Speakers Urge Greater Support for States with Porous Borders, Weak Legal Mechanisms, Share Ways to Tackle Threats from ISIL/Dae’sh, Al-Shabaab, Boko HaramCombating terrorism and organized crime hinges on unravelling and severing the ties between these …Read More
As prepared for delivery.
Mr. President, Members of the Executive Board, colleagues and friends.It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this session of the UNDP Executive Board.We meet today to consider the first miles travelled of UNDP’s new c…
As prepared for delivery.
Mr. President, Members of the Executive Board, colleagues and friends.It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this session of the UNDP Executive Board.We meet today to consider the first miles travelled of UNDP’s new c…
BUENOS AIRES, 20 March — Amid complex and rapidly evolving global challenges, the tried-and-tested platform of South-South cooperation — a system of exchanging knowledge and resources between developing countries — must play a promine…Read More
The 36th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA), held in Cotonou (Benin) on 3-5 December 2018, was opened by:Joseph Owona Kono, Co-President of the Joint Parliamentary AssemblyMichèle Rivasi, Acting Co-President of the Joint Pa…Read More
MARRAKECH, 10 December – World leaders adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration today, laying out the first-ever global cooperation framework for sharing responsibility to protect the world’s 258 million people on t…Read More
MARRAKECH, Morocco, 10 December — Adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the United Nations today held an interactive dialogue where Member States, civil society and regional organizations shared their views on how b…Read More
The world has been fundamentally reordered by widespread neoliberal economics that has privatized basic public goods — social protections, education, pensions and criminal justice among them — with often disastrous impacts on the human righ…Read More
With children’s aspirations still falling short of global commitments to improve their well‑being, and some calling those pledges a “distant dream”, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its debate on…Read More
As terrorism becomes more intertwined with organized crime, human trafficking and corruption, no border of the world is untouched by the illicit drug trade, delegates told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today during their annua…Read More
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.**China
The Secretary-General was in Beijing over the weekend, where he spoke at the Forum on China-Africa Coop…Read More
Wrapping up its first week of meetings examining progress and challenges on efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held two panels on two …Read More
Wrapping up its first week of meetings examining progress and challenges on efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held two panels on two …Read More
Resuming its 2018 session, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 53 groups for special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and deferred action on the status of 16 others.Jorge Dotta (Urug…Read More
Secretary-General, Other Leaders Raise Alarm about Climate Change, Terrorism, Warning Safety of Millions Dependent on Robust Action, FundingConvening for its seventy-second session amid a multilateral system overwhelmed by crises, the General Assembly …Read More
Increasing Official Development Assistance, Updating Bank Policies to Support 2030 Agenda among Resolutions ApprovedGearing up to implement the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly today adop…Read More
In a day filled with voting and contentious debate, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today expressed itself on human rights defenders, migrants and the safety of journalists by approving 14 resolutions on those and other topics.
A draft resolution on the girl child proved particularly divisive, with the Committee narrowly rejecting an amendment put forward by Argentina’s delegate that would have retained original wording, by a recorded vote of 73 in favour to 84 against, with 11 abstentions. Delegates ultimately approved the draft by consensus, as orally revised by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), but not before dozens had withdrawn their co-sponsorship over questions about the last-minute changes.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge States to improve the situation of girl children living in poverty, acknowledge the different needs of girls and boys, and make adapted investments that were responsive to their changing needs. The Assembly would also urge all States to enact and enforce legislation to protect girls from all forms of violence, discrimination, exploitation and harmful practices in all settings.
Another notable draft was on human rights defenders. Speaking before its approval by consensus, its main sponsor Norway called on Member States to stand firmly with human rights defenders, stressing that the principle of non-discrimination must apply to them. Yet, Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern about qualifying language in the draft. By its terms, the Assembly would condemn all acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non-State actors against individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, seeking to cooperate with subregional, regional and international bodies in the field of human rights.
A draft resolution titled “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” was also approved by consensus, following the defeat of an oral amendment — by a vote of 24 in favour to 105 against, with 34 abstentions — put forward by Sudan’s delegate over its reference to the International Criminal Court.
The United States delegate called for a vote on a draft resolution on globalization, saying it contained attempts by China to influence the state of multilateralism. Estonia’s representative, meanwhile, on behalf of the European Union, underscored the need to assess the impacts of globalization in a balanced manner, noting that the bloc would refrain from supporting the draft.
Approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 52 against, with 3 abstentions (Greece, Haiti, Mexico), the text would have the Assembly call on States, United Nations agencies and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization. It would also underline the urgent need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system.
Discussion around combating racism and xenophobia was also elevated, with the Committee approving a text on follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action by a recorded 125 votes in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United Kingdom and United States), with 45 abstentions. Israel’s delegate said the 2001 World Conference where those outcomes were endorsed had been hijacked by countries which sought to demonize Israel. The United States delegate, who called for the vote, cited additional costs to the United Nations budget.
Peru’s representative introduced a text — approved by consensus — on promoting social integration through social inclusion, saying that people had been excluded from services provided by their Governments because of their gender, age, race and disabilities. A new focus, based on rights and gender equality, was needed.
A text on violence against women migrant workers, approved by consensus, would urge States to implement measures to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of those women and ensure that legislative provisions and judicial processes were in place for them to access justice. Indonesia’s representative, making oral amendments, said that with women accounting for nearly half of the 244 million migrants worldwide, States must mainstream gender into discussion of the matter.
The Committee also passed draft resolutions on the right of Palestinians to self-determination; the safety of journalists; the rights of indigenous peoples; the Second World Assembly on Ageing; the role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights; and on strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme.
The Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 21, to continue and conclude taking action on draft resolutions.
The Committee first took up a draft resolution titled “Follow‑up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing” (document A/C.3/72/L.13/Rev.1) with a Secretariat official proposing an amendment to operative paragraph 52 of the draft.
Introducing the draft, the representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the draft would build on achievements related to ageing and the promotion and protection of the human rights of adults. Recognizing the role adults could play in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said the text recognized the establishment of a network of United Nations bodies to share knowledge and data on the matter. He then introduced an oral amendment that would add a new preambular paragraph.
The representative of France said a technical issue had led to her country being ascribed as a co‑sponsor of the draft. While attaching great importance to the rights of older persons, she said France was not a co‑sponsor.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States to consider the vulnerability of older persons to poverty and economic insecurity, and encourage them to pay greater attention to building capacity to eradicate poverty among older persons, particularly older women. It would call on States to address the issues of well‑being of and health care for older persons, as well as cases of neglect, abuse and violence against them, notably by implementing more effective prevention strategies and stronger laws.
The representative of the United States underscored that General Assembly resolutions and outcome documents were non‑binding and did not create rights or obligations under international law. Regarding the 2030 Agenda, she applauded calls for shared responsibility but noted each country had its own development priorities and that Agenda’s implementation did not prejudge decisions underway in other forums. Noting the intention of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, she called attention to language related to the Agreement across several drafts under consideration by the Committee. Her statement applied to all drafts on which the United States had joined consensus, she said.
The representative of Namibia, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), introduced a draft resolution titled “The girl child” (document A/C/3/72/L.19/Rev.1), which focused on enjoyment of the right to education, as multiple forms of discrimination had continued to exacerbate the plight of the girl child. Negative social norms and gender‑based violence were among priorities identified by the draft. She then proposed an oral amendment to operative paragraph 11 to make specific mention of the direction and guidance of parents and legal guardians.
The representative of Argentina requested a suspension of the meeting to analyse the text as orally amended.
The representative of Namibia agreed with Argentina’s request for a temporary suspension.
The representative of Yemen called for a vote on the motion for a suspension.
The Committee then approved the motion for a ten minute suspension of the meeting by a recorded vote of 103 in favour to 25 against, with 21 abstentions.
The representative of Argentina, speaking on a point of order, withdrew his co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution as his delegation had not been consulted on the amendment just introduced.
The representative of Liechtenstein did the same.
The Secretary of the Committee then read out the names of more than two dozen countries also withdrawing co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution.
The representative of Egypt joined the list of co‑sponsors.
The Secretary of the Committee then read out the names of around two dozen other countries adding their co‑sponsorship to the resolution.
The representative of Saint Lucia welcomed the oral amendments and withdrew the three oral amendments her delegation had planned to submit.
The representative of Argentina said operative paragraph 11 as it stood was highly problematic for his delegation and presented an oral amendment reverting to the formulation of operative paragraph 11 as expressed in “L.19/Rev.1”.
The representative of Namibia called for a vote on the oral amendment just introduced by Argentina.
The representative of Gabon, on behalf of the African Group, in a general statement, recognized the role of parents and legal guardians to the well‑being of children and called on all Member States to vote against Argentina’s amendment.
The representative of Australia expressed disappointment over the last‑minute amendment proposed to operative paragraph 11 and encouraged States to vote in favour of Argentina’s amendment. The language in the paragraph as amended was well‑established.
The representative of Mexico, in explanation of vote before the vote, said he would vote in favour of the amendment, adding that the text should be acceptable for all delegations and encouraging them to support it.
The representative of Canada, in explanation of vote before the vote, expressed disappointment that an oral amendment that Canada could not accept had been proposed in the room. Canada would support the Argentinian amendment to revert to the tabled version of the paragraph, a compromise text on which countries had found consensus in the past.
The representative of Brazil, in explanation of vote, said he would vote in favour of Argentina’s proposal, and called on others to do likewise.
The representative of the Russian Federation, in explanation of vote, said she would vote against the amendment proposed by Argentina. The amendment proposed by Namibia reflected national practices in most countries around the world. It was not clear why that small change had caused such a sharp negative reaction, she said, underscoring that the resolution was dedicated to girls. The role of the family and that of parents in raising and educating children had been reaffirmed in international law and in United Nations documents. The version of paragraph 11 proposed earlier reflected the norms of international law and national legislations. The fact that the language had been agreed earlier was not something the Russian Federation saw as a problem, she noted, adding that no language should remain static and immutable for centuries. The Russian Federation would vote against Argentina’s proposed amendment and called on others to do the same.
The representative of Yemen, speaking in a general statement, said he would reject the amendment proposed by Argentina as it disregarded the importance of parents and families in enshrining the rights of the girl child.
The representative of Egypt, associating herself with the African Group, said Namibia’s amendment rebalanced the draft that previously had not mentioned important principles contained in relevant conventions, namely parental control over children. She would vote against Argentina’s amendment and urged all States to do the same.
The Committee then rejected the oral amendment proposed by Argentina by a recorded vote of 73 in favour to 84 against, with 11 abstentions.
The representative of Syria welcomed the results of the vote, noting that Namibia’s proposed changes to the draft were not politicized and were fully in line with the priorities of Member States. Quoting Socrates, he said that when one educated a man, one raised an individual, but when one educated a girl, one raised an entire family.
The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed disappointment over the changes proposed by Namibia, noting that she did not see operative paragraph 11 as amended as a basis for consensus moving forward.
The representative of Italy said last‑minute changes to operative paragraph 11 were disappointing and withdrew co‑sponsorship from the draft.
The representative of Portugal also withdrew co‑sponsorship.
The representative of Haiti, speaking on the draft as a whole, regretted that main sponsors of the crucial draft had not held preliminary discussions on the proposed amendments. To that end, he proposed that voting on the draft be suspended in an effort to find consensus.
A Secretariat official noted that no vote had yet been requested on the draft.
The representative of Norway, speaking in a general statement on behalf of a group of States, expressed “extreme disappointment” regarding revisions proposed by Namibia. Equal access to comprehensive sexual education was vital, he assured, stressing that evidence‑based programmes enabled adolescents to make informed decisions on sexual and reproductive health.
The representative of Syria, speaking on a point of order, expressed support for adopting the resolution without a vote.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would strongly call upon States and the international community to create an environment in which the well‑being of the girl child was ensured. It would urge States to improve the situation of girl children living in poverty, acknowledge the different needs of girls and boys, and make adapted investments that were responsive to their changing needs. The Assembly would also urge all States to enact and enforce legislation to protect girls from all forms of violence, discrimination, exploitation and harmful practices in all settings.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, said she had joined consensus and that references to trafficking and slavery must include forced sexual exploitation, among other concerns. The United States was committed to providing equal access to education and safe school environments and understood references to education in the draft to be in accordance with local authorities. References to State obligations were only applicable to the extent that States had assumed such obligations, she said.
The representative of Mexico rejected arguments which weakened both the text and girls’ rights. The amendment as proposed by the principal main co‑sponsors sent a message to tolerate violence against girls. Yet, the international community could not allow itself to move backward. Mexico disassociated itself from paragraph 11 as it had currently been adopted.
A representative of the Holy See said the dignity of children must be respected without being diverted by politicization. Parents and guardians were the guarantee of the children’s rights, he said, and they deserved the support of society to fulfil that role. Noting that language amended was highly contested, he underscored that compromise could have been reached without being threatened by a vote, amendment or the loss of co‑sponsorship. The Holy See had reservations to the concepts used in the resolution including to language referring to abortion.
The representative of Argentina said in explanation of vote that his country had joined consensus, yet expressed concern about the practice of reaching consensus through threats or the pressure of amendments, or calls for a vote at the last minute. The time for reaching consensus should be during informal consensus, he said, urging respect for consensus, which had previously been reached. Argentina disassociated from operative paragraph 11, which did not reflect the consensus previously reached in the General Assembly.
The representative of Uruguay said her country would join consensus, yet disassociated from operative paragraph 11.
The representative of Bolivia introduced a draft resolution titled “Rights of indigenous peoples” (document A/C.3/72/L.16/Rev.1), a result of broad, constructive negotiations, she said, which stressed the importance of the rights of indigenous peoples to participation and non‑discrimination. The draft focused on the role of indigenous women and girls, and the need to ensure access to justice for marginalized communities. It would allow for structural changes to guarantee the needs of indigenous peoples, she assured, urging efforts to promote the full enjoyment of rights by all indigenous peoples. She then proposed revisions to preambular paragraphs 7 and 9, and operative paragraphs 9, 19 and 28.
A Secretariat official then noted revisions were of an editorial nature and would be reflected in the final version of the draft.
The representative of Mexico, in a point of order, noted that this was the second occasion in which editorial amendments had been made and said it was the prerogative of States to indicate their preference for the drafting of the text.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would urge Governments and the United Nations to consult indigenous peoples through their representatives and institutions, and implement measures to achieve the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It would underscore the importance of implementing the outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. It would also stress the need to strengthen the commitment of States and the United Nations to mainstream the promotion and protection of the indigenous peoples’ rights into development policies and programmes at the national, regional and international levels.
The representative of the United Kingdom said her country continued to work to improve the condition of indigenous peoples around the world. Recognizing that indigenous persons were entitled to full protection of their rights, she said certain groups could not benefit from rights not available to others. As such, she did not accept the concept of collective human rights in international law.
The representative of France, speaking on behalf of a group of States, said he joined consensus on the draft, noting that indigenous peoples were too often victims of rights violations. He did not recognize collective rights for any particular group and stressed the prevalence of individual rights, disassociating from references of collective rights of indigenous peoples.
The representative of Canada, speaking on behalf of a group of States, recognized that the inclusion and participation of indigenous peoples in matters that affect them was central to their human rights and development. She welcomed participation of indigenous peoples in the work of the United Nations.
The representative of Cameroon said the Assembly had been unable to adopt a resolution on the participation of indigenous peoples in the United Nations on matters affecting them. Cameroon believed minority and indigenous groups required particular attention and had focused on providing citizenship and ensuring participation. The goal of the draft was not to establish new rights and she disassociated from operative paragraph 5.
The representative of the United States said she joined consensus on the draft and referred to statements delivered earlier regarding concerns over mentions of the 2030 Agenda.
Human Rights, Including Alternative Approaches for Their Enjoyment
The representative of Mexico introduced a draft resolution titled “Protection of migrants” (document A/C.3/72/L.43/Rev.1), which had received broad co‑sponsorship from all regional groups and had been established as a biennial resolution. There had been rapid changes in the Organization’s approach to addressing migration. Presenting a technical update to the text, he said the text was based on language where the General Assembly had always spoken with one voice.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
Under its terms, the Assembly would call on States to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their migration status, especially those of women and children. It would call on States to respect the inherent dignity of migrants, to end arbitrary arrest and detention, and request the Secretary‑General to submit to the Assembly and the Human Rights Council at their seventy‑third and thirty‑ninth sessions, respectively, a comprehensive report entitled “Human rights of migrants”.
The representative of the United States, in a general statement, noted that States had the responsibility to protect the human rights of all persons within their jurisdiction and went on to clarify her country’s position on several aspects of the text. The United States understood that none of its provisions affected States rights under international law, she said, adding that the United States would continue to take steps to prioritize the well‑being of its people including by controlling its borders.
Referencing a bilateral legal matter, such as the case cited in preambular paragraph 11, was highly inappropriate, she said, clarifying that the United States disassociated from language on the New York Declaration in some preambular and operative paragraphs. No language in the draft should prejudge or prejudice upcoming negotiations on safe and orderly migration. The United States disassociated from other paragraphs, including one regarding migrant children, as well as from the operative paragraph on migrant smuggling, she said, noting that trafficking in persons was a crime of exploitation, while smuggled migrants were not inherently crime victims.
The representative of China said the New York Declaration reaffirmed the States’ commitment to international law. Different national realities should be taken into account and national priorities respected, he said, adding that countries had the right and responsibility to customize their policies for entry and exit administration. Migration required an integrated response, he said, adding that migrants should integrate into local communities.
The representative of Brazil, on behalf of a group of countries, expressed serious concern that some commitments in the New York Declaration had not been reflected in the resolution due to the reservations of some delegations. The non‑criminalization of migration was a key issue to be addressed.
The representative of Singapore said her delegation had joined consensus, but expressed concern over attempts to selectively cite language from the New York Declaration. Individual States varied in their capacities to respond to the issue, she said.
The Committee then took up a draft titled “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” (document A/C.3/72/L.46/Rev.1), introduced by the representative of Norway, who said it built on the previous text and called on States to take steps to address the situation of displaced persons. Expressing concern over the growing number of displaced persons, the draft underlined the need for all relevant actors to work together to mitigate the challenges of long‑term displacement.
The representative of Sudan said that, in the period his Government addressed the conflict in Darfur, the International Criminal Court had been an impediment to peace. “Malignant interference” by the Court had resulted in the delayed acknowledgment of the fruits of the peace agreement by the United Nations. The Court had created serious conflicts between peace and justice, and at best, represented a threat to the stability of Sudan and Africa.
Distancing himself from the “kangaroo court”, he proposed changes to preambular paragraph 26 of the draft titled “Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons” (document A/C.3/72/L.46/Rev.1).
The representative of Norway said Sudan had engaged during consultations but common ground had not emerged. As such, the draft presented language that had been agreed upon since 2011, she said, requesting a recorded vote of the proposed revisions.
The representative of Colombia, speaking on behalf of a group of States, said the Court was the first tribunal set up to end to impunity for serious crimes against the international community. As an instrument to guarantee that those accused under its jurisdiction were judged in an impartial manner, the Court was a vehicle for justice and peace. Citing the Rome Statute of the Court, he said the language of the draft was correct and thematically relevant, and should remain unchanged. As such, he would vote against the proposed amendment.
The representative of Canada, speaking on behalf of a group of States, said the oral amendment sought to change accepted language. The paragraph recognized efforts to end impunity and the Court played a vital role to that end. He called on all delegations to vote against the amendment.
The representative of the Russian Federation said her country was dedicated to the rule of law and fighting impunity. Yet, the Court did not work productively to that end as there were no cases where it contributed to stabilization of a crisis. As such, she would vote in favour of the amendment proposed by Sudan.
The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that the amendment had been tabled. Gross violations of humanitarian law were a sharp reminder of the Court’s relevance. The bloc considered the fight against impunity critical to achieving fair and just societies, and for that reason, it would vote against the amendment.
The Committee then rejected the oral amendment by a recorded vote of 24 in favour to 105 against, with 34 abstentions.
The representative of the United States said her country’s co‑sponsorship of the draft represented its concern over the plight of displaced persons worldwide. Calling for more action to assist internally displaced persons, she referred to an earlier statement regarding concerns over mentions of the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking about the draft as a whole, said his country believed in combating climate change. At the same time, operative paragraph 4 made unfounded remarks regarding displacement in the context of climate issues. As such, he disassociated from that paragraph. Operative paragraph 39 also distorted existing understandings of the outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit and he disassociated from that paragraph.
The representative of Nigeria said his country joined as a main sponsor from a commitment to assist persons displaced as a result of Boko Haram’s actions. Nigeria was developing welfare programmes for displaced persons and seeking durable solutions that went beyond material needs. Immediate and long‑term assistance was being provided to improve the livelihood of internally displaced populations, he assured, adding that while the Committee argued over semantics, millions of people around the world looked at the United Nations to help end their suffering.
The representative of China said his delegation would join consensus on the draft. According to international law, States held the primary responsibility in assisting displaced persons within their jurisdiction, he said, adding that the international community should, upon request, provide assistance. He concluded by questioning the merit of the monitoring centre mentioned in the draft.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as a whole without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that internal displacement was both a humanitarian and a development challenge, and call on States to provide durable solutions and address possible obstacles in that regard. The Assembly would also recognize that States had the primary responsibility to promote durable solutions for their internally displaced persons.
The representative of Azerbaijan welcomed the draft’s approval and said operative paragraph 42 deserved to be highlighted. He also welcomed calls for durable solutions to internally displaced persons, with voluntary return as the only viable solution to the crisis.
Human Rights Defenders
The representative of Norway introduced a draft resolution titled “Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” (document A/C.3/72/L.50/Rev.1). As 2018 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, the draft proposed that the occasion be used to promote the Declaration and she called on Member States to stand firmly with human rights defenders, stressing that the principle of non‑discrimination must apply to them.
She introduced a series of oral amendments to preambular paragraphs 3 and 12, and to operative paragraphs 2, 14, 15 and 17, calling on the Committee to adopt the draft by consensus.
The representative of the Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the aim of the resolution but expressed concern about qualifying language in the text. However, she added that the group would put aside its concerns. She called on all Member States to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders to operate.
The representative of China said that his Government had called for a vote two years ago, but this year it had joined consensus on the draft after oral amendments had been made and some of its proposals had been taken on board. However, he raised a number of concerns on the text, notably around preambular paragraph 9, which contained preconceived notions that the roles and activities of human rights defenders were legitimate. Also, States could not use human rights defenders to interfere in the affairs of other States. The draft resolution must be in line with the Declaration and the Charter of the United Nations.
The representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the approval of the draft resolution by consensus, as many of the Third Committee texts should be approved in that manner. States had the primary responsibility to protect human rights defenders, she said.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution with without a vote.
By its terms, the General Assembly would urge States to acknowledge through public statements, policies, programmes or laws the important and legitimate role of individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It would also condemn all acts of intimidation and reprisal by State and non‑State actors against individuals, groups and organs of society, including human rights defenders, their legal associates or family members who seek to, are or had cooperated with subregional, regional and international bodies in the field of human rights. It would decide to devote a high‑level plenary meeting in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration.
The representative of the United States, in a general statement, said human rights defenders faced torture and death. Their work was crucial to civil society and protecting democracy, and States must combat impunity of abuses against them. The decision to join consensus should not be taken to mean the United States would implement treaties to which it was not a party, and operative paragraph 12 should not be read to shift responsibility away from the State. Preambular paragraph 15 did not create any international legal obligations, she noted, again referring to previous statements regarding concerns over the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of Japan said one objective of the proposal was to urge States to stand firmly with rights defenders. Still, given financial constraints, he asked the main sponsors and Secretariat to use existing resources to cover budgetary implications.
The representative of Turkey said he joined consensus on the draft, adding that Special Rapporteurs bore the responsibility to carry out their functions in line with the appropriate code of conduct. That meant their work must be conducted in an impartial manner. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders had failed to conform with the code and as such, he disassociated from operative paragraph 3.
The representative of Switzerland said she supported the draft resolution but expressed regret over the addition of a footnote under preambular paragraph 7.
The representative of Azerbaijan said the code of conduct for special procedure mandate‑holders stipulated that sources of information must be credible. The work of the Special Rapporteur on rights defenders did not comply with the code, as his work contained little information provided by States, he said, and instead had relied on unreliable sources. As such, he disassociated from operative paragraph 3.
The representative of Egypt introduced the draft resolution, “Globalization and its impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights” (document A/C.3/72/L.52), stressing that globalization was not merely an economic process, but also had social, political, environmental, cultural and legal dimensions, which impacted human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Committee Chair said a recorded vote had been requested.
The representative of the Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the effects of globalization should be seen in a complex and comprehensive manner. The draft resolution focused on the negative aspects of globalization. However, the phenomenon could stimulate prosperity and growth. He underscored the need to assess the impacts of globalization in a balanced manner, noting that the European Union would refrain from supporting the resolution.
The representative of United States, calling for a vote, said her country would vote against the draft, as it contained attempts by China to influence the state of multilateralism.
The representative of China said he was surprised by the statement by his counterpart from the United States, stressing that China’s support had nothing to do with its domestic politics and policies. The delegate of the United States should have a clear understanding of the historical background of the draft resolution before making a statement.
The draft was adopted with a vote of 123 in favour, 52 against and 3 abstentions (Greece, Haiti, Mexico).
By its terms, the Assembly would call on States, relevant United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society to promote inclusive, equitable and environmentally sustainable economic growth for managing globalization. It would also underline the urgent need to establish an equitable, transparent and democratic international system to strengthen and broaden the participation of developing countries in international economic decision‑making and norm‑setting.
The representative Mexico said his country had abstained from the vote, reiterating the reservations it had voiced in previous years.
The representative of Argentina said globalization was a multidimensional phenomenon which had both positive and negative effects. He urged the sponsors of the draft resolution to engage in constructive discussions with other Member States.
Role of Ombudsman, Human Rights Institutions
The representative of Morocco introduced a draft titled “The role of the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions in the promotion and protection of human rights” (document A/C.3/72/L.53). Substantive resolutions on the matter had previously been introduced by her Government and adopted by consensus. A report on the implementation of those drafts shed a positive light on Morocco’s efforts. She introduced two oral amendments to the draft to bring the name of a relevant organization up to date in operative paragraphs 2 and 6.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would encourage States to endow the Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions with an adequate constitutional and legislative framework, financial and all other appropriate means. It would encourage the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, through its advisory services, to develop and support activities for the existing Ombudsman, mediator and other national human rights institutions, as well as encourage those bodies to operate in accordance with the Paris Principles and other relevant international instruments.
Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme
Next, the representative of Italy introduced a draft resolution titled “Strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice programme, in particular its technical cooperation capacity” (document A/C.3/72/L.11/Rev.1), noting that the international community recognized crime prevention as critical to stability, and stressing that all policies upholding human rights must encompass the fight against crime.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would invite its President, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and other stakeholders to hold a highlevel debate marking the fifteenth anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, and to highlight emerging trends and their impact on sustainable development. It would also urge States to introduce national and international measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in cultural property, including publicizing legislation, global guidelines and technical background documents, and offering special training for police, customs and border services.
By further terms, it would invite Member States to make trafficking in cultural property, including stealing from and looting of archaeological and other cultural sites, a serious crime, as defined in article 2(b) of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
The Committee then took note of the Secretary‑General’s note transmitting the report of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its eighth session (document A/72/91).
Youth, Ageing, Disabled Persons and the Family
The representative of Peru introduced a draft resolution titled “Promoting social integration through social inclusion” (document A/C.3/72/L.7/Rev.1), which recognized the importance of social integration for the most vulnerable in society. Adopting a new focus based on rights and gender equality was crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, social inclusivity was a challenge for States and he noted that people had been excluded from services provided by their Governments because of their gender, age, race and disabilities.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By the text, the Assembly would stress that States bore the main responsibility for social integration and social inclusion, and should prioritize the creation of a “society for all” based on respect for all human rights and the principles of equality. It would call on States to promote more equitable participation in and access to economic growth gains, and request the Secretary‑General to submit a report during the Assembly’s seventy‑fourth session.
The representative of the United States disassociated from preambular paragraph 26 on the fulfilment of all commitments, as it was not appropriate for Third Committee resolutions to discuss trade issues. The text was a call on the United States to fulfil its commitments under the Hong Kong Declaration on duty free, quota free market access. Its wording was prejudicial to the United States negotiating position on such access and she reiterated that the responsibility of protecting vulnerable minorities rested with States. The lack of economic development could not be used as an excuse for a lack of human rights protection.
The representative of Gabon, on behalf of the African Group, said an opportunity had been missed to update the resolution in the context of the 2030 Agenda, calling on sponsors to consider the Group’s suggestions in future discussions.
The representative of South Africa strongly dissociated from Gabon’s statement on behalf of the African Group, reiterating her country’s strong support for inclusivity.
The representative of Canada, also on behalf of Argentina, said both countries supported the draft resolution, noting that the world’s most vulnerable were in need of social inclusion and would benefit from it.
Advancement of Women
The representative of Indonesia opened her introduction of the draft resolution on “Violence against women migrant workers” (document A/C.3/72/L.17/Rev.1) by presenting oral revisions to preambular paragraphs 23 and 33, and operative paragraph 22. Noting that women migrant workers made considerable contributions to countries of origin, transit and destination, she complimented States that were acceding and implementing global frameworks to protect them. With women accounting for nearly half of the 244 million migrants worldwide, States must commit to mainstreaming gender into consideration of the matter. The draft encouraged Member States to protect women migrant workers from becoming victims of trafficking, she said.
The Committee approved the draft as orally revised without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would call on all Governments to incorporate a human rights, gender‑sensitive and people‑centred perspective into legislation, policies and programmes on international migration and on labour and employment. It would also urge States to adopt and implement measures to end the arbitrary arrest and detention of women migrant workers, and ensure that legislative provisions and judicial processes were in place for women migrant workers to access justice.
The representative of the United States, decrying violence against women, said legal assistance was being provided to victims of trafficking. She disassociated from preambular paragraph 6, saying that States had the right to establish lawful immigration policies. The United States would pursue its national interests and work to prevent irregular migration in line with relevant obligations. Concerns over language referring to the 2030 Agenda had been underscored in an earlier statement, she noted.
The Committee then took note of three documents under the agenda item.
Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
The representative of Ecuador, on behalf of Group of 77 and China, introduced a draft resolution titled “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/C.3/72/L.63/Rev.1). The draft reflected the Group’s opposition to all forms of xenophobia and intolerance, he said, calling all forms of racial discrimination serious violations of human rights.
The representative of the Israel said the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, during which the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action were discussed, had been hijacked by a group of countries which sought to demonize Israel, which was why Israel had withdrawn from the Declaration and it would vote against the draft.
The Chair of the Committee said a recorded vote had been requested.
The representative of the United States, in a general statement, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to fighting racism and discrimination around the world. Individuals and country leaders also had a responsibility to ensure that discrimination did not take place. Stressing that it was unfair to single out Israel, she said the draft prolonged the divisions created by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Citing additional costs that the draft resolution would have on the United Nations budget, she would vote against the draft.
The representative of Estonia, on behalf of European Union, said not enough had been done to reach genuine consensus on the draft resolution. None of the European Union’s proposals had been included and it thus could not support the draft.
The representative of Syria said his country would vote for the draft resolution.
The draft resolution was then adopted by a recorded vote of 125 votes in favour to 10 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United Kingdom and United States), with 45 abstentions.
By its terms, the Assembly would take a number of actions related to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the International Decade for People of African Descent; the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; the Group of independent eminent experts on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action; the Trust fund for the Programme for the Decade for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination; Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and Follow-up and implementation activities.
The Committee then took note of two documents under the agenda item.
Rights of Peoples to Self-Determination
The Committee next took up a draft resolution titled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (document A/C.3/72/L.59*).
The representative of Israel said peace must be negotiated and not imposed. Only Israelis and Palestinians could make the difficult compromises needed to forge lasting peace. The draft targeted Israel and encouraged Palestine to take unilateral steps rather than negotiate, she stressed, adding that the solution to the conflict did not lie in New York. Calling for a recorded vote, she said she would vote against the draft.
The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 169 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, the United States), with 6 abstentions (Cameroon, Honduras, Kiribati, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga).
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, including the right to their independent State of Palestine. It would also urge all States and specialized United Nations agencies to continue to support and assist Palestinians in the early realization of their right to self-determination.
The representative of Argentina, speaking in an explanation of vote, reaffirmed his country’s recognition of Palestinians’ right to self-determination. Having voted in favour of the draft, he called for a free and independent Palestinian State.
The representative of the State of Palestine, thanking States that had voted in favour of the draft, said such overwhelming support represented a reaffirmation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. That right was central to the conflict and drafts on the matter reflected the collective will to uphold international law. She expressed hope that the draft’s adoption would send a powerful message to Israel that its narrative of the situation was not accepted. It was clear that Israel opposed peace and worked to make a two-State solution impossible. Injustice had persisted for too long. The time had come to hold Israel accountable, she said, stressing that the international community had a duty to end the occupation.
Safety of Journalists
The representative of Greece introduced a draft resolution titled “The safety of journalists and the issue of impunity” (document A/C.3/72/L.35/Rev.1), noting that four years since the Assembly had proclaimed 2 November the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” much remained to be done to end increasing violence against journalists. The draft incorporated the concerns of all relevant stakeholders, he assured, calling for a more gender-sensitive approach to addressing the matter.
The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.
By its terms, the Assembly would condemn unequivocally all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers, such as torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention, as well as intimidation threats and harassment, including through attacks on, or the forced closure of, their offices and media outlets, in both conflict and non-conflict situations. It would call on States to tackle sexual and gender-based discrimination, including violence, against women journalists, online and offline, as part of broader efforts to eliminate gender inequality, as well as to protect — in law and in practice — the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
The representative of the United States said freedom of the press was key to accountable governance and the press fostered active debate, particularly on behalf of marginalized communities. Journalists were often the first to uncover corruption and report from the frontlines of conflict. She noted that concerns related to the 2030 Agenda had been expressed in an earlier statement.
The representative of China said he had joined consensus of the draft but had concerns over the term “media workers”. It was ambiguous and lacked definition, and as such, would cause misunderstanding of the resolution. He had proposed that “media professional” be used instead, however that proposal had not been adopted. China would adopt the draft resolution in accordance to its national laws.
The representative of the Russian Federation said he had joined consensus, as journalists’ safety was under threat. Dozens of journalists had been placed on black lists, been denied entry visas and had their work permits cancelled. He urged co-sponsors to reflect such trends in future drafts, adding that the safety of journalists must continue to be the focus of relevant United Nations bodies.Read More
The interdependence of States and the benefits of joint action must be recognized and reaffirmed, the General Assembly heard today, as speakers debated the value of multilateralism in addressing pressing global challenges, ranging from inequality to climate change.
Never in history had moving away from diplomacy led to progress in the promotion of universal values, said Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium, declaring that doing so would be an act of “cowardly abandon”. On the fourth day of the Assembly’s annual general debate, he described multilateralism as a robust and reliable driving force for creating a better world, emphasizing the necessity of coordination and consensus. Globalization had generated doubts and fears, yet multilateralism was not to blame, he said, emphasizing that although multilateralism was complicated and could create difficulties, international and regional organizations and action must be strengthened.
Reinforcing that sentiment, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed: “This is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism”, warning that unless countries grasped that chance, they would “face the consequences”. Today, “going it alone” was not an option, she said, adding that Member States had the responsibility to act coherently and flexibly.
Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania said protectionist approaches were challenging the existing international global order without proposing anything credible to replace it. However, no country, however big, rich or powerful, could face or solve problems alone, he cautioned. In that context, one of the pillars of Albania’s foreign policy was the development of regional cooperation and the transformation of the Western Balkans into an area of free movement for people, goods, capital and ideas, he said.
In a similar vein, Prime Minister Allen Michael Chastanet of Saint Lucia said multilateral discussions were needed to address inequality and other issues. If States indulged their differences, inequity would persist as the driving force in the international system and people would struggle to survive, he cautioned, emphasizing that the global reality increasingly called for integrating economies, the environment and people.
Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said his country had risen to become one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, describing its “rags to riches” path as a textbook example of the power of free trade. He urged the international community to open its markets and allow poor countries to trade freely with all consumers. Free trade also meant forming international relationships and promoting interaction among all peoples, regardless of colour or religion. Since the markets of the world’s richest countries remained closed to the poorest, it was incumbent upon the international community to support developing nations, he emphasized.
Samura M. W. Kamara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma, stressed the need to strengthen the role of mediation in the settlement of disputes, highlighting the gains realized through preventive diplomacy. Mediation remained a powerful tool for preventing and settling armed conflicts and must be fully utilized. Mediation efforts had proven very fruitful for Sierra Leone in terms of timely cessation of hostilities, credible ceasefire agreements and the deployment of peacekeeping missions, he said.
Throughout the day, speakers also highlighted the devastating havoc that climate change was wreaking on theiRead More
The Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up opened its expert segment today with a panel discussion and set of three thematic round tables dedicated to garnering the vast resources required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum’s expert segment would focus on the state of implementation in all “action areas” of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 to fund the world’s sustainable development framework. “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.
In the morning, the Forum took part in a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, formed in 2015 to follow up on the Addis Agenda. Five panellists highlighted the report’s findings and offered proposals for spurring global growth.
Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said a central recommendation was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures. While trade generated higher productivity, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization had raised concerns. The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.
Another major focus must be to raise domestic revenues, said Siddarth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy Policy and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015. While easier said than done, it required the most attention.
Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the biggest problem was the global slowdown in public and private investment. The reasons for that included sluggish global demand following policy mistakes in advanced economies, corporate rent-seeking that had dampened productive investment, and high debt dependence. He called for a new global strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The morning also featured a round table on “domestic and international public resources”, covering action areas A and C of the Addis Agenda. Four panellists outlined ways to mobilize resources, with Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City, stressing that subnational governments generated as much as 40 per cent of public investment.
On that point, Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and $3 trillion in assets, the International Development Finance Club had a key role to play in domestic resource mobilization as it could finance local governments.
Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said his organization was catalysing investment in “Sustainable Development Goal-critical” sectors, and collaborating with the United Nations to develop the “total official support for sustainable development” – a new measure to better understand today’s global financing landscape.
Two afternoon round tables took up issues of “domestic and international private business and finance” and “debt and systemic issues”, respectively. In the first, moderator Preeti Sinha, Senior President of the YES Institute, said “Sustainable Development Goal finance” should be led by the private sector, as $3 trillion would be needed annually. The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.
In the second round table, panellist Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development at Latindadd Fundación Jubileo in Bolivia, said that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy. It had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples. As such, it was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.
The Forum on Financing for Development follow-up will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its expert segment.
ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the expert segment of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, which he said would focus on the state of implementation in all action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. It also would allow for addressing new and emerging topics, with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development report serving as a guide for the discussion. Led by the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report contained input from more than 50 United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and offices, regional commissions and others. “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said. The goal was for the Task Force analysis to support States in implementing the Addis Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Forum held a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, moderated by Shari Spiegel, Chief, Policy Analysis and Development, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The panel featured presentations by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Siddarth Tiwari, Director, Strategy Policy and Review Department, IMF; Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD; Pedro Conceição, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; and David Kuijper, Adviser, Financing for Development, World Bank Group.
Ms. SPIEGEL said the Task Force report contained an opening segment on the implementation of the Addis Agenda, a thematic chapter, and subsequent chapters on each area of that instrument. It had found that slow growth and a challenging economic environment, while improving, had hampered implementation of the Agenda. It was unlikely that the goal of eliminating poverty would be achieved by 2030. The Task Force also had found that long-term investment in infrastructure and addressing vulnerabilities through social protection floors and a global safety net were needed. Those two issues, if done right, could create a positive cycle, by helping to achieve the Goals and fostering growth.
Mr. AGAH said one of the report’s central recommendations was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures. The benefits of opening trade were broad and deep. Trade generated higher productivity, increased competition, more choice and better prices in the marketplace. Yet, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization, trade and technology had raised concerns about the trade system. Governments must ensure its benefits reached more people. The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation. WTO had a unique role in fostering equitable trade relations underpinned by common rules agreed by its members. Strengthening the WTO was essential, he said, calling on Governments and institutions to ensure that the benefits were better understood. Unequal levels of digital development had limited some countries’ participation in e-commerce. While access to information and communications technology was necessary, it was not the only factor required for all people to benefit from online trade.
Mr. TIWARI said there was no silver bullet that would “get us to the end” of the Addis Agenda. International, regional, national and subnational efforts across all areas were needed. Following the 2008 financial crisis, public and private investment in infrastructure had fallen. Yet infrastructure was vital for sustaining growth in many countries. In more than half of low-income countries, the revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio hovered around 15 per cent, which was generally inadequate to provide even basic services, minus wage and other payments. Thus, a key focus moving forward would be to raise domestic revenues. The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015. While “easier said than done”, it required the most attention.
Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said the report’s first chapter called for a new growth strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Goals. “We don’t have that growth strategy yet,” he said. Since the 2008 crisis, growth had slowed and inequality had risen, what the IMF called the “new normal”. The biggest challenge today was the slowdown in public and private investment, and as the Goals represented a call for the biggest investment push in modern history, a major question centred on why investment had slowed. There were three reasons, first of which was slowing global demand, which impacted profit expectations and was attributed to policy mistakes in advanced economies, notably a one-sided reliance on monetary policy to stimulate demand, which had increased global instability, and distributional constraints. The second reason was the “financialization of corporate strategies”. Corporations had moved into short-term, rent-seeking behaviour which was detrimental to long-term productive investment. The third reason was the drag from high debt dependence, with debt stocks having risen by $50 trillion since 2008. Investment had declined across the board in both developed and developing countries. In seeking a new global growth strategy, those systemic challenges must be addressed. There was an essential need for developing countries to expand their fiscal space, while a far more ambitious set of mechanisms must be created to address debt overhang and related problems.
Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said the Goals were “coming to life”, known by the public and increasingly being integrated into national plans, strategies and budgets. Countries today were asking UNDP how to prioritize their plans to achieve the Goals, and then finance those priorities. One Addis Agenda recommendation had to do with integrated national financing frameworks, which he called visionary, as countries required a holistic approach. Part of those efforts involved aligning resources to implement the Goals. The report referred to development finance assessments, which helped countries establish a baseline for financing flows and policy institutions to help them formulate national financing frameworks. Another recommendation had to do with vulnerability. It was becoming clear that a major risk to implementation of the Goals had to do with how countries suffered shocks, whether from conflict, trade or climate. Thus, the report addressed social protections and financing instruments that allowed countries to address systematic shocks, and referred to State-contingent financing instruments in that context.
Mr. KUIJPER addressed the issue of countries and markets that were under stress — whether from fragility, environmental factors or displacement. Three quarters of the global poor lived in such countries and it was important to tackle the transformation required in them in an innovative manner. The main obligation was to connect growth opportunities to the global financial system, with a view to connecting them to long-term finance. There were two ways to do that. One was through official development assistance (ODA). The fundamentals that fostered risk could not be addressed unless there were significant channels of ODA to those countries. A second way centred on gender. Globally, some countries were losing 5 to 30 per cent of growth due to a lack of gender-sensitive policies and others that led to the advancement of women’s position in the economy.
Mr. TIWARI, responding to a second question by Ms. Spiegel, said the medium-term forecast for developing countries was lower than projected in 2015, with growth between 2015 and 2020 weaker mainly for oil producers and exporters. Budget revenues had fallen, as had net flows to low-income countries. As to why investment was not increasing, he said there was no liquidity in terms of raising capital. Before 2008, productivity and the share of labour income were falling, which likely had constrained investment. Public balance sheets were strained. “Productivity needs to rise,” he said. Without it, neither public nor private investment would increase. Innovation, a major productivity driver, also must increase and be inclusive. He advocated skills development, without which large parts of the population would be left behind. He cited Denmark and Singapore with national strategies and skill development programmes as two countries that had kept up with a changing landscape.
Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said “getting the macroeconomics right” was fundamental to building the sustainable growth path that the world needed. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was rightly ambitious. It was unclear, however, whether there was an ambitious environment in which to pursue it. He called 1947 “the year that multilateralism started”. The IMF had opened, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been initiated, the United Nations had been established, its regional commissions had held their first conference, importantly, on trade and employment, and the Marshall Plan — the most ambitious development cooperation plan in history — had been inaugurated. Ambition was an issue to place on the table.
Mr. CONCEIÇÃO agreed that productivity must increase, especially through technology use. However, evidence had shown a delinking between labour productivity increases and average family earnings in both developed and developing countries. “We have to examine the role of technology,” he said. On one hand, there was no lack of savings. On the other, investment needs were massive, even without the Goals and notably for infrastructure. ODA was relevant for countries that had shifted to a higher income level but were still vulnerable.
Mr. KUIJPER agreed that the spirit of 1947 must return. “We need to create a similar kind of momentum behind this Agenda,” he said, citing an enormous challenge of “getting the financing for development process right”. The creation of good ideas required a process in which many ideas could flow.
Mr. AGAH said the issue of inclusive growth must start with trade, markets productive capacity and competitiveness. Each country, depending on its economic and political situation, could adapt complementary policies in investment, infrastructure or other areas to achieve its goals.
In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commented that its data and measurement frameworks were global public goods. Bangladesh’s delegate asked Mr. Tiwari whether it was possible to address domestic resource mobilization, without addressing illicit flows, through international cooperation. A speaker from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that page 33 of the Task Force report referred to tobacco taxation, which he called a “low-lying fruit” as a revenue stream for financing development. Algeria’s delegate said the report’s section on trade did not fully consider recommendations of the joint report by WTO, the World Bank and IMF, and asked whether its content would be integrated into the next Task Force report. The European Union representative welcomed the well-balanced report, and contributions by OECD, asking whether the 2018 Forum, to be held from 23 to 26 April, would have the latest data available. Ms. SPIEGEL replied to the latter question that the Task Force could not update the report with the latest OECD data, due to printing deadlines. However, the website could be updated.
Responding to those queries, Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said there was potential for innovative financing mechanisms.
Mr. KUIJPER, on the issue of tobacco taxation, said lessons could be learned from other experiences in innovation.
Mr. AGAH said that how well countries negotiated outcomes from the Doha round of trade talks depended on those involved. The report by WTO, IMF and the World Bank had a slightly different focus. Trade gains could never be equally distributed. There would always be losers. He advocated for examining competitiveness, and how well countries participated in markets.
Mr. TIWARI said a chapter in IMF’s World Economic Outlook examined labour income, which had fallen over the years, due in part to technology.
Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said trade gains were always significant in a perfectly competitive and informed marketplace and uncertain in an imperfect one.
Round Table A
Following the panel discussion, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international public resources”. Moderated by Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition, it featured presentations by Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Elfrieda Steward Tamba, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Philippe Orliange, Director, Agence Française de Développement; and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD.
Opening the discussion, Ms. RANGAPRASAD said that the Addis Agenda recognized the centrality of mobilizing and effectively using domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and of complementing those efforts through scaled-up international public financial support, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries. Policies to increase tax revenues had important implications for gender bias since women spent a larger portion of their income on basic goods while also getting paid lower wages than men. Therefore, it was necessary to look into gender budgeting as a tool while also increasing commitments for dedicating aid and resources for gender equality.
Mr. BRADLEY citing a recent OECD study which showed that subnational governments currently generated as much as 40 per cent of the public investment, said that, when 30 per cent of national resources were granted to local governments, they were able to produce 50 per cent of the public investment. In Belize, cash transfers from the central Government represented only 6 per cent of the annual budget for the Belize City council and the actual sum transferred had remained constant for the past 15 years despite an increasing population. Local governments in Belize had filled the finance gap through creative strategies, which in turn required strong local leadership with a commitment to transparency and meaningful citizen engagement. National Governments must create and supplement the legal, structural and policy frameworks that allowed empowered local governments to develop into relevant, effective and complementary branches of government.
Ms. TAMBA, noting that Africa hosted 65 per cent of the world’s ultra-poor and Liberia stood third among the least developed countries in the region, recalled the dip in Liberia’s economy due to the Ebola outbreak. Nevertheless domestic revenue had increased between 2006 and 2013 due to strong growth and smart reforms in revenue administration. She cited effective tools for public financing at the local level such as budget appropriations through the Country Development Fund and social contracts with endowed countries through the Social Development Fund. In the last five years, Liberia had received $238 million in grants and $191 million in loans from international sources, representing 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the country’s total revenue respectively. Stressing the importance of strengthening local systems for better resource management, she said that development banks had an important role in providing financing for sustainable development in Liberia. The impact of ODA could also be maximized by building a social contract for eliminating leaks in revenue flow caused by transfer pricing, money-laundering, poor legislation and illicit flows.
Mr. ORLIANGE, calling development finance the “third pillar of development”, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and cumulative assets of $3 trillion, the International Development Finance Club had a key role in domestic resource mobilization which could finance local governments. There was also international recognition of the role of development banks as key implementing entities for international funds such as the Green Climate Fund. The Club provided a collaborative platform for practitioners of development finance, as members could exchange experiences, disseminate best practices, identify areas of common interest for cooperation, and combine their financial and intellectual resources. The Club’s key aim was to advocate for measuring and mainstreaming climate finance and facilitating access to financing for projects and their preparation. The Club was fully aligned with the development finance agenda, he said, calling on the United Nations system and the Forum to bear in mind the potential of development banks.
Mr. DA SILVA, noting that his organization was the custodian of ODA, said that development aid had reached a new peak in 2016 as refugee costs had increased. ODA still represented as much as 70 per cent of external financing for many least developed countries, and his organization was also catalysing investment in Sustainable Development Goal-critical sectors and strengthening development finance accountability and incentives. Going beyond ODA statistically and analytically, it was necessary to put in place better measurement frameworks. His organization was collaborating with the United Nations systems in developing the total official support for sustainable development which would help better understand the new international financing landscape. Turning to the global outlook on financing for development, he said that OECD was supporting that through innovative research on financing, policy synergies and trade-offs, as well as by creating a nexus between external thinkers and practitioners.
A speaker from the IMF then took the floor, saying that while there had been enormous progress, figures showed that in half of the lowest income countries, less than 15 per cent of GDP was being raised through tax revenues. The Fund aimed to help developing countries with revenue outcomes by improving the structure and fairness of national tax systems. Highlighting the importance of international cooperation in revenue reforms, she said that it was crucial to harness synergies between major international financial institutions. The Fund had worked with partner institutions to create a platform for collaboration on taxation.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Algeria asked the panellists how to improve accountability in the use of public financing. A representative of Citigroup commented on the importance of harnessing private-sector resources to improve development financing. Belgium’s representative said his Government followed a policy of giving tax exemptions to public financing projects, while a civil society representative noted that some countries in both the North and South followed regressive taxation policies which adversely affected resources available for public financing.
Responding to those queries, Mr. DA SILVA said that total official support for sustainable development could provide an added value to the discussion on transparency and accountability. Stressing the importance of new sources of information, he added that it was important to get the total official support for sustainable development methodology endorsed widely so that it could be used for effective stock-taking.
Mr. ORLIANGE said that development banks were built to take risks that others couldn’t take, and therefore, instead of focusing on short-term gains, they could provide financing over the long term, whether for infrastructure or social programmes. On the question of regressive taxation, he said that it was difficult to finance public policy if taxation rates were too low. Countries had to take national decisions about their own policies but “if you have regressive taxation, you are digging the inequalities deeper,” he said.
Ms. TAMBA said that domestic resource mobilization was especially crucial in Africa and with the changing international taxation landscape, Liberia and Africa as a whole stood to benefit. She called on developed countries to “walk the talk.”
Mr. BRADLEY said that in order to be meaningful, all strategies and interventions for improving the quality of life should be owned by the community. Decentralization was crucial to achieving that, and a multilevel government framework based on transparency and trust would enable people to see local government as a relevant development partner. The magic of local government was that it was closest to people, and it was positioned to listen to the concerns of women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.
Round Table B
In the afternoon, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international private business and finance”. Moderated by Preeti Sinha, Senior President, YES Institute, it featured presentations by Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations; Hervé Duteil, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance for the Americas, BNP Paribas; Naohiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director, Japan Innovation Network; Nidia Reyes, Chief of Competitive Intelligence, Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia; and Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research, World Bank Group.
Ms. SINHA quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say “the rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live”. All countries were developing countries in that they were struggling to address climate change and other social issues. The 2030 Agenda offered a way to bring public and private finance together. YES Bank, founded by Rana Kapoor, had a market capitalization of $10 billion, showing that “emerging markets do offer returns”. Sustainable Development Goals finance should be led by the private sector, followed by the United Nations, as $3 trillion would be needed annually. The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.
Mr. RATTRAY said following the Addis Agenda, many felt that “something was missing”. There was a need for a State-based mechanism that would unlock the trillions of dollars needed per year to finance development. The new body — the Group of Friends — had 56 members, many of whom were ambassadors, along with experts from the United Nations, the private sector and think tanks. States had a legitimate role in reorienting the financial system towards the Goals. Most assets under its management were held by insurance, private wealth and mutual funds. Central to its efforts to attract capital was convening a broad array of stakeholders. The Group of Friends engaged stakeholders to holistically assess risk by having investors price in externalities. It also worked with regulators to prevent capital from being misallocated. There was a need to foster domestic capacity to develop “bankable” projects, he said, noting that the Group was working with Blackrock in that context.
Mr. DUTEIL described the need to place the goal of financing sustainability “on the business map”. BNP Paribas had traditionally mapped its business along economic, civic, environmental and social pillars, but then further mapped it along the 17 Goals, setting targets and incentives. As a result, the first of its 13 public key performance indicators was that 15 per cent of its loans to companies must finance projects or companies that directly addressed one of the Goals. Today, that percentage was 16.5 per cent. Realizing those 13 indicators would also directly affect the compensation of its top officers. BNP Paribas was also implementing a shadow carbon price into the credit analysis of its counterparties in key sectors. In unlocking private pools of capital, much of the challenge revolved around return, risk, liquidity and time horizons. Noting that $41 trillion would change hands from the “Baby Boomers” to the “Gen X” and “Millennial” generations, he said that impact investing, which represented less than 0.5 per cent of portfolios, would remain small and “the privilege of the happy few who have a few billion to spare”. The good news was that banks were in the business of creating bridges between capital and projects in need of funding. As an example, he described a sustainable bond linked to the Goals that was recently issued by the World Bank and underwritten by BNP Paribas. The bond directly financed sustainable projects around the world supported by the World Bank but offered to investors a return linked to the stock performance of a basket of equities issued by corporations which directly supported the Goals through at least 20 per cent of their activities. While banks could create new financing tools for the Goals with the support of partners like multilateral development banks, those products still had to be distributed and bought. That was where positive regulation that encouraged impact investing could solve part of the conundrum.
Mr. NISHIGUCHI said that in 2016, UNDP and the Japan Innovation Network had launched the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform to engage the private sector in increasing the pipeline of bankable projects to help achieve the Goals. The Platform had 300 individual members and 75 companies, with more expected to join this year. It was critical for any private-sector player to create a “passage” between the Goals and cash flow. To do so, it was important to understand the innovation process, especially the incubation stage. It was important to have a high-quality incubation stage, as it would articulate the challenges (the Goals), the client value and the business model. The operational stage captured the business plan, the finance and the roll out. He underscored the need to look at the Goals, not as corporate social responsibility, but as a business programme. Thematic sessions organized for specific Goals had produced hypothetical business models and involved countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania. To increase the pipeline, the private sector must regard the Goals as an innovation not an operational project, as well as connect multiple Goals as a way to deepen solutions. A typical enemy was a silo mentality, he said, stressing that achieving the Goals required a collaborative approach.
Ms. REYES focused on collaborative approaches to ensure innovation in the provision of financial services. Colombia’s financial inclusion policy was based on an 11-year commitment to provide resources and transfer both capital and innovation to the private sector to help meet the needs of low-income people. Simplified mechanisms had been created, establishing limits to the amounts that could be held in products that could reach low-income people, such as inclusive insurance. In the case of microcredit and small loans, which did not exceed $460, the bank tried to make interest rates more flexible to incorporate the risk involved in supporting a segment of the population that would otherwise not be able to access lending. In the future, Colombia would focus on raising more financial products and using them effectively, as well as deepening financial inclusion in the rural sector, as many products in Latin American countries were concentrated in urban areas. Alternative mechanisms were needed to help small businesses access financing. Colombia had brought together all Government and private entities involved in raising the level of economic and financial education.
Ms. KLAPPER said today’s discussion on raising financing for Governments and the private sector must be widened to include households and small- and medium-sized firms, as well as savings and payments. The Bank’s Findex data measured how people saved, borrowed and managed payments, she said, explaining that there had been double-digit growth since 2001, when data were first collected. India’s biometric identification system allowed the Government to roll out 200 million such accounts for people to access cheap food and fuel. In China, merchant store keepers could now do financial transactions in rural areas. Indeed, access to digital payments could help achieve the Goals. In India, the roll out of bank branches had reduced poverty by 15 percentage points, while insurance projects in Ghana had also reduced poverty. Financial inclusion could promote innovation. In India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving entrepreneurs access to savings products and credit had led to growth, and in turn, more women’s economic empowerment. In Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere, offering a woman an account had led to greater spending on food and household goods, even washing machines. There were obstacles, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which had a $2 trillion shortfall in needed credit, which was hampered by a weak credit information structure and “movable collateral registries” which made it difficult for banks to assess risks. Research by Harvard University had found that firms investing more in sustainable standards had higher market performance and profitability.
In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the United Nations Global Compact said foreign direct investment and corporate capital investment should be driven by a principles-based approach. Otherwise, fundamental rights could be undermined. A revolution was needed for new financial instruments that cut across the asset classes and Goals alike. He asked about public policy frameworks that could mobilize private finance. Japan’s delegate asked for ideas on a risk-sharing mechanism, and about the Government’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform. Chile’s delegate asked about challenges in implementing the various projects, while Uganda’s delegate asked about mobile money transfers substantively contributed to poverty reduction or simply “income smoothing”. Peru’s delegate asked about progress in expanding financial services to people in poverty, as well as best practices for financial literacy and consumer protection.
