Part 2: economic and social affairs.
Commission on Sustainable Development
In December 1992, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) as a functional commission to follow up implementation of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Earth Summit. Based at UN Headquarters in New York, the CSD is composed of 53 UN members, elected to three-year terms. During its first decade, the CSD met formally four weeks annually to consider specific sustainable development issues and to promote implementation of internationally agreed development goals. At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, governments called for specific reforms of the CSD, including limiting negotiations in the sessions of the Commission to every two years, limiting the number of themes addressed at each session, and having CSD serve as a focal point for discussing partnerships that promote sustainable development, including sharing lessons learned, progress made, and best practices.
The United States has been a member of the Commission since its inception. Following the WSSD, the United States actively advanced ideas for how the CSD could implement reforms to serve as a stronger catalyst for action. At the CSD's 11'h Session (April-May 2003), the United States worked closely with other CSD members to develop a multi-year program of work to addresses a series of "thematic clusters" and cross-cutting issues in two-year "implementation cycles." The first cycle (2003-2005) focused on water, sanitation, and human settlement issues. The second cycle (2005-2007) focused on energy-related issues: energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere, and climate change. It was decided that the 2008-2009 cycle would address agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification, and Africa. Each two-year cycle includes a non-negotiating "review year" to assess the state of implementation and to provide a venue to focus on sustainable development partnerships and capacity-building activities. The second half of each cycle is a "policy year" to discuss policy options and possible actions to address the constraints and obstacles in the process of implementation identified during the review year.
Global Compact Leaders Summit
On July 2-5, 2007, the United States participated in the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit at the UN Office in Geneva. The summit is held every three years, and is a forum to discuss corporate social responsibility. Over 1,000 chief executive officers, government ministers, heads of civil society and labor organizations from all over the world attended the event. The summit members adopted a chairman's summary document. During the summit and in the document, the United States achieved its objectives of demonstrating the U.S. Government's support for voluntary private sector engagement on human rights, labor standards, the environment, and anticorruption, and for reinforcing our message on the importance of voluntary public-private partnerships to achieve development goals.
Regional Economic Commissions
There are five regional economic commissions that report to the UN Economic and Social Council. The United States is a member of three: the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The regional commissions are funded out of the regular UN budget, of which the United States pays 22 percent, as well as through voluntary contributions. They are charged with "raising the level of economic activity" within their respective regions and "maintaining and strengthening economic relations" both among themselves and with other countries of the world. U.S. participation in regional commissions advances and safeguards U.S. foreign policy and commercial interests in these regions.
The Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), headquartered in Geneva, was established in 1947 to encourage economic cooperation within Europe and between Europe and other countries with close trade and business ties. ECE membership consists of 56 countries, including those of Western Europe, as well as the United States, Canada, Israel, Turkey, and the Central Asian and Caucasian states of the former Soviet Union. In December 2005, the UN Secretary-General appointed Marek Belka (Poland) as Executive Secretary. The ECE is traditionally a "standards-setting" and coordination body in many technical fields, such as in e-commerce, energy, the environment, vehicle construction, road safety, timber and agricultural produce, border crossing, and statistical collection. Many ECE standards are adopted around the world. U.S. Government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, regularly participate in working groups and chair committees. The U.S. Chief Statistician is a vice-chair of the Conference of European Statisticians, which coordinates statistical methodology across the region and serves as a forum for international harmonization in statistics. Since 2005, many member states, including the United States, have been urging the ECE to devote more time to capacity building, particularly in countries in transition like the Central Asian and Caucasian states, by offering workshops on standards and related issues. The ECE created a new Team of Specialists on Public-Private Partnerships in 2007, co-chaired by an American and including three U.S. private sector participants. At the 62"d Plenary in 2007, the ECE decided to hold biennial meetings; the next plenary will take place in 2009.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was established in 1948. The 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are member states of ECLAC, together with several North American, Asian, and European nations that have historical, economic, and cultural ties with the region, reaching a total of 44 member states. The United States is a full member with voting privileges. ECLAC also has eight associate members, including the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Commission is headquartered in Santiago, Chile, with two sub-regional offices for Mexico and for the Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago). It also has offices in Bogota, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Washington. Executive Secretary Jose Luis Machinea (Argentina) completed his fourth year as head of the organization in 2007.
ECLAC's mission is to improve cooperation among member states and international entities to advance economic and social development in the region. Although it previously advocated closed markets and state-run economies, ECLAC has come to recognize some of the benefits of trade liberalization and privatization. It has also made a name for itself by providing excellent technical assistance in data collection for census purposes. Many Caribbean and Latin American countries are using ECLAC's resources and expertise to conduct demographic and other data collection at the country level.
In July 2007, ECLAC held its fourth meeting of the Statistical Conference of the Americas. The conference objectives were to promote the development and improvement of national statistics and work to ensure that they are comparable internationally, bearing in mind the recommendations of the United Nations Statistical Commission, the specialized agencies and other relevant organizations; promote international, regional, and bilateral cooperation among national offices and international and regional agencies; and draw up a biennial program of regional and international cooperation activities to meet the demands of the countries of the region, subject to the availability of resources. Issues discussed at the conference included the Millennium Development Goals, the 2010 census round, and the credibility and autonomy of institution-building in national statistical offices. U.S. Census Bureau officials attended the conference.
Also in July, the Republic of Korea officially became a member state of ECLAC. In Quito in August, ECLAC held its tenth session of the Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States did not participate. Throughout the year, the organization held several meetings on technical issues ranging from aging, population matters, sustainable development and climate change to investment and trade.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has 62 members and associate members. Headquartered in Bangkok, ESCAP provides technical support to member governments on a wide array of socio-economic development issues, such as macroeconomic policy, poverty reduction, and inclusive development; trade and investment; transport; environment and development; information, communication, and space technology and disaster risk reduction; social development; and statistics. Its five regional institutions also provide technical expertise on a range of issues. During the annual meetings in Almaty, Kazakhstan, May 1723, 2007, the United States achieved its objective of maintaining the size of the organization's budget and scope of activities. In August 2007, the UN Secretary-General appointed Ms. Noeleen Heyzer (Singapore) to be the new Executive Secretary-General for ESCAP; she is the first woman to head the organization.
UN Children's Fund
The UN General Assembly created the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 1946 to meet the emergency needs of children after World War II. UNICEF has broadened its efforts to help children by providing both humanitarian assistance and long-term development aid targeted at children and families. UNICEF has 139 offices and a presence in more than 150 countries, as some offices cover more than one country. Its programs address children's health, sanitation, nutrition, basic education, and protection needs, wherever possible through low-cost interventions at the family and community levels. UNICEF's total 2007 expenditures were $2,798 million, a 19 percent increase over 2006. Expenditures on program assistance increased by $398 million to $2,517 million. Combined expenditures on program support ($156 million), management and administration ($84 million), including centrallyshared security costs ($10 million), increased by $32 million (15 percent) to $250 million. In 2007, UNICEF's contributions from all sources of funds (regular resources and other resources) reached $3,013 million, an increase of eight percent over 2006 levels.
As a respected authority on children and their well-being, UNICEF typically works through broad partnerships with developing countries, bilateral donors, and non-governmental organizations. UNICEF programs target vulnerable and marginalized children and their families and are intended to improve the capacity of national governments to respond to their needs. The United States has worked to ensure that UNICEF maintains strong operational capabilities. A significant proportion of UNICEF's work, however, is tied to advocacy, capacity-building, piloting and disseminating best practices, and doing research on problems affecting children.
The United States has been a member of UNICEF's Executive Board, now comprised of 36 member states each serving three-year terms, since the Fund's inception. In 2006, the United States began another term running until 2009. Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman has served as UNICEF's Executive Director since 2005.
UNICEF has capabilities to provide rapid and cost-effective delivery of medicines and materials in support of national and international efforts. In 2007, UNICEF procured 3.2 billion doses of vaccines reaching 55 percent of children in developing countries and worked to ensure not only the distribution, but also the development and availability of life-saving vaccines and drugs for children. For example, in support of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (of which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a partner), UNICEF procured 2.3 billion doses of oral polio vaccines. Also in 2007, UNICEF procured 234 million doses of measles vaccine, 119 million doses of tuberculosis vaccine, and 174 million doses of tetanus vaccine.
Child survival remains the top U.S. policy priority for UNICEF. UNICEF is a key U.S. partner worldwide on many issues, including polio eradication; child protection; providing safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene; and combating diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. The United States also engaged with UNICEF in 2007 on the UN Transparency and Accountability Initiative. While UNICEF has implemented a number of management reforms aimed at improving its organizational transparency and accountability, such as developing a results-based budget for the 2008-2009 biennium, work remains to be done, especially in implementing a comprehensive ethics framework and ensuring the operational independence of its internal oversight mechanism.
