Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘United Nations’

Fighting For Education

From Malala Yousafzai
London, UK

On 15 June fourteen girls were murdered in Pakistan simply because they wanted an education. Many people know my story but there are stories every day of children fighting for an education. The basic right to education is under attack around the world.

rBYwNoGDSWUKKqF-556x313-cropped

We need change now and I need your help to achieve it.

You can help me and girls and boys across the world. We are asking the United Nations General Assembly to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015.

This July 12th is my 16th birthday and I am personally delivering this petition to the United Nations Secretary General Bank Ki Moon.

I became a victim of terrorism after I spoke out in favour of education of girls. These innocent girls killed in Pakistan have nothing to do with politics and only wanted to empower themselves through education.

If we want to bring change, if we want progress, if we want development, if we want the education of girls, we should be united. We should not wait. We should do it now.

Sign Malala’s petition HERE

We Can Help Syrians

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EDMNA1As the bloodshed in Syria escalates, desperate refugees are trying to escape the violence.

In response, Amnesty is increasing our efforts to advocate on behalf of refugees seeking safety in neighboring countries.

Please make an urgent monthly donation to Amnesty so we can continue to advocate for families fleeing human rights violations in Syria and around the world.

More than 1.3 million Syrian refugees are trying to escape the ongoing bloodshed by fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.

Many refugees attempting to cross into neighboring Turkey have been stopped, leaving people stranded inside Syria in terrible conditions. Credible reports have also emerged of refugees being forced to return to Syria.

In the face of this mounting crisis, Amnesty is pressuring the international community to provide badly needed financial assistance to support the efforts made by Syria’s neighboring countries.

We are also documenting the abuses experienced by civilians who remain in Syria. Our team of researchers on the ground found evidence that government forces bombed entire neighborhoods and targeted residential areas with long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

Amnesty has a strong track record of using our on-the-ground findings to pressure governments and the United Nations Security Council to hold those responsible for the slaughter of civilians accountable.

But we can’t do it without your support. We accept no money from governments for our research or advocacy — as it would compromise our efforts. Will you make a monthly donation to strengthen our work to help end the crisis and take action for the people of Syria? It’s a convenient, effective way to stand up for human rights each and every day of the year. Donate now.

Sincerely,

Sunjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

International Arms Trade Treaty

Dear Gabriel,

Huge news coming out of the United Nations today: this morning, delegates from 154 nations voted to adopt the first-ever international Arms Trade Treaty!

This is a historic moment – for the first time, the world has a treaty to help monitor and control the flow of arms and ammunition across borders. It’s a strong, effective treaty that will save lives and protect human rights around the world. And it’s the result of the actions of tens of thousands of Oxfam supporters like you – people who raised their voices in support of an Arms Trade Treaty, donated to fuel this work, and spread the word about this crucial issue. Thank you for everything you did to make this victory possible.

images

President Obama and his Administration played an important leadership role to ensure the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty. Will you join us in thanking them? Send a message to President Obama now >>

For families in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Mali and other countries wracked with armed conflict, the Arms Trade Treaty means a safer, brighter future. Ending armed conflict in poor communities is vital to righting the wrong of poverty, and that’s why Oxfam has been working to pass this treaty for more than a decade – we couldn’t have done this without you.

History was made at the United Nations today, and you were part of it. Thank you so much for standing with us in this fight.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Widespread Evidence

Dear Gabriel,

This week Amnesty is releasing shocking field investigations from the front lines of the crisis in Syria.

Amnesty found widespread new evidence of heinous war crimes committed by the Syrian government armed forces and militias.

Recent news coverage of massacres in the towns of Houla and Daraa has increased global awareness of the crisis. Our investigations provide unequivocal evidence that the Syrian army is responsible for gross violations of human rights on a massive scale.

We need to continue our work in Syria until the atrocities stop. We are counting on people like you to help support our efforts – calling the world’s attention to human rights abuses committed in Syria and in other countries with oppressive regimes. Please donate today.

Time and time again Amnesty spoke with grieving families who told us how their relatives had been taken away by soldiers and shot dead, often just a few steps from their front doors.

Through our comprehensive report, the international community now has ample, credible documentation of the scale and gravity of the abuses. We now need your help to:

Pressure Russia and China to immediately halt weapons and munitions transfers to the Syrian government.

Demand that the United Nations Security Council act decisively in the wake of mounting global awareness of the crisis.

Ensure that human rights monitors can travel throughout Syria to get the facts that break through the Syrian government’s lies.

Please help Amnesty keep global attention and pressure on Syria’s government.

Sincerely,

Sanjeev Bery
Advocacy Director, Middle East North Africa
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Read the investigation and help spread the word.

Children Killed In Syria

Dear Friends,

The pictures from Al Houla, Syria, last Friday are almost too brutal to look at. I have a 5 year old daughter and I know it’s only luck of birth that separates her from this horror. But my shock led me to write this today as I know there is something we can all do together to stop this.

Dozens of children lie covered with blood, their faces show the fear they felt before death, and their innocent lifeless bodies reveal an unspeakable massacre. These children were slaughtered by men under strict orders to sow terror. Yet all the diplomats have come up with so far is a few UN monitors ‘observing’ the violence. Now, governments across the world are expelling Syrian ambassadors, but unless we demand strong action on the ground, they will settle for these diplomatic half-measures.

The UN is discussing what to do right now. If there were a large international presence across Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, we could prevent the worst massacres while leaders engage in political efforts to resolve the conflict. I cannot see more images like these without shouting from the rooftops. But to stop the violence, it is going to take all of us, with one voice, demanding protection for these kids and their families. Click to call for UN action now and send this to everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_will_the_world_look_away_ndb/?vl

A child’s death is tragic in any circumstance. The UN says 108 people were killed in the onslaught, 49 of them children under the age of 10, and the youngest was a 2 year old girl. 90% of the population of Al Houla has now fled their homes. As I put my daughter to bed last night, I tried to consider what the mothers and fathers and grandparents of these children feel. The sheer pain and desperation is unimaginable, but there will also be deep anger and hate for those that did this. Until all of us stop these attacks on the people of Syria, the cycle of violence will not end.

Let’s not forget — this bloodbath began over a year ago with thousands of people peacefully protesting on the streets — calling, like their brothers and sisters across the region, for freedom and democracy. But the regime responded with brutality and violence — murdering, torturing, abducting and laying siege to entire cities. The international community did not intervene, letting geopolitical concerns obstruct our responsibility to protect. Then, in desperation to protect their families and fight back against the repression, some took up arms. Now it is an armed conflict — and if the world continues to do nothing it will become a full blown sectarian war that may last for generations and breed the kind of terrorist attacks we have yet to imagine in our worst nightmares.

When dozens of children are murdered in cold blood by the army and their militias — it is time for serious action. Assad, his henchmen and his murderous army must be held to account and the people of Syria protected. Nothing the international community has done yet has pried Assad from his murderous grip on power. The few UN monitors on the ground were powerless to stop the Al Houla killings — they only served to count the tiny bodies. But if we sent in hundreds of monitors to each of the fourteen regions of Syria, Assad’s assassins would think twice.

The world looked away with Srebrenica, and with Rwanda. If all of us respond today — we can make sure that these children’s tragic deaths act as the tipping point for all of us everywhere to say NO MORE! But if we turn away, so will our leaders. Let’s join voices from every corner of the earth and make it impossible for our leaders to ignore our cry. In respect for these dear children and their families, click to join the global call to demand a massive UN presence on the ground now!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_will_the_world_look_away_ndb/?vl

The Avaaz community has stood with the people of Syria for fifteen months, denouncing the Syrian regime, calling for sanctions, supporting communities across the country with aid, and giving equipment to citizen journalists to get the word out about the violence. Let’s today make the Al Houla massacre the watershed moment for change and insist that our governments no longer stand by shaking their heads and turning their backs.

