No. 4/ November 2008
Internal Voices « A Changing World » New tools needed to tackle changing world McObama—Same wine, different bottles? S.O.S. UN Agency Special: UNFPA wants to eradicate fistula
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Editorial We find ourselves in the midst of a changing world. The news is filled with evidence of the changes. They range from political change to financial change to environmental change. “The world is changing around us, and the UN must also change with it.” Those words were uttered by the SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon in connection with the launch of the 2008 Millennium Development Goals report. How this will happen, we cannot know. All we can be certain of is that change is occurring and we are not merely witnesses. We are taking part in it, because it is happening in our world. There are constantly changes within the UN and especially concerning interns. Old interns leave and go on to new adventures and new interns join the UN family. Moving to a new country, meeting new people, making new friends. It is all happening, right here and right now. I find myself in the wonderful city of Brussels nowadays, working for the UN and serving as the editor of Internal Voices. This editorial board has also changed and this issue is put together by both previous and new interns. We are people from all over the world, interning for different UN agencies, all based here in Brussels, the “capital of Europe”. We all have different backgrounds, but we have one thing in common. All of us want to contribute to a better world. We want to make sure the changes are for the better. In this magazine we hope to give you some insight as to what we do and what we care about.
Disclaimer: This publication is created by interns from UN agencies in Brussels. The views and opinions presented in this publication are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations.
How it all started…
New tools needed to In August 2007 a couple of UNRIC tackle changing world interns came up with the idea of creating an intern magazine. Two issues later the concept was ex- Increasing prices on food and raw materials cause crisis panded by the idea of contacting interns outside of UNRIC. McObama - Same wine, diferent bottles? The principle was to give to the United Nations interns an opportunity to get to know each other better, to express their opinion, and to read articles from other people who definitely have interesting backgrounds. The issue you are reading now is the 4th one of the magazine. This magazine is a means to strengthen relations inside the UN system as well as the result of a collaboration between interns from different UN agencies. The magazine’s initiative is solely originated by the imagination of the interns. The interns create this magazine from A to Z, writing the articles, taking pictures, drawing illustrations, and so on. Most of the work was undertaken in the spare time of each contributor, as well as during long hours at the office. Thanks to all the interns who created this issue and who so generously gave of their time and energy, and made this issue so rich and interesting.
There and back again: From Cold War to War on Terror
Regulars Campaigns: Making UN Cooler
Agency Special: UNHCR
Portrait: Eugene Owusu
Leisure New in Brussels
Kristine Alsly Hansen, Agnieszka Brocka, Damien Conchon, Céline Croon, Laetitia Frelaut, Marie Halling, Katariina Juvonen, Selim Khemiri, Laura Kuen, Eleonora Mancini, Valentina Marchioni, Frøy Katrine Myrhol, Jannis Pähler, Natalie Rulloda, Helene Skaardal, Giulia Torricini
Intern at UNRIC Cover page photo: Katariina Juvonen
New tools needed to tackle changing world Our world is changing swiftly, which poses imminent challenges to international organizations, such as the UN, the EU and NATO, governments and civil society organizations that deal with various crises around the world. Change is often regarded either as positive or negative, depending on the goals of the parties involved. They can be driven either by their own interest disregarding the rule of law or, on the contrary, by social equality and a fair distribution of wealth among people. It is hard to distinguish between overall favourable proposals for change and unfavourable ones. Photo: Logan Abassi
A good example of this is the case of Russia-Georgia conflict over the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which started at the beginning of August. Georgian forces bombarded the capital of South Ossetia, and Russian troops responded to this assault. It is very clear that Russia’s intention was to change the status quo in the region into one that would better suit its interests. But is Moscow’s real plan to redraw the map of Europe to its own benefit? Or is Russia simply seeking a new balance of power? Since the end of the Cold War, both the EU and NATO have enlarged their sphere of influence to former Soviet countries, namely Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, among others. These three countries were invaded in 1939, 1956 and 1968, respectively. The Soviet domination ended in 1989. Nearly two decades after the end of the Communist era, the map of Europe has completely changed. Did the EU and NATO involve Russia in a constructive dialogue to pave the way for a new configuration of Europe? As far as the dialogue between NATO and Russia is concerned, partnership has only been under discussion since 1995. Zimbabwean power puzzle Another interesting power-sharing deal
issue is the in Zimbabwe.