The United States continued to encourage UNICEF to play a leadership role in efforts to harmonize and simplify UN development activities, particularly at the national level. In dealing with joint programming between UNICEF and other UN agencies, UNICEF's collaboration is based on evidence of efficiency gains in programming, takes account of the need to maintain distinct lines of financial accountability to donors, and recognizes the separate identities and roles of UN agencies.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) established a "clusterled" approach to improve the UN's response to humanitarian disasters. Under this approach, UNICEF is responsible for the water and sanitation, nutrition and feeding, and protection sectors. UNICEF is also an active participant in the UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), a mechanism through which humanitarian organizations plan, implement, and monitor their activities as well as appeal for donor support of humanitarian assistance programs. UNICEF is strengthening its emergency response capacity, including by reinforcing its Core Commitments for Children (CCCs) in emergencies. The United States has supported UNICEF's role in emergencies and its work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development
The UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is a Commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), established in 1992 as a result of restructuring. The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), based in Geneva, serves as secretariat for CSTD through its Division of Investment, Technology, and Enterprise Development (DITE).
The Commission has 43 member states, elected for four-year terms using a method of staggered rotation within each regional group. The composition is as follows: Africa, 11; Asia, 8; Latin American and Caribbean, 8; Eastern Europe, 5; and Western Europe and Other States, 10.
The Commission meets annually for one week in Geneva, choosing a biennial theme. There is also an additional intercessional meeting each year, usually hosted by the country-elected chair of the CSTD Bureau.
The CSTD is mandated to provide ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly (UNGA) with advice and guidelines on relevant science and technology (S&T) issues through analysis, reporting, and policy recommendations. The CSTD is a forum for examining, understanding, and advancing science and technology questions and policies and their implications for development in the multilateral context, particularly in relation to developing countries. In 2006, the CSTD received an additional mandate to review and assess the progress made in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). This entails collating UN and partner body responses on WSIS action items and compiling a yearly status report with recommendations.
The themes, the setting of which is a new development, are two-fold each biennium, with one focused on information and communication technologies to reflect the WSIS mandate and the other on traditional science and technology issues. The themes for 2008-2009 are: development-oriented policies for a socio-economic-inclusive information society, including policies relating to access, infrastructure, and an enabling environment; and science, technology and engineering for innovation and capacity building in education and research.
The 11th Session in Geneva in May 2007 produced a resolution detailing progress on WSIS implementation and featured discussion on the themes that will feed into more substantive discussion and a more formal report in 2009.
Encouraged by a reorganization and new mandate, the United States rejoined the CSTD in 2007, after having left in 1997. The decision to rejoin the CSTD has positioned the United States to engage proactively on issues important to developing countries and to help guide and contribute to the assessment of WSIS implementation. It also offers the opportunity to: promote the empowerment of science and technology for development through information and communications technologies; highlight U.S. scientific and technological contributions and best practices; encourage science-based decision-making on critical development topics; and promote U.S. expertise and efforts in offering guidance and S&T-based capacity building for development.
UN Conference on Trade and Development
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), a permanent forum for discussions on trade and development issues and funded intergovernmental Vgroups. These are its governing body, the Trade and Development Board; three Commissions (one each on trade, investment, and enterprises); and a quadrennial Ministerial Conference. In addition, UNCTAD hosts about eight expert meetings annually on issues related to trade and development. Based in Geneva, UNCTAD has 192 member states. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi (Thailand) assumed his position as UNCTAD Secretary-General on September 1, 2005.
During 2007, member states built consensus in favor of reforms to the UNCTAD Secretariat and its intergovernmental process proposed by the Eminent Person's Group in its June 2006 report. Member states agreed on the theme for the quadrennial conference to be held in Accra, Ghana in April 2008, which is "addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalization for development." Member states also agreed on four sub-themes for the conference: sustainable economic development and poverty reduction, trade, investment, and reforms to strengthen UNCTAD. These themes provide the structure for the negotiation of a new four-year work program for UNCTAD and for an assessment by the international community of policy issues in these areas. Along with preparing for the quadrennial conference and negotiation of its outcome document, UNCTAD in 2007 implemented several reforms to increase budget transparency and accountability. It also made positive research contributions to promote trade, investment, and development through its World Investment Report and country-specific Investment Policy Reviews.
The United States has been an active participant in UNCTAD since its founding in 1964. This engagement is based on a conviction that free trade is a vital avenue for development and results in strong encouragement for UNCTAD's work on trade and investment facilitation. As of end 2007, the United States was the third largest voluntary funder of UNCTAD's technical assistance programs, with major contributions to UNCTAD's Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) software program. Over the past 25 years, countries that have adopted the ASYCUDA customs program have consistently and dramatically reduced corruption and increased government revenues from customs administration. The United States has also supported UNCTAD's work in investment policy reviews and the development of databases that enable countries to find markets for their products and to search investment agreements and tariff data.
In January 2007, UNCTAD's Deputy Secretary-General, who held the senior "donor country" post in the organization, passed away unexpectedly. The United States and several European countries proposed well-qualified candidates for the position, which remained vacant. The head of the UNCTAD's Trade and Investment Division, who is from India, has acted as temporary deputy to the organization.
UN Development Program
The UN Development Program (UNDP) is the leading development agency of the United Nations. It is headquartered in New York, with field member of the 36-state UNDP Executive Board that governs the organization.
The United States is a top contributor to UNDP, providing over $100 million in 2007 to support the organization and its general programming costs.
Combating poverty through the promotion of economic growth is a top U.S. policy objective. At the September 2007 Executive Board session, the United States issued a call for UNDP to increase the focus of its programs and resources on assisting African countries in the efforts to achieve and sustain the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound development objectives related to reducing poverty and hunger, improving health and education, and combating major diseases.
Reforming UNDP management practices and improving oversight of UNDP programs has also been a U.S. priority. During 2007, the United States launched the UN Transparency and Accountability Initiative (UNTAI) to strengthen a number of critical functions within UNDP, including internal oversight, financial disclosure, ethics office independence, disclosure of internal audit and oversight reports, public access to program and budget documents, transparency of procurement practices, and whistleblower protections. UNDP management responded positively to the U.S. initiative and began in 2007 to make progress in some areas.
In early 2007, following revelations of mismanagement of UNDP's program in North Korea, the United States worked with the Executive Board to press for corrective action, which included setting operating conditions for continued program activities and initiating an audit of country operations. UNDP suspended its program in North Korea in early 2007 after the North Korean government refused to abide by the conditions established by the Executive Board.
UNDP's four-year strategic plan concluded in 2007. During this period the organization focused on five goals: reducing poverty, fostering democratic governance, managing energy and the environment for sustainable development, supporting crisis prevention and recovery, and responding to HIV/AIDS. UNDP remained a valuable partner in promoting democracy, good governance, poverty reduction, and private sector development, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development.
UN Human Settlements Program
In 2001, the UN General Assembly converted the 58-member UN Center on Human Settlements to a full program of the General Assembly: the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT). UN-HABITAT'S work focuses on the development of sustainable human settlements with access to basic services, such as water and sanitation. UN-HABITAT is also the UN focal point for efforts to achieve the Millennium Declaration goal of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. The creation of the new UN-HABITAT program marked a significant achievement in the reform agenda of the United States, which had pressed for an overhaul of the former Center after the 1996 Habitat II Conference in Istanbul and had cut off voluntary contributions. Following the complete restructuring of the organization by new management, the United States supported the granting of program status and resumed voluntary contributions.
UN-HABITAT is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and is led by Executive Director Anna Tibaijuka (Tanzania). Mrs. Tibaijuka was re-elected by the General Assembly to a second four-year term in 2006 after having served since September 2000 as Director of the Center on Human Settlements. UN-HABITAT'S Governing Council meets every two years, most recently in April 2007, and UN-HABITAT sponsors the World Urban Forum in the intervening years. The next World Urban Forum will take place in Nanjing, China, in November 2008. States are elected to the Governing Council through regional groups for four-year terms. The United States was re-elected in 2006 for another term by the Western Europe and Other Group.
UN-HABITAT'S activities in 2007 were aligned with U.S. foreign policy objectives pertaining to economic freedom, good governance, democracy building (through decentralization of power to local authorities), gender equality, and the mobilization of domestic resources. The United States worked to clarify UN-HABITAT'S role as a catalyst to advance work on human settlements through normative (research and data-collection) and capacity-building work, supplemented by operational activities, including pilot projects. Overall, UN-HABITAT performed its role as a catalyst well and continued to focus more on operational activities such as the Slum Upgrading Facility and the Experimental Reimbursable Seeding Operation, which aims to strengthen national human settlement programs by providing seed capital and other credit enhancements, as well as technical assistance to mobilize domestic resources for housing and related infrastructure services.
To assist developing countries in managing urbanization, UNHABITAT gathers data on cities and promotes best practices in fields related to human settlements and the role of local authorities. Its technical arm works with local authorities and national governments to develop and decentralize services. During 2007, with the active collaboration of the Committee of Permanent Representatives based in Nairobi, UN-HABITAT developed a Medium Term Strategic and Institutional Plan (MTSIP) for 2008-2013. The MTSIP aims to improve efficiency and effectiveness by establishing Results Based Management and implementing other important internal and UN-wide reforms, including developing clearly defined indicators, targets, and priorities for UN-HABITAT's work in the six focus areas established in the MTSIP. The MTSIP also provides for experimental financial mechanisms for pro-poor housing.
