Civil Society

Imprisoned Saudi Activist and Other Rights Defenders Seek Justice in 2021

Two events generated significant interest and global solidarity in the final days of December 2020. A court in Saudi Arabia handed down a five years and eight months sentence to activist Loujain Al-Hathloul for publicly supporting women’s right to drive. Nicholas Opiyo, Ugandan human rights lawyer and defender of persecuted members of the LGBTQI community and political opponents of the president was arbitrarily detained on trumped up charges of ‘money laundering.’ Nicholas Opiyo was granted bail on 30 December following an outpouring of global support for his activism for justice. In handing out the verdict to Loujain Al-Hathloul, the court partly suspended her sentence raising hope that she might be released from prison in a couple of months due to time already served.

Italy and the Dubious Honor of Chairing the G20

For 2021, Italy has been given chairmanship of the Group of 20, which brings together the world’s 20 most important countries. On paper, they represent 60% of the world’s population and 80% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the shaky Italian government will somehow perform this task (in the general indifference of the political system), the fact remains that this apparently prestigious position is in fact very deceiving: the G20 is now a very weak institution that brings no kudos to the rotating chairman. Besides, it is actually the institution which bears the greatest part of responsibility for the decline of the UN as the body responsible for global governance, a task that the G20 has very seldom been able to face up to.

Mining giant Rio Tinto Face Environmental, Human Rights Complaint in Papua New Guinea

Local communities in the vicinity of the abandoned Panguna copper mine, have taken decisive action to hold the global mining multinational, Rio Tinto, accountable for alleged environmental and human rights violations during the mine’s operations between 1972 and 1989.

Empowering Women through Wisdom

During the COVID 19 lockdown in Sri Lanka, seven women from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds came together to deliver Wisdom and their message that women must be empowered and their voices for national unity must be heard through this movement.

USA Downgraded as Civil Liberties Deteriorate Across the Americas

Few images better illustrate the recent decline in civil liberties in the United States than that of peaceful protesters near the White House being violently dispersed so Donald Trump could stage a photo-op.

Intellectual Property Monopolies Block Vaccine Access

Just before the World Health Assembly (WHA), an 18 May open letter by world leaders and experts urged governments to ensure that all COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are patent-free, fairly distributed and available to all, free of charge.

If Your Civic Space is Closed, your Human Rights Dissolve

On Human Rights Day, civil society calls for the protection of civic space as a fundamental freedom, as more than 80% of the world’s population live in countries where civic space is closed, repressed or obstructed.

Reduce Military Spending – the Much-Needed Response to Violence Against Women

The COVID-19 pandemic is NOT the biggest pandemic the world confronts at the moment, despite over 69 million cases and 1.5 million deaths worldwide.1 If it’s not COVID, what is it then? It is violence against women!

Escazú: Historic Step Towards Protecting Human Rights Defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean

The global health crisis that has marked 2020 did not put an end to another pandemic that has been plaguing Latin America and the Caribbean: murders and attacks against environmental defenders.

Biden’s Opportunity To End Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Recently I had an opportunity to brief a group of European diplomats and journalists on a variety of conflicts, with a focus on the Middle East. During the Q&A I was asked which of the region’s conflicts Biden should tackle first.

Lost in Translation? Understanding Relevance of Women, Peace & Security in Arms Control & Disarmament

“What does the Women, Peace and Security Agenda have to do with arms control and disarmament?”. Under varying formulations, this question keeps coming up whenever someone refers to the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda as a basis for ensuring that women’s voices and their specific security needs were taken into account in multilateral arms control discussions.

Millions of New Poor Are on the Way – Who Cares?

The recent meeting of the G20 – scheduled to take place in Riyadh but held virtually due to the Coronavirus pandemic – has been an eloquent example of how the world is drifting, in a crisis of leadership.

Could the Finance Sector Hold the Key to Ending Deforestation?

At the beginning of 2020, there were hopes that this would be a ’super year for nature’. It has not turned out that way. Tropical forests, so crucial for biodiversity, the climate and the indigenous communities who live in them, have continued to be destroyed at alarming rates. In fact, despite the shutdown of large parts of the global economy, rates of deforestation globally have increased since last year.

The Importance of Investing in Volunteerism

The International Volunteer Day will approach soon and the 5th of December will become a day to celebrate the actions of millions of volunteers from all over the world, in the south as well in the north of the world.

India: How Did Young People Access Care During the Lockdown?

COVID-19 has developed into an unprecedented public health crisis, the impact of which has been seen across global health systems and services. As the crisis continues to evolve in India, there is a need to examine the impact of the pandemic and ensuing nation-wide shutdown on young people’s lives, particularly, their experience of mental ill health.

20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325: Much Remains to Be Done

In 2010, at the opening session of the civil society forum observing the tenth anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women and Peace and Security”, I had the honor to declare 1325 as “the common heritage of humanity” indicating the wide-ranging nature of the potential benefits which will flow from the landmark resolution’s full and effective implementation by all at all levels.

Global Data Community’s Response to COVID-19

The world is currently counting more than 42 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 and over 1 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.1

Not in Our Name, Never in Our Name: A Conversation with Muslim Faith Leaders Echoing the Wisdom of a Pontiff

As the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb said on October 20: “As a Muslim and being the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, I declare before Almighty God that I disassociate myself, the rulings of the religion of Islam, and the teachings of the Prophet of Mercy, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), from such heinous terrorist act and from whoever would embrace such deviant, false thought.

Mahatma’s Non-Violence: Essence of Culture of Peace for New Humanity

I will begin by presenting to you excerpts from the message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the International Day of Non-Violence.

The Plight of Domestic Workers in Brazil

The inclusivity of Brazilian society is put to the test as the coronavirus pandemic highlights a labour sector ripe with historical and structural inequality: domestic work.

Amid COVID-19, What is the Health of Civic Freedoms?

More than half a year after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, governments are continuing to waste precious time and energy restricting human rights rather than focusing on fighting the virus.

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