World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Make or break time at UN Summit

Make or break time at UN Summit

With less than a week to go before the UN World Summit in New York, international agency Oxfam is very concerned that negotiations are teetering on the brink of failure because Governments are not reaching agreement on key poverty reduction measures, arms controls and their ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians.

Nicola Reindorp, head of Oxfam’s New York office has been lobbying at the United Nations and speaking daily to the UN Ambassadors and diplomats who are negotiating the Summit outcome document.

“Negotiations are on the verge of collapse. Some very fast footwork is needed by ambassadors at the United Nations to get agreements on stopping future genocides and reaching internationally agreed targets to end poverty,” said Nicola Reindorp. “If this does not happen, an historic chance for UN reform will go down as a dismal failure.

The World Summit will be held September 14-16 and Heads of State and country leaders will review the Millennium Declaration – including commitments on development, human rights and security – that they made in 2000. At stake are the big issues of global security and UN reform. Oxfam believes that the largest gathering of world leaders in history is a crucial chance for countries to truly commit to ending the terrible poverty injustice and suffering that kill millions of people every year.

“If countries such as Russia, India, Pakistan, Cuba and Venezuela join the majority of UN member states ready to agree to protect civilians facing genocide, the summit can be rescued,” said Oxfam’s Nicola Reindorp. “These governments will hold the summit hostage if they refuse to support fully the life-saving measure.”

“The United States is very slowly starting to play ball on the summit. It must now work much harder if the Summit is to reach goals on ending poverty and preventing future genocides.”

“From controls on small arms to agreements to end genocide, diplomats are ducking the real issues that would make a difference for millions across the planet.”

“Diplomatic wrangling has taken the place of political will and vision. If governments don’t get serious in the next few days and actually commit to action on poverty reduction and stopping genocides, the Summit will deliver only dashed hopes and broken promises,” Reindorp said.

Barry Coates, Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand says: “Urgent action in advance of the Summit is crucial in order to have any chance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“The cost of the failure would be more hardship for the victims of disasters, more suffering for those living in poverty, and the unnecessary deaths of thousands of children.”


Notes to editors:

1) Oxfam is calling for four key commitments in the summit declaration – as outlined below

2) Oxfam’s analysis of the September 6 Draft Outcome Document for the UN World Summit – the latest draft outcome – is attached

A Summit Declaration will be produced and Oxfam is calling for four key commitments in the summit declaration:

Governments must agree their collective ‘’Responsibility to Protect’’ civilians facing large-scale atrocities such as genocide and ethnic cleansing when the government of the people concerned is unwilling or unable to do so. This is an historic measure that could help prevent atrocities like Rwanda from ever happening again. If endorsed in its current form, this commitment would establish a new international norm, specifically that: states share the ‘’responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner” to protect civilians facing grave atrocities like genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes when the government of the people concerned is unwilling or unable to do so.

Governments must commit themselves to meeting and exceeding the Millennium Goals by action on aid, trade, debt and free basic services and by honoring commitments they have already made. Five years after world leaders created the Millennium Development Goals to halve global poverty and hunger by 2015, we are in danger of missing these targets. The first target – achieving equal numbers of girls as boys in primary school - has already been missed. If we continue as we are, it will take many countries 100 years, not ten, to achieve the goals.

Governments must agree to establish a legally binding agreement to ensure weapons do not reach the hands of repressive governments, human rights abusers and criminals. The arms trade is out of control, undermining development. Currently, there are approximately 640 million guns in circulation – one for every ten people – and around eight million new guns and 14 billion bullets are made every year. On average, around one million guns are lost or stolen every year.

UN member states should contribute an additional total US$1 billion each year to an enhanced Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) to prevent deadly crises such as the Niger food crises from ever occurring.

