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        Newsletter of Edmund Rice International

Welcome to the ERI February Newsletter.

The recently concluded UPR session included the review of three countries of particular interest to ERI: Kenya, Kiribati and Grenada. ERI contributed to joint submissions for Kenya and Kiribati (see story opposite).

A group of ERI Youth Ambassadors from seven Edmund Rice Schools in England visited Geneva to observe the session and visited both the Brothers community and ERI office to learn something more about our work. (see story opposite). In February a group of high school students from Catholic Memorial in Boston also paid a visit to the ERI office.

This month we also welcomed our latest volunteer/intern Barbara Tynan, a retired magistrate, from Australia.

Meanwhile Kevin Cawley was joined by former ERI Team member Denis Claivaz fpm, for a series of advocacy and human rights presentations in the Caribbean, with workshops presented in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Lucia and Dominica. (see story opposite)

The ERI Team
In Geneva: Brian Bond cfc, Peter Harney cfc and Moy Hitchen cfc.
In New York: Kevin Cawley cfc

Coming Up at the UN

The following countries of particular interest to the Edmund Rice Network are coming up for their Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council of the UN :-

Liberia (April 2015)
USA (April 2015
Australia (October 2015, submissions due Mar 2015)
St Lucia (October 2015, submissions due Mar 2015)
Sierra Leone (Jan 2016, submissions due Jun 2015)
Papua New Guinea (April 2016, submissions due Sep 2015)
Tanzania (April 2016, submissions due Sep 2015)
Trinidad & Tobago 
(April 2016, submissions due Sep 2015)
Ireland (April 2016, submissions due Sep 2015)

In addition, over the next year several countries are due to report to committees overseeing the various UN Conventions (Treaty Bodies).

These include:-

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
- Canada (Mar 2015, Geneva)
- Ireland (June 2015 Geneva - ERI submission made)
- Kenya (Oct 2015, Geneva)
- United Kingdom (Oct 2015, Geneva)

Human Rights Committee (CCPR) (monitoring civil and political rights)
- Canada (Jul 2015 Gva)
- United Kingdom (July 2015 Geneva - ERI submission made)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- Timor Leste (Mar 2015, Oct 2015, Geneva)
- Liberia (Mar 2015, Oct 2015, Geneva)
- Bolivia (July 2015, Geneva)
- Tanzania (July 2015, Jan 2016, Geneva)

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
- Timor Leste (Feb 2015, Sep 2015, Geneva)
- Ghana (May 2015, Geneva)
- Kenya (Jun 2015, Jan 2016, Geneva)
- Ireland (Jun 2015, Jan 2016, Geneva)

- Peru (Jun 2015, Jan 2016, Geneva)
- Sierra Leone (Jun 2015 Jan 2016, Geneva)
- Zambia (Jun 2015 Jan 2016, Geneva)
- Zimbabwe (Jun 2015 Jan 2016, Geneva)

- United Kingdom (Oct 2015, May 2016, Geneva)

Committee Against Torture (CAT)
- New Zealand (April 2015, Geneva)
- Ghana (Nov 2015, Geneva)
- Kenya (Nov 2015, Geneva)

Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW)
- Peru (April 2015, Geneva)
- Timor Leste (Aug 2015, Geneva)

Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
- Kenya (April 2015, Aug 2015, Geneva)

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.

Only dates for reviews still to take place are shown. If only one date is listed it probably means that earlier stages in the review process have already been completed.

Earth Hour 2015

Caritas Campaign

Observed worldwide on 1 December since 1998, World AIDS Day unites people from around the world to raise awareness of the global AIDS response and join, in solidarity, the millions of people living with and affected by HIV. “Getting to Zero” is the theme of World AIDS Day, echoing the UNAIDS vision of achieving “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths.” This theme will be used until 2015.

Edmund Rice International is again urging support for the Caritas letter-writing campaign on behalf of children with HIV/AIDS.

Resource materials have been distributed to Edmund Rice Schools around the world to enable them to participate in the campaign. If the materials have not reached your school please
contact us and they will be emailed to you.

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.

'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.

