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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


Women’s March: A year later, women are reshaping the future | Toronto Star

Women’s March: A year later, women are reshaping the future | Toronto Star
Was it only two years ago that we read headlines such as “Feminism is over, the battle is won. Time to move on?”
Last year, rising fundamentalism around the world with Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president at its pinnacle exposed the vulnerability of hard-fought women’s rights that were considered done and dusted. The threat galvanized millions of people to take to the streets across the globe, smashing bystanderism and launching a pipeline of young leaders.
One year later, some of those young women led the thousands who gathered in Toronto on Saturday for the second Women’s March, one of at least 38 rallies in the country, with the mission of “inspiring, unifying and leading the charge for advancement of women across Canada.”
Its theme was defining a new future. On Saturday, that future looked diverse and Indigenous.


| Evidence For Democracy - a great cause

| Evidence For Democracy
Here is a new science org you might wish to support - protect science, encourage evident-based decision making!

Evidence for Democracy (E4D) is the leading fact-driven, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization promoting the transparent use of evidence in government decision-making in Canada.
Through research, education and issue campaigns, we engage and empower the science community while cultivating public and political demand for evidence-based decision-making.
Our Work
Our issue-based campaigns tackle emerging issues affecting science and evidence-based public policy in Canada. We work with national and local partners to organize events, raise awareness, and engage the public directly with policy-makers.
Our education program puts knowledge and skills into the hands of Canada’s scientific community and the wider public. We facilitate expert panels, lectures, and documentary screenings to educate Canadians on issues concerning evidence-based decision-making. We also design and deliver original hands-on workshops providing training for communication and action to support science in Canada.
Our original research program addresses knowledge gaps at the interface of policy and evidence. We identify what works, what hasn’t, and what opportunities exist for improvement. Our critical analyses are intended for use by government, industry, NGOs and the public to strengthen the inclusion evidence-based decision-making in policy.

Human Rights Day, 10 December.

Human Rights Day 10 December
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70
Let’s stand up for equality, justice and human dignity
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.   
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all.
  • Human rights are relevant to all of us, every day.
  • Our shared humanity is rooted in these universal values.
  • Equality, justice and freedom prevent violence and sustain peace.
  • Whenever and wherever humanity's values are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.
  • We need to stand up for our rights and those of others.

Make a Contribution | Evidence For Democracy

Make a Contribution | Evidence For Democracy

The federal government has made it clear that science and climate change are two of their top priorities, so why are they closing this key research station? 
With the impacts of our changing climate already being felt in Canada and around the world, investing in climate science is a necessary part of ensuring that our decisions and actions around climate change mitigation and adaptation are based on up-to-date science and evidence.
PEARL is one of only a handful of high Arctic research stations in the world. From its scientifically strategic location in Canada’s high arctic, PEARL is able to investigate crucial environmental issues like ozone depletion, airborne spread of pollutants and monitor high Arctic climate changes.
After over a decade of internationally recognized scientific research, PEARL is at risk of closing.
PEARL, along with six other climate change and atmospheric research projects were all funded by the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research Program (CCAR). Money for the CCAR program runs out this year and the federal government did not announce any new funds in the 2017 budget. Without immediate new funding, all of these research programs are expected to end.
But it’s not too late to save PEARL and Canadian atmospheric climate science! Join us in asking the government to:
  • Invest $1.5 million per year to make PEARL a national laboratory
  • Provide a well supported and stable funding environment for climate research in Canada by reinstating a funding model for climate science similar to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (CFCAS) that was cut by the Harper government.
Given the Government’s commitment to addressing climate change, investing in climate and atmospheric science should be at the forefront of funding priorities.
With climate science under attack in the US, Canada has an opportunity and a responsibility to be international leaders on climate science. This starts by making sure PEARL and the other CCAR-funded projects aren’t shuttered.
The government has supported a new northern research center, the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), which is a valuable asset to Canadian polar knowledge. But there is no indication that any atmospheric or climate change research will be untaken at CHARS. Also CHARS is located 1200 km south of PEARL, so it simply can’t replace the high arctic data collected at PEARL.
Shutdown preparations at PEARL have already begun, we need urgent action to save this essential research station.


