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.


WRITE: Child labour and holiday chocolate

From: ILRF:
"As many of us are enjoying chocolate bunnies – and chocolate covered Matzoh – we have an even bigger hunt for you. Have you ever tried to track where in the world your Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs or Hershey chocolate bunnies have been?

From cocoa fields in West Africa to processing facilities in Europe to manufacturing plants in Latin America, chances are your chocolate holiday products have been passed through the hands of many workers to end up in your basket. Info: Why Target Hershey?

Along the way, your chocolate egg probably rolled into some bitter working conditions such as trafficking, forced labor, child labor and violations of workers’ right to organize for their rights. Hershey specifically has lagged behind its competitors in agreeing to trace the path its products have taken around the world and ensuring that the workers who produce its products were treated fairly."


Go: Centre for Ethics, Univ of Toronto: Lecture by Lord Parekh

You may be interested in this lecture:

Secularism and the Role of Religion in Public Life
Apr 06, 3 - 5 pm Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Annual Public Lecture by Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh

The event is free and open to the public but the registration is required. Please register by following this link:

Lord Parekh is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at the Universities of Westminster and Hull, Fellow of the British Academy and until recently President of the Academy of Social Sciences. He was also a Fellow of the European Academy and of the Royal College of Arts, visiting Professor at the University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. Lord Parekh is the author of several books in political philosophy including Rethinking Multiculturalism, (Harvard University Press 2000) and A New Politics of Identity, (Palgrave Macmillan 2008).

Join: Millions against Monsanto Campaign

Thanks to friends for posting the Millions Against Monsanto campaign on Facebook. They now have 10,000 fans. You can write letters directly to the Minister and your MP below:

Support Bill C-474! Stop GE Alfalfa!

Next debate March 29, 2010 - Write your MP today! - Click here. You can act now to protect farmers from the chaos of GE seeds. The Bill would support Canadian farmers by requiring that 'an analysis of potential harm to export markets be conducted before the sale of any new genetically engineered seed is permitted'. It would stop GE alfalfa and GE wheat.
Sponsored by CBAN, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.


DO: Switch off lights for Earth Hour, Saturday Mar 27 @ 8:30pm

Switch it off!Switch it off!Switch it off -- and support WWF’s Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27

On Saturday 27 March 2010 at 8.30pm, WWF want a billion people around the world to switch off their lights for one hour – WWF’s Earth Hour. Show you care about climate change. Tell your story - what are you doing for the environment in Canada?


GO: Journalists for Human Rights - Volunteer for March 26 Toronto event

We still need volunteers for jhr's seventh annual Night for Rights event in Toronto, focusing on human rights issues in Africa and's work to improve them. Volunteer Opportunities exist for both pre-event set up during the day and various roles during the evening of the event. Please contact: Aileen Doyle, Community Programs Coordinator at or (416) 413-0240 ext. 201 to volunteer your time.

If you are interested in inspiring global change and helping us spread human rights awareness, we'd love to hear from you!


WRITE: 20 Days of Action for Lubicron Cree - No oil rights without Human Rights

Twenty years ago the United Nations Human Rights Committee condemned Canada for violating the rights of the Lubicon Cree of northern Alberta.

After an extensive review of the evidence, this UN body concluded that the failure to recognize Lubicon rights to their lands — and to protect these lands from the environmental impacts of intensive oil and gas development — had led to “historic” and “ongoing” violations of human rights. Rights that Canada is legally bound to protect under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Twenty-years later, the only thing that has changed is the scale of oil and gas development on Lubicon land. According to the latest research by Amnesty International, five times more oil and gas installations have been built on Lubicon land than there are Lubicon people. A huge pipeline is being built across Lubicon territory and the province of Alberta has leased vast areas of Lubicon land for tar sands development. These decisions are being made with little consideration of Lubicon rights or the effect that further development will have on a people already driven to the brink of destruction.

Despite the federal government’s 20-year-old promise to the United Nations that it would resolve the Lubicon land dispute, there is still no legal recognition of Lubicon land rights. The government says it’s willing to negotiate, but there’s little indication that it’s genuinely willing to address the issues most critical to Lubicon survival.

Send a message to Premier Ed Stelmach, and find other ways to take action, with

Write: Women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami detained in Evin Prison

Iran: Women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami detained in Evin Prison

Women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami has been detained in Evin prison in Iran's capital, Tehran, since 2 March. Amnesty International believes she is a prisoner of conscience, held because she campaigns for human rights. She is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Mahboubeh Karami has been a member of the Campaign for Equality since its foundation in 2006. The Campaign aims to end discrimination against women in Iranian law.

Mahboubeh Karami’s house in Tehran was raided by three security officials at 10pm on 2 March. Prior to her arrest, they searched the house and confiscated some of her personal belongings. Mahboubeh Karami has been arrested four times before on similar charges. Each time, she was detained for several days before being released. She was later acquitted of all charges.

