Monday, 20th July 2009
In a joint effort before its formal amalgamation, Action for UN Renewal, and World Disarmament Campaign hosted this event based on nuclear disarmament at the House of Parliament, chaired by Lord Peter Archer. With the close arrival of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) summit, talks to assign security measures against NPT non-signatories India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea is fundamental if Obama is to lead his commitments for nuclear abolition....Full report here
64th UNA-UK Annual Conference
Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh University,
5-7 June 2009
This three day conference, set in the heart of Edinburgh, consisted of the themes of humanitarian affairs, climate change and UN policy-reforms. Chairman Vijay Mehta, and Campaigns Officer Talyn Rahman attended as Action for UN Renewal’s (ACTUN) representative, where they had the opportunity to contribute to the structure of the United Nations Association (UNA) policy-making.
The UNA AGM was kept brief, with Lord Hannay’s report of the UN’s shortcomings and achievements over the last year. The campaign to ban cluster munitions has had a positive effect on the UK and international government, the outlook of climate change is being reflect and adopted by Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, and the UN’s main priorities for this year were discussed.
From left to right: Talyn Rahman, Vijay Mehta and Sir John Holmes
Sir John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General on Humanitarian Affairs, delivered the keynote speech for the conference, hosted by Alex Fergusson, the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Sir John spoke about the challenges facing the UN in its role as the world's humanitarian coordinator. In particular, reconciling the tensions between national sovereignty and international responsibilities were addressed, stating that the access for humanitarian assistance should be full and unimpeded. The world face a series of interconnected global trends which could transform the context of humanitarian work beyond recognition and which go beyond the ability of any state to deal with. Humanitarian agencies face criticism of acting at the behest of Western or Northern governments. In practice they cannot help representing and reflecting Western/Northern mindsets, and cultural, social and intellectual value, which is a problem. To reduce perception, agencies must try hard to achieve diversity in international ranks, have visibility on local NGOs, seek professional and strong NGO partners; respect by state and non-state alike.
Humanitarian is also threatened by the sensation of climate change. Sir John gave examples of natural and man-made disasters, and drew attention to the humanitarian consequences of climate change. So called mega trends are likely to drive up humanitarian needs by creating more poverty and vulnerability. This includes greater levels of inequality, higher unemployment, increased frequency and intensity of disasters, new kinds of conflicts, and major weather driven migrations. Combined, they threaten to create chronic vulnerability on a scale we cannot readily imagine now. Sir John also highlighted the food crisis and the current economic/financial crisis as a global crisis.
Vijay Mehta Speaking at the Scottish Parliament
The majority of Day Two consisted of reforming UNA’s policy commission. Such commissions included topics of: the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) & Sustainable Development, Human Rights and Humanitarian Action, UN reform, Peace & Security, and the promotion of multilateralism.
The session was very fruitful, with engaging discussions of amendments and new applications of each policy. ACT-UN had the chance to speak about a few topics addressed, especially in concern with the MDGs and gender architect. The plenary session was most useful in learning more about what UNA concentrates on in reflection to ACTUN’s work.
The plenary session was followed by a major climate change workshop, led by Trewin Restorick. Trewin, CEO of Global Action Plan, was one of Al Gore’s UK climate change ambassadors. Climate change was a major theme at the conference. Delegates debated effective follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol at Copenhagen, the UK's climate change policy, refugee flows resulting from climate change impacts, conflict over resources and new technologies such as a solar power supergrid. Trewin highlighted many of Global Action Plan’s initiative in creating individual awareness on the effects of climate change, pulling further on what we can do. More information of initiatives can be found on: www.globalactionplan.org.uk.
Climate change awareness video, “The Age of Stupid” was screened as a following.
The final day was brief, dealing with the business of UNA. A tribute to UNA members and UN staff were made. In a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon thanked UNA-UK for its series of conferences on climate change, and called for ‘smart solutions’ to tie in the challenges of poverty and climate change.
