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26 June 2009
ISSUE No. 444
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
Mandeep S. Tiwana
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FROM THE DESK OF CIVICUS' SECRETARY GENERAL
Dear friends and colleagues,
Human rights? Peace and security? Development?
Two sharply contrasting stories this week highlight the stark reality of our collective global situation. The Guardian newspaper reports that bonus payouts at Goldman Sachs will hit record levels this year. From a company that has been nicknamed Government Sachs, this news exemplifies the shallowness and ineffectiveness of the so-called reforms of the financial sector that were so loudly trumpeted by leaders in the US, the UK and Europe till a few weeks ago. Clearly, if you’re an investment banker, it’s not just back to business as usual for you as many of us have feared. You are, in fact, a key beneficiary of the cataclysm that you perpetrated, which ordinary citizens were coerced into providing a bail out for, and for which millions of people around the world have paid the price of their lives and futures.
To read more, please visit our website here.
With gratitude, faith and solidarity,
Global finance ignores world's poor
By Aldo Caliari, director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods project
As government officials from around the world descend on New York this week for a UN conference on the economic crisis and its impact on development, the main issue up for debate is how the poorest countries can influence the way the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank operate. Few would agree that, in any society, denying a voice to the poor and the vulnerable is a good way to build a healthy social contract. And there is no reason why this should be any different in the international community. Yet developing countries have the least say on the conditions that are applied to development finance agreements with the IMF and the World Bank, despite the fact they are bearing the brunt of the economic downturn. For details, click here.
CIVICUS Poll Question
This week’s question:
Which of civil society’s key recommendations at the UN summit is important?
a. International stimulus package for development
b. Systemic reform to provide global financial & economic regulation
To answer the question, click here.At the UN summit on the economic crisis, you would urge world leaders to:
a. Engage in an open, transparent and ongoing process
b. Provide adequate financing for stimulus packages to developing countries
c. Agree to systemic reform of financial institutions
d. Forge a new global consensus for economic growth which benefits everyone
e. All of the above
Results: a. - 57.7%, b. - 26.9%, c. - 7.7%, d - 3.8%, e - 3.8%
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CIVIL SOCIETY NEWS
Release of Binayak Sen: a small but significant victory for civil society
By Mandeep S. Tiwana, Civil Society Watch, CIVICUS
On 25 May, 2009 eminent civil society activist, Dr Binayak Sen was finally granted bail by the Supreme Court of India after spending almost two years in jail. He stands accused under India’s controversial anti-terrorism laws for passing messages to a Maoist leader whom he used to visit in jail as part of his civil society work. While the trial court continues to investigate the charges against him by the police, his release on bail by the highest court in the country signifies a small but significant victory for human rights activists engaged in the fight for justice and democratic values, particularly in the insurgency affected areas of India. Prior to his arrest, Dr Sen was helping unearth official complicity in extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations by government forces and the state-sponsored militia group Salwa Judum in the conflict ridden province of Chhattisgarh. To read more, click here.
Read the Amnesty International report: Individuals continue to be at risk of violations in Turkmenistan
Read more about Dr Binayak Sen's case
Civil Society Key Recommendations
Source: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
We are facing a global systemic financial and economic crisis, which originated in the increasing financialization of the global economy, coupled with deregulation, over-reliance on trade liberalization and the use of financial instruments that created systemic risks and asymmetries. These factors have resulted in a financial industry disconnected from the real productive economy and in a severe slow-down in the real economy, with tremendous human and social costs. Before the financial crisis, the world was already suffering from a food crisis, and facing environmental challenges of historic dimensions. For details, click here.
Civil Society Background Document
Source: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
We are facing a global systemic financial and economic crisis, which originated in the advanced developed economies of the North. It emerged in the context of other global crises, in particular the crises of social development, food, energy and climate change. Loose monetary policy and inadequate regulation together with insufficient supervision and transparency created financial instability. The socially effective use of financial means is essential for the achievement of sustainable development. With this Conference, the UN as the most comprehensive intergovernmental forum, has a historic opportunity to start a longer-term inclusive process for a fundamental transformation of the economic and financial system and to make social justice the key objective of all crisis-related measures. For details, click here.
Poor nations want UN role in financial crisis
Source: United Nations (AP)
The global financial crisis is being tackled by the eight major industrialised nations, the 20 key economic powers, and regional groups. Now, the UN General Assembly is getting into the act - and developing countries are pressing for the 192-member world body to become a key player in representing the world's poor who have been hard-hit by the economic meltdown. A three-day summit called by General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann opens Wednesday with developing nations still wrangling with the United States, the European Union, and other developed countries over the causes of the financial crisis and what actions should be taken in response. For details, click here.
High hopes for development financing forum
As the current financial and economic crisis deepens, developing countries and many non-governmental organizations [NGOs] are calling for immediate action from the international community to help poorer countries recover from the crisis. This week’s Conference on World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, is the first opportunity that developing countries and many NGOs have had to be at the table with representatives of the G-20 to discuss the current crisis and its impact on their countries. To prepare for the high-level global Conference, NGOs and developing countries have been working towards a consensus position on what should be done. For details, click here.