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party, won against Mugabe during the first round of the presidential elections in March. Nevertheless, it was due to the international pressure that President Mugabe, in power for nearly 30 years, accepted to negotiate a powersharing deal with its main opposition party, according to which Tsvangirai would become the new Prime Minister. However, negotiations for key ministries between parties seemed to have reached a deadlock. A government of national unity seemed to be the best solution given the current social and economic crisis. In fact, the acceptance of such a solution was a requirement to unblock foreign aid to Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, it is neither an easy solution nor an effective one in the long run. Political stability will remain precarious once achieved. A transitional government is essential now. One that entirely reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people will soon be necessary. Elites against the indigenous There is an ongoing process of constitutional reform in Bolivia. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his concern about the violent incidents that occurred in the so-called “half-moon provinces”, the most resource-rich regions. The UN, along with
other international organizations, has called on President Morales and the provinces’ governors to hold talks aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the major reforms of the Bolivian Constitution. Elected as president in January 2006, Evo Morales promised a new era for the indigenous peoples, as he himself is one of them. Indigenous people were dominated for centuries by the Spanish descendant elites. The Bolivian elite is still very powerful because they control the country’s richest provinces. The project of constitutional reforms threatens to transfer the power from the rich to the poor, that is, the indigenous communities. The elites will continue to do anything they can to avoid the nationalization of natural resources. Therefore, President Morales has only one option: to negotiate a more balanced version of the final Constitution text. New solutions are needed to solve the international problems given their increasing complexity. A constructive dialogue, a multilateral approach and willingness to find a compromise are fundamental to solve today’s major challenges. Natalie Rulloda Intern at UNRIC
Increasing food prices and raw materials cause crisis The high increase in prices has mainly affected the cereal crops that comprise the basic diet of billions of people every day. The crisis is causing social problems and food reserves are at their lowest. The price of wheat rose by 130 percent on world markets between March 2007 and March 2008, while the prize of rice increased by nearly 90 per cent and maize by nearly a third during the same period. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that its overall price index for basic foods, which increased 8 percent during 2005-06, rose by 27 percent in 2007. While raw material markets are soaring, inflation follows this trend in almost every country in the world. Thus, the increase on food prices has already caused social problems in several countries. Recently hunger riots were reported in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Morocco. Today, food reserves have reached their lowest level in thirty years, and commodity markets are extremely volatile and subject to sudden peaks and speculation. Factors causing the increase The situation has deteriorated with the fall of the US dollar (currency in which all commodities are traded). Nevertheless, the most important factors of the price increase are many. The increase in oil and energy prices affects the whole food chain production; fertilization, storage and delivery. The improved living standards in China, India and parts of Latin America are leading to increased meat consumption and thus higher demand for grain for animal feed. Also transitional factors such as drought, prevailing in wheat-producing or low level of stocks regions, explain to a large extent the recent increase in agricultural prices. Climatic phenomena can
thus lead to poor harvests, as was the case for example in Australia recently. Change in the agricultural markets The increased demand for bio fuels leads to a radical change in the agricultural markets causing the rise of world agricultural prices. The new report "Agricultural Perspectives OECD and FAO 2007-2016” published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development underlines this phenomenon. Thus, the increasing use of cereals, sugar, oilseeds and vegetable oils to produce alternative fuels, ethanol and bio diesel confirms not only the increasing price of crops, but also, indirectly through the higher cost of livestock feed, those of livestock production. Consequences of increased prices According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the impact of rising fuel and food prices will not only affect operational costs, but it is also likely to affect the frequency and intensity of food insecurity. The poorest households will tend to spend a greater share of their income to obtain food at the expense of non-food products. Thus, consequences could in the worst case lead to a lower school attendance rate or a depletion of assets, rather than reduced food consumption amongst the poorer families. However, urban poor people are more affected by the increase. Thus, the rise in prices of agricultural products concerns net importer countries as well as the urban poor. Solutions to the crisis Today, net import countries, especially in the developing world, have new financial needs. The industrialized world should help by empowering the smallholder farmers in developing countries while also providing social safety nets to the poorest and most vulnerable con-
Photo: Eskinder Debebe
sumers in these countries for them to become rural entrepreneurs. Ultimately creating the space needed by governments and the private sector to pursue long-term investment in agriculture and rural development would be preferable. Indeed, almost two billion people depend on the world’s 450 million smallholder farms for food and livelihoods. If supported by the appropriate merger of policy and investment measures, farmers could possibly lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their country’s wider economic growth. WFP helps Africa The United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest food aid agency, announced its possession of resources to provide additional assistance to 90 million people in the 40 countries that have been hit hardest by the increased food prices, mostly in Africa. The new funds will also allow FAO to expand its pilot $ 17 million Initiative on Soaring Food Prices. The response of the UN will be directed by the High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, which was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May.
