“The Right to International Solidarity: Meeting with the Independent Expert on the revised draft declaration”

Last Thursday, 8 of June, a public side event on the right to international solidarity was held at room IX of the UN Palace. OIDEL co-organize this event with the Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII and other NGOs of the CINGO WG on international solidarity. The event was opened and moderated by Jorge Ferreira.

Msgr. Ivan Jurkovic, Nuncio to the United Nations, first introduced solidarity as a broad concept that involves a fact or condition, a principle, a moral value. It is founded on the idea that we are debtors of society and, being ethical in nature, its implication for human life is also ethical. However, despite being all these things, it is currently unrealized, under threat. It gives way to the States’ sovereignty, when in theory both concepts are not opposed, since the principle of solidarity is linked to the principle of subsidiarity.

In this line, Ms. Virginia Dandan, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity and author of the draft declaration on the human right to IS, added that, in a time when nationalism and segmentation are arising, IS must come to stop them. Its definition and implementation are explained in the draft, as well as the obligations that it entails. However, Ms. Dandan was clear that IS necessarily means action; it cannot be left behind in plans. And, since IS is already a principie in people’s lives, it is therefore necesary to make sure that it becomes a pinciple in the life of governments as well. You can find the link of the draft declaration here: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Solidarity/ProposedDraftDeclarationSolidarity.pdf

Following on, Mr. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, stressed the relevance for his mandate of the recognition of such a right. He also spoke about the need of working on a draft declaration on the human right to peace, even though the States deem there are no legal grounds for it.

Finally, it was Ms. Maria Mercedes Rossi, from the Associazione, who intervened. She explained how IS has an individual and a collective dimension. She said the latter corresponds to the African way of thinking: “I am because we are”, while the former corresponds to the Western way, which she finds rather arrogant. She also questioned the States’ allegation according to which the human right to IS has no legal basis and defended the need of making a right out of it in order to make it effective.

Afterwards, during question time, Ms. Dandan, and Ms. Rossi explained the difference between preventive solidarity, which tackles root causes and has a long-time frame, and reactive solidarity, which is deployed ex post (i.e. after a natural disaster, calamity) and has an instant time frame. They declared that preventive solidarity is the one that is needed, using the example of starvation in the world, which has root causes that have to be dealt with.

As a conclusion, Ms. Dandan stated that the road to right’s protection is a long one. International Solidarity is a choice one has to make; poverty is a fight that must be fought every single day. Sympathy will not do; as she said, even dogs can feel.

However, the actual conclusion was made by someone from the public, who requested to speak and quoted Pope Francis: “Nothing in Nature lives for itself. Rivers don’t drink their own water. Trees don’t eat their own fruit. Sun doesn’t give heat for itself. Flowers don’t spread fragrance for themselves. Living for others is the rule of Nature.”

 

Eugenia de Lacalle

REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS Edmund Rice International, May the 4th, Room XXVI

The side event organized by “Edmund Rice International” outlined the situation of the UK policies in the same day in which the UK underwent the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) at the UN.

EPI’s representatives focused on the conditions of refugees in the UK, starting from the consideration of the programs the government has put in action.

The panelists shown that, with regard to the other European countries, the UK receives only the 5% of the total flow of immigrants, number that will easily allow the improvements needed. Nonetheless, wealthy UK finds itself behind poorer countries in the ranking of European States providing quality support to the refugees. In addition, in 2016, 70% of the requests for asylum were refused, either for the absence of a document recognized or the condition of statelessness.

The accepted refugees, according to the regulations, are granted 28 days of accommodation by the government, after which they are left with no house, no employment aid and no support.

From this analysis, ERI recognized a number of charitable safety nets present in England that help refugees through these hard times. Even so, they found that the majority of asylum seekers are marginalized, constantly on the move, living in a limbo with no security or hope for the future.

In April 2017, the British Red Cross published “Can’t stay, Can’t go”, a Report on the condition of asylum seekers in the UK, highlighting how this condition of uncertainty, lack of legal representation and knowledge of the language, is the cause of enormous distress.

The other Report issued by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), “Refugees Welcome?”, focused on the absence of real projects and solutions to address the emergency of refugees. In the document, APPG suggests integrative strategies, English language teaching and to prolong to 50 days the governmental accommodation.

These Reports are in line with the intervention made by the EPI and other member States during the UK session at the UPR. They found though that the answers of the Ministry of Justice to the questions do not mirror the actual situation in the UK.

During the UPR pressure was made to ameliorate the conditions of asylum seekers and their transitions into society; at the same time, the panelists stressed, no attention was given to other very serious issues linked: food poverty and homelessness.

The representative of the “Trussel Trust”, for the elimination of food poverty in the UK, reminded that no data nor attention has been given by the government to address the issue of food poverty. Generally caused by benefit changes and delays, this condition could be easily avoided by governmental interventions and programs.

