YUVA at African Leadership University NGO Fair 2018

YUVA attracted a lot of students at the African Leadership University (ALU) NGO Fair to work, intern and partner with us.

As part of its social impact lab, the African Leadership University (ALU) invited a select number of NGOs in Mauritius to its NGO-fair to come to meet and chat with its students about their work in Mauritius. Continue reading “YUVA at African Leadership University NGO Fair 2018”

YUVA lobbies to change appellation of ‘NGO’ to ‘CSO’

YUVA believes that the appellation of NGOs should change from “Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)” to “Civil Society Organisation (CSO)”.

In the past decade, there has been a radical, worldwide change in the way Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) present themselves in the civil society, before the funding agencies and in various nationals and international fora. One significant change is that NGOs now call themselves CSOs, that is Civil Society Organisations. This change is replete with meaning, connotations and implications. And all these meanings and implications have proved crucial for the way CSOs have evolved over the past decade or so. (Mohanty, ‎2002) Continue reading “YUVA lobbies to change appellation of ‘NGO’ to ‘CSO’”

International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of Holocaust

The theme for the Holocaust remembrance and education activities in 2016, including the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony, is “The Holocaust and Human Dignity”. 

The theme links Holocaust remembrance with the founding principles of the United Nations and reaffirms faith in the dignity and worth of every person that is highlighted in the United Nations Charter, as well as the right to live free from discrimination and with equal protection under the law that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Holocaust, which resulted in the destruction of nearly two thirds of European Jewry, remains one of the most painful reminders of the international community’s failure to protect them.

The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme seeks to remind the world of the lessons to be learnt from the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.

The Outreach Programme was created at the request of the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 60/7, adopted on 1 November 2005. The United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) has taken the lead in creating a broad initiative, designed to encourage the development by United Nations Member States of educational curricula on the subject of the Holocaust, and to mobilize civil society for education and awareness.

The “Holocaust Remembrance” resolution also designates 27 January as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust – observed with ceremonies and activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and at UN offices around the world. The 2006 ceremony in the General Assembly Hall drew over 2200 people, and was viewed by countless others globally via webcast and live television broadcast.

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations General Assembly reaffirms that ‘the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one-third of the Jewish people along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice”.

In addition, resolution 60/7 rejects any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event, either in full or in part, and commends those states which have actively engaged in the preservation of sites which served as Nazi death camps, concentration camps, forced labour camps and prisons during the Holocaust.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/255 adopted on 26 January 2007 also condemns any denial of the Holocaust and urges all Member States unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust.

UNDPI has embarked on a number of activities, including special events, film screenings, discussion papers from leading academics, information materials, partnerships with intergovernmental organisations and other initiatives, to encourage awareness and remind the world of the threat posed to us all when genocide and crimes against humanity are allowed to occur.

About UNESCO and Holocaust Remembrance

At its 34th session of the General Conference in Paris in 2007, UNESCO adopted by consensus 34c/61 resolution on Holocaust Remembrance. The resolution requests the Director General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General on the programme of outreach on the subject of “the Holocaust and the United Nations”, with a view to exploring what role UNESCO could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial. It also requests the Director-General to report the results of these consultations and his recommendations to the Executive Board at its 180th session.

The two programmes complement each other: while the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme aims to mobilize civil society for Holocaust and education in order to prevent future acts of genocide, UNESCO seeks to promote Holocaust remembrance through education.

6 November: International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

On 5th November 2001 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring the from that year onward 6thNovember would be designated as The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

Traditionally in times of warfare and conflict, success had been gauged by the number of dead and injured, together with the level of destruction to cities and livelihoods. The UN felt that the time had come to consider environmental issues that had previously gone unpublicised, but were still significant victims of war.

These include water supplies that had been polluted, crops that had been burnt or otherwise destroyed, forests that had been cut down, soils poisoned and animals killed, all in the name of gaining military advantage.

A significant fact that was discovered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was that since the end of World War II, 40% of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources. These range from high value resources such as timber, gold, diamonds and oil, to scarce resources such as fertile land and water.

Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to recur in the future.

This is of particular concern to the UN and great importance is attached to ensuring that action on the environment is an important part of conflict prevention, and building strategies to ensure an enduring peace. There is little hope of any durable peace in a region if there has been destruction of the natural resources that sustain its ecosystems and the livelihoods of its people.

Politicians will usually be very quick to justify going to war, but the fact remains that whatever its justification, war will always result in untold misery and unspeakable horror for combatants and civilians alike. War can destroy in minutes what has often taken generations to achieve and beyond the human suffering war can also be devastating to the environment.

A classic example was the Vietnam War. The Vietcong soldiers were skilled at moving around undetected by using paths in the dense jungle. As a result they were able to conduct a guerrilla war against the US forces and remain totally undetected.

The US military forces countered this by using a mixture of two herbicides known as Agent Orange, which was sprayed on the forest from a height of 150 feet above the treetops. This had the effect of killing all the vegetation that had provided cover for the enemy, as well as all their food crops. It was also highly dangerous to anyone who came in contact with it and in 1971 its use was stopped, but by then it had been in use for ten years and irreparable damage had been done.

