In the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Journalists and Writers Foundation (JWF) and its 36 Global Partners from 24 countries are organizing the virtual SDGs Conference on 21 September 2022, Wednesday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EST).

The JWF SDGs Conference, formerly known as the UNGA Conference, is the flagship event of the Journalists and Writers Foundation, creating a platform for diverse stakeholders to discuss the Global Agenda 2030, offer innovative solutions, strategies, and policy recommendations to advance the culture of peace, human rights, and sustainable development. As 2022 marks the 8th annual SDGs Conference, this global event gathered over 130 high-level speakers across the globe forming an interdisciplinary group of distinguished panelists to discuss a particular set of agenda over three panel sessions and propose a framework for action for the full and effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the Post-COVID19 Era, as the world continues to witness widespread human rights violations endangering the peace and security, hindering sustainable development, and damaging our planet, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres says “now is the time to re-embrace global solidarity, find ways to work together for the common good and renew the social contract between Governments and their people within societies”.[1] Secretary-General Guterres` way forward continues to empower civil society organizations as the focal points of development and ensures opportunities for engagement across the intergovernmental levels.

In the light of “Our Common Agenda”, which was adopted at the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the JWF remains committed to working towards the SDG 17: “Partnerships for the Goals” as the Global Goals can only be implemented with strong global partnerships and cooperation. The JWF has been contributing to this profound mission of building inclusive partnerships by sharing civil society best practices from all the regions of the world and initiating people-centered policy proposals for the achievement of the UN Development Agenda 2030.

As a result of the diligent review of the 2021-2022 agenda items and priority working areas of diverse UN Agencies and Offices, the JWF SDGs Conference will address (1) The Global State of Peace and Conflict Resolution (2) Gender-Based Crimes in Conflict Zones (3) Migration and Refugee Policies: Intergovernmental Responses to Recent Displacements in the margins of the UNGA 77th Session on 21 September 2022, Wednesday.

The 3 Panel Sessions of the JWF SDGs Conference will contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

Target (2.1) By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food all year round

Target (3.8) Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

Target (5.2) Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

Target (5.5) Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life

Target (10.7) Facilitate orderly, safe, regular, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies

 

Target (16.1) Significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere

Target (16.3) Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all

Target (16.a) Strengthen relevant national institutions, including through international cooperation, for building capacity at all levels, in particular in developing countries, to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime

Target (17.17) Encourage and promote effective public, public-private, and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

 JWF SDGs CONFERENCE 2022: In the Margins of the United Nations General Assembly 77th Session                    

PANEL 1: THE GLOBAL STATE OF PEACE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION

While the world is transitioning into a post-COVID19 era, new uprisings of crimes against humanity, the takeover of undemocratic regimes, and regional armed conflicts are occurring. Our global community is experiencing an increasing degree of militarization, while the state of peace and harmony continues to decrease due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis across the world. In this setting of unprecedented events, the Institute for Economics and Peace`s Global Peace Index recorded the ninth deterioration in peacefulness.[2] In response to the current global state of peace and conflict, progressive policy actions must be embraced with a dedicated political will to end devastating tensions and resolve persecutions of all forms.

The cross-cutting relation between all the trends of sustainable development requires the existence of peace not only with the absence of armed conflicts. Positive Peace is associated with the institutions, structures, and social development trends in which all fundamental human rights are respected and promoted with a comprehensive approach regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and culture. To sustain this constructive social, political, and environmental momentum, and achieve sustainable peace, transformational civil society organizations continue to be important stakeholders. Due to their multidimensional structure, civil leaders, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions endorse advanced levels of conflict resolution strategies, facilitate constructive dialogues among the Member States as well as local and regional communities to uphold universal human rights and sustainable development.

