United Nations

2030 Agenda

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New World Order...
New World Order…

Did you hear about the plan the United Nations has for world domination? Apparently, the Illuminati are involved there somewhere as well. Yes folks, the New World Order is finally arrived…

Watch the video below. The guy makes some alarming and stunning claims. If they are true, we are truly doomed. I suspect we might yet be in good hands.

In actual fact, the 2030 Agenda is the subtitle for the United Nations for their ambitious plan to replace the Millenium Development Goals which are due to expire at the end of 2015. From the beginning of 2016 through until 2030, the United Nations will be focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The proper title I think is: “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Once upon a time and many years ago, I served in the Australian Army for many, many years. Most people know that ‘military time’ is read using a 24-hour clock. That is to say that 8.30 pm would be read ‘2030 hours’.

During my time in the Army when I was a young gunnery officer, there was a gathering we used to have when young gunnery officers on course at the old School of Artillery. Come 10 pm, we would drop our studies and meet in the bar for a few drinks and to share a laugh with a bit of a ribbing.

Recently, I had suggested that we could reconvene the 10 o’clock Club on Twitter by posting what we were doing and where we were at on that evening at 10 pm as if gathering for the 10 o’clock Club. It worked to some degree, although with less pick-up than might be seen as successful.

Now, with the change of this new agenda for a global partnership, or the imminent rise of a New World Order depending on your worldview, it is appropriate that the 10 o’clock Club should also reflect this change. Consequently, I’m inviting you all to the 2030 Agenda every evening at 8.30 pm. Post every evening with something that comes as close to addressing the issue of child survival with the #2030Agenda. I will be posting every evening (as often as I can) at 8.30 pm on Twitter (in whatever time zone I am in). I hope to see you at the #2030Agenda soon!

Will the G20 Cut It? Four Lessons From Brisbane

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Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin meet koalas before the start of the first G20 meeting in Brisbane. Photograph: Andrew Taylor/AFP/Getty Images
Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin meet koalas before the start of the first G20 meeting in Brisbane. Photograph: Andrew Taylor/AFP/Getty Images

The G20 has been widely criticised in past years as being all talk and no action. When first framing the 10 City Bridge Run ahead of the Seoul G20 Summit in 2010, I asked “Will the G20 cut it?” at this link.

In the wake of the wash-up from the Brisbane G20 Summit, this question still is worth asking. What did we learn from Brisbane? Here is my analysis in four lessons:

Firstly, it is important to recognise that the G20 is a global economic institution. This means that the language will largely be around issues of trade, employment, debt, taxation and monetary policy. This does also include development issues relating to poverty as key to this equation. The G20 Development Working Group begins the 2014 Brisbane Development Update with a statement that is more than just a throwaway line:

Development remains a key element of the Group of Twenty (G20) agenda.

I sense that the G20 recognises both its ability and limitation to influence development through strengthening economic growth and resilience. This is at the heart of economic thought: how to best allocate the distribution of scarce resources.

The opening line from the G20 Leaders’ Communique flags the core priority of the G20, and consequently overshadows dilemmas this might bring in addressing issues of development:

Raising global growth to deliver better living standards and quality jobs for people across the world is our highest priority.

Secondly, the Summit is to some extent a forum of theatrics. It is misleading to think the G20 Summit as a dynamic roundtable to discuss all of the issues in detail. There is a lot of preliminary and behind-the-scenes discussions and negotiations that take place outside of the limelight to resolve how members of the G20 will orientate their national interest with the agenda for the Summit. It is more than a photo opportunity, and such gatherings are important.

Theatrics serve a purpose, and they also signal what people are keenly focused on. In focusing on one thing, they also steal a lot of the oxygen out of the occasion to more freely discuss a broader range of issues. In Brisbane, the theatrics was mainly seen through the grandstanding of and by Putin around the Ukraine incident. That is signalling how the Ukraine is fast becoming a place of heightened strategic value for leaders to communicate their sovereign will and power. The consequences of this grandstanding will not be immediately clear, but ripple through events that are yet to unfold.

Consequences are important, and the issue that receives the limelight will be at the expense of others that do not get discussed in depth. Obama flagged his theatrics publicly at a university address prior to the G20 to gain most favourable media attention to help sway his agenda.

Thirdly, wording is important and will ultimately drive action. The concluding G20 Leaders’ Communique and supporting documents give guidance for the future. If an issue doesn’t make the list, that would be troubling for those who see it as important. The question becomes one of what concrete and practical action will actually trickle down from this wording? 