A speaker from PRI, an association of 1,700 financial organizations managing $70 trillion, said one question commonly raised was whether a mechanism was in place to monitor the allocation of capital to be used for the Goals. Canada’s delegate asked how the United Nations could help develop the pipeline of bankable projects, and more broadly about the asymmetry of information regarding risk, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and whether the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform accepted companies from outside Japan. A speaker representing civil society described an erosion of public interest by public-private partnerships, in part because of heavy contractual clauses with implications for Governments. There was a great role for private financing, especially through small enterprises, which required different types of business support to build capacity and participate in markets.
Mr. RATTRAY responded that in mobilizing resources, countries must be assisted in developing capital markets, which was not simple. They must also be encouraged to have a higher savings rate, which similarly would not happen overnight. “We are conscious that the clock is ticking,” he stressed.
Mr. DUTEIL replied that public policy could mobilize capital at scale. France had enacted a “90:10” scheme for companies with more than 50 employees, obliging them to offer employees access to funds that invested 5 to 10 per cent in impact investing, allocated to non-listed small- and medium-sized enterprises. The result had been massive and offered an example of how public policy could be positive without being coercive. Another example was the Tropical Landscapes Financing Facility, whereby investors invested in well-known entities, which in turn, redistributed the funds to small farmers.
Mr. NISHIGUCHI said the Platform would work with private sector, Governments and non-governmental organizations from any country, and was particularly interested in speaking with start-up communities. Governments could help connect the Platform with start-ups and support the incubation stage, which would be a huge boost to creating bankable projects.
Ms. REYES said supporting the private sector in taking a risk on high-risk sectors involved co-financing incentives, as well as transferring technical assistance to them. There was much to be done in terms of technology transfer. On financial literacy, it was important to define objectives in a work plan coordinated among all players.
Ms. KLAPPER said financial inclusion should reduce poverty because it allowed people to invest in education and business opportunities. It also prevented poor adults from falling into poverty during a crisis, such as the death of a family member. There was evidence that in an emergency people received support from a geographically and socially wider group of friends. On financial literacy, no academic literature had found that traditional textbook-based financial literacy worked. What appeared to be better were “teachable moments” for explaining interest compounding, for example. Fintech had positively impacted rural farmers repaying credit loans in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.
Round Table C
The Forum then held its final round table for the day, on “debt and systemic issues”. Moderated by Siddharth Tiwari, Director, Strategy and Policy Review Department, IMF, it featured presentations by Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the United States; Camillo von Müller, Economist, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany; Marilou Uy, Executive Director, International Group of 24 (G24) Secretariat; and Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development, Latindadd Fundación Jubileo, Bolivia.
In his opening remarks, Mr. TIWARI said that the IMF was committed to strengthening global financial architecture. The issues ranged from completing IMF quotas in governance reform to addressing gaps in global safety nets. It was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.
Mr. FRIDAY said that from the lens of a small island developing State such as his, it was necessary to acknowledge debt sustainability challenges and recognize the need for urgent solutions. Since 1950, there had been 184 natural disasters in the Caribbean, resulting in damages worth $8 billion. In Grenada alone, the hurricane in 2004 caused a 200 per cent loss of its GDP. Emphasizing the links between years of extreme weather events and high levels of indebtedness, he said that debt restructuring had not worked successfully because there was a stepping up of interest rates and not enough local ownership. The financial crisis and the impact on tourism had caused Grenada to default on its debt payments at the end of 2014. In response, Grenada had brought together civil society and Government to create a social compact on spending and financing. Grenada had also introduced a hurricane clause in its contracts with lenders, noting that the debts would be deferred in the event of a hurricane. As of Tuesday, the IMF had completed its sixth review of Grenada and the country had passed with flying colours.
Mr. VON MULLER said that state-contingent debt instruments had an important role to play in the international financial architecture, in building resilience and improving sustainability. Noting that the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 had formulated a clear mission with regard to such instruments in the Chengdu communiqué, she said that during its G-20 presidency, Germany had responded to the call for further analysis of their technicalities, opportunities and challenges. The history of state-contingent debt instruments showed the importance of contract designs, as well as the incentives and data credibility. While GDP-linked bonds could be beneficial instruments when designed to generate fiscal space in difficult economic times, it was necessary to take steps to reduce the costs of insurance and carefully assess international demand.
Ms. UY said that global financial reforms had a wide range of effects on developing countries. The Addis Agenda had acknowledged the importance of creating a coherent and inclusive global financial architecture. The international monetary system must mitigate tensions and promote stability while supporting growth strategies of individual countries. That was particularly important for emerging economies, whose growth rates had slowed recently. While macroeconomic and structural policies constituted the first line of defence, in a highly interconnected globe efforts to manage global economic headwinds needed to be supported by multilateral action. While the opening of financial borders had helped create capital flows, there were persistent problems with capital flow measures. Policy differences between different countries could cause exchange-rate volatility, which in turn, created uncertainty and disrupted investment. Better policy coordination was necessary and the IMF could play an important role in that.
Ms. MIRANDA said that it was vital to understand the composition of debt, which could originate from a variety of sources. Besides traditional external credits for fiscal gaps, there were also sovereign bonds issued by other countries, including lower middle-income countries. Furthermore, there was domestic debt and corporate debt, which had been rising in the last few years. Subnational debt, from local governments and State-owned enterprises, could lead to fiscal risk. Moreover, public-private partnerships could also give rise to debt. While the Addis Agenda had reaffirmed the importance of a timely and independent debt restructuring process, it was necessary to go beyond those principles. Reminding the Council that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy, she called attention to the negative social impacts of debt, saying that it had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.
In the ensuing discussion, representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of responsible investment and safety nets, and asked about the growth of the shadow banking system, which included lightly regulated hedge funds. Yet another representative of civil society asked about the lack of movement in regulating financial markets while a fourth representative noted that the “elephant in the room” underlying the debt issue was the classical mismatch between currencies.
Responding, Mr. FRIDAY agreed with the need for stronger safeguards and noted that more and more extreme weather events could be expected in the future. Therefore, hurricane clauses should be automatically included, particularly for small island developing States. Mr. MULLER said that GDP-linked bonds should be seen as part of a toolkit that contributed to debt sustainability. Ms. UY said that it was time to assess the impact of financial sector regulatory reforms.
Mr. TIWARI said that the promise of jobs and higher incomes hinged crucially on creating the right environment for sustainable growth. Infrastructure was a prerequisite for that kind of growth. The strengthening of standards regulating financial instruments had resulted in unintended consequences such as the shift to shadow banks. Ms. MIRANDA stressed the importance of transparency and open data, which she noted was a challenge not only for international financial institutions, but also for States. Debt could be a symptom that there was something wrong in the economy, and therefore, it was necessary to look at the larger picture including tax systems, she said.Read More
It is an honor to join you today at this year’s Senior Leaders Seminar hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Let me first thank ACSS for their leadership over the years in fostering critical partnerships with African nations on combating today’s transnational security threats.
Let me also thank all of you for your commitment in participating in this important program. Having studied myself at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, I believe that these peer-based learning seminars are very important, not only to assess, evaluate, and discuss the broad array of security challenges facing the continent and international community, but towards developing and harnessing more effective strategies and cross-border responses.
As you have no doubt heard throughout the week in your seminar, the United States remains a strong partner in helping safeguard communities against the threats posed by illicit trafficking networks and is keen to elevate our partnership with all of your governments.
In this regard, the U.S. Department of State is similarly committed to strengthen international cooperation in support of our U.S. law enforcement and security agencies, and the capacities of our allies and partners in Africa to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized criminals.
Converging Threats: Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism Pave Illicit Trafficking Corridor
Today’s reality is one in which we live in a world where there is no region, no country and no community who remain untouched by the destabilizing effects and corruptive influence of transnational organized crime and violent terrorism.
Their impact is truly global and their real threat centers in some cases in their convergence. In particular, we must recognize that trans-regional illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, and other illicit trade goods and services, are fueling greater insecurity and instability across Africa, and in other parts of the world.
While the world’s attention has in recent months been focused on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, or the efforts by North Korea and others on the weaponization of nuclear missiles, the threats posed by transnational organized criminals remain very real in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and globally.
This is especially true as it relates to the increasing links between cross-border narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime across Africa that imperil not only the rule of law, economic development efforts, the promotion of trade and investment, but helps to fuel greater instability and insecurity.
In fact, according to General Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps, AFRICOM Commander, “parts of Africa remain a battleground between ideologies, interests, and values: [where] prosperity, and peace are often pitted against extremism, oppression, and conflict. The strategic environment includes instability that allows violent extremist organizations to grow and recruit disenfranchised populations.”
This strategic environment today that General Waldhauser underscores is also impacted by other transregional threats that further complicate security in Africa including issues related to the webs of corruption and cross-border criminality, and related converging threats.
Convergence: I often talk a lot about convergence, and this is something that I encourage you to examine more closely moving forward – and to view today’s transnational security threats through a prism of “convergence crime”.
Because the reality on the ground is that we can no longer simply focus on one component of a threat. In a world of converging threats – where various threats collide to form a more potent mix of insecurity globally; each is individually dangerous but whose sum represents a far greater threat across borders.
Thus, we need to see the threat environment more holistically – how, for example, corruption and complicit facilitators enable the illicit space for criminals and terrorist groups alike to thrive, and to exploit weaknesses in our borders and institutions that imperil our security.
And because as illicit trade operates in the shadow of the global economy, increasingly sophisticated traffickers are diversifying their portfolios in everything from narcotics, people, arms, and wildlife to counterfeits including fake medicines, and illicit tobacco and alcohol goods.
On the governance front, the proceeds of drug trafficking and other forms of illicit trafficking are fueling a dramatic increase in corruption among the very institutions responsible for fighting crime.
The collusion and complicity of some government officials with criminal networks have helped carve out an illicit trafficking corridor that stretches from the West African coast to the Horn of Africa, from North Africa south to the Gulf of Guinea.
Through these illicit trafficking routes, criminals and terrorists alike are moving people and products. From the coca and opium poppy fields of Colombia and Southeast Asia to the coasts of West Africa and its hashish plantations, drug cartels and other criminal networks navigate an illicit superhighway that serves illicit markets across the continent and around the globe. Along across these illicit routes, bad actors and networks are corrupting critical institutions and enforcement systems that exacerbate everyone’s security.
They employ the latest technological advances and use commercial jets, fishing vessels, and container ships to move drugs, people, small arms, crude oil, cigarettes, counterfeit and pirated goods, and toxic waste through the region, generating massive profits.
How massive are these profits? As I will point out shortly in my slides on the recent research of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the illegal markets in Africa, and globally, are booming with staggering levels of illicit wealth in the global economy. Hundreds of millions of USD every year enable criminals and other threat networks to corrupt the regional economies and the global financial system.
At a time when many are heralding the rise of some of the world’s fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, these criminal entrepreneurs are undermining that economic development and growth by financing flourishing illicit markets, turning many vulnerable communities into a corridor of insecurity and instability, and siphoning the real potential of the legitimate economy.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Financial Integrity (GFI), and other international organizations, generally estimate that the illicit trade in arms, drugs, and people, and other forms of “convergence crime” generate approximately between 8–15 percent of GDP, or several USD trillions to include corrupt proceeds and illicit financial flows.
Cocaine trafficking remains among the most lucrative illicit activities. In April 2017, the UNODC reported that developing markets are fueling a resurgence of cocaine trafficking through West Africa. UNODC further added that seizures on the Atlantic island of Cabo Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria, and Ghana had contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous reporting period.
Smugglers and traffickers who intake the cocaine from the Americas will typically transport drugs and other contraband overland across the Sahel and North Africa, before crossing into destination markets in Europe and these new developing markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
West Africa has also become a major transit point for heroin destined for the United States.
Illicit markets are growing across Africa to meet global demand for arms, counterfeits, cigarettes, natural resources, diamonds and other precious minerals, wildlife, illegally-harvested timber, illegal fishing, stolen luxury cars, and other illicit commodities.
The Crime-Terror Continuum: Regional Spillover Effects
Unfortunately, what happens in Africa does not stay in Africa.
A convergence of actors is further paving the corridor of illicit trafficking and crime-terror continuum across Africa – including North Africa – as criminal insurgencies are becoming players themselves in illicit markets and using the proceeds to finance their terror campaigns, secure their training camps, establish safe havens, and export violence to other regions. Violent extremist and terrorist groups draw on public anger towards corruption as a means to radicalize, recruit new members, and deepen sectarian division.
We only have to look at some of the current regional hot spots to clearly comprehend how certain crime-terror dynamics continue to contribute to insecurity and instability that have a ripple effect across borders.
Today’s thriving illegal economy is so lucrative that terrorists are increasingly turning to criminal activities to fund their violent campaigns such as those that we are witnessing today by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and others.
In Mali, as drugs are trafficked through the country, the Sahel, and Maghreb, AQIM and its sympathizers are manipulating socio-economic conditions to further advance an illegal economy that allows them to tax the drugs through the territory that they control and finance their terror campaigns.
Libya also continues to be challenged with violence and insecurity. AQIM and ISIS are attempting to forge alliances with violent extremist networks in Libya and across the Maghreb, Sahel, and West Africa, and are involved in smuggling and trafficking in persons. Organized crime networks exploit a currency black market, irregular migration and illicit trade across borders to enrich themselves and militias that defy law and order.
Nigerian organized criminal networks remain a major player in moving cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and around Southeast Asia. In addition to drug trafficking, some of these criminal organizations also engage in other forms of trafficking and fraud targeting citizens of the United States, Europe, and globally.
Widespread corruption in Nigeria further facilitates criminal activity, and, combined with Nigeria’s central location along major trafficking routes, enables criminal groups to flourish and make Nigeria an important trafficking hub.
Nigeria is also confronting a terrorist insurgency led by Boko Haram and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, which remains the cause of the insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin.
Maritime crime has also captured the attention of the regional states and international community. The reported number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and the level of violence associated with those acts remain a concern.
The Economic Communities of West and Central African States, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and their member states should be commended for the continued commitment to implement the June 2013 Yaoundé Summit. The signed Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct (GGC) covers not only armed robbery at sea and piracy, but also other illicit maritime activity such as illegal fishing, maritime pollution, and human and drug trafficking. The Yaounde Code of Conduct, along with the updates to the Djibouti Code of Conduct to cover other transnational maritime crime, and the newly adopted Lomé Charter, provide excellent frameworks for African states to adopt strategies and implement programs to counter transnational crime in the maritime domain.
In recent years, INL has partnered with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, AFRICOM, and our African partners on maritime security and regional threat mitigation strategies and to build the capacities and capabilities to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks.
U.S. Diplomatic Efforts and International Cooperation in Africa
The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to improve security, good governance, rule of law, and sustainable economic development.
As President Donald J. Trump highlighted in new Executive Order on Transnational Criminal Organizations (E.O. TCO), the United States will continue to assist our partners to strengthen their security footprint and capabilities to combat today’s threat networks.
In support of the President’s E.O. TCO, the United States is committed to strengthen and sustain our resolve and capabilities to protect the homeland and break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, attack their financial underpinnings, strip them of their illicit wealth, and sever their access to the financial system.
The United States and its partners continually recognize the importance of net-centric partnerships to confront converging threats and the lethal nexus of organized crime, corruption, and terrorism along global illicit pathways and financial hubs.
For example, targeted financial actions like the 2011 311 finding against LCB can have a major impact, strengthening deterrence and showing that the international community is keeping close watch on Hizballah’s global financial architecture. Through years of cooperation with the Lebanese banking sector and the Lebanese Central Bank, the country has significantly improved its capacity to detect the kinds of behavior that led the United States to designate LCB six years ago.
Let me now share how the Department of State helps fight transnational crime, and in particular the organization I work for, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
INL training efforts help countries build effective rule of law institutions, strengthening criminal justice systems, and strengthening their police, courts, and anti-crime efforts—everything from anti-corruption money laundering, cybercrime, and intellectual property theft to trafficking in goods, people, weapons, drugs, or endangered wildlife.
In coordination with partners in sub-Saharan and North Africa, INL develops and executes foreign assistance programming to promote civilian security and criminal justice sector reform in support of U.S. policy objectives. INL programs improve access to justice, promote stability and democratic reform, professionalize law enforcement entities, support local justice sector officials, and strengthen correction systems.
INL’s sub-Saharan and North Africa projects support partner governments’ efforts to respond effectively to the growing demand for peace and security. INL’s four main objectives are to assist African partners in combating transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, and their effects; support post-conflict stabilization operations and security sector reform; strengthen criminal justice systems to be accountable to the public and to respect human rights; and promote regional cooperation. INL implements its Africa program through a comprehensive range of bilateral and regional initiatives designed to maximize positive change in host countries and regions.
Let me highlight a few examples of these bilateral INL projects across Africa on criminal justice reform, anti-crime, and in support of counter-terrorism efforts:
• Deployment of Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) and Senior Legal Advisors: U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors embedded in U.S. Embassies to support justice sector development and capacity building: Some countries hosting RLAs include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and others.
• Kenya: Build the capacity of vetted units within the National Police Service and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigations unit to investigate and prosecute high-level and government-wide corruption
• Tanzania: enhance the criminal justice system in Tanzania to successfully prosecute wildlife crimes.
• Benin: Build capacity of Benin’s law enforcement and judicial sectors to investigate and prosecute cases involving transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking; support to Benin’s border security agency; training of Formed Police Units (FPUs) for peacekeeping deployment; support to the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite de Drogue et des Précurseurs
• Ghana: Training police-prosecutors, creating a counternarcotics unit, training police SWAT unit; training FPUs for peacekeeping deployment; and improving the investigations and administration of justice related to maritime crimes, cyber-crime, and border-related crimes
• Nigeria: Advise and support the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Justice and security dialogues project with law enforcement and civil society; international police education and training; curriculum reform; forensics support; Embedding advisors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
• South Africa: Senior law enforcement advisor support to professionalize law enforcement and fundamental police operations; building investigative and enforcement capacities to combat wildlife trafficking
Finally, INL also administers the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) which offers rewards up to $5 million for information, leads, and tips that help hobble transnational criminal organizations involved in activities beyond drug trafficking, such as human trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in arms, counterfeits and pirated goods, and other illicit trade areas.
Our embassies and/or our INL offices would be happy to share further information on INL bilateral and regional programming in specific countries in Africa as requested.
Let me say also few words on several regional initiatives that INL supports:
The West Africa Regional Security Initiative (WARSI)
WARSI funds assist the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members to establish and sustain effective, professional, and accountable criminal justice and civilian security sectors. Technical assistance facilitates partner-country efforts to counter transnational threats including illicit trafficking and to strengthen conflict mitigation and state legitimacy. WARSI focuses on security sector reform (SSR) in countries with more foundational assistance needs and criminal justice sector reform to counter transnational organized crime (TOC) in countries with more stable institutions. Counter-TOC assistance is more advanced, and often includes training specialized units, such as counter narcotics task forces.
The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership
The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multi-faceted, multi-year U.S. strategy aimed at developing resilient institutions that are capable of preventing and responding to terrorism in a holistic, long term manner. INL TSCTP programs in Africa work to counter and prevent violent extremism by empowering partner countries to (1) provide effective and accountable security and justice services to enhance citizen cooperation with and trust in law enforcement and (2) develop the institutional foundation for counterterrorism and related capabilities, including border security and prison security and reintegration efforts. In doing so, INL focuses on enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among TSCTP countries so that they increasingly learn with and from each other. Partner countries include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.
