This blog post was written by LWVUS's Chief Observer to the United Nations, Rosalee Keech.
As the League’s Chief Observer to the UN, I had the privilege of attending the High Level Political Forum in mid July. This conference, which brings in government leaders from throughout the 193 member states as well as UN Agencies, gives us in the UN community an opportunity to take a pulse reading on topics of concern.
This year focused on the lack of needed progress in achieving the SDGs, a set of 17 goals developed by the world’s civil society and approved unanimously by the General Assembly in 2015, requiring implementation by 2030. More than 1500 attendees come each year, with hundreds of side events and formal sessions running the course of the two weeks, covering six of the goals.
We can’t attend everything so I prioritized my time attending sessions that I know are going to offer ideas, inspiration and best practices on a couple of our UN Observer priorities—specifically Goal 8, which calls for promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. One of our partners at the UN, is the International Labour Organization (ILO), which has formed Alliance 8.7 to eliminate forced labor and trafficking (affecting 40 million people a year) and child labor (affecting 150 million children).
The sessions I attended provided insight into new labor policies which are having an effect on eliminating forced labor and trafficking of Qatar’s migrant workers. I heard from a woman who has turned her experiences as a 12-year-old sex trafficking victim into her career as an activist working to eliminate human trafficking in the pornography industry.
I also was able to hear about the ILO’s Alliance 8.7 Pathfinder project and the dramatic impact on at-risk industries including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and fishing. For example, Chile, (which estimates it has 219K children in child labor developed a program) in conjunction with the ILO’s core principles, works with parents to provide training and work opportunities which lead to better sources of income for the family (impacting Goal 1: Eliminating Poverty) than those of child labor. In addition, it provides an opportunity for the children to go to school (impacting Goal 4: Education).
Our UN Observer program is encouraging “think globally and act locally.” I carry that out as a member of the NJ Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force (HTTF) and co-chairing its newly formed Business & Industry Advisory Committee. The HTTF is using the lessons that I’ve learned at the United Nations to directly impact its work in providing victim services, prevent trafficking, and eliminate trafficking within the state. Attendance at the HLPF will result in more robust policies in the state that will continue to diminish the demand for forced labor and trafficking by businesses, as well as child sex labor.
For ideas, inspiration and best practices on how you can think globally and act locally, tune into the work at the UN remotely by watching webtv.un.org.