The 2014 Brisbane Development Update was quite clear about what that G20 sees as an important priority, quoted here directly from the document:

Our work has continued to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Further, we reaffirmed our strong support for the ongoing intergovernmental efforts in the UN to conclude an inclusive and people-centred post-2015 development agenda and for its effective implementation. We reaffirmed the commitment of the international community to poverty eradication and a coherent approach to sustainable development, which integrates its three dimensions in a balanced manner. We underlined the central imperative of poverty eradication and are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency. We look forward to the third Financing for Development Conference to be held in Addis Ababa in July 2015. We reaffirmed our commitment to ensure that G20 activities beyond 2015 are coherent with the post 2015 development agenda.

The wording from the G20 Leaders’ Communique shows that this responsibility is one that is for the United Nations to resolve, but one which has the support of the G20 for an ambitious post-2015 agenda: We support efforts in the United Nations to agree an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. The question of how an issue will strengthen economic growth and resilience is important to address to receive more attention.

Fourthly, who actually holds the G20 to account for their words? The declarations made at the conclusion of each Summit are not so much binding as aspirational guidance. The Seoul Consensus for the 2010 G20 Summit shown at the link at the beginning of this blog helped shape this central theme of a human bridge which supports the 10 City Bridge Run. The Seoul Consensus showed its priorities framed in the following statements:

We, the Leaders of the G20, are united in our conviction that by working together we can secure a more prosperous future for the citizens of all countries… The Seoul Consensus complements our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and focuses on concrete measures … to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives.

 

There is consistency between what was written in 2010 and most recently in Brisbane yesterday. This is comforting to know, and no small measure for optimism as we look to address child survival in the context of economic growth and resilience. Recent statements from Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about embracing a new paradigm of development assistance through looking for innovative ideas is consistent with this as well to build concrete measures to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives through improving child survival.

The case for taking action is an ethical issue. It is a good thing to do and the right thing to do, as well as being just. It doesn’t need the imprimatur of the G20 to take action. As global citizens, the outcome from the G20 Summit in Brisbane indicates that the institution is something to be readily engaged with on this issue because we both share a common objective. Opening the conversation with countries from the G20 is an important step towards the Design Forum in 2015.

Post 2015 Development Framework

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United NationsThe United Nations General Assembly is meeting again this year, this week.

The agenda, as usual, is full and widely ranging.

Anyone who has ever worked for the United Nations can attest to a shared sense of frustration and optimism about what outcomes might be realised.

Success or failure? Dysfunction and broken beyond repair, or best available outcome with seeking consensus among such a disparate collection of global citizens? The answer to these questions will never be settled, but one thing is for sure is the massive convening power that the United Nations has brought since its inception many years ago on 24 October following the end of the Second World War.

The Millennium Development Goals are an aspirational list of eight objectives unanimously agreed upon by all member states in 2000 to reduce 1990 levels of poverty by two-thirds before 2015. The deadline is next year, and the writing is already on the wall in terms of success that has been achieved.

The result is more than simply a pass/fail scorecard. The goals were always aspirational in nature, but within reach. One of those goals, Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality, is the key focus on the 10 City Bridge Run.

In many cases, there are great stories of progress and success, but the distribution of this is unequally experienced. The results in some countries remains troubling.

Papua New Guinea is one country which is unlikely to meet its stated objectives.

Other countries remain at high levels of poverty, despite being extremely rich in minerals. Sierra Leone has the highest rate of child mortality, but is the biggest producer of diamonds in the world. How can this be? It doesn’t seem to make sense.

My friend Edison, who was a journalist from Sierra Leone, and spent time in jail for his political views, has spent a little bit of time telling me about the background to conflict in the country, and helping me to try to understand why problems there should be so bad. What was the cause of so much ill-health and poverty, I wondered? Now, also with Ebola to contend with.

His answer surprised me. What one thing is the biggest problem?, I asked, expecting him to provide some answer like fresh water, or medicine. “Corruption” he said. “It is the biggest killer, the biggest problem. While corruption is still there, nothing will change.”

The same answer is true to for child mortality. If that is the case, then how to improve the delivery of child survival? This is a question we are hoping to contend with across the next couple of months.

Meanwhile, the United Nations are discussing the Post 2015 Development Framework.

This doesn’t change the fact that child mortality is a problem.

Why does it matter how things are measured beyond 2015? Why not just keep the old MDG and push a little harder?

United Nations is preparing a new sustainable development framework with its member states as the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) will get end in 2015. Speakers also urged to adopt a strong, inclusive and legitimate Post 2015 framework to success the Millennium Development Goals.” But what does this actually mean, or is it just a room full of well-dressed bureaucrats word-smithing a strategic document?

