Why the UK has to take some responsibility for refugees fleeing from conflict zones…

The UK government seems to be hesitant in decision making concenring the present ‘refugee’ crisis as if it should be someone else’s responsibility. It may be worth exploring the link between Britain’s involvement in arms manufacture and selling  and the results of conflict that are partly fuelled by the manufacture and trade in arms.

World’s largest arms exporters

The units in this table are so-called trend indicator values expressed in millions of U.S. dollars at 1990s prices. These values do not represent real financial flows but are a crude instrument to estimate volumes of arms transfers, regardless of the contracted prices, which can be as low as zero in the case of military aid. Ordered by descending 2014 values. The information is from theStockholm International Peace Research Institute.[12]

2014 rank Supplier Arms exports
1  United States 10194
2  Russia 5971
3  China 1978
4  France 1200
5  Germany 1110
6  United Kingdom 1083
7  Israel 1074
8  Spain 824
9  Italy 786
10  Ukraine 664
11  Netherlands 561
12  Sweden 394
13   Switzerland 350
14  Turkey 274
15  Canada 234

Perhaps we can compare the profits made by companies who are promoting conflict by producing and selling arms to the state of education in the countries that suffer from conflict:

From the world education blog

$2.3 billion needed to send all children and adolescents to school in war zones

This blog details the contents of a new paper by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report on the barriers that conflict poses to getting all children and adolescents into school, and a new suggested target for financing education in humanitarian crises.

Click to enlarge

Our new paper, released today, one week before the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, shows that 34 million children and adolescents are out of school in war zones.  The paper shows that $2.3 billion is required to place them in school – ten times the amount that education is receiving from humanitarian aid right now.

One of the core reasons conflict is taking such a heavy toll on education is lack of financing. In 2014, education received only two per cent of humanitarian aid.

The paper determines that even the suggested target of at least 4%, championed since 2011, is grossly insufficient. Had this target been met in 2013, it would have left 15.5 million children and youth without any humanitarian assistance in education. In 2013, 4% of humanitarian aid would have left over 4 million children and youth in Afghanistan, nearly 1.6 million children and youth in Syria, and almost 3 million in Sudan without humanitarian support.

It may be reasonable to levy a higher proportion of a company’s profits who benefit from conflict so as to pay for the results of such conflicts – this has been promoted in environmental circles as ‘polluter pays’.

So there should be a link between those who promote conflict by providing arms and the impact on communities, families and children in particular.

The present ‘ refugee crisis’ should be more broadly discussed rather than narrow mindedly pinpointing the refugees as being the ’cause’ of the crisis.


We can ask ourselves are we investing enough in our young people, seeing they have the energy and creativity to solve many of the problems that have been handed down to them? Through education, can we provide opportunities for young people to develop their skills to engage more fully with decision makers in the local government and civil society? Do we have to wait until they are ‘grown up’ or can we capitalise on their goodwill before they have been excluded through unemployment and other forms of exclusion.

The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Youth Civic Engagement.”

On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

The theme of International Youth Day, 12 August 2015, is “Youth Civic Engagement.” The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent.

There has been recent increasing attention and policy and programming focus on youth civic engagement by governments, UN entities, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, youth and researchers. As part of its celebrations for International Youth Day, the Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, led by the co-chairs, DESA and UNDP, is running an online campaign in the lead up to International Youth Day 12 August 2015.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2015

Emerging threats, violent extremism, shifting political conditions, economic turmoil and social transformations are combining to heighten the challenges facing the world’s young people. No one knows better than them the issues at stake or the best way to respond. That is why I am calling on young people to speak out – and I am urging leaders to listen.

As the world changes with unprecedented speed, young people are proving to be invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions. Youth movements and student groups are challenging traditional power structures and advocating a new social contract between States and societies. Young leaders have contributed fresh ideas, taken proactive measures, and mobilized through social media as never before.

I applaud the millions of young people who are protesting for rights and participation, addressing staggering levels of youth unemployment, raising their voices against injustice, and advocating global action for people and the planet.

In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.

Volunteerism is an ideal way to improve society – and it is open to virtually everyone. Youth can also join forces with the United Nations as we move from forging the new sustainable development goals to implementing them. That spirit of action is embodied in the theme of this International Day: “Youth and Civic Engagement.”

I stand with the world’s young people in calling for measures to secure human rights, economic progress, environmental stewardship and social inclusion.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Charter and the 20th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth. In support of their aims, my Youth Envoy is helping to mobilize this largest generation of young people in history. As he says, youth engagement can help turn the world we want into the world we deserve.

Let us all support young people in creating a future where our planet is protected and all people live in dignity.

Ban Ki-moon



Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

International Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the creative force and the innovative impetus that young people bring to every society. This year’s theme – “Youth Civic Engagement” – emphasizes the role played by the involvement and inclusion of young people in building social cohesion and collective well-being.



International Conventions and Declarations

UN Documents on Youth

Publications and Other Resources

World Environment Day 2015 – threats or promises?

