‘Our Common Home’ – Vatican Book Launch

At a recent meeting of Catholic-inspired NGOs in Geneva with Cardinal Czerny who heads the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, copies of the about too be released booklet ‘Our Common Home – A guide to caring for our living planet’ were distributed The booklet, a joint initiative of the Vatican with […]

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Global Inequality is Escalating

The world’s top 1 percent grabbed nearly two-thirds of the $42 trillion in new wealth created since 2020, according to Oxfam in a report entitled “Survival of the Richest” which was released to coincide with the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The share was almost twice as […]

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ERI Submissions for 41st UPR Session

A range of issues raised in ERI submissions for the UPR reviews of India, South Africa and the United Kingdom were the subject of recommendations put forward by reviewing states during the 41st session. Issues related to the policy of the United Kingdom towards asylum seekers and refugees (a major focus of the joint ERI […]

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COP 27 – A Decisive Moment in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change

The past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, fuelled by ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat. Extreme heatwaves, drought and devastating flooding have affected millions and cost billions this year, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report released at the […]

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Radio Broadcasts – Life Lessons with Edmund Rice

Ann Nichols from Edmund Rice England has shared the following message ‘We are delighted that this half term, our Edmund Rice Schools, both at home and abroad will have the opportunity to broadcast live each week on Radio Maria England. In a series of slots called ‘Life Lessons with Edmund Rice’, schools will be sharing […]

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ERI Participation in 51st Session of Human Rights Council

ERI made a number of statements during the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council and co-sponsored several others delivered by our partners.

The statements included:-
A statement on behalf of PRATYeK India during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation
A statement on behalf of the Justice Desk on gender-based violence in South Africa during the General Debate
A statement regarding violence against children in Peru during the General Debate
A statement on behalf of several of our partners regarding the situation in Myanmar as part of the Interactive Dialogue rin response to the report of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR)
A statement on behalf of PRATYeK India during the Interactive Dialogue with the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development
A statement on the human rights situation in Nigeria delivered by the International Catholic Migration Commission and endorsed by ERI through the Presentation Brothers who are present in Nigeria.

Season of Creation 2022

The Season of Creation is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.

Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for creation for the Orthodox in 1989. In fact, the Orthodox church year starts on that day with a commemoration of how God created the world.

The World Council of Churches was instrumental in making the special time a season, extending the celebration from 1 September until 4 October.

Following the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I and the WCC, Christians worldwide have embraced the season as part of their annual calendar. Pope Francis made the Roman Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2015.

In recent years, statements from religious leaders around the world have also encouraged the faithful to take time to care for creation during the month-long celebration.

The season starts 1 September, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends 4 October, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology beloved by many Christian denominations.

Throughout the month-long celebration, the world’s 2.2 billion Christians come together to care for our common home.

ERI Activity in 50th Session of UN Human Rights Council

ERI delivered six statements during the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. Five of the statements were read by participants in the recent ERI training course in Geneva and were in response to the report delivered to the Council by a UN Special Rapporteurs.

The statements included:-
– a statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, relating to the use of child labour by Nestlé, read by Patrick Nuanah cfc
– a statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, on inequality in access to online education read by Sarah Mulanda
– a statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Climate Change, on financing mitigation of the impact of climate change read by Grace David
– a statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Migrants, on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK read by Patricia Gray
– a statement in response to the report of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, relating to homelessness in Northern Ireland read by John Mark fpm

An additional statement on the outcome of the UPR of Haiti was read by our intern Zak Gainey.

ERI Internship Program Resumes – Welcome Zak Gainey

With the easing  of Covid restrictions at the UN, ERI has resumed its volunteer Internship program. Zak Gainey from the UK commenced at the start of this month, and he will be joined later in the month by Katy Shenton also from the UK. A further four interns from Australia (2), South Africa and Northern Ireland have also had their applications approved and will look to take up their placements in 2023.

Zak Gainey offered the following information on his background and his hopes for his internship. 

‘My name is Zak Gainey and I’m from Liverpool in England. I am currently a second year modern history and divinity undergraduate student at the University of St Andrews.  After university I hope to work in Human Rights, either in the political or legal realm. 

Before University I attended St Anselm’s Catholic College in Birkenhead, and it is here where I was first introduced to the life and teachings of Edmund RIce and the wider Network. I have been a part of the Edmund Rice Network since 2018. As part of the Network, I have been involved in two Edmund Rice Camps and I have been fortunate enough to travel to Belfast, Geneva and Sierra Leone.

I am very passionate about a variety of social justice and human rights issues, but I am especially interested in education and guaranteeing that women have equal access to education. 

