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Human Development

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December 2005


In its final sessions for 2005 held in early to mid-December 2005, the UN Second Committee (Economic and Financial) has discussed and adopted decisions on a wide range of issues, including desertification, climate change, the international financial and trading system, follow up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, science and technology for development, sustainable development, good governance, international migration, women in development, globalization, least developed countries, poverty eradication, and debt reduction. Resolutions were also adopted on renewable energy and the World Solar Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Institute for Training and Research, and the UN's role in supporting country-level strategies in following up on the 2005 World Summit. Links to further information UN reports from the Second Committee, early to mid-December 2005: 16 December 2005 15 December 2005 13 December 2005 9 December 2005 7 December 2005

The UN General Assembly has set up a new relief fund that can instantly dispense funds to respond to humanitarian emergencies. The Central Emergency Response Fund, which was part of the reforms agreed at the 2005 World Summit, should have up to US$500 million and should be able to make funding available within a few days. Link to further information UN statement, 15 December 2005

An agreement has been signed between the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) to promote gender equality and women's empowerment. Link to further information UN statement, 14 December 2005

November 2005


“From humanitarian action to sustainable development” was the topic under discussion during the latest meeting of the UN NGO Committee on Sustainable Development at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting, held on 17 November 2005, involved keynote speeches from Mark Bowden, who heads the Policy Development and Studies Branch of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, and Columbia University's Dirk Salomons. More information.

October 2005


Avian 'flu was a major focus of the third meeting of the Parties to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA). Held from 23-27 October 2005, in Dakar, Senegal, the meeting concluded with an urgent call for improved national contingency planning, and for better information on risk assessment and necessary responses. The meeting also adopted resolutions on a range of other topics, including: amendments to the annexes; an international partnership for support of waterbird population assessments; a strategic plan and a communication strategy; single species action plans; institutional issues and the budget; climate change in relation to migratory waterbirds; and implementation of the Addis Ababa principles on sustainable use of the Convention on Biological Diversity. With 51 Contracting Parties as of October 2005, the Agreement, developed under the Convention on Migratory Species, covers 235 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle. Link to further information Meeting coverage

The 33rd session of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's General Conference has ended with the adoption of three major texts and the re-election of Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The texts adopted were: the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; the International Convention Against Doping in Sport; and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The text on cultural expressions proved controversial, with the U.S. opposing it. The document was finally approved with 148 votes in favor, two against, and four abstentions. It will enter into force three months after its ratification by 30 states. The UNESCO conference also included ministerial round tables on education for all and on the basic sciences, as well as various other events. The 33rd General Conference was held in Paris from 3-21 October 2005. Links to further information UNESCO press releases, October 2005: 21 October 2005 - 6:30 pm 20 October 2005 21 October 2005 U.S. Disgruntled over UNESCO Cultural Diversity Treaty, Financial Times, 13 October 2005

The benefits of a farming technique known as “conservation agriculture” were considered at a recent meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. The Third World Congress on Conservation Agriculture, held from 3-7 October 2005, took as its theme “Linking Production, Livelihoods and Conservation.” Participants discussed the conservation agriculture technique through which growers only break the soil at the point of planting instead of plowing entire fields. This method can reduce soil erosion, land degradation, and water, labor and fuel needs, while offering stable yields. Some 500 delegates representing governments, farmers, civil society, international agencies and donor countries from over 60 countries registered to attend the meeting, which examined African farmers' experience with the technique as well as its use on other continents. Links to further information FAO news release, 3 October 2005 The Nation (Nairobi) news story, 3 October 2005 Third World Congress on Conservation Agriculture website

The World Intellectual Property Organization's General Assembly has extended the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore for two years. Meeting from 26 September to 5 October 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO's General Assembly agreed to continue accelerated work on intellectual property and traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore with a focus on the international dimension. The renewed mandate excludes no outcome, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments in the field. The Assembly also agreed to establish a voluntary fund for indigenous and local communities to support participation of their representatives in the work of the Intergovernmental Committee. Among other highlights, member states also decided to continue efforts to enhance the development dimension in WIPO's work by establishing a provisional committee to accelerate and complete discussions on related proposals. They also agreed on a work plan for talks on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty, aiming to achieve greater convergence among national and regional patent laws and practices. Links to further information WIPO Assemblies Conclude, WIPO press release, 5 October 2005 WIPO's Future Work, Past Credibility on Table at General Ass..., IP Watch, 26 September 2005 WIPO Negotiators Seek Final Agreement on Key Issues at Gener..., IP Watch, 1 October 2005 New Committee for WIPO Development Agenda; Patents Reinvigor..., IP Watch, 3 October 2005 WIPO Members Create New Forum to Discuss Development Agenda, BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, 5 October 2005 WIPO to Continue Work on Genetic Resources, TK, BRIDGES Trad..., 14 October 2005 Global Intellectual Property Body Looks South, SciDev.Net, 12 October 2005

