Faith Actors come together to Advance Gender Equality

Picture credit: Karin Hugsén , Act Church of Sweden

Over 25 diverse faith-based organisations attended Women Deliver 2023, which concluded yesterday in Rwanda. ACT Alliance co-convened a ‘meet and greet’ at the conference, for faith actors to connect, share, and strategize on our collective work for gender justice.   
Rising fundamentalisms, which are pushing back hard against women’s rights at every level and across the world, religion can often be perceived as only contributing to the problem of gender inequalities. Patriarchal gender norms continue to be packaged in the language of religion because it legitimises them, it makes them appear divinely ordained and unchangeable. Anti-rights actors are mobilising religious language to block or even reverse progress on gender equality.  

Nearly 84 per cent of the world’s population identifies with a religious group. Many faith-based organisations, who participated in Women Deliver, are advocating for the importance of engaging in faith-based partnerships to advance gender justice.   

A focus of the Women Deliver conference is advancing Sexual and reproductive health and rights, which will not be achieved simply by changing laws, reducing poverty, or improving education and health care services. While these are all essential steps, we also need to challenge and eliminate discriminatory social norms that constrain bodily autonomy, agency and rights. To this end, the ACT Gender Justice Programme is working closely with our members, national and regional forums and platforms to harness the value-based power of faith actors to advance Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.  

For example, the ACT Argentina Forum is confronting fundamentalist and hateful discourses which oppress, manipulate, and deny the fundamental freedoms of women and girls in all their diversity. The forum is developing and sharing liberating faith narratives and theological perspectives that encourage the rereading of sacred texts and cultural contexts. It is also creating safe spaces of trust, which are open, intimate and focused on active listening without judgement. Together, we are working to support and amplify those prophetic voices who are courageously calling for transformative action to achieve justice for all.  

In the report, Looking Back to Look Forward: The Role of Religious Actors in Gender Equality since the Beijing Declaration’, which ACT Alliance co-published, we argue that understandings of the gender-religious nexus is critical for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5, and make the following recommendations:  

  • Choosing partners who are leaders on gender issues in their contexts: International collaboration and partnerships are pivotal for achieving all SDGs, especially now as the world tries to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Achieving SDG 5 is deeply interconnected with achieving all SDGs. 
  • Encourage religious literacy: Development agencies need to provide training throughout their organizational structures that convey a basic understanding of the ways in which religious discourses are context-specific, historically situated, internally diverse, continually reinforced and altered by both internal and external factors. 
  • Conducting comprehensive gender analyses prior to projects and partnerships: A comprehensive, context-specific, and theory-based gender analysis can highlight the religion-gender intersection in each locality and facilitate the inclusion of religious actors. It can also uncover the patriarchal power dynamics behind religious arguments supporting gender inequality.  

ACT Palestine Forum statement: APF Condemnation of the escalation of violence at Jenin Refugee Camp

The ACT Palestine Forum issued a statement on July 4, 2023, condemning the escalation of violence at the Jenin Refugee Camp which has left at least 8 people dead and 50 injured.  

“We emphasize that the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law should be paramount in any conflict,” the statement reads.  “The excessive use of force against civilians, including children and the elderly is deeply concerning and unacceptable.”

The ACT Palestine forum “call[s] the international community and related parties, including the United Nations, regional and international organizations to react immediately without delay to address the situation and for immediate cessation of hostilities that ensure the safety of all civilians including those living in refugee camps and its surrounding.”

Read the full statement here.

Keeping Faith in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Five Key Takeaways from ACT Alliance’s participation CPD56

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of the ICPD Programme of Action, and while progress has been made, this remains too slow and uneven. ACT Alliance convened a global delegation of members to participate in the 56th UN Commission on Population and Development, with representation from Argentina, Ethiopia, Nepal, Kenya, South Africa, and Brazil. ACT members were also part  of the national government delegations of Sweden and Norway.

As we reflect on our participation, here are our 5 key takeaways:

