UN welcomes $7 billion donor pledge for Syrians and the region in 2019


UN Welcomes $7 billion donor pledge for Syrians and the region in 2019
(Brussels, 14 March 2019) – International donors today pledged a record US$6.97 billion to support millions of people in need of humanitarian aid in Syria as well as to refugees and host communities in the neighbouring countries. Part of the overall pledge, $2.5 billion, is for the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey this year.

In 2017, donors pledged $6 billion in Brussels and in 2018, $4.4 billion. Total fundraising for 2018 reached just over $6 billion by the end of the year.

“I am pleased with this important signal of the international community’s solidarity with the people in Syria and with Syria’s neighbours who are hosting huge numbers of refugees, and feeling the strain of their generosity,” UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock said…

Human Rights and Drug Policy

Human Rights – Drug Policy

Human Rights and Drug Policy
Posted on March 15, 2019
Vienna – A coalition of UN Member States, UN entities and leading human rights experts meeting at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs launched today, a landmark set of international legal standards to transform and reshape global responses to the world drug problem.

The International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy introduces a comprehensive catalogue of human rights standards. Grounded in decades of evidence, they are a guide for governments to develop human rights compliant drug policies, covering the spectrum of cultivation to consumption. Harnessing the universal nature of human rights, the document covers a range of policy areas from development to criminal justice to public health.

The guidelines come at an important moment when high-level government representatives are convening at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to shape a new global strategy on drugs. Under the mounting weight of evidence that shows the systemic failures of the dominant punitive paradigm, including widespread human rights violations, governments are facing growing calls to shift course.

“Drug control policies intersect with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the pledge by Member States to leave no one behind. Approaches that violate human rights and fail to curb the illicit drug trade are leaving a trail of human suffering,” said Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director of UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Group. “For countries who are ready to place human dignity and sustainable development at the heart of their drug control policy, these guidelines offer valuable guidance to promote more effective and humane drug control policy.”

Seeking to promote the rule of law, the guidelines feature recommendations across the administration of justice—from discriminatory policing practices, to arbitrary arrest and detention, to decriminalisation of drugs for personal use—the guidelines articulate the global state of human rights law in relation to drug policy, which includes ending the death penalty for drug-related offenses.

At least 25 national governments – from Argentina to South Africa – have scrapped criminal penalties for possession of drugs for personal, non-medical use, either in law or practice, setting an example for others to follow. The United Nations system has jointly called for decriminalization as an alternative to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases…

Leading Humanitarian, Development, and Global Health Organizations Urge U.S. Congress to Reject Cuts to Foreign Assistance

U.S. Budgetary Allocations

Leading Humanitarian, Development, and Global Health Organizations Urge Congress to Reject Cuts to Foreign Assistance
March 11, 2019
Leading humanitarian, development, and global health organizations Bread for the World, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, InterAction, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, ONE, Oxfam, PATH, Save the Children, and World Vision, are calling on Members of Congress to protect the International Affairs budget in Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) despite the Administration’s proposed 24 percent cuts. American leadership is critical in the face of daunting global challenges, from conflict to mass displacement, from food insecurity to global health crises.

More than 132 million people are projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2019 given an unprecedented number of humanitarian crises. Natural disasters, atrocities, gender-based violence, and protracted armed conflict have resulted in more than 68 million displaced persons, including more than 25 million refugees. Now is not the time to slash effective, life-saving programs that help create a safer and more secure world.

In addition, the Administration’s proposal to significantly modify and repeal the refugee mandate and resources of the Department of State’s humanitarian bureau, coupled with a 34 percent cut to humanitarian assistance, is unwise, especially given historic levels of displacement.

Foreign assistance funding is fundamental to America’s global leadership and essential to shaping a world where our national interests will thrive. The International Affairs budget is roughly 1% of the federal budget, and an even smaller portion is dedicated to achieving humanitarian, development, and health outcomes for the world’s most marginalized children, women and men. This small portion of our budget is molding the face of our world’s future and building a better and more stable world with prospering economies. Cuts will have life-and-death consequences for the poorest people in the world and will reduce the life-saving and economic impacts that we see every day.

