Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson: Let’s Make Midwifery Global

Ed note. This is a special guest post from Jill Filipovic, who blogs at Feministe. She attended a small briefing with the Deputy Secretary General at the United Nations Foundation’s office yesterday and offers this summary of the meeting. 

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson met with a small group of journalists yesterday to discuss ongoing UN efforts at crisis intervention, as well as development goals post-2015. Eliasson emphasized that there is “no peace without development; no development without peace;” and neither without human rights.

Ideal international solutions, Eliasson said, would be good enough to be seen as in the national interest as well as the international one. And those solutions must be governed by the Rule of Law, applicable not just to states but to institutions operating within and between states. Eliasson pointed to the newly-adopted Rule of Law declaration as a crucial reference point.

From Somalia to Syria to Mali, Eliasson spoke about the necessity of first reducing violence to create a path for a resolving conflict. For Syria, he said, he sees two distinct scenarios: (1) A military solution, which he believes will make the conflict more bloody and violent; or (2) A political solution, which he supports, where the first order of business is to do everything possible to reduce tensions. But the situation is dire, and disunity at the Security Council limits what diplomats can do. A potentially disastrous winter is also approaching, with potential electricity issues and cold conditions posing major threats to Syrian refugees.

Climate change also looms as a threat, Eliasson said. While in conflict resolution diplomats can have a Plan A and a Plan B, when it comes to the environment, he said, “There is no Planet B.”

Eliasson closed the discussion with the post-2015 development goals. The Millennium Development Goals, he said, have been quite successful, owing in part to the fact that the goals are both measurable and concrete. The most effective way to ensure the MDGs are implemented as widely as possible is to create solutions that are viable internationally, nationally and locally. Of the goals that are the most lagging – sanitation and maternal mortality – Eliasson noted that the need for pregnant women to have a trained birth assistant is enormous.

If he could encourage one profession to go international, he said, it would be midwifery.