From the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

"States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall:

(a) Ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is permissible in view of the child's status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary;

(b) Recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child's care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child's country of origin;

(c) Ensure that the child concerned by inter-country adoption enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing in the case of national adoption;

(d) Take all appropriate measures to ensure that, in inter-country adoption, the placement does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it;

(e) Promote, where appropriate, the objectives of the present article by concluding bilateral or multilateral arrangements or agreements, and endeavour, within this framework, to ensure that the placement of the child in another country is carried out by competent authorities or organs."

- Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article  21
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News from ERI

February Newsletter

Kiribati, Kenya & Grenada Reviewed at 21st UPR Session


The recently concluded 21st session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva saw the human rights records of Kiribati, Kenya and Grenada (among others) in the spotlight.

ERI joined with Franciscans International, Pax Romana and twenty other locally based NGOs in making a joint submission to the government of Kenya. The submission contained a total of 36 recommendations on a range of issues. Permanent Missions were lobbied in Geneva and Nairobi. A total of 22 recommendations put to Kenya in the review reflected concerns raised in our joint submission, although only 16 of these were accepted by Kenya. Noticeably any recommendations committing Kenya to a specific action or target were rejected.

As a means of raising awareness about human rights and the UPR process in particular, a public live screening of the webcast of the proceedings was arranged at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi. More than 300 people were in attendance for the screening and the panel discussion which followed. The panel included members of the Kenyan parliament, members of national human rights organisations, and prominent human rights academics and activists, and was sponsored by the French embassy in Nairobi. The French Ambassador also addressed the gathering.

The event was judged to be great success. Participant’s understanding of the process was greatly enhanced, which hopefully will lead to increased engagement in the follow-up of  recommendations from this review, and in the preparation of future submissions.  

The links between the Edmund Rice Centre in Sydney and Kiribati enabled ERI to be part of a joint submission highlighting the impact of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights in Kiribati.

Fifteen of the recommendations made in our submission were reflected in the final outcome document with the need to mitigate the effects of climate change figuring prominently. Extra-territorial responsibility (ie the responsibility of the international community and not just the government of Kiribati) for the impact of climate change on human rights in Kiribati was also acknowledged.

Although the Presentation Brothers have a presence in Grenada, it was not possible to prepare a submission on this occasion, but it is hoped that the human rights and advocacy workshop held in Grenada earlier this month will enable follow-up of the recommendations made in this review and lead to a submission for the next UPR cycle.

Human Rights in the Caribbean - ERI Breaks New Ground

Participants in the ERI workshop held in Trinidad.

Edmund Rice International took the human rights message to the Caribbean recently with Denis Claivaz (Presentation Brother, Toronto) and Kevin Cawley (Christian Brother, New York) travelling to Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Dominica to share information on the processes of the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council.

The workshops were made possible through funding from Misean Cara sourced through Edmund Rice Development.

Workshop participants were introduced to each other and to the mechanisms of the UPR process. In each place, Denis and Kevin were able to link the program to the most recent review of the member state at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Internet access to the UN website made it possible to view archived presentations by the representatives of the various governments.   

Each participant received copies of relevant documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, were introduced to a Rights Based Approach to advocacy work, provided with information on UN processes and Treaty Bodies together with explanations of how civil society is able to engage with the UN. Participants expressed gratitude for these insights reporting that they had not known the way to access the process prior to the workshops.  

The two day sessions included time for group interaction both formally and informally.  As a concluding exercise, the groups were charged with finding common ground for submission to the UPR process. This group effort proved most challenging and provided the opportunity to survey the skill sets of various participants. Several local leaders emerged as a result.

Care of Earth figured prominently in the workshops. ERI has understood for several years that that the achievement of human rights goals must be linked to a deeper regard for the care of earth. Achieving human rights goals may be a false victory if once accomplished we learn that we can no longer breathe the air, drink the water or eat the food in the place where we have struggled to achieve human rights long denied. Material developed mainly by Kevin in his work at the Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, brought the message of earth in crisis due to human activity.

