Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Why India’s Solar Water-Drawing ATMs and Irrigation Pumping Systems Offer Replicable Strategies

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from The Inter Press Service News Agency (reprinted by permission)

At New Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum settlement, waterborne diseases have become less frequent thanks to solar-powered water ATMs that were installed here as a social enterprise venture three years ago.

“The water is cheap, reliable and fresh-tasting,” Saeeda, a mother of three who lives close to an ATM, tells IPS. Each day, Saeeda collects up to 15 litres of water from the ATM, paying 30 paisa per litre for the water with a rechargeable card. It means she pays 4.5 Rupees (about 6 US cents) for 15 litres of pure drinking water. It is convenient and cheap as bottled drinking water costs about 20 Rupees (about 30 US cents).


A man draws water from a solar-powered water ATM in New Delhi’s Savda Ghevra slum settlement. Thanks to these machines, which allow users to withdraw water with a rechargeable card, waterborne diseases have become less frequent here. Credit: Ranjit Devraj/IPS

Installed by Piramal Sarvajal, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, the decentralised drinking water project for urban slums now provides access to clean water to some 10,000 families in six slum clusters, Amit Mishra, the project’s operations manager, tells IPS.

Mishra says that each water ATM, though locally operated through a franchise system and powered using solar panels, is centrally controlled through cloud technology that integrates 1,100 touch points in 16 states. The result is reduced costs that allow round-the-clock provision of pure drinking water to underserved communities.
Sarvajal Piramal is not the only group that has set up solar-powered water ATMs in New Delhi or other parts of Delhi. Solar-powered water ATMs are part of a plan to use solar power to supply water for India’s vast 1.3 billion people, not only for drinking, but also for agricultural use.

“This is the kind of decentralised, neighbourhood solutions that the Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) is interested in,” the Netherlands-based group’s deputy director and water sector lead, Peter Vos, tells IPS. “However, solutions of this type may not be ideal in all situations, since the networks may require a lot of maintenance and can be costly.”

GGGI, says Vos, is interested in promoting policies that allow efficient use of limited water resources sustainably and at reasonable cost. “We do this by embedding ourselves in key ministries concerned with renewable energy, rural development as well as water and sanitation.”

Currently, GGGI has an approved budget of USD 1.37 million dollars for knowledge sharing, transfer of green technologies and capacity building in order to meet global commitments towards implementation of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris agreement. “Facilitating the flow of domestic and international climate finance and investment would be a key contribution to support India’s NDC implementation,” Vos says.

(Article continued in the right column)

Questions related to this article:

Is the right to water a basic human right?

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

(Article continued from the left column)

India’s setting up of the International Solar Alliance, an alliance that facilitates cooperation among sun-rich countries, provides GGGI an opportunity to disseminate renewable energy best practices with 18 GGGI member countries and seven partner countries—India and China are partner countries and prospective members.

As a predominantly agricultural country, with the world’s largest irrigated area serviced by some 26 million groundwater pumps mostly run on diesel or electricity, GGGI is keenly interested in India’s plans to switch to the use of solar power for irrigation.

Electric pumps are considered unreliable and diesel is costly. To keep them running, India spends about USD 6 million in annual subsidies that create their own distortions. Farmers tend to waste electricity as well as water thanks to the subsidies, Vos explains.

Under India’s National Solar Mission programme, farmers are now supported with capital cost subsidies for solar pump systems. A credit-linked subsidy scheme invites local institutions across the country to provide loans to reduce the subsidy burden on the government and make the system affordable for farmers.

According to a GGGI study released in 2017, the ‘context-specific delivery models’ used in the solar pump programme have resulted in noteworthy initial successes in terms of economic and social benefits, emission reductions, reduced reliance on subsides, increased agricultural output, development of new businesses, job-creation and improved incomes and livelihoods in rural areas.

India’s models offer replicable strategies to support solar irrigation pumping systems in other countries where GGGI has a presence, says Vos. In fact, the Indian government has plans to export solar pumping systems and expertise to countries interested in greener alternatives for irrigation.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), irrigation is becoming an important part of global agricultural production, consuming about 70 percent of global freshwater resources and reliable irrigation. However, using solar-powered systems can increase crop yields four-fold and can be key to national objectives like achieving food security.

Over the last 25 years India’s ministry of new and renewable energy, a GGGI partner, has developed specialised programmes for both drinking water as well as irrigation systems using solar water pumping systems of which there are now an estimated 15,000 units.

The progress has not been entirely without a hitch and, so far, the solar water-pumping market has remained relatively small primarily due to high up-front capital costs and low awareness among farmers as well as users of drinking water provided through ATMs.

A study of the Savda Ghevra slum showed that it took 18 months before the first ATM could be provided to Piramal Sarvajal. And then only 37 percent of the residents were using the ATMs as a primary or secondary source of potable water.

