HUMAN TRAFFICKING: A MODERN FORM OF SLAVERY

2 By Juliana Marquee Boyd, SNDatUN Intern: Millions of people around the world are trafficked and forced into servitude or into the sex trade by criminal gangs or individuals. Often described as a “modern form of slavery,” human trafficking thrives in many societies and generates astronomic profits for the criminals. According to the International Labor Organization, forced labor, one form of exploitation into which humans are trafficked, generates USD$150 billion revenue a year, while the Global Slavery Index suggests there may be as many as 45.8 million people enslaved. A very significant number of victims of human trafficking are women and children.

On June 21st, 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), representatives of governments, specialists, survivors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) assembled at the United Nations (UN) to discuss strategies to combat and end human trafficking as well as to highlight the relevance of the Global Plan of Action and Sustainable Development Goals 5.2, 8.7, and 16.2. The Global Plan of Action (a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010) is a framework that helps Member States in the fight against trafficking of persons. The document is reviewed every few years by the General Assembly. The second section of the Global Plan of Action will be reviewed in September 2017. The latter seeks to promote sustainable peace and prosperity worldwide.

Some of the trafficking issues highlighted during the session were the following: 3trafficking that thrives in societies with high levels of poverty, unemployment, lack of socioeconomic opportunities, cultural issues, gender-based discrimination, and in areas affected by conflict and war. Governments were challenged to prosecute sex buyers and provide assistance to trafficking survivors. The need to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, both in public and private spheres, was also highlighted. The session affirmed the significant commitment and achievement by the governments of Panama and Sweden in combating human trafficking by promoting the decriminalization of sex workers and the prosecution of sex buyers instead.

Speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Representative of Panama to the United Nations, Laura Flores noted that human trafficking happens in every country; crossing multiple borders in origin and destinations. For this reason, she emphasized the need for strengthening international cooperation to combat this societal menace.

The Global Slavery Index: http://bit.ly/2uZTG09

Global Plan of Action Report: http://bit.ly/2ufWol8

United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime: https://www.unodc.org/

 

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2017 HIGH LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: “ERADICATING POVERTY AND PROMOTING PROSPERITY IN A CHANGING WORLD”

1The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development serves as the major platform for the follow-up and review of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by Member States of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. The central theme for the 2017 HLPF, which took place from July 10-19, was “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” The following goals, including goal 17 (Means of Implementation), were reviewed during the forum:

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

As part of the follow-up and review mechanism, Member States of the UN are encouraged to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels. These reviews are done on voluntary basis, and will be country-driven. Among the 43 countries that conducted their national voluntary view of the SDGs during the 2017 forum were Nigeria, Kenya, Belgium, Brazil, Peru, Japan, and Zimbabwe. Members of civil society organizations, UN agencies, the private sector, academia, and other stakeholders actively participated in the forum.

Read more:

High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: http://bit.ly/1dNceHwSecretary General Antonio Guterres address and Professor Jeffrey Sachs’ analysis on “the state of the world” at the HLPF:  http://bit.ly/2ux9NFf

 

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: WHEN WE STAND WITH REFUGEES, WE ALSO STAND FOR RESPECT AND DIVERSITY FOR ALL

#5June 20, was World Refugee Day.  A recent report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated the following: “The number of people forced to flee their homes by war and persecution has risen to record high for the third year running, with 65.6 million people displaced around the world – more than the population of Britain. The latest annual global trends study from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that one person was forced to leave their home every three seconds in 2016. The number of people displaced last year was 3,000,000 higher than 2015. According to the report, refugee numbers were the highest ever in 2016, at 22.5 million, with the majority of people coming from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Half of all refugees were children.”

On this Day, “we reflect on the courage of those who fled and the compassion of those who welcome them,” as quoted by the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Antonio Guterres.

Click HERE to sign the UNHCR “StandwithRefugee” Petition to show your solidarity with Refugees

EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO A LIFE 0F DIGNITY; LIBERTY AND SECURITY OF PERSON

#3By Juliana Marques Boyd, SNDatUN Intern: Everyone has the right to a life of dignity. This basic human right as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights implies that a person has, or at least is given, the opportunity to attain his or her fullest potential in a given society. It is the duty of the government of every country to provide its citizens their basic human rights. However, when a certain demographic of the population are denied their fundamental human rights, either because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or for whatever reason, this often breeds frustration and resentment. And if not timely addressed, frustration and resentment often result in violence. No human being is born a criminal, but a person’s circumstance in life may place him or her on this trajectory. This notion is especially true with young people.

The world is facing new and difficult times when curbing violent crimes, whether within or across borders, is becoming a great challenge for governments and the international community. Many people are still of the opinion that violence should be combatted with violence. In other words, the law enforcement should use heavy-handed techniques to deal with criminals, and criminals should be incarcerated without the option of rehabilitation programs. This option may sound appealing since incarceration may act as deterrence to crime.  But this solution to crime is not sustainable. There are always historical, social, economic, psychological or political factors to why people commit violent crimes. Therefore, in order to effectively combat violence, it is very important to first examine some of these factors. Addressing the social structure in any society that perpetuates the subjugation or exclusion of certain demographics of its population could offer a more sustainable solution to the issue of violence and crime; this could be presented in opposition to the combatant solutions being proffered by many governments. It is often injustice which breeds violence. And simply put, violence only breeds violence. Any society that covertly or overtly denies a certain population of its young people the opportunity for social engagement and upward social mobility is susceptible to violent crimes.