The organizations, which together operate in nearly every country across the globe, often work in partnership with the U.S. government and have produced important and demonstrable results. From providing education, health, good governance and economic assistance that forms the building blocks of many growing nations, to addressing humanitarian disasters, preventing conflict and containing deadly pandemics – aid delivers. The budget’s proposed cuts of 23 percent to development assistance and economic assistance and 28 percent to global health flies in the face of these facts.

Time and time again, Congress has acted in a bipartisan and bicameral manner to support smart American global engagement through programs, budgets and policies that demonstrate American values while advancing our national interest. Leading humanitarian, development, and global health organizations urge Congress to support no less than $60 billion for the International Affairs Budget in FY20.

To ensure U.S. leadership, Congress must reject any proposed cuts to these vital programs and fight against removing crucial tools from our foreign policy toolkit when they are needed more than ever.


March 11, 2019
Fiscal Year 2020 Development and Humanitarian Assistance Budget Request
Fact Sheet
The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Budget Request for USAID continues to advance our efforts to strengthen U.S. national security through strategic investments that promote the Journey to Self-Reliance. The Budget envisions the day when USAID’s development assistance is no longer needed. USAID supports governments, civil society, and the private sector in partner countries to build self-reliance, defined as the ability of a country to plan, finance, and implement solutions to its own development challenges. The FY 2020 Budget also upholds the President’s commitment to serve the needs of American citizens, ensure their safety, and defend their values, as outlined in the President’s National Security Strategy. The Budget includes significant investments to reduce the reach of conflict; prevent the spread of pandemic disease; and counteract the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime, and other security threats.

U.S. – International Criminal Court [Visa Restrictions]

U.S. – International Criminal Court

Remarks to the Press [referencing the International Criminal Court]
Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room, Washington, DC
March 15, 2019
… Since 1998, the United States has declined to join the ICC because of its broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers and the threat it poses to American national sovereignty. We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation. We feared that the court could eventually pursue politically motivated prosecutions of Americans, and our fears were warranted.

November of 2017, the ICC prosecutor requested approval to initiate investigation into, quote, “the situation in Afghanistan,” end of quote. That could illegitimately target American personnel for prosecutions and sentencing. In September of 2018, the Trump administration warned the ICC that if it tried to pursue an investigation of Americans there would be consequences. I understand that the prosecutor’s request for an investigation remains pending.

Thus today, persistent to existing legal authority to post visa restrictions on any alien, quote, “whose entry or proposed activities in the United States would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences,” end of quote, I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel. This includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation. These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent. Implementation of this policy has already begun. Under U.S. law, individual visa records are confidential, so I will not provide details as to who has been affected and who will be affected.

But you should know if you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you will still have or will get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States. The United States will implement these measures consistent with applicable law, including our obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement. These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts. We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course…


Statement by the President of the Assembly, O-Gon Kwon, reiterating strong support for the ICC
Press Release : 15 March 2019
In relation to the statement made today by the United States Secretary of State regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC), I would like to reiterate that the Court has the strong support of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.

The Assembly is comprised of over 120 States Parties. At its seventeenth session in December 2018, the States Parties reconfirmed their unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution, and reiterated their commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Rome Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any threats against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it. This unwavering support continues today.

The Assembly also renewed its resolve to stand united against impunity. The International Criminal Court is an independent and impartial judicial institution crucial for ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

The Court is non-political and acts strictly within the legal framework of the Rome Statute, its founding treaty. One of the cornerstones of the Rome Statute system is that it recognizes the primary jurisdiction of States to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes. The jurisdiction of the Court is complementary to domestic jurisdictions.

The Assembly of States Parties is the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC. It is comprised of representatives of States that have ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute. President Kwon was elected President of the Assembly for a three year mandate in December 2017.

$150 Million in Catalytic Capital to Help Address Critical Social Challenges

Development – Philanthropic/Funding Strategies

$150 Million in Catalytic Capital to Help Address Critical Social Challenges
March 12, 2019 | Press Release
MacArthur today launched the Catalytic Capital Consortium, dedicating $150 million to help address financing gaps in impact investing, particularly for funds and intermediaries that are not a fit for conventional investment. MacArthur is joined in this effort by leading impact investors The Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network, who will add their expertise and financial resources to the Catalytic Capital Consortium. MacArthur’s first investment is $30 million to expand and accelerate The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zero Gap innovative finance portfolio, matched by $30 million from The Rockefeller Foundation.

Catalytic capital is investment capital that is patient, risk-tolerant, concessionary, and flexible in ways that differ from conventional investment. According to Catalytic Capital: Unlocking More Investment and Impact, a report released today by the consulting firm Tideline, catalytic capital is an essential component to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the SDGs face an annual $5 trillion to $7 trillion financing gap, catalytic capital can help meet the demand for more capital across the risk-return spectrum, complement and pave the way for conventional investment, and mobilize additional capital through a range of blended finance solutions. The Catalytic Capital Consortium will increase awareness, understanding, and use of catalytic capital as an investment tool, ultimately helping more enterprises secure the financial support they need to grow and scale social and environmental solutions that could improve millions of lives.

“Catalytic capital is needed for impact investing to realize its full potential,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch, who announced the Consortium at the Global Impact Investing Network Investors’ Council Annual Meeting, alongside the leaders of The Rockefeller Foundation and Omidyar Network. “While impact investing is growing rapidly, much of the attention focuses on market-rate returns, leaving a serious gap in financing opportunities for many promising impact enterprises and funds that could help address critical social challenges. The Catalytic Capital Consortium will help more investors appreciate the importance of this type of capital in yielding deeper, more sustainable impact for people and the planet.”

Since it was launched in 2015, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Zero Gap grant portfolio has grown to nearly 50 unique financial structures across 28 countries. MacArthur’s matching investment in Zero Gap builds on this work, marking a unique impact investing collaboration between two foundations, where each will invest $30 million with the aim of catalyzing at least $1 billion in new capital to help meet the SDGs. These funds will be managed by The Rockefeller Foundation’s new impact investment management platform, Rockefeller Foundation Impact Investment Management, which aims to tap into mainstream markets and investors, scaling up investments into promising new finance vehicles that help to close the SDG funding gap…

Governance – Agency Performance Assessment – MOPAN assessed the performance of UNESCO

Governance – Agency Performance Assessment

MOPAN assessed the performance of UNESCO
15 March 2019
In 2017-18, MOPAN, the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network, assessed the performance of UNESCO. The assessment looked at UNESCO’s organisational effectiveness (strategic, operational, relationship and performance aspects) and the results it achieved against its objectives. This was the first MOPAN assessment of UNESCO.

Key findings of MOPAN Assessment of UNESCO:
MOPAN has just released its assessment report of UNESCO – the first ever – providing a snapshot of UNESCO’s performance over 2016 to mid-2018 covering strategic, operational, relationship and performance management as well as results. Overall the report is rather positive, with an overall rating of “Highly satisfactory” or “satisfactory” for the vast majority of indicators.

Key findings of the assessment show that:
:: “UNESCO has a clear strategic vision aligned to global normative frameworks, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change”.

:: “Despite the notable constraints, there has been no change to the expectations on UNESCO’s mandate and range of activities, and in spite of difficulties, UNESCO has protected its normative work and raised additional funds to finance programmatic work.”

:: “The organisation combines its normative and programmatic roles in ways that provide a mutually reinforcing interplay, ensuring that its work in both roles is relevant and targeted.”

:: “MOPAN’s survey of external partners confirms that stakeholders value UNESCO’s contribution to promoting cross-cutting agendas, with gender equality being a particular strength.”

:: “UNESCO is unique for having the mandate and space to bring together experts, practitioners, citizens and governments to develop solutions to the global problems embedded in the SDGs. It has rare expertise and a degree of authority that enables it to influence governments across the world.”

:: “UNESCO is recognised for its distinct interdisciplinary and participatory approach to programming, most notably in the design phase.”

:: “Notwithstanding the challenging environment, UNESCO has been able to drive through impressive improvements in areas such as results-based management and to provide high-quality services, most notably within its internal oversight, including evaluation and internal audit.”

:: “UNESCO continues to face an extended and damaging budget crisis, with the need for further prioritisation.”

:: “The institutional architecture at headquarters reflects UNESCO’s mandate; yet global field presence is unnecessarily complex, which compromises agility and relevance.”

:: “UNESCO has a strong appreciation of these challenges and is working to position itself to be more efficient and effective in the future through ongoing reforms.”

