Tag Archives: Ban Ki-moon

[In the news] Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief -InterAksyon.com

Don’t let Philippines become a ‘forgotten crisis’ – UN chief
By Agence France-Presse
December 22, 2013

MANILA – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on donor nations Sunday to ramp up aid to typhoon-battered Philippines as it grapples with a funding shortfall on the long road to recovery.

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“We must not allow this to be another forgotten crisis,” Ban told reporters a day after touring the storm-ravaged city of Tacloban.

He said the UN had only achieved 30 percent of the $791 million in aid it had appealed for to boost relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last month.

Read full article @interaksyon.com

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[Statement] Statesmanship for Sabah: A time to Step In, A Time to Step Up -IID

Statesmanship for Sabah: A time to Step In, A Time to Step Up

IIDIn the short month’s time since the unfolding crisis of Sabah gained attention across many borders, the Secretary General of the United Nations himself, Ban Ki-moon has added his voice and concern on the issue, calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities, the grant of access to humanitarian aid, the observance of human rights and the penultimate call for dialogue to resolve the ongoing conflict. The Secretary General knows full well that while the strength of state forces being brought to bear on the dissidents may quell the armed uprising, he and the UN are well aware that it is ultimately with dialogue, discussions and negotiation that lasting peace is truly crafted.

Underscored by this example of global statesmanship, we fellow neighbors of Sabah are again reminded of our own need for such paramount and effective mechanisms in our region, a capacity to guarantee the primacy for human rights, the value of a resident echelon of statesmen, negotiators and peacemakers, a shared consciousness keenly mindful of a regional rather than parochial perspective, and a common bias for resolution rather than accommodation. For much of these in this challenging situation, we now hopefully turn our eyes on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

For over forty years and 21 summits, the ASEAN “Community” has worked on strengthening its three (3) common pillars of security, economic and socio-cultural cohesion and unity. For over forty years the ASEAN “Way” has pursued a respectful, non-interfering and non-confrontational policy in addressing intra-state and cross-border disputes and conflicts among its members.

It has also been fifty years since the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia penned the “Manila Accord”, much of which called for a peaceful resolution to the issue of Sabah, and a precursor to the formation of the ASEAN itself. And ironically, it has been less than six months since all three principals now embroiled in Sabah, were all present in the Philippines’ Malacanang Palace for the historic signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).

Yet in this time of need for resolute leadership in our region, we today still find ASEAN’s voice markedly silent on Sabah. Technically, there is no mandate for the ASEAN to intervene, as Sabah is not born of a conflict between member states, but rather a conflict between a member state and a people from a fellow-member state. But this is exactly the emerging challenge for ASEAN, to recognize a higher calling beyond maintaining the status quo when humanitarian issues are at the fore, or when the marginalized plaints of the few come in conflict with the many, when maximum force takes over for maximum tolerance. This we feel is unacceptable.

Granted the maturation process the ASEAN has had since inception, we feel that it is time for the ASEAN to step up and lead in this time of crisis. We now therefore urgently call on the ASEAN to:

First, call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and guarantee the grant of humanitarian aid to all those affected and displaced by the conflict;

Second, to emplace the mechanisms and modalities to bring the parties concerned to the negotiating table for a just and lasting resolution of the issues at hand;

Third, to utilize the “Troika” and the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) allowed for by the ASEAN Charter to identify acceptable and capable mediators to guide the process to its conclusion;

Fourth, to harness the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AIHCR) as one of the essential mechanisms ensuring human rights have been observed and honored during the Sabah conflict;

Fifth, to activate the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) to generate the necessary information on the roots of this conflict and potential options for resolution;

Sixth, to expand the existing dispute settlement mechanisms within the ASEAN to also include the aspect of prevention to preclude existing and future disputes maturing into armed conflict;

Lastly, for the ASEAN to actively pursue a more decisive leadership role in addressing humanitarian issues as well as potential and existing conflicts wherever and whenever these occur among its member-states;

Guided by the Almighty, motivated by peace, and fueled by the humanity we all share, we submit these calls to the ASEAN and its leadership and all its member states, praying that by the acts we lead in and resolutely undertake now, the future finds us living in true expression of an ASEAN community.

Contacts:
Gus Miclat, Executive Director
IID Main Office (Davao City)
Phone: (+6382) 2992574 & 75
Mobile: (+63)9177013099

Richel de los Santos
IID-Manila Liaison Office
Phone: (+632) 9110205; (+632)4352900
Mobile Ph: (+63)927.644.6524
Email: iid.manila@gmail.com

 

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Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] UN’s Ban meets Malaysian envoy on Sabah; HRW urges acccess to humanitarian aid, respect for rights -InterAksyon.com

UN’s Ban meets Malaysian envoy on Sabah; HRW urges acccess to humanitarian aid, respect for rights
By Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com
March 9, 2013

InterAksyon logo2MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 10:41 a.m.) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Malaysia’s representative to the world body as he continued his bid to resolve the ongoing crisis in Sabah.

