By Ines Prisca Bikindou, SNDdeN “I work at St. Julie Billiart Hospital in Ngidinga, Democratic Republic of Congo, as an accountant and cashier. It is my first experience in this town where the population is predominantly poor, so that to pay for hospitalization is really hard. The political situation is sad, the majority of the population poor, the wages they receive cannot reach the end of the month, and to the east of the country there is always war, so we live in total insecurity. But God who is good always protects us. Despite the situation of life, God gives us the courage to move forward and we do not lose confidence that what we create is stronger.”
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By Amarachi Ezeonu, SNDdeN
Some Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), including the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, possess consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), one of the organs of the United Nations system. The ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, part II paragraph 20 defines the purpose of the consultative roles of NGOs under ECOSOC and states:
“…Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views.”
- Attending official meetings
- Submitting written statements on relevant issues prior to sessions
- Making oral statements during the sessions
- Meeting with official government delegations and other NGO representatives
- Organizing and attending parallel events that take place between the sessions
- Participating in debates, interactive dialogues, panel discussions and formal meetings.
For further information, go to:
In September 2013 Indigenous Elders and Medicine People of North and South America gathered in Council to consider the continuing crisis in Fukushima. At the conclusion of four days of prayer and discussion, they made a formal statement. They stressed that “the Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity. Yet, our concern goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms, moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species and much more that are threatening the future of life on Earth. Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life.”
Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Sioux Nation presented the Council Statement at an NGO gathering at the Church Center for the UN in November 2013. At the same time a draft resolution was submitted to the General Assembly calling for an International Independent Commission of Experts to assist Japan in reducing radiation and minimizing public health risks. No action has yet been taken by the UN.
What you can do:
• Support the Council Statement: caretakersofmotherearth.com/
• Read the UN Resolution: UNdraftFukushimaResolution.pdf
• Learn more about the workers: fukushima-workers-special-report
• Take a video tour of the plant: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh-pAJwwHV8
• Remember the people of Japan in a special way on March 11, the 3rd anniversary of ‘311’
Always consider how a particular decision affects the next seven generations.
“Decent Work” came out in the “Agenda for the 21st Century” by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1999. I heard about this at the General Assembly Third Committee discussion on human rights. A “Decent Work for All” Agenda based on Rights, Employment, Protection and Social Dialogue provides opportunities for productive work that delivers a fair income, security in the workplace, and social protection for workers and their families.
The Decent Work Agenda is basically focused on migrants, young people and women. But “Decent Work” reminds me of the workers at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP). Against Prime Minister Abe’s words, the situation might get much worse. Thousands of workers are indeed in the midst of the plant. There were leaks of radiated water in August and again in October 2013 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (left). These are caused by the rudimentary oversight of the workers. Decontamination in the station highly depends on the handworks. Workers are not members of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). They are the day laborers hired by the subcontractors or dispatched by temporary personnel services. The skilled workers left, some intentionally and some because of over-radioactive contamination. Many of the workers are inexperienced amateurs including aged farmers of the district. Because a large amount of public funds are invested for decontamination, several hundred companies, even gangster organizations, joined. There are problems in working conditions and cut of wages.
Even without these problems, it is a very dangerous, tense site. Workers at the Nuclear Power Station (right) are daily radiated, and even if they have some insurance when they are working, the physical symptoms will come years later. How can they be taken care of at that time? The shortage of workers, increasing both in the number and the quality, makes the working conditions worse. At the same time the risk of accidents is on the increase.
Getting back to the ILO’s Agenda, I cannot call works in FNPP “Decent Work”. The workers and the former workers began to raise a voice. There is no consideration, respect, and release of the fact in the site of their labor. I am sure migrant workers will be invited in the near future. There will be more worry then. We know some works are dangerous and severe but decent. We cannot avoid dangerous and severe work to restore and stop the operation of the nuclear reactor, but we should not treat the workers severely. Where there are no human rights, it is impossible to be successful in an operation. “Decent Work” is not always connected with poverty. It is a problem of human rights.
What you can do:
- Support the Council Statement: caretakersofmotherearth.com/
- Read the UN Resolution: UNdraftFukushimaResolution.pdf
- Learn more about the workers: fukushima-workers-special-report
- Take a video tour of the plant: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fh-pAJwwHV8
Remember the people of Japan in a special way on March 11, the 3rd anniversary of ‘311’