The Global Citizen: Rights of the Child Treaty
Now that both the Democrats and the Republicans have released their official party platforms for 2012, they can be compared side-by-side. We've done all of the legwork for you and have summarized their main stances on a number of issues. Hyperlinks are included and they will take you to the pertinent section of that party's platform if you want to read the actual text.
Update September 6: Changes made on the floor of the Democratic Convention have resulted in the platform stating that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the status of Jerusalem as an Israeli holding is a condition for any peace talks.
Hopes, concerns, and anger have all surrounded the recent results of the Egyptian election earlier this week. The two front-runners of the preliminary elections were revealed earlier this week: Mohamed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq. Each received 25% and 24% of the vote, respectfully.
Certain groups are worried about the two choices for various reasons. In Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the revolution, protesters chanted against both candidates. Pro-Democracy youth were angered and worried that Ahmed Shafiq is now one of the front runners, as he served as Prime Minister under former President Mubarak. Earlier this week, more protests broke out, leaving Shafiq's campaign headquarters burnt and destroyed.
Others are concerned over Mursi as a front runner, including women's rights groups, pro-democracy groups, and the Christian minority. As a conservative member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mursi pledged to implement shariah Islamic law. There are reports that if elected, Mursi would quit the FJP and would appoint a Christian vice president, "if possible." It was further reported that he would not impose the veil on women.
Until yesterday, the name Joseph Kony wasn't on the radar of most Americans. But thanks to a video campaign from the non-profit organization Invisible Children that went viral yesterday, more Americans know about Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda who has is wanted by the International Criminal Court of conscripting child soldiers. But just as quickly as the video spread across Twitter and Facebook, so has the controversy.
Last night, I had the opportunity to attend an event sponsored by the University of California Washington Center that showed the video. This event was planned weeks before the video campaign went viral, and was made even more interesting by having a representative of Invisible Children available to answer questions about its campaign and the controversy swirling around it after the video was shown.
On Thursday, October 6, 2011 the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) conducted the Insights to Action: Solutions to Child Marriage event highlighting an international crime issue that has been plaguing our global community for decades. Child marriage is a harmful traditional practice that denies 10 million girls a year their rights to health, education and security. Every day, more than 25,000 girls are married before they turn 18, with little if any say in the decision. That's 19 girls a minute denied their voice. Insights To action: Solutions to Child Marriage by the International Center for Research on Women exposed a problem swept under the rug by the global community for years. In recent years, national and international communities have begun to increasingly recognize child marriage as a serious issue, as it is a violation of girls' human rights and is a hindrance to key development outcomes. The highest rates of child marriage occur in India, West & North Africa, South Asia and Latin America.
For a long time child marriage was responded to solely through legislation. No, groups, no programs, no organizations. Legislation, as we know, moves as slow as molasses and by the time something "effective" is passed the violation of child's rights were the norm.
Last week I spoke to members of the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) who were preparing to lobby their members of Congress. I was asked to give a 30,000 foot overview of the political climate on the Hill regarding the UN, an update on the U.S. role at the Human Rights Council and the status of ratification of the Law of the Sea convention, CEDAW and the Rights of the Child treaty. Take a look at the presentation and let me know if you have any questions.
Getting two-thirds of the Senate to agree on anything is a daunting task. So it was no small feat when the Senate approved New START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, during its December lame duck session. New START was the first major international agreement passed by the Senate since the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997.
The United States is a bit schizophrenic when it comes to treaties. The U.S. government does a great job negotiating them. From the International Criminal Court to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, U.S. diplomats have forged very constructive compromises on major human rights and security agreements. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has a history of letting these accords molder. The Senate and the White House still have a long list of treaties that are overdue for ratification.
Much can be learned from the successful passage of this treaty. Here are seven lessons for policymakers to consider as they move forward.
Did you know that today is World Water Day? The UN General Assembly designated the first World Water Day in 1993, and on 22 March every year since, the focus has been on a different aspect of freshwater sustainability. In a statement today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war. He further stated that water is vitally linked to all UN development goals including maternal and child health and life expectancy, food security and sustainable development. On behalf of UN-Water a three-day celebration for World Water Day has begun in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together scientists and policy-makers to discuss how to address the challenges posed by degrading water quality worldwide.
The devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12th has led to a series of efforts to speed the adoption process for orphans in Haiti. Some aid groups, however, have cautioned that a hasty process may not be in the best interests of the children and could open the door to child trafficking networks.
One issue revolves around knowing who is truly an orphan and who is not. Save the Children Chief Executive, Jasmine Whitbread, said that family members may still be alive and taking children out of the country would "permanently separate thousands of children from their families - a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering". Additionally, UNICEF spokesman, Christopher de Bono stated that it is not uncommon for Haitian parents to put their children in orphanages temporarily and, thus, finding out which children are in fact orphans requires great attention to detail and documents.
Last week in Cape Town, South Africa thousands of children took to the streets to protest for better schools. After apartheid ended in South Africa, leaders have tried to create a better education system for the children of the country. Unfortunately, they have not taken the most effective measures. The current protest movement takes precedence from a 1976 uprising against apartheid. One of the leaders of the current movement, led by an organization called Equal Education, is Zackie Achmat- one of South Africa's main advocates for AIDS treatment.
Two reports were released by the United Nations on September 7, 2009 regarding human rights abuses, and possible war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These reports, and top human rights officials stress the importance of reforming the DRC's judicial and security mechanisms. The focus of the reports is the period of heavy violence in late 2008 in the country's North and South Kivu provinces.
The first report focuses on the government troops (FARDC) who have been accused of human rights abuses including arbitrary killings, looting, and sexual violence. These ruthless acts were committed against the people that the FARDC was deployed to protect (from the Tutsi rebel group, the National Congress for People's Defense). If the government does not take action to punish those guilty of these acts, it could also be held responsible for human rights violations. The report states that "The judicial response to the violations has, so far, been wholly insufficient".
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