Posts Tagged ‘refugees’

Women Nobel Laureates ask to fight fundamentalism in all its guises

May 18, 2017

On 16 May 2017 Jennifer Allsopp reported for 50.50 from the second day of the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference at the historic Kaiser-Friedrich-Halle in Mönchengladbach, Germany. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/04/20/nobel-womens-initiative-defending-the-defenders-24-26-april-2015/]

Women human rights defenders meet at the 2017 Nobel Women's Initiative Conference. Credit: author.

Women human rights defenders meet at the 2017 Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference. Credit: author.

Jody Williams, Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Shirini Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman have come to address the 900 attendees about their work fighting totalitarianism and fundamentalism in its many global guises in order to build a more peaceful just and equal world. The public event took place on the final evening of the sixth international conference of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Over the last three days, more than 50 women human rights defenders have been in Mönchengladbach to discuss the future of the feminist movement in collaboration with Initiativikreis Mönchengladbach.

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The global response to refugees has been a key theme of the conference over the past three days and is a concern of all the laureates. One of the reasons the delegates decided to hold the conference in Germany was to come and congratulate Germany for its policies, explained Tawakko Karman, Yemeni human rights activist and 2011 Nobel Peace laureate. Since the beginning of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe, Germany has welcomed more than one million refugees, more than any other country in Europe. For 2016 and 2017 alone, the government has set aside 28.7 billioneuros of funding for their accommodation and integration.

….Many of the young people here have been politicised to defend human rights more broadly because of personal experiences of getting to know refugees in Germany. It heartens me because I know this experience will stay with them for life. I saw the same transformation time and time again myself as a national coordinator with the UK NGO Student Action for Refugees which supports students to set up volunteering and campaigning projects in their local communities. But unlike Germany, the UK – and other countries who are now turning their backs on refugees – are training the next generation to look inwards rather than out. They’re turning away from fostering international consciousness among citizens. This Jody Williams, who won the 1997 Nobel Peace prize for her work to ban antipersonnel landmines, has repeated over the last three days, is “the real fake news”.

Germany’s decision to welcome refugees has nevertheless not come without challenges, especially in terms of the far right explains Brigitte Schuster, a German teacher who has come along to hear the Nobel laureates speak. She teaches as part of a network of state funded programmes run by BAMF (the Federal for Migration and Refugees). Despite some “teething problems” in the provision of services, Bridgette insists, people are nevertheless now moving forward with their lives. They are contributing a lot to the community, she explains, including through sharing their stories and fostering consciousness of totalitarianism in other parts of the world.

After the event in the foyer the laureates message appears to have got through. Attendees have been issued a call to action. The laureates have thanked the German people for welcoming refugees but also asked them to keep up the pressure on the totalitarian regimes that they have fled and to fix the gaps in their own democracies. Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni human rights activist has called on those present not to victimise people but to “be close to people’s dreams, their aspirations and their suffering.” And she’s issued an order. “You will fight for a society of equal citizenship for men and women.

Five boys, all aged 15, jump over one another to tell me what they found most inspiring when I ask them in the foyer after the event. They’ve been brought along by their English teacher Meike Barth from the Gymnasium an der Gartenstraße which has around 900 students. They are also curious to learn about human rights struggles other parts of the world and how they can support them, in part because of the new refugee friends they have made at their school.

Ahmet says he was especially touched when Shirin Ebadi, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to promote human rights in Iran, mentioned the Berlin wall: “She said that that physical wall and the wall Trump wants to build is like the Berlin wall and we can bring it down,” he recounts. But Ahmet’s also struck by her message about breaking down the walls between people ideologically. “It’s not just physical walls but walls in our hearts. People can always find ways to talk across physical walls, but what’s more hard is what she said about solidarity and people, the politicians trying to stop that connection. Actually,” he reflects, “I was thinking of this different metaphor of a different kind of wall we all build together with that hope, like bricks but you also need cement….It’s a metaphor in progress!”

Ahmet is also inspired by Jody William’s work to erase landmines. “There are still landmines in Vietman”, he tells me, “actually I read about that just last week and I was sat there thinking we need to do something about that.” I ask him what he’s going to do: he’s going to organise a local event and write to politicians.