The April 2007 Governing Council (GC) adopted a resolution approving the MTSIP. The GC also approved resolutions on: sustainable public-private partnerships to catalyze private sector activity and to energize housing markets; a feasibility study on an African fund/financing mechanism on slum prevention and upgrading; guidelines on decentralization and strengthening local authorities; and on women's land and property rights and access to finance. UN-HABITAT has been working to put these GC requests into action. During the year, UN-HABITAT's Slum Upgrading Facility and Water and Sanitation programs showed good progress in their pilot phases.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 as a joint effort of the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Program. The IPCC conducts periodic assessments of studies on the science of climate change, its potential impacts, and ways countries adapt and seek to mitigate climate change. The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), involving contributions from several hundred experts, was issued in 2007.
UN Convention to Combat Desertification
The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) rose out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and entered into force on December 26, 1996. With 193 parties, this convention is designed to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought on arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid lands, particularly in Africa, through effective action at all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements. The UNCCD is unique because it addresses the problem of desertification through a bottom-up approach, by empowering local people to take the lead in identifying innovative approaches to sustainable agricultural development. The Convention aims to achieve these goals by reprioritizing existing aid resources to make them more effective in addressing desertification issues. In particular, the UNCCD is intended to address the fundamental causes of famine and food insecurity by stimulating more effective partnerships among governments, local communities, non-governmental organizations, and aid donors and by encouraging the dissemination of information derived from new technologies.
The United States has been a party to the UNCCD since 1996 and actively engaged in its activities. The United States recently served as chair for one of the subsidiary bodies of the Convention, the Committee on Review of Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) for a two-year term. In 2007, the United States served as the Japan/United States/Canada/Australia/New Zealand (JUSCANZ) group representative on the Convention's governing Bureau, as well as actively participated in all eight of the Conference of the Parties meetings and played a prominent role in the other subsidiary body, the Committee on Science and Technology (CST). Continued U.S. participation in, and support for, the UNCCD helps to advance U.S. approaches to sustainable land management issues and sustainable agriculture practices for arid, dry, and sub-humid lands. In particular, interventions by the United States were critical for the Convention's movement into an effective new implementation phase. In the 10-Year Strategic Plan approved during the Eighth Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 8) in Madrid, Spain in September 2007, parties stressed the need to move the Convention to a resultsbased management approach. To implement the Strategic Plan, the Secretariat is currently preparing a multi-year strategic work plan, under the guidance of the Bureau, on which the United States has a seat, and a costed out biennial work program. In fall 2008, the subsidiary bodies of the UNCCD, the CST, and the CRIC will meet to review these work plans and discuss how best to capture success on the ground and scale-up the many on-going local, national, and regional efforts to combat desertification. The United States actively engages in both the CST and CRIC meetings, which provide opportunities to emphasize effectively implementing the results-based management approach outlined by the Strategic Plan and to review thoroughly its implementation with other Parties.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in March 1994. The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. The United States ratified the UNFCCC in 1992; today, 191 countries have ratified the Convention. The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC entered into force in February 2005. This Protocol requires developed nations to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the period 2008-2012 (The United States would have had to reduce its emissions by seven percent below 1990 levels had it ratified the Protocol). As the Kyoto Protocol exempts developing countries from binding emission targets, including some of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, and would harm the U.S. economy, President Bush said in March 2001 that the United States would not ratify the Protocol, a decision consistent with the recommendation of Senate Resolution 98, approved in July 1997, by a vote of 95-0.
During the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in December 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, parties adopted the "Bali Roadmap," launching negotiations for a post-2012 climate framework, to be completed by 2009. The Roadmap achieves key U.S. objectives, including the establishment of a negotiating process with a clear end date and of securing a commitment from developing as well as developed countries to consider meaningful actions to reduce emissions. Further, the United States initiated the Major Economies Process, which will feed into the UNFCCC negotiations, helping to ensure that the 2009 agreement is environmentally effective and economically sustainable. The Bali outcome also allows for input from the President's Major Economies Process. Leading up to the 14Th Conference of the Parties (COP 14) in Poznan, Poland in December 2008, the UNFCCC planned to convene a series of global meetings to address specific issues.
The United States is engaged in extensive domestic and international efforts on climate change. The Energy Independence and Security Act of December 2007 introduced substantial new mandatory domestic programs to address energy security and climate change; these measures will reduce C[O.sub.2] emissions by six billion metric tons by 2030. Fifteen bilateral climate change partnerships encompass over 450 activities with countries and regional organizations that, together with the United States, represent over 80 percent of the world's emissions. Since 2002, the U.S. Government has initiated multiple international partnerships to promote development and deployment of key climate change-related energy technologies. These include the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, the Methane-to-Markets Partnership, and Gen IV International Forum. Continued U.S. participation in, and support for, the UNFCCC help to advance U.S. approaches to climate change issues.
UN Environment Program
The UN Environment Program (UNEP), founded in 1972, is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and has six regional offices (Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia). Its Governing Council consists of 58 member states, including the United States. The United Nations General Assembly elects members from different regional groupings for four-year terms. UNEP's Executive Director (ED) Achim Steiner was elected in June 2006 by the General Assembly after being nominated by the UN Secretary-General. ED Steiner undertook program-wide reform and reorganization within UNEP, including the drafting of a results-oriented Medium-Term Strategy to focus UNEP's work and transform UNEP into a more effective and accountable organization. The 10th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) in Monaco scheduled for February 2008 was set to adopt several decisions, including endorsement of the Medium-Term Strategy and its thematic priorities as a basis for the 2010-2011 Program of Work and Budget to be adopted at the February 2009 Governing Council.
UNEP sets the environmental agenda within the UN system, addressing environmental problems that transcend borders and potentially affect the health and prosperity of U.S. citizens. Active involvement in UNEP helps the United States promote sustainable development and protect the environment by combating global environmental degradation. Involvement in UNEP also promotes the interests of U.S. industry, which is directly affected by evolving international environmental standards. Chemicals are an area of particular interest. In 2006, the United States negotiated the Strategic Approach for International Chemicals Management (SAICM), establishing broad voluntary standards for producing and transporting chemicals worldwide. The United States has also provided funding to support operation of the Secretariats of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (for the international movement of chemicals). In addition, the United States has been the main supporter of the UNEP Mercury Program, which is aimed at helping countries reduce global mercury. UNEP also contributes to regional stability through work in areas affected by conflict.
The United States strongly supports work done in UNEP's core programs, such as early warning and assessment of environmental threats, the regional seas program, capacity-building for domestic environmental governance in developing countries, and the global program of action to combat land-based sources of marine pollution. The United States values UNEP's monitoring and assessment activities, as well as its work to publicize emerging environmental trends, especially in regional for a where national responsibilities do not take precedence.
The United States was instrumental in the negotiations culminating in the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-Building in 2005 and is working with UNEP and its members to mainstream capacity-building within the regular programs of UNEP. As a part of this effort to focus UNEP's programs on implementation, the United States has encouraged UNEP to strengthen its linkages with scientific institutions and is assisting developing nations to improve their ability to monitor and assess environmental change and implement multilateral environmental agreements. As prescribed by paragraph 169 of the World Summit Outcome Document of September 2005, the United Nations in 2006 initiated a two-track review to improve coordination and efficiency of its environmental activities. This process has resulted in an ongoing debate within the General Assembly on "International Environmental Governance," which could affect UNEP and its program of work.
UN Commission on Population and Development
The UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD) advises the UN Economic and Social Council on population changes, including migration, and their effects on economic and social conditions. It is also charged by the General Assembly to monitor, review, and assess implementation of the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994.
The CPD held its 40" Session on April 9-13, 2007, in New York on the theme of "The Changing Age Structure of Populations and Implications for Development." UN Population Division Director Zlotnik's opening statement focused on how the demographic transition in which a population goes from high fertility and high mortality to low fertility and low mortality leads to many other changes in societies. Developed countries are well advanced in this transition, with aging populations and decreasing numbers of working age persons. In contrast, many of the least developed countries are at the earliest stages of this transition, with several still experiencing high fertility and mortality - the latter due primarily to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. UN Population Fund Director Obaid emphasized the importance of including the interests of young people when making policy decisions, especially in developing countries. The U.S. National Institute of Aging hosted a highly praised and well-attended side event entitled "Comparative Global Research on Aging." The United States joined consensus on the two resolutions adopted at the session on the theme and the Commission's method of work. The U.S. delegation delivered an Explanation of Position on references in the resolution to reproductive health and the ICPD.
UN Population Fund
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) provides funding for population and reproductive health care programs in over 140 countries. UNFPA supports maternal, child, and reproductive health care and family planning programs worldwide and works on issues of gender empowerment, child marriage, and violence against women. UNFPA provides assistance in the framework of 3-to-5-year country plans, developed jointly with the recipient country and approved by the Executive Board.
The United Nations Secretary-General appointed Thoraya Ahmed Obaid (Saudi Arabia) to be the Executive Director of UNFPA in 2001. The Secretary-General extended her tenure for another term, which will end in December 2008. The United States is a member of UNFPA's Executive Board and participates actively in the decision-making processes to safeguard U.S. interests.
In recent years, the United States determined that UNFPA's support of and involvement in China's birth-planning activities facilitated the practice of coercive abortions. Under the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, this situation precludes U.S. funding for UNFPA.