The study found that the ATMs were more than covering operating costs and generating revenue for Piramal Sarvajal, and could reach a wider population with government or other support, especially in the rural areas. The monies generated by Piramal Sarvajal are used to pay salaries and to maintain the machines.

According to the government’s own figures, presented in parliament in 2017; out of 167.8 million households in rural India only 2.9 million or 16 percent have access to safe drinking water. GGGI with its  considerable experience and expertise around the world is well-placed to step in, says Vos.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

INTERVIEW: ‘Defend the people, not the States’, says outgoing UN human rights chief

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from the United Nations News Service

For four years, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has been taking governments across the world to task, exposing human rights violations and robustly advocating for the rights of victims.

His appointment by the Secretary-General back in 2014 was a landmark: he became the first Asian, Muslim and Arab ever to hold the post.


OHCHR: Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights meeting with indigenous community leaders in Guatemala. November 2017.

Before that, Zeid had already enjoyed a long and distinguished career, both at the UN and as a Jordanian diplomat. He served his country in several capacities, notably as Ambassador to the United States, and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, with a stint as President of the Security Council in January 2014.

Throughout his career, Zeid has demonstrated a commitment to international law, playing a major role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court, as the first President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – turning the court from an idea into a reality – and, eight years later, overseeing the legal definition of the crime of aggression and the court’s jurisdiction over it.

In his last major interview with UN News, the UN human rights chief tells us that the “real pressure on this job comes from the victims and those who suffer and expect a great deal from us.”

“Governments are more than capable of defending themselves. It’s not my job to defend them. I have to defend civil society, vulnerable groups, the marginalized, the oppressed. Those are the people that we, in our office, need to represent,” he adds, noting that “oppression is making a comeback”.

When asked about whether his view of the UN and what it can achieve has diminished during his time spent speaking out loudly in defence of the abused and defenceless over the past four years, he says:

“It’s very difficult to tolerate abuse of the UN when I keep thinking of the heroic things that people do in the field, whether the humanitarian actors or humanitarian personnel, my human rights people, the people who are monitoring or observing. And I take my hat off to them. I mean, they are the UN that I will cherish and remember.”

UN News: When you compare the human rights landscape today to when you took over the UN human rights office back in 2014, what are the key differences that you see?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: When I took over, it coincided with the terrible videos put online by Daesh, or ISIS, which stoked a great deal of fear and horror. And we began to see a sort of a deepening of the crisis in Syria and in Iraq. And this then folded into two things:

One, a great determination to embark on counter-terrorism strategies, which we felt were, in part, excessive in certain respects. Every country has an obligation to defend its people, and the work of terrorism is odious and appalling and needs to be condemned and faced. But whenever there is excessive action, you don’t just turn one person against the State, you turn the whole family against the State. Ten or maybe more members could end up moving in the direction of the extremists.

And then, the migration debates, and the strengthening of the demagogues and those who made hay out of what was happening in Europe for political profit. As each year passed, we began to see a more intense pressure on the human rights agenda.

UN News: You have been very outspoken and you’ve called out governments and individual leaders around the world who have abused human rights. Do you see that as the most important role for the UN human rights chief?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: Yes. At the Human Rights High Commission, you’re part of the UN, but also part of the human rights movement and both are equally important. As I said on earlier occasions, governments are more than capable of defending themselves. It’s not my job to defend them. I have to defend civil society, vulnerable groups, the marginalized, the oppressed. Those are the people that we, in our office, need to represent.

I always felt that that is the principle task: we provide technical assistance, we collect information, we go public on it. But in overall terms, the central duty for us is to defend the rights of those most marginalized and those that need it.

UN News: what if you come under pressure to stay silent?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: Well, the interesting thing is that the pressure on this particular job doesn’t really come very much from the governments. They all attack the office because we criticize all of them, but we also point to areas where there is improvement, and I sometimes will praise the government for doing the right thing.

The real pressure on this job comes from the victims and those who suffer and expect a great deal from us. That’s the pressure that I think matters most in terms of the need to do the right thing.

UN News: Have there been times, therefore, when you’ve had to compromise a bit too much and maybe even let rights campaigners down in some way?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: No, not in that sense because I think I’ve been outspoken enough and I think I broke new ground when it came to High Commissioners. I can tell you in almost every meeting I sit with governments and I say things that I know they would never have heard before from someone in the UN.

No, the enormity of the suffering of people creates a feeling of inadequacy that, no matter what I do —an interview like this, a press conference, a report — it’s not going to restore a disappeared son or daughter to his or her mother. I know it won’t end the practice of torture immediately. I know that the residents in an IDP [Internally Displaced Peoples] camp, are not going to next day be moved into something more improved.

And that feeling is the pressure that I’m speaking about. It’s this sort of feeling that no matter what I do, it’s unequal to the colossal challenge that stands before us.

