Economics |Developing

Developing: 5 stories to watch at the UN General Assembly

World leaders are convening in New York this week for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

Documents released by the UN indicate that education, trade and inequality are priorities for discussion. However, those topics may get sidelined by a range of volatile diplomatic issues such as Myanmar and North Korea.

North Korea

Statues of kim il sung and kim jong il in Pyongyang, North Korea
By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/kim/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32400550

The war of words between Pyongyang and Washington is in focus amid fears it could escalate further.

On September 3, North Korea claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb, the most dangerous weapon it has yet developed. It then fired a missile over Japan on September 10. The following day, the UN agreed to ratchet up sanctions against Kim Jong-Un’s regime.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told CNN on September 17 that the UN had “exhausted” its options regarding North Korea’s threatening behavior, but added that “none of us want war.”

President Donald J. Trump will be participating in a UN General Assembly for the first time. In a tweet on Sunday, Trump said that he was in discussions with South Korean president Moon Jae-in and referred to Kim Jong-Un as “rocket man” – signaling that the subject of North Korea will likely dominate discussion.

Myanmar’s “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya

Aung San Suu Kyi
By Htoo Tay Zar (File:Aung San Suu Kyi gives speech.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Nobel laureate and de facto President of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi last week withdrew from attending the General Assembly amid criticism over her failure to act on or forcefully condemn Myanmar’s military campaign against the majority-Muslim Rohingya.

An estimated 400,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar over the past three weeks to escape what the UN human rights commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Myanmar officials say that they are tackling “extremists.”

Ahead of the General Assembly, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN to impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on Myanmar. HRW urged leaders gathering in New York to make the crisis a “priority” and consider imposing travel bans and asset freezes on individuals linked to the violence.

Reform agenda

The workings of the UN institutions are themselves set to come under the spotlight as Trump opens Monday’s proceedings with a high-level meeting to promote reform. Trump previously has criticized the UN for being bureaucratic and mismanaged and might call for a renegotiation of contributions. The U.S. is the biggest contributor to the UN, providing 22% of the body’s core budget and 28% of its peacekeeping budget.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, who took office in January, has previously spoken of the need to reform the UN to make it more responsive. At the opening session of the General Assembly he condemned the “endless red tape” and “bureaucracy” that he says undermine the UN.

Climate change

Hurricane Irma satellite image
Flickr/Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

 

Extreme weather has battered the U.S. and Caribbean over the past few weeks as Hurricane Harvey deluged Texas then Hurricane Irma left a trail of damage across the Caribbean and Florida.

A third storm, Hurricane Maria, is also bearing down on the Caribbean as leaders gather and is expected to follow Irma’s path to the U.S.

In addition to considering the immediate damage, particularly to poorer communities in the Caribbean, some leaders and activists may see the assembly as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on climate change.

Trump

President Trump
Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Any of the above issues could become the story of the week – or all could be entirely sidelined by the actions of President Trump.

Trump’s history of criticizing the UN is likely to come under scrutiny and his unorthodox style of diplomacy will be followed closely as global leaders gather.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. president will use the assembly as an opportunity to drive debate on issues such as North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and the isolation of Qatar.

 


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United Kingdom
Jack Barton is a staff journalist at WikiTribune where he writes about international law, human rights and finance, whilst covering daily news. He was previously a senior reporter at Law Business Research and has experience covering law and international development, with credits in the Sunday Times, the New Indian Express, and New Statesman online among others. He has an LLM in Human Rights and worked on a UN-funded research project, looking at peace processes.

History for stories "Developing: 5 stories to watch at the UN General Assembly"

