Silo Fighters Blog

18 countries, 18 UN agencies and one goal: Sustainable development in the Caribbean

BY Bruno Pouezat, Christian Salazar Volkmann, Khadija Musa, Richard Blewitt, Stephen O’Malley | July 28, 2016

Saying you work for the UN in the Caribbean is an excellent way to induce envy and jealousy! Yet beneath the image of sun, sand and artistic creativity is the reality of small island developing states trying to shape their futures while buffeted by climate change, natural disasters, and the swings of the global economy. There is an incredible diversity across the 18 countries of the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean. Almost all of the countries are classified as middle income, a status that masks the significant social and economic challenges they face, including the persistence of inequality and intergenerational poverty. The populations range from just under 6,000 people in Montserrat to more than 2.8 million in Jamaica. And while 12 of the countries are UN member states, three are UK overseas territories and three are Dutch overseas territories.   A unique approach to a unique region The UN has long been a trusted partner for the countries of the region, for the regional organizations, and for civil society.  However, the UN’s physical presence brings its own challenges.   The UN covers the region through five UN country teams - Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago – and one UN Subregional Team – Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.  While some UN agency offices cover just one country, there are also multi-country offices – for example, UN Women covers 22 countries from its office in Barbados!   Planning, executing and reporting have been challenging, and it has been very difficult to accurately disaggregate regional results to the country level, or to aggregate country level results into a coherent regional picture. All UN resident coordinators for the Caribbean realized that the six existing UNDAFs would end in 2016, and that there was considerable overlap in the areas of work. We saw this as an opportunity to work more closely together and strengthen our focus on results across the region. Further, the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in September 2014 and impeding adoption of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals gave added impetus to the need to change.   The idea of merging together six separate UN country strategic plans into a single UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework, 2017-2021 was born. Testing the Caribbean waters Early on, we identified that a multi- country sustainable development plan could bring a number of benefits: Strengthen the focus on results at both a regional and national level Lighten the coordination burden on national Governments Enable the region to maximize its use of limited resources Prompt a more coherent response from the UN to regional and national needs/priorities Maximize access to the full range of UN system-wide expertise on issues relevant to Agenda 2030 work for the region Serve as a resource mobilization framework, particularly for regional resources The first step was to see if the concept would fly.   By the end of May 2015, national governments were consulted and gave their assent, and the UN agencies from across the region had met in Barbados and agreed to go ahead.   Since then, we’ve drafted a multi-country assessment which was used for 15 separate national consultations (three countries came on board later), then brought the results of these consultations into a strategic prioritization workshop with governments, regional organizations and civil society. At the workshop, we identified four priority areas: An inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Caribbean A healthy Caribbean A cohesive, safe, and just Caribbean A sustainable and resilient Caribbean The governments are currently doing their final review of the document, and we’re aiming for signing ceremonies by the end of July 2016. Where we stand and what we learned Of course there were and are concerns. The countries were worried that their national needs could be lost in a regional approach, and the UN agencies wanted to be sure that we could strengthen our focus on results without creating an ornate regional coordination architecture. We’re addressing the former through country implementation plans that translate the regional strategic plan into actions on the ground, and the latter through vigorous discussions in our Regional Steering Committee, which was just expanded from the five Resident Coordinators to include eight UN country team members. We’ve also learned a few lessons that might be useful to others traveling down this road. First, there is a big time commitment from the UN Resident Coordinators to work with their teams and with each other, and from the technical experts from agencies to develop the results matrix. Dedicated assistance helps, as noted above, but the work-load is higher in the formulation stage; Second, although the Executive Boards of UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA will consider the Country Programme Documents (CPD) in September 2016, there is still more that can be done to harmonize the CPD development process After a year of working to bring this idea to fruition, we are confident that we are on the right course. We need to implement new integrated approaches for a rapidly changing world, and the UN multi-country sustainable development framework is our comprehensive offer to support the countries of this beautiful region in their journey to achieve the Agenda 2030. We will be signing it this month, so stay tuned for future updates.

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A story of many transitions: the UN in Haiti as it evolves in 2016