UN News: Have there been times when you thought it best to use quiet diplomacy to work behind the scenes?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: We’re always trying. We’re always trying to use quiet diplomacy. I mean, we’re constantly meeting with governments, and I send letters, and we conduct phone calls.

But on occasion we make a determination that we’ve tried these tracks, it hasn’t worked, and that I’m going to go public. Sometimes, I asked my spokesperson to do it; sometimes, I ask my regional office to do it; and other times, I’ll do it myself. But it’s carefully thought through.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

There was one foreign minister, for example, I needed to speak to. We were planning to send a technical mission to his country and, for almost a year, he avoided me. I saw him here in the GA [General Assembly] and he said, “Yes, yes, yes,” and then just avoided me. So then, we got a message to him that I’m going to go public tomorrow, and he was on the phone right away.

And the lesson learned was that if you don’t sometimes threaten to speak out, you don’t grab their attention. And I would rather err on the speaking out part than staying silent.

I first worked with the UN in 1994, 1995 in the former Yugoslavia. And I saw what catastrophes silence can bring. And I think from that point on, I was determined not to be silent when the evidence before us was presented.

UN News: What’s touched you most personally in the job? What have been those moments, the encounters with people that have meant the most to you?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: There have been many. I think it’s very hard to listen to the suffering of people. One of the times was when I went to the Ilopango detention centre in El Salvador. [Four young women] had been sentenced to 30 years in prison. They claimed these were obstetric emergencies: miscarriages. The State claimed that these were terminations of pregnancy.

When I sat with them – I had with me a full team, my office, assistants and interpreters – I think within the space of about 10 minutes we were all weeping; we were in tears because their suffering was so extreme. One of them was telling us how her foetus was on the ground and rather than take her to a hospital, they handcuffed her and took her to prison. And I thought the cruelty, the capacity for human cruelty is amazing.

I saw the president after that and I said, “Why is it that all these girls are poor? Every single one of them?” It’s as if it’s only the poor that face these sorts of conditions. This is the point that really strikes home that time and again: the poor suffer all the consequences. And that for me was a moment that will always remain with me. And there have been quite a few like that.

UN News: Is there a specific moment that stands out as being the most difficult or perhaps even the most consequential during your tenure?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: It’s all been difficult. When you’re defending the rights of people, and there’s so much pressure exerted upon you from this deep inner need or desire to help them, it’s all quite tough.

But I take inspiration from the amazing human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, activists in so many countries who do amazing, brave things to highlight the plight of others; to defend the rights of others. Whatever I may want to complain about day in, day out, it’s nothing compared to the pressure that these people face, confront, overcome — often they have no fear.

These are the real leaders; these are the people that inspire. Not many of the politicians who claim to be leaders and are weak and self-serving, and are leaders in name only. The real leaders are the ones who, against all odds, will do the right thing and then often pay a price for it, and be detained for it.

And I think that’s what keeps us fuelled and working on their behalf.

Again, the point to be made is that, yes, we are part of the UN, but we’re also part of a human rights movement. The UN is creating order amongst States: with us, we look at the heart of the relationship between the governing and the governed and so, of course, it’s going to be sensitive.

People have their rights, the States have their obligations, their commitments. And we have to defend the people.

UN News: Where do you think you’ve made the biggest difference, personally? And have you made mistakes?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: I don’t know. The question ought to be addressed to civil society, victims’ groups, human rights defenders. And if they said, “Zeid has done a good job,” I’d be very content with that. If they said, “Zeid could have done better,” I’d have to learn to live with it and accept it. It’s really for them to quantify the extent to which I have achieved something or whether they think that I was able to undertake my responsibilities in the right manner.

UN News: you said that being High Commissioner for Human Rights is a unique job within the UN, and you seem to have followed a fairly similar path to your predecessors in making yourself unpopular with governments. Do you want to see your successor sticking to that path?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: The fundamental point that I mentioned earlier is that the States can defend themselves. Our job is not to defend the States, and the law is there for the protection of the weak, not in defence of the strong.

And so, we look at the law, we look at the obligations of States, and our job is to defend the individual victims, vulnerable communities, marginalized communities, or oppressed communities.

Oppression is making a comeback. Repression is fashionable again.

And so, I don’t believe anyone holding this position — even if they felt differently — can ultimately conduct business in a manner that departs too radically from the way that I, or my predecessors, have done it. If you try to depart, it will be extremely unpleasant for you because you’re going to hear it from the very people who are suffering. And there can be nothing that will tear at your conscience more, if you abandoned them. So, my belief is that the job defines the conduct.

UN News: Is there any other key advice you’d give?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: I would always say be in good health because it is a demanding job, and it is taxing. Whoever takes this job has to be ready for it. Some jobs in the UN system are viewed as sinecures, retirement posts for national officials. This is not one of them. This requires complete commitment.

UN News: For you, where to next? And as a seasoned ex-diplomat with so much UN experience, how has doing this job changed your view of the world?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: I don’t know, maybe I’ll be a journalist!

