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.

Sunday

On day against homophobia, UN officials urge respect for sexual and gender diversity | | UN News

On day against homophobia, UN officials urge respect for sexual and gender diversity | | UN News:

Marking the international day against homophobia, senior United Nations officials today called for respect for sexual and gender diversity and urged the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from discrimination and harm.

 “Today, I am deeply concerned by the excessive trivialization of insults, sexist and homophobic remarks in the media, in everyday life, on social networks, even from political leaders,” said UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), commemorated annually on 17 May.

 She recalled the situation of homosexuals under the Nazi regime, interned in "re-education" camps, and killed. The UN was created to prevent such crimes from happening again, she stressed, noting that UNESCO is committed to protecting the rights of homosexual and transgender people by drawing across its mandate to advance education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. “These are powerful tools to fight the prejudice, verbal violence and stigmatization that foreshadow physical violence and that violate the equality and inherent dignity of all. This work for reason and tolerance begins on the benches of school,” she said.

 Research by the International Labour Organization (ILO) has found that workplace policies, often designed from a hetero-normative perspective, may fall short of addressing the issues and concerns of LGBTI workers. For example, LGBTI workers may be excluded from leave and benefit entitlements, such as parental leave, because their families do not fit traditional norms.

 “In keeping with the principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, no LGBTI worker should be left behind. Today let us stand in solidarity for the rights of LGBTI workers and their families,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. Gender identity and sexual orientation can have an impact on a migrant's journey, unfortunately often in a negative and even dangerous way, warns the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Wednesday

COVID-19: Divest, Demilitarise, and Disarm – WILPF

COVID-19: Divest, Demilitarise, and Disarm – WILPF:

$1,917,000,000,000,000. Or $1.9 trillion. Any way you write it, that’s a lot of money. All of which has been spent on militarism: on weapons production and development, on soldiers, on wars, on bases, on command and support systems, on repression.

This number, released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, constitutes a 3.6 per cent increase from 2018, which is the largest annual growth in spending since 2010.

We are spending more on militarism and weapons and pretending it brings security when we know people are fleeing from relentless bombing of their towns and cities, when we know the devastating radioactive violence of nuclear weapons lasts for generations, when we know that domestic violence victims are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner if there is a gun in the home, when we know that armed drones have killed thousands of civilians indiscriminately, when we know that the so-called threats that all this militarism is supposed to prevent just leads to more and more violence.

Yet the culture of militarism runs deep and holds fast. 105 years ago, WILPF’s founders saw that those who manufactured weapons were at the heart of a grave, deeply gendered racket, in which myths such as “security through violence” and “peace through war” are peddled in order to justify ever-increasing extravagant military budgets and profits.

Its embeddedness in our culture is why, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the military-industrialcomplex has done so well for itself. In many countries, arms producershave been deemed essential services. Boeing, a major military contractor, successfully pushed for billions in aid to the arms industry in the $2 trillion US stimulus bill. Part of the triumph of the military industry in the United States is due to the revolving door between arms contractors and the government. The industry also portrays itself as a great employer, from soldiering to weapons manufacturing to base building—even though as veterans and economists have pointed out, this is not the case.

The jobs argument just does not hold water. But the profits for these companies certainly does. About 90 per cent of Lockheed Martin’s budget, for example, comes from the US government—or rather, from US taxpayers. Its CEO earns between $21 and 34 million per year.

These corporations also profit from the international arms trade—which, despite the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, has also continued unabated during the pandemic. In Libya, for example, where several actors have called for a ceasefire, in particular during Ramadan, and where there is an official UN arms embargo in place, fighting has not only intensified but it has turned into what the UN acting special envoy called “an experimental field for all types of new weapons systems” due to arms shipments from supporters of the warring parties.

As noted in a previous blog, governments are also experimenting with new technologies of violence, surveillance, and repression during the pandemic, risking violation of human rights now and in the future. The military contractors involved in the development of these technologies include many of the usual suspects but also involve a growing number of tech firms including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and many more.

It’s important to note here that Amazon, which is suing the US government over not choosing it for its military cloud computing contract, has profited wildly from the coronavirus. At least, its CEO
has. Jeff Bezos’ net worth has increased by $24 million during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Amazon workers are striking because the company has not provided them with proper protective gear or been transparent about the number of positive cases in itsfacilities. Amazon is also using surveillance technology to identify union organising activities at its Whole Foods facilities.
This a prime example of various strands of militarism, capitalism, andrepression coming together to exploit moments of crisis for the personal gain of those at the very top of the money chain.