U of T will not permit use of campus for Toronto Nationalist Rally

U of T will not permit use of campus for Toronto Nationalist Rally

The University of Toronto has notified organizers of the Toronto Nationalist Rally, in writing, that they are not permitted to use space on its campuses. 
Earlier this week, the university learned the organization had indicated in a Facebook post that it would hold the rally on U of T’s downtown Toronto campus in September. The organization did not have permission to hold the event at U of T.
The university reported the erroneous claim to Facebook and followed up with a ‘cease-and-desist’ letter to the organization, requesting that it discontinue using the name of the university or any “other practices which may lead to the perception that your September 14th event is located, sponsored, hosted, or endorsed by or has any relationship to, the University of Toronto.”
The Canadian Nationalist Party subsequently sent U of T an email asking how to book space. Although no formal request was ever made, the university has told the organization in writing that U of T will not permit it to hold events on campus “because of concerns about the safety of students, faculty, staff and the public.” 
The university's policy on booking space explains that the university “reserves the right to control access to its campuses, and to the use of its space and facilities.” The policy makes it clear that the use of university space must abide by U of T's principles, including freedom of expression, mutual respect and civility, and that safety concerns will be taken into consideration.
The move comes against the backdrop of violence, racism and anti-Semitism in the United States that culminated last weekend in a rally by white supremacists in Virginia that left three dead, including an anti-racism protester.
“Bigotry, hate, intolerance and violence have no place on our campuses,” President Meric Gertlersaid. “The recent use of Neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan slogans and symbols in Charlottesville, Virginia must be condemned in the strongest terms.  We must be clear that this is never acceptable. At the same time, the events in Virginia have justifiably increased concern about safety in our community and elsewhere.”

Read the president's statement

Read the Globe and Mail article

Read the Toronto Star article


Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders | Amnesty International

Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders | Amnesty International
Tell Turkey: free Amnesty’s Idil Eser and other rights defenders. Police have detained the second Amnesty International Turkey leader within the space of a month.
On the morning of the 5th July, police arrested eight human rights activists, including Idil Eser, and two trainers who were attending a workshop in Istanbul. For over 24 hours, they weren’t allowed to contact their families or see a lawyer - and no one even knew where they were.
Idil and the others were doing nothing wrong.  They are now being investigated on suspicion of "membership of an armed terrorist organisation": a ridiculous and baseless accusation.This kind of attack on Human Rights Defenders is becoming more frequent. The Turkish government is abusing its power, deliberately making the country a dangerous place for people who speak out for human rights.
The ten human rights defenders detained are İdil Eser (Amnesty International), İlknur Üstün  (Women's Coalition), Günal Kurşun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nalan Erkem,(Citizens Assembly), Nejat Taştan (Equal Rights Watch Association), Özlem Dalkıran (Citizens’ Assembly), Şeyhmuz Özbekli (lawyer), Veli Acu (Human Rights Agenda Association) Ali Gharavi (IT strategy consultant), Peter Steudtner (non-violence and wellbeing trainer).

China: Democratic Voice Liu Xiaobo Dies in Custody | Human Rights Watch

China: Democratic Voice Liu Xiaobo Dies in Custody | Human Rights Watch

The death of Chinese dissident and public intellectual Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, lays bare the Chinese government’s ruthlessness toward peaceful proponents of human rights and democracy, Human Rights Watch said today. On July 13, 2017, Liu died from complications of liver cancer in a Shenyang hospital in Liaoning Province while being guarded by state security.  The last time a Nobel Peace laureate died in state custody was in 1938, when pacifist Carl von Ossietzky died of tuberculosis under guard in a hospital in Nazi Germany.

Suncor: clean up your toxic tailings mess before 2085

Suncor: clean up your toxic tailings mess.

Suncor is trying to get the Alberta government to give it until 2085 to clean up billions of litres of ghastly mess.
But it gets worse. Suncor's strategy to "clean up" literally 525 billion litres of poisonous tailings sludge involves dumping it into a hole and capping it with water. That's it. This half-baked plan is nothing more than Suncor’s thinly veiled excuse to avoid cleaning up the after-party of a 50-year fossil fuel extraction binge fest.

We have zero guarantees that corporations like Suncor will even be around in three-quarters of a century -- let alone have the resources or motivation to clean their messes up.

Tell Suncor to stop playing games and clean up its mess now.

There are now more than 1.2 trillion litres of tar sands tailings fluids sitting in open ponds and leaching toxic chemicals into the environment of northern Alberta. They remain the biggest logistical and environmental challenge of bitumen mining.

Indigenous Peoples, environmentalists, and residents have always feared that the long-term plan is to simply delay cleaning them up until every last drop of carbon has been sucked out of the earth. Then, the tar sands corporations can leave the mess for communities and taxpayers to deal with. And if Suncor gets its way, this is exactly what will happen.

What's even more baffling is that Suncor's mine is set to close in 2032, so essentially the company is asking us to believe it is going to stick around for over 50 years after operations have ended to clean up what it destroyed. Albertans and Canadians have absolutely no guarantee Suncor is going to finish the job. This is a risk we simply cannot afford to take.

The Alberta government is currently reviewing Suncor's flawed tailings strategy -- and that means we don't have long to act. 
Tell Suncor it needs to take responsibility and clean up its toxic tailings mess.