The Sentinel will resume publication on 4 January 2020 after an end-of-year holidays break.

Editor’s Note:
We rarely include editorials/opinions in our coverage each week, but thought to share this as we close the year.

Financial Times
The editorial board
The spirit of endeavour has not dimmed in 2019
Power of the human mind, body and creativity was on display this year
December 23 2019

These can seem unsettling times. Populism is on the rise; liberal democracy is under pressure. Protectionism is threatening to stifle free trade. China and the US are locked in what seems ever more like a new cold war. Leaders are struggling to agree on how to cut carbon emissions. Extreme weather events are increasing. Yet amid the uncertainty, stories of extraordinary people have been the bright spot.

Countless citizens across the world have shown the power of the human body, mind and spirit to achieve remarkable things in 2019. The Financial Times chose Satya Nadella as its person of the year for reviving Microsoft while instilling a new purpose and sense of humility. Many others deserve to be honoured.

In April, a team of scientists developed the first picture of a black hole, an astronomical phenomenon from which no light can escape. Katie Bouman, a young computer scientist, became the symbol of the achievement for using her knowhow to craft an algorithm that could stitch together the images from a network of telescopes. Outer space witnessed other new human firsts. Fifty years after the moon landing, astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir took part in the first all-female spacewalk while China’s Chang’e 4 mission completed the first successful “soft” landing on the far side of the moon.

Many of the greatest individual achievements this year have been internal: victories over our own limits. Eliud Kipchoge was the first human to run a marathon in under two hours. He achieved the milestone in a time trial in Vienna in October, helped by a laser routemarker, a team of support staff and 41 pacemakers. Jasmin Paris became the first woman to win the 268-mile Montane Spine Race, breastfeeding her 14-month old daughter on the way. Nepalese mountain climber Nirmal “Nims” Purja, a former Gurkha, scaled the 14 highest peaks in the world in six months, beating the existing speed record by more than seven years.

Others have depended on teamwork: Siya Kolisi, captain of the world cup winning rugby team, became the first black South African to lift the trophy. Megan Rapinoe, captain of the US team that won the women’s football world cup, used her platform to call for equal pay. Ben Stokes, the English cricketer, secured the world cup for his nation in highly dramatic style.

This was the year when humans began to harness the power of quantum computers: a team at Alphabet, Google’s parent, declared they had achieved “quantum supremacy”, as their device beat a traditional computer. Others focused on making sure that technological advances did not mean abandoning morality: Meredith Whittaker, an artificial intelligence worker who had led protests about her employer Google’s policies in 2018, resigned from her job this year.

Others have demonstrated the human power for creativity. Bernadine Evaristo became the first black woman to win the Booker prize this year. She shared it with Margaret Atwood, who first won the prestigious prize close to two decades ago. Stormzy, a British rapper, not only crafted stunning imagery in his headline set at Glastonbury, but a scholarship he funds was credited with an increase in the number of black students applying to the elite University of Cambridge.

Those listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. Many of the most extraordinary people go unsung in unglamorous jobs, doing the work of caring for others day in, day out. They are a reminder that no matter how dark the news appears to be, the spirit of human endeavour remains undimmed. The FT salutes them.

The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 21 December 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 21 Dec 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]



The Sentinel will resume publication on 4 January 2020 after an end-of-year holidays break.

COP25 :: UN Climate Change Conference – December 2019

COP25 :: UN Climate Change Conference – December 2019

UN Climate Statement / 19 Dec, 2019
Statement by the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Patricia Espinosa, on the Outcome of COP25
Several days have passed since the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid, and it is important to conduct an honest and realistic assessment of what happened so that appropriate measures can be taken by the international community in guiding the next crucial steps in the multilateral climate process next year.

We need to be clear that the conference did not result in agreement on the guidelines for a much-needed carbon market – an essential part of the toolkit to raise ambition that can harness the potential of the private sector and generate finance for adaptation. Developed countries have yet to fully address the calls from developing countries for enhanced support in finance, technology and capacity building, without which they cannot green their economies and build adequate resilience to climate change. High-emitting countries did not send a clear enough signal that they are ready to improve their climate strategies and ramp up ambition through the Nationally Determined Contributions they will submit next year.

