Sep 18, 2018

Report of the Secretariat to the 2018 Extraordinary UNPO General Assembly (July 2017 � September 2018)

In September 2018, an Extraordinary UNPO General Assembly took place in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, Savoy. During this time, the Report of the Secretariat was presented to the Members’ attending representatives, to provide them with an overview of the organisation’s activities in the last 14 months. The report included a letter from the Secretariat (below) and a summary of recent developments for UNPO’s Members. It also contained a detailed list of UNPO’s work with its Members to promote their causes on the international stage. These included conferences, cultural events, missions, advocacy meetings, trainings, publications, development projects and protests. General Assemblies are a crucial part of UNPO’s functioning, as they ensure the Secretariat’s accountability to the Members and an opportunity for all to learn more about each other’s causes.

Dear UNPO Members,

In the last year, UNPO’s Members and the Secretariat have worked together to deliver a wide range of activities, such as international conferences, advocacy meetings, trainings and cultural events, all in an effort to provide a platform for the unrepresented and further our cause of rectifying the injustices minorities, indigenous groups and unrecognised states find themselves subject too. We have also seen the admission of new Members which demonstrates a continuing desire to be part of the UNPO family of nations working together for a better democratic world. It is thus with great pleasure that the Secretariat presents to you this report detailing the activities conducted since the last UNPO General Assembly in June 2017.

The past year has seen several notable events relating to UNPO Members hit international headlines. The plight of the Uyghurs in China is finally being taken up by news sources across the globe, with notable and wide-read news outlets now reporting the fact that approximately one million Uyghurs are held in “re-education” camps against their will by the Chinese government. The latter has also regrettably tried to use its newfound international influence to undermine the sovereignty of Taiwan, an issue which will no doubt continue on into the next year. Our newest member, Ambazonia, has also seen an already dramatic situation deteriorate even further, due to the Cameroon government’s heavy-handed approach towards the country’s English-speaking minority. In more positive developments, Ethiopia’s  incumbent regime has finally decided to engage in a meaningful dialogue which culminated in a peace treaty with Oromo representatives and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), and a ceasefire declared in the Somali Region, while the regional leader, guilty of torture and other human rights violations against Ogadenis, was arrested.

Ethiopia offers hope that both domestic and international pressure can lead to peaceful reform of institutions, even if this is not yet a given in the Abyssinian-ruled country. Whatever happens, UNPO will take it in its stride as it looks to build other success stories around the globe by continuing to monitor and mediate intra-state conflicts that, in the post-Cold War-era, represent a much larger share of violence in the world than inter-state ones. Granted, given the internal struggles faced by institutions such as the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee and the shake-up of the international order that emboldens countries such as the People’s Republic of China in their crack-down on minorities, achieving sustainable change towards democratisation and the respect for human rights may seem like an uphill struggle. Yet sometimes, in institutional settings, a crisis is precisely what is needed to push forward with a radical but fair reform of the way international governance is conducted.

This report will detail the current issues facing UNPO’s Members and the activities the UNPO Secretariat has cooperated on with them in their paths to respect for human rights and self-determination as cornerstones of the polities they inhabit. We hope that this report and the discussions to be had at this extraordinary session of the General Assembly, will enable the Secretariat and UNPO Members to examine together what new strategies are required and what opportunities lie ahead in the coming years.

UNPO Secretariat