WE EXIST TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND CITIZEN ACTION
AROUND THE WORLD
How would you evaluate the Future We Want outcome document in two sentences?
The Future We Want outcome document is far from certain to actually lead us to the Future We Want due to its lack of ambition and commitment by the national government leaders of the world. Yet, it does contain some seeds which allow us to hope and which could form the basis of important action by many.
Do you think the conference was a success or a failure? Does the outcome give you hope or do you feel that it has regressed in terms of the progress?
Rio +20 was not the success the world and its young people needed it to be, but neither was it a catastrophic failure. Instead, it continues making little improvements, and for the world to continue muddling through, which is really not good enough.
Which stakeholder should have the biggest responsibility and make more efforts after Rio+20?
All stakeholders should do what they can: national governments, local and subnational governments, companies, individuals and civil society as a whole. Rio+20 encouraged this multifaceted action, in side events as well as in provisions in the official text such as specific sections on all nine Major Groups, on corporate sustainability reporting, on sustainable cities and on voluntary commitments.
19 October 2012. Amnesty International, CIVICUS and Human Rights Watch are deeply concerned at the 19 October 2012 decision by Ethiopia’s Supreme Court to uphold the freezing of the assets of the Human Rights Council, Ethiopia’s leading, and oldest, human rights organization and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, a prominent women’s rights organization.
The decision is yet another blow to the work of these two organizations and to the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the country.
The decision of the Supreme Court represents the acquiescence of the courts in the ongoing targeting of independent human rights organizations in Ethiopia, which has resulted in the near total demolition of human rights civil society in the country. The decision upholds the confiscation of substantial funding from the Human Rights Council (HRCO) – an organization with a strong track record of independent monitoring, documenting and advocacy on human rights issues; and from the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), an organization that was conducting significant levels of work on women’s rights issues, including in providing legal and other forms of assistance to thousands of women every year.
HRCO and EWLA’s bank accounts were frozen in December 2009 after the passing of the Charities and Societies Proclamation (the ‘CSO law’), in January of that year. The law, ostensibly aimed at regulating civil society, places excessive restrictions on the work, operations and funding of human rights organizations, including by prohibiting human rights organizations from receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources.
by Jeffery Huffines, UN Representative for CIVICUS & Rio+20 NGO Organizing Partner
In 1992 at Rio the leaders of the world agreed that the major cause of the deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable path of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries, that aggravates poverty, inequalities and imbalances not just between countries but also within countries. Yet over the last twenty years, rights were created for corporations that far exceed the rights and commitments created for the people and the environment. What civil society said at Rio+20 is that it is time to rebalance those rights.
To address this democracy deficit civil society groups demanded at Rio+20 that governments undertake their responsibilities to act and implement their commitments made 20 years ago.
Regarding the emergence of the BRICS countries and the shift in geopolitical dynamics at play since the financial meltdown of 2008, it is important to recall that this was the first sustainable development Summit called for by a developing country, Brazil. The G77 had originally tabled the resolution for a Rio+20 in November 2008, yet it took ten months before the European Union agreed to the Summit in late September 2009. They then sent middle range civil servants to engage in the crafting of the future we want.