Three-quarters of UN Member States share rivers or lake basins with their neighbours. There are more than 270 internationally shared river basins, which serve as the primary source of fresh water for approximately 40 per Cent of the world’s population, including the Nile, the Indus, the Ganges, the Euphrates-Tigris, and the Mekong. “That is why it is essential that nations cooperate to ensure water is shared equitably and used sustainably,” he said. In the second half of the 20th century alone, some 287 international water agreements were signed. In South America, Lak Titicaca, the largest freshwater lake on the continent, has long been a source of cooperation between Bolivia and Peru. The 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived three wars between the two countries. The Albufeira Convention, agreed when Mr. Guterres was Prime Minister of Portugal, continues to promote good relations on water management between his country and Spain. The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes became open for all UN Member States as of March last year, offering the opportunity to create a global framework for preventive diplomacy for dealing with transboundary water issues. “Let us commit to investing in water security to ensure durable peace and security for all communities and nations,” he concluded. (UN News Centre)
Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict Briefed on Situation in Sudan
On 2 May 2017, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict was briefed via video-teleconference by the Co-Chairs of the Sudan Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on the situation of children and armed conflict in the Sudan. The newly appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, also attended the meeting.
The Task Force welcomed the opportunity to directly brief the Working Group and provided an update on the latest developments with regard to the protection of children affected by armed conflict in the Sudan. The Task Force acknowledged the progress made with regard to the protection of children while stressing that violations continue to be committed, including killing and maiming and rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in Darfur, while progress has been observed on the issue of child recruitment and use. The Task Force noted a decrease in violations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States while underscoring they did not have access to Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)-North-controlled areas.
The Task Force noted recent progress in gaining humanitarian access to children in conflict-affected areas in Darfur while it continued to be challenged in accessing areas held by SPLM-North and Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW). The Task Force emphasized the importance of humanitarian access in areas held by SPLM-North, SLA/AW and in areas adjacent to areas held by SPLM‑North, particularly in efforts to protect children affected by armed conflict. The Task Force also shared information about progress in the implementation of the action plan for the protection of children from violations to end and prevent child recruitment and use by the security forces of the Government of the Sudan since its signature in March 2016, as well as about developments concerning the signing and implementation of action plans with armed groups in Sudan. The Co-Chairs informed the Working Group about their engagement with the Government of the Sudan and armed groups concerning the protection of children affected by the conflict in the Sudan.
During the discussion that ensued, members of the Working Group expressed their appreciation for the work of the Task Force. They welcomed the steps taken by the Government of the Sudan to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, in particular through the signing of the action plan in March 2016, and encouraged the Government to continue these efforts and expedite the implementation of the plan. The members of the Working Group also acknowledged progress in the dialogue with armed groups active in the Sudan, including the signing of action plans and other commitments concerning the protection of children impacted by armed conflict.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres:
Message for the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda
VIENNA, 7 April (UN Information Service) – Today we remember all those who perished in the genocide in Rwanda 23 years ago. More than 800,000 people were systematically murdered across the country – overwhelmingly Tutsi, along with moderate Hutu, Twa and others. Today we also honour those who survived. We recognize their pain and courage, and the struggles they continue to face. The survivors’ resilience and their capacity for reconciliation are an inspiration to us all. The only way to truly honour the memory of those who were killed in Rwanda is to ensure that such events never occur again. Preventing genocide and other monstrous crimes is a shared responsibility and a core duty of the United Nations. The world must always be alert to the warning signs of genocide, and act quickly and early against the threat. History is filled with tragic chapters of hatred, inaction and indifference – a cycle that has led to violence, incarceration and death camps. The past century alone showed, again and again, the poison of intolerance still loose in our societies. Even today, minorities and other groups suffer attacks and exploitation based on who they are. Let us learn the lessons of Rwanda and work together to build a future of dignity, tolerance and human rights for all.
Toll on refugee and migrant children continues to mount one year after EU-Turkey deal – UNICEF
17 March – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today that one year after the Balkan border closures and the European Union-Turkey Statement, which were aimed at stopping mass migration flows, refugee and migrant children face greater risks of deportation, detention, exploitation and deprivation.
