Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Wednesday

Health Canada to End Outdoor Use of Two Bee Killing Neonicotinoids : Friends of the Earth Canada

Health Canada to End Outdoor Use of Two Bee Killing Neonicotinoids : Friends of the Earth Canada: August 15, 2018 (Ottawa) – Friends of the Earth Canada welcomes the proposed decision by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency to end outdoor use of Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, two of the most widely used neonicotinoid pesticides in the world.

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are systemic chemical insecticides that are found in all tissues of treated plants, including pollen and nectar. Neonics pose threats to non-target organisms like bees, which are responsible for pollinating one third of the world’s crops and 90 per cent of all wild plants. “This is testament to the persistence of Canadians. Literally 100s of thousands have petitioned government to make a special review of these bee-toxic chemicals.

 It is especially telling that the proposed decisions are based on unacceptable residues in our water and their impact on aquatic invertebrates – they haven’t yet finished the bee studies,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada. Today’s decision, along with the 2016 proposed decision on Imidicloprid, brings Canada in line with the European Union which banned the pesticides in April this year after a moratorium on their use since 2013. Today’s decision is an important step in protecting pollinators and Canada’s agricultural industry.

 Canadian beekeepers have reported significant losses since neonicotinoids were given conditional registration by PMRA. Despite growing complaints, PMRA continued to renew conditional registrations. “Five years ago I launched the save the bees campaign in Canada and PMRA told me there was nothing to worry about – neonicotiniods were safe. Today, PMRA is finally saying the use of these pesticides is not sustainable,” said John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada. Despite the high levels of Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam found in waters, PMRA is proposing a three to five year phase-out rather than an immediate ban. The European Union has seen marginal impact on agricultural production since it stopped the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013. A number of other studies have concluded the prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has little impact on yields. “Three to five years is too long to allow pesticide pollution to continue. PMRA is putting the economic interests of multinational corporations before the safety of our environment. Our environmental security requires an immediate halt to the use of these pesticides” said Ms. Olivastri. Friends of the Earth Canada’s #BeeCause campaign has called for a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides since 2013 mobilizing tens of thousands of Canadian, distributing bee friendly plant seeds and testing flowering plants sold by garden centres.

 Friends of the Earth is one of four environmental groups represented by Ecojustice in the November 2018 hearing against PMRA where we are asking the court to rule that the PMRA’s “approve first, study the science later” approach is unlawful and that the practice of granting approvals without science cannot continue.

Michelle Bachelet, Ex-President of Chile, Picked as Next U.N. Rights Chief - The New York Times

Michelle Bachelet, Ex-President of Chile, Picked as Next U.N. Rights Chief - The New York Times
The leader of the United Nations said on Wednesday that he had picked Michelle Bachelet, a prominent women’s rights advocate and the first woman to serve as Chile’s president, to be the organization’s next top human rights official.
The announcement by Secretary General António Guterres ended the uncertainty over who would replace Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and longtime diplomat who became one of the most forthright critics of abuses by governments in many countries, including the United States, during his four years as the high commissioner for human rights.
Mr. al-Hussein said in December that he would not be seeking an extension of his term, which expires next month. He told colleagues that “to do so, in the current geopolitical context, might involve bending a knee in supplication.”
Ms. Bachelet, 66, who was imprisoned and tortured during Chile’s right-wing dictatorship and years later became a pediatrician and politician, will be stepping into a particularly difficult and contentious role at the 193-member organization.

Ban GM Field Tests - CBAN

Ban GM Field Tests - CBAN

On June 14, the Canadian government announced a contamination incident with unapproved genetically modified (GM, also called genetically engineered) wheat. Several GM wheat plants were found on a road in Alberta in an isolated contamination case and the government does not know how they got there. No GM wheat was ever approved for growing or eating in Canada, but the GM trait found growing in Alberta was field tested from 1998-2000.
The National Farmers Union has called for a ban on outdoor testing of GM crops. Please support this call by sending your letter from this website today (using the green box on the right of this page).
“The only way to prevent these incidents happening in the future is to ban outdoor testing.” – Terry Boehm, Chair of the National Farmers’ Union Seed Committee

