Go to IISD's website

IISD Reporting Services - Linkages
bringing you the latest news, information and analysis from
international environment and sustainable development negotiations


Recent Meetings

Human Development


Meetings from: 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 

December 2006

UN CONFERENCE DISCUSSES ASIA'S DECLINING FERTILITY PATTERNS

A seminar on “Fertility Transition in Asia: Opportunities and Challenges,” organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), gathered demographers and population experts from 14 Asian nations in Bangkok to discuss challenges and issues related to declining fertility rates in the region. Participants at the 18-20 December 2006 meeting considered why there are differences in the rates of fertility and the scale of the decline in those rates between countries within the region. In her opening statement, Thelma Kay, Director of UNESCAP's Emerging Social Issues Division, highlighted that socio-economic development, urbanization, late marriage ages, higher education, women's participation in the labor force, and sometimes family planning, have contributed to a steady decline in fertility rates across Asia. The conference also aimed to assist Asian governments in developing guidelines for future policy research and policy recommendations to deal with such matters. Links to further information UN News Centre, 19 December 2006 UNESCAP Press Release, 19 December 2006 UNESCAP Seminar website
FOOD SECURITY SUMMIT COMMITS TO COMBAT POVERTY IN AFRICA

The Summit on Food Security in Africa, organized by the Nigerian Government, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), took place in Abuja, Nigeria, from 4-7 December 2006. The Conference took as its main theme “Food Security: an Engine for Growth and Poverty Alleviation in Africa.” The Summit concluded with the adoption of a Declaration and Resolution by the attending Heads of State and Government. The Declaration recommends measures for the promotion and protection of strategic commodities at the continental level, such as rice, maize, legumes, cotton, oil palm, beef, dairy, poultry and fisheries products, and at the sub-regional level, such cassava, sorghum and millet, and to increase the Intra-African trade. The Resolution endorses the commitment to expand markets, with particular attention to Africa's own demand and Inter-African trade in staple foods; to mobilize resources for implementing priority food and nutrition security interventions, focusing on selected strategic commodities; to ensure systematic integration of nutrition considerations into agricultural and food security interventions; to identify African successes and support sharing of positive experiences; and to establish a system for selecting and prioritizing key African Union Commission and NEPAD-CAADP (Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) related summit commitments.

Links to further information Summit on Food Security in Africa Declaration of the Abuja Food Security Summit Resolution of the Abuja Food Security Summit

November 2006

UN DEBATE ON MDGS STRESSES PARTNERSHIPS FOR PROGRESS

A thematic debate “Partnerships towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Taking stock, moving forward” was organized on 27 November 2006 by the General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa. The aim of the debate was to give momentum to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by reviewing practical measures and strategies that will lead to tangible results. The debate brought together donor and recipient countries, as well as civil society, NGOs and the private sector. Sheikha Haya emphasized that partnerships were crucial to achieve the MDGs, with the UN Development Programme's Administrator Kemal Dervis stressing that no region is currently on track to meet all the MDGs by 2015, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noting that the prospects for attaining the goals were “mixed, at best.” The key points made during the debate included: the need for partnerships to engage governments, the public sector and civil society; scaling up interventions on the ground; and the importance of both donors and recipients to fulfil their respective commitments. Several speakers praised the experience of Millennium Villages and the Islamic Development Bank announced the establishment of a US$10 billion Poverty Alleviation Fund to target the MDGs. According to IISD sources, many participants expressed satisfaction with the debate's broad participation and resulting concrete undertakings. Qatar will host a follow-up event to the thematic debate during the first half of 2007. Links to further information UN News Release, 27 November 2006 UN General Assembly summary report
UNESCO CONFERENCE CALLS ON DONORS TO SPEND MORE ON EDUCATION

To achieve universal primary education, adult literacy and early childhood care by 2015, the 6th meeting of the High-Level Group on Education for All, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and meeting in Cairo, Egypt, from 14-16 November, adopted recommendations urging countries to spend 4 to 6 percent of national income on education. The conference, which was attended by education ministers from developing countries, several multilateral and bilateral agencies, NGOs and the private sector, focused on strategies to increase funding from to better respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and improve cooperation to achieve Education for All goals. Link to further information UN news release, 17 November 2006
FORUM MARKS END OF UN DECADE FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY

The Division of Social Policy and Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in collaboration with other UN agencies and civil society, organized the International Forum on the Eradication of Poverty to mark the end of the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The Forum, which convened at UN headquarters in New York, NY, from 15-16 November 2006, aimed to reemphasize the importance of a commitment to poverty eradication in the run-up to 2015, and to provide an opportunity for dialogue among stakeholders on next steps toward the realization of the universal goal of poverty eradication. Approximately 300 participants discussed innovative ways to reduce poverty. One expert, Peter Townsend of the London School of Economics, highlighted the experience of members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which have largely eliminated poverty by strengthening their social protection and social security systems. Links to further information Poverty Forum 2006 UN Daily News, 15 November
UN Coherence Panel Releases Report

9 November 2006: The High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and the Environment has released its report. The report, “Delivering as One,” was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 9 November 2006. The report recommends steps to create a unified and coherent UN structure at the country level. It also contains recommendations on: UN governance, funding and management; enhanced humanitarian assistance; advancing gender equality; and reforming business practices. On development, the Panel suggested: • consolidating all UN programme activities at the country level by 2012 (starting with five pilot countries in 2007), through one UN programme, a single budgetary framework, one office where appropriate, and an empowered Resident Coordinator; • establishing a UN Sustainable Development Board to oversee the One UN Country programmes and ensure coherence at the headquarters level; and • creating a Millennium Development Goal funding mechanism to provide multiyear, performance- and result-oriented funding for the country programmes. On the environment, the Panel recommended: • “upgrading” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with a renewed mandate and improved funding to have “real authority as the environmental policy pillar of the UN system;” • making more effective cooperation among UN entities on a thematic basis and through partnerships; • increasing the resources of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); • clarifying the mandate of the Environmental Management Group (EMG); • tasking UNDP with supporting environmental mainstreaming in crisis prevention, post-conflict and post-disaster interventions, and early recovery; • establishing one comprehensive annual national report format for multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); • promoting management efficiencies among MEAs and reducing the frequency and duration of MEA-related meetings; • integrating UNEP's environmental expertise in UN country teams; • establishing a sustainable development segment in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); • shifting the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) from assessing single environmental issues to focusing on implementation and integrated decision-making on environment and development; and • carrying out an independent assessment of international environmental governance within the UN system for considering further reforms, in parallel with the continued UNGA informal consultative process on international environmental governance. Kofi Annan will present the Panel's report to the General Assembly with a preface on suggested ways for member States to consider and implement the Panel's recommendations, and then transmit it to his successor, Ban Ki-moon. Annan has also envisioned an informal dialogue on the report involving national delegations, senior UN officials, country-level practitioners and other experts, allowing for other stakeholders' perspectives to be heard. [The High-level Panel Report] [UN Secretary-General's speech (9 November 2006)]

October 2006

YOUNG LEADERS MEET TO PROMOTE MDGs

Hundreds of young people from all over the world gathered at UN headquarters for the first Global Youth Leadership Summit. The event, held from 29 to 31 October 2006, was organized by the UN New York Office of Sport for Development and Peace. Young delegates focused on ways of using their youthful perspective and technological skills to tackle major socio-economic challenges, including involving more people in the promotion of international development, eradication of poverty, hunger and other social ills. Links to further information UN News Centre, 31 October 2006 UN News Centre, 27 October 2006 Global Youth Leadership Summit
COMMUNICATION FOR DEVELOPMENT DISCUSSED IN ROME

The first World Congress on Communication for Development, held from 25-27 October 2006 in Rome, Italy, focused on demonstrating that communication for development is essential for meeting development challenges and that it should be fully integrated in development policy and practice. The three-day congress, attended by policy-makers, academics and media professionals, was jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank and the Communication Initiative Partnership, and was hosted by the Government of Italy. Links to further information Conference site UN News Centre, 27 October 2006 UN News Centre, 25 October 2006 World Bank, Press Release No:2007/119/DevComm
GA SECOND COMMITTEE TACKLES HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