BY Mourad Wahba, Kanni Wignaraja | January 29, 2016

The UN has been in Haiti a long time. The most recent iteration of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) arrived 11 years ago. And it has been ‘shall we stay or shall we go’, for some years now. Maybe 2016 is the year where, finally, the decision to wrap up a full peace keeping mission does happen. For real. And for many, Haitians and UN colleagues alike, it is about time. There is much uncertainty in the air about elections. The complex electoral processes, the play of political parties and strong interest groups, the constitution as it is, the candidates; all contribute to an anxiety, a weariness, and a state of uncertainty. In the midst of this, the various parts of the UN have to come together, to try and think, plan and act as one. This is not a moment for individual entity or personal aggrandizement nor self-interest. It is time to step-up to the plate as a UN first, and take a hard look at our future roles and contribution to this country. To do this, we must first all see Haiti for what it can be in 10-15 years – a stable middle income country on a sustainable development path, leading to lasting peace and progress. Setting priorities with the people of Haiti Many of the UN Country Team and MINUSTAH mission colleagues get this, and have started more intensively working together to ensure a smooth transition, one that works for Haiti going forward. Some key areas for focus that came out of the initial visioning and planning exercises, include: Ensuring all Haitians have formal identity, with a national census and a civil registry; and following the missing data so no one is left behind; ‘Going (staying) local’ to build-back institutional and service delivery capacity, so local government can administer essential services and partner with local private sector to deliver; Addressing the rights and vulnerability gaps, which in most areas remain stark across gender lines, with women and girls as victims of violence, the least able to access land and credit, and with least choices available on education and jobs; If the Haitian people are open to it, some form of indepth dialogue to help bring about and keep a culture of peace. This would also include elements of rule of law, respect for human rights and education that integrates a socialization around a common culture and identity; and The need to keep open an emergency response/humanitarian window to address the spikes in cholera and malnutrition that still exists. This is a whole-of-UN system agenda to support. No entity can do any part of it alone. Nor can the mission, even if it is replaced by another UN Secretariat effort. It will take us all. A new global agenda, a new sustainable development framework This is the clear intention behind the team work underway: to develop a UN Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF), an UNDAF-plus, that will support countries in their Agenda 2030 pathway. Haiti, we hope, will have a national census this year; the government and the UN also have access to multiple assessments and analytics it can draw from; the upcoming elections and establishment of a new government and parliament will provide the new set of national interlocutors to consult and plan with; and most importantly, it is a moment to take all of this to the Haitian people to understand better what they think and want from the UN in their country. This relationship must be refreshed with more public engagement, open dialogues and data transparency, access and reach that is community; and the UN being seen and heard together, with clear common voice on their vision for a young, growing, peaceful Haiti. Supporting together a transition process The transition is underway. We have learnt from others, including Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone. The common vision based on quality data and analytics are key. And a new UNSDF will be born, with not more than 5-6 strategic outcomes as defined and agreed with the key stakeholders. This must be followed by clear joint work streams leading to groups that will deliver together on joint work plans. A Business Operations Strategy (BOS) in a post mission setting is key, as the mission withdraws and with it the administrative services, such as fuel, which it provides to all. Ensuring UNSDF development, together with a BOS and mission transition plan, and having it all led by a common team and leadership, is therefore, the way to go. This is one island-two countries. Borders, biodiversity, epidemics, climate impact, trade are shared. People move across the borders every day. Bi-national it is called. Down the road, maybe more can be done together between the two UN country teams. There still remains too much that separates us – as UN missions and UN country teams serving in the same country. “Integrated missions” (which will bring together these two angles of the UN) will only really work if we truly integrate from the get-go and look at the design, substantive contributions, resource and capacity sharing, and common administration of a UN presence – One country, One UN. We are moving in this direction, but slowly, and not everyone is on the same page within. Our still parallel structures, separate administrations, separate teams - sometimes the mirror image of each other in the exact same areas - and separate visions of a country, attest to this. It is time to change, and Haiti is where we can show it can happen. This team is ready to demonstrate that it is possible.

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An excellent tool for mainstreaming human rights

