The United Nations Hymn

We thought we’d share this beautiful hymn written and read by W.H. Auden in 1971, with accompanying footage provided, in part, by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). We hope you will find it as moving, as poignant, and as relevant as we did. It was shared with us by Ambassador Mark Hambley:

UN Oral Intervention: Mineral Trafficking in the D.R. Congo

The following has been submitted in the format of an Oral Statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Right’s Council, and was prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer, Umer Ahmed.

The international community must tackle mineral trafficking used in part to finance the purchase of weapons used in conflict by armed militias in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Commendably, the Congo government has, over the last decade, increased the regulation of mines operating in the country. These mines extract tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, all of which are referred to as “conflict minerals” because of their use to finance armed conflict. These minerals are essential to the manufacture of smartphones and thus are a necessity for technology companies. Correct regulation of the sale of these minerals has great potential to aid the development of the DR Congo state.

The Next Century Foundation welcomes the establishment of a transparency platform by the European Union in 2017 to monitor companies exporting minerals from Congo to the European Union. The efforts of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO), under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1493 and UNSCR 1596, in tackling mineral smuggling are also commendable.

However, a significant number of mines remaining in the hands of armed militias have extracted minerals trafficked across the border into the neighbouring states of the Republic of Uganda, the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Burundi. From these states, the minerals are then shipped to the People’s Republic of China, where supply chain checks are weak.

The Next Century Foundation calls on the international community to focus on halting the export of conflict minerals from Congo to neighbouring states and for the developed nations of the world to boycott any minerals extracted from these mines. Furthermore, the Next Century Foundation calls on the international community to boycott cellphones manufactured in China until it addresses the lack of action taken on conflict minerals by its companies.

UN Oral Intervention: End the Oppression of Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang

The following has been submitted in the format of an Oral Statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Right’s Council, prepared by a Next Century Foundation Research Officer.

The indoctrination of over a million Uyghur and Kazakh Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China infringes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Next Century Foundation is dismayed at the lack of support for these fellow Muslims shown by the Arab World.

Recently the State of Palestine’s President Mahmous Abbas stated Palestine, “Would continue to firmly stand with China and resolutely support China’s just position on . . . Xinjiang”. 

The 41st session of the UNHRC witnessed the submission of a letter supporting China’s policy in Xinjiang from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Arab Republic of Egypt, amongst others.

That letter described China’s policy as “a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang” stating that the “fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded”.

Whilst we recognise China’s desire for a cohesive collective identity, against the backdrop of decades of foreign interference and induced fragmentation during the ‘Century of Humiliation’, the violation of basic Human Rights is inexcusable.

The Next Century Foundation asks for a UN led investigation into international corporate complicity in the employment of these detained ethnic minorities within China. We also ask that China aligns its national labour standards with those held by the International Labour Organisation.

Additionally, it would be helpful if Amazon, an organisation that has featured wrongly or rightly in complicity allegations, were to include the country of origin on the descriptions of goods they market. We call upon the international community to boycott goods produced in China until such time as China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities reaches standards that accord with the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

UN Oral Intervention: Britain’s treatment of Older Persons

The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officers Lauretta Garrard and Lara Miriam Ibrahim for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:

The Next Century Foundation is deeply concerned by the treatment of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK government has failed in their duty of care to prioritise the wellbeing of vulnerable older persons.

The lack of significant levels of COVID-19 testing in the initial stages of the outbreak, together with the inadequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment and the lack of coherent guidance for care home providers and staff has led to an unnecessarily high death toll for care home residents, who have made up 40% of all registered COVID-19 related deaths in the UK. The UK government has failed to make adequate provision to prevent the recurrence of such circumstances and has not taken concrete steps to hold care providers accountable who continue to fail to follow existing guidance.

This failure to protect the human rights of older people perpetuates a disturbing phenomenon of neglecting the health of older people in Britain. The UK government must look beyond rationing adequate treatment of older persons in order to meet financial constraints and should instead protect the human rights of those at greatest clinical risk.

We strongly urge member states of the United Nations to demonstrate their continued commitment to the promotion of the human rights of older persons. We hold the UK government accountable for both past and present human rights abuses in regard to its most vulnerable citizens. We urge them to adopt effective measures to monitor the treatment of older persons. Measures adopted should include providing sufficient Personal Protective Equipment and regular testing for care home staff and residents ahead of a likely second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak (something the UK government claims to do but in which it has failed to deliver).

UN Oral Intervention: Modern Slavery in the UK

The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer Naomi Buhmann for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:

In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, thousands of trafficked adolescents are enslaved by criminal gangs on the county lines for drug distribution. The British government should encourage the police to prioritise cases of underage drug couriers and ensure they are covered by the National Referral Mechanism for trafficked people, and that they use more telecommunication restriction orders through the County Lines Taskforce.

Girls acting as couriers on the County Lines are particularly vulnerable. We urge support services to ensure as many victims as possible are introduced to the National Referral Mechanism.

Prostitutes are another vulnerable group about whom we are increasingly concerned since the advent of Covid-19 in the UK. As many of them continue to work, their safety is more at risk. Others are being abandoned by their traffickers and are in need of shelter.

There is insufficient support for those forced into prostitution. Emergency accommodation services do not know where the victims are located. The lack of funding for those that offer emergency accommodation to help prostitutes in need is an acute problem. Her Majesty’s Government has not yet provided sufficient help to support these services.

Since Covid-19, trafficking is more underground and new strategies are needed empowering institutions and structures that can strengthen exit pathways and break the cycle of exploitation.

We wish to see more funding for anti-trafficking support services and charities so they can adapt to new circumstances swiftly.

In order to identify more victims, help hotlines should be better staffed and widely promoted. They need to connect closely with the National Referral Mechanism and with law enforcement officers so all can remain alert in regard to the trafficking issue and the related problem of online sexual exploitation and grooming.

UN Oral Intervention: Deforestation in Cambodia

The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer Udit Mahalingam for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:

The world’s attention needs to be drawn to the issue of deforestation in the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the complicity of timber and agribusiness companies in exploiting indigenous groups. 

Losing a quarter of its tree cover in the past twenty years, rapid deforestation existentially threatens indigenous populations within Cambodia, who now face internal displacement and alleged threats of violence from armed forces.  

All the more alarming is the fact that international stakeholders are profiteering from Cambodian deforestation. 

Despite a national ban on luxury hardwood exports, 500,000 cubic metres of timber is transported annually from Cambodia into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. 

The second largest timber wood product exporter in Asia, Vietnam earned 10.5 billion U.S dollars from wood and woodwork exports in 2019 alone, its biggest markets being the United States of America, Japan, the People’s Republic of China and the European Union in that order.  

Illegally sourced Cambodian luxury timber, often referred to as rosewood, is being exchanged via legally officiated trade mechanisms. These include the 2001 US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement, the 2015 Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, and the 2019 EU-Vietnam FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement. 

We urge that Cambodia, in ratifying its proposed Environmental and Natural Resources Code, accommodate indigenous land claims within existing customary tenure rights provisions, thereby reinforcing crucial subnational protections. 

Nevertheless, given this issue’s international scope, we suggest that the United Nations Human Rights Council assemble a fact-finding mission to determine the extent of corruption in Cambodian natural resource management, and the nature of the transcontinental supply chain which imports large volumes of illegally logged Cambodian timber via Vietnam.  

The international community’s gluttony for hardwood timber must not come at the cost of the planet’s deforestation, the exploitation of indigenous communities, and the consequent environmental fallout which injures us all.

UN Oral Intervention: Addressing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute

The following has been prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer Udit Mahalingam for submission by the Next Century Foundation as a statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council:

The Next Century Foundation is troubled by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam dispute between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. A dispute that also impacts both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.  

On July 21st 2020, after a season of unusually heavy rain, Ethiopian Premier Abiy Ahmed announced the completion of the Renaissance Dam’s first filling stage.

We are concerned that, in choosing to fill the dam unilaterally, Ethiopia violated the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of the Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, and the fundamental tripartite “spirit of co-operation” contained within the agreement.  

The Next Century Foundation urges Ethiopia, and indeed all other parties to the Declaration of Principles, to respect their associated legal obligations in the implementation and operation of the Renaissance Dam. 

We are aware that Egypt would like the filling process to be conducted over a twenty-year period – a timeframe at odds with Ethiopia’s proposed seven years. 

The Next Century Foundation instead suggests that filling be conducted over fourteen years – a fair compromise in view of Egypt and Ethiopia’s mutual water-sharing interests.  

Nevertheless, we recognise Ethiopia’s sovereign right to construct the dam, and thereby address its own developmental needs. We note Ethiopia’s exclusion from historic Nile water-sharing treaties, such as the 1929 and 1959 Nile Waters Agreements. 

The Next Century Foundation urges the countries affected by the Renaissance Dam dispute to introduce a comprehensive water-sharing agreement within the Nile Basin. 

We note that Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have failed to ratify the UN Water Convention and fully incorporate its provisions into existing national laws concerning the use of water. The Next Century Foundation thus implores all Nile Basin states to ratify the UN Water Convention, and thereby facilitate progress towards a comprehensive water-sharing agreement. 

NEWS BRIEF YEMEN – SEPTEMBER 25, 2019

Two million children are out of school – UNICEF

As the new school year starts amid continuing violence in Yemen, 2 million children are out of school, including almost half a million who dropped out since the conflict escalated in March 2015. The education of another 3.7 million children now hangs in the balance as teachers’ salaries have not been paid in over two years.