Damien Conchon Intern at UNRIC
McObama - Same wine, different bottles? What might the face of an envisaged US-led multilateralism look like, and what role does the UN play in the presidential candidates’ respective concepts?
The presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama have both emphasized that they want to overcome the infamous policy principle of preemptive unilateralism under the Bush administration. At the same time they both intend to continue with the policy of economic, political and military intervention, while striving for wider international support and legitimacy. “The Straight Talker” McCain John McCain has repeatedly accused the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of inaction, particularly for its failure to stop the genocide in Darfur and the violent repression of the democratic movement in Myanmar. His criticism culminated in the statement that “the only reason the United Nations has any value at all is because it is the only game in town”. The “Straight Talker”, as McCain likes to label himself, has presented his own plans on how to escape the inertia of the UNSC. In an address to members of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, he said the US should champion a new “League of Democracies”, an international organization made up of "like-minded nations working together in the cause of peace”. McCain might outsource the UN In the words of Senator McCain, the League of Democracies could “act where the UN fails to act” and bring “concerted pressure to bear on tyrants in Burma or Zimbabwe, with or without Moscow's and Beijing's approval. It could unite to impose sanctions on Iran and thwart its nuclear ambitions. It could join to fight the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa and fashion better policies to confront the crisis of our environment”. To John McCain, the days of the United Nations as anything other than a refugee and humanitarian emergency organization are numbered. He has promised that if he is elected president, within his first year he will call a summit of the world's democracies
Illustration: Frøy Katrine Myrhol
"to begin exploring the practical steps necessary to realize this vision”. Kantian peace The idea to gather all democracies in an international organisation to bypass the Chinese and Russian veto power in the UNSC is not new. The philosophical basis is the so-called “Kantian peace": Democratic governments are less likely to go to war, but democratic nations may be at odds with non-democratic ones. The most recent proposal based on this famous thesis, the “League of Democracies”, is originally the brainchild of Robert Kagan, the foreign policy advisor to John McCain. Kagan says that the idea actually started with the US Democrats and liberal inter-nationalists. Obama will strengthen NATO In theory, the idea can also be attributed in large parts to Ivo Daalder, a foreign policy expert and - guess what! - foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. Preferring the moniker of a “Concert of Democracies”, Daalder has written extensively in support of the idea. Obama himself has yet to take a clear position on it. In his speeches and on his campaign websites, Obama emphasizes the
importance of the UN System but there is no explicit mentioning of UNSC reform or an alternative such as a “Concert of Democracies”. Rather, he has repeatedly emphasized that he wants to strengthen NATO as both a military alliance and as a political forum. New UN form Political analysts largely agree that - no matter who is going to win the race for the White House - US foreign policy will become more open to discussion with both allies and rivals. But which international institutions are going to frame this multilateral dialogue? In the past, alternatives to the UNSC lacked the desired legitimacy. NATO or the G8 (+5) are simply to exclusive. In other words, to this day the UN is the worst form of intergovernmental decisionmaking, except all those other forms that have been tried. Maybe a new form will be tried soon.
Jannis Pähler Intern at UNEP
There and Back Again: From Cold War to War on Terror that American policy causes them to lose their economic, political, and even psychological independence’, so too has this been, at least partly, the reason for the Muslim insurgency experienced in the early 21st century. Bush’s claim that the goal of the alQaeda, much like that of the USSR according to Harry Truman in the late 1940s, to ‘remake the world and impose its radical beliefs on people everywhere’, has been seen as hypocritical in the view of Iraqis occupied by the American military, subjugated to American-styled governmental reforms, and more recently frustrated by the entry of American oil companies into the region. How the game is played
Photo: Michos Tzovaras
William Appleman Williams lived and wrote in a time when Europe and the world were ravaged either in hot or cold war, and the United States was striving to find itself a natural habitat as the world’s only true superpower. Dying in 1990, he did not live to see the evolution of the ‘New World Order’ and he could not have foreseen the developments of the 21st Century. But quoting Arthur C. Clarke in the conclusion of his most momentous book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, Williams notes that it is not the duty of a historian to predict the future, only to observe and interpret the past. As Williams notes, history offers a way of learning, a way of improving and amending, and a way of escaping the tragedy he saw in the deep-rooted inconsistency between ideals and strategy in American foreign policy. He challenged the pursuance of American leaders to promote the ‘American Way as the global ‘status quo’ and believed it to be damaging to the Republic’s own vision, ideals and moral conviction.