Talyn had the chance to speak on behalf of ACTUN to thank UNA for the invitation, and feed backing on the overall running of the conference.
ACT UN AGM Report 2009
Saturday 28th March 2009 (2.00 – 3.00pm)
Meeting chaired by Frank Jackson. Welcome.
Introduction - Vijay Mehta spoke on the state of the global economy, arms race, failed state, etc. Work of UN remains ever more essential.
FJ obituary on Douglas Holdstock.
Spoke about role in MEDACT; dedicated in the pursuit of peace; editor of Medicine, Conflict and Survival; and was a dear friend and colleague.
VM obituary on Douglas Holdstock.
He was a visionary peace campaigner, medical background gave him an extra edge. VM spoke about his generosity and kindness & his assistance in publishing ‘The United Nations and Its Future in the 21st Century.’
VM and Carol Langdon said a few words on obituary on Richard Crump.
He was passionate about campaigning against the use of cluster bombs and the war in Iraq; always tried to spread his message with placards and leaflets. A extentend obituary has appeared in peace line newsletter.
Apologies from Talyn Rahman, Bruce Kent, Rae Street, Donald Prentice, Rita Payne, Prue Wendt.
Re-election of committee members which are as follows:
Vijay Mehta chair, Prue Wendt, Ailsa Moore and Rosemary Addington vice chairs, Ananda Reeves secretary, Karl Miller Website organiser, Talyn Rahman campaigns officer, Donald Prentice Scotland representative, and Carol Langdon.
Abdul Muhib proposed to put forward resolution to elect the 2009-10 committee members as a block vote. Fazel seconded it and it was passed unanimously.
Committee members remain the same except the following changes:
- Rosemary Addington is the new vice-chair.
- Carol Langdon has stepped down from the position of treasurer and membership secretary, Abdul Muhib to become the new treasurer.
Chair’s report by VM
- VM spoke about the activities of the past year (refer to chair’s report, 2008-09); meeting in Scotland, Commonwealth Journalists Association meeting, etc. The full report is on the website and will be included in the next newsletter
Treasurer’s report by CL
Figures were for end of 2008.
CL spoke about the state of the finances and membership list in detail - balance in account £2,391.
Biggest expenditure was room hire. Refer to treasurer’s report.
VM spoke about present treasurer (CL) and praised her for her hard work and dedication. As a thank you gesture, a present was given to Carol, on behalf of the committee members.
Discussion on resolution to unite ACT-UN and WDC.
VM opens discussion and refers to the pros and cons of the merger. Discussion opened to floor with contributions from CL, RA and AM.
Frank Jackson talks about WDC link with UN and Disarmament.
Vote –yes (5); No (1); Abstentions (3); resolution carried forward. Because of the majority of the members not present it was decided to hold a postal ballot before further action can be taken on the merger.
End of AGM
Public Meeting, ACT-UN
Saturday 28th March 2009 (3.00 – 5.00pm)
Talk by Francois du Bois, (Associate Professor and Reader,
University of Nottingham). He spoke on the ‘South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission.’
full report to be put on the web and next newsletter.
Talk by Professor Klaus W Larres, (University of Ulster). He spoke on ‘Northern Ireland Peace Process.’
full report to be put on the web and next newsletter.
Talk by Hilde Rapp (co-director for International Peace Building). She spoke on ‘Inter Faith Dialogue – ‘Cross Community Peace Building in Bosnia and Kosovo.’
full report to be put on the web and next newsletter.
Chair’s Endnote. Overall good AGM, inspiring speakers but poor attendance because of the G20 demonstration in London.
“Unity in Diversity”
Celebrating the United Nations International Year of Reconciliation, 2009
South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission
High Commissioner of South Africa
Inter Faith Dialogue – ‘Cross Community Peace Building in Bosnia and Kosovo.’
Hilde Rapp (co-director for International Peace Building).
Northern Ireland Peace Process
Talk by Professor Klaus W Larres, (University of Ulster).