The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism
The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is the U.S. government’s multi-year, multi-sector initiative to build the long-term capabilities of East African partners to contain, disrupt, and marginalize terrorist networks in the region. INL’s PREACT funds empower East African criminal justice institutions to confront complex challenges posed by cross-border terrorism. INL’s active PREACT partners include Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania.
Security Governance Initiative
The Security Governance Initiative (SGI) is a multi-year effort between the United States and partner countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats. SGI partners with countries to undertake strategic and institutional reforms required to tackle key security challenges. Together with six current partners – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia – SGI focuses on shared security priorities and enhance security sector management. SGI is managed by the State Department’s Africa Bureau but leverages expertise and experience from across the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Coordination and collaboration both within the U.S. government and with partner countries is a hallmark of SGI. INL’s activities undertaken as part of SGI seek to develop, support, and strengthen criminal justice institutions and capabilities to ensure citizen security and promote the rule of law, including sound policies, institutional structures, systems, processes, and effective management methods so that governments can efficiently and effectively deliver security and justice in a sustainable manner.
Regional Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Efforts
As many of you are aware, the United States continues to partner with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
INL is part of a whole of government approach to combating wildlife trafficking. We work closely with other parts of the Department and other agencies to support the global fight against wildlife trafficking through assistance to multiple countries in Africa. Under the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (CWT), INL builds the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes and develops regional cooperation mechanisms.
Activities can include training, mentoring, and equipment provision for park rangers, police, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society entities to address the multiple dimensions of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Our first projects began in Kenya and South Africa, followed by Namibia and Tanzania. Future projects will cover larger areas of central and southern Africa, and address both source and transit countries.
Regional Law Enforcement Training
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not highlight INL’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana. The ILEA program delivers courses on a wide range of law enforcement topics, and builds regional law enforcement networks to detect, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations regardless of their means of operation and income.
Since inception in 2001, ILEA Gaborone has trained thousands of mid- and senior-level criminal justice officers in specialized skills on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics operations, forensic accounting, customs interdiction, various forms of trafficking, document fraud, and illegal immigration. The program also engages with senior officials on the factors that facilitate these criminal networks, addressing public corruption, discussing modern community-oriented policing models, and cooperative international security networks that hinder illicit networks from flourishing.
As an outbranch of the successful ILEA network, INL opened the West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, Ghana, in January 2013. The RTC has convened hundreds of law enforcement, security, and judicial officials from multiple countries in West Africa and the Sahel, creating relationships across the region, and building knowledge and skills on topics ranging from investigative analysis to anti-corruption to counternarcotics.
We continue to explore future areas of assistance to include strengthening capabilities to preserve crime scenes for complex investigations, create strong case packages, and build more effective, evidence-based trials.
Conclusion: Partnerships for Sustainable Security
In closing, I want to again extend the appreciation on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for your commitment to work across borders, improve coordination and information-sharing, and leverage our respective capabilities and capacities to defeat our common adversaries.
We must continue to leverage all national economic, intelligence, and diplomatic powers to make it riskier, harder, and costlier for threat networks to do business within Africa, and externally.
Illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.
We must crackdown on corruption at all levels and cut off the ability of kleptocrats, criminals, and terrorists to enjoy the fruits of illicit enterprise and that enable the financial capacity to execute their operations.
By combating corruption, we can also shut the door and keep violent extremists from exploiting their grievances to wage jihad. We must prevent narco-corruption from destroying countries like Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.
In addition to our law enforcement and security cooperation, we also need to address underlying causes that are contributing to today’s conflicts and insecurity in Africa: food and water security, poverty, economic integration and development, and other socio-economic areas that empower communities and nurture growth markets, investment frontiers, and resiliency.
With careful, targeted assistance, and smart diplomatic engagement, together we can advance our common objectives and strategic interests.
If we do not act decisively, the region will remain an exporter of terror and a provider of safe havens where terrorists from other conflicts all over the world find refuge, illicit trafficking will continue to expand, arms and weapons will dangerously proliferate, women, men, and children will be trafficked, and drugs and illicit enterprise will corrode the rule of law and the gains of globalization.
We can only tackle these threats effectively if we work together and jointly synchronize our full spectrum capabilities and capacities. We must stay connected and continue to harness our network of networks at every level – local, regional, and global to win our fight against convergence crime.
If we do this, we can create hope, stability, opportunity, and an enduring peace.
Thank you.Read More
Speakers Conclude Debates on Diplomatic Protection, Geneva Convention Additional Protocols, Protection of Missions
During its forty-ninth session, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) had made great strides in its programme of work, including the finalization and adoption of three texts on secured transactions, arbitration and online dispute resolution, the Chair of the forty-ninth session told the Sixth Committee (Legal), as they took up that body’s report.
Gaston Kenfack Douajni (Cameroon), presenting the Commission report (document A/71/17), underscored the Commission’s adoption of the second edition of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which were prepared with a focus on international arbitration. He stressed that the Notes did not seek to promote any practice as best practice, but rather provided as a useful reference.
Highlighting the achievements of the Working Groups, he spoke of Working Group III (Online Dispute Resolution) developing its first instrument in the settlement of online disputes, which the Committee had adopted. As well, Working Group I on Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises had prepared a legislative guide to assist States in crafting legal frameworks for legally recognized simplified businesses.
Working Group II on Dispute Settlements, meanwhile, had begun to prepare an instrument to enforce international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation, he told the Committee. Working Group IV, which addressed Electronic Commerce, had continued to address several topics related to cross-border insolvency, while Working Group V, on Insolvency Law, was creating a draft legislative text to provide solutions to facilitate the conduct of those insolvencies.
The Chair also emphasized the important role of UNCITRAL texts for States looking to modernize their international trade law regimes. Many States, he noted, took actions on UNCITRAL texts, including ratification of treaties. The Commission had developed effective working methods that were both efficient and inclusive.
The representative of the Dominican Republic, speaking for the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), echoed the Chair, noting that the success of the Commission was linked to its inclusive nature. The challenges facing the United Nations as it codified international trade law were increasing as the volume of global trade rose. The Commission’s work should work alongside the dynamics of trade activities as closely as was possible.
The role of the Working Groups was praised by the representative of Honduras, who emphasized the importance of the work being done in the area of online dispute resolution. Honduras was a signatory of the relevant Model Laws, and had launched an economic programme to double the number of jobs in strategic areas over the next five years.
During the Committee’s conclusion of its debate on the Secretary-General’s report on diplomatic protection (document A/71/93) and (document A/71/93/Corr.1), the representative of Togo noted that there were still questions related to the definition of diplomatic protection, as well as “discretion” regarding its exercise. The representative of the Philippines, expressing similar views, noted that the exercise of such protection was a “delicate” matter and could be used as a pretext for interference in the affairs of other States.
The Committee also took up the report on the Status of Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict (document A/71/183 and document A/71/183/Add.1).
The representative of Tunisia, speaking for the Arab Group, voiced his discontent with the current state of affairs in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem. The Geneva Convention was being directly violated by the transference of populations by Israel into occupied territories. As the depository of the Geneva Convention, Switzerland should organize a Conference of the State Parties to assess the implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians during wartime.
“Civilians must not be used as cannon fodder,” the observer for the State of Palestine said, noting that Israel continued to cause suffering to the Palestinian people with impunity and, despite countless United Nations resolutions, the international community had failed to uphold international humanitarian law. Echoing the words of the Arab Group, she emphasized the need for Switzerland to convene a meeting to consider measures to enforce the Convention.
However, the representative of Israel said that terrorist groups and non-State actors were violating international humanitarian laws by targeting civilians, among other things. In the context of armed conflict with such groups, he vindicated the reservations of numerous countries, including Israel, to blur the distinctions within the Additional Protocols, including articles 1(4) and 44(3). Furthermore, Israeli forces were trained to ensure that the balance between combating terrorism and protecting citizens was maintained to the greatest extent possible, he said.
Other delegations noted that norms of the Convention were not being followed, highlighting the alarming increase in the targeting of humanitarian aid and aid workers, and the impediment of delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical and food supplies. The representative of Australia pointed out that attacks on hospitals and humanitarian convoys were reminders to do more to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.
The Sixth Committee also considered the Secretary-General’s report on the Consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives (document A/71/130).
Representatives participating in the debates were Mexico, Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic Countries), Cuba, Switzerland, El Salvador, Peru, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Venezuela, United States, Liechtenstein, Iran, Algeria, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, Finland, Brazil, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, China, Morocco, Ukraine and Singapore, as well as representatives from the Europe Union, International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross
The representatives of Syria and Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Sixth Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 October, to continue to discuss the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and take requests for Observer Status, as well as the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Statements on Diplomatic Protection
PABLO ADRÍAN ARROCHA OLABUENAGA (Mexico) said that an international convention on diplomatic protection should ensure that actions to exercise such protection did not intervene in the internal affairs of the State that had committed the international wrongful act. That principle was contained in the comments on the draft article on diplomatic relations adopted at the International Law Commission (ILC) at its tenth session in 1958. The principles that derived from State practice should be codified in the convention. In addition, draft article 7 on the principle of predominant nationality was not sufficiently justified in the practice of States and could give rise to disputes.
FINTAKPA LAMEGA DEKALEGA (Togo), in regards to the draft articles on diplomatic protection, noted that his country was one of the few States that had responded to the General Assembly’s request and had submitted substantive observations on the articles. There were still many questions relating to the definition of diplomatic protection and discretion regarding their exercise. The draft articles offered a promising foundation for developing international law, he said, adding that despite reservations, those texts were moving correctly toward the future. Still, further work was necessary before the international community could adopt the relevant convention.
IGOR GARLIT BAILEN (Philippines) stated that the exercise of diplomatic protection was a discretionary sovereign prerogative, but also a delicate matter, noting some regrettable instances where diplomatic protection had been misused as a pretext to intervene in another country’s affairs. Under customary international law, the two main requirements for the exercise of diplomatic protection included the exhaustion of local remedies, and effective and continuous nationality. In 2003, his country had enacted a dual nationality law, which could affect up to 10 million Filipinos living overseas and who had a second or third nationality. In that regard, he voiced interest in the operationalization of the definition of “predominant nationality” under draft article 7. Furthermore, draft article 18 was very important for the Philippines because of the number of seafarers the country had worldwide. While recognizing the nationality of the flag State might also exercise diplomatic protection over them, the prerogative was complementary and not mutually exclusive.
Statements on 1949 Geneva Convention Additional Protocols
JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) said that international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Convention and Protocols, was supposed to protect people. He underscored efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which was working with States on draft laws that addressed missing and disappeared persons. Armed forces should be helpful in identifying missing persons.
In addition, given the new challenges of modern hostilities, consideration should be given on whether new laws should be made, he said. A main challenge was ensuring that fighters respected the laws governing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, including medical and food supplies. As well, that respect must also be extended to include the safety of the humanitarian personnel delivering those supplies. Armed attacks must be limited to military targets, he stated.
RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), speaking for the Arab Group, voiced his “discontent” with the current state of affairs in occupied Palestine and East Jerusalem. International humanitarian law emphasized the importance of protecting those who did not participate in armed conflict. Yet civilians, including those who were sick or injured, as well as prisoners were being targeted by the illegal practices of the Israeli occupying Power. In addition, the expansion of settlements, arbitrary detentions, and extrajudicial killings continued unabated while the international community did nothing. The impunity enjoyed by Israel encouraged the continuation of the occupation.
Transferring populations into occupied territories was also a violation under the Geneva Convention and indeed all relevant international conventions, he went on to say. It was time to translate those violations into action that would change the situation on the ground and guarantee the sovereignty of the State of Palestine over the territory occupied in 1967. Also expressing concern at the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, he called for an end to that inhuman siege. The international community must abide by its legal and moral responsibility to put an end to Israel’s illegal policies and colonialist occupation. In addition, the Swiss Government, in its capacity as depository of the Geneva Convention, should organize a conference of high-contracting parties to the Convention, to assess the implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1974.
ERIC CHABOUREAU, representative of the European Union, said that unfortunately, international humanitarian law was too often disregarded. “Enhancing the protection of civilians must be our common goal”, he said, adding that at its thirty-second Conference, the European Union and its member States noted the adoption of resolution 1 on strengthening international humanitarian law protecting persons deprived of their liberty.
He went on to say that the European Union continued to support the International Criminal Court and the important role played by international criminal tribunals in promoting respect for international humanitarian law. He urged Member States of the United Nations to accede to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.
PER THÖRESSON (Sweden), speaking for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland), stressed there was a dire need to uphold the norms of international humanitarian law. He noted that while the legal framework existed, the lack of respect for agreed rules was all too clear. The ongoing attacks against medical facilities and personnel in conflict situations were appalling.
He underscored the need for the protection of the delivery of health care, and commended the efforts of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in their work under dangerous conditions. Condemning sexual and gender-based violence, he also noted the necessity of implementing a gender-sensitive approach. He said that work must continue against impunity for serious human rights violations, and persons who had committed war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity must be held to account.
CARRIE MCDOUGALL (Australia), also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said States should strive to replicate the universal membership of the Geneva Conventions so that the protections of international human rights law were applied by all parties to all armed conflicts at all times. States that had not yet become parties to the three Additional Protocols were encouraged to do so as soon as possible.
Recent events – such as attacks on hospitals and humanitarian convoys, siege warfare and indiscriminate attacks on civilians – were reminders that the international community must do more to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law, she said. Recalling Security Council resolution 2286 (2016), she also noted that ensuring strengthened compliance with international humanitarian law by all parties to armed conflict must be a priority. All States should work closely to address pressing challenges to international human rights law.
TANIERIS DIÉGUEZ LA O (Cuba) pointed out that international humanitarian law was being violated in many ways, including through the killing of innocents and the systematic destruction of infrastructure. Confirming her country’s strong commitment to international humanitarian laws, particularly the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols, she voiced her opposition to attempts by certain countries to reinterpret those rules in order to avoid having to comply with them. The moral foundation that brought the international community together in combating international terrorism and transnational crime was the same moral foundation that underlay international humanitarian law. The use of highly sophisticated weapons, such as drones, did not comply with obligations under international laws and humanitarian ideals could not be used as pretexts for not abiding by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
DAMARIS CARNAL (Switzerland), expressing concern at the growing number of attacks on infrastructure and medical personnel, as well on the wounded and sick, said that the systematic nature of those attacks indicated a deliberate strategy by many parties involved in armed conflicts. Recalling that her country was the depository of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, she underscored the importance to achieving universal ratification of those instruments. “The time had come for universal ratification,” she stressed, encouraging State parties to Additional Protocol I, if they had not already done so, to recognize the competence of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, established under article 90 of that Additional Protocol.
She also recalled that important resolutions to improve implementation of and compliance with international humanitarian law had been adopted by consensus at the thirty-second International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. There, States had pledged to take part in intergovernmental processes with the aim of reaching an agreement on the features and functions of a forum of States on international humanitarian law. In addition, there had been a focus on finding ways to enhance implementation by using the potential offered by the Conference and regional forums. Switzerland, she said, would continue to play an active role in the process of strengthening the protection offered by international humanitarian law to persons deprived of their liberty.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador), associating his delegation with CELAC, said that it was important to implement the Additional Protocols concerning the victims of armed conflict. The item was topical because of the need to protect victims and all those not participating in hostilities. He noted that, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the peace agreement in El Salvador, his country continued to live up to its obligations. On a national platform, the El Salvador International Humanitarian Committee functioned as an advisory body to disseminate humanitarian information, identify cultural property and support institutional strengthening.
ANGEL HORNA (Peru), associating his delegation with CELAC, said that Peru had continued its policy to ensure the application of international humanitarian law and the provisions in those treaties to which it was a party on a national platform. Peru had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty, which provided that States would not authorize transfer of weapons if it knew those weapons could be used to commit genocide or crimes against humanity. His Government had also established a national plan to combat gender-based violence, as well as measures that dealt with persons who had been subjected to enforced disappearance. He highlighted that Peru’s Ministry of Education had created a multi-year plan for victims of violence in Peru, with the intent of providing compensation through education for victims. In addition, its Ministry of Health had adopted a technical document that concerned mental health care for persons affected by violence from 1980-2000.
YOUSSEF HITTI (Lebanon), recalling that his country had ratified the four Geneva Conventions in 1951 and two Additional Protocols in 1997, emphasized the significance of upholding the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In 2010, his country had established the International Humanitarian Law Committee to follow up on the incorporation of international humanitarian law into its national legislation. Ten years ago, Lebanon had suffered a 33-day aggression by Israel, which had shown “total disregard for international humanitarian law”, he said, adding that most of the victims had been civilians. In Palestine, the situation was increasingly deteriorating, with the occupying Power continuing to blatantly violate its obligations under international law. The Security Council must ensure the full compliance by Israel of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other relevant international law provisions. He also echoed the call by the Arab Group to convene a conference to follow up on the declaration adopted at the conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2014.
AHILA SORNARAJAH (United Kingdom), aligning herself with the European Union, emphasized that international human law protected innocent victims from the impact of armed conflict. Thus, it was tragic that those laws were being ignored both by State and non-State actors. Calling for better compliance with the existing framework, she welcomed the outcome of the thirty-second International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Underscoring that ICRC played a key role, she paid tribute to the courageous work they did in dangerous environments. It was a matter of grave concern that their emblems were not being honored and humanitarian workers were being killed while trying to administer relief. Reaffirming her country’s commitment to ending sexual violence in conflict, she added that the United Kingdom continued to support the International Criminal Court; ending impunity was essential to building a safer world.
ABEL AYOKO (Nigeria) said that his country had been making “genuine efforts” to comply with international humanitarian laws, despite the state of its current security challenges. All detainees from confrontations between Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram terrorists had been treated in accordance with national and international law, he said, adding that those accused faced court trials, and anyone acquitted was released. The Government had also been organizing trainings to inform security forces on the need to abide by the rules of engagement in armed conflicts. Nigeria would continue to comply with international humanitarian laws in its fight against terrorists, as it was the only way the “pathetic situation of victims of armed conflict can be ameliorated”, he stated. Still, his country needed more international cooperation to completely defeat Boko Haram, he said, underscoring that the war against terrorism could only be achieved through the determined resolve of all Member States.
ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela), aligning himself with CELAC, stated that his country was party to the main international legal instruments and had incorporated them into domestic law. Recognizing the objective and responsible work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent as independent organizations providing protection to the victims of armed conflict, he urged that due priority should be given to disseminating information regarding State parties’ obligations contracted under international legal instruments. Condemning the growing number of attacks on humanitarian personnel, he urged Member States to guarantee protection of such personnel. At the same time, humanitarian agencies must abide by international humanitarian law, the laws of the countries where they worked, and cultural values.
FINTAKPA LAMEGA DEKALEGA (Togo), noting that that his country had ratified the Additional Protocols, stated that Togo’s legal corpus reflected great respect for the cardinal principles of international humanitarian law, such as distinguishing between different groups as well was the principles of proportionality and humanity. In addition, his country had ratified the Arms Trade Treaty and the conventions prohibiting chemical weapons and anti-personnel mines. As well, Togo was party to 21 legal instruments relating to international humanitarian laws. Urging more States to ratify the Additional Protocols, he drew attention to the problem of sexual violence during conflict. He stressed that his country was committed to applying international humanitarian law, not merely ratifying instruments, and that unconditional commitment was evident on the ground where Togo was active in peacekeeping missions.