This developed as Human Rights Watch urged Malaysia to “provide clear and accurate information” on the situation in Sabah and to “ensure the protection of all civilians in the area and allow humanitarian access for the provision of emergency assistance to those affected by the violence.”

A statement on Ban’s UN page said he told Hussein Haniff, Malaysia’s permanent representative, that “efforts should be made to ensure that human rights will be respected and loss of life will be prevented” as Malaysian forces continue operations to flush out followers of the sultanate of Sulu who landed in Sabah early last month to press their claim to the territory.

Read full article @www.interaksyon.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Empowering rural women -PhilStar.com

EDITORIAL – Empowering rural women
The Philippine Star
March 8, 2012

International Women’s Day is marked today with the theme of empowering rural women as a means to end hunger and poverty. The theme for 2012 resonates even in a country that has had two women presidents and where there are tough laws promoting gender equality. As important as the theme, particularly in this country where there are strong laws but weak enforcement, is the Women’s Day message of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Invest in rural women. Eliminate discrimination against them in law and in practice.”

The message is relevant in the Philippines, where millions of impoverished women are unaware of the tough laws that have been passed to protect them from various forms of abuse and discrimination. Women and their children continue to suffer from domestic violence despite the enactment of a law specifically targeting the crime. Women and young girls continue to be trafficked for sex and illegal forms of labor. Male lawmakers and the male-controlled Catholic Church have long stood in the way of legislation to give all Filipino women, including the poor and less educated, access to reproductive health care, despite the country’s commitment to achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. UN studies also show that only a third of rural women in developing countries receive prenatal care compared to 50 percent in developed regions.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[From the web] Empower Rural Women –End hunger and Poverty -UN

Empower Rural Women –End hunger and Poverty

Invest in rural women. Eliminate discrimination against them in law and in practice. Ensure that policies respond to their needs. Give them equal access to resources. Provide rural women with a role in decision-making.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Recognizing the critical role and contribution of rural women, the theme of International Women’s Day 2012 is Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.

Key contributors to global economies, rural women play a critical role in both developed and developing nations — they enhance agricultural and rural development, improve food security and can help reduce poverty levels in their communities. In some parts of the world, women represent 70 percent of the agricultural workforce, comprising 43 percent of agricultural workers worldwide.

Estimates reveal that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30 percent, lifting 100-150 million out of hunger.

Healthcare, education, gender inequality and limited access to credit, however, have posed a number of challenges for rural women. Further, the global food and economic crisis and climate change have aggravated the situation. It is estimated that 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women and girls. Yet, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates reveal that productivity gains from ensuring equal access to fertilizers, seeds and tools for women could reduce the number of hungry people by between 100 million and 150 million.

Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/

[From the web] World Day of Social Justice -UN

World Day of Social Justice
20 February

Let us work together to balance the global economy and build a new social contract for the 21st century. Let us chart a development path that leads to greater social justice and the future we want.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the 2012 World Day of Social Justice

 

An overcrowded slum area has sprung up within view of the city’s gleaming high-rises.

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.

The General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.

As we look to the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, we have a chance to rethink development strategies and business practices so that they point us toward a more sustainable and equitable future. Sustainability depends on building markets that do a better job of spreading the benefits of development. It means meeting growing consumer demand for greener products and services. And it means laying the foundations for dignity, stability and opportunity for all. As we strive to make this transformation, we must integrate social inclusion into our policies and other efforts.

Visit www.un.org

[People] Engaging governments through the UPR process by Dr. Boyet Mabunga

by Dr. Boyet Mabunga
FREE ZONE

(Note:  This article was first published in HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM, Volume 5, Number 1issue.  Updated and modified to incorporate latest developments and preparation on the Philippine 2nd Cycle Universal Periodic Review slated on the 13th HRC/UPR Working Group session in May to June 2012.)

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“Every day we are reminded of the need for a strengthened United Nations, as we face a growing array of new challenges, including humanitarian crises, human rights violations, armed conflicts and important health and environmental concerns. Seldom has the United Nations been called upon to do so much for so many. I am determined to breathe new life and inject renewed confidence in a strengthened United Nations firmly anchored in the twenty-first century, and which is effective, efficient, coherent and accountable.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

IN 1997, and again in 2002, reforms in the United Nations gained ground in Geneva and New York, respectively. These reforms came in the heels of then-Secretary General Kofi Annan’s challenge to the UN’s “continued significance” in the face of 21st century realities. He called for improvements in how the UN conducts its work, implements its mandate and manages the funds entrusted to it by its Member States in order to bring human rights to all peoples of the world.