The United States worked closely with UNFPA management in 2007 to improve the organization's transparency and accountability to ensure the effective use of resources and program monitoring. The United States launched the UN Transparency and Accountability Initiative (UNTAI) to strengthen governance and oversight throughout the UN system, including UNFPA.
UNTAI is drawn from existing reforms of the UN Secretariat to apply common standards throughout the UN system in eight areas:
* Operational independence of the internal oversight function;
* Disclosure of internal audit and oversight reports to member states on request;
* Public access to relevant information related to the organization's operations, including program and budget documents, information on procurement activities, and administrative policies;
* Independent ethics function;
* "Whistleblower" protections against retaliation for reporting misconduct and/or cooperating with the internal oversight function;
* Financial disclosure program;
* Full implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards; and
* Transparent administrative support costs.
Commission for Social Development
The Commission for Social Development (CSocD), a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), consists of 46 member states. It meets annually in New York and held its 45 '" session from February 7-16, 2007. CSocD is the United Nations body charged with follow-up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform of Action, adopted at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.
In Resolution 2005/11, ECOSOC decided that CSocD would be organized as a series of two-year action-oriented implementation cycles, beginning with the 2007 session. The sessions would include a policy segment and the Commission would continue to review programs of action pertaining to social groups. The theme for the 2007-2008 review was "Promoting Full Employment and Decent Work for All." Member states reviewed documents on the World Program of Action Concerning Disabled Persons, the World Program of Action for Youth, the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging, and family issues, policies, and programs.
At its 2007 session, CSocD adopted resolutions on "Social Dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa's Development," "Modalities for the First Review and Appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging, 2000," "Youth," and "Supplement to the World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond." Under the topic of emerging issues, it discussed "Youth Employment, Impacts, Challenges, and Opportunities for Social Development." The United States gave an explanation of position regarding the Supplement to the World Program of Action for Youth. The statement addressed, among other things, the necessary conditions to promote job creation, decent work, and economic growth; U.S. commitment to integrating persons with disabilities into the workplace and the community; and the importance of giving youth access to education and training.
The Commission also considered the proposed program of work for the 2008-2009 biennium and heard statements from the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development and its Special Rapporteur on Disability.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Negotiations on the draft UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disabilities Convention) began in 2003. Early during the negotiations on the Convention, the U.S. delegation stated that given the complexity of regulations and enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, it would be more productive for nations to strengthen their domestic legal frameworks related to nondiscrimination and equality rather than to negotiate a new UN convention. For this reason, the United States made clear that it did not intend to become a party to the treaty, and the executive branch has not conducted a careful review of the text to determine whether it is consistent with existing U.S. law.
At the same time, the United States clarified that it would join constructively in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Disabilities, which negotiated the language of the treaty. The United States was very active in negotiations, in fact contributing to the strength of sections on political participation of persons with disabilities and on end-of-life issues.
The concluding five weeks of negotiations on the draft Disabilities Convention took place January-February and August 2006. At the August 2006 session, the United States called for a vote on a preambular paragraph, forced into the text by the Arab Group, containing a reference to protecting persons with disabilities from the impact of "foreign occupation." The vote was 102--5(U.S.)--8. Australia, Canada, Israel, and Japan voted with the United States. Cameroon, Cote d'lvoire, Gabon, Kenya, Korea, Niger, Nigeria, and Serbia abstained. The United States then joined consensus on moving the text forward to the fall 2006 UN General Assembly (UNGA) for action.
At the UNGA on December 13, 2006, the United States joined consensus on adopting the Convention with an Explanation of Position (EOP) on the preambular paragraph citing foreign occupation and the article on health containing the term "reproductive health." The EOP stated that the reference in this human rights convention to armed conflict and foreign occupation, which are governed by international humanitarian law and not human rights law, would create legal confusion. It also stated that the United States understood the phrase "reproductive health" did not include abortion, did not create any abortion rights, and could not be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion.
The active U.S. role in the disabilities negotiations was aimed at advancing U.S. policy interests, including promoting democratic values such as non-discrimination and equal treatment, condemning torture, and promoting health and U.S. values on social issues. The United States was pleased to have contributed to improving the Convention, recognizing that there was much good in it. The treaty emphasizes the principles of equality and nondiscrimination, and contains important provisions on a variety of important subjects, including opposition to torture and degrading treatment of persons with disabilities; informed consent for genetic testing, medical research, and scientific experimentation; prohibition against involuntary sterilization; access to justice; political participation; health; the crucial role of the family; and end of-life issues. In 2007, while the United States continued to believe that efforts on domestic legal regimes were a more fruitful focus and that its own domestic standards were a useful model, the United States fully understood that other nations may wish to commit to these worthy provisions in the form of ratification.
The Convention will enter into force on May 3, 2008. The Convention received its 20Th ratification on April 3, 2008, triggering the entry into force of the Convention and its Optional Protocol 30 days later.
UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and UN Office on Drugs and Crime
The UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Crime Commission) is the principal United Nations policy-making body on criminal justice issues. The 40-member Commission convenes annually at the UN Office in Vienna. Many decisions from these annual sessions are forwarded to the UN Economic and Social Council for endorsement. The United States is an active member of the Crime Commission and is substantially engaged in both the plenary discussions and the resolution negotiations in the Committee of the Whole.
The 16th session of the UN Crime Commission convened April 2327, 2007. The United States proposed and facilitated a thematic discussion of commercial sexual exploitation of children as well as introduced and co sponsored a resolution on "Effective Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Responses to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children" that received wide support from other member states. Additionally, the United States and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) co-sponsored a screening of the movie "Human Trafficking," followed by expert discussion attended by over 500 people. The Commission adopted a total of 13 resolutions, including approving the UNODC Strategy for 2008-2011, which the United States was instrumental in creating. This strategy will enable UNODC to focus its efforts on agreed priorities and enhance the ability of the U.S. and other member states to monitor better the implementation of UNODC programs. The strategy was also approved by the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
U.S. efforts to work with countries such as Brazil and Indonesia before the start of the Commission were critical to the success of an Indonesian resolution regarding illicit trafficking in forest products, including timber and wildlife, which had failed to achieve consensus during the previous year's meeting. Active outreach by the U.S. delegation before and during the Commission brought the various points of view to agreement on a resolution that served to raise awareness of this important issue. The United States was forced to disassociate from consensus on one resolution related to the 12th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Crime Congress) due to potential financial implications on the UN regular budget. This resolution established regional preparatory meetings in advance of the 12th Crime Congress. The U.S. delegation expressed the view that these preparatory meetings did not reflect an efficient utilization of the resources of the regular budget of the United Nations.
The United States used its statements at the Commission to voice its strong support for implementing and ratifying the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), as well as the universal legal instruments against terrorism, and it urged other states to join the United States in contributing resources for technical assistance in implementing the conventions.
UNCAC entered into force on December 14, 2006. In 2007, the United States played an instrumental leadership role in a number of areas and helped increase the level of international attention to this important instrument. Working closely with UNODC, the United States drafted a self-assessment checklist to assist with information gathering from parties to the Convention regarding its implementation. This checklist was extremely well-received and over 50 countries responded in less than one year. The United States helped create and participated in a pilot review project to test various methods for reviewing implementation of the UNCAC. In addition, the United States attended UNCAC working groups on asset recovery, technical assistance, and review of implementation.
The U.S. Department of Justice is using the UNCAC as a mechanism for mutual legal assistance in at least four pending cases involving countries in Asia and Africa.
UNTOC entered into force in 2003. During 2007, the United States participated in UNTOC expert working groups on special investigative techniques and a working group on technical assistance. Also in 2007, the U.S. participated in a Steering Group Committee on International Cooperation to advance the extradition and mutual legal assistance provisions of the UNTOC. The Steering Group approved and contributed to the design of a series of workshops to provide countries with practical application of the UNTOC in the area of international cooperation. The 4th UNTOC Conference of the Parties will be held in October 2008. The United States has used the UNTOC as a basis for mutual legal assistance and extradition in at least 15 cases around the world.
In its role as Secretariat to the UNTOC and its protocols, UNODC also promotes the implementation of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. During 2007, the United States was heavily engaged in the development of UNODC's United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), a project initiated as a result of a contribution by the United Arab Emirates. The United States specifically provided guidance and recommendations on various regional events and suggested speakers.
Commission on Narcotic Drugs
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), both based in Vienna, support U.S. drug control objectives. The UN drug control conventions (the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) provide the framework for international drug control. This framework includes: prohibiting the cultivation of opium, coca and marijuana; targeting drug traffickers and their proceeds; promoting national campaigns on drug abuse prevention and treatment; and regulating precursor chemicals used in the production of many illicit drugs.
The 53-member UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), of which the United States has been a member since 1946, is the central policy-making body within the UN system for dealing with drug-related matters. The CND held its 50th session in Vienna on March 12-16, 2007. As a result of extensive outreach to member states in the months leading up to the Commission, the United States succeeded in garnering wide member-state support to reject a World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to downgrade the international controls on dronabinol, the principal active ingredient in cannabis. The recommendation was returned to the WHO for further review, with a request that it not be re-sent to the Commission until further scientific evidence was available.
Building on a 2006 resolution, sponsored by the United States, the 2007 Commission saw an increased focus on precursor chemical control. The Commission approved a total of four resolutions related to precursors dealing with increased monitoring, law enforcement, and directing the work of the International Narcotics Control Board. The United States co-tabled a resolution with the European Union on precursor chemical control for synthetic drugs. This resolution addressed the growing need to identify and react to non-controlled substances being used as substitutes for controlled chemicals in illicit drug manufacture.
The United States also co-sponsored a resolution related to the 10year review of progress achieved since the 1998 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem. This resolution established 2008 as a "year of review," which will allow UNODC to gather relevant information and to hold expert working groups to discuss the way forward.
U.S. financial support to UNODC in 2007 had significant impact on the operations and expansion of UN counter-narcotics programs and policy. UNODC used funds provided by the United States to enhance global programs that work to reduce precursor chemical control, combat money laundering and terrorist financing, provide legal advice on treaty implementation of the UN drug conventions, prevent drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and augment an international network of treatment and rehabilitation centers. Notably, the United States continued its funding support for the work of the International Narcotics Control Board to advance implementation of a 2006 U.S.-sponsored resolution that sought to prevent the diversion of precursor chemicals to the illicit market. U.S. funds also supported numerous regional projects, including strengthening precursor control in East Asia and increasing border control in Central Asia. U.S. funds also supported country-specific programs that included those in Afghanistan providing for eradication verification activities, in Laos providing for alternative development, in Cambodia supporting efforts to clean-up and dispose of seized chemicals in an environmentally sound manner, in Peru implementing a program to facilitate effective anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture laws, as well as monitoring illicit drug crops, and in Ecuador providing drug prevention in urban communities.
The United States used the back-to-back reconvened sessions of the 50th Commission on Narcotic Drugs and 16th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as an opportunity to spur discussion on the 10-year review of the UNGASS on the World Drug Problem. The United States held extensive meetings on the margins to engage with other member states to ensure that the review was thorough and produced concrete outcomes without re-negotiating the drug conventions.
International Narcotics Control Board
The 13-member International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent quasi-judicial control body that has a mandate to promote governments' compliance with the provisions of international drug control treaties and to assist governments in this effort. Board members from 13 different countries serve in their personal, not national, capacity. The Board meets three times annually to monitor the implementation of drug control treaties and the international movement of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
The INCB presented its annual report to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2007. The 2007 report focused on unregulated drug markets, specifically internet pharmacies and the increasing problem of counterfeit drugs. The INCB report also criticized injection and consumption rooms. The report's conclusions are in line with the United States' global drug-control policies and help strengthen U.S. efforts worldwide. In addition, the 2007 report criticized Bolivia for allowing coca cultivation for purposes outside those specified in drug control treaties and called on Bolivia to live up to its obligations under the 1961 and 1988 Conventions. The United States used the INCB agenda item at the CND to warn against the perils of expanding coca cultivation under the guise of licit consumption.
Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations
The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Committee), part of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is the UN body that adjudicates requests by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for accreditation to participate in meetings of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies. The member states of the NGO Committee for 2007 were Angola, Burundi, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, India, Israel, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Romania, the Russian Federation, Sudan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Because the NGO Committee is a highly politicized technical committee, the most frequently attacked and scrutinized NGOs are those working in the areas of human rights, the rule of law, and democracy. The U.S. presence and participation on the Committee helps these NGOs to obtain and maintain ECOSOC accreditation status. The U.S. delegation also exercises crucial oversight of the administration of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs' NGO Section.
At its July 2007 meeting, the Committee granted consultative status to 89 NGOs, while denying it to others, as described below.
Liberal International is an NGO based in London. Its members consist of liberal and democratic parties, including from Taiwan. Because of China's complaint that Liberal International took part in a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting, the Committee suspended the consultative status of Liberal International for one year. The United States opposed that decision. During the debate, the United States acknowledged that there is one China and encouraged a peaceful resolution on long standing differences between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. Although the United States does not support Taiwan's full membership in organizations such as the UN which have statehood as a prerequisite, the United States supported its meaningful participation in appropriate technical activities of international organizations. The United States believed that Taiwan's participation in the WHO meeting was not a politically motivated act against China, but was connected to the international community's public health interests.
The NGO Committee did not grant consultative status to the Jewish National Fund. The United States also opposed that decision.
The Committee granted consultative status to the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights, a decision the United States supported.
The UN Democracy Caucus (UNDC) is a network of democratic nations through which the United States can advance the work of the United Nations in areas such as human rights, democracy, women's rights, and economic development. The United States believes that democratic nations must work more closely together in order to help the United Nations live up to its founding principles. The Democracy Caucus is comprised of the approximately 126 countries that participate in the Community of Democracies, whose participants meet the criteria set out during the Community of Democracies Seoul Ministerial in 2002. The Democracy Caucus is not intended to supplant long-standing regional or other groupings, but rather to provide an added mechanism that like-minded democratic nations can use to cooperate on resolutions and other initiatives to promote democratic practices and principles. The United States participates in the Convening Group of the Community of Democracies, which is comprised of 16 countries and provides leadership for the Caucus.
The Chair of the Community of Democracies serves as the de facto Chair of the Democracy Caucus in New York. Mali, host of the 2007 Community of Democracies Ministerial, served as the Caucus chair from 2006-2007; Portugal is chair from 2008-2009. In May 2007, the Community of Democracies Convening Group issued a statement, which the United States supported, encouraging states to support candidates with good human rights records in the Human Rights Council election. The Community of Democracies Ministerial during the UN General Assembly focused on furthering democracy and development in preparation for the Ministerial meeting in Bamako, Mali with the same theme. The U.S. delegation to the Ministerial in Bamako, led by Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte, also highlighted the need to support the UN Democracy Fund and urged that the Community work together to forge common positions at the United Nations.
The U.S. Mission to the UN in New York consults closely with key Community of Democracies members, including India and Portugal, to identify concrete steps to further the Caucus' work. In 2007, the U.S. Mission succeeded in gaining support from democracies across regional groups for several important democracy and human rights resolutions, including one in support of the UN's elections assistance work, another calling attention to and condemning the use of rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as a resolution that called on the Government of Belarus to immediately cease its ongoing and systemic violations of the human rights of its people. The United States also assisted in securing cross-regional support for the resolutions on the human rights records of Iran, Burma, and North Korea.
In 2007, the Community of Democracies continued its institutionbuilding work. A planned secretariat for the Community was officially announced at the 2007 Bamako Ministerial meeting. Working groups were established to focus on tangible activities that could be accomplished before the conference. Among the outcomes of these working groups was the production of a "Diplomat's Handbook for Democracy Development Support," which is being distributed globally and will become a standard training tool for diplomats from several governments, including the U.S.
The UN General Assembly observed the second International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on January 29, 2007. The observance focused on the importance of infusing today's youth with the lessons of the Holocaust so that future generations may work to prevent hatred, bigotry, racism, and prejudice. UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al Khalifa (Bahrain), recalling in her statement the needless deaths of millions of Jews in the Holocaust, noted that "the Holocaust was a historical event, which cannot be denied." During the observance, as part of its "Holocaust and the United Nations" outreach program, the UN Department of Public Information launched a new website and resource for member states, educators, and NGOs, "Electronic Notes for Speakers," developed by Yad Vashem, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute, and the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris.
Israel introduced a resolution establishing the International Day of Commemoration during the 60'h UN General Assembly, which adopted it by consensus on November 1, 2005, with 104 member states co-sponsoring. This resolution built on the successful December 2004 request of the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and the Russian Federation to convene a special session of the General Assembly in January 2005 to commemorate the 60" anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
In December 2006, in direct contravention of the 2005 resolution, the Iranian government sponsored an international conference entitled "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision," specifically aimed at denying the existence of the Holocaust as an historical event. Reflecting the widespread condemnation of the international community, the United States pressed for a UN General Assembly resolution reiterating the General Assembly's rejection of Holocaust denial.
On January 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus Resolution 61/255 entitled "Holocaust Denial," which was cosponsored by the United States and 102 other member states. Resolution 61/255 condemned "without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust" and urged all member states "unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end."
Noting that January 27 had been designated by the United Nations as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, Resolution 61/255 also welcomed the Secretary-General's establishment of an outreach program on "The Holocaust and the United Nations" and the inclusion by member states in their educational programs of "measures to confront attempts to deny or minimize the importance of the Holocaust." Finally, Resolution 61/255 recalled that Resolution 60/7 declared that remembrance of the Holocaust "is critical to prevent further acts of genocide" and that, "for this reason, Resolution 60/7 rejects efforts to deny the Holocaust which, by ignoring the historical fact of those terrible events, increases the risk they will be repeated."
In introducing Resolution 61/255, Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, declared that "The resolution we are introducing builds on the strong foundation of Resolution 60/7 of 2005 in making clear that all people and all states have a vital stake in a world free of genocide." He went on to say, "Those who would deny the Holocaust-and, sadly, there are some who do-reveal not only ignorance but their moral failure as well." He concluded by reminding the General Assembly that "The United Nations was founded in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War and of the Holocaust. It is particularly fitting to remember this legacy."
All subsequent speakers supported the resolution, except Iran, which disassociated itself from the consensus on the resolution, described it as a "hypocritical political exercise," and said the focus should be on Israel's conduct today. Ambassador Wolff concluded his response to Iran with the following words: "To deny the events of the Holocaust is tantamount to the approval of genocide in all its forms. Today, we stand together, saying to the world that we will not allow that to happen."
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
The High Commissioner for Human Rights is the principal UN official responsible for advancing human rights and reports directly to the Secretary-General. Under the High Commissioner's leadership, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) works to ensure the practical implementation of human rights obligations and carries out the tasks requested by UN human rights bodies. The United States, through the U.S. Permanent Mission to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva, has worked with the High Commissioner to build a strong cooperative relationship.
The Office of the High Commissioner has gradually expanded its presence in the field in recent years. In 2007, the High Commissioner's Office maintained eight regional offices and 11 country offices. It also supported the human rights components of United Nations peacekeeping operations worldwide and deployed human rights officers to support the UN Country Teams in Ecuador, Guyana, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and the South Caucasus. The work of the High Commissioner's Office in 2007 included provision of technical assistance and advisory services activities, such as monitoring human rights situations, assisting human rights capacity building of governments in host countries, building networks with local and regional civil society groups, and promoting ratification and implementation of key human rights treaties. The Office of the High Commissioner is seeking to open some additional regional offices in 2008.
In addition to carrying out its operational work in the field, the Office of the High Commissioner provides staff for the secretariat of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), the human rights treaty implementation bodies, the advisory committee, and the UN's human rights special procedures, including special rapporteurs and independent experts. It does not control and does not have great influence over either the HRC or the special procedures. Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner in 2007, strongly defended her independence in the face of efforts by some, most notably China and the Non-Aligned Movement, to have the HRC exercise greater control over the work of the High Commissioner's Office.
Status of Women
The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), established in 1946 as a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), seeks to improve the situation of women in the areas of political participation, economic opportunity, social development, health, and education. Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing Women's Conference), the General Assembly mandated that the CSW institute a followup process to the Conference by regularly reviewing the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action and mainstreaming a gender perspective in UN activities. The United States regards the CSW favorably and is active in the Commission's work. We have successfully used the annual CSW meetings to highlight U.S. Government activities to improve conditions for women throughout the world, including through U.S.introduced resolutions and U.S.-sponsored panel discussions and other types of side events.
The CSW convened its 2006 session in New York from February 26-March 9, 2007. At the conclusion of the two-week session, member states adopted the following resolutions by consensus: "Women, the Girl Child, and HIV/AIDS" (Southern African Development Community resolution), "Ending Female Genital Mutilation" (Africa Group resolution), and "Forced Marriage of the Girl Child" (U.S. resolution). On each of the above, the United States joined consensus with an Explanation of Position (EOP) on reaffirmation of the outcomes of the Beijing women's conference and its follow up sessions, as well as health-related wording. On the forced marriage resolution, the European Union submitted an amendment from the floor "reaffirming" the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Because the United States could not accept that wording in UN documents without an EOP, it withdrew co-sponsorship of the resolution, but decided not to withdraw the resolution completely in order to have the first UN resolution raising awareness on this topic adopted as part of the UN record. El Salvador, Angola, Benin, Panama, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, and Togo co-sponsored the resolution, which was adopted by consensus.
A U.S.-introduced resolution on "Prenatal Sex Selection and Female Infanticide" was withdrawn; language on these issues was incorporated into the agreed conclusions on "Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against the Girl Child."
The United States called for a vote on and voted against the resolution on "Situation of and Assistance to Palestinian Women." Each year the United States opposes this unbalanced and one-sided resolution that criticizes Israel while failing to note that the Palestinian side and Arab states also have responsibilities to meet in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The resolution addresses a number of issues, including territory and refugees, which must be resolved by negotiations between the parties.
Member states adopted by consensus agreed conclusions on "Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against the Girl Child," which was the main theme of the CSW 2007 session. The United States joined consensus with an EOP on references to "sexual and reproductive health," "reaffirming" the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and "foreign occupation."
The United States held a side event on "State Sanctioned Mass Rape in Burma and Sudan," which U.S. Representative to the CSW Ambassador Patricia Brister moderated.
UN Democracy Fund
The UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), which grew out of an idea presented by President Bush at the United Nations in 2004 and was established in 2005, had a successful third year. The United States' goals of recruiting a well-qualified Executive Director, assuring final disbursement of all firstround grants, announcing a second call for proposals to include increased emphasis in reaching applicants from civil society, and reinforcing UNDEF's independence from host governments were achieved. In 2007, UNDEF disbursed approximately $36 million to over 120 projects in over 75 countries, with a majority going to pro-democracy civil society organizations. UNDEF is completely voluntarily funded. By the end of 2007, countries as diverse as Ecuador, Cyprus, Georgia, France, India, Lithuania, Mongolia, Bulgaria and Australia had pledged or contributed a total of over $80 million. During its Ministerial Meeting in Mali, the Community of Democracies once again expressed support for UNDEF and urged all members to contribute to the fund.
A major focus of the United States in 2007 was to ensure the appointment of a strong Executive Director. In October, the Secretary General appointed as UNDEF's Executive Director a former Australian diplomat, Roland Rich, who had exceptional credentials, including a tour as a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy. Rich brought on board a new staff and focused immediately on executing a second call for proposals. The Fund's second call for proposals, which closed on December 31, resulted in over 1,800 applications primarily from civil society.
As an outcome of UN reform, the Democracy Fund represents the possibility for new thinking on the use of technical assistance to build democratic institutions. While the political climate in the UN human rights institutions worsens, the Democracy Fund stands out as a symbol of what the UN can do when properly mobilized. The United States has been integral in the formation of this innovative institution and, with our continued participation, we can help sustain its achievements over the long term.
UN Human Rights Council
The UN Human Rights Council held four regular sessions (March 1230, June 11-18, September 10-28, and December 10-14) and one special session on Burma (on October 2) during 2007. It also met informally throughout the year. Despite the Council's successful special session on Burma, its performance in 2007 was extremely disappointing. The Council pushed through, despite a lack of consensus, a resolution establishing its flawed institutional procedures and agenda; continued its unbalanced treatment of Israel, including by establishing a permanent agenda item on the situation in Palestine; eliminated the Cuba and Belarus human rights special rapporteurs; and took only weak measures on Sudan.
Between January and June, Council President de Alba (Mexico) held several ad hoc meetings to further negotiations on the Council's new agenda and institutional procedures, which had to be established by the end of the Council's first year (June 18, 2007). He created four working groups to address each major institutional issue: Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Advisory Committee (which would act as an advisory body for the Council), the Council's individual complaint procedure, and the mandates of over 40 UN human rights special procedures.
The U.S. Mission to the UN in Geneva participated actively in institution-building negotiations and worked very closely with members of the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), among others, to develop joint positions on key issues, including on the importance of maintaining a clear distinction between the Human Rights Council and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the retention of all country-specific UN special rapporteurs or special representatives. Despite significant efforts to forge a consensus on each institutional question, no agreement was reached by all Council members. In the last hours of the Human Rights Council session on June 18 (the final day of the Council's first year), despite a lack of consensus, the Council President pushed through a final institution-building package that eliminated the Cuba and Belarus mandates and established a permanent agenda item on Israel.
The Council's performance on substantive issues in 2007 was, with few exceptions, similarly discouraging. The United States supported the Council's special session on Burma and helped to ensure that the technical cooperation mandates for Liberia, Haiti, and Burundi were renewed in the Council's September session (though only after intense lobbying and, in the case of Liberia, after a visit to Geneva by a senior Liberian official). The Council passed only weak resolutions on Sudan and took no action on North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or Belarus. Violence in Zimbabwe in March 2007 resulted in a statement by some Council members and observers (including the United States) but no resolution. During the December session, the Council adopted a resolution on religious intolerance that called on all states to criminalize "incitement to hatred," which is an amorphous and problematic concept that has been used by some UN member states to justify restrictions on freedom of religion and expression. The Council also passed routine resolutions in support of the Durban review preparatory process and held the first preparatory meetings for the Durban review conference, now scheduled for April 2009 in Geneva.
UNGA Third Committee
The United States succeeded in accomplishing several key objectives in the Third Committee in 2007. With active lobbying and global demarches by the United States and its allies, three procedural no-action motions were defeated and four significant country-specific resolutions, focusing attention on human rights violations in Belarus, Burma, Iran, and North Korea, were adopted. After several weeks of difficult negotiations, the United States also succeeded in passing by consensus a resolution on the elimination of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including in conflict and related situations. These successes were tempered by a disappointing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote adopting a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, which the United States voted against (99-52(U.S.)-33).
A top priority of the United States, the resolution on the human rights situation in Iran, passed in a vote of 72(U.S.)-50-55 after only narrowly defeating a motion for no-action. North Korea and Burma resolutions passed by 97(U.S.)-23-60 and 88(U.S.)-24-66, respectively. The U.S.-sponsored resolution on Belarus was adopted (68(U.S)-32-76), again after defeating a noaction motion.
The annual resolution on Palestinian self-determination passed by a vote of 172-5(U.S)-5, a slightly larger majority than last year's resolution, which had 162 votes in favor. The resolutions on the Right to Development and the Rights of the Child, neither of which the United States supported, passed again by a large majority. The United States and the European Union both opposed a resolution calling on the Secretary-General to provide support to the Durban follow-up conference, but the resolution passed by a wide majority (119-45(U.S)-6). The United States was able to co-sponsor Denmark's resolution against torture, which passed by consensus, and was able to join consensus on a resolution on the protection of migrants after several weeks of difficult negotiations.
The United States worked extensively on negotiating consensus resolutions regarding international cooperation against the scourges of drugs and crime. Ultimately, the United States co-sponsored both the Mexican sponsored resolution strengthening international drug control and the Italian sponsored resolution strengthening the United Nations crime prevention and criminal justice program. The United States joined consensus on Res. 61/144 "Trafficking in Women and Girls," Res. 61/143, "Intensification of Efforts to Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women," and Res. 61/106, "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities." A resolution on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance was adopted by consensus-preserving important language on anti-Semitism over calls from some other countries to eliminate any references to specific religions.
Disaster and Humanitarian Relief Activities
In 2007, the United States and the United Nations cooperated extensively on disaster response and humanitarian relief activities. The United States provided leadership as a member of UN agency governing bodies and support groups, including the Donor Support Group for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The United States also continued to be actively engaged in initiatives to reform the UN humanitarian system, including through its participation in the Advisory Group of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and in providing funding and guidance to the UN cluster initiative as well as in strengthening the Humanitarian Coordinator system.
John Holmes (United Kingdom) succeeded Jan Egeland as Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator in January 2007. OCHA also underwent internal restructuring ("realignment") in 2007, including by consolidating the country desk structure of the Coordination and Response Division (CRD), originally split between New York and Geneva, in a single location (New York). With the consolidation, the CRD assumed full responsibility for substantive support of humanitarian coordination for OCHA's field and regional offices, as well as for overall management of the response to both natural disasters and complex emergencies.
In 2007, the United States continued to provide substantial support to UN humanitarian operations throughout the world in response to natural disasters, as well as to ongoing relief efforts in areas of protracted crisis such as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Horn of Africa.
OCHA estimated that 134 million people suffered from the effects of hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, flooding, and other natural disasters in 2007. During this time period, a total of 14 UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) missions were deployed, 12 of which focused on emergency response, and two on disaster preparedness. The United States Government has several personnel who have undergone UNDAC training and are on the UNDAC roster for participation in missions.
As the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and neighboring Chad continued in 2007, the United States remained the largest bilateral donor of assistance as well as the largest single donor multilaterally. A significant portion of U.S. assistance was channeled through UN operational agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the UN Department of Safety and Security. In fiscal year (FY) 2007, the United States contributed more than $308 million to the WFP for food commodities and humanitarian air operations in Darfur and eastern Chad and more than $16 million to UNICEF programs in Darfur and eastern Chad for health, emergency relief commodities, protection, water, sanitation, and hygiene. The United States also gave more than $25 million to UNHCR, including $4.9 million for Darfur and $20.5 million for Chad in FY2007. Overall, the United States is the world's largest food aid donor, providing half of all food aid internationally and 40 percent of total resources contributed to the WFP.
The United States actively engaged the United Nations and its member states on humanitarian- and disaster-related resolutions in the UN General Assembly and its Economic and Social Council. The United States supported resolutions on improving the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, strengthening UN coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance, improving the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of UN personnel, and several country-specific resolutions pertaining to humanitarian situations.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Since its inauguration January 1, 1951, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), based in Geneva, Switzerland, has led and coordinated international efforts to protect and provide durable solutions for the world's refugees. It also plays a key role in providing for refugees' basic needs, such as food, shelter, health care, and education. UNHCR has over 6,200 staff operating in 116 countries. Antonio Guterres (Portugal) has served as High Commissioner since June 15, 2005. In 2007, issues that High Commissioner Guterres focused on include managing large refugee repatriation efforts, including to Afghanistan, Southern Sudan, and Burundi; UNHCR structural and management reform (field and headquarters); United Nations reform, including where UNHCR agreed to take the lead for protection, camp coordination and camp management, and emergency shelter for internally displaced persons (IDPs); and strengthening partnerships with international and non-governmental organizations. The United States continued to support these priorities, at the same time stressing to UNHCR that it should not over-extend itself and should continue to prioritize its mandate for refugee protection.
In 2007, the global refugee population protected and/or assisted by UNHCR increased to an estimated 11.4 million (the number does not include the 4.6 million Palestinian refugees under the mandate of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). Due to changes in methodology the number is not fully comparable with figures from earlier years (for example, UNHCR statistics no longer count resettled refugees), but, as a point of reference, the refugee total for 2006 was 9.9 million. UNHCR provides humanitarian assistance under both the Cluster Approach and other arrangements as either the lead agency or a partner for IDPs, estimated to number 13.7 million in 2007, up one million from 2006. Total numbers of IDPs for both conflict-generated and natural disaster crises are at 51 million. The number of stateless persons was cut almost in half from 5.8 million in 2006 to nearly 3 million in 2007--in large part due to breakthroughs in Nepal and Bangladesh. The change in numbers of stateless persons led to a decrease in the overall population of persons of concern to UNHCR from 32.9 million to 31.7 million.
Approximately one-third of refugees are from UNHCR's Asia Pacific region, which includes Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Iraq account for nearly half of all refugees under UNHCR's responsibility worldwide, with almost 3.1 million Afghan and 2.3 million Iraqi refugees. An estimated 731,000 refugees were repatriated voluntarily in 2007, almost the same number as in 2006. Voluntary repatriation of refugees to southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.), Liberia, and Burundi reduced the overall number of refugees in Africa by six percent, but armed conflict and human rights violations also led to greater displacement from the Central African Republic, Chad, the D.R.C., Somalia, and Sudan. Pakistan continued to be the asylum country with the largest number of refugees, with Syria second.
Resettlement traditionally is a solution for a small percentage of all refugees: from 1998-2007, 821,000 refugees were resettled to a third country, less than one percent of all refugees. In 2007, the number of those resettled with UNHCR assistance was 49,600 worldwide; most were from Burma, Burundi, Somalia, Iraq, the D.R.C., and Afghanistan. The United States admits more refugees than the other 25 resettlement countries combined. Other major resettlement destinations include Canada, Australia, and Sweden. The United States admitted 48,281 refugees in fiscal year (FY) 2007. Most, but not all, were through UNHCR referrals.
The UNHCR Executive Committee (EXCOM), which is responsible for approving UNHCR's budget and advising UNHCR on issues of concern, is comprised of 76 member states, including the United States. In October 2007, the 58" Session of EXCOM met to discuss protection programs and policy, management and oversight, finance, and human resource issues. High Commissioner Guterres spoke about the increasing number of refugees and the growing challenge posed by mixed migration flows, where economic migrants cross borders along with people in need of protection, including refugees and asylum seekers and victims of trafficking. He noted that for the first time in a decade, UNHCR reversed the trend of rising global staff costs, with more money spent on operations than staff during the first eight months of 2007.
To enhance transparency and elicit generous contributions, UNHCR restructured its budget from an annual to a biannual one with four core components: refugee assistance, re-integration assistance, IDPs, and statelessness. The revised structure is intended to mesh with UNHCR's planning categories which are based on populations of concern. The refugee and stateless budgets would be program budgets, while the IDP and reintegration budgets would be project-based. While the United States approved the budget redesign, it expressed concern that the project approach taken in the IDP and reintegration budgets could lead to greater earmarking, reduce flexibility, and impair efforts of burden-sharing. The proposed redesigned budget structure was not adopted at the 2007 EXCOM due to ongoing concerns from some member states; UNHCR is actively consulting member states with the aim of presenting a viable new budget structure at the 2008 EXCOM meetings. In July 2007, UNHCR also introduced a Revised Framework for Resource Allocation and Management designed to improve needs/priorities-based resource allocation, management, and accountability.
In FY 2007, the United States contributed $363,255,625 to UNHCR to help refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless people and other populations of concern to UNHCR. In addition, United States funding supported UNHCR's ongoing reform process aimed at improving its capacity to address new and ongoing crises. Of the total U.S. contribution, $232,487,452 went toward the annual budget, representing 23.8 percent of the total appeal. In addition, the United States contributed over $105 million towards UNHCR's Supplementary Budgets in the D.R.C., Sudan, Darfur, Western Sahara, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Yemen, Mauritania, Iraq, and Sri Lanka; and over $8 million towards UNHCR's IDP Supplementary Budgets. The remaining $14 million in funding supported additional key activities that the United States asked UNHCR to undertake, including resettlement and referral activities; strengthening UNHCR's protection capacity; protecting women and children; aiding stateless Rohingyas for temporary assistance and schools; expanding protection and assistance in China and Mongolia; expanding the Health Information System (HIS); developing refugee law courses; addressing gender-based violence in Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador; reducing statelessness in Kosovo and Georgia; expanding HIV/AIDS programs; and supporting American Junior Professional Officers with UNHCR. Overall, donor contributions met 91 percent of UNHCR's Annual Budget of $1.033 billion for 2007, with $34.4 million coming from the UN General Budget (representing another three percent).