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10 March 2018

• (view) . . Comment: Pursuing sexual harassers is the next ordeal, despite #MeToo‎; 06:28:21, 10 Mar 2018 . . Charles Anderson (talk | contribs)‎‎ ( Comment -> This story has the potential to grow into a place that identifiies points of leverage to change the legal and regulatory regimes governing these complaints. In particular, legislation including several employer-friendly provisions may now be more vulnerable to political pressure seeking amendment to produce a more favorable climate for pursuit of harassment claims. One point of leverage for such pressure that I’d flag for the US are the provisions of Title VII restricting employees’ rights to sue employers, especially when it comes to timing. The 180/300 day “waiting period” imposed on plaintiffs contributes substantially to the price of pursuing complaints. States with their own rights commissions enabled to handle these complaints automatically extend the federal 180 day period to 300 days: https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/timeliness.cfm During this period the EEOC or state human rights commission can at its discretion “investigate” claims. There is data here–I don’t have current numbers (fed and state) myself[1]–that shows that these agencies in effect stall the process for the duration of the waiting period. All that time plaintiffs and the attorneys they retain are managing both the complaint, with any internal processes outstanding as well as related issues around the employment, if it continues, all of which increase the overall cost of the complaint. If a plaintiff is suing a non-federal public entity like a university, they have to get a “right-to-sue” letter from the US Justice Department before filing a lawsuit, and they’re not eligible to request such a letter until after the end of the waiting period. This process also adds considerably to the cost of the process. https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/lawsuit.cfm If plaintiffs are paying only retainers and perhaps a monthly fee, on a formal or informal contingency agreement, this puts the decision of when and whether to settle a case largely in the hands of attorneys, who will make their own judgments about when they’d like to get paid, after what can be months or more than a year of enforced preliminary. If a plaintiff owes her attorney a considerable sum by the time the federal lawsuit is filed and the onerous and expensive process of discovery complete, the attorney may decide that the time is ripe to get the best monetary settlement. That attorney can then use the plaintiff’s legal bills to pressure his or her or their client to settle the case before more public and thus more damaging stages of the litigation. The unwelcome prospect of these for the employer-defendant is for the plaintiff's attorney a chip in the bargaining process over the size of the settlement, rather than a chance to expose the harassment or discrimination and to get non-monetary justice for the plaintiff. Plaintiff attorneys in this position are also often the main sources of pressure to sign non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, since these concessions by the plaintiff raise the settlement payout and the plaintiff attorney’s payday. The waiting period and right-to-sue restrictions, with their effect on the costs of litigation, apply not only to victims of harassment or discrimination but also to anyone suffering retaliation for reporting or trying to help such victims in the workplace. This contributes to the chill on pursuing these complaints and curbing the behavior of perpetrators inside the institutional culture of these employers. Other provisions of Title VII concerning the rights and protection of Affirmative Action Officers as employees also contribute to this chill: http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/tempcr6&div=7&id=&page= * [1] You can see references to the general problem in this testimony to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission: https://www.pubintlaw.org/cases-and-projects/testimony-on-pa-human-relations-commission/ )

09 March 2018

• (view) . . Comment: Pursuing sexual harassers is the next ordeal, despite #MeToo‎; 20:25:17, 09 Mar 2018 . . Catherine Kemp (talk | contribs)‎‎ ( Comment -> This story has the potential to grow into a place that identifiies points of leverage to change the legal and regulatory regimes governing these complaints. In particular, legislation including several employer-friendly provisions may now be more vulnerable to political pressure seeking amendment to produce a more favorable climate for pursuit of harassment claims. One point of leverage for such pressure that I’d flag for the US are the provisions of Title VII restricting employees’ rights to sue employers, especially when it comes to timing. The 180/300 day “waiting period” imposed on plaintiffs contributes substantially to the price of pursuing complaints. States with their own rights commissions enabled to handle these complaints automatically extend the federal 180 day period to 300 days: https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/timeliness.cfm During this period the EEOC or state human rights commission can at its discretion “investigate” claims. There is data here–I don’t have current numbers (fed and state) myself[1]–that shows that these agencies in effect stall the process for the duration of the waiting period. All that time plaintiffs and the attorneys they retain are managing both the complaint, with any internal processes outstanding as well as related issues around the employment, if it continues, all of which increase the overall cost of the complaint. If a plaintiff is suing a non-federal public entity like a university, they have to get a “right-to-sue” letter from the US Justice Department before filing a lawsuit, and they’re not eligible to request such a letter until after the end of the waiting period. This process also adds considerably to the cost of the process. https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/lawsuit.cfm If plaintiffs are paying only retainers and perhaps a monthly fee, on a formal or informal contingency agreement, this puts the decision of when and whether to settle a case largely in the hands of attorneys, who will make their own judgments about when they’d like to get paid, after what can be months or more than a year of enforced preliminary. If a plaintiff owes her attorney a considerable sum by the time the federal lawsuit is filed and the onerous and expensive process of discovery complete, the attorney may decide that the time is ripe to get the best monetary settlement. That attorney can then use the plaintiff’s legal bills to pressure his or her or their client to settle the case before more public and thus more damaging stages of the litigation. The unwelcome prospect of these for the employer-defendant is for the plaintiff's attorney a chip in the bargaining process over the size of the settlement, rather than a chance to expose the harassment or discrimination and to get non-monetary justice for the plaintiff. Plaintiff attorneys in this position are also often the main sources of pressure to sign non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, since these concessions by the plaintiff raise the settlement payout and the plaintiff attorney’s payday. The waiting period and right-to-sue restrictions, with their effect on the costs of litigation, apply not only to victims of harassment or discrimination but also to anyone suffering retaliation for reporting or trying to help such victims in the workplace. This contributes to the chill on pursuing these complaints and curbing the behavior of perpetrators inside the institutional culture of these employers. Other provisions of Title VII concerning the rights and protection of Affirmative Action Officers as employees also contribute to this chill: http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/tempcr6&div=7&id=&page= * [1] You can see references to the general problem in this testimony to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission: https://www.pubintlaw.org/cases-and-projects/testimony-on-pa-human-relations-commission/ )

12 January 2018

01 December 2017

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