I’ve been away from my family; I need to spend time with them and then I’ll look and see what new direction I’d want to take myself. But I need a rest as well.

UN News: having walked this tightrope, do you feel perhaps a little more appreciative of what the UN does, or perhaps a little less?

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein: No, if I were to, in the future, think of the UN, I would think of the moments in the field where I see the UN doing amazing things.

It’s very difficult to tolerate abuse of the UN when I keep thinking of the heroic things that people do in the field, whether they be humanitarian personnel, my human rights people, the people who are monitoring, observing, with some threat to themselves: I take my hat off to them. They are the UN that I will cherish and remember.

To the outside world, the jargon, the terminology, seems inaccessible. I think that the work that UN personnel do in the field is much more understandable. That’s how I entered the UN, in the field, and that’s how I got to know it. And I think that’s where the UN has enormous impact and needs to continue to make the investment and do the right thing.
 
And you can also hear Zeid articulating his passion for international justice in a recent UN News podcast  in which he interviewed Ben Ferencz who, at 99 years of age, is the last surviving prosecutor of the post-war Nuremberg military tribunals and was one of the leading campaigners for an international court.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

After escaping 35 years of slavery, this black Mauritanian woman is running for office

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from Face2face Africa

A former slave in Mauritania has put her name on the ballot for the elections in September.

Habi Mint Rabah became a slave when she was just five years old and was only released in 2008.

Habi Mint Rabah became a slave when she was just five years old and was only released in 2008.

“I became a slave at the age of five. Every day I had to take care of the flock. Every night I was raped by my master. I always believed, without really understanding, that it was normal, “she said.

As a slave, she hauled water, did the cooking, and sometimes slept next to the goats on the sand.

“I carried the water on my back. I ate the leftover food. If they left nothing, I had nothing to eat. I was sleeping wherever I could find a place – sometimes in the sand, with the goats.”

(Article continued in the right column)

Question related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

(Article continued from the left column)

Her owners  would even deny her the chance to pray, telling her that she did not deserve to because her soul was inferior.

She was able to escape slavery thanks to her brother Bilal Ould Rabah who freed himself and alerted the anti-slavery movement IRA and human rights group, who mobilised her release after 35 years in bondage.

“Even if sometimes I don’t have anything to eat, at least I have my freedom now. My freedom is the most important thing. I’m like another person now. I’m the master of my own life,” she said after she was released.

Rabah is one of the black women in Mauritania who have been enslaved by their light-skin country people.

The country is considered the slave-capital of Africa and the practice is still ongoing. The government has denied the existence of slavery  amid pressure from the United Nations and other rights groups.

Rights groups have also been under attack for protesting slavery, with the government accusing them of colluding  with the West to destabilise the country.

Rabah is vying for a parliamentary seat under the Sawap-Ira coalition.

According to the president of IRA, Biram Dah Abeid, Rabah is the perfect candidate for a number of reasons:

“[She’s] a victim of slavery that has been liberated. She is in our ranks, militant, and it is she who will bring the contradiction to the dominant slavery group, in the future Mauritanian Parliament,” he said.

This will be the first time for the abolitionist group to participate in elections after it registered as a political party.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Teachers, activists denounce U.S. immigration policies, attempt to deliver books, toys to detained children

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from Education International

A group of teachers, unionists, activists and religious leaders traveled to a detention center at the U.S. Mexico border to deliver books, toys and gifts to children incarcerated by U.S. immigration authorities.

The delegation was there to denounce the cruel, inhumane and traumatic separation of children from their families, the abusive detention conditions of minors and the systematic violations of the Human Rights of migrant families by the U.S. government.

Under the scorching Texas sun, educators from both the Mexican and U.S. side of the border arrived at the gates of the Tornillo detention center, where several hundred children are living in a series of tents surrounded by a stone wall and barbed wire and under the custody of armed guards of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Before reaching the gate, the activists, which included members of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) and EI’s General Secretary, David Edwards, participated in a demonstration to protest family separation policies and indefinite internment policies of the U.S. government.

The rally and visit to the detention center came on the heels of President Donald Trump’s executive order on the issue, which has done nothing to reunite children with their families and continues the policy of jailing children, minors and migrants seeking refuge. The administration also continues to violate international law and detain thousands of children.

(Article continued in the right column)

(Click here for the Spanish version of the article or here for the French version.)

Questions related to this article:

The post-election fightback for human rights, is it gathering force in the USA?

(Article continued from the left column)

Armed guards at the gate refused to accept the donations, which included notebooks, teddy bears and soccer balls, and did not allow the teachers to enter or visit the children. The U.S. authorities also did not respond to a letter a sent in advance requesting the opportunity to deliver education materials to the children.

“We have seen governments around the world mistreat migrants and refugees, but we are horrified by the level of cruelty, arrogance and disregard for human rights displayed by U.S. authorities,” remarked EI General Secretary David Edwards.