Establishing transitional justice is another international human rights mechanism which fosters peace and conflict resolution. It refers to the range of processes and mechanisms to facilitate society’s response to the grave and systemic human rights violations to ensure accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation. UN`s approach to transitional justice “engages effective coordination and partnerships, addresses the root causes of the conflict and repressive rule, ensures to implement gender-sensitive actions, and encourages compliance with international norms and standards”.[3]

Armed conflicts and regional tensions do not only destroy the peace and social harmony; but it has many other costs such as increasing hunger, restraining individuals` right to access high-quality nutrition and interrupting the development of resilient food systems across the world. According to the U.S. Department of State, over 193 million people faced food insecurity last year and it is estimated that an additional 40 million will suffer from hunger and malnutrition by the end of 2022.[4] During the High-Level Ministerial Meeting hosted by the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the United Nations Security Council on 18 May 2022, he put forward a “Roadmap for the Global Food Security Call to Action” underlining the importance of an urgent intergovernmental collaboration to achieve “SDG 2: End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition” within the lines of peace and conflict resolution.

Panel Session 1 – The Global State of Peace and Conflict Resolution will discuss:

  • The role of civil society in establishing sustainable peace and security
  • Wars and conflicts as a threat to sustainable development
  • The transitional justice as a key component of conflict resolution
  • Food security under conflict settings

PANEL 2: GENDER-BASED CRIMES IN CONFLICT ZONES

Conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) against women is accepted as a weapon of war by the international human rights community since the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court has addressed different forms of sexual violence as war crimes. Gender-based crimes are often used to humiliate individuals and tear apart communities. Under the widespread authoritarian regimes and armed conflicts, women and girls continue to be the main subjects of this grave atrocity. Impunity against the perpetrators of CRSV, ineffective preventative mechanisms, fear of stigma, and social exclusion remain among the most challenging barriers in combatting this systemic human rights violation.

The role of women journalists and human rights defenders becomes even more fundamental in documenting CRSV. They continue to be at the forefront to monitor, report and raise awareness of the grave women`s rights violations under armed conflicts and undemocratic regimes. Revealing the truth and keeping the Member States accountable, women journalists, civil society leaders and peacebuilders are subjected to the increasing violence of all forms, including cyber-attacks, violence against women journalists, human rights defenders, and peacebuilders. Impunity against such crime and the arrogance of undemocratic state powers further escalates the violence against women human rights defenders. Regardless of the censorships, arbitrary detentions, systemic defamation campaigns, legal harassment, and killings, women human rights advocates continue their dedicated efforts to promote peace and security.

System-wide advocacy planning, mobilization of resources, and disseminating guidelines on providing medical and mental assistance to the survivors are persistent critical working areas. There are several influential policy actions taken at different intergovernmental levels to end sexual violence and gender-based crimes during and in the wake of conflicts. Led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Under-Secretary-General Pramila Patten, Stop Rape Now, the UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, continues to mobilize a network of 21 UN entities with the mission to implement its Strategic Framework, which embraces a survivors-centered approach and provides different levels of supporting mechanisms to develop partnerships.[5]

Panel Session 2 – Gender-Based Crimes in Conflict Zones will discuss:

  • Violence against women journalists in armed conflicts
  • Violations faced by women human rights defenders under authoritarian regimes
  • Conflict-related sexual violence as a weapon of war under the International Criminal Court and Rome Statute
  • Intergovernmental initiatives and NGO best-practices to combat gender-based crimes in conflict zones

PANEL 3: MIGRATION AND REFUGEE POLICIES – INTERGOVERNMENTAL RESPONSES TO RECENT DISPLACEMENTS

Effective inclusive and gender-responsive intergovernmental responses to the challenges faced by migrants and refugees throughout the world are critical in realizing the promising motto of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Leaving No One Behind. Internal Displacement Monitoring Center has recorded 59.1 million internally displaced people: 53.2 million affected by conflict and violence while 5.9 million were impacted by climate-related disasters.[6] On the other hand, UNHCR documented the historically high levels of refugees in the first quarter of 2002: 26.6 million refugees who were enforced to leave their homeland due to persecution, war, or systemic human rights violations.[7] Unfortunately, women, youth, and children continue to be hidden in the shadows and unfortunately invisible in the datasets.

