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.


Tell the Commonwealth Games Federation Child Labor Isn't Sporting

Tell the Commonwealth Games Federation Child Labor Isn't Sporting - Sign the Petition |
Construction managers overseeing construction of the Commonwealth Games Stadiums for the 2010 Delhi games have been offering desperate Indian workers incentives like extra bread and milk to bring their children with them to the construction site of the stadiums.
The result? Children as young as three have been seen working in dangerous piles of rubble on a construction project that has already killed at least 45 people, including a two-year-old girl. Pre-school aged children rake pebbles into bags that kids who should be in elementary school haul away. One 15-year-old boy claimed he was paid just $5 for a 12 hour shift of heavy manual labor.
Last month, a human rights investigator for the UN said the Delhi Commonwealth Games should be called off, since they have caused widespread displacement of the Indian people and horrific child labor. Many officials have also expressed safety concerns about the construction of the stadiums. But despite documentation of child labor and other human rights and safety concerns, the Commonwealth Games Federation declared that the Games are still on. However, they have made no indication they will stop using child labor in construction or stop bribing poor workers with milk to risk their children's lives

This is the International petition. It's important for COMMONWEALTH members to sign.
Check the website if you are a US resident.


Petition for access to Generic Drugs in developing world

AVAAZ: This week, the world's wealthiest governments are negotiating a secretive deal -- the so-called "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement" -- that could cut off poor people from life-saving medicines. Millions rely on generic medicines to treat diseases like malaria and HIV. If this agreement goes forward, many peoples’ access to such drugs could be cut off, leaving those unable to afford name-brand medications to face death.

The treaty would set rules on “intellectual property” in a wide range of areas -- from genetically modified crops to online file-sharing to drug patents. But four fifths of the world’s countries are excluded from the talks -- including India and China. The negotiating governments are trying to rush through an agreement before public outcry can become too loud to ignore -- but word is leaking out, and a tide of opposition is rising.

Millions of people rely on generic medicines to treat diseases like malaria and HIV. If the so-called Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) goes forward, they could find themselves unable to afford the drugs that keep them alive.

Negotiators are trying to rush through the talks in response to mounting opposition. Our voices can prevent a bad deal being struck when no-one is looking.

Sign the petition now for an open process and justice on essential medicines -- Avaaz will deliver it to the negotiations in Tokyo if it reaches 50,000 signers.

Response to the UNs Maternal Children Health initiative.

Go see the Humanist Newswire for a for the response from ONE to Ban’s new Global  MDG Strategy
A comparison of the new Global Initiative on Maternal and Child health at the MDG conference with the "Muskoka agreement".


Haitian President launches fervent appeal at UN for an end to age of greed

Haitian President launches fervent appeal at UN for an end to age of greed
24 September 2010 – Haitian President René Préval used the podium of the General Assembly today to thank the world for all its aid after January’s devastating earthquake while at the same time calling on it to end the age of greed, dethrone the god of profit and help the poorest countries develop.

If, despite important progress, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) still have a long way to go if they are to achieve the targets of eliminating extreme poverty and hunger, maternal and child mortality, disease, and lack of education and health services by 2015, the fault lies with the developed countries for not living up to their commitments, Mr. Préval said.

“What can one say of the trillions of dollars swallowed up over the past 10 years by wars as bloody as they were unjustified?” he asked. “What can one say of defence budgets that every year surpass by far what would be need to attain the MDGs? The time has come to invent a new form of globalization founded on the simple notion of our common humanity, trust, cooperation and mutual respect, Mr. Préval said.

“The only hope that is left is that of a renewed humanism, lucid, encompassing all that lives and the environment on which we depend and for which we are simultaneously responsible.”


UN Foundation The MDGs in Action - things you can do

United Nations Foundation The MDGs in Action

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a priority list not only for the United Nations and world leaders, but for all people with global perspective. On September 20, 2010, leaders will converge in New York City to bring new attention to the progress we've all helped make toward achieving the MDGs – and the work that still remains to be done. Join the United Nations Foundation by taking action to move the world closer to achieving the MDGs.

Here are the 8 Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)


Here is a sample of things you can do:

Share this page with your friends on Facebook and Twitter
Send a malaria-preventing bed net to the Central African Republic
Thank a UN Peacekeeper
Sign up for email updates from the UN Foundation
Donate $1 to immunize a child against measles or polio

and just read through the UN Foundation website for information, such as

Reproductive Health for Teenage Girls:
Learn about issues affecting girls in developing countries We are committed to achieving the global goal of universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services by 2015. We mobilize resources for initiatives that improve the quality and quantity of sexual and reproductive health services around the world; support efforts to expand availability of sexual and reproductive health commodities; and promote sexual and reproductive health services as a cornerstone of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.
See Reproductive Health blog


Sign: Petition to UK Deputy Prime Minister re Aid for Maternal/Child health at MDG conference

 Avaaz petition for doubling aid for Maternal Child Health (MDG goal)

To world leaders:
As concerned global citizens, we call on you to renew your promises to tackle poverty by 2015 at the Millennium Development Goals summit in New York. We urge you, in particular, to double aid to drastically reduce maternal and child mortality, and to ensure funds are delivered in a coordinated and effective way. 
This week leaders meeting in New York can act to save the hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and 9 million children under 5 who die every year because of malnutrition or inadequate health services.

But there is a danger that they use the recession to shirk decade old commitments to eradicate poverty and cut key global health funding. It has always been the world's citizens that have led the fight against poverty and pushed our leaders to take critical action -- now it is up to us again.

Let's urgently build a global outcry against these needless deaths. Sign the petition below to double aid for maternal and child health -- it will be delivered to key leaders including the UK Deputy-Prime Minister in New York.  

Write: CTRC Commissioners over "Fox News North"

CRTC: No handout for 'Fox News North'
Avaaz was attacked from a major corporate media empire -- owned by billionaire Pierre Karl Peladeau -- after opposing their efforts to get special financial favours from the Canadian government. Around the world collusion between media corporations and elected leaders is undermining democracy, often using divisive messages poison and polarize public debate. "Fox News North" (aka Sun TV) mastermind, Kory Teneycke, resigned last week, citing the petiton in his speech from Parliament Hill.

The fight's not over. They've replaced one crony with another - new "Fox News North" (Sun TV) Frontman, Luc Lavoie is the former press man for Mulroney - and their CRTC application is still in the pipeline.

The smears in Sun-Media's echo chamber are that Avaaz is all Americans (why would they care about this issue?), that our petition is fraudulent or signed by Americans, that we're a front group for billionaire George Soros, that we're pro-censorship, and a half-dozen other ridiculous untruths. Margaret Atwood has responded with an Op-Ed answering smears against both her and Avaaz in Sun Newspapers

We can work together to stop them. The CRTC is accepting public comments on Sun TV's application. Let's send them a flood of messages asking them to stand strong and reject Sun TV's request for special exemptions and government handouts. Add your personal message to the CRTC Commissioners


DO: Multiple actions to support Climate Change Bill C-311

From Cheryl McNamara Please write to Senators to support Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act. Senators resume debate on the Bill on September 28th.

Why it’s important: If passed into law, the Climate Change Accountability Act will set science-based emissions reductions, require the government to produce five year target plans, establish independent reviews, and punish polluters who break regulations. It will also position Canada as a global leader, along with the European Union, in the transition to a low carbon economy.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is calling on its members, many of which are fossil fuel companies, to lobby the Senate to oppose the Bill. Furthermore, Harper has stacked the Senate with Conservatives. The Bill needs 53 Senators to pass. Of the total 105 Senators, 52 are Conservative (most are Liberal with two Progressive Conservatives and two Independents). Remember, the majority of elected MPs passed Bill C-311. Now it’s in the hands of unelected officials.