“While there has been a major decrease in the overall numbers of children on the move into Europe since last March, there has been an increase in the threats and distress refugee and migrant children endure,” said Afshan Khan UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe. UNICEF staff in Greece report deep levels of distress and frustration among children and their families, including one child as young as eight attempting self-harm. Despite recent improvement in living conditions some unaccompanied children in shelters, suffer psychosocial distress, with high levels of anxiety, aggression and violence and demonstrating high risk behaviour such as drugs and prostitution. War, destruction, the death of loved ones and a dangerous journey exacerbated by poor living conditions in camps around Greece or the lengthy registration and asylum procedures, can trigger post-traumatic stress disorders.
“It has become a vicious circle – children flee suffering, and they end up either fleeing again, or facing de facto detention, or just utter neglect,” underscored Ms. Khan. In response, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Greek Government and non-governmental organization partner, are prioritizing appropriate care for refugee and migrant children to meet their mental health and psychosocial needs. Imminent transfers back to Greece in line with so-called ‘Dublin regulations,’ are likely to add even greater strain to the situation facing children and further pressure to existing services. Instead of stemming the flow, border closures and the EU-Turkey statement, have led to children and families taking matters into their own hands and embarking on even more dangerous and irregular routes with smugglers, as UNICEF and partners warned a year ago.
Even in 2017 nearly 3,000 refugees and migrants – with about a third children – have arrived in Greece despite the full implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and strict border control. Many continue to slip through borders into Bulgaria, West Balkans and Hungary, said UNICEF. Children stranded in Greece and West Balkans have already lost nearly three years of education and now face several hurdles like different languages and education systems and yet another year without schooling. UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Education’s strategy to integrate stranded refugee and migrant children in Greek schools. However only 2,500 children out the 15,000 school age children so far that benefit from the national scheme in Greek language. Despite significant efforts – from government and partners – about half of the 2,100 unaccompanied children are still living in substandard conditions, including nearly 200 unaccompanied children in facilities with limited movement early March (178 in reception and identification centres on the Islands and 16 in “protective custody” in police cells). (UN News Service)
Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov:
Statement on International Women’s Day
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime—UNODC—is committed to helping end these brutal assaults by tackling human trafficking and migrant smuggling, as well as promoting criminal justice and the rule of law. Whether in the home, the work place, or in prisons, women must feel safe and secure. No one should live in hopeless fear or helpless terror. If there is to be progress, we must work collectively to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks equality and an end to all forms of violence against women and girls. Barbarous violence against women and girls is a shared shame. It is owned by us all. On this day, I undertake to strive to end this violence, and by doing so, empower and enable women everywhere. (UN Information Service)
UN calls for support to recovery plan as Haiti loses $2.7 billion in Hurricane Matthew
6 March – The United Nations office dedicated to disaster risk reduction today called for urgent support to improve disaster risk management in Haiti, following a damage assessment that shows the country lost $2.7 billion, or 32 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), as a result of Hurricane Matthew six months ago. “Hurricane Matthew revealed disturbing truths about least developed countries which lack the capacity to respond adequately to climate change and the rising intensity and frequency of weather-related disasters,” said the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser in a press release. His call came on the eve of the 5th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, which opens in Montreal, Canada, tomorrow.
“While the government's civil protection system
prevented many deaths, it is unacceptable that over 600 people should have died
in a hurricane that was so well-forecast,” he added. The magnitude of the
losses shown by a thorough government-led Post-Disaster Needs Assessment would
be a devastating blow to any economy. It came on top of two years of drought
affecting the food security of one million people and the 2010 earthquake which
cost 120 per cent of GDP, he said. Mr. Glasser urged strong support for the
three-year recovery plan developed by the Haitian government, the UN and other partners
that seeks $2.72 billion. He said that Haiti demonstrated how implementation of
the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015- 2030, the global plan to
reduce disaster losses, has to take into account the role that poverty plays in
driving disaster risk. In 2012, it was estimated that 58.6 per cent of the 10.7
million people live below the threshold of $2.4 per day while 24 per cent live
in extreme poverty or less than $1.23 per day. Haiti is estimated to have lost
on average 2 per cent of its GDP to weather-related disasters every year
between 1975 and 2012. (UN News Service)
South Sudan: UN deplores lack of information on 20,000 people displaced in Upper Nile
The top United Nations peacekeeping official in South Sudan has described the lack of information about the situation of some 20,000 internally displaced people on the west bank of the Nile in the country’s north, as a “real problem.” “We want to find out what has happened to those people, and provide them with assistance if they need it,” said David Shearer, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who was making his first field trip to the town of Malakal after taking up his position as Mission chief four weeks ago. According to a press statement issued today by the office of the Mission’s spokesperson, UNMISS believes that the 20,000 people have fled towards Kodok from Wau Shilluk, a town eight miles north of the UN base in Malakal on the west bank of the River Nile.
