NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
The Celtic League has submitted a response to the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review as part of its commitment as a UN recognised NGO with roster consultative status.
Prepared by the Assistant General Secretary in close liaison with the League’s General Secretary, the hard hitting report is critical of many policies of central government, particularly that of the United Kingdom affecting living standards, food availability and education of those resident in the Celtic Nations.
‘Zina Mounla (Ms.)
Chief, Development Cooperation Policy Branch (DCPB)
Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination
United Nations Secretariat, New York
24 April, 2015
Dear Ms. Zina Mounla
United Nations Economic and Social Council – Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review – QCPR – Response from the Celtic League
Please find enclosed our response and observations following the publication of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review – QCPR.
As a recognised NGO, you will see that the Celtic League has real concerns over factors affecting the populations in the areas we campaign for as well as elsewhere.
Trusting that you find our submission in order and of practical interest.
Cllr Michael J Chappell
Assistant General Secretary
The Celtic League
United Nations Economic and Social Council
Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review – QCPR
Reference: QCPR Resolution (A/RES/67/226)
1.2 At the request of Rhisiart Tal-e-bot, General Secretary of the Celtic League, I have examined the document entitled ‘Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly on 21 December 2012’ which was subject of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review
1.3 The Celtic League has compatibility and shared aims and objectives with many of the issues raised in this document although we believe that on occasions, some countries are unwilling or incapable of taking ‘primary responsibility for [their] own development’ in certain fields be it that this is a commonly repeated reaffirmation in the document.
1.4 To quote from the document: ‘Recognizing also that development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and reaffirming that development is a central goal in itself and that it constitutes a key element of the overarching framework of the United Nations operational activities for development’ (final paragraph page 2/30)
1.5 Often, the governments of individual countries including those in the First World quite simply overlook this recognition and a deal of prompting is required from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as the Celtic League, particularly when the government in question is extremely centralist. In such cases, an international and overarching critical view is required.
1.6 The first paragraph on page 3/30 states, ‘Reaffirming the importance of freedom, peace and security, respect for all human rights, including the right to development and the right to an adequate standard of living, including the right to food, the rule of law, gender equality, women’s empowerment and the overall commitment to just and democratic societies for development.’
1.7 Again, this reaffirmation is as relevant to developed countries as much as to developing countries and the spread of food banks and poor living standards in certain parts of the United Kingdom speaks volumes. In particular, the low standards of living, health and life expectancy in Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys highlighted by many organisations including the European Union and the Celtic League indicates that in many cases national governments are not fulfilling the most basic of functions
1.8 The second paragraph on page 3/30 states, ‘Reaffirming also that gender equality is of fundamental importance for achieving sustained and inclusive economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and United Nations conferences, and that investing in the development of women and girls has a multiplier effect, in particular on productivity, efficiency and sustained and inclusive economic growth, in all sectors of the economy, especially in key areas such as agriculture, industry and services.’
19 In response to this reaffirmation, it is important to note that the Celtic League has called and campaigned for gender equality in the Celtic Nations along with controlled and sustainable growth which takes heed of the concerns and welfare of indigenous populations, matters often overlooked by centralist and powerful governments which are geographically distant from the regions governed.
1.10 Paragraph four on page 3/30 states, ‘Reiterating the importance of the development of national capacities to eradicate poverty and pursue sustained and equitable economic growth and sustainable development as a central goal of the development cooperation of the United Nations system.’
1.11 NGOs play a critical role in this field. For example, Members of Parliament (MPs) in the United Kingdom are on record as being in complete denial of the necessity for ‘food banks’ and charitable giving of food and other necessities and direct action by the churches, voluntary sector and again members of the Celtic League have not only addressed this issue, particularly evident in our area of concern, but also helped to resolve demand.
1.12 ‘I Introduction’ paragraph 9 stresses the importance of NGOs in the processes outlined. It is important to note that such NGOs often operate in an atmosphere of administrative hostility shown from UK central government, which is often not prepared to extend to partnership working and may even refuse to communicate with NGOs from time to time.
1.13 ‘I Introduction’ paragraph 14 refers to sustainable development, trade and development’. Here, it is again important to recognise that many organisations, the Celtic League included, has worked to flag up irregularities in international trade and in particular over issues involving the Isle of Man.
1.14 ‘II Funding of operational activities of the United Nations for development’ paragraph 25 states ‘achieving concrete results in assisting developing countries to eradicate poverty and achieving sustained economic growth and sustainable development’. Undoubtedly, this is a matter of primary concern. However, of equal concern is the achievement of results in post-industrial regions of developed countries leading to the eradication of poverty and sustainable development. The Celtic League has consistently flagged concerns regarding extreme poverty, poor health, homelessness and food shortages and has noted that Cornwall continues to qualify for European financial aid, currently in the form of Convergence Funding.
1.15 ‘III Contribution of United Nations operational activities to national capacity development and development effectiveness’ Section D and subsequent paragraphs discuss ‘gender equality and women’s empowerment ‘. This is a major issue in post-industrial communities, which the Celtic League is active in. Poor standards of education and resultant social inequalities continue to be of concern in our countries and regions where statistical analysis indicates a lower level of expenditure by central government on education when compared to areas closer to the base of political power. The Celtic League recognises that poor standards of education in our areas of responsibility invariably results in a diminution of the role of women in society and we constantly flag the necessity for complete gender equality in both public and private organisations. Sadly, in communities suffering in the face of extreme poverty, as currently witnessed in our areas, gender inequality and mistreatment of the female workforce engaged in hard manual work remains of real concern. The introduction of ‘zero hours contracts’, flagged as allowing for worker flexibility particularly in the case of women employees is resulting in appalling working terms and conditions coupled with financial insecurity.
2.1 Without doubt, the primary concern is for the alleviation of poverty and improvement of personal welfare of citizens in developing countries. However, the plight of those in our area of concern, Scotland , the Isle of Man, Éire, Wales , Cornwall and Brittany is of serious concern particularly as we are now witnessing previously unknown levels of poverty including food shortages and failing public services in the face of reducing public expenditure. In some of our countries, people are feeling increasingly disempowered despite the information promulgated by central Government.
2.2 The role of NGOs including our own is to highlight real inequalities to pan National bodies such as the United Nations. It is true to say that we are far more in touch with our communities than those at the centre of government and we are able to reflect a more accurate perspective.
2.3 The Celtic League must continue to flag such concerns to others and to hold central government to account and our participation in relevant United Nations bodies and conferences is invaluable.
Michael J Chappell
Assistant General Secretary
21st April, 2015’
For more information about the Celtic Leagues role as an accredited UN NGO and our commitment to UN values and interaction with UN Agencies contact the Celtic League General Secretary, Rhisiart Talebot
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
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The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues
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