The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 25 May 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 25 May 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 strengthens Ebola response in Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC – Ebola

United Nations strengthens Ebola response in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Statement – Kinshasa/Butembo
23 May 2019
With the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now in its tenth month and the number of new cases increasing in recent weeks, the United Nations announced today measures to strengthen its response and end the outbreak.

The Ebola epidemic has claimed more than 1,200 lives and the risk of spread to other provinces in the eastern Congo as well as neighbouring countries remains very high. A third of those who have fallen ill are children, which is a higher proportion than in previous outbreaks.

Under the leadership of the Government and Congolese communities, with support from the UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the response has contained Ebola in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces. But ongoing insecurity and community mistrust in the response continue to hamper access to communities. This is hindering efforts by WHO and the Ministry of Health to detect sick people and ensure access to treatment and vaccination, ultimately leading to more intense Ebola transmission.

In view of the increasingly complex environment, the UN in partnership with the Government and all partners is now strengthening its political engagement and operational support to negotiate access to communities; increasing support for humanitarian coordination; and bolstering preparedness and readiness planning for Goma and surrounding countries. WHO is adapting public health strategies to identify and treat people as quickly as possible; expanding vaccination to reach and protect more people; and redoubling work to end transmission in health facilities.

The UN Secretary-General has established a strengthened coordination and support mechanism in the epicenter of the outbreak, Butembo.

MONUSCO Deputy UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) David Gressly has been appointed UN Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator (EERC) in the Ebola affected areas of the DRC. Mr. Gressly, who brings a wealth of humanitarian leadership and political and security experience to the role, will report to the SRSG, Leila Zerrougui. He will oversee the coordination of international support for the Ebola response and work to ensure that an enabling environment—particularly security and political—is in place to allow the Ebola response to be even more effective.

Mr. Gressly will work closely with WHO, which will continue to lead all health operations and technical support activities to the Government response to the epidemic. Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Assistant Director-General, Emergency Response, who has been in Butembo since end-March, is leading the WHO response in DRC. WHO will also continue to coordinate public health interventions that are being implemented by other UN partners.

“The Ebola response is working in an operating environment of unprecedented complexity for a public health emergency—insecurity and political protests have led to periodic disruptions in our efforts to fight the disease. Therefore, an enhanced UN-wide response is required to overcome these operating constraints and this includes moving senior leadership and operational decision making to the epicenter of the epidemic in Butembo. We have no time to lose,” said DSRSG Gressly.

WHO’s Dr. Fall said: “This system-wide and international support is exactly what WHO has been calling for. We know that the outbreak response must be owned by the local population, and this new approach reflects what they have asked for: better security for patients and health workers, wider access to vaccination, and a more humane face to the response.” Dr. Fall has been working alongside Dr. Michel Yao, the WHO Ebola Incident Manager who has been in place since August 2018. In Kinshasa, WHO has also appointed a special representative to the Ebola Response, Dr. Peter Graaff, to coordinate with partners there.

Additional UN measures will bolster the critical work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and agencies already on the ground, including UNICEF. Working with NGOs, UNICEF leads community engagement activities; provides psychosocial interventions; and helps prevent infection through water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Financial planning and reporting will also be strengthened and efforts will be accelerated to ensure sustainable and predictable funding required for the Ebola strategic response plan considering the ongoing needs.

U.N. grants sanctions exemption for UNICEF’s aid projects in N. Korea

DPRK – Sanctions Exemption

U.N. grants sanctions exemption for UNICEF’s aid projects in N. Korea
Yonhap News Agency
SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) — The U.N. Security Council has granted a sanctions exemption to allow the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to carry out aid programs in North Korea to improve the health and nutrition of people in the impoverished country, according to the U.N. website.
The exemption, granted on April 11, paves the way for UNICEF to import items to deliver safe water supplies to communities and enable effective treatment at hospitals, especially for malnourished children and mothers.

The approved items worth some US$5.75 million in total include emergency health kits, wheelchairs and electronic devices, a document on the website showed.

The most expensive set of materials was vaccine cold chain equipment from Denmark worth $3.87 million. UNICEF said the items will be used to store vaccines for around 355,000 children under 1 year of age and 362,000 pregnant women.

UNICEF said its staff will conduct regular monitoring to ensure the goods are used for their intended purposes.

Including the latest approval, the total number of humanitarian exemptions related to North Korea currently in effect stands at 22. The exemptions are valid for six months.

Humanitarian activities are not banned under international sanctions, but related materials are subject to sanctions waivers from the U.N.
Principle of Evolving Capacities under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, just published in the International Journal of Child Rights.

