The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 29 September 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: The Sentinel_ period ending 29 Sep 2018

:: 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  [see PDF]
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

Universal Human Rights Declaration [70th Anniversary] :: UN Secretary-General Remarks

Human Rights – 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration

Universal Human Rights Declaration Must Continue Guiding Path to Development, Security, Secretary-General Says at Anniversary Event for Historic Document
26 September 2018
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the high level event marking the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “A Prevention Tool to Achieve Peace and Sustainable Development”, in New York today:

It is indeed a pleasure to be here with all of you to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The rights enshrined in this foundational document belong to everyone, everywhere; they have no physical or [moral] frontier. Human rights are not the sole purview of north, south, east or west; or of developed or developing countries. They are independent of nationality, circumstances, gender or sexual orientation, race, religion or belief. The first article of the Universal Declaration is clear: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Human rights are of value in themselves; they are not at the service of any other agenda. And no one ever loses their human rights, no matter what they do.

Over the past 70 years, the concept of human rights set out in the Universal Declaration has had a revolutionary impact. It has permeated policies and Constitutions, from the global level to national and regional frameworks.

In this way, the Universal Declaration has unleashed the power of women’s full participation; it has spurred the fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance — including the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, as Nelson Mandela told the General Assembly 20 years ago.

The Universal Declaration has heralded movements by groups of all kinds, from indigenous people to people with disabilities, to claim their rights.

There is now broad recognition that, as Kofi Annan said: “The human family will not enjoy development without security, will not enjoy security without development and will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.”

Sadly, we still have a long way to go before respect for human rights is truly universal. Many people around the world still suffer from abuse of their rights. Gender inequality is one of the greatest human rights challenges we face. Refugees and migrants, people who do not conform to gender norms, and minorities of all kinds are frequently targeted for denial and abuse of their rights.

There is still resistance to supporting human rights, often linked to a false dichotomy between those rights and national sovereignty. But, human rights and sovereignty must go hand in hand.

Human rights strengthen States and societies and reinforce sovereignty. We have ample evidence that State-sponsored human rights abuses are a sign of weakness, not strength. They are often precursors to conflict and even to collapse.

I urge all Member States to heed these lessons and to strengthen support for United Nations action on human rights, including the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner [for Human Rights]. It is a pleasure to see Michelle, my dear friend, Michelle Bachelet, here today.

And I call on Governments that have not signed or ratified the two human rights Covenants, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to do so urgently.

Every social movement for human rights and solidarity in history has been led by young people. It was the fight for human rights and democracy in my country, under Salazar’s dictatorship, that triggered my own interest in political action.

There is a special place in my heart for young women and men who are speaking out for social justice. On Monday, I launched my new youth strategy, Youth 2030, to bring young people into the centre of our work.

I urge young people to make this space your home, to bring your energy and passion here, to challenge our ways of doing things and to take up the torch for our common humanity. You are the true custodians of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the guarantee that it will not succumb.

I entrust you with keeping it alight for another 70 years, to show us the path to a world of peace, dignity and opportunity for all.

Humanitarian Crisis in Free Fall – Joint NGO Statement on Yemen – 25th September 2018


.Humanitarian Crisis in Free Fall – Joint NGO Statement on Yemen
Tuesday 25th September 2018
Below is a joint NGO statement on Yemen for the 73rd UN General Assembly

After almost four years of conflict, and despite all efforts to halt displacement, hunger and disease, Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. The suffering inflicted on Yemeni people is entirely man made and will continue to deteriorate rapidly on all fronts without actions to end the violence.

Increased fighting risks pushing the country into utter devastation: The ongoing escalation around the port city of Hodeidah jeopardises the safety of civilians and threatens the channels for critical fuel, food and medical supplies to the rest of the country. It is crucial that this remains open. The lives of millions of Yemeni women, men and children hang on this lifeline.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt: Civilians and civilian infrastructure, such as markets, hospitals, school buses and mills continue to be hit by all parties with impunity, as reported by the UN Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen. Attacks on schools and hospitals continue with over 1,800 schools directly impacted by the conflict, including more than 1,500 that have been damaged or destroyed and 21 used by armed groups.

A lost generation of Yemeni children: Two million children and young people remain out of school, depriving them of an education and exposing them to higher levels of violence and exploitation. Millions of displaced children cannot access education, and ongoing attacks on schools or their use by armed groups mean children’s safety at school cannot be guaranteed.

Populations on the brink of starvation: 17.8 million people, over 60 percent of the population, are food insecure and over 8.4 million of them stand on the brink of starvation; 4.2 million of them children and another million children at risk as food and fuel prices soar across the country. Malnutrition directly threatens lives but also weakens the immune system, leading to people dying from preventable diseases, including cholera and pneumonia. Breast-feeding mothers, children and the elderly remain particularly vulnerable. Half of all Yemeni children are stunted where these children are unable to access the nutrients their bodies need to grow, reducing their ability to learn and thrive.

