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UNGA Update - 9 November 2012
Member States mandated 12 intergovernmental processes to implement Rio+20 outcomes to be established this fall by the 67th session of the UN General Assembly where NGOs and Major Groups have no official means to interact with Member States. As a first priority, the President of the General Assembly asked Brazil to coordinate the establishment of a 30 member Open Working Group for Sustainable Development (OWG) by September as required by the Rio+20 outcome document. Despite repeated attempts to do so, as of this date the UN 5 Regional Groups under the guidance of Brazil have been unable to come to agreement upon the number of seats each group will have on the OWG. Consequently, a "Committee of the Whole" comprised of all Member States managed by a bureau is now being considered. All other intergovernmental bodies mandated by Rio+20 have been put on hold until the establishment of the OWG.
Seeking to hold Member States accountable to their promise to "establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals that is open to all stakeholders" (para 248), the Organizing Partners (OPs) of the Major Groups put forward a "Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group" (MAG) proposal originally drafted by Louise Kantrow (OP Business & Industry) and Farooq Ullah (Stakeholder Forum) that was edited, discussed and approved by all OPs and forwarded to the missions of Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, Switzerland, Denmark, EU and Canada. The OPs formed a fact finding mission that met with Amb. George Talbot, Chair of UNGA Second Committee (Economic & Financial) responsible for Rio+20 outcomes, at the Mission of Guyana on 24 October. Amb. Talbot welcomed the Major Groups MAG proposal as an important step to help ensure an open and inclusive intergovernmental process. He informed us that he expected the General Assembly to conclude its work at the end of November as scheduled which would be devoted to putting these various intergovernmental processes into place so that substantive negotiations could begin after the New Year.
Johannesburg, 8 November 2012: Global civil society network CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation urges the government of Pakistan to take urgent action to address human rights concerns raised by UN Member States on 30 October 2012 during the 14th Session of Universal Period Review (UPR).
Pakistan is consistently regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. According to international watchdog groups, at least eight journalists have been murdered since the beginning of 2012, including three in the southwestern province of Balochistan. Most recently, on 29 September in Khuzdar, Balochistan, Abdul Haq Baluch, a reporter for ARY News TV and the Daily Awan and Tawar newspapers, was killed while on his way to Khuzdar Press Club in Balochistan by two unidentified perpetrators.
Under the new government elected in March 2008, women’s rights activists continue to face severe reprisals for carrying out their legitimate work. On 9 October 2012, Ms. Malala Yousafzai, 15, was shot in the head while on her way to school by members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Malala, who is a vocal advocate for girls’ education in the Swat Valley and recipient of the Pakistan National Peace Prize, was attacked by TTP members for promoting “Western culture in Pashtun areas.”
Can you tell us a little bit about the mission and work of Odhikar?
Odhikar was formed by a group of human rights activists who fought against Bangladesh’s autocratic regime and struggled to restore democracy. Together, the group initiated discussions underscoring the need to uphold the civil and political rights of the people of Bangladesh along with their social, cultural and economic rights. A decision was then made to form an organisation to advance such rights and on October 10, 1994, Odhikar (a Bengali word that means ‘rights’) came into being. Its aim was to create a wider monitoring and awareness raising system on the abuse of civil and political rights.
Odhikar’s mission is broad and includes the promotion of human rights through the introduction of participatory democracy and good governance as well as advocacy and lobbying for the incorporation and ratification of international human rights instruments into domestic human rights compliant laws. Odhikar also stands to fight impunity, promote justice and criminalise torture within Bangladesh and, through affiliated networks, at regional and international levels.
The organisation’s day to day work focuses on documenting, fact-finding, monitoring and researching human rights abuses that include enforced disappearances, custodial deaths, violence against women, torture, prison conditions, violations of freedom of expression, election monitoring and fostering mass awareness campaigns on rights and duties.