September 2005


A high-level meeting in the UK has concluded with pledges of US$3.7 billion to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in 2006 and 2007. However, this is just half what is needed, according to Kofi Annan and others. The decision by donors was taken at a meeting of the Voluntary Replenishment Mechanism of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, held in London on 6 September 2005. Links to further information Meeting website Significant increases in resources needed, secretary-general..., UN press release, 6 September 2005 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9229519/AIDS, TB fund reports shortfall in donations, 6 September 2005

July 2005


The 23rd session of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations has focused on the theme of “Indigenous peoples and the international and domestic protection of traditional knowledge.” The session, which took place from 18-22 July 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland, considered a legal paper offering guidelines on the implementation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, and reviewed draft principles and guidelines on the heritage of indigenous peoples. Meeting documents.

The G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland has ended to mixed reviews over its agreements on Africa and climate change. The meeting, held from 6-8 July 2005, resulted in deals to increase debt relief and aid boost to Africa by US$25 billion annually by 2010 – results many felt had produced the most successful G8 Summit yet. However, critics argued that much more could have been achieved. “It isn't all everyone wanted but it is progress - real and achievable progress,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the Africa deal. Since the meeting finished, however, concerns about the G8's debt relief deal have surfaced, with reports suggesting that several donor countries might be trying to rewrite the details of the agreement. Limited Progress on Climate Change Meanwhile, there was some movement at the G8 Summit on climate change, with the US agreeing to text recognizing humanity's serious impact on climate change. There was no shift in President Bush's policy opposing specific emissions targets, though. Some commentators praised the role of civil society at the Summit, and the involvement of leaders from a number of African countries, as well as China, India, Brazil and Mexico. The meeting also resulted in agreements to increase support to Africa on HIV/AIDS, further assist the Palestinian Authority, and combat terrorism – an issue brought to the forefront by the London bombings. However, the meeting did not result in any final agreement on a date to end export subsidies – a key area of concern for developing countries. Links to further information: G8 Chair's Summit Summary, 8 July 2005 Gleneagles G8 Communiqué on Climate Change, Energy and ..., 8 July 2005 Can G8 Be Considered a Success? BBC news report, 8 July 2005 Secretary-General congratulates g-8 for steps on africa, cli..., UN press release, 8 July 2005 Reaction polarized as G8 concludes, CNN news, 9 July 2005 G8 Debt Deal under Threat at IMF, BBC news report, 15 July 2005

June 2005


A major agreement among the G8 nations to write off tens of billions of dollars in foreign debts owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries has been secured at a meeting of G8 finance ministers in London. The deal, which could offer up to US$55 billion of debt relief, was agreed during a meeting held on 10 and 11 June 2005. The official conclusions of the meeting. BBC news report, 11 June 2005.

Experts meeting in Paris have adopted text for a draft convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions. The third intergovernmental meeting of experts on the preliminary draft convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions, took place at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris from 25 May to 4 June 2005. The draft text will be considered at the UNESCO General Conference at its 33rd session in October 2005. Official information (including the recommendation of the gr....

Cooperation among developing countries was the subject of a meeting held at UN headquarters in New York. The fourteenth session of the General Assembly's High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation was held from 31 May to 3 June 2005. The meeting sought to take stock of progress and consider plans for future work. According to a UN press release on the session, “meetings of the High-level Committee have been the main steering mechanism for cooperation among developing countries for nearly three decades.” The meeting included discussions on tariff and non-tariff barriers to least developed countries, and the need for technical assistance, training and capacity building. More information.

