Tag Archives: global

UNCSW63’s positive outcomes for women’s human rights to social protection systems, quality public services, including education, and sustainable infrastructure

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from Education International

The women workers’ delegation, including education unionists, welcomes the Agreed Conclusions of the 63rd session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which includes positive language on education and social protection systems.

Key gains on gender and education

The Agreed Conclusions  of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW63), reached on 22 March, have borne satisfying results concerning gender and education:

* There are three strong references to education in the preamble paragraphs

Educational spaces are specifically mentioned among the list of key sites that require action and attention on sexual harassment. There is a specific mention of early childhood education as “crucial in enabling women to enter and remain in the labour market”.  The wide ranging, multi-layered and most pernicious gender-based barriers to the right to education for girls are also highlighted.

* Strong call on governments to strengthen normative, legal and policy frameworks,

There is explicit reference to the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by disabled women and girls, and indigenous women and girls (including in relation to education), especially for those living in rural areas.

Governments are urged to “adopt national gender-responsive migration policies and legislation, in line with relevant obligations under international law, to protect the human rights of all migrant women and girls, regardless of migration status, and to recognise their skills and education”.

A key gain for women in education is the call on governments to eliminate occupational segregation by addressing “structural barriers, gender stereotypes and negative social norms, promoting women’s equal access to and participation in labour markets and in education and training, supporting women so as to diversify their educational and occupational choices in emerging fields and growing economic sectors, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics and information and communications technology, recognising the value of sectors that have large numbers of women workers”.

* Strengthening public services for women and girls

A key paragraph in the document calls for investment in public education systems and infrastructure, free and compulsory primary and secondary education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all. It also stipulates that governments should “address negative social norms and gender stereotypes in education systems, including in curricula and teaching methodologies, that devalue girls’ education and prevent women and girls from having access to, completing and continuing their education”.

Another important explicit reference is made to pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers and single mothers, with a call for governments to adopt policies that would facilitate their successful return to, and completion of, education.

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

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Key gains on social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure

The women unionists’ delegation also successfully lobbied for the inclusion of progressive languageconcerning social protection systems and access to public services and sustainable infrastructure. These included: references to the importance of International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards and the decent work agenda; measures to strengthen protections for informal economy workers and promote their formalisation; ensuring that unpaid care work is valued in contributory schemes; guaranteeing access to paid maternity, paternity and parental leave; promoting shared responsibility of care between parents; and acknowledgement that universal access to social protection plays a central role in reducing inequality, as well as emphasis on the need to make progress towards universal health care.

Governments, for the first time, recognised the right to social security—including universal access to social protection—and that women’s access to social protection is often restricted when tied to formal employment. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that budget cuts and austerity measures undermine women’s access to social protection, public services, and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in the areas of health and education. They also recognise the link between gender-responsive social protection and the prevention of gender-based violence. And, crucially, committed to providing public sector workers with living wages.

An ongoing struggle

The women workers’ delegation, including the EI delegation, will, however, still have to continue efforts for specific reference to, and inclusion of, LGBTIQ+ women and girls in the UNCSW outcome document in 2020.

Some demands were also not met, such as references to survivors’ benefits, stronger language around the ratification of ILO Conventions,  and an emphasis on the need for contributory and non-contributory social protection systems

Despite significant gains, challenges remain to realise the full human rights of women, in all their diversity, as the press release from the women’s rights caucus at UNCSW  stressed. Of significant concern was the removal of service provisions for survivors of violence—a development that is out of step with the growing awareness and action to reduce and eliminate the prevalence and consequences of gender-based violence against women. Member States also failed to commit to integrating sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression into the design of social protection, public services, and infrastructure systems. The Agreed Conclusions also demonstrated the unwillingness of governments to regulate and hold the private sector accountable for its responsibility to uphold women’s human rights.

At this crucial moment, UNCSW must continue to involve the vital voices of civil society in their deliberations and strengthen the potential of these negotiations to continue the practice of consensus-based advancement of women’s human rights.

A critical occurrence at the end of the first week of UNCSW63 was the thousands, if not millions, of young people across the world who took to the street to march and rally for climate justice, including outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The labour delegation at UNCSW63 marched in solidarity with the students.

(Thank you to the Good News Agency for suggesting this article.)

Women must be at ‘centre of peacekeeping decision-making’, UN chief tells Security Council

. . . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . . .

An article from United Nations News

Women’s rights, voices and participation must be at “the centre of peacekeeping decision-making”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday [April 11], describing them as “central to sustainable solutions” to challenges facing the Organization worldwide.


UN Secretary-General briefs the Security Council on women in peacekeeping operations, 11 April 2019. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

Through its landmark resolution 1325  on women and peace and security, the Council reaffirmed the participation and involvement of women, which the UN chief hailed  as “a key element in the maintenance of international peace and security”. He also noted the UN’s “essential system-wide effort” to enhance women’s representation at all levels and in all arenas, through his Strategy on Gender Parity.

“This is not just a question of numbers, but also of our effectiveness in fulfilling our mandates”, he stated, citing evidence that more women peacekeepers lead to more credible protection responses that meet the needs of all.

In patrol units women can better access intelligence to provide a holistic view of security challenges, and at checkpoints they promote a less confrontational atmosphere, he said.

Within troop contingents they lower incidences of sexual exploitation and abuse; yield greater reporting of sexual and gender-based violence; and can access local women’s networks, leading to more inclusive peace processes.

‘Step towards parity’

The Secretary-General thanked the more than 150 Member States who have signed on to his Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative, which calls for women’s participation in every stage of peace operations, and integrates a gender perspective into all analysis, planning, implementation and reporting.

And he was grateful to the States who, at last week’s Ministerial on Peacekeeping, launched the Elsie Initiative  to break down barriers to increasing women’s participation in peace operations.

In support of the UN’s commitments in these areas, Mr. Guterres noted a range of actions, including the Gender-Responsive Peacekeeping Operations Policy, which “commits us to promoting leadership and accountability both for gender equality and for the women, peace and security agenda”.

Flagging that since December 2015, the number of women in uniform has increased by only around one per cent, he spelled out that “this is clearly not enough”.

“This year”, he informed the Chamber, “we rolled out the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy ”, which, among other things, targets by 2028 a range of 15 to 35 per cent of women’s representation, including military, police and justice and corrections personnel.

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Question for this article:

UN Resolution 1325, does it make a difference?

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While acknowledging that it “has been more challenging”, Mr. Guterres vowed “to press ahead”, adding that “keep on track, we need assistance from you, the Member States”.

He asked for a greater focus on women in battalions and formed police units and for the sustained recruitment and deployment of women within national services.

Noting that for the first time in UN history the senior leadership is close to achieving gender parity, Mr. Guterres reiterated his commitment to sustaining that progress: “We need to bring the same spirit to our peace operations”, he stressed. “This is crucial for our effectiveness, credibility and reputation”. 

‘Pushing gender equality’

The first female Force Commander and current Head of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) mission, Major General Kristin Lund told the Council  that the “momentum of pushing gender equality must be kept”.

As Force Commander of the UN mission in Cyprus, she teamed up with Lisa Buttenheim, the Special Representative at the time. “For once I did not need to convince my boss that gender was important” she said. “Both of us had gender equality in our spine”.

The Major General enumerated some examples of her work in increasing the number of women, helping them in missions and reaching out to local communities.

Noting many reasons why the armed forces have a difficulty keeping women in the ranks, she outlined frequent obstacles thrown up by male culture in military settings, giving the example of how “posters with half naked women” hang in mission gyms.

“How many women do gym in bikinis?” Ms. Lund asked rhetorically, saying that under her command in Cyprus “womanized posters vanished”.

She also mandated that the all-male teams in military skills competitions had to have females.

“Gender is on the top of my agenda”, she said, adding that she initiated a female military network, engaged women to become more visible and increased the number of female observers.

Troop and police contributing countries “must do more” she said.

“We, out in the field, need to be able to reach out to the whole society. Only you can make that happen”, the Force Commander concluded.

Diversity is a strength

Chairing the meeting, German Federal Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen said: “Women are no better peacekeepers than men, but they are different. And this diversity is a strength”.

Pointing out that Resolution 1325 has been in effect for almost 20 years, she maintained that it is “still far from full, effective and meaningful participation of women in peace operations”.

To change that, Ms. von der Leyen suggested, among other things, to have successful female mentors to share their stories to younger women; have more women in national forces for deployment to international peacekeeping missions; and assess national barriers that keeps more women from joining peace operations.