The Economic Committee of the UN General Assembly has discussed successes and challenges of the UN Human Settlements Programme. On 26 October 2006, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the General Assembly heard a report by UN-Habitat Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka on the achievements of the Programme, particularly through the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation that provides pro-poor housing finance. Tibaijuka, however, expressed concern over the narrow funding base and lack of predictable multi-year funding for UN-Habitat, and proposed introducing voluntary assessed contributions. In ensuing discussions, the G-77/China requested increasing the regular budget of UN-HABITAT, and recommended that, during the ongoing UN reform process, UN-HABITAT's unique mandate should not be diluted. Links to further information UN Press release, 26 October 2006 G-77/China Statement, 26 October 2006 Anna Tibaiuka's statement, 26 October 2006
UN FOCUSES ON DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Several UN bodies and agencies have focused on discrimination and violence against women. On 6 October, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study, “Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women,” showing that violence against women is common and widespread throughout the developing and developed world. The report's recommendations included challenging the social norms that condone violence against women. On 9 October, the UN General Assembly's Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committee considered the report of the UN Secretary-General on violence against women. The report notes that despite national and international efforts to ensure gender equality and women's empowerment, violence against women remains widespread and should be considered a global problem. During the general discussion on the advancement of women in the Third Committee, country representatives supported the report, with some recommending gender mainstreaming in the UN reform. The Third Committee also debated the report on the work of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). On 10 October, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented to the Security Council his first annual report assessing progress on an action plan to mainstream gender perspectives into the UN's peace and security efforts. Annan concluded that more efforts both at UN headquarters and in the field are needed. Links to further information UN press releases (October 2006): 10 October 2006; 10 October 2006; 10 October 2006; 9 October 2006; and 6 October 2006 Report of the UN Secretary-General on violence against women Note of the UN Secretary-General on the activities of the Un...

September 2006

PRIVATE SECTOR'S ROLE IN AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT STRESSED

The private sector can play a major role in Africa's development if safeguards are created to ensure that developing countries share in the profits, according to experts meeting in New York. The comments were made during a meeting at the UN on 18 September, organized by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Link to further information UN News Centre (18 September 2006)
UN-HABITAT CONVENES GLOBAL YOUTH EMPLOYMENT SUMMIT

Youth employment was the focus of a meeting organized by UN-HABITAT—the UN Programme on Human Settlements. The event, which took place from 13-16 September 2006 in Nairobi, Kenya, involved youth leaders from over 54 countries. Participants discussed unemployment, the integration and empowerment of young people in society, and youth's contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The Summit was preceded by an expert group meeting on youth engagement in cities organized by UN-HABITAT Partners and Youth Section and the Oslo Youth Centre, which focused on the Global Partnership Initiative and the opening of One Stop Youth Centers in five cities in Africa and possibly Latin America and Asia. Links to further information UN-HABITAT press release, September 2006 Summit website
UNGA CONVENES HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The UN General Assembly has organized a High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development. The dialogue, which convened from 14-15 September 2006 at the UN's New York headquarters, was called for in GA resolution 58/208 of 23 December 2003. The meeting sought to discuss the multidimensional aspects of international migration and development in order to identify appropriate ways and means to maximize its development benefits and minimize its negative impacts. Over 140 speakers representing governments, regional bodies and non-governmental organizations discussed the issue in plenary debate and four round tables, which were organized around the themes of: the effects on international migration on economic and social development; measures to ensure respect for and protection of the human rights of all migrants, and to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons; multidimensional aspects of international migration and development, including remittances; and promoting the building of partnerships and capacity building and the sharing of best practices at all levels, including the bilateral and regional levels, for the benefit of countries and migrants alike. To further the dialogue, Belgium offered to host the first meeting of the Global Forum on Migration, which UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed be established to provide a forum for countries to discuss and exchange best ideas and practices on the issue. Link to further information Dialogue website (September 2006)

August 2006

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE TACKLES HEAVY WORKLOAD

The UN Committee on discrimination against women has concluded its latest session after working through a heavy agenda. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which met at UN headquarters in New York from 7-25 August 2006, reviewed the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 15 countries and considered two complaints regarding alleged cases of specific violations of the Convention. The Committee further worked on draft general recommendations on discrimination and on migrant women. In light of its growing workload, the Committee met for the first time in parallel chambers, an arrangement that will be adopted in future sessions.