Oxfam has outlined what is needed for the Summit to succeed and changes needed to the latest summit outcome document – see below

Oxfam International Analysis of the September 6 Draft Outcome Document for the UN World Summit – the latest draft outcome

Development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals

On MDGs, major substantive areas remain in brackets i.e. there is still no agreement and they are subject to negotiation, which is a source of major concern. There are however some positive suggestions, which should not be lost.

Acknowledgement of the MDGs: full acknowledgement of the MDGs as a key outcome of the Millennium Summit, and agreed to by all UN member states, is non-negotiable.

Para 23: Wording on targets to reach 0.7 % of GNP as Overseas Development Aid and the date of 2015 for reaching this target are all subject to negotiation. To accept these cuts would be watering down the G8 communiqué. The US proposals introduced by Ambassador Bolton are a step forward in accepting the G8 Gleneagles references. Explicit reference to 0.7% is absolutely critical in holding accountable those governments that have committed to timetables to achieve 0.7% of GNI for ODA. If the summit were to drop reference to 0.7% would be a serious blow. However, this must also be a commitment to 0.7 as an agreed collective target by all states, as was the case in the Monterrey Consensus, and not simply reference to 0.7% as a commitment made by some states in other contexts as has been suggested by the US. Conversely, as the references to 0.7% the Monterrey Consensus didn't include any date, accepting the wording "by no later than 2015 and to reach at least 0.5% by 2010" is really key and would represent a major step forward.

On debt, para. 27 has brackets around wording on “debt sustainability being critical to the achievement of national goals including MDGs.’’ The Monterrey Consensus talks about full implementation of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries’ (HIPC) Initiative, but the wording in Ping’s latest September 6 draft about 100% cancellation is new and should be kept. The reference in Ping’s draft to the possibility of on a case by case basis further cancellation for both middle and low income countries with unsustainable debt burdens is clearly a major step forward from Monterrey and should also be retained.

On education, para. 38 brackets remain around wording on the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI). Reference to the FTI is essential.

Aspects of the Gleneagles agreement e.g. universal access to HIV treatment by 2010 would be essential to include in the final document as would commitments to free basic health and education for all. Both of these crucial commitments remain in brackets.

The final text should include:

A time-bound commitment to provide universal, free basic social services in all poor countries, including an end to user fees in basic health and education, ensuring equitable access of women and men to these services.

A commitment to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, recognizing the need to strengthen health systems.

A commitment to invest in the economic empowerment of women.

A commitment to promote equal participation and representation for women and men in government and political decision making bodies.

Agreement that there should be a regular process to review progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.

On trade, Oxfam believes that at a minimum the World Summit should agree a commitment to conclude by 2006 the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation negotiations, in order to deliver new trade rules that will: a) ensure that developing countries have the power to decide the pace and scale of opening their markets, and b) provide new opportunities for least developed countries to gain immediate and quota free access to rich country markets. Some of Oxfam’s bottom lines are in the text without brackets, but others remain under question.

A commitment to conclude by 2006 the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation negotiations, in order to deliver new trade rules is in the text.

Providing new opportunities for least developed countries to gain immediate and quota free access to rich country markets is in the text, but is not extended to all products immediately.

Ensure that developing countries have the power to decide the pace and scale of opening their markets is in brackets.

The recognition that developed countries will work to accelerate and facilitate the accession of developing countries to the WTO is included but not on terms that are fully reflective of special and differential treatment.

Oxfam welcomes the text’s suggestion that the Summit support the ending of the Doha Round by 2006 while reaffirming its commitment to live up to the development mandate. While welcoming these commitments, Oxfam believes that this section should be further strengthened by including:

Increased market access for LDCs, should include all products receive immediate access.

When economies in transition and developing economies go through the accession process in the WTO, the WTO needs to recognize the special and differential needs of those countries.

Developing countries need to be able to decide for themselves the pace and scale of opening markets.

The text also contains welcome new references to the elimination of export subsidies - agreed at the G8 and in previous trade negotiations.

On the Responsibility to Protect

There is clearly a vast difference between the summit agreeing the paragraph 128 with or without several specific phrases now in brackets.

