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Christmas 2017 message from GVI President Mr. Joe Washington

Tis the Season!

(End of the year message and challenges for the year that lies ahead!)

As the line from a famous Christmas carol states: “…Tis the season to be jolly”

Unfortunately, as highlighted in the Global Humanitarian Appeal launched on 1 December 2017 by Mark Lowcock, Under – Secretary – General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, a record $22.5 billion dollars is needed to address the priority needs of 91 million of the most vulnerable individuals in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in 2018. This is in the form of protection, shelter, education, health care, and other basic assistance. The target of 91 million is short of the projected 136 million individuals identified across the world as in need of humanitarian aid and protection due to protracted conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and displacement .

In this era of wealth, prosperity, economic growth and consumerism in increasing parts of the world, why do such burgeoning needs continue to exist?!?

As we approach the New Year, the search for answers to the above question may fruitfully be pondered in conjunction with others, such as:

-Why are so many people feeling disillusioned, disenfranchised and alienated from their governments and various segments of their society?

-Why do we often fear and resent our ‘neighbours’ (whether local, national, or international), particularly those who do not look like us?

-How can we find the courage and space to have so-called ‘challenging conversations’ within families, neighbourhoods, communities, places of worship, and within nations, as well as across neighbourhoods, communities, places of worship, and nations?

-How can we support the UN, its various organs and Member States, diplomats, international civil servants, and others to consistently live up to its lofty but essential principles and values?

All the challenges mentioned above require ‘spaces’ for dialogue and a sustained and collective response. The United Nations serves as a critical venue for discussion, debate and action on a wide range of national, regional and international issues, spanning from development and support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the rights of indigenous peoples and peoples of African Descent, protection of the environment and combating climate change, promotion of peace and security, advancing democracy, combating racism, confronting nuclear proliferation, and protection of human rights, particularly those of women and children.

Important reforms have been recommended by various high level panels and successive UN Secretary Generals to assist the UN in meeting its goals and addressing shortcomings. For example, during an open debate last September with the Security Council on the reform of UN peacekeeping, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that every day, peacekeepers create the conditions for lasting peace. He went on to add that they also often face unreasonable and dangerous demands, and spoke of the critical changes necessary to “fortify this flagship UN activity.” However, the challenge remains to move the various recommendations arising from these reports into the hearts, minds, and most importantly, actions, of those responsible for their implementation.

There is a famous proverb that sates: “Without vision, the people will perish.”

GVI is among numerous organizations working to support the UN to live up to its goals, aspirations and vision. But this support is given with eyes wide open regarding the tremendous work that lies ahead and the obstacles the organisation must overcome to meet the challenges.

We believe an essential element to confront the various challenges and align with one another is through shared super-ordinate values. Specifically, GVI is committed to co-creating a universal-values-driven international system. These values include peace, diversity, tolerance, justice, accountability, transparency, equality, human dignity, solidarity and environmental sustainability.

Our recently released free manual provides a useful tool for individuals, teams and group self-assessment, and a roadmap to meet the identified goals. Ultimately, it supports our goal in contributing to make the world, via the UN, a better place.

In conclusion and in light of the Christmas holidays season in which we find ourselves, let me share a wonderful line from a holiday movie classic, which goes as follows:

“Christmas is the one night of the year when…for a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be.”

The broader message of always striving to be the best we can be each and everyday is not unique to any religion, or uncommon among those who practice no organized religion. I challenge each one of us to first reconnect with our own core values, and then support one another in our collective drive to co-create a values driven UN/global system.

GVI BLOG SERIES: How to co-create a values-driven UN/global system? BLOG II – Collaboration for post-hurricane recovery

For the Solution “Operationalize collaboration”, Jerri Husch PhD, President of 2Collaborate Consulting, shares tools that allow us to visualize and integrate data across disciplines for collaborative action towards hurricane recovery.

Reflections on Collaboration:Data for Post-hurricane Recovery

The 2017 hurricane season spawned one of the most devastating series of storms to hit the United States and the Caribbean in recent history.  Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (“HIM”) will not only re-write weather and climate history, but are also fundamentally testing the response capacity of the international community. Although the response was swift in the United States, many countries with deep ties to the Caribbean region are now faced with an enormous task that far outweighs their own capacity to deliver a meaningful recovery. For instance, the long response and rescue time for Hurricane Maria that swept through Puerto Rico on 11 September still finds residents waiting for much needed aid after almost a month.

The disasters evoked by HIM will redefine the existing social order—property and land ownership, infrastructure design, capital investment, access to power and decision-making— across numerous countries and territories.   In short, communities have to start again.