With deep sadness and determination,

Alice and the whole Avaaz team

I Am Listening

Hello Gabriel,

I am Suzanne Nossel, the new executive director of Amnesty International USA.

It is a privilege to take the reins of Amnesty, especially now, at this pivotal moment. We have the opportunity to make solid human rights gains. To succeed, I will rely on the dedication and talents of all Amnesty supporters.

This is where you come in. In collaboration with our Board of Directors and other member leaders, I am leading a listening tour to gather feedback from every corner of the Amnesty movement. We will use your input to develop a strategic plan for the organization.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please take a short online survey to help guide our strategy.

I look forward to working with Amnesty because I have cared about human rights from a very young age. My mother’s family fled from Nazi Germany to South Africa. As a child, I saw apartheid first hand. Bathrooms, beaches and buses were segregated, and I knew something was wrong.

In high school in New York City I worked with an organization to help free Soviet Jews. We wrote letters, wore bracelets with the names of individual dissidents on them, raised money, marched down 5th Avenue and demonstrated in front of the United Nations.

My position at Amnesty will draw upon every one of my professional experiences. As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, I learned how decisions get made within Washington and how to push through important human rights initiatives.

As Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch I gained a deeper understanding of human rights around the world and the role of expertise in human rights advocacy.

I know I have big shoes to fill. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my predecessor, Larry Cox, and the tremendous hard work and accomplishments of Amnesty USA members in recent years:

Abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey (2007), New Mexico (2009) and Illinois (2011).

Enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act (2010) to streamline access to justice for crimes of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.

Freedom for thousands of political prisoners persecuted for their beliefs.

As Amnesty supporters, you and I share a powerful belief that dedicated individuals acting together can defend human dignity and restore human rights — and society can flourish.

I’m excited about the opportunity to work with you, and I do hope that you can take the time to share your ideas with me in this short survey.

Thanks,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

P.S. Hurry — the survey will close on Friday, March 23.

Bombing Neighborhoods

Dear Friends,

With each passing day, Syria’s crackdown on democracy protesters reaches new levels of horror — bombing crowded neighborhoods filled with innocent civilians, cutting off electricity and phones so families can’t call for help, and blocking medical aid to the wounded. But finally a flicker of hope is emerging that could stop the terror.

After the UN Security Council failed, Syria’s neighbours in the the Arab League are taking the lead. They have called other key powers to an emergency meeting in 4 days in Tunisia, and Avaaz will be sitting at the table with the Syrian democracy movement to deliver a clear mandate for strong action.

Right now, the level of public outrage could make the difference between forceful action and feckless diplomacy. Let’s deliver a 1 million-strong call to action, and press negotiators to move now to stop the bloodbath. Click below to sign the petition — it will be delivered directly to the delegates in the meeting:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/arab_league_save_syria_3/?vl

The student organizers and mothers who month after month have led peaceful marches for freedom are now facing down the full military might of Assad’s army. They are calling for the world’s help to ensure that the Syrian Spring does not die a gruesome death on the streets of Homs, Hama and Idlib.

So far, the Arab League and United Nations have failed to stop the slaughter. But the international community knows that they cannot postpone action any longer. There is no panacea to end this, but a combination of more targeted sanctions, humanitarian action, support to the opposition to form an alternative government that unites people across the sectarian divide, and a plan to help those fearful of regime change to defect, could tip the balance of power.

In situations like this one, a clear public proposal can force the hand of politicians and governments to take meaningful action fast. Let’s show those meeting this week the extent of global determination to save the Syrian Spring and end the bloodshed. Sign the urgent petition for action now:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/arab_league_save_syria_3/?vl

With so many challenges facing our globe, our community rarely campaigns on the same issue numerous weeks in a row. But the situation in Syria is dire and the Syrian people are counting on us not to let this opportunity to make a difference pass us by. Let’s come together one more time and show them that the world stands with them.