A struggling economy continues to falter: A crippled economy continues to weaken, with the recent sharp devaluation of the Yemeni Riyal (YER) further constraining peoples’ ability to purchase food and medicine, with many having to make agonising choices between the two and many others left with too little to access either.

Protracted conflict and eroding safety nets has left millions of Yemeni without access to livelihoods or the ability to deal with economic shocks. An estimated 1.2 million public servants, especially in northern governorates, have not been paid their usual salaries in more than two years and a war economy has left millions with very few earning opportunities.

Barriers to access continue: Restrictions to land, sea and air trade routes have led to severely reduced supplies of vital commodities. In addition to uncertainty about the accessibility of Yemen’s ports, particularly Hodeidah, Sana’a’s airport has been closed to commercial flights since August 2016; further restricting the mobility of the Yemeni population. While the new ‘medical airbridge’ agreement is welcome, this is a small concession that continues to leave the majority of Yemeni people without freedom to seek medical treatment overseas.

In addition, 1.4 million people remain in hard-to-reach areas, unable to access vital assistance and support, an increase of 200,000 since February 2018. Escalation in fighting has exacerbated these challenges, with hundreds of thousands displaced in recent months, including close to half a million from Hodeidah since June 2018.

The international community must step up to pressure all parties to the conflict to:
:: Comply with their obligations under international law, and take immediate measures to prevent and end grave violations against children;
:: Ensure humanitarian and commercial access of essential goods and services; and
:: Engage all parties to the conflict to find a peaceful, sustainable and implementable political solution that involves women, youth, minority groups and civil society.

Only a political solution can bring the war to an end and reinstate peace in Yemen. All parties must immediately cease hostilities, agree to a comprehensive ceasefire, and cooperate in ‘good faith’ with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffith’s peace process.

Signed by:
Action Against Hunger (ACF)
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
Global Communities
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
Relief International
Save the Children
War Child

The State of Palestine institutes proceedings against the United States of America [Embassy Move to Jerusalem]]

Governance – Siting of Diplomatic Missions

The State of Palestine institutes proceedings against the United States of America
THE HAGUE, 28 September 2018. The State of Palestine today instituted proceedings against the United States of America before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, with respect to a dispute concerning alleged violations of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 18 April 1961 (hereinafter the “Vienna Convention”).

It is recalled in the Application that, on 6 December 2017, the President of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced the relocation of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The American Embassy in Jerusalem was then inaugurated on 14 May 2018.

Palestine contends that it flows from the Vienna Convention that the diplomatic mission of a sending State must be established on the territory of the receiving State. According to Palestine, in view of the special status of Jerusalem, “[t]he relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel to . . . Jerusalem constitutes a breach of the Vienna Convention”.

As basis for the Court’s jurisdiction, the Applicant invokes Article 1 of the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes. It notes that Palestine acceded to the Vienna Convention on 2 April 2014 and to the Optional Protocol on 22 March 2018, whereas the United States of America is a party to both these instruments since 13 November 1972….

United Nations, World Bank, and Humanitarian Organizations Launch Innovative Partnership to End Famine

Health – Famine Prevention/Mitigation

United Nations, World Bank, and Humanitarian Organizations Launch Innovative Partnership to End Famine
Global Technology Firms to Provide Expertise on Frontier Technology to Better Predict Famines

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2018—The United Nations, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft Corp., Google and Amazon Web Services today announced an unprecedented global partnership to prevent future famines.

The international organizations, with support from leading global technology firms, are launching the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM)—the first global mechanism dedicated to preventing future famines. In the past, responses to these devastating events has often come too late, once many lives have already been lost, incurring high assistance costs. The FAM seeks to change this by moving towards famine prevention, preparedness and early action—interventions that can save more lives and reduce humanitarian costs by as much as 30%. The initiative will use the predictive power of data to trigger funding through appropriate financing instruments, working closely with existing systems.

In 2017, more than 20 million people across north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen faced famine or famine-like conditions, the result of a complex intersection of conflict, poverty, climate change and food prices. These conditions continue in many parts of the world today, derailing hard-won development gains in chronically poor countries. Today, 124 million people live in crisis levels of food insecurity, requiring urgent humanitarian assistance for their survival. Over half of them live in areas affected by conflict.