Link to further information UN press release (25 August 2006)
UN TREATY ON DISABLED PERSONS' RIGHTS CLOSE TO ADOPTION

Following intense negotiations, the text of a new treaty on the rights of disabled persons has been finalized and is ready for adoption by the General Assembly at its upcoming session. Concluding five years of negotiations, the eighth session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities met at the UN headquarters in New York from 14-25 August 2006, to finalize the text of a proposed, 40-article agreement that specifically prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities, without creating new rights.

Link to further information UN press release (27 August 2006)
RAPPORTEUR PROPOSED ON STATES DISAPPEARING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL REASONS

During its closing session on 25 August 2006, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human rights recommended to the recently established UN Human Rights Council the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on the legal implications of the disappearance of States and other territories for environmental reasons. The decision follows studies undertaken by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations and the Sub-Commission, which note that, as opposed to issues of State succession, the question of the extinction of a State, without there being a successor, is unprecedented. Questions related to the forced relocation of extinct States populations have been highlighted by the Sub-Commission, in States that will totally disappear, mostly island States, but also for States with a significant proportion of whose territory will disappear, leaving only such territory as will be unable to support the existing population.

Link to further information UN press release (25 August 2006)
AIDS CONFERENCE URGES UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO PREVENTION, TREATMENT

A large conference on HIV/AIDS has concluded with calls for universal access to effective prevention strategies, as well as HIV care and treatment. The XVI International AIDS Conference, held in Toronto, Canada from 13-18 August 2006, involved the presentation of more than 4,500 abstracts and was attended by an estimated 26,000 people, including experts, activists, policy makers, health providers and caregivers. The event covered a range of specific issues. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) called attention to the linkages between gender and HIV/AIDS, with Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer urging the international community to step up the delivery on gender equality to reverse the feminization of the AIDS pandemic. She reminded participants that gender inequality is one of the major drivers of the AIDS pandemic. Links to further information Official conference website Event press release, 18 August 2006 UNIFEM press release, 14 August 2006

July 2006

CIVIL SOCIETY DISCUSSES DEVELOPMENT AND MIGRATION

Delegates from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society and the private sector have gathered for hearings on international migration and development. The informal, interactive hearings, held at UN headquarters in New York on 12 July 2006, follow up on the release in June of the UN Secretary-General's report on international migration and development and will be followed by a high-level dialogue by the General Assembly on 14-15 September. A compilation of views from civil society, including those unable to participate in the July hearings, has been prepared by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service, to facilitate a constructive exchange in the process leading up to the high-level dialogue.

Links to further information UN press release (July 2006) The compilation of views
WORLD POPULATION DAY CELEBRATED

The United Nations has marked World Population Day, held on 11 July 2006, with a focus on youth. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted the benefits of investing in education, reproductive health, job skills and employment opportunities for young people. The UN Population Fund Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid stressed that millions of young people today are threatened by poverty, illiteracy, risks of pregnancy and childbirth, and HIV/AIDS.

Links to further information UN press release, July 2006 UN Secretary-General's special message, 11 July 2006 UNPFA Executive Director's message, 11 July 2006
ECOSOC Highlights Connection Between Full Employment and Sustainable Development

July 2006: The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a Ministerial Declaration during the High-Level Segment of its annual substantive session, recognizing “that full and productive employment and decent work for all…are key elements of sustainable development for all countries, and therefore a priority objective of social cooperation.” The 3-5 July 2006 High-Level Segment convened in Geneva, Switzerland, to consider the theme “Creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development.” During a 6 July dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions on regional dimensions of the same theme, the issues of jobless growth, lack of growth, growth concentrated in certain sectors, youth unemployment and labor market changes in transition economies were raised. ECOSOC's coordination segment convened from 6-10 July to consider “Sustained economic growth for social development, including the eradication of poverty and hunger.” Participants also convened in a special event on Avian Influenza to hear from UN agencies that are preparing for a possible pandemic. Speakers stressed that it will represent a threat for years to come and emphasized the need to help developing countries to prepare for a possible pandemic. During the operational activities segment, held from 11-13 July, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, reported that the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations development system at the country level has taken on a new sense of urgency since the 2005 World Summit. A humanitarian affairs segment, convening from 14-19 July, addressed topics including special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, during which speakers noted that the number and scale of humanitarian emergencies in the last year had presented significant challenges for the humanitarian community. The Council will conclude its work on 28 July. Links to further information ECOSOC Home Page ECOSOC Press Releases for July 2006 Session High-Level Segment Ministerial Declaration, 5 July 2006