Designing Collaborative Solutions

Political, social and economic decisions are all going to affect the reconstruction of the region and it is essential that appropriate and relevant decisions be made using the most reliable data and culturally accurate information available.  What data will inform the life, community and nation altering decisions that have to be made quickly?   Long held models of emergency response and post-disaster recovery are being challenged and there is already evidence of, 1) shifts of responsibility from national to local-level administrations and citizens, 2) transformation of financing and resource flows, and 3) re-configured patterns of power, authority,  decision making and accountability.

The most immediate outcome of these changes is the need to design culturally appropriate solutions to the complex social—-health, food, transportation, housing— challenges.  Will power lines, for example, be buried or return to being strung between poles?  Will agriculture be based on agro-ecological models or models of industrial agricultural production? Whose land will grow what crops? Who will have the resources needed to build what kinds of structures? These are only a few of the myriad of governance issues that each locale is having to confront and what data will help inform the decisions is a critical component for moving forward.

Innovation and Data for Collaboration

Collaboration between diverse actors will require a multi-dimensional and dynamic understanding of the links and connections involved in response, recovery and reconstruction.   New tools capable of analyzing linkages will allow more realistic insights to emerge.  Tools that can support complex trend analyses, contingency planning and collaborative decision-making need to be applied. By using advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) as well as new visual analytic and digital mapping technologies (DMT), geographic, linguistic, social and temporal data can be aligned to tell an integrated, visually accurate story.  By transforming text and “linear” information into visual and multi-dimensional representations, relationships between ideas, words, activities, organizations, groups and individuals can be understood more quickly. Linking Geographic Information Systems (GIS) information (location) with text, social network maps and dynamic timelines can provide quick insights into the details of any given issue.

The new tools allow data from a variety of perspectives to be aligned so that multiple dimensions can be viewed simultaneously to quickly show patterns and trends between (and within) data sets.

Aligned data

When fully aligned by time and geographic location, in-depth comparisons can add to an understanding of rapidly changing social contexts. By using a dynamic data platform, the information needed to understand the history, stakeholders and activities is readily available. To fully address the future new ways of seeing the current world are essential.

 

Dynamic mapping platforms will provide the action intelligence needed to plan for the future, design the infrastructure and reconstruct for resilience.

 

Dynamic Data Platform

 

Jerri Husch, President and founder of 2Collaborate Consulting, holds a PhD in Sociology and has over 25 years experience in international social development policy, socio-cultural methods and the implementation of evidence based management practice. Dr. Husch has worked in WHO, UNDP, UNICEF and the UN Secretariat facilitating sustainability of cross-sector partnerships and networks, participatory decision making, impact assessments, monitoring/evaluation and risk assessment. She has extensive experience in such technical areas as, climate change adaptation and community resilience, food security, global health policy, gender and livelihoods.

GVI BLOG SERIES: How to co-create a values-driven UN/global system? BLOG I – A psychology of global progress

For the Solution “Have a personal mission: Be the change”, Alisa Clarke, GVI Founder, shares her perspective on how change in the world can be driven from personal, individual ideas and action

A psychology of global progress: the persistent structural limitations in our hearts and minds that we can shift today for the world we want

I work in the world of international relations, where our jobs are to try to marshal the wills of governments and individuals towards the aims we’ve all agreed to as worthwhile – peace and security, justice, equality, human dignity, collaboration, accountability, solidarity and environmental sustainability.

(Yes, for each of these goals, there is someone, somewhere who will gain from their being undermined, and who will also do everything to pursue their own perceived interests.  And there are certainly differences in cultural interpretation. But, if even for themselves and their loved ones, I believe most individuals cherish the peace of mind that safety brings, demand being accorded respect and fairness as a person, and have experienced the indispensable support of community, so to most of us, these values resonate as meaningful on some level.)

It has always struck me, however, that whatever ills we are seeking to resolve outwardly, are at least partially a product of whatever ills we need to confront inwardly.  It has always seemed that the world we are shaping, we as individuals and we the global system in and around the UN, is an amplified reflection of us and vice versa. And among the things for which I credit the 2030 Agenda is the degree to which it underlines how inter-connected we all are – across sectors and siloes and geography and every kind of perceived division.  So more than ever we are revealing to each other who the other is – how human rights is embedded in development through e.g. the principle of “leaving no one behind”, how climate change impacts on economic growth, how security is a product of economic stability, the you in me, and the I in you.

So it doesn’t seem too far to go to see how the ways we think and feel – as individuals, as teams, as organizations, as governments, diplomats, as non-governmental organizations, as citizens, as the private sector – impact on the ways that every other part of the global system thinks and feels too, and thus acts.

