The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 22 June 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 22 Jun 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]

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2475 (2019), Ground-Breaking Text on Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Conflict

Disabilities in Conflict – Protection

Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2475 (2019), Ground-Breaking Text on Protection of Persons with Disabilities in Conflict
20 June 2019
Acting unanimously today, the Security Council adopted its first-ever resolution calling upon Member States and parties to armed conflict to protect persons with disabilities in conflict situations and to ensure they have access to justice, basic services and unimpeded humanitarian assistance.

By the terms of resolution 2475 (2019), the 15-member Council called upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need of assistance. It further urged them to prevent violence and abuses against civilians in situations of armed conflict, including those involving in killing and maiming, abduction and torture, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The Council emphasized the need for States to end impunity for criminal acts against civilians, including those with disabilities, and to ensure they have access to justice and effective remedies, and as appropriate, reparation. It called upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unimpeded humanitarian access.

Encouraging Member States to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy equal access to basic services, including education, health care, transportation and information and communications technology (ICT) and systems, the Council further urged States to enable the meaningful participation and representation of persons with disabilities, including their representative organizations, in humanitarian action and in conflict prevention, resolution, reconciliation, reconstruction and peacebuilding.

Further by the resolution, the Council urged Member States to take steps to eliminate discrimination and marginalization on the basis of disability in situations of armed conflict. It also urged States parties to comply with their obligations under the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities…

New policies and investments urgently needed in support of rural youth in poorest countries — IFAD report

Human Development

New policies and investments urgently needed in support of rural youth in poorest countries, says a new UN report
Rome, 18 June 2019 – Effective policies and investments are urgently needed if the world’s poorest countries are to offer a future to hundreds of millions of marginalized young people living in rural areas, according to a new report released today by the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The 2019 Rural Development Report – Creating opportunities for rural youth shows that about 500 million young people, about half of the youth population of developing countries, live in rural areas. This number rises to 780 million when semi-rural and peri-urban areas are included. These young people are prone to poverty and inequality and are held back by a series of constraints, including lack of training and skills, limited access to land and credit, scarce availability of inputs and restricted links to social networks.

According to the report, the situation is of particular concern in sub-Saharan Africa, whose rural youth population is set to climb from 105 million in 2015 to 174 million by 2050 – a 70 per cent increase in countries that often lack the means to deal with the challenges ahead.

“Failing to act risks creating a lost generation of young people without hope or direction, which contributes to an increased risk of forced economic migration and fragility,” said IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo. “But with the right policies and investments, those young people can drive economic growth in rural areas and improve life in their communities.”

The report finds that among young people living in rural, semi-rural and peri-urban areas, 67 per cent live in areas with strong agricultural potential but many have limited access to markets.

With greater access to skills training, markets, financial services and technologies, the report points out that rural young people could become more productive, connected and in charge of their own future.
But policy-makers need to act quickly to avert a bigger crises, warns the report, pointing to the impacts of climate change on agriculture generally, the need to seize opportunities presented by a digital revolution spreading across the developing world, balanced with the growing aspirations and demands of young people themselves.

In particular, the report emphasizes that it is fundamental that youth policies are embedded in a broader rural transformation strategy and not be deployed in isolation…

$4.2 Trillion Can Be Saved by Investing in More Resilient Infrastructure, New World Bank Report Finds

Sustainable Development – Infrastructure

$4.2 Trillion Can Be Saved by Investing in More Resilient Infrastructure, New World Bank Report Finds
Investing in resilient infrastructure pays for itself four times over
WASHINGTON, June 19, 2019 –The net benefit on average of investing in more resilient infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries would be $4.2 trillion with $4 in benefit for each $1 invested, according to a new report from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

The report, Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity, lays out a framework for understanding infrastructure resilience, that is the ability of infrastructure systems to function and meet users’ needs during and after a natural hazard. It examines four essential infrastructure systems: power, water and sanitation, transport, and telecommunications. Making them more resilient is critical, the report finds, not only to avoid costly repairs but also to minimize the wide-ranging consequences of natural disasters for the livelihoods and well-being of people. Outages or disruptions to power, water, communication and transport affect the productivity of firms, the incomes and jobs they provide, as well as directly impacting people’s quality of life, making it impossible for children to go to school or study, and contributing to the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera.

“Resilient infrastructure is not about roads or bridges or powerplants alone. It is about the people, the households and the communities for whom this quality infrastructure is a lifeline to better health, better education and better livelihoods,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass. “Investing in resilient infrastructure is about unlocking economic opportunities for people. This report offers a pathway for countries to follow for a safer, more secure, inclusive and prosperous future for all.”