Sebastian meanwhile tells me what stuck with him was the message advanced by Northern Irish peace activist and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laurate Mairead Maguire to use academic studies to advance the cause of peace, whatever the discipline. He enjoys chemistry, biology and maths and wants to help tackle climate change. “People thing human rights is just a subject but it’s actually about everything, the whole environment. It’s not just politicians saying this and that.” He’s been inspired by the public meeting tonight to organise his own event. Benjamin, another student, wants to get active on social media and says he is going to help him.

 

Source: Fight fundamentalism in all its guises: a call to action from Yemen to Germany | openDemocracy

Louise Arbour of Canada appointed Special Representative for International Migration

March 13, 2017

On 9 March 2017 the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the appointment of Louise Arbour of Canada as his Special Representative for International Migration. The Special Representative will lead the follow-up to the 19 September 2016 High-level Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.  Ms. Arbour will work with Member States, in partnership with other stakeholders, as they develop a first-ever global compact on safe, orderly and regular migration.  She will lead United Nations advocacy efforts on international migration, provide policy advice and coordinate the engagement of United Nations entities on migration issues, particularly in implementing the migration-related components of the New York Declaration.  She previously served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.  She is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and of the Court of Appeal for Ontario.  From 2009 to 2014, Ms. Arbour was President and CEO of the International Crisis Group.

Louise Arbour Walk of Fame 20150608

Louise Arbour smiles after having her star unveiled on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto on 8 June, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese (Canadian Press).

Talking about refugees, please note that the Sergio Vieira de Mello Lecture by Angelina Jolie on 15 March [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/27/angelina-jolie-gives-2017-sergio-vieira-de-mello-lecture-on-15-march-2017/] is ‘sold out’, but it will be streamed live on UN TV and UNHCR’s Facebook.

Sources:

Secretary-General Appoints Louise Arbour of Canada Special Representative for International Migration | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thehouse/first-ottawa-visit-by-trump-cabinet-member-focuses-on-security-border-1.4015295

Angelina Jolie gives 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture on 15 March 2017

February 27, 2017

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The Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation announces that the UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, is to give the 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello lecture. She has spent fifteen years advocating on refugees’ behalf.

angelina-jolie

The lecture is organised by the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation and the Graduate Institute, to honour the memory of Sergio. The event is hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva. Wednesday 15 March 2017, 18:30 – 20:00
Assembly Hall, Geneva.

Registration for this event is now closed.

For earlier post on Angelina Jolie see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/angelina-jolie/

Scholarships for the 2017 Legal Training Program of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights

December 9, 2016

The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung, a foundation working to secure educational justice, recognize that starting a career in international human rights work can sometimes require more just having the requisite passion, motivation and skills. There can be certain barriers to entry into the profession, i.e. when economic or social considerations prevent potential participants from taking part in our programs. With this in mind, the Kreuzberger Kinderstiftung scholarship for ECCHR’s Legal Training Program offers young people with limited financial means and/or from underrepresented geographic and social backgrounds the chance to gain professional experience in human rights work. Read the rest of this entry »

Greek Volunteers share UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2016

September 6, 2016

Today, 6 September, UNHCR announced that the Hellenic Rescue Team and Efi Latsoudi of “PIKPA village” on Lesvos are the joint winners of  the 2016 Nansen Refugee Award. Read why:.. Read the rest of this entry »

North-South Prize 2015 of the Council of Europe goes to Greek and Mozambique organizations

July 5, 2016

The North-South Prize is awarded to two candidates who have stood out for their exceptional commitment to promoting North-South solidarity. The 2015 Laureates are:

Lora Pappa

Ms Lora Pappa  is the founder of METAdrasi, Action for Migration and Development. Through the creation of METAdrasi, Ms. Pappa aimed to address long-standing gaps in the area of refugee protection and migration management in Greece. METAdrasi’s main focus has been primarily community interpretation and the care for unaccompanied minors. METAdrasi and Ms Pappa personally, have based their work on the highest standards of professionalism and ethics, developing specialist training methods, recruiting dedicated and committed staff, bringing pioneering methods and approaches benefitting refugees and vulnerable groups in multiple ways. Biography

Joaquim Chissano

Chairperson of the Joaquim Chissano Foundation, an organisation that promotes peace, social and economic development and culture in MozambiqueJoaquim Chissano has campaigned for peace in the African continent through his work as an envoy and peace negotiator for the United Nations. He has received the highest awards from many countries and has received several prizes, including the Chatham House in 2006 and the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in 2007. He is the founding member of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and played a fundamental role in the 1974 negotiations on the independence of Mozambique, between FRELIMO and the Portuguese Government. Biography

