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.


Inside The FP2020 Reference Group – Family Planning 2020

Inside The FP2020 Reference Group – Family Planning 2020 – Medium
This particular meeting had special significance, because it was our first opportunity to hear feedback from the broader family planning community captured through the post-2020 global consultation, including results from the recent survey circulated among our partners about the future vision for this movement. Our agenda also included planning for the impending results of the ECHO trial (Evidence for Contraceptive Options and HIV Outcomes), and championing the incorporation of family planning within the growing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) movement and benefits packages.Perhaps the most memorable portion of the ECHO discussion were presentations by two African sexual, reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocates, Yvette Raphael from APHA South Africa and Jhpiego’s Angela Mutunga from Kenya. They reminded us the risks women face in their sexual and reproductive lives are deeply personal. Yvette rightly pointed out that, “No woman just has HIV. Or just needs family planning. There is just one woman with many needs.”

Looking beyond the ECHO trial, A similar discussion took place around how to integrate family planning into the UHC and primary health care frameworks. WHO’s Ian Askew reminded us that family planning has an advantage because it’s embedded within two of the Sustainable Development Goals, unlike other global health issues. As we all know, there are life-threatening consequences if family planning is not included in UHC schemes; there is no development without girls and women. And we must elevate the economic benefit argument so that family planning is included in the list of interventions driven by real value.


No military intervention in Venezuela

Bolton is up to his usual machinations..

Earlier this week, the U.S.-backed Venezuelan
opposition leader Juan Guaidó launched what appeared to be an attempted coup.
Dozens of people were injured in the bedlam that ensued. Guadió was hoping
enough military leaders would defect, toppling the government of Nicolás

What’s apparent is that the U.S. was
highly involved, and has been for months.
In a radio interview,
National Security Advisor John Bolton outlined that 3 senior officials would
defect from the government, and that the Venezuelan Supreme Court would declare
the Maduro government illegitimate, offering military leaders the necessary
political and legal cover to remove Maduro.[1] In return, these individuals
would receive amnesty from Guaidó and the U.S. would remove them from its
sanctions list. Bolton tweeted that message directly to these senior

The effort didn’t work though. “For reasons
that are still not clear, that didn’t go forward yesterday,” Bolton admitted. In
response, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has canceled a trip to
Europe in order to coordinate with the National Security Council and State
Department on Venezuela. 

Venezuela is now a tinderbox ready to
erupt, and the U.S. is rattling its sabers.
Responding to these
developments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubled down on the U.S. position,
saying that “the president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent,
military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the U.S.
will do.”[3] Congress can and must put a stop to this, and we need to put
pressure on them to act.


Ecuador Amazon tribe win first victory against oil companies

Ecuador Amazon tribe win first victory against oil companies

Ecuador’s Waorani indigenous tribe won their first victory Friday against big oil companies in a ruling that blocks the companies’ entry onto ancestral Amazonian lands for oil exploration activities.
After two weeks of deliberations, a criminal court in Puyo, central Ecuador, accepted a Waorani bid for court protection in Pastaza province to stop an oil bidding process after the government moved to open up around 180,000 hectares for exploration.
The lands are protected under Ecuador’s constitution that establishes the “inalienable, unseizable and indivisible” rights of indigenous people “to maintain possession of their ancestral lands and obtain their free adjudication.”
Crucially, however, the wealth in the subsoil is owned by the state.
The constitution also enshrines the need for prior consultation on any plans to exploit the underground resources, given the probable environmental and cultural impacts on tribal communities.
The state reached an agreement with the Waorani over oil exploration in 2012, but the tribe’s leaders say they were duped.
The judges ordered the government to conduct a new consultation, applying standards set by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San Jose.
The ruling “has created a significant precedent for the Amazon,” said Lina Maria Espinosa, attorney for the plaintiffs, outside court. “It has been demonstrated that there was no consultation and that the state violated the rights of this people, and therefore of other peoples.”


‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women | The Guardian

‘Inspiring’ protester becomes symbol of resistance for Sudanese women | World news | The Guardian: The image is striking: a young woman, alone, standing above the crowd, urging them on with songs of revolution. Taken on Monday night in the centre of Khartoum, as tens of thousands thronged the roads in front of the heavily guarded complex housing the headquarters of the military and the feared intelligence services, the picture of the woman in white with gold circular earrings has become an icon of a protest. Lana Haroun told CNN she had taken the picture. “She was trying to give everyone hope and positive energy and she did it,” she said. “She was representing all Sudanese women and girls and she inspired every woman and girl at the sit-in. She was telling the story of Sudanese women ... she was perfect.”

