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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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”.

ERI Activity During 48th UN Human Rights Council Session

ERI was again active during the recently concluded Human Rights Council session.

Statements were delivered by members of our local networks, partners or members of the ERI team on:
access to clean water and sanitation in India as part of the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation. (statement delivered by a representative of the ERI partner organisation PRATYeK)
violation of civil and political rights in Kenya. (Statement delivered by Cyprian Omoding, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator in East Africa)  
inequalities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and their impact on children in India (statement delivered by a representative of PRATYeK)
disposal of hazardous waste in India (statement delivered by a representative of PRATYeK)
the human rights situation in Myanmar (a statement delivered by ERI Director Brian Bond on behalf of a number of partner organisations who were worried about reprisals if they were to speak)
the adverse impact of changed immigration laws in the UK on asylum seekers and refugees (statement delivered by Tom Murray, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator in the UK)
violence against children in Uruguay (statement delivered by Paola Miranda, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator in South America)

ERI also co-sponsored other statements delivered by our partner organisations:
– the International Catholic Centre in Geneva on the monitoring and implementation of recommendations at the local level
– the Congregation of the Good Shepherd on Obstetric Fistula, a preventable medical condition, the neglect of which amounts to torture according to the UN Committee Against Torture.

2021: A massive year for our common home

The recent IPCC Report confirms that the world is fast reaching the internationally agreed 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold; irreversible damage to the planet and people is looming closer each day.

The climate emergency is causing rising seas, a warmer planet, and more extreme weather. It’s devastating the lives of our poorest sisters and brothers.

At the same time, biologists estimate that we’re driving species to extinction at a rate of 100 to 1,000 times their usual rate. “We have no such right” (Laudato Si’ 33).

At the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in October, world leaders can set meaningful targets to protect creation.

In November, at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), countries will announce their plans to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.

Ahead of those meetings We have an opportunity like no other. We must act now.

Please consider signing the petition organised by the ‘Laudato Si Movement’ (Edmund Rice International is a sponsor) by clicking on the following link.

https://thecatholicpetition.org/#sign

A Step Towards Sustainable Fishing?

After more than 20 years of negotiations, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has moved a step closer to an agreement on ending harmful fishing subsidies at its recent conference in Buenos Aires. The deal would set new rules for the global fishing industry and limit government funding that contributes to unsustainable fishing and the depletion of global fish stocks

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one-third of global fish stocks are overfished and most of the rest is fully exploited. This is up from 10% in 1970 and 27% in 2000. Depleted stocks threaten the food security of low-income coastal communities, and the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable fishers who must go further and further from shore only to bring back smaller and smaller hauls.

Each year, governments hand out around $35 billion in fisheries subsidies, two-thirds of which go to commercial fishers. These subsidies keep at sea vessels which would otherwise be economically unviable. World leaders in 2015 made a fisheries subsidies agreement by 2020 part of the Sustainable Development Goals and trade ministers reaffirmed this pledge in 2017.

The meeting pledged to finish the negotiations before the WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference in late November, and to empower their delegations in Geneva to do so. The current text of an agreement will be used as the basis for negotiating a final agreement. Despite the optimism that an agreement will be finalised, some reservations remain that not all issues have been adequately addressed.

Click here for a more comprehensive account of the scale and implications of the overfishing issue.

ERI Activity During UN 47th Human Rights Council Session

Br Joseph Gomeh delivers a recorded statement on teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone for the HRC session

ERI was again active during the recently concluded Human Rights Council session.

The following oral statements were delivered by members of our local networks or members of the ERI team:-
– on homelessness in Northern Ireland during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Housing
– on Covid-19 and online education during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Education
– on trafficking during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking
– a joint statement on poverty in South Africa during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty
– on violence against women with disability in Kenya during the panel discussion on Women and Human Rights
– on human rights in Myanmar (on behalf of ERI partners who feared repercussions if they identified themselves) during the discussion of the report of the UN Human Rights Commissioner on the situation in Myanmar.
– on the outcome of the UPR of Australia

Several more statements were planned but unable to be delivered due to limits on the number of NGOs permitted to speak on each agenda item.

Those pre-recorded statements included statements on:-
proposed changes to laws in the UK regarding asylum seekers and refugees during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Migrants.
– on teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone and in Peru during the interactive dialogue with the Working Group on Discrimination Against Women.
– a joint statement on domestic violence and child marriage in the context of the covid pandemic in India  and violence against women in South Africa during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.

ERI also co-signed several statements prepared by our partners, including a request for the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change, on the issue of International Solidarity in the face of the current pandemic and on the need to suspend the outcome of the UPR review of Myanmar.

ERI also joined the discussion around a draft resolution around the protection of Civil Society space at the UN initiated by Ireland, Chile, Japan, Tunisia and Sierra Leone. The resolution was subsequently passed by the Human Rights Council.

Edmund Rice Network Journey to COP 26

Campaign Action

Pacific Calling Partnership

The PCP, part of the work of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education, Australia, raises awareness of the devastating impact of climate change on the vulnerable nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and islands of the Torres Strait.