Fighting between the Government Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) forces and opposition forces has expanded geographically across the west bank over the past week, and shows no signs of abating, forcing more people to flee their homes. On Thursday, UN peacekeepers attempted to carry out a foot patrol to Wau Shilluk, but were prevented from doing so by SPLA soldiers located at Wau Shilluk, a situation Mr. Shearer described as “very frustrating.” Meanwhile, the statement noted that UNMISS has described government relocations by air of internally displaced people through Juba into Malakal as unsustainable if they are not also supported with humanitarian assistance on arrival. The Shilluk population of Malakal has abandoned the town and 33,000 people are currently taking refuge in the camp administered by UNMISS. (UN News Service, 16/02/17)
Russia, Turkey, Iran and UN hash out details of monitoring regime for Syria ceasefire
The delegations of Russia, Turkey and Iran as well as United Nations representatives held their first meeting yesterday to discuss the establishment of a ceasefire implementation regime in Syria that was decided at the 23-24 January talks held in the Kazakh capital of Astana, a UN spokesperson in Geneva said today.
This meeting was held as a follow-up on the agreement reached in Astana on a mechanism – a group of experts – to monitor the ceasefire, which had been brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey. “The participants had discussed the implementation of the cease-fire regime in Syria, and specific measures to facilitate effective mentoring and verification in order to ensure full compliance with the cease-fire, prevent any provocations, and determine all the modalities of the cease-fire,” Yara Sharif, the spokeswoman for the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Syria, told reporters in Geneva. The participants also discussed confidence-building measures to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access, and the delegations acknowledged their readiness to continue collaboration towards ensuring full implementation of the ceasefire regime in Syria, she stated. The UN experts who attended the follow-up meeting shared UN experience and best practices related to the monitoring and verification of cease-fire arrangements in other settings, the spokeswoman added. Ms. Sharif also said that Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura has welcomed the meeting, expressing his hope that their efforts would strengthen the cease-fire on the ground and thus contribute to the UN-facilitated intra-Syrian talks in Geneva towards a political settlement.
A boy pulls a wheelchair along a debris strewn street in Al-
Mashatiyeh neighbourhood of eastern Aleppo, Syria. Photo:
Turning to Mr. de Mistura’s visit to the United States, Ms. Sharif said the envoy was appreciative of the opportunity to have conducted a series of successful meetings with the new US Administration. His bilateral meeting with the new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was positive, she said, adding that the Special Envoy briefed on the upcoming intra-Syrian negotiations and the context. Ms. Sharif also said that the invitations to the intra Syrian talks in Geneva would go out on 8 February. The Special Envoy is of the view that the effectiveness of those negotiations, to be launched on 20 February, can be significantly enhanced through direct negotiations between the Government of Syria and “a united opposition delegation,” she noted. In his briefing to the UN Security Council on 31 January Mr. de Mistura announced the postponement of the UN supported talks from 8 February to 20 February, explaining that the delay would give time for the ceasefire to solidify, give the Government a chance to consider concessions, and give a chance for the armed groups to come as “one unified opposition.” (UN Daily News, 07/02/17)
Tourismusjahr Österreich - Russland 2017
Um die bilateralen Tourismusbeziehungen zu stärken haben Österreich und Russland 2017 zum gemeinsamen Tourismusjahr erklärt. Es bietet den idealen Rahmen, um Destinationen, Unternehmen und Experten unter positiven Vorzeichen zusammen zu bringen, neue Impulse zu setzen und die Kooperation wieder zu stärken. Die Umsetzung des Tourismusjahres Österreich-Russland koordiniert für Österreich das Wirtschaftsministerium (BMWFW) in enger Zusammenarbeit mit dem Außenministerium (BMEIA) und der Österreich Werbung (ÖW). Auf russischer Seite ist das für Tourismus zuständige Kulturministerium verantwortlich.
