CHOIKE - http://www.choike.org
A Portal on Southern Civil Societies - Tue May 13 2008
IN THIS EDITION:
-> 1. Events
-> 2. In-depth reports
-> 3. Updates
-> 4. Latest additions: Southern NGOs and other resources
-> 5. News
-> 6. Campaigns
-> 7. IFIs Latin American Monitor
-> 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
The 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the
Convention on Biological Diversity will be held in Bonn, Germany, from
19 to 30 May 2008. Held together with the 4th meeting of the Conference
of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, these meetings
are the main decision sphere on issues such as the threat on
biodiversity posed by agrofuels, GM trees and the use of terminator seeds.
->UNCTAD XII: 20 - 25 April 2008 in Accra, Ghana
The twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development (known as UNCTAD XII) was held from 20 to 25 April 2008 at
the International Conference Centre in Accra, Ghana.
-> All events
2. IN-DEPTH REPORTS
Fostered by the oil and climate crisis, agrofuel development has arrived
on the global stage amid warnings that the cure might be worse than the
-> Agriculture and food sovereignty
Food sovereignty goes beyond the more common concept of food security,
which merely seeks to ensure that a sufficient amount of safe food is
produced without taking into account the kind of food produced and how,
where and on what scale it is produced.
-> All in-depth reports
Landmark UN treaty on rights of persons with disabilities enters into force
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
entered into force one month after the required twentieth country
ratified the landmark treaty which guarantees the rights of some 650
million people worldwide. The Convention does not create any new rights,
but aims to ensure that the benefits of existing rights are fully
extended and guaranteed.
Source: UN News Centre
More information in "Rights of persons with disabilities":
The establishment of the Human Rights Council
The UN Human Rights Council, established in March 2006, will investigate
the human rights record of all member states every four years through
the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This inter-state mechanism only
allows country representatives to question each other. Several NGOs feel
that this prevents them from participating actively in the review
process. UN officials disagree with this criticism, arguing that NGOs
can contribute to the process by providing recommendations as part of
Source: Center for UN Reform Education
More information in "UN reform":
Gender justice, citizenship and development
Ten years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing there is
considerable interest among gender advocates and development
institutions in reviewing how far the project of gender equality has
progressed. According to a major review by the UN, the answers are not
straightforward and at best ambiguous. Whereas there have been notable
gains for women during this period, gender inequalities persist and
today there is a less favourable economic and political environment for
promoting equality than that which existed ten years ago.
Source: International Development Research Centre - IDRC
More information in "Beijing +10: Conference on Women review":
Controlling women’s bodies
Women’s bodies are disputed territory, marked by a system present in all
societies and responsible for the fact that today, in the first decade
of the 21st century, women still are not autonomous enough to make free,
responsible and informed decisions over the territory of their own
bodies. This situation hinders their recognition as rights bearers and
affects their lives and health.
Source: Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network (LACWHN)
More information in "Abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean":
Labour standards: who's got the universal code?
Factory owners complain of audit fatigue and that different brand buyers
are demanding compliance with different code of conduct standards. Trade
unions and NGOs criticize brands for adopting weak codes with imprecise
standards as a mere public relations exercise. Brand buyers complain
that the high standards demanded by unions and NGOs are not achievable,
at least over the short term. One of the major weaknesses of voluntary
codes of conduct has been the lack of consistency in code provisions and
the lack of consensus among companies and stakeholders on the minimum
labour standards that companies should be expected to meet.
Source: Maquila Solidarity Network
More information in "Global labour rights":
A new report from the Arab Association for Human Rights documents the
danger of eviction facing the Palestinian residents of the Ajami
neighborhood in Jaffa and reveals the true motives behind this process.
For these residents, ethnic cleansing did not end in 1948. It continues
to this day, albeit by different means. The process being implemented in
Jaffa (and in other locations in Israel) amounts to the "quiet transfer"
of the Palestinian residents.