This month we ask that our Edmund Rice global community raises awareness about the impacts of climate change on the Pacific. PCP has a wide range of resources available to help you do this, or arrange a talk with coordinator Corinne Fagueret cfagueret@edmundrice.org

Follow them on social media and share their posts.

Facebook @PacificCallingPartnership Twitter @Pacificcalling

Lifestyle Change

Eat less meat. Plan a few days in the week to eat vegetarian meals. Why? Raising cows, pigs and chickens generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all vehicles on the planet combined. Huge, intensive farms have cleared millions of square kilometres of forests for grazing pastures, decimating natural ‘carbon sinks’. If we eat fewer meals with meat or dairy each week, we can have a huge impact on the health of our planet and improve our own health.

#ERJourney to COP26 #Eatlessmeat

Reflection

Pope Francis has been outstanding among world leaders in drawing attention to the climate crisis facing our world. His letter of 2015, Laudato Si’, published in advance of the meeting of world leaders in Paris for COP 25, urges all humanity, not just Catholics, to a change of heart about creation. We love what we care for. As we grow in love for creation, we will increase our care for creation. We will listen both to the cry of the planet and the cry of the poor.

Our Christian faith calls us to care for all that God has created. It goes further as it tells us that God is in every single particle of creation. We need, like St. Francis of Assisi, to see the natural world as our brothers and sisters e.g. the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon. See trailer for the film at: https://youtu.be/gFgXxoEepnQ

Since COP 25 the Covid pandemic, which still grips the world, has created an even greater awareness of the plight of the planet. Pope Francis sees that the meeting of leaders at COP26 (in November 2021 in Glasgow) is a critical opportunity for humanity. He has launched a Laudato Si’ Action Platform to maximise this opportunity. The details are available at: https://www.laudatosi.org/laudato-si/action-platform/ So, as followers of Edmund, as we begin this journey towards COP 26, let us open our minds and hearts to the invitation of Pope Francis to be part of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. May we be inspired by the faith of Edmund, described in the 1832 Rule as that which inspires members to view nothing but with the eyes of faith.

Exploring Human Rights and Advocacy with the Edmund Rice Network

Over 250 participants, from a wide array of Edmund Rice ministries and beyond, engaged in various segments of a five-week awareness raising and training programme conducted by Edmund Rice International on 5 consecutive Thursdays between 15 April and 13 May 2021. Participants linked via Zoom with ERI in Geneva, Switzerland, with the same session being offered twice in two convenient time frames, to enable participants from more than 20 nations on six continents to join.

The opening presentation of this series on ‘A Basic Understanding of Human Rights and Advocacy’ conducted by Brian Bond introduced Edmund Rice International, examined the meaning of advocacy and human rights, compared charity and advocacy approaches to ministry and introduced the human right mechanisms of the  United Nations.

The presentation on Spirituality of Advocacy, by Philip Pinto, looked at the motivation behind involvement in advocacy and human rights and invited participants to examine their view of  the world and its inequalities by hearing the cry of the poor and of the earth and the call of Pope Francis “to wake up the world”.

The third presentation conducted by Kevin Mullan focussed on the Universal Periodic Review of the UN, on how this mechanism operates and how ERI engages directly with it in collaboration with ERI Advocacy Coordinators based in different countries as they come up for review.

The Sustainable Development Goals and their links with Laudato Si were examined in detail by Kevin Cawley in the fourth presentation with an emphasis on a See, Judge, Act approach at both a personal and community level.

In the final session participants were invited to share some of their learnings from the earlier presentations and in small groups explored possibilities for introducing advocacy and human rights into their current ministries.

A cross-section of participant comments: ‘The training has given a fresh perspective to my development work ministry in Sierra Leone and provided me with a global understanding of issues affecting our ‘common home’. Abu Kargbo, CB Development Office, Freetown
‘Listening to Br. Philip Pinto speak reminded me that I am not alone and part of a larger Edmund Rice community and that our advocacy mission is a spiritual one.Patricia Gray, Iona Prep, New Rochelle
‘The training has provided me another set of “eyes” to “feed my heart” to think of appropriate mission programs that will address the many social ills needing development interventions.’ Betta Socorro Salera, ERMF Philippines
‘Estamos conscientes que educando sobre los derechos humanos es la mejor forma de que todos los defendamos’ (We are aware that educating about human rights is the best way for all of us to defend them)Oscana Tupano, Colegio la Salle de Tienda Honda,Caracas
‘I took part in the training with other colleagues from my school and we have already begun to plan how to incorporate the learnings into our classes and into the work of the Peace and Justice group.’Aoife Denton, Ardscoil na Mara, Waterford
‘This webinar has awoken the dormant zeal of a social worker that I used to have…Iarisa Dorphang, St. Edmund’s College, Shillong
‘Pope Francis reminds us to “go wake-up the world”. Advocacy is the ideal tool to do just that.‘  Denis Claivaz, Presentation Brother, Toronto