At the same time, in the final decision texts, governments did express the need for more ambition by Parties and non-State actors alike, and they agreed to improve the ability of the most vulnerable to adapt to climate change. Many decisions that emerged from the conference in Madrid at least acknowledge the role of climate finance, essential for concrete action. And decisions were taken in areas including technology, oceans and agriculture, gender and capacity building. A large group of countries, regions, cities, businesses and investors signaled their intention to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, as part of the Climate Ambition Alliance led by Chile. Also rallying under the Climate Ambition Alliance, 114 nations have meanwhile signaled their intention to submit an enhanced climate action plan next year. The caveat here is that not enough major economies have signaled that they are ready to shift the needle on climate ambition through improved plans.

Commitments from many sectors of society showed an overwhelming agreement on the only way forward: that we need to follow what science is telling us, with the sense of urgency and seriousness that this requires. What we need now is to focus our undivided attention on the next steps to further strengthen the trust in the multilateral process. As we head towards the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, we must be united and work in a true spirit of inclusive multilateralism in order to realize the promises of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. I thank the governments of Chile and Spain for their enormous efforts to organize COP25, and I thank all observer organizations, including the private sector, youth and scientists, for reminding us every day of the need to raise ambition. I look forward to working with the governments of Chile, the UK and Italy to achieve the best possible results at COP26 in Glasgow. Together, with all sectors of the economy and societies at large, we must work tirelessly to address the greatest challenge of our generation.


Global Community Must Not Give Up Tackling Climate Crisis, Secretary-General Says, Expressing Disappointment with Results of Twenty-Fifth Conference
15 December 2019
The following statement by UN Secretary General António Guterres was issued today:

I am disappointed with the results of [the twenty fifth Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)].

The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.

We must not give up and I will not give up. I am more determined than ever to work for 2020 to be the year in which all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and a no more than 1.5°C temperature rise.

Security Council Rejects 2 Draft Resolutions Authorizing Cross-Border, Cross-Line Humanitarian Access in Syria


20 December 2019
Security Council Rejects 2 Draft Resolutions Authorizing Cross-Border, Cross-Line Humanitarian Access in Syria
The Security Council today failed to adopt two draft resolutions on extending the authorization for the mechanism that allows cross border delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria today — one tabled by Belgium, Germany and Kuwait; the other by the Russian Federation.

The draft proposed by co sponsors Belgium, Germany and Kuwait was rejected by a vote of 13 in favour and 2 against (China, Russian Federation). By its terms, the Council would have decided to renew the mechanism created by resolution 2165 (2014), excluding the border crossing of Al Ramtha, for a further six month period, to be followed by an additional six months unless the Council decided otherwise.

That draft would have demanded that all parties allow safe, unimpeded and sustained access for humanitarian convoys, including medical and surgical supplies, to all requested areas and populations, according to the United Nations’ assessment of need in all parts of Syria. It would have called on United Nations humanitarian agencies to improve monitoring of the distribution of relief consignments and their delivery inside Syria. It also would have requested the Secretary General to conduct an independent written review of United Nations humanitarian cross-line and cross-border operations, including recommendations on the need to reauthorize use of the Al Ramtha border crossing.

The draft proposed the Russian Federation was likewise defeated by 5 votes in favour (China, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Russian Federation, South Africa), to 6 opposed (Dominican Republic, France, Peru, Poland, United Kingdom, United States), with 4 abstentions (Belgium, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait).

By its terms, the Council would have decided to renew the decisions in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Security Council resolution 2165 (2014), excluding border crossings at Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha until 10 July 2020. It would have also called on all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners to ensure appropriate identification for vehicles delivering assistance through cross border operations authorized by the resolution…



Myanmar :: Bi‐weekly Situation Report 24 – 5 December 2019
:: A total of 1,270,70 doses of oral cholera vaccine (OCV) was approved for the OCV campaign, targeting around 635,000 individuals, which will take place from 8 to 14 December in the Rohingya camps and 8 to 31 December in the host communities.
:: Since 5 September 2019, a total of 213 cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) have tested positive by cholera Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs), or culture.
:: An assessment undertaken for the operational risks associated with Fecal Sludge management (FSM) and water sources has concluded that, urgent actions are required to improve the water safety situation in these camps.