Oslo Conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crises: Co-Host Outcome Statement

GBV in Humanitarian Crises

Oslo Conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crises: Co-Host Outcome Statement
24 May 2019
The Governments of Norway, Iraq, Somalia and the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with invaluable support from Norwegian Church Aid, hosted the international conference “Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crises” in Oslo, Norway on 23-24 May. This is the first time States, the United Nations and the ICRC have come together to end sexual and genderbased violence (SGBV) in humanitarian crises, in conflict and disaster.

The conference brought together SGBV survivors and specialists, members of 167 national and 76 international civil society organizations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, representatives from 100 nations, global leaders and regional and international organizations. It was agreed that strengthening SGBV prevention and response must be a humanitarian priority. Participants aimed to mobilize stronger political commitment and raise financial resources to prevent and protect people at risk of SGBV in humanitarian crises. The event re-energized the commitment of all participants to combat gender inequality and scale up prevention and response to SGBV, always taking a survivor-centred approach. It gave visibility and recognition to the key role of national and local organizations, including local women’s organizations.

In addition to the close to 50 actors – States, UN agencies, NGOs and others – which submitted written political, policy and best practice commitments, many others outlined specific measures and political will to end SGBV. The several hundred commitments made relate to standards and legal frameworks, operational support, SGBV prevention and response services, leadership and coordination, and others which are specific to country contexts and areas of work. Particular focus was given to implementation of legal frameworks and strategies, as well as an increase in operational support to ensure that survivor-centred services and care are available in all crises. Media also committed to amplify the voices of women, not only as victims but as agents of change, to avoid sensational reporting.

States committed to provide a total of over US$ 363 million to SGBV prevention and response in 2019 and beyond. In addition, we take note of generous unearmarked and core funding to humanitarian partners working to prevent and respond to SGBV, as well as funding to the Central Emergency Response Fund and country-based pool funds….

…In order to put survivors at the centre, we agreed that:
:: Women and girls are key actors in humanitarian response and must be acknowledged as powerful agents of change in their own lives and communities. Local women are often the first responders to SGBV in emergencies and are at the forefront of SGBV programming.

:: Women and women’s organizations may shift power dynamics in communities in positive ways and challenge norms that condone discrimination against women and girls and the violation of their human rights.

:: Local women’s organizations, including those working with women with disabilities, must be engaged in identifying protection risks, finding solutions, strategic planning and decision-making across all sectors.

:: Adolescent girls and women and girls with disabilities are at particularly high risk of sexual and gender-based violence and deserve particular attention. Children born of war often experience discrimination and stigmatization by family and society.

:: While the need for continued emphasis on addressing SGBV affecting women and girls cannot be overstated, we also must take into consideration the needs of male survivors of sexual violence, as gaps in services have become more apparent.

:: We need to improve access to gender-sensitive, age-appropriate, non-discriminatory and comprehensive healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial support, and we need to ensure the dignity and safety of survivors. The conference stressed the importance of confidentiality and privacy, the need to end the social stigmatization of survivors, and an increased focus on livelihoods…

Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

Governance – Artificial Intelligence

Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence
22/05/2019 –
OECD and partner countries formally adopted the first set of intergovernmental policy guidelines on Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, agreeing to uphold international standards that aim to ensure AI systems are designed to be robust, safe, fair and trustworthy.

The OECD’s 36 member countries, along with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Romania, signed up to the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence at the Organisation’s annual Ministerial Council Meeting, taking place today and tomorrow in Paris and focused this year on “Harnessing the Digital Transition for Sustainable Development”. Elaborated with guidance from an expert group formed by more than 50 members from governments, academia, business, civil society, international bodies, the tech community and trade unions, the Principles comprise five values-based principles for the responsible deployment of trustworthy AI and five recommendations for public policy and international co-operation. They aim to guide governments, organisations and individuals in designing and running AI systems in a way that puts people’s best interests first and ensuring that designers and operators are held accountable for their proper functioning.

“Artificial Intelligence is revolutionising the way we live and work, and offering extraordinary benefits for our societies and economies. Yet, it raises new challenges and is also fuelling anxieties and ethical concerns. This puts the onus on governments to ensure that AI systems are designed in a way that respects our values and laws, so people can trust that their safety and privacy will be paramount,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “These Principles will be a global reference point for trustworthy AI so that we can harness its opportunities in a way that delivers the best outcomes for all.” (Read the full speech.)

The AI Principles have the backing of the European Commission, whose high-level expert group has produced Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI, and they will be part of the discussion at the forthcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit in Japan. The OECD’s digital policy experts will build on the Principles in the months ahead to produce practical guidance for implementing them.