Source: Arab Association for Human Rights
More information in "Israeli-Palestinian conflict":
Whose oil? Sudan's oil industry: facts and analysis
In January 2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan ended
Africa’s longest civil war. But the peace is fragile and doesn’t
encompass the entire country. Politically, the country remains divided
and violence is still part of daily life in many areas, foremost in
Darfur, but also in Kordofan. Deadly incidents continue to occur
regularly in the South. Oil is a principal factor in Sudanese politics.
It is the government’s main source of income and the oil sector is
driving economic growth. Meanwhile, the oil industry is poorly managed
and highly politicized. Rather than contributing to an environment of
peace and equitable development, it remains a source of strife and division.
Source: ECOS Network
More information in "Oil companies in developing countries":
Justice for Darfur Campaign
"Justice for Darfur" is a campaign supported by human rights
organisations worldwide, calling on the international community to
ensure the prompt arrest and surrender to the International Criminal
Court of the persons charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes
in Darfur, Sudan. The campaign is launched on the first anniversary of
the issuance of the arrest warrants by the International Criminal Court
More information in "International Criminal Court":
Biotech companies exposed as climate change profiteers
A report released today by ETC Group, reveals that the world's largest
seed and agrochemical corporations are stockpiling hundreds of monopoly
patents on genes in plants that the companies will market as crops
genetically engineered to withstand environmental stresses associated
with climate change - including drought, heat, cold, floods, saline
soils, and more.
Source: ETC Group
More information in "GM food":
Agrofuel sustainability as a smokescreen
Certification alone cannot guarantee that agrofuels are being produced
sustainably. Creating sustainable levels of demand is the only way of
guaranteeing sustainable production. The discussion of biofuels in South
America may be helpful in the African context. Attempts to use
certification schemes to reduce widespread environmental and social
problems caused by growing crops for fuels and animal feed are bound to
fail, according to a new report released today by Friends of the Earth
Source: Friends of the Earth Europe
More information in "Agrofuels":
How does copyright affect the global South?
We are told that we live in the 'digital revolution' era and that we can
communicate across the globe as we never could before. In fact,
restrictive copyright laws still act as a serious barrier to sharing and
learning from each other. This is particularly true in countries of the
South where three quarters of the population live.
Source: Copy South Research Group
More information in "Intellectual Property Rights":
Rising food prices: implications for the right to food
Reports of a ‘global food crisis’ have multiplied in recent weeks, with
UN agencies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
joining NGOs and governments in voicing their concern at spiralling food
costs. Higher food prices mean different things to different people, but
it is the poorest (urban and rural poor in the South) who will suffer
the most, and inequality is likely to rise. The impact on individual
households has received far less coverage than concerns about riots.
More information in "Economic, social and cultural rights - ESCR":
An answer to the global food crisis: peasants and small farmers can feed
Prices on the world market for cereals are rising. Wheat prices
increased by 130% in the period between March 2007- March 2008. Rice
prices increased by almost 80% in the period up to 2008. Maize prices
increased by 35% between March 2007 and March 2008. Some analyst have
been exclusively blaming agrofuels, the increasing world demand and
global warming for the current food crisis. But actually, this crisis is
also the result of many years of destructive policies that have
undermined domestic food production.
Source: La Vía Campesina
More information in "Agriculture and food sovereignty":
IPRs and biodiversity: Stop the theft of indigenous knowledge
Recent years have seen an increasing appreciation of the role and
importance of indigenous knowledge (IK). The knowledge of farmers and
indigenous people in using and conserving biological resources is now
recognised as a treasure that is currently contributing enormous value
to traditional and modern medicine and to agricultural productivity, and
is critical for future development or even survival of humanity.
Source: Third World Network
More information in "Indigenous Knowledge":
Working with the media on gender and education
The paper: "Working with the media on gender and education: A guide for
training and planning" is designed to help education and gender
campaigners, and organisations and coalitions, work more effectively
with the media to promote gender-equitable education. It explores issues
relating to gender equality in education and contains practical advice
on working with the media.