These reforms took a significant turn during the General Assembly’s 60th session. The world’s leaders adopted UNGA Resolution 60/251 on the 15th of March 2006, which created the Human Rights Council (HRC). The HR Council is now a subsidiary organ of the General Assembly, taking over the role of the Commission on Human Rights, which was created under article 68 of the UN Charter on Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HRC was mandated to conduct a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism to evaluate each member state’s human rights commitments. The said review shall be a cooperative mechanism, based on an interactive dialog, with the full involvement of the country concerned and with consideration given to its capacity-building needs. The UPR is intended to complement and not duplicate the work of treaty bodies.

At its fifth session on June 18, 2007, the Council responded to this request and adopted, through resolution 5/1, detailed modalities regarding the UPR. Threshed out in particular were the basis of the review, principles and objectives to be followed, the periodicity and order of review of countries, process and modalities, as well as the outcome and the follow-up to the review. The HRC also decided that the review would be conducted in a working group composed of the 47 member States of the Council.

At its sixth session on September 21, 2007, the HRC adopted a calendar in relation to the consideration of 192 Member States of the United Nations for the first four-year cycle of the UPR mechanism. The Philippines was selected among the 16 countries to be reviewed in the 1st UPR session on April 7–18, 2008.

The 1st cycle of the UPR process ended last October 2011 at the 12th session of the Human Rights Council.  The whole process was considered a “historic review of the human rights situation of the 192 United Nations member States”.  Immediately thereafter, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released an updated “Universal Periodic Review: information and guidelines for relevant stakeholders’ written submissions” for the 2nd Cycle’s submission of report and onwards.  It underscores two main changes on the technical guidelines:

The scope of submission to the 2nd cycle must include information on the follow-up and developments to the recommendations for the State-under-review (SUR).

The length of submission is fixed not to extend 2815 words for individual submissions and 5630 words for joint submissions.

As preparation for review, HRC required the concerned governments and other stakeholders to submit human rights reports, which should follow the following guidelines:

Description of the methodology and the broad consultation process followed for the preparation of information;

Developments since the previous review in background of the State under review and framework, particularly normative and institutional framework, for the promotion and protection of human rights: Constitution, legislation, policy measures, national jurisprudence, human rights infrastructure including national human rights institutions and scope of international obligations.

Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground: implementation of international human rights obligations identified in the “basis of review”, national legislation and voluntary commitments, national human rights institutions’ activities, public awareness of human rights, cooperation with human rights mechanisms;

Presentation by the State concerned of the follow-up to the previous review;

Achievements, best practices, challenges and constraints; in relation to the implementation of accepted recommendations and the development of human rights situations in the State;

Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments that the State intends to undertake to overcome challenges and constraints and improve human rights situations on the ground;

Expectations in terms of capacity-building and requests, if any, for technical assistance;

Read full article @ renatomabunga.wordpress.com

[From the web] Top UN officials highlight youth leadership in ending violence against women- www.un.org

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at event to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40494&Cr=violence+against+women&Cr1=

23 November 2011 –
Top United Nations officials today called for engaging all of society, and especially young people, to end violence against women, a scourge that spans the globe and takes many forms, including rape, domestic violence and harassment at work.

“Whether in developing or developed countries, the pervasiveness of this unacceptable violence should shock us all,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at an event in New York to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“Violence – and in many cases the mere threat of it – is one of the most significant barriers to women’s full equality,” he added.

This year’s Day, observed annually on 25 November, focuses on youth leadership in preventing and ending gender-based violence.

“Our challenge,” said Mr. Ban, “is to ensure that the message of ‘zero tolerance’ is heard far and wide. To do that, we must engage all of society – and especially young people – and in particular young men and boys.”

He highlighted the need to promote “healthy models of masculinity,” and in particular encourage young men and boys to become advocates for change.

“I urge governments and partners around the world to harness the energy, ideas and leadership of young people to help us to end this pandemic. Only then will we have a more just, peaceful and equitable world.”

In a separate message for the Day, Mr. Ban said the right of women and girls to live free of violence is “inalienable and fundamental” and enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law.

It also lies at the heart of the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign that the Secretary-General launched in 2008 that has galvanized governments, civil society, the corporate sector, athletes, artists, women, men and young people around the world to end the pandemic.

Mr. Ban also urged governments and the private sector to increase their support to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which is marking 15 years of giving grants to support innovative regional, local and national projects.