UN: Torture in any form is absolutely unacceptable

Torture in any form, is absolutely unacceptable and can never be justified, UN said on Tuesday, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, urging great support for victims worldwide.
In his message to mark the Day, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the “absolute prohibition” of torture is “stipulated in unequivocal terms’’ as a foundational principle, within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Much has been achieved in the fight against this and other cruel, inhuman, degrading punishment and treatment, yet more action is needed to eradicate torture fully. He underscored that the victims have the right to justice, rehabilitation and redress.
The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture marks the moment in 1987, when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect.
The Day also served as a rallying cry for all stakeholders, including the UN Member States, civil society and individuals to unite in support of victims of torture and those who are still subjected to the ghastly practice.

Thursday

Stop the Bayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger

https://cban.ca/take-action/stop-the-mega-mergers/If companies Monsanto and Bayer are allowed to merge, the new company could control around 30% of the world’s commercial seed market and 25% of agricultural pesticides. The merger could increase the price of seed, decrease choice in the marketplace for Canadian farmers, and stifle research and development.Europe approved the merger on March 21, 2018 but Canada and other countries around the world need to approve the merger before it can happen.Please send an instant letter to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development today.In Canada, the Competition Bureau will review the proposed merger and announce a decision at some unknown time. Canada’s Competition Bureau has already agreed to let Dow and Dupont merge, and Syngenta and ChemChina  merge.
The Monsanto-Bayer merger is the last of the current proposed mega-mergers in seeds and pesticides which will mean four companies will control about two thirds of the global seed market and around 70% of pesticides. 

Tuesday

Federal government not doing enough to manage risk of fish farms, environmental watchdog says

The federal government isn't doing enough to manage the risks associated with salmon farming — and is failing to set national standards to prevent fish escapes and regulate how much drugs and pesticides companies can use. That's the conclusion of a report tabled in Parliament Tuesday from Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-environment-commissioner-spring-report-1.4632864

"I suggest that the department is at risk of being seen to be promoting aquaculture over the protection of wild fish," Gelfand said at a news conference. She pointed to a number of imbalances in Ottawa's approach to salmon aquaculture, such as lax enforcement of existing regulations and the absence of a requirement to monitor the ocean floor beneath fish farms. The report also points to a lack of clear national standards for nets and anchoring equipment — something Gelfand said is vitally important in Atlantic Canada, where escaped farmed salmon have begun to interbreed with declining wild salmon populations. Nets are often damaged by severe storms off the East Coast, so more farmed fish escape into the surrounding water there than on the West Coast, the report says

The commissioner also found that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans wasn't doing enough to monitor diseases and had only completed one-tenth of risk assessments for known diseases to understand the effects of salmon farming on wild fish. As a result, the report states, the department has no way of knowing how salmon farming has affected the health of wild fish stocks.

Thursday

COC: Deny pit mining permit

https://secure.canadians.org/page/21656/action/1

Ask the Government of Ontario to deny the application by CRH Inc (Dufferin Aggregates) for renewal of the Permit To Take Water No. 5003-APFH26. The Teedon gravel pit is located in the heart of the Waverley Uplands. This area is a critical groundwater recharge area and granting this permit will endanger water quality and quantity in local aquifers.

Last year, Ontario amended the aggregate licence for the Teedon Pit to allow a huge expansion of both the area of excavation and the depth of excavations. This shortsighted decision will result in the company clearcutting a designated significant forest area, stripping away the soil and scooping out the gravel and stone that together make up the “filter” that keeps the groundwater so pure. The amendments also allow the import and storage of asphalt and other construction materials on the site, increasing the risk of contamination to the aquifer.

Renewing the permit to take water will affect the traditional territories of the Anishinabe people of Beausoleil First Nation. The Crown and the proponent are required by law to consult with the Anishinabe people over the project and obtain their free, prior and informed consent, but have not done so.

The Waverley Uplands need to be protected from industrial activities that threaten groundwater. Climate change is expected to cause significant changes to precipitation patterns in Ontario and groundwater recharge areas such as the Waverley Uplands are especially vulnerable to the cumulative impacts of those changes and gravel pit operations.