With hope and determination,

Ian, Jamie, Maria Paz, Allison, Andrew, Emma, Wissam, Stephanie, Bissan and the whole Avaaz team

Turkey’s Turn-around

From Nation of Change
by Mohammed Ayoob
9 January 2012

Turkey’s Balancing Act

Turkey has over the past few weeks become the spearhead of a joint Western-Arab-Turkish policy aimed at forcing President Bashar al-Assad to cede power in Syria. This is quite a turnaround in Turkish policy, because over the past two years the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had gone out of its way to cultivate good relations with neighboring Syria, with whom it shares a long land border.

This change of course on Syria has also cost Turkey a great deal in terms of its relations with Iran, the principal supporter of Assad’s regime, which Turkey had also cultivated as part of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy.

Given these new strains, it is worth recalling that a only few months ago many American leaders were livid at what they perceived to be Turkey’s betrayal. In their view, Turkey had re-oriented its foreign policy toward the Muslim Middle East and away from the West – a shift supposedly reflected in the country’s deteriorating relations with Israel and improving ties with Iran and Syria.

Many American policymakers and publicists, unable or unwilling to distinguish Turkish-Israeli relations from Turkish-American relations, interpreted Erdoğan’s condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Gaza as a bid to cozy up to his Arab neighbors at the expense of Turkey’s relations with not only Israel but with the West in general. Turkey’s attempt to mediate between the major Western powers and Iran concerning the Islamic Republic’s uranium stockpile went unappreciated in the West; indeed, the United States scuttled the effort just as it seemed to be bearing fruit. And Turkey’s subsequent vote in the United Nations Security Council against imposing additional sanctions on Iran seemed to offer further proof that Turkey had adopted an “Islamic” foreign policy.

America’s anxiety assumed that it is a contradiction for Turkey to seek good relations with both the West and the Muslim Middle East, and that Ankara’s decision to improve its relations with its Muslim neighbors was motivated primarily by religious and ideological concerns considered important by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Turkey’s recent tense relations with Iran demonstrate this assumption’s basic fallacy, and point to a non-ideological foreign policy that caters to Turkish national interests as defined by the country’s political elite – including the post-Islamists in power today.

Disagreement between Turkey and Iran initially centered on their conflicting approaches to the internal rebellion against Assad’s dictatorship. Iran has been heavily invested in the Assad regime, its lone Arab ally and the main conduit for delivering material support to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Turkey, on the other hand, after some initial hesitation, has thrown its weight fully behind Assad’s opponents, including by providing refuge to them, as well as to defectors from Syria’s army. Indeed, Turkey has gone further by helping the divided Syrian opposition to come together on its territory to establish a joint front against the Assad regime and provide a credible alternative to it.

Read entire column at Nation of Change.

Climate Change Apartheid

From Nation of Change by Amy Goodman
December 14, 2011

Climate Apartheid

“You’ve been negotiating all my life,” Anjali Appadurai told the plenary session of the U.N.‘s 17th “Conference of Parties,” or COP 17, the official title of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Appadurai, a student at the ecologically focused College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, addressed the plenary as part of the youth delegation. She continued: “In that time, you’ve failed to meet pledges, you’ve missed targets, and you’ve broken promises. But you’ve heard this all before.”

After she finished her address, she moved to the side of the podium, off microphone, and in a manner familiar to anyone who has attended an Occupy protest, shouted into the vast hall of staid diplomats, “Mic check!” A crowd of young people stood up, and the call-and-response began:

Appadurai: “Equity now!”

Crowd: “Equity now!”

Appadurai: “You’ve run out of excuses!”

Crowd: “You’ve run out of excuses!”

Appadurai: “We’re running out of time!”

Crowd: “We’re running out of time!”

Appadurai: “Get it done!”

Crowd: “Get it done!”

