December 2015

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December 2015 Unsubscribe

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UN Reform and Latest Developments

President of the General Assembly Announces Official Start of the SG Selection Process 15 December 2015

During a press briefing last week, the President of the General Assembly announced that a "joint letter" formally inviting the presentation of candidates for Secretary-General had been circulated to all Member States. The letter, which was signed by the Presidents of the General Assembly and of the Security Council, indicates the first time in the UN's history that there has been a clear and public start date for the selection process. More details are available in the New York Times.

The General Assembly first requested that a joint letter to, "start the process of soliciting candidates," be sent to all Member States in its September resolution, A/Res/69/321. Although that resolution was adopted by consensus, drafting a text that was acceptable to the Security Council proved to be a challenge. For more information about these negotiations, visit Security Council Report's "What's in Blue".

Since the joint letter was circulated, at least two candidates have been officially presented by a UN Member State: Vesna Pusic, Foreign Minister of Croatia; and Srgjan Kerim, the former Permanent Representative of Macedonia to the United Nations. As candidates begin to come forward, interest is growing in what qualities the next Secretary-General should have, and how candidates should conduct themselves during the selection process. In a statement, the 1 for 7 Billion civil society campaign urged all candidates to "present publicly their vision and objectives; to refrain from reserving key senior positions for certain member states; and to participate actively in hearings with states and civil society." Meanwhile, Equality Now urges its members to write to the Security Council in support of the "long overdue" election of a woman to be the Secretary-General.

Informal Session Held to Discuss Effectiveness, Accountability of the Office of the PGA 11 December 2015

On 11 December 2015, the co-chairs of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the General Assembly (AHWG) convened an informal session to discuss "ways to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of the work of the Office of the President of the General Assembly."

Although strengthening the office of the PGA has been on the agenda of the AHWG for years, the subject has taken on special resonance in recent months following the corruption allegations against 68th PGA John Ashe.

In response to these allegations, current President Mogens Lykketoft has taken steps to enhance the transparency of his office, such as: disclosing personal financial commitments; publishing online information about contributions to the voluntary trust fund for the Office of the President; providing summaries of his meetings with the President of the Security Council and regional groups; briefing Member States on his travel and activities; and sharing information through blogging and social media.

During the informal session, many Member States expressed support for institutionalizing some or all of these measures, with particular interest in developing a Code of Conduct for the Office of the President of the General Assembly during the next session of the Ad Hoc Working Group. It was suggested that such a Code could be drafted along the lines of the principles put forward by the current President of the General Assembly on his website.

Global Environmental Governance: Paris Agreement Adopted 12 December 2015

On 12 December, the Paris Agreement was adopted by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The long-anticipated agreement aims to keep global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius, and addresses adaptation to the impacts of existing climate change as well as emissions reduction. For the details of the agreement, visit the UNFCCC News Room.

Notably, the agreement will not enter into force until instruments of ratification have been deposited by 55 countries representing at least 55% of global emissions. It will be open for signature starting April 22, 2016.

Report on UN's Handling of Abuse Allegations Released 17 December 2015

A damning report released on 17 December charged the UN with "gross institutional failure" to act on allegations of sexual abuse against minors by French peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic. The independent panel charged with investigating the UN's handling of the claim, led by former Canadian judge Marie Deschamps, concluded that UN staff had passed the information, "from desk to desk, inbox to inbox," failing to inform senior UN leadership of the seriousness of the allegations and failing to protect the victims involved.

Among its conclusions, the panel recommended the creation of a single coordination unit, under the authority of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to address future instances of conflict related sexual violence by peacekeepers.

Voicing his support for a system-wide UN policy to address such allegations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said last week, "investigations into sexual abuse must be made more systematic and effective, and those responsible for these most toxic of crimes must be punished."

 

UPCOMING DATES
10-11 May 2016 High-Level Thematic Debate on UN Peace and Security
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