“Indigenous peoples have repeatedly expressed their concern to me of the presence of third parties in their territories, both in and out of the regions,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya. “These parties include private settlers and agricultural, livestock and tourism, as well as miners and illegal loggers.” Mr. Anaya stressed that one of the major concerns of the seven indigenous groups in Panama is the recognition and protection of their territories and natural resources. “In Panama, the preservation and development of indigenous cultures is due in large part to the Government’s acknowledgement that they are autonomous and have their own territory in the region,” he said, adding that the Government’s official recognition of indigenous counties is an affirmation of indigenous peoples worldwide. “These developments represent a significant foundation on which to continue building and strengthening the rights of the indigenous peoples of Panama,” Mr. Anaya said. “However, during the last week I have noticed that this foundation is in many ways fragile and precarious, and there are several threats to the rights of indigenous peoples threatening the progress made in previous years.” Mr. Anaya urged the Government to cooperate with indigenous authorities to control and stop these invasions and privatization of land, including indigenous territories that are still waiting to be officially demarcated and recognized by the State. “The development of large investment projects in indigenous territories of Panama has been the subject of numerous allegations of violations of the rights of indigenous peoples, especially in recent years,” he said. “This has resulted in the loss of large areas of indigenous lands and natural resources, as well as the fragmentation of control and decision making that indigenous authorities exert on their land.” Mr. Anaya, who just finished a seven-day visit to the country, also emphasized the need to reinforce and implement policies in favour of the rights of indigenous peoples according to international standards. In particular, he stated that the creation of a national development plan for indigenous peoples could be a major advance if it is based on the aspirations of indigenous groups and if it has the necessary resources and budget to be implemented. During his visit, Mr. Anaya met in Panama City with Government officials, as well as representatives of indigenous groups and civil society. Special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. Mr. Anaya will present his findings and recommendations to the Council in 2014.
The programme, named Action Against Desertification and launched by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in partnership with the European Union and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP), will devote some €41million to bolstering sustainable land management across the world’s most vulnerable areas in an effort to fight hunger and poverty. “Desertification and land degradation are very serious challenges. They lead to hunger and poverty, themselves at the root of many conflicts,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said in a press release marking the programme’s launch. “But recent successes show that these problems are not insurmountable. We can boost food security, improve livelihoods and help people adapt to climate change.”The FAO reports that more than 70 per cent of people living in drylands and other fragile ecosystems across Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific derive their livelihoods from natural resources. At the same time, an uptick in population growth and climate change has placed increasing pressure on these ecosystems, intensifying degradation and desertification and putting millions of lives at risk. In an effort to thwart the costly effects of desertification in Africa, the Action Against Desertification will build on an already existing “flagship programme” – the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative – which supports local communities, Government and civil society in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gambia, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal with the sustainable management and restoration of their dryland forests and rangelands. Two-thirds of the African continent is classified as desert or drylands and climate change has led to prolonged periods of drought; over-intensive farming and over-grazing have caused land degradation; and deforestation has turned once fertile land into desert in many areas. On that note, the FAO-backed programme it will support agro-forestry while also incentivizing the creation of farmer field schools where farmers can learn about the causes of desertification and the best ways to combat and prevent it. Meanwhile, in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, the new initiative will target the problems of soil loss and degraded natural habitats by helping local communities adopt improved sustainable land and forest management practices.