Progress on HIV/AIDS has been “significant” but has not prevented the epidemic from expanding at an increasing rate on every continent, delegates attending a high-level UN gathering have been told. At a UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on HIV/AIDS held in New York on 2 June 2005, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that, in spite of some achievements in terms of funding and political leadership, 2004 saw more new infections and AIDS-related deaths than every before. The meeting involved roundtables on resources, children and orphans, human rights and gender issues, prevention programmes and treatment. The UN meeting report.

May 2005


The Millennium Development Goals were the focus of the fourth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Held at UN Headquarters in New York from 16-27 May 2005, the session focused in particular on Goal 1 (eradicating poverty) and Goal 2 (primary education for all). The Forum meeting recommended a human rights approach to development and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in MDG-related programmes. The Forum also expressed concern that, unless the situation and voices of indigenous peoples are taken into account, the MDG process may lead to accelerated loss of land and natural resources, and further marginalization, discrimination and impoverishment of indigenous peoples. Link to further information: Meeting website and Report of the Meeting, May/June 2005

Peace, security and growth were the themes of the World Agricultural Forum's recent World Congress. Over 200 leaders from government, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations and the corporate and academic communities met at the World Agricultural Forum 2005 World Congress in St. Louis, Missouri, US, from 16-18 May 2005. The theme of the Congress was “The Key to Peace, Security and Growth: Local, Regional AND Global Agri-Food Systems.” Participants at this Fourth World Congress examined national security and global peace; economic growth; integration of local, regional and global markets; national political interests and international agreements; fresh water; bioenergy; technology transfer for growth and rural development; market-driven agri-food systems; financing for growth; and partnerships. Throughout the Congress, participants examined approaches and offered solutions to “bridge the gap” between local, regional and global issues related to agri-food systems. Coverage of the meeting.

April 2005


The Governing Council of UN-HABITAT has completed a heavy workload at its latest session, adopting decisions on issues ranging from the UN Millennium Declaration to its budget. The 20th session of the Governing Council (GC-20) of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) took place from 4-8 April 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya. Nearly 1000 participants attended, and the session ended in the adoption of a record number of resolutions. IISDRS coverage.

Members of the UN Commission on Population and Development have adopted decisions emphasizing the need to address internationally-agreed development goals on poverty and other issues, and HIV/AIDS. The decisions were taken during the Commission's 38th session, which was held from 2-8 April 2005 in New York. A UN statement on the meeting outcome: Background information on the meeting.

March 2005


The 292nd session of the International Labour Organization, which took place from 3-24 March 2005 in Geneva, concluded with calls for an inclusive and equitable globalization ensuring decent work. In discussions on follow-up by the ILO to the February 2004 report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, the Governing Body noted that its Working Party on this topic had reached a clear and strong consensus on the promotion of decent work as a global goal as the ILO's distinctive contribution to a fair globalization. The session also condemned Myanmar's actions with regard to forced labor and expressed concern over the incursion of civil and trade union rights in Nepal, Guatemala, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. In addition, the Governing Body recommended a provisional programme and budget of US$568.6 million for the 2006-20007 biennium. The foundation of the new programme and budget are its focus on decent work as a global goal and the interrelated actions needed at the local, national, regional and international levels to make this happen. The programme reinforces ILO's four strategic objectives: promoting standards and fundamental principles and rights at work, creating greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment and income, enhancing the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all, and strengthening tripartism and social dialogue. Details.

The 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) took place from 28 February to 11 March 2005 at UN Headquarters in New York. The CSW convened a high-level plenary meeting on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. The Session was attended by approximately 80 Ministers, over 1800 government delegates from 165 Member States, seven First Ladies (from Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Mali, Mexico, Panama, South Africa and Suriname), and more than 2,600 non-governmental representatives from all regions of the world. The Commission adopted a Ministerial Declaration and 10 wide-ranging resolutions on improving women's status, including six new texts, but it was unable to conclude its session, owing to several roll-call votes on Friday, 11 March. The Commission will meet again on a date to be announced. Decisions adopted: The Commission adopted six new resolutions on: gender mainstreaming in national policies and programmes; the possible appointment of a special Rapporteur on discrimination against women; trafficking; integrating a gender perspective in post-disaster relief, particularly in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster; indigenous women; and women's economic advancement. It also adopted four traditional texts on: women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS; the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; and the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women. The Commission took note of the programme of work of the Division for the Advancement of Women of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Declaration: Following the High-level Plenary session, which focused on gaps and challenges in implementing the Beijing agenda, the Commissions adopted a consensus Declaration, by which governments emphasized that the full implementation of the Beijing documents was essential to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, and stressed the need to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in the high-level plenary meeting on the review of the Millennium Declaration. The Declaration also calls upon the UN system, international and regional organizations, all sectors of civil society, including NGOs, as well as all women and men, to fully commit themselves and to intensify their contributions to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly. The Chair of the 49th session of the Commission was requested to transmit its outcome, through ECOSOC, to the 60th session of the General Assembly, including to the high-level event of the General Assembly on the review of the Millennium Declaration. Links to further information 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women CSW Declaration Documents before the Commission Governments pledge to accelerate efforts to achieve equalit..., UN press release, 11 March 2005
CSD-13 Preparatory Meeting Discusses Policy Options and Possible Actions for Implementation

