Today’s the last day at UN headquarters for Ban Ki-moon, who’s served since 2007 as Secretary-General of the United Nations. On August 17, 2012, he honored this blog by contributing a very special guest post: as we then noted, Ban’s staff gave us permission to publish in full “Remarks to the World Congress of Global Partnership for Young Women,” a speech he delivered that same week in Seoul, Republic of Korea. We are very pleased to reprint that guest post below.
What a wonderful conference.
Looking at all of you, I see the world represented. Many of you travelled long distances – from other parts of Asia, from Africa and beyond. You bring a truly global dimension to this World Congress. Welcome.
Whether you came from near or far, your journey to this Conference is part of an important trend of women standing taller and taller in the international arena.
Today I want to discuss women’s leadership from peace to development at the United Nations and around the world. I will share my vision for greater engagement. And I will tell you specifically what I am doing to accomplish that critical goal.
The story of women is about crossing frontiers, breaking boundaries and charting a new path. It is a story told in numbers, percentages and statistics. But ultimately, this is a story about people. And you are writing that story – you young women and men are the authors and the actors.
I was raised on the teachings of Confucius. He said,
‘To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order.’
As Secretary-General, I must first make women’s advancement a priority in my own “family” – that is the United Nations.
When I began my term, there had been very few women peace envoys in the history of United Nations. I set out to change this. Now we have more female envoys than ever before.
Some people ask whether a woman can command a force of thousands or tens of thousands of troops. My answer is: Watch and learn. I named women to head some of our most difficult peacekeeping operations. Our missions in Liberia, the Central African Republic and South Sudan are all led by women. In total I have appointed seven female Special Representatives.
My senior legal adviser is a woman. My most senior police official is a woman too. So is my Chef de Cabinet. I have increased senior female appointments at the level of Under-Secretary-General by 60 per cent, and at the Assistant Secretary-General level by 40 per cent.
Women are leading United Nations efforts across the board – in peacekeeping, development and human rights.
But, we want more qualified women throughout our ranks. We are working to increase female representation across our middle management.
Wherever I go, I raise the issue of women’s empowerment with governments. That is because although there has been important progress, women still do not have a strong enough voice in decision-making. Women make up just a fraction of all chief executives of the world’s biggest companies. Fewer than one in ten presidents or prime ministers are women. And less than one in five parliamentarians are women. This world statistic is reflected here in the Republic of Korea.
The lack of women’s representation – of women’s empowerment — affects individual women’s rights – and it holds back whole countries.
One recent UN study showed that limits on women’s economic participation cost the Asia-Pacific region nearly $90 billion each year in lost productivity.
That is why I am so grateful that Duksung University and UN Women decided to focus their cooperation on the UN Women Young Women’s Partnership Programme, including the Asia-Africa Programme.
Africa is a young continent. More than two thirds of all people there are under the age of 30. I have seen Africa’s youth in action. Africa’s women are driving progress. They carry crops and children … they lead peaceful demonstrations and they head governments … they win the Nobel Peace Prize and they score even greater rewards knowing they are making a difference in our world.
Gender discrimination blocks progress. Equality makes it possible to achieve huge breakthroughs.
Helping women is critical to reaching the Millennium Development Goals by the year 2015.
Women do more work for less pay than men. Women produce up to 80 per cent of all food in sub-Saharan Africa. But their households are poorer, so they spend more of their income on food. They own far less land than men.
On education, millions more girls are in primary school than before. But there are far more girls shut out of class than boys. Two thirds of the 780 million people in the world who cannot read are women.
We have made progress in driving down maternal mortality. But a woman still dies every minute and a half from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. This is a tragedy we can stop. I am spearheading a global movement called Every Woman Every Child to end these needless deaths, and to protect all children from preventable diseases.
We are moving on all fronts to invest in women so they can reach their full potential, drive development and lead us to a better future.
At the same time, we are looking beyond 2015. I have just appointed a High-Level Panel on the UN Development Agenda after 2015. I deliberately included many prominent women on the panel, and I count on the men to take gender concerns as seriously as I do. Reaching the MDGs and advancing to the next stage will only be possible when we unleash the power of women.
Women will only flourish when they are safe. That is why I am also leading a global campaign called UNiTE to End Violence against Women.
