Durban 2011 – Conference on Climate Change – COP 17/CMP7

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol, are now in progress in the  city of Durban, South Africa.

Why bother?

Thirteen of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half, the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said on Tuesday.

“Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement, adding that policy-makers should take note of the findings.

“Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached new highs and are very rapidly approaching levels consistent with a 2 to 2.4 Celsius rise in average global temperatures.”

Scientists believe that any rise above the 2.0 threshold could trigger far-reaching and irreversible changes on Earth over land and in the seas.


Will the conference achieve anything?

A number of issues haunt the Durban climate talks commencing today (Nov. 28), but many are hopeful it would produce results.

With the Kyoto protocol nearing expiration, climate change advocates and negotiators are expecting a new treaty or an extension of the protocol will be made at the conference. They are also hoping for new commitments, including pushing the Green Climate Fund forward. This new fund is reportedly being blocked by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The Kyoto protocol called for 37 wealthy nations — excluding the United States — to reduce their carbon emissions 5 percent below the 1990 levels by 2012 and to assist developing nations adapt to a cleaner energy path. But with the protocol drawing to an end, industrialized nations are becoming more adamant against signing a new climate deal. One of the reasons being the “unbalanced requirements” upon which only major industrialized nations such as Japan, Canada and Russia are required to meet carbon emission targets, while emerging economic economies, including China, India, Brazil and South Africa, have no such mandates.

There may be limited agreements on emission cuts but many are still hoping for an agreement between China and the U.S., the largest emitters of fossil fuel-produced greenhouse gases.

When I started teaching in 1973 I was discussing with sixth fom students about pollution and they were concerned that they had dscovered that penguins in the Antarctic had high lead levels in their blood -a result of atmospheric movements of pollutants from the North to the South. Nothing seems to have changed , yet attitudes seem to be more hardened – climate change activitists are called ‘warmists’ and are often derided. We still do not have a good understanding that country boundaries are useless and arbitrary when it comes to global environmental issues – we are all in this together and it demands global commitments and solutions to hand over a living planet to future generations.

To be honest, fighting over whether scientific data show global warming or illustrate ‘normal’ cycles such as glacial/interglacial, are worthless – there is no disputing that with 7 billion people and rising there are not enough resources to go round at the level  which we are using them. We are wasting resources on arms and wars while we wonder if there is enough food and water to go round. Aliens, looking down, must be wondering that the thing on our shoulders must be a football rather than a brain -we do not seem to be evolving for the better.

Awareness is not enough without action…we have several decades on making people aware of environmental concerns, but there is still not enough political will to take widespread action , more than recycling a few bottles and cans…..


Lets see who has the strongest voice at the conference…

Celebrate Human Rights Day – 10th December 2011

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

Check this site: Celebrate Human Rights Day

The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly‘s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights. The formal establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, when the General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.

The day is a high point in the calendar of UN headquarters in New York City, United States, and is normally marked by both high-level political conferences and meetings and by cultural events and exhibitions dealing with human rights issues. In addition, it is traditionally on 10 December that the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded. Many governmental and nongovernmental organizations active in the human rights field also schedule special events to commemorate the day, as do many civil and social-cause organisations.

Want do some something on Human Rights Day?


Pledge to join thousands of others writing their letters as part of Write for Rights Day on 10 December. You can pledge to write a letter, come along to one of our events or hold your own with friends and family. Whatever you plan to do, we’ll send you a reminder so you don’t forget! Take the Pledge now | Find an event near you

Send a message of solidarity

Sending a card with a simple, personal greeting is a powerful way to show support for someone facing human rights abuse.

Every card matters. For prisoners of conscience, for families whose relatives have disappeared, for people in danger for defending human rights, the cards bring comfort and hope; they offer encouragement and support, and raise spirits. But they also show the authorities – prison officers and politicians – that the world is watching. Find out more and send a card.

If you are organising a letter writing event at school, with some friends or as part of a Local Group we have made all of this year’s case sheets, address labels, appeal template letters and translated messages available to download. Download resources

INEE have added their weight to Human Rights Day

Celebrating the Right to Education

INEE is grounded in the fundamental principle that education is a human right. Education promotes individual freedom and empowerment and is essential for the exercise of other human rights. To mark International Human Rights Day, we want to lift up Articles in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which provide that grounding.

Human rights do not cease during disaster or conflict; slavery and servitude are unacceptable in non-emergency and in emergency contexts alike. The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion do not stop when a flood or earthquake occurs, nor does the right to a nationality or peaceful assembly. It is the same for education-or at least, it should be.  Millions of children and youth are, today, being denied their human right to education because they live in a conflict zone, or their community has been impacted by a natural disaster. This lack of education is unacceptable. Beyond being recognized as a fundamental human right, education must be protected and supported with strong legal frameworks, adequate resources and political support.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989

Article 28

1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;

(c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;

(d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;

(e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.

2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.

3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29

1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:

(a) The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;

(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;

(c) The development of respect for the child’s parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;

(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;

(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.

2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

For more information on the right to education and on UNESCO’s work in this area see UNESCO and Education: Everyone has the Right to Education, UNESCO, 2011.

HREA would also like to celebrate HRD 2011

Human Rights Day 2011 is even memorable for those involved in human rights education. The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt the Declaration on Human Rights Education and Training on this day. This landmark document recognises the right of every one of the planet’s seven billion people to have access to human rights education, a lifelong process involving all ages, all parts of society, and every kind of education, formal and informal. The Declaration specifies not simply what one should learn about human rights, but also how (“through human rights, which includes learning and teaching in a way that respects the rights of both educators and learners”) and also why (“for human rights, which includes empowering persons to enjoy and exercise their rights and to respect and uphold the rights of others”). The adoption of this new Declaration also offers educators and policy makers an occasion to reassess state and national policies and priorities in the light of international standards.

Red poppies – white poppies: celebrating peace or….?

That time has come round again when everyone is expected to ‘wear their poppy with pride’  – but which colour?

This year it is supposed to be ‘special’ as the numbers ring up 11-11-11 -11.

The colour that gets all the attention, is of course, red . It seems there are more threatening signs that the red poppy pushers are getting a little aggressive in their marketing. Some people who have chosen not to wear it have even faced anger and abuse and accusations of being ‘unpatriotic’.

From Damian Thompson of the Telegraph

But spare a thought, too, for the men and women of theWhite Poppy appeal. And don’t make it a kind thought. This wretched outfit “believes that there are better ways of solving conflicts than killing strangers”. That is how they describe the sacrifice of British and Allied lives in the inescapable war against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers.People who wear white poppies – who include the sanctimonious prats of the “Christian” think tank Ekklesia – not only dishonour our war dead: they also assert their supposed moral superiority over the 40 million Britons who wear British Legion red poppies.What should you do if you see a white poppy wearer today? At the very least – if I may borrow a phrase from my colleague Alan Cochrane – you should give them a cheery wave not involving the use of all your fingers.

The Royal British Legion has quite a narrow remit…

Perhaps best known for the yearly Poppy Appeal and Remembrance services, the Legion is a campaigning organisation that promotes the welfare and interests of current and former members of the British Armed Forces. What is not mentioned and not brought into the ‘remembrance’ is the fact that many civilians engage in the ‘war’ effort such as those working in NGO’s and organisations of the UN and also risk their lives and sometimes are maimed or are killed -they are not ‘servicemen and servicewomen’ so they are not included or ‘remembered’ ..’lest we forget’ has a hollow  ring to it when these people are discussed.

The other aspect is there is no mention of the future, only  ‘current and former members of the British Armed Forces’ . Why not campaign actively to prevent future atrocities? At least use some of the charitable funds to ensure that no child loses their parent in a war and no parent loses a child. This is something we could all support.

And what about a day to consider all the civilian casualties,particularly children, who are maimed and killed by weapons made in the US and UK?  

The Peace Pledge Union promotes the wearing of the white poppy

The power of the white poppy lies in its questioning of the dominant – and fundamentally dishonest – view of war. More than that, it carries the hopes and demands of the mothers, wives, daughters and girlfriends of the men who for whatever reason and in whatever way were diminished by their participation in war. Their hope was that we would find less brutal social institutions to solve problems and resolve conflict.

Now 89 years after the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ we still have a long way to go to put an end to a social institution, which in the last decade alone killed over 10 million children

Civilian fatalities in wartime have climbed from 5 per cent at the turn of the century … to more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s.

New weapons and patterns of conflict that include deliberate attacks against civilians are increasingly turning children into primary targets of war.

“Armed conflict kills and maims more children than soldiers,” notes a new United Nations report by Graça Machel, the UN Secretary-General’s Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

“It is a basic need of children to be protected when conflicts threaten, and such protection requires the fulfillment of their rights through the implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law,” the report states.

Modern warfare is often less a matter of confrontation between professional armies than one of grinding struggles between military and civilians in the same country, or between hostile groups of armed civilians. More and more wars are essentially low-intensity internal conflicts, and they are lasting longer. The days of set-piece battles between professional soldiers facing off in a field far from town are long gone. Today, wars are fought from apartment windows and in the lanes of villages and suburbs, where distinctions between combatant and non-combatant quickly melt away.