With that as the premise, and observing trends over the last 20 years or so on the international stage, a few key persistent assumptions in our beliefs have appeared to me to be at play, and I think are worth exploring if we aim to truly transform how the global system works, its culture and DNA.

So I ask: what in my own thinking and feeling accounts for growing humanitarian crises, climate events, resource competition, rising authoritarianism, food insecurity and other ills? Four core limiting ideas would appear to be embedded in our approaches:

  1. Having more material wealth will make us happier

The pursuit of financial stability is a driving force in our daily activity – our jobs, promotions, increasing consumption, competition for goods and services – and the more the better, because the more we have, the safer we will feel and the higher will be our social status… right?

Actually, as abundant research in economics, psychology and other disciplines increasingly show, notably through the UN World Happiness Report and the growing Sufficiency Economy movement, in fact material comfort is only one, albeit a foundational factor, in achieving well-being.  Beyond a certain level of income for a given societal setting, more money does not actually make us happier.  What does make us happier includes a sense of community, trust in governance and fair institutions, a healthier environment, and self-development. Importantly as well, human psychology is such that the perception of relative wealth also creates unhappiness, so inequality breeds dissatisfaction with our life circumstances that otherwise would make us happy.

So work-life balance becomes a more complex and complete approach to my happiness – living with less, living in community with my family and neighbours, and participating in civic life as a citizen. These are concrete changes I can make today, knowing that they take me towards our shared goal of well-being.

We as the global system around the UN therefore need to do a much better job at messaging that the goal is not open-ended economic growth, but equitable sustainable growth towards levels beyond which any additional benefits for happiness begin to drop off. It’s also essential to signal the value of community ties and the environment for well-being. This would serve as an incentive for the re-distribution of resources that would promote equality and further happiness.  We must be clear that what we are seeking is economies that deliver well-being not just higher incomes or GDP levels.

  1. Things we cannot see and count have no value

Following from these kinds of assumptions around material comfort are the beliefs about what does have value.  The majority of well-being factors that most deeply sustain us – family and community and the environment – are those we most take for granted and least validate.  They also happen to be the traditional domain of expertise of those people who are least validated in societies generally and in the global system – women, indigenous peoples, rural and close-knit communities, often from the south.  The assumption seems to be that only if we can quantify their contribution to the tangible economy can we give them value.

But whether we put a dollar value on something or not does not make it any less vital.  Translating that value into dollar currency because that is the dominant language understood may be helpful to develop common understanding, but without first accepting its equal or more important contribution in advancing our collective well-being, we may not meaningfully move forward.

Again the SDGs have made some headway, by asking us to value unpaid domestic work and making sustainability inextricably linked with the economy. And the Paris agreement is urging us to leap forward in our thinking.  Rising to meet what they require of us would seem to first mean asking ourselves – how do I change the lens through which I see women, indigenous people, rural and agricultural workers, villagers and members of small communities, the people of the south, as actual critical contributors to my well-being, rather than objects of concern who I must somehow teach to be more like me, that is, producers of what I can see and count? What can we learn from them to achieve the balance we need for our well-being, and even planetary survival?

how do I change the lens through which I see women, indigenous people, rural and agricultural workers, villagers and members of small communities, the people of the south, as actual critical contributors to my well-being

  1. Financing and investment are the best assistance

As an expansion of the common views on what and who is valuable is the persistent default approach towards assistance for those viewed as objects of concern.  Yes, material wealth is indispensable and needed for all societies to function. However, historical approaches deriving from the above assumptions have essentially entailed extracting material wealth from those whose different values and perceived inferior value themselves made them easy targets.  This has left many post-colonial societies bereft of the natural resources and governance structures that otherwise could have contributed to the goods and services required for effective functioning.

My concern is, if the above underlying assumptions remain significantly unchanged, what can be done differently now with the same persistent mindsets?  In place of colonialism we have the drive for foreign direct investment and the race to weaken regulations to encourage private sector involvement in economies.  So once again, massive amounts of wealth, instead of being channeled through taxes to citizens, are siphoned off to TNCs and other business entities.  Yes, there is much that innovative financing can do to help generate green and blue economies and social entrepreneurship.  But these should be the icing on the cake of core revenues from taxes in the countries where companies operate.  The Addis Ababa agenda provides an ideal framework for this focus, given strong investment of political capital.

As we embark on the excitement of the SDG opportunities, we can ensure that giving financial support to countries in the south does not mean taking funds out of the south in the first place.  We can today change our way of thinking and feeling so that partnership is based on a revised view towards the equal value of all partners and what they bring to the global table.