EMILY PIERCE (United States) emphasized that the United States continued to ensure that all of its military operations conducted in connection with armed conflict complied with international humanitarian law. Referring to the discussion on the previous agenda item, where the United States Government announced its intent to seek its Senate’s advice and consent to ratifying Additional Protocol II, she said that the treaty was currently pending before that legislative chamber. She also noted that her country was committed to complying with its obligations under the law of armed conflict, including obligations to protect civilians. Heightened policy standards that were more protective of civilians than otherwise required by law were being imposed. She also stated her support for the ongoing work of the Montreux Document Forum, adding that her country would continue to engage with the Forum to support regular dialogue and outreach.
JÖRN EIERMANN (Liechtenstein) expressed his concern regarding the “blatant disrespect” for international humanitarian law in various parts of the world. Just recently, there had been an appalling incident of gross violations of the rule of war in Yemen, with massive loss of life. A downward trend that undermined well-established rules was evident, he said, stressing that “we should not have to speak about attacks against aid convoys, medical facilities or schools.” Ratifications of the Geneva Conventions entailed an obligation to act, in particular with regard to the obligation to hold those who commit serious violations to account. Governments must abide by the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. He emphasized that it was “hard to imagine” how the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas could comply with international humanitarian law, acknowledging an ongoing debate as to whether new standards were necessary. While his country had agreed on some important resolutions at the thirty-second International Conference, he said it was disappointing that States could not agree on a voluntary compliance mechanism.
SEYED ALI MOUSANI (Iran) stated that international humanitarian law was one of the key achievements of the human civilizations, and by providing a comprehensive body of rules for the protection of non-combatants and civilians, the Geneva Convention was indispensable in minimizing the negative effects of armed conflict. Implementation, however, remained a challenge. As a signatory to the 1979 Additional Protocols, his country had made constant efforts to promote and publicize knowledge of humanitarian norms, including among armed forces. In 2006, Iran had organized a conference identifying the synergies between contemporary international humanitarian law and Islamic thought, and had established a centre to study the topic. The second international conference would be organized in 2016, and would focus on common humanitarian values in world religions, and the role of religion in humanitarianism.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), aligning himself with the Arab Group, stated that his country had a “special history with the Geneva Conventions” and recalled that during his country’s war of independence, the National Liberation Front had argued as early as 1956 that article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions applied to the conflict. In addition, Algeria had appeared on the list of States parties to the Geneva Conventions as having ratified instruments in June 1960, more than two years before its independence. He also echoed the request of the State of Palestine to convene the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Convention, to examine measures to enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. It was regrettable that, despite the existence of a cross-regional critical mass of support for such a conference, it had not been convened due to a small number of States parties which had expressed their opposition.
AMIT HEUMANN (Israel), while expressing concern regarding certain key provisions of the Additional Protocols, underscored that compliance with the laws of armed conflict was of high importance. With violent extremism on the rise, the challenges of armed conflict were becoming more urgent and non-State adversaries did not consider themselves bound by those laws. The world had witnessed terrorists who violated international humanitarian laws by targeting civilians and embedding themselves and their weapons among their own civilian populations. In the context of armed conflict with terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, those practices had been part of Israel’s reality for decades. Because of that, he vindicated the reservations of numerous countries, including Israel, to blur the distinctions within the Additional Protocols, including articles 1(4) and 44(3).
Israeli forces were trained to ensure that the balance between combating terrorism and protecting citizens was maintained to the greatest extent possible, he said. While acknowledging ICRC’s efforts to publish updated interpretations of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols, he noted that the recently published commentary to the First Geneva Convention raised some serious concerns and he stressed the importance of consulting with States and receiving their input. In response to comments made by other delegations previously about his country, as well as comments that might be made, he stressed that those delegations’ focus on Israel distracted from addressing the real atrocities being committed throughout the Middle East, and that those speakers did not mention Hamas, the Saudi bombardments, atrocities in Syria or actions by Hezbollah.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), expressing concern about the recurring reports of violations of international humanitarian law by State and non-State actors in occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, and elsewhere, stressed the need for holding perpetrators accountable. There were a number of built-in mechanisms within the existing international humanitarian law regime that needed to be invoked and implemented. In lieu of working on further innovations, it was necessary to understand how to use the existing mechanism and recalibrate efforts towards international humanitarian law compliance. His delegation also demanded unqualified international humanitarian law compliance in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and called on the Government of Switzerland to convene a Conference of High-Contracting Parties to consider that issue. It was also crucial to strengthen the role of women and girls and ensure that sexual violence was not used as a tactic of war.
SONG MIYOUNG (Republic of Korea) highlighted the need to improve compliance to international humanitarian law and to protect the victims of conflict and emergency situations. She underscored the need to uphold commitments, remain vigilant and ensure that parties to armed conflict respected international humanitarian law. Investigations into breaches of that law should be carried out and perpetrators held accountable in order to put an end to impunity. She further noted that responsibility should not be avoided in order to prevent humanitarian suffering in the first place. In addition, more efforts should be made to prevent, contain and settle conflicts, and ease the plight of innocent civilians, including women and children.
REEM JULIA MANSOUR, observer for the State of Palestine, underscored that, because of Israel’s belligerent occupation of nearly half a century, the Palestinian people knew only too well the pain and turmoil of armed conflict and refugee crisis. Despite countless United Nations resolutions, the international community had failed to uphold international humanitarian law, breaching the intent of the Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols. Israel continued to cause suffering to the Palestinian people with absolute impunity. More efforts were needed to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law and to ensure compliance with the restrictions on military conduct and protections for civilians, as provided by the Convention.
The State of Palestine, she went on to say, had repeatedly appealed for protection for its people, and various United Nations reports had documented their suffering. “Civilians must not be used as cannon fodder,” she said, adding that and as a State Party to the Convention and its Additional Protocols, the State of Palestine requested Switzerland to convene a meeting of the High-Contracting Parties to consider measures to enforce the Convention. She also called on the international community to consider providing the Palestinian people with protection until the end of the occupation.
JUSTINAS ŽILINSKAS, of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, said that the General Assembly, through resolution A/55/148, had called upon all States to make the declaration on acceptance of the Commission’s competence under article 90. Although the total number of States that had made such a declaration currently amounted to 76, more States must join in order to guarantee an equitable geographic representation. He voiced hope that the General Assembly and the Security Council would make use of the Commission’s services, reiterating that it would be helpful to receive comments from Member States and United Nations organs as to why they have not yet done so. The Commission remained the only permanent international mechanism specializing in international humanitarian law, he stated.
STEPHANE OJEDA, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said the ongoing suffering and destruction in armed conflicts called for decisive steps to strengthen international humanitarian law. He called upon States who had not yet done so to ratify the two Additional Protocols. The principal cause of suffering was not the lack of rules, but “insufficient respect for the law”, he said. There were areas, however, in which existing rules of international humanitarian law were, in fact, insufficient, especially in the case of the protection of persons deprived of their liberty in non-international armed conflicts.
In consultations with States, he went on to say, ICRC had identified four areas that needed strengthening, including conditions of detention; protection of vulnerable groups; grounds and procedure for internment; and detainee transfers. The Red Cross had also supported States with tools to better implement international humanitarian law domestically. For example, in March, it had published a revised commentary on the First Geneva Convention, providing States with updated interpretations of fundamental humanitarian norms.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his country was one of the founding members of the United Nations. Referring to remarks made by the representative of Israel about Syria, he said that to characterize his country with cheap propaganda was a violation of the diplomatic code of conduct. He also stressed that Israel was occupying the territories of others, refusing to comply with United Nations resolutions, and expelling citizens from their territories. The list of Israel’s violations was very long.
Statements on Protection of Diplomatic Missions and Representatives
JUAN ÁVILA (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of CELAC on the consideration of effective measures to enhance the protection, security and safety of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, emphasized that the sanctity of diplomatic facilities were essential to the maintenance of international peace. He condemned all violations against diplomatic and consular missions and their representatives, as well as violations to intergovernmental and international organizations.
Each transgression was a grave incident that could jeopardize the lives and safety of officials, he went on to say. In no circumstances could those transgressions be met with impunity. He also noted the inviolability of diplomatic archives, and the negative impact of State surveillance on communications. Referring to the Vienna Conventions of 1961 and 1963, he stressed that States must ensure that national legislation is in conformity with international law in that area. Lastly, he urged States that had not yet done so to become a part of the Vienna Convention.
ERIC CHABOUREAU, representative of the European Union, urged all States to strictly enforce the provisions of international law governed by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. He strongly condemned attacks against the official residence of the ambassador of Iran in Tripoli, Libya, and against the embassies of the United Arab Emirates and Iran in Sana’a, Yemen. Receiving States had a special responsibility to protect embassies and consulates under the two Vienna Conventions. Special attention had to be given to threats posed by terrorists forcing States to shut down their diplomatic facilities, as had happened in Libya and Yemen. He called upon all States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the two Conventions.
NIINA NYRHINEN (Finland), speaking for the Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), voiced concern that diplomatic agents kept falling victim to attacks in receiving States. Noting that the Secretary-General’s report had indicated increasing numbers of State parties to relevant conventions, she appealed to all States who had not yet done so to become party to those instruments. An obligation to protect foreign emissaries was one of the cornerstones of the international legal system. It was universally recognized that the receiving States had an obligation to protect diplomatic and consular representatives. That also extended to representatives of intergovernmental organizations. In addition, there was a need for close cooperation on security matters at the national and international level.
ROLANDO VERGARA ZITO (Cuba), aligning himself with CELAC, said he was concerned about reports of violations of archives and communications of diplomatic and consular missions. Condemning such acts, he called on all Member States to adopt and implement all relevant conventions. “In the Internet era, we cannot turn a blind eye to the use and abuse of communication technologies,” he said, expressing concern about recent revelations about some diplomatic facilities being used as a base for surveillance and collection of data. Such practices resulted in the subversion and internal destabilization of other countries. Cuba had a multi-layered system for providing security and protection to diplomatic corps, and guaranteed full protection to all diplomatic officers and personnel.
PATRICK LUNA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, said that he was concerned that the increased number of serious situations involving violations of diplomatic and consular immunities, which had been reported by the press worldwide, had not found their way into the compilation prepared by the Secretary-General’s report. That under-reporting pointed to a need to update the current reporting mandate. He also noted that diplomatic archives should be inviolable, as should official correspondence, according to the Vienna Conventions. Emphasizing that although communication methods were no longer dependent on physical support and could circulate through technologically sophisticated channels, it remained beyond doubt that diplomatic and consular communications, archives and documents should be protected both online and offline. He said that Brazil was pleased that the matter was addressed in General Assembly resolution 69/121.
MAXIM V. MUSIKHIN (Russian Federation) said he was disturbed that, despite the fact that international law gave special responsibility to the host country to take all appropriate measures to protect diplomatic staff and offices, there were constant attacks against them. Two years ago, his country reported attacks on their Embassy in Kyiv. He noted that the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine did not provide an appropriate response to those illegal actions, and that attacks on Russian diplomats and consular officers in Ukraine continued, sometimes with the direct participation of Ukrainian officials. He underscored that information about those incidents had been conveyed to the Secretariat to include in the Secretary-General’s report. He noted that the situation was unacceptable, and asked that the Secretary-General keep the item monitored.
SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka) urged Member States to act together to ensure the safety of mission staff. She pointed out that developing nations in particular faced difficulties bearing the financial costs of protecting their diplomatic missions. A Sri Lankan diplomat had recently been physically attacked in a receiving State. A few of the perpetrators had been apprehended, but there was still a need for effective prosecution and imposition of appropriate punishment. It was important to also ascertain the “real motivation” behind the attack. International cooperation must intensify to prevent future attacks, she emphasized.
MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia), noting that some of her country’s missions and Government representatives had been the subject of attacks by hooligans and extremists, requested the Governments hosting those missions to take the necessary measures to hold the perpetrators accountable. Not only was that trend affecting good relations between countries, it was also a demonstration of the degree to which international law governing inter-State relations was being undermined. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Vienna Convention on Consular Relations clearly stipulated the inviolability of diplomatic missions and the persons of diplomats. Diplomatic law had its foundation on the principle of reciprocity, and she stressed that her country expected its missions and representative to be accorded the same protections it provided to those it hosted.
TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) emphasized that, as a State Party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Affairs 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs 1963, his country was committed to ensuring due compliance. The unprecedented terrorist attacks in July in a restaurant located in the diplomatic area in Dhaka had created some concern among the resident diplomatic and consular missions. His country’s law enforcement agencies had already identified or apprehended the perpetrators of the attack and had dealt with them under the purview of the law. Security coverage to diplomatic missions had also been increased. Such measures had helped bring back the confidence of the Bangladesh people, as well as diplomatic officials and foreigners living and visiting the country.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria) strongly condemned any and all act of violence against diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, stressing it was an absolute prerequisite to respect the universally respected principles governing the diplomatic and consular relations. His country was fully committed to its obligations under international law, particularly the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. Acts that violate the Convention and other international law in his country were fully investigated and perpetrators brought to justice and properly sentenced. He called for a prompt transmission of information, by the receiving State to the sending State, on the circumstances of the violations occurrence; eventual legal prosecutions against perpetrators should be shared with the sending State. It was imperative that the receiving State take effective measures to prevent recurrence of such acts.
EMILY PIERCE (United States) stated that protecting the sanctity of ambassadors, other diplomats and consular official enabled them to carry out their vital functions. It was also critical to protect diplomats from harmful acts by non-State actors. Her country put an emphasis on enhanced security training and good personal security practices to help mitigate the risks that its personnel faced every day. However, prevention was also facilitated by collaboration, and United States embassies overseas often worked with local law enforcement and other authorities to prepare for eventualities. “All of us in this room have a stake in diplomatic protection,” she said, but the world also had a stake in it because diplomacy was the foundation of international relations.
ISAÍAS ARTURO MEDINA MEJÍAS (Venezuela) associating himself with CELAC and the statement to be made by the Non-Aligned Movement, said that he was aware of the importance of strict compliance with the Conventions that protected diplomatic and consular officials. In Venezuela, the protection of diplomatic and consular agents was considered a highly relevant issue and the country had intensified its communication and cooperation in the matter. Citizen security entities were charged with providing protection to diplomatic missions and consulates while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs served as liaisons.
HECTOR ENRIQUE CELARIE LANDAVERDE (El Salvador) said it was crucial to highlight that all States party to the Vienna Convention should fulfil the provisions of that instrument, including the provision that stipulated that measures should be taken to protect diplomatic missions from intrusion or damage. He underlined that the provision assumed an obligation to improve security. That did not mean just adopting legislation, but also prosecuting illicit acts. El Salvador had created mechanisms to provide necessary protections, and had the cooperation of its national civil police. He also said that his country had recognized that challenges remained and was supportive of ongoing discussion.
SEMHAR PATROS (Eritrea) said that diplomats attending multilateral forums should not face targeting or any form of intimidation. States should adhere to the Vienna Convention. Expressing concern over Member States that violated the sanctity of consular and diplomatic missions, she stressed that peaceful cooperation should be enhanced. It was essential to diplomats that their functions were facilitated with all appropriate measures in order to fulfil their mandates, free of obstruction, fear and harm.
MOHAMED N. ALSUBAIE (Saudi Arabia) called for enhancing measures to protect the safety and security of diplomatic agents. His country had taken many security measures to do that, whether in the capital or other cities. Furthermore, it had established a permanent commission to ensure the safety of diplomatic premises and all diplomatic and consular officials. Condemning recent aggressions against diplomatic officials in Teheran and Mashhad, he called them “glaring violations” of the Vienna Conventions, as well as international law. He also called on all States who had not yet acceded to relevant international instruments to take every step to accede to those.
JI XIAOXUE (China) said that in recent years, Chinese embassies and consulates in several countries had suffered harassment, and even terrorist attacks, resulting in various degrees of damage. She condemned such acts and called upon all countries to continue to step up the protection of diplomatic and consular missions and representatives, as well as bring perpetrators to justice. Her country had adopted domestic legislations such as regulations on diplomatic privileges and immunities, among others, in order to provide comprehensive and high-level safety and security to diplomatic and consular missions and representatives stationed in China. At the same time, she reiterated that such protection could not be taken as license to abuse those privileges and immunities.
MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco) condemned any attack on a mission, adding that States must provide protection for their diplomatic and consular premises and staff. In recent times, attacks had been reported, and there had been threats and intimidation of diplomats, which was unacceptable. He underscored that the archive, diplomatic bag and communications must be respected. One of Morocco’s priorities, he noted, was to protect diplomatic and consular missions and their staff, who were to be fully respected. Relations between States should not forget the provisions of the Vienna Conventions, even if there was tension between them.
SEYED ALI MOUSANI (Iran), outlining the incidents at the Saudi Arabian embassy in Mashhad and Tehran in January, said that, following the news of the execution of Ayatollah Sheikh Bagher Nimr Al-Nimr, the prominent religious leader, there was an emotional outburst, as many found that action inhuman and unjustifiable. Necessary practical measures and security and law enforcement was increased substantially in front of the premises of the Consulate General in Mashhad and the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran. Despite such efforts, the spontaneous reaction by a crowd did cause some damages, and necessary arrangements were made for all Saudi diplomats to leave the country. He underscored that Saudi agents were provided facilities to take care of the archives and documents left at the diplomatic and consular premises. Furthermore, necessary arrangements were put in place to advance the prosecution of those persons involved in inflicting damage to the Saudi premises in Mashad and Tehran. As well, a formal request was sent to the Saudi Government to grant access to the Iranian Judiciary to carry out an on-site visit to the premises to complete the investigation process. Lastly, he underscored that Iran was determined to take all efforts need to hold responsible those involved in the incident.
Right of Reply
The representative of Ukraine, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his Government was committed to follow all its obligations regarding the protection of diplomatic officials and missions. Condemning the situation that had taken place at the Russian Federation’s embassy, he added that it would be investigated and those responsible for that would be brought to account. However, he also noted that since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, there had been “a massive number of attacks” against Ukrainian diplomatic missions and, in the past one year, there had been several attacks in Moscow, including on the Ukrainian cultural centre, which also had diplomatic immunity.
Introduction to Report
GASTON KENFACK DOUAJNI (Cameroon), Chair of the forty-ninth session of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) said that the Commission had finalized and adopted three texts on secured transactions, arbitration and online dispute resolution. It had also heard progress reports from its Working Groups, deliberated on the technical assistance and coordination activities carried out by its Secretariat, and discussed the role of the Commission in promoting the rule of law.
He also noted that the Commission adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions, which dealt with security interests in tangible and intangible movable property. The Model Law was intended to address the main problem of secured transactions laws around the world. It included a set of Model Registry Provisions, which dealt with the registration of notices of security interests in a publicly accessible registry. The Law was expected to have a positive impact on the availability and cost of credit, especially for micro-, small- and medium- sized enterprises in developing countries, as well as assist market inclusion and alleviate poverty, he said.
The Commission had adopted the second edition of the UNCITRAL Notes on Organizing Arbitral Proceedings, which were prepared with a focus on international arbitration, he went on to say. It was intended to be used in a general and universal manner, regardless of whether the arbitration was administered on an ad hoc basis or by an arbitral institution. He stressed that the Notes did not seek to promote any practice as best practice, but rather serve as a useful reference.
He noted that the Committee had also adopted its first instrument in the settlement of online disputes, as part of Working Group III, whose objective was to develop a document describing the essential elements of a settlement process online arising from international sales contracts or services involving small amounts. The document of technical notes on the settlement of online disputes offered an answer to the growing need for mechanisms to resolve such disputes, and helped users of such mechanisms, whether practitioners or litigants.