BY Jessica Braver, Valeria Guerra, Maria Jeannette Moya | July 28, 2015

The process of reviewing a country’s human rights records can become an opportunity to bond human rights with development. In Argentina, the Universal Periodic Review process has promoted human rights as the daily work of everyone in the UN system. This spirit exemplifies the ‘Human Rights up Front’ initiative. Human rights are at the core of the United Nations mandate. In the UN Charter (1945) and in UN resolutions, we have reaffirmed our faith in fundamental human rights. As UN staff members, we need to bear this in mind in our daily work, regardless of our area of expertise. Improving UN action to safeguard human rights Human Rights up Front seeks to ensure that the UN system takes early and effective action to prevent or respond to large-scale violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. The initiative, launched in 2013 by the UN Secretary-General, calls for a major cultural shift within the UN, placing the protection of human rights and of people at the heart of UN strategies and operational activities. A leading role in human rights mainstreaming Human Rights up Front highlights the role of the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) system in mainstreaming human rights, encouraging us to work together in a more cohesive and coherent way. In Argentina, the Resident Coordinator’s office has been working on positioning the topic in the UN agenda, as well as on building an inter-agency culture for the Universal Periodic Review, so as to install human rights mainstreaming as a priority. What is the Universal Periodic Review? The Universal Periodic Review examines the human rights situation of all 193 UN Member States (A/RES/60/251) under the umbrella of the Human Rights Council. The State under review submits a report declaring what actions it has taken to improve human rights situations in the country. Information is also provided by relevant stakeholders, and by UN international experts and agencies working in the country, who highlight concerns and propose action. Each State is assessed by fellow State representatives, under the principles of cooperation and equal treatment. State delegates then make recommendations for action. The expertise and on-the-ground knowledge of UN agencies, funds and programmes working in each country are invaluable assets for the UPR. And we, as UN officials, must make the most of this opportunity to help improve the human rights situations of our host countries. How we did it in Argentina We welcomed support from the OHCHR The RC’s office has been supported by the Regional Office for South America of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Argentina participated in the OHCHR UPR Project covering five South American countries, which provided an overall framework for UPR-related matters, information sessions and technical assistance on how to draft our UPR report. OHCHR insisted that the effective engagement of the whole UN system was crucial to a successful UPR process. In the end, Argentina received 119 recommendations in its second UPR (2012), some of which embodied inputs from the UN system, which meant that local agencies, funds and programmes could see their added value reflected in the outcome report. We established the Inter-Agency Group on Human Rights Based on conversations held by the RCO, OHCHR-South America and the Government, the Inter-Agency Group on Human Rights (IAGHR) was set up in 2012. It supports the monitoring of recommendations made to Argentina, having its own duties, coordination mechanisms and work plan. It also puts a special emphasis on including a human rights-based approach in the preparation of the new 2016-2020 Cooperation Framework for Argentina. Five agencies helped hire a human rights advisor At the suggestion of OHCHR, a human rights advisor for the RC’s office was hired to specifically address human rights mainstreaming and to monitor the implementation of UPR recommendations. The position was funded by OHCHR, UNICEF, UNDP, UNODC and UNHCR. The human rights advisor was also part of the five-country OHCHR UPR Project. We created a matrix linking human rights and development The OHCHR UPR Project prepared a matrix systematizing all recommendations made to its countries of coverage. The UN system in Argentina produced its own matrix linking the UPR recommendations with development projects by the different UN entities. By connecting UN initiatives with the UPR recommendations, which were accepted by the country, the UN system found a new and strong source of legitimacy. Further, the State committed to implement the UPR recommendations in four and a half years. We took action with the government and other stakeholders The UN System in Argentina provided support to the government in following-up and implementing UPR recommendations. Also, workshops were held to disseminate the UPR mechanism and its recommendations among UN System, Senate, Judiciary, civil society and ombudsperson’s office. These workshops encouraged the submissions of UPR midterm reports. How can you use the UPR process to enhance human rights? There can be no peace without development, no development without peace, and there is neither without human rights. On one hand, the Universal Periodic Review process presents a unique opportunity to engage Member States in the protection of human rights, and encourages cooperation between States and the exchange of international experiences to strengthen policies and institutions. On the other hand, UPR is a key instrument for the UN System to provide a framework for coherence and joint action among UN System and also opens a window for cooperation with the governments and other stakeholders in the process of follow-up and implementation of UPR recommendations. If you have a story to share about the UPR, please post a comment and links for more information.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Distilling the SDGs at country level

BY Haroldo de Oliveira Machado Filho | March 19, 2015

The MDGs were brief enough to fit on the back of a business card. The 17 goals currently agreed are something different. One difference is how they tackle national obstacles (in developed and developing countries). The UN family and the Brazilian government, one of the leading champions of sustainable development in the world, have opened up a new dialogue mechanism to assess what works best in Brazil. The United Nations Task Force on the Post-2015 Development Agenda is composed of representatives of the following Agencies, Funds and Programs in Brazil: UNDP, as well as the UNDP/IPC-IG, FAO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, ECLAC, PAHO/WHO, UNODC, UNIDO, UNOPS, UNAIDS, ILO, UN-Habitat, UNISDR-CERRD, UNICEF, UNV, WFP and UNEP. The group will also have the participation of Brazilian Federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations, the Ministry of Environment, Secretariat-General of the Presidency of the Republic, and other members of the Interministerial Commission on the post-2015 development agenda. The proposed SDGs have 17 goals and 169 targets. What does this mean in Brazil? Rooted in Rio+20, the dialogue will help shape cooperation and activities to carry out the post-2015 development agenda in Brazil. It builds on a year of intense work by the Open Working Group (OWG-SDG), which produced the proposal for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to replace the MDGs at the end of 2015. The proposal of the Group is the main basis for the process going forward. Moving from global to intergovernmental debate Many voices have informed the debate over what comes next after the MDGs. Global consultation and negotiation has been extensive. In the current stage, the process to design the post-2015 development agenda is increasingly intergovernmental in nature, although outreach and consultations are still on-going. Country ownership, already strong, is about to drill down on specifics. The most immediate challenge: indicators The most immediate challenge is to identify and establish indicators, especially at national and local level, focused on measurable outcomes. The OWG-SDG gives some guidance: Aspirational global targets accompany the SDGs. Each government should set its own national targets, guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances; Goals and targets will be further elaborated through indicators focused on measurable outcomes; Indicators will need to take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respect national policies and priorities. Objectives of the task force The UN Task Force is an institutional mechanism for consultation and dialogue that aims to support the country as it defines and implements the post-2015 development agenda. It also looks at the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) to make sure the issues are taken into account. It creates a platform to share with the country how the UN family is working and to explore opportunities for cooperation. How the task force works In his December 2014 report, the UN Secretary-General said “in the coming months, the Member States will negotiate the final parameters of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda”. That time is now, and governments are being guided not only by the aspirational nature of the goals and targets, but also by the reality of their societies translated into indicators. The task force has a fast-paced work plan in first part of the year. Meeting frequently, separate thematic technical groups will be taking deep dives into 16 priority areas. The consultation and dialogue between the UNCT and the government partners on the range of thematic issues related to the post-2015 development agenda is taking place in a dynamic and frequent basis. The leading agency will be UNDP, represented by me. The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Brazilian federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations through Mr. Mario Mottin. In order for the SDGs to be judged a success, what do we need to do by 2030? This year, with its UN Summit and other high-level international meetings, will be fundamental to chart a new era of sustainable development. Your suggestions about how to make the most of 2015, in Brazil and in other countries, are welcome.