South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Talk by Francois du Bois, (Associate Professor and Reader, University of Nottingham)
Saturday, 28th March 2009, 2.00 – 5.00pm
Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
Public meeting. Free. All welcome.
The brutality of conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is a stark reminder that the people of Middle East continue to pay dearly for the failure to achieve peace. The same is true of ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan. It paralyses all progress and the worse victims are women and children. Wars and violence affect our capacity to address global challenges of crushing poverty, protecting the environment, eliminating nuclear weapons, and terrorism.
The General Assembly proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Reconciliation to pursue reconciliation processes in societies affected or divided by conflicts, for the establishment of firm and lasting peace. This can only be achieved through implementing cultural, educational and social programs to promote the concept of reconciliation.
Today we are holding one such meeting to highlight three peace processes which have been effective and successful in holding peace among communities. They are the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Northern Ireland Peace Process and inter-faith dialogue in Bosnia and Kosovo. Three eminent speakers will explore and see if these can be used as a template for bringing conflicts to a peaceful resolution.
For registration please contact Vijay Mehta, Action for UN Renewal, 97 Commercial Road, London, E1 1RD, UK
T: 0207 377 2111 M: 07776 231 018
Time Running Out: Transformation of the International Institutions in the 21st Century
Hellenic Centre, 16-18 Paddington Street,
Marylebone, London, W1U 5AS
Monday, 23rd March 2009
A Report by David Spark, BBC journalist - Click to read report
“Working for a world free of nuclear weapons – what can the United Nations and civil society do?”
To read full lecture of Vijay Mehta click here
CND Southern region meeting, Winchester
Saturday 7th March
Our chairman, Vijay Mehta, was invited by the southern region of CND to present a talk based on nuclear disarmament at their AGM. His wife Shanti and ACT-UN’s Campaigns Officer Talyn accompanied Vijay to Winchester, and it was the first time for the party to visit such a delightful town.
Despite being a small town, Winchester is packed with historical buildings and people young and old. When walking through the town to reach the meeting destination, it was welcoming to be surrounded by much live music played by buskers and students alike. With these renditions, Vijay was more than ready to present his speech about what the UN and civil society can do about disarming nuclear weapons.
The meeting was chaired by David Hougley, who is the treasurer of CND Southern Region. The event kicked off with Vijay’s speech, followed by the rest of the AGM after the break.
Before highlighting the current threats that nuclear weapons pose in today’s world, Vijay most fittingly congratulated CND members in their efforts to campaign against nuclear disarmament. It is true that CND have been campaigning for a nuclear free world for over 50 years, however there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for bringing global disarmament. Vijay reflected how proliferation of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel is inciting fear in civil society and causing political violence, becoming the “hallmark of new terrorism”. Nukes are continuously being upgraded by US and UK, overlooking pledges signed in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by major nuclear powers. The truth of the matter is that, nuclear weapons has no utility and only exist as a power symbol, which ironically only threatens security.
In an effort to develop positive action, Vijay reminded the audience of the 5 Point Proposal towards a nuclear free world, which was put forward by Ban Ki-Moon Secretary General of the UN last year.
1/ Urge NPT states to fulfil their obligation under the treaty agreeing on a framework which is backed by a strong verification system (investment in verification R&D)
2/ Security Council to start dialogue to freeze nuclear weapon capabilities and make own disarmament commitments
3/ New efforts to bring a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty into force without preconditions, by having nuclear weapon free zones
4/ Nuclear weapon states to encourage wider dissemination of information for greater transparency on use of obtained nuclear weapons
5/ New efforts against terrorism, limitation on nuclear production and trade, new weapons ban including missiles and space weapons
Permanent members of the Security Council are also all have nuclear weapons. However, for enhancing Article VI of the NPT, signatories of the treaty are obliged “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race...under strict and effective international control”. However, the UN have much to do to prove they are more than just a ‘talk-shop’ in regards to committing to disarmament.
Civil society and organisations like ACT-UN and CND are more committed to envisioning a world without nuclear weapons. Vijay highlighted a 13 step action point to what individuals can do (please see main handout which can be found on ACT-UN website). Many initiatives have been made by organisations in tackling and taking this issue to national and international level. Although there is a chance to prevent proliferation by limiting available sources, the UK and other nuclear powers have to recognise that their own weapons and policies are part of the overall problem. By uniting our voice into one, we can at least see that the UK acts to moving towards being a nuclear free world.
The presentation ended with a very active question and answer session, particularly rousing curiosity on how to encourage local mayors to become “Mayors of Peace”, which was initially started by the Mayor of Hiroshima. Remember, as Dalai Lama said “If you think you are too small to change the world, try sleeping with a mosquito”, which apparently is one of Vijay’s and Shanti’s favourite quotes – and now mine.
Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Successes and failure of the UDHR
Lymington Branch, UNA
Lymington Community Centre, New Street,
Lymington, Hants. SO41 9BQ.
Saturday, 28th February 2009
Shanti and Vijay Mehta went to give a talk on Building Better Human Rights in Lymington Branch, UNA. It wasa excellent meeting, a good turnout with Lady Mayor of Lymington. The meeting was chaired by Patricia Mowbray (former UN Civil Servant). For full details of Vijay Mehta's speech you can click here.
The end of the event is signing of Universal Declaration of Human Rights took place, photo is below. Full report of the event will be published in the Lymington Times and New Milton Advertiser.
Lady Mayor, Patricia Mowbray, Vijay Mehta and Shanti Mehta
Lyminton Times Article on the event:
60 Years Towards Human Rights -
Lymington United Nations Association
Mayor Martina Humber opened the latest Lymington United Nations Association meeting by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on behalf of Lymington and Pennington Town Council. Deputy Mayor Jan Hawker was also at the meeting.
Herself a charter member of the Lymington UNA, the Mayor reminded the meeting that the British were important champions of the Declaration when it was signed at the UN General Assembly in December 1948. Sixty years on, the activist Vijay Mehta from Action for UN Renewal was introduced to give an account of progress towards its goals.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, often called just UDHR, was, said Mr. Mehta, the first global statement of the principle that all human beings have an equal dignity and therefore an entitlement to certain basic human rights. It was written and signed in the immediate aftermath of World War 2. With the Genocide Convention and the Geneva Conventions on civilians and prisoners of war, it introduced a new approach to international relations.
In 30 articles, the UDHR details rights that should be available to all, from life, liberty and security of person (Article 3), the prohibition of slavery (Article 4), freedom from torture (5), equality before the law (6 & 7), to freedom of conscience and religion (18), enough to eat (25), and education (26). It also emphasises “duties to the community” (29). All these should be available without discrimination.
The UDHR has had tremendous impact. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 360 languages. It has inspired constitutions. It has become a measuring stick for good governance around the world.
Post war, the Nuremberg trials established in principle that gross violators could be brought to trial, but the absence of an on-going enforcement mechanism has contributed to many international failures in protecting human rights. It has been too easy for countries of the United Nations to turn a “blind eye” towards even flagrant abuses. The crises in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda created pressure to do better.
The establishment of the International Criminal Court at The Hague and the arrest and indictment of General Pinochet for war crimes were landmarks in legal accountability. Extreme violations of human rights are now also crimes under international law.
The United States’ announcement that Guantanamo Bay will be closed and the current very public controversy about rendition of prisoners represent a further practical step on international human rights issues. States acting outside their own boundaries are seen to be bound by UDHR principles.
Many challenges remain, including balance between state sovereignty and international enforcement. The United Nations’ “responsibility to protect” requires international intervention when States fail to shield their own populations from genocide and other major abuses. Although adopted by treaty at the World Summit in 2000, the doctrine is mistrusted by some countries, who feel it may be used to justify political intervention.