Several NGO’s have reported children being tied up, handcuffed and forcibly medicated and sedated. In other instances children are denied exercise and human affection. This is also aggravated by the long term trauma of being inhumanly separated from their parents, explained Edwards.

“As the voice of educators, as professionals who care about children, as an organization committed to Human Rights, Education International condemns this brutal and outrageous treatment of migrants and children and calls for the immediate end to these policies,” Edwards added, “As educators we welcome, develop, encourage and inspire children. We also stand up for their rights.”

The president of AFT, Randi Weingarten, stated that “these policies are typical of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, not democracies…These actions violate basic human rights and have caused deep and traumatic harm. The nations of the world must take action against these immoral and hateful acts by this administration.”

Juan Díaz de la Torre, president of SNTE, who was also at the rally asserted that as educators “our vocation goes beyond teaching in a classroom. We are men and women dedicated to forming the citizens of the future. The inhumane treatment that these children are bearing will leave a mark on their development if we don’t act immediately.”

He added that to solve the migration challenges there must be a multilateral agreement/process that involves all countries receiving or expulsing migrants. Everyone must work towards a solution. “It may seem that borders divide us, but we have a vocation that unites us.”

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

USA and Nigeria: The Right to Water

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

Information from Corporate Accountability

The government in Lagos, Nigeria is considering at least five water privatization projects. In response 23 members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a powerful statement in solidarity with the Our Water, Our Right campaign, which is leading the movement to keep water affordable and accessible in Lagos. The statement highlighted the perils of water privatization and connected the dots between struggles in the Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and Lagos, Nigeria.


Akinbode Mathew Oluwafemi

Here is their letter:

To Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi
Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria

Dear Akinbode Oluwafemi and members of the “Our Water, Our Right” Coalition,

We. members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus signed below, continue to stand with you and our brothers and sisters in communities across the United States, the African continent, and the world as we struggle together to achieve the universal human right to clean, safe drinking water.

Thank you for bringing to our attention developments since our 2015 communication about the situation in Lagos, Nigeria, where a mere fraction ofthe city’s roughly 21 million people have regular access to safe water. Water is a fundamental human right and building block upon which individual and collective economic prosperity relies. When people cannot access or afford clean water, the impact on their health and livelihoods is devastating. As you know all too well, these circumstances force families to make painful economic choices.

Unfortunately, water access is a problem that transcends national boundaries. In the U.S. city of Detroit, low-income residents continue to experience inhumane water shutoffs, a development that has drawn the concern of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. In Flint, nearly 100,000 people are still dealing with the effects of being poisoned by contaminated water, and are demanding infrastructure repair and health services.

(Article continued in the right column)

Question related to this article:

Is the right to water a basic human right?

(Article continued from the left column)

In Pittsburgh, people are facing elevated lead levels and working to ensure their water is safe, affordable and publicly-controlled. In both Pittsburgh and Flint, people are fighting for democratic control of their water systems: organizing against privatization in Pittsburgh, rebuilding from the devastating legacy of emergency management in Flint, and holding the global water corporation, Veolia, accountable for its role in the public health crises in both of these cities. At the root of the water crisis in the U.S. is a failure to invest in our precious public water infrastructure, which is an important foundation for achieving the human right to water. And as you know personally, the people of Lagos are facing the possibility that their water services will also be privatized.

We are deeply concerned that low-income communities, African Americans and other people of color, and people in the Global South are disproportionately affected when water is managed with greater attention to profits and finances than to human rights. Time and time again we have seen this practice result in abuses in the most vulnerable communities, whether through neglect and failure to invest in public infrastructure, or through outright privatization. While we cannot all be experts on the distinct water access challenges facing each of the world’s cities, we share your concerns that a move towards privatization of the water system in Lagos, including through public-private partnerships, could leave the city vulnerable to the negative impacts historically associated with various forms of water privatization, including rate hikes, unaffordable service, inequitable access, worker layoffs, service interruptions, and failures to adequately invest in infrastructure. Privatization also introduces significant governance challenges that can erode democratic control and oversight, including the government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.

Protecting this public good requires transparency, democratic decision-making, and strong public participation, particularly when governments consider contracting private, for-profit entities for water delivery and management. It is in this spirit that we wish to express our solidarity with the people of Lagos, Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and cities around the world as they raise their voices in support of public water, participatory governance, and universal access. Movements like yours provide us with an inspiring example of democracy in action and a valuable contribution to the struggle to secure the human right to water.

We also wish to demonstrate our support for governments exercising leadership, courage, and political will to stand up to powerful interests and make the strong public investments in water infrastructure that have proven successful in the past. It is our hope that we can continue working together to ensure that all people enjoy their fundamental human right to water.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

9th International Conference on Human Rights Education

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The international conferences on human rights education (ICHRE) will take place in Australia at Western Sydney University November 26, 2018 – November 29, 2018.