Source: Centre Nord-Sud – Prix Nord-Sud

Next Secretary General of the UN: human rights NGOs know what they want but candidates still vague

April 19, 2016

Who will be the next secretary-general? The field is still wide open but thanks in part to the 1 for 7 Billion campaign, campaigning for the job is – for the first time in UN history – mostly public, even if the decision is ultimately made by General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. There are strong arguments in favor of a woman (first time ever, see link below) and someone from Eastern Europe (‘their turn’ in the informally agreed regional rotation).  Of the nine candidates currently in the running, UN insiders and others close to the process see UNESCO head Irina Bokova, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, former High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and former Slovenian President Danilo Türk as the frontrunners (if the bookmakers are right).

Last week, for the first time ever, nine candidates presented their visions for the UN to the General Assembly in New York Read the rest of this entry »

UNHCR extends Nansen Refugee Award nominations until 25 April 2016

April 18, 2016

The UN Refugee Agency is inviting further nominations for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016 until 25 April 2016. For more information on this humanitarian award for an individual or group who has gone beyond the call of duty to assist refugees, internally displaced or stateless persons, see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/nansen-medal.

Nominations made during this additional period will join nominations from the previous round which closed on 8 February 2016. The winner will be announced in September 2016. Anyone can submit a candidate for the Nansen Refugee Award at www.unhcr.org/nansen.

Source: UNHCR – UNHCR reopens Nansen Refugee Award nominations for 2016

for last year see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/nansen-refugee-award-to-afghan-refugee-teacher/

Adoption of North Korean Human Rights Act (by South Korea) welcomed by Human Rights Foundation

March 3, 2016

Promoting human rights in North Korea

 

 

 

On 2 March 2016) South Korea’s legislature passed the North Korean Human Rights Act. The new law mandates the promotion of freedom in North Korea by funding North Korean defector and and refugee organizations, creating a North Korean human rights foundation, and establishing an archive of human rights violations perpetrated against the North Korean people by the Kim regime. The US-based Human Rights Foundation welcomed the Act as the NGO has advocated for such an action and in 2015 established the Global Coalition for the North Korean Human Rights Act.

This is an astonishing moment. The Republic of Korea has taken its head out of the sand and has finally confronted the cruelty and horror of the North Korean dictatorship. It is a victory for all who support human rights and human dignity,” said HRF chairman Garry Kasparov. “We in the Global Coalition are delighted that the South Korean government will—for the first time ever—finance the defector organizations that send films, e-books, radio broadcasts, and educational materials to the North Korean people.”

The North Korean Human Rights Act also establishes a public campaign to raise awareness about North Korea’s human rights violations and takes steps to ensure that South Korean humanitarian aid is not misused by the Kim regime. The goal of establishing the human rights archive, inspired by the post-war German model, is to monitor and document the crimes of the North Korean dictatorship. It is vital to note that no such archive or record has ever existed in South Korea.

The law’s passage comes at a time when the rest of the world unanimously agrees on the extent and gravity of the crimes of the North Korean dictatorship. Earlier today, the U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 to toughen sanctions on the regime.  “People inside the North will know about the law’s enactment and it will put considerable pressure on the political elite in Pyongyang,” said South Korean politician Kim Moon-soo, who first drafted the law in 2005.

For more information contact: Noemi Gonzalo-Bilbao, (212) 246-8486, noemi@hrf.org

Source: North Korea: HRF Celebrates Overdue South Korean Law Promoting Human Rights

See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/north-korean-defector-ji-seong-ho-in-video-talk/

Opening Statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council’s 31st session

February 29, 2016

The Statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, at the 31st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, on 29 February 2016 is worth reading (as usual). Some of the highlights are: UN HCHR Al Hussein
Today we meet against a backdrop of accumulating departures from that body of institutions and laws which States built to codify their behaviour. Gross violations of international human rights law – which clearly will lead to disastrous outcomes – are being greeted with indifference. More and more States appear to believe that the legal architecture of the international system is a menu from which they can pick and choose – trashing what appears to be inconvenient in the short term.
Read the rest of this entry »