The fund has delivered grants worth $77 million to 339 initiatives in 126 countries and territories since it was established in 1997. However, demand for support continues to outstrip resources, the Secretary-General said, noting that this year alone, the fund has received more than 2,500 applications requesting nearly $1.2 billion. Mr. Ban said an additional $100 million in annual donations is needed.

The Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, for her part, called on world leaders to mobilize political will and investment to ensure that women can live a life without violence.

“Violence against women is not solely a women’s issue,” she stated in her message for the Day. “It diminishes each and every one of us. We need to come together to end it. By coming together, by standing up against violence against women, we will come closer to peace, justice and equality.”

According to UN Women, 125 countries have specific laws that penalize domestic violence, and equality between women and men is guaranteed in 139 countries and territories. But women continue to be subjected to violence, with estimates indicating that up to six in 10 women have suffered physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, a majority from their husbands or partners.

Ms. Bachelet outlined 16 concrete policy actions to end violence against women, including revising laws, providing universal access to emergency services for survivors, engaging men and boys, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

In a related development, the UN released a report today stating that Afghanistan has a long way to go before its women are fully protected from violence and their equality is properly upheld through the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law enacted two years ago.

The report, produced by the UN human rights office (OHCHR) and the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), makes 32 recommendations to the Government and its international partners to improve implementation of the law, including raising greater awareness of the law among Afghan women and men and within all levels of the Government.

[People] Human Rights Work and Human Rights Defenders: Asia and the Philippines by Boyet Mabunga

Human Rights Work and Human Rights Defenders: Asia and the Philippines.

by Boyet Mabunga
Free Zone

The Situation:

Human rights discourse is very vibrant worldwide, in Asia, and in the Philippines.  It is the central concern of the disadvantaged peoples together with the human rights workers, practitioners or human rights defenders (HRDs) of the world.  It is constantly challenged by many States and their apparatuses, corporations and groups whose intent veers away from aspirations of people they vow to serve.

Human rights are all about dignity.  They are that which make a person human being.  Rights are basic entitlements a person possesses to become truly human.  They are the minimum expression of human dignity.

Tracing back from the Western scholars, human rights concepts are said to have evolved from the notion of Natural Law.  That, the world is governed by an invisible order which has endowed every person the concept of a perfect justice discernable by human reason; making all human kind equal in rights and dignity.  The doctrine of natural law presupposes the existence of a natural moral code based upon the identification of certain fundamental and objectively verifiable human goods.  The enjoyment of these basic goods is to be secured by our possession of equally fundamental and objectively verifiable natural rights.  Thus, the foundation of human rights, to wit:

The recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (UDHR, 1948; ICCPR, 1966; ICESCR, 1966).

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood/sisterhood without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.  Furthermore, no distinction shall be made based on the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty (UDHR, 1948).

Today, human rights are continued to be asserted and yet continuously violated.  Even human rights defenders whose noble desire is to facilitate the birthing of a culture of peace and respect are not spared of threats and attacks.

Asian Reality:

At the 3rd Regional Forum of Human Rights Defenders in Bangkok 2009, participants to the gathering from all over Asia discussed and came up with four common trends, which speak of the human rights condition of Asia today and the strategies by which they used human rights principles and mechanisms to approach them.

1)    Policy enactments and legislations restrict the enjoyment of rights;
2)    Increasing restrictions to the right to expression and opinion;
3)    Human rights defenders particularly women human rights defenders are increasingly targeted for who they are and for their work;
4)    National human rights institutions are threatened of their independence and effectiveness (Gil & Germanos, 2009).

There is a noted trend around Asia on reviving old draconian regulations and/or legislating repressive laws directly curtailing expressions of rights.  In Malaysia, the Police Act of 1967 is operational, prohibiting peaceful assembly of more than three people without permit.  There are “internal security acts” in Malaysia and Singapore allowing, “arbitrary detention of individuals at will of the authorities, sometimes for prolonged periods, without trial or charges proffered against them” (Anthony, 2010).  South Korea has the “1962 Act on Assembly and Demonstrations” empowering authorities to disperse peaceful assemblies considered critical of the government.  Jordan has the “Press and Publication Law” that restricts freedom of the press.  Indonesia and Timor Leste have the “Criminal Defamation Law”.  India has the “Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Act 2008 and the National Investigating Agency Act”.  There is an archaic “Lèse Majesté” law in Thailand.  Moreover, there are “anti-terror laws” in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, to name a few.

