Report from Our Interns
Since our Internship started in mid-September we have had access to some of the most important committees / groups within the UN, including:
The Security Council: This body has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It responds to crises around the world on a case-by-case basis and uses a range of options to advance peace initiatives. Recently it unanimously adopted Resolution 2242(2015) on Women, Peace, and Security. The debate highlighted the need for women in leadership positions in peacekeeping.
The Third Committee: This Committee of the General Assembly (GA) deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, as well as human rights issues that affect people all over the world. This year they are discussing issues on youth, family, ageing, disability, crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control. The debate has also included the advancement of women, protection of children, indigenous issues, the treatment of refugees, the promotion of basic freedoms through the elimination of racism and racial discrimination, and the right to self- determination. Two examples of events we attended follow:
Children in Conflict: Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict gave her annual report to the Third Committee on the promotion and protection of the rights of children. She revealed that the plight of children involved in conflict has worsened since 2014, in the Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Yemen, and South Sudan. She noted the blatant disregard for international law and called on all parties to the conflicts to act in accordance with international humanitarian law. Approaches to solutions included education to counter extremist discourse, and reintegration of former child soldiers, with special attention paid to the needs of girls.
Sale of children and child pornography: Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child drew attention to the challenges of extreme poverty, political and social instability and wide scale criminal violence. He noted the slow pace of ratification of the UN agreements on the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and children in armed conflict. Maud de Boer-Buguicchio, Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children called on states to recover and integrate child victims by carefully selecting and training law enforcement officers, magistrates and social workers along with other trained professionals.
It is heart breaking to listen to these sessions, but the work of the Third Committee leaves no one in doubt about what is happening in our world. NGOs such as UNANIMA pass on information from the grassroots to the United Nations to help make states accountable, seek justice and empower the vulnerable.
–Susan Newland and Amila Rodrigo SDS