March 2005: The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) took place from 28 February to 4 March 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The IPM sought to discuss policy options and possible actions to enable the implementation of measures and policies concerning water, sanitation and human settlements – the thematic cluster of issues for the CSD-12/CSD-13 Implementation Cycle. Throughout the week, delegates met in plenary and in parallel sessions to consider policy options for the three themes and to discuss interlinkages and cross-cutting aspects. These deliberations were reflected in a draft Chair's text, which is expected to form the basis of further discussions during CSD-13, scheduled to meet from 11-22 April 2005, in New York. Following the conclusion of the IPM, many delegates had varying views on the value of the preparatory meeting, but agreed that one of the most important elements of the IPM was the incubation space it provided for the generation of ideas and proposals. During the week, numerous delegations took the opportunity to circulate non-papers and express their visions for the Policy Year's outcomes. Many of the issues proposed were met with a wide range of responses, some of which received varying degrees of support and some which were met with deep skepticism. While the IPM provided delegates the space to digest new ideas to move implementation forward, the divergent views on many of the issues discussed will require CSD-13 Chair John Ashe to delicately navigate the CSD's uncharted waters and balance delegations' views concerning the Commission's role in providing prescriptive global, national and regional level policy options and actions. [The Earth Negotiations Bulletin's coverage of this meeting]

February 2005


The second preparatory meeting of the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) concluded its work with agreement on financial mechanisms and the way forward. On financial mechanisms, the PrepCom recognized the growing importance of private sector development in infrastructure and outlined areas needing further attention, including: ICT capacity building programmes; community access and connectivity; coordinated assistance for LDCs and SIDS; ICT applications aimed at integrating ICTs into implementation of poverty reduction strategies; funding SMMEs; and local government and community-owned initiatives. The PrepCom also agreed on a number of recommendations to improve existing financial mechanisms and enhance multistakeholder and cross-sectional coordination between governments and business. PrepCom-2 brokered an agreement on the Digital Solidarity Fund (see media report), considered the interim report of the Working Group on Internet Governance, agreed on the format of the Tunis Summit, and outlined the way ahead. On the way ahead, the PrepCom agreed to transmit to PrepCom-3 the political component of the Tunis text, including compilations of all written comments and proposals made during PrepCom-2 on this portion of the document. The chapters on implementation and follow-up mechanisms for the WSIS Action Plan and the post-Summit phase will be transmitted to PrepCom-3 following a review by the Group of Friends of the Chair and inclusion of proposals and written comments forwarded at PrepCom-2. On internet governance, PrepCom-2 decided to invite governments and other stakeholders to submit written comments and proposals following the availability of the Working Group's final report in mid-July, and to transmit to PrepCom-3 a compilation of contributions received by mid-August together with the final report. PrepCom-3 is scheduled to take place from 19-30 September 2005 in Geneva. More.
IDA Replenishment Negotiations Conclude with Agreement to Augment Funds

February 2005: The conclusion of the recent negotiations on the 14th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) has brought about a 25 percent increase in resources over the IDA13 replenishment. About $34 billion in resources will be made available to development assistance over the next three years, of which approximately $18 billion will appear from new contributions. While this represents the largest increase in IDA resources in many years, the amount still falls short of the 30 percent target supported by donors at the Deputies meeting held in Athens in December 2004. Some donors are looking into the possibility of additional pledges to meet the 30 percent target. The new resources will be distributed under the IDA14 policy framework for poverty reduction agreed in Athens. This framework is underpinned by several measures, including: a system for allocating grants based on countries' debt vulnerability; a strong focus on economic growth, private sector investment and infrastructure development; a system based on development performance; increased transparency and accountability; and measures to strengthen coordination and harmonization among development partners. The IDA is the part of the World Bank that seek to help poor countries reduce poverty by providing interest-free loans and some grants for programmes aimed at boosting economic growth. Links to further information Donors agree to substantial increase in new money for poore..., World Bank press release, 22 February 2005 Chair's summary

