Geneva Conventions turns 70, and changes in aid budgets evident globally. Plus many upcoming events and more.

Posted on 13 August 2019

+ Geneva Conventions turn 70

The Geneva Conventions were adopted on 12th August 1949, and this week marked the 70th anniversary since their inception. The Geneva Conventions, along with their three additional protocols, cover provisions on the legal status and treatment of the wounded, of captured and escaped prisoners of war and of people living in occupied territories.

On the 6th August, New Zealand Red Cross commemorated this anniversary alongside Pacific leaders, humanitarians, lawyers, and politicians at an event at New Zealand Parliament, which was attended by the Prime Minister.

Four years ago, many - including the International Committee of the Red Cross - were questioning if the Geneva Conventions adequately apply to modern warfare. They were written with traditional battlefields and traditional armies in mind but where are the battlefields today? At Aleppo's water supply station? In a concert hall in Paris?

Certainly more enforcement is needed for the Geneva Conventions particularly as aiding victims is more dangerous than ever. As the Conventions turn 70, Dr Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross, outlines 5 myths about the Geneva Conventions.
+ Pacific Islands Forum

The Pacific Islands Forum is taking place this week in Funafuti, Tuvalu. Being on the front line of climate change, Tuvalu is hoping to hammer home the country's push for greater commitments from the region's largest economies, Australia and New Zealand.

The tone of the meeting with the climate crisis being at the top of the agenda, was set when Tuvalu children welcomed leaders while sitting submerged in water singing "Save Tuvalu, save the world". (This was in stark contrasts to the criticisms of Time magazineearlier in the month, when they chose to represent the vulnerabilities of Pacific people to climate change on their cover story, by showing UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres standing knee-deep on the coast of Tuvalu.)

Human rights violations and political independence in West Papua are also set to command debate at the Pacific Islands Forum. Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda has urged government leaders to support the “Free Papua” campaign amid recent escalating political violence there.
+ Why governance matters in development 

CID members were treated to a personal session with Graham Teskey, Principle Technical Lead Governance Abt Associates, former head of governance at the World Bank, and governance advisor for DFAT and DFID.

We will circulate background papers and slides next week. For now, here is Graham's guide to a definition of 'good governance':

  • 'Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority necessary to manage a nation’s affairs.' (OECD)
  • 'The exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels.  It comprises mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations, and mediate their differences.' (UNDP)

And the common themes between them? 'Authority', 'Institutions', and understanding whose 'Interests' are being served.

Graham's blog on governance is here.

Meanwhile Devex reports that m
aking governments work better will need to become an even greater priority for philanthropy as aid continues to be a smaller part of the picture in low and middle-income countries. 

But a potential retreat in governance support by bilateral donors gives West Coast donors an opportunity to step in and fill the gap. Several organizations — including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chandler Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation — are already exploring how to tackle corruption, improve transparency and accountability, and support good governance.

More next week from Graham.

+ US Freeze on Foreign Aid

President Trump's administration has ordered two federal agencies to put a hold on billions of dollars worth of congressionally-approved funding for foreign aid, pending the agencies' review. Republican and Democratic lawmakers have joined forces to oppose the move, expressing "deep concern" at the freeze of about $4 billion in the USAID and State Department budgets.

InterAction, an alliance of 200 US NGOs working to eliminate extreme poverty and strengthen human rights and citizen participation, has denounced the order. In a joint statement released 8th August, InterAction states “The Administration’s repeated attempts to rescind U.S. foreign assistance programs leads to instability in U.S. assistance efforts and puts lives at risk at a time of global crisis. This must stop.”
+ ACFID's new guidance tools

New guidance on the prevention of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment (PSEAH) to ACFID’s members has just been released and is applicable to CID members. It provides a document that:

  • describes the standards of behaviour for organisation’s staff, representatives and partners;

  • specifically prohibits sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment;

  • outlines how the policy is implemented throughout the organisation; and

  • specifies the organisation’s reporting responsibilities where an incident is identified, including processes for reporting to local enforcement authorities, subject to the wishes and welfare of the complainant/survivor.

Also, here is a link to various ACIFID tool kits, including one on how to do a gender audit in your organisation. 

+ International Youth Day reminds us of global learning crisis 
Monday 12th August marked the United Nations' International Youth Day, a day designed to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. This year, the United Nations is using this day to address the global 'learning crisis', with the theme being Transforming Education.