It does matter, and it is not just a word game.

The outcome will need to be focused on rights, transparency, addressing corruption, and a framework that is grounded in sustainability. The question will be whether countries will use their diplomatic jockeying for other issues of a security nature to influence or block resolve and consensus for a strong and cohesive result. It might sound like a lot of hot air, but these will be a guiding strategic tool for the next couple of decades. The work in New York this week is important, make no mistake.

To give an insight into the complexity, here is the extract from a recent press release. You can see from reading this, that the simplicity of eight MDG was remarkable when now looking at the intricacies of competing ethical concerns. All are important, but if it has everything it risks being meaningless, and if it is reduced to a couple of bullet-points, it risks being toothless.

“The post 2015 framework must reinforce international human rights commitments, laws and standards, fight injustice and address how its goals will allow for a progressive realization of rights. It must embrace a rights-based approach to development based on equality, equity and non-discrimination, and ensure the rights of people to participate fully in society and in decision-making, Ahmed Swapan emphasized.

Ahmed Swapan also said that developed countries must comply with their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) and the unfinished business and they should align and harmonize their activities to avoid competitions and to be refraining from service overlapping. There should also be more transparency and accountability in delivering services to the communities for whom development is meant.

Pratima Paul Majumder said that United Nations must emphasize women rights in the Post 2015 development framework. She also demanded that government should include gender equality and women rights as priority area in new framework. The post 2015 framework must recognize the global resource constraints and aim at a more equitable distribution of resources, including how it meets the rights and needs of future and present generations.

She urged to ensure decent work environment and living wages for the women labour. She questioned the present mode of corporate based development which is unfavorable for realization of women rights. This model has particularly worsen life and livelihood of rural, indigenous and migrant women.

The Post-2015 framework must be underpinned by the strongest, most robust and comprehensive accountability framework possible, incorporating the commitment to monitor and report on progress and share learning and knowledge.

Alison Subrata Baroi focused on reducing inequality within and among countries which is essential for transformation while he proposed for ensuring progressive taxation and tax governance as a way out of challenges mobilizing own resources for financing development in post 2015. Alison also said that the Post-2015 framework cannot afford an approach that promotes growth at all costs without considering human rights and environmental implications. The framework must demonstrate coherence and integration across the environmental, economic and social dimensions of different goals and targets. He also emphasized access to justice and governance that should be enshrined in Post 2015 framework.”

Ban Ki-moon: Connected, united

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English: Ban Ki-moon 日本語: 潘基文
English: Ban Ki-moon 日本語: 潘基文 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few short months after the conclusion of the Second World War, the United Nations was formed on 24 October, the anniversary of today.

Do anniversaries really mean anything to anyone anymore?

What about the United Nations? A colossal failure and bureaucratic mess? Or is it a critical international place of important convening?

I have had my own first hand experience working with the United Nations in many different capacities, but perhaps most significantly was as the Lead Operations and Plans Officer for the Australian Defence Force while deployed into East Timor.

Certainly, it is not a perfect organisation, but would the world be better off without it? I think not.

Far beyond an instrument of global security, the United Nations focuses across a broad range touching every aspect of the human experience.

The one area this blog focuses on is the eight Millennium Development Goals signed by all 192 Member States in 2000 to reduce  extreme poverty levels to two-thirds of the recorded levels in 1990 by 2015. It has been one area where there has been some success. It is not a perfect story: child mortality remains improved, but only reduced to half of the recorded levels of 1990, and so the aspiration to achieve a two-thirds reduction by 2015 might be unobtainable.

Work remains to be done. And it is not for us to sit back and criticise the United Nations. We must put our shoulder to the wheel also.

Ban Ki-moon’s words today in his United Nations Day Message for 2013 was fitting:

We continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more.

In a world that is more connected, we must be more united.

This is the sentiment of the 10 City Bridge Run. To build a human bridge between ourselves to help address the problems we face. Together we can make a difference.

10.24 Reflections on the United Nations

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John R. Bolton
John R. Bolton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

24 October was ‘United Nations Day’, commemorating the anniversary when the UN Charter came into effect in 1945. The UN is a large organisation. Massive, in fact.

John Bolton was appointed as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations in 2005 by President Bush. The position is also known as the United States Permanent Representative the the United Nations. His criticism of the United nations made this a surprise appointment to many, where he had earlier openly shared his strong views which were often critical of the organisation. In 1994, he said:

…there is no United Nations… there is an international community that occassionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests, and when we can get others to go along.