Her arrest is part of a wave of arrests of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists which have been carried out since the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 2010, and which have stepped up since the start of March 2010.


SIGN: UN Petition on International Trade in Endangered Species - Ivory Ban

From:Avaaz: The worldwide UN ban on ivory trading could soon be lifted -- a decision that could wipe out Africa's vulnerable elephants. But a number of a African nations are pushing to uphold the ban. Let's send them a stampede of support to save the elephants. Sign the skyrocketing petition below, and forward this email widely: 

Within days, two countries are seeking to break the worldwide ban on ivory trading -- a decision that could wipe out whole elephant populations and bring these magnificent animals closer to extinction.

To the 175 parties of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species: As citizens from around the world, we call on you to reject any exemptions in the global ban on the ivory trade, to extend that ban for at least 20 years, and to take all necessary steps to enforce that ban and protect the elephants.


SIGN: H&M & Mark's Work Wearhouse factory fire in Bangladesh

21 Workers Die in a Fire at H&M Factory
Twenty-one workers died when the Garib & Garib Sweater Factory in Bangladesh, caught fire for the second time in six months. Local news media reported thick black smoke caused by burning acrylic yarn spreading throughout the building.  Workers could not escape because exits were locked.  Fire fighters had to cut the window grills to get in, hampering rescue efforts.  The factory’s own fire-fighting equipment, they report, was "virtually useless."  Garib & Garib makes sweaters for major apparel brands and retailers, including Swedish H&M, Canadian Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and Italian Teddy

Please join us today in calling upon the brands, the employer and the government of Bangladesh to take immediate action to ensure justice for the victims, and to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future. The death toll in the Bangladeshi garment industry since 2000 now stands at 230. Given widespread knowledge of the safety hazards in the garment factories in Dhaka, failure to act amounts to criminal negligence.


GO: NDP hearing: Should Ontario End Fuding of Catholic Schools?

NDP Socialist Caucus public hearing: "Should Ontario end funding of Catholic schools?" OISE 252 Bloor St. West

Abby Deshman, representing the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Jan Johnstone, Public School Trustee, Bluewater District School Board
Earl Manners, Human Resources Administrator, Trillium Lakelands District School Board;
John Orrett, Steering Committee, Socialist Caucus; Pres. of Thornhill Federal NDP
Michael Prue, NDP MPP, Beaches-East York
Peter Russell, Professor Emeritus, U of Toronto; Canadian Constitutional Expert
Chairperson: Barry Weisleder, Federal/Ontario co-chair, NDP Socialist Caucus
Audience members wishing to speak will be given 5 minutes each, until 10 p.m. adjournment.
Everyone welcome. Donation requested: $5 or PWYC.
For more info, contact: Julius (647) 728-9143 or John (905) 882-9334

(note: Ontario does not fund JUST Catholic schools, this is an error:)


News: International Womens Day: Afghanistan

Here is a good article + video on UNIFEM and UNICEF's panel on Women in Afghanistan, held as part of the 54th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

NEW YORK, USA, 9 March 2010 – More than eight years after the fall of the Taliban regime, the women of Afghanistan still face enormous challenges. Perhaps the most daunting of these are the continuing violence and insecurity that disproportionately impede women's access to essential rights and services for themselves and their children...

Like all of the 2010 Commission on the Status of Women events, the UNICEF-UNIFEM panel marked the 15th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted by the Fourth World Congress on Women in 1995. Among the provisions of the Platform for Action is an appeal for women's participation in conflict resolution at all levels of decision-making.

This year's Commission events also commemorated the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls upon all governments to engage women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict...Because they are so directly affected by the problem of conflict in Afghanistan, women must be an integral part of the solution. This was the consensus view at a recent panel discussion on Afghan women's participation in peace-building.

"Sustainable peace in Afghanistan cannot be achieved without the meaningful participation of women," said Elizabeth Gibbons, Associate Director for Gender Rights and Civic Engagement in UNICEF's Division of Policy and Practice. Ms. Gibbons urged the organizers of the upcoming Kabul Peace Jirga to place issues affecting Afghan women and girls high on their agenda. The jirga, a national meeting of leaders and elders, is set to convene in the Afghan capital in May.

"But peace-building is not about formal negotiations alone,"she added. "It is also about ensuring the tangible benefits of peace – including access to basic social services, such as education, health care and protection, access to livelihood opportunities and the creation of an enabling environment for the realization of human rights of all. These peace dividends need to be secured in the daily life of women, men, girls and boys on an equal basis."