Directly affected in the implementation of the above legislations and policies are the basic rights of peoples and as such the rights of HRDs to life, freedom of expression and opinion and security.  Most often than not, sources of these rights violations are relating to political, economic, social and cultural assertion of individual and collective rights, the right to peace and the right to development by virtue of the interdependency and inter-relatedness of rights.  A case in point is the phenomenon of extra-judicial execution of activists and journalists in the Philippines and in many countries.  They are “allegedly” instigating people to rebel against governments for exposing anomalies related to land, corruption, labor disputes, environment or government’s abuse of power particularly that of police and the military.  They become more appalling as they are committed with impunity that nurtures as culture of fear among peoples. It must be noted that the right to freedom of opinion and expression includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Ban Ki-moon, 2010).  This is never the case when vested interests are at stake.

Women are particularly vulnerable to attacks in Asia.  Aside from being part of social movements, their actions challenge existing religious and social norms on the role of women in current Asian societies.  In a survey conducted by the International Campaign on Women Human Rights Defenders, women are particularly vulnerable to discrimination.  It is the main obstacle in their continued engagement particularly those belonging to marginalized groups (Real, 2008).  Restrictive use of customary laws and religion has assigned women outside of decision-making processes; otherwise, they face intimidation from family members and defamation by the community and the State.

Some National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) which are government’s are also at risk in Asia.  While most of them serve at the pleasure of their governments, those that subscribe to the “Paris Principles” are facing threat of their independence from the very governments that create them.   This is so jeopardizing their effectiveness and independent role as vanguards in promoting and protecting human rights and as HRDs themselves.  A case in point is the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK), recognized for its independence and effectiveness among NHRIs in Asia and the world.  After the failed government’s attempt to place it under the direct supervision of the Office of the President in 2008, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS) has reduced the personnel and operations of the commission from 208 to 146 (Gil & Germanos, 2009).  Malaysia’s SUHAKAM is under the Prime Minister’s Office.  While many Asian countries are still adamant on establishing one and, those that have, are mostly devoid of transparent guidelines in the selection process of commissioners.

Philippine Reality:

For the period of January to December 2010 in the Philippines alone, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has documented 80 cases of politically motivated arrest and detention involving 142 victims; 35 cases of torture involving 57 victims; 19 cases of harassment involving 8,167 victims; 9 cases of extra-judicial killing victimizing 11 persons; 3 cases of enforced disappearance involving 5 victims; and, 6 cases of illegal demolition dislocating 7,304 families all over the Philippines.  In the latest US Department of Labor Report, the Philippines is one of the countries with “worst forms of child labor” ranging from trafficking and ending up in forced domestic service and commercial sex exploitation to child soldiering (US Dept. of Labor, 2010).

All these trends have been validated and persisted in the 4th Regional Human Rights Defenders Forum in Manila last December 2010: human rights violations continue to rise and human rights defenders are all the more at risk in the conduct of their work.

Focal Perspective:

Human rights defenders are those who document and expose human rights violations; those that seek for remedies for victims; those that hold perpetrators and governments accountable.  They are those who help in combating abuses; arresting further violations through education, policy recommendations, service provision, information and campaigns.  They can be anyone working to promote and protect human rights, including lawyers, victims and their relatives, teachers, trade unionists, journalists, members of peoples’ organizations, women, farmers and other human rights activists (Protecting Human Rights Defenders, n. d.).

Their noble desire to promote the well-being of all has prompted the United Nations (UN to pass Resolution A/RES/53/144 otherwise known as the “Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” or the “Declaration on Human Rights Defenders” in 1998.  It recognizes the importance and legitimacy of the works of those who are in the front lines of defending human rights.  It acknowledges the vital role of HRDs in the implementation of human rights particularly on the domestic level (Protecting Human Rights Defenders, n. d.).

“It is precisely because of their critical role in promoting human rights awareness and debate on the national and international level that many HRDs find their own rights flagrantly violated by repressive governments in forms of threats to their lives, intimidation and harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, disappearances, torture, extra-judicial executions and other physical violence” (Protecting Human Rights Defenders, n. d.).   For that matter, curtail the rights and responsibilities of human rights defenders, to wit: (UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, 1998)

•    The right of everyone to promote and strive for the protection and realization of  human rights and fundamental freedoms;
•    Freedom of assembly, association and the right to communicate;
•    The right to know, seek, receive and disseminate human rights information and form/hold opinions on the matter for public attention;
•    The right to develop new human rights ideas and advocate for their acceptance;
•    The right to effective access and participate in the conduct of public affairs, and to submit proposals and criticism;
•    The right to an effective remedy and protection from violation, the right to complain about official acts, the right to observe trials, and the right to unhindered access to international bodies;
•    The right to participate in peaceful activities publicizing human rights violations and to be protected against violence or adverse discrimination;
•    Right to receive funding and other resources.