The current American foreign policy is predominantly determined by goals and motives related to the global ‘war on terror.’ Within this framework the United States has assigned to itself a unilateral role in international standard setting and law enforcement through the use of machtpolitik. This strategy is based on the assumption that American values of freedom and democracy are challenged by shadow states and terrorist networks and that if given the chance, people everywhere would chose the American way of life. This notion caused the American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, through the use of pre-emptive action and democracybuilding, and furthermore to assume a new urge to reshape the Middle East in the American image.
The lesson learned from Williams work is his endeavour to place America, not above nations, but among nations. Realising that Bush has designed a recipe for a war without end, and acknowledging that even American power has limits, could be one way of suggesting where Williams would place his criticism of the contemporary dilemmas in American diplomacy. In Tragedy Williams writes that ‘what counts is how the game is played’. The game of democratisation in the Middle East has turned out to be a new tragedy for American foreign policy. How to transcend this tragedy will be a question for Barack Obama or John McCain. Williams’ observations in Tragedy has a remarkable relevance to the tragedy that continues to evolve out of the war in Iraq - all initially in the name of assistance, reform and self-determination, but whose principles and ideals were lost in the barbarism and chaos that persist in a state of war.
Hypocritical view Where Williams aimed to demonstrate that the containment policy of the Cold War undermined the sovereignty of other nations and which made him believe that ‘other societies come to feel
Helene Skaardal Intern at UNRIC
S.O.S. UN «Most of the press coverage does not look benignly at the current administration of our organization» Photo: Marco Castro
The 63rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened at a difficult stage in the UN history. The new President of the UNGA, Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, outlined the most urgent needs and commitments for the GA in his first speech. Mr. D’Escoto Brockmann started with a call to democratize the UN to deal more effectively with the world’s most pressing problems, as he was reported saying that “the central and overarching objective of this… [session] will be to democratize our United Nations. In so doing we will ensure that the United Nations maintains its place as the world’s most important and indispensable Organization for achieving the levels of peace and security that our peoples are so rightly demanding of us.” Addiction to war He also alluded to the US attack on Iraq, the Russian invasion in Georgia and the China-Tibetan issue, while saying that “it is a sad but undeniable fact that serious breaches of the peace and threats to international peace and security are being perpetrated by some members of the Security Council that seem unable to break what appears like an addiction to war.” He stated that the veto privilege seems to have gone to some of those members’ heads and has made them think that they are entitled to do as they please without consequence.
Goals further away
“We must not fail them”
The legacy taken by Mr. D’Escoto Brockmann is not easily manageable. The achievement of the Millennium Campaign Goals, scheduled to take place by 2015, seems to be further away now than eight years ago, when the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan set them. The food crisis has driven more than 75 million additional people into hunger and poverty, and food prices are likely to remain high for several years to come. Not to mention the fact that, 60 years after the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights was endorsed, civilians from many countries are still experiencing violations of their rights.
The world has changed since the adoption of the United Nations Charter, but the trustworthiness in the organisations and the desire to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, hunger, terror and poverty remain the same. For this reason, Mr. D’Escoto Brockmann’s call is a promise that needs to be kept. “I am aware of the great expectations which the vast majority of the dispossessed inhabitants of our threatened planet have placed in the United Nations to bring them peace, security and to defend their right to life and to full development,” he said. “We must not fail them.”
Thus, it’s high time for the UN to show the world that today, more than ever, the UN is there to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people, cooperate in solving international, economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these common ends.