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Brazil: Engaging multiple stakeholders to implement and track the progress of the 2030 Agenda

February 4, 2017

National ownership The Government of Brazil has been a long-standing champion of sustainable development as the host of the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) has represented the Mercosur countries and Chile on the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators and has been elected as the new Chair of the UN Statistical Commission, actively contributing to the task of developing the SDG indicators at the global level. Both IBGE and the Interministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Development Agenda — encompassing 27 ministries and bodies of federal administration — have undertaken consultations with different stakeholders to reflect Brazil’s contribution to implementing the SDGs. Inclusive participation The UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) relaunched the Rio Dialogues space in 2015 with a focus on an interactive SDG space for Brazilian youth to learn about the SDGs and how to get involved. There have been several outreach and live events to help support the effort, which has attracted considerable interest from universities and other groups. In 2016, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there has been intense work to design a new institutional arrangement at the national level, with the aim of involving different stakeholders in implementing and following up the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs. Institutional coordination The Task Force on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (whose name was later changed to Task Force on the 2030 Agenda) was established in December 2014 to facilitate cooperation between the Brazilian federal government and UN entities on the issues of the new agenda. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Brazilian federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations, and brings together a full complement of UN entities including UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the PanAmerican Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, UNODC, UNIDO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ILO, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR-CERRD), UNICEF, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNV, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)/UNDP. In addition, the Brazilian Committee of the Global Compact Network is an observer member representing the private sector. Monitoring and reporting One of the main purposes of the Task Force is to contribute to identifying national social, economic and environmental indicators related to specific SDGs and their targets. In September 2015, the Task Force issued its publication ‘Following-up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Initial inputs from the United Nations System in Brazil on the identification of national indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals’. Sixteen thematic groups covering SDGs 1–16 worked over nine months to produce the report, identifying around 570 indicators and highlighting data gaps regarding relevant information needed to follow up certain SDG targets. In 2016, the Task Force is planning to review its publication in light of the global indicator framework. This publication presented available national indicators as inputs for the follow-up process on the SDGs targets, which will be led by the Brazilian government. The Task Force will also launch a set of glossaries containing key terms and expressions used in the formulation of the SDGs and their targets.

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El Salvador: Demonstrating ownership to implement the SDGs

November 9, 2016

National ownership On the initiative of the President of the Republic, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, El Salvador decided to give a special boost to the implementation of the new 2030 Agenda in the country. Since the President’s participation at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, the processes of adopting and implementing the 2030 Agenda have been guided from the highest level by the Presidency of the Republic, and operationally delegated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency. Adapting the SDGs to the national context The current Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) has already been studied and analysed in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Among several similarities found, it is of particular interest to note that SDGs 8 (decent work and economic growth), 4 (quality education) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) clearly embody the three main priorities defined in the Plan: Productive employment generated through sustained economic growth Inclusive and equitable education Effective citizen security In this context, on 15 December 2015, the Government of El Salvador and the UN signed a Memorandum of Understanding — the first of its kind — for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The first step identified in this process was to jointly develop comprehensive training on the 2030 Agenda for government officials, which involved 488 public servants from 71 national institutions. Significant contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency enabled fruitful coordination with other national institutions and the successful provision of technical assistance. Based on the UN’s MAPS approach and the SDGs Roadmap, devised by Salvadoran public institutions as a country-specific guide for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, further initiatives aimed at fostering national ownership of the 2030 Agenda are now under way. Raising public awareness Numerous SDG awareness-raising initiatives have been organized with the international community, CSOs and the public and private sectors, at both national and local levels. In particular, under the auspices of the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency, together with the UNCT, organized a series of training workshops for Salvadoran public servants on each of the 17 SDGs. These workshops aimed to: Develop, strengthen and complement public servants’ knowledge on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; (ii) promote a comprehensive understanding of the SDGs; Analyse the links among the institutional strategic plans of the public institutions involved, the government’s Five-Year Development Plan (2014–2019) and the 2030 Agenda; and Create a dialogue space to exchange expertise and answer questions or concerns. Inclusive participation The development of the first phase of SDG mainstreaming in El Salvador is guided by a commitment to ensure the highest possible level of inclusive participation. These efforts are feeding the enthusiasm for the new 2030 Agenda, building on the results already achieved through the consultation and localizing phases, in which more than 4,000 Salvadorans shared their perspectives and ideas about the ‘El Salvador We Want’ as part of the UN SDG Action Campaign. In addition, the creation of an integral and comprehensive National Council for Sustainable Development has been called for within the government, to foster synergies among the variety of development stakeholders, at the national and subnational levels, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Monitoring and reporting To overcome the monitoring and reporting challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda, the Technical and Planning Secretariat of the Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been working with the UN to review the complete list of SDG indicators, as a first step towards defining national targets. This work includes the development of a second series of workshops with Salvadoran public institutions, aiming at fostering multilateral dialogues on the issue and generating the seed for the creation and implementation of a one-of-its-kind national development agenda for the SDGs.