These are the realities of human rights work and human rights defenders in the Philippines.  With these realities, is an overlooked notion of HRDs needing as much protection as the victims they serve.  They tend to forget that by helping victims they become easy targets of retaliation.  They tend to downplay that their security is as important as the security of the victims under their care.  It is therefore urgent to come up with mechanism to safeguard their lives and integrity thereby re-orienting human rights work in the Philippines to include the defense and protection of human rights defenders.

[In the news] Afraid: ‘Killings of LGBTs in Philippines on the rise’ – Interaksyon.com

Afraid: ‘Killings of LGBTs in Philippines on the rise’ – Interaksyon.com.

by Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philipines – There has been a steady and alarming rise in violence against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community in the Philippines over the past 15 years, new research conducted by an LGBT advocacy group suggests, in line with a call for the police and the Commission and Human Rights to acknowledge and formally look into the troubling trend.

For the first half of 2011 alone, as of June 17, the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch says it has documented 28 killings within the gay community. This figure already nearly equals homicide and murder figures for 2010, which is pegged at 29.

“Expanding the timeframe to as early as 1996, a total of 103 (killings of LGBTs have been monitored),” the group said.

Of the 103 cases that the group considers hate crimes, 61 attacks were against gay men, 26 against transgenders, 12 against lesbians, and four targetted bisexuals.

Read full article @ INTERAKSYON.com

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HRonlinePH says…

“As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity…  Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day”— UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, New York, 10 December 2010.

It was established in the UDHR that it is an obligation on the part of States to protect people from discrimination, including on the basis of “sex … or other status.”

 

[Blogger] Department of Health Secretary Ona: where is the money? – fullman.com.ph

Jonas Bagas by tl-ph.facebook.com

Jonas Bagas by tl-ph.facebook.com

[This article was written and posted by Jonas Bagas in his blog “Fullman”. Read more from Jonas Bagas visit fullman.com.ph. HRonlinePH]

This June, UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon will announce that HIV is on the average stabilizing or declining all over the world. That is, except in seven countries – including the Philippines.

Being part of this ‘Horror Roll’ would lead many Filipinos to ask why this is happening. We actually know the explanation. Right now, the right question to ask is this: Mister Health Secretary, where is the money?

In the same UN General Assembly this June, the Philippines will give an update on its commitments to combat HIV and AIDS. The initial commitment was done in 2001, with targets that were set for 2003, 2005, and 2010. While the epidemic was raging in many countries, the Philippines had been considered to belong to the ‘low and slow’ category.

Everything changed beginning 2007. The infection rate began to increase, with reported cases reaching one new infection everyday. It doubled by 2009, and by 2010, the rate of new infections reached 4 to 5 a day. The infection became domestic, and while the epidemic hasn’t reached the general population yet, the prevalence rate has spiked in urban centers, especially Metro Manila, Davao City, Cebu City, and cities adjacent to these sites, with the increase driven by new infections among men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and female sex workers.

Advocates expect the actual infection rate to be higher, and ‘low and slow’ became ‘hidden and growing’.

Ironically, despite the increase in new infections, public spending on HIV and AIDS has steadily declined. It defies logic – one would assume that with the rate of increase, the government would move to spend more on its HIV and AIDS program.

Is it assuming that most of the programs would be financed by foreign donors? The average share of private financing for HIV and AIDS interventions in the Philippines, whether implemented by government agencies or non-govermental groups, is 80%. Most of our external funding for HIV and AIDS come from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). But of the multi-million investment that was done by GFATM in the Philippines, only 14% went to HIV and AIDS.

Relying on foreign grants to fund a country’s response to a simmering epidemic is irresponsible and risky. For instance, the GFATM money that we got to finance the purchase and distribution of free anti-retrovirals (ARVs) will be depleted in 2012. With the current prevalence rate, we’d be needing more ARVs. This is for treatment alone. Logically, the spending for prevention to reduce the number of individuals who would require ARV treatment should be higher. For the past few weeks, advocates from the civil society, with the help of experts from NEDA and UNAIDS, have been crunching numbers to check how much is needed for a minimum package of interventions to help stop the spread of disease, and the needed amount definitely exceeds the miserable P65 million that the government allocated for this year. (A report on this civil society will be released soon.)

Is the government dragging its feet because the infection is happening in communities – among immoral men who have sex with men, prostitutes and drug users – that the society in general would rather shun? The politics of this is that if this were happening among innocent mothers and children, the government would have responded differently. Responding to epidemic would have been politically palatable.

