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

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.”
97% of scientists agree; the climate crisis represents a catastrophic threat to the lives of billions around the world. As the youth of Stratford, we are calling upon the city to protect our future by declaring a climate emergency.
Our Demands:
  1. Have the city of Stratford declare a climate emergency.
  2. Create a municipal climate adaptation strategy, ensuring Stratford meets the goals under the Paris Accord and is prepared to mitigate the severe effects of Climate Change.
Why a state of emergency?
Declaring a state of emergency is a critical step in ensuring continued local climate action, holding our leaders accountable. It is not unprecedented, several other cities in Canada have declared a state of emergency. It also sends a message to our provincial and federal politicians that Stratford takes the climate crisis seriously and will not back down in demanding action.
Yes it is! Many other municipalities have done so: https://www.theclimatemobilization.org/us-can-map?
Check out this great video with everyone's favorite science guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtW2rrLHs08
Yes it is! A recent report from some of the most well-respected climate scientists in the world has stated that we have only 12 years to take significant action to stop the climate crisis, which will literally destroy the planet if we do nothing. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report

Friday

‘What cost are human rights worth?’ UN calls for immediate RCMP withdrawal in Wet’suwet’en standoff  | The Narwhal

‘What cost are human rights worth?’ UN calls for immediate RCMP withdrawal in Wet’suwet’en standoff  | The Narwhal:

Experts say the world is watching to see if Canada heeds a call from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until ‘free, prior and informed consent’ is obtained from Indigenous peoples

In a move Phillip called a “significant development,” the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a triple-barrelled decision calling on Canada to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from Indigenous peoples. 
The committee urged Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en peoples who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Secwepemc peoples opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons —  notably by the RCMP — against Indigenous peoples and to guarantee no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP, along with associated security and policing services, from traditional lands. 
In a two-page decision statement, the committee said it is alarmed by the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. and disturbed by the “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against Indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects” on their traditional territories.

Trump Administration walks away from Ottawa Treaty adherence. - Ceasefire.ca

Trump Administration walks away from Ottawa Treaty adherence. - Ceasefire.ca: Former Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy was a key actor behind the ground-breaking government-civil society coalition that was instrumental in achieving the Ottawa Treaty. Together with John English, a former landmines ambassador, he penned an eloquent commentary entitled: The Ottawa Treaty: Trump has to be stopped from removing landmine protections (globeandmail.com, 6 February – paywalled). The authors have kindly agreed to our inclusion of a pdf. version of the commentary, which can be accessed here . Decrying the “specious reasoning” of military necessity, Axworthy and English recall the important role played by veterans in securing the treaty, thus: reinforcing the case that the military utility…was peripheral but the danger of killing and maiming soldiers and civilians was extremely high. Other commentators note that the “widespread outcry” over this retrograde step reflects how deeply these indiscriminate weapons have been stigmatized since 1997, when the Mine Ban Treaty was adopted. Axworthy and English conclude their analysis with a call to action for the Government of Canada: Canada must take a stand to defend the integrity of a remarkable and historic treaty that bears the name of our national capital, restore funding for landmine removal and seek to mobilize other governments in a condemnation of the Trump administration’s attack on landmine security and protection.

Tuesday

Women Activists Escalate Demand for “Bodily Autonomy” as 19 Nations Dissent | Inter Press Service

Women Activists Escalate Demand for “Bodily Autonomy” as 19 Nations Dissent | Inter Press Service

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 17 2020 (IPS) -
The United States and 18 other UN member states have come under fire
for denying a woman’s legitimate right to “bodily autonomy”—the right to
self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external
pressure.



The Executive Director of Women’s March Global, Uma Mishra-Newbery,
told IPS the United Nations has worked towards progress in fighting for
women’s rights.

But many countries on the Human Rights Council continue to negotiate women’s human rights off the table, she pointed out.

In Sept 2019, she said, the world watched as the US, in partnership
with 18 other member states, put forth a statement saying there is no
international right to abortion.

She said UN member states have also witnessed “the continued and
grave human rights violations in Saudi Arabia”, including the continued
torture of imprisoned women human rights defenders like Loujain
al-Hathloul.

“Yet the UN and member states fail to hold Saudi Arabia truly
accountable for its actions. The UN must hold these governments
accountable as they work to strip women’s rights away without
repercussions”, she declared.

Beside the United States, the 18 countries singled out include
Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt,
Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Poland, Russia,
Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Saturday

Statement in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Nation | The Council of Canadians