Following 9/11, many western States have increased surveillance to combat terrorism. How should this be balanced against civil liberties? Trafficking of children and women also remains a major international problem. And the world is far from its goal of ensuring a basic human right to adequate food, water, shelter and basic education for all.
Mr. Mehta ended his talk with a list of things individuals can do in a local setting to foster human rights. Have a debate in your school or college to build better human rights. Make your view known: write to your MP or local press about abuses of human rights in Israel/Palestine, Darfur, and other parts of the world. Join in local debate about the balance between liberty and security.
Internationally, the UDHR still needs more exposure and enactment. Democracy, development, human rights and the UN’s millennium development goals are all intertwined. “It is generally recognised,” said Mr. Mehta, “that the number one enemy against all reforms and progress in human rights is indifference.”
After a lively question and answer session, Mr. Mehta was thanked for his thought-provoking and inspiring talk.
The next Lymington UNA meeting is March 21st, and will focus on women in conflict situations. Visitors are cordially invited. A light lunch is available at 12:30 and the talk begins at 1:15 and finishes by 2:30.
Annual Erskine Childers Lecture 2009
Tuesday 17th February
“Saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war”
Building a non-killing, non-violent culture for the human family
Erskine Childer’s memory is revisited annually by Action for UN Renewal. Erskine was an UN diplomat and the son of the 4th President of Ireland in 1993. This lecture had a great turn-out of around 120 attendees. Our chairman Vijay Mehta was one of the speakers, with guest speakers Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, welcome visit by Erskine Childer’s family, partner Marjolijn Snipe and son David Childers. Former BBC World’s Asian Editor and Chair of Commonwealth Journalist Association Rita Payne was chairing the talk.
Speeches made by Vijay Mehta and Mairead Corrigan Maguire for this event can be found by clicking here.
Vijay introduced the lecture illustrating how Erskine Childers was a “man with few illusions about UN flaws, shortcomings, and its need for reforms”, values which are followed through by Action for UN Renewal (ACT-UN). He went on to say that ACT-UN emphasises the UN’s successes but also recognises weaknesses embedded in the UN system. The obvious example Vijay used was the recent conflict between Israel and Hama, which failed to stop the war, despite repeated visits from the Secretary-General.
Marjolijn highlighted her life with Erskine while he was still alive, explaining how passionate he was for human rights, describing him as the “walking encyclopaedia” who had flowing knowledge. David was only 12 weeks old when his father died, but embraced that David has the same character as his father. Throughout her speech, Marjolijn used beautiful quotes to describe her husband, which nearly brought her to tears.
Mairead was very passionate when sharing personal stories with us about her family and the terrorist acts of the IRA, where three of her family were killed. She stressed that we are spending too much time concentrating on one crisis after another and there seems to be no long term planning for peace. The United
Nations deserves congratulations to their efforts, however it is incomprehensible why a joint declaration was made between them and NATO, who has no role in the world today nor will it ever be.
“If governments are serious about peace, we need to renounce war as an institution and disarm our world of all weapons of mass destruction” and instead build on a culture of non-militarism and strengthen that idea in the new generation. She urged “we need to look into our own life to root out violence” and “un-learn” many of our ideas alternate to violence.
It was incredibly moving how she talked about her experience in Gaza last year, illustrating how the Palestinians had no contact to the outside world because of closed borders by Israel and Egypt. She sat with a group of Hamas, who wanted to talk but no one was willing to hear them. The non-existence of basic human rights in Palestine breaks the Geneva Conventions, and said she can sympathise with both the Palestinians and the Israelis who are in the middle of an “ethnic political conflict” as her people in Ireland suffered years ago.
“We can’t be afraid of different cultures,” she reinforced, as her smile dropped, “When governments abuse these rights, we must stand up to protect them. This will be a daily and ongoing task...we as members of the Human Community must speak for the ‘silenced’ and support the United Nations and all freedom loving people to work for a nonviolent, nonkilling world based on human rights and freedom”.