Civilian fatalities in wartime climbed from 5 per cent at the turn of the century, to 15 per cent during World War I, to 65 per cent by the end of World War II, to more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s

“Not only are large numbers of children killed and injured, but countless others grow up deprived of their material and emotional needs, including the structures that give meaning to social and cultural life,” the report says. “The entire fabric of their societies their homes, schools, health systems and religious institutions are torn to pieces.

The technology of war has also changed in ever more deadly ways. Inexpensive new lightweight weapons have made it tragically easy to use children as the cannon-fodder of modern warfare. In Uganda, an AK-47 which is simple enough for a child of 10 to strip and reassemble can be bought for the same price as a chicken, and in Mozambique for a bag of maize. Thanks to such innovations, by the late 1980s adults had put guns in the hands of as many as 200,000 children under the age of 16 in 25 countries

Children are particularly vulnerable to land-mines in a number of ways. If they are too young to read or are illiterate, signs posted to warn them of the presence of mines are useless. Also, children are far more likely to die from their mine injuries than are adults. Of those maimed children who survive, few will receive prostheses that keep up with the continued growth of their stunted limbs.

Mine removal is a lengthy and expensive business. Weapons that cost as little as $3 each to manufacture can cost up to $1,000 to remove. Land-mines can be blithely spread at rates of over 1,000 per minute, but it may take a skilled expert an entire day just to clear by hand 20-50 square metres of mine-contaminated land.

Major producers of anti-personnel landmines in the last 25 years include the Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, the former Soviet Union, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Vietnam and the former Yugoslavia.

The UK is a major producer of arms -in the top 5 world producers so we have a stake in the impact of these weapons. Just as the slogan ‘polluter pays’ encourages those who produce pollution should clean up afterwards perhaps arms producers have to clean up the mess left after the use of such arms.

Oscar Arias, Noble Peace Prize winner and former president of Costa Rica stated:

When a country decides to invest in arms, rather than in education, housing, the environment, and health services for its people, it is depriving a whole generation of its right to prosperity and happiness. We have produced one firearm for every ten inhabitants of this planet, and yet we have not bothered to end hunger when such a feat is well within our reach. Our international regulations allow almost three-quarters of all global arms sales to pour into the developing world with no binding international guidelines whatsoever. Our regulations do not hold countries accountable for what is done with the weapons they sell, even when the probable use of such weapons is obvious.

He also said “We need to understand that the security of a state does not necessarily come from the military. The true security of the state comes from the quality of life of the people.”

If you prefer peace than war, here are some resource sites:

World Peace Festival promotes investment to reduce nuclear weapons manufacture.

Global Peace initiative of women  

Global Peace Inititiatives – a brain based approach

The centre for African Affairs and Global Peace

…..and what about Peace Education? If there are any skills needed for the future they must be conflict management skills and communication skills as well as  cooperative learning opportunities.

UN Peace Education

Teachers without borders

PEN Peace Education Network  Education for Peace

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25th November 2011

They hold up half the sky but yet there is much discrimination, marginalisation and violence against women and girls.

The INEE has put together the following notes and resources with which to recognise the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Violence against women is a pandemic problem that cuts across countries, socio-economic status, age, and ethnicity. Statistics depict a terrible reality, in which one out of three women has been a victim of violence at least once in her lifetime (United Nations). Violence against women takes many forms, ranging from physical to sexual, psychological and economic violence. In emergency and fragile contexts, where the breakdown of law and social support systems increase insecurity and impunity, pre-existing discriminations may culminate more easily in violence against women (UNFPA).

In 1999 the United Nations designated the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, urging governments, international organizations and NGOs to raise public awareness on this global issue. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

However, the reality is that schools are not always safehavens of child-oriented activity, safety andsecurity for children and youth affected by crisis. Gender-violence in an around schools is a worldwide problem with serious implications for the educational attainment, health, and well-being of girls and boys. Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests that sexual harassment, violence and exploitation by male students and teachers is widespread in educational settings in many parts of the world, especially in humanitarian and developing contexts (USAID).

Adolescent girls in emergency situations are especially vulnerable to gender-based violence. They are often mistakenly classified with young children or adults, even though their needs are very different. Existing sex- and age-related power disparities may become more prominent, increasing the risks of rape, coercion into sex work, abduction by armed groups, sexual exploitation and abuse at the hands of humanitarian workers, early marriage, and trafficking. The additional financial, household and childcare burdens that adolescent girls take on in emergency situation often renders them less-visible to humanitarian workers and hinders their access to educational opportunities.

Efforts are being made to address this crisis in a number of ways, including the implementation of minimum standards, teacher training and awareness raising, codes of conduct for teachers, and ‘safe school’ guidelines. However, there is still much work to be done to ensure not only that girls have equal access to the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial protection that education can provide, but also that the content and processes of education in such circumstances meet the needs and priorities of girls and women as well as boys and men.

