Tag Archives: International community

UNIC commemorates Human Rights Day

Over 50 youths from Lusaka on December 21, 2017, attended a discussion dialogue in commemoration of the Human Rights Day held at the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Lusaka.

Group photo of participants

The event which was aimed at discussing various issues concerning people’s rights attracted students from various learning institutions such as the University of Zambia (UNZA), Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICAS) as well as Zambia Center for Professional Training and Consultancy (ZCTC) among others.

Gilbert Kasulwe, a Student at UNZA expressed concern at the levels at which elderly people’s rights are being abused as most of them get accused of practicing witchcraft because of their age.

“Most elderly people’s rights are being abused because the society thinks everyone who has grown very old and has grey hair is a wizard, and it is high time that these people’s rights are protected because not every old human being is practicing witchcraft,” Said Kasulwe

Meanwhile, in a message on the Human Rights Day from the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres, he stated that everyone has the right to speak freely and to participate in decision making that affect the people’s rights.

“All of us have the right to speak freely and participate in decisions that affect our lives. We all have a right to live free from all forms of discrimination and we all have a right to education, health care, economic opportunities and a descent standard of living,” said Mr. Guterres.

He further stated that since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration in 1948, human rights have been one of the three pillars of the UN along with peace and development.

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Why Addressing Inequality Matters by Chantal Line Carpentier, Richard Kozul-Wright and Fabio David Passos

The Rio+20 negotiations began amidst the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, which made it abundantly clear that the economic, social and environmental imbalances that had built up recently could no longer be tackled separately, sequentially, or by countries acting alone. Despite rapid export growth, strong capital inflows and high commodity prices in the developing world, the resulting income gains had been unevenly distributed, and many poorer countries and communities remained vulnerable to shocks and reversals. Crisis came in the wake of slow growth, massive income redistribution in favour of the top 1 per cent and an explosion in private debt, provoking not only a degree of moral soul-searching but also raising concerns about the fragility of the social compact.

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries

It was recognized that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) would have to be more universal and more inclusive than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to address a wider range of socioeconomic differences around which inequalities had emerged and grown.

The Scale of Inequality

Compared to 30 years ago, income inequality has risen in a startling number of countries and is at its highest level in most member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since the end of the Second World War. Moreover, income inequality has been compounded by wealth inequality, particularly in countries with already high inequality levels such as the United States of America. Other traditionally more egalitarian countries, such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have also seen the gaps between rich and poor increase.

Economists have been making the connection between globalization and income convergence, and closing income gaps across nations appears to be a clear trend, reflecting the growth slowdown in rich countries and sustained rapid growth in China and later in India. However, the trend is less secure than many had initially envisaged (The Economist explains, 2014). Moreover, recent growth spurts in developing countries have themselves coincided with rising levels of inequality, in some cases as or even more pronounced than in advanced economies.

Combining these intra/inter-inequality trends is no easy task, though overall, the global Gini coefficient has, on some estimates, dropped slightly over the last 20 years (Lakner and Milanovic, 2013), in no small part because wage earners in the advanced countries have seen their incomes squeezed. Even so, and except for the few most unequal countries, it is still greater, and by far, than inequality within countries.

Understanding inequality dynamics and their links within and across countries is one of the biggest challenges facing analysts and is also at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.

Why Inequality Matters?

It is clear that inequality can be a serious threat to social and political stability. There is a growing recognition, however, that it can also threaten sustained growth. A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that greater equality of income increased the duration of countries’ economic growth spells more than free trade, low government corruption, foreign investment, or low foreign debt (Berg and Ostry, 2011). There is literature exploring the links between growing inequality and economic shocks and crises (Bordo and Meissner, 2012), a connection that appears to be closely associated with the greater economic and political weight of unregulated financial flows and markets (UNCTAD, 2012).

Inequality jeopardizes the achievement of the overarching economic goals proposed by t he Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, such as eliminating extreme poverty, boosting decent work and transforming economic structures. Inequality is not a matter of fate or chance and can be reversed through policies and reforms, a point made recently in the path-breaking research of Thomas Piketty. While solutions rest with national and regional policy makers, collective actions and measures at the international level also have a crucial role to play.

SDG 10: Reduce Inequality within and among Countries by 2030

The SDGs

The SDGs

The OWG on SDGs proposed a stand-alone goal on inequality with seven targets and three means to achieve them. The first target calls for the income of the bottom 40 per cent of the population to grow faster than the national average; the second—for the empowerment, social and economic inclusion of all, irrespective of race, ethnicity or economic status; and the third—for ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome, including through eliminating discrimination by means of appropriate policies and actions.