The ICHRE are a series of dialogues on human rights education as a means of promoting democracy, the rule of law, justice, and intercultural and social harmony. Since its beginnings in Sydney, Australia, in 2010, conferences have been held  in South Africa, Poland, Taiwan, USA, Holland, Chile and Canada.

The 9th ICHRE will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the education-oriented Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Much work has been done to improve knowledge and education about these principles of human rights globally. But there is still much work to do to embed these principles into everyday thinking where they can underpin civil society.

The 9th ICHRE will cover the range of human rights education (HRE) issues such as national and international curricula, pedagogy and best practices, including in the context of discrimination faced by the First Nations, women, persons with disabilities, the LGBTIQ communities and those of refugee and minority cultural and religious backgrounds. Contemporary challenges to HRE and how to effectively address them will be considered.

(Article continued in the right column)

Question related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

(Article continued from the left column)

Underpinning the Conference deliberations will be the cross-cutting theme of how HRE can develop and strengthen civil society.

Why attend?

The Conference is an opportunity to:

– learn about the latest research, practices and trends in HRE;

– participate in thought-provoking and practical paper and workshop presentations;

– strengthen practical skills through HRE workshops;
share information and experiences on HRE;

– engage with a grassroots movement which is dedicated to improving HRE; and

– foster contacts and networks and explore partnerships and collaboration.

Who will attend?

The Conference is expected to be attended by some 400 Australia and international HRE experts, practitioners, decision makers and thought leaders from government, civil society, academia and the private sector. For more information on the 9th ICHRE, including on registration and proposals for paper and workshop presentations, see www.ichre2018.com.au.

USA: “It’s Time for Moral Confrontation”: New Poor People’s Campaign Stages Nationwide Civil Disobedience

…. HUMAN RIGHTS ….

An interview by Democracy Now (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0)

On Mother’s Day 50 years ago, thousands converged on Washington, D.C., to take up the cause that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been fighting for when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968: the Poor People’s Campaign. A little more than a week after her husband’s memorial service, Coretta Scott King led a march to demand an Economic Bill of Rights that included a guaranteed basic income, full employment and more low-income housing. Half a century later, Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis have launched a new Poor People’s Campaign. Starting today, low-wage workers, clergy and community activists in 40 states are participating in actions and events across the country that will culminate in a mass protest in Washington, D.C., on June 23. We speak with Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. . .


Video of broadcast

AMY GOODMAN: The new Poor People’s Campaign officially launched last year, and, since then, Reverend Dr. William Barber and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis have been touring the country. Today they’re in Washington, D.C., for a major day of nonviolent direct action, joining us now.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Reverend Dr. William Barber, you’re president of Repairers of the Breach, distinguished visiting professor of public theology at Union Theological Seminary, former president of the North Carolina NAACP, and Moral Mondays leader. Talk about what you’re doing now. What is different today? What are you doing in Washington, D.C.?

REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: Thank you so much, Amy. Today, in more than 30 states and here in the District of Columbia, activists, clergy and, most of all, impacted people, the poor, will be organizing a nonviolent, moral, fusion direct action Mondays, a direct confrontation with what we call policy violence and the immoral policies that we see are continuing to hurt the poor. And particularly the focus today will be on women in poverty, children in poverty and the disabled. We cannot continue to have a democracy that engages in the kind of policy violence that we see happening every day.

I think about the low-wage worker I met in North Carolina who could not get insurance, because North Carolina did not expand Medicaid, and was also sick with ovarian cancer and has children. Or Amy in West Virginia, who is a woman who’s a working poor woman, who watched her state, her governor, Republican governor, cynically give a little raise to teachers, but chose to do it by cutting Medicaid and cutting food stamps. Or I think about the lady Pamela in Lowndes County, Alabama, who has raw sewage in the back of her yard, who was taken advantage of by predatory lenders and had to pay over $100,000-some for a single wide trailer that is now falling apart, full of mold and holes. And her son, who is an 11-year-old, now has to wear a CPAP machine because of the infections in his lungs. And she, herself, is disabled.

(Article continued in the right side of the page)

Question for this article:

Helping the poorest of the poor help themselves, if millions took it up, could it be the foundation of a just world?

(Article continued from the left side of the page)

All over this country, we continue to see what is not often seen or talked about in our politics, in our political debates, or even in the media, except for places like here, Amy. Two hundred fifty thousand people are dying every year from poverty and low wealth. Sixty-four million people work with less than a living wage, 54 percent of African Americans. And these realities hurt children and women and the disabled the most. Thousands of people who are homeless, of every different race, creed, color and sexual orientation.

And what we are saying, it is time for a moral confrontation, a nonviolent moral confrontation, because whether you look at the morality of our Constitution, the establishment of justice, or you look at the morality of the Scriptures, that says, for instance, in Isaiah 10, “Woe unto those who legislate evil and rob the poor of their right and make women and children their prey.” It is immoral to have 37 million people without healthcare. It is immoral not to pay living wages when we know we can do it. It is immoral that people don’t have single-payer healthcare for everybody as a matter of human rights—and children have access to public education and college, and that we stop the trend of resegregation. It is immoral the way we’ve suppressed the vote in a way that allows people to get elected who, once they get elected, using racialized methods to do so, they then vote policies that hurt women and children and disabled. They’re against living wages. They’re against healthcare. They’re against unemployment—and those things that hurt families, hurt children, hurt women and hurt the disabled.

And we’re coming together, of every race, creed, color, kind, people from every part of this country. There will be simultaneous nonviolent actions, beginning today with a 2:00 rally and then 3:00 direct action. And this will go on for 40 days, every Monday, along with other things that will be happening across the country.

AMY GOODMAN: What is that direct action, Reverend Dr. Barber?

REV. WILLIAM BARBER II: The direct action, well, today, after the rally, we will link arms, clergy, in full vestment, with impacted people. And today, we will—under the theme “Somebody is hurting our people, and it’s gone on far too long, and we can’t be silent anymore,” we will take a particular street, right near the east side of the Capitol, and we will engage in that street. Many people will sit down to pray and lay, because we are saying that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That’s why today it’s the street. Later on, it will be other places in D.C. But today it’s the street, because we’re saying the country is headed in the wrong direction. We have to break through the moral narrative. Our first goal is to break through the moral narrative to where we’re talking about it. We’re not even talking about these issues in the country. And we’re also going to be calling people to engage in massive voter mobilization. We’re also going to be doing power building among poor communities. And this, Amy, is a launch.

The 40 days is not the end of the campaign. It is the launching of a multiyear campaign.

The carnage against Gaza civilian protesters

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

A message received by email from Nonviolence International (info@nonviolenceinternational.net)

Dear Friends–

Jonathan Kuttab, our Treasurer and Co-Founder, has this to say in the wake of the dozens killed in peaceful protest this past weekend:

The carnage against Gaza civilian protesters in shocking and unconscionable. Over 40 people have been killed just today and over a thousand wounded by live fire. Palestinians have a right to protest peacefully, and Israel has no right to shoot at protesters except in self defense. No Israeli soldier or civilian has been hurt or endangered. There is absolutely no excuse for this carnage. We cannot be silent in the face of this massacre.

Our sorrow and pain at this human loss is tempered by our admiration for the protesters.

We are awed and impressed by the determined nonviolence of these Palestinians. They go to their protests knowing that Israeli deadly drones and snipers are awaiting them, yet they go ahead to make their voices heard and their demands, which have been ignored for far too long known to the world. This is a reminder of Gandhi’s Salt March in India and the Sharpesville massacre in South Africa, and we have no doubt that their legitimate demands will eventually be realized. Brute military force cannot ultimately prevail against the determined spirit of a people prepared to die for their beliefs.

(Article continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

We denounce in the strongest possible terms the use of deadly violence against unarmed protesters and call on Israel to refrain from such murderous behavior which constitute a crime against humanity. We also call for the immediate lifting of the illegal siege of Gaza and the permission of the flow of civilian goods and people in and out of Gaza. Non-violent protests and attempts to break this siege will continue and Nonviolence International is proud to support such actions.

With this tragedy in mind, we are excited to introduce a new project into the Nonviolence International family. We Are Not Numbers, spearheaded by American journalist Pam Bailey, aims to humanize the victims of mass conflict through storytelling and mentoring. On their website, you can find dozens upon dozens of real-life accounts of the Palestinian struggle. From stories told by small children to octogenarians, We Are Not Numbers helps to provide faces to the statistics that are so widely spread.

You can read their tales here: https://wearenotnumbers.org/home/Stories, and, as always, you can donate here: http://nonviolenceinternational.net/wp/donate/.
With Peace,

Nonviolence International

Amnesty International: Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to “Great March of Return” protests

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

An article from Amnesty International

The Israeli authorities must put an immediate end to the excessive and lethal force being used to suppress Palestinian demonstrations in Gaza, Amnesty International said as fresh protests have started today [April 13].


(Click on photo to enlarge)

Following the deaths of 26 Palestinians, including three children and a photojournalist, Yasser Murtaja, and the injuring of around 3,078 others during protests on the past two Fridays, Amnesty International is renewing its call for independent and effective investigations into reports that Israeli soldiers unlawfully used firearms and other excessive force against unarmed protesters.

“For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“The Israeli authorities must urgently reverse their policies and abide by their international legal obligations. Their horrifying use of live ammunition against unarmed protesters, and the resultant deaths, must be investigated as possible unlawful killings.

“The Israeli authorities must respect the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protest and, in the event that there is violence, use only the force necessary to address it. Under international law, lethal force can only be used when unavoidable to protect against imminent threats to life.”