  1. If everybody is equal, how can I be special?

At the same time that equality and diversity have grown as part of politically correct rhetoric in recent decades, we see the backlash of entrenched pockets that resist this new outlook.  Through ethnic and religious conflict, the rise of populism, as well as the xenophobia and unequal distribution of jobs and wages that may at least partially explain the rise in terrorism, is some experience of fear of the “other”, that threatens my long-held sense of privilege or demand for dignity.  Ideas of individualism, competition, greed and consumption further fuel these beliefs.

The struggle we have seems to be: as someone with pre-existing privilege, how can I accommodate the other without losing something that makes me special? What is my new role? For those demanding their legitimate rights for equality, how do I constructively channel my frustrations? Prevailing beliefs seem to revolve around assumptions such as “migrants will take my job, a different religion will undermine my world view, a woman doing what I have always done means that I am less of a man”.

We have asked so much of the world so quickly in terms of being able to answer these questions on their own, overturning centuries of culture and relationships, but maybe we have not listened enough to people on how they are struggling with these questions.  We need to do more to empathize with the challenges for the fragile human ego, as well as advocate strongly for more open thinking and greater compassion, as we move towards each other, developing skills such as curiosity over violence and holding hard person-to-person conversations that break through misconceptions and fears. With the proliferation of IT and communications channels, at our disposal, we can surely do much more of this, starting today…

And we need to find ways to forge new roles that preserve the best of our distinct identities, while finding our ultimate identity as part of the whole, with shared universal values – living the truth we can so easily observe in the natural world, that “the wave is the sea”.

The world is indeed a big and complex place and solutions cannot be over-simplistic if they are to be effective. But I believe that since we are the global system, we are also the global solution.  The above limiting beliefs that likely live in you and me and deeply permeate the approaches the UN and global system take must be fully confronted, as individuals, organizations, governments, civic actors, because they take us away from realizing the values we say we cherish. The shift we want to see in the world is actually within our power to make today, starting with me…

Mona Khalil on Guest Blogger Series “Where is the UN now ?”

Mona Khalil : “I have been examining Global Vision’s questions about the status and stature of the UN with a measure of sadness. Yet the fact that the answers still matter enough that it is necessary to pose these questions gives me some hope and inspiration.”

How close are we to a successful UN ?

It seems these days that failure rather than success – scandal rather than serviceMAK-Image-III-300x245 — define the UN’s  news stories  — from the cholera and sexual exploitation in Haiti to the failure to protect civilians in Syria — from the unresolved conflicts lingering on the Security Council’s agenda to the latter’s failure to hold the worst perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity accountable.

The few successes the UN has had under Ban Ki-Moon’s unfortunate tenure—namely the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement–  are at risk of being lost due to the shrinking budgets and crippling postures of an inward-turning United States.

The appointment of a new Secretary-General by a seemingly revitalized General Assembly has yet to bring forth any tangible improvement. Time is not on our side as conflicts are escalating, tides are rising and the numbers of refugees and migrants are growing exponentially.

What does an effective UN look like?  What needs to change for an effective UN?

An effective UN is a Security Council that stands up to aggression, occupation and genocide with the same tenacity and persistence as it does to terrorism, nuclear proliferation and piracy. 

An effective UN is one that works proactively to prevent and resolve conflicts and is not satisfied with passive approvals of cyclical mandate renewals without measuring concrete progress or having tangible consequence.

Tragically, the two superpowers of the end of the last century shattered the post-WWII legal order at the start of this one. Sadly, the greatest casualty of the erosion of the international legal framework is the principle of distinction between civilian and military targets as evidenced by the millions of civilian lives lost — whether as a result of the intentional barbarity of terrorists or by the often callous disregard for proportionality by regular and irregular armed forces.  An effective UN is therefore one that puts the sanctity of human life at the center of every decision it makes and every action it takes — regardless of the source of the threat.

Above all, an effective UN is one that hears from and answers to “WE THE PEOPLES” in whose name the UN Charter was adopted.

Which group is most strategic for effecting change in the UN? What can people in the international system do to make the system live up to its purpose?

For the UN to be effective, all of us have to do our part. The intergovernmental organs have to meaningfully fulfill their respective constitutional roles. Most importantly, the UN Security Council must act quickly and decisively to prevent and stop wars, to protect civilians and to end impunity.

The General Assembly — with the UN Human Rights Council – must fulfill the promise of self-determination to all recognized peoples and hold Member States equally accountable for their violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Member States in turn have to fulfill their Charter obligations and respect each other’s rights and above all each State must fulfill its solemn duty to protect its population from physical harm and to preserve its citizens’ human rights and socio-economic well-being regardless of their ethnicity or faith.