  1. Multi-stakeholder partnerships and feminist allies are critical to amplify a collective voice. To implement the ICPD Programme of Action, and advance SRHR, we must break silos and be catalytic collaborators, working across different sectors. For example, ACT Alliance has been participating in the broad civil society platform of  International Sexual and Reproductive Rights Coalition and actively collaborating with secular feminist organisations, UN Agencies, and Member States, to create collective calls and collaborations for reproductive justice, and counter backlashes on human rights, including SRHR.
  2. When governments talk about sex – they might really be talking about geopolitics. Many adolescents and young people, including the most marginalized young people, continue to face structural and societal gendered barriers in terms of accessing education, which was the focus of this year’s commission. The crux of the negotiations focused on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), which can support adolescents and young people’s decisions concerning their sexuality, health and well-being. Yet, the relationships between nation-states (the geopolitical context) were apparent, as Member States navigated an overtly politicised and polarised discussion on the right to education. 
  3. Religion and human rights continue to be polarised in UN spaces. Whenever religion enters the public sphere or becomes powerful in politics, it tends to orbit around gender issues. Patriarchal gender norms, which block progress on advancing SRHR, are packaged in the language of religion because it legitimises them. You can read more on the nexus between religion, gender and development, in our co-published report, The Role of Religious Actors in Gender Equality since the Beijing Declaration (Khalaf-Elledge 2021: 44). However, this does not reflect the reality on the ground and ACT members and faith-partners engaged in ICPD show the importance of working with religious actors to advance SRHR.
  4. Anti-rights actors are coordinated and have money. The 1994 UN Population and Development Conference in Cairo affirmed aspects of SRHR and a number of crucial aspects in regard to healthy, sustainable population and human lives around the world: “179 world leaders reached a consensus and adopted a programme of action, which enshrined individual reproductive rights as a basic human right.”. Yet, nearly 30 years later, strategic anti-rights alliances, which are often well-funded, are creating resistance to reproductive justice. In the case of the 56th CPD, the pushback on gender equality prevented an agreement by Member States from being reached.
  5. ACT Alliance’s diversity is our strength, we have a powerful role as a rights and faith-based alliance, to reclaim religious narratives for gender justice.  

 

“Whatever our faith or cultural background, let us give every girl the protection, information and resources she needs to thrive.” – Dr. Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA;

“It is important to adapt the language of SRHR to the local level, faith communities are the potential translators for what this means.” – Nirmala, World YWCA, Nepal;

“Promote new narratives, aligning with bodily autonomy, by creating narratives close to the ground. Norms and values are not static; they are open to interpretation and change.” – Paula, CDD Mexico;

“As communities of faith we cannot be silent when girls and women in all their diversities are being threatened and inequalities exacerbated.” – Zanele, ACT Ubumbano, South Africa.

Our delegates contributed to Side Events, bi-lateral meetings with member States, strategy sessions, and networking with civil society actors. As faith actors, who are rooted in communities, our members powerfully shared how methodologies and practices are advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, including in an oral statement. As part of our advocacy we co-hosted the Side Event, ‘Between Taboos and Freedom: Religion, Rights and Reproductive Justice’, which you can watch on UN WebTV here.

Climate talks out of touch with reality 

Media release  

Climate talks out of touch with reality

Members of the ACT Alliance and ecumenical delegations call for more climate finance for the Global South, rather than more empty promises from rich countries around the world. Photo: Simon Chambers/ACT

Temperatures around the world are peaking. In some of the most vulnerable countries floods, droughts and cyclones are devastating communities and households. Climate change is a reality and deserves to be called a crisis. 

After two weeks of UN (United Nations) negotiations in Bonn, the parties seem to have forgotten what is at stake if we collectively fail to solve this crisis. Talks instead focused on what to prioritise on the agenda, processes for future agreements, and dialogues meant to help parties understand each other.  

As Mattias Söderberg, co-chair of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice group and a member of the ACT Alliance delegation at the Bonn talks, says, 

  • These talks are out of touch with reality. Rather than engaging in real discussions, parties gave speeches based on old positions and arguments, without reflecting on the crisis we are facing.  
  • As an international Christian network, we in Act Alliance are committed to caring for all creation. However, with the current system of world development, we, as humanity, are not living up to our responsibility. 

All parties are aware of the need to address the climate crisis. However, there is no agreement on who should act.  

Sostina Takure, ACT Alliance Zimbabwe Forum coordinator and ACT Bonn delegation member, says,  

  • The climate crisis is also a justice crisis. Communities with the smallest carbon footprints pay the highest price, while countries with the largest historic responsibility continue their emissions. Rich countries must take the lead in the fight against climate change. 
  • Climate justice must be reflected in the negotiations. Developed countries should deliver on their promises to mobilise climate finance and increase their support to adaptation.

The need for climate finance is clear. Without funds, there will be no action. This was also stressed during the talks about future climate finance in Bonn.  

In ACT Alliance we believe that future climate finance must build on the needs of vulnerable communities, and not on political compromises.  

As Mattias Söderberg says,  

  • Climate finance must be delivered to the most vulnerable countries as grants. The climate crisis must not be turned into a debt crisis. 
  • All financial flows in both developed and developing countries must contribute to the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement goals. However, this commitment should not be confused with developed countries’ obligations to mobilise climate finance.

