JOURNALISTS AND WRITERS FOUNDATION
In partnership with its 52 Global Partners from 27 Countries Presents
SDGs CONFERENCE 2023: IN THE MARGINS OF THE UNGA78
20 September 2023 | John Jay College, New York | Hybrid
The Journalists and Writers Foundation organized the JWF High-Level Reception to welcome its delegations of Global Partners who arrived in New York from 15 different countries to attend the JWF`s 3-days of side events in the Margins of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) on Monday, 18 September 2023 at PentHouse45, New York. This high- level gathering brought together the UN Ambassadors and diplomats together with JWF`s international guests, journalists, civil society members, human rights experts, and academics from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Greece, India, Iraq/Kurdistan, New Zealand, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States.
The JWF High-Level Reception marked the official commencement of the JWF`s UNGA78 side events. At its 8th year, the annual SDGs Conference, organized in partnership with 52 Global Partners from 27 different countries focused on creating a new momentum for the second half of the SDGs 2030 Deadline, the role of press freedom for human rights, the erosion of democracies and the rise of autocracies. Notable speakers of this international conference also participated at the JWF High-Level Reception to meet with international guests and exchange ideas on the working themes of the UNGA78.
The event started as participants enjoyed a variety of buffet foods including various cuisines in the company of live musicians Ali Kahya and Deniz Yilmaz. In her opening remarks, Cemre Ulker, Representative of the JWF to the UN Department of Global Communications said that the JWF’s UNGA78 side-events will create an immense value to scale up actions on key transitions to accelerate sustainable peace and development progress. Ms. Ulker also added that she highly appreciates the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres` brave leadership because he is upfront acknowledging that with the current pace of actions, the SDGs will be a promise in peril. “His call convening civil society members, human rights advocates, meaningfully engaging youth leaders in policy making is very important. And we can see this multilateral, diplomatic commitment in Our Common Agenda, in the brief of UN 2.0 version, in the New Agenda for Peace and many other resolutions coming along the way” said Ms. Ulker.
Mehmet Kilic, President of the Journalists and Writers Foundation delivered his welcoming remarks and said: “This is a pivotal moment where global leaders and representatives from 193 Member States convene in New York for high-stakes diplomacy and debate that will shape the course of our collective future.” He underlined that the UNGA 78 th session presents us with a plethora of complex challenges and opportunities, from the imperative to combat extreme poverty and undertake urgent climate action to addressing the multifaceted challenges, we find ourselves standing at a critical juncture. The specter of power tensions, the devastation of destructive conflicts, and the aspirations of an ever-expanding global youth population underscore the compelling need for unity, collaboration, and innovative solutions. The choices made and steps undertaken in the days to come will unquestionably have profound and far- reaching effects on our collective path forward. Mehmet Kilic added his remarks inviting the international guests to reiterate commitments to working together as no one can achieve anything alone.
Mustafa Goktepe, President of the Instituto pelo Diálogo Intercultural based in Brazil, greeted the audience on behalf of the Journalists and Writers Foundation`s Global Partners from 27 countries. Mr. Goktepe said that they are proud to engage in the SDGs Conference since its launch in 2014 bringing delegates of Brazil experts for productive policy resolutions. He also added that apart from the UNGA side events, Instituto pelo Diálogo Intercultural is collaborating with JWF for joint Commission on the Status of Women events targeting gender-sensitive implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Next Keynote Speaker of the JWF High-Level Reception, Berta Valle, a Nicaraguan journalist and human rights advocate started her remarks by saying “In 2018, as the ruling regime announced that there will be reforms to the social security, citizens poured out to the streets to protect their fundamental rights”, which marked a downgrade of human rights in Nicaragua. %10 of the population is now subject to an enforced migration to live in exile, said Valle, including herself and her political activist husband Felix Maradiaga. Berta Valle leads various international campaigns calling for the release of political prisoners, including her formerly imprisoned husband, who spent 611 days in inhuman conditions. Valle told the audience that international solidarity campaigns for false imprisonment are critical to raising awareness of the increasing autocratization trends globally. Berta Valle ended her remarks that there are over 150 exiled Nicaraguan journalists as the free media and right to freedom of expression have completely ceased.
Oskar Siri, Sweden`s Youth Delegate to the UNGA78, reminded the audience that 50% of the world population is under 30 years old. Yet less than 2% of the world parliamentarians is under 30. Siri said that it is our responsibility to address this crucial level of participation inequality that young generations are facing in decision- making mechanisms as youth are important stakeholders of peace and development. As a Youth Delegate, Oskar Siri shared his insights from the SDGs Summit and underlined that young leaders are more prone to taking urgent actions to combat the alarming stage of SDGs.
Dr. Rushan Abbas, formerly a businesswoman, is now the Founder and Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs shared her personal story and raised awareness of the current genocidal unlawfulness against ethnic cleansing of millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps. She is leading international campaigns and diplomatic engagements calling for the urgent release of her sister Dr. Gulshan Abbas, who has been behind bars for more than 5 years as a cost to Rushan Abbas` advocacy work. Dr. Abbas was detained only 6 days after Rushan Abbas` first public speech criticizing the Chinese government at a think tank in Washington DC. She reminded the audience that over a year ago, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that treatment against Uyghurs constituted crimes against humanity. “Genocide begins as [regimes] take away the ones you love the most,” said Rushan Abbas and ended her address by calling for global solidarity to be the voice of Uyghurs.
Following the stage addresses, JWF Media Team conducted interviews with notable guests including Anil Wasif, Director of Strategy at BacharLorai (Canada), Oskar Siri, Sweden`s Youth Delegate to the UNGA78 (Sweden), Ali Mustafa, UN Representative of AFS Intercultural Programs (USA), and Shurabe Mercado Guido, Conference Director of IYC (USA). JWF High-Level Reception continued as guests enjoyed the breath-taking NYC skyline.
** Networking Session at the JWF High-Level Reception on the occasion of the UNGA78.
** Live music and open buffet at the JWF High-Level Reception on 18 September 2023 at PentHouse45, Manhattan.
** (L to R) Efendi Yilmaz, Lisan Language Center, Manager (Romania) – Mehmet Kilic, JWF, President (USA), Prof. Silvia Osman (Romania), Houry Guidelekain, NGO/CSW, Advisor (USA), Dr. Chandler Carter (USA).
** Delegation of experts and Global Partners from Pearl of the Island Foundation (New Zealand), Affinity Intercultural Foundation (Australia), and Indialogue Foundation (India).
** (L to R) Journalist Arbana Xharra, Film Producer Azadeh Nikzadeh, Berdha Hasems, Cemre Ulker, UN Rep., JWF.
** (L to R) Mehmet Kilic, President, JWF (USA), Johan Heymans, Human Rights Lawyer (Belgium), Mehmet Bayrak, Executive Director, Intercultural Dialogue Platform (Belgium).
** JWF Events Team and Youth Volunteers.