The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 26 May 2018

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 version: The Sentinel_ period ending 26 May 2018

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities
:: 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

UN Security Council condemns starvation of civilians as a war tactic – S/RES/2417 (2018)

Human Rights – Conflicts – Tactics of Warfare – Starvation of Civilians

UN Security Council condemns starvation of civilians as a war tactic
24 May 2018
Denouncing the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare and the unlawful denial of humanitarian access to those need, the United Nations Security Council underscored that all parties to armed conflict must uphold their obligations under international law and protect civilians from harm.

Adopting resolution 2417 (2018), the Security Council also called upon those “with influence over parties to armed conflict, to remind the latter of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.”

International humanitarian law explicitly forbids any attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, and requires all warring sides to allow, respect and protect the work of humanitarian actors, in alleviating human suffering.

Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare may constitute a war crime – Security Council
In the resolution, the Council also said that it could consider adopting sanctions, “where appropriate and in line with existing practice, that can be applied to individuals or entities obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance.”

The landmark resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member Security Council, also underscored the link between armed conflict and conflict induced food insecurity and the threat of famine.

It also drew attention to the “particular impact” of armed conflict on women, children, as well as other vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, older persons, refugees and displaced persons.

The Council also reaffirmed “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding, and [stressed] the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution.”


S/RES/2417 (2018)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 8267th meeting, on 24 May 2018 :: 4 pages
Deeply concerned about the level of global humanitarian needs and the threat of famine presently facing millions of people in armed conflicts, as well as about the number of undernourished people in the world which, after decades of decreasing, increased over the last two years, with the majority of food insecure people and seventy-five percent of all stunted children under the age of five living in countries affected by armed conflict, amounting to 74 million people facing crisis food insecurity or worse in situations of armed conflict…

1. Recalls the link between armed conflict and violence and conflict-induced food insecurity and the threat of famine, and calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding respecting and protecting civilians and taking constant care to spare civilian objects, including objects necessary for food production and distribution such as farms, markets, water systems, mills, food processing and storage sites, and hubs and means for food transportation, and refraining from attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects that are indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, agricultural assets, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, and respecting and protecting humanitarian personnel and consignments used for humanitarian relief operations;

2. Stresses in this regard that armed conflict, violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and food insecurity can be drivers of forced displacement, and, conversely, forced displacement in countries in armed conflict can have a devastating impact on agricultural production and livelihoods, recalls the relevant prohibition on the forced displacement of civilians in armed conflict, and stresses the importance of fully complying with international humanitarian law and other applicable international law in this context;

3. Stresses the need for humanitarian assistance to be gender- and age-sensitive, and to remain responsive to the different needs of the population, ensuring that these needs are integrated in the humanitarian response;

4. Calls on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, and underlines the importance of safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to civilians in armed conflicts, calls upon all parties concerned, including neighbouring States, to cooperate fully with the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations agencies in providing such access, invites States and the Secretary-General to bring to its attention information regarding the unlawful denial of such access in violation of international law, where such denial may constitute a threat to international peace and security, and, in this regard, expresses its willingness to consider such information and, when necessary, to adopt appropriate steps;

5. Strongly condemns the use of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in a number of conflict situations and prohibited by international humanitarian law;

6. Strongly condemns the unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supply and access for responses to conflict-induced food insecurity in situations of armed conflict, which may constitute a violation of international humanitarian law;

7. Urges all parties to protect civilian infrastructure which is critical to the delivery of humanitarian aid and to ensure the proper functioning of food systems and markets in situations of armed conflict;

8. Urges those with influence over parties to armed conflict to remind the latter of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law;

9. Recalls that the Council has adopted and can consider to adopt sanction measures, where appropriate and in line with existing practice, that can be applied to individuals or entities obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, or access to, or distribution of, humanitarian assistance…

Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration

Human Rights – Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action [1993]