At the upcoming climate summit, COP28, parties will adopt a global goal on adaptation. This goal will guide continued collaboration to enable successful and adequate adaptation for all. In Bonn, parties were expected to make progress in talks about this goal. In particular, they were expected to develop a better understanding of the goal. However, these talks did not deliver more than a commitment to continue talking.  

As Sostina Takure says,  

  • The progress in adaptation policy has been described as sluggish. Bonn offered little to no progress in identifying the global goal, and that is a genuine disappointment. Without adaptation funding people and communities are at risk when they face climate-related disasters and events. 
  • Countries must work out the global goal on adaptation in detail to achieve our shared aspiration of overcoming climate impacts and building resilience.

Lack of adaptation finance will increase climate-related loss and damage. This was an important topic on the Bonn agenda, yet once again parties left the meetings with very different views.  

As Mattias Söderberg says,  

  • We want the upcoming climate summit, COP28, to deliver the loss and damage fund as promised by ministers last year. The fund is important, as people on the frontlines of climate change are already experiencing loss and damage.  
  • The loss and damage fund should guarantee rapid and scaled up finance to vulnerable communities to protect lives, recover livelihoods, and for reconstruction following climate disasters. 

 

Media contacts: 

Mattias Söderberg 

ACT Alliance Climate Justice Co-chair,  

+45 29700609 

 

Fiona Connelly 

ACT Alliance Communications Coordinator 

+1 416 466-2428 

 

About ACT Alliance 

We are a global faith-based coalition organized in national and regional forums operating in more than 120 countries. 

Through our more than 140 members, we work on humanitarian aid, gender 

and climate justice, migration and displacement, and peace and security to support local communities. Our goal is to promote a locally-led and coordinated approach to advocacy, humanitarian and developmental issues. 

 

Basic Facts about the Alliance 

 

ACT Alliance is composed of more than 140 faith-based member organisations working in long-term development, advocacy and humanitarian assistance. 

 

  • Our members work in more than 120 countries
  • Our members employ more than 30,000 staff and volunteers globally
  • Our members mobilise approximately more than $ 2 billion each year
  • The alliance is supported by an international Secretariat of more than 25 staff based in Geneva, Bangkok, New York, Toronto, Amman, Bogota, Nairobi and Brussels.
  • ACT Alliance was established on 1 January 2010 by bringing together the vision, resources, the people of the organisations who have been working together since 1995 as ACT International and since 2003 as ACT Development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT Syria Forum sends message to Brussels Conference

In an effort to ensure continued international support for Syrian refugees and their host communities, the European Union is hosting the seventh Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region‘ 14 and 15 June 2023. The Brussels Conference aims at reasserting the international community’s commitment towards Syrians.  It will provide a unique platform for dialogue with civil society.

The ACT Syria Forum has submitted a statement to the conference calling for:

  • Humanitarian exemptions which extend beyond the earthquake response and are clear, open-ended and harmonized between jurisdictions; 
  • A comprehensive revision of the sanctions’ framework from a legal perspective, in regard to the International Law;
  • A sincere analysis of the sanction’s intended, unintended, and counterproductive impacts on the population of Syria from a humanitarian perspective; and 
  • Support for national and international organizations in engaging in interventions focusing on re-establishing the access to essential infrastructures to respond to the basic needs of the population on a sustainable manner. 

All the sessions of the Conference will be live-streamed here.

Read the ACT Syria Forum statement here.

Climate negotiators must speed up decisions

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Photo: Simon Chambers/ACT

By Mattias Söderberg 

Today, June 5, the UN climate talks begin with a new round of negotiations in Bonn.  Known as the SB58, the 58th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), runs from today until June 15 

Time is running out for the world to handle the rapidly worsening climate crisis. So, what is on the table at these negotiations? And what is at stake? 

First, we should acknowledge that the coming two weeks are not the time for major decisions. These talks are preparatory, so that ministers can come to an agreement at December’s climate summit, COP28. However, UN negotiations are never easy. Without big steps in the coming two weeks, ministers will not have much to look forward to in December.  

The last summit, COP27, was a big success for climate-induced loss and damage, which we have celebrated. But COP27 failed to deliver progress on other parts of the climate agenda, and it is important now to speed up negotiations; to catch up.  

Adaptation is one important area where there must be progress. There is agreement that parties should adopt a global goal on adaptation. It is crucial this doesn’t end with empty words. A goal must be set to promote scaled-up action. Vulnerable communities around the world are in urgent need of adaptation.  This is true at the local level where families must be prepared to handle incoming cyclones and droughts. It’s also true at national and regional levels, to ensure that institutions, infrastructure and economies are robust when countries face climate-associated disasters.  