Eyewitness testimonies as well as videos and photographs taken during demonstrations point to evidence that, in some instances, unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot by Israeli snipers while waving the Palestinian flag or running away from the fence.

(Article continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

Among those injured since Friday 30 March, there were around 445 children, at least 21 members of the Palestinian Red Crescent’s emergency teams, and 15 journalists. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, some 1,236 people have been hit by live ammunition. Others have been injured by rubber bullets or treated for tear gas inhalation dropped by drones. The World Health Organization expressed concern that nearly 350 of those injured may be temporarily or permanently disabled as a result of their injuries. So far, at least four people have had leg amputations.

On two consecutive Fridays, tens of thousands of Palestinians, including men, women and children, have gathered in five camps set up around 700 meters away from the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel to reassert their right of return and demand an end to nearly 11 years of Israel’s blockade. While protests have been largely peaceful, a minority of protesters have thrown stones and, according to the Israeli army, Molotov cocktails in the direction of the fence. The Israeli forces claim that those killed were trying to cross the fence between Gaza and Israel or were “main instigators.” There have been no Israeli casualties.

While the Israeli army indicated that it would investigate the conduct of its forces during the protests in Gaza, Israel’s investigations have consistently fallen short of international standards and hardly ever result in criminal prosecution. As a result, serious crimes against Palestinians routinely go unpunished.

In a statement made on 8 April, Fatou Ben Souda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court expressed concern at the deaths and injuries of Palestinians by Israeli forces, reminding that the situation in Palestine was under preliminary examination by her office.

“Accountability is urgently needed not only for this latest spate of incidents where excessive and lethal force has been used by Israel but also for decades of potentially unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions, and other crimes under international law.”

The protests were launched to coincide with Land Day, and are demanding the right of return for millions of refugees to villages and towns in what is now Israel.

The protests are expected to last until 15 May, when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba or “great catastrophe”. The day marks the displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948-9 during the conflict following the creation of the state of Israel. 

Israel/OPT: Palestinian child activist Ahed Tamimi sentenced to 8 months in prison

. . . . . HUMAN RIGHTS . . . . .

An article from Amnesty International

The continued imprisonment of Palestinian child activist Ahed Tamimi is a flagrant attempt to intimidate those who dare challenge the circumstances of the ongoing occupation, Amnesty International said today after she was sentenced to eight months and a 5,000 shekels fine (around US$ 1,400) with a three year suspended sentence after entering into a plea deal at Ofer military court in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

17-year-old Ahed Tamimi was accused of aggravated assault and 11 other charges after a video showing her shoving, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in her home village of Nabi Saleh on 15 December 2017 went viral on Facebook.

“By sentencing Ahed to eight months in prison the Israeli authorities have confirmed yet again that they have no regard for the rights of Palestinian children, and have no intention to reverse their discriminatory policies. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a state party, the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and Africa.

“Today’s sentence is another alarming example of the Israeli authorities’ contempt for their obligations to protect the basic rights of Palestinians living under their occupation, especially children. Ahed Tamimi is a minor. Nothing she did warrants her continued imprisonment and she must be released immediately.”

(Article continued in right column)

Questions related to this article:

Rights of the child, How can they be promoted and protected?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

(Article continued from left column)

Ahed was convicted on four of the 12 charges against her including incitement, aggravated assault and two counts of obstructing Israeli soldiers. Her mother Nariman was sentenced to eight months in prison in addition to a fine of 6,000 shekels (around US$ 1,780) and a three-year suspended sentenced for assisting in assaulting a soldier, obstructing a soldier and incitement. Ahed’s cousin, Noor Tamimi, was fined 2,000 shekels (around US$500).

“The Israeli authorities must stop responding to relatively small acts of defiance with such disproportionately harsh punishments. By ruthlessly targeting Palestinians, including children, who dare challenge Israel’s oppressive occupation, the authorities are neglecting their responsibilities under international law as an occupying force.”

Hundreds of Palestinian children are prosecuted every year through Israeli juvenile military courts. Those arrested are systematically denied their rights and subjected to ill-treatment including in some cases physical violence. There are currently approximately 350 Palestinian children in Israeli detention.

Background

Ahed Tamimi was arrested on 19 December 2017 after her mother, Nariman Tamimi, also a prominent activist, posted the footage of her altercation with Israeli soldiers online. Nariman Tamimi was arrested later that day, while Ahed’s cousin, Nour Tamimi, was arrested the following morning. Nour was released on 5 January pending trial, and was sentenced today to the time she had already spent in prison.

Ahed confronted the soldiers amid a demonstration in Nabi Saleh against US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The incident took place on the same day that one of Ahed’s other cousin, 15-year-old Mohammad Tamimi, was hit in the head at close range by a rubber bullet fired by an Israeli soldier and sustained serious injuries.