Laws criminalizing drug possession can cause more harm

20 Apr 2016 by Tenu Avafia, Team Leader, Rights, Law and Treatment Access, HIV, Health and Development and Rebecca Schleifer, Consultant, HIV, Human Rights and the Law

Coca farmers in BoliviaCoca farmers sell coca leaves at a market in Villa 14 de Septiembre village in Bolivia. Photo: Carlos Cazalis/Corbis
In many countries, a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can have serious implications. Being convicted of a crime makes you ineligible for certain jobs, social programmes or benefits or from even being able to exercise your right to vote. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified illicit drugs and crime as a “severe impediment” to achieving sustainable development. But poorly devised drug control policies can also be harmful to people and societies. … Read more

The road to transparency

12 Apr 2016 by Abdul Riza, Senior Operations Specialist, Transparency

Transparency teamUNDP's transparency team discusses best practices for the open.undp.org site. Photo: Freya Morales/UNDP
As UNDP marks its 50th anniversary year, we’re also now celebrating another milestone. We’ve been ranked as the most transparent aid organization by Publish What You Fund for the second consecutive year - a milestone in UNDP’s road to attain transparency by making its information publicly available. Looking back at this road, it all started with our commitment towards adopting the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard to report on development projects. The key to success is to “start with what you have” and take small steps towards making gradual improvements to achieve full compliance. When UNDP started publishing to IATI in 2011, our biggest challenge in adopting the IATI Standard was the cultural shift needed. UNDP operates in nearly 170 countries and territories. As country offices provide the main data sources, incorporating IATI into their daily routine was inevitable. … Read more

Securing our societies from the threat of senseless terrorism

11 Apr 2016 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

Ten of the eleven countries with over 500 deaths due to violent extremism in 2014 also have the largest number of refugees, migrants, and IDPs. Photo: Central African Republic
Since 2000, we have witnessed a more than ten-fold increase in the number of deaths from violent extremism and terrorism - from 3,329 victims in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. And the death toll keeps rising. During the first months of 2016, more than 200 terrorist attacks claimed over 2500 victims. These incidents have taken place in all corners of the world and the diversity of countries shows the ubiquity of the challenge. Many attacks have been linked to well-known violent extremist groups, while others were perpetrated by lone wolfs or attributed to ongoing conflicts and civil wars. … Read more

If prevention is the best cure, we have to do better in fragile states

04 Apr 2016 by Claire Leigh, Advisor, New Deal Implementation Support, Strategic Policy Unit, UNDP

Justice and security are central to crisis recovery in fragile countries. In Somaliland, Sexual Assault Referral Centres have been established with UNDP’s support. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Not all humanitarian crises can be anticipated or prevented, but man-made crises involving conflict and state failure can be and must be. This puts states affected by conflict and fragility front and centre of discussions leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit in May. This week, the 5th Global Meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Stockholm will emphasize the connection between revitalising the fragile states agenda and addressing the recent surge in humanitarian crises. In 2011, the International Dialogue oversaw the adoption of the New Deal For Engagement In Fragile States, a landmark international framework signed by over 40 major bilateral and multilateral agencies and countries. … Read more

Six reasons you should care about (yet) another international summit

01 Apr 2016 by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, Crisis Response Unit leader

women at marketLebanese women sell clothes at the UNDP-supported Marj market in the village of Marj in the Bekaa Valley, east of Lebanon. The project helps support communities who are hosting Syrian refugees. Photo: Dalia Khamissy/UNDP
On May 23rd, world leaders will come together for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul. I know that sentence won't necessarily make you want to read on. I get it. But here are six reasons why this summit deserves your attention. 1. Because the scale of the humanitarian crisis is no exaggeration We have the highest level of humanitarian needs since the Second World War. More than 60 million people have had to flee their homes--the majority women and children. And the average length of displacement is now 17 years. Conflicts are more complex than ever before and, according to some estimates, the cost of conflict and violence now accounts for more than 13 % of the total global economy. Climate change adds extra volatility to the situation. … Read more

Are women and girls more vulnerable to tuberculosis and malaria?