Outside of the world of human rights, I am also interested in journalism and travel, and in pursuit of these passions I have written several travel articles for a university magazine. I hope that this internship will enhance my understanding of the nature of global politics and human rights and allow me to give back to the Edmund Rice Network.’

Latest IPCC Report: A ‘Brief and Rapidly Closing Window to Secure a Liveable Future’

Another disastrous consequence of the incomprehensible Russian invasion of Ukraine is to distract from an even greater threat to the very existence of life on our planet as we know it.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paints a troubling picture: Climate change is already impacting every corner of the world, and much more severe impacts are in store if we fail to halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade and immediately scale up adaptation.     

The report released on February 28, 2022, draws from 34,000 studies and involved 270 authors from 67 countries. It provides one of the most comprehensive examinations of the intensifying impacts of climate change and future risks, particularly for resource-poor countries and marginalised communities.

Some of the key findings of the report are:-
– Climate impacts are already more widespread and severe than expected.
– We are locked into even worse impacts from climate change in the near-term.
– Risks will escalate quickly with higher temperatures, often causing irreversible impacts of climate change.
– Inequity, conflict and development challenges heighten vulnerability to climate risks.
– Adaptation is crucial. Feasible solutions already exist, but more support must reach vulnerable communities.
– Some impacts of climate change are already too severe to adapt to. The world needs urgent action now to address losses and damages.

The science is unequivocal: Climate change endangers the well-being of people and the planet. Delayed action risks triggering impacts of climate change so catastrophic our world will become unrecognisable.

The next few years offer a narrow window to realise a sustainable, liveable future for all. Changing course will require immediate, ambitious and concerted efforts to slash emissions, build resilience, conserve ecosystems, and dramatically increase finance for adaptation and addressing loss and damage.

The COP27 summit, to be held in Egypt in November 2022, is a crucial opportunity for governments to make progress on all these fronts, and for developed countries to demonstrate their solidarity with vulnerable nations. Those of us who live in functioning democracies, particularly countries who are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions have a particular responsibility to raise our voices to demand action.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded here.

ERI Activity in 49th Session of UN Human Rights Council

The ongoing crisis in the Ukraine caused a re-scheduling of the agenda of the 49th Human Rights Council Session. As a result, at the time of circulating this newsletter, this has meant that an additional number of ERI planned statements have yet to be delivered. It is expected they will be made in the coming days and will be reported on in the April newsletter.

Video links to the statements that have been delivered can be found below. (click on the highlighted link to view the statement).

ERI statement delivered by Br Kevin Mullan on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, and a joint statement of ERI partners given by Frederick Pembroke from the Justice Desk in South Africa, during the discussion of the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

ERI delivered a statement read by Naazneen Kola from the Justice Desk during the interactive dialogue UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children regarding the situation in South Africa.

Several statements were delivered with partners during the General Debate. These included statements on the participation of children Consultative Councils in Peru by Paola Miranda, (ERI Peru); on the environment by Frederick Pembroke on behalf of Kevin Cawley (ERI NY); on Migrants and Refugees in the UK by Tom Murray (ERI), and on the right to housing in Northern Ireland by Cormac McArt as part of the discussion with the Special Rapporteur on Housing.

ERI also supported a Statement delivered by a partner organisation OIDEL during the discussion with the Special Rapporteur on Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children and co-signed the statement delivered by another of our partners APGXXIII regarding the situation in Ukraine.d will be reported on in the April newsletter.

UPR Reviews of Haiti, South Sudan, Timor Leste and Zimbabwe

Several UPR reviews of relevance to the Edmund Rice Network took place in Geneva in January.

The Christian Brothers North American Province joined with local partners to present a joint submission for Haiti, which focussed on issues of access to education and health care, child servitude and trafficking. All of these issues were the subject of recommendations made  to Haiti in the course of the review.

The review of South Sudan highlighted a wide range of human rights concerns. These included the implementation of the 2018 revitalised peace agreement, addressing past human rights abuses, particularly regarding sexual violence against women by members of the armed forces, freedom of expression, the safety of journalists and human rights defenders, discrimination and violence against women, early and forced marriage, the rehabilitation of child soldiers, access to education and health care and the need to ratify a range of key UN human rights treaties.

Timor Leste was commended for its implementation of recommendations received in previous reviews and for its adoption of a range of Action Plans on a range of human rights issues. The joint ERI submission with Vivat International and a number of local NGOs, focussed on issues relating to education and access to water and sanitation. Whilst neither issue featured prominently in the review several recommendations relating to access to education were put forward. The major issues raised in recommendations related to ratification of international conventions, disability, domestic and gender based violence and child marriage.