The UN Secretariat must fulfill its mandated activities with competence, impartiality and integrity – and must dedicate its efforts and reports to speaking truth to power and exposing the UN’s own shortcomings and Member States’ violations with transparency and meaningful accountability.

Regional arrangements and other intergovernmental organizations must act in accordance with UN values and in support of UN efforts to promote sustainable development, uphold human rights and preserve peace and security. Non-governmental organizations and civil society at large must help the UN on the ground and must bring to the UN’s attention all gaps and failures in the UN system and call for action if and when the UN fails to address them.

Each individual with the means and the reach must raise awareness of human rights violations and developmental deprivations and do whatever he or she can to contribute to a better and safer life for him or herself, for  his or her family, for his or her nation and above all for his or her share of our shared planet.

What actions are most strategic for effecting transformation in the UN?

In the name of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States – individual States and intergovernmental organizations have mooted the voices of the peoples most affected by internal conflicts and international crises. They have done so at their own risk and to their own detriment.

The one most important change is therefore to open the UN’s meetings and minds to those most affected by the conflicts and crises on the various organs’ respective agendas. When the UN talks about peace and security, it must hear from  the state and non-state parties alike.  When the UN resolves to end decolonization and promote self-determination, it must let those whose rights are denied daily on the ground the fundamental right to be heard at least once a year in its halls. When the UN says it strives to improve the human rights and standards of living of all peoples, it must include the voices of indigenous peoples, youth and ethnic minorities in its deliberations.

This is not just the just thing to do – it is also the most practical thing to do — for who better than those most involved and most affected to help the UN understand and resolve these conflicts and crises.

 

Mona Ali Khalil is a Legal Advisor at Independent Diplomat (ID). She is also a Fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict. Prior to joining ID, Ms. Khalil served with the UN for 22 years including as a Senior Legal Officer in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel (2009-2015) and in the IAEA Office of Legal Affairs (2005-2009). She has a B.A. and M.A. in Middle East Studies from Harvard University and an M.S. in Foreign Service and Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University

GVI Guest Blogger Series on “Where is the UN now?”

The United Nations: a place for sustainable change only if we dare to challenge its ways

by Khadija T. Moalla, PhD, Senior Human Rights and Development Consultant

 “You can’t change what you are not aware of[1]”. imagesIs the United Nations (UN) aware of the many dysfunctionalities it suffers from? Can the UN afford not to change its Modus Operandi? With the increase in the development and political challenges the world is facing, on one hand, and the numerous cuts in funding from most donors, it becomes imperative for the UN to introduce real change, in the way it operates. Development as freedom is the core of what the UN can do and was created to do. The UN should be a platform that allows people, particularly in leadership positions, to ‘shift the middle ground’ towards new ground and new worldviews. More than ever, the current political international context calls urgently for such paradigm shift.

In order to achieve that, the UN should take its Charter to a new level. This needs to be done with the people by the people and for the people and not with the Governments, by quasi parliaments and for the lobbies. The UN Charter was initially adopted by few powerful States and then disseminated to the whole world through other States that were many times ruled by undemocratic regimes. The evolving new Charter based on the “Earth Charter” should be endorsed by real people from all Nations to voice a global consensus. This may bring back the true meaning of what the “United Nations” was created for. True participatory mechanisms involving broad sections in every nation should be developed in the process that will, hopefully, culminate in referenda that would serve as the political expression of a community consensus.

“The UN needs the mechanisms, policies and relationships reflective of principled leadership. Guarantees of effectiveness should be based upon an intrinsic sense of stewardship and a work environment that fosters creativity and initiative rather than compliance to rules and regulations.”

The UN universal core values can be summarized around: ‘Service to All People’, not governments, businesses, civil society or lobbies. This implies a commitment to radical transformation, while respecting people’s culture without compromising on Human Rights. However, respecting people’s culture does not mean condoning harmful practices or false interpretations of religious texts. On the contrary, it naturally should put a decisive wedge in the vicious circuit of rights violations based on culture and allow true access to the common human core, promoting dignity and equality. One battle worth engaging in, is the laicity imperative in order to guarantee Freedom of Religion and Consciousness, on one hand, and peace and development, on the other hand.

The UN needs the mechanisms, policies and relationships reflective of principled leadership. Guarantees of effectiveness should be based upon an intrinsic sense of stewardship and a work environment that fosters creativity and initiative rather than compliance to rules and regulations.

This goes beyond accountability and has to do with serving the people, on a responsibility and not accountability basis. However, the UN does not require programming that listens to and is genuinely responsive to real people with real needs and real aspirations. In addition, most UN agencies that went through a restructuring process, didn’t enhance their performance, rather added more bureaucratic administrative layers along with losing many competent staff. What the UN system needs most now, is to treat issues in the most holistic manner and encourage a group milieu that values responsible integrity more than bureaucratic rules and regulations.