“The Famine Action Mechanism, FAM, is an important new tool that will help to predict and therefore prevent food insecurity and famine before they have a chance to take hold. Crisis prevention saves lives. With the Famine Action Mechanism, we are renewing our pledge to Zero Tolerance for famine and acute food insecurity,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

“The fact that millions of people—many of them children—still suffer from severe malnutrition and famine in the 21st century is a global tragedy,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “We are forming an unprecedented global coalition to say, ‘no more.’ The Famine Action Mechanism is a preventative approach that knits together innovative technology, early financing, and strong partnerships on the ground in an effort to prevent famine. It will help us deploy our combined resources to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, and it will allow us to refocus our collective attention on the millions of chronically food-insecure people who suffer each year.”

“The ICRC, working on frontlines around the world, sees the deep suffering inflicted by conflict and violence. Famine is often a devastating symptom of protracted war. We are hopeful that new models of collaboration such as this will bring new solutions and reduce food insecurity at scale,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer.

The FAM will promote investments that tackle the root causes of famine at the first warning signs. It will help build vulnerable people’s livelihoods, safety nets and coping mechanisms. In the last decade, the Bank has invested up to $3 billion annually in food security initiatives and will be looking for additional ways to increase these investments in future projects and programs.

The FAM will use state-of-the-art technology to provide more powerful early warning to identify when food crises threaten to turn into famines. These alerts will trigger pre-arranged funding and action plans by donors, humanitarian agencies and governments to generate earlier and more efficient interventions.

“If we can better predict when and where future famines will occur, we can save lives by responding earlier and more effectively,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning hold huge promise for forecasting and detecting early signs of food shortages, like crop failures, droughts, natural disasters, and conflicts. Microsoft is proud to join Amazon and Google in developing solutions to address this humanitarian need.”

Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services and other technology firms are providing the world’s top expertise to develop a suite of analytical models called “Artemis” that uses advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to estimate and forecast worsening food security crises in real-time. These forecasts will help guide and promote decision makers to respond earlier.

“Artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies can be a powerful force for good, and we’ve already seen that they have the potential to help farmers identify disease in cassava plants, keep cows healthier and more productive, and integrate overall relief efforts. Google is proud to partner with the World Bank on the Famine Action Mechanism to help prevent future famine in communities around the world,” said Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer.

“We are proud to play a role in the FAM initiative, and to work collaboratively to solve one of the world’s most pressing issues,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Public-private collaborations like this one allow us to collectively bring cutting-edge technology to leading humanitarian organizations, giving them innovative tools to predict and prevent famine, and to ultimately save lives.”

The FAM builds on the World Bank’s experience and commitment to better forecast risks and prevent crises of all types before they occur. In July, the World Bank Group Board endorsed the Global Crisis Risk Platform, a new platform for identifying risks before they become full blown crises. The Platform incorporates prevention and preparedness into client country development strategies and is being used to get ahead of global crises such as famine, Ebola and other natural and man-made disasters.

The FAM also builds on the United Nations efforts to prioritize prevention, and its efforts to address risks more systematically. It also aligns with the recently adopted Security Council Resolution 2417 on the links between conflict-induced food insecurity and the threat of famine.

The FAM will initially be rolled out in a small group of vulnerable countries building up to ultimately provide global coverage. On October 13, leaders dedicated to this initiative will gather as part of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings to discuss further implementation of the FAM.

OECD, IEEE and DQI Announce Platform for Coordinating Digital Intelligence Across Technology and Education Sectors

Education – “Digital Intelligence”

OECD, IEEE and DQI Announce Platform for Coordinating Digital Intelligence Across Technology and Education Sectors
:: Three leading global organizations – OECD, IEEE Standards Association and DQ Institute – announce new platform for digital coordination, Coalition for Digital Intelligence (CDI)

:: CDI will serve as coordinating platform for organizations implementing a common set of standards and definitions for digital intelligence across the technology and education sectors, allowing digital intelligence to be better tracked and understood

:: Digital Intelligence refers to the set of competencies necessary for digital life and includes basic digital skills and digital literacy

Geneva and New York, 26 September 2018 – During the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York, three leading global organizations – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the IEEE Standards Association and the DQ Institute announced their engagement in the Coalition for Digital Intelligence (CDI). The coalition is a platform for coordinating efforts on raising digital intelligence across the technology and education sectors and is supported by the World Economic Forum.

Every year, the world economy invests billions of dollars in developing digital literacy and digital skills. These efforts are not well coordinated, however, with many companies, governments and organizations running their respective programmes under their own frameworks. There are countless global, national and organizational efforts to create frameworks that classify digital skills and digital literacy.

Consequently, there is no globally shared understanding of what terms like digital skills and digital literacy mean. As used today, they can refer to competencies that range from typing and web-browsing, to using social media platforms, to administering vendor-specific database products to writing software.