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Dominican Republic: Establishing a multi-stakeholder coordination mechanism and assessing data capacity

November 9, 2016

National ownership In February 2016, the Government of the Dominican Republic issued a Presidential Decree to enact a High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission with the mandate to oversee and implement the 2030 Agenda. The goal of the Commission is to integrate the SDGs into all planning instruments, particularly the National Development Strategy 2012–2030. Institutional coordination The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (MEPyD) is the line ministry in charge of implementing the 2030 Agenda. Recognizing the integrated nature of the Agenda, the UNCT has created an inter-agency coordination mechanism, led by UNDP, to monitor and provide support to national counterparts for the SDG mainstreaming process as well as strengthening the government’s capacity to analyse the new development agenda. Inclusive participation The High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission is made up of government ministers, the private sector and NGO representatives engaged in work in all three pillars of the Agenda: social, economic and environmental. Two important institutions are part of the Commission: the National Council for the Elderly (CONAPE) and the National Council for HIV/AIDS, which represent populations that have traditionally received insufficient attention in public policy. The goal is to ensure that all sectors participate and put forward the main challenges they face. As such, there is a need to ensure that all groups in society have a space in the process of aligning, designing and implementing the SDGs as well as in the mechanisms developed to monitor and measure progress. Raising public awareness The government is committed to systematic action to improve public awareness about the 2030 Agenda. In January 2016, the second edition of the Dominican Diplomacy Forum focused on the SDGs and the promotion of mainstreaming the sustainable development agenda into diplomatic exchanges and cooperation. In June, during the General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Santo Domingo, the UNCT supported the government to raise awareness of SDG challenges, in collaboration with PAHO-WHO, UNDP and UNICEF. Similarly, the Latin America and Caribbean Social Development Forum (Santo Domingo, November 2016) will feature discussions about the SDGs and the related challenges and opportunities for social development. Reviewing existing plans and adapting the SDGs to the national context As part of the UN support to the High-Level Inter-institutional Sustainable Development Commission, the UNCT has started a Rapid Integrated Assessment to determine the country’s level of preparedness to implement the 2030 Agenda. The results will inform the Commission’s work and guide high-level recommendations. Monitoring and reporting The government launched an online platform to monitor the MDG indicators in 2013, just two years before the 2015 deadline. In contrast, for the SDGs the National Office of Statistics and MEPyD already have a proposal for the new SDG online platform, with plans to launch it in 2017 to ensure an early start to the monitoring process. The National Office of Statistics has assessed national capacities for the production of statistics to monitor and report on the SDGs. It indicates that the government has full capacity to report on 27 percent of the global SDG indicators. For 34 percent of the indicators, there is little national information gathered for their calculation or the information available is deficient. For the remaining 39 percent of indicators, there is no national information available; therefore, complex methodological changes and substantial investments are required.

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Uruguay: Applying a Human Rights Framework to Justice Sector Reform