And then in 2005, he famously remarked:

The Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.

Unsurprisingly, he was also highly critical of the Millennium Development Goals. Looking at it from his perspective, this is understandable: it was always a target full of rhetoric and seemingly unachievable, so what was the point of exhausting resources for a measure that was simply beyond reach?

The other side of the coin is to take a pragmatic approach that argues that it is more than just a matter of idealistic and wishful thinking, but that an aspirational goal is worth striving towards. We might fall short, but in the process how much can we achieve?

I was responsible for monitoring much of our correspondence with the United Nations when I was in the Army at the time that John Bolton was the US Permanent Representative. Like others, I was amused at his blunt delivery which put a lot of noses out of joint. Years earlier, I recalled how there was in fact a lot of inefficiency in the United Nations that was plainly obvious when I was deployed to East Timor as part of the broader UN force.

Now we stand at the end of a moment of truth as it were. The next three years will be telling, and will reflect any momentum generated over the last short period. It is also a window that can be influenced through new ideas, even though a short period.

The question would be, how able is the UN really about to respond to such opportunities? Was Bolton right? Is a quarter of the UN just a waste of space?

I chose to look at 10.24 as more than just an anniversary. To me it is a personal goal I have set: to run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km. By doing this, I aim to stimulate a conversation that will take place in Seoul on 24 January 2013 asking how might be use our networks to reduce child mortality.

We need people like Bolton. His unyielding cynicism is an important part in generating the creative tension we need to make change happen. But you also need people to push people like Bolton a little harder and show that change is possible.

Will you join me and be one of those people? Please join me on this journey. Support me at www.pozible.com/lifebridge to make a difference.

Legitimacy of G20: Self-appointed for the sake of G172?

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G20 countries
G20 countries

Last week the leaders of the G20 met in Seoul for the G20 Summit. For many, the ‘Group of 20’ (G20) is a largely self-appointed and barely legitimate body with no authority to assume its current role. Is this a valid perspective, and what does it mean for the ‘G172’ (the 172 member states of the United Nations)?

Over the next few blog posts I will examine the Seoul Summit Declaration in more detail from a development perspective. What decisions did the G20 make, and are there consequences for other countries excluded from the meeting which are unfair or favourable? What did the G20 Summit mean for influencing extreme poverty, and how does this relate to the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals?

Did the Government Let Us Down?

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Kevin Rudd (right) and Julia Gillard (left) at...
Please explain

Tom Bland from Oaktree made this comment last week:

Last week, Kevin Rudd committed $210 million of Australian money towards the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. The global community coughed up a total of $11.7 billion.

Let’s not make excuses, or pretend that this is enough money – the reality is that it’s simply not good enough. The Global Fund needed $13 billion to even keep doing what it’s already doing. It needed $17 billion if it was to meet future needs, and $20 billion if it was to adequately help achieve the MDGs and end mother-child transmission of HIV. Australia’s fair share was $500 million – and we didn’t even get half that.

I wonder how Australia made that calculation- the $210 dollars? I wonder whether Australia actually have a ‘fair share’ to contribute?

When is the point reached where ‘enough money’ is given? Who decides? And if the Australian Government did fall short, who did they let down- us, the United Nations, those who have yet to be infected with HIV/AIDS. TB, Malaria or Measles?

Why didn’t the Global Fund just cut out the inevitable disappointment from government and lean on a few ‘rich’ people, as Peter Singer suggests in his book The Life You Can Save?

And if we are all surprised at the government giving less than half of what their ‘fare share’ ought to have been, what the hell was going on in New York during the high-level conference about the Millennium Development Goals which was addressed by Kevin Rudd and monitored in New York by Oaktree?

Who was to blame for the other $6.3 billion deficit where the Global Fund fell short? Fair shake of the sauce bottle!

I think there is more to this than complaining over a ‘fair share’ of money being paid to the Global Fund. What was achieved at the United Nations Conference in September? Is this report from Tom Bland the first signs of blame toward government and the United Nations as we approach 2015?

How should we now respond? Giving money to make up the shortfall?

 

 

The Near Bank of the Bridge: Wrap up from New York

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TEHRAN. With the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ah...
Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

So what came out of the United Nations High-Level Summit to discuss the Millennium Development Goals late last month?

The irony of spending a lot of money for people to gather together and talk about poverty is something I am still thinking about…

The drama and grandiose of visiting the United Nations in New York must be appealing. Certainly this was reflected in Meredith Burgmann’s comments in an Op-Ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Meredith Burgmann, a former NSW ALP MP, is president of the Australian Council for International Development, and was part of the Australian delegation to the UN Conference on the Millennium Development Goals.