..Salah, in her first statement to the media since her photo went viral, in a WhatsApp message that she is currently studying engineering and architecture at Sudan International University in Khartoum.
Hind Makki, an interfaith educator and blogger, pointed out on Twitter that the details in Salah’s clothing make the photograph even more powerful. She said that the white garment and gold moon-shaped earrings Salah wore pay homage to working women; her dress is a "callback" to the clothing worn by Sudanese women from earlier generations who also fought for the end of dictatorial rule.


UN: Soap and Superbugs: 2B People Lack Water at Health Facilities

UN: Soap and Superbugs: 2B People Lack Water at Health Facilities: LONDON —  A quarter of the world's health facilities lack basic water services, impacting 2 billion people, the United Nations said on Wednesday, warning that unhygienic conditions could fuel the global rise of deadly superbugs. In the poorest countries, about half of facilities do not have basic water services — meaning water delivered by pipes or boreholes that protect it from feces — putting birthing mothers and newborns in particular danger, new data showed.
 The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said more than 1 million deaths a year were associated with unclean births, and 15 percent of all patients attending a health facility developed infections. "Hospitals are not necessarily points of care where you can heal, but points of almost infection. (We) are very alarmed by this," WHO public health coordinator Bruce Gordon told a media briefing in Geneva. Worldwide, nearly 900 million people have no water at all at their local health facility or have to use unprotected wells or springs. One in five facilities also lack toilets, impacting about 1.5 billion people, the agencies said.
 One of the development goals agreed by world leaders in 2015 was for all to have access to safe water and sanitation by 2030. "A health care facility without water is not really a health care facility," said UNICEF statistician Tom Slaymaker. "Sick people shed a lot more pathogens in their feces, and without toilets, staff, patients — this includes mothers and babies — are at a much greater risk of diseases caused and spread through human waste."
 The agencies said good water and sanitation services were crucial to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest global health threats. International charity WaterAid said rising rates of superbugs had been linked to poor sanitary conditions in health facilities which lead to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Helen Hamilton, WaterAid policy analyst, said the data revealed the "often-deplorable conditions" in which health workers were trying to help patients.
 "The battle to save lives, and to slow the rise of deadly superbugs which threaten us all, cannot be won as long as these dedicated frontline staff are denied ... the fundamentals of health care," she said. She urged governments to prioritize the issue when they meet at next month's World Health Assembly in Geneva.
 The data showed that West Africa had some of the lowest rates of access to water and sanitation. WaterAid said this was alarming given that a lack of clean water and good hygiene had contributed to the spread of the world's worst Ebola outbreak in the region, which killed more than 11,300 people between 2013 and 2016.


The startups paving the way for a world without plastics |

The startups paving the way for a world without plastics | Green shoots | The Guardian:

A number of startups and innovators have risen to this challenge, producing “zero-waste” materials with similar properties to plastic. San Francisco-based Mango Materials, for example, has developed a bioplastic that is cost-competitive with petroleum-based plastics. The company, which won the 2012 Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, was co-founded by CEO Molly Morse after her PhD studies at Stanford University fired her interest in naturally occurring biopolymers called PHA – a naturally-made polyester.
 “You can tailor their properties to get a lot of different types of mechanical performance,” she says. “Also, they’re one of the few, if only, naturally occurring biopolymers you can melt and mould into different shapes.” Historically PHAs have been produced through a costly method that involves feeding sugar to bacteria. But Morse and her co-founders realised it was possible to substitute sugar for a widely available and much more affordable alternative: methane.
 Today, the company transforms methane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) from landfill and wastewater treatment into bioplastic, which comes in the form of either powder or pellets. These are sold to existing plastic producers, who turn them into products. When these products eventually reach a waste facility, they biodegrade back to methane in a closed-loop process. And if, somehow, Mango Materials’ bioplastic does end up in the ocean, marine microorganisms can digest it naturally. Recently, the company has developed a polyester replacement from its PHA, which could potentially help to reduce the amount of harmful microplastic fibres that enter waterways and oceans when clothes are washed. Morse also hopes to build a large-scale commercial facility in the future. “If we can make a billion pounds [of bioplastic] at a single plant, we will enjoy the economies of scale that petroleum-based plastics enjoy,” she says.

The US Goes 'Bonkers' at the UN Women's Conference - PassBlue

The US Goes 'Bonkers' at the UN Women's Conference - PassBlue
Hold the line” was the frequent refrain heard during the contentious negotiations swirling around the annual meeting at the United Nations ensuring the rights of women. Delegates from the UN’s 193 countries were urged by conference leaders to remain steadfast against a rising tide of conservative national positions, which included the United States, regarding the conference’s final document enshrining women’s rights.
At the 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, held in New York and attracting 10,000 people worldwide, tensions were palpable throughout the 11-day gathering, starting on March 11. The Commission, established in 1946, is dedicated to promoting gender equality and empowering women.
But it was the negotiations on the agreed conclusions, setting in stone positions on women’s rights, where top diplomats and their delegations spent the most energy haggling — including one day until dawn — over such loaded language as “gender,” “family” and “sexual health.”