Protect water: Boycott Nestlé

Your voice is urgently needed. The Council of Canadians has just learned that Big Oil giant BP is in the process of moving a massive oil rig to offshore Nova Scotia where it has received approval from the Canadian government to begin drilling exploratory wells. BP could start drilling just days from now – and the risk of an environmental disaster is simply too great for you and me to ignore. To make matters worse, BP is on the move without obtaining a final permit from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB), an unelected board of mostly former oil industry executives with a conflicting mandate of both promoting oil and gas development and protecting the marine environment. This is the same board that would be given more power in federal environmental assessments under Bill C-69, currently being debated.

 please add your name to our national petition calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to reverse the federal approval of BP’s offshore drilling. Sign the petition

 If the name BP sounds familiar it’s for good reason. It’s the same company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – the largest marine oil spill ever recorded.Now BP is eyeing new sources of oil offshore Nova Scotia and has federal approval to drill nearly twice the depth of the Deepwater Horizon well. A spill would be devastating to area marine life, and the fishing and tourism industries that are the lifeblood of Nova Scotia’s economy. For example, BP intends to drill 70 km east of the Gully Marine Protected Area and 50 km Northeast of Sable Island National Park, threatening endangered species like the Right Whale and thousands of sustainable fishery and tourism jobs. The risk is even greater offshore Nova Scotia, where stopping and containing a ruptured well is made more difficult by virtue of the harsher conditions of the North Atlantic.

Friday

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment | Environment | The Guardian

It is time for the United Nations to formally recognise the right to a healthy environment, according to the world body’s chief investigator of murders, beatings and intimidation of environmental defenders.
John Knox, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said the momentum for such a move – which would significantly raise the global prominence of the issue – was growing along with an awareness of the heavy toll being paid by those fighting against deforestation, pollution, land grabs and poaching.
His appeal, the culmination of more than five years of investigations, comes amid a major push for the UN and member states to do more to protect those who defend the land, water, air, forests and wildlife.

Wednesday

The UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day | UN Women – Headquarters

The UN Secretary-General’s Message on International Women’s Day | UN Women – Headquarters

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries. 

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment.

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

Tuesday

India's child marriage numbers drop sharply, driving down global rate: UNICEF

India's child marriage numbers drop sharply, driving down global rate: UNICEF

India  constitutes more than 20 percent of the world’s adolescent
population and accounts for the highest number of child marriages in
South Asia given its size and population,” said Javier Aguilar,
UNICEF’s chief of child protection.

“In the current trend, 27 percent of girls, or nearly 1.5 million girls,
get married before they turn 18 in India. This is a sharp decline
from 47 percent a decade ago,” he told the Thomson Reuters
Foundation.Child marriage adds to health, education and abuse risks, and
increases the chance of intergenerational poverty, said Anju
Malhotra, UNICEF’s principal gender adviser, in a statement.“Given
the life-altering impact child marriage has on a young girl’s life,
any reduction is welcome news, but we’ve got a long way to go,”
Malhotra said.
Campaigners and officials attributed the drop in child marriages to
better access to education for women and increased public awareness
on the negative impact of child marriage.

Thursday

Once dismissed as 'crazy nurses,' Truro human rights activists push UN to recognize domestic torture

Once dismissed as 'crazy nurses,' Truro human rights activists push UN to recognize domestic torture - Nova Scotia - CBC News

Two nurses from Truro, N.S., took their message urging global action on domestic torture of women and girls to the human rights council of the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday.
Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald travelled to Switzerland where they were one of four so-called "civil society representatives" selected to address the UN Human Rights Council membership of 47 states, including China, the U.S. and Afghanistan.
heir long-repeated message has been that torture isn't just meted out by government officials and agents. Women and girls can be tortured by parents and family members, with atrocities including human trafficking, prostitution, enslavement or pornographic victimization. 
Naming it torture gives continuing crimes against family members the attention and weight it deserves, they believe.
"Non-State Torture is identified as a distinct and specific crime and human rights offence which must not be misnamed as being another form of crime such as an assault causing bodily harm or abuse," their website nonstatetorture.org says.
MacDonald said it felt "very affirming" for her and Sarson to make the joint statement to the council.
"Non-state torture is rising up in awareness in the human rights world which is a great victory for survivors because we always take their voices with us," said MacDonald.