But an epidemic is an epidemic. HIV and AIDS is a public health issue, and the correct political response is to leave ideology behind and focus on evidence, which incidentally points to fact that if the epidemic is halted and controlled in these populations, HIV and AIDS won’t reach the general population.

So with the alarming increase of HIV infection in the country, it is high time that we ask Department of Health Secretary Ona: where is the money?

[In the news] Army major assaults Bicol journalist – NUJP – Interaksyon.com

Army major assaults Bicol journalist – NUJP – Interaksyon.com.

MANILA, Philippines – An Army major allegedly assaulted a journalist in Camarines Sur province who had requested soldiers who were blocking a road while doing their exercises to give way to traffic, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reported Thursday.

An alert issued by the media organization said Arnel Eclarinal, a news producer for GMA TV7-Naga was on a motorcycle with a cousin when they came across troops of the 9th Infantry Division who were occupying both lanes of the road while jogging in Barangay Caroyroyan, Pili town.

When Eclarinal asked some of the soldiers to occupy only one lane of the road so traffic could pass, one of the troops reportedly swore at him and said he and other motorists should wait until they were done.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com

[In the news] Children and schools caught in Philippine conflicts, and the UN is concerned about AFP tactics – Interaksyon.com

Children and schools caught in Philippine conflicts, and the UN is concerned about AFP tactics – Interaksyon.com.

Carlos H. Conde, InterAksyon.com


MANILA, Philippines – The soldiers descended on the Lumad (tribal) villages of Lianga where, according to human rights and tribal groups, they put up checkpoints that restricted the movement of residents and imposed a blockade that severely constrained the food supply to the communities.

The militarization of the villages in Lianga and two other towns of Surigao del Sur, in the southern Philippines, in 2008 and 2009 also forced hundreds of villagers to evacuate.

The children at two schools specially built for the Manobo tribe – the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development and the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur – suffered the most as a result of the militarization, according to advocacy groups. Because of the food blockade, children went to school on empty or half-empty stomachs. Worse, classes had to be suspended.

Soldiers also descended on the school itself, where they supposedly harassed and taunted students and teachers, according to a report first published in the online news site Bulatlat.com. Worse, the military branded the two schools, which have won recognition from the government and are run by a Lumad organization called Mapasu with the cooperation of the local Catholic diocese and the NGO Sildap, “communist fronts.”

What happened to the two tribal schools are emblematic – and in some sense an extreme case study – of a phenomenon in the Philippines and elsewhere of government and rebel forces occupying schools, disrupting not only the learning process of the students, but the lives of whole communities as well.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, in an annual report on children and armed conflict he delivered to the UN Security Council and made public Thursday, revealed that 15 of the 22 “country situations” the UN monitored involved attacks on schools and hospitals.

“I am concerned about the increasing trend of attacks on schools and hospitals,” Ban said in the report.

His special representative on children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said “2010 proved another tragic year for children in conflicts all over the world.”

A statement on the report released by Coomaraswamy’s office said “direct and physical damage to schools seems to be the most reoccurring violation, but there are also reported incidents of closure of schools and hospitals as a result of direct threats and intimidation, military occupation. Schools are often used as recruiting groups for children.”

The Philippines stands out in the report because, unlike other countries where insurgents are the ones attacking schools, soldiers are the worst violators, according to the UN report.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com

[In the news] AFP stands out in UN chief’s report for violating children’s rights – Interaksyon.com

AFP stands out in UN chief’s report for violating children’s rights – Interaksyon.com.

Carlos H. Conde

MANILA, Philippines – The soldiers descended on the Lumad (tribal) villages of Lianga where, according to human rights and tribal groups, they put up checkpoints that restricted the movement of residents and imposed a blockade that severely constrained the food supply to the communities.

UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy listens to a presentation by AFP Human Rights Office chief Col. Domingo Tutaan. A report delivered by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council singled out the Philippines, noting that, unlike other countries where insurgents attack schools, here the military was the main perpetrator of such violations. (courtesy of UN). InterAksyon.com

The militarization of the villages in Lianga and two other towns of Surigao del Sur, in the southern Philippines, in 2008 and 2009 also forced hundreds of villagers to evacuate.

The children at two schools specially built for the Manobo tribe – the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development and the Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur – suffered the most as a result of the militarization, according to advocacy groups. Because of the food blockade, children would go to school on empty or half-empty stomachs. Worse, classes had to be suspended.

Soldiers also descended on the school itself, where they would harass and taunt students and teachers, according to a report first published in the online news site Bulatlat.com. Worse, the military branded the two schools, which have won recognition from the government and are run by a Lumad organization called Mapasu with the cooperation of the local Catholic diocese and the NGO Sildap, “communist fronts.”

What happened to the two tribal schools are emblematic – and in some sense an extreme case study – of a phenomenon in the Philippines and elsewhere of government and rebel forces occupying schools, disrupting not only the learning process of the students, but the lives of whole communities as well.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, in an annual report on children and armed conflict he delivered to the UN Security Council and made public Thursday, revealed that 15 of the 22 “country situations” the UN monitored involved attacks on schools and hospitals.

“I am concerned about the increasing trend of attacks on schools and hospitals,” Ban said in the report.

Read full article @ InterAksyon.com

[In the web] World Bank Under Fire for Role in New Global Green Fund – ipsnews.net

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

Victoria Tauli Corpuz AIWN Photo by UN jenny rockett

BANGKOK, Apr 6, 2011 (IPS) – The World Bank is facing mounting opposition from a broad network of green and grassroots activists over its role in a new global Green Climate Fund (GCF) aimed at helping developing countries combat the ravages of climate change.

“In spite of the climate and economic crises, the World Bank continues to finance fossil fuel projects at an alarming rate, promote false solutions to the climate crisis, and use funding instruments that increase indebtedness of developing countries,” charged a coalition of nearly 100 local and international civil society organisations in a letter released here during on- going negotiations at the first of three U.N. climate change conferences to be held in the lead up to the Durban COP17 summit in late November.

“The World Bank is not suited to advise in the design of a fund that must ensure fair and effective long-term financing based on the principles of environmental integrity, equity, sustainable development and democracy,” noted the two-page letter, whose signatories included global groups like Action Aid and International Rivers, regional groups like the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and local groups like the Bolivian Climate Change Platform.

The letter was addressed to Patricia Espinosa, Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, and to Christina Figueres, the head of the Bonn-based climate change secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It was at last December’s UNFCCC summit in Cancun, Mexico that a landmark blueprint emerged creating the GCF, which is aimed at financing efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and to help communities adapt to the havoc created by climate change in the developing world.

The Bank was named as the new fund’s interim trustee for the first three years, until a more permanent financial architecture is built to steer much needed assistance to the world’s poorer nations.

A report by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s climate financing advisory group released on the eve of the Mexico climate change summit estimated that 100 billion dollars a year is needed for climate change initiatives in the developing world.

Other estimates point to a higher figure – upwards of 400 billion dollars annually in the South – reveals the Jubilee South Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD), a regional network of grassroots activists.

The GCF has been mandated to start forking out these new funds by 2020, which, according to the UNFCCC, will take the form of grants or concessional loans.

But the Bank’s record of programmes under the guise of ‘development’ in the poorer nations makes it the wrong choice to play a permanent role in administering the GCF, says Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, convener of the Asian Indigenous Women’s Network, a regional grassroots group based in Manila. “They are not a trusted institution in the developing world.”

“There is a fear among activists and some developing country governments that the Bank will secure approval to run the day-to-day operations of the GCF,” Tauli-Corpuz told IPS. “That will result in more obstructions for the poor and the vulnerable victims of climate change.”

“Climate finance is part of the reparations for climate debt owed by rich, industrialised countries to the peoples and countries of the South,” argues Ahmed Swapan of JSAPMDD. “The climate debt must be collected, managed and disbursed by an institution that is democratic, accountable, transparent and governed by a board with a majority coming from [the] South.”

Activists are concerned about a potential conflict-of-interest if the Bank secures the role as the secretariat of the GCF, since the Washington, D.C.- based multilateral financial institution will also have a part as a co-financier and implementer of projects.

As troubling is the Bank’s record in existing climate change funds, such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which was established in 1991 to help developing countries adapt to the challenges of climate change. “To get funds from the GEF, countries had to go through implementing agencies like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank,” said Matthew Stilwell, policy adviser at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a Geneva-based think tank. “They had to jump through hoops, making it difficult to access funds.”

Consequently, developing countries are “advocating for more direct access to the funds” of the GCF, Stilwell told IPS. “They have learnt lessons from the past.”

But in the rooms of the U.N. conference centre here, where climate change negotiators from 190 countries are meeting from Apr. 3 – 8 to shape a new global environmental deal, the sources of funding for the GCF are also on the table.

“It will be new sources of funding,” Jozsef Feiler, the chief climate change negotiator for Hungary, currently the president of the council of the European Union, told IPS.

Yet activists are not convinced, given suggestions by negotiators from the developed world that funding would be from a combination of public and private sector sources.

“Funding should be from public sources, new and additional to official development assistance,” says Michelle Maynard of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance. “The principles are simple: providing climate finance is a legal and moral obligation for rich countries.”