The 4 vital [ ] s in 128 are:

[we recognize our shared responsibility to take collective action] or [we are prepared to take collective action]. The first of these is stronger but the second formulation is adequate.

[Chapter VII of] Retaining this language is important because it points to the last resort of force and the UNSC's right to act even against the wishes of an intransigent government.

[national authorities fail to protect their populations] Retaining the language in this bracket is vital because that points to the circumstance when the SC could act under Chapter VII.

[and the principle of non-interference in internal affairs of States] This language should NOT be included because, written here, it tilts the agreement argument towards non-interference when action may be necessary. The reference to the Charter itself is quite enough to reaffirm them of non-interference.

We would also hope that the bracketed reference 129 stays in to buttress the entire paragraph, but this is not essential to the value of the commitment on this issue.

On arms, there is now only one paragraph on small arms (para. 70 point j) and

this entire paragraph is now under brackets. It is also entirely new language which is almost exactly what was agreed by the G8 Heads of State. This language is something that Oxfam would wholeheartedly support. Achieving this would be a huge win. However as noted, this is in brackets.

New language is:

["We commit to improve the effectiveness of transfer controls over small arms and light weapons, including at the Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action, and recognise that development of international standards in arms transfers, including a common understanding of Government's responsibilities, would be an important step towards tackling the undesirable proliferation of conventional weapons."]

This is a major change from the earlier drafts because it removes language on marking and tracing and brokering and on the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. This is surprising because the inclusion of these issues was not particularly contentious. Instead, this current paragraph only refers to transfers, which is contrary to the position of the Non-Aligned Movement, who in their draft of Friday, took out any reference to transfers and just kept in the Marking and Tracing, brokering and the UN Plan of Action. The text also doesn't limit itself to Small Arms and Light Weapons - it refers to 'conventional weapons' - which means all arms. This seems unlikely to be accepted.

In addition, a specific reference to arms embargoes has come out of this section and has not been replaced in the Sanctions section. Whilst the general language on sanctions is acceptable, the loss of specific language on arms embargoes weakens the text

Oxfam is concerned that the current draft language will not be acceptable to member states and the text will be left without a reference or commitments to action on small arms. To have no reference to small arms would suggest that the Summit is not serious about the threat of small arms, despite their pivotal and indisputable role in systematically undermining development, peace and security, and human rights. There are approximately 640 million guns in circulation – one for every ten people – and around eight million new guns and 14 billion bullets are manufactured every year. On average, around one million guns are lost or stolen every year. Hundreds of thousands of people die from the uncontrolled proliferation and misuse of small arms. Yet despite this catastrophic situation, there are no tough international controls on the supply of small arms and light weapons. Such arms continue to find their way into areas of conflict and armed violence, prolonging the suffering of innocent people.

Given this, Oxfam believes that world leaders should include in the final outcome document:

a clear statement to recognize that controls on small arms and light weapons are essential and that their proliferation and misuse undermine development, security and human rights;

a clear statement they should recognize the progress that has been made under the UN Programme of Action, and commit to continue this through increased implementation, make further commitments at the UN 2006 Review Conference;

commitment to adopt and implement an instrument on small arms transfers.

On humanitarian issues, all Oxfam’s bottom lines - respect for international humanitarian law and commitment to humanitarian principles, timely and predictable funding (including through a revised Central Emergency Revolving Fund), strengthened coordination, and a recognition of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as the essential framework for the protection of IDPs, as well as a commitment to the implementation of those principles through national legislation are all included in the 6 September Draft.

However we would still hope an explicit reference to increased humanitarian funding.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Rohingya Muslims Massacred: Restrictions On Aid Put 1000s At Risk

Amnesty: The Myanmar authorities’ restrictions on international aid in Rakhine state is putting tens of thousands of lives at risk in a region where mainly Rohingya people are already suffering horrific abuses from a disproportionate military campaign. More>>


Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>


Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC