INDEPENDENT NEWS AND COMMENT ON THE UNITED NATIONS
The Economic and Social Council convened an “event” on the morning of 27 June that considered the theme “Restoring humanity and leaving no one behind: working together to reduce people’s humanitarian need, risk and vulnerability.” ECOSOC has decided that the theme itself will be known hereafter as “rethinking the humanitarian-development nexus.” For video of the discussions on the topic go here.
THREE WHO INSPIRE ME
UN Specialized Agencies, Funds and Programmes
NEW: 71st General Assembly: scroll down
Civil society groups have been bringing their "Tax Body" mascot to the UN to remind delegates of the need for global rules to prevent illicit transfers of wealth from poor countries. It hasn't done much good so far; in April the mascot was ejected from a UN Press Conference in New York. See also the article on the Development page about the very peculiar UNCTAD 14 Conference that did not deal with the matter.
Erratic service from UNTV!
$5.4 Billion UN Budget
The UN biennial budget for 2016-2017 is $5.4 billion, $170 million less than the amount requested by the Secretary-General. The approved total is $400 million less than the 2014-2015 budget. Most of the cut came from Public Information funding. Acting by consensus in December 2015, the Assembly also decided how much each Member State will pay. The United States and Japan remain the top two contributors to the budget, with 22 and 9.68 per cent); for the first time is China will be third, with 7.92 per cent.
21 July 2016: The World Meteorological Organization is reporting that 2016 is on track to be the hottest year ever. Kuwait has just hit a record 54.centigrade.
According to the WMO, Arctic sea ice melted early and fast this year and carbon dioxide levels driving global warming have reached new highs. Citing reports from the U.S National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies it says there are dramatic and sweeping changes in the state of the climate.
June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average. The last month with temperatures below the 20th century average was December 1984. “Decades-long trends of climate change are reaching new climaxes, fueled by the strong 2015/2016 El Niño,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
Although the global temperature-raising impact of the El Niño event has now disappeared, the longer term phenomenon caused by greenhouse gases continues, bringing more heatwaves and extreme weather such as torrential downpours and fierce storms.
Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere so far this year. CO2 levels vary according to the season, but the underlying trend is upwards. They showed a surprising increase for the first half of 2016, rising in June 2016 to nearly 407 ppm, 4 ppm greater than June 2015.
A UNITED NATIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Why Connectivity is a Game-Changer The connectivity revolution reverses trends that have concentrated power in elite groups for the last five centuries and made them, even within democratic frameworks, increasingly authoritarian. In particular, connectivity can decentralize the capacity to create and control wealth, making it realistic to expect changes long considered “Utopian:” that human development will equalize around the world; that all war can be ended; that democracy will become the human standard.
Beyond that lies a longer term prospect seemingly fantastic but entirely within the realm of scientific possibility: that the worldwide web of human consciousness will become the neural network of a global brain and give humanity a new level of universal awareness. Achieving those goals will require a level of international cooperation without precedent. To mobilize and build it into UN reform we must understand the nature and emergence of modern Europe, the region most responsible for the current state of the world.
The Shaping of Modern Europe Two quite different but mutually reinforcing processes Read More
Peace & Security
Rich Debate on UN Peace Ops Misses key Issue
A richly detailed and lively two-day discussion of United Nations peace operations and architecture (10-11 May), left untouched the basic reason for the Organization’s 70-year failure to achieve its primary Charter aim. Although the debate was shot through with facts and themes pointing to a malign and actively hostile international environment, no one tried to define it or say how the UN should respond. Read More
Length of S-G Term Under Review
25 August 2016: On the day the Security Council holds its third straw poll to select the next Secretary-General (29 August), the General Assembly will be meeting informally to consider how best to proceed with the resolution on her/his appointment. One of the elements of that resolution will be the length of the term s/he should serve.
The meeting will be under the co-chairmanship of the Ambassadors of Croatia and Namibia who are steering the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly. It will convene in the Trusteeship Council for an “exchange of views on the desirability and timing of a co-facilitation process” for the resolution. The final meeting of the 70th session of the General Assembly is expected to be on the draft of the resolution
New Video:Security Council working methods
NEW: August Straw Poll (scroll down)
The UN Gets Set to Map the Way to the Future: A First Century map telling of the sea route from Mediterranean Europe to India is one of the earliest examples of the use of geospatial information. It puts in perspective the dramatic new uses of such information in a digitally connected world (article below).
August 2016: On 27 July, in a little noted decision on "Cartography," the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) made a change that will have more impact on the future of Sustainable Development than all the meetings of its High Level Political Forum.
Acting on the report of its Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) established just five years earlier, the Council decided to eliminate all its Regional Cartographic Conferences. In their stead, a much strengthened Expert Committee will streamline all UN work related to geospatial information management, especially in relation to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Small Islands Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.
A prime area of focus will be the development of a global geodetic frame of reference necessary for the efficient use of all aspects of GGIM. The expert committee will oversee all UN System efforts to "strengthen coordination and coherence of global geospatial information management, in capacity-building, norm-setting, data collection, data dissemination and data sharing, among others." It will also help strengthen the integration of statistical and geospatial information management, especially in developing countries, in particular the least developed, landlocked and small island developing States.
With these changes ECOSOC has set in place the integration and harmonization of fundamental geospatial data themes from the national to global levels, building on existing fundamental datasets and identifying
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948), Nelson Mandela (1918 - 1913) and Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) are legendary figures but each has enduring lessons to teach. Click the links above for more.