Im Laufe des Jahres wird es Veranstaltungen zu Themen wie "Berg- und Sporttourismus", "Tourismus im ländlichen Raum", "Städte- und Kulturtourismus" und "Gäste der Zukunft" sowie gesellschaftliche und kulturelle Events geben. Im Fokus steht dabei die Entfaltung des großen touristischen Potentials beider Länder auf Basis einer nachhaltigen Infrastruktur und Produktentwicklung. Die Vereinten Nationen haben das Jahr 2017 zum „Internationalen Jahr des nachhaltigen Tourismus für Entwicklung“ erklärt. Bilaterale Kooperationen wie jene zwischen Österreich und Russland leiste somit einen wertvollen Beitrag für die traditionell guten Beziehungen beider Länder. Neu ist, wonach jeder österreichische Urlauber, der Russland besuchen möchte, ein Halbjahresvisum mit doppelter Einreiseerlaubnis bekommt. Somit können Touristen aus Österreich innerhalb eines Halbjahres zwei Mal nach Russland einreisen. Den Abschluss des gemeinsamen Tourismusjahres bildet im November eine Festveranstaltung in St. Petersburg.
Weitere Informationen zum Tourismusjahr sowie einen ausführlichen Veranstaltungskalender finden Sie unter: http://bit.ly.Tourismusjahr
Informationen zum UN Jahr finden Sie online unter: http://www.tourism4development2017.org/
Bei der Präsentation in Wien waren hochkarätige Teilnehmer aus Russland wie Botschafter Dmitrij Ljubinski und die Vizeministerin für Kultur, Alla Manilowa, aus Österreich die Sektionschefin im Wirtschaftsministerium Elisabeth Udolf-Strobl, die Vizepräsidentin der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Martha Schultz sowie der Generalsekretär der UN Welttourismusorganisation (UNWTO) Taleb Rifal, anwesend.
European Union takes over ICPDR Presidency for 2017 from the Czech Republic
Mr. Gammeltoft wants to focus on investment needs and on capacity building, to ensure a better use of the available EU financial instruments and the implementation needs of the ICPDR Contracting Parties, in particular non-EU States, to speed up finalization and implementation of national plans. Good water management and sustainable agricultural development require close cooperation between the environmental and agricultural sectors, and funding will be made available for water-friendly measures. To mobilize support for more water-friendly measures in other sectors and ensure better integration with other policy areas, another priority will be to increase the visibility of the ICPDR outside the water community. As the former Head of Unit for water and marine environment of the Directorate-General for Environment at the European Commission, Mr Gammeltoft knows the Danube River Basin well. In 1991, he played a key role in setting up an interim Danube Task Force, which was the precursor of the ICPDR.
The ICPDR President has emphasized the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular their indivisibility, so that social, economic and environmental goals all have to be met. The goals are particularly important when addressing challenges with regards to integrating other policy areas such as energy, transport and agriculture. For Mr. Gammeltoft, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG6 (“Clean water and sanitation”) will focus efforts on topics related to the work of the ICPDR. “Water, pollution and flood risks flow across national borders in the Danube River basin, so international cooperation is necessary, not only to achieve targets of EU legislation, but also to provide a better quality of life for citizens in the basin. The ICPDR is here to ensure that this cooperation takes place and will continue to remove any barriers to progress under my Presidency,” said Mr. Gammeltoft. He praised the ICPDR as a widely and internationally recognized role model, showcasing the benefits of good transboundary cooperation in water resources management, in the most international river basin in the world. Mr Gammeltoft expressed his appreciation for the outgoing ICPDR Presidency and his predecessor Peter J. Kalas of the Czech Republic.
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Migrants battling exposure as freezing temperatures grip Europe, warns UN agency
11 January 2017 – Sounding the alarm over the situation of thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and others enduring extreme cold conditions across Europe and Eastern Mediterranean, the United Nations migration agency has appealed for immediate action to save them from freezing to death.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least six individuals – three migrants in Bulgaria, one in Greece and two refugees in Lebanon – have succumbed to the harsh winter that has struck the region with some of the heaviest snowfall and the most severe icy temperatures in years.
Deaths due to exposure have also been reported in the Italian capital Rome and of those in transit across the Balkans.
“It is imperative that the world respond to the dangers exposed by these extreme weather conditions with food aid, shelter and other resources in the short term and long term,” William Lacy Swing, the IOM Director General, said yesterday, recalling the carnage in the Mediterranean Sea in 2016.
Last year, the deadliest year ever for migrants recorded by IOM in the region, at least 5,000 migrants lost their lives as they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea with hopes of reaching European shores.