Making more than violence
Despite the stranglehold that militarism and its material realities seem to have over our politics and economics, this pandemic is starting to create some cracks and shifts in the official narrative. This week in New York, for example, where doctors and nurses are wearing raincoats and bandanas instead of proper protective gear, the military did a fly-over with their $20 million jets to “thank” front-line medicalworkers, additionally wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of fuel. New Yorkers were not impressed.

Around the world, people are starting to ask, how could our governments have been so unprepared for this crisis? They are looking at where their tax dollars have been going, towards weapons, war, and militarised “security”. They are asking, what else could this money have been spent on?

The Global Campaign on Military Spending has shown that one F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft could pay for 3244 intensive care unit beds, or that one submarine could pay for over 9000 fully-equipped ambulances. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has shown that a years’ worth of current investments in nuclear weapons in each country that has them could pay for hundreds of thousands of medical workers, ventilators, protective gear, and more. We know that more jobs could be created through investments in a Green New Deal and a Red Deal than are currently created by military spending, and that such investments would help us mitigate the climate crisis and improve thelives of billions of people and everyone else living on our planet.

So what do we need to do shift our culture and economics away from militarism and towards peace, solidarity, and social well-being?

Cut military spending now
We can start by cutting military spending. Mikhail Gorbachev, former premier of the Soviet Union, has called for an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly to revise the “entire global agenda,” including by committing states to cut military spending by 10–15 per cent.

WILPF welcomes this call. But we also do not believe that a 15 per cent cut in military spending gets us to where we need to be. Fifteen per cent of $1.9 trillion is $285 billion. Yes, that is a lot of money! It could be put to immediate good use on multiple fronts, from health care to employment and wages to housing to education to food and shelter, during this crisis and beyond.

But when we consider that the United States alone spent $732 billion last year on militarism, or when we consider that the nuclear weapon maintenance and modernisation programmes are going to cost over $1 trillion, or when we consider the annual costs of operating foreign military bases or the single unit prices of jet fighters, battle tanks, and submarines, we can clearly see a much greater cut is not only possible but absolutely necessary.

Disarm and demilitarise
To achieve this, the UN General Assembly needs to take additional actions, including taking over implementation of Article 26 of the UN Charter. This article gives the UN Security Council and the (now-defunct) Military Staff Committee the responsibility for creating a plan for regulating armaments and reducing military spending. These bodies have completely reneged on this responsibility. The UN General Assembly should take it up and negotiate a concrete programme for militarydivestment, demilitarisation, and disarmament.

The UN General Assembly has already negotiated and adopted the international Arms Trade Treaty, which is a good first step. But as a tool that is supposed to prevent arms transfers that lead to human suffering, it has not lived up to itspromise or potential. Much more is needed. Because many of the ATT’s champions are major arms producers and exporters, the Treaty has been used since its adoption as a tool to legitimise their production of and profits from weapons. While beneficial to certain governments and corporations, it has meant that people around the world continue to die from bombs and bullets on a daily basis.

We need an international system that deals directly with the production of weapons, as well as their sale, trade, trafficking, and with war profiteering. We need a programme for general and complete disarmament, building on the prohibitions, divestments, and elimination of specific weapon systems that we already have, taking the economic and political incentives out of arms manufacturing.

As part of this project of disarmament, divestment, and demilitarisation, we need to consider how to hold states to account for their commitments. Interim measures could include, for example, the establishment of an international monitoring body to track investmentsin weapons production and purchase, profits from sale and trade, with the objective of imposing taxes or other penalties for crossing agreed thresholds. The funds from this system of taxation could be deployed to assist with disarmament programmes, to retool arms production facilitates to other socially progressive purposes, and for disarmament and demilitarisation education

The role that bilateral and multilateral development assistance, aswell as international financial institutions (IFIs), must be examined as to whether they are incentivising or directly contributing to increases in military spending. The US government, for example, stipulates that recipients of its “foreign aid” must use part of the funds to purchase military equipment or training. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of the funding made available by European Union for the country’s response to the increase in migration flows have gone into purchasing surveillance and other equipment for the police forces.

Indirectly, conditionalities attached to IFI loans and grants that inter alia require privatisations, weakening of labour laws, and cuts in public spending, lead to increasing inequality and poverty. This often prompts governments to spend more on militarism, including by equipping police forces with army-grade weapons, to better protect private interests and resist opposition. These entities should be actively fostering policies for demilitarisation and disarmament, not increasing the availability of weapons and the risks of repression, violence, and war.

