The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 12 October 2019

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF: The Sentinel_ period ending 12 Oct 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

United Nations Confronting Worst Liquidity Crisis in Recent Years

Global Governance – Fiscal Stability

11 October 2019
United Nations Confronting Worst Liquidity Crisis in Recent Years, Top Management Official Says, Presenting Key Financial Indicators for 2019 to Fifth Committee
…Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, said the United Nations risks starting November with insufficient cash to cover even payrolls and uncertainty about paying its vendors on time. Unpaid assessed contributions as of 4 October 2019 totalled nearly $1.4 billion, $299 million higher than last year. Ms. Pollard detailed the Organization’s three main financial categories — the regular budget, peacekeeping operations and the international tribunals — for the Fifth Committee.

She said the cash shortfall in the regular budget exists despite the Secretariat’s attempts to curb costs since the beginning of the year by slowing hiring and curtailing several non-post expenditures. It also shifted money from the Working Capital Fund in July and borrowed from the Special Account in August. “The cash deficits occur earlier in the year, linger longer and run deeper,” she said. “For the second successive year, we have exhausted all regular budget liquidity reserves, despite several measures we had taken to reduce expenditures to align them with available liquidity.”

The ongoing financial uncertainty has compelled the Organization to manage expenditures based on liquidity rather than programme delivery, which runs counter to the Secretariat’s efforts to focus less on inputs and more on results, she said. “Unless these structural and liquidity issues are addressed expeditiously, our work and our reforms will be at increasing risk,” she warned…

Watershed moment as countries step forward to tackle global statelessness


Watershed moment as countries step forward to tackle global statelessness
11 Oct 2019
In a historic moment in the global fight against statelessness, more than 85 governments, civil society and international and regional organizations have this week pledged hundreds of new commitments to end statelessness, a major cause of human rights deprivations for millions of people worldwide.

More than 300 pledges were received at a meeting in Geneva hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The meeting, known as the High-Level Segment on Statelessness, was part of UNHCR’s annual gathering of its governing Executive Committee.

The sheer number of pledges is unprecedented for a single occasion. Among them over 220 were commitments by more than 55 states to accede to or ratify the UN statelessness conventions, facilitate naturalization of stateless people, prevent statelessness by ending gender discrimination in nationality laws, ensure universal birth registration, provide protection to stateless people and enhance or initiate data collection on stateless populations.

“We are reaching a critical mass in the global effort to stamp out statelessness. This week has shown that there is an unprecedented level of political will and commitment to resolve this issue and prevent it from arising in the first place,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

“It is crucial that these commitments are now turned into action. We will be stepping up our own efforts to help States work towards the goal of eradicating statelessness completely – a goal that is within our reach, as long as this momentum is sustained.”…

United Nations Task Force calls on Member States to end children’s deprivation of liberty

Children – Liberty

United Nations Task Force calls on Member States to end children’s deprivation of liberty
Geneva/ New York/ Vienna, October 8 – The United Nations Task Force supporting the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty calls on Member States to put an end to children’s deprivation of liberty, following the submission and presentation of a report by the Independent Expert to the UN General Assembly.

The Independent Expert’s report highlights that while this year marks the 30 th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a landmark treaty aiming at promoting and protecting the rights of children’s worldwide, countless children still suffer violations of their basic human rights. The UN Task Force further notes that in adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Member States made a clear commitment to leave no child behind and yet, children deprived of liberty continue to be one of the most vulnerable, invisible and forgotten groups in societies across the globe. The UN Task Force joins the Independent Expert in calling on States to end the deprivation of liberty of children or those at most risk as a matter of urgency. The Task Force emphasizes that it is indeed time to put the most vulnerable first.

Children around the world are deprived of their liberty in closed institutions, psychiatric centres or detention facilities, sometimes together with adults. Furthermore, children are detained for national security, armed conflict or migration-related reasons. They are denied family care and access to justice, often unable to challenge the legality of their detention. These children are exposed to further human rights violations, enduring cruel, inhumane and/or degrading conditions. Furthermore, they are often denied the right to education, and health care, and do not benefit from tailored and long-term rehabilitation and reintegration support. Deprivation of liberty has a destructive impact on children’s physical and mental development, and often compounds trauma they have suffered.

The UN Task Force believes that the presentation of the report creates a unique momentum to learn from children and Member States’ experiences. The UN Task Force member organizations express their strong commitment to work together with Member States, civil society and children themselves to end children’s deprivation of liberty and safeguard their rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international standards, and further re-affirmed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty was established as a platform to provide UN system-wide support to the study development and comprises the following member organizations: Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children ( Chair) (SRSG-VAC); Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC); Committee on the Rights of the Child; Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); International Office for Migration (IOM); and World Health Organization (WHO).