While not legally binding, existing OECD Principles in other policy areas have proved highly influential in setting international standards and helping governments to design national legislation. For example, the OECD Privacy Guidelines, which set limits to the collection and use of personal data, underlie many privacy laws and frameworks in the United States, Europe and Asia. The G20-endorsed OECD Principles of Corporate Governance have become an international benchmark for policy makers, investors, companies and other stakeholders working on institutional and regulatory frameworks for corporate governance. Download the AI Principles in full.

In summary, the AI Principles state that:
[1] AI should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development and well-being.

[2] AI systems should be designed in a way that respects the rule of law, human rights, democratic values and diversity, and they should include appropriate safeguards – for example, enabling human intervention where necessary – to ensure a fair and just society.

[3] There should be transparency and responsible disclosure around AI systems to ensure that people understand when they are engaging with them and can challenge outcomes.

[4] AI systems must function in a robust, secure and safe way throughout their lifetimes, and potential risks should be continually assessed and managed.

[5] Organisations and individuals developing, deploying or operating AI systems should be held accountable for their proper functioning in line with the above principles.

The OECD recommends that governments:
:: Facilitate public and private investment in research & development to spur innovation in
trustworthy AI.
:: Foster accessible AI ecosystems with digital infrastructure and technologies, and mechanisms to
share data and knowledge.
:: Create a policy environment that will open the way to deployment of trustworthy AI systems.
:: Equip people with the skills for AI and support workers to ensure a fair transition.
:: Co-operate across borders and sectors to share information, develop standards and work towards
responsible stewardship of AI.

Twenty years of protection of civilians at the UN Security Council

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict [PoC]

Twenty years of protection of civilians at the UN Security Council
ODI Briefing papers | May 2019 | Sarah Adamczyk
Exploring the current state of the protection of civilians in armed conflict agenda and proposing steps to help close the gap between law and action.
A century ago, civilians represented approximately 10%–15% of total casualties in armed conflict. By the Second World War, this had risen to nearly 50%, and by the 1990s civilians accounted for between 80% and 85% of casualties in armed conflict, a trend that has continued, if not intensified, into the twenty-first century. Civilians are not simply being caught up in fighting, but are increasingly directly targeted.

This HPG Policy Brief explores the current state of the protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoC) agenda and proposes constructive steps to help close the gap between law and action and prepare for the next 20 years of PoC policy and practice. It draws on interviews with more than 35 stakeholders engaged in PoC discussions and policy, including UN Security Council (UNSC) members, other UN member states, UN staff, local and international non-governmental organisations, human rights and peacebuilding organisations and key experts and academics.

Key messages
:: Twenty years on from the first UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on the protection of civilians in armed conflict (PoC), civilians continue to account for the vast majority of conflict casualties. The problem lies not with the current normative framework, but with the translation and implementation of these policies into practice.

:: The UNSC has a range of mechanisms and procedures for engaging with the PoC agenda along with enforcement tools to ensure compliance with international law, yet often lacks the political will to do so.

:: Protection of civilians faces substantial challenges, related both to changes in the geopolitical context in which conflicts take place, and to more specific difficulties around definitional clarity, fragmentation of the PoC agenda and the lack of inclusive and sustained engagement.

:: To translate the normative progress made over the past 20 years into demonstrable improvements in civilian protection outcomes, the UNSC and the wider international community must advocate for stronger reporting on civilian harm, more robust accountability and enforcement, consistent and transparent use of vetoes within the UNSC and implementation of national level policy frameworks.

:: Regarding UN peacekeeping operations, the UNSC should provide greater support through increased clarity in mandates and expectations, matched by commensurate resources and funding.

Language :: A Style Guide Focused on Dignity and Precision


A Style Guide Focused on Dignity and Precision
MacArthur Foundation – Grantee Research
May 24, 2019
With the specific intention of promoting dignity and precision in journalism, the new Global Press Style Guide establishes guidelines for referring to people and places around the world. The guide focuses on accurate word use and suggests eliminating words like “ethnic”, “millennial”, “Global South”, which are inconsistently applied, misleading, or politically charged, in favor of more precise description. A MacArthur grantee, the Global Press Institute exists to create a more just and informed world by training and then employing local journalists to produce ethical, accurate news coverage from the world’s least-covered places.

Example from the online Global Press Style Guide
asylum seeker/asylee
Use the term asylum seeker to refer to someone who has formally applied for asylum in a foreign country. Use the term asylee to refer to someone who has received admittance into a foreign country. There are no globally-applied standards used to grant asylum. Both terms should be used in accordance with local laws in countries relevant to a story’s news value.
Note that these terms are not interchangeable with refugee or related words. Add context, including sociopolitical realities in a source’s home country and in the country where that source seeks asylum.
Terms related to asylum are often misapplied. Precise, context-rich references are required for accuracy and reader clarity.
SEE ALSO: internally displaced person, refugee