UN Economic Conference Offers Hope to Developing World
Source: VOA Newsroom
Many NGO and humanitarian organizations are following developments at the U.N. economic conference in New York this week, waiting to see what will be done to help developing nations. Among them is the Catholic development organization, CIDSE, which has presented a report on the crisis. The report, funded by the Dutch government, outlines the effects the downturn is having on developing countries. Aldo Caliari, director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project, and a member of CIDSE, spoke to VOA from New York about the UN conference. For details, click here.
It's time to hear from the G-172
Source: Ottawa Citizen
The United Nations General Assembly is convening a "summit" conference in New York later this month on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development. The conference, a grand-child of the 2002 Monterrey World Conference on Financing for Development, is the result of pent-up frustrations on the part of many of the 172 countries, deeply affected by the crisis, but left out of the invitation-only G-8 and G-20 "clubs." For details, click here.
Rich, poor states seek deal For UN finance meeting
Source: New York Times
Rich and poor nations edged closer on Tuesday to a deal on proposals for reforming the global financial system, but diplomats said there must be changes if a UN conference this week is to adopt them. A three-day UN General Assembly meeting on the financial crisis and its impact on the developing world, originally scheduled for 1 - 3 June, was postponed to Wednesday to Friday when it became clear negotiators had no agreement on draft proposals. Although the meeting has been billed as a summit, no Western leaders are expected to attend and only 14 presidents and prime ministers will show up. The other 112 countries taking part will send lower-level delegations. For details, click here.
Negroponte on US joining UN Rights Council
Source: NPR (National Public Radio)
After years of avoidance, the United States joined the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday. Guy Raz speaks with John Negroponte, a former US ambassador to the UN and a key diplomat in the Bush administration. Negroponte applauds the move, saying the US can best change the controversial council from the inside. For details, click here.
UN economic conference offers hope to developing world
Source: Ten Days of Action - Social Watch
Many NGO and humanitarian organisations are following developments at the UN economic conference this week, waiting to see what will be done to help developing nations. Among them is the Catholic development organisation, CIDSE, which has presented a report on the crisis. The report - funded by the Dutch government - outlines the effects the downturn is having on developing countries. For details, click here.
Financial crisis unprecedented since 1930s
Source: Inter Press Service (IPS)
Since the Great Depression of the 1930s, there have been more than 100 crises worldwide, says the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi. But many are saying the current global financial crisis is something "the likes of which we have not seen for 70 years or more." And the scale of the crisis is "unprecedented" because of its impact worldwide, said Supachai, who heads an inter-governmental body that is the primary U.N. organ dealing with trade, investment and development issues. For details, click here.
Iran day of action will be organised as repression continues
Source: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
The ITUC, EI, ITF and IUF today expressed their solidarity with the many Iranian workers who have joined the demonstrations in the streets to call for respect for their fundamental democratic rights. Protests for democracy in Iran, organised by trade unions, will be held in countries around the world tomorrow. “The violence against those demonstrating for democracy has left many people dead and several hundred injured. This heavy repression of peaceful demonstrations and lack of respect for human rights is completely unacceptable,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder. For details, click here.
GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS UPDATE
Analysis by the UN Millennium Campaign on aid and global economic crisis
By Sering Falu Njie, UN Millennium Campaign
The United Nations Millennium Campaign would like to share an analysis showing that since the inception of aid (overseas development assistance) almost 50 years ago, donor countries have given some $2 trillion in aid. And yet over the past year, $18 trillion has been found globally to bail out banks and other financial institutions. The amount of total aid over the past 49 years represents just eleven percent of the money found for financial institutions in one year. The UN Millennium Campaign is urgently calling on rich countries gathering at this week’s high-level summit on the economic crisis to make no further excuses that they lack resources and to urgently deliver on their aid commitments. For details, click here.
Attack on Afghan aid workers prompts UN call for better security
Source: UN News
The acting United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Tekeste Tekie, today called for better security for aid workers, after three national staff of a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) were killed when the vehicle they were travelling in was destroyed by a roadside bomb. The three killed in yesterday’s attack in Jawzjan province in northern Afghanistan worked for Development and Humanitarian Services in Afghanistan (DHSA), which provides shelter for returnees and is a partner organisation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. For details, click here.
BOOKS, REPORTS & RESOURCES
Letter to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Source: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
We are deeply concerned with regard to the proposed amendments to the Azerbaijan Republic’s Law on Non-Governmental Organisations, which will be discussed in the Milli Mejlis on June 19th. We feel that these amendments will restrict civil society development and operations in the country to the detriment of the people of Azerbaijan and strongly urge your government to refrain from pushing through these changes. We would like to emphasise that citizens’ freedom of association is guaranteed through Article 54 of the Azerbaijan Constitution and also protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Moreover, the scope of the freedom of association has been further elaborated by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe through Recommendation C M / Rec (2007) 14 and the UN General Assembly through Resolution A/ RES/ 53/ 144 in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. For details, click here.
