DESA NGO News - 20 June 2013
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General Assembly elects John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda as President of sixty-eighth session
The General Assembly today elected by acclamation John William Ashe, the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, as President of its sixty-eighth session. Following his election, the incoming President said that no undertaking,  since the Organization’s founding 68 years ago, had been more fundamental than addressing the relationship “between us human beings and this planet we inhabit”.  In eighteen months, the post-2015 development agenda, one of the United Nations’ most ambitious projects, would be launched.  If “we are to rise to the task”, he said, the General Assembly must to be equally as bold, ambitious and collaborative.  “Failure is not an  option,” he stated.  Highlighting the goals of overcoming poverty and ensuring sustainable development, he emphasized that renewed partnerships were paramount in integrating economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability.  The post-2015 development agenda must represent the “evolution in the thinking of the international community”.  Announcing the sixty-eighth session’s theme, “Post-2015 Development Agenda:  Setting the Stage!” Mr. Ashe called on Member States to “forge ahead with dogged determination”.  Three high-level events on the agenda would be held to discuss contributions of women, youth, and civil society; human rights and the rule of law; and South-South and Triangular Cooperation.  In addition, three thematic debates would take place on the role of partnerships; ensuring stable and peaceful societies; and water, sanitation and sustainable energy in the development agenda.  “We cannot afford to be indifferent and immune to the changing world around us” and “stand idly while millions struggle or merely settle for surviving where there are opportunities for all to thrive”, he said.

Committee on NGOs adopts report, recommends two LGBT organizations
For the second and third time in its history, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations recommended special consultative status to gay civil society groups. The Committee approved an Australian organization, Australian Lesbian Medical Association, and an Austrian organization, Homosexuelle Initiative Wien, for special consultation status, both following a vote of 9 in favour to 6 against, with 2 abstentions.  However in the debates during ensuing discussions, the representative of Venezuela stressed that her country’s position on procedural methods had not changed, particularly with “forcing people” to take positions.  As well, Sudan’s representative stated that the Committee had again “totally diverted from standing practices”.  A more “give and take” approach was needed in order to achieve consensus.  Rushing to action when it came to certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was setting a precedent. Still, the representative of the United States said that it was a “monumental achievement” to approve consultative status for an organization that had been deferred since 2007.  Bulgaria’s delegate also pointed out that the decision illustrated the Committee moving away from past “discriminatory practices”.  Rather, such approval, which had been a rare event, was now demonstrating the establishment of a new pattern with regard to civil society groups in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Committee on NGOs adopted its draft report for consideration by the Economic and Social Council on 7 June. The Committee's full report, as well as meetings coverage of its resumed session, is available from the link below.

General Assembly reviews efforts to combat human trafficking
Policy-makers put human trafficking on center stage today at a High Level Meeting of the General Assembly chaired by the President of the GA Vuk Jeremic and in the presence of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The event was attended by 85 states, UNODC Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Mira Sorvino, as well as representatives from civil society. Ten years after the entry into force of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and three years after the adoption of the Global Plan of Action to combat human trafficking, Member States gathered in New York to review progress and to map out a strategy for the future. Human trafficking is a crime that stretches across the globe with millions of victims, although much of it remains hidden. "We are dealing with a  crime of the 21st Century: adaptive, cynical, sophisticated; existing in developed and developing countries alike" said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov at the opening of the high level meeting.

Final Report of High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda released
The final report of the High Level Panel was submitted to the UN Secretary General on 30 May and was made available through the Panel’s website the next day. An outreach event with stakeholders was held for 31 May in New York, followed by regional and national launch events held across the globe. The report is available from the following page.

Stronger joint action of UN, international financial institutions urged at development forum
Poverty reduction, trade growth and job creation require greater coordination between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, the head of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today urged at the opening of a special high-level meeting on sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda.  Given the current high unemployment, geopolitical tensions and the possibility of a climate shock, there was a need for “more forceful and concerted policy actions at both national and international levels to mitigate major risks and ensure a stronger and sustained economic recovery,” ECOSOC President, Néstor Osorio said.  The meeting in New York, under the theme of ‘Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of financing for sustainable development and the post-2015 development agenda’, brought ECOSOC together with the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


26 June: Thematic debate on Entrepreneurship for Development
A thematic debate on Entrepreneurship for Development will be held under the guidance of the Office of the President of the General Assembly. See link below for details.

1-4 July: AMR: Science, technology and innovation (STI) and culture for sustainable development and the MDGs
In 2013, the Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC will put a spotlight on the role of science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture – and related national and international policies – in promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Indeed, science, technology and innovation can play a critical role in each and every MDG. A set of regional preparatory meetings is being organized to prepare for the session.

8 July: GA Thematic debate on Inequality
On 8 July, a thematic debate on inequality will be held by the United Nations General Assembly. See link below for more information as it becomes available.

15 July: Informal Interactive Hearings on Migration and Development
As part of the preparatory activities for the General Assembly High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development to be held 3 and 4 October 2013, the President of the General Assembly will hold one-day informal interactive hearings with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations and the private sector at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 15 July 2013. The objective of the informal interactive hearings is to provide an opportunity for NGOs, civil society organizations and the private sector to interact with Member States and to provide inputs for the High-level Dialogue.

1-25 July: Substantive Session, Economic and Social Council
One of the principal organs of the United Nations, ECOSOC holds several short sessions, ad hoc meetings, round tables and panel discussions throughout the year, to prepare for its four week substantive session in July. The July session is held annually in alternative years in New York and Geneva. The substantive session is organized in five segments: The High-level Segment; Coordination Segment; Operational Activities Segment; Humanitarian Affairs Segment; and the General Segment. The 2013 session will be held from 1 to 25 July in Geneva.

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 organized.

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.

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 that will participate in the high-level meeting. In order to register your organization's interest in attending the event, please click the link below. In accordance with the above resolution, 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. In preparation, the President of the General Assembly will hold one-day informal interactive hearings with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations and the private sector at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 15 July 2013.



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