I want to assure my readers that my article is certainly not an apology to perceived or #4real criminals. Where a person comes from or what the person has been through in life should never justify crime. However, my article seeks to remind us that many governments have failed to protect their citizens as well as ensure that its young are provided the opportunity to thrive in peaceful and fruitful environments. Every society should do its soul-searching on whether it supports a social structure that equally provides for the needs of every member of that society notwithstanding the person’s social, religious, economic, racial or ethnic background. Until all these factors are considered, the perceived ‘criminal’ may actually be a “victim”.   Everyone has the right to a life of dignity, liberty, and security!

Read more:   What are human rights? http://bit.ly/JakXo5

THE UNITED NATIONS OCEAN CONFERENCE: “SAVE OUR OCEAN”

#1The impact of human activities on the health of oceans and seas, and the urgent need for action to protect this part of our planet, were the focus of discussion during the first ever United Nations Ocean Conference, which took place in New York from June 6 to 9. In his opening remarks at the conference, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres, appealed to governments and other stakeholders for increased collaboration to protect the oceans. According to Mr. Guterres, “improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism, and we cannot afford to fail.” He urged governments to allocate funds towards pledges for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Mr. Guterres also called for improved data collection and the sharing of best experiences.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Peter Thomson, also lent his voice to the #2call to protect the oceans. He appealed to participants at the conference in these imparting words, stating; “We are here on behalf of humanity; to restore sustainability, balance, and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the ocean.” Mr. Thomson described as “inexcusable” actions such as dumping the equivalent of one large garbage truck of plastic into the oceans every minute of every day, which is said to be driving fish stocks to the points of collapse, and destroying marine life through acidification and deoxygenation.

The ocean plays an integral role in the health and wellbeing of humans and other species because it generates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, human activities such as dumping of waste products into the oceans and seas threaten the health of global water sources (and as a result, our health too). The need to protect the ocean has never been more urgent, as we face the unprecedented challenges of climate change.

Below are some basic facts you need to know about the ocean and sea. Courtesy of Sea Change Project (www.seachangeproject.eu)

*The Ocean is Planet Earth’s Life Support System: The Ocean plays a fundamental role in supporting life on Earth by regulating our climate. It does this by storing and transporting huge amounts of heat, water and greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide). By absorbing heat as well as large amounts of carbon dioxide, the ocean lessens the effects of climate change experienced on land. However, this comes at a cost to ocean health and therefore human health. We can reduce the stress we put on the ocean and limit further climate change by decreasing our carbon footprint (a measure of environmental impact in units of carbon dioxide).

 *Seafood and Human Health: From ancient times, fisheries and aquaculture (the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants) have been an important source of food. These activities also provide economic benefits to millions of people engaged in harvesting, culturing, processing and trading along the world’s seashores and waterways. Today, we are facing the challenge of growing demand for seafood together with declining catches from the world’s marine fisheries. Therefore, well-managed fisheries are essential to continue providing food into the future.

 *Marine Pollution and Human Health: Many of our waste products end up in the sea. This includes visible as well as invisible waste such as chemicals from personal care product and pharmaceuticals that we flush down our toilets and drains. Once in the sea, these pollutants can move through the ocean, endangering marine life through entanglement, ingestion and intoxication.

 * The Ocean – A Treasure Trove for Human Medicine: The Ocean is home to a vast variety of organisms, diverse in their adaptations to the marine environment. Marine organisms produce an abundance of natural products to defend themselves against predators, to locate mates, to communicate and to compete for space and food. Many of these compounds have no terrestrial equivalents and are unique in terms of chemical structure and biological activity. There are 7 marine-derived medicines in clinical use; Trabectedin, Eribulin Mesylate, Cytarabine, Brentuximab, Ziconotide Vidarabine, Omeg-3- acid ethyl esters.                                                                                                                                                                                                  *The Sea and our Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Spending time by the sea has long been associated with health benefits and a sense of wellbeing. Acknowledging the importance of the sea’s influence on our mental and physical health, the Blue Gym concept refers to using the coastal environment specifically to promote health and wellbeing by increasing physical activity, reducing stress and building stronger communities.

 Read more: UN Ocean Conference; http://bit.ly/2lGShXP

RELIGIOUS AND MIGRATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY: WOMEN AND MIGRATION IN THE AFRICAN CONTEXT

5Six Catholic Religious Congregations at the United Nations, namely; Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Congregations of St. Joseph, Franciscans International, Augustinians International, Passionists International and VIVAT International are collaboratively sponsoring a two-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, from June 6-8.    This is part of an effort by these Catholic Religious congregations/NGOs at the UN to educate and empower their members at the grassroots on the very crucial issue of migration and human trafficking. The theme of the workshop is; “Women and Migration in the African Context: Religious and Migration in the 21st Century

Read more:

Women and Migration in the African Context: http://bit.ly/2pGFXYt

International Organization for Migration: http://gmdac.iom.int/

Global Migration Trends Factsheet by the International Organization for Migration: http://bit.ly/2nJo1iy

 

UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: MEASURES TAKEN TO IMPLEMENT THE DECLARATION

4Representatives of indigenous communities from around the world gathered in New York from April 23rd to May 5th for the 16th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  This year’s forum was particularly special because it marked the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples. Discussions at the forum were focused on measures taken by the international community, Member States of the UN and all stakeholders to implement the Declaration. The forum acknowledged progress by some member states in realizing the rights of indigenous peoples since the adoption of the Declaration ten years ago, but also expressed concerns about lack of implementation by many countries.

 

Read more:

UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: http://bit.ly/1ompreW

Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; http://bit.ly/2rB8qDM

Draft report on the 16th Session: http://bit.ly/2q4Qm0e