Self-evidently, the UN Security Council cannot maintain its current mandate of making executive decisions on matters of international peace and security when its five permanent members, each of which has a veto over every resolution and decision, all profit massively from international arms trafficking and the violence it facilitates in conflicts around the world.

Outside of the UN Security Council, various UN bodies have in the past undertaken serious efforts to reduce military spending. In 1959 the UN General Assembly reached consensus on the objective of general and complete disarmament, which prompted several efforts for disarmament, divestment, and demilitarisation within the UN system.

Essentially none of this work is ongoing now. Routine resolutions areadopted every year at the UN General Assembly about disarmament anddevelopment and about transparency in armaments, and mechanisms such as the UN Register of Conventional Weapons and Instrument for Reporting Military Expenditures continue to exist. But the momentum and energy have dissipated. This work should be resurrected and recharged.

Deconstruct power and re-centre reality
The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs is attempting to spark some interest, with its release last year of a paper providing a historical overview of past efforts, followed this year by the publication of a volume of activist perspectives on military spending.

This new publication includes a chapter from WILPF on feminist perspectives on military spending, in which we argue that military spending has consequences for ordering our societies and international relations and has thus far condemned us to live within systems of violence and exploitation. We highlight that the harms caused by militarism are levelled disproportionately by and against men in the immediate term, but are inflicted differentially and devastatingly upon those who have the least to do with creating this system: including women, Indigenous groups, LGBTQ+ people, ethnic and religious minorities, the poor and disenfranchised. Such populations tend to have no or little role in shaping the discourse on military spending, let alone establishing the limits or creating the budgets.

From this context, we reiterate WILPF’s call from 1915 for an end to the privatisation of military production and for outlawing the influence of corporate interest over national policies that undermine disarmament and preclude a rational analysis of weapons and war. We need to centre instead those whose lives have been harmed by the weaponisation of our world; centring a feminist practice and policy that exposes the dominant militaristic narrative as a perspective, not the only credible perspective; and dismantling systems that privilege the militarised voices in our midst.

This project of deconstructing and reconstructing power also means we need to deal with violent masculinities. Not only does the construct of militarised masculinity, as described previously, limit our ability to see past militarism as solution and saviour to all of our problems even while it is the cause of those problems, but it also portrays disarmament or conceptions of human security as “effeminate” and weak. Those perpetuating the dominant systems of thought posit that proponents of alternatives to militarism are emotional, unrealistic, and irrational. As the argument goes, there will always be those who want the capacity to wield power through violence; therefore, the “rational” actors need to retain the weapons for protection against the irrational others. This attitude not only undermines disarmament and reductions of military spending, but also perpetuates a social acceptance of human beings as expendable, in stark contrast to the principles that form the bedrock of human rights law.

Take an integrated approach
This work also requires better integration and coordination among UN and other international mechanisms, including those related to disarmament, human rights, and women, peace, and security. For many years, WILPF has been amplifying the voices of women from around the world whose rights and security have been negatively impacted by the arms trade and the use of weapons in conflict, post-conflict, and in times of “peace”. We have made submissions about arms production and trade to human rights bodies and have talked about women’s rights in disarmament forums. Some governments and elements of the UN system are taking a more integrated approach to some of these issues but are categorically falling short of undertaking actions that will introduce the transformative changes we need in our structures of economic and political power. Adding women and stirring is just not enough, folks.

The UN’s human rights mechanisms have already been stepping up during this crisis. As mentioned in our blog about multilateralism, statements and guidelines from the High Commissioners for Human Rights and for Refugees, some UN special rapporteurs, and at least ten human rights treaty bodies and committees, have been urging governments to ensure respect for human rights during the pandemic. Many of these have accounted for the intersectionality of sex, gender, race, class, disability, and other experiences and identities in their suggestions for how to prevent repression of various populations, including when it comes to using surveillance technologies. This work should be continued and taken up in a coordinated way by other aspects of the multilateral machinery, and must also look at the ways in which militarism impacts human rights during this crisis and beyond.

Evolve and adapt  
The connections between military spending, human rights, and the health of people and planet have never been clearer. We are what we spend our money on. Right now, we are armed to our teeth without a face mask to spare. If we are to survive this crisis, and the next one—crises of our own making because of our choices in investment in militarism, fossil fuels, and the capitalist economy we absolutely must learn and adapt. In this case, adaptation means divestment, demilitarisation, and disarmament. This is entirely possible, if we choose to act. Now.