“Human rights no longer treated as a priority, but as a pariah,” Zeid tells 25th anniversary gathering in Vienna
Vienna (22 May 2018) – In a speech delivered Tuesday at an international conference marking the 25th anniversary of a landmark human rights declaration, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein issued a stark warning that the world in general, including Europe, is back-sliding on human rights.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by consensus on 25 June 1993, and heavily influenced by the atrocities occurring just across Austria’s border with the former Yugoslavia, laid down the blueprint for human rights in the post-Cold-War era. It also set in motion the establishment of the UN Human Rights Office that Zeid now heads…


Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on the 25th Anniversary of the Vienna Declaration
Minister Kneissl, Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends,
Twenty five years ago, it was here, in this city of confluence and cultural connection that the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted – and with its crucial description of human rights as “universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated”, cut through the artificial division of civil and political rights from rights that are cultural, economic and social.

The Cold War had ended, and the first words of the preamble marked a great hope for a new era, with interdependent countries engaging in a common approach to the causes of human suffering:
“Considering that the promotion and protection of human rights is a matter of priority for the international community.”

It was here that the world unanimously reaffirmed that every refugee from persecution is entitled to asylum, and called for effective protection for all those who are compelled to become migrants.

It was here that States urged immediate and strong measures to combat racism, xenophobia and religious hatred, and to ensure participation by the poorest people in decision-making.

It was here in Vienna that States recommended the creation of the mandate which I am honoured to occupy: the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

But today we seem to be headed in another direction.

Backwards. To a landscape of increasingly strident, zero-sum nationalism, where the jealously guarded short-term interests of individual leaders outweigh the search for solutions to our common ills.

Backwards, to an era of contempt for the rights of people who have been forced to flee their homes, because the threats they face there are more dangerous even than the perils of their voyage.

Backwards, to a time of proxy regional and global warfare — a time when military operations could deliberately target civilians and civilian sites such as hospitals, and chemical gases were openly used for military purposes.

Backwards, to an era when racists and xenophobes deliberately enflamed hatred and discrimination among the public, while carefully cloaking themselves in the guise of democracy and the rule of law.

Backwards, to an era when women were not permitted to control their own choices and their own bodies. An era when criticism was criminalised, and human rights activism brought jail – or worse.

So this anniversary could be the occasion for a polite celebration of the achievements of my Office over the past two and a half decades – and they are many. But today is not a time for soporific complacency. Human rights are sorely under pressure around the world – no longer a priority: a pariah. The legitimacy of human rights principles is attacked. The practise of human rights norms is in retreat. Here in Europe, ethno-populist parties are in the ascendant in many countries – fuelling hatred and scarring their societies with deepening divisions.

Where these parties have achieved power, they have sought to undermine the independence of the judiciary and silence many critical voices in the independent media and civil society. They have propagated distorted and false views of migrants and human rights activists. Almost everywhere, across Europe the hatred they direct at migrants has infiltrated the mainstream parties and skewed the political landscape towards greater violence and suffering.

In this country – which more than most should be aware of the dangers of ethnically divisive rhetoric, given the historical role of Karl Lueger – false and incendiary statements have been recently made which are fundamentally at odds with the Vienna Declaration.

Minister Kneissl, Excellencies,

As Viktor Frankl so often wrote, it is compassion, and contribution to the lives of others, which form the anchor of an honourable life. And the way to honour the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action is to act on it. Human rights are not just words to be nodded at sagely at anniversaries. They are meant, above all, to be put into practice, and anchored especially in the daily experiences of the poorest and most marginalised people — such as those who flee the destruction of their hopes by conflict and deprivation.

There will be no peace for any country until there is respect, and justice. There will be no sustainable prosperity unless all can benefit. Human equality and dignity are the path towards peace in the world: the path of real patriotism, building societies grounded in harmony, not divisiveness and hate.

So it is time to stand up for what the Vienna Declaration truly represents.

We need to use this anniversary to begin to mobilize a much broader community to defend human rights with our fierce, and passionate commitment. We need to make clear the vital, life-saving importance of human rights for the daily lives and global future of our fellow human beings.