For some people, any discussion about the ‘environment’ is a threat -perhaps to their business or to their daily way of life. For others, there is the promise that if we look after the environment we shall all benefit and together we can secure a healthy future for generations to come.


The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. Evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.

The World Environment Day (WED ) theme this year is therefore “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.

– See more at: http://www.unep.org/wed/theme/sustainable-consumpion.asp#sthash.Koakgpuc.dpuf

For indigenous people, in particular, who often live in harmony with their environment, their future is threatened :



International Women’s Day 2015 – what’s happening?

International Women’s Day 2015 Theme:


All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for the internationalwomensday.com global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women.

Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.


This Day aims to highlight the importance of creating conditions for the elimination of discrimination against women and for their full and equal participation in social development.

If these are some of the aims  – we really need to look towards education in its boradest sense to make any headway. At present it seems we are just trying to catch up – to close the gender gap that exists. But what about looking to the future? Starting with parents who are just having children and already discriminating between the girl and boy child.Look at the toys that are on offer in the ‘Western’ world – there seems to be a stronger push towards pink for girls and blue for boys along with the difference between ‘home’ toys and guns and war toys. And when they start school – there is still an achievement gap in many countries between boys and girls and of course, if you poor and a girl, then the odds stack up against you. Even in the UK when I was teaching, parents of girls would often state, when their daughter had not done so well in maths,  -‘leave that to the boys, they are better at maths!’ With that self fulfilling prophecy the boys tended to do better, but it was not just to do with innate ability -girls were not trying!

So on this International Women’s Day -think about the future of women and start with educating  the youngest.

Women Deliver ” 15 Journalists, 15 Voices for Girls & Women

www.womendeliver.org – Each year, Women Deliver celebrates International Women’s Day by honoring people, organizations and innovations that are delivering for girls and women. This year, we are excited to celebrate 15 journalists from around the world who are advocating for and advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights. More 


When we talk about ‘making it happen’
Here is some celebratory news about girls in Malawi who are really making it happen:

How girl activists helped to ban child marriage in Malawi

Malawi has raised the legal marrying age from 15 to 18.

Malawi’s Stop Child Marriage campaign was launched in 2011 by the Girls Empowerment Network and Let Girls Lead on the principle of empowering girls to fight for their own rights. We trained over 200 girls in the Chiradzulo District of southern Malawi to become advocates. The girls lobbied 60 village chiefs to ratify and enact by-laws that protect adolescent girls from early marriage and harmful sexual initiation practices. These bylaws force men who marry girls under the age of 21 to give up their land in the village and pay a fee of seven goats, a major economic penalty in the region.

Overcoming deeply held cultural beliefs and traditions will not be easy, especially in outlying rural districts impenetrable by communications from the capital. Local, on the ground education campaigns will be key to disseminating information about the new law and building broad-based support for girls’ rights. In addition, while the new law and penal code mandate a minimum age of 18 for marriage, girls as young as 16 can still marry with parental consent. Civil society leaders are pushing for the removal of this loophole, arguing that “parental consent” is too often easily obtained when poor families have too many daughters to feed.

Yet even with these limitations, the new law does provide girls with a voice and power – tangible leverage that girls and advocates alike can use to resist child marriage. The new law also gives sharper teeth to watchdog efforts, enforcement, and the rescue of child brides. In March, advocates from around the world will converge in New York during the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Civil society leaders will celebrate Malawi’s landmark victory for girls, and call upon global decision makers to prioritise girls’ health and education in the post-2015 development process.

One of these powerful advocates is Memory Banda, an 18-year-old Malawian girl. When her younger sister was married aged 11 to a man in his early thirties, Memory promised herself that she would fight for girls’ rights. She went on to finish school and help lead the campaign to pass Malawi’s new law to end child marriage. Memory’s sister, on the other hand, is now 16 years old and has three children.

Memory will raise her voice at the UN to advocate for girls like her sister and for the 70 million more girls around the world who were married as children. “My hope is that global leaders will understand that we girls are powerful leaders of change,” she says. “Marriage is often the end for girls like me. But if our leaders will invest in us and give us the chance to be educated, we will become women who create a better society for everyone.”

Denise Dunning is the executive director and founder of Let Girls Lead and Joyce Mkandawire is co-founder of Genet. (Published in the Guardian).

For further information about plans for International Women’s Day each year, visit the UN International Women’s Day web pages or the separate International Women’s Day website.

Some other groups who are celebrating International Women’s Day:

Conciliation Resources




Cultural Survival


From March 9 to 20, 2015, thousands of women will be meeting in New York City for the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59) at the United Nations. Representatives of Member States, UN entities, and non-governmental organizations will be gathering to evaluate the progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was originally adopted 20 years ago in 1995.

and Camfed

Check out Doreen the film maker:


Education breakthroughs? 2015 and beyond….