The unprecedented increase of refugees enforced migrants and internally displaced individuals poses unique challenges to the full implementation of all the Sustainable Development Goals. Successful resettlement of millions of individuals and protecting their right to exercise fundamental human rights is a prerequisite for sustainable peace and security. New migration trends must be analyzed thoroughly to produce comprehensive policy actions as this cross-cutting development issue requires building partnerships at the national, regional, and global levels. Refugees face many obstacles to accessing quality health services not only in their resettlements but also during their risky journey to a safe country, which usually includes crossing borders by walking. With the increasing violence and excessive state violations occurring on several frequently taken routes for refugees on European and Americas borders, women and children suffer disproportionately due to lacking health services.

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants which paved the way for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration both calls for people-centered guiding principles and “respects the rule of law, due process and access to justice as fundamentals of migration governance.”[8] Apart from the global tensions and armed conflicts, climate change continues to pose its unique challenges creating a humanitarian crisis and new waves of migration. 2022 marked the deadliest drought of decades in Africa as there are an estimated 15 million impacted by this environmental crisis in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.[9] The interdependent factors of climate change and migration remain among the foremost priorities of the intergovernmental development agencies.

Panel Session 3 – Migration and Refugee Policies: Intergovernmental Responses to Recent Displacements will discuss:

  • The cross-cutting issue of migration, refugees, and the SDGs: implementation and progress
  • International Organization for Migration`s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)
  • Climate crisis inducing and waves of migration and refugees
  • Conflict-related enforced migration

JWF SDGs CONFERENCE 2022 :In the Margins of the United Nations General Assembly 77th Session 

www.unga-conference.org

HYBRID EVENTS SCHEDULE

19 September 2022, Monday (6:30 PM – 8:30 PM TBC)

JWF UNGA77 High-Level Reception – In person, New York, NY, USA

21 September 2022, Wednesday

JWF SDGs CONFERENCE 2022: In the Margins of the UN General Assembly 77th Session
Virtual, Zoom

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM (EST): Opening Session
10:30 AM – 12: 00 PM (EST): Panel 1 – The Global State of Peace and Conflict Resolution
12:15  PM – 01:45 PM  (EST): Panel 2 – Gender-Based Crimes in Conflict Zones
02:00 PM –  03: 30 PM (EST): Panel 3 – Migration and Refugee Policies: Intergovernmental Responses to Recent Displacements
03:30 PM – 04:00 PM (EST) : Closing Session

24 – 25 September 2022, Saturday & Sunday (TBC)    

JWF Global Partners Trips to Washington DC and Boston: In person, institutional visits will be organized by the JWF and its Boston, Washington DC Partners

28 September 2022, Wednesday – PIONEERS IN SDGs: Awards Ceremony – Virtual, Zoom

 

[1] Our Common Agenda, Report of the Secretary-General via https://www.un.org/en/content/common-agenda-report/assets/pdf/Common_Agenda_Report_English.pdf

[2] Vision of Humanity, 2021 Global Peace Index via https://www.visionofhumanity.org/maps/#/

[3] Guidance Note of the Secretary-General, United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice via https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/files/TJ_Guidance_Note_March_2010FINAL.pdf

[4] U.S. Department of State, The United States Leads Days of Action on Global Food Security at the United Nations via https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-leads-days-of-action-on-global-food-security-at-the-united-nations/

[5] UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict via https://www.un.org/sexualviolenceinconflict/about-us/un-action/

[6] Global Report on Internal Displacement 2022 via https://www.internal-displacement.org/global-report/grid2022/

[7] UNHCR, Refugee Statistics, Global Trends At-a-Glance via  https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/statistics/

[8] Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, A/RES/73/195 via https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N18/451/99/PDF/N1845199.pdf?OpenElement

[9] IOM, 15 Million People Face Humanitarian Crisis Due to Drought in the Horn of Africa via https://www.iom.int/news/15-million-people-face-humanitarian-crisis-due-drought-horn-africa