The Independent Expert submitted his final report on the Study (A/74/136) to the General Assembly during its seventy-fourth session and presents his main findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Third Committee of the General Assembly on 8 October 2019.
[Excerpt p.7-8]
B. Views of children
23. Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that children shall have the right to express their views freely in all matters affecting them and that their views shall be given due weight. During his fact -finding missions in all world regions, as a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Independent Expert spoke to many children and witnessed their immense suffering in all situations of deprivation of liberty. The study is also informed by the testimonies of children during regional consultations and by the findings of a cross -national consultation, facilitated by an international group of child rights experts which, in partnership with non-governmental organizations, carried out face to face interviews with 274 children.

24. The consultation process identified the importance of hearing directly from children about their lived experiences. They reported that their rights were not protected, including being detained in poor conditions, being denied access to information, with poor health care and inadequate access to education and leisure. Many children also experienced barriers to contact with their families and struggled to access support for reintegration. They reported struggling to be heard in decisions made about them. The findings show how children deprived of their liberty experience fear, isolation, trauma and harm in addition to discrimination, stigma and disempowerment.

25. Children also shared experiences of resilience and hope and highlighted the importance of friendships with peers and adults whom they could trust and who were working in their best interests. Many children had positive aspirations for a future beyond detention, where they would reunite with their families and friends and enjoy a life as independent human beings contributing to their communities. They saw education and skills development as integral to their achieving a better life…

ICRC – Children, no matter their association, are entitled to rights and protections as children

ICRC – Children, no matter their association, are entitled to rights and protections as children
11-10-2019 | Statement
As delivered by Senior Policy Adviser, Ms. Ann Deer
…This year, we mark the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions and the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ICRC bears witness to the achievements of both. When a wounded child is allowed through a checkpoint or when the best interest of the child is considered first, it shows these laws work. Yet, alongside achievements, we also observe the suffering of children when those rules are not respected.

Today, we would like to draw attention to the worrying trend of the selective implementation of the law. We see this happening in various places and for various reasons, but primarily for questions of national borders or national security and in the emblematic case of children associated with groups designated as terrorists. Children associated with certain categories of people are treated as exceptional cases to whom existing law does not apply. In these cases, who your parents are determines your treatment. If you are a child born of a “migrant” or “violent extremist” you may be treated with lower standards of protection or, at times, none at all.

Millions of children in conflict zones daily face discrimination, ostracization, and stigmatization. In particular, for children affiliated with groups designated as terrorists, we are concerned about three policies and practices:

:: Discrimination between children based on their age in a manner inconsistent with international law, creating blanket categories of “good children” and “bad children.”

:: The separation of children above a certain age from their families and decisions against returning foreign children to countries of origin based on age.

:: Sentencing extremely young children associated with armed groups for their own alleged criminal wrongdoing. States are prosecuting children based on an age of criminal responsibility that falls below international standards, and at times for mere association with an armed group.

We must reaffirm that all children are entitled to their rights and protections as children, without distinction based on their age, gender, religion, or whether they are associated with an armed group designated as terrorist.

The ICRC therefore calls on States to implement, apply, and enforce three key standards without distinction or exception:
First is the principle of the best interest of the child. It must be a primary consideration in the decisions made by authorities.

Second is the right of all children not to be separated from their parents against their will, unless authorities determine this necessary, subject to certain procedures. In the vast majority of cases, remaining with the family – including parents and siblings – is in the child’s best interest. In the emblematic case of foreign fighters and their families, we urge States considering repatriations to repatriate children with their parents, with full and informed consent, even in cases when judicial proceedings await upon return and with due respect for the principle of non-refoulement.

Third is the obligation to reintegrate children who have participated in an armed conflict. States are reticent to apply the law and standards governing the treatment of children associated with armed groups to children who have been trained or used in hostilities by armed groups designated as terrorist. However, the CRC and its Optional Protocol emphasize States’ obligations and do not allow for exceptions based on labels.

Children, even those associated with armed groups designated as terrorists, must be considered first and foremost as victims. The ICRC is available to provide policy and legal guidance to States as they define their policies and approach in this area.

14 aid agencies warn of humanitarian crisis in north-east Syria

Syria – Turkey

14 aid agencies warn of humanitarian crisis in north-east Syria
Published 10. Oct 2019
Civilians at risk as violence escalates and humanitarian work is suspended.

Civilians in north-east Syria are at risk and humanitarian aid could be cut off following the launch of a new military operation in the area, leading aid agencies are warning.

Reports from humanitarian responders on the ground say civilians are already on the move and that some vital services have been interrupted, including medical facilities and water supplies. Agencies say that some of their staff have fled with their families, while others are on lockdown.

An estimated 450,000 people live within 5 kilometres of the Syria-Turkey border and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritise the protection of civilians. The population includes more than 90,000 internally displaced people, who have already been forced to flee their homes at least once in Syria’s unrelenting war.