June 2006

CIVICUS WORLD ASSEMBLY FOCUSES ON MDGS

International civil society groups have meet to discuss global action to reduce poverty and support global governance. The CIVICUS World Assembly is a forum for international civil society representatives to meet, exchange ideas, experiences and build strategies for a just world. The 2006 meeting took place from 21–25 June in Glasgow, Scotland, with participants focusing on the following cross-cutting themes: the Millennium Development Goals Campaign and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty; enhancing the legitimacy, accountability and transparency of civil society organizations; and continuing challenges to, and opportunities for, fair and effective global governance.

Links to further information Assembly website (June 2006) Opening speeches
WORLD URBAN FORUM III FOCUSES ON ENVIRONMENT, FINANCE AND SOCIAL INCLUSION

The World Urban Forum has concluded in Vancouver, Canada after taking up such issues as urban growth and the environment, partnerships and finance, and social inclusion and cohesion. Organized by UN-HABITAT and the Government of Canada, the third session of the World Urban Forum convened from 19-23 June 2006, under the theme, “Sustainable Cities – Turning Ideas into Action.” Attracting an estimated 10,000 participants, the Forum featured a number of roundtables, dialogues, special sessions and networking events, and concluded with a call to strengthen partnerships for urban development, as well as with a growing recognition of the need to address the underlying causes of urbanization to achieve the vision of sustainable human settlements for all. The meeting report identifies several emerging issues, such as the need to plan for rapidly growing urban populations, increase financial resources for sustainable infrastructure development, and address the gap between governments' commitments and actions to meet the Millennium Development Goals in cities. The report will be submitted for consideration to the 21st session of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council, scheduled to take place in early 2007.

Link to further information IISD coverage of the World Urban Forum
CONFERENCE ON WOMEN AND DESERTIFICATION ADOPTS BEIJING STATEMENT

Participants at a conference in Beijing have adopted a statement addressing priorities for action and other issues relating to women and desertification. The Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the governments of Algeria, China and Italy organized the Beijing International Conference on Women and Desertification, which met from 29 May – 1 June 2006. The meeting was one of several marking the 2006 International Year of Deserts and Desertification (IYDD). Over 100 participants from approximately 50 countries discussed challenges and opportunities for women in drylands and the Beijing Platform for Action from the Fourth World Conference on Women, among other agenda items. Following an opening ceremony attended by approximately 400 individuals and a roundtable discussion with ministers from Bulgaria, Algeria and China among other governmental representatives, participants broke into three thematic working groups to identify potential elements for a Beijing Statement, which was adopted by the conference. The Beijing Statement addresses: institutional issues, including ways to use the intersessional intergovernmental working group (IIWG) and Ad Hoc Working Group to follow-up on the Beijing discussions; main priorities for action, including water and resource management, energy, food security, health and education; funding mechanisms; monitoring; and implementation mechanisms. Participants also recommended that the Beijing Statement be placed on the COP-8 agenda and that a follow-up meeting be organized in two years. Link to further information IYDD website

May 2006

UN INDIGENOUS ISSUES FORUM FOCUSES ON MDGs AND AFRICA

The UN expert body on indigenous issues has focused its latest discussions on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Africa. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues convened from 15-26 May 2006, at UN headquarters in New York, with the theme “Millennium Development Goals and indigenous peoples: redefining the Goals.” Speakers focused on the Programme of Action of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, whose end in 2015 coincides with the year benchmarked for the achievement of the MDGs. The Forum noted the need for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in all evaluation and stricter monitoring processes on the progress towards the Goals, and strongly encouraged all States to provide disaggregated data on health and social welfare indicators, to understand where indigenous societies stand in the process. The Forum also urged States and UN agencies to develop culturally-sensitive policies, programmes and projects that fully incorporated indigenous children and youth in achieving the MDGs. Following its half-day discussion on Africa and the concern for Africa's indigenous groups, the Forum called for two regional conferences in Africa to enhance indigenous organizations' capacity to engage in dialogue with governments at the country level to promote understanding of indigenous issues, including through designing regional strategies to achieve the MDGs. In anticipation of the first session of the new United Nations Human Rights Council, the Permanent Forum also recommended that indigenous issues be a standing agenda item of the Council, and due attention be paid to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples. The Forum proposed to schedule its sixth session from 14-25 May 2007, in Bangkok, Thailand; and a three-day expert group meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity from 17-19 June 2007, at UN headquarters in New York. Links to further information UN press releases (May 2006): 26 May 2006 16 May 2006 17 May 2006 18 May 2006 19 May 2006
WOMEN'S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE REVIEWS IMPLEMENTATION