It is estimated that the Vietnam War was eventually responsible for the destruction of 4.9 million hectares of forest, or about 19,000 square miles, an area nearly two-thirds the size of Scotland.

It has also been estimated that during the 19 years and 5 months of the war around 16 million tons of munitions were used, creating more than 30 million craters. These craters blew away the topsoil and disturbed the drainage patterns as they filled with water. This water became stagnant and full of disease-bearing organisms.

Irreparable damage was done to wildlife, not only by destruction of habitat but also as a result of weaponry. Weapons aimed at the enemy not only killed people, but large numbers of animals also.

Putting aside humanitarian considerations, the war was an ecological disaster for the entire region. Many species of animals and vegetation have been greatly reduced and in some cases have become extinct.

Following the ending of the war the Vietnamese government has been making enormous efforts to replace the lost forest and to restore the shattered country. These efforts have met with great success, but what a tragedy that they have been necessary in the first place.

The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict was established to highlight the environmental consequences of war and to stress the importance of neither exploiting nor heedlessly damaging ecosystems, simply in the name of pursuing military objectives.

The environment has been described the “silent casualty” of warfare.

Since time began, men have been developing evermore sophisticated and efficient ways of killing each other. Although international treaties have banned some of the more dreadful methods, never has much consideration been given to maltreatment of the environment during wartime, or to the consequences of its systematic extermination.

Today’s generation have responsibility for this safeguarding; if this is neglected, the next generation may find that much of the environment as we now know it will have gone for ever.

Key facts:

  • The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40% of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water;
  • Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.
  • EU-UN Partnership on Land and Natural Resource Conflicts: Six United Nations agencies and departments (UNEP, UNDP, UNHABITAT, PBSO, DPA and DESA), coordinated by the UN Framework Team for Preventive Action, have partnered with the European Union (EU) to help countries identify, prevent and transform tensions over natural resource as part of conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes;
  • Global Research Programme on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Natural Resources: The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Universities of Tokyo and McGill initiated a global research programme to collect lessons learned and good practices on managing natural resources during post-conflict peacebuilding. This four-year research project has yielded more than 150 peer-reviewed case studies by over 230 scholars, practitioners and decision-makers from 55 countries. This represents the most significant collection to date of experiences, analyses and lessons in managing natural resources to support post-conflict peacebuilding.
  • UN Partnership on Women and Natural Resources in Peacebuilding Settings: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) have established a partnership to collaborate on improving the understanding of the complex relationship between women and natural resources in conflict-affected settings, and make the case for pursuing gender equality, women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management together in support of peacebuilding. The first outcome of the collaboration is a joint policy report released on 6 November 2013.
                                                                                                                                                         
                             (Source: Earth Times)

1 October: International Day of Older Persons

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons.

This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing – which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing – and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.

In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The theme of the 2015 commemoration is “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment”.

Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of “Leaving No-One Behind” necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century. If our ambition is to “Build the Future We Want”, we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.

Background

The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010 life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years, and it is projected to increase to 81 by the end of the century. It should be noted that at present women outnumber men by an estimated 66 million among those aged 60 years or over. Among those aged 80 years or over, women are nearly twice as numerous as men, and among centenarians women are between four and five times as numerous as men. For the first time in human history, in 2050, there will be more persons over 60 than children in the world.

Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth. With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required. Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place. Human rights lie at the core of all efforts in this regard.

The introduction of new policies and programmes

During the last decade, population ageing has led to the introduction of new policies and programmes, in which the social sector has taken centre stage, as shown by the majority of contributions to the present report. Many Governments in developed and developing economies have designed or piloted innovative policies in the health, social security or welfare systems. In addition, several policy framework documents, including national plans of action on ageing have been enacted. Specific age-related legislative measures in areas as varied as building codes, licensing and monitoring of care centres and vocational training have also begun to emerge. All levels of government, from local to national, have taken a share in this responsibility, and have either created new institutions or renewed existing ones to seek ways of gradually responding to the challenges faced by older persons.

Understanding the roles of older persons in family and society

Government institutions have chosen diverse approaches in setting priorities. These choices highlight different perceptions of the role that older people play in the family and in society at large. In some cases, measures aim to capture the rapidly evolving dynamics of communities and societies, inviting a second look at current perceptions about older persons and work, elder-care mechanisms, intergenerational support systems and financial constraints. Some Governments have designed policies founded on the principle of active ageing and autonomy, aimed at facilitating the continuation of independent lives at home, with services and facilities that cater for various types of needs. Others emphasize family ties and support for the family unit as the primary source of care for older persons. In all cases, a network of private actors, including various volunteer organizations and community-based centres, are essential to the smooth functioning of the entire system.