“The peacekeeper’s blue helmet symbolizes protection and security”, she said. “Let us make this helmet be worn by more women. For the sake of peace”.

UN experts warn Assange arrest exposes him to risk of serious human rights violations

. FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

An article from the United Nations News

Independent UN rights experts on Thursday [April 11] said the arrest of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange by police in the United Kingdom, after the Ecuadorian Government decided to stop granting him asylum in their London embassy, exposed him to “the risk of serious human rights violations”, if extradited to the United States.


Press Briefing by Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, Agnes Callamard, tweeted that in “expelling Assange from the Embassy” and allowing his arrest, it had taken Mr. Assange “one step closer to extradition”. She added that the UK had now arbitrarily-detained the controversial anti-secrecy journalist and campaigner, “possibly endangering his life”.

Mr. Assange took refuge inside the embassy in 2012, to avoid extradition to Sweden by the UK authorities where he faced charges, since dropped, of sexual assault. But he also faces US federal conspiracy charges, relating to the leak of a vast number of Government documents to his Wikileaks website, by the former US intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. The US argues that publication by the investigative site, endangered the lives of its citizens working overseas.

According to reports, the UK will now assess whether to extradite the Australian national to the US, where he faces up to five years in prison. The UK has reportedly given assurances in writing to the Ecuadorian Government that Mr. Assange will not be extradited to a country where he could face torture, or the death penalty.

After appearing in a central London courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Assange was found guilty of failing to surrender to the court in 2012, and now faces up to 12 months in prison.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

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The UN independent expert on the right to privacy, Joe Cannataci, issued a statement following the arrest, saying that “this will not stop my efforts to assess Mr. Assange’s claims that his privacy has been violated. All it means is that, instead of visiting Mr Assange and speaking to him at the Embassy…I intend to visit him and speak to him wherever he may be detained.”

In a statement last Friday, Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said he was alarmed by reports that an arrest was imminent, and that if extradited, Mr. Assange could be exposed to “a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial, and the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

UK urged to ‘abide by international obligations’

Last December, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the UK to “abide by its international obligations” and allow Mr. Assange safe passage out of the embassy.
“States that are based upon, and promote the rule of law, do not like to be confronted with their own violations of the law, that is understandable. But when they honestly admit these violations, they do honour the very spirit of the rule of law, earn enhanced respect for doing so, and set worldwide commendable examples,” said a statement released by the Working Group.

In December 2015, the Working Group concluded in its opinion No. 54/2015  that Mr. Assange – who at the time had a European arrest warrant issued against him for an allegation of crimes committed in Sweden ‑ was being arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released.

“Under international law, pre-trial detention must be only imposed in limited instances. Detention during investigations must be even more limited, especially in the absence of any charge” said the experts. “The Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr. Assange’s continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post facto justify the more than 6 years confinement that he has been subjected to since he sought asylum in the Embassy of Ecuador.”

“Mr. Assange should be able to exercise his right to freedom of movement in an unhindered manner, in accordance with the human rights conventions the UK has ratified,” the experts added.

The kids got it right: Climate Change, pollution and the system

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Silvia Swinden for Pressenza

Somehow for years vested interests had managed to keep a split between the two most damaging effects of burning fossil fuels: climate change leading to disaster in particular to the poorest areas of the planet and the millions of deaths and illnesses caused by pollution, also being the less well off the most affected. Failing to see them together was a way to weaken the arguments against the radical change in the production of energy necessary for our survival.

We had published in Pressenza (Failing to connect the fossil fuel dots of climate change and health ) a well researched paper from the Lancet referring to this combination, but the split remained both in the media and in most grassroots movements.

This is no longer the case. Yesterday’s schools strike carried the complete message. In the words of Greta Thunberg, “This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice. Last year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on global warming  could not have been clearer about the extreme dangers of going beyond 1.5C of global warming. To have any chance of avoiding that extreme danger emissions must drop rapidly – so that by the time we will be in our mid- and late-20s we are living in a transformed world.

“The students who are striking in cities, towns and villages around the world are uniting behind the science. We are only asking that our leaders to do the same.

“If those in power today don’t act, it will be our generation who will live through their failure. Those who are under 20 now could be around to see 2080, and face the prospect of a world that has warmed by up to 4C. The effects of such warming would be utterly devastating. Rivers would flood, storms would wreak havoc on coastal communities and coral reefs would be eliminated. Melting polar ice caps would lead to dramatically higher sea levels, flooding coastal areas. Places on Earth will become uninhabitable.