Only secure leaders with the highest level of emotional intelligence are able to create a positive emotional climate that encourages motivation and extra effort, and they are the ones with good emotional self-awareness. This, in turn, let them make frequent use of positive leadership styles, which results in the best working climate for their teams. This is why, it is important to make sure that the most competent people, women and men are the ones that are in charge of all the developmental challenges the world has been facing for the last 70 years. Competent women don’t have the same opportunities, as men, to be in leadership positions especially as Resident Coordinator, Special Representative and Envoys[2]. When chosen to be in leadership positions, the majority did a great job. However, let’s note that some women didn’t prove to be the most competent, or made a real difference in bringing tangible results and ensuring peace and prosperity. Some unsecure ones made even sure to keep competent women away from leadership positions fearing a potential competition with them, in the future. None of them has been held accountable for such unprofessional behavior.

In this context, the increased understanding of the process of gender construction should aim primarily at dismantling the unequal relationships between women and men. Actions that aim at redressing and redefining the unequal power relationship between women and men, must be the cornerstone of any UN gender strategy. It must be implemented by both men and women who embody women rights and are totally engaged in ensuring gender equality. Any UN reform should aim at strengthening the strategic choice of hiring the right people engaged towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goal number 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. All the other 16 goals will not be achievable if girls and women are not equal partners to boys and men. It’s time to translate strategies and campaigns into actions based on the perfect synergy between all goals.

To conclude, it might be the right time to ask the question: Does the UN have a legal and moral obligation of means or an obligation of results? The answer might inform the future of the relevance of this organization.

 

About the author:

With 25 years of experience in Development, including 10 years in Senior Leadership positions in the United Nations, Dr. Khadija Moalla’s repertoire includes extensive expertise in International Law & Human Rights, Gender Equality & women empowerment, Governance & rule of law, Civil Society Organizations & the SDGs. Dr. Moalla is also a recognized global expert in the Transformational Leadership Development Methodology and provided trainings and lecturer in more than 60 countries in the five continents.

As UNDP Practice Team Leader in the Arab States, Dr. Moalla coordinated initiatives to sensitize and mobilize Religious Leaders, political leadership, art & media leaders, NGOs, legislators and private sector leaders, for ten years. Previously, Dr. Moalla taught international law at the University of Law of Tunis & the Diplomatic Institute and was a practicing Lawyer for ten years.

Dr. Moalla has provided advice and shared in constructing policies of the League of Arab States and the Arab Parliament, she is also one of the Founding members of the New Middle East Gender Parity at the World Economic Forum and a Founding Member of the Global Legal Network. Dr. Moalla received the Leadership Award from the United Nations General Assembly President for her work with Religious Leaders through the establishment of the Multi-Faith Network CHAHAMA and received the Excellency Award of the 2010 South-South Global Expo for successful innovative Solutions. Dr. Moalla was chosen as one of the most influential 500 personalities of the Arab region, in 2011.

 

[1] Deepak Chopra.

[2] The new UNSG promised to guarantee a total gender parity by the end of his mandate: “We should reach full gender parity at the Under-Secretary General and Assistant Secretary-General levels, including Special Representatives and Special Envoys”.

 

All opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Global Vision Institute.

Where is the UN now?

Global Vision Institute has one important question to ask “Where is the UN now?”. In order to answer this question GVI has  conducted a survey, the results of which are being posted on our platforms including Linkedln, Facebook and Twitter. Today we cover the questions asked as well as responses from our network that suggest appropriate strategies and actions that can be taken for further progress.

1. We first ask the counterquestion “How close are we to a successful UN?” The results demonstrated the perception that the UN still needs to achieve more. 60 % responded that we have some way to go before being successful, 16 % showed that we are not successful at all, 12 % believes that we are well on the way of being successful, 12 % answered under “others”.

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2. The second question sought to assess “What does an effective UN look like?” Most people answered empowered active citizens globally (84%), conflict resolution mechanisms that consistently engage concerned parties (80%),  as well as justice and accountability mechanisms accessible to everyone globally (72%). Approximately half of them agreed that community, individual well being (40%) , everything in the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) achieved (44%), climate security (44%) and a place where everyone has a say (40%) are also to be considered.

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3.The following question aimed to identify the target. To the question “Addressing what group of people is most strategic for effecting change in the UN?” 45.83% of people favored NGOs, 41.67% – UN leaders, 33.33% – youth, 29.17% – UN change agents and innovators, 29.17% – mass media curators, bloggers, artists, UN stuff , 20.83% – regional groups and diplomats, 12.5 % – private entrepreneurs and foundations.

