Welcome to the ERI March newsletter.
Access to the UN in both Geneva and New York continues to be restricted with the current Human Rights Council session being held entirely as a virtual event. (see story opposite)
ERI team members continue to work from home participating in online meetings and webinars.
With in-person training in Geneva not scheduled at least until October, ERI is looking to offer an online training in human rights and advocacy consisting of five 90 minute weekly sessions commencing on 15th April. (see poster and information opposite).
The ERI Team
Coming Up at the UN
In Geneva: Brian Bond cfc, Tino D'Abreu cfc, and Kevin Mullan cfc.
In New York: Kevin Cawley cfc
The following countries of interest to the Edmund Rice Network are coming up for their Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of the UN in Geneva:-
Sierra Leone (April 2021)
Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania (Oct-Nov 2021)
Timor Leste, South Sudan, Zimbabwe (Jan 2022)
United Kingdom, India, Philippines, South Africa (Oct-Nov 2022)
Submissions are due 6 months prior to the date of the review.
Click here to access the recently released UN guide for maximising the use of the UPR at country level.
In addition, over the next year several countries of interest are due to report to committees overseeing the various UN Conventions - Treaty Bodies.
All scheduled UN Treaty Body sessions are shown below although the timetable is subject to change as the pandemic situation continues to unfold.
All Treaty Body sessions take place in Geneva unless otherwise indicated
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
- Bolivia (Aug 2021)
- Argentina (future session)
- Uruguay (future session)
Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
- Bolivia (postponed to a future session)
- Ireland (future session)
Human Rights Committee (CCPR) (monitoring civil and political rights)
- Grenada (List of issues prior to reported to be prepared Mar 2021)
- Tanzania (List of issues prior to reported to be prepared Mar 2021)
- Kenya (Mar 2021)
The reviews of the following states have been postponed to a future session in 2021:-
- United States of America
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- South Sudan (Jun 2021)
- Peru (Oct 2021)
- South Africa (Oct 2021)
The reviews of the following states have been postponed to a future session in 2021:-
Committee Against Torture (CAT)
- Kenya (April 2021)
- Uruguay (April 2021)
- Bolivia (Nov 2021)
- Nigeria (Nov 2021)
- Peru (List of issues prior to reporting to be prepared Nov 2021)
- Australia, New Zealand, (future sessions)
Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Bolivia (List of issues prior to reporting issued Feb 2021)
- South Sudan (List of issues prior to reporting issued Feb 2021)
- Ireland (State to respond to List of Issues by Oct 2021)
- Canada (Jan 2022)
- Philippines (Jan 2022)
- South Africa (State to respond to List of Issues by Oct 2022)
- United Kingdom (State to respond to List of Issues by Oct 2022)
Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW)
- Bolivia (future session)
- Uruguay (future session)
Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Argentina, Ghana, Liberia, New Zealand, Peru, Sierra Leone, Zambia (future sessions)
Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED)
- Zambia (Apr 2021, List of Issues in absence of a report)
- Argentina, Nigeria, Uruguay (future sessions)
All schedules are subject to change without notice.
Procedures for the reviews vary with different committees. Most committees conduct a review of a state over several sessions. The Committee on the Rights of the Child conducts separate reviews on each of the Optional Protocols (if ratified by the State under review) in addition to the core treaty.
Country Visits Under UN Special Procedures
Most country visits have been placed on hold during the current pandemic.
Participation in the Human Rights Council
NGOs can address the Council during interactive discussions and debates to highlight human rights situations around the globe.
They may also speak during the adoption of the outcome of the UPR of a country by the Council, as part of the interactive dialogue following the presentation of a country mission report by a special procedures mandate holder, and contribute to panels or annual discussions.
ERI welcomes submissions from our advocacy co-ordinators around the world.
Children's Letter Writing Campaign
Edmund Rice International is again urging support for the Children's letter-writing campaign on behalf of children with HIV/AIDS. The campaign targets governments, pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, and media in order to improve access to age-appropriate HIV information, testing and treatment for children and adolescents living with HIV. Children and young people are invited to take action with their school, faith community or family to help make this happen.
From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Resource materials have been updated by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and are available here.
Our hope is that schools who supported the campaign in the past will do so again with a new group of students, and that they will be joined by many more of the estimated quarter of a million students in Edmund Rice schools around the world.