“Conflict, underdevelopment and poverty have deprived millions of children in Yemen of their right to education – and of their hope for a brighter future. Violence, displacement and attacks on schools are preventing many children from accessing school. With teacher salaries going unpaid for over two years, education quality is also at stake,” said Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UNICEF Representative in Yemen.

“Children out of school face increased risks of all forms of exploitation including being forced to join the fighting, child labour and early marriage. They lose the opportunity to develop and grow in a caring and stimulating environment, ultimately becoming trapped in a life of poverty and hardship,” added Nyanti.


Kuwait contributes US$ 2 million to support FAO’s emergency programme

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The Government of Kuwait has contributed US$ 2 million to boost FAO’s emergency agricultural interventions and improve food security and nutrition in Yemen. The Kuwaiti funding in support of FAO’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen will be crucial in providing assistance to some of the 8.6 million severely food insecure Yemenis.

“This new agreement reinforces the relationship between the State of Kuwait and FAO,” said H.E. Jamal M. Al Ghunaim Ambassador Permanent Representative of the State of Kuwait to the U.N. in Geneva. “We aim to work closer together to accelerate humanitarian efforts towards the people of Yemen and other countries in the near East region who are suffering from conflicts.”


Air raid in North Yemen claims 16 civilian – 7 children

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A series of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on Tuesday killed 16 people including seven children, an official and a doctor confirmed.

The raid came days after the Houthis offered to halt drone and ballistic missile attacks on Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to end a war.

Right Now is the time to apply for Consultative Status at the UN

The Next Century Foundation is a member in consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations Economic and Social Council. This enables us to attend UN Human Rights Council meetings in both Geneva and New York and, most importantly, to intervene on issues that concern us (see above) and conduct our own side meetings i.e. breakout or fringe meetings (see below).

The United Nations informs us that if any Non Governmental Institutions want consultative status this year they must apply before the end of the month. This status is not easy to get but it is worth it.  If this interests you the UN’s statement on the subject follows:

As you might be aware, May is the last month for Non-Governmental Organizations to apply for consultative status with ECOSOC if they wish to be considered by the NGO Committee in 2020. Those interested should submit their application and required documents on or before the deadline, 1 June 2019.

NGOs interested in applying for ECOSOC consultative status should submit their application and required documents on or before the deadline 1 June 2019. The following link provides background information, the benefits and instructions how to apply: https://bit.ly/2ozYpVw

The ‘Good Guys’ & Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

There has been a tide of stories in the international press and a definitive buzz surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct by aid workers at some of the world’s largest humanitarian organisations, most notably Oxfam. People expressed anger that the very same organisations that advocate an end to human rights abuses, including sexual violence and the exploitation of vulnerable peoples, are engaging in these practices. Now this buzz has died down. The international media is consumed by the next salient issue. Yet this does not mean that the issue is no longer as important as it was several weeks ago. The business of humanitarian workers committing acts of sexual misconduct, exploitation and violence has been a problem for decades, a sinister part of both aid and peace efforts.

Sexual violence against women and girls, particularly in conflict, is a topic that has rooted itself firmly in academia and on the agendas of international bodies. The London School of Economics’ Centre for Women, Peace and Security was opened.  The United Nations also contributed to work on sexual violence in conflict and since 2009 the Secretary-General includes the issue in the UN annual report. Yet the same attention has not been afforded to those on the supposedly ‘right’ side of these debates and initiatives. Brian Concannon who is executive director of the Institute for Democracy and Justice in Haiti claimed that Oxfam is just one of 23 organisations in Haiti that have allegedly engaged in sexual exploitation which hints at the scale of the problem. UN Peacekeepers across multiple missions including Cambodia, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also come under fire for their role as perpetrators in the sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable peoples. Allegations have been made since the early 2000s but there has been little done to both stop it and punish those who are guilty. Ultimately, a dark shadow is cast over the positive work done by the UN and other humanitarian organisations.

In light of the recent allegations, Oxfam has established an internal safeguarding mission to address such serious reports. With regard to the UN, peacekeepers have been ‘expelled’ from missions in response to allegations against them although it is still the responsibility of their nation states to punish them. It would be wrong to say that the international community is making no effort to stem these continuous wrongdoings but they definitely are not doing enough. The actions of organisations should not just be reactive, punitive measures. There need to be concrete, regulatory mechanisms in place that disallow sexual misconduct and, in the unfortunate circumstance that it happens, justice must be meeted out. The international community needs to support these mechanisms and each nation should champion them, showing an awareness of the actions of their citizens overseas. A large part of the continuation of sexual exploitation and abuse is down to the lack of measures or the ineffectiveness of those that exist, especially if nation states do not actively support the regulation of peacekeepers or aid workers. The UN and indeed all these organisations have a responsibility to be vocal, to be firm and to take definitive action for the sake of those they seek to protect.