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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“Scientists have also shown us that burning fossil fuels is “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”. Nine out of every 10 children around the world are breathing dangerous air. Our lives are being compromised before we are born. Toxic particles from exhaust fumes pass through the lungs of pregnant women and accumulate in the placenta. The risk of premature birth, low birth weight and cognitive dysfunction this causes is a public health catastrophe. Pollution from diesel vehicles is stunting the growth of our lungs, leaving us damaged for life. Toxic air from burning fossil fuels is choking not only our lungs but our hopes and dreams.

“And the worst effects of climate change are disproportionately felt by our most vulnerable communities. This is not just about cutting down emissions, but about equity – the system we have right now is failing us, working only for the rich few. The luxury so few of us enjoy in the global north is based on the suffering of people in the global south.”

In fact  The Guardian  reports that “The number of early deaths caused by air pollution is double previous estimates, according to research, meaning toxic air is killing more people than tobacco smoking.

“The scientists used new data to estimate that nearly 800,000 people die prematurely each year in Europe because of dirty air, and that each life is cut short by an average of more than two years. The health damage caused by air pollution in Europe is higher than the global average. Its dense population and poor air results in exposure that is among the highest in the world.

“The new research, published in the European Heart Journal, indicates that while air pollution hits the lungs first, its impact via the bloodstream on heart disease and strokes is responsible for twice as many deaths as respiratory diseases.”

The placards from the 100+ participating countries could not be clearer, children know the system is playing with their lives and they are inviting the adults to join in. In Silo’s 2004 words “Yes, it is worthwhile that this Message and that this Universal Humanism gain strength. It is worthwhile for young people to swell the ranks of this Moral Force as a variant of History… so that this current becomes unstoppable and its murmur heard in all the languages of the Earth. Then the new generations will begin to teach the adults with new affection and new understanding.”

In a world poisoned by cruelty and contradictions, the compassion and solidarity from the youngsters that reject this dehumanised system open the future for everyone, if we listen to them and choose to act now, not guided by the misinformation from the powerful but by listening carefully to the subtle call in the depths of our consciousness for compassion and coherence between our thoughts, feelings and actions. Then the violence will begin to retreat and our true human history will flourish.

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

New UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration offers unparalleled opportunity for job creation, food security and addressing climate change

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

A press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, declared today [March 1] by the UN General Assembly, aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.


Preparing trees for planting at a nursery in Senegal.

The degradation of land and marine ecosystems undermines the well-being of 3.2 billion people and costs about 10 per cent of the annual global gross product in loss of species and ecosystems services. Key ecosystems that deliver numerous services essential to food and agriculture, including supply of freshwater, protection against hazards and provision of habitat for species such as fish and pollinators, are declining rapidly.

“We are pleased that our vision for a dedicated Decade has become reality,” said Lina Pohl, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of El Salvador, a regional restoration leader. “We need to promote an aggressive restoration program that builds resilience, reduces vulnerability and increases the ability of systems to adapt to daily threats and extreme events.”

Restoration of 350 million hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 could generate USD 9 trillion in ecosystem services and take an additional 13-26 gigatons of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

“The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will help countries race against the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Ecosystems are being degraded at an unprecedented rate. Our global food systems and the livelihoods of many millions of people depend on all of us working together to restore healthy and sustainable ecosystems for today and the future.”

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Question for this article:

 

Despite the vested interests of companies and governments, Can we make progress toward sustainable development?

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“UN Environment and FAO are honored to lead the implementation of the Decade with our partners,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. “The degradation of our ecosystems has had a devastating impact on both people and the environment. We are excited that momentum for restoring our natural environment has been gaining pace because nature is our best bet to tackle climate change and secure the future.”

The Decade, a global call to action, will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration from successful pilot initiatives to areas of millions of hectares. Research shows that more than two billion hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded landscapes offer potential for restoration.

The Decade will accelerate existing global restoration goals, for example the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 350 million hectares of degraded ecosystems by 2030 – an area almost the size of India. Currently, 57 countries, subnational governments and private organizations have committed to bring over 170 million hectares under restoration. This endeavour builds on regional efforts such as the Initiative 20×20 in Latin America that aims to restore 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020, and the AFR100 African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative that aims to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land under restoration by 2030.