As per Inter-Sector Coordination Group (ISCG) report of September 2019, there are 914,998 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. This includes 34,172 refugees from Myanmar who registered before 31st August 2017. All refugees, including new arrivals, face compounding vulnerabilities, including in health. WHO has been responding to this crisis since September 2017…


The Lancet
Dec 21, 2019 Volume 394 Number 10216 p2201-2284
The Rohingya people: past, present, and future
The Lancet
Aung San Suu Kyi’s fall from grace is complete. Last week she gave an inhumane defence of Myanmar, a nation being tried for genocide, in a hearing at the International Court of Justice. But while events in The Hague monopolise the world’s attention, the appalling situation for the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh is being neglected.

The Rohingya people have long been disenfranchised, including with respect to health, but since a mass flight from killing, rape, and arson in 2017, almost 1 million now live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Sanitation is poor, food is scarce, and shelters are basic and overcrowded. Humanitarian agencies have brought some stability, but the health situation is precarious.

The risk of infectious disease outbreaks is high: measles and diphtheria have already struck. And now a huge cholera vaccination campaign, with 635 000 doses, has begun after a series of cases of acute watery diarrhoea, some positive for cholera. Sexual abuse and intimate partner violence have been widely reported. The trauma of sexual violence and displacement from Myanmar, combined with a lack of prospects and unemployment in Bangladesh, is harming mental health, ranging from anxiety to depression to suicidal thoughts; 80 000 children are estimated to have severe mental distress. Fewer than half of births take place in health facilities. Only 46% of health centres have insulin. Disability care, eye care, oral care, and the care of older people are severely lacking. To describe the humanitarian situation in Cox’s Bazar is to list shortcomings in practically every facet of health.

Efforts at repatriation have failed, naturally, without major change in Myanmar and guarantees of safety. The Bangladeshi Government has blocked communications and intends to build a barbed wire fence around the area, as tensions with the local population grow. Plans to give the Rohingya a more permanent home elsewhere in Bangladesh have been mooted. Meanwhile, a new generation is being born in the camps of Cox’s Bazar, a generation whose health and prospects are in jeopardy. Their future is uncertain. For the present, the very least we can give them is our attention.

UNICEF – Waves of protests around the world are reminder that voices of children and adolescents must be heard and their rights protected

Waves of protests around the world are reminder that voices of children and adolescents must be heard and their rights protected
Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore
NEW YORK, 18 December 2019 – “Children and young people from around the world have taken to the streets in recent months to demand their rights.

“Although every context is unique, from the Middle East to Latin America to the Caribbean, and in Europe, Africa and Asia, young people are calling for action on the climate crisis, for an end to corruption and inequality, for better education and employment opportunities – and for a fairer world for everyone, everywhere.

“It is therefore a heartbreaking irony that, in standing up for their fundamental rights, many children and adolescents are simultaneously having their rights taken away.

“Many of these protests have left young protesters behind bars, injured and at times killed. Schools have been shuttered and public services interrupted.

“Children’s rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including in peaceful protest, are enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. It is incumbent on Member States to ensure that children can exercise this right in a safe and peaceful manner.

“All actors must refrain from violence, and fundamental guarantees for the protection of children must remain applicable everywhere, at all times, including where there is civil unrest or armed conflict.

“My plea is to please protect children from violence and respect their right to speak up and be heard. Give them opportunities to meaningfully voice their concerns and participate in matters that affect their futures. Listen to them and respond in a principled, constructive and supportive way.”