On top of the already mentioned problems, there is a lack of visibility of the activities from UN in the international press, with a consequent loss of credibility of the United Nations work toward the international community. The opening of the 63rd General Assembly represented an occasion for international press to focus on the state of play at the UN. Most of the press coverage does not look benignly at the current administration of our organization. In his long and shocking article, published in the Spanish daily El Pais, journalist John Carlin portrays a miserable image of our Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, labelling him an invisible man due to his inability to gain visibility and take a firm stand.
Valentina Marchioni Intern at UNRIC
Making UN cooler
«We must lead by example» Photo: Eskinder Debebe
Cool UN, a campaign with a twist, aims at reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and costs.
others to take action, we must do so as well," stated Secretary-General Ban Kimoon.
The United Nations serves as an example of actions against the climate change: Secretary-General launched a new campaign, Cool UN, in July aiming at reducing the use of air conditioning and hence cutting greenhouse gas emissions and saving money. In practice, this meant raising the thermostats in the UN Secretariat Building in New York by 2.8 ºC.
First, the campaign was run on a trial basis for the month of August, also involving a shutting down of the buildings’ air conditioning system over the weekends as well as a relaxation of the formal dress code amongst staff at the UN. Wearing lighter clothes means less need for air conditioning.
"We have succeeded in moving climate change to the top of the international agenda for action, and this means that the UN must take action itself. We must lead by example and if we are to ask
During the month of August, the initiative saved about 30 million pounds of steam, which translates into the equivalent of 2,000 tons of CO2. This carbonfootprint is equivalent to a passenger making 710 round-trip trans-Atlantic journeys.
The experiment was so successful, that Secretary-General decided to extend the initiative until September 15. A winter program is also under consideration. There the process could be reversed and staff and delegates could be asked to dress more warmly, which would also reduce energy consumption, emissions and heating costs. The UN could save up to $1 million with this initiative.
Katariina Juvonen Intern at UNRIC
AGENCY SPECIAL PAGE 9
UNFPA wants to eradicate Fistula UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. In 2003 UNFPA and its partners launched the Campaign to End Fistula. Life shattering consequences Obstetric fistula is an injury of childbearing that has been relatively neglected, despite the devastating impact it has on the lives of girls and women. It is a hole in the birth canal usually caused by several days of obstructed labour, without timely medical intervention (typically a Caesarian section). Indeed, during the prolonged labour, the soft tissues of the pelvis are compressed between the descending baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic bone. The lack of blood flow causes tissues to die, creating a hole between the mother’s vagina and bladder or between the vagina and rectum.
A fistula patient at a UNFPA-supported health facility in Islamabad, Pakistan © WARRICK PAGE/PANOS/UNFPA
flow of urine or faeces, she is often abandoned or neglected by her husband and family and ostracized by her community. Without treatment, her prospects for work and family life are thus greatly diminished. Left untreated, fistula can also lead to many medical consequences like frequent ulcerations, infections or kidney diseases. The price for a better life Like maternal mortality, fistula is almost entirely preventable. However, at least 2 million women in Africa, Asia and the Arab region are living with this condition, and some 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year.
The consequences of fistula are life shattering: the baby usually dies, and the woman is left with chronic incontinence. Because of her inability to control her
Indeed, fistula mainly occurs when emergency obstetric care is not available to women who develop complications during childbirth. Therefore impoverished girls and women living far from medical services (in rural areas for example) are disproportionately touched by the issue, which remains a relatively unknown, or even hidden problem largely because it affects the most marginalized members of society: young, poor, illiterate women in remote areas. So, obstetric fistula is clearly and deeply
interlinked with poverty, malnutrition, poor health services, early childbearing and gender discrimination. Poverty is the main social risk factor because it is associated with early marriage and malnutrition and because poverty reduces a woman’s chance of getting timely obstetric care. Moreover, simple surgery can normally repair the injury, with success rates as high as 90 per cent for experienced surgeons. The average cost of fistula treatment and post-operative care is about US $300. Sadly, most women in the condition do not know that treatment is available, or they cannot afford it. This is another example of the link between fistula and poverty. Prevention is the key In 2003 UNFPA and its partners launched the first-ever global Campaign to End Fistula. The Campaign is educating women and men, communities, policy makers and health professionals about how fistula can be prevented and treated. Ending the “culture of silence” that has surrounded fistula is a major strategy for improving lives and mobilizing resources. The overall goal is to
make the condition as rare in the South as it is in the North. This includes interventions on three key areas in each country.
from nineteen community radio stations were trained in disseminating messages about fistula and the importance of skilled attendance at childbirth.