Letter to the President of Nicaragua welcoming the postponed implementation of the draft manual on International Cooperation
Source: CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
We welcome your government’s decision to postpone implementation of the draft manual on International Cooperation. The draft manual contains a number of problematic provisions - if implemented - would impede rather than promote cooperation between international and national civil society organisations (CSOs) against the best interests of the people of Nicaragua. We call upon your government to invite all segments of civil society to participate in comprehensive discussions prior to any move to re-introduce the draft manual in its present or in an amended form. For details, click here.
Policy response to the global financial crisis: key issues for developing countries
Source: South Centre
This new paper, authored by the Centre's Special Economic Advisor, Dr Yilmaz Akyuz, deals with the global financial crisis and developing countries. The first part is on what is needed to support the required policy response in developing countries. The second part is on the required reform to the international financial architecture. A summary of policy conclusions and proposals is at the end. To download the paper, click here.
CONFERENCES & EVENTS
Global conference on “Enhancing the role of philanthropy in challenging times”
22 – 23 July, 2009 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Aims of the conference will be to: Assess the impact of the global crisis on different types of philanthropy; Take note of the consequences of the crisis on CSR; Draw upon the strength of philanthropy to address crisis-generated consequences; Creatively identify challenges and opportunities for philanthropy; Initiate exchange of expertise and dialogue between those interested in philanthropic action; Bring together the community of philanthropic organisations, corporations, governments, non-governmental organisations, and individuals. To download the brochure, click here.
A round-table with WSF founding activist François Houtart
27 June 2009, New York City
For activists in the US, the UN conference on the Economic Crisis represents an “eruption” into the usual politics of the General Assembly. What does it mean to the Left in the US? How are we to relate to it? This panel looks at the origins of this unique conference - both in it’s challenge to the G20’s handling of the economic crisis and in the context of the history of recent Latin American liberation struggles, from Nicaragua to Venezuela to Bolivia. In his time as a Sandinista Foreign Minister in the 1980s d’Escoto successfully brought the United States before the International Court of Justice for its paramilitary activities in Latin America. He also openly criticised both Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories and US policy under the 2nd Bush administration for “acts of aggression” in Iraq and Afghanistan. This round-table is a chance for activists and scholars organising around the global economic crisis to engage with one of General Assembly President d’Escoto’s personal representatives to the experts UN council and to look beneath the surface of conference politics. For details, click here.
Civil society development forum 2009 - CoNGO CSDF 2009
2 - 4 July 2009, Geneva
The Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) has the pleasure to invite you to the Geneva Component of its Civil Society Development Forum (CSDF) 2009 whose theme is “Threats to the Health and Sustainable Development of Nations (Civil Society Proposals on Global Public Health in the Context of the Global Economic Crisis)”. This event is being organized by CoNGO with the support of its members and substantive committees, and with partners, in particular the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). For details, click here.
Global problems do not respond to unilateral fixes; Copenhagen must be our focus
Source: UN Climate Change Conference
On 26 June the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations Environment Program will launch a joint study on trade and climate change that they have just completed. The study will walk the reader through the many facets of the trade and climate change linkage, explaining the WTO-rule book to policy-makers. The issue of Climate Change intersects with international trade in a multitude of different ways. While the WTO does not have rules that are specific to energy, or to climate change per se, there is no doubt that the rules of the multilateral trading system as a whole - the WTO “rule book” - are indeed relevant to climate change. For details, click here.
Kofi Annan calls for urgent action to protect world’s citizens from climate change
Source: Global Humanitarian Forum
Kofi Annan, President of the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), today called for urgent action to protect the citizens of the world, particularly the poor, from the impact of climate change. Mr Annan was addressing world leaders, representatives of business and civil society, and the media, gathered in Geneva for the GHF’s second annual meeting to discuss the human impact of climate change. The meeting took place six months ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. For details, click here.
Historical responsibility as a guide to future action in climate change
Source: South Centre
Mr. Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre, gave a presentation on the concept of historical responsibility as a guide to future action on climate during the technical briefing on the same topic organized by the Chair of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA)on 4 June, during the 8th session of the AWG-LCA in Bonn, Germany. Experts from Bolivia, Brazil, China, and India also gave presentations on their perspectives on the same issue. Common perspectives from these presentations all stress the primary historical responsibility of developed countries for today's global warming and the need for these countries to undertake very deep emissions reductions - even going into negative emissions - together with providing substantial financial and technological flows to developing countries as a reflection of such historical responsibility. For details, click here.
This week, new civil society job openings have been added to the CIVICUS website. Please click here.
Should you wish to publish a New Vacancy, please click on Add job. Please add an expiry date for applications.
JOBS OF THE WEEK
Programme officer - MDG campaign and advocacy
Application Deadline: 28 June 2009
United Nations Development Programme
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
For details, click here.
Consultant: National public sector system reform & development
Application Deadline: 29 June 2009
United Nations Development Programme
For details, click here.
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