Having just returned from Zimbabwe where the Government is attempting to put forward fundamental education reforms (new curricula, new teacher education strategy etc. It is worth considering the flurry of excitement about post 2015 initiatives. It seems that some of the failures (or lack of achievement) in terms of EFA and MDGs may be spurring all interested agencies to hold onto the gains made and extend the agenda.

It’s time for an Education Breakthrough: Coming Together for 2015 and the Agenda Beyond
Center for Universal Education at Brookings
The stars of the global development galaxy infrequently align to provide the education sector with an opportunity to advance progress for girls and boys around the world. However, there is currently a unique opportunity to put forth a common vision to reinforce the Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to chart a forward-looking agenda for the post-2015 development goals that builds upon collective progress and lessons learned.

Three global policy windows are available to advance a common agenda:

  1. Discussions and processes for establishing a new set of global development goals, following the expiration of the MDGs in 2015, are underway in the United Nations.
  2. UNESCO has also started parallel conversations on the post-2015 EFA agenda.
  3. The U.N. Secretary General will soon launch a five-year global education initiative that will span the time period leading up to and following 2015.

To read the full opinion piece, click  here.

Cop17 – Durban climate change conference. A deal yes….but what are the consequences?

Cop17  – Durban climate change conference. A deal yes….but what are the consequences?

At the 11th hour a deal was reached (in fact later than that as the conference had to be extended to the ’13th’  hour). But what does the deal mean?

Here are some immediate comments:

Climate deal salvaged after marathon talks in Durban –  Guardian

Chris Huhne Minister for the Environment – “significant step forward”

Landmark Deal Saves Durban Climate Talks (Huffington Post)

Damian Carrington : Climate deal: A guarantee our children will be worse off than us!

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the deal represents “an important advance in our work on climate change.

They haven’t reached a real deal,” said Samantha Smith, of WWF International. “They watered things down so everyone could get on board.”

Michael Jacobs, visiting professor at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in London, said the agreement could bring real changes.

The agreement here has not in itself taken us off the 4C path we are on,” he said.

But by forcing countries for the first time to admit that their current policies are inadequate and must be strengthened by 2015, it has snatched 2C from the jaws of impossibility.

Durban fiddles while Africa Burns! (Climate Alliance)

After an extra day’s hard negotiations, the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed this Sunday on the second commitment period (KP2) under Kyoto Protocol.

and a taste of last minute diplomacy by Norway…

Climate Justice Now!, a broad coalition of social movements and civil society, emerging from the UN COP17 climate summit in Durban argued that the talks constitute a crime against humanity. That here in South Africa, where the world was inspired by the liberation struggle of the country’s black majority, the richest nations have cynically created a new regime of climate apartheid The press statement is at:


They make the connection between the overspending on arms with underspending on the environment.

It seems the moment of truth has been put off for many years. Over the next few years we will see more and more climate catastrophes ; the estimate is that the planet will warm up by another 3.5 to 5 degrees. This can be prevented by the politicians and the powers that be, but only if they massively invest, diverting the resources that go into wars into a war against climate change.  There is only one way to force them to act, and that is building a social movement, from below. That is how all governments can be forced to change.

The deal doesn’t explicitly compel any nation to take on emissions targets, although most emerging economies have volunteered to curb the growth of their emissions.

Currently, only industrial countries have legally binding emissions targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Those commitments expire next year, but they will be extended for at least another five years under the accord adopted Sunday — a key demand by developing countries seeking to preserve the only existing treaty regulating carbon emissions.

Scientists say that unless those emissions — chiefly carbon dioxide from power generation and industry — level out and reverse within a few years, the Earth will be set on a possibly irreversible path of rising temperatures that lead to ever greater climate catastrophes.

The package gave new life to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose carbon emissions targets expire next year and apply only to industrial countries. A separate document obliges major developing nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future.

Together, the two documents overhaul a system designed 20 years ago that divide the world into a handful of wealthy countries facing legal obligations to reduce emissions, and the rest of the world which could undertake voluntary efforts to control carbon.

Richard Black, BBC environment correspondent  talked of ‘winners and losers’. He mentioned that one set of winners were those countries highly vulnerable to climate impacts, such as those within the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) and the Least Developed Countries bloc (LDCs) which have more than 70 members combined.

Another group of winners were the youth:

Unfailingly charming, youth delegates brought a freshness, a “Yes-we-can” -ness, to the often jaundiced proceedings.

Some of their demonstrations worked too. US envoy Todd Stern was visibly rattled when his set-piece speech was interrupted – not so much rattled by the young heckler as by the prolonged applause generated by her heckling – applause coming from people who were supposed to be her elders and his peers.

And the “occupation” on the final scheduled afternoon made an impact simply because it went on for so long – a couple of hours – bringing a distinct feeling of substance, a “we’re staying here until you sort it out” kind of vibe.

So, after a lot of huffing and puffing some sort of deal has been made. It also seems that after decades of questioning  the scientific evidence a better understanding is emerging that climate change is real and we need to unite across country boundaries and age boundaries to make a difference for the next generations.

click the ‘4’ below for another video: