Wednesday, July 1, 2015

For a Comprehensive post-2015 SDG Agenda
Countries around the world together with civil society – non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – are feverishly working to devise a practical process for adopting for the good of humankind the principles contained in the ambitious post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
The post-2015 SDG agenda is a follow up to the Millennium Development Goals created by the United Nations 15 years ago in order to improve the quality of human life in eight target categories including extreme poverty in its many dimensions, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion while promoting gender equality, education, maternal and child health, and environmental sustainability. The deadline was 2015.
A two-year multi-stakeholder program called “Sustainable Development 2015” (SD2015) has been undertaken by Stakeholder Forum in partnership with CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, a major South African NGO, in collaboration with UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which with the UN Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI/NGO) works closely with civil society, and with the financial assistance of the European Union. The program provides tools and opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in the global deliberations about the sustainable development goals and the wider post-2015 development agenda, through five focus areas: raise awareness; increase engagement; empower stakeholders; coordinate advocacy and strengthen governance.
According to this program, SD2015 will inform parliamentarians on the global goals agenda, develop global institutions and engage existing networks and infrastructure for all stakeholders. It will identify areas of synergies between national and international policy making in order to offer guidance to all concerned.
While the world has been only moderately successful in attaining the eight MDGs, the United Nations oddly concluded that the global community would have better luck in achieving 17 post-2015 SDG goals along with 140-plus sub-points.
Preparations and negotiations are currently under way in the United Nations ahead of a summit in September.
As with the MDGs, the SDGs also focus on a wide range of climate, sustainability, education, gender, and health, environment and human issues.
But with wars and sanctioned national malice still plaguing the world, the obvious absence of references to these painful issues raises the question “what are the UN and global community thinking about?” Will it benefit sustainable development to sweep violence and wars under the carpet? Should Russia’s war against Ukraine be overlooked for the sake of the uncertain fulfillment of the SDGs?
Of course not and that’s where Ukrainian and other former captive nations’ NGOs, as well as their Permanent Missions to the United Nations along with indigenous Crimean people, and relevant human rights and disarmament groups have an opportunity to compel the UN and global community to remain focused on freedom, democracy, peace and stability by recognizing and punishing recidivist international aggressors like Russia.
Incorporated in the 140-plus SDG points are a host of issues that could be used to build this case. Among them are the following:

1.4 by 2030 ensure that all men and women, particularly the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services including microfinance

4.7 by 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

9.1 develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all

12.8 by 2030 ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

12.b develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
16.1 significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere
16.2 end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children
16.3 promote the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensure equal access to justice for all
16.4 by 2030 significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organized crime
16.5 substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms
16.6 develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
16.7 ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
16.8 broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance
16.9 by 2030 provide legal identity for all including birth registration
16.10 ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements
16.a strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacities at all levels, in particular in developing countries, for preventing violence and combating terrorism and crime
16.b promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development

The best place to start the conversation about building coalitions is within the so-called third leg of the United Nations system – civil society. Ukrainian and former captive nations’ NGOs that are in consultative status or associated with UN agencies or programs, such as the Ukrainian World Congress and the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations, can take advantage of each one of these points to highlight Russia’s recurring transgressions.
Remember, Russia’s war with Ukraine violates international law and order and the UN Charter, Russia violates the rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous communities, LGBT, the news media, religious minorities and others, and Russia is expanding its nuclear stockpile – all of which diminish the global community’s level of confidence in Moscow’s peaceful and stability-driven commitments.
The United Nations is based on coalitions and representatives of Ukrainian NGOs must devote time and energy – at least 20 hours a week per person – to building a partnership that I would call the Post-2015 Sustainable Coalition for Freedom and Democracy. These NGO representatives must walk the hallways of the UN, meet and greet other NGOs and delegates, and regularly engage them in conversations about these overlooked points of the post-2015 SDG agenda.
They should mobilize support of NGOs from the other captive nations and like-minded stakeholders.
They must attend meetings, participate in the discussions, make their faces, names and voices known, and organize their own meetings.
They must seek the active support of the Permanent Missions of Ukraine, Lithuania, the United States, Canada and other member states that recognize the global danger posed by Russian hostility.
Statements in the Security Council by Ukraine, the United States, Lithuania, Canada and others have been helpful but they have not been able to bring Russia’s violence in Ukraine to a halt.
However, this is a major opportunity for freedom-loving NGOs in the UN system, the Permanent Missions of the former captive nations, and concurring stakeholders to continue the conversation within the context of the post-2015 SDG agenda about preserving sustainable freedom, democracy, stability and peace for future generations while sanctioning Russia for its criminal belligerence.