Another important topic is the global stock take. This refers to the ambition mechanism of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement, constituting the framework for global cooperation related to climate change, was not ambitious enough. It was agreed to take stock every five years, to see if more action is needed. Well, the science is rather clear.  The world needs to scale up its ambition on reducing emissions.  The global stock take at COP28 will be extremely important, but it must be prepared well in Bonn these next two weeks. 

All parties around the world must also address the root causes of climate change. The production and use of fossil fuels must be phased out, and coal, gas and oil must be left in the ground. This is a huge challenge, and a crucial decision if the climate crisis is to be addressed. The phase out of all fossil fuels may not be a big topic on the formal agenda, but it is an important agenda item in bilateral negotiations. I hope parties realise that this is the only way forward. We must find ways to make it possible.  

Finally, we should not forget about loss and damage. Even if COP27 was a success, there is still a busy and heavy agenda. There is an agreement to establish a fund and to mobilize finance to assist those facing loss and damage. How this will be done, and what kind of fund there should be, is still uncertain. This will be one of the important topics for negotiations in the coming weeks.   

ACT Alliance will follow events at SB58 closely. We will be there, and we will make sure all negotiators are aware of the need for scaled-up ambition and progress. The climate crisis is a reality. It is time to speed up decisions if we want to tackle the crisis.  

Mattias Söderberg of DanChurchAid is co-chair of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice Reference Group. 

Fatores de Risco e Prevenção de Crimes Atrozes: Reflexões sobre a Visita da Assessora Especial da ONU ao Brasil

English version below

Fatores de Risco e Prevenção de Crimes Atrozes: Reflexões sobre a Visita da Assessora Especial da ONU ao Brasil

Cibele Kuss, Enéias Rosa, Romi Bencke e Marianna Leite

UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu talking with Brazillians about the situation in their country.
UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu (left) and Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, general secretary of ACT Alliance speaking with Romi Bencke from CONIC/FEACT and Mãe Bahiana, a faith leader of a terreiro in Brasília. Photo: Marianna Leite/ACT

Histórico:

Em 2020, o Fórum Ecumenico ACT Brasil (FEACT) foram convidados pela Secretaria Geral de ACT Alliance para um diálogo com a Subsecretária Geral da ONU e Assessora Especial em Prevenção ao Genocídio, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre os fatores de risco e grave contexto de violações de direitos humanos no Brasil. A seguir, foi apresentada uma nota técnica elaborada pelo Fórum com apresentação de casos emblemáticos de violências contra os povos indígenas no Rio Grande do Sul e Mato Grosso do Sul, chacinas contra a juventude negra no Rio de Janeiro, casos de violências contra as mulheres e povos de terreiro afetados pelo fundamentalismo religioso.

Em abril de  2022, com assessoria do Escritório das Nações Unidas, coordenadas pelo Fórum e pela Articulação para o Monitoramento dos Direitos Humanos no Brasil (AMDH), foram realizadas duas oficinas sobre fatores de risco e prevenção ao genocídio, uma no Pará e outra no Rio de Janeiro, que contou com a participação de mais de 60 organizações e coletivos da sociedade civil, indicando nos relatórios o pedido para uma visita ao Brasil da assessora especial em 2023.

A Visita e o Papel da Sociedade Civil: 

Além dessas oficinas, durante a 51º de Sessão do Conselho de Direitos Humanos da ONU, a ACT Alliance e o escritório da assessora especial – UN OSAPG – realizaram um evento paralelo sobre a prevenção de crimes atrozes no Brasil. A assessora especial fez o discurso de abertura deste evento. As atividades contribuíram para colocar o tema em pauta e identificar as fragilidades e ausências de políticas públicas capazes de prevenir genocídios e crimes contra a humanidade no Brasil.

As organizações e movimentos envolvidos se apropriaram do “Mecanismo” de Prevenção do Genocídio e Responsabilidade de Proteger e reforçaram a urgência da visita do Escritório de Prevenção do Genocídio e Responsabilidade de Proteger em 2023. Como consequência, em virtude do convite do governo do Brasil, através do Ministério de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania, o Secretariado da ACT Alliance, o FEACT e a AMDH tiveram a honra de articular a co-coordenação do componente da sociedade civil durante a visita oficial da assessora especial ao país entre 1 e 12 de maio de 2023. A visita começou com uma consulta a representantes de organizações estratégicas da sociedade civil em Brasília, no dia 2 de maio, que procurou focar na questão da confluência de fundamentalismos e discursos de ódio como impulsionadores dos fatores de risco.