In addition to addressing budget issues during EXCOM in 2007, the United States delegation worked to advance a number of other interests. These included strengthening efforts by the international community to address protection and the pursuit of durable solutions for refugees; maximizing UNHCR's operational performance; increasing coordination and strengthening partnerships among UNHCR, its donors, refugee hosting countries, and UNHCR's implementing and operational partners; and improving emergency preparedness and response capacity. The United States also focused on refugee and humanitarian worker security issues, the protection of refugee women and children, improving UNHCR's approach to durable solutions, management reform, emergency response and camp management, and clarifying UNHCR's role with IDPs.
In addition to the annual Executive Committee meeting, UNHCR holds three Standing Committee meetings each year. At all meetings and in bilateral negotiations with relevant governments, the United States reiterated the need for greater information-sharing and transparency in areas of human resources, management, and operations. The United States stressed the need to support the High Commissioner's management reforms and called for increased donor support for the work of UNHCR.
Domestic and overseas personnel of the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) worked in concert with UNHCR field and headquarters staff to ensure UNHCR's effective and comprehensive execution of its mandate. The importance the United States places on refugee protection is reflected in its funding of UNHCR through its targeted support for the special needs of refugee women and refugee children, a Surge Protection project, and additional protection staffing.
Since 2001, the relationship between State/PRM and UNHCR has been governed by a Framework for Cooperation which sets forth priorities and shared goals. In 2007, Framework priorities included strengthening performance indicators under the Results-Based Management framework and decentralization and regionalization reforms intended to support operations and beneficiaries in the field and bring decision-making and support as close as possible to delivery points. The United States also sought to ensure that regionalization and decentralization also incorporate appropriate budgetary authority and clear lines of accountability. Other Framework priorities relate to staffing policies such as: gender balance, workforce strengthening, and improving the representation of Americans in UNHCR's workforce.
To ensure accountability and effectiveness in the field, State/PRM provides annual monitoring and evaluation (M&E) training covering both international organizations and NGOs for incoming officers in Washington and refugee coordinators posted overseas. PRM also provides expanded M&E sessions for Washington staff in order to enhance and strengthen M&E concepts throughout the year. In addition, refugee coordinators are requested to participate and report on UNHCR's Country Operations Plans (COPS) for the coming year. UNHCR's COP process provides an ideal opportunity for the United States Government to gain valuable insight into UNHCR's planning process as well as the overall direction of its programs. It also provides an opportunity to influence policy and resource decisions in the field and to monitor and evaluate UNHCR's progress toward its goals and objectives, as well as those agreed to in the PRM-UNHCR Framework for Cooperation.
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Since 1950, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has provided education, health, and social services to Palestinian refugees and their descendants who reside in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. In 2007, these refugees numbered over 4.5 million. UNRWA, led by Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd (United States), had a split headquarters between Gaza and Jordan and maintained five field offices located in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It had a staff of more than 29,000, most of whom are Palestinian refugees.
In 2007, UNRWA dedicated approximately 55 percent of its regular budget to education, including schools and teachers. UNRWA allocated 19 percent of its 2007 regular budget to health services and another nine percent to relief and social services. UNRWA allocated nearly 30 percent of its regular budget to Gaza and 18 percent to the West Bank.
In 2007, the United States continued to fund UNRWA's corps of independent inspectors, known as Operation Support Officers (OSO), through its contribution to UNRWA's Emergency Appeal for West Bank and Gaza. OSO systematically monitors UNRWA's operations and help ensure its facilities are not being used for political purposes or militant activity.
Also in 2007, UNRWA introduced e-learning to its highly regarded tolerance education program, including the creation of a human rights website and production of interactive CDs containing human rights material. In 2007, all of UNRWA's 684 schools, nine vocational training centers, and three educational sciences faculties participated in the tolerance education, conflict resolution, and democracy training programs.
UNRWA's Emergency Appeal for Gaza/West Bank went from $171 million in 2006 to $246.16 million in 2007 in light of the increased needs for food, temporary employment, and relief. Through the Emergency Appeal, UNRWA provided food assistance to 260,000 refugee families in West Bank and Gaza (approximately 1.4 million individuals) and created over 6.4 million workdays for 98,000 unemployed refugees.
In 2007, UNRWA's three-year Organizational Development Plan (ODP) continued as an initiative to implement reforms in service delivery and program management, including strategic planning, resource management, and accountability. A specific achievement of the ODP is UNRWA's ongoing development of a medium-term strategy for 2010-2015, which focuses on needs-based planning, while strategically prioritizing UNRWA policy and programming in the face of chronic funding shortfalls.
The UN Board of Auditors, Board of Examiners, and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) scrutinize UNRWA's operations and fiscal practices to ensure accountability. In 2007, UNRWA included for the first time external members to its OIOS. In 2006, the UN Board of Auditors (BOA) released the results of its UNRWA audit led by the Auditor-General of the Republic of South Africa for the biennium ending 2004-2005. UNRWA is fully in line with other UN agencies in implementing BOA recommendations.
In Fiscal Year 2007, the United States contributed $154.15 million of UNRWA's total general and emergency budgets of approximately $819.17 million. This contribution included $90.65 million to UNRWA's General Fund to provide health care, education, and relief and social services to Palestinian refugees. It also included $50 million for food, short-term employment, and emergency health needs in response to UNRWA's emergency appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, and $13.5 million for food and shelter in response to UNRWA's Flash Appeal and Emergency Appeal in Lebanon, following the 2007 destruction of Nahr al-Bared Camp due to fighting between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the terrorist group Fatah alIslam.
World Food Program
The World Food Program (WFP) is the UN's front-line agency in the fight against global hunger. Despite rising food and fuel costs that added on average 50 percent to the cost of feeding the world's hungry in 2007, WFP delivered 3.3 million metric tons of food to 86.1 million beneficiaries, of whom 62 percent were children. WFP's governing body, the Executive Board, has 36 members, including the United States. Overall, the United States was the world's largest food aid donor, providing half of all food aid internationally and approximately $1 billion to the WFP, which represents roughly 40 percent of total resources contributed to the WFP.
WFP's Strategic Plan for 2004-2007 contained the following five strategic priorities: to save lives in crisis situations; to protect livelihoods in crisis situations and enhance resilience to shocks; to support improved nutrition and health for children, mothers, and other vulnerable people; to support access to education and reduce gender disparity in access to education and skills training; and to help governments establish and manage national food-assistance programs. The WFP Executive Board will approve in 2008 a new strategic plan for the period 2008-2011.
WFP is an important partner to the United States in achieving our humanitarian and development goals. In 2007, WFP carried out programs in 80 countries, of which the United States was a partner in 47. The bulk of U.S. assistance, over $1 billion in 2007 from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department, went to emergency and protracted relief and recovery food and logistics operations. Sudan was the largest single-country operation in 2007, receiving 20 percent of overall WFP resources and targeting approximately six million beneficiaries, including 2.5 million people in Darfur. Kenya and Ethiopia were the second- and thirdlargest beneficiaries, respectively. In addition, WFP launched 44 single country and regional emergency operations benefiting 15.3 million victims of natural disasters and conflict situations. WFP also implemented 33 special operations and 69 protracted relief and recovery operations that reached 47 million beneficiaries.
In 2007, WFP had school feeding operations in 71 countries and provided school meals and/or take-home rations to 19.3 million children. Working with national governments, local authorities, and other aid groups, WFP uses food to attract children to school in areas where enrollment ratios are lowest and where feeding schoolchildren will have the greatest impact. Since 2001, the United States has been the largest single donor to WFP school feeding activities. U.S. contributions to WFP's global school feeding programs come from the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program provides for donations of U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical assistance, for feeding schoolchildren and maternal and child nutrition projects in low-income, fooddeficit countries that are committed to universal education. In 2007, WFP was the implementing partner for McGovern-Dole programs in Guinea, Cambodia, Malawi, Kenya, and Pakistan.
Throughout 2007, WFP continued to focus on ways to become more effective, efficient, and responsive through the use of the Immediate Response Account and Operational Reserve Account for emergencies. WFP also concentrated on improving fundraising and broadening its donor base. Donations from the private sector have increased since 2003, reaching $55 million in cash, commodities, and services from nearly 100 organizations.
In 2007, WFP significantly increased its work with other UN organizations. The UN Children's Fund remained WFP's largest UN partner, primarily in projects to overcome child hunger, reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS, and improve education. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization was WFP's second largest partner, primarily collaborating on food security assessments. WFP also developed close working relations with the World Health Organization (on health, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS) and with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (to ensure the distribution of food rations for 1.9 million refugees and 800,000 returnees in 30 countries). Partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also increased, as 3,264 NGOs handled half of all WFP food in 2006.
WFP operates exclusively from voluntary contributions of commodities and cash donated by governments and other donors. WFP's overhead is one of the lowest among aid agencies (seven percent), which means that 93 cents of every dollar goes to feed the hungry. In 2007, WFP had 9,139 employees (down from 10,587 in 2006) and had approximately $2.9 billion in direct expenditures.
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|Publication:||U.S. Participation in the United Nations|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
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