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4. We next asked “What most needs to change for the UN to be effective ?” 68.18% voted to reform the Security Council, 50 % for the internal collaboration , 40.91 % for the more actions, 31.82% voted for more funding, to remove bureaucracy, flatten the hierarchy, remove diplomatic immunity for the UN officials to prosecute corruption/criminality and limit the power of member states and make it truly more representative of citizens, .

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5. On the best support that can be offered to make the UN more effective, the survey demonstrated that the most powerful support might come from clearer accountability guidance (44%) , leadership development (36%), training in partnership building (36%), training in systems thinking and collaboration (32%) and coaching for stronger alignment to UN values (32%).

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6. With respect to “What can people in the international system do to make the system live up to its purpose?” most (64%) responded to be more concerned with impact than promotions, 56 % ensuring personal and organizational accountability, 44% voted to be more efficient and be better at connecting the dots between different sectors, and 36 %  for being ethically aware, more dedicated and being greater risk takers.

7. The question “What actions are most strategic for effecting transformation in the UN ?” elicited support for systematized input of ideas and feedback from citizens globally (37.5%), systematized learning and sharing across the system (12.5%), supporting innovation and risk taking across the system (12.5%), partnership with key international actors while maintaining UN principles (12.5%), being independent of powerful nations, organizational structure (16.67%) and focusing on comparative advantage (8.33%).

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What do YOU think we can do to make the UN the best vehicle to realize the world’s aspirations now?

 

 

 

 

Author : Karina Nguyen

Control the Unavoidable

Control the Unavoidable

The neo-conservative Tea Party and new President-elect Donald Trump regard climate change as a myth. However, well-established scientific evidence proves them wrong. The consequences of the changing climate are unpredictable; millions of people will certainly be displaced. Climate action is expensive but there is no alternative.

Climate change is happening even faster than the predictions would have told us five years ago or ten years ago.“ President Obama stated at the SXSL Discussion in the White House this October. Climate change is the major challenge of our time. More than 95 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is the result of human activity. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the globally biggest knowledge society, rang the alarm bells in its 2014 study and warned against unrestricted greenhouse-emissions. “A given amount of emissions will lead to a given amount of temperature increase that will lead to a given amount of smooth incremental sea level rise“, and the report concludes that “pushing global temperatures past certain thresholds could trigger abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes that have massively disruptive and large-scale impacts“. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which serves as reference in the negotiations taking place within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) assumes a highly-probable forecast traced to an increased amount of carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere in its assessment from 2007: tropical storms and hurricanes will intensify, heavy rainfalls and floods are becoming an ever more frequent occurrence, rising temperatures will lead to droughts and crop failures, sea-level rise will be due to rainfalls and melting glaciers.

Freshwater availability in Central South, East and Southeast Asia particularly in large river basins is projected to decrease due to climate change which, along with population growth and increasing demand arising from higher standards of living, could aversely affect more than a billion people by the 2050s“, the IPCC-scientists write in their 2007 report. The global population has tripled since 1950, about 3,3 billion people suffer from freshwater scarcity, one billion of them is forced to consume polluted water. Persistent droughts and further rising sea-levels will worsen the already existing problem in the near future.

img_8242Back in 2006, the 700 pages Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, authored by the London macroeconomist Nicholas Stern, and published for the British government, attracted attention beyond the academic world. His study examined the economic implications of climate change and the closely related consequences for modern societies. Preventing the excess of 550 parts per million, carbon dioxide particles in the atmosphere, costs about one percent of the world’s GDP, Stern calculated. The global economy will have to bear the ultimate costs of reducing CO2 emissions. That can be one explanation why there has not been much of political will shown in protecting vulnerable communities.

Migration patterns and sources of displacement have changed. Many experts argue that the migrant/refugee dichotomy disregards the very complex reasons of people who have to flee but are not considered as refugees according to the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The deterioration of the environment and the impacts of climate change will trigger large population movements. As the IPCC illustrated in its first report in 1990, “the gravest effects of climate change may be those on human migration“. According to figures of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), an overall of approximately 1,6 billion people have been affected by droughts over the last 30 years; hurricanes, cyclones and other types of storms made a severe impact on 718 million people during the same period. The United Nations estimate that about 350 Million people can be displaced due to the adverse effects of climate change. In international refugee law, however, destructive environmental conditions are not sufficient to claim protection. Stern declared that “the exact number who will actually be displaced or forced to migrate will depend on the level of investment, planning and resources“. Contracting parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement recognize that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies. However, necessary measures remain to be addressed.