Global Refugee Forum – Joint Commitments by the MDB Coordination Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement

Refugees – Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs)

Global Refugee Forum – Joint Commitments by the MDB Coordination Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement
On the occasion of the Global Refugee Forum on 17-18 December 2019 in Geneva (Switzerland), we, a group of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) including the African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank Group, affirm our commitment to work in support of the operationalization of the Global Compact on Refugees by the UNHCR, United Nations Member States, and other relevant stakeholders.

We acknowledge the Global Compact on Refugees as a key enabler and accelerator towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the importance of the protection mandate of UNHCR.

We recognize the imperative for MDBs to scale up financing for programs and projects that benefit the forcibly displaced and host communities alike.

In line with our different mandates and countries of operation, we wish to highlight MDBs’ ongoing support to countries of origin, transit areas, host communities, and refugees and migrants in refugee-like situations, through targeted financing and policy instruments.

In this context, we work together through a dedicated MDB Coordination Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement, which seeks to foster strategic alignment among MDBs, strengthen operational coordination and knowledge sharing to leverage our synergies and complementarities.

We also work with strategic partners, including UNHCR, on issues of common interest. This includes data monitoring and sharing where possible, as well as across a number of the focus areas identified as critical by the 2019 Global Refugee Forum.

On the occasion of the Forum, we take the opportunity to commit to expanding and deepening cooperation amongst each other, and with member countries, and relevant specialized organizations, notably the UNHCR, as well as civil society and the private sector, to maximize our collective development impact.

In this context, MDBs reaffirm their commitment to:
:: Step up their work together and individually through a range of financing and policy instruments in accordance with each organization’s investment and financing criteria and requirements.

:: Coordinate with each other and with core stakeholders on key issues on the ground in order to build on existing initiatives, better enable shorter lead times, and deliver better outcomes for host communities and vulnerable populations.

:: In large-scale and rapidly evolving contexts, provide rapid financing through dedicated financial instruments or sources that can help alleviate the strain on public services in host countries, and support livelihoods, inclusiveness and resilience for all. Examples of these financing instruments and sources include AfDB’s Transition Support Facility, the AsDB’s Emergency Assistance Loan Instrument, the EBRD’s Refugee Response Plan, the EIB’s Economic Resilience Initiative, IDB’s Grant Facility to support countries with large and sudden intraregional migration inflows, IsDB through matching funds mechanisms and other channels, the World Bank IDA18 Sub-window for Refugees and Host Communities and the World Bank-administered Global Concessional Financing Facility, among others.

:: Promote and support the essential contribution of the private sector – inter alia through MDBs playing a facilitating role – in enhancing private sector participation in sustainable skills development and employment opportunities, SME and entrepreneurship support, as well as economic and social infrastructure and provision of essential services for host communities and target groups, including women and youth.

As part of these commitments, MDBs will follow principles of good practice that recognize the specific needs of vulnerable populations:
:: Tailor interventions to the specific country situations and regional dimensions in which MDBs are working.
:: Leverage and adapt existing programming and expertise to enable shorter lead times in deploying effective responses.
:: Align with good international practice, including on refugee protection, when developing programming that supports access to essential services and decent employment.
:: Foster inclusive approaches that benefit both host communities and target groups alike, with particular emphasis on interventions that strengthen resilience and social cohesion.
:: Consider the capacity and capabilities of partners at the regional, national and local level, and, where needed, provide targeted technical assistance to boost capacity.
:: Refine and strengthen incentives for private sector participation, including through risk mitigation, blended instruments and political risk insurance.
:: Measure and share information where possible on the impact of interventions to scale up and replicate the most effective programs in other areas of need, while ensuring that further interventions remain responsive to the new circumstances.
:: Continuously review and strengthen MDB staff expertise and capacity to ensure that programming appropriately considers the specific needs of host communities and vulnerable populations.

To support the above work, the MDB Coordination Platform on Economic Migration and Forced Displacement is working towards establishing streamlined mechanisms to facilitate cross-MDB knowledge sharing and operational exchanges including via an online community of practice, a series of papers on good practices, and focused workshops.

We look forward to taking stock of progress and sharing lessons learned at the next gathering of all stakeholders devoted to bringing the Global Compact on Refugees to life.