Many of us do still have space to voice our concerns. We need to stand by our achievements and the advances which have been made.

We need to push back against the haters, the destroyers, the isolationists and ethno-nationalists.

We need to move forward, defiantly, to ensure that those indivisible, universal, interdependent and interrelated rights are able to build on each other to shape a world of well-being and safety.

There is no time to lose. Let this be a turning point, so that the Vienna Declaration can stand proud – not as a decaying museum piece, but as the flag-bearer for a resurgent movement to build peace and progress.
Thank you

UN Biodiversity Convention celebrates 25 years: Significant progress made, but more action needed to safeguard life on Earth

Heritage Stewardship

UN Biodiversity Convention celebrates 25 years: Significant progress made, but more action needed to safeguard life on Earth
23 May 2018
…Entering into force on 29 December 1993, the CBD, or UN Biodiversity Convention, is the global treaty that provides the framework for international action on biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth. For the past 25 years, Parties and a global community of diverse stakeholders and partners have undertaken significant actions to achieve the three objectives of the Convention: to conserve biodiversity, use it sustainably, and equitably share the benefits from the use of genetic resources. The CBD Secretariat is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Dr. Cristiana Pasca Palmer, UN Assistant Secretary-General and CBD Executive Secretary said: “On the International Day for Biological Diversity we celebrated the excellent progress made by Parties and partners. We have much to celebrate. Significant areas of the world are now being conserved as part of protected areas. We have seen enormous improvements in governance models and sustainable use approaches to manage key natural resources. The value of biodiversity for society, our social and economic needs as well as our own health and well-being, are now widely recognized. Furthermore, biodiversity lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. ”

“But we need to approach conservation in a more innovative manner, to create new incentive models and to engage with relevant actors to help redirect behavioral choices to mitigate biodiversity losses and generate greater safeguarding values to our natural assets. Biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world. This destruction of biodiversity and natural capital compounds and accelerates other global challenges – such as climate change, water security, food security and public health.”…

Since the entry into force of the Convention, membership has become near universal with 196 Parties ratifying the agreement. Almost all Parties have created National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans which are the focus of national efforts to implement the Convention…

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said: “This year, Parties to the Convention will begin work on a new action plan to ensure that, by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used for the benefit of all people. The entire world needs to join this effort. On this International Day for Biological Diversity, I urge governments, businesses and people everywhere to act to protect the nature that sustains us. Our collective future depends on it.”

Report – Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments [SDG4]

Education – SDGs/Accountability

Report: Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments
Global Education Monitoring Report
UNESCO 2017 :: 509 pages
In 2017, the second report in the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report series continues its assessment of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG4) and its 10 targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.
It also investigates accountability in education, analyzing how all relevant stakeholders can provide education more effectively, efficiently and equitably. The report examines different accountability mechanisms that are used to hold governments, schools, teachers, parents, the international community, and the private sector accountable for inclusive, equitable and quality education.
By analysing which policies make accountability work or fail, and which external factors impact on their success, the 2017/8 GEM Report concludes with concrete recommendations that will help build stronger education systems.

:: Accountability is a process aimed at helping individuals or institutions meet their responsibilities and reach their goals. Actors have an obligation, based on a legal, political, social or moral justification, to provide an account of how they met clearly defined responsibilities.
:: Accountability lacks common definitions across disciplines and may be understood in different ways across languages.
:: Accountability matters enormously for improving education systems but it should be a means to education ends, not an end in itself.
:: People are more likely to deliver if held accountable for decisions. If held accountable for outcomes beyond their control, they will try to avoid risk, minimize their role or adjust their behaviour in unintended ways to protect themselves.
:: Trust is largely absent when actors operate in fear of punishment. A shared purpose, which fosters trust, is central to effective accountability.
:: Education actors are held to account through political processes, laws and regulations, performance evaluations, market competition, social pressure and professional norms.
:: Different approaches to accountability may be effective in some contexts and for some aspects of education and detrimental in and for others. No one approach is universally effective at all times.
:: Accountability needs to emphasize building more inclusive, equitable, good-quality education systems and practices instead of blaming individuals.
:: No approach to accountability will be successful without a strong enabling environment that provides actors with the resources, capacity, motivation and information to fulfil their responsibilities.
:: To accomplish the larger shared aims of education, policy-makers must recognize actors’ interdependence and work towards systems that incorporate mutual accountability approaches.