Around the world, more and more people realize that abusing or attacking women is a moral outrage and a criminal offence.
In Fiji, for example, the UN is sponsoring a programme that helps communities come together to report anyone who attacks women to the police. The results are clear. Men are showing more respect. Last year, 15 communities joined the effort, and that number is expected to double by the end of this year.
We need to end violence, give women a say in decision-making, protect their health and ensure equal opportunities. All of these challenges are at the top of the UN’s agenda – and they are on your agenda. The UN Women-Duksung Women’s University Global Partnership for Young Women is a wonderful initiative with enormous potential.
Ladies and gentlemen – but especially ladies,
Four years ago, I had the chance to meet Yi So-yeon, the first Korean astronaut who carried the UN flag into outer space. At the time, she was barely 30 years old.
I was deeply honoured when she presented me with that special UN flag. I immediately hung it on the wall in my office.
Yi So-yeon once said,
‘I want to show a side of women: that we also have great abilities. To me that is the biggest goal.’
That blue banner reminds me that women can go anywhere – even to outer space – and that they can take the values of the United Nations with them.
Our values – peace, human rights, opportunity and dignity for all people – are universal values. You do not need a flag to uphold them. You do not need a spaceship. All you need is the determination to stand up for what is right.
Young women should dream big. Look to the stars. Think of the grandmothers, mothers and other women who came before you – how hard they struggled and how much they accomplished. And think of the daughters, sisters and friends who will follow in your footsteps.
I count on each of you to build a new future where women are truly equal, and the whole world can benefit.
[photos, from top: Secretary-General Ban swears in Patricia O’Brien of Ireland as Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel (credit for 2008 UN photo); Karin Landgren of Sweden, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia (credit for UN photo); Rima Salah of Jordan, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (credit for UN photo); Secretary-General Ban with Hilde Johnson of Norway, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan credit for 2011 UN photo by Evan Schneider; Susanna Malcorra of Argentina, Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet (credit for UN photo); Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, co-winner of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, and co-chair of High-Level Panel just appointed by Secretary-General Ban (photo credit); Korean astronaut Yi So-yeon with Secretary-General Ban and UN flag (credit for 2008 UN photo)]
The Director is responsible for designing and implementing activities related to the human rights portfolio, through high-level contacts with representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, including the United Nations. The Director, in collaboration with the Senior Policy Advisor on Human Rights and Special Representative on Women and Girls (SPA/SR) and other responsible Carter Center staff, will be relied upon for in-depth analysis of international issues that impact on international and national human rights protection systems in order to guide the Center’s strategic direction and corresponding programs on human rights issues, including issues related to women and gender. The Director, Human Rights reports to the Vice President, Peace Programs.
The position will be responsible to strengthen, in consultation with other experts in the international human rights field and in collaboration with peace and health practitioners, the Center’s policy and agenda for the advancement and protection of human rights activities. The Director must maintain a contemporary understanding of the most pressing issues and be able to mobilize actions that are appropriate for immediate, medium, and long-term strategies. Additionally, drawing on the advice of the SPA/SR, the Director will be expected to reinforce the Center’s engagement on women’s rights issues.
The Director has the responsibility for managing the day-to-day staffing, operations, budgets, planning group meetings, annual conferences and related travel and activities associated with the Human Rights Program. Tasks include project development, implementation and management, proposal development, budget planning and tracking, project promotion, report production, and networking. The Director will liaise and collaborate closely with the SPA/SR as well as with the Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor. The Director will supervise program staff, interns, and volunteers as needed.
Minimum Qualifications: The Director must be well accomplished in the field of international human rights. Juris Doctor or Master’s degree in a relevant field and a minimum of ten years of program related experience in the field of international human rights are required. The individual must have well-established relationships with high-level representatives of the U.S. and foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, especially the United Nations, and international and local human rights defender non-governmental organizations. Proven strong leadership and management skills, including solid program design and strategy development experience, supervision of staff, budget management, as well as solid understanding of program resource needs for effective monitoring and evaluation is essential. S/He must demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills, and familiarity with new communication technologies and social media. Fluency in English and one other U.N. language, preferably French as well as extensive international Human Rights experience in one or more developing countries is preferred.
