Do you think you know the issues? : An Intern Perspective of UN Commissions


by: Jan Vincent Sarabia Ong

As accurately described by WYA’s Director of Advocacy Elyssa Koren, the United Nation commissions are a mad house. The UN HQ is flooded with hundreds of delegates from all walks of life and all kinds of garb to push their way in and pull people towards their position. This was the UN scene in the first week of February for the Commission on Social Development (CSocD) and its last week for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Before we get into the action details, why all the razzle, dazzle and buzz around commissions and what are they? First, Commissions are defined as a UN organism that:

a) Monitors, reviews, and assesses the steps Member States have taken to implement the outcome documents from high-level conferences.

a) Ensure that the actions specified in the outcome documents are being followed at the local, national, regional and international levels.

b) The commissions produce resolutions that are formal expressions of political will.

So, in a nutshell, it is a check up like a doctor’s appointment on resolutions already made and do not create legally binding outcomes. The mad house comes in when delegates from local government units, non-profit organizations and other similar groups converge to express their political will. This is done to make their positions hopefully recognized in commissions’ outcome resolution that can influence a future legally binding treaty. These discussions happen in a grand general assembly of each member state and in country delegation sponsored side events that highlight a dimension of the theme’s issue.

And WYA’s role, as I have experienced, is to combat policies and programs that define man’s dignity in a one dimensional note. Human beings are much more than their mere physical existence. People need to be fed love, values and education rather than only their material needs. In the case of CSocD, there is still much need to push entrepreneurship and innovation when the focus is still on population management and financial aid. While, the CSW’s discussion on women empowerment revolve on skills education and abuse. Yet, there is much need to tackle and mention the need for values education for women to empower themselves first as they earn their material needs.

On a more positive side, commissions are a global experience on solidarity. Although delegates may differ on the finer details of an issue, it is also a chance discover each other’s perspectives, commonalities and most importantly, our drive nurture the world. I was pleased to be enlightened on gender equality and my role as man in it. There is also much to dig deep on the nuances of each issue such as women and corruption, disabilities, and even in conditional cash transfer. So, as much as commissions are a mad house, they are beautiful mad houses because they highlight how the global community composed of each individuals is still struggling in making a better world. More perspectives on commissions as I attend more of them.

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