Friday

Oscar-winner Emma Thompson stars in new Extinction Rebellion film | Living

Oscar-winner Emma Thompson stars in new Extinction Rebellion film | Living:
Release of a new short film starring Emma Thompson about Extinction Rebellion. The film depicts a fictionalised version of the protests held by the activist group last April, which culminated in the UK becoming the first country to formally declare a climate emergency.

 The double Academy Award winner took part in last year’s climate protests, which saw parts of the UK’s capital grind to a halt during a fortnight of continuous civil disobedience. It was during this time that the short film, entitled Extinction, was shot. The 12-minute production tells the story of a group of climate activists meeting with the Environment Minister in the midst of an ongoing rebellion. The film will be available to view online, for free, from 12:00pm BST tomorrow.

Thursday

Urge Ottawa to support a green recovery - David Suzuki Foundation

Urge Ottawa to support a green recovery - David Suzuki Foundation:
We are facing a crisis unparalleled in recent history. Strangely, in a period when we are stressed, concerned and physically isolated, we also feel united and connected as never before. Let there be no doubt: we will get through this pandemic together. And, we will come out of it with more confidence in our capacity to meet the most daunting challenges together. The federal government’s response to the crisis has focused, necessarily, on limiting the virus’s spread and emergency economic measures. The government will also likely announce a package to jump-start economic recovery once the public health threat is under control.
We identified some great near-term projects to include in this package that can put people back to work, build our collective resilience and position us to respond to the biodiversity and climate crises. We have shared our recommendations with government.
Now we need your help to demonstrate public support for a green recovery by signing this petition now.  They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Let’s make sure the new day that follows is a greener one.

ACT NOW: Stop Site-C Dam Construction Amidst COVID-19 | Amnesty International Canada

ACT NOW: Stop Site-C Dam Construction Amidst COVID-19 | Amnesty International Canada
Call on BC authorities to take immediate action to close the construction on the Site C dam in response to government guidelines on COVID-19
Construction has been designated an essential service by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as of March 26, as part of a lengthy list of activities ordered to continue by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth. 
Last week, both the community of Fort St. John and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs called for a stop to the ongoing construction of the Site C dam citing the threat to public safety and health caused by the 1,600-worker site.
Chief Roland Willson of West Moberly First Nation has told Amnesty, “we find it very irresponsible/unconscionable for them not to shut down." He highlights that continued work puts the whole of North East BC at extreme risk.

Friday

Dollarama respect pandemic rules and give workers protective gear

Dollarama respect pandemic rules and give workers protective gear
Hey, it's a Montreal company.  Shame.
DOLLARAMA has been deemed an essential service during this COVID-19 pandemic. 
But the multi-billion dollar company is refusing to provide workers with gloves and masks and many of the cashiers don’t even have a glass partition separating them from customers. 
Workers are endangering their lives for minimum wage.
Walmart, Loblaws and most major retailers equipped their workers with appropriate protective equipment weeks ago and provided them with an increased danger pay, to try to make up for the risks involved in showing up day-in and day-out for work. 
No worker should have to put their life on the line to put a roof over their head and DOLLARAMA stands alone in its industry in its complete disregard for its workers. Now is the perfect time to support frontline workers at DOLLARAMA who deserve danger pay and safe working conditions.

Here's a petition.


Thursday

UN Human Rights is joining forces with Wikimedia for the #IStandWithHer campaign | Stand up for human rights | UN Human Rights

UN Human Rights is joining forces with Wikimedia for the #IStandWithHer campaign | Stand up for human rights | UN Human Rights

This collaboration is a continuation of an ongoing partnership announced in 2019 focused on adding and improving content about human rights, gender equality, and the work of women human rights defenders onWikipedia.

During the year, we will collaborate on the following initiatives:
  • Global call to action to improve knowledge about women human rights defenders and gender equality on Wikipedia. This call is part of the #WikiHerStory initiative launched for Women’s History Month. UN Human Rights is joining these  efforts to help #ChangeTheStory and promote a fair and non-stereotyped portrayal of women online and in the media.
  • WikiGapChallenge: a public writing competition  to create and improve articles to strengthen Wikipedia's coverage of  women and related topics into as many languages as possible. The
    challenge is organized as part of the global WikiGap campaign, led by Wikimedia Sverige. This year, UN Human Rights developed a list of names of important women in human rights with few or no articles on  Wikipedia. The winner will have the opportunity to participate in some  events organized by UN Human Rights on the margins of the June session  of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
  • Regional events: UN Human Rights and the  Wikimedia Foundation will collaborate with contributors from Wikimedia  communities worldwide to edit and create content in different languages  through various regional events.