More information in "The gender gap in education":
Amid food riots and shaken governments IFIs scramble to develop a
Skyrocketing food prices have forced the international financial
institutions (IFIs) to articulate responses to the situation. The World
Bank has conjured a "New Deal for Global Food Policy" to pump
agriculture-oriented loans and programs into Africa and to address
emergency financing needs. The IMF has voiced concern over the likely
macroeconomic shocks of the food crisis in low-income countries. But the
Bretton Woods Institutions must wrestle with a legacy that helped set
the stage for diminished food security in many low-income countries.
Source: Bank Information Center
More information in "International Monetary Fund - IMF":
The Bank of the South initiative: Some initial stumbling to get on the
After several postponements over the year 2007, the Bank of the South
was formally created in Buenos Aires on December 9, 2007, when the
presidents of the seven countries signed its founding charter. At that
time, a 60-day deadline was established for the member countries to
define the Bank's Articles of Incorporation. However, it was only
recently, on April 25, 2008, in a meeting held in Montevideo that the
matter was taken up again by the members. These suspensions and delays
may be justified by some important differences that exist among the
countries involved in the bank’s founding process and which constitute
key factors in this sense.
Source: International Gender and Trade Network
More information in "1Southern Bank: A road towards a new financial
Dissecting the North American Summit joint statement: Bush's last stand
On April 22, Presidents George W. Bush, Felipe Calderón, and Prime
Minister Stephen Harper concluded a trilateral summit in New Orleans.
The summit marked the fourth meeting of the North American Security and
Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which has drawn fire in all three
countries since its proceedings are not open to public participation or
congressional oversight and working groups are made up only of
government and large business representatives.
Source: Americas Program - Center for International Policy (CIP)
More information in "Free Trade Agreements - FTAs":
Questionable timing for tighter GATS rules, liberalized banking
The new efforts to breathe life into the Doha round of trade
negotiations at the WTO are targeting international trade in services as
well as in manufactures and agriculture. The processes envisaged appear
to involve "horizontal" negotiations for modalities - in agriculture and
non-agricultural market access (NAMA) at senior-official levels leading
to a mini-ministerial (mid-May being a possible date), as well as a
"signalling" conference on services, and conclusion of negotiations with
an agreement while George W. Bush is still in White House.
Protect, respect and remedy: a framework for business and human rights
The international community is still in the early stages of adapting the
human rights regime to provide more effective protection to individuals
and communities against corporate-related human rights harm. A new
report to the UN Human Rights Council presents a principles-based
conceptual and policy framework intended to help achieve this aim.
Source: United Nations
More information in "Corporate accountability":
4. LATEST ADDITIONS: Southern NGOs and other resources
Feminist Peace Network - FPN
FPN is dedicated to the urgent need of providing shelter, food,
education, and a safe environment for women and children in all parts of
the world, as well as creating economic conditions to ensure these human
rights in the future.
Punden is committed to promoting human rights in the villages toward
community independence and sovereignty. Indonesia.
African Copyright & Access to Knowledge (ACA2K)
The ACA2K Project is probing the relationship in African countries
between national copyright environments and access to hard-copy and
digital learning materials within an access to knowledge (A2K) framework
â€“ a framework which regards the protection/promotion of user access as
one of the central objectives of copyright law.
Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA)
COICA coordinates organizations that work to strengthen the rights of
indigenous people living in the nine countries that share the Amazon basin.
Copy South Research Group
In 2005, a group of scholars and activists, mostly from the global
South, created the Copy/South Research Group to analyse, criticise, and
confront the oppressive nature of current global copyright regimes, such
as those defended by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and
similar ones around the globe.