The report also finds that the lack of resilient infrastructure harms people and firms more than previously understood. Natural disasters, for instance, cause direct damages to power generation and transport infrastructure, costing about $18 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries. But the wider disruptions that they trigger on households and firms is an even bigger problem. Altogether, disruptions caused by natural hazards, as well as poor maintenance and mismanagement of infrastructure, costs households and firms at least $390 billion a year in low- and middle-income countries…

The new arrogance of power: Global politics in the age of impunity — IRC/David Miliband


The new arrogance of power: Global politics in the age of impunity
19, 20, 21 JUNE 2019

…The central concern of the lecture is a dangerous global trend: what I call the Age of Impunity, which I see every day in my work, and which blights the lives of millions of people around the world. By Age of Impunity, I mean a time when those engaged in conflicts around the world – and there are many – believe they can get away with anything, including murder, whatever the rules and norms. And because they can get away with anything, they do everything. Chemical weapons, cluster bombs, land mines, bombing of school buses, besiegement of cities, blocking of humanitarian supplies, targeting of journalists and aid workers. You name it, we are seeing it, and seeing more of it, and seeing less outrage about it, and less accountability for it.

So this lecture is about the innocent civilians killed or brutalized by conflict, and whether their lives can be saved.

Here is my argument. We have seen impunity throughout history. But today’s Age of Impunity represents a striking deviation from the ten-year period after the middle of the 1990s, when accountability, not impunity, was on the rise. The reasons for this abrupt turn reflect changes in the nature of conflict, and there are some improvements in the interaction between the humanitarian sector and military forces that could make a difference to the lives of the people we serve.

However, the Age of Impunity is born of political changes. It reflects serious shifts in geopolitics. There is a political emergency as well as a humanitarian emergency. The political sea change is that constraints on the abuse of power are being weakened internationally and nationally at the same time.

Where the years after the Cold War saw growing civilian protection internationally and a surge in accountable government nationally, so today we see the reverse. The multilateral system is under assault from its cornerstone in the US, and Brexit represents a further attack here in the UK. Meanwhile, checks on executive power at the national level are also being weakened.

This is the new arrogance of power, internationally and nationally, and it needs to be understood and then addressed if the trends towards greater protection of the most vulnerable are to be restored.

… The political emergency that has created the Age of Impunity does not end there. The retreat from the rule of law in international relations has its match on the domestic front. And you cannot have a rules-based international order without rules-based national order.

The NGO Freedom House has documented that since 2006 more than 100 countries have suffered declines in political freedom.[40] Constitutions are rewritten, dissidents imprisoned, journalists silenced, the media kept at bay. Some countries even have potential Prime Ministers debating the suspension of Parliament itself… This is a democratic recession – successive years in which the number of countries suffering a reduction in political freedom outnumbers those enjoying a growth.

Larry Diamond, author of the forthcoming Ill Winds: Saving Democracy from Russian Rage, Chinese Ambition and American Complacency has summarized what this means: “Every type of regime is getting worse. Liberal democracies are becoming more intolerant. Illiberal democracies are electing authoritarian personalities. Authoritarian regimes that once co-existed with pockets of opposition no longer see the need to bother.”[41]

These two parts of the political emergency – international and domestic – come together. The first part enables the arrogance of power. The second represents it. Together they create the Age of Impunity…

The lessons of this political emergency for me are clear.

First, beware the vacuum. The retreat of key parts of the liberal democratic world from global responsibility, starting before the Trump Administration but dramatically extended by it, has created a vacuum, which is being filled by a range of bad actors, who are exacting a terrible price from the world’s most vulnerable.

Second, foreign policy ethics are built on domestic fairness. The Western retreat from responsibility has its origins in foreign policy mistakes – for example shame about genocide in Rwanda has turned into fatigue, and shame, about Iraq – but also in the shattering of economic confidence by the global financial crisis, the crushingly disproportionate gains from economic growth for those at the top, and the strikingly dysfunctional politics of some of the world’s leading democracies. The retreat will not be reversed until there is a new economic and social bargain that delivers fair shares at home.

Third, the fight for civil and political rights is never over. The nationalist and nativist backlash against the rules-based international order has a contagion effect in domestic politics around the world. I was taught at university that civil rights were gained in Britain in the 18th century, and political rights in the 19th century, so the 20th century challenge was social and economic rights. But the lesson of the 100 countries suffering democratic recession is that every generation has to refight the case for civil and political rights. There is no iron law that says dictatorships become democracies but that democracies don’t become dictatorships. Just ask the people of Hungary.

Fourth, it is not enough to criticize the Trump Administration or Brexiteers: we need to remake the case for international cooperation from first principles. The great mistake of the Remain campaign was to duck the argument about sovereignty and duck the argument for reform of international institutions. In or out of Europe, Britain needs the EU to succeed, because international cooperation will remain a must, but for that it needs to be reformed as well as defended.