Governments are being asked to do more to eliminate mother to child transmission of the virus, do more to ensure children living with HIV receive appropriate treatment, care and support, to strengthen the capacity of families and the community-level and social welfare child care workforce so that together they can meet the developmental needs of children living with HIV, and address the problem of stigma and discrimination associated with the infection.
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."
- Article 12
'Acting Justly' Course
Like to learn more about how you can take effective action for justice at a global level?
Want to know more about the work of Edmund Rice International (ERI) and how you can be part of it?
Then why not sign up here for the ERI online course which aims to raise awareness about more effective global action for justice.
Click on the image below to view a video introducing the work of ERI
If this newsletter has been forwarded to you and you would like to become a subscriber you can do so here.
ERI Youth Ambassadors on Instagram
ERI has set up an Instagram account for ERI Youth Ambassadors to share social justice initiatives from their school. It is also open to all pupils at Edmund Rice schools. Please share @eddyriceyouth around your school and feel free to tag us about your justice activities.
We will continue to maintain the Youth Ambassador group on Facebook as well.
Join up, remember to click on the 'like' button to show your support for ERI and tell your friends about ERI
Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/edmundriceintl
Support Our Work
Thanks to Misean Cara, Edmund Rice Development Christian Brothers Edmund Rice Trust (CBERT) and Trocaire together with our other donors for their ongoing support of the work of ERI. Click on the banner below to make a donation to ERI
Earth Hour 2021
Started by WWF and partners as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now one of the world's largest grassroots movements for the environment. Held every year on the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour engages millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories, switching off their lights to show support for our planet
But Earth Hour goes far beyond the symbolic action of switching off - it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people and collective action
News from ERI
ERI Active During 46th Session of Human Rights Council
Paola Miranda delivers an ERI statement via video at the UN Human Rights Council
ERI has delivered a number of statements during the current Human Rights Council session in Geneva. With proceedings taking place virtually, NGOs were asked to raise their concerns via recorded video statements. This provided an opportunity for members of our network to address the Council directly.
ERI's interventions, often joint statements with our partners, included statements as part of the discussions on the topics listed below (click on the highlighted text to view each statement)
the Rights of Children and the SDGs (statement read by Constantine D'Abreu of ERI);
the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children (statement read by Priya from NineisMine India);
the Special Rapporteur on Persons with Disabilities (statement read by Cyprian Omoding, Edmund Rice Advocacy Network Kenya);
the Special Rapporteur on Sustainable Development (statement read by Steve Rocha, India);
the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children (statement delivered by Paola Miranda, ERI Advocacy Co-ordinator South America)
Statements were also delivered during the General Debates on:-
Gender-based Violence in South Africa (statement delivered by Jessica Dewhurst)
the Right to Education in South Africa (statement delivered by Ignatius France)
Violence Against Children (statement delivered by Ram (India)
A statement was also read by Brian Bond on behalf of 107 local NGOs in Myanmar following the recent military coup. The NGOs feared reprisals if they were to be identified by speaking publicly.
Finally a statement on the outcome of the UPR of the United States was read by Kevin Cawley of ERI
(click on the highlighted text to access the statements)
ERI Online Training
Given that the ERI Geneva training course is currently ‘on hold’ due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ERI will offer an online introductory course in human rights and advocacy commencing next month.
"Connecting Classrooms" Initiative Launched
This course will consist of five 90-minute weekly ZOOM meetings from Thursday 15th April until Thursday 13th May. To accommodate participants from different time zones around the world, each session will be offered twice.
Further information is provided on the poster above
You are invited to register for the Course by Monday March 29th here for the session beginning at 12:00 CEST (Geneva time) and
here for the session beginning at 20:00 CEST (Geneva time)
On 26th February the Edmund Rice Schools & British Council Connecting Classrooms Global Learning project known as #ERSCchoolsAgainstWaste enjoyed its official ‘Live Launch.’
Despite the difficulties thrown up by the pandemic, schools managed to keep working together on the collaborative pupil projects that highlight the plight of our planet, campaign to reduce waste and learn about the actions being taken in Edmund Rice schools across the globe.
Comments from students in some of the participating schools are shown below:-
‘This was a very exciting experience and an amazing opportunity. Our presentation focused on zero food waste. Learning about the havoc that is destroying the environment and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are in place to combat this was an eye-opening experience that we are so grateful to be a part of. We are excited to see where this takes us in the future.’
