UNGA 72 Debrief - What happened?
The 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72) took place in New York City from September 12-25, 2017. The theme for UNGA 72 was ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet’. The UN released a number of documents for review at the high-level week.
September 2017 officially marked two years since the adoption of the SDG framework. As such, UNGA 72 served as an important moment to remind world leaders to prioritize early action, adoption, follow-up, and review of the commitments of this ambitious global agenda.
The Namati advocacy team was in New York for UNGA 72, and has compiled a list of some of relevant updates below.
Discussion: We want to hear from you. What were your main takeaways from this UNGA?
Please comment in this thread so we can be sure to include you in relevant advocacy opportunities around global moments like these in the future.
Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment at UNGA 72
Remarks of Note at UNGA 72 - The President of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72), Miroslav Lajčák, delivered his first address to the Assembly in his capacity as President. During his remarks, he mentioned that this tenure will focus on conflict prevention, peace, migration and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet; he reminded delegates that UNGA 72 would see the negotiation of the first intergovernmental compact on migration and the signing of the first agreement on the elimination of nuclear weapons; and promised follow-up efforts for maintaining the momentum in implementing and financing the #sdgs framework and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, focused his remarks on the importance of empowering the world’s women and girls and launched a roadmap for achieving gender parity throughout all levels of the UN.
- The Government of Canada, President Justin Trudeau, in his address to the UN General Assembly, stressed migration issues and underlined the link between the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Persons and the SDGs. A key step towards ensuring the government’s focus on social justice.
- The US Government, President Donald J. Trump, mentioned “justice” in first formal address to the UN General Assembly.
Pathfinders Launch Roadmap for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies at High-level side event - On September 19, 2017, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies launched a new report, “Roadmap for Peaceful Just and Inclusive Societies” at a High-Level Side event to the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly hosted by the Governments of Brazil, Sierra Leone, and Switzerland. A live webcast of the event can be accessed here - following are notable commitments and language wins for the justice sector:
- The Government of Argentina mentioned that access to justice must reach the poorest and be based on human rights principles at Pathfinders Roadmap Launch. #argentina
- The Government of The Netherlands committed to Pathfinders for Justice task force and called on the need to increase donor funding for justice and more support for barefoot lawyers.
- The Government of Switzerland called on the need to turn concepts of just societies into actions at the national and global levels.
- The Government of Sierra Leone mentioned the important role paralegals play to achieve SDG 16 in #sierraleone.
- The Open Society Foundation Justice Initiative mentioned the need to address the funding crisis in the justice sector to support lawyers and nonlawyers and get access to better data.
G7+ High-level Meeting on Justice in Fragile States - On September 19, 2017, the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone (Chair of the g7+), Timor-Leste, and the g7+ Secretariat hosted a high-level side event “Accelerating Progress toward SDG 16 – Vision of Access to Justice for All in Conflict Affected Countries,” to provide an opportunity for the g7+ ministers of justice to share their views on addressing priority needs and challenges for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16.
- The Government of Sierra-Leone, Momodu Lamin Kargbo, mentioned that access to fair justice is one of the key pillars of social contracts and that the “ability to access justice is a glue that binds together societies peacefully”. Sierra Leone announced a commitment of $250,000 to the g7+ trust fund. #sierraleone
- The Government of Democratic Republic of Congo, Minister of Justice, mentioned that they want to promote justice by bringing justice closer to those citizens who are deprived of justice.
OGP: Rebuilding Trust in Government High-level event - On September 19, 2017, the Open Government Partnership (@OGP) hosted a high-level event inside the UN entitled “Rebuilding Trust in Government,” which brought together high-level leaders from government and civil society to discuss the pressing issue of declining trust in public institutions and how these leaders can leverage the open government movement and OGP to counteract this trend. Read more here and watch the live webcast here. Following are notable commitments and language wins for the justice sector during the OGP event:
- The Government of France, President Emmanuel Macron, accepted the Co-Chair leadership position of the Open Governance Partnership and talked about how the Paris Declaration must advance the OGP & the SDGs in his remarks, demonstrating ongoing high-level commitment, leadership, and prioritization of the OGP moving forward.
- The Government of Georgia, President Giorgi Margvelashvili, accepted the Co-Chair leadership position of the Open Governance Partnership and talked about the need to rebuild trust and openness of governments, to align national budgets to the SDGs, and prioritize innovation and technology as pathways to promote innovation and public service delivery.
Justice Featured at TED and Skoll Foundation event - As part of Global Goals Week, the Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation hosted an event entitled, We the Future: Accelerating Sustainable Development Solutions, on September 21, 2017 at TED Theater in New York, featuring The Elders, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. A live webcast of the event can be accessed here.
Climate Justice Event - Prof. Jeffrey Sachs joined Zilient editor Megan Rowling to discuss the links between the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and climate justice. A live webcast of the event can be accessed here. #environment
Business for a Better World: How Companies Promote Peace, Justice, and Inclusion event - Law firm White and Case hosted a discussion with The Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies, entitled, “Business for a Better World: How companies promote peace, justice, and inclusion”.
- The discussion was moderated by Nick Kristof from the NY Times, with key questions for discussion around how multisector cooperation can help promote peace, justice, and inclusion.
- White and Case provided some examples of how they are engaging with civil society to advance SDG 16: the firm signed UN global compact; lawyers do pro-bono work on 3 pillars (access to justice for people with limited means, assisting civil society organizations, advancing rule of law and good governance); conducted a review of the 22 Voluntary National Review reports on SDG 16 and presented to the SDG 16 Alliance; and partnered with the Africa Center on Law and Ethics in Accra.
- UN University published a blog entitled, “Turning Words into Action: Peaceful and Inclusive Societies”.