DESA NGO News – July 20 2013




United Nations pays tribute to Nelson Mandela's contributions to public service

The United Nations marked Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July, celebrating the South African leader's 95th birthday and honouring his dedication to public service and social justice and reconciliation. At United Nations Headquarters in New York, the General Assembly held a special meeting to mark the Day. Speakers included former United States President Bill Clinton, Reverend Jesse Jackson, singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, and Andrew Mlangeni, a close friend of Mr. Mandela who was imprisoned with him.  To commemorate the Day, the UN joined the call “Take Action, Inspire Change” by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to volunteer 67 minutes in helping others through community service. The "67-minutes" campaign is based on people devoting one minute of their time for every year that Mr. Mandela devoted to public service, as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically-elected President of post-apartheid South Africa.


For coverage by UN News:

For remarks by the Secretary-General at the General Assembly Informal Plenary Meeting on Nelson Mandela International Day:



Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to Focus on Expanding Social Protection

Improving living standards and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities was the focus of attention when the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) convened in New York from 17 to 19 July.  The 132 States parties to the Convention looked at ways to build “disability-inclusive” development by improving social protection for everyone and reducing poverty. Civil society organizations, which played a major role in support of the Convention’s adoption, participated in the Conference. They held a civil society forum on 16 July to take stock of the process of including persons with disabilities in all aspects of a post-2015 development agenda. The United Nations states that about 80 per cent of the more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the world are of working age, and face physical, social, economic and cultural challenges in gaining access to education, skills development and employment. The meeting took place two months before the UN General Assembly convenes a High-level Meeting on Disability and Development on 23 September.


For press release: and meeting summary:

For coverage by UN News:

For more information and highlights on the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD:



Dialogue between Member States and Civil Society Stressed during General Assembly Hearings on Migration and Development

With the Second General Assembly High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development scheduled for October, an informal interactive hearing on 15 July offered representatives of civil society, the private sector and non-governmental organizations a chance to exchange recommendations for the outcome of the main event with Member States. In his opening remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson stressed the importance of partnerships. “The role of civil society is fundamental.  Labour unions and employers’ organizations play a critical role in immigration reform. Advocacy groups ensure that the voices of migrants are heard and are heeded.  Diaspora organizations are showing us the diversity of many contributions which migrants can make to societies,” he said.  NGO speakers pointed out the impact of remittances from diaspora groups on the communities they had left behind and a call on the private sector to implement migrants’ rights at the workplace. Additional priorities ahead of the High-Level Dialogue include developing a framework for managing migration from countries and regions affected by crisis and violence.


For coverage by UN News:

For press release:  and the Deputy Secretary-General’s remarks:



Deputy UN chief stresses power of technology to protect women and girls from violence

Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson highlighted the power of technology to empower women and girls, especially to protect them from violence, and create a safer world for all vulnerable groups at the event, “Harnessing the Power of Technology to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls” at United Nations Headquarters on 15 July. He also highlighted the Secretary-General's global campaign ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women,’ which is successfully mobilizing governments, civil society and other partners. The United Nations General Trust Fund is an essential part of this effort.  Grants from the trust fund have helped 24 million girls and women around the world.  The Secretary-General has set an ambitious goal for the Trust Fund:  to award $100 million in grants annually by 2015.  This work against violence and for security is also essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.


For coverage by UN News:

For remarks by the Deputy Secretary-General: and for more information:



At UN, Malala Yousafzai rallies youth to stand up for universal education

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban last October for attending school, addressed hundreds of young people at the United Nations Youth Assembly on 12 July, urging them to use education as a weapon against extremism.  Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared the day, also Ms. Yousafzai's 16th birthday, as 'Malala Day' in honour of her heroic stand to ensure education for all. The meeting, which featured 1,000 youth leaders, also was addressed by former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Vuk Jeremić, President of the General Assembly, and Ahmad Alhendawi, the Special Envoy on Youth.  The Assembly also highlighted UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, which launched a policy paper highlighting that the number of children out of school worldwide has fallen from 60 million in 2008 to 57 million in 2011. However, 28 million children out of school live in the world's conflict zones, and more than half of those are girls.


For coverage by UN News: and meeting summary:

For Malala Yousafzai’s remarks and video:

For remarks by the Secretary-General to the Youth Assembly on Malala Day:



NGLS hosts online civil society consultations on four post-2015 reports

The United Nations-Non Governmental Liaison Service held on 12 July an on-line consultation to gather input from civil society members on four reports submitted to the Secretary-General.  The consultation focused on regional perspectives and drew input in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish, aimed at increasing contributions from South-based civil society. The input will be delivered to the Secretary-General and Heads-of-State and Governments at the General Assembly Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals on 25 September, as well as to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG on SDGs).


For a guidance note on the consultations:


General Assembly Establishes High-Level Political Forum to Replace Commission on Sustainable Development

On 9 July, the General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus to establish the High-level Political Forum in place of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to improve efforts towards global sustainable development.  The decision by Member States is in response to a key recommendation in “The Future We Want”, the outcome document from the “Rio+20” Conference held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The Forum would convene annually for eight days, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council with a focus reflecting the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development; in line with the thematic focus of ECOSOC and the post-2015 development agenda.


While the Commission on Sustainable Development generated action on a range of issues that led to international agreements and treaties, governments and civil society actors believed that a body with a higher profile was needed to guide sustainable development towards current challenges such as narrowing the gap between rich and poor while protecting the environment. “The Forum can provide the political leadership and action-oriented recommendations we need to follow up on all the Rio recommendations and meet urgent global economic, social and environmental challenges,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following the General Assembly’s adoption of the resolution.  The GA resolution stresses enhancing the role and participation of major social groups and other stakeholders, while retaining an intergovernmental character. The Forum will hold its first meeting in September, during the Assembly’s forthcoming sixty-eighth session.


Read the text of the agreed resolution:

View the webcast of the GA debate (from minute 50:00):



ECOSOC concludes High-Level Segment general debate in Geneva

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is currently holding its 2013 substantive session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 1 to 26 July.  Government ministers, private sector leaders and heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes met from 1 to 4 July for the High-level Segment. ECOSOC held its General Debate on the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review: science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals from 2-4 July. Speakers said science, technology, innovation and culture were key drivers of sustainable development and economic growth. Concerns also were expressed that the lack of technology transfer from the developed to the developing countries, the economic crisis, and competing policy priorities in the post-2015 development agenda could impede the integration of science, technology and innovation into policies aimed at tackling the world’s problems. Representatives of non-governmental organizations who took the floor shared ideas on how science, technology, innovation and culture could be integrated into policymaking and the post-2015 development agenda in a range of areas including home economics, music and art therapy, family policy, education, rural development and the electronic dissemination of medical knowledge.


For information on the General Debate:

For news articles, press releases and meeting summaries on the 2013 Substantive Session of ECOSOC:



UN officials highlight role of entrepreneurs in addressing development issues

United Nations senior officials highlighted the role of entrepreneurs in addressing development issues at the Thematic Debate on Entrepreneurship for Development on 26 June at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. “[Entrepreneurs] must be encouraged to stand at the frontline of socio-economic change, in the service of sustainable development,” said Mr. Vuk Jeremić, the President of the General Assembly, whose office facilitated the Thematic Debate. Entrepreneurs also will be able to contribute to the post-2015 development agenda, Mr. Jeremić said, through public-private partnerships that focus on improving the lives of the world's most disadvantaged people. In his remarks, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added the importance of supporting young entrepreneurs, many of whom are currently facing an economic crisis in their countries. “Entrepreneurship is about innovating, breaking down barriers, taking risks and showing that new business models can tackle longstanding problems.”


For coverage by UN News:

For the Secretary-General’s remarks:



Upcoming Events


12-15 August: Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, 4th session

The Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing was established by the General Assembly through resolution 65/182 on 21 December 2010. The working group will consider the existing international framework on the human rights of older persons and identify possible gaps and how best to address them. The fourth session will take place 12 to 15 August 2013, in Conference Room 3 at the UN Conference Building, and will commence daily at 10:00 am. For more information:


12-23 August: Ad Hoc Open-Ended Informal Working Group on Marine Biodiversity

The Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction will take place from 19 to 23 August, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/78. Invitations to the meeting to relevant nongovernmental organizations were sent out. For a provisional agenda and more information:


23 September: High-Level Meeting on Disability

On 23 September, a High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities, organized in accordance with resolution 66/124 will be held. For more information:


25 September: Special event to follow up on efforts on MDGs

A special event to follow up on efforts made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 65/1, will be held on 23 September 2013. More information will be posted as it becomes available. For more information:


26 September: High-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament

In accordance with paragraph 4 of General Assembly resolution 67/39, the President of the General Assembly is drawing up a list of representatives of non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to participate in the high-level meeting. In order to register your organization's interest in attending the event, please click the link: Registration is open to NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC only. Deadline for pre-registration is 26 July 2013.


3-4 October: High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development

The General Assembly will have a High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development on 3 and 4 October 2013. For more information:





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