WHO and World Bank Group Join Forces to Strengthen Global Health Security

Health Security

WHO and World Bank Group Join Forces to Strengthen Global Health Security
GENEVA, MAY 24 2018 — WHO and World Bank Group today launched a new mechanism to strengthen global health security through stringent independent monitoring and regular reporting of preparedness to tackle outbreaks, pandemics, and other emergencies with health consequences.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim co-led the creation of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, launched today on the margins of the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly.

The Board will be co-chaired by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former WHO Director-General, and Mr Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It will include political leaders, heads of UN agencies and world-class health experts, serving in their individual, independent capacities.

“The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a stark reminder that outbreaks can happen anywhere, at any time,” said Dr Tedros.

“Part of being prepared is having a means of assessing progress made at all levels, by all actors, identifying gaps, including in financing, and making sure all actors are working together, pulling in the same direction. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together with the World Bank Group to establish the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, and delighted that it will be led by such exceptional global health leaders,” he added.

“For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there’s a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides,” Dr. Kim said. “With the GPMB, we’re taking a large step towards breaking that cycle. The GPMB will help save lives, prevent economic damage, and ensure that we keep pandemic preparedness at the top of the global agenda.”

“Pandemic preparedness must be as much local as global, and we must meaningfully engage local communities in preparedness, detection, response and recovery to disease outbreaks. I warmly welcome the launch of this Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, and commit to partner with you all. We all need to be accountable to each other on the promises we make, and the results we achieve,” said Mr Sy.

Board co-chair Dr Brundtland added: “With the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reminding all of us of the West African outbreak of 2014-15, the importance of being prepared for and resilient to health crises has never been clearer. Though the last two years of progress in improving capacity to respond to such events is encouraging, gaps remain – and it is time to stop talking about them, and start addressing them. It is in view of this that I welcome the establishment of the new Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and am pleased to be co-chairing it. The Board will monitor preparedness activities on a global scale, and will hold all actors, from private and public sectors, accountable for building essential public health capacities, generating sustainable financing and ensuring that necessary research and development is conducted.”

The Board will monitor emergency preparedness across national governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. It will report annually on adequacy of financing, progress on relevant research and development, and the strength of health crisis preparedness at the global, regional and national levels…

Report: Impunity Reigns as Medical Personnel and Facilities across 23 Conflict-Torn Countries Remain Under Attack

Featured Journal Content

The Lancet
May 26, 2018 Volume 391 Number 10135 p2079-2184 e20
Health care in conflict: war still has rules
The Lancet
Denouncing attacks on health-care facilities and personnel in conflict situations, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2286 in May, 2016. Addressing the Council, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, condemned military actions leading to destruction of health-care facilities as war crimes, and called on Member States to honour their obligations to protect health-care workers and patients in conflict saying “even war has rules”.

But 2 years later, on May 21, a new report from the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, Violence on the front line: attacks on healthcare in 2017, shows a grim reality of continued attacks on health infrastructures coming from all sides, and which persist with impunity.
In 2017, at least 188 hospitals and clinics were damaged or destroyed, 50 ambulances attacked or stolen, and there were 57 reports of armed groups violently assaulting staff and patients in hospitals—101 health-care workers were killed and 64 kidnapped, 203 patients were killed, and 141 injured. Denial or obstruction of access to health-care facilities was reported 74 times. 57 of these events were in the occupied Palestinian territory. In Turkey, a physician was arrested for providing impartial medical care, and in Afghanistan, female health workers have been threatened for actions deemed inappropriate for a woman. Health facilities in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Egypt, and Turkey have been forced to close.