Students shut down St. George street in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders | The Varsity

Students shut down St. George street in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders | The Varsity

Over 150 student activists blocked off a segment of St. George street during the afternoon of March 4 as part of a national student walkout in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en land defenders. The segment of St. George street from Harbord Street to Wilcocks Street was blocked off by Campus Police
during the walkout, which lasted from approximately 12:00–3:30 pm.

The Wet’suwet’en land defenders and  their supporters have engaged in rail blockades since December in an  attempt to stop a Coastal GasLink pipeline that was proposed on unceded
Wet’suwet’en territory. These protests are only the most recent actions  that have taken place as part of a decade-long movement against the  pipeline.


Protests in recent months were in response to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s raids in Wet’suwet’en territory. 

Students shut down St. George street in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en land defenders

Wednesday

UNDRIP petition re Truth and Reconciliation

Sign this Petition - Petitions

e-2396



Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas:
  • Canadian constitutional law is accountable to the human rights obligations outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
  • Canada has also committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report "Calls to Action";
  • The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Canada to: immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline until free, prior, and informed consent is obtained from Indigenous Peoples; immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en Peoples; prohibit the use of lethal weapons against Indigenous Peoples and guarantee no force will be used against them; withdraw the RCMP and associated security and policing services from traditional lands;
  • Hereditary Chiefs have the right to grant consent, or not, for activities on their territories; and
  • The Coastal GasLink project has the potential to release massive amounts of methane through the extraction, transport, liquefaction and regasification processes.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action by immediately:
— Halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet’suwet’en territory;
— Ordering the RCMP to dismantle their exclusion zone and stand down;— Schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet’suwet’en Nation and federal and provincial governments; and— Prioritize the real implementation of the UNDRIP.

Tuesday

Open letter: Amnesty International visits Tyendinaga, urges Trudeau to act on reconciliation | Amnesty International Canada

Open letter: Amnesty International visits Tyendinaga, urges Trudeau to act on reconciliation | Amnesty International Canada