Four other targets focus on progressively adopting policies to promote greater equality, including fiscal policies, regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions, policies to promote the orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, and the long-standing issue of fair representation and voice of developing countries in the global governance system.

Proposed means of implementation are more vague and more difficult to quantify and to develop indicators that will help measure progress towards reducing inequalities. Further thinking is needed. Specific proposed means include: 1) upholding the principle of special and differential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs); 2) directing official development assistance and encouraging financial flows, including foreign direct investment to countries in special situation such as LDCs, African countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries; and 3) reducing the cost of migrant remittances transfers to below 5 per cent.

Can We Achieve this Goal by 2030?

Whether the targets and means under SDG 10 and SDG 17 will reduce inequalities by 2030, depends on the robustness of indicators selected to guide and monitor progress, the presence of political will for regional and international cooperation to rebalance the global system, and strengthened policy coherence.

Tackling within country inequalities will require increased policy and fiscal space at the national level to enact the country-specific mix of policies needed to lift all boats and, in particular, to increase the income of those at the bottom. Two crucial variables will be jobs and wages. Job creation remains the only assured way of tack ling poverty on a sustained basis, in particular where the labour force is expanding rapidly. But rising wages are also necessary to expand domestic demand, increasingly seen as an essential component of more sustainable growth (UNCTAD, 2013). Countries will thus have to build the kind of infrastructure and productive capacity that lead to a more diversified economy, moving away from dependence on commodities and achieving some degree of success in more sophisticated industrial activities, which relies on industrial policy.

Addressing imbalances arising from the international economic system will require global reforms of financial, investment, trade, monetary and fiscal system in order to reduce volatility. International conventions against tax avoidance and evasion to stem the use of tax competition and tax havens to circumvent fiscal responsibilities would help ensure sufficient financing for long-term investment projects of the kind that are required to achieve the inclusive and sustainable development paths. Between 8 and 15 per cent of the net financial wealth of households is held in tax havens, resulting in a loss of public revenue amounting to between US $190 and US $290 billion annually. Half of it is from developing countries, which may also be losing over US $160 billion annually through misuse of “transfer pricing” and “thin capitalization” for shifting accounting profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions. Making mandatory and extending the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative would also help mobilize domestic resources.

While global reform will be slow, greater stability at the regional level can be generated by building up alternative rules and institutions to provide a degree of protection from financial shocks, requiring significant amount of capacity-building, South-South and triangular cooperation and also a fiscal cooperation space. For example, China’s success has relied on selective capital controls, countercyclical fiscal policy and active monetary policies aimed at stable exchange rates, as well as a full range of active industrial policies instead of solely focusing on GDP growth (UNCTAD, 2013).

Finally, an integrated policy framework that reflects all development models and ensures policy coherence across goals will be needed to assure that social, economic and environmental goals are mutually supportive.

References

Berg, Andrew G., and Jonathan D. Ostry (2011). Inequality and Unsustainable Growth: Two Sides of the Same Coin? Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund. IMF Staff Discussion Note SDN/11/08 (8 April).  Available from https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2011/sdn1108.pdf.

Bordo, Michael, and Christopher M. Meissner (2012). Does inequality lead to a financial crisis?, 24 March. Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)’s Policy Portal. Available from http://www.voxeu. org/article/does-inequality-lead-financial-crisis.

C.W. (2014). “Why globalization may not reduce inequality in poor countries” (2 September). The Economist explains. Available from http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/09/ economist-explains-0.

Lakner, Christoph and Branko Milanovic (2013). Global income distribution: from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the great recession, vol. 1. Policy Research Working Paper, No. 6719. Washington, D.C.: World Bank. Available from http://econ.worldbank.org/external/default/ main?pagepK=64165259&thesitepK=469382&pipK=64165421&me nupK=64166093&entityiD=000158349_20131211100152

Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (2011).

Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. December 2011.

Available from http://www.oecd.org/els/soc /49170768.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2011). World Investment Report 2011: Non-equity Modes of International Production and Development. Sales No. E.11.ii.D. 2. Available from http:// unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/wir2011_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012). Trade Financing and Regional Financial Institutions from a South–South Perspective. Trade and Development Board. Investment, Enterprise and Development Commission Multi-year Expert Meeting on International Cooperation: South–South Cooperation and Regional Integration, Geneva, 24-25 October 2012. Distr.: General 15 August 2012. TD/B/C .II/MEM.2/11. Available from
http://unctad.org/meetings/en/sessionalDocuments/ciimem2d11_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2013).

Growth and Poverty Eradication: Why Addressing Inequality Matters. Post-2015 Policy Brief, no. 02, November 2013. New York and Geneva. Available from http://unctad.org/en/publicationslibrary/

presspb2013d4_en.pdf.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2014). Website of the 61st session of UNCTAD Trade and Development Board. Available from http://unctad.org/en/pages/MeetingDetails.aspx?meetingid= 490.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

Chantal Line Carpentier is Chief of the New York office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Richard Kozul-Wright is Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at UNCTAD. Fabio David Passos is an intern at UNCTAD and a student in International Economic Politics and Financial Markets at School of Professional Studies, Center for Global Affairs, New York University.

Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

By Qian Tang

Qian Tang is Assistant Director-General for Education at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

A collective sigh of relief was heard from the international education community when the sustainable development goals (SDGs) proposed by the Open Working Group (OWG) of the General Assembly in July 2014 included a stand-alone goal on education.

Earlier on in the OWG process, there were genuine concerns that education might not emerge as a stand-alone goal, or that there could be a repeat of what happened in 2000 when the scope of the international agenda for education fell short of the ambition and the holistic approach set by the education community.

It was April 2000 when the world gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum and adopted six Education for All (EFA) goals. It committed United Nations Member States to 1) expand early childhood care and education; 2) universalize primary education; 3) improve access to life-skill learning; 4) achieve 50 per cent improvement in adult literacy; 5) achieve gender equality; and 6) enhance the quality of education. A few months later, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established at the United Nations. Featured among the MDGs were universal access to primary education (MDG 2) and a target on gender parity in education, as part of the goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment (MDG 3).

There is now a remarkable opportunity to provide a more aspirational vision for education in the post-2015 development agenda. Preparations began more than two years ago in 2012, when the international education community, co-led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), began a broad and intensive consultation to define the future education agenda. This extensive process culminated in the Muscat Agreement adopted at the Global EFA Meeting in Oman in May 2014, representing a shared vision of education for the future.

The global education community was reassured that the proposed SDG 4, which calls for the international community to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, was closely aligned with the proposed goal in the Muscat Agreement. Although there are some discrepancies between the targets in the Muscat Agreement and those proposed by OWG, the seven targets and three means of implementation under SDG 4 set forth an ambitious education agenda that will pave the way for a transformative and sustainable future.

As the specialized agency of the United Nations in education, UNESCO stands by the conviction that education is a fundamental human right inextricably linked to the realization of other rights. As such, it is a public good for all individuals and the foundation for human fulfilment, peace, sustainable development, gender equality and responsible global citizenship. As a catalyst for development, education is a key contributor to reducing inequality and scaling down poverty; and full access to quality education at all levels is an essential condition for accelerating progress towards the achievement of other sustainable development goals. In other words, sustainable development begins with education.

The internationally agreed education goals of EFA and the MDGs have made far-reaching gains over the past 15 years. Countries have used these goals as targets and standards to rally domestic political will to reform and improve their education systems, while donors have used them to align their development aid policies and priorities in education with the international goals and targets.

Since 2000, the international community has made tremendous progress in expanding educational opportunities and has made education and learning a reality for millions of children and adolescents. Despite rapid population growth, the number of primary school age out-of-school children dropped by 42 per cent between 2000 and 2012, with the number for girls seeing an even greater drop of 47 per cent. The number of out-of-school adolescents also reduced by 31 per cent between 1999 and 2011; while during the same period, the pre-primary education gross enrolment ratio increased from 33 to 50 per cent. Among 161 countries with data, the number of countries which achieved gender parity increased from 91 in 1999 to 101 in 2011.

These extraordinary successes demonstrate that achievable and measurable solutions are within reach, to unlock the potential in all learners and to create a prosperous, healthy, just and equitable world. The international community must build on the achievements and lessons learned over the past 15 years, while continuing to identify innovative solutions and approaches to tackle the unfinished business of the Education for All Agenda. For while we have come a long way, there are still an estimated 58 million children who are not going to school and around 100 million children who do not complete primary education. The poor quality of education at the primary level has resulted in some 250 million children leaving school without learning to read, write or count, while an estimated 782 million adults, 64 per cent of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills.