The article on ‘Loss & Damage’ in the PA suggests solutions in supporting people affected by environmental disasters. In paragraph 50 signatory states of the PA call on the Executive Committee of the Warsaw Interantional Mechanism to establish a Task Force to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change. Sea-level rise and groundwater salinization which have already damaged common agricultural land on islands and coastal regions prevail the central inescapable causes of action to be claimed in a long-term perspective. The most affected countries are the least responsible. The article will be characterized by the hostility of industrialised countries to pay for compensations. For comparison: measured in absolute numbers, China is the biggest polluter with 9.019,518 kilotons (kt) followed by the United States (5.305,570 kt) and India (2.074,345 kt). Bangladesh, a country expected to be hit hard by climate change impacts, emitted only 57,069 kt CO2 in 2011 according to World Bank figures.

The goal is to avoid the uncontrollable and control the unavoidable, said Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in a statement to the German weekly “Der Spiegel“ ten years ago. The 2030 agenda of the international community and the Paris Agreement which are the blueprint of political policy on a world stage will require action from every single country and its citizens, from the private sector, non-profit organizations and the academia. Author Naomi Klein summarizes as she pleads for an “act on climate“ in her book ‘This Changes Everything’:The longer we wait, the more it builds up, the more dramatically we must change to reduce the risks of catastrophic warming.

Thilo Kuehne

Global Vision Institute

The text has been sent to the subscribers of GVI’s November newsletter. More articles from international experts will be published the coming weeks. If you wish to sign up for our newsletter, put your name and email on the right of this page.

GVI Projects: Training the Future Leaders

GVI is developing a pilot accreditation programme for universities where students in the field of International Affairs will be trained to become the next generation of values-driven international leaders.

Through periodic assessments of values, supportive workshops and a UN mentoring programme, students will be able to develop a more in-depth understanding of the UN values and how to apply them in a real world context. This will set students on a value-based track allowing them to inject passion and purpose into their future career as scholars, practitioners or policy-makers and develop a range of skills valued by employers, including competencies  for collaborative leadership, enhanced innovation, accountability and a greater sensitivity to human rights.

The outcomes of the programme are that students will have a better understanding of the UN system and its values, better career opportunities in international organizations and a higher level of commitment to UN values and how to become an influencer within the international system.

GVI depends on donations from supports like you. To donate to GVI and the work conducted, please click here.

GVI Interview: Merlyn Ooms, Board of Directors GVI

MErlynMs. Merlyn Ooms is a member of GVI’s Board of Directors. A specialist in diplomacy and security, she has been working at The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in London, United Kingdom for the past three years. As a new Board Member, GVI interviews Ms. Ooms for her take on GVI’s mission in the current international system.

 

 

 

What about GVI’s mission makes it relevant today for the international system?

Today’s world sees increasing complexities of international relations and systems, where UN values are continuously under pressure. It is vital for these values to be upheld.This is where staff of international organisations (IO)play an instrumental role in managing and defending these principles.

From a functionalist perspective, international organisations are here to serve altruistic ends, assuming that we are a homogeneous international community. However, even if built upon the broad principles stated in the UN Charter, relative heterogeneity in terms of values continues to characterise the environment in which we operate.

In our daily jobs most of us work to strengthen human rights and improve social justice. This however won’t be realisable without leading by example and adopting values that will drive global vision and citizenship.GVI provides the necessary knowledge and training for IO staff to support the personal, organisational and social transformation needed to align policy and practice with the UN values for peace, justice, equality, human dignity, and environmental sustainability.

 

2) What do you love about GVI?

I love the passion and personal commitment of GVI’s members and its board of directors to be an influencer in the international system by promoting crucial values that will strengthen transparent and accountable management and leadership.

 

3) What do you hope to achieve in your role on Board of Directors?

In my role, I hope to be able to add new ideas for expanding GVI’s mission across the next generation of players in the international system.

We are currently working on an accreditation programme for universities where through periodic assessments of values, supportive workshops and a mentoring programme, students in the field of International Relations will be able to develop a more thorough understanding of the UN values and how to apply them in their future careers. This will set students on a value-based track allowing them to inject passion and purpose into their future career as scholars, practitioners or policy-makers.

The Promise of Well-Being: An Article by GVI President Alisa Clarke

In her role as President of Global Vision Institute, Alisa Clarke discusses about the case for human rights in the newly developed Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Clarke explores how the SDG’s are tackling human right issues such as inequality in efforts to promote an overall well-being for all and lead to global fulfillment. We invite you to read the full article on this compelling argument by clicking on the following link: Clarke from 978-1-63484-709-4

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