Interested? Apply here: https://sjobs.brassring.com/TGnewUI/Search/Home/Home?partnerid=25066&siteid=5043
“The biggest violators of human rights are states themselves, by commission or omission.”
This quote by Navi Pillay aptly summarized her talk on “National Sovereignty vs. International Human Rights.” Pillay, whose renowned legal career has included posts as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and as a judge on the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, spoke this morning at the University of Georgia School of Law Atlanta campus.
Elaborating on the quote above, Pillay decried national legislation aimed at restricting the activities – and with it the effectiveness – of local nongovernmental organizations. Such anti-NGO laws already have passed in Russia and are pending in Pillay’s home state of South Africa, among other countries. That said, she welcomed new means of speaking law to power; in particular, social media that permit human rights advocates to reach millions. Also welcomed were accountability mechanisms that the United Nations has developed in recent decades, such as Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council, reporting processes of treaty bodies, and reports by special rapporteurs.
I was honored to give welcoming remarks at the breakfast. Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, which I lead, cosponsored this Georgia WILL event with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and Georgia State University’s Global Studies Institute. (We owe special thanks to Judge Dorothy Toth Beasley for her hospitality this week.)
Conversing with Pillay was World Affairs Council President Charles Shapiro. They began by speaking of Pillay’s childhood in Durban, where she grew up the daughter of a bus driver. She spoke of how testifying as a 6-year-old in the trial of a man who’d stolen money from her helped spark her desire to become a lawyer – and how donations from her community helped make that dream a reality.
Shapiro then asked about capital punishment, noting a scheduled execution. Pillay acknowledged the absence of any universal treaty outlawing the death penalty, but found evidence of U.N. opposition both in the decision not to permit the penalty in U.N. ad hoc international criminal tribunals and in the growing support for the oft-repeated U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on capital punishment.
“It started with just 14 states against the death penalty, and is now more than 160,” said Pillay, who currently serves on the International Commission against the Death Penalty.
On this and other issues, she said, advocates endeavor to encourage states first to obligate themselves to respect and ensure human rights, and then to implement the undertakings they have made in this regard:
“The United Nations was formed by states. It is a club of governments. Look how steadily they have adopted treaties and agreed to be bound by them. That doesn’t mean we are transgressing sovereignty.”
(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)
UNHCR 2015: A difficult crisis
The European refugee crisis has been a difficult experience for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On the one hand, UNHCR has been criticized by civil society and the humanitarian community for not being present on Greek islands. On the other hand, the organization has experienced difficulties in negotiating this access with Greek authorities. In addition to criticism of UNHCRs actions/inactions in Greece, the organization also faced criticism for not doing enough to push states across Europe to admit a bigger responsibility for the refugee crisis, and to accept greater numbers of refugees for resettlement.
In the fall of 2015, there was explicit criticism of previous High Commissioner of Refugees, Antonio Guterres, as it was argued that his ambitions of becoming the new United Nations Secretary General was getting in the way of confronting European states more explicitly to ensure that they live up to their responsibility as stated in the 1951 Refugee Convention:
“The heads of U.N. agencies with ‘well-nourished careers’ prefer to ‘put out cutesy heart-warming videos’ about individual refugees rather than criticize governments… They want another U.N. job … And they won’t get it if they piss governments off. You have to start shaming governments. That’s how things get done.”
Laying a new path under high commissioner Grandi?
Now things may be changing. Prior to the much debated EU-Turkey refugee deal, the new UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, stated that the potential refugee bottleneck in Greece was a major topic of discussion. And during a February 2016 visit to Athens, he took the opportunity to criticize “the border closures and the inability of European countries to face the refugee crisis with generosity and unity”. Only weeks later (in March 2016), the organization explicitly distanced itself from the EU-Turkey plan, as potentially undermining the tenants of international refugee protection.
Arguably this marks a shift in how UNHCR interprets and enacts its function as a key international actor tasked with the important job of holding states accountable to their commitments to international refugee protection (1951 Convention). And now that the EU-Turkey deal has become is a reality, it is certainly worth noticing that UNHCR was not part of the deal making. Instead, UNHCR is now looking to the future: “Let’s see what the European courts has to say on this,” said Vincent Cochetel, who is leading the UNHCR’s response to the crisis in Europe. A deal might be legal if Turkey overhauls its asylum system and guarantees that those returned are not kept in detention and are given a proper chance of claiming refuge, which is not currently the case, says Mr Cochetel. Other than Europeans, only Syrians have any right to claim shelter in Turkey under its current system. Accordingly, in line with UNHCR’s policy on opposing mandatory detention, the organization has suspended provision of transport to and from detention sites on Greek islands, and has also expressed concern that Greece may have deported asylum seekers by mistake, in violation of international law.
