the seventy-third United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.

Mr. Holness expressed concerns over his country’s vulnerability to a raft of social, economic, environmental, financial and trade-related hazards.

“Together with persistent challenges linked to climate change and more frequent intense weather events; these all impact the pace of our development,” he told world leaders gathered in New York for the Assembly’s annual general debate.

As a small island developing state, Jamaica is pursuing policies to secure its economic independence, Mr. Holness said, also stressing the importance for his country to foster traditional partnerships and build new ones.

He went on to add that Jamaica’s representation for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at outreach sessions this year demonstrated “extremely influential groupings of countries.”

“Jamaica believes that groupings like these, have a unique opportunity, working alongside the international development partners, to address the problems that face weaker economies across the globe,” said Mr. Holness.

Spotlighting that many SIDS are extremely indebted and vulnerable, he highly commended the work of UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to tackle the gap for middle-income countries.

Prime Minister Holness further reiterated his call for collaborative partnerships with international financial institutions, UN member states and the private sector to mobilize funding for Jamaica’s sustainable development.

On commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Holness said Jamaica has been the first country to incorporate human rights into their foreign policy strategy, which is a principle that they guard fiercely.

 

18UNGA sm  More about the Caribbean at the UN General Assembly


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25 Sep

Youth2030: UN chief launches bold new strategy for young people ‘to lead’

The United Nations Secretary-General launched a new partnership strategy with the world’s 1.8 billion young people on Monday, to help put “their ideas into action”. Noting that it was “a rare treat” to see so many young faces at the UN, to launch the new “Youth2030” strategy, UN chief António Guterres highlighted a list of challenges “the largest young generation in history” faces today.

He noted that “globalization, new technologies, displacement, shrinking civic space, changing labour markets and climate impacts,” were putting huge pressure on youth everywhere, adding that more than one-fifth of young people are not in employment, education or training; a quarter are affected by violence or armed conflict; and young people remain excluded from development programmes, ignored in peace negotiations and denied a voice in most international decision-making.

At the same time, he pointed out that young people were “a vast source of innovation, ideas and solutions,” who push for the needed changes in technology, climate action, inclusivity and societal justice.

“Empowering young people, supporting them, and making sure they can fulfil their potential are important ends in themselves, We want this for all people, everywhere.”

   --- UN Secretary General

Moreover, to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for a more peaceful, sustainable and prosperous world, “we need young people to lead,” he added.

In presenting Youth 2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy, he called it “the UN’s strategy to engage with, but especially to empower young people.”

Saying that the Organization has for decades worked for youth, he expressed hope that the new strategy would make the UN “a leader” in working with them, “in understanding their needs, in helping to put their ideas into action, in ensuring their views inform our processes.”

“And as we change, we will work with our partners to do likewise” and spur new partnerships, the UN chief said, identifying five key areas:

  • Opening new routes to involve young people and amplify their voices.
  • Strengthening the UN’s focus on their accessing education and health services. 
  • Placing their economic empowerment at the fore of development strategies, with a focus on training and jobs. 
  • Working to ensure their rights, and civic and political engagement.

Prioritizing support for young people in conflict and in humanitarian crises, including their participation in peace processes.

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21 Sep

Peace is at risk and violated in many places, but ‘we will not give up,’ says UN chief Guterres

On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres cited the strong correlation between the International Day of Peace and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basis for peace.

According to the UN chief, the Declaration, which turns 70 this year, provides a reminder that peace takes root when people are free from hunger, poverty and oppression and can thrive and prosper.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by UN Member States in 2015, also aim to serve this purpose by building a peaceful world through economic and social development for all with guaranteed human rights.

And yet, “when we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we know that human rights are violated in so many parts of the world, we even know that the human rights agenda is losing ground,” he said at the ceremonial ringing of the Peace Bell to commemorate Peace Day.

