The UN GA is in session — but will development benefit?

23 September 2013
On the face of it, the news that the sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly, the main deliberative, policymaking and representative body of the United Nations, is about to begin doesn't sound too exciting. But this coming year at the UN is - or could be - an important time for anyone who cares about development issues. The Assembly's annual general debate - when heads of state and government and other high national officials gather to present their views about pressing world issues - will probably garner the headlines in the coming week. Meanwhile, and for a long time after, this year’s session goes on with a work programme and agenda that contains a vast 173 items. However, three high-level ‘events’ and three thematic debates around a specific development theme are planned during the session. That theme echoes some of the discussions in this blog (and within the development community in Ireland and elsewhere). It is: ‘The Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage’. Though we are not yet sure when they will take place, the issues these events and debates aim to highlight are extremely relevant to the work of FOL and many other organisations. One of the high-level events aims to address the needs of women, youth and civil society, and to look at how best to make use of their contributions to development goals. Another will (or is intended to) look at the contribution of human rights and the rule of law to the post-2015 framework. The third is about cooperation and, pertinently, given the startling growth of communications in the developing world in the past few years (hastened by the arrival of undersea cables in Africa and elsewhere), the part information and communications technology can play in the fulfilment of development targets. Cooperation, or more precisely, partnership is centre stage in one of the three themed debates. A second debate is to focus on the establishment of stable and peaceful societies. The third is perhaps closest to home for FOL and, when and if it takes place, one we hope to follow very closely. It focuses on the roles of water, sanitation and sustainable energy. This years’ session of the General Assembly is a session of high hopes. Among the many issues the General Assembly aims to tackle are the Millennium Development Goals, disabilities and the role of investment in helping Africa achieve its development objectives. Will truly workable resolutions that improve lives come from all this activity? There will be a lot of talk in the coming year (and coming week at the general debate) but as for achievement, let’s keep an eye on We, like many of our readers, will be watching with interest.