23 Mar 2016 by Caitlin Boyce, Policy Specialist, HIV, Gender, Rights and Development, Health, HIV and Development Group, UNDP

woman at clinicA woman visits a tuberculosis clinic in Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/UNDP
Are tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still a widespread threat? Popular belief says no. But, in fact, they are still grave health challenges that need more attention, especially in how they are affected by gender. The World Health Organization recently reported that TB now ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. And the disease has a disproportionate effect on women. Today, TB kills more women globally than any other single infectious disease, and more women die annually from TB than from all causes of maternal mortality combined. Some TB symptoms can also affect men and women in profoundly different ways. For example, women have a higher prevalence of genital TB, which is difficult to diagnose and has been identified as an important cause of infertility in settings with high TB incidence. … Read more

What pushes young people to extremism?

18 Mar 2016 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

 Violent extremism poses the single biggest threat to Africa's steady journey to prosperity. In Kenya, a peace building and conflict resolution programme targets youth. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Last April, Mohamed, a carpenter in a fishing town along Kenya's coast, saw a photograph of Suleiman, the second of his five sons, on the evening news. The 24-year-old was among six young men declared dangerous members of al-Shabab, with a bounty on their heads. Less than a year later, Suleiman was among four al-Shabab suspects killed in a reported shootout with the police. Suleiman's father says that growing up, his son was respectful, dynamic, and refused to accept that the circumstances of his birth should condemn him to a life of poverty. The entire family saw Suleiman as their way to a better life. To meet their high expectations, Suleiman concluded he had to leave not only his town, but also Kenya. He planned to become a driver in Saudi Arabia. But to get there, he needed money to pay agents to organize his trip. … Read more

The Paris Agreement brings potential for transparency

17 Mar 2016 by Rocío Noriega, Coordinator, Anti-corruption program, UNDP Chile and Sergio García, Communications Manager, Environment and Energy, UNDP Chile

In Paris, a public registry of NDC in the first half of 2016 was created, with the mission to collect all contributions to global climate action. Photo: UNDP Guatemala
COP21 closed with the adoption the first universal agreement to combat climate change. This agreement pledges to contain global warming well below 2° C, adapt better to climate impacts, and enable a more effective flow of climate change funding to developing countries. This is truly innovative because it will commit countries to be publically accountable regarding everything they do to combat climate change at the national level. The new global climate agreement does not impose quotas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions nor concrete adaptation plans. On the contrary, it relies directly on the commitments that each country decides to make internally – intended nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This is why it is necessary to reach the set reduction target of 2° C. … Read more

Transforming local communities amidst conflict

03 Mar 2016 by Hanne Kristoffersen, Crises Governance Specialist, UNDP

woman being interviewdLocal woman, of a family of six, is interviewed at the market place in Rutshuru, North Kivu. Photo: UNDP DRCongo
I’ve visited Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo several times over the last seven years. During this time, two violent conflicts took place between rebels and the Congolese state, with the citizens caught in between. The recurrent fighting for control of the mineral rich and fertile soils of Eastern Congo has uprooted and traumatized whole communities, leaving the local economy in ruins and people poor and powerless. Most valuable are cassiterite and coltan, used in the electronic equipment and cell phones underpinning the technological revolution. … Read more

How abnormal is normal?

01 Mar 2016 by Bakhodir Burkhanov, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Viet Nam

woman on motorbikeA woman carrys kids on her motorbikes through the street of Viet Nam. It’s a common rush-hour scene, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam
Women zip through the streets, carrying kids and groceries on their motorbikes. It’s a common rush-hour scene on the streets of Viet Nam, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Existing stereotypes in Viet Nam confine women and men to certain roles, positions and careers. According to a UNDP report on women’s leadership in Viet Nam, few women achieve senior government positions. In the civil service, women hold very few senior posts: only nine percent ministers, eight percent vice ministers, and seven percent at director-general level. … Read more