While some might consider gender issues tangential to questions of war and peace, "it's never premature to talk about women's rights," said UNIFEM's Chief Advisor for Governance, Peace and Security, Anne-Marie Goetz, who moderated the panel. Indeed, she noted, in Afghanistan and other nations caught in conflict, women's empowerment "is key to establishing a secure and peaceful state."

Afghanistan's Minister of Women's Affairs, Dr. Husn Banu Ghazanfar, reinforced that point with the force of harsh experience.

"The women of Afghanistan are emerging from three decades of extreme dehumanization," said Dr. Ghazanfar. "Sustainable peace cannot be discussed without reference to women's experiences of survival," she added, noting that women are "indispensible" for their "wealth of experience and knowledge in keeping their families and society alive in the midst of destruction."

Dr. Ghazanfar pointed out that the Afghan Constitution mandates women's participation in national peace, reconstruction and development efforts – as does the final communique from the international conference on Afghanistan held in London this past January. Moreover, she said, the National Plan of Action for Women in Afghanistan, launched in Kabul on International Women's Day last year, establishes women's right to security as a pillar of the peace-building process.

Ms. Azim pointed to significant progress made in the country since 2001, including gains in girls' education and women's access to professional opportunities. But major obstacles remain, she said. Among these are targeted violence against supporters of women's rights; attacks on girls' schools; a persistently high rate of maternal mortality; and lax enforcement of women's legal rights, especially in remote areas... Now, Ms. Azim warned, Afghan women face the prospect of having their hard-won rights further undermined in a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Taliban forces.

"We all want stability and peace, but not at the price of women's rights," she said. "We're told that women's rights are a development issue, not a security issue. But women's rights are part of what the fighting is all about."


News: International Women’s Day 2010 Message from UNAIDS Executive Director

International Women’s Day 2010

Message from UNAIDS Executive Director Mr. Michel Sidibé
Geneva, 8 March, 2010 – I pay tribute to women all over the world who have tirelessly supported the AIDS response—grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters and daughters. The impact of AIDS would have been even more severe without their resilience, contributions and sacrifices.

Yet we have failed in protecting women and girls by denying them equal rights and equal opportunities. Nearly half the people living with HIV in the world are women. In sub-Saharan Africa more women are infected than men. AIDS is the leading cause of death in women of reproductive age worldwide.

Gender inequities, violence, lack of access to education, health and economic opportunities are making women vulnerable to HIV.

But we can change that.
We can end violence against women and girls.
We can stop new HIV infections among women and their children.
We can remove punitive laws, policies, practices, stigma and discrimination that block women.
We can enhance social protection for women.
We can ensure that all women living with HIV access treatment when they need it.
And most importantly -
We can restore their dignity and rights.

To do this we must challenge the status quo — men and women together. Innovative
programmes must bring women to the forefront of decision making. We have to create a
climate of security where women can access health and welfare services without fear or coercion. UNAIDS will support this through its five-year action plan Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV.
Already change is happening. Women’s groups are uniting to speak out against all injustices and transforming communities. It is our duty to support these remarkable efforts. Let us not forget as a Chinese proverb rightly says–women hold up half the sky.

Contact: UNAIDS Geneva | Saya Oka | tel. +41 22 791 1697 |
Leveraging the AIDS response, UNAIDS works to build political action and to promote the rights all of people for better results for global health and development. Globally, it sets policy and is the source of HIV-related data. In countries, UNAIDS brings together the resources of the UNAIDS Secretariat and 10 UN system organizations

WRITE: Full enquiry for the Afghan Detainees Torture Enquiry

Reposted from the Galloping Beaver:

I think that it is undeniable that there must be a fully public, non-partisan inquest, preferrably by a provincial coroner or similar authority that is more than arm's length away from the federal government.

From the CBC:

"Federal government documents on Afghan detainees suggest that Canadian officials intended some prisoners to be tortured in order to gather intelligence, according to a legal expert.

If the allegation is true, such actions would constitute a war crime, said University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran, who has been digging deep into the issue and told CBC News he has seen uncensored versions of government documents released last year".

If the allegation that Afghan prisoners were purposely sent to be tortured turns out to be true, I want people sent to jail. And by jail I don't mean country club Conrad Black minimum security jail, either. I want to see them walking the yard at Millhaven. And by people I mean every single person in the chain of command that approved or did not act to stop this - right up to the Cabinet level, including the Prime Minister. If it happened under the Liberals and Paul Martin knew about it, fine, jail his retired ass, too. This is not about politics or the party currently in power. This about Canada upholding basic human rights. We may have gotten a lot of things related to human rights wrong in the past - from residential schools to head taxes to incarcerating the Japanese during World War Two - whichever party is in power, but we have never tolerated outright evil like this. This must be investigated, fully and completely and in the full light of day, with nothing redacted or left unexamined to "protect operational security" or any other bullshit reason the people involved want to try to cite to save their asses. My Canada does not include torture.