STATE OF CIVIL SOCIETY 2014

Civicus has recently released the State of Civil Society Report 2014: Re-imagining Global Governance which includes contemporary analysis of the role of civil society in societal change and global voice for a better world in line with the Post 2015 agenda. Check it out at https://civicus.org/images/stories/SOCS%202014.pdf

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CHANGING APPROACH TO IMPROVING GLOBAL HEALTH

Three of the main issue areas for global governance in the post-2015 agenda are security, sustainability, and human rights.  This video highlights animal health as being at the center of fighting disease, combating –or adjusting to – climate change, and providing adequate resources for the projected 9.6 billion people the world will have by 2050; all contributing factors to the safety and health of the international community.

This changing approach; including and cooperating with governments, civil society, the private sector, academic institutions, and NGOs clearly represents the shift in problem solving, also experienced at the UN level; only by increased collaboration, information-sharing, and supporting the efforts of groups at every level will we be able to truly combat these dilemmas.

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International Career

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CLIMATE CHANGE REFUGEES

As we have discussed, the 1951 Refugee Convention does not include protection for individuals that are displaced by economic or environmental disasters. As the attached article (click link for sound no print article) discusses, the case of environmental or climate change refugees is of vital important as the number of extreme environmental incidents like Typhoon Haiyen are displacing and destroying the livelihoods of thousands, if not million of individuals. Furthermore, as we have discusses, there are many island nations that are at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels as a direct result of climate change.

This article looks at the case study of an individual that made the world's first environmental refugee claim in New Zealand. His case was denied and is in appeal, but as this notes, the importance of the case is that nations are questioning whether or not individuals will be displaced by climate change, but rather who's responsibility it is to care for these persons. Due to a strict analysis of the Refugee Convention definition, New Zealand denied the request thus confirming the international status quo. New Zealand set the precedent that these persons are not refugees, and thus calls for a new international strategy. The concern is that millions of people may seek environmental or climate change refugee status, and that the global community cannot afford to take on this additional responsibility.
Although there have been additional protocols and different interpretations of the 1951 Refugee Convention, this case study highlights the potential deficiences of the definition. THis is an issue that the international community and the United Nations will need to address immediately, as displacement due to climate change will only continue.

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UN SECURITY COUNCIL REFORM

Among the more contentiuos issues regarding the future of the United Nations, Is the wide call for reform of the United Nations Security Council. The Permanent five members, and the only ones to have a veto powere are the major powers from World War II, the US, UK, Germany, Russia and China. It is argued that this power structure is outdated and doesn't reflect either current power arrangements, and also that the arrangement is not very geographically representative as there is not a P5 member from the African or South American continents. Beyond the argument of whether or not to allow for continuation of the veto, is the argument of whether or not to expand the permanent membership. Inherent in this is the questions of expand to how many members, and who would be included. 
In the short video posted below, we hear from Manjeev Singh Puri, Deputy Permanent Representative  of India to the UN, Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations; Motohide Yoshikawa, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, and Peter Wittig, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations. THe representative from Egypt speaks of a Common African Position that rightly posits reform is needed to overcome narrow political interests, and the representative from Japan also encourages for changes to be initiated not just in name but in substance. 
Although there has been no change to the P5 membership since the inception of the UN, it is important to pay attention to these calls for change. If the United Nations seeks to remain relevant going into the future, I feel it is necessary to address this difficult issue head on and find ways to make the Security Council more inclusive and balanced.

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SAFE WATER AS KEY TO DEVELOPMENT

This short video outlines some of the severe health, economic, societal and other impacts that are experienced by individuals and communities that lack access to water and sanitation. The video outlines that despite that MDG target for water access being met in 2010, that there is an extreme shortcoming in meeting the targets for sanitation. The clip estimates that at the current pace, it will take Sub-Saharan Africa 150 years to meet the target. Further, the video highlights that individuals lose time from work or require medical treatment that results in financial insecurity for families. The costs attributed to this is estimated at $260 billion in lost revenue per year throughout the word, and an estimated 5% loss to Sub-Saharan African GDP. Both are substantial figures.
The High-Level of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda did include to achieve universal access to water and sanitation as proposed goal #6 on the post-MDG agenda. However, we are yet to see whether the international community will band together to accept this goal, and how they will achieve it.
It is important to note that issues like water and sanitation are in the realm of low politics from a national security standpoint, but this is indicative of a broader shift from national to human security. We have seen this shift start in the UN, but there is, arguably, even more room for these concepts to take root in determining the continuing work of the UN.