The assessment identified the following six strengths and seven areas for improvement
. UNESCO is central to the SDGs
. UNESCO is a global leader in knowledge and practice
. Education is a notable strength of UNESCO
. UNESCO is effective in mainstreaming gender equality, good governance, environment sustainability and human rights
. UNESCO is committed to RBM and RBB and is progressing well in these areas
. UNESCO has a high-quality central evaluation service

Areas for improvement
. Prioritization of the overall work programme remains limited
. A number of corporate systems remain outdated
. Rationalizing the gratuitously complex global field network remains a priority
. Tracking poor performance and addressing inefficiency is a challenge for UNESCO
. Refining the treatment of results and tracking impact is necessary to demonstrate continued relevance and sustainability
. The quality of decentralized evaluations and evidence-base for normative work requires dedicated resources
. Communicating externally

About the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN):
The MOPAN is a network created in 2002, which is currently composed of 18 member countries with a common interest in assessing the effectiveness of the major multilateral organisations they fund.
MOPAN’s mission is to:
:: Enhance accountability by supporting its members to assess organisational and development effectiveness of funded multilateral organisations.
:: Promote learning by informing strategic engagement and dialogue among multilateral organisations and development partners.

Credibility of assessments is ensured through an impartial, systematic and rigorous approach (MOPAN 3.0 methodology (link is external)). Members of MOPAN use the outcomes of these assessments to, inter alia, inform strategic decision-making and engagement with the assessed organisations. UNESCO is one of the 14 organisations assessed by MOPAN in 2017-2018 period.



Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
Polio this week as of 13 March 2019
:: On the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative featured stories of women on-ground working for polio eradication efforts. Read all the IWD news here.

:: Wild poliovirus continues to transmit in Afghanistan—one of the most challenging geographical and socio-political landscapes—but GPEI is working with the partners and the government to make concrete gains in eliminating the disease. More on the efforts here.

:: Real-time disease surveillance is the future of disease of surveillance, which is being rolled-out at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more.

Summary of new viruses this week:
:: Pakistan – nine WPV1-positive environmental samples;
:: Nigeria – one circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2)- positive community contact case and three cVDPV2-positive environmental samples.


Editor’s Note:
WHO has posted a refreshed emergencies page which presents an updated listing of Grade 3,2,1 emergencies as below.

WHO Grade 3 Emergencies  [to 16 Mar 2019]
Democratic Republic of the Congo
::  32: Situation report on the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu  12 March 2019
:: DONS – Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo   14 March 2019

Syrian Arab Republic
:: 8 ways WHO supports health in Syria   14 March 2019
The Syrian crisis is one of the world’s biggest and most complex humanitarian emergencies. 8 years of conflict have taken a huge toll on a health system that was once among the best in the region. Here are 8 things to know about how WHO works in Syria to save lives and support health despite immense challenges.

Bangladesh – Rohingya crisis – No new digest announcements identified  
Myanmar – No new digest announcements identified  
Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified  
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified  
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified  


WHO Grade 2 Emergencies  [to 16 Mar 2019]
:: Disease Commodity Package for MERS-CoV  pdf, 149kb  March 2019

Brazil (in Portugese) – No new digest announcements identified
Cameroon  – No new digest announcements identified
Central African Republic  – No new digest announcements identified
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified
Hurricane Irma and Maria in the Caribbean – No new digest announcements identified
Iraq – No new digest announcements identified  
Libya – No new digest announcements identified
Niger – No new digest announcements identified
occupied Palestinian territory  – No new digest announcements identified  
Sao Tome and Principe Necrotizing Cellulitis (2017) – No new digest announcements identified
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified


WHO Grade 1 Emergencies  [to 16 Mar 2019]
Indonesia – Sulawesi earthquake 2018
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Namibia – viral hepatitis
Philippines – Tyhpoon Mangkhut
WHO AFRO – Outbreaks and Emergencies Bulletin – Week 10/2019
Week 10: 04 – 10 March 2019
The WHO Health Emergencies Programme is currently monitoring 59 events in the region. This week’s edition covers key new and ongoing events, including:
:: Plague in Uganda
:: Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
:: Hepatitis in Namibia
:: Lassa fever in Nigeria


UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic   – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified


UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
Ethiopia  – No new digest announcements identified
Somalia  – No new digest announcements identified