This extreme weather at the start of 2017 has brought particular fear for the lives and well-being of 15,500 migrants and asylum seekers, housed in camps on Greek Islands, including many in places that have been hit hard with snowfall. Families with children are most at risk.
Additionally, some 6,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey are reported to be without adequate, winterized shelter – out of a total refugee population of about three million.
IOM also reported that more than 7,500 people are currently stranded in Serbia, living in accommodation without adequate winter protection. Also, in makeshift refugee settlements in Lebanon, some 100 incidents of tents collapsing were reported. (UN News Centre, 13/01/17)
António Guterres -
the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017
Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.
Prior to his election as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world's foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR's activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.
Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.
As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.
Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party's parliamentary group.
From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees.
For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group's vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s.
Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.
Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.(NEW YORK/VIENNA, 1 January (UN Information Service)
Secretary-General Urges New Parliament in Somalia to Swiftly Complete 2016 Electoral Process, Establish Permanent Constitution
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
The Secretary-General welcomes the inauguration of the new Federal Parliament of Somalia on 27 December 2016 and warmly congratulates the people of Somalia on this historic achievement in their quest for universal suffrage by 2020. The Secretary-General urges the new Parliament to now maintain the momentum by moving swiftly to complete the electoral process, with the election of the Speakers of both houses and the Federal President. The Parliament should tackle urgent legislative priorities, including establishing a permanent Constitution of Somalia, in the larger interest of the people of Somalia.
The Secretary-General calls on the authorities to fill all remaining vacant seats in the Parliament expeditiously, while fulfilling their obligation to ensure that the seats reserved for women are filled by women. He emphasizes that any irregularity, abuse, or malpractice reported by the federal and State electoral bodies should be fully addressed to preserve the credibility of the process. The Secretary-General commends the hard work of the Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in providing a secure environment for the 2016 electoral process in Mogadishu and in the regional capitals. The successful inauguration of the Parliament marks further progress in ensuring political stability and security in Somalia. (UN-Press release / 29.12.2016)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
Message on International Human Solidarity Day
20 December 2016
Despite these and other advances, prosperity has not been shared by all. Inequalities, extreme poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and environmental degradation continue to be prominent features of societies around the world. Discrimination and prejudice remain major barriers to building inclusive societies. Many vulnerable social groups find their situation worsening. The impacts of climate change will fall most heavily on those who did least to cause the problem. Solidarity is essential to address these gaps in sustainable development.
Leaving no one behind, promoting prosperity and ensuring inclusiveness and equality are core principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in September 2015, and of the Paris Agreement on climate change adopted in December of that same year. As nations strive to uphold their promises and to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), mutual support will be crucial. Global problems require collective solutions. At a time of divisiveness on many key global issues, from armed conflict to forced migration, people need to turn toward each other in common cause, not away from each other in fear.
On International Human Solidarity Day, let us emphasize the role of human solidarity in building lives of dignity for all on a healthy planet. We must work together to achieve the SDGs and secure the future we want.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
Message on International Migrants Day
18 December 2016
VIENNA, 18 December (UN Information Service) – This has been another turbulent year for refugees and migrants. We have seen the continued devastating effect of armed conflict on civilian populations, leading to death, destruction and displacement. We have witnessed the unacceptable loss of thousands of lives of people in transit in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. And, to add insult to injury, we have witnessed the rise of populist movements that seek to alienate and expel migrants and refugees, and to blame them for various ills of society.
Yet, within this turbulence we also find rays of hope, with concerned citizens and communities opening their arms and hearts. We have also seen a promising international response, culminating with the New York Declaration adopted in September at the United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants. It is now crucial that governments honour and build on their commitments to govern large movements of refugees and migrants in a way that is compassionate, people-centred, gender-responsive and rooted in fundamental human rights.
Every migrant is a human being with human rights. Protecting and upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status, is a foundational element of the New York Declaration. To accomplish this, we need stronger international cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination that is guided by international law and standards. We must reject intolerance, discrimination and policies driven by xenophobic rhetoric and the scapegoating of migrants. Those who abuse and seek to harm migrants must be held to account.