All of the issues raised in ERI’s joint submission prepared by the Justice Desk in South Africa featured prominently in the recommendations made to Zimbabwe. These issues included women’s rights, particularly in regard to marriage, equality and discrimination, child marriage and freedom of expression and assembly.

A complete list of the recommendations made to each State will eventually be available to download here by clicking on the relevant name. States reviewed are due to indicate their response to the recommendations by the June Human Rights Council session.

The Future of Our Planet After COP26

The outcome of the recent COP26 meeting in Glasgow can be summed up in the words of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his wrap up message to the conference, “It is an important step but is not enough, Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero.”

The consensus of groups analysing the conference outcomes suggests that current policies will lead to a best-estimate of around 2.6 C to 2.7 C warming by 2100. Scientists have repeatedly warned that a 1.5 C rise in temperature above pre-industrial levels will have serious consequences, but could be manageable, whilst a 2.0 C rise would be catastrophic.

One encouraging outcome was the agreement to ‘revisit and strengthen’ the 2030 targets in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by the end of 2022, and accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. However any optimism about that is tempered by the fact that the process is based on voluntarism and peer pressure, without any binding sanctions for non-compliance. Not only are the pledges self-determined, but they can be repudiated without consequence, as demonstrated by the US when it withdrew from the Paris Agreement. (which it has since rejoined).

Similarly, the net-zero long-term commitments by countries to reach a particular goal are 30-50 years in the future, when none of the leaders making these promises will still be in office. As only around a dozen of the 74 countries with net-zero commitments have actually formalised them into law, it is unclear how seriously these commitments should be taken, or how likely they are to actually be achieved.

There is also fear, particularly from indigenous communities and civil society, that the agreement – which calls on 197 countries to report their progress towards more climate ambition next year at COP27 in Egypt – is too little and too late. As Ugandan climate activist, Vanessa Nakate told leaders, “We are drowning in promises. Only immediate and drastic action will pull us back from the abyss.”

The challenge for all of us is to continue to do all we can to hold our governments to account on the commitments they have made, and to demand stronger revised targets ahead of COP27 next year. With important elections scheduled in 2022 for Australia, Kenya, the Philippines, Northern Ireland and the USA, there is also an opportunity for those of us living in those countries to speak up and voice their concerns.

Addressing Implementation of UPR Recommendations for PNG

ERI joined with partners from the International Catholic Centre in Geneva (CCIG) for an online event which heard from national and international stakeholders on how to promote and protect human rights in PNG in the light of recommendations stemming from the 3rd UPR cycle.

Panelists included ms Mou Begura from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Papua New Guinea; Dr Silviu Jora, Charge d’Affaires EU Delegation in PNG; Ms Priscilla Kare, Callan Services for People with Disabilities; Rev Roger Joseph, General Secretary PNG Council of Churches and Ms Josephine Mann from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The government of PNG will provide its response to the recommendations received no later than during the 49th Session of the UN Human Rights Council which commences on Feb 28th.

A recording of the event is available  on the CCIG website. (see the heading Online event ‘Safeguarding Human Rights in Papua New Guinea: Addressing Implementation of UPR recommendations’ in the list of project activities.

Facilitating the Voices of Young People at COP26

Some of the participants in the recent ERth summit

A group of students from Edmund Rice schools in England will attend the Conference of Youth (COY16) in Glasgow from 28th-31st October at which they will present a statement on behalf of Edmund Rice Schools in England, India, Uruguay and the USA and young people in Bolivia, which will become part of the global youth statement that will go directly to policymakers at COP26.

A further group of 12 students will also participate in the Green Zone events at COP26 on 8th November at which copies of the statement representing the global schools network will be distributed.

Other related initiatives involving Edmund Rice schools include the Edmund Rice Education Australia Climate Crisis Statement  and the recent ERth Summit, organised by PRATYeK (India) and supported by Edmund Rice International, which provided an opportunity for several hundred child activists from a range of countries to voice their concerns about the environment, particularly the current climate emergency.

Following presentations from panelists and interactive discussions among the participants over the three days of the summit, a list of recommendations was prepared ahead of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

Commenting on the summit Peadar O’Hubain, from the Embassy of Ireland, New Delhi stated “This is an extremely timely discussion ahead of COP26. Your leadership in climate action is vital” whilst Ms Deirdre Boyd, United Nations Resident Coordinator, India, who presided over the culmination ceremony marvelled at the work done by PRATYeK & NINEISMINE and stated “Climate change is no longer a threat 100 years away, it is already here. Children and young people are not just victims. You are the future to bring change”.