Her speech was closed off by a standing applause, and a song by Tony Kempster called “Music of Healing” on his guitar.
The outcome of the event was quite inspiring.
It is important to promote the charter for a world without violence. Vijay concluded that it is a necessity to campaign for the UN General Assembly to discuss and adopt Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, encouraging members to move away from war and militarism. This particular campaign will be showcased by ACT-UN in the near future, and we believe that Article 9 is vital in moving society towards non-violence conflict prevention.
Written by Talyn Rahman
Declaration of Human Rights – Event in Scotland
It was nice to be in Scotland,
to give talks on peace, human rights, climate change and reforms of the
UN. It was a packed agenda over two and a half days. The first day
was a meeting at the prestigious Royal Overseas Club. The topic was
“Reforming the UN for the 21st century”. The meeting was chaired by Donald
Prentice, a committee member of UNA Edinburgh and ably assisted by Liz
Simms. It was a good session with a heated question and answer round,
which is always the best part of the day for me. One of the attendees,
Geoffrey Carnall, gave his reactions and response to the lecture which can
be found below. At the end of the meeting, Donald Prentice took us to dine
at the Royal Overseas Club.
To view the full lecture, please click here.
We travelled to St. Andrews
University in Edinburgh, a house of learning for the last fourteen hundred
years. We looked around the university and its remarkable architecture,
where we also met some students. It was a delight to see St. Andrews bay
and golf course, which was simply stunning. In the evening around 5pm, I
gave my first lecture on “Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. It was chaired by professor Andy
Williams. There was a huge turn out, with mainly students of St. Andrews
from many colleges. The event was hosted by UNYSA St. Andrews and the
whole event was arranged by Haley and Anna, whom I’d like to say a great
thank you to. The lecture was rounded up by an interesting Q&A
session. Majority of young women in the audience were interested in gender
issues, empowerment of women, and how to support their causes.
Later on in the evening, the final lecture
of the day was on “Ending Wars and Achieving Peace”, which was also
organised by St. Andrews UNYSA. People were very enthusiastic to
know the root causes of war and how they could be engaging themselves in
bringing peace to our world. There was a long discussion on the Northern
Ireland peace process, which we all agreed should become a template for
solving other conflicts around the world. My wife Shanti and I were later
treated to dinner at a restaurant.
The next morning before we left, it was an
absolute honour to talk to children of three primary schools, who I
believe are our future leaders. This arrangement was organised by Caita. I
shared with them a piece I created for a school in Boston (Massachusetts),
which details and questions what world peace is and how children can help
create world peace. I also shared with them the conventions of the rights
of children, which they should read and claim for themselves. My how to
guide on “Help Build better Universal Human Rights” was verbally
distributed to encourage debates in school and open up young minds to
these issues from an early stage, to protect their rights and freedom.
was s a great opportunity to network with peace campaigners, especially
with aspiring people who share the same values as I do.
I would like
to say a personal thanks to Donald Prentice, his wife and daughter Ruth,
who did a fantastic job looking after me and my wife during my trip in
Note of thanks and comments
We take comments and responses from our members and those
interest in our work very seriously, and would like to give more people
the opportunity to speak and comment on the work we do. Please do email us
if you would like your comments posted on the website.
From Geoffrey Carnall [Member of UNA-Edinburgh]
Your talk earlier in the week was a model of its
kind, and I was glad to have heard you speak. But I was disappointed that
so much of the discussion was taken up with what seems to me the rather
barren exercise of trying to get Dubya [President Bush] prosecuted -
though I agree that he richly deserves prosecution, alongside Tony Blair.
But it seems to me that developing techniques of conflict prevention and
peacekeeping are central to efforts to fulfil the mission of the UN, and I
would have liked to get your response to my comment about the automatic
assumption that military methods are the effective ones, whereas the
Kosovo affair indicates the exact opposite.