March 8, 2014

It is not every day that a Government allows the United Nations — let alone the Secretary-General — to review its efforts to promote prison reform…I applaud your commitment to follow the recommendations of the United Nations human rights bodies, including Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak. Reform of penitentiary systems is not an easy task…I commend your decision to stress inmates’ rehabilitation and reinsertion into society. This is an excellent example of the role that the United Nations can play in middle income countries, bringing specialized expertise to bear on complex topics and in areas where national resources and national political commitment are leading the way. - United Nations Secretary-General BanKi-moon , speech at the Montevideo Penitentiary Centre, Uruguay, June 2011* ABSTRACT The critical situation of the prison system dominated the political agenda in Uruguay for many years, but efforts to make changes were slow and ineffective. In 2009, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment visited Uruguay and concluded that only a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, based on international human rights norms, could improve the situation. His visit provided an objective evaluation that galvanized public interest and political will to tackle the problem. The government turned to the United Nations system for support. The United Nation’s impartiality, normative role and ability to leverage experiences from around the world were viewed as critical for addressing such a complex issue. The United Nations elaborated a Joint Programme that facilitated an inter-institutional and inter-agency approach to penal reform and aimed to foster changes across the entire justice system as well as the grounding of all policies and programmes in international human rights standards. Through the work of the Joint Programme, significant advances have been made. These include a large increase in resources for prison reform, better infrastructure, officials trained on legal norms and standards regarding prisons, improvement of health care services in prisons, specific services for vulnerable groups in prison, as well as a substantial shift in favour of the social reintegration of prisoners and alternative sentences. Country context Uruguay is a constitutional republic with a multi-party democracy. With a Gross National Income per capita of US$ 14,640 (2011), the World Bank classifies Uruguay as an upper-middle-income country.1 Positive human development indicators include high literacy rates, an educated workforce, low levels of unemployment and high levels of social spending in relation to Gross Domestic Product. As an upper-middle-income country, official development assistance flows have not played a significant role in Uruguay’s development. The challenge has been to define Uruguay’s needs as an upper-middle income country and the international cooperation strategy that is required to meet them. In this context, the United Nations’ normative role with regard to the protection of human rights, promotion of universal values and pursuit of global dialogue, has been highly valued by national stakeholders.2 Uruguay is one of eight pilot countries for the United Nations Delivering as One initiative for system-wide coherence. Human rights situation While Uruguay has ratified core United Nations human rights treaties, the challenge remains to implement these obligations. In recent years, progress has been made in creating institutions to promote and protect human rights, such as the Institución Nacional de Derechos Humanos y Defensoría del Pueblo (National Human Rights Institution and Ombudsman), formed in 2012. The most pressing human rights concerns in Uruguay include violence against women, trafficking in women and children, discrimination against persons of African descent and the poor conditions and severe overcrowding in prisons. The issue of prison conditions and related human rights abuses have dominated the public and political agenda for many years. The situation of prisons In 2005, the deteriorating situation in prisons prompted the country’s president to declare a State of Humanitarian Emergency within the prison system. However, despite the political priority placed on prison reform, change remained slow and ineffective. BOX DELIVERING AS ONE When the United Nations Secretary-General launched Delivering as One in 2007, the governments of eight countries—Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Viet Nam—volunteered to become “Delivering as One” pilots. The pilot countries agreed to work with the United Nations system to capitalize on the strengths and comparative advantages of the different members of the United Nations family. Since then, Delivering as One has been adopted by a total of 32 countries.3 Together they are seeking innovative ways to increase the United Nations system’s impact through more coherent programmes, reduced transaction costs for governments, and lower overhead costs for the United Nations system. As called for by the UN General Assembly in the 2012 resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN operational activities for development (QCPR), the UN Development Group is currently developing the second generation of Delivering as One based on Standard Operating Procedures and a firm focus on results, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability.4 END BOX By 2009, the penitentiary system was in a state of virtual collapse. The magnitude of the penitentiary crisis, and the risk that it could lead to a highly volatile social and political situation, prompted the government to invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Novak, to visit Uruguay in March 2009. To prepare and support his visit, the United Nations convened working groups on the issue of prisons, and coordinated meetings with civil society and government to ensure all perspectives were brought to his attention.5 In his report to the Human Rights Council of December 20096 , the Special Rapporteur expressed deep concern about a series of issues related to his mandate. The report included the following major human rights concerns: Major overcrowding, with some prisons housing five times more prisoners than their capacity; Excessive use of pre-trial detention (65 percent of prisoners are pre-trial detainees); Torture, excessive use of force and ill-treatment in police stations, prisons and juvenile detention facilities, as well as a culture of impunity for the perpetrators; Lack of water, sanitation and access to medical treatment in certain detention centres; High rates of inter-prisoner violence and housing of pre-trial detainees with convicted prisoners; Inadequate accommodation for female prisoners with children and those in late stages of pregnancy and lack of implementation of a national action plan on domestic violence; Beatings and ill-treatment of juveniles in detention, poor conditions and lack of opportunities for education or vocational training; and Few, if any, opportunities for education or vocational training to facilitate rehabilitation. The Special Rapporteur concluded that nothing less than a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, based on international human rights standards, could improve the situation. The Special Rapporteur’s visit proved to be instrumental in galvanizing political will and momentum to tackle the issue of