A UN committee has met for three weeks to assess how countries protect women from discrimination. At its thirty-fifth session, started on 15 May 2006 at UN headquarters in New York, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) highlighted the need to address gaps and challenges in gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the UN work, further implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and make women's empowerment a priority in development and human rights activities. The Committee considered reports on national implementation and made recommendations on the promotion and protection of women's rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkmenistan, Guatemala, Malawi, Saint Lucia, Malaysia, Cyprus and Romania. In doing so, the Committee discussed issues such as: customary laws and traditional practices; women's participation in economic and political decision-making; rural women; and immigrant women's rights. Links to further information UN press releases (May-June 2006): 19 May 2006 18 May 2006 17 May 2006 17 May 2006
PEACEKEEPERS TRAINED ON GENDER ISSUES

Peacekeeping officials dealing with communications and information technology have completed a five-day meeting at the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) to address gender concerns as part of overall planning. Following up on the training, which was concluded on the 5 May 2006 in New York, INSTRAW and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations are developing other collaborative projects in the areas of training, access to facilities and logistical support. Link to further information UN News (May 2006)

April 2006

WIPO CREATES FUND FOR INDIGENOUS PARTICIPATION

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has created a fund to boost the involvement of indigenous and local communities in efforts to protect their cultural knowledge and arts from misuse in the world market. The voluntary fund, created at the ninth session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, held in Geneva from 24-28 April 2006, aims to provide practical support for representatives of these communities to actively participate in the process of establishing international standards to prevent the misappropriation of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Contributions to the fund from the Swedish International Biodiversity Programme (‘SwedBio') and the French Government have been announced. According to IP Watch, developing country delegates at the meeting reiterated the need for a legally-binding instrument, while a new Norwegian proposal on the protection of traditional knowledge, but not genetic resources, received support from a number of developed countries. Highlighting disagreement over the notion of a legally binding tool, the compromise Norwegian proposal suggests focusing on areas where an agreement is within reach, and calls for a high-level declaration on these issues. It also suggests considering use of Article 10bis (preventing unfair competition) of the 1883 Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property as a model for a new instrument against misappropriation and unfair use of traditional knowledge. Discussion on these issues will continue at the tenth session of the Committee, on the basis of written comments submitted by delegations. Links to further information WIPO press release, 27 April 2006 UN press release, 27 April 2006 More information on the WIPO Voluntary Fund The working documents of the IGC ninth session The decisions of the IGC ninth session IP Watch, Nations urge legally binding biodiversity outcome ..., 25 April 2006 IP Watch, WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee snags over fu..., 28 April 2006
UN POPULATION COMMISSION FOCUSES ON INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION

The UN Population Commission focused its annual session on international migration and its contribution to development. The UN Commission on Population and Development is the 47-member organ of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) charged to assess the implementation of the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and advise the Council. At its 39th session held from 3-7 April 2006 at UN headquarters in New York, the Commission focused on the theme, “International Migration and Development.” The discussions will contribute to the High-Level Dialogue on the same topic that will be held in New York from 14-15 September 2006, prior to the UN General Assembly. Participants recognized the need for partnerships between countries of origin and destination of international immigrants, to maximize benefits and minimize risks such as disregard for migrants' rights, their exploitation as workers, brain drain, human trafficking, and reintegration of returning migrants. Participants also discussed: increasing funding for international family planning; integrating gender and human rights into migration policies; and developing an international normative framework to address international migration. Links to further information UN News, 3 April 2006 UNPFA press release, April 2006 UN press release, 5 April 2006 UN press release, 4 April 2006 UN press release, 3 April 2006
AFRICAN MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE SETS PRIORITIES FOR URBAN POVERTY