Homelessness in Northern Ireland is another issue very sensitive and not addressed in the UPR nor by the government. “Welcome” organization’s data show grave marginalization of the problem of a small region with a troubled historical background where the condition of homelessness touches 18,628 persons, 52% of which are single male adults.

In conclusion, the welfare reforms and safety net claimed by the Ministry of Justice at the UPR session, according to the representative of Welcome, cannot be found on the ground. Furthermore, the panelists find necessary for the government to recognize organizations as more than safety net and to implement its project in order to reach the standards set in the international documents that the UK signed.

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Beatrice Bilotti

How human resources services can empower jobseekers with disabilities – Side event March the 17 th , Permanent Mission of Austria

People with disabilities represent a significant group in our society and a big potential not fully realized. As reminded by H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi, Permanent representative of Austria to the UN in Geneva, there are all types of barriers hindering the full enjoyment of a normal life, may them be physical, economical, social, or obstacles to health services, access to education, employment full time. The reasons of this marginalization may be different, from the weak voice people with disabilities have in the political process, to the lack of comparable data on labor market participation that limits the interventions. On the bright side, polices of inclusiveness are developing, Austria and other countries have laws binding companies to employ one person with disability every 25 employees. Most of the time though the companies prefer to pay the sanction instead of complying with the quota.

The testimony of Fernanda Almeida, President of the National Federation of Persons with Autism from Brazil and member of RIADIS, stressed the difficulty for employers to see beyond the appearances. For her, as for Matthieu Chatelin, Cerebral Palsy European Community’s Association and Youth leader of the European Disability Forum, a good CV is not sufficient. There are numerous barriers to overcome, from the initial demonstration that they are capable of doing their job to the adjustment in terms of space. Some employers do not consider how easy it can be to overcome structural barriers because they just focus on what they cannot do.

Education is highlighted by all the panelist as the most important tool to overcome the difficulties, as instrument that can guarantee a future within the society. It is a responsibility of the States to assure accessibility to education, training and employment, but usually it is not guaranteed. The isolated condition in which the State leaves people with disabilities, may it be a direct or indirect result, is an alarm for the civil society organizations that work hard to give fair chances to people with disabilities.

Ms. Virginia Carcedo Illera, CEO and General manager of Incerta empleo, showed the effort and work realized by Incerta during the years of its existence. Working for university and employment accessibility and inserting over 200 thousand people with disabilities in its database. With a system based on ICF skill oriented approach, they connect people to the companies, focusing on the capabilities and compatibility with the firm.

On the same issue, Zero Project, as an international initiative founded by the Austrian ESSL foundation, monitors the application of the CRPD and identifies effective solutions and promotes knowledge exchange. The data resulted from the 2017 research showed, as already presented by the other panelists, that the laws existing are not in use and often there is no data on the condition of labor and education accessibility of people with disabilities. These deficiencies of the States show the marginal role given to the issue and the lack of interest in changing the existing situation.

Lorena-Homar

Lorena Homar, Olympic Swimmer

In conclusion, the panelists stressed the importance of a fair and equal access to education, apprenticeship and employment. To be treated as equally capable of doing a job and equally in need of living the world and relating with people is the most important thing the civil society and the companies, the governments and the employer could do. The relegation doesn’t help neither the person with disabilities nor the State, because it would miss the potentialities of its own citizens.

 

Beatrice Bilotti

Transforming lives: The power of human rights education

This is the title of a beautiful exhibition on human rights education, which was launched on 6 March and which is taking place until 17 March at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, in parallel to the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. You are all welcome to visit!
The exhibition reiterates the vital role of human rights education and training in the promotion of dignity, equality and peace and in the prevention of human rights violations and abuses. It examines what human rights education is, and its impact on the increasingly challenging world in which we live. It also offers inspiration and hope for individuals to engage and take action.
This exhibition is co-organized by the NGO Working Group on Human Rights Education chaired by OIDEL, together with Soka Gakkai International and HRE 2020, Global Coalition for Human Rights Education.
Claire de Lavernette

 

 

Le déchaînement d’une nouvelle société : l’interdépendance des droits de l’homme II

 

Les enjeux liés à la société de l’information doit nous aider à affiner notre réflexion sur le droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression. On considère habituellement ce droit comme un droit liberté comme s’il suffisait à l’état de le garantir pour le faire respecter, contrairement aux droits économiques, sociaux et culturels qui seraient des droits prestations. Il est clair depuis longtemps que cette distinction est peu pertinente : le droit à la liberté d’expression ne se réduit pas à la non-censure de la part des autorités; la liberté de presse, par exemple, a toujours exigé de la part des états une action positive, généralement sous forme de subventions.