Ecosystem restoration is defined as a process of reversing the degradation of ecosystems, such as landscapes, lakes and oceans to regain their ecological functionality; in other words, to improve the productivity and capacity of ecosystems to meet the needs of society. This can be done by allowing the natural regeneration of overexploited ecosystems, for example, or by planting trees and other plants.

Ecosystem restoration is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on climate change, poverty eradication, food security, water and biodiversity conservation. It is also a pillar of international environmental conventions, such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the Rio Conventions on biodiversity, desertification and climate change.

Currently, about 20 per cent of the planet’s vegetated surface shows declining trends in productivity with fertility losses linked to erosion, depletion and pollution in all parts of the world. By 2050 degradation and climate change could reduce crop yields by 10 per cent globally and by up to 50 per cent in certain regions.     

UN event: Women’s Equality and Empowerment Advances the Culture of Peace

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

Concept note from calendar of side events of the Commission on the Status of Women published by UN Women

Meeting date: March 21st, 2019 | Time: 10.00 AM to 11.15 AM
Venue: Conference Room-A, UNHQs

The United Nations came into being at the end of the devastating World War II as a forum for resolving conflicts peacefully between nations and for promoting sustainable peace and development in all parts of the world. Over the years, the UN has discussed many ways and means to reach its broader objectives of peace, human rights and sustainable development. For that, its Member States have agreed on some consensus frameworks and instruments to promote human rights and sustainable peace. One such remarkable instrument is UN General Assembly’s decision on the concept of “Culture of Peace” taken in 1999. Year 2019 will observe the 20th anniversary of that landmark decision.


Photo of event from Bangladesh News USA

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. These famous words were codified in UNESCO’s constitution and defined the mandate that peace not only is the absence of armed conflict or war. After nine-months long intense negotiations among all UN Member States, on 13 September 1999, the General Assembly adopted, by consensus and without reservation, the seminal resolution 53/243 on the ‘Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace’ [that had been drafted and submitted by UNESCO – editor’s note].

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the United Nations doing for a culture of peace?

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The Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace tried to provide a pathway following which international community could develop a mindset and modes of behaviour that will not allow conflict, violence and hatred to undermine the overarching goals of sustainable peace. Developing a culture of peace requires a positive, dynamic participatory process where dialogue is encouraged among various stakeholders, to find out root causes of conflicts and through mediation and moderation as well as in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, solve those conflicts to advance peace. An essential foundation of the culture of peace is inclusivity, equality and solidarity of all peoples, races, religions, class, and importantly, gender. Gender inequality, conflict and fragility are key challenges to sustainable peace. Peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men. Women’s equality and empowerment is, therefore, critical to advancing the culture of peace.

This very idea resonates both in General Assembly and the Security Council. In 2000, the important role of women in peace and security was emphasized in the Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325) which asked for full and equal involvement of women at all levels for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Today, despite the consensus agreement by the international community, women still face many challenges and inequalities that prevent their representation and participation in all stages of life.

Women bring a new breadth, quality and balance of vision to our common efforts to move away from the cult of war and towards the culture of peace. Increasing gender equality has positive effects on food security, extremism, health, education and numerous other key global concerns. Women’s equality makes our planet safe and secure. Empowering women and girls and strengthening gender equality prepare the foundation of inclusive societies, sustainable peace and development. Greater involvement of women in decision making be it in conflict or peace time will bring different perspectives and priorities than men thereby changing the nature of the dialogue, an essential element in advancing the culture of peace.

Objectives

– Discuss experiences and lessons learned on empowering women in all stages of socio-economic and political lives;

– Identify challenges that prevent women from engaging and participating in processes hindering their social inclusion;

– Discuss the role and contribution of women in promoting the culture of peace;

Greta Thunberg—Swedish Teen who Inspired School Climate Strikes—Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from Ecowatch

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who jump started the climate strike movement, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The news comes as Thunberg is helping to organize a massive global school strike March 15 that is expected to involve at least 1,659 towns or cities in 105 countries, The Guardian reported.


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“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård said, The Guardian reported. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”

Øvstegård was one of three members of members of Norway’s Socialist Left Party to nominate Thunberg, The Associated Press reported. Peace Prize nominations can come from anyone who meets the criteria, including national government officials, former winners and some academics. Nominations for the 2019 prize were due by February 1, and the winner will be announced in October and awarded in December. There are 301 nominations for the 2019 prize, including 223 individuals and 78 groups, according to the Nobel Prize website.

If Thunberg won, the 16-year-old would be the youngest winner ever and the second after 2007 co-winners former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to be honored for work on climate change, New Scientist reported. The current youngest winner is Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the prize at age 17 in 2014.

“Honoured and very grateful for this nomination,” Thunberg said in a tweet.

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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Thunberg started a movement with a one-woman school strike in front of Swedish parliament last August. Thunberg had been part of a group inspired by the Parkland students’ movement against gun violence who wanted to do something similar around climate change. When the group could not agree on a plan, Thunberg was motivated by wildfires in Sweden’s Arctic region and a record northern European heat wave to go it alone, according to a recent profile in The Guardian.

“I painted the sign on a piece of wood and, for the flyers, wrote down some facts I thought everyone should know. And then I took my bike to the parliament and just sat there,” she said. “The first day, I sat alone from about 8.30am to 3pm – the regular schoolday. And then on the second day, people started joining me. After that, there were people there all the time.”

Her action inspired student strikes from Australia to Brussels, and earned her invitations to speak at the COP24 talks in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 and at Davos this year, where she excoriated world leaders for their lack of action.

“Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money,” she said at the Poland conference, as USA Today reported.

Thunberg told The Guardian that she suffered from depression when she was younger, partly because of climate change and the lack of action it seemed to inspire. It was talking to her parents about the issue and having them listen to her concerns seriously that helped her realize she could persuade others, too.

“That’s when I kind of realised I could make a difference. And how I got out of that depression was that I thought: it is just a waste of time feeling this way because I can do so much good with my life. I am trying to do that still now,” she said.

Friday’s upcoming strike is proof that Thunberg’s activism has had an impact. The Guardian said it was likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in world history.

However, Thunberg is focused on her goal of actually seeing governments take adequate climate action, and will strike every Friday outside the Swedish parliament until her country’s policies match up with the Paris agreement. She told New Scientist that she was frustrated with some of the responses the strikes had generated.

“They talk about our age, our looks and so on. The emissions are still rising and that is all that matters. Nothing has happened, that is crucial to remember,” she said.

Amnesty International: After Christchurch, how to beat Islamophobia and hate

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article by Osama Bhutta, Communications Director of Amnesty International

Racists and bigots believe that diverse societies don’t work. Frustrated that their howling at the moon wasn’t enough, they’re now picking up weapons in an attempt to prove themselves right. We can’t keep expressing shock and then moving on until the next outrage. We watched in astonished horror last year when a Nazi entered a US synagogue and shot dead 11 worshippers. And yet after the initial alarm, the world carried on like before.

These haters are destabilising our societies and concerted action needs to be taken before things get even worse.

To be clear, this isn’t just about western societies. Many Muslims see Christchurch as a small part of a global rising tide of Islamophobia perpetrated by insecure majorities. Let’s take a whistle-stop world tour from east to west.

In Myanmar, decades of hate speech and persecution culminated in 2017 with over 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya having to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing. The implicated military in Myanmar has been given plenty of diplomatic cover by China, whose authorities are currently holding up to 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups   in euphemistically titled “transformation-through-education” camps in Xinjiang. It’s one of the stories of our age, subjugation on an epic scale.

India’s historic multi-faith character has taken a hit under the leadership of Narendra Modi, a man who was chief minister during the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Muslims. His brand of Hindu nationalism has led to divisiveness rather than unity, leading to growing phenomena such as “cow-related violence”.

Many politicians across Europe have been gaining ground by peddling anti-Muslim messages. France’s Marine Le Pen compared Muslims spilling onto pavements from packed mosques after Friday prayers to Nazi occupiers. A key message of the Brexit campaign was the “threat” of Turkey joining the EU. Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage once accused British Muslims of having “split loyalties”.

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Question(s) related to this article:

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

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The biggest beneficiary of ballot box Islamophobia though is Donald Trump with his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. He said that this ban would stay in place until the country’s representatives “can figure out what the hell is going on”. Presumably, despite all his intelligence, he’s still not got a grasp of it. Trump arrived on the back of a generation of Islamophobia which went hand-in-hand with the controversial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which let us not forget, resulted in the still barely acknowledged deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

When the global picture is this grim, it’s little wonder that many Muslims feel embattled. Especially when they are also being told that despite these tragic numbers, they are actually the aggressors.

This is not, however, a religious conflict. The millions of Muslims who have lost their lives, been put in detention, or repressed in other multifaceted ways, have not been treated this way as part of a religious war. These are not the new crusades. The perpetrators are too diverse and too disparate for this to be case. So are the victims. Christians are also repressed in China, Pakistan and Indonesia. Christian and Muslim Palestinians face violence and discrimination every day in the context of Israel’s occupation of their territory. France and Germany reported disturbingly sharp rises in anti-Semitism last year; who can forget the distressing images of swastikas daubed across graves in Jewish cemeteries in Herrlisheim and Quatzenheim in eastern France? In light of the evidence,  a ‘War on Islam’ thesis doesn’t add up.

This is about how nation states treat their minorities. In this respect, Muslim-majority states are also often found wanting. Infamously there are no churches in Saudi Arabia. Given these circumstances, it was no surprise to see Saudi Arabia’s crown prince giving endorsement  to China’s treatment of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Harmony isn’t going to be achieved if only we had more interfaith dialogue and more mosque open days. Tackling this threat effectively requires a radical rethink about how we talk about freedom, equality and respect for all.

The strength of a nation lies in how well you treat all your people. It’s a mark of strength when you celebrate everyone who lives alongside you. We move forward when everyone has the freedom to live their lives as they wish, to contribute to their society as they see fit, and to be the people they want to be.

I grew up in Scotland and am proud of my nationality and my faith. We used to say that it takes many different coloured threads to make tartan, just as it takes many different types of people to make Scotland.  Every culture around the world must find their language to bring people together, rather than to drive them apart. In 1945, the Nazis were defeated through war. This time, we’ll beat the haters through the force of our love, compassion and shared humanity.

Voices of young climate action activists ‘give me hope’ says UN chief

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article from UN News

In the wake of Friday’s demonstrations by schoolchildren across the world against climate change inaction, the UN Secretary-General has said he understands their fears, but is hopeful for the future.


(click on image to enlarge)

In a direct message to the youth activists who took to the streets, UN chief António Guterres said that he understood the anxiety and “fear for the future” behind their actions but added that “humankind is capable of enormous achievements. Your voices give me hope.”

Writing in an opinion piece for The Guardian, Mr. Guterres said that the more he witnessed the “commitment and activism” of young people who were fed up with the pace of the international response to global warming, “the more confident I am that we will win. Together, with your help and thanks to your efforts, we can and must beat this threat and create a cleaner, safer, greener world for everyone,” he added.

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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“These schoolchildren have grasped something that seems to elude many of their elders”, he said, adding that “we are in a race for our lives, and we are losing. The window of opportunity is closing; we no longer have the luxury of time, and climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial.”

The Secretary-General acknowledged that his older generation “has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change.  This is deeply felt by young people. No wonder they are angry.”

Global emissions are reaching record levels, and continuing to rise, he said, adding that concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years.

“The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3°C since 1990,” he added, noting also rising sea levels, the death of coral reefs, and a growing threat to human health worldwide, as made clear in the UN’s Global Environmental Outlook, published this week.

The historic 2015 Paris Agreement  signed by more than 190 countries to keep global emissions well below 2°C, “itself is meaningless without ambitious action,” said the UN chief.

“That is why I am bringing world leaders together at a Climate Action Summit  later this year. I am calling on all leaders to come to New York in September with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero by 2050.”

The latest analysis shows that if we act now, we can reduce carbon emissions within 12 years and limit global warming to 1.5°” said Mr. Guterres. “But if we continue along our current path, the consequences are impossible to predict.”
 

“Momentum is building:, he added, “people are listening and there is a new determination to unleash the promise of the Paris Agreement. The Climate Summit must be the starting point to build the future we need.”

Global Climate Strike in Pictures: Millions of Students Walk Out to Demand Planetary Transformation

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Julia Conley in Common Dreams reprinted according to a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

All over the planet on Friday, millions of children and young adults walked out of their classrooms in an unprecedented collective action to demand a radical and urgent shift in society’s energy and economic systems in order to avert the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and climate change.

In the United Kingdom, thousands of young people were among the millions worldwide who called on their governments to declare a climate emergency and take action to stop the climate crisis. (Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

With demonstrations in more than 100 countries and tens of thousands of schools, the worldwide Climate Strike is the largest since 16-year-old Greta Thunberg sparked a wave of increasingly huge marches and walkouts with her one-person strike outside the Swedish Parliament last year.  

Since then, Thunberg has admonished and appealed to world leaders at COP24 and Davos, successfully securing a commitment from the European Union to fight the climate crisis while inspiring strikes all over the world. European students began holding weekly walkouts in Brussels in December, while Australian, and German young people are among those who have organized strikes as well. 

“We have been born into this world and we have to live with this crisis, and our children and our grandchildren,” Thunberg told a crowd of her peers in Stockholm in Friday. “We are facing the greatest existential crisis humanity has ever faced. And yet it has been ignored. You who have ignored it know who you are.”

In Pictures:


People hold up signs and vent their frustrations during a Climate Change Awareness rally at Sydney Town Hall on March 15, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. The protests are part of a global climate strike, urging politicians to take urgent action on climate change. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)


The scene on Westminster bridge as school children block traffic and march across the river on March 15, 2019 in London, England. Thousands of pupils from schools, colleges and universities across the UK will walk out today in the second major strike against climate change this year. Young people nationwide are calling on the Government to declare a climate emergency and take action. Similar strikes are taking place around the world today including in Japan and Australia, inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who criticised world leaders at a United Nations climate conference. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)


Environmentalists and concerned citizens gather and hold a picket to voice out concern on environmental and climate issues on March 15, 2019 in Quezon city, Philippines. Students around the world took to the streets on March 15 to protest a lack of climate awareness and demand that elected officials take action on climate change. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist who started skipping school since August 2018 to protest outside Sweden’s parliament, school and university students worldwide have followed her lead and shared her alarm and anger. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)


Greta Thunberg participates in a strike outside of the Swedish parliament house, Riksdagen, in order to raise awareness for global climate change on March 15, 2019 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images)


Schoolchildren take part in the Global Climate Strike For Future on March 15, 2019 in Rome, Italy. Today, thousands of students took part in the Student Global Climate Strike to demand for urgent measures and concrete action to combat climate change, the global warming and to protect our future. The strike is inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish school girl who in 2018 went on school strike to make adults and lawmakers take climate change action. (Photo: Antonio Masiello/Getty Images)


@Greenpeace #FridaysForFuture #climatestrike #schoolstrike4climate Uganda it’s happening

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Question for this article:

Are we seeing the dawn of a global youth movement?

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@MikeHudema LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THE MARCH IN BRUSSELS!!! Young people are rising in 2052 places in 123 countries on every continents.


@EricHolthaus Sign in St. Paul Minnesota:
”If you don’t act like adults, we will.”#climatestrike #FridaysForFuture

@Greenpeace Officially more than 150,000 students on #ClimateStrike in Montreal, the number just came in!! #FridaysForFuture #schoolstrike4climate #YouthStrike4Climate


@lifelearner47 Oh boy, look what happened in Lisbon, Portugal.#FridaysForFuture #ClimateStrike


@350 In Kyiv, Ukraine, 100+ students appealed to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman and the govt to recognize climate change as one of the most pressing nationwide problems and to take appropriate action. #Climatestrike took place in six cities in Ukraine.
Photos: Olena Angelova


@MikeHudema HUGE! crowd out in #Barcelona as far as the eye can see. Young people are rising in 2052 places in 123 countries on every continents.


@MauroAstete Mientras algunos discuten por control de identidad a menores, #AdmisiónJusta u otras pequeñeces, los jóvenes solo piden tener un futuro para vivir ¿Se lo daremos? @sebastianpinera @MMAChile @CarolaSchmidtZ #FridaysForFuture #Santiago #climatechange


Oladosu Adenike @the_ecofeminist Its my 16 weeks
”Our earth is on fire”#ClimateStrike#FridaysForFuture in Nigeria.
Now is the time for us to actions.


@AntoineTifine We are thousands of people in #Paris for the global strike for climate ! #Youth4Climate #FridayForFuture @GretaThunberg @FYEG @YouthFrance


@munwarenj #climatestrike #fridaysforfuture #Bangladesh #barishal

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