Statement in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en Nation | The Council of Canadians
Council of Canadians chapters, supporters and staff are firmly in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation as they continue to assert sovereignty on their traditional territories and resist state violence.
Land defenders have shared on the Unist’ot’en Camp website: “On December 31, 2019, BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church granted an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en nation who have been stewarding and protecting our traditional territories from the destruction of multiple pipelines, including Coastal GasLink’s liquefied natural gas pipeline.” The Wet’suwet’en issued a call for international solidarity actions in response to this escalating situation.
Earlier this month, all five clans of the Wet’suwet’en Nation evicted Coastal GasLink (CGL) from their territories. The company sought and obtained an injunction from the BC Supreme Court, which gave the Wet’suwet’en until 3pm on Friday, January 10 2020 to comply with an order to remove gates and cabins on their own lands.
In early 2019 the RCMP forcibly removed Wet’suwet’en people and their guests from the Gidimt’en checkpoint. This heavily militarized raid included assault rifles and the RCMP were authorized to use lethal force against Indigenous land defenders.
Since this brutal attack in January 2019, BC has passed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into law, including the right for Indigenous nations to give free, prior and informed consent to activities on their lands. This right includes the right to say no, which is what the Wet’suwet’en are doing now.
In January 2020, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called upon Canada to halt construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline until the Wet’suwet’en people grant free, prior and informed consent to the project. The committee also urged Canada to cease the forced eviction of land defenders and prohibit the use of lethal weapons against Indigenous Peoples, and to guarantee that no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP from traditional lands.
In their own words, the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs demand the following:
  • That the province cease construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline project and suspend permits.
  • That the UNDRIP and our right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are respected by the state and RCMP.
  • That the RCMP and associated security and policing services be withdrawn from Wet’suwet’en lands, in agreement with the most recent letter provided by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation’s (CERD) request.
  • That the provincial and federal government, RCMP and private industry employed by CGL respect our laws and our governance system, and refrain from using any force to access our lands or remove our people.
To support the Wet’suwet’en Nation, you can take this action in solidarity now.

Friday

A year of resistance: How youth protests shaped the discussion on climate change



A year of resistance: How youth protests shaped the discussion on climate change
...Indigenous activists like Vanessa GrayNick EstesAutumn PeltierKanahus Manuel and many others whose work bridges sovereignty and environmental damage have also played an important role. They have helped shift the climate movement toward the framework of climate justice, which acknowledges the intersections of colonialism, racialization, capitalism and climate change.
This moment also builds on environmental justice movements. Young activists like Isra HirsiCricket ChengMaya Menezes and others have been building movements where a racial justice lens brings the climate movement into focus.
While these leaders may not have been recognized with Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, their work has significantly reshaped the climate movement. They are helping politicize a new generation of climate activists who understand climate change not as an isolated phenomenon, but one with roots in a capitalist system that is inherently racist, colonial, sexist and ableist.

Indigenous-led resistance

This year has also seen Indigenous-led resistance to climate change and the related oil, gas, fracking, hydro and other natural resource extraction too.
Secwepemc leaders and their allies have built tiny houses to prevent the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from being forced through unceded Secwepemc territory. In Mi'kmaqi and Wolastoqey territory, there’s been resistance to fracking. Across northern Manitoba, Cree and Nishnaabe communities are resisting hydro projects they say will devastate their communities.
In British Columbia, nations have fought the Site C dam, which threatens to flood communities, change watersheds and escalate violence against women through work camps filled with men. Inuit and Cree communities in Labrador have resisted the Muskrat Falls hydro project.

Thursday

Scientists Want to Make Harming the Environment a War Crime

Scientists Want to Make Harming the Environment a War Crime

Now in a letter published in the scientific journal Nature, a group of scientists is urging the United Nations to make it a war crime to harm the environment during times of conflict. The UN’s International Law Commission is in talks through Aug. 8, and the scientists are calling on attending members to create a framework “to protect the environment in regions of armed conflict.”
“We call on governments to incorporate explicit safeguards for biodiversity, and to use the commission’s recommendations to finally deliver a Fifth Geneva Convention to uphold environmental protection during such confrontations,” the petition reads. 
“Despite calls for a fifth convention two decades ago, military conflict continues to destroy megafauna, push species to extinction, and poison water resources,” the petition continues. “The uncontrolled circulation of arms exacerbates the situation, for instance by driving unsustainable hunting of wildlife.”

Tuesday

A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World | Portside

A Shadowy Industry Group Shapes Food Policy Around the World | Portside
When the Indian government bowed to powerful food companies last year and postponed its decision to put red warning labels on unhealthy packaged food, officials also sought to placate critics of the delay by creating an expert panel to review the proposed labeling system, which would have gone far beyond what other countries have done in the battle to combat soaring obesity rates.
But the man chosen to head the three-person committee, Dr. Boindala Sesikeran, a veteran nutritionist and former adviser to Nestle, only further enraged health advocates.
That’s because Dr. Sesikeran is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute, an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name that has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world.
Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 17 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical industries.
The organization, which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the United States, has more recently expanded its activities in Asia and Latin America, regions that provide a growing share of food company profits. It has been especially active in China, India and Brazil, the world’s first, second and sixth most populous nations.
In China, the institute shares both staff and office space with the agency responsible for combating the country’s epidemic of obesity-related illness. In Brazil, ILSI representatives occupy seats on a number of food and nutrition panels that were previously reserved for university researchers.
And in India, Dr. Sesikeran’s leadership role on the food labeling committee has raised questions about whether regulators will ultimately be swayed by processed food manufacturers who say the red warning labels would hurt sales.
“What could possibly go wrong?” Amit Srivastava, the coordinator of the advocacy group India Resource Center, asked sarcastically. “To have a covert food lobby group deciding public health policy is wrong and a blatant conflict of interest.”