The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, abbreviated as UNECE, is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. ECE-RCEM is a civil society platform aimed to enable stronger cross-constituency coordination and ensure that voices of all the constituencies in each sub-region of UNECE are heard in intergovernmental processes at regional and global level.
The platform is initiated, owned and driven by civil society. It has been set up under the auspices of UNECE and seeks to engage with UN agencies and Member States on the 2030 Agenda as well as other development related processes. Its modality mirrors that of the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders mechanism that supports civil society input into the follow-up and review process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and High Level Political Forum process. As an open, inclusive, and flexible mechanism, ECE-RCEM is designed to reach the broadest number of civil society organizations in the region and works with 14 constituencies and 5 sub-regions in UNECE. All members of the ECE-RCEM, from all parts of Europe and Central Asia, work closely together to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reversed and halted progress towards SDG targets in our region, reducing life expectancy, increasing poverty, inequality and unemployment in many countries. It is also highly concerning that the UNECE region is experiencing some of the worst examples of conflict, and illegal, inhumane destruction of civilian lives, including unwarranted attacks in a hospital treating pregnant women and children, leading to loss of life, injuries and displacement of innocent civilians and those made most vulnerable by the war – persons with disabilities, older people, pregnant women, young people and children, and marginalized communities.
We recognize that this conflict is putting under huge risk progress towards achievement of all SDGs and their targets in the whole region and elsewhere in the world, including SDG 1 to End poverty in all its forms everywhere. We recognize the heroic efforts of women to support those most at risk and to enable humanitarian support and we strongly urge that women be included in peace negotiation processes and bodies, in line with UNSCR 1325.
Insofar as the Heads of State and Government of all countries in the region agreed to the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, we remind that Goal 10 target 7 emphasizes that governments must facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people and that no one be left behind. We deplore the attacks on humanitarian convoys; demand the attacks cease; and commend all those countries that are enabling safe reception and accommodation of migrants.
International human rights conventions and international law, must be upheld. Therefore there must be accurate reporting, safe and secure humanitarian corridors, and pathways for safe arrival of all refugees and humanitarian aid based on solidarity and respect for the human rights of all, especially those women and children in all their diversity, affected and displaced by the war; support for their caring responsibilities for children and dependent people: and other measures to mitigate further environmental and other consequences now and in the future.
As civil society organizations we strongly emphasize the importance of solidarity and humanitarian action to underpin policy responses, as well as the repudiation of violation of international law and the devastation of a UN Member State.
Finally we urge governments, UNECE and other UN entities to come together to work collaboratively with CSOs across the region to deliver humanitarian relief, especially important for the realization of SDGs 4 and 5, which are subject to special consideration at the HLPF; there are growing numbers of women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons seeking safety as well as those unable to leave because of their advanced age, illness and location. This must be done, however, in addition to and not at the expense of those who are already being left behind in other parts of the world.
Full ECE-RCEM Position Paper can be found here.