That was Friday, at the official closing plenary session of COP 17. The negotiations were extended, virtually nonstop, through Sunday, in hopes of avoiding complete failure. At issue were arguments over words and phrases—for instance, the replacement of “legal agreement” with “an agreed outcome with legal force,” which is said to have won over India to the Durban Platform.

The countries in attendance agreed to a schedule that would lead to an agreement by 2015, which would commit all countries to reduce emissions starting no sooner than 2020, eight years into the future.

“Eight years from now is a death sentence on Africa,” Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey, chairperson of Friends of the Earth International, told me. “For every one-degree Celsius change in temperature, Africa is impacted at a heightened level.” He lays out the extent of the immediate threats in his new book about Africa, “To Cook a Continent.”

Bassey is one among many concerned with the profound lack of ambition embodied in the Durban Platform, which delays actual, legally binding reductions in emissions until 2020 at the earliest, whereas scientists globally are in overwhelming agreement: The stated goal of limiting average global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will soon be impossible to achieve. The International Energy Agency, in its annual World Energy Outlook released in November, predicted “cumulative CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions over the next 25 years amount to three-quarters of the total from the past 110 years, leading to a long-term average temperature rise of 3.5 [degrees] C.”

Despite optimistic pronouncements to the contrary, many believe the Kyoto Protocol died in Durban. Pablo Solon, the former Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations and former chief climate negotiator for that poor country, now calls Kyoto a “zombie agreement,” staggering forward for another five or seven years, but without force or impact. On the day after the talks concluded, Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced that Canada was formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. Expected to follow are Russia and Japan, the very nation where the 1997 meeting was held that gives the Kyoto Protocol its name.

The largest polluter in world history, the United States, never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and remains defiant. Both Bassey and Solon refer to the outcome of Durban as a form of “climate apartheid.”

Despite the pledges by President Barack Obama to restore the United States to a position of leadership on the issue of climate change, the trajectory from Copenhagen in 2009, to Cancun in 2010, and, now, to Durban reinforces the statement made by then-President George H.W. Bush prior to the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the forerunner to the Kyoto Protocol, when he said, “The American way of life is not up for negotiation.”

The “American way of life” can be measured in per capita emissions of carbon. In the U.S., on average, about 20 metric tons of CO2 is released into the atmosphere annually, one of the top 10 on the planet. Hence, a popular sticker in Durban read “Stop CO2lonialism.”

Read Entire Editorial at Nation of Change

Take Action On Syria

The UN Security Council has urged Syria’s president to make good on his stated commitment to reform. But what has the Council actually done to stop the widespread abuses being committed in Syria?

Certainly not all it could do.

If the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would demand accountability for the Syrian government’s brutal crimes.

If the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would impose strict measures against Syria, including an arms embargo and freezing the assets of President al-Assad.

What are they waiting for? Urge South Africa, India and Brazil to speak up now to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Most certainly, if the Council was serious about stopping the widespread abuses, then it would refer the worsening situation to the International Criminal Court. This would be the strongest signal possible that individual perpetrators will face justice and deter future violations.

Some members of the Security Council are getting the message and have begun calling for concrete action. But petty political bickering within the Council has swayed increasingly influential members — South Africa, India and Brazil — to the side of inaction.

Until the Council takes firm action, the people of Syria remain at the mercy of a government that shows no signs of stopping its 5 month-long crackdown on human rights.

Right now, Amnesty is building a powerful case against Syria. The evidence of grave human rights abuses is mounting.

Here is where pressure from supporters like you makes all the difference.

In the coming weeks we’ll be unveiling some new data that we’re confident will cause a stir. This evidence will certainly get people talking, but we need you to help get them moving!

Every message of support counts. Tell the governments of South Africa, India and Brazil that it’s time to get serious about Syria.

In Solidarity,

Christoph Koettl
Campaigner, Crisis Prevention and Response
Amnesty International USA

Tag Cloud