21 November 2015
There is widespread recognition that we are approaching a critical moment in the history of our planet. Without a binding global agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions the world as we know it faces irreversible climate change with far reaching consequences for all life forms (including human life).
Already extreme weather events, disruption to food supplies and rising sea levels are impacting on populations around the world. As those impacts increase more people will be added to the 60 million refugees and competition for dwindling resources are likely to fuel more conflicts.
There are some encouraging signs that world leaders are coming to a realisation about the need for action, with many countries committing to significantly reduce their level of CO2 emissions. However there are also worrying signs that some governments continue to prioritise their own selfish economic interests, and attempt to minimise, or even deny, what is happening (particular concerns have been expressed at the lack of commitment of Australia, India and Japan to address the issue). Overall there remains a concern that the emission targets that have been set are too low (even if they are met) and will fail to limit the global temperature rise to a manageable level.
The upcoming COP21 meeting of World Leaders in Paris is therefore crucial. Millions of people around the world will join marches on the weekend of Nov 28-29 ahead of the COP21 gathering. A large turn-out will send an important message to leaders. Will you march to help save our planet?
- article reproduced from November ERI Newsletter
International terrorism continues to be a significant threat to people everywhere as demonstrated by recent events in Paris, the downing of a Russian airliner and the mass killings of innocent civilians in Beirut (Lebanon), Bagdhad (Iraq) and Yola (Nigeria) in the past week.
Obviously security measures have a role to play in ensuring the safety of populations, often at the expense of curtailing of some human rights (hopefully as a temporary measure) and regrettably the use of military force may be necessary to disarm ‘an unjust aggressor.
However it is important that the underlying causes of terrorism be addressed. Unfortunately that is not a simple task as terrorism is a result of a complex mix of a variety of social, cultural, economic, political and psychological factors.
Whilst there is no single, simple solution to the problem, some strategies can be suggested. We can encourage our government to :-
- support efforts to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged populations around the world
- withdraw support from regimes that do not support human rights and democratic principles
- reaffirm commitments to work collaboratively at the international level through the UN.
- redouble efforts to work for just resolutions to long-term political conflicts such as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which underpins much resentment towards the West.
at personal level we can also :-
- resist attempts to label and marginalise minority groups e.g. muslims, refugees
- reach out and make personal contact with those who may feel alienated and marginalised in our society.
Not a single skeleton was left in the closest when it came to Australia’s second review at the 23rd session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the 9th November.
Due to the large number of states wishing to speak (more than half of the UN member states), each country's delegate was only given a 65 second opportunity to address Australia’s human rights regime and put forward their recommendations.
Whilst several human rights issues were brought up during the review, unsurprisingly, an overwhelmingly large proportion of those recommendations related to asylum seekers. In fact, almost half of the recommendations made to Australia made reference to its asylum seeker policies and offshore detention. These included calls either to immediately close offshore detention centres, to remove children from detention, to stop boat turn-backs, and to address issues of refoulement (the return of those who have the right to be recognised as refugees to situations where their life or freedom would be threatened)
While Australia’s delegation attempted to justify its government's policy, Edmund Rice International and partners saw these recommendations as a successful outcome of its lobbying efforts. Not only did more than half of the member states speak to issues outlined in our joint submission, but ten out of the twelve countries our NGO coalition lobbied directly put forward recommendations paralleling our concerns - an 83% success rate. We were particularly pleased that the United States made reference to the closure of Indigenous rural communities in Western Australia, an issue specific to our report and lobbying efforts.
- article reproduced from ERI November Newsletter written by Zoya Yukhnevich, ERI intern
‘A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act”.’ so says Pope Francis in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ §206
Shopping ethically is a practical means of putting this vision into practice. Visit the
Shop ethical website for a comprehensive guide to a wide range of consumer products and the environmental and social record of companies behind common brand names
The most recent addition to the website, the Green Electricity Guide provides an independent, unbiased ranking of the environmental performance of all retailers selling electricity to Australian households.