Ministers responsible for housing and urban development from more than 30 African countries have gathered to devise new strategies to achieve the international commitments on significantly improving slums dwellers' lives, as agreed at the UN 2005 World Summit. The Special Conference and Special High-Level Meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD) convened from 3-5 April 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme, “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Strategies for the Realization of the World Summit Commitments on Slums.” Ministers discussed a 10-point plan designed to reduce urban poverty, focusing on: decentralizing State authority for sustainable urban development; policy frameworks; land management; sustainable housing finance mechanisms, including the private sector through public-private partnerships; civil society involvement in and community approaches to the delivery of land and housing; and enhanced enforcement of existing land regulations and building codes. Participants also emphasized the need for capacity building in town planning and engineering, tackling corruption, managing post-conflict situations, and strengthening the role of women, highlighting the special role for AMCHUD in supporting South-South exchanges. Concluding their work, Ministers pledged to prioritize urban poverty on the national and international agenda. Links to further information UN-HABITAT press release, 3 April 2006 UN-HABITAT press release, 4 April 2006 UN press release, 5 April 2006 AMCHUD website

March 2006

2006 WORLD SOCIAL FORUM CONCLUDES

The 2006 World Social Forum has concluded its 2006 events in Karachi, Pakistan. The last of a series of the three forums planned for 2006, the meeting, which took place from 24-29 March, followed events in Bamako, Mali, in January and in Caracas, Venezuela, in March. Ten thousand participants from over 58 countries attended the Karachi meeting, which focused on the theme, “Another world is possible.” Among the issues discussed were: imperialism, militarization, armed conflicts and peace movements; natural resources; trade, development and globalization; social justice, human rights and governance; State and religion; nationalities and ethnic and cultural identities; development strategies; peoples' movements and alternative strategies; women, patriarchy and social change; and environment, ecology and livelihoods. Environmental discussions focused on such matters as privatization, water distribution and conflicts, land rights, control over resources, and problems of mega-cities. Link to further information DAWN's website World Social Forum website
UN WOMEN'S COMMISSION DISCUSSES HOSTAGE-TAKING, HIV/AIDS

The latest session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women has addressed issues ranging from women's enhanced participation in development and in decision-making processes, to hostage-taking, HIV/AIDS, and the gender dimensions of international migration. The 50th session of the Commission on the Status of Women began on 27 February and concluded on 16 March 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. The Commission adopted by consensus resolutions on: hostage-taking, condemning particularly torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, murder, rape, slavery, and trafficking in women and children; HIV/AIDS, urging to build women's capacity to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection; reporting on the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan; and the advisability of a special rapporteur on laws discriminating against women. The Commission also approved after a vote a resolution on Palestinian women. The Commission concluded its work by recommending its priority themes for the period 2007-2009, for adoption by the Economic and Social Council. The Commission proposed, “The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child” for 2007; “Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women” for 2008; and “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including care giving in the context of HIV/AIDS” for 2009. In a recommendation on its future organization and methods of work, the Commission included the possibility of conducting, in 2010, a review and appraisal of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. More information: UN Commission press releases, March 2006 16 March 2006 8 March 2006 10 March 2006
NEW UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CREATED OVER U.S. OBJECTIONS; DEVELOPMENT LINKS STRESSED

UN Member States have voted to establish a new Human Rights Council. The Council was agreed in spite of opposition from the US, which argued that stronger rules were needed to prevent States with poor human rights records from becoming members of the Council. The resolution establishing the Council was supported by 170 Member States. Four countries voted again, while three abstained. The Council, which will replace the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights, will hold its inaugural meeting on 19 June 2006. Applauding the decision, a number of government speakers stressed the linkages between human rights and progress on development issues and internationally-agreed development goals. Several delegates also discussed the “right to development,” the Millennium Development Goals, and connections to sustainable development. More information: UN press release, 15 March 2006