prison reform. It provided an external, independent and expert perspective, as well as an objective evaluation of prison conditions in Uruguay. The extensive media attention his visit received helped raise public awareness on the issue. In doing so, the Special Rapporteur’s visit catalyzed action on the part of all national counterparts, making it possible to come to a political agreement that cut across political party lines. The incoming government (2010) attached great importance to the report and to following up on the recommendations. The issue was particularly poignant as many government ministers, including the president himself, had been political prisoners under a former military dictatorship. STRATEGY The recommendations of the Special Rapporteur called for an integrated approach that could make improvements across the entire criminal justice system. They also underlined the need to address the structural and root causes that lay behind the grave situation. These included the societal mindset that favoured criminalizing and punishing detainees over their rehabilitation. In addressing such a complex and sensitive issue, the government turned to the United Nations as a trusted partner. The United Nations’ impartiality, absence of a political agenda and ability to leverage experiences from around the world was highly valued. In response to the government’s request for support, the United Nations elaborated the United Nations Joint Programme: Support to the Reform of the Institutions of People Deprived of Liberty (2010-2012). The Joint Programme was designed to facilitate an inter-institutional approach to penal reform. It was designed within the context of Delivering as One. As such, the programme is implemented through an inter-agency coordination mechanism, the Management Committee, which includes the following United Nations partners: The office of the UN Resident Coordinator, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN-Women. The work of the Joint Programme is based on two key principles: an integrated approach to penal reform and human rights. Integrated approach: The report of the Special Rapporteur had shown the need for a broader vision on the issue of penal reform; one that “moved away from a punitive penal system to one aiming to reintegrate prisoners in society” (Special Rapporteur). To do so, it was necessary to explore and strengthen links within different parts of the penal system: the police, judiciary and correction facilities, as well as between the penal system and other relevant sectors, such as health and education. The Joint Programme, therefore, works with a broad range of sectors, in addition to the justice sector. These include social workers and education and health services. The Joint Programme also provides a space for information exchange, bringing together over 400 stakeholders from different ministerial bodies, the police, social and health workers, education, the media, the private sector, civil society and the development community. This space provided a platform to enhance dialogue and coordination between line ministries that would not typically work together on penal issues, such as the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Education and Culture. Owing to the impartiality and legitimacy with which the United Nations was viewed, the Joint Programme provided a safe and neutral space to discuss sensitive issues, for example the issue of women with children in prisons and guidelines for the treatment of detainees with drug addictions. Through the Joint Programme, the United Nations was also able to reach out to civil society to include them in the penal reform efforts. Having a space convened by the United Nations also gave civil society direct access to governmental actors, an opportunity for dialogue not always easy to achieve. A human rights framework for penal reform: Underlying the penal reform strategy was the acknowledgement that though prisoners may be deprived of their liberty, they should not be deprived of their liberties. Basing penal reform on human rights standards meant: A change of mindset: from one of punishing and criminalizing the detainees to one where they are viewed as rights-holders. Hence it meant reframing education, health and training services in prisons as being a right, not an act of good will. Seeking alternatives to incarceration and focusing on reintegrating the detainees into society; Ensuring that policies, programmes and advocacy strategies are informed by international human rights obligations, such as the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as recommendations of United Nations human rights mechanisms, including those from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. With this in mind, the United Nations supported the establishment of a penitentiary school that provided training to the entire prison system, including police officers, prison security guards and civil servants. The aim of the school was to improve the treatment of prisoners, by sensitizing prison officials on the rights of prisoners and on the need to reintegrate convicts into society rather than focusing on punishment. Part of the training, which was provided by experts from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South America, focused on human rights standards related to prisoners and the human rights commitments undertaken by Uruguay, including as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture. Other United Nations agencies also contributed to the training, including UN-Women on gender issues, ILO on labour issues and UNODC on drug prevention and health issues. To promote the public’s understanding of and support for social reintegration, the Joint Programme, with the support of the United Nations country team and working with civil society actors, held open workshops throughout the country with neighbourhood associations and communities. These initiatives helped raise awareness of the rights of prisoners to access labour opportunities, education and vocational training, as well as drug rehabilitation programmes. The Resident Coordinator played an important role in raising these issues; at public events and in interviews with the media, the Resident Coordinator underlined that prisoners have rights and that a prosperous Uruguayan society is one in which prisoners are reintegrated into society. The Joint Programme also worked with the media, conducting seminars that stressed the reasons why prison reform was so important and helping them better understand why the government was spending considerable sums of money in that area. Journalists were also trained on how to report on prison issues. For example, they were sensitized to the fact that if an image of a prisoner is used, they should request the prisoner’s permission first. The expertise of the United Nations agencies was critical in taking forward the various initiatives of the Joint Programme, ensuring that these initiatives were informed by relevant human rights standards. UNICEF led advocacy on the age of penal responsibility and the need for a separate and autonomous judicial system for juveniles.7 UN-Women undertook an analysis of the specific vulnerabilities of women in prisons, including female prisoners who were pregnant, breastfeeding or with their children. ILO prepared a draft bill on labour rights in prisons with a view to facilitate social reintegration of inmates. RESULTS Such a comprehensive overhaul of a penal system requires time. It requires a cultural change, time to train people, to develop institutional capacity and to make changes in policies and legal and administrative systems that have been in place for decades. It will only be in the medium and long term that the impact of reform can be assessed. Nevertheless, the activities of and the approach promoted by the Joint Programme have already shown results in the following areas: On 15 July 2010, the government passed an emergency budget allowing for the construction of additional prison facilities. The initiative, intended to ease the chronic overcrowding in prisons, resulted in 2,000 new places within the prison capacity. It also enabled the refurbishment, where possible, or closing of facilities with severe infrastructural damage. In 2011, the emergency budget also enabled the increase and restructuring of personnel in prisons, in line with a more integrated approach to prison services. 