 

Aujourd’hui face aux nouvelles technologies il est devenu évident que la mise en œuvre de la liberté d’expression réclame un effort de l’Etat pour la mise en place d’infrastructure qui permette la connexion aux réseaux mondiaux de communication. Il convient de rappeler qu’il existe de nombreux  pays dans lesquelles de grandes étendues sont totalement dépourvues d’électricité.  Dans ce nouveau contexte, la distinction entre droits liberté et droits prestation semble définitivement périmée.

 

Il est évident qu’un développement équitable des technologies de l’information et de la communication est absolument indispensable non seulement à la promotion, mais aussi au respect des droits de l’homme. De nos jours, il est juste de considérer qu’un peuple qui n’a pas accès à ces technologies est lésé dans son droit d’opinion et d’expression, tant sa capacité de s’informer et de s’exprimer est réduite par rapport aux autres. La société de l’information qui nous amène de nouveaux outils pour lutter en faveur des droits de l’homme peut devenir paradoxalement aussi une source d’inégalité en creusant le fossé qui sépare les plus riches des plus pauvres.

 

Alfred Fernandez

Human Rights and Corruption

One year after the Revolution of 2011, a side event was organized and planned to discuss the finding of the high commissions report. This event aimed to compliment and strengthen the existing mechanisms in order to prevent and counter corruption.

Since then, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was created, in which one of its agreements was to significantly reduce illicit financial flaws in an aim to combat corruption; a fundamental factor needed to achieve all goals of the agenda. The Human Rights Council has been paying increasing attention to combatting corruption, and after conducting several investigations, has found that “treaty bodies mismanagement are a resource of corruption. Approximately 2% of GDP is bribed in both developed and underdeveloped countries.” B.E. Ayush claimed. “It is estimated that developed countries lose about one trillion dollars annually”.

Reducing bribery in corruption, not only increases equality, but also opportunity. “This must have a human rights based approach, where we integrate human rights principles, and corruption is viewed as a human rights issue, not just a crime”, K. Pabel stated. For this very reason, the advisory committee prepared a report that was presented to the council. Its key elements were based upon the common view that there is a strong correlation between corruption, and the enjoyment of basic human rights: studies conducted demonstrated this through many statements from national institutions and stakeholders.

It has been identified that corruption within a country can not only affect individuals and groups of individuals, but it also has a negative impact on society at large, whether that is at a national, or international level, “people’s confidence in their governments and democratic order is undermined”. The first individuals or groups of individuals who suffer from the impact of corruption are generally person with disabilities, women, and children: for this reason, the report calls for the protection of human rights of those groups in every state in order to prevent the violation of their human rights.

Marianna Barbieri

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The Role of Civil Society in the realisation of the Right to Education

Yesterday OIDEL delivered a joint oral statement during the General Debate Item 2 & 3 of the Human Rights Council. The debate was about certain thematic reports of the OHCHR, we were specially interested on the good practices of civil society to enable human rights (click here to know more)  OIDEL together with other NGOs wanted to warn about the importance of the civil society in the realisation of the Right to Education.

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“Thank you mister president,

I speak on behalf of  OIDEL, Commission Africaine des Promoteurs de la Santé et des Droits de l’homme, Graduate Women International (International Federation of University Women), Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice delle Salesiane di Don Bosco (IIMA), International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development – VIDES and Teresian Association

We really appreciate this report and we think that the obligations of the public authorities towards civil society could not be better defined. OIDEL is convinced that the realization of each right requires at certain level the participation of civil society. As said in the report progress and civic participation go hand in hand. Moreover, the report quoted that “a confident nation gives citizens a say and a role in the development of their country”.

However we are surprised that this list of good practices does not include the right to education, besides certain mention to Human Rights Education. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the right of the individuals to set up educational institutions. As stated by the Dutch Mission during the negotiation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the prior right for parents to choose the education they consider best for their children is a guarantee that education does not become a State monopoly.[1]

 Moreover, it is clear that the countries that are friendlier with the provision of education through civil society are also countries that have addressed with excellence the challenge of diversity and the accomplishment of civil rights.

The content of this report was the compilation of practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society. Although we think that the overall objective was well accomplished the annual report remains incomplete due to the lack of inclusion of practices concerning the provision of the right to education.

We encourage the UN OHCHR to take into consideration the role of civil society in the provision of education due to the good impact it has in the realization of friendly environment for the right to education.

In this regard, we also want to invite the UN OHCHR to review our last report “Freedom of Education Index 2016”. This report shows how the participation of civil society in the provision of education is a cornerstone of democratic societies and a guarantee for minorities in pluralistic societies.

Among the good practices we have identified we can highlight the important role in deprived areas of charter schools in the United States or the subsidized non-government schools in South Africa. The report also shows that the participation of civil society in education is compatible with quality. Among countries with the highest level of freedom of education we find some of the best PISA results; such as the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Thank you Mr. President,”

 

Ignasi Grau

[1] GLENDON, Mary Ann, 2001  A World made new. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Random House (p.159 y 190)