The UN Commission for Social Development recently concluded its review of the commitments made at the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development, underscoring the linkages between the Copenhagen commitments and internationally agreed development goals. The 43rd Commission on Social Development, which took place from 9-18 February 2005 at UN headquarters in New York, conducted a ten-year review of the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the outcome of the 24th special session of the General Assembly. The Secretary-General's report prepared for the session highlighted that the concept of social development affirmed in Copenhagen had become less comprehensive since 1995, noting that more recent policies such as the MDGs and PRSPs approach poverty eradication from primarily an economic rather than social perspective. The report also noted that the centrality of employment to social and economic development was missing in the MDGs, and that the MDGs made no reference to building more inclusive and just societies. During the session, three high-level roundtables addressed the implementation of the Copenhagen commitments and their linkages with the MDGs, with a focus on promoting full employment, eradicating poverty, and fostering social integration. The high-level segment concluded with the adoption of a Declaration that underscores the linkages between the Copenhagen commitments and the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, recognizing the implementation of the Copenhagen commitments and the attainment of the international development goals as mutually reinforcing. The Declaration stresses that poverty reduction policies and programme should include specific measures to foster social integration, and that development strategies should include employment strategies that aim to promote full, freely chosen and productive employment with full respect for fundamental principle and rights. More.

The achievements, gaps and challenges in linking the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs were recently examined by a group of experts. Convened by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, the expert group meeting was held in preparation for the upcoming 49th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which will take place from 28 February to 11 March 2005 and focus on the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome document of the 23rd special session of the UN General Assembly. The expert group discussed policy mandates of the review processes, as well as the changing national and global contexts under which implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action is taking place. Working groups were established to further consider: a human rights framework for implementation; the macroeconomic framework, poverty reduction strategies and making resources work for women; and civil society participation. The Meeting adopted recommendations for ensuring enhanced linkages between the review processes of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Declaration and MDGs. Final report.

Ministers attending a recent conference in South Africa have adopted an “enhanced framework” to achieve sustainable cities and towns in Africa. South Africa's Ministry of Housing hosted the first African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) in Durban, South Africa from 31 January to 4 February 2005. Participants addressed the issue of “Urbanization, Shelter and Development: Towards an Enhanced Framework for Sustainable Cities and Towns in Africa” as they developed a framework of action to guide and reinforce individual national initiatives to manage, direct and harness the developmental attributes of towns and cities. The meeting was divided into two parts. In the first, held from 31 January to 2 February, delegates met for the Fifth General Assembly of the African Population Commission (APC). This served as an Expert Group Meeting that brought together experts from various sectors relevant to population, housing and urban development. Its recommendations fed into the Ministerial Meeting, which convened from 3-4 February and was attended by ministers responsible for housing, urban development, and population issues. On the final day of the Conference, the ministers adopted the Activity Report by the African Population Commission and The Enhanced Framework of Implementation and Related Outputs. These outcome documents emphasize the high priority governments place on addressing urban poverty and set out a range of recommendations on managing and supporting urban development. The Conference outcomes will be submitted for adoption by African Union organs and the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT. The meeting website and daily reports.

January 2005


The first 2005 regular session of the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board was held at UN headquarters in New York from 20-28 January. The Session concluded with the adoption of 14 decisions on: the revision of UNDP financial regulations; the UNDP global programme, 2005-2007; the report on the assessment mission to Myanmar; the UNDP corporate gender strategy and action plan; options for a future business model for the UN Capital Development Fund; the progress report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project Services; the Third cooperation framework for South-South cooperation; implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors; reports of the Administrator and of the UNFPA Executive Director to the Economic and Social Council; the report on joint programming; revision of UNDP financial regulations; recovery of indirect costs for co-financing; and the review of the system for the allocation of UNFPA resources to country programmes. Links to further information Executive Board Secretariat Statement by Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator, at the..., 25 January 2005