“But we don’t give up because respect for human rights and human dignity is a basic condition for peace,” Mr. Guterres stressed. “We are here because we are determined, and we do not give up.” 

“Peace is at risk. Peace is violated in so many places. But we will not give up,” he underscored.

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17 Sep

In a complex world, ‘we need to take the right road’: outgoing General Assembly President

The outgoing UN General Assembly President, Miroslav Lajčák, called on the global community on Monday to remain steadfast in support of multilateralism, reiterating that it is the only way to address the complex and growing challenges facing the world.

“The stakes are high, we need to take the right road,” said Mr. Lajčák, in his final address to the 193-member General Assembly.

Mr. Lajčák spoke of “six major trends”, which he observed during his year as the General Assembly President, expressing hope that his observations will be useful as the new high-level debate gets underway.

On the first trend – peace – he noted the shift of the global discourse from a reactive approach to one of “sustaining peace.”

“But we have a lot of work ahead. Sustaining Peace cannot be, just, a concept – or an aspiration. Rather, it should be seen more like an Operations Manual. Something that guides the real work we do on the ground, every day,” he said.

Mr. Lajčák also highlighted the challenges posed by climate change and called for more leadership and funding to ensure sufficient resources are on hand to honour the Paris Agreement on climate change as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dialogue leads to results. It is why, last February, we watched a joint Korean team playing in the Winter Olympics. It is why peace has returned to Colombia, after five decades of war 

           – Assembly President Lajčák

The President of the 72nd regular session of the General Assembly also underlined the need for the world body to adapt to major global shifts, highlighting the work still to be done on the Global Compact for Migration, expected to be adopted in Morocco this December.

With its universal membership and its flexible agenda, the General Assembly has “enormous legitimacy” and can play the role of a “global thought-leader,” he said, noting also the need for Organizational reforms and the steps initiated by Secretary-General António Guterres towards that end.

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14 Sep

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan laid to rest in Ghana; Guterres hails ‘exceptional global leader’

Like few today, former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, could “bring people together, put them at ease, and unite them towards a common goal”, said the current UN chief, António Guterres on Thursday, speaking at his predecessor’s funeral in Ghana.

“Since the shock of Kofi’s death, I have been reflecting on what made him so special,” Mr. Guterres told those assembled, saying he was “both one-of-a-kind and one of us.” 

The only UN chief to have emerged from the ranks of its staff, passed away after a short illness on 18 August.  He was 80.

Speaking of Mr. Annan’s time at the helm of the Organization, Secretary-General Guterres cited “a remarkable record of achievement,” in which he pioneered new ideas and initiatives, including the Millennium Development Goals – precursor to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and landmark reforms in his report, “In Larger Freedom.”

Mr. Guterres called his predecessor an “exceptional global leader” who saw the UN as “a force for good.”

“He opened the doors of the United Nations, bringing the Organization closer to the world’s people and engaging new partners in protecting the environment, defending human rights and combating HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases,”

... Antonio Guterres

“Kofi Annan was the United Nations and the United Nations was him,” Mr. Guterres asserted.

On a personal note, the UN chief called Mr. Annan “my good friend,” saying they “marched through life together in many ways.”

They had come together in supporting the birth of a new nation, Timor-Leste, and then, as the UN Refugee Agency chief, the former Secretary-General had provided him with “unwavering support”, he said.

“Now that I occupy the office Kofi once held, I am continually inspired by his integrity, dynamism and dedication,” Mr. Guterres said.

[ full story on UN News ]


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10 Sep

Get off the path of ‘suicidal emissions’, UN chief Guterres to urge in key climate change speech

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is to use a landmark speech later on Monday to urge greater involvement and leadership on the part of everybody, to protect the planet and its people, from the disastrous consequences of runaway climate change.

“Climate change is undeniable” he will say at UN Headquarters in New York, and “the science is beyond doubt,” posted the UN chief in a tweet, previewing his speech about an issue which he says poses an existential threat to humankind.