Avaliação da Sociedade Civil sobre os Ganhos para a Situação dos Povos Indígenas:

No dia 8 de maio, a assessora especial se reuniu em Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, com cerca de 80 representantes de ao menos 36 organizações da sociedade civil e organizações indígenas. Entre elas, representante dos povos Kaiowá, Ñandeva, Chiquitano, Karipuna e Ava-Guarani, quilombola, organizações de direitos humanos e religiosas. Também fizeram parte representantes do Ministério Público Federal, a Defensoria Pública da União e do Estado, representantes de juízes e universidades.

Todos tinham em comum dar consciência à assessora especial da gravidade da situação dos povos indígenas, em especial os que vivem fora da Amazônia, e particularmente relatar os crimes contra a humanidade perpetrados contra os Ñandeva e os Kaiowá no Mato Grosso do Sul. A maior parte destes representantes apresentaram desde sua atuação, análises sobre as múltiplas violências que atingem estes povos e os motivos e dados, pelos quais são submetidos a uma violência sistêmica, sistemática e intencional. Demonstrando que tal situação tem por causa principal à falta de acesso destes povos aos seus territórios tradicionais e toda desumanidade que decorre desta situação. Como assassinatos, suicídios, criminalização, mortalidade infantil, violência contra as mulheres, racismo entre outras violações.

Avaliação da Sociedade Civil sobre os Ganhos para a Situação de Pessoas Afrodescendentes: 

No Rio de Janeiro, Alice Wairimu Nderitu encontrou mães e familiares de vítimas de violência institucional. Um grande contingente de mulheres negras, moradoras de favelas, que vivem um luto perpétuo e buscam justiça, memória e reparação para seus filhos, maridos, irmãos vítimas de homicídios decorrentes de intervenção policial. Vale lembrar que, apenas em 2022, as polícias do Rio de Janeiro mataram 1.327 pessoas, isso representa 29,7% de todas as mortes violentas do estado. Uma verdadeira epidemia e a face mais escancarada do genocídio negro. Em 2021, 87,3% dos mortos pela polícia no Rio eram negros.

Na ocasião, a assessora especial também ouviu comunidades de terreiros, coletivos de favelas, organizações religiosas e de direitos humanos. As intervenções desvelaram o racismo institucional, especialmente contra as pessoas negras, e as várias formas que o Estado brasileiro utiliza para eliminar sua população não-branca, que se manifesta através da violência contra os corpos negros e uma cidadania incompleta, através da negação de direitos básicos. 

Propostas de Encaminhamentos:

Ao final da visita, houve uma roda de imprensa e a publicação de uma forte declaração da assessora especial sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil. A declaração já especifica recomendações para o governo e para a sociedade civil como, por exemplo, a garantia de investimento para FUNAI, novas medidas de apoio aos povos indígenas e afrodescendentes aprimoradas, contínuas e sustentáveis e o combate independente e imparcial à impunidade, principalmente entre as forças de segurança que cometeram graves violações contra indígenas e afrodescendentes brasileiros. 

A ACT Alliance, o FEACT e a AMDH notam uma enorme gratidão ao engajamento humano e intenso da assessora especial durante a visita, à equipe do UN OSAPG e ONU Brasil, ao Ministério de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania por facilitar a visita oficial bem como todos os outros atores estatais envolvidos e aos movimentos sociais e organizações de sociedade civil que organizaram e/or participaram das atividades. Diante de nossa avaliação interna, destacamos o seguinte: 

  • O desejo de coordenar um evento perante a 53 sessão do Conselho de Direitos Humanos para maximizar o diálogo entre a assessora especial, o governo e sociedade civil sobre fatores de risco.  
  • A importância de incidir junto ao Conselho de Segurança da ONU sobre fatores de risco para com base na lições oferecidas pelo contexto do Brasil.
  • Estabelecer diálogos de incidência com base na cultura do ódio tendo com base no manual voltado para os líderes religiosos à nível global, regional e local
  • A criação de um processo para aprofundamento dos fatores de risco do UN OSAPG sobre a perspectiva de gênero.
  • Aprofundar a proposta de reunir “mães de chacinados” do Brasil com outras mães e outras parcerias de outros contextos/países.

