Friday, August 18, 2017

72 UNGA Offers X-Captive Nations NGOs Ideas
For United Liberation Activism in UN
With the general debates at the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly set to begin in about a month, member-states, NGOs and staff members are busy planning their workloads, meetings and projects for the good of humanity.
As a former staff member of UN DPI/NGO, I can attest that the thousands of bureaucrats with “P” and “S” grounds passes would rather be somewhere else than on the hectic eastside of Manhattan during the three weeks of speeches by presidents, kings, prime ministers and other national leaders. However, non-governmental organizations, one of the main pillars of the UN system along with member-states and staff, are primed to pick up their respectable projects where they left off last spring.
Nonetheless, it’ll be a time for planning, strategizing and coalition building for the next 12 months.
The thousands of NGOs around the world in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), associated with the Department of Public Information, or any other UN agency or program have their own favorite issues that they’ll be promoting as they ply the UN passageways. I’d like to return to a topic that I have addressed in the past: the role of Ukrainian NGOs at the UN.
Representatives of civil society from Ukraine and those from the Ukrainian diaspora have one moral task at the United Nations today: to continually expose Russia as a murderous, belligerent and deceitful member-state of the UN until all discussions throughout UN headquarters are abuzz with the thought that Russia does not deserve to have a seat on the Security Council and to walk the hallways of the UN.
The task will be difficult because Russian NGOs outnumber all Ukrainian NGOs by about 3-to-1 but not impossible. Ukrainian NGOs, with the help of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine, should mobilize a coalition of civil society representatives from the former captive nations as well as their Permanent Missions to champion this righteous cause.
To be sure, this coalition must be clever in how it addresses its mission. Fortunately, the United Nations Charter, resolutions and other documents are replete with references that can help this cause.
The Preamble to the UN Charter, for one, addresses the vital work of “we, the peoples” of the world in championing the four pillar causes of the UN: peace and security, human rights, rule of law and development. The Kremlin is violating with impunity these pillars as it wages war against Ukraine, with its belligerence around the world and transgressions inside its own country.
The Preamble also states that we, the peoples, are determined:
  • ·         to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
  • ·         to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
  • ·         to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
  • ·         to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.

Russia’s bloodstained footprints are visible in these four points.
If these ideas aren’t enough, review the maiden address by Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák as President of the upcoming 72nd UN General Assembly, in which he outlined six priorities for his one-year tenure: people, peace and prevention, migration, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate action, and human rights – they guide his work as an overarching principle.
“My fifth focus will be on human rights as an overarching principle guiding my work. There is no peace and development without respect for dignity and fundamental rights. Continued support to equality, including equal opportunities for genders will remain high in my activities,” Lajčák said.
Russia’s violations of a broad list of human rights in Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere are well documented and should be highlighted throughout the United Nations with appropriate references to the PGA’s comments.
The vaunted Sustainable Development Goals – 2030 Agenda: another resource of actionable ideas for NGOs with which to raise awareness about Russian crimes against humanity and hypocrisy.
The monumental and optimistic 2030 Agenda is not only about climate abuse and its expected deleterious effect on future generations. As with the previous Millennium Development Goals, the 2030 Agenda focuses on a wide range of climate, sustainability, education, gender, health, environment and human rights issues. Embedded in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s 17 principles and 140-plus subsidiary points are many references to the urgency of protecting human rights. Human rights include national rights and the fulfillment of the latter usually guarantees the former. Conventional wisdom states that this hopeful, comprehensive package will make life easier and better for future generations.
Among the numerous references to human rights, we find the following two salient passages that Russia hypocritically approved:
“We envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination; of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity. A world which invests in its children and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation. A world in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed. A just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.”
“We reaffirm the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other international instruments relating to human rights and international law. We emphasize the responsibilities of all States, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations, to respect, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status.”
But with wars and sanctioned national malice, led by Russia, still plaguing the world, the obvious lack of global emphasis on these painful issues raises the question “what are the UN and global community thinking about?”
Will it benefit sustainable development to sweep national and ethnic prejudice, violence and wars under the carpet? Should Russia’s war against Ukraine and human rights violations against Ukrainians and minority groups be overlooked for the sake of implementing the 2030 Agenda, the UN Charter and UN resolutions? If Russia wages war and violates human rights with impunity, will it voluntarily abide by new climate regulations?
Of course not. That’s why 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, disarmament, women’s and youth 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.
President Poroshenko of Ukraine, speaking at the United Nations on the eve of the ratification of the 2030 Agenda in the fall of 2015, declared Ukraine’s support for the UN Development Agenda but poignantly said, “There will be no sustainable development without peace and freedom.” This deserves to serve as the appropriate mojo of this NGO movement.
Indeed, how can the global community be expected to evolve sustainably for the benefit of future generations when one outlaw member of the international community wages war against a neighboring state and violates human rights of its citizens?
Ukrainian and other former captive nations’ NGOs should take the initiative to build coalitions around these concepts, huddle outside conference rooms with other NGOs, pursue member-states, meet with UN correspondents, and organize frequent and regular conferences.
Issues advocated by the UN give freedom-loving NGOs in the UN system and beyond, the Permanent Missions of the former captive nations, and concurring stakeholders the opportunity to initiate a conversation about creating a global partnership that would foster and preserve sustainable freedom, liberty, democracy, human rights, stability and peace for future generations while sanctioning Russia for its ongoing criminal belligerence.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin had also alluded to the urgency for such a far-reaching coalition. Outraged by the Russian invasion of his homeland, Klimkin had suggested the creation of a Coalition of Freedom – an updated Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations – to defend democracy and Western values in a troubled world.
“It is about security for everyone,” said Klimkin during an exclusive Fox News interview on the eve of the 69th UN General Assembly in 2014. “If someone in this interchangeable and intertwined world cannot feel secure, how can US citizens here feel secure?”
Klimkin explained that Ukraine is confronting a threat any nation can face, adding “we need a network of security.” His Coalition of Freedom would consist of “countries which are committed to freedom, to democratic values, where we are not talking about spheres of influence, but the values and real interests of democratic countries.”

I applauded his decision in my blog at the time. It should now serve as a call to action for Ukrainian and other x-captive nations NGOs at the UN to raise the political battle against Russia to a unified, global level.