“It is time to get off the path of suicidal emissions,” he reiterated in the tweet.

Mr. Guterres is going to call on governments, businesses, scientists and consumers – “to make changes” and to “be the change” that will put the planet on a path to a better future. 

In his speech – scheduled for 3 PM, Eastern Standard Time [watch live here] – Secretary-General Guterres will also outline his vision for a new Climate Summit in 2019, which he will be convening to rally the international community, to step up action in key areas inclusive sustainable energy production, economic growth, green investment and better stewardship of natural resources.

The call for greater ambition on climate action comes amid record temperature rises and extreme weather events across the globe. The last few months alone saw devastating floods in southern India, wildfires in the United States and extreme heatwaves in Japan.

When world leaders signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5 degrees, as possible. But scientists and a major UN study, indicate that the target is already well off-track. 

The UN chief’s message also comes ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit, to be held on the west coast of the United States, in San Francisco, from 12-14 September. National, regional and municipal leaders will gather with business people and philanthropic communities to underscore their commitment to climate action.

We will have more on this story, soon.


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06 Sep

UN hails ‘ground-breaking’ Supreme Court ruling to decriminalize gay sex in India

A landmark ruling in India that decriminalizes gay sex has been welcomed as a “ground-breaking decision” by the UN agency leading the fight against HIV/AIDS.

India’s Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a key section of a colonial-era law which made specific sexual acts between adults illegal.

“Today is a day of gay pride, a day of celebration, a day when respect and dignity was finally restored in India for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people,” 

“I hope this decision sets the trend and is followed by similar decisions in other countries that remove unjust laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

...Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also welcomed the decision by India’s highest court, applauding the verdict of the Chief Justice, who said that discrimination and prejudice are always “irrational, indefensible, and arbitrary.”

The UN system in India expressed hope that it will boost efforts to stamp out stigma and discrimination against LGBTI people, which violates their human rights.

The UN office in Delhi issued a statementwhich stressed that “focus must now be on ensuring access to justice, including remedy; effective investigations of acts of violence and discrimination; and effective access to economic, social and cultural rights.”

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04 Sep

Act now to save children from rise in climate-driven extreme weather – UNICEF

Governments are being pressed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to act now to safeguard younger generations from the immediate and long-term impacts of so-called “extreme weather events.”
 

The devastating floods in southern India, wildfires ravaging the western United States and the record-breaking heatwaves baking countries across much of the northern hemisphere, are putting children in immediate danger while also jeopardizing their future, the agency said in a press release issued on Friday.

 “In any crisis, children are among the most vulnerable, and the extreme weather events we are seeing around the world are no exception,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programmes.

“Over the past few months, we have seen a stark vision of the world we are creating for future generations. As more extreme weather events increase the number of emergencies and humanitarian crises, it is children who will pay the highest price.”

These extreme weather events during June and July, causing injury, death, environmental damage and other losses.

UNICEF stated that although individual weather events cannot specifically be attributed to climate change, their increasing frequency and severity correspond with predictions of how human activities are affecting the global climate.

These conditions have numerous impacts on children. For example, they contribute to the increased spread of “childhood killers” such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea, UNICEF explained.

Heatwaves put children at risk, with infants and younger children more likely to die or suffer from heatstroke, while floods threaten their survival and development through causing injuries or death by drowning, or compromising water supply and damaging sanitation facilities. Meanwhile, poor families are particularly affected by drought, which can lead to crop failure, livestock deaths and loss of income.

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 UNICEF infographic on child malnutrition 

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Feature photos

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  • parent an students who attended in 2nd Climate Change workshop, with UNIC Director, Costa Rican Abassador, ASPnet Coordinator and guest presenter
  • Climate Change Academy students and organisers
  • MUN 2019 youth leaders and Lara Quantrall Thomas from Rotary
  • UNFPA staff Ella presents a gift to a visitor at the UN booth on International Women's Day 2018