What bugs me is that the OSCE
intervention has been completely forgotten: there is just this one article
by the Canadian general Michel Maisonneuve, and I think no discussion of
the episode elsewhere at all. I have talked to several groups in the last
six months, and have tried the experiment of asking people whether they
have heard of the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe], and what the initials stand for. Not one person - not one! - had
heard of the organisation.
My son, who now lives in France, is over to
see my wife and me just now. He is interested in politics, particularly
where environmental issues are concerned, and I asked him. He hadn't,
although when I spelt out 'Organisation for Security and Co-operation in
Europe' he said that now he came to think of it he had seen something
about it in 'Le Monde diplomatique'. I suppose the initials may be
different in French' like OTAN for NATO [North Atlantic Treaty
Organisation]- so he's excused.
I think the trouble is that
there is such a huge investment in the military, and so little in
non-military methods, that alternatives to the military are virtually
invisible. I would like Action for UN Renewal/WDC [World Disarmament
Campaign] et al. put this issue up front.
With kind regards,
From Haley and Anne [Members of United Nations Youth and
Student Association, UNYSA]
Dear Mr Mehta,
Thank you so much for
travelling all the way to St. Andrews in order to support UNYSA and join
our celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human
Rights. Understanding how deeply involved you are in working towards peace
and supporting the UN, it is an honour to have you with us and to learn
about your experience. Your perspective and first hand accounts help us
broaden our understanding of human rights and what it means to protect
them as well as give us a sense of future hopes and challenges.
hope you enjoyed your time in St. Andrews and that however small our group
may be, you appreciate our passion for UN goals.
Haley and Anne (UNYSA)
UN Renewal - World Shortages & Global Security
Saturday 8th November 2008, London
I attended a joint meeting with the Action for UN Renewal and World Disarmament Campaign national conference, highlighting food security, climate change and prospects for peace.
The conference consisted of 4 speakers, Duncan Green (Head of Research, Oxfam), Prof. Lord M Desai (Economist), Rita Payne (Chair, Commonwealth Journalists Association) and of course the co/chair of Action for UN Renewal and WDM Vijay Mehta.
***I got the pleasure to meet Vijay and I managed to rouse his suspicion in my interest and persuading him to accept me into his UN committee. Very soon, I could become a campaigns researcher for his team.***
I was beginning to understand more and more how things interlink in terms of trade, food shortages, development, business practices and economic groundwork. It was highlighted how the finance system is manipulated to cover the rich and how much more emphasis we should put in climate change whereby empowering farmers and poor people to fight droughts and prepare for harvest in the worst conditions.
We have superior technology which is not globally shared and there is much research needed to employ technology to make agriculture and harvesting more efficient without back-breaking labouring and dependence on the right climate. Those that depend on farming are the ones suffering from starvation and causing security uproar.
Duncan Green's speech made me think about our food crisis very deeply, considering this is my first insight to the real problems of food shortages and climate change. "We are entering the age of scarcity", he said speaking of high oil prices alternatively bringing food prices up, and the large consumption of meat taking up valuably resources for humans. Another problem is bio fuel (diseal/petrol made from maize, sugar...etc) - problem because poor people are losing out on these products, instead being consumed by the rich through another means. Bio fuel is a major competitor to food prices - it's not really a win win situation at all.
Duncan also touched upon water scarcity and carbon energy.
1/ Rivers being drained, eg. river basin in South Australia running dry
2/ Unequal access to water and access to sanitation (Green says sanitation is more important than vaccination)
3/ Water shortage will bring battles in countries (security issue like the fight over the Nile)
4/ In terms of carbon - we have the technology for it but not the politics
5/ To keep global warming low, we need 1ton of carbon per person (one flight per person)
6/ Food prices not affecting everyone - Tesco's income gone up by 10%
7/ Carbon should be rationed by price and regulation
We need to decide which route to follow: Darwinism (survival of the fittest) vs Gandhism (cooperator)
I say we need to empower women within the home to educate and regulate these changes. The more we do as individuals, the quicker we bring about change.
This material is taken from http://blazeryu.blogspot.com