A sustainable response to migration needs to address the drivers of forced and precarious movements of people. These include poverty, food insecurity, armed conflict, natural disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, poor governance, persistent inequalities and violations of economic, social, civil, political or cultural rights. Good governance of migration also demands expanding legal channels for safe migration, including for family reunification, for labour mobility at all skill levels, and educational opportunities for children and adults, as well as decriminalizing irregular migration and regularizing the status of undocumented migrants.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to ensure that the needs of the most marginalized, including migrants, are made a priority so that no one is left behind. On this International Migrants Day, I call on the international community to act on the global compact on safe, regular and orderly migration as an important contribution to building a world of peace, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all.
Canada ratifies the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration
VIENNA, 14 December (UN Information Service) - On 12 December 2016, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration ("The Mauritius Convention on Transparency"). Canada is the second State to ratify the Convention, following the ratification by Mauritius on 5 June 2015. The Convention will enter into force six months after the date of the third instrument of ratification or accession.
During the signing ceremony held at Port Louis, Mauritius, on 17 March 2015, eight states (Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Mauritius, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States) signed the Mauritius Convention on Transparency. Since then, the Convention has been signed by a further nine states: Syria, Switzerland, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Gabon, Congo, Madagascar and the Netherlands. The Convention is open for signature, ratification and accession by States and regional economic integration organizations.
The Mauritius Convention on Transparency aims to provide States and regional economic integration organizations with an efficient mechanism that extends the scope of the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based investor-State Arbitration ("Rules on Transparency"). These procedural Rules ensure transparency and public accessibility to treaty-based investor-State arbitration, the proceedings of which have traditionally been conducted behind closed doors. By ratifying the Convention, a State or regional economic integration organization expresses its consent to the application of the Rules on Transparency to investor-State arbitrations initiated under investment treaties concluded before 1 April 2014.
Together with the Rules on Transparency, the Mauritius
Convention on Transparency effectively balances the public interest in
investor-State disputes with the parties' interests in resolving these disputes
in a fair and efficient manner. It is expected that the Convention will
significantly contribute to enhancing transparency in investor-State
UNCAV-Vienna: Österreichische NGO-VertreterInnen fordern im Rahmen einer Pressekonferenz klare Ziele für Agenda 2030 und NFI-Richtlinie und
kritisieren fehlende Ambition der österreichischen Bundesregierung in Bezug auf die UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziele und
die Messung ethischer Leistungen von Unternehmen
Prozess zur Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 nach dem Ministerratsbeschluss vom 12. Jänner 2016 weiter unklar
Globale Nachhaltigkeit: Österreich nicht auf Zielkurs
Agenda 2030: Nachhaltiger Stillstand bei der Umsetzung der UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziele
EU-Richtlinie: Riesenchance für nachhaltiges Wirtschaften bleibt ungenutzt
Im Herbst 2015 hatten sich Vertreter von 193 UN-Staaten auf eine Agenda für nachhaltige Entwicklung mit 17 Zielen geeinigt. Herzstück der Agenda sind nationale Umsetzungspläne und eine systematische Überprüfung mit breiten Beteiligungsmöglichkeiten. Die nationalen Anstrengungen bilden die Basis für zwei weitere Überprüfungen im Rahmen der UN. Soeben gratulierte der scheidende UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki-moon bei seinem Wienbesuch der Bundesregierung für ihr Engagement bei der Agenda 2030. NGO-VertreterInnen kritisieren dagegen, dass sie in der Realität seit mehr als einem Jahr eine Bestandsaufnahme durchführe, an der Zivilgesellschaft und Wissenschaft nicht beteiligt würden.
Länder wie Deutschland und Schweiz präsentierten bereits dieses Jahr ihre SDG Strategien auf Basis einer Überarbeitung ihrer Nachhaltigkeitsstrategien. Die österreichische Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie stammt allerdings aus dem Jahr 2002 und eine Neuformulierung scheiterte im Jahr 2012. „Österreich steuert praktisch ohne Kompass auf rauer See, was seine Nachhaltigkeitspolitik betrifft, mit ungewissen Auswirkungen für die nächste Generation“, kritisiert Daniel Bacher von der Dreikönigsaktion Hilfswerk der Katholischen Jungschar.
Die SDGs sind eine Chance die österreichische Nachhaltigkeitspolitik wiederzubeleben. Dafür braucht es allerdings eine Strategie mit konkreten Maßnahmen, Zeitrahmen, Ressourcen, Partizipation und Überprüfung. „Ein Mainstreaming der SDGs in Politikbereiche ohne erkennbare neue Maßnahmen ist völlig unzureichend“, so Bacher.
15.12.: Nationalrat entscheidet über Ethische Berichterstattungspflicht für Unternehmen
UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziel 12.6. sieht vor, dass Unternehmen über ihre Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie und -maßnahmen zu berichten haben. Am 15. Dezember entscheidet der österreichische Nationalrat über die Umsetzung der EU-Richtlinie über nicht-finanzielle Berichterstattung im so genannten „Nachhaltigkeits- und Diversivitätsverbesserungsgesetz (NaDiVeG). Ab dem 1.1.2017 müssen große Unternehmen mit mehr als 500 MitarbeiterInnen nichtfinanzielle Informationen zu Umwelt-, Sozial-, Diversitäts- und Menschenrechtsfragen offenlegen.
Leider deutet alles darauf hin, dass der Gesetzgeber diese große Chance ungenutzt verstreichen lässt, neben der Messung des unternehmerischen Mittelerfolgs (via Finanzbilanz) endlich auch die Messung des unternehmerischen Zielerfolgs (Beitrag zum Gemeinwohl) gleich rechtsverbindlich zu regulieren. Dies wäre zu erreichen mit einer inhaltlich vorgegebenen „Gemeinwohl-Bilanz“, die extern geprüft und an Rechtsfolgen geknüpft wird und für alle finanzbilanzpflichtigen Unternehmen gilt. „Es ist höchst an der Zeit, sozial und ökologisch verantwortungsvollen Unternehmen den Wettbewerbsnachteil, den sie aus ihren höheren ethischen Leistungen erleiden, durch intelligente Anreize zu kompensieren“, so Christian Felber von der internationalen Gemeinwohl-Ökonomie-Bewegung.
Olivia Rauscher vom NPO-Institut an der WU Wien beschäftigt sich seit Jahren mit der Messung und Bewertung von gesellschaftlichen Wirkungen, die Nonprofit-Organisationen und Unternehmen erzeugen. Rauscher meint dazu: „Es ist unbedingt notwendig, dass Unternehmen neben ihrem finanziellen Erfolg auch ihre sozialen und ökologischen Wirkungen auf die Gesellschaft verpflichtend darstellen. Dazu müssen die relevanten Themenbereiche und geeignete Methoden bzw. Indikatoren zur Wirkungsmessung im Nachhaltigkeits- und Diversivitätsverbesserungsgesetz verankert werden. Es wäre ein weiterer wichtiger Schritt, um von einer Leistungs- in eine Wirkungsgesellschaft zu gelangen.“
Nachhaltigkeit wieder ernst nehmen!
„Österreich war vor 10 Jahren Vorreiter in Sachen Nachhaltigkeit,“ sagt Fritz Hinterberger, Chef des Sustainable Europe Research Institute und Mitglied im Vorstand des Austrian Chapter des Club of Rome, „als unter österreichischer Ratspräsidentschaft die EU-Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie überarbeitet wurde. Das stünde uns auch heute wieder gut an. Die Vorgabe klarer Ziele würde nicht nur Umwelt und Gesellschaft zugute kommen, sondern auch der heimischen Wirtschaft. Das zeigen alle einschlägigen Studien der letzten Jahre“, so Hinterberger, „Wettbewerbsfähigkeit, Wachstum, Lebensqualität und Arbeitsplätze sind eigentlich nur mehr in diesem Bereich zu erwarten.“ Die Wirtschaft braucht dafür entsprechende Vorgaben von der Politik. NFI-Richtlinie und Agenda 2030 bieten internationale verbindliche Grundlagen, die es in Österreich nicht nur halbherzig, sondern mutig umzusetzen gilt. (Wien, 12. Dezember 2016)
UNCAV Vienna informs: UN Industrial Development Organization turns 50
Fifty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Since then, UNIDO has become the UN system’s industrial development arm, and today continues to work to eradicate global poverty by assisting developing and middle income countries in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
At the core of UNIDO’s industrial development approach is the firm belief in the need for the successful integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions in order to fully realize sustainable development for the benefit of our future generations.
LI Yong, the Director General of UNIDO, said that “this anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the past and to chart a new path for a sustainable future. Today, as never before, we are fully committed to the job we started five decades ago: to put an end to poverty once and for all”.
As a first step to realize this approach, UNIDO has developed a new type of assistance package for its Member States: the Programme for Country Partnership, a custom-built formula for each beneficiary country. The first such programmes were launched in Ethiopia and Senegal, and today a Programme for Country Partnership is successfully developing in Peru. Other Member States are eager to have the same approach implemented in their country.