He added that Working Group I on Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized enterprises, which aimed at reducing the legal obstacles encountered by such businesses, had made progress in recognizing their importance in the global economy, and in particular, in the economies of developing countries. The Group was preparing a legislative guide to assist States in crafting an appropriate legal framework for the fast and inexpensive creation of legally-recognized simplified businesses. Working Group II, which focused on dispute settlement, had embarked on the preparation of an instrument to deal with the enforcement of international commercial settlement agreements resulting from conciliation.
In the field of electronic commerce, he added, Working Group IV had made progress in preparing a Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records facilitating the dematerialization of key commercial documents such as bills of lading, promissory notes, bills of exchange and warehouse receipts. Cloud computing, identity management and trust services had been identified as future topics for that Working Group. Continuing to address several topics relating to cross-border insolvency, Working Group V was developing a draft legislative text that provided innovative solutions to assist and facilitate the conduct of such insolvencies.
The Commission, he added, had reaffirmed the existing mandates for five of the Working Groups and had decided not to undertake any new legislative activity in addition to those in the coming year. Turning to technical assistance, he added that while support activities to ensure the effective use of UNCITRAL’s texts were an important part of the Commission’s work, the financial resources for such activities were limited. He appealed to all States, international organizations and other stakeholders to consider making contributions to the Trust Fund for that purpose.
He also spoke on a number of other areas, including the subject of technical assistance and coordination, noting that support activities to ensure the effective implementation and use of UNCITRAL texts constituted an important pillar of the Commission’s work. However, financial resources were limited and dependent on the contributions of Member States. He appealed to States, international organizations and other stakeholders to make contributions to the Trust Fund for that purpose.
He then turned his remarks to the promotion of ways and means of ensuring a uniform interpretation and application of UNCITRAL legal texts. As a means of promoting ways to ensure a uniform interpretation and application of UNCITRAL legal texts, the Commission had noted with appreciation the increasing volume of materials available in the CLOUT (Case Law on UNCITRAL texts) database. CLOUT was an important tool that would need further resources to sustain it, he said, appealing to all States to assist in its funding.
He noted that States around the world were increasingly looking to UNCITRAL texts when reforming or modernizing their international trade law regimes. The Commission also took note of actions taken by States on UNCITRAL texts, which included signature or ratification of treaties and adoption of model laws. While many were based on States’ initiatives, many others were facilitated through assistance from the UNCITRAL Secretariat.
Pointing out that UNCITRAL would be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next year, he said that the Commission and its Working Groups had developed highly effective working methods and a negotiation culture that was most efficient and inclusive. In that way, he emphasized, UNCITRAL had been faithfully pursuing its mandate of progressively harmonizing and modernizing international trade law.
NAPOLEON BERAS (Dominican Republic), speaking for CELAC, said the success of UNCITRAL as the core legal body of the United Nations system in that sector, was linked to its inclusive nature, especially developing countries, and improved conditions conducive to the extensive development of international trade. Those inclusive working methods since this harmonization, unification and progressive development guaranteed international trade law, respect for the principal of the sovereign equality of States, and given the texts emanating from it, a worldwide acceptance.
He also said he supported including the reform of the investor-State dispute settlement system in the Commission’s future work agenda. It would be timely to consider the issue at a multilateral level to avoid the development of a fragmented system. The challenges facing the United Nations as it codified international trade law were increasing over time as the volume of global trade increased, technology evolved and business activities became more diversified. The Commission’s work should go along with the dynamics of trade activities as closely as possible. “We know and are aware that the challenge is not simple; trade activities exceed in speed our efforts of codification,” he said. Progress made would help establish clear rules to ease the exchange of goods and services.
YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with CELAC, commended the Working Groups for carrying out their important work and noted her country was participating actively in the work of the Commission. Highlighting the intensive work being done by the Commission in areas such as online dispute resolution, which had taken on great importance in the era of globalization, she added that the General Assembly had recognized the many benefits of the use of conciliation. Honduras was a signatory of the relevant Model Laws as well as the relevant conventions, and had launched a national economic development programme which was seeking to double the number of jobs in strategic areas of production over the next five years.
NATALIE Y. MORRIS-SHARMA (Singapore) said that her country, while actively promoting the harmonization of trade laws on the basis of UNCITRAL instruments, supported the decision to give priority to the current work of Working Group II on Dispute Resolution for the preparation of an instrument addressing enforcement of international commercial settlement of agreements resulting from conciliation. She was encouraged by progress made by Working Group V on the draft model law on recognition and enforcement of insolvency-related judgements and on steps taken to ensure coordination with the work of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. She said she looked forward to Working Group VI’s completion of a guide to enactment for the Model Law on Secured Transactions.Read More
By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2016 – Globalization is a process as old as humanity itself.
It goes in fits and starts and probably began when one tribe of homo sapiens explored new territory and found another set of homo sapiens already living there. That exchange of commerce, culture, ideas and views was the beginning of the globalization process.
Globalization affects everything and it is inherently neither good nor bad — it just is. The difference today, as opposed to the days of sail or steam, is the speed of globalization. Ideas, capital and culture move at Internet speeds today. The tyranny of distance has evaporated and more than 3 billion people on the globe have access to the information and opportunities of the Web.
It is no surprise that globalization also affects threats — requiring new looks, new strategies and new tactics. Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly spoken about “transnational and transregional threats.” He says threats that once could be isolated to a specific country have now routinely spread across the national and regional boundaries.
Dunford cites North Korea as an example, saying that once a conflict on the Korean Peninsula could be isolated to that area. Today, that is no longer the case, and if North Korea initiated conflict, it would quickly spread to include the capabilities of U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command.
The continent of Africa puts substance to this. Africa is a huge, diverse continent with some long-established nations but with most still in the process of forming, Amanda J. Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, said in a recent interview.
Developing Transregional Strategies
The newest combatant command — U.S. Africa Command that stood up in 2007 — finds itself at the forefront of this effort to develop transregional strategies.
“The ingredient for success in dealing with transnational, transregional threats is all about the network of partners you build to deal with them,” Dory said.
Africom works with the nations of the continent individually and encourages the nations to act together, she said.
“There’s nothing that stays in the boundary of a country anymore,” said former U.S. Africa Command commander Army Gen. David Rodriguez in an interview earlier this year. “All of the threats end up being regional and transregional in nature … .”
He added, “In addition to ‘regionalizing’ [the effort] on the African continent, we ‘internationalize’ it with the other partners — the European Union, France, the U.K., the Italians.”
The command coordinates the efforts as much as it can, “and we look at the gaps and see where we can fill them in,” Rodriguez said.
The current commander sees things much the same way. “Ethnic strife, poverty, mass atrocities and illicit trafficking threaten stability and economic growth, particularly in nations with weak governments,” said Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month. “Consequently, Africom must continue to work with national and international partners to disrupt these transnational threats and prevent the export of terror on the continent, in the region and ultimately to our homeland.”
“If you parse the idea of transregional threats, what we are seeing are the attacks that are happening on state sovereignty coming from a variety of different directions,” Dory said.
Technical advances shared via globalization means sovereign states have more challenges to deal with than they did in the past either in economic competition or in security. “In Africa the challenge you have is with sovereign states whose sovereignty came so recently,” Dory said. “They have the huge challenge of creating effective governance structures in the globalized context.”
The threats are constantly shifting and the ability of individuals and small organizations to penetrate borders easily is problematic and will be for decades to come, Dory said.
Therefore, “the security piece has to progress in tandem with governance development,” she said.
States where security is overemphasized tend to smother public participation and democratic process, Dory said.
This is the question, she said, that the U.S. government asks partners in Africa. “What is it we can do as external partners to keep both of those moving in parallel?” Dory said.
This must start with the political will of individual countries, she said, but the Department of Defense including U.S. Africa Command can do a lot to help the process along.
The effort is paying off, Dory said. In September last year, Burkino Faso faced a military coup. It failed. The coup failed, she said, because the Burkinabe people didn’t accept it, and second, because the regional countries and organizations such as ECOWAS and the African Union brought pressure on the coup leaders. Banding together to say the coup was unacceptable helped turn the tide, Dory said.
“The [AU] organization is essentially saying, in regards to coups, we believe in the voice of the people and this is not acceptable in our membership,” Dory said. “The AU amplifies international laws and norms and that has a huge impact.”
Another example was the presidential election in Nigeria. “Predictions were that it would go poorly, that it would be hijacked, there would be tremendous amounts of violence,” Dory said. “None of that came to pass and you had a peaceful transfer of power from one party to a different one for the first time. Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief. So did the region. It was an example of transfer of power to an opposition party not seen often.”
The real need in Africa is the need for strategic patience, whether it’s the need for security engagements or economic and governance cooperation, Dory said.
“[In the U.S.] We measure things in four-year timescales because that’s relevant to our democratic process,” she said. “That doesn’t work well with the support we are providing in Africa and many other areas of the world. Decades would be a better timescale.”
Multinational Joint Task Force
Africom has worked diligently with the African Union, and that, too, is paying off, Dory said. “Organizations like the African Union have really come into their own,” she said. The AU is working with many African nations to identify problems and build security capabilities.
The AU is also working closely with sub-regional groupings. The most recent success is with respect to combating Boko Haram by establishing a Multinational Joint Task Force in N’Djamena, Chad, Dory said. The nations involved are Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Benin and Niger.
The impetus, she said, was the rise of the deadly terrorist group in Nigeria and its spillover into neighboring countries. “The region, when faced with the threat of Boko Haram … began the diplomatic process to repair some badly damaged relations,” Dory said. “It is no secret that Nigeria and Cameroon in particular had long-standing grievances and territorial disputes, but both realized that the current threat environment required them to work together.”
A Nigerian commander currently leads the organization and the headquarters creates a location where the international community can plug in to provide support, Dory said. Along with the AU, the United Kingdom, France and the United States work with the task force to provide practical support — advice, information, intelligence and some equipment.
“You have a transnational community coming together to deal with a transnational threat — a network to deal with a network,” Dory said.
Success breeds success, and Dory said she’d like to see more of this type of cooperation on the continent. It will be needed to oppose not only Boko Haram, she said, but also the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya.
It will also help nations establish control over ungoverned or weakly governed areas on the continent, she said, and it will also help nations benefit from the accelerated pace of globalization.
The benefits of globalization far outweigh the debits, said Dory, noting that’s true in the United States and it is also true in Africa. But its pace and complexity require the development of adaptive strategies and consistent implementation by the U.S. and African partners alike, she said.
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Interesting to note that at the height of the CAR crisis, Muslims were driven from the country en masse in an apparent campaign of ethnic cleansing. “Pope Francis will make his first trip to Africa in November, for a six-day visit that will take him to three countries, the Vatican said Thursday. The pope will visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic from Nov. 25-30, an itinerary that extends his practice of focusing his international travel on the developing world. Pope Francis has made poverty and the inequities of globalization major themes of his pontificate and is likely to address those topics during his African visit… Pope Francis’ visit to the CAR will take place a month after scheduled general elections, the first since 2011. Since that time, the country has been wracked by civil war between government forces and several rebel groups. The government still lacks control of the entire country.” (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/1ODSRx3 )
Iran Deal Survives Congressional Test…The Senate failed to advance a motion to disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal, saving President Obama from having to cast a veto. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1ODQdYc)
Cool finding of the day: Scientists say they’ve discovered a new member of the human family tree, revealed by a huge trove of bones in a barely accessible, pitch-dark chamber of a cave in South Africa. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JZoikq)
Stat of the day: More than 80 percent of the 120 million Africans using Facebook access the site through their mobile phones, the social media group said Thursday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q4dDq7)
Intriguing Film Plot Starring Danny Glover of the Day….U.S. actor Danny Glover said Thursday that he is in Nigeria to star in a movie based on people who risked and sacrificed their lives to stop the spread of Ebola in Africa’s most populous country. (AP http://bit.ly/1ODR2jB)
South Sudan’s parliament unanimously voted on Thursday to adopt a peace deal agreed last month by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, amid mounting pressure for both sides to lay down their arms. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JXMukR)
The World Food Program says it is scaling up aid for hundreds of thousands of hungry people, many severely malnourished, who have fled to Chad, Niger and Cameroon to escape attacks by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria. (VOA http://bit.ly/1ODfa66)
The International Criminal Court on Thursday unsealed, or made public, arrest warrants against two Kenyan men for “corruptly influencing witnesses” in the east African nation. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1NrWetI)
A new report by UNICEF says the majority of Nigerian children suffer violent abuse. The report says that for some kids, the abuse starts before their fifth birthday. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UEC6ZD)
Ghanaian authorities on Wednesday suspended 22 junior judges accused of bribery after they were captured on video, the Judicial secretary said in a statement. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1JXMwsV)
Guinea Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz dismissed his two-day-old cabinet on Wednesday after the Supreme Court ruled that his appointment of a new prime minister was unconstitutional, a presidential decree said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Q4dCT8)
Bulldozers, homes in ruins, anger: after years of war the people of Goma in eastern DR Congo now are bearing the brunt of moves to clear a neutral zone on the border with Rwanda to prevent further conflict. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Q4e6sa)
Isolated flare-ups of Ebola may point to a higher risk of transmission via the semen of male survivors than previously thought, undermining hopes of ending West Africa’s deadly outbreak by the end of the year. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1NrWclA)
Somalia may be wracked by conflict, politically fragile and braced for potentially devastating floods, but Abdusalam Omer believes it is ripe for foreign investment. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1UEC8AX)
Organisers of mass protests in Lebanon over trash festering in the streets said Thursday the government’s long-awaited plan to deal with the crisis is too vague and does not meet their demands. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JXMAJg)
The influx of refugees to Europe was triggered in part by donors taking the “cheap option” and not giving enough aid to displaced Syrians in Middle Eastern asylum countries, the head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan said in an interview. (AP http://yhoo.it/1JXO1Yh)
A flood of desperate refugees and images of a toddler lying dead on a beach have thrown Syria’s chaos into stark relief, but global powers are still far from seeing eye-to-eye on a solution to the conflict. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ODfJN8)
Russia flies both military equipment and humanitarian aid to Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Q4e4R8)
Tens of thousands of people were ordered to flee homes across Japan on Thursday as heavy rain pounded the country, sending radiation-tainted waters into the ocean at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1MercFD)
Two Nepalese maids who alleged they were beaten and raped by a Saudi diplomat in India were taken to a women’s shelter in Nepal on Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1LZS6On)
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday urged voters to opt for “real change” and back her party in the first general election since the end of military rule, as she took her campaign into the backyard of a close presidential ally. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1ODfLVj)
Cambodia has agreed to take more refugees from an Australian detention center on the island of Nauru, giving a boost to a $40 million resettlement deal that so far has been widely seen as an expensive failure for Australia. (VOA http://bit.ly/1UEC9Vt)
Bangladesh has arrested three members of an Islamist group, including its leader, for their alleged involvement in the killings of online critics of religious militancy, a spokesman for a Bangladesh security unit said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1LZTjW3)
After months of trying to shore up Brazil’s public finances, President Dilma Rousseff now faces political and business pressure to ease up on painful austerity measures in a country long hooked on the helping hand of a big state. (VOA http://bit.ly/1ODfd1E)
Presidential campaigning began in Haiti Wednesday, where 54 candidates are vying for the top office amid heightened criticism of the country’s electoral commission. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Mer9cJ)
USA to take in 10,000 Syrian Refugees next year. (BBC http://bbc.in/1ODQs5r)
Pope Francis is expected to focus on the need for peace in a conflict-torn world facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War II when he addresses the United Nations later this month, the Holy See said Wednesday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1ODfFwO)
A potent mix of fear, ignorance and Islamophobia is fuelling widespread opposition in eastern Europe to taking in refugees despite EU pressure for a new quota system. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JXO9XC)
Danish police will no longer try to stop migrants and refugees from transiting through the country to get to Sweden and other Nordic countries, the police chief said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/1MerVXm)
As if fear, hunger, thirst, worry and exhaustion were not enough to endure, new trials emerged Thursday for those on the 1,000 mile-plus trek into Europe: torrential rains and thick mud. (AP http://yhoo.it/1Mes0u8)
Finland’s government on Thursday proposed increasing capital gains tax and income tax on high earners to help pay for a 10-fold increase in refugees expected to arrive this year, its finance minister said. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Q4dD9B)
EU member Hungary recorded on Thursday a new record number of migrants entering the country with 3,321 refugees crossing the border from Serbia in the past 24 hours, police said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1ODh1rn)
Sweden will increase spending on better integrating immigrants into the labor market and increase compensation for municipalities where refugees settle, the government said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1Q4dB1s)
A record-breaking influx of refugees could help ease Germany’s skills shortage and companies should start training programs for asylum-seekers to speed up integration, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MetXXf)
Why is it so hard to prioritize development goals? (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1Nsei73)
Why do countries REALLY build border fences? The answer may surprise you. (Global Dispatches Podcast http://bit.ly/1UJbzFn)
What has the United Nations ever done for women? (Guardian http://bit.ly/1NrVyVb)
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SECRETARY KERRY: (Applause.) Well, good afternoon, President Yeom. Thank you very much for a generous introduction. Distinguished guests, all, I’m delighted to be here and I want to thank the university, and particularly Park No-young, the Director of the Cyber Law Center, for inviting me to be here today. Thank you very, very much.
I also want to acknowledge somewhere – I don’t see him – but my friend, the ambassador from the United States of America – there he is right in front of me – Mark Lippert, who represents the United States here in Seoul. And he’s a special person. I’ve known him for a long time. He served in the United States Navy. He served in Afghanistan and served for the President, been an advisor to several presidents. But recently, as you all know, he displayed great grace and dignity under duress, and like all of our diplomats, whose jobs carry with them certain risks on the front lines of diplomacy, I will tell you that Mark has never wavered from his determination to do his job and to represent our country to the best of his ability – which, believe me, he does. So I’m grateful for his leadership. And, Mark, thank you for the great example you’re setting.
I’m really happy to be back here in Seoul. This is a beautiful city, and I’m struck every time I come here. I wish I had more time. Time is the enemy of those of us in diplomacy nowadays. But the United States and South Korea share a very special history, obviously, and we also share great hopes for the future. And I am very happy to be here to talk about our shared interests, though it will not just be, President Yeom, about the security; it will be about the internet itself, which is important as we think about security. It’s also, obviously, very critical as we think about the many interests that we share together, ranging from security on the Korean Peninsula, to the success of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, to the many connections that exist between the Korean and the American peoples – including, I want you to know, a love for Psy, K-Pop, bibimbap, and Pororo, the little penguin. (Laughter.) I want you to know that my staff recommended that I walk out here this afternoon, dancing to Gangnam Style – but I told them no, that’s too 2012.
Today, it’s really more than appropriate to be here in the most wired city in the country, one of the most wired cities in the world, in order to speak with you about digital technology and about the fears and the possibilities that we associate with digital technology. And let me underscore: It’s the possibilities that should motivate us, and it’s the possibilities that bring me here today.
Now, years ago, South Korea made a conscious choice to become a global IT leader and you have delivered. As a society, you opened the door to investment, you encouraged households to sign up for broadband, you eased the transition to new technology, and you developed programs in universities just like this one to educate young people in digital skills. And I applaud you for the remarkable linkage to the military and the security side of it with the offer that you make to students who will come here, learn, and then go on to serve the country in the military for those seven years.
