9 August 2013


UN Photo/ Paulo Filgueiras

In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly declared 12 August as  International Youth Day. The theme of International Youth Day 2013 is "Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward "

Young people make up a significant share of the global number of international migrants. In 2010, there were an estimated 27 million international young migrants. While migration can often offer valuable opportunities and contribute to the development of communities and society at large, it can also pose risks and lead to unacceptable situations, including discrimination and exploitation.

The 2013 observance of International Youth Day is intended to raise awareness of the opportunities and risks associated with youth migration, share knowledge and information stemming from recent research and analysis on this topic, and engage young people in discussions on their migration experiences.

The 2013 World Youth Report (WYR) on Youth Migration and Development is due to be launched on 12 August. The Report will offer a multidimensional perspective of the life experiences of youth migrants, as well as some insights on the role of youth participation in migration-development policymaking and practice.

The ILO "Global Trends in Youth Labour Migration" report, which presents findings from research conducted in nine different countries and at the level of two regions on the motivations and experiences of young people who leave their home countries in search of employment and the policy implications from these trends, will also be launched on this day.


UN Photo J Isaac

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, urged Governments worldwide to respect all agreements -new and old- with indigenous peoples, estimated to number 370 million worldwide, to provide a basis for much needed reconciliation and overcome all obstacles to the full realisation of indigenous peoples’ rights.

“Indigenous peoples around the world face significant challenges that are related to widespread historical wrongs, including broken treaties and acts of oppression and misguided government policies, that today manifest themselves in disadvantages and impediments to the exercise of their individual and collective rights,” the expert said on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (Aug 9th).

“Full respect for treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements is a crucial element in advancing toward reconciliation with indigenous peoples,” he underscored, “and in addressing persistent deep-rooted problems related to historical wrongs, failed policies of the past, and continuing barriers to the full realisation of indigenous peoples’ rights”.

The right of indigenous peoples to recognition and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constrictive arrangements is a key right recognised in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration preamble further recognises that these rights are ‘the basis for a strengthened partnership between indigenous peoples and States.’

“Honouring treaties and other long-standing agreements can go far in helping to build trust among indigenous peoples and to rebuild relationships between States and indigenous peoples in a true spirit of good faith, partnership, and mutual respect,” he noted.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that this should be part of a broader dialogue, both at the international and national levels, “to help build understanding between indigenous peoples and others, and to help shift any persistent negative attitudes or misunderstandings about indigenous peoples and their rights.”

With respect to new treaties and agreements being developed, including in relation to extractive industries operating in or near indigenous lands, the UN expert underscored that these should be consistent with international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples, both in relation to indigenous participation in these processes as well as in terms of substantive outcomes.

“In no instance should new treaties or agreements fall below or undermine the standards set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples or established in other international sources,” he said.

“Broken treaties must become a thing of the past,” he stressed.


UN Photo/J Isaac

Children with disabilities are some of the most invisible and marginalised people in the world. All children have the same rights, but those with disabilities often suffer discrimination, abandonment and neglect, according to UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2013 report. The message of the article is clear: girls and boys with disabilities are not "problems” but sisters, brothers, daughters, sons and friends with dreams and rights. To promote full equality and participation of all people in society, the report calls on countries that have not yet done so, to ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Papua New Guinea has signed both the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Jun 2011) and the Convention on the rights of the Child (signed Sep 1990, ratified Mar 1993). The Callan Services for people with disabilities was established by the Christian Brothers in Papua New Guinea in 1991.

Callan Services works with children and adults who suffer from sight or hearing impairments. It works with the local community not only to assist those with disability but also to help train people to gain the skills to assist as well. It has done a great deal to improve the rights and recognition of those with a disability in the country, especially at a political level. As a result, Callan Services is the main Province activity in Papua New Guinea and has become one of the major health service facilities in the country.

The example of the Callan Services reflects efforts being made at a grassroots level to promote and protect the rights of children with disabilities.

- thanks to Ashley Scully for the research on this article


The Rio summits of 1992 and 2012 have raised global consciousness about our predicament. The human-earth relationship must change if succeeding generations are to enjoy a just and safe existence. We have a clear path of moral responsibility towards our fellow creatures and those that will follow us as stewards of the planet.
For those in the Edmund Rice Network the Catholic social justice tradition rings clear in this area.  Solidarity, common good, and participation have been touchstones for measuring good outcomes.  Solidarity rejects rampant individualism. Solidarity means we are dependent upon each other; we must be committed to the well-being of others. We know that the common good, which seeks the benefit of all, and participation, meaning both the right and obligation, are part of our social life. Catholic social teaching says government is the privileged agent of the common good.

Disturbing inequities between rich and poor in the world prompt the church to offer two important teachings.  First, the church says we have a moral obligation to care deeply about world poverty and then to act to address this issue.

The scale of the global sustainable development challenge is unprecedented. The fight against extreme poverty has made great progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but more than 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. Inequality and social exclusion are widening within most countries.

Humanity must now follow up the successes of the MDGs (2000-2015)  with a comprehensive plan for development beyond 2015. The challenge now is to formulate Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era. While the MDGs were aimed primarily at the developing countries in order to lift more people out of abject poverty, the SDGs must necessarily include all member states, those with strong economies as well as those made poor by the imbalances in world economic arrangements.

The process of arriving at this new framework is Member State-led with broad participation from external stakeholders such as civil society organisations, the private sector and businesses, academia and scientists. The United Nations has played a facilitating role in this global conversation.

Four post-2015 reports have recently been submitted to the UN Secretary General.
1) High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (Post-2015 HLP)
2) UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
3) UN Global Compact (UNGC)
4) UN Development Group (UNDG): The Global Conversation Begins

Meanwhile the New York based  NGO Committee for Sustainable Development and other civil society actors continue to press for more direct participation by those made poor. Concern is growing that corporate and business interests may garner significant control of the deliberations if civil society does not remain active, diligent and vigilant. The priorities of developing states and those states with full and thriving economies show sharp differences in the level of concern for eradicating poverty.

In the meantime there is still an opportunity for our voices, priorities and views to be heard by global leaders as they begin the process of defining the new development agenda for the world through the UN ‘my world’ global survey for a better world.

-article adapted from that appearing in the newsletter of Edmund Rice International contributed by Kevin Cawley cfc

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