Lack of a shared understanding leads to uncoordinated monitoring and reporting. There is no shared baseline understanding of the level of digital skills in the world today and it is difficult to address how to improve and sustain them. CDI is grounded in an agreement that the world could build basic digital skills and digital literacy more efficiently and effectively if there was increased coordination on a common set of definitions and standards.

The DQ Institute, an international think-tank, has used an academically rigorous process to aggregate more than 20 leading frameworks from around the world. The resulting framework, Digital Intelligence (DQ), includes eight comprehensive areas deemed necessary for digital life today. They include not only the technical skills one might expect but also abilities related to digital safety, digital rights and digital emotional intelligence. These capacities allow people to not just use a computer or smartphone, but to deal with modern social and economic challenges such as identity theft, screen addiction, online privacy and the spread of digital misinformation. DQ brings together education agendas of digital literacies, with industry efforts to develop digital skills: encompassing digital citizenship, digital resilience, media and information literacy, job readiness, entrepreneurship, and more. The DQ framework is also built on the OECD’s Education 2030 Learning Framework to create a guide for nations to develop their national education and policies on digital intelligence.

“Technology is only meaningful when it enhances humanness. In the age of AI and hyper-connectivity, Digital Intelligence (DQ) is a comprehensive set of technical, cognitive, social and emotional digital competencies that are grounded in ethics and human values,” said Yuhyun Park, Founder of DQ Institute.

If DQ is to become a global framework that allows for better coordination and the scalability of digital skills training, there must be a way of working across the worlds of education and technology. Both schools and the technology community have a significant role to play in building digital intelligence.
“The development of Digital Intelligence is not ad hoc,” said Melissa Sassi, co-chair of the IEEE Digital Literacy Industry Connections Program. “It should be a paradigm with a focus on technical excellence and deployment though collaboration of many forms around the world. We see the opportunity to enable the build of Digital Intelligence into product and software design from the onset through the use of global standards that include agreed upon common definitions and take into account various contexts. It will also enable improved practices and processes towards the development of indicators and measurement.”

The CDI will serve as a platform for coordinating efforts on raising Digital Intelligence across the technology and education sectors. Initial efforts of the Coalition include institutionalizing the DQ framework, which will be done through a formal adoption process with the OECD and by the development of an IEEE technical standard. The CDI will then help to organize implementation groups around each of these: a multistakeholder coalition of firms to promote and implement the IEEE standard, and a similar group built around a coalition of education ministers to implement the guidelines created by the OECD.

World Bank Group Commits $1 Billion for Battery Storage to Ramp Up Renewable Energy Globally

Development – Power

World Bank Group Commits $1 Billion for Battery Storage to Ramp Up Renewable Energy Globally
New program will mobilize another $4 billion; “game changer” for developing countries
NEW YORK, September 26, 2018 – In a major announcement at the One Planet Summit here today, the World Bank Group committed $1 billion for a new global program to accelerate investments in battery storage for energy systems in developing and middle-income countries. The program is expected to help these countries ramp up their use of renewables – particularly wind and solar power – improve energy security, increase grid stability and expand access to electricity.

The $1 billion in World Bank Group financing is expected to mobilize another $4 billion in concessional climate financing and public and private investments. The program aims to finance 17.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery storage by 2025 – more than triple the 4-5 GWh currently installed in all developing countries.

“For developing countries, this can be a game changer,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Battery storage can help countries leapfrog to the next generation of power generation technology, expand energy access, and set the stage for much cleaner, more stable, energy systems.”
Currently, batteries used in energy generation systems are expensive, and most projects are concentrated in developed countries. The “Accelerating Battery Storage for Development” program, in response to demand from countries, will finance and de-risk investments such as utility-scale solar parks with battery storage, off-grid systems – including mini-grids – and stand-alone batteries that can help stabilize and strengthen grids.

The program will also support large-scale demonstration projects for new storage technologies suitable for developing countries’ needs – such as batteries that are long-lasting, resilient to harsh conditions and high temperatures, and that present minimal environmental risks.

“Batteries are critical to decarbonizing the world’s power systems. They allow us to store wind and solar energy and deploy it when it’s needed most to provide people with clean, affordable, round-the-clock power.” Dr. Kim said. “We call on our partners to join us and match the investments we’re making today. We can create new markets for battery storage in countries with high wind and solar potential, growing energy demand, and populations that still live without reliable electricity.”

The World Bank Group is putting $1 billion of its own funds towards this new program and will fundraise another $1 billion in concessional climate funds through channels such as the Climate Investment Funds’ Clean Technology Fund (CTF). The program is expected to raise an additional $3 billion from public and private funds and investors.

The new program will also convene a global think tank on battery storage, bringing together national laboratories, research institutions, development agencies and philanthropies to foster international technological cooperation and training that can develop and adapt new storage solutions tailored for the needs and conditions of developing countries…