INEE and Gender

INEE has worked to include gender as a cross-cutting issue in its work and good practice tools and to incorporate strategies to prevent and respond to gender violence including the following:

To order hard copies of INEE materials click here.

In light of these initiatives, the INEE Gender Task Team decided to dedicate this month’s Task Team update to a spotlight on violence against women and girls in emergency settings. Our goal is to raise awareness about the challenges facing women and girls within the context of education in emergencies, and to share relevant new initiatives, tools, and research with the wider INEE membership. On November 25th the INEE Gender Task Team will launch its Facebook page through which we will share information, updates and resources throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.


Education and Gender Based Violence

Schools and education can play a major role in preventing, mitigating and responding to violence against women and girls. Behavioral, cognitive and emotional change can take place in an inclusive learning space. Human rights education can help boys and girls become aware of their rights and how to attain them. In addition, schools can represent a safe place where women and girls can access medical and psychosocial support and learn skills that may help them avoid abuse.

Children’s participation – engagement in children’s parliaments

In all my education work I have attempted to engage students more, to provide opportunities for students to develop skills so that they can participate more effectively and be more independent learners. One of the reasons I was particularly interested in the Escuela Nueva (EN)  education model was the prominence of the student government. In Colombia, students in EN schools will be fully involved in the management of the school and all relevant decisions. So Student Parliaments are the next obvious steps to develop leadership , communication ,cooperation, decision making and participation skills. The reference below is for a new handbook on child participation in parliament:


This handbook, a collaborative effort of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UNICEF, addresses some of the key ways in which parliamentarians can guarantee that children’s voices, concerns and interests find expression in and are taken into account by parliaments. It aims to provide parliamentarians with information on a variety of effective mechanisms to ensure that children’s participation in parliaments is meaningful, reflects the voices of the most marginalized and contributes to policies, laws and budgets that will help correct the disparities and inequities that afflict the world’s children.

This publication can be ordered from the IPU Secretariat.

Year of publication: 2011
Languages: English and French

Universal Children’s Day – 20 November 2011

By resolution 836(IX) of 14 December 1954, the General Assembly recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day, to be observed as a day of worldwide fraternity and understanding between children. It recommended that the Day was to be observed also as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world. The Assembly suggested to governments that the Day be observed on the date and in the way which each considers appropriate. The date 20 November, marks the day on which the Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in 1989.

In 2000 world leaders outlined the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Though the Goals are for all humankind, they are primarily about children. UNICEF notes that six of the eight goals relate directly to children and meeting the last two will also make critical improvements in their lives.

From HREA:

Despite this worldwide consensus on the importance of our children, 70% of the approximately 11 million child deaths every year are attributable to six potentially preventable causes: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth. These deaths occur mainly in the developing world. An Ethiopian child is 30 times more likely to die by his or her fifth birthday than a child in Western Europe. Among deaths of children, South-central Asia has the highest number of newborn deaths, while sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is taking a huge toll on children, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The number of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS is projected to reach 25 million by the end of the decade, 18 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. This, along with only modest progress fighting malaria, means the threats facing child survival are as grave as ever.

Sources: UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library, UNICEF
Selected learning materials

Study Guide on the Human Rights of Children and Youth (HREA)

Conversation about child labour and the right to education with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (15 June 2005)

Children’s Rights Here and Now (Amnesty International-USA)

Fields of Hope: Educational Activities on Child Labor. Teacher’s Guide

“How to Protect Human Rights?” Lesson Plan: Children’s Rights in the UN System of Human Rights Protection (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland)

Raising Children With Roots, Rights & Responsibilities: Celebrating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (USA)

Teaching for Human Rights: Pre-school and Grades 1-4

Teaching for Human Rights: Grades 5-10

International treaties on children’s rights:

– Convention on the Rights of the Child

– Simplified version of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

– Declaration of the Rights of the Child

– African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

– ILO Convention (No. 138) concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment

– ILO Convention (No. 182) concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

– Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

– ptional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
Useful links

Right to Education Project

International Labour Organization (ILO) on Child Labour

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN)

Organisations that promote and protect the rights of children & youth

Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict

From the latest INEE newsletter:

Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict

The purpose of this paper is to bring more conceptual clarity to the issue of children and justice in times of armed conflict by examining relevant legal provisions, academic discussions and a number of case studies. It attempts to articulate how children who have suffered grave violations during armed conflict can access justice and how the current system deals with child victims and witnesses. It also explores the issues surrounding responsibility of children who may have committed international crimes during conflict, the nature of their accountability and where they should be placed in the spectrum between total impunity and total responsibility.


The full report is available here