....Depending on the particular issue or word, some unlikely alliances emerged in which the US, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain, Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed, mostly with the overarching goal of weakening women’s rights.
Joining the US on certain issues was also the Holy See, a UN observer state, in demanding but failing, for example, to remove language in the final document around sexual health, contending that the language promoted sexual activity among girls as well as abortion.
(not posting the entire article, as it will stay online. - interesting, if depressing, read)


The Protected Places Declaration - Ontario Nature

Email the governments of Ontario and Canada | The Protected Places Declaration - Ontario Nature
Planet Earth is a shared home for humans and millions of other species, and our fates and well-being are interdependent. Recognizing our responsibility and impact on the whole, we invite you to sign the Protected Places Declaration.The declaration urges governments, civil society and business leaders across Canada to work together to protect at least 17 percent of our lands and inland waters, and 10 percent of our coastal and marine areas by 2020, in accordance with commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Moreover, the declaration calls for protected areas identification and management processes that respect the right of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent.Protected areas are the cornerstone of efforts to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. By signing the declaration, you will be part of a movement demanding governments meet their protected areas targets, and respect Indigenous responsibilities and rights.Sign the declaration to show you care about protected places and ask the governments of Ontario and Canada to meet our commitment to protect at least 17 percent of lands and inland waters by 2020.We need to work together to make sure the next three years count so that all species and wild spaces are conserved for generations to come.
Photo: Algonquin, Edwin Poon

United Nations Calls to Fight Racism

United Nations Calls to Fight Racism

United Nations, Mar 21 (Prensa Latina) On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Thursday, the United Nations has called to fight those expressions that violate people''s dignity and rights.

In its latest resolution on the elimination of racism, the United Nations General Assembly reiterated that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies 

The resolution also emphasized that any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous and must be rejected, together with theories that attempt to determine the existence of separate human races.

In her recent report, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E. Tendayi Achiume, analyzed the threat posed by nationalist populism to the fundamental human rights principles of non-discrimination and equality.

She added that nationalist populism advances exclusionary or repressive practices and policies that harm individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and religion, or other related social categories.

The UN independent expert highlighted the use of digital technology to spread neo-Nazi intolerance and related forms of intolerance.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed every March 21, because on that day in 1960, the police opened fire and killed 69 people in a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid laws in Sharpeville, South Africa.


Sign the Petition: Support Universal Pharmacare

Sign the Petition: Support Universal Pharmacare:
Canada continues to be the only developed country in the world with a universal health care system that does not include universal drug coverage. The Canadian government will decide soon on whether to adopt universal prescription drug coverage. Sign the petition to tell the government you support universal pharmacare.

 Prescription drug prices are some of the highest in the world and Canadians are being forced to choose between buying groceries or taking medication. Big insurance and pharmaceutical companies are lobbying aggressively to keep a system that enriches their rich shareholders. They have spent aggressively to keep the status quo, including foreign American companies who profit off of sick Canadians.

 The timing is critical. This could be the last change to adopt single-payer universal prescription drug coverage. Please send the government a message that you support universal pharmacare before it’s too late.


UN chief calls for double efforts to protect women's rights

UN chief calls for double efforts to protect women's rights - Xinhua |
UNITED NATIONS, March 6 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for double efforts to protect and promote women's rights, dignity and leadership.
Gender equality and women's rights are fundamental to global progress on peace and security, human rights and sustainable development, said Guterres in a message to mark the International Women's Day, which will be observed on March 8.
"We live in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture. Only when we see women's rights as our common objective, a route to change that benefits everyone, will we begin to shift the balance," said the UN chief.
Increasing the number of women decision makers is fundamental, said Guterres, adding that the United Nations now has the highest ever numbers of women in senior management, and this progress will continue to be built on.
However, women still face major obstacles in accessing and exercising power. According to the World Bank, just six economies give women and men equal legal rights in areas that affect their work, he said.
"If current trends continue, it will take 170 years to close the economic gender gap," he said.
"We need to redouble our efforts to protect and promote women's rights, dignity and leadership. We must not give ground that has been won over decades and we must push for wholesale, rapid and radical change," said the UN chief.
"Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change" is the theme for International Women's Day this year.
Guterres said that women decision makers in areas like urban design, transport and public services can increase women's access, prevent harassment and violence, and improve everyone's quality of life.
Innovation and technology reflect the people who make them. The underrepresentation and lack of retention of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and design should be a cause of concern to all, he added.

Meet Seven Women Changing the World for Good in 2019

Meet Seven Women Changing the World for Good in 2019

Some inspiring stories here!

Who runs the world? Meet seven influential women whose important work in film, business, advocacy and beyond positively affects women within their own communities, and the world