- Zou Diminas and Thomas Muir, CBC St John’s Cape Town
'We talked about teaching young children and teenagers about Climate Change and how young people can change the dreadful course we, as a global community are headed for. If we do not change our ways now then the worst impacts of climate change could be irreversible by 2030, so we need to act now. The Connecting Classrooms project is a scheme based on getting students from different schools around the world to come together and share their ideas on how we can work together as a global community to reduce our impact on the Earth, and live more fairly and sustainably. This is just the beginning of an amazing project, one that could change the world for the better!'
- Tom Jones & Harvey McGrath, St Anselm’s College Birkenhead
‘It was really great to meet the students from different schools and to learn their perspective for a global change. It was a fun and effective session which taught us that together we can bring a change and save our environment which is being ruthlessly exploited. Impossible isn’t something that can’t be done.’
- Preeti Chatterjee, St. Vincent’s High & Technical School, Asansol
You can watch a video of the live launch here and you can learn more about the Connecting Classrooms project here
UN Report Urges Humanity to Make Peace with Nature
"Without nature’s help, we will not thrive or even survive. For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature. The result is three interlinked environmental crises. Climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution that threaten our viability as a species. They are caused by unsustainable production and consumption," stated UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the launch of the United Nations Environment Program report 'Making Peace With Nature' on 18th February.
The major recommendations contained in the report include the following:
- Recognize that climate change, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and pollution of air and water are related and must be tackled together.
- Start factoring the true environmental and social costs of our activities into the prices of goods and services.
- Stop subsidizing fossil fuels and invest instead in low-carbon, nature-friendly technologies.
- Use water more efficiently, clean it up and restore watersheds and the natural flow of rivers and streams.
- Produce food in ways that work with nature, instead of destroying forests and degrading soil, and which adapt to climate change.
- Realize that human health cannot be unlinked from the health of the planet's ecosystems, and behave accordingly.
The report goes on to warn that "The costs of inaction on limiting environmental change far outweigh the costs of action."
In a further sign that climate change and its impacts on security and stability is an emerging issue of concern, the UN Security Council for the first time recently commenced a high-level debate on the security risk that climate change poses for the planet.
During the three-hour open meeting, States highlighted how climate change was threatening world security, with droughts, floods and resource scarcity fuelling violent conflicts, driving poverty and forcing people to flee their homes.
2021: International Year to End Child Labour
The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution in 2019 declaring 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour and asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to take the lead to end child labour by 2025 .
Whilst Child labour has decreased by 38% in the last decade, 152 million children are still engaged in child labour. According to the ILO, Child Labour harms children mentally, physically, socially, and morally. It interferes with their schooling, preventing them from attending or concentrating. It may involve them being enslaved, separated from their families, and exposed to serious hazards and illnesses.
Almost half of child labour happens in Africa (72 million children), followed by Asia and the Pacific (62 million). 70% of children in child labour work in agriculture, mainly in subsistence and commercial farming and herding livestock.
However a group of academics has recently claimed that to stamp out child labour by 2025 is out of touch with global realities and could push many working children into worse poverty and marginalisation. According to the academics, the objective was unrealistic even before the pandemic disrupted schooling and increased hardship for millions of children around the world.
“The current global effort to eradicate child labor is based on the experiences of the ideal of white, Western, middle-class childhoods,” said Tatek Abebe, professor of childhood studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. “It draws on the belief that children should go to school, and not participate in labour. However, the reality of children’s lives in most parts of the world is not labour-free. Child labour is not necessarily bad,” said Tatek, one of the signatories.
Appropriate work can bring educational benefits and should be encouraged, the letter said, calling for long-term strategies to eliminate harmful child labour in ways that improve children’s well-being rather than striving for an outright ban.
While our world continues to be marked by poverty, inequality and a lack of social security, it is difficult to see an end to child labour. In the meantime it is worth noting the practical initiatives that have been taken to address the issue. One such example is the Christian Brothers project at Centro Hermano Manolo, Cochabamba, Bolivia –CeHM, which since 2009 has accompanied working children on the streets. CeHM focusses on four areas – personal growth, education, family and technical training. The results: – 97% finish school , many have a trade, some join the police, and some go to university.
Accompaniment is seen as the key to the success of the program.
Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Each goal has a set of targets to be met by the year 2030.