Of special resonance is the situation of older women who face inequalities as a result of their gender-based roles in society. Gender relations structure the entire life cycle, influencing access to resources and opportunities, with an impact that is both ongoing and cumulative. The different circumstances that shape the lives of women and men in old age are the outcome of a lifetime of experience. Good health, economic security, adequate housing, an enabling environment, access to land or other productive resources, these are the fundamentals of ageing with dignity, yet achieving them depends on decisions and choices only partly determined by each individual. The impact of gender inequalities in education and employment becomes most pronounced in old age. As a result, older women are more likely than older men to be poor. Furthermore, older women often take on greater responsibilities for family care while managing inflexible working conditions, mandatory retirement ages and inadequate pensions and other social security benefits, which leave them, and those in their care, extremely vulnerable. Without doubt, ageing, its human rights challenges and its feminization constitute an unprecedented shift in the social fabric of all societies, with far-reaching consequences.

Addressing the situation

The international community started to highlight the situation of older persons in the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted at the World Assembly on Ageing in 1982. The 1991 United Nations Principles for Older Persons, the 1992 Global Targets on Ageing for the Year 2001 and the 1992 Proclamation on Ageing further advanced international understanding of essential requirements for the well-being of older persons.

The Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing, and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 57/167, reinvigorated the political consensus on an agenda on ageing, emphasizing development and international cooperation and assistance in this area. Since its adoption, the Madrid International Plan has guided the drafting of policies and programmes at the national level, inspired the development of national and regional plans and provided an international framework for dialogue.

The Madrid International Plan of Action

In the Political Declaration adopted in Madrid, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, and called for the elimination of age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence. More specifically, the Madrid International Plan contained guidance on the right to work, the right to health, participation and equality of opportunity throughout life, stressing the importance of the participation of older persons in decision-making processes at all levels.

The priorities set out in the Madrid International Plan of Action include a wide range of issues: equal employment opportunities for all older persons; programmes that enable all workers to acquire social protection and social security, including, where applicable, pensions, disability insurance and health benefits; and sufficient minimum income for all older persons, with particular attention to socially and economically disadvantaged groups. The importance of continuous education, vocational guidance and placement services are also stressed, including for the purpose of maintaining a maximum functional capacity and enhancing public recognition of the productivity and the contributions of older persons. Health is also a key feature of the Madrid Plan of Action. The provisions encompass notions of prevention, equal access to health care, active participation, the impact of HIV/AIDS in respect to older persons and the full functionality of supportive and care-giving environments.

Basic Human Rights

There are numerous obligations vis-à-vis older persons implicit in most core human rights treaties despite the lack of specific provisions focusing on them. Such instruments apply to older persons in the same way as to all other people, providing protection for essential human rights, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and equality before the law as well as for an adequate standard of living without discrimination on any grounds.

Article source: United Nations

15 September 2015: International Day of Democracy

Overview

Democracy is a universally recognized ideal and is one of the core values and principles of the United Nations.

Democracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies.

United Nations activities in support of democracy and governance are carried out through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), among others. Such activities are inseparable from the UN’s work in promoting human rights, development, and peace and security, and include:

  • assisting parliaments to enhance the checks and balances that allow democracy to thrive;
  • helping to strengthen the impartiality and effectiveness of national human rights institutions and justice and security systems;
  • helping to develop legislation and media capacities to ensure freedom of expression and access to information;
  • assisting to develop policies and legislation to guarantee the right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly;
  • providing electoral assistance and long-term support for electoral management bodies;
  • promoting women’s participation in political and public life.
Over the past 20 years the United Nations has provided various forms of electoral assistance to more than 100 countries — including advisory services, logistics, training, civic education, computer applications and short-term observation.

Democracy has emerged as a cross-cutting issue in the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits since the 1990s and in the internationally agreed development goals they produced. World leaders pledged in the Millennium Declaration to spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Outcome Document of the post-2015 negotiations, “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, to be adopted by Heads of State and Heads of Government on 25-27 September 2015, reaffirms this commitment to a world in which “democracy, good governance and the rule of law as well as an enabling environment at national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development”.

The UN General Assembly has reaffirmed that “democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives,” as previously stated in the outcome document of the World Summit in September 2005.  At that summit governments renewed their commitment to support democracy and welcomed the establishment of a Democracy Fund at the United Nations.  The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations for projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes.

The UN supports women’s political participation, including efforts to increase the share of women elected into office and to build women’s capacity as effective legislators once elected. In July 2010, as part of a resolution on system-wide reform, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, mandated to coordinate the gender mainstreaming work of the UN System . In doing so, UN Member States took an historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women.

2015 Theme: Space for Civil Society

On 8 November 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, inviting Member States, the United Nations system and other regional, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to commemorate the Day. The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.

Globally, the role of civil society has never been more important than this year, as the world prepares to implement a new development agenda, agreed to by all the world’s Governments. However, for civil society activists and organizations in a range of countries covering every continent, space is shrinking — or even closing — as some Governments have adopted restrictions that limit the ability of NGOs to work or to receive funding.

That is why the theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Space for Civil Society.” It is a reminder to Governments everywhere that the hallmark of successful and stable democracies is the presence of a strong and freely operating civil society — in which Government and civil society work together for common goals for a better future, and at the same time, civil society helps keep Government accountable.

“Civil society is the oxygen of democracy. Civil society acts as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth. It plays a critical role in keeping Government accountable, and helps represent the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

For more information, see Democracy and the United Nations.

(Source: United Nations, 2015)