Prevention is the key to end fistula. The most effective way to prevent fistula is to ensure access to quality maternal health care services, including family planning, skilled birth attendance, and emergency obstetric care. In the long run, prevention also entails tackling underlying social economic inequities. The promotion of gender equality is also a part of the Campaign prevention’s work. Moreover, UNFPA and its partners work with community and religious leaders, traditional birth attendants, radio stations, influential public figures and policy makers to increase awareness of the needs of pregnant women and to mobilize support for them. UNFPA also supports training of doctors and other health workers in life-saving obstetric care in 76 countries.
In Bangladesh, a national Fistula Centre has been established at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. To this date, national and international fistula surgeons have operated on 140 women with complicated fistula cases.
Prevention is the main focus but there is also a strong commitment to treating women who are already affected. In most cases, simple surgery can repair the injury. The Campaign thus supports all areas of treatment, from training doctors in fistula surgery to equipping and upgrading fistula centres.
«The campaign has already brought fistula to the attention of a wide audience» In Uganda, equipment and supplies for emergency obstetric care were provided for seven regional hospitals.
was launched in Belgium in May 2007 (with events organized at the European Parliament and Belgian Senate, support from the Campaign Spokesperson, Natalie Imbruglia, etc.), helping to bring fistula to wider attention among the Belgian public. Eventually, more than $25 millions in funding have been mobilized from a variety of donors. The campaign, which is inscribed in UNFPA’s largest mission -the attainment of Millennium Development Goal number 5 (improving maternal health)has made remarkable progress with relatively modest funding. But the needs are great. Ending fistula worldwide will demand political will, additional resources, and strengthened collaboration between governments, community groups, NGOs and health professionals.
The campaign has also already brought fistula to the attention of a wide audience, including the general public, policy-makers, health officials and women with fistula. It is also the case in Northern (and potential donor) countries. For example, a month-long ad campaign
Laetitia Frelaut Intern at UNFPA
Many patients, especially those who have lived with the condition for years, will need emotional, economic and social support to fully recover from their ordeal. Through the Campaign, women receive counseling and skills training to help them get back on their feet after surgery. Working with communities is also the key to help reduce stigma surrounding the condition and ensure women are welcomed back into society. A brighter future The Campaign currently covers more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Arab region. Here are a few examples of campaign achievements. In Benin, the government is currently implementing its four-year National Strategy for the Eradication of Fistula. 40 health workers and radio announcers
Natalie Imbruglia speaks with patient Hauwa Saadu, 20, at the Kwalli Rehabilitation Centre in Kano.
Photo: Lucian Read
PORTRAIT PAGE 11
The African Dream partnership opportunities with the EC and provides programmatic support to programmes in Africa funded by the European Commission. Work in progress Eugene tells us that on the other hand there has been significant progress in many African countries since the beginning of year 2000 in addressing some of the development challenges. “The economies of Africa have grown robustly in the recent past, with average growth rates of 5–6% per annum,” he explains.