Good Enough Accountability as existential challenge
These contradictory examples illustrate what amounts to an existential challenge not only for UNHCR, but for the humanitarian enterprise as a whole, namely the quest for good enough accountability. In situations where the host state may be unable or unwilling to protect civilians, humanitarians step in to provide governance, care and protection. With a record-high number of humanitarian emergencies and displaced individuals worldwide, there are more humanitarian organizations doing more things in more places than ever before. They are not elected and are mostly unencumbered by legal obligations towards the communities they proclaim to work for. While the humanitarian sector has developed its own ‘accountability-industry’, humanitarians continue to express concern about how accountability-initiatives are skewed towards donors, at the expense of accountability towards crisis-affected communities and individuals. At the same time, there is deep disagreement about what good enough accountability might look like, how it might be achieved and what resources humanitarians and donors would be willing to invest towards reaching a satisfactory level of accountability.
A knowledge gap: Conceptualizing the history and ‘technologies of accountability’
Despite the key importance of accountability for the legitimacy of humanitarian action, inadequate academic attention has been given to how the concept of accountability is evolving within the specific branches of the humanitarian enterprise. Up to now, there exists no comprehensive account of what we label the ‘technologies of accountability’, the effects of their interaction, or the question of how the current turn to decision-making software and biometrics as both the means and ends of accountability may contribute to reshaping humanitarian governance.
In a recent book, UNHCR and the Struggle for Accountability: Technology, Law and Results-Based Management (Routledge Humanitarian Studies series) we explore UNHCR’s quest for accountability by viewing the UNHCR’s accountability obligations through the web of institutional relationships within which the agency is placed (beneficiaries, host governments, implementing partners, donors, the Executive Committee and UNGA). The book takes a multidisciplinary approach in order to illuminate the various layers and relationships that constitute accountability and also to reflect on what constitutes good enough accountability.
Table of Contents:
- Introduction: The Quest for an Accountability Cure Katja Lindskov Jacobsen & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik
- UNHCR and the Complexity of Accountability in the Global Space Niamh Kinchin
- Advancing UNHCR Accountability through the Law of International Responsibility Maja Janmyr
- Narratives of accountability in UNHCR’s refugee resettlement strategy Adèle Garnier
- UNHCR and accountability for IDP protection in Colombia Miriam Bradley
- Universalizing the refugee category and struggling for accountability: the every-day work of eligibility officers within UNHCR Marion Fresia and Andreas von Känel
- Accounting for the Past, A history of refugee management in Uganda, 1959-64 Ashley B. Rockenbach
- How accountability technologies shape international protection: results-based management and rights-based approaches revisited Kristin Bergtora Sandvik
- UNHCR, Accountability and Refugee Biometrics Katja Lindskov Jacobsen
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik is an Associate Professor at the Department of Criminology and Sociology of Law at University of Oslo and a Senior Researcher at PRIO.
Katja Lindskov Jacobsen is Senior Researcher at The Centre for Military Studies at Copenhagen University, Department of Political Science.
Following on from a successful second year, the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex is offering its five day summer school on Human Rights Research Methods from 27 June to 1 July 2015. Additionally, the Human Rights Centre is offering a second week (4-5 July) of thematic modules on two contemporary and cutting edge issues in human rights:
- Human Rights in the Era of Drug Reform (4-5 July)
- Making Technology Work for Human Rights Professionals (4-5 July)
An international team of experts will deliver teaching sessions, including leading human rights academics and practitioners. These are essential courses for postgraduate students, academics, lawyers, those working in civil society and international organisations, and importantly, those holding positions in government, including diplomats and civil servants. The thematic modules are run in conjunction with the International Centre on Human Rights & Drug Policy and the Human Rights Centre.
Courses will be held at the University of Essex campus in Wivenhoe Park, an hour train ride from central London. An early booking discount on the published course fee rates is available now.
