10 March 2010


Earth Hour 2010 takes place on Saturday 27 March at 8.30pm (local time) and is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. It is a call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way towards a sustainable future.

Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to Asia to the Americas will stand in darkness. People across the world from all walks of life will turn off their lights and join together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change.

Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating.

In 2009 hundreds of millions of people around the world showed their support by turning off their lights for one hour.

Click on the link to visit the Earth Hour 2010 site then sign-up to pledge your support by turning off your lights for one hour, Earth Hour, 8.30pm, Saturday 27th March 2010.


Just when it seemed that a measure of justice in Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers had been restored, it appears that there are attempts to again exploit the issue for political purposes.

In 2002 the Edmund Rice Centre led an important effort to bring clarity to the national debate through the publication of the accessible fact-sheet: Debunking the Myths on Asylum Seekers.

In view of some recent comments by political leaders the Centre has judged it necessary to revisit the topic to once again bring a factual spotlight to the debate for this coming election year. The publication "Debunking the myths about asylum seekers in 2010" is available for download at the above website.

Myth 1 : Australia is being inundated by people in boats.

Fact: This is false. 1 800 boat people have sought asylum in Australia in 2009. This number is tiny when compared to other countries. Even given an increase in 2009, the annual average number of boat arrivals to Australia is tiny in comparison to the 50,000 people that over-stay their visas each year, or when taking into account that on average 95% of asylum seekers actually arrive in Australia by plane.

Click on the link to the Edmund Rice Centre to read about more of the myths.

9 March 2010


When most people think of slavery, they think of it as part of our history rather than our present. But slavery continues today.

Two Australian social justice organizations Good Shepherd Mission & Justice and the Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans have combined to launch a Fairtrade Easter Chocolate campaign to stop child trafficking into West African cocoa plantations.

The initiative is part of a worldwide campaign to end the trafficking of humans, particularly the slave trade of young people who are sold to cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire, Africa.

Cocoa, which comes from the cocoa bean, is one of the main ingredients used to make chocolate and about 40 percent of the world's chocolate is made from cocoa grown in West Africa. Tens of thousands of children are forced to work on these plantations as slaves and many are trafficked from nearby poor countries.

'We hope that more and more people will use their money to buy Fairtrade chocolate at Easter, and support those chocolate manufacturers who have gone Fairtrade. Supporting Fairtrade ensures cocoa farmers get two things - a fair price for their crop, and a premium for their community to spend on a community project' said Roberto Morales from Good Shepherd Mission & Justice.

This campaign will also send a message to chocolate producers who do not use Fairtrade chocolate.

Late last year Cadbury, the subject of an international campaign, announced that its Dairy Milk blocks in Australia would be fair trade in 2010 whilst in response to a similar Christmas campaign by Stop the Traffik Nestle announced that its 4 finger Kit Kat bars in the UK would be fair trade from Jan 2010.


Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

Population growth, migration to urban areas, conflicting needs for existing land, and insufficient financial and natural resources have resulted in widespread homelessness and habitation in inadequate housing.

In every country children, men and women sleep on sidewalks, under bridges, in cars, subway stations, and public parks, live in ghettos and slums, or "squat" in buildings other people have abandoned. The United Nations estimates that there are over 100 million homeless people and over 1 billion people worldwide inadequately housed.

These statistics are evidence for the difficulty governments have in guaranteeing access to housing for their citizens, but they also raise complicated questions about the extent of the obligations of governments to do so.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to adequate Housing Ms Raquel Rolnik, recently presented her annual report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in which she focused on the negative effect on the right to housing of mega-events such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup and offered reflections on her recent visit to the Maldives and the US where she expressed serious concern about the ‘new face of homelessness’ in which working poor, including many families, find themselves living on the street and in transitional housing.

Further information about the interactive dialogue involving the special rapporteur can be found at the websites of the International Service for Human Rights and of the Human Rights Council

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