Here are sample letters to Senators, and their email addresses as well as to key Chamber of Commerce members (like insurance companies that are already sounding the clarion call on climate change) to lobby the Senate in support of the Bill.

Here are targeted messages to Liberal Senators, the two Progressive Conservative Senators, the two Independents and any Conservative not appointed by Harper. It is more effective if you write to each Senators (i.e. Dear Senator Mitchell), otherwise I provide emails of the Liberals (49 of them) to simply cut and paste in the bcc box. Click on the following for the targeted messages (they include contact info) – Liberal Senators, Progressive Conservative Senators, Independent Senators, Conservative Senators.

Here is a sample letter to the CEO of insurance companies. Click here for a sample letter to the CEO of financial firms. Contact mailing addresses follow. Print out the letters, sign your name, and mail. Insurance companies are very nervous about climate change, and banks should be too. The UK economist Sir Nicolas Stern provides strong evidence on how climate change will seriously compromise the global economy.

Jeffrey Sachs: Millennium Goals, Five Years to Go

Jeffrey Sachs: Millennium Goals, Five Years to Go
Good article by Jeffy Sachs (originally in the Herald Tribune) on the 10th anniversary of the MDGS. He lists the successes, and then the 5 system problems - good analysis.

As 140 heads of state and government gather Monday at the United Nations for the Millennium Development Goals summit, they and the public will ask what has come out of this decade-long effort. The answer will surprise them: A great deal has been achieved, with some of the most exciting breakthroughs occurring in Africa.

The Millennium Development Goals were initially greeted with cynicism -- as unachievable, pie-in-the-sky, a photo-op rather than a development framework. Cynicism has been replaced by hope, born of experience, commitment and breakthroughs.

Back in 2000, the situation in Africa was widely regarded as hopeless. Roughly half of Africa's population was living on less than one dollar a day. AIDS, malaria and TB were out of control. Wars were pervasive; Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, and the biggest of all, Congo, were all entangled in conflicts. The African economies had stagnated or declined for a generation.

When my colleagues and I suggested that AIDS, malaria and other epidemic diseases could be controlled and that Africa's economic growth could be spurred if the world helped the continent to achieve the Millennium Goals, we were often greeted with derision. Africa, I was told, was simply too violent, too corrupt, too divided to improve.

A decade later, the picture has changed dramatically. AIDS incidence has declined, from an estimated 2.3 million new cases in 2001 to 1.9 million in 2008; longevity has risen tremendously, with millions of Africans now on anti-retroviral treatment. Malaria is dropping decisively because of programs to distribute bed nets and provide medicines. Measles deaths fell by 90 percent between 2000 and 2008, before a frustrating uptick this past year when donors mistakenly cut back their financing for immunizations. Primary school net enrollments have risen from 58 percent in 2000 to 74 percent in 2007. Most of Africa's major wars have subsided.

Africa's economy has also picked up. During 1990-2000, Africa's per capita G.D.P. declined by 0.3 percent per year. Between 2000 and 2010, per capita growth was around 3.1 percent per year. And Africa has shown resilience in the current crisis, with this year's per capita economic growth at around 2.5 percent. Extreme poverty is declining, though not yet fast enough to meet the MDG targets. The share of the African population in extreme poverty has also declined from around 58 percent in 1999 to probably under 50 percent in 2010.

The Millennium Development Goals themselves deserve a lot of credit by providing a powerful organizing framework and a bold but realistic time horizon.Dozens of African governments have now adopted national planning strategies based on the Millennium Goals. Nations around the world now have specific, time-bound, outcome-oriented plans that are showing real progress because they are tapping into the synergies of poverty reduction, increased agricultural output, disease control, increased school enrollments and improved infrastructure as targeted by the Millennium Development Goals. The donor countries helped to promote major advances in public health when they created the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations....