A full course programme, including enrolment details are available here. We hope to see you at Essex this summer!
Today’s the 105th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
Inspired by speeches at an International Conference of Working Women the year before, in 1911 Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland set aside a day in March to honor women’s demands for equality. Each year more countries joined in. The arrest of suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst during a London demonstration on March 8, 1914, fixed the 8th as IWD-Day. (credit for IWD image at top)
Further globalizing the Day was U.N. General Assembly Resolution 32/142. Adopted on Dec. 16, 1977 (the same day the Assembly also considered a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a version of which it would adopt 2 years later), Resolution 32/142:
“Invites all States to proclaim, in accordance with their historical and national traditions and customs, any day of the year as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace …”
Most countries followed tradition and chose March 8, and paid note to annual U.N. themes (this year’s is #PledgeforParity).
The United States was a bit late to the party. Yet American observances increase every year, and last week, President Barack Obama proclaimed:
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also invite all Americans to visit http://www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have left enduring imprints on our history.”
And so we will.
(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)
The UN Charter turns 70 this week, and we at Georgia Law are honored to be joining in the global celebration – not least because it’s also the 38th birthday of our Dean Rusk International Law Center.
On Monday, October 26, from 4-6 p.m., we’ll rededicate the Louis B. Sohn Library on International Relations in its new home, our renovated Center unit. An alum, Dr. Kannan Rajarathinam (LLM88), Head of Office, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, Basra, will speak on a critical topic: “The United Nations at 70: Pursuing Peace in the 21st Century.”
Also giving remarks – on Georgia Law luminaries like Professors Sohn, Professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, Professor Gabriel Wilner, and Professor Sigmund Cohn – will be Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Professor Harlan Cohen, alums Dorinda Dallmeyer (an IntLawGrrls contributor) and Ken Dious, and myself.
Our event is honored by multiple cosponsors: the American Bar Association Section of International Law, the American Branch of the International Law Association, and the American Society of International Law, for which Professor Sohn served, respectively, as Chair, Vice President, and President. Those titles signal the influence of Professor Sohn, who, inter alia, helped draft the UN Charter, advised UN agencies, and chaired the conference that led to conclusion of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Sponsors among the Georgia Law community include the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, whose staff have contributed immensely to the move of Sohn’s 5,000-volume personal collection to its new space in our Center. Cosponsoring student organizations are the Asian Law Students Association, the Davenport-Benham Chapter of the Black Law Students Association, the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, the Georgia Society for International & Comparative Law, the Hispanic Law Students Association, the Jewish Law Students Association, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team (that’s Georgia Law’s 1990 Jessup world champions in the poster at top), and the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team.
(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)
In the first part of this blog post yesterday, I described the extent to which we are dependent on space technologies for our daily activities, and the role of international law. But what about military activities? Right from the beginning of the space race between the USSR and the USA in the 1960s military technology has been at the forefront, and until recently it was what drove most innovation in space. Indeed, GPS was a US military invention, and they decided to share it’s benefits for civilian use. Intelligence gathering by remote satellite imaging, as well as communications, GPS for aviation and marine operations, and many drone and weapons technologies are highly dependent on high-tech satellite networks. How does international law apply to this 21st century environment?
The notion of “space warfare” may not be something that belongs to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; in fact many people refer to the Iraq war in the 1990s and the US-led “Operation Desert Storm” as the first space-led war. There was a significant reliance on satellite imaging and telecommunications as an integral part of that operation. These days most Western naval, air and army units rely on multiple forms of space technology, as do Russia and China. In the last year the US has increased it’s “big data” reliance , making such satellites very precious assets. Recently, North Korea has been launching objects which many worry are not just rockets, but rather anti-satellite weapons. Where space used to be considered the ultimate military “high ground”, it is now accessed by many more States, and if these space assets can be targeted by adversaries, dependence can lead to vulnerability during a conflict.
Worryingly, a recent report on 60 Minutes titled “The Battle Above” painted a fairly dire picture of outer space as a “wild west” when it comes to military activities, asserting that there is essentially no law regulating this new potential battlefield and that it is every country for itself. And even when speaking to people who specialise in “space security”, I have heard many express the concern that military activities in outer space take place in a legal vacuum.
I would beg to differ, and thankfully I am not alone.