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Zambia celebrates the United Nations International Peace Keepers’ Day “Together for Peace”

Every year on May 29 member states of the United Nations gather to pay tribute to heroes and heroines who have served and continue to serve in the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for their level of professionalism, dedication and courage as they put the lives of others before theirs. It is also a time to remember and reflect on those who have lost their in the course of peace.

Showcasing Zambia's participation in peacekeeping operations.

Showcasing Zambia’s participation in peacekeeping operations. Photo credit/UNIC Lusaka

The UN International Day of Peace Keepers was celebrated in Lusaka at The Cathedral of the Holy Cross where the United Nations in Zambia, Defense Forces namely The Zambia Army, Zambia Air force, Zambia Police Service and The Zambia National Service personnel held a joint church service under the theme “Together for Peace”

The Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Mr. Davis Mwango who was also the Guest of Honour in his speech urged all the defense personnel to remain focused and committed in maintaining the country’s peace. He emphasized that peace is valuable and can only be achieved at a cost which unfortunately includes human life. He reiterated that Zambia is a member of the international community and will remain committed to peacekeeping operations.

Representing the UN was Ms. Raki Sahi, the UN Zambia Security Advisor read the UN Secretary Generals Speech on his behalf and was quoted as follows “This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers falls during the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, offering a chance to honor the invaluable contribution of the Blue Helmets to the proud history of the Organization. United Nations peacekeeping has given life to the UN Charter’s aim “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security”. Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands”.

Furthermore she stated that Zambia has played an exemplary role in promoting and protecting peace. Zambia has accepted many thousands of men, women and children fleeing their own countries in fear of their lives. Thus, giving them a safe haven and protection within the country. Zambians have also generously gone far beyond its own borders in the service of peace Zambian military, police and civilian experts have served, and are serving this very day, in many peacekeeping missions around the world.

Showcasing Zambia's participation in peacekeeping operations.

Part of the Defense Forces who attended the Church Service. Photo credit/UNIC Lusaka

She also reminded the gathering that The United Nations in June 2014 honoured two fallen Zambian peacekeepers with the Dag Hammarskjöld medal for their gallantly. Major Alfred Richard Banda and Chief Inspector Ebert Sianyona died last year while serving with the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). Furthermore, in July 2014 another Zambian working under the International Organization for Migration Mr. Felix Ngoma, was abducted by suspected Janjaweed militia in Sudan and was later released after 21 days in detention describing it as the most horrible time of his life.

In the sermon given by the Army Chaplain, Lt. Col. Reverend H.B. Moma on the theme for 2015, said peacemakers must rekindle their zeal for peaceful societies through creativity, ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Praying for the country’s leadership because their decisions have great impact on citizens as well as setting an example as a community for peace.

After the service the invited guests were taken on a tour showcasing the different places were Zambia has served and is still serving in Peacekeeping Operations.

20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide

It’s been 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda happened and yet the memories are still fresh in the memories of many. It was a time of confusion, betrayal, a time of people who once lived in harmony as brothers and sisters, turned against each other in senseless killings that lasted 100 days and saw entire families wiped out and whole communities disappearing off the face of the earth.  Those who survived had to endure many hardships physically and emotionally as they tried to rebuild their lives. 20 years later, Rwanda is a different country, peace and harmony has returned the spirit of oneness, and the country is moving forward.

Students viewing the exhibition. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka

Students viewing the exhibition. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka

To commemorate the Genocide, the United Nations in Zambia embarked on an educational outreach tour in Kitwe at the Copperbelt University (CBU), Dag Hammarskjöld Institution for Peace Studies (DHIPS) and Ndola National Technical High School for Girls from 7-9 April, under the theme “Kwibuka 20-Remember, Unite-Renew”. The participation at the outreach programs was very lively and the response to the topic under discussion generated a lot of debate with a few controversial points of view especially on the failure of the international community in responding to what was happening in Rwanda.

During the tour, there was a video screening of a short documentary called “Kwibuka 20”, whose purpose was to highlight the theme for 2014 and show the audience what steps the people of Rwanda have taken towards Remembering, uniting and renewing as a country.

A presentation by UNIC Lusaka focused on the lessons learnt from the Genocide and the success stories that Rwanda has achieved post 1994. Other activities included a question and answer session and the screening of the video “Kwibuka 20”, which set the stage for the discussion. Other activities included the sending of a bulk Short Message Service (SMS) to 4000 mobile numbers with links to various resources that people could refer to regarding the Rwanda Genocide.