The past several weeks have brought the deeply disappointing state of reconciliation and regard for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada to the fore with a degree of urgency rarely witnessed. Right across the country, protests of resistance and of solidarity by Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous communities, sparked by deep concern about the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline through Wet’suwet’en Territory in British Columbia, have led to a national conversation about rights, reconciliation, the economy and the environment, that has been both troubling and encouraging.
We write to urge that your government demonstrate the leadership that is very much needed at this critical and potentially pivotal moment, working closely with Indigenous peoples’ leadership and organizations and with provincial and territorial governments, to advance foundational change to truly progress with meaningful reconciliation and full respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. 
It is unacceptable and untenable to rely primarily on a strategy of responding one-by-one to the mounting number of instances of barricades, injunctions, and law enforcement. Instead, there is a pressing need for comprehensive and concrete action, beyond the aspirational words and lofty promises that are usually offered, that will build confidence that the journey of reconciliation is truly underway.
Amnesty International visited Tyendinaga today, in the aftermath of the Ontario Provincial Police’s enforcement action which has reportedly resulted in the arrest of ten protesters. It was notable to us that all community members we spoke with described a feeling of betrayal and broken trust, particularly given the dialogue that had begun with Minister Miller on February 15th, reiterated in his assurance to Tyendinaga leadership the following day, in his letter of February 16th, that he “welcome[s] the invitation to talk again in the near future to continue our open and respectful dialogue.” What happened today was not consistent with that assurance.
We should be ashamed as a country that we find ourselves in the current situation.  
  • Measures should have been adopted long ago to ensure proper respect for Indigenous rights in Canada.
  • We should have in place a fair, accessible, non-adversarial and expeditious process for resolving land claims.  
  • Legal reforms should have been enacted, years ago, to ensure that the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is part of our national fabric. 
  • The vital human rights safeguard of free, prior and informed consent should by now have been embraced by all governments in Canada as the blueprint for a nation-to-nation relationship rooted in respect and justice; rather than the scaremongering talk of it being a veto that stands in the way of Canadian prosperity.
We appreciated the restraint that your government demonstrated in the initial phases of the blockades and demonstrations that have been organized, highlighting how important it is to pursue dialogue and not rush to the use of police force as a response. That is of vital importance given that there is a long historical context of unrelenting human rights violations against Indigenous peoples, going back hundreds of years, that give shape to the realities that are at the root of contemporary concerns.
Many politicians and commentators have rashly and often aggressively insisted that Indigenous peoples must exhibit patience. It is time to recognize that the contrary is the case. Indigenous peoples have shown nothing but patience, for far too long, in the face of racist laws, unjust policies and unspeakably cruel violence, as their rights have been violated, dismissed and ignored. If anything, it is time for governments across Canada, businesses and the Canadian public to be the ones expected to be patient.  
As many have noted, the call for patience is particularly inappropriate with respect to the Wet’suwet’en people, who have waited for 23 years for their land rights to be recognized following the groundbreaking 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision; and for the Tyendinga Mohawks who have waited for over 170 years for the return of their lands taken as part of the Culbertson Tract.    
While your government did initially show remarkable restraint, you have of course in the end given a nod to enforcement action, which is now being pursued by national, provincial and municipal police forces across the country. That enforcement will not bring resolution to the deep concerns that underly these rights struggles and protests. For many communities it only adds to decades of trauma associated with violent and repressive police and judicial action that has been at the heart of the most shameful and upsetting chapters of Canadian history.
We have written to you previously urging that at a minimum Canada comply with the decision of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with respect to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, TransMountain Pipeline Expansion and Site C dam. The importance of governments in Canada living up to the country’s international human rights obligations in those three situations and many others has been frequently reiterated by Indigenous peoples across Canada, yet your government has not shown any intention to do so.
We therefore call on you to take the following steps:
  • Ensure that land defenders are not criminalized and that people who have been arrested for defending the land and who have not engaged in acts of criminal violence are released unconditionally.  
  • Respond immediately to the December 2019 ruling of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, including suspending construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in the absence of the free, prior and informed consent of the Wet’suwet’en people and the withdrawal of the RCMP from their traditional territory.
  • Move immediately on longpromised legal reforms, notably a legislative framework for implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Engage directly and personally in discussions with Indigenous chiefs, elected and hereditary, so as to demonstrate that you recognize that these are not simply matters of barricades and law enforcement, but are the very essence of a respectful and rights regarding nation-to-nation relationship.
Prime Minister, you face an unprecedented opportunity to break with decades of failure when it comes to the relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada. To do so means putting rights first, embracing the full complexity of reconciliation and making it clear to all Canadians that while the road ahead will not always be easy, it is the only path to a just and sustainable future for our country. 
We are available to meet with you at your convenience to discuss these concerns and recommendations further. 
Sincerely, Alex Neve                                                           France-Isabelle Langlois



Former UN Climate Chief Calls For Civil Disobedience

Former UN Climate Chief Calls For Civil Disobedience:

In a book out tomorrow, the woman who led the negotiations for the Paris Agreement calls for civil disobedience to force institutions to respond to the climate crisis. “It’s time to participate in non-violent political movements wherever possible,” Christiana Figueres writes in “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis,” which will be released tomorrow by Knopf.

 Figueres served as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-16. She co-authored the book with her strategic advisor, Tom Rivett-Carnac. The two also support voting: “Large numbers of people must vote on climate change as their number one priority,” they write. “As we are in the midst of the most dire emergency, we must urgently demand that those who seek high office offer solutions commensurate with the scale of the problem.”

 But they note that electoral politics have failed to meet the challenge, largely because of systemic roadblocks including corporate lobbying and partisan opposition.

They endorse Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg. They evoke legendary activists who effected change on the scale required by the climate crisis, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela. “Civil disobedience is not only a moral choice, it is also the most powerful way of shaping world politics,” they write, citing scientific resources on the impact of civil disobedience.

Sunday

Scientists support indigenous land rights

Scientists support indigenous land rights:

Combined, indigenous lands and protected areas cover 52 percent of the Amazon and store 58 percent of the carbon. The new PNAS study suggests they are increasingly at risk from illegal activities and growing weaknesses in the rule of law, endangering their role in protecting vulnerable landscapes. Their findings led the authors to call for strengthening the rights of indigenous peoples whose lands cover 30 percent of the Amazon and hold 34 percent of its carbon. Wayne Walker, lead author and scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, said: “Our work shows that forests under the stewardship of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities continue to have better carbon outcomes than lands lacking protection, meaning that their role is critical and must be strengthened if Amazon basin countries are to succeed in maintaining this globally important resource, while also achieving their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.”