When resolution 2286 was adopted, Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, urged Member States that “after outrage must come action, not complacency”. But the sheer number of attacks in 2017 demonstrates the international community’s catastrophic failure to uphold its commitment to the resolution. The Coalition makes specific recommendations to the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Security Council, and Secretary-General to ensure that the lives and rights of health-care workers and patients are protected in conflict areas. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, must continue to condemn these attacks, work proactively to stop them, and hold the perpetrators accountable for their war crimes.


Report: Impunity Reigns as Medical Personnel and Facilities across 23 Conflict-Torn Countries Remain Under Attack
Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition
In its fifth annual report released today, the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition warns that attacks on health care in conflict zones around the world are continuing with impunity and may in fact be increasing. The report entitled “Violence on the Front Lines: Attacks on Health Care in 2017” documents more than 700 separate attacks on hospitals, health workers, patients, and ambulances in 23 countries in conflict across the globe. And, as shocking as these numbers are, they are merely a fraction of the real figures: due to under-reporting of attacks and the use of aggregate data by some agencies, the true numbers are undoubtedly higher.

The report was released on the eve of the United Nations Security Council’s review of actions since it adopted resolution 2286 two years ago. The resolution condemned attacks on health facilities and health workers and demanded that governments take concrete actions toward protecting health facilities and medical workers from attack in armed conflict. But since its adoption governments have taken few of the steps needed, such as to reform military practice, investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacks, and stop arms sales to perpetrators. Without such action, the additional decimation of medical infrastructure continues to rob civilians already suffering in war of life-saving treatment.

The report documents more than 700 separate attacks on hospitals, health workers, patients and ambulances in 23 countries in conflict across the globe.
“The world knows about atrocities against health care in Syria – and the report reveals more than 25 acts of violence against health facilities, transport, and personnel there, the most in the world – but Syria is hardly alone: governments and armed groups inflict violence against health care with impunity in conflicts across the globe,” said Leonard Rubenstein, chair of the coalition and senior scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Numbers don’t tell the full story of the violence inflicted on patients and the doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and ambulance drivers who have made it their life’s mission to provide crucial care services to people in need,” said Rubenstein. “In one incident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a militia allied with the Congolese army attacked a hospital in the town of Cinq in the Kasai region near the Angola border, killing at least 90 medical staff and patients, including pregnant women and other civilians. During the attack, the militia set fire to the operating theater with approximately 35 patients trapped inside. Yet the world pays little attention.”

The report reveals that the ten countries which experienced the most attacks on health in 2017 are Afghanistan, the Central African Republic (CAR), The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iraq, Nigeria, the occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Syria continues to experience the highest number, with 252 documented acts of violence against health facilities, transport, and personnel in 2017, amid sustained airstrikes and shelling on hospitals there.

The report defines an attack on health care as any act of verbal or physical violence, obstruction or threat of violence that interferes with the availability, access, and delivery of curative and/or preventive health services in countries experiencing conflict or in situations of severe political volatility. This includes attacks that kill patients, health workers, or others or destroy health facilities, and also includes the looting of medications and other humanitarian supplies.

In 15 countries, some 56 health programs were forced to shut down due to insecurity, leaving citizens without essential services. In Burkina Faso, where three health centers were closed following a terrorist attack, some 38,000 people were deprived of access to crucial treatment. In the occupied Palestinian territory, the Palestine Red Crescent Society reported 33 incidents where Israeli security forces restricted the passage of ambulances.

In 15 countries, some 56 health programs were forced to shut down due to insecurity, leaving citizens without essential services…

The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition, of which IntraHealth is the communications secretariat and a member, consists of more than 35 organizations working to protect health workers and services threatened by war or civil unrest. The coalition raises awareness of global attacks on health and presses governments and United Nations agencies for greater global action to protect the security of health care.