Fifth, let’s recognize the new dividing line in politics, between those who believe that laws and norms to protect individual rights, in foreign policy and at home, are there to be observed and strengthened, and those who say “the law is for suckers.” Free societies are built on a simple principle, that power needs to be checked, and that principle needs to be upheld today.

The Arrogance of Power
This leads me back to Senator Fulbright. He wrote an important book in 1966, selling 400,000 copies, and in the process breaking with his friend President Lyndon Johnson and many of his party. The focus of the book was foreign policy, and the reason for the breach was Fulbright’s denunciation of the Vietnam War.

It is relevant to the Age of Impunity because of its core thesis, captured in its title: The Arrogance of Power.[42] It is the American version of Lord Acton’s dictum about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.

Fulbright’s opposition to the Vietnam War came from and reinforced his core view about American power: that the sheer strength of America tempted mistakes on a grand and global scale, born of what he saw as a messianic streak in the American character, compounded by lack of knowledge about the rest of the world, and driven by the undeniable depredations of the communist counterpart in the Cold War.

The Age of Impunity I have described today is a symptom of a New “Arrogance of Power”. The New Arrogance of Power, in contrast to the Fulbright era, is not born of Western liberal democratic nations, intoxicated by their own virtue, throwing their weight around all corners of the world. Quite the opposite.

The Arrogance of Power diagnosed by Fulbright was the product of American strength. The New Arrogance of Power is the product of liberal democratic weakness. The result is the Age of Impunity.

Turning that round requires a change of course in foreign policy. But it also requires something else.
The checks and balances that protect the lives of the most vulnerable people abroad will only be sustained if we renew the checks and balances that sustain liberty at home. There is a lot of work for us to do.

World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights

World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights
17 June 2019
The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to a new United Nations report launched today.

The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights, which is published by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, provides a comprehensive overview of global demographic patterns and prospects. The study concluded that the world’s population could reach its peak around the end of the current century, at a level of nearly 11 billion.

The report also confirmed that the world’s population is growing older due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels, and that the number of countries experiencing a reduction in population size is growing. The resulting changes in the size, composition and distribution of the world’s population have important consequences for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the globally agreed targets for improving economic prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment.

The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights presents the main results of the 26th round of the UN’s global population estimates and projections. The report includes updated population estimates from 1950 to the present for 235 countries or areas, based on detailed analyses of all available information about the relevant historical demographic trends. The latest assessment uses the results of 1,690 national population censuses conducted between 1950 and 2018, as well as information from vital registration systems and from 2,700 nationally representative sample surveys. The 2019 revision also presents population projections from the present until 2100, depicting a range of possible or plausible outcomes at the global, regional and country levels.

Worldwide displacement tops 70 million, UN Refugee Chief urges greater solidarity in response

Worldwide displacement tops 70 million, UN Refugee Chief urges greater solidarity in response
19 June 2019
The number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 70 million in 2018. This is the highest level that UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has seen in its almost 70 years.

Data from UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, released today, shows that almost 70.8 million people are now forcibly displaced. To put this in perspective, this is double the level of 20 years ago, 2.3 million more than a year ago, and corresponds to a population between that of Thailand and Turkey.

The figure of 70.8 million is conservative, in particular as the crisis in Venezuela is still only partly reflected in this number. In all, some 4 million Venezuelans, according to data from governments receiving them, have left their country, making this among the world’s biggest recent displacement crises. Although the majority need international refugee protection, as of today only around half a million have taken the step of formally applying for asylum.

“What we are seeing in these figures is further confirmation of a longer-term rising trend in the number of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution. While language around refugees and migrants is often divisive, we are also witnessing an outpouring of generosity and solidarity, especially by communities who are themselves hosting large numbers of refugees. We are also seeing unprecedented engagement by new actors including development actors, private businesses, and individuals, which not only reflects but also delivers the spirit of the Global Compact on Refugees,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugee Filippo Grandi. “We must build on these positive examples and redouble our solidarity with the many thousands of innocent people who are forced to flee their homes each day.”

Within the 70.8 million figure in the Global Trends report are three main groups.

The first is refugees, meaning people forced to flee their country because of conflict, war or persecution. In 2018, the number of refugees reached 25.9 million worldwide, 500,000 more than in 2017. Included in this total are 5.5 million Palestine refugees who are under the care of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The second group is asylum seekers – people outside their country of origin and receiving international protection, but awaiting the outcome of their claim to refugee status. At the end of 2018 there were 3.5 million asylum seekers globally.

The third and biggest group, at 41.3 million, is people displaced to other areas within their own country, a category commonly referred to as Internally Displaced People or IDPs…