“The success of our humanitarian effort depends on having sufficient resources to provide assistance,” Johannes Van Der Klaauw said in a statement issued yesterday, following his visit last week to Sa’ada.He noted that the $1.6 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen is only 18 per cent funded. “Significant donor contributions are needed immediately to alleviate the suffering of the girls, boys, women and men of Yemen,” he stressed. The ongoing conflict in Yemen has taken a heavy toll on civilians, more than 1,895 of whom have been killed by fighting since March. More than 15 million people have no access to basic healthcare, while half the population does not have enough food to feed their families, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “The escalation of the conflict in Yemen has a devastating impact on civilian populations, as I witnessed in Sa’ada earlier this week,” said Mr. Van Der Klaauw, who reported that the violence has forced a large number of people to flee their homes, while civilian infrastructure has been destroyed by airstrikes and fighting.“Violence that directly impacts civilians and attacks on civilian infrastructure must stop,” he stressed. “I cannot overemphasize the importance of all parties protecting civilian lives and livelihoods. Civilian infrastructure must be spared from airstrikes and shelling; at the same time these facilities must not be used for military purposes.”It will be vital for the humanitarian community scale up its response to the “staggering” humanitarian needs across Yemen, he continued, citing the need for live-saving assistance in areas such as emergency shelter, food security, water and sanitation, medical care, nutrition and psycho-social support. Also critical is bringing children back to school and restoring livelihoods.
“Today, as the global community comes together around the new 2030 Agenda, the role teachers play has never have been more important,” said the heads of key UN agencies in a joint statement on the Day.Quality teachers are increasingly recognized as the most important factor in children’s learning- and thus, in improving educational attainment levels, increasing the ability of young people to participate in society and today’s knowledge economies, boosting productivity and prosperity.The statement was issued by UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova; UN International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Director-General, Guy Ryder; UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Anthony Lake; UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark; and Fred van Leeuwen, the General Secretary of Education International, which represents teachers’ organizations across the globe.The statement underscored the mounting shortage of quality teachers, unequal distribution of trained teachers, and inadequate or non-existent national standards for the teaching profession.These are all key contributing factors to wide equity gaps in access and learning. According to estimates compiled by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, to achieve universal primary education by 2020, countries will need to recruit a total of 10.9 million primary teachers.“This is a global education crisis in the making – unless we act,” said the officials, noting that the looming crisis was recognized at the 2015 World Education Forum, in Incheon, South Korea, where leaders committed to “ensure that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.The new global education goal, Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is at the heart of the Education 2030 Agenda, call for “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”“Realizing this goal is critical to achieving all our global development targets – for strong societies depend on well-educated citizens and a well-trained workforce. But we can only realize this agenda if we invest in recruiting, supporting, and empowering teachers,” explained the UN agency heads.In a separate statement on the Day, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) highlighted the key roles teachers play in empowering students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century and better connect with people and experiences beyond their borders. “Being well-trained, dedicated, enthusiastic and interactive, our teachers are reshaping the future of our school children. The ways our teachers are working through the reform are being noted beyond UNRWA,” said Caroline Pontefract, Director of Education at UNRWA. This year’s celebrations give the Agency an important opportunity to recognize the important work of UNRWA teachers, who continue to deliver quality education despite the many difficulties the face, including the ongoing crisis in Syria and last year’s devastating conflict in Gaza, as well as an unprecedented funding shortfall in the Agency’s core programming budget had risked a delay in the school year in Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon. World Teachers’ Day, held annually since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, and celebrates the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels. The Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers has, essentially, served as a charter of rights for teachers worldwide.
Persons with albinism in the region of Sub Saharan Africa are facing some of the most extreme forms of human rights violations. They face physical attacks fuelled by erroneous beliefs that their body parts can be used in potions and in other witchcraft practices. A majority of victims are women and children. They also face entrenched discrimination and stigma extending to their family members particularly mothers of children with albinism.Confronted by these challenges, many civil society organisations, persons with albinism, and states wish to design new ways of dealing with the issues while adopting those that have been tested and true.“There are a lot of specific, practical, simple and effective measures that some countries have successfully used to tackle the issues faced by persons with albinism including having a dedicated office and budget on the issue, creating a telephone hotline to report crimes and threats, regulating ‘witchcraft’ and traditional medicine practitioners among others,” said the United Nations independent expert on albinism, Ikponwosa Ero.“But these ideas have to be shared as best practices and developed into a continental roadmap to successfully tackle the issue,” she added.This is why on the heels of international albinism awareness day which just concluded on 13 June, over 150 people from 28 countries in the region will gather this week in Dar es Salaam to lay down a roadmap of specific measures aimed at dealing with the human rights issues faced by persons with albinism.Half of the participants are from civil society, about 20 percent from government, 10 percent from national human rights institutions and there will also be human rights specialists from within and outside the African Union and UN as well as academics.“As the continent of Africa celebrates the decade of human rights, and the UN launches the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which pledges to leave no one behind, we have a good context in which to plant this forum,” Ms. Ero said.“It is not going to be easy to come up with specific measures for all the issues arising out of the problems faced by persons with albinism, but the best practices of some States and civil society to date will represent a key step forward in promoting and protecting their human rights,” the expert stressed.
“The trend of arrest and detention of journalists and other media workers seems to indicate an intention to intimidate or harass journalists and media owners which inevitably leads to self-censorship or to media workers eventually leaving the profession,” says the report produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).Al-Shabaab has prohibited all media to operate in areas under its control but state actors are main perpetrators of violations against media workers and political activists, the report says“Somalia has made great progress in recent years, after decades of conflict and violence,” said Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia and head of UNSOM, Michael Keating, in an OHCHR news release. “But Somalis continue to suffer multiple human rights deficits. They need and deserve accountable institutions.”“Strong, independent and critical journalism is a vital element of any democratic State,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “Attacks against individual journalists and media organizations have a deeply corrosive impact on democracy, with profoundly negative repercussions on freedom of expression and human rights in general.”The UN human rights chief urged the Somali authorities, both at the Federal and State levels, to take prompt action and ensure that all violations of the right to freedom of expression, including the various serious attacks perpetrated against media workers, are fully investigated, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrators.The report says that 2016 represents a “critical juncture in Somalia’s political transition,” and highlights the encouraging progress towards more inclusive elections and accountable government since 2012, including the rebuilding of State institutions and the adoption of important new laws, including one on political parties and one on the creation of an independent National Human Rights Commission.The report, however, states that freedom of expression, which plays a central role in the building of democratic States, especially in times of political transformation, remains significantly limited, documenting 120 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of media workers between January 2014 and July 2016.Despite the “vibrant media culture” in Somalia – which hosts more than 90 media outlets and scores of websites and blogs – numerous violations aimed at journalists and political leaders are documented, including killings, attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention, intimidation, harassment, closure of media outlets, confiscation of equipment and blocking of websites.30 journalists killed between August 2012 and June 2016The dangers facing media workers and public figures are illustrated by the killing, between August 2012 and June 2016, of a total of 30 journalists and 18 parliamentarians in Somalia.Al-Shabaab has prohibited all media to operate in areas under its control and has been targeting media workers across the country, the report says. But federal and state-level security forces, including the National Army, the Police and the National Intelligence and Security Agency, are main perpetrators of violations against media workers and political activists. Radio Shabelle has been particularly targeted, with five serious incidents between 2013 and 2015. The report states that the authorities have made very limited efforts to investigate and prosecute such violations.The report stresses, among other things, the need to strengthen the justice system to better protect freedom of expression. Since January 2015, only ten of the 48 journalists and media workers who have been arrested have been brought before a court, it states.
In a new report released to coincide with World Children’s Day, UNICEF revealed that in 37 countries, some 180 million youth are more likely to exist in extreme poverty, be out of school or be killed by violence, than children in those same countries 20 years ago. “While the last generation has seen vast, unprecedented gains in living standards for most of the world’s children, the fact that a forgotten minority of children have been excluded from this – through no fault of their own or those of their families – is a travesty,” said Laurence Chandy, UNICEF Director of Data, Research and Policy. In honour of World Children’s Day, which marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF has coordinated a range of activities in over 130 countries that aim to give youth their own platform, helping to save their lives, fight for their rights and fulfil their potential – including children’s global ‘take-overs’ and high-profile events. Among a host of events and activities worldwide, at UN Headquarters in New York, UNICEF will bring together high-profile supporters, influencers and special guests alongside children who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable children to speak out to the international community on issues that matter to them. Many are expected to join Secretary General António Guterres and 150 children in a ‘take-over’ of the UN complex.“It is the hope of every parent, everywhere, to provide greater opportunities for their children than they themselves enjoyed when they were young. This World Children’s Day, we have to take stock of how many children are instead seeing opportunities narrow and their prospects diminish,” Mr. Chandy said. In assessing the prospect of children in escaping extreme poverty, getting a basic education and avoiding violent deaths, among other things, the UNICEF analysis shows that the share of people living on less than $1.90 a day has increased in 14 countries mostly due to unrest, conflicts or poor governance.It also revealed that due to financial crises, rapid population growth and the impact of conflicts, primary school enrolment has declined in 21 countries; violent deaths among children below the age of 19 have increased in seven conflict-ridden countries; and that four countries witnessed a decline across more than one of the three areas measured. “In a time of rapid technological change leading to huge gains in living standards, it is perverse that hundreds of millions are seeing living standards actually decline, creating a sense of injustice among them and failure among those entrusted with their care,” said Chandy. “No wonder they feel their voices are unheard and their futures uncertain.”
“Liberia has made enormous progress in the past 15 years,” said Ms. Mohammed at an event in the capital, Monrovia, commemorating the completion of the work of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNMIL, acknowledging its support for Liberians in restoring their country and building sustainable peace. “In 2003, when UNMIL was created, Liberia was torn apart by conflict, with a traumatized population and no hope for its young people, especially our women and girls,” she continued.She noted that 14 years of civil war left more than a quarter of a million Liberians dead, nearly one-third of the population displaced, and an estimated 80 per cent of women and girls injured by sexual violence. Highlighting the important role of Liberian women, Ms. Mohammed commend their “leadership, courage and integrity” in pursuing peace.She thanked the Special Representatives, civilian and military personnel and troop-contributing countries and paid special tribute to the 200 peacekeepers who lost their lives in pursuit of peace in Liberia.”“Today, we remember their sacrifice, we remember their families,” she stressed. At an “important turning point,” she noted Liberia’s progress and acknowledged that challenges lie ahead. “Peace will not last without sustainable development; and development gains will be at risk without sustained peace and respect for human rights,” she warned.“We need to give Liberians back their dignity, dreams and faith in a better future,” Ms. Mohammed cited the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as the best roadmaps to achieve this. She noted that a generation ago, Liberia and Sierra Leone were in freefall, and Cote d’Ivoire was embroiled in crisis. Yet, 20 years later, “the closure of UNMIL marks the transition of all three countries to peace and democracy.”“This sub-region has a bright future,” she stated.Speaking to the press afterwards, she referred to UNMIL as another successful peacekeeping mission in West Africa.It was deployed in 2003 when State institutions in ruins, a non-existent economy and a disintegrated national police and army. Today, the State has been rebuilt and more than 100,000 former combatants disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated. Justice and security institutions were restored.Ms. Mohammed said that today Liberians enjoy peace and UNMIL leaves behind a country that has great potential to achieve lasting stability, democracy and prosperity.To President George Manneh Weah, she underlined the UN’s support to him in sustaining peace and advancing sustainable development – assuring him that the UN would remain committed beyond UNMIL’s 30 March mandate.Although the mission is leaving, 17 UN funds and agencies will remain in Liberia to focus on development and improving the lives of Liberian people.Meanwhile, yesterday, at the National Peace and Reconciliation Conference, she recognized that while the country had suffered so much, for so long, the people persevered with great determination.She noted that UNMIL had supported the country “every step of the way,” explaining that long-lasting peace requires wide-ranging confidence-building measures for solid foundations.“This will only be possible if we ensure full and true reconciliation,” she asserted.
“We must build on this,” the UN chief emphasized, calling renewable energy – which already produces a fifth of the world’s electricity – power that also delivers significant health benefits.The World Health Organization reports that more than 80 per cent of people living in urban areas are exposed to poor-quality air that is damaging human health. Financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve Secretary-General António Guterres“Investments in clean, green infrastructure need to be scaled up globally,” he explained. “For that, we need leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments who will decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years.”Mr. Guterres encouraged private sector leaders attending the UN General Assembly-backed summit in the Austrian capital, to announce new financing for clean energy projects. While the 30-member independent International Energy Agency estimates that 2017 investments in renewable electricity amounted to $242 billion, said the UN chief, that was still far less than the funds invested in new fossil fuel development. Billions of dollars more needs to be invested in renewables if we are to see a “full-scale transition to clean energy” by 2020, said Mr. Guterres.Moreover, some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 has still not been built. “Mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve,” he maintained. Noting that climate change continues to move faster than climate action, Mr. Guterres quoted the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying: “The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” “But,” he added, “it does not have to be that way,” pointing to solar, wind and cutting-edge technologies, such as electric vehicles or energy from algae in the ocean, which promises a new era of clean air. “Let’s join a race to the top, a race where there are only winners,” concluded the Secretary-General. Both leadership and innovation are essential for climate action, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his keynote address to the global gathering, known as the R20 Austrian World Summit – a long-term initiative to help regions, States and cities implement the Sustainable Development Goals and meet the Paris Agreement targets. Mr. Guterres spelled out: “We must use all our resources to build a sense of urgency”, to raise ambition, while keeping temperature rises in the years ahead, as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.He said there was reason to hope, declaring that “the world is seeing a groundswell of climate action”, citing examples, including Morocco’s building of a solar farm “the size of Paris, that will power over a million homes by 2020” and China’s achievement in already passing it’s 2020 goal of producing 105 gigawatts of solar power capacity.
The complex relationship between animals and humans will be the subject of a March 22 talk by acclaimed writer and broadcaster Erika Ritter.Ritter will visit Brock to discuss her latest book, The Dog By the Cradle, The Serpent Beneath: Some Paradoxes of Human-Animal Relationships. The title refers to the story of a devoted greyhound executed by his master for apparently attacking the man’s sleeping child. Only after he’s killed the dog does he find the dead body of a serpent beneath the infant’s overturned cradle.The book describes humanity’s love/hate relationship with animals, and how our treatment of them veers between empathy and cruelty. It was shortlisted for the Writers Trust Non-Fiction book prize in 2009.Ritter’s Brock appearance is sponsored by the Departments of Sociology and Political Science and the Social Justice and Equity Studies MA program.The book highlights striking contradictions, such as the fact that while we as a society spend millions of dollars on certain animals who we define as pets, we inflict hideous suffering on other animals who we define as food, said John Sorensen, Brock Sociology chair and author of the recently released book Ape. It also touches on the portrayal of animals in literature, views of animal activists, the inadequacies of Canada’s anti-cruelty laws and controversial breed-specific bans on dogs.“Critical Animal Studies is a new and rapidly growing academic field and Brock University is at the forefront of this field,” he said. “Anyone who’s interested in learning a bit more about some of these issues will find Erika Ritter’s talk very informative.”Ritter is a novelist, playwright, essayist and radio broadcaster. Her work includes the Chalmers-Award-winning play Automatic Pilot, the novel The Hidden Life of Humans and the essay collections Urban Sprawl, Ritter in Residence and The Great Big Book of Guys: Alphabetical Encounters with Men.The event is from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Sankey Chamber. Everyone is welcome.Quick link:• Erika Ritter• chapters.indigo.ca — The Dog By the Cradle, The Serpent Beneath