The Millennium Development Goals have always recognized the need for a global partnership to end poverty, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. agencies have been persistent in their support of this ambitious agenda. Ironically, though, the main obstacles to achieving the goals by 2015 in Africa are international in origin, many due to high-income countries.

The first challenge is the donor shortfall in honoring specific financial commitments to Africa. Africa was told in 2005 by its donor partners to expect about $60 billion in financing from all of the world's governments in 2010, but actual aid is only around $45 billion.

The second is human-induced climate change, another visitation upon Africa from the outside world. The region that has contributed by far the least to human-induced climate change is the one bearing the highest price in terms of drought and crop failures.

The third threat is large-scale corruption, often fueled by major American, European and Asian companies. Of course, it is Africa's responsibility to resist temptations, but global companies (sometimes with the support or tacit knowledge of governments) must also stop spreading the big dollars around.

The fourth threat is rampant population growth. The Roman Catholic Church, politically powerful throughout the continent, continues its opposition to birth control and family planning.

The fifth threat is trade. Europe and the United States preach free trade, but then close their markets to African agricultural products.

The sixth risk is that of neglect Ironically, it is the precisely the goals themselves, rather than hundreds of billions of dollars of annual military spending, that can offer the U.S. and other countries a path to security in places like Afghanistan, Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

The world leaders will agree on the right principles at the summit: targeted investments for agriculture, education, health, energy and microfinance; gender equality; the complementary roles of development aid, trade and private financing. The real question is whether the rich countries will deliver what they've promised in the five remaining years, after having fallen far short in the first 10.

When the donor nations have not just talked but have actually pooled their funds to support the national plans of poor countries, the speed of advance has been breathtaking. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is the right model. If donors will match that successful effort with similar pooled support in areas such as smallholder agriculture, primary education, primary health, family planning and infrastructure, Africa's leaders can do the rest.


Senegal: Abusive Teachers Sentenced | Human Rights Watch

Senegal: Abusive Teachers Sentenced | Human Rights Watch
Sometimes, protests work. If you remember the series of stories on the 'schools' in Senegal which were really more like Fagin's in Oliver Twist, Human Rights Watch notes that the awareness campaign has actually resulted in some sentences for abuse:

Dakar - The arrest and conviction of seven Quranic teachers who forced boys trusted to their care to beg is a significant move forward for children's rights in Senegal, Human Rights Watch said today. The men were sentenced on September 8, 2010, marking the first application of a 2005 law outlawing the practice; two more men are scheduled to face the same charges on September 9. The authorities should make the children's welfare the top priority as they work to return the boys to their families, Human Rights Watch said.

The prosecution was part of an effort by Senegalese authorities to combat the widespread practice of exploitation and forced labor endured by tens of thousands of boys entrusted to men like the accused for the purposes of learning the Quran.

Each of the seven men was sentenced in a Dakar court to six months imprisonment with a suspended sentence and a fine of 100,000 francs CFA (US$200). "The arrest and conviction of these men represents a welcome step toward ending the exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of supposed religious education," said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The Senegalese government should continue prosecuting abusers while at the same time ensuring that the boys are safely returned


GO: Fair Vote Canada Meeting, Sept 22, Toronto

We support Fair Vote Canada as one of our campaigns for justice.  You are welcome to attend a meeting in Toronto and meet the National Director, to discuss strategies.

"Another election -- another excellent opportunity for fair voters to campaign for democratic reform in the city of Toronto. When only 39% of our citizens vote, something needs fixing and we have some answers"
Come and find out how PR can work in our city elections and help the campaign for democratic reform. Let's not miss this chance to talk to candidates, councillors and our neighbours and advance our campaign for a voting system that represents all of us.

Guest Speaker:   Larry Gordon, Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada
ate: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Place:  519 Community Centre

519 Church Street,
 (a few doors north of Wellesley Street and the Wellesley subway stop)
Refreshments availableFor more information, contact – Gary Dale