Lots of action at the UN this week as the Commission for the Status of Women kicks off. In UN-speak the meeting is officially called the”15-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the outcomes of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (2000).” Try saying that 10 times fast. Or don’t. Most folks call this meeting “Beijing+15.”
So what is this confab all about? In 1995 delegations from a great number of governments signed onto a 12 part plan to promote the welfare of women in their own countries. This was the Beijing Declaration and it included a wide ranging “plan of action” to promote the rights of women around the world. The meeting at the UN this week and next are intended to give governments and NGOs the opportunity to assess their progress toward the implementation of that plan of action.
For those that want to follow the action, but can’t attend in person here are some good resources:
*The opening statement from the United States delegation, in which US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer lays out the Obama administration’s priorities for the conference.
Finally, I would be remiss not to post this speech from then-First Lady Hillary Clinton when she lead the U.S. delegation to the 1995 Beijing Conference. It is a classic — as powerful today as it was 15 years ago. You’ll enjoy it. I promise.
Courtesy of Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, millions of Americans have seen how a single United States senator can use procedural chicanery to prevent important legislation from moving forward. By withholding his “consent” from a resolution extending unemployment benefits to out of work Americans last week, Bunning prevented social security checks from reaching many thousands of people in need.
That fracas seems to have thankfully ended, but it does help shed light on another pitched battle between one senator and 99 others that is receiving considerably less attention.
The senator in question is Dr. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma who has placed a similar hold on the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act which authorizes $40 million to post-conflict recovery efforts in Northern Uganda and directs President Obama to come up with a peace and recovery plan for war-ravaged Northern Uganda. Though the bill does not actually appropriate any money (that can only happen through the budget process) Coburn objects, in principle, to new funding unless it is offset elsewhere in the budget. Coburn, therefore, has placed a hold on the bill.
When Bunning used a similar method to block unemployment benefits from reaching thousands of workers on furlough, there was a huge outcry from Republicans, Democrats, and the public at large. Americans could easily identify with people in a tight financial spot that Bunning threatened to squeeze even further. They are our friends and neighbors who, through no fault of their own, are out of work and need a small amount of government support to get by. We can relate, in other words, to the victims of Bunning’s actions.
You don’t see the same public outcry about Coburn’s actions. Why? I fear because it’s much harder for us to identify with the victims of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army’s 20 year campaign in Northern Uganda. It’s easier to ignore people ike this:
These images come from the African Youth Information Network, a local NGO in Northern Uganda that aids victims of the the Lord’s Resistance Army’s campaign of mutilation of children in Northern Uganda. Thankfully, the war in Northern Uganda has largely subsided. The LRA, though, is still wreaking havoc in neighboring regions. Two weeks ago, the LRA sacked a town in south west Central African Republic and kidnapped 40 people (including, presumably, many children).
This is why passing the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act is so important. It shows our solidarity and common humanity with the victims of the LRA’s campaign of terror and mutilation. It also demonstrates the United States’ commitment to bringing the LRA to justice.
So far, though, Coburn’s obstructionism has not received anywhere near the kind of attention as Senator Bunning’s similar actions. At least one group, though, is trying to tip the scales. A group of activists have been camped out at Senator Coburn’s Oklahoma office for the past 114 hours, simply to ask Coburn to find a reasonable compromise that would permit him to lift his hold on the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. Is that really not too much to ask.
This week marks the kickoff of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a 2-week, woman-focused conference that takes place annually at the United Nations (UN). Basically, this means that for the next two weeks, THE principal global policy-making body will be dedicating itself exclusively to the pursuit of gender equality and the advancement of women. Pretty exciting stuff, right?!?!?
*Cricket Chirp* *Cricket Chirp*
Wait….what? You’re not falling over in your chair with excitement about this event? Come to think of it, where’s the buzz around the domestic U.S. feminist blogosphere? Shouldn’t we all be as excited about this as we are about, say, Lady Gaga? Can’t help but pull a Hanson here and ask…”Where’s the love“??? (for C-S-dubs?)
Although it’s disappointing, I’m not too surprised when I hear folks express apathy/cynicism towards the UN in general and the CSW in particular, especially since I myself have harbored those same kinds of feelings towards the UN in the past. It can seem like with all the acronyms and jargon being used, many delegates don’t want members of civil society to get involved, or that they are creating a deliberate barrier for non-UN folks to get to the content. It can also sometimes feel like the progress being made there isn’t real or important, since things. move. so. slowlyyyyyyy. sometimes.
But I’m one U.S.-based domestic feminist who is now sold on the importance of these two weeks, and I’ve worked with many international advocates who are as well.
Today, at the 80th Geneva Motor Show, Porsche unveiled the 918 Spyder, which gets 94 mpg and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. For comparison, versions of the 911 get 14 to 21 mpg and go from 0 to 60 in 4.2 to 5.8 seconds.
Why so fast? It’s got a 3.4-liter, V8 race car engine and a shell made of “carbon-fibre reinforced plastic with a liberal sprinkling of aluminium and magnesium.”
The website of BBC car show Top Gear — one of the best shows on television, period — practically salivates over this “surprise” and seems confident that Porsche will bring the car to production.
However, the real test for many will be whether Top Gear’s lead host, Climate-skeptic and hybrid-Honda-hater Jeremy Clarkson, will warm to the 918. Please Porsche, get the 918 to Clarkson and the Stig soon.
A new paper by Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin argues that “African poverty is falling and is falling rapidly.” That’s not the only iconoclastic argument in the paper. They authors state that progress against poverty has been well-distributed throughout the continent, equally successful regardless of geography, history, or mineral wealth. They also argue that the growth spurt that began in 1995 has reduced inequality rather than making it work.
I am not a development economist. I’m really not equipped to evaluate the claims, though along with everyone else I certainly want them to be true. I checked out the development blogosphere for more insight. Global Dashboard has some useful background. They point out that “Sala-i-Martin and Pinkovskiy use GDP to measure poverty (working out distribution of income from household surveys) – the World Bank’s figures are derived directly from the surveys themselves.” Aid Thoughts pointed out that the paper’s data derives from the “now infamous Penn World Tables…which are constantly being revised and often accused of being unreliable.”
The whole discussion illustrates just how hard it is to collect good poverty data; it’s still an art as well as a science. If we’re lucky, the debate triggered by this paper will help shed some light on the process.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, March 12, 2010 at the United Nations, in New York City. Fifteen years ago, as First Lady of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. The message from that conference still resounds today: human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. In Beijing, 189 countries adopted a Platform for Action that pledged to increase women’s access to education, healthcare, jobs, and credit, and to protect their right to live free from violence. On March 12, Secretary Clinton will speak to the progress the world has made toward meeting those goals, the work that is left to do, and the critical role that women play in achieving the foreign policy goals of the United States.
The speech comes at the tale end of a week of events at the UN and around the world for International Women’s Day, on March 8. We are planning some extensive coverage of all of these events on UN Dispatch next week. Stay tuned. For now, though, this is a great show of support from the United States.
The SG: The SG delivered the annual Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture in Geneva today, noting that Sergio Vieira de Mello and the colleagues who died with him in Baghdad proved that the UN remains dedicated to fulfilling its humanitarian imperative.
The SC: The Security Council today held its last consultations under the Council Presidency of ROK. Tomorrow, Russia will take over the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for March under Ambassador Vitaly Churkin.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.