In each location, a participant was recruited to write a brief report on how they came to the workshop and how they might have been changed by the 2-day effort. Some have expressed an interest in further training in Geneva and will be looking to deepen their understanding of the advocacy work of ERI and human rights locally and globally. In addition, one person in each location was designated as contact person for future  communication with ERI.
Kevin Cawley cfc

Visit of Youth Ambassadors to Geneva

On the 27th. January fourteen Youth Ambassadors from all seven Edmund Rice secondary schools in England left for Geneva from John Lennon Airport in Liverpool. For members of the Edmund Rice Network Team this was the culmination of months of planning which began with our first Edmund Rice International conference in St. Ambrose College last June.

My deepest thanks go out to the head teachers and  staff of the schools that supported our determination to allow our young people the opportunity to see at first hand the work of the Human Rights Council of the UN based in Geneva. Through the good offices of the Edmund Rice International community in Geneva, who opened up their home to us, we received an excellent grounding in their work with the Marist Brothers and Franciscans International. We were present for  the Universal Periodic Review of Guyana and spent time sharing our Advocacy plans for each of our schools as well as planning a possible joint endeavour over the rest of this year.

I am hoping that the young people will tell their own story through this website and that of the ERI Youth Ambassador Facebook page.

The Edmund Rice Network Team together with Mr. Pat Duffy from St. Mary’s College, who agreed to travel with us, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the excellent group of committed young people that shared the three days with us and with the ERI community. I look forward to good things coming from this experience.
David Kavanagh, Edmund Rice Schools Officer

Indian Students Rally for Children's Rights

Five thousand children from various sections of Delhi joined representatives of 27 states and union territories who had gathered in the national capital for the culmination of the Global Action 2015 launch.  These children who were largely in their teens, assembled at Jantar Mantar to seek the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals that are due to be delivered by the end of this year.

Children from numerous schools and civil society organisations that represent varied child-rights issues, joined the children’s social forum that called for a budget that reflects a stronger commitment toward the last child.  Using varied media like street plays, flags, drums, posters, slogans, puppets, unicycles, and varied regional dances, children highlighted the issues of children of India. The children also honoured a one minutes silence in honour of their Bapu by gesturing Gandhi’s Monkeys, to symbolize millions of India’s children who are not given age appropriate forums to speak, or whose voice goes unheard, or who still live in bondage in varied degrees.

15 year old Swarnalaxmi who braves total vision impairment from childhood, addressed the gathering in her role as the ‘Prime Minister’ of the national children’s parliament that is facilitated by the NINEISMINE campaign. She called urgently for a society that ensures the inclusion of all, particularly children with disabilities, and from various vulnerable communities including Dalits, Muslims and Adivasies.

Varied global and National campaigns rallied in a call for a society that honours the Millennium Goals as well as includes children in the new Sustainable Development Goals. Amitabh Behar the global co-chair of the Action 2015 Launch said that this gathering joined the energy of similar gathering across 80 nations of the world.

Ms Annie Namala launched the 'Up for School' global campaign which draws attention to ensure that every child has access to equitable quality education. Ms Namala added that ‘in India the campaign is to draw in the children of socially excluded communities.’

Paul Diwakar, the National Convener of the Wada Na Todo Abhiyan which leads the NINEISMINE campaign called for a deliberate focus on children from vulnerable communities in our Budgets. With little over 60 days left until the 31st of March, Ambarish Rai called for the complete implementation of the Right to Education by the set deadline.

The children staged a flash Mob in support of the global 'One Billion Rising' campaign that ended with all the 5000 children singing and dancing to the tune of ‘Jagore Dilli Jago’. The children of the NINEISMINE campaign also staged a second flash mob in which the children asked for the fulfilment of all their rights. The streets of Jantar Mantar reverberated with the chorus “Sadda Haq Ette Raq” as the entire gathering danced and gestured their demands.

Speaking at the close of this event, organised by young people of New Delhi themselves, Br Steve Rocha called for young people and the nation to commit themselves to building an INDIA – an Incredible Nation Dedicated to the Inclusion of All. The gathering closed with a unique rendition of the national anthem in sign language, as a symbol of the children’s commitment to amplify the voice of the unheard.

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Editor: Brian Bond cfc

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