Latest updates en Building Blocks for a Better World Order <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-thumbnail"> <a href="/2014/07/building-blocks-better-world-order" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="International Women&#039;s Day March in Rio de Janeiro" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>The bombs <a href="">falling in Gaza</a> represent a continuation of a colonial and cold war order that must change. In this world order the US can almost unilaterally negate the consensus <a href="">in favor of a Palestinian</a> state or <a href="">against an invasion of Iraq</a>. It can <a href="">manipulate financial crises</a> to benefit those with money at the expense of jobs, schools, hospitals and human life. It can make multilateralism meaningless because it is only used by the strong against the weak. <a href="">Human rights</a> are tools to be used to justify desired ends and not a standard by which all countries are measured.&nbsp;</p><p>As the images of mangled corpses and mothers weeping continue to pour out of occupied Palestine it is difficult to believe that this sorry state of affairs is coming to an end, but I believe it may be.</p><p>For decades, developing countries have been offering alternative visions and strategies for what a better world order could look like. Through alliances like the <a href="">Non-Aligned Movement</a> and the <a href="">G77</a>, poor countries have made their voices clear. Human rights – including the right to development – are non-negotiable and should apply to all countries equally. In venues like the <a href="">Bandung Conference</a>, they even began to articulate a strategy for achieving those ends that involved bigger countries leading on economic development and then pulling poorer countries along as they move forward. The strategy – imperfect as it may have been – was never implemented. Cold War politics and the reality that countries locked into colonial economic systems had few means of escape intervened.</p><h3><strong>Much more than a Goldman Sachs marketing gimmick</strong></h3><p>Enter the BRICS. Though billed as a grouping derived from a Goldman Sachs marketing gimmick, the BRICS has origins and parallels in developing country groupings such as the RIC – a strategic alliance of Russia, India and China that focused on trade, investment and military relations between the three countries. At their recent summit in Fortaleza, the BRICS released a <a href="">statement</a> that includes strong language on human rights and a strong reaffirmation of multilateralism. The statement also specifically mentions a number of African conflicts and UN treaties, including a treaty being negotiated on the use of outer space.</p><p>We may criticize the human rights paragraphs of the statement as self-serving and there may be some truth to that. We may criticize the governments themselves for human rights violations in Ukraine, Kashmir, Tibet, Marikana, and the Amazon and that would be valid. But the fact that we have countries crafting language designed at poking G7 countries (sometimes too gently) in the ribs should tell us something. It tells us that at the very least, two blocs of countries will be vying for the title of the world’s steering committee. And that may be an opening for those who would advocate for all human rights (including economic, social and cultural rights). In the right circumstances that opening could mean long-stalled multilateral negotiations on issues like nuclear weapons, climate change, and the global arms trade could reach fruitful conclusions.</p><p>Though the BRICS are asserting themselves, we are still far from such a multipolar world. On the key agreements that were expected from this summit, too few changes are being proposed. Worse yet, those are changes that don’t fundamentally challenge the status quo.</p><p>The IMF has been a fundamental U.S. tool for ensuring global subservience to the desires of international corporations and their owners. Through conditioning its lending on a neoliberal recipe for chronic under-development, the IMF kept growth rates and wages low for most countries in the world. That the BRICS planned to set up a $100 billion version of the IMF – the Contingency Reserve Agreement – was therefore welcome news.</p><p>But the CRA as it is being planned disappoints on at least two levels. First, in order for a country to access more than 30% of its share, it must have an agreement with the IMF. This seems to negate the point of the exercise, which was about allowing countries to follow development models that the IMF doesn’t necessarily approve of.</p><p>Second, at a time when these same countries are arguing in the G20 that the world must end the dominance of the US dollar as the international trading currency, BRICS countries say that for practical considerations, CRA funds will be denominated in dollars. This sacrifices the best chance for a solid challenge to dollar hegemony, which distorts economies around the world and undergirds continuing US domination. &nbsp;It may be possible for the CRA to shift away from the dollar at some future point, but it would be easier and more effective to do so from the beginning.</p><h3><strong>A new development bank for an old development model?</strong></h3><p>On the other concrete announcement, BRICS countries are moving forward with plans for a BRICS Bank. Known as the New Development Bank (NDB), the institution is being heralded as an alternative to the World Bank and will have a focus on infrastructure and sustainable development.</p><p>On infrastructure, few would deny that most developing countries need better infrastructure. But infrastructure for whom and to what end? From the colonial period until today, the majority of large infrastructure projects in poorer countries has had little to do with the needs of poor or even middle class people, but is rather about ensuring foreign companies have access to natural resources and can extract them for global markets.</p><p>Too often, communities who live on or near natural wealth are worse off than they would have been without it. Even in best case scenarios, this type of infrastructure investment locks countries into a resource intensive development strategy when what is needed are strategies towards sustainable industrialization, full employment, and ultimately building national communities that respect everyone’s human rights.</p><p>Sustainable development is a more open question. From what we are hearing the definition of sustainability will be based on the <a href=";ArticleID=1163">Rio principles</a> from the 1992 Earth Summit and that’s not a bad start. But how will the NDB ensure that its projects are in line with this standard without the use of safeguard policies and social and environmental protections that are seen as unwarranted conