Tag Archives: human rights
On June 16, as part of the Rio+ 20 Peoples’ Summit, organizers in Rio de Janeiro organized a “toxic tour” of communities in the city overburdened by industrial pollution and associated health and social problems. In the videos that follow, two members of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance share their impressions from the tour.
Naeema Muhammed tells of her visit to the community of Santa Cruz.
Lottie Spady of East Michigan Environmental Action Council speaks about the toxic burdens faced by marginalized communities in Detroit and in Brazil.
Throughout the week, Climate Connections will be posting short videos of participants in Rio+20 Earth Summit and the alternative Peoples’ Summit.
Note: The following post regards a new organization, Critical information Collective, set up by our friends Joe Zacune and Ronnie Hall (both ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International). This initiative will be a very useful and powerful resource and clearinghouse for our collective struggle for social and ecological justice. Check it out!
–The GJEP Team
From Critical Information Collective:
We really hope that you have time to read this short message introducing a new organisation, Critical Information Collective (CIC). It’s been set up by the two of us, Ronnie Hall and Joseph Zacune (ex-campaign coordinators with Friends of the Earth International), although we hope to expand it to include more researchers and advisors soon.
CIC aims to be a resource for you all, providing social movements, NGOs and communities campaigning against corporate globalisation with a single ‘one stop shop’ of incisive, political and campaign-oriented analysis, images and tools – as well as more visibility for our collective effort to challenge the prevailing economic paradigm.
We aim to cover a broad range of critical issues related to corporate-led globalisation, including agrofuels, climate change, deforestation, food, GMOs, land, mining, poverty, rights, and trade and investment.
If you want to find the key documents on any one topic, from a range of different organisations (including your own), or easily find relevant and free/cheap images for your publications, or point your members to additional information resources and campaign tools, we hope you will visit/link to us.”
From our allies at World Rainforest Movement:
The “green economy” is a concept that has gained huge momentum largely thanks to its placement at the top of the agenda for the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio+20.
While the concept is dressed up in “eco friendly” clothing, it does not promote any of the structural changes needed to combat the environmental and social problems facing the planet. On the contrary, it opens up new market niches for the flow of big financial capital. Essentially, it is simply another face of the same profit-driven market economy that has created the current crisis.
A great many social movements and organizations around the world are on the alert and fighting back against the advance of the so-called green economy. The March edition corresponding to the month in which we celebrate the International Women’s Day, highlights the role played by women in this resistance.
All around the world there are women struggling every day of the year. Since the 20th century, however, International Women’s Day has become a date on which their struggle is commemorated and highlighted. Women on every continent, urban, rural, indigenous, black, lesbian, among so many others, mark this date on the streets, raising their banners, which are countless, against gender inequalities that are manifested at the local and global levels.
Among the milestones in the international women’s struggle, we should not forget the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993, where it was recognized that the rights of women are human rights. Another key moment was the adoption of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, also known as the Convention of Belem do Para, in 1994. Violence against women, particularly so-called domestic violence, which takes place in the home, is one of the global phenomena that most seriously affects the lives and dignity of women.
Nevertheless, women’s lives are impacted by other forms of violence: the “double shift” entailed by paid work combined with domestic responsibilities, the overexploitation of their labour, the feminization of poverty and HIV/AIDS, the loss of their territories to large-scale projects, the pollution and degradation of the rivers and soil on which they depend for their subsistence. There is no doubt that women face a great many enemies, and perhaps the most ferocious of all, after patriarchy, is capitalism. The capacity of this mode of production to commodify life as a whole is felt most acutely by women. Women see the commodification of their bodies, transformed into merchandise, in the media and advertising, and are victims of the trafficking that feeds international prostitution rings. In addition, women must also struggle against the strategies aimed at the commodification of nature, such as the false solutions created for the alleged purpose of confronting the climate crisis.
So-called “environmental” non-governmental organizations and funds take control of collective forest areas and seek to restrict or even prohibit access to them by local communities in order to “preserve” these areas for the trade of “environmental services”, such as carbon storage in the case of REDD+ projects. In these situations, it is women who suffer most from the constant humiliation and repression that occurs in places where these types of projects are implemented.
When a community suffers the loss of its collectively used territory to projects aimed at the trade in environmental services, one of the invariable consequences is the surveillance and persecution of the community by forest rangers and, above all, public and/or private armed militias. Women, who stay at home to tend to domestic chores, raise crops and care for their children, become the most vulnerable to this persecution.
In addition, in areas affected by carbon or environmental services projects, shifting cultivation or swidden farming tends to be prohibited. This is a common practice among forest communities, in which women play a key role. It ensures a basic supply of healthy food for families and, at the same time, allows them to earn an income by selling surplus crops nearby.
In view of this, it can be concluded that the changes caused by the creation of market mechanisms for the use of nature violate a basic right: the right to food, and in particular, the right to healthy food. It is also important to remember that changes in dietary habits, through the introduction of industrially processed foods and crops grown with toxic agrochemicals, have led to the emergence of new diseases that were formerly unknown in these communities.
The loss of areas in which food crops can be grown also results in other impacts: many women are forced to go out and sell their labour ever farther away from their homes. But even though they have taken on new tasks in the world of paid work, women continue to be primarily responsible for domestic tasks. The work overload suffered by women has contributed to making them more prone to illness. Diseases like breast and cervical cancer are striking women at increasingly younger ages. High blood pressure, which used to be one of the main health problems faced by men, now affects more women than men.
The greatest irony of all, perhaps, is that although women are the ones most severely impacted, it is their images that are used in publicity to promote carbon trade and other environmental services projects.
We believe that our role, not only on March 8, but every day of the year, is to contribute to raising the visibility of women’s struggles and realities, as well as to support the struggles of women’s organizations against all forms of oppression, including the new wave of the commodification of life in these times of the green economy.
Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show at KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles for weekly Earth Segments and weekly Earth Minutes.
This week’s Earth Segment features Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, West Africa, on the Niger Delta oil disaster and on the move to replace fossil fuels with biofuels.
To listen to the Earth Segment, go to the following link and click on minute 15:35.
Note: Unfortunately, those of us at GJEP who have been working with UN bodies including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Climate Convention and the UN Forum on Forests, are not at all surprised by the attempt by the UN to eliminate human rights to food and water from the draft text for the upcoming UN Rio+20 summit in June. After all, the UN is run by corporations and their greedy henchmen, just as much as governments are. Since 2004 we have watched the steady decline of civil society’s ability to participate in these UN fora, while at the same time seeing doors open wide to the profit-makers. This is yet one more example of why we need a peoples’ process–a truly democratic forum that enables communities to come up with real solutions to the crises we face–and kick these corporate SOBs out of the process and right onto their A##.
–Anne Petermann, for the GJEP Team
We – civil society organizations and social movements attending the call of the UN General Assembly to participate in the Rio+20 process – feel that is our duty to call the attention of relevant authorities and citizens of the World to a situation that severely threatens the rights of people and undermines the relevance of the United Nations.
Remarkably, we are witnessing an attempt by a few countries to weaken, or “bracket” or outright eliminate nearly all references to human rights obligations and equity principles in the text, “The Future We Want”, for the outcome of Rio+20.
This includes references to the Right to Food and proper nutrition, the Right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, the Right to Development and others. The Rights to a clean and healthy environment, which is essential to the realization of fundamental human rights, remains weak in the text. Even principles already agreed upon in Rio in 1992 are being bracketed – the Polluter Pays Principle, Precautionary Principle, Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR).
Many member states are opposing prescriptive language that commits governments to actually do what they claim to support in principle. On the other hand, there is a strong push for private sector investments and initiatives to fill in the gap left by the public sector.
Although economic tools are essential to implement and mainstream the decisions aiming for sustainability, social justice and peace, a private economy rationale should not prevail over the fulfillment of human needs and the respect of planetary boundaries. Therefore a strong institutional framework and regulation is needed. Weakly regulated markets already proved to be a threat not only to people and nature, but to economy itself, and to nation states.. The economy must work for people, not people work for markets.
From the ashes of World War II humanity gathered to build institutions aiming to build peace and prosperity for all, avoiding further suffering and destruction. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out this collective will, and the United Nations organization was created to make it a reality. Outrageously, this very institution is now being used to attack the very rights it should safeguard, leaving people at the mercy of ?? and putting the very relevance of UN at stake.
We urge member states to bring back the Rio+20 negotiations on track to deliver the people’s legitimate agenda, the realization of rights, democracy and sustainability.
We call on the UN Secretary General to stand up for the legacy of the United Nations by ensuring that Rio+20 builds on the multi-generational effort for rights as the foundation of peace and prosperity.
We urge our fellow citizens of the world to stand up for the future we want, and let their voices be heard. For that the Rio+20 process should be improved following the proposals we submit below.