1,178 civil penitentiary educators were hired to replace the police guards, as well as 100 administrative posts and 184 technical specialists, such as physicians and social workers. In June 2010, the government created the Oficina de Supervisión de Libertad Asistida (Office to Supervise Assisted Liberty), a bureau within the National Directorate of Prisons. Under this programme, 100 prisoners have received alternative sentences to perform community service work, under surveillance. The programme will be assessed and if successful, scaled up in the future. The government has carried out a review of labour laws in order to provide inmates with legal work opportunities and facilitate social reintegration. ILO helped prepare the draft bill on labour rights in prisons, which was recently approved by the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Interior. It is now before parliament for discussion. Specific guidelines have been prepared and submitted to the government on education and vocational training policies, and other productive activities to facilitate rehabilitation. As a result of a comprehensive review on the conditions of women and their children in prisons, alternative procedures to deal with this highly vulnerable population have been designed; for example, an alternative sentencing programme has been developed which enables mothers with young children to expend their prison period at home, allowing them to care for their children. Measures to improve health services in prisons have been introduced, including the creation of drug rehabilitation programs. These measures have created a new partnership between the Ministry of Public Health and the National Drug Commission. For the first time in more than 20 years, some of Uruguay’s biggest prisons have a 24-hour health and emergency service in-house. These include mental health support services. The presence of psychologists and health teams has decreased the high pressure felt in many prison centres and reduced incidences of violence and vulnerability in the centres. A series of human rights training sessions have been implemented, reaching 10 percent of penitentiary personnel at supervisor level within prisons and juvenile detention centres. As a result, the penitentiary system has, for the first time, a team of mid-ranking officials and supervisors trained on the legal norms and standards regarding prisons. They are aware of the rights of inmates and the corresponding obligations of state officials. A full revision of the penal and penal procedure codes to bring them in line with human rights standards has been submitted by the government to parliament. The report, prepared by a highly regarded jurist, is providing the basis for parliamentary discussions on the penal codes. As a result of multi-stakeholder engagement in the penal reform process, civil society is playing an increasingly active role. They have been undertaking studies and diagnoses on the reform issue and participating in programmes relating to prison conditions and other reforms. The government has carried out a comprehensive situation analysis of various demographic groups, such as women, within the prison system and has been consulting with these groups in the process. This has facilitated the creation of a model that responded more accurately to the interests and needs of detainees. Three key factors have contributed to the success of the Joint Programme in achieving the above results: i) the inter-agency and inter-institutional approach; no agency on its own – at the national or international level – could have undertaken such an ambitious reform process; ii) the neutral space that the Joint Programme provided, which enabled open dialogue among all the relevant actors; iii) the focus on human rights norms, which galvanized action and attention across party lines and provided a new model for penal reform. As an indicator of the success of the Joint Programme, the government has asked the United Nations to take the Joint Programme forward into a second phase. In phase two, the Joint Programme will focus on designing a new and improved institutional framework for the National Rehabilitation Institute (the body now in charge of managing prisons nationwide); supporting the implementation of labour policies in the penitentiary system; developing guidelines on the treatment of drug abusers; and continuing training for penitentiary directors and supervisors on human rights and prison management. At this stage, the United Nations financial contribution is no longer the significant factor. LESSONS LEARNED The visit of a Special Procedure’s mandate holder of the United Nations Human Rights Council can serve as a powerful catalyst for reform on complex issues, while providing valuable expertise on how to carry out reforms, based on international human rights standards. The United Nations’ normative mandate, convening role and political leadership can help bring diverse actors together to work jointly on complex and sensitive issues and ensure that reform efforts are guided by human rights standards and principles. An inter-agency approach enables the United Nations to bring the different expertise of the agencies to bear on complex issues and promote an efficient and integrated process. National leadership and ownership is critical in moving forward an ambitious rights-based reform agenda. END NOTES http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ NY.GNP.PCAP.PP.CD United Nations Development Assistance Framework in Uruguay: 2011-2015, p.14. UNDG Website: www.undg.org/index.cfm?P=7. UNDG Website: www.undg.org/index.cfm?P=7. In preparation for the Special Rapporteur’s visit, the United Nations country team in Uruguay convened a United Nations Working Group and coordinated with government and civil society organizations to ensure that: (i) all relevant perspectives were brought to the Special Rapporteur’s attention; and (ii) that the Special Rapporteur was granted complete and unimpeded access to all places of detention, interviews with detainees and access to relevant documentation. Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, Mission to Uruguay, United Nations Human Rights Council, 21 December 2009, A/HRC/13/39/Add.1. These activities were undertaken in line with recommendations from the Committee on the Rights of the Child. See: CRC/C/URY/CO/2, paragraph 68.

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