The majority of the Maghreb and Mashreq NGOs are not in a position to
benefit from the advantages of Internet visibility. The Forum des
Alternatives Maroc Association (FMAS) initiated in partnership with
Oxfam Novib and Alternatives/AlterInter the project of the
Maghreb/Machrek civil socity portal.
South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS)
SACSIS is a platform for policy dialogue that has been established as a
news agency to channel social justice news and analysis about policy
dialogue in South Africa to the media.
Southern African Legal Assistance Network (SALAN)
SALAN is a network of non-profit, non-governmental organisations in the
SADC region that advocate for the rights of the poor, disadvantaged and
The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries
The EJISDC is a forum for practitioners, teachers, researchers and
policy makers to share their knowledge and experience in the design,
development, implementation, management and evaluation of information
systems and technologies in developing countries.
-> NGO directory
->Breakthrough for universal social justice
After five years of difficult negotiations, UN member states approved
the text of a complaints mechanism to guarantee the rights of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Source: FIAN International
->Peru: government lashes out at human rights groups
The Peruvian government, with the backing of the parliamentary bloc that
supports former President Alberto Fujimori, has unleashed a campaign
against non-governmental organisations that defend human rights,
according to activists and lawyers.
Source: Inter Press Service (IPS)
->Call for papers on the future of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Sur – Human Rights University Network and the International Service for
Human Rights invite contributions to be published in a Special Issue on
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Sur – International Journal
on Human Rights.
Source: Sur Journal
->Major milestone to promote Human Rights of desabled people
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities received its
20th ratification on 3 April 2008, triggering the entry into force of
the Convention and its Optional Protocol 30 days late.
Source: U.N. Enable
->Venue and duration of 2009 anti-racism review conference to be decided
on 26 May
A two-week meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the review
conference on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related
intolerance ended in Geneva on 2 May after agreeing to to postpone
decisions on where to hold the review conference, although it is likely
to be in one of the four UN centres of Geneva, Nairobi, New York or Vienna.
Gender in economics
->IGTN responds to UNCTAD XII
It is key to strengthen the role of the UN Committee on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) and other UN bodies, although the UNCTAD held in
Accra, Ghana, from 20 to 25 April has not produced much news.
->WIDE at the UN Monterrey Consensus Informal Review Session on Aid
WIDE took part in one of the six thematic review sessions that are
preparing the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for
Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.
->NGOs positions on UNIFEM appointment
NGOs and Networks' statements on the last UNIFEM appointment and the low
weight given to women's voices from the global South.
Source: NGOs and networks
->Resisting and challenging religious fundamentalisms
Religious fundamentalisms are gaining strength in many countries,
manifesting themselves in control over women's sexuality, bodies, family
relationships, movement, dress codes, and participation in public, etc.
->Portrait of an iconoclast
An interview with Dr Peter Waterman, by Dr Rosalba Icaza.
Source: Institute of Social Studies - ISS
->Campaign and Information Center
The UNelections.org campaign is encouraging the United Nations to
increase transparency regarding how the posts are filled, place a
greater emphasis on individual qualifications, reduce corruptive
political and financial trading for positions, and help ensure more
equity for candidates from all member states.
->ADB Strategy 2020: Selling Asia to the private sector
The 41st Annual Governors Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
took place in Madrid, Spain from May 3 to 6, 2008. One of the main
agenda of this meeting is the ADB’s strategy for the next years for what
it describes as a "New Asia". NGOs and former ADB officials have
condemned the strategy. (pdf)
Source: Jubilee South
->Trade unions demand action on world food crisis
In response to the deepening global food crisis the ITUC has called on
governments and world institutions to take far-reaching measures to
guarantee food security for all.
Social Development - Trade and Regional Integration
->Civil society calls for action on food and finance crises
Civil society groups have called for UNCTAD to take strong action to
address the food, finance and economic justice crises.
->Climate a 'life and death' issue for native peoples
Leaders of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples are calling for
the United Nations to include their voices in its future talks on
->Seventh Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods of indigenous
peoples is the focus of UN forum held from 21 April - 2 May in New York.
