The First International Steering Committee Meeting
▲The first international steering committee meeting of the World Human Rights Cities Forum was being held online.
/ Image courtesy: Secretariat of the World Human Rights Cities Forum
Following the first meeting of the Planning Committee held in February to lay the groundwork for the 13th World Human Rights Cities Forum (WHRCF), the First International Steering Committee meeting in the year 2023 was held online on 6 April. Representatives of Korean and international organizations co-hosting and co-organizing the Forum gathered to further discuss the 13th WHRCF theme confirmation and draft concept note finalization.
Dr.KIM Gi-gon, who takes on the role of the Head of the Planning Committee opened the meeting with his brief presentation on the preliminary form of concept note, that he himself drafted after collecting all of the key partners’ opinions separately.
The first agenda that the International Steering Committee members discussed, nevertheless, was reassessing the wording of the 13th WHRCF theme. While the previously discussed theme of the year 2023 was proposed to be “Urban Poverty and Inequalities”, the general opinion was that, starting with the theme, more light should be shed on the human rights dimension of addressing the poverty and inequalities, as well as emphasise the willingness of human rights cities to take on an active role in dealing with the related issues. Consequently, the theme of the 13th WHRCF was confirmed as: “Human Rights Cities Responding to Poverty and Inequalities”.
The discussion continued on to reviewing the draft concept note structure and contents, and all the Steering Committee members expressed their views and ideas on how to revise the current contents so as to reflect the essence of this year’s Forum agenda and objectives. One of the points mentioned was that the discussions taking place during the Forum should be building further on what has already been gathered during related conferences. Accordingly, one suggestion was to draw contents from the UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights Annual Report for the year 2022, and try to expand the discourse to find a cross-cutting approach to fight inequalities, due to the fact that the report includes the specific views of the local governments that highlight important points on the way to fight inequalities. Therefore, the partners mentioned that adding the human rights dimension to the existing conclusions will bring a different vision into the conversation.
Another important indication was that the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB), as the central, transformative promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be more prominently presented. Furthermore, while one of the promises of this year’s Forum as per the Closing Ceremony of the 12th WHRCF was to put youth and their participation in the spotlight, which was clearly reflected in the draft concept note, a remark was made that poverty is not exclusive, and as an issue concerning all – from youth to the elderly – means that all structures should receive equal focus when it comes to fight against poverty and inequalities.
Finally, one of the observations on the current concept note was that ‘cooperation for a greater impact’ could be stated a bit more clearly. In other words, it was advised to display the goal in a slightly more action-oriented manner and state more directly that the desired outcome of the dialogue is to make an impact on state policies as well as the private sector.
The final version of the concept note reflecting the above changes is expected to be shared with the public by the end of April, when the second International Steering Committee will take place. The main agenda of the second meeting will be discussing the program of the 13th WHRCF as well as deciding on the invitation list from the partnering organizations, city representatives, and experts.