On Greater participation for Major Groups
We are concerned by the continuing exclusion of Major Groups from the formal negotiating process of the Rio+20 zero draft. Unlike in the Preparatory Committee Meetings and the Intersessional Meetings, Major Groups and other Stakeholders have not been allowed to present revisions or make statements on the floor of the meeting. Nor, we suspect will we be allowed to make submissions or participate fully in the working negotiation group meetings that are likely to follow. Despite the UN NGLS having compiled a text that shows all the revisions suggested by Major Groups, these revisions to the zero draft have so far not been included in the official negotiating text.
We request that the Major Groups be given the opportunity to submit suggestions and wording which would then be added to the official text for consideration, indication of support or deletion, and potential inclusion by governments.
We appeal to the UNCSD Secretary General to urgently reverse this state of affairs and to ensure that Major Groups have a seat at the table and a voice in the room where the negotiations are taking place. Please ensure that at the very least, Major Groups are allowed a formal statement at the commencement of the next negotiating session and at every session where a new draft text is introduced.”
Admit clown involved in incident
Official UN response below
Note: The controversy regarding the incident of an unidentified UN security officer assaulting accredited photographer Orin Langelle with his own camera continues. As you will see in the official response from UN Media Relations Officer John Hay below, the UN is engaging in the same sort of coverup we have seen from the city of Oakland and elsewhere, where security forces have reacted violently to nonviolent protesters or journalists.
It reflects what we at GJEP have asserted in the past and continue to. The UN is controlled by the corporate elite–the 1%–and do not want unruly protesters or independent journalists interfering in their attempt to snow the global public into thinking they are addressing the climate crisis. They are not. The are laying the groundwork for enhanced corporate profit at the expense of the rest of the planet.
This particular battle with the UN is not over. We refuse to allow the UN’s repression of journalists to go unchallenged–especially when the UN insists that they “are keen to facilitate media reporting …[and]… to treat all participants with respect.”
Walking up to a photographer, grabbing his camera and shoving it into his face is an odd way to demonstrate “respect.”
-Anne Petermann for the GJEP Team
For a description of the incident and the UN’s “facilitation of media reporting,” go to: Addendum: Formal Complaint Filed Against UN Security Actions in Durban
Official Response from the UN Climate Change Secretariat
Date: 2 February, 2012
Dear Mr. Langelle,
Apologies for the late reply. We take any allegations of undue use of force on the part of UN security staff seriously. After undertaking a thorough investigation, we are unable to confirm that there was at any time undue use of force by UN security personnel directed against members of the media in Durban.
We have been made aware of an incident involving a participant dressed up as a clown; an incident which you have also mentioned. Our investigations indicate that it was necessary to clear a passage within the conference center that was being obstructed, in the interest of the safety of all participants and in the interest of the smooth operation of the conference. At no time was undue force applied in the exercise.
It is not the policy of the UN Climate Change Secretariat to obstruct the reporting of journalists in any way. On the contrary, the secretariat is keen to facilitate media reporting in the designated public spaces, as long as safety concerns are respected. And it is the policy UN security to treat all participants with respect and not to apply undue force in the dischare of their functions.
We continue to take any such allegations seriously, and thank you for your letter.
Media Relations Officer
This week’s Earth Minute addresses the Occupy Movement mobilization in Oakland, California last weekend, as well as a gathering of Indigenous leaders in Toronto on January 23rd in which the meaning of the word “occupy” to Indigenous People was discussed.
To listen to the Earth Minute, go to the link below and scroll to minute 40:07
Global Justice Ecology Project partners with Margaret Prescod’s Sojourner Truth show on KPFK–Pacifica Los Angeles radio show for a weekly Earth Minute on Tuesdays and a weekly 12 minute Environment Segment every Thursday.
Text from this week’sEarth Minute:
Earth Minute for Tuesday, January 31, 2012
This past weekend, Occupy Oakland rose up to take over a vacant building and transform it into a new community center. They were met with brutal police repression. Four hundred people were arrested.
One week ago, in Toronto, Indigenous leaders came together for an event called “Occupy Talks: Indigenous Perspectives on the Occupy Movement.” During this event they acknowledged the crucial role this movement is filling. But they also questioned use of the word “occupy” in its name; pointing out that for indigenous Peoples fighting the occupation of their homelands, Occupy implies injustice.
Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network explained that economic injustice is perpetuated by the same system that is marginalizing and oppressing Indigenous Peoples; and that far from being broken, this system is functioning exactly as it was intended. Understanding this allows us to build a movement that will fundamentally change this deadly system of inequality into one that serves not just all people, but all living things.
For the Earth Minute and the Sojourner Truth show, this is Anne Petermann, from Global Justice Ecology Project.