Para mais informações:

Marianna Leite, Gerente Global de Incidência e Política da ACT Alliance, marianna.leite@actalliance.org 

Algumas notícias relacionadas:

Declaração da sub-secretária-geral, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil | As Nações Unidas no Brasil

https://twitter.com/WairimuANderitu/status/1662103867780218881?s=20 

https://ibase.br/alice-wairimu-nderitu-representante-da-onu-se-reune-com-sociedade-civil-no-rio-de-janeiro/ 

Organizações Indígenas recebem assessora especial da ONU para Prevenção do Genocídio e denunciam crise humanitária na TI Yanomami | Cimi

https://midiamax.uol.com.br/politica/2023/governador-se-reune-com-subsecretaria-geral-da-onu-e-discute-questoes-indigenas-em-ms/ 

https://www.campograndenews.com.br/brasil/cidades/a-representante-da-onu-entidades-relatam-violencias-contra-indigenas-de-ms 

https://www.diariodepetropolis.com.br/integra/representante-da-onu-pede-investigacao-de-genocidio-indigena-238220

https://noticias.uol.com.br/colunas/jamil-chade/2023/05/12/onu-pede-para-que-brasil-desmilitarize-policias-e-denuncia-impunidade.htm?cmpid=copiaecola 

A ONU e a hora de proteger os Guarani e Kaiowá – Estadão (estadao.com.br)

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ENGLISH VERSION

Risk Factors and Prevention of Atrocious Crimes: Reflections on the Visit of the UN Special Adviser to Brazil

Cibele Kuss, Enéias Rosa, Romi Bencke and Marianna Leite

Background:

In 2020, the Ecumenical Forum ACT Brazil (FEACT) was invited by the Secretariat of ACT Alliance for a dialogue with the UN Under-Secretary General and Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, on the risk factors and serious context of violations of human rights in Brazil. Subsequent to that, a technical note prepared by the Forum was presented with the reference to emblematic cases of violence against indigenous peoples in Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grosso do Sul, massacres against black youth in Rio de Janeiro, cases of violence against women and terreiro peoples affected by religious fundamentalism.

In April 2022, with advice from the United Nations Office, coordinated by the Forum and by the Articulation for the Monitoring of Human Rights in Brazil (AMDH), two workshops were held on risk factors and prevention of genocide, one in Pará and the other in Rio de Janeiro, which had the participation of more than 60 civil society organizations and collectives, indicating in the reports the request for a visit to Brazil by the special advisor in 2023.

The Visit and the Role of Civil Society:

In addition to these workshops, during the 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the ACT Alliance and the office of the special advisor – UN OSAPG – held a side event on the prevention of atrocity crimes in Brazil. The special advisor gave the opening speech at this event. The activities contributed to putting the topic on the agenda and identifying the weaknesses and absences of public policies capable of preventing genocides and crimes against humanity in Brazil.

The organizations and movements involved took ownership of the “Mechanism” for Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect and reinforced the urgency of the visit of the Office for Genocide Prevention and Responsibility to Protect in 2023. After the official invitation by the government, through the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship, the ACT Alliance Secretariat, FEACT and AMDH were honored to articulate the co-coordination of the civil society component during the official visit of the special advisor to the country, between May 1st and 12th, 2023. The visit began with a consultation with representatives of strategic civil society organizations in Brasilia, on May 2, which sought to focus on the issue of the confluence of fundamentalisms and hate speech as drivers of risk factors.

Civil Society Assessment of Gains for the Status of Indigenous Peoples:

On May 8, the special advisor met in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, with around 80 representatives from at least 36 civil society organizations and indigenous organizations. Among them were representatives of the Kaiowá, Ñandeva, Chiquitano, Karipuna and Ava-Guarani peoples, quilombola, human rights and religious organizations. There were also representatives of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office of the Union and the State, representatives from the association of judges and from universities also took part.

They all had in common the intent of making the special advisor aware of the seriousness of the situation of indigenous peoples, especially those who live outside the Amazon, and particularly reporting on the crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Ñandeva and Kaiowá in Mato Grosso do Sul. Most of these representatives presented data and analyses related the multiple violences that these peoples are subjected to, which are systemic, systematic and intentional. The idea was to demonstrate that this situation is mainly due to the lack of access of these peoples to their traditional territories and all the inhumanity that results from this situation. Some examples included murders, suicides, criminalization, infant mortality, violence against women, and racism, among other violations.

Civil Society Assessment of Gains for the Situation of People of African Descent:

In Rio de Janeiro, Alice Wairimu Nderitu met mothers and relatives of victims of institutional violence. A large contingent of Afro-descendent women, residents of favelas, who live in perpetual mourning and seek justice, memory and reparation for their children, husbands, brothers, victims of homicides resulting from police intervention. It is worth remembering that, in 2022 alone, the police in Rio de Janeiro killed 1,327 people, which represents 29.7% of all violent deaths in the state. A true epidemic and the most open face of black genocide. In 2021, 87.3% of those killed by the police in Rio were black.

The interventions revealed institutional racism, especially against Afro-descendents, and the various methods that the Brazilian State uses to eliminate its non-white population, which manifests itself through violence against black bodies and incomplete citizenship, and through the denial of basic rights.