Recent statistics released by UNESCO demonstrate that there is still significant work to be done in transforming education systems to be more inclusive and accessible:
  • Only 10% of people in low income countries have completed upper secondary education
  • 40% of the global population is not taught in a language that they speak or fully understand
  • An estimated 263 million children and young people are out of school, while an estimated 825 million people will not have the skills to compete for the jobs of 2030.
Alice Albright, CEO of Global Partnership for Education, identified several actions and reforms that are steps towards addressing the crisis.

+ 'Step up' steps up? Australia in the Pacific 

 Alex Hawke, Australia’s new minister of international development and the Pacific, will continue the government's 'step up' in the Pacific, he says.

Scott Morrison will unveil a $500m climate change and oceans funding package for the Pacific region when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in Tuvalu this week, writes Kate Lyons in the UK Guardian.

"The recently concluded fifth Pacific Water Ministerial Forum in Vanuatu and the upcoming Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting in Tuvalu are important tests for  Australia to discover if the country’s increased presence and engagement in the Pacific is enough to combat questions regarding Australia’s action to combat climate change," writes Lisa Cornish of Devex.

+ Crisis in Kashmir

Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir spent the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha in a security lockdown, unable to call their friends and relatives as an unprecedented communications block remained in place for an eighth day, according to Azhar Farooq  and  of the UK Guardian.

"Last week 10,000 people reportedly took to the streets of Srinagar to protest against Delhi’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status. Government forces reportedly opened fire and used teargas."
+ Skills for girls at risk - but no evaluation

Northern Nigeria, home base for terrorist organisation Boko Haram, has long been plagued by extremist violence toward girls, writes Judith-Ann Walker of the Brookings Institute.

"State and federal government, as well as the international development community, tout entrepreneurship and vocational skills acquisition programs as a panacea to build girls’ resilience and are rolling out skills acquisition programs.

"Many gender experts and donors assume that acquiring skills will generate income and that increased income will build girls’ resistance against child, early, and forced marriage. However, the fact that these skills programs are not evaluated, coupled with the absence of curriculum standardization in the government and donor programs offered, results in interventions with no verifiable evidence of effectiveness," she writes.
+ Family Planning: Vanuatu Research Report Launch

Family Planning will soon be launching their newly completed research report 'Planem Gud Famili Blong Yumi: Knowledge, Access and Barriers to Family Planning in Rural Vanuatu'. The study explores the experiences and perspectives of people living in the rural area of Big Bay Bush in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. 

Vanuatu faces a range of persistent sexual and reproductive health and rights challenges, and investment in this will lead to improvements in the health development and economic outcomes of the nation.

Family Planning invites CID members and supporters to attend the launch this Thursday 15 August.

Time: 10:00am-11:00am followed by morning tea
Venue: Family Planning, Level 7, Southmark House, 203-209 Willis Street, Wellington.

Please RSVP to:
+ Discussion with Vangelis Vitalis: NZ Trade Policy in Turbulent Times

CID members are invited to attend Diplosphere's upcoming event hosting MFAT's Deputy Secretary Vangelis Vitalis for a discussion providing insights on how New Zealand can navigate these turbulent times for trade policy internationally and the strategy for the way ahead.

The event will consist of an opportunity to network with attendants (with drinks provided) followed by the discussion with Vangelis Vitalis.

Date: Tuesday 20 August
Time: 5:00pm - 6:30pm 
Venue: PwC Centre, 10 Waterloo Quay, Level 4, Wellington

To purchase tickets and for further information click here.
+ The CID Weekly is proudly sponsored by

Direct Impact Group supports organisations to maximise their social impact, because changing the world isn't easy, and in dynamic times this work is more important than ever.
+ Safeguarding workshops in the US - just in case you're there!

OSACO Humanitarian, a CID member, is holding 3-day workshops in New York and Washington in October. In case any CID members are in the US at this time, here are the details. OSACO are now based in New Zealand and work closely with CID and MFAT to support the sector to strengthen its capacity to deal with allegations of staff misconduct. Here are more details on these Effective Workplace Investigations workshops.

Or you can contact Sean Buckley, Dominic Smyth and Jaydene Buckley directly.


Pacific Islands Youth