Disappointing progress in many areas.
Many failed promises blamed on the global financial crisis.
The meeting was overshadowed by Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, alleging the September 11 attacks were an American conspiracy in a separate meeting a few days after the Conference.

The New York Conference marks the beginning of a bridge I am defining for the 10 City Bridge Run.
It is the near bank.
Where we cross first.

The far bank defining the other side of the bridge is the G20 Summit.
Another important meeting of institutional and national leaders.
The G20 describes itself as the premier forum for international economic cooperation: “Our goal is to strengthen the global financial system and build a global economy rooted in sustainable growth and prosperity for all”.

The span, the bit in between, is all of us. All of us. Our global village.
I contend that what happens between us is as important as what happens at the two institutional meetings.
That is what the 1o City Bridge Run is about.
It is all about you, and me, and everyone else. We are responsible.

Meredith made an interesting comment about the MDG 3 which I am focusing on today:

One of my particular passions – the third goal, which promises to promote gender equality and empower women – is hardly mentioned. Maternal deaths seem to be important but not the empowerment of women. Tucked away in a side report was the astonishing information that of the nine countries that still have no women in parliament, six were in the Pacific. The percentage of women in Pacific parliaments is 2.9 per cent and even the next worst, the Middle East, has 12 per cent. It is a total disgrace and unless Australia begins to use its influence with the male leaderships of these countries, nothing will change.

Meredith wove the importance of how there is interplay between the MDG:

Rudd is particularly concerned with goals four and five, which deal with maternal health and child mortality. Improvement in maternal death rates has slowed dramatically. More than 500,000 women die each year of pregnancy-related causes. Australia announces that it is part of a newly launched public/private global alliance with the US, Britain, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to meet goals four and five and pledges $1.6 billion to this alliance. Rudd also promises to allocate $5 billion to education, $1.8 billion to food security and $1.2 billion for action on climate change over the next five years.

Check her article out here.
It is interesting that the embedded video is about Australian domestic political point-scoring. Is that a tacit commentary in itself on the importance and impact this conference had on a broader level back home in Australia? Interesting to note that many of my friends still have no idea of what an ‘MDG’ actually is. I think we will all know in 2015, although will this be for the right reasons?

8 Days to Go: 8 MDG. MDG 1- Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

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Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs- influential in the design of the MDG

Eight days to go until the first run on 14 October commencing the 10 City Bridge Run!

I thought it might be timely to revisit the Millennium Development Goals and try to shed some light on where progress is occurring. More importantly, also examine where the shortfall might occur on 2015.

Millennium Develop Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
There are three targets under this goal:

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
  3. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

Conflict and the global financial crisis is cited as the reason for a disappointing backsliding in some of the progress last decade. Some comments from the United Nations of progress are:

  • The global economic crisis has slowed progress, but the world is still on track to meet the poverty reduction target
  • Prior to the crisis, the depth of poverty had diminished in almost every region
  • Deterioration of the labour market, triggered by the economic crisis, has resulted in a decline in employment
  • As jobs were lost, more workers have been forced into vulnerable employment
  • Since the economic crisis, more workers find themselves and their families living in extreme poverty
  • Hunger may have spiked in 2009, one of the many dire consequences of the global food and financial crises
  • Progress to end hunger has been stymied in most regions
  • Despite some progress, one in four children in the developing world are still underweight
  • Children in rural areas are nearly twice as likely to be underweight as those in urban areas
  • In some regions, the prevalence of underweight children is dramatically higher among the poor
  • Over 42 million people have been uprooted by conflict or persecution

New York- UN MDG Summit Offers Hope

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United Nations

This week in New York, a United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit is underway.

10 years after the Millennium Development Goals were first announced, this is an opportunity for the world leaders of 150 countries to come together and review progress.

Australia is represented by our Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd.

What can we expect from this conference? The news bulletins have rung with the sounds of billions of dollars expenditure, and initiatives for improving education, health and eradicating poverty. What happens once the bureaucrats and politicians have finished on Wednesday? Is it really that easy to solve extreme poverty?

Translating the media spin into meaningful action is important. But it is good this Summit is being received with such optimism offering a hopeful future. A big change from Copenhagen.

See what AusAID, Australia’s Aid Program had to say here.

Please support the 10 City Bridge Run to highlight small actions which will make a big difference in showing that the impossible can be possible. Please sponsor me with $24 here.