Trade and Regional Integration
->UNCTAD hears gender inequality becoming worse - and better
The only way that the poor, particularly women, will benefit from all
the efforts that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) has put into improving global trade is to ensure that power
inequalities are redressed.
Source: Inter Press Service (IPS)
->No to the privatization of biodiversity!
Via Campesina's position paper on the Protocol on Biosecurity and the
Convention on Biodiversity calling on signatory governments to recognize
the ancient role of peasant/community based farmers and warning them
against the false solutions.
Source: Via Campesina
->Ecuador's mining decree: A cautious victory for communities
Communities and organizations opposed to large scale metallic mining in
Ecuador are calling the new mining decree passed by the National
Constituent Assembly a win for their movement.
->Privatization of water, health renders MDGs unattainable, says civil
Civil Society groups participating in the ongoing UNCTAD XII conference
in Accra have kicked against the privatization of water and health services.
->2nd international conference on sustainable tourism
>From May 12th to 15th 2008, the Second International Conference on
Sustainable Tourism (ICST) will take place in Fortaleza – Brazil. The
Conference will attract about 500 participants to discuss community
based tourism as a strategy to encourage popular traditional culture,
environmental protection, local development and fair trade in tourism.
->Grand Inga: leaving Africans in the dark?
The potential to profit from the world's largest dam project – the Grand
Inga hydropower scheme, proposed for the Congo River – drew bankers,
engineering firms and industrial interests to London in April 2008 to
discuss financing for the $80 billion project. African civil society has
been raising concerns about the project for some time, but was blocked
from attending the London event.
Source: International Rivers
->Argentina: training health agents to reduce child mortality
An ambitious new programme for training health agents to help reduce
infant mortality in small rural communities and indigenous villages,
launched by one of Argentina’s best-known human rights groups, drew many
more applicants than the organisers had hoped for.
->Copyright and education in Africa: Launch of the ACA2K network
As the global community marks World Intellectual Property Day 2008 (26
April), an eight-country African research network is being launched with
a mandate to investigate the relationship between copyright and
education in African countries.
Economy and Financial Affairs
->IMF reforms itself, a little
The poor have been given a little more say in the IMF. For many
developing countries and NGOs this is still not enough, but it is the
biggest single change in the last 60 years.
->The contribution of capital to the South Bank: a question of asymmetries
The finance ministers of the South Bank met last Friday 25 in
Montevideo, Uruguay. The aim was to analyze the issues pending
resolution regarding the setting up of the Bank, among them the
contribution of capital.
Source: IFIs Latin American Monitor
->NGOs to ADB president: "No future for Asia’s poor under ADB!"
Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda opened the 41st Annual
Meeting of the ADB under a hail of questions from civil society groups
critical of the ADB’s pursuit of private sector development at the
expense of poverty-alleviation efforts and community and environmental
-> All news
->Helping the people of Myanmar
You can donate in order to help Burmese people affected by the deadly
->Peru: demand investigation in rape case
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins
La Libertad GLTB Association from Peru in requesting that you write
letters to the Peruvian authorities, asking for a fair and throughout
investigation of Luis Alberto Rojas Martin’s rape case.
Source: International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
->Somalia: 40 children and youth seized by Ethiopian troops risk torture
The Ethiopian army have unlawfully detained over 40 children and young
men, aged approximately between 9-18 years. They have been accused of
having links with terrorist grous and are at imminent risk of torture.
Source: Amnesty International
->Play fair at the olympics
It's time for the Olympic movement to support fair play for sportswear
Source: Maquila Solidarity Network
-> All campaigns
7. IFIs Latin American Monitor
-> This initiative aims at contributing to the Latin American and global
IFI campaigns for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions by
translating key information, producing and disseminating news and
analysis, thus promoting dialogue and collaboration between key actors.
This project is possible thanks to the support of Mott Foundation.
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