February 2006

WOMEN'S INCLUSION IN POST-CONFLICT PROCESSES DISCUSSED

Somali women leaders and gender experts meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, have called for greater inclusion of women and gender concerns in the monitoring mechanisms of the Somali peace agreement (Transitional Charter) and for greater participation in the joint needs assessment currently being conducted by the UN and the World Bank in Somalia. Following a two-day forum co-organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of the East African region and UNIFEM, the 4th Regular Meeting of the IGAD Gender Ministers was held on the 21-22 February 2006, in Nairobi. The Ministers adopted a declaration to define implementation and monitoring modalities for the IGAD Gender Policy Framework, focusing on issues such as post-conflict reconstruction and peace building in Sudan and the joint needs assessment for post-conflict reconstruction in Somalia. Links to further information UNIFEM Press Release, 22 February 2006 Meeting webpage, February 2006 Declaration of the 4th Regular Meeting of the IGAD Ministers...
COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FOCUSES ON POVERTY ERADICATION

The latest session of the Commission for Social Development has ended after reviewing the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The 44th Session of the Commission for Social Development convened from 8-17 February 2006, at the UN headquarters in New York. As well its work on poverty eradication, the Commission also reviewed relevant UN plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups, such as the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons; the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond; and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. Links to further information Website of the 44th Session and meeting documents UN statement on close of the session, 17 February 2006
WOMEN'S ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE REVIEWS COMPLIANCE ISSUES

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has met for its latest session in New York to consider compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Committee's 34th session, which was held from 16 January to 3 February 2006 examined country reports on compliance from Mali, Australia, Venezuela, Macedonia, Eritrea, Thailand, Cambodia and Togo. The Committee also continued its work under the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which provides for a petition and an inquiry procedure regarding violations of the rights of women in States parties to the Convention and the Optional Protocol. Links to further information Website of the 34th Session, meeting documents and press rel... UN statement on the close of the session, 3 February 2006

January 2006

UN-HABITAT URGES GENDER EQUALITY IN ACCESSING HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

UN-HABITAT's Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka has appealed to governments to adopt laws that ensure gender equality in the human settlements sector. The call came during a two-day meeting on Aid Modalities and the Promotion of Gender Equality, held from 30-31 January 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya. Tibaijuka told participants that meeting the gender-related targets of the Millennium Development Goals would depend to a large extent on bringing about the required changes to a myriad of laws and restrictive legislation that pose major obstacles to gender equality and the empowerment of women, such as urban planning regulations, laws on property and inheritance rights, and access to credit. Link to further information UN-HABITAT press release, 31 January 2006
UN PREPARES FOR 50TH SESSION OF COMMISSION ON WOMEN

Preparations for the 50th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women continued in late 2005 and early 2006 with the publication of reports from two recent expert group meetings and an information note for civil society participants. The 2006 session, which will be held in late February and early March, will focus on enhanced participation of women in development an on equal participation in decision-making processes at all levels. Link to further information Commission on the Status of Women(CSW) - Fiftieth Session
UN MEETING ENDORSES WORKERS' ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

The first World Assembly on Labour and the Environment has ended with a call to add environmental rights to workers' traditional rights. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and World Confederation of Labour convened leaders from more than 150 trade unions at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi from 15-17 January 2006. Participants agreed to wrap environmental rights, such as access to water and energy, into their definition of traditional workers' rights, such as freedom of association and collective bargaining. The Workers' Initiative for a Lasting Legacy, or WILL2006, as the agreement from the three-day assembly is called, also included action on climate change and the promotion of sustainable production and consumption patterns. Union leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation between unions and UNEP, WHO and ILO, as well as government ministries, in an effort to strengthen health and safety standards on the job while achieving broad environmental goals. A specific goal identified during the meeting was working towards a complete ban of asbestos and its safe disposal as outlined in the Basel Convention. Links to further information UN/UNEP news releases, January 2006: UN environmental agency and organized labour work to keep en... Power of Organized Labour Plugs into Global Environmental Is... World Assembly on Labour and the Environment
DRAFT DISCUSSED FOR CONVENTION ON RIGHTS OF DISABLED PERSONS

A UN Committee has been working on a text for a Convention on the rights of disabled persons. The UN Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities began its seventh session on 16 January 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting is scheduled to conclude on 3 February. Links to further information UN updates: 27 January 2006 16 January 2006