The 14 aid agencies are urging parties to the conflict to fully respect International Humanitarian Law and ensure that they refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas. They must ensure all measures are taken to protect civilians and facilitate safe, unhindered humanitarian access. People living in the area affected by this military action have the right to freedom of movement and must not be forcibly displaced from their homes.

Likewise, there must be no forcible returns of refugees living in Turkey to Syria. Anyone returned could face threats to their safety and security, continued internal displacement and reliance on humanitarian assistance that the international community is not in a position to provide. According to the Government of Turkey, an estimated 83 per cent of the three million Syrians in Turkey do not originate from the north-east.

The international community has an important role to play in helping to resolve this crisis. The UN Security Council, which is expected to discuss the situation today (10 October 2019), must emphasize the need for restraint and reiterate importance of protecting civilians and facilitating unimpeded humanitarian operations.

The security situation in the area is already fragile, with tens of thousands of fighters and their families being held in camps and detention centres. All children must be protected and provided humanitarian assistance, and countries of origin must take immediate steps to repatriate the estimated 9,000 children from at least 40 different nationalities who are in north-east Syria.

Urgent action is needed to ensure that the humanitarian situation in north-east Syria does not worsen further, with potentially dire consequences for families and children who find themselves once again caught up in deadly violence.

Action Against Hunger
Christian Aid
CARE International
Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe
Humanity & Inclusion
International Rescue Committee
Medecins du Monde
Mercy Corps
Norwegian Refugee Council
People in Need
Un Ponte Per
World Vision

Societal burdens of nature loss…Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people

Featured Journal Content

11 October 2019 Vol 366, Issue 6462

Responsible genetic genealogy
Thomas F. Callaghan
The scientific development of forensic genetic genealogy (FGG), which couples genetic analysis with investigation of publicly available genealogy information, has successfully transformed law enforcement investigations by solving more than 50 cases over the last 18 months in the United States. However, use of FGG by law enforcement has preceded widespread development of best practices to protect the genetic privacy of private citizens who have voluntarily submitted samples to genealogy databases. Absent best practices, use of FGG could lead to compromised cases, diminished use, or the loss of this new investigative tool. Public support for FGG could be jeopardized and confidence in forensic DNA analysis could be undermined. As the custodian of a national law enforcement DNA database (CODIS), the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is looked to by many in the law enforcement and forensic DNA communities for guidance, and its efforts often influence the global community. The emergence of FGG suggests that further discussions on privacy, genomics, and the use of genealogy by law enforcement would be beneficial. Accordingly, the FBI seeks to engage the scientific and bioethics communities in such a dialogue.

Societal burdens of nature loss
By Patricia Balvanera
Science11 Oct 2019 : 184-185 Restricted Access
Interdisciplinary science and international policy collaborate to stem inequities
The rapid decline of biodiversity predicts dire consequences for human society, according to the recent Global Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (1). The report notes that up to a million species are threatened with extinction (2) and that many benefits humans obtain from nature have decreased over the last 50 years, a decline likely continue until at least 2050. If transformative changes are to be implemented, scientists and policy-makers must address questions about the deterioration of nature and the locations that bear the greatest resulting burdens. On page 255 of this issue, Chaplin-Kramer et al. (3) address these questions by presenting global models of the current status and future trends of three key contributions from nature.

Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people
By Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Richard P. Sharp, Charlotte Weil, Elena M. Bennett, Unai Pascual, Katie K. Arkema, Kate A. Brauman, Benjamin P. Bryant, Anne D. Guerry, Nick M. Haddad, Maike Hamann, Perrine Hamel, Justin A. Johnson, Lisa Mandle, Henrique M. Pereira, Stephen Polasky, Mary Ruckelshaus, M. Rebecca Shaw, Jessica M. Silver, Adrian L. Vogl, Gretchen C. Daily
Science11 Oct 2019 : 255-258 Full Access
Projections to 2050 show up to 5 billion people at risk of water pollution, coastal storms, and deficient crop pollination.
Editor’s Summary
The future of nature’s contributions
A recent Global Assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has emphasized the urgent need to determine where and how nature’s contribution matters most to people. Chaplin-Kramer et al. have developed a globalscale modeling of ecosystem services, focusing on water quality regulation, coastal protection, and crop pollination (see the Perspective by Balvanera). By 2050, up to 5 billion people may be at risk from diminishing ecosystem services, particularly in Africa and South Asia.
The magnitude and pace of global change demand rapid assessment of nature and its contributions to people. We present a fine-scale global modeling of current status and future scenarios for several contributions: water quality regulation, coastal risk reduction, and crop pollination. We find that where people’s needs for nature are now greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining. Up to 5 billion people face higher water pollution and insufficient pollination for nutrition under future scenarios of land use and climate change, particularly in Africa and South Asia. Hundreds of millions of people face heightened coastal risk across Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas. Continued loss of nature poses severe threats, yet these can be reduced 3- to 10-fold under a sustainable development scenario.