Today, thanks in part to President Park’s commitment to build a, quote, “creative economy,” the ROK is a virtual synonym for Internet success stories, such as the educational network service ClassTing; or the Kakao, your messenger app which is one of the fastest-growing tech firms in all of Asia; and GRobotics, a company which has revolutionized the robot industry and, incredibly, it was originally conceived by an amazing 11-year-old child. Just two weeks ago, Ambassador Lippert joined President Park at the opening of the Google Campus for startups and entrepreneurs right here in Seoul – an initiative designed to spur the exchange of ideas and digital growth in both of our countries. Now, both of our nations know and view the internet and cyber issues as part of a new frontier for our governments and peoples, and it will be one of the key areas discussed when our two presidents meet in in Washington in June.
The fact is, whichever side of the Pacific Ocean we live on, the internet today is part of almost everything that we do. And just to tell you how amazing it is, I served in the United States Senate on the Commerce Committee in 1996. I was chairman of the Communications Subcommittee when we rewrote the communications law for our country. And guess what? Barely anybody in 1996 was talking about data, and data transformation, and data management. It was all about telephony – the telephone. That’s how far we’ve traveled in 20 years.
So it matters to all of us how the technology is used and how it’s governed. That is precisely why the United States considers the promotion of an open and secure internet to be a key component of our foreign policy. It’s why we want to work with you and with international partners everywhere in order to better understand the choices that we face in managing this extraordinary resource – a resource which does present us with certain challenges even as it presents us with unprecedented opportunities.
Now, what do I mean by that?
Well, to begin with, America believes – as I know you do – that the internet should be open and accessible to everyone. We believe it should be interoperable, so it can connect seamlessly across international borders. We believe people are entitled to the same rights of free expression online as they possess offline. We believe countries should work together to deter and respond effectively to online threats. And we believe digital policy should seek to fulfill the technology’s potential as a vehicle for global stability and sustained economic development; as an innovative way to enhance the transparency of governments and hold governments accountable; and also as a means for social empowerment that is also the most democratic form of public expression ever invented.
At its best, the internet is an equal-opportunity platform from which the voice of a student can have as much reach as that of a billionaire; a chief executive may be able to be out-debated by an entry-level employee – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most users of the internet agree, on the internet as in any other venue, the human rights of every person – including freedom of expression – should be protected and respected. The United Nations has repeatedly affirmed this view, but as we know, it is still not universally held. That means that we will continue to have important choices to make – important choices to make locally, to make in universities, to make in businesses, to make in countries, and between countries. We will have a lot of choices about technology among and between nations.
Let me tell you something: How we choose begins with what we believe. And what we believe about the internet hinges to a great extent on how we feel, each and every one of us, about freedom.
Freedom. The United States believes strongly in freedom – in freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of choice. But particularly, this is important with respect to freedom of expression, and you believe in that freedom of expression here in Korea. We want that right for ourselves and we want that right for others even if we don’t agree always with the views that others express. We understand that freedom of expression is not a license to incite imminent violence. It’s not a license to commit fraud. It’s not a license to indulge in libel, or sexually exploit children. No. But we do know that some governments will use any excuse that they can find to silence their critics and that those governments have responded to the rise of the internet by stepping up their own efforts to control what people read, see, write, and say.
This is truly a point of separation in our era – now, in the 21st century. It’s a point of separation between governments that want the internet to serve their citizens and those who seek to use or restrict access to the internet in order to control their citizens.
Here in the Asia Pacific, we see countries such as the ROK and Japan that are among the world’s leaders in internet access, while North Korea is at the exact opposite end of that spectrum, with the lowest rate of access in the world and the most rigid and centralized control.
No other government is as extreme as the DPRK, but there are more than a few who want to harvest the economic benefits of the internet while nevertheless closing off the avenues of political, social, and religious expression. They impose filters that eliminate broad categories of what their citizens can see and receive and transmit – and with whom ideas may be changed and shared. What’s more, the governments that have pioneered the repressive use of such technologies are quick to export their tools and methods to others, and thereby further diminish individual rights. At the same time, some governments are using the internet to track down activists and journalists who write something that they don’t like, and even reach beyond their borders in order to intimidate their critics.
My friends, this discourages free expression and it clearly seems intended to turn their part of the internet into a graveyard for new ideas – the exact opposite of what it should be, a fertile field where such ideas can blossom and grow.
Let’s be clear: Every government has a responsibility to provide security for its citizens. Yes. We all agree with that. In the United States, our efforts to do so – and the reforms that we have undertaken in the process – have been guided by our concern for individual rights and our commitment to oversight and review. Further, unlike many, we have taken steps to respect and safeguard the privacy of the citizens of other countries and to use the information that we do collect solely to address the very specific threat to the United States and to our allies. We don’t use security concerns as an excuse to suppress criticisms of our policies or to give a competitive advantage to an American company and any commercial interests at all.
Now, regrettably, it is no coincidence that many of the governments that have a poor record on internet freedom also have a questionable commitment to human rights more generally. United States policy has always been to engage with such governments to encourage reforms and to point out the contributions to prosperity that would flow from a more open approach. Regimes that practice repression typically argue that they have no obligation to justify what they do inside their own borders, but that assertion is directly contradicted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by many other multilateral declarations and statements.
The fact is, an individual’s aspiration to be free may be the most single powerful force on Earth. It’s an aspiration that may be able to be slowed sometimes, maybe intimidated sometimes, it may even be eliminated temporarily by violence in certain cases. But I’m telling you its power within the human soul is so infectious that it will always resurface in one form or another, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.
And history – history has proven that again and again and again. Throughout history, we have seen that men and women will do whatever it takes to find a way to make their desire for freedom known. We saw that with the authors of the pamphlets that helped to spark the revolution that gave birth to my home country in the 1700s. We saw it with the dissidents writing newsletters and producing radio broadcasts behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. And we see it today, in places all over the world, where young people are challenging injustice – armed only with their smart phones.
The internet is, among many other things, an instrument of freedom. It’s a tool people resort to in response to the absence and failure or abuse of government. So of course, some leaders are afraid of it. They’re afraid of the internet in the same way that their predecessors were afraid of newspapers, books, and the radio, but even more so because in this case, because of the interactivity that allows for a free-flowing discussion and the exchange of views – activities that can, and often do, lead to change.
I say to you today, here at Korea University, that fear is misplaced, and that response is, in the end, futile. Anyone who blames the internet for the disorder or turmoil in today’s world is just not using their head to connect the dots correctly. And banning the internet in a misguided attempt to impose order will never succeed in quashing the universal desire for freedom.
Ladies and gentlemen, repression does not eliminate the speech we hate. It just forces it into other avenues – avenues that often can become more dangerous than the speech itself that people are fighting. The remedy for the speech that we do not like is more speech. It’s the credible voices of real people that must not only be enabled, but they need to be amplified.
The good news is that much of the world understands this. More and more of the world understands this. And the advocates of internet freedom and openness are speaking up. The United States is part of the Freedom Online Coalition, a 26-country group that we are actively seeking to expand. The coalition argues that narrow and distorted visions of the internet cannot be allowed to prevail. Freedom must win out over censorship. That is an important principle, but it is also a practical imperative. After all, from the dawn of history to the present day, repression hasn’t invented a thing. Freedom is how jobs are created, diseases are cured, alternative energy is harnessed, and new ways are found to feed a global population that has quadrupled in the past century and that will rise to some 9 billion people in the next 40 to 50 years. Without freedom, civilization can’t advance; it’s like a bicycle without pedals.
Remember that the internet is not just another sector of our economy. Like electricity, it is a general purpose technology that is used in thousands of different ways, streamlining everything from buying a cup of coffee to building a skyscraper. Consider what would happen if someone tried to block the flow of electricity – the lights would go out and everything would stop. In fact, when I was a lot younger, Hollywood made a movie about exactly that; it was called “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” And thank heavens they made a couple more of them so you can’t tell exactly which one I’m referring to. (Laughter.) Now, you might want to watch it, because policies that restrict online data streams have a similar effect, if perhaps not quite so dramatic.
Think, for example, of what would take place if every country imposed data localization requirements, causing information to halt and to undergo inspection whenever it reached a national border. Imagine what would happen to commerce and to the flow of information, to the simple effort to get an answer to a question at a dinner table when you’re talking with people and you want to Google something. The delays would create huge obstacles to multinational business at a time when speed is of the essence and cross-border enterprises are major engines of growth. That’s not a formula for progress; it’s a way to stop progress in its tracks.
The internet provides broadly-shared connections that are essential for modern economies to be able to grow. It’s that simple. It can help people even in remote areas take advantage of government services and make a better business decision, for example. Let me give you an example. It could make a difference to people about when you bring your crops to the market or how do you find international customers for local projects.
With digital technology, fishermen in Mozambique can keep their catch fresh in the water until they have a buyer, somewhere in another continent maybe, thus eliminating spoilage and waste.
Shopkeepers in sub-Saharan Africa have seen their incomes actually grow by using mobile banking technology to avoid local loan sharks and go directly to reputable financial institutions for emergency credit and loans.
The system becomes more accountable and more transparent and more accessible. Women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia have formed cooperatives online that enable them to take advantage of economies of scale.
Children from Angola to India are learning more and faster through education that comes to them over the internet.
And a couple of years ago, a young engineer from Cameroon developed a computer tablet called “Cardiopad” that enables Africans to be able to have a heart examination at home and receive the diagnosis from doctors who may be hundreds of miles away. Think about that.
The examples are endless, but you get the point. I know. The internet fuels innovation that can lead to improved efficiency, improved productivity in every sector of a developing economy.
But in thinking about the internet’s promise, you have to recognize how far that potential is from being fulfilled today. Roughly three out of every five people in the world today remain without internet access – and in the poorest countries that figure can top 95 percent.
A big part of the reason is simply cost. Ask yourself: How much of your family’s income do you pay for internet access? In America, the average is 1 or 2 percent. But a typical family in some countries have to pay 10 percent for entry-level mobile broadband and roughly four times that for fixed broadband. In other words, people with low incomes can’t afford digital access. They need to earn more money. To break that circle of despair, we need to bring the costs down by getting public policies right – because money isn’t the only barrier.
There’s a reason why access is relatively high in Colombia but low in Venezuela. There’s a reason why it’s high in Malaysia but low in Cambodia; a reason why it’s high in Rwanda but low in Ethiopia. Some governments do much more than others to facilitate access for people in poor or remote areas. And the starting point is for every country to have a clear and comprehensive national broadband plan that allows for private investment, encourages competition, removes bureaucratic obstacles, and takes full advantage of shared internet services at schools, libraries, community centers, and cafes.
That’s why two years ago the United States helped create the Alliance for Affordable Internet. This broad coalition draws on expertise from governments, the private sector, and civil society to assist policy makers in expanding access while keeping prices low. It’s the right goal, and I’ll tell you, it’s also a smart goal. According to one recent European study, tripling mobile broadband penetration levels across the developing world would provide a return of as much as $17 for every $1 spent.
About 10 days ago, when I was in Kenya, I Skyped, using the internet, with a group of young Somali refugees. Most of these refugees were high school or college age kids, and yet – and yet, extraordinarily, many of them had never, ever been outside that refugee camp – ever. This, in an era of incredible globalization – they had only lived in one refugee camp. The students I spoke to wanted desperately to be able to complete their schooling. They wanted to find a job. They wanted to go on to university. They wanted to begin a career. One young woman, who is studying chemistry and biology, told me she hoped to become a doctor. Now, I’m willing to bet you that she’s never been inside a hospital. But that’s what she wanted to do – become a doctor. The irony is that, at the refugee camp, they have internet connections. Now, I can’t help but wonder whether that will be the case when they return to Somalia.
If there is any message that is going to be sent to governments by young people in the world today, it is the desire – the universal desire – for jobs, for opportunity, for education, for a future. That’s what people want. It’s what every family in the world really wants. No one is asking to be censored. No one is yearning to be told what to think and how to live. The same desires that helped South Korea embrace democracy are what sparked the beginnings of the Arab Spring; they’re what kept the pro-democracy movement alive through two decades of dictatorship in Burma; and they’re what prompted the voters of Sri Lanka and Nigeria to flock to the polls in recent months and cast their ballots for change.
So looking to the future, we have to respond to this demand for openness and opportunity by making steady progress toward closing the digital divide. And with that goal in mind, the United States State Department will soon launch a new diplomatic initiative – in combination with partner countries, development banks, engineers, and industry leaders – and we’re going to do just that: try to make it more available. You may be sure that we will be inviting your government and other representatives from this highly-connected country to help us lead and guide this effort. Because this will define the future. And this is the way we’ll address violent extremism, and failing states.
So this brings me to another issue that should concern us all, and that is governance – because even a technology founded on freedom needs rules to be able to flourish and work properly. We understand that. Unlike many models of government that are basically top-down, the internet allows all stakeholders – the private sector, civil society, academics, engineers, and governments – to all have seats at the table. And this multi-stakeholder approach is embodied in a myriad of institutions that each day address internet issues and help digital technology to be able to function.
The versatility of the current approach enables it to move both with deliberation and care on complex issues and, frankly, much more rapidly on situations that demand a rapid response. For example, we saw the community respond to the 2007 cyberattacks in Estonia in a matter of hours. And as recently as last week, it responded literally in minutes to an unexpected outage of the Amsterdam exchange, which is the second-largest internet exchange point in the world.
That’s why we have to be wary of those who claim that the system is broken or who advocate replacing it with a more centralized arrangement – where governments would have a monopoly on the decision-making. That’s dangerous. Now, I don’t know what you think, but I am confident that if we were to ask any large group of internet users anywhere in the world what their preferences are, the option “leave everything to the government” would be at the absolute bottom of the list. Because of the dynamic nature of this technology, new issues are constantly on the horizon – but the multi-stakeholder approach remains the fairest and the best, most effective way to be able to resolve those challenges.
Now, as everyone knows, it’s impossible to talk about cyber policy without talking about international peace and security. You live this truth right here in South Korea, just as we do in the United States. Both of our countries have been hit by serious cyber-attacks from state and non-state actors. Worldwide, the risk and frequency of such attacks is on the increase.
America’s policy is to promote international cyber stability. The goal is to create a climate in which all states are able to enjoy the benefits of cyberspace; all have incentives to cooperate and avoid conflict; and all have good reason not to disrupt or attack one another. To achieve this, we are seeking a broad consensus on where to draw the line between responsible and irresponsible behavior.
As I’ve mentioned, the basic rules of international law apply in cyberspace. Acts of aggression are not permissible. And countries that are hurt by an attack have a right to respond in ways that are appropriate, proportional, and that minimize harm to innocent parties. We also support a set of additional principles that, if observed, can contribute substantially to conflict prevention and stability in time of peace. We view these as universal concepts that should be appealing to all responsible states, and they are already gaining traction.
First, no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages or impedes the use of another country’s critical infrastructure. Second, no country should seek either to prevent emergency teams from responding to a cybersecurity incident, or allow its own teams to cause harm. Third, no country should conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or other confidential business information for commercial gain. Fourth, every country should mitigate malicious cyber activity emanating from its soil, and they should do so in a transparent, accountable and cooperative way. And fifth, every country should do what it can to help states that are victimized by a cyberattack.
I guarantee you if those five principles were genuinely and fully adopted and implemented by countries, we would be living in a far safer and far more confident cyberworld.
But even with these principles, ensuring international cyber stability will remain a work in progress. We still have a lot of work to do to develop a truly reliable framework – based on international law – that will effectively deter violations and minimize the danger of conflict.
To build trust, the UN Group of Governmental Experts has stressed the importance of high-level communication, transparency about national policies, dispute settlement mechanisms, and the timely sharing of information – all of them, very sound and important thoughts. The bottom line is that we who seek stability and peace in cyberspace should be clear about what we expect and intend, and those who may be tempted to cause trouble should be forewarned: they will be held accountable for their actions. The United States reserves the right to use all necessary means, including economic, trade and diplomatic tools, as appropriate in order to defend our nation and our partners, our friends, our allies. The sanctions against North Korean officials earlier this year are one example of the use of such a tool in response to DPRK’s provocative, destabilizing and repressive actions, including the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures. Now, as the international community moves towards consensus about what exactly constitutes unacceptable behavior in cyberspace, more and more responsible nations need to join together to act against disruptors and rogue actors.
As we know, malicious governments are only part of the cybersecurity problem. Organized crime is active in cyberspace. So are individual con artists, unscrupulous hackers, and persons engaged in fraud. Unfortunately, the relative anonymity of the internet makes it an ideal vehicle for criminal activity – but not an excuse for working through the principles I described to finding rules of the road and working so that the internet works for everybody else. The resulting financial cost of those bad actors, the cost of cybercrime, is already enormous, but so is the loss of trust in the internet that every successful fraud or theft engenders.
And that’s precisely why the United States is working with partners on every continent to strengthen the capacity of governments to prevent cyber-crime through improved training, the right legal frameworks, information sharing, and public involvement.
The best vehicle for international cooperation in this field is the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, which my government urges every nation to consider joining. There is no better legal framework for working across borders to define what cybercrime is and how breaches of the law should be prevented and prosecuted. We also support the G-7 24/7 Network – in which South Korea is an active participant – and that enables police and prosecutors from more than 70 countries to request rapid assistance on their investigations.
The United States is also working with partners to improve network defenses and in cooperation with other countries to respond to cyber incidents. All of this is crucial, because in an interconnected system like the internet, poor cybersecurity has the potential to increase the danger for all of us. So we have to help each other. We have to maintain direct contact between our incident response teams, invest heavily in that capacity, and build that capacity so that weak spots are turned into stronger blockages against the vulnerabilities, and ultimately, they disappear.
So to sum up, I think it is clear to all of us that the internet is not like most inventions that affect a single industry, require just a few tweaks – a little adjustment here and there – and then we can all move on. That’s not what it requires. Digital technology has led us into a whole new frontier in which we have to find our way – and there are many different dimensions to it. When I was still in the United States Senate, I introduced legislation to protect the privacy rights of individuals and I still feel very strongly about that principle. And we are working to make sure we protect the privacy of people, not just in our country but in others.
As Secretary of State, I am in charge of an organization that is the target of hacking attempts every single day – and we have to defend against those. As a diplomat, I’m constantly engaged in discussions with counterparts about how to best enhance access and how to design and enforce the right rules to protect all of us.
My meetings with the private sector, the scientific community, the civil society, all bring home to me how important it is that all stakeholders have a voice in internet governance. The very essence of this technology is its freedom and its openness, and unless we bring all the stakeholders to the table, that will be lost. And something more important than all of us will be lost with it.
We cannot let that happen. Now, as I said before, obviously, the internet is not without risk – but at the end of the day, if we restricted all technology that could possibly be used for bad purposes, we’d have to revert to the Stone Age. Throughout the global community, we need to come together around principles that will establish a solid foundation for our freedoms – principles that will protect the rights of individuals, the privacy of our citizenry, and the security of our nations – all at the same time.
So I leave you with a somewhat unusual request: Keep doing what so many of you are already doing. Speak up for an open and secure internet. Defend freedom of expression. Add to South Korea’s great reputation as a leader in digital technology. In doing so, we can be absolutely confident about the future that we will shape.
And how will we know when we finally have succeeded? When an open, secure internet is as widespread as electricity or cellphone coverage itself. When it is fully integrated into everyday life in every corner of the globe. When it is no longer contested but accepted and even taken for granted. When we reach that point – believe me: Your successors will look back at all of this debate and they will wonder how could anyone have argued the other way.
My friends, if we do all of these things, if we stick by our guns, the internet revolution that we are living today will literally define the kinds of opportunities that young people all over the world are hoping for today – help strengthen governments; provide opportunity; make us safer; bring us together; and in effect, define the future of this century. That’s the goal we’re fighting for, and we look forward to working with all of you to achieve it.
Thank you.Read More