Proposals for Next Steps:

At the end of the visit, there was a press conference and the publication of a strong statement by the special advisor on the conclusion of the visit to Brazil. The declaration already specifies recommendations for the government and civil society such as, for example, the guarantee of investment for FUNAI, new measures to support indigenous peoples and people of African descent that are improved, continuous and sustainable, and the independent and impartial fight against impunity, mainly among the security forces that committed serious violations against Brazilian indigenous and Afro-descendant people.

The ACT Alliance, FEACT and AMDH note our enormous gratitude for the human and intense engagement of the special advisor during the visit, the UN OSAPG and UN Brazil team, the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship for facilitating the official visit as well as all the other state actors involved and the social movements and civil society organizations that organized and/or participated in the activities. In view of our internal assessment, we highlight the following:

  • The desire to coordinate an event before the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council to maximize the dialogue between the special advisor, the government and civil society on risk factors.
  • The importance of influencing the UN Security Council on risk factors based on the lessons offered by the context of Brazil.
  • The need to establish advocacy dialogues related to  the culture of hate speech based on the handbook aimed at religious leaders at global, regional and local levels.
  • The creation of a process for deepening the risk factors of the UN OSAPG on the gender perspective.
  • The need to deepen the proposal to bring together the ‘mothers of victims of slaughters’ of Brazil with other mothers and partnerships from other contexts/countries.

For more information:

Marianna Leite, Gerente Global de Incidência e Política da ACT Alliance, marianna.leite@actalliance.org

Some related news:

Declaração da sub-secretária-geral, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, sobre a conclusão de visita ao Brasil | As Nações Unidas no Brasil

https://twitter.com/WairimuANderitu/status/1662103867780218881?s=20 

https://ibase.br/alice-wairimu-nderitu-representante-da-onu-se-reune-com-sociedade-civil-no-rio-de-janeiro/ 

Organizações Indígenas recebem assessora especial da ONU para Prevenção do Genocídio e denunciam crise humanitária na TI Yanomami | Cimi

https://midiamax.uol.com.br/politica/2023/governador-se-reune-com-subsecretaria-geral-da-onu-e-discute-questoes-indigenas-em-ms/ 

https://www.campograndenews.com.br/brasil/cidades/a-representante-da-onu-entidades-relatam-violencias-contra-indigenas-de-ms 

https://www.diariodepetropolis.com.br/integra/representante-da-onu-pede-investigacao-de-genocidio-indigena-238220

https://noticias.uol.com.br/colunas/jamil-chade/2023/05/12/onu-pede-para-que-brasil-desmilitarize-policias-e-denuncia-impunidade.htm?cmpid=copiaecola 

A ONU e a hora de proteger os Guarani e Kaiowá – Estadão (estadao.com.br)

Innovative climate funds from shipping and air traffic a win-win 

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By Mattias Söderberg

The debate about innovative climate finance has been going on for years.  Momentum is growing, and it is now time for ideas to become solutions. There are two concrete proposals on the table: to introduce levies on international transport – ships and planes. I believe that the proposals are win-win and ready to be rolled out. I hope governments will read this blog and be inspired by my recommendations. 

A global levy on maritime transport 

Let’s start with shipping. The shipping industry is responsible for two to three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This may seem like a small contribution, but if we want to tackle the climate crisis, all efforts are needed. The shipping industry must turn green.  

At a summit this July the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will address the need for reduced emissions. One concrete proposal is to introduce a levy which could become an incentive for shipping companies to reduce emissions. Such a levy could also become a way to mobilize climate finance, potentially for loss and damage.    

It should be noted that a levy on shipping could have negative effects. Increased costs could lead to higher prices on the commodities and foods transported by ship. This is why it is important to have a global agreement to channel the revenue back to poor and vulnerable countries. Without a global agreement, I fear national and regional initiatives will increase costs for the shipping industry without channelling revenues back to developing countries.  

Loss and damage money from air traffic 

Now let’s look at aviation. There have been many proposals and discussions about taxes on air traffic. The latest focuses on mobilizing money for climate-related loss and damage. Called “International Climate Solidarity Levies,” the proposal would introduce an air tax earmarked for climate-related loss and damage and send the money directly to the new loss and damage fund that was agreed upon at the last climate summit, COP27. 

The proposal is not to negotiate a global tax, but to encourage governments, airlines, and other actors to introduce a solidarity levy. This would mobilize funds for people and communities facing climate-induced loss and damage. This kind of levy can be introduced relatively quickly, and it can become a good source of climate funding.  