“Looking forward, we feel confident, knowing that UNIDO has a proven track record and a global reputation as a robust and pertinent organization that offers a range of analytical, normative, convening and technical cooperation services, as well as industrial policy advice,” said Director General Li.
“Over the last 50 years, UNIDO has created opportunities for and improved the lives of millions of people, including women and young people. Today, we have a clear mandate and a direct responsibility for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through inclusive and sustainable industrialization, as reflected in Sustainable Development Goal 9. I am confident that together - with the continued support of our Member States and donors - we will realize our dream of a sustainable future,” said Li.
UNIDO Headquarters, based in Vienna, will celebrate the 50th anniversary from 21 to 25 November. It will be attended by high-level representatives of UNIDO’s 170 Member States, as well as leaders of international organizations and the private sector, and leading figures from the world of academia. The 44th Industrial Development Board will also take place the same week.
A range of panel discussions and presentations in the course of the celebration week will focus on such topics as the way forward in achieving the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals; financing for development; industrial development for job creation to address root causes of migration; the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its implications for developing countries and climate change.
The Vienna launch of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit, and the third Donor Meeting are also foreseen, as well as an exhibition featuring exhibitors from around the world. (United Nations Industrial Development Organization)
UNCAV Vienna supports United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
Message on the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
I pay tribute to the courage of all media personnel who put their lives on the line for the sake of truth. And I call for immediate action to secure justice in cases where journalists were attacked, harassed or killed.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is mobilizing all partners to implement the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Success hinges on cooperation to create a culture of freedom of expression, where those who restrict the work of journalists are sanctioned and all who attack them are punished.
Toward this end, I call on all countries to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists with concrete actions to ensure that all media personnel are guaranteed the space they need to operate free from any form of harassment or intimidation. In this way, we will strengthen public access to information, which is key to Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.
Commemorative activities will be held in a variety of places around the world, including Myanmar, which will officially mark the Day for the first time as part of its transition toward democracy with discussions at the Annual Media Development Conference. In the Russian Federation, UNESCO is teaming up with the Russian Union of Journalists to examine prevailing conditions, honour those who have lost their lives and raise awareness about ending impunity. In Pakistan, UNESCO is joining with officials in a discussion focused on strengthening the safety of journalists. In Tanzania, UNESCO is working with officials to hold a workshop commemorating the Day.
I urge all countries to observe this Day, especially where journalists are under threat. Let us resolve to do all we can to contribute to a safer environment for journalists and a freer society for all.
VIENNA,HORNA, 2 November (UN Information Service)
Die Vereinigung der UNO-Korrespondenten in Wien unterstützt den Protest der JournalistInnen gegen die Abschaffung des Pressefoyers nach dem Ministerrat. „Den Medien muss die Möglichkeit eingeräumt werden, die österreichischen Regierungsverantwortlichen, den Kanzler sowie den Vizekanzler, persönlich zu den wesentlichen Themen befragen zu können“, betont Siegele. In einem demokratischen Staat muss die Presse und der Rundfunk die Gelegenheit haben, ihrer ursprünglichen Aufgabe nachzukommen, die Staatsbürgerinnen und Staatsbürger so zu informieren, dass sie am Prozess der demokratischen Meinungs- und Willensbildung teilnehmen können. „Durch die Abschaffung des Pressefoyers wird die Freiheit der Medien beschränkt. Für Regierungsverantwortliche dürfen Journalistenfragen nicht als unangenehm empfunden werden. Kritisches Hinterfragen gehört zum Grundwesen journalistischer Arbeit, um politische Transparenz zu erreichen“, betont UNCAV-Vize Präsident Dr. Josef Siegele. Die geplante Informations-Offensive der derzeitigen Regierung werde von UNCAV genau beobachtet. Eine Verlagerung der politischen Diskussion in den Bereich Social Media sei für eine gefestigte Demokratie zu wenig, denn kritisches Nachfragen sei dort nur bedingt möglich. Fragen werden oft nicht ausführlich kommentiert, getätigte Aussagen wirken nicht authentisch und verlieren dadurch auch an Bedeutung. „Die Pressefreiheit ist ein Grundstein der Menschenrechte und muss gewährleistet bleiben“, so Siegele abschließend.