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STRENGTHENING ACCOUNTABILITY AND RULE OF LAW IN POST-CONFLICT COUNTRIES

Guatemala’s CICIG is a positive sign of what hopefully will become a stronger movement; post-conflict countries organizing and working with their national justice system to hold criminals accountable for actions in national courts.  Where this places the credibility and legitimacy of the ICC as an international authority on crime, I am unsure.  Yet, if weak countries in the rebuilding process are holding themselves and their offenders accountable without having to involve the international system, shouldn’t this be seen as a move in the right – and more sustainable – direction?

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UN PEACEKEEPING REFORM: "A FORCE FOR THE FUTURE"

Currently, more than 116,000 million troops from over 120 countries serve in 16 active UN Peacekeeping missions around the world. On May 29th, the annual International Day of UN Peacekeeping, a 6 month campaign began to demonstrate new UN Peacekeeping innovations and continue to make progress toward forward-thinking changes to Peacekeeping structures and techniques.

For instance, in order to improve efficiency the organization is looking to increase its use of technology. One such example is its use of unmanned aerial vehicles to gather surveillance over countries with ease, which has already improved reaction time to immediate incidents and even saved 15 people from a sinking ship off Lake Kivu. The UN has also started looking into technology like thermal imaging and geographic information systems to better protect its peacekeepers. The UN has assigned a task force specifically to assess how best peacekeeping missions can utilize this new technology for increased efficiency and effectiveness around the world. 

In addition to technological innovation, the UN has aimed to make other changes in the Peacekeeping sector, including more female peacekeepers and the first female force commander (in Cyprus), as well as going green by finding their own water supplies, disposing safely of waste, and considering solar panels and other sustainable sources to supply energy for their own missions.

All of these changes are a step by the UN to keep up with the ever changing circumstances of conflict, peacekeeping and global change - whether political, economic or even environmental.

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COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIPS STRENGTHEN UN MISSION

The UN Foundation has partnered with 40 UN agencies to provide additional support and funding for international initiatives, and to raise awareness locally and nationally for battles the UN agencies are fighting at the global level.  This has included $1.5 billion in funding for UN programs, and serves as a great example of the power of collaboration, delegating responsibilities, and working as different limbs of the same body; towards a similar goal.  Continued partnerships will allow the UN to be a more efficient and effective overseer and authority of international activity; organizing NGOs, governments, and CSOs, while having the back-up and support of organizations like the UN Foundation to complement their efforts.

The Shot@Life campaign is a partnership effort to advocate for the need for vaccinations, explain the prevalence of disease in developing countries, and educate others on the impact they can have, all while offering immense support (and eventual success) to the on-the-ground UN workers delivering vaccines and disseminating health education worldwide.

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WHERE WILL WOMEN BE IN THE FUTURE?

The story below is about two young Indian girls who were gang raped and killed while looking for a toilet, or somewhere discreet to relieve themselves. This, similar stories, and the recent manifesto of the UC Santa Barbara shooter raise significant questions about the future of women. The reading discusses the socialist feminists grim view of women in the future. Although very significant strides have been made in reducing the wage gap & the involvement of women in politics, there are still several inequalities that exist. At the root of these inequalities if the prevalent mindset that the lives of women are somehow less significant. There are still many changes that need to be made in addressing the entitlement some men feel to women's bodies. Furthermore, issues like sanitation must be analyzed through a feminist lens to truly understand the potential implications that the lack of toilet could cause for women.
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