An air levy would not have the same effect on trade as a levy on shipping. Experience of previous air levies and changes in the cost of tickets shows that most air passengers can afford an additional price for their journey.  

Win-win for the climate 

The international debate on the two proposals is underway. I hope governments will engage and look for solutions. The fact that shipping and air traffic can contribute to climate action is a real win-win. On the one hand, the taxes will be an incentive for the two industries to become greener. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to mobilize climate money based on the principle that the polluter must pay. That is a real win-win for the climate. 

Mattias Söderberg of DanChurchAid is co-chair of the ACT Alliance Climate Justice Reference Group.

Gender Transformative Safeguarding: Help us shape the new policy, guidelines and training

Safeguarding is not a tick-box activity, it requires the strengthening of our policies, guidelines and training to ensure the well-being and protection from harm for all. The ACT Safeguarding Community of Practice and ACT Gender Justice Programme have initiated a collaborative process with our members to broaden the scope of the ACT Safeguarding Policy, develop guidelines and create a new FABO blended learning course, to revitalise our practices and accountability mechanisms.
Why are you developing a new approach to safeguarding?
 “To ensure “everyone’s right to life with dignity”, driven through effective organisational and programmatic practices, we need to prioritize safeguarding, as it helps overcoming abuse of power particularly towards gender and race. ACT has a policy on Child Safeguarding and Communities Data Safeguarding, which is implemented with the support of ACT Safeguarding Community of Practice (CoP) and Reference Group on Quality and Accountability. We must bring all safeguarding policies under one umbrella and expand the scope to broader safeguarding aspects, including gender transformative practices. This new model will also meet the recommendation from the ‘ACT’s Roadmap on Accountability Improvement and Compliance’ which advised streamlining compliance requirements and balancing compliance burden. We are aiming to channel the Safeguarding case reporting to the complaints mechanism as well. We are looking forward to the member’s engagement and contributions to this important piece of work.”Rizwan Iqbal, Global Accountability and Safeguarding Coordinator

How can my organisation be involved?

  • We kindly ask ALL members to complete the survey below by 16 June 2023, which will shape the work going forward (in English / in Spanish / in French). If you have any difficulties accessing the survey please email corinne@gcps.consulting
  • Please express your interest in one or more of our focus group discussions here by 2 June 2023, which are: (1) Leadership, (2) Human Resources/Communications, (3) Safeguarding Focal Points / Risk Management, (4) Programme Design / Operational Staff, (5) Monitoring and Evaluation, and (6) Cross-cutting group in Spanish.

 
How will my input contribute to the process?

Your contributions are critical to:

  • Determine the scope of the new safeguarding policy and good practice guidelines
  • Understand what key elements should be included in the blended learning programme
  • Obtain information on resources or tools that you use that we should consider in the development of the policy, good practice guidelines and blended learning programme
  • Consider your current strengths, issues and challenges in safeguarding to inform setting standards in the policy that can be achieved by all

 
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our members involved in the Steering Group – Australian Lutheran World Service, Anglican Overseas Aid, Act Church of Sweden, Global Mission Partners, for funding this initiative, and Community World Service, Salvation Army, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission, for providing leadership. GCPS Consulting is providing the technical team to deliver the outputs.
 
If you have any questions, please contact ACT Alliance:

Rizwan Iqbal, Global Accountability and Safeguarding Coordinator, rizwan.iqbal@actalliance.org
Rachel Tavernor, Gender Justice Programme Strategist,
rachel.tavernor@actalliance.org

Season of Creation 2023 global launch June 5

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Spanish and French versions of the following text. Please share in your networks.

The ecumenical Season of Creation will be celebrated by parishes and faith communities around the world from September 1 to October 4, 2023. ACT Alliance contributes to the Celebration Guide and the annual theme, living out our faith-based and ecumenical commitments to achieving climate justice. Parishes and faith communities are invited to organise their own events and share them with the Season of Creation. Here are Season of Creation events that took place around the world in 2022. 

The Season of Creation theme for 2023 is “Let Justice and Peace Flow,” drawn from the cry of the prophet Amos: “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5: 24). As people of faith, we are called to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity. 

On June 5, the Celebration Guide will be introduced in a global webinar to be streamed on YouTube. ACT Global youth CoP co-coordinator Patricia Mungcal, of ACT member the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, will introduce the advocacy section. The Celebration Guide will then be made available in many languages, including Spanish, French, and Arabic, on the Season of Creation website . Information about the webinar will be posted on the website and on the Season of Creation YouTube site closer to the date. 

There will be Global Prayer Celebrations on September 1 and October 4.  The YouTube link for these events will be posted on the Season of Creation website closer to those times. 

Please share this information in your networks and with your members.