Photo: Agnieszka Brocka
Eugene Owusu, currently working as Senior Advisor for Strategic Africa Partnerships at UN Development Program (UNDP) Office in Brussels, has an extensive experience from Africa and on African agriculture issues. He grew up in Ghana where he saw UN staff working. “I was very inspired by the commitment and dedication of the UN staff and the effect of their work on the community. That gave me motivation to work for the UN,” Eugene says. First, Eugene studied Agricultural Economics in Ghana, and continued to the US to do graduate degrees in Economics and International Development. He started to work in the private sector in the UK with business and development consulting, and afterwards with country risk analysis. Then one of Eugene’s dreams came true: “I got an opportunity to join UNDP.” Improving Africa via country offices Before his current position, Eugene has worked in three UNDP country offices in Africa. In Uganda and Sierra Leone he worked as Senior Economist. “I did policy and analytic support to the country office in its partnerships with national governments. The emphasis of my work was largely in the broad area of
designing and implementing poverty reduction strategies as well as macroeconomic stabilization, external debt management and planning development,” Eugene tells. “In Sierra Leone, which was emerging from conflict at the time, I was also actively involved in policy and programming work to support rebuilding the state,” he explains. In Tanzania, Eugene was the Head of Programmes, and his main role was to ensure strategic management of UNDP country programmes. “I enjoyed working in country offices because the work is very operational in its nature. Hence, your contribution to development results is clearly tangible,” Eugene describes. More strategic perspective “In my current job as Senior Adviser, the focus is more on looking for strategic opportunities and ensuring liaison with country offices to leverage these opportunities,” Eugene explains. His task is to help strengthen UNDP’s partnership with different EU institutions on Africa, and support the growing Africa portfolio within the UNDP Brussels Office. He also works with
“Many of the countries in the region have developed more robust national development strategies. The fundamentals of the economies of many African countries have improved significantly, and fortunately democratic governance is also being strengthened,” Eugene says. He notes that there still is a lot of work to be done: “The continent still faces huge development deficits. Many countries in the region are not on track to achieve the MDGs, there is a huge capacity deficit when it comes to overall development management, and governance and accountability system remain weak.” Africa has experienced a noticeable decline in the overall number of conflicts in the region, but sadly, some old conflicts stubbornly remain, and they continue to undermine development potential and development prospects. “Finally, Africa needs to work hard to integrate better into the world economy and to benefit more from globalization. It needs to progressively enhance the quality of its leadership at all levels, strengthen accountability systems, and work harder to become a more attractive destination for investment,” Eugene concludes. Agnieszka Brocka Laura Kuen Interns at UNDP
BRUSSELS SECTION PAGE 12
New in Brussels
1) What was your first impression of Brussels?
Every now and then a fresh face appears at the UNRIC office in Brussels. We asked the new interns what they think about the rainy city of beer and chocolate where they will spend some months of their lives.
3) What has been your best experience in
2) What surprised you the most about the city? Brussels so far? 4) Your best tip from Brussels.
Name: Katariina Juvonen
Name: Giulia Torricini
1) I have a surprisingly positive impression of Brussels. There is a lot to see here. Before I came here I heard that Brussels was a bit boring, but I have experienced that it has many things to offer, once you leave the EU area. 2) I find it a bit irritating that the shops close so early here. You have to plan your day ahead, and it leaves no room for random evening shopping. I was also surprised of how small the city is. I thought it would feel more like a big city, but it is really cozy. 3) Going to the art museum Bozar on a Sunday afternoon, after shopping for cheap and good groceries at the Gare Midi market. 4) Take your groceries home from the market before you walk around in the city!
1) Brussels has a small-town feel to it, with a lot of life, for example the many concerts and festivals that are being organized. It is nice to live here.
2) I was surprised that Brussels is so international, and you hear people speaking English everywhere in the city. There really are more than two official languages in Brussels. 3) Walking around in the city centre and in Ixelleswhen it is sunny! We have had two weekends with sun during my first month, I guess it is a lot for Brussels. 4) Have the meat cooked in beer at a small restaurant near ThĂŠatre des Brigitines in the southern parts of the city centre.
Name: Luce Ricard
Name: Valentina Marchioni
Desk: Benelux desk and EU institutions
1) Since I come from Paris this is not my first time in Brussels, because it only takes 1.5 hours by train. Brussels is a mix of people, with all the international institutions like the EU. It feels like a very small city, compared to Paris. 2) I must get used to the accent, and the expressions. Here they say “s’il vous plaît” when you give them something, instead of “merci” as we would do in France. I am never sure what I should respond! Also some of the numbers are different. 3) I like to go out with my friends here. There is a very good and comfortable atmosphere in Brussels, and people are more casual than in Paris, where they tend to be more chic. 4) Travel around Belgium, for example to Bruges to eat at the little restaurants. The train is inexpensive, and all the districts are different from each other.
1) My first impression was that Brussels is such an active city, and very culturally stimulating. People speak different languages everywhere, and switch between languages in a second. I also noticed the smell of croissants, which reminded me of Paris. Everyone seems to be happy, and you never see angry people in the street. It is very civilized. 2) I was surprised by the beautiful narrow streets. All the people from different cultures also contribute with something special, and I was surprised by how many things there are to see here. 3) I have been very happy with all the people I have met in Brussels. Everyone has a different background. I like the competition in the work environment here. 4) My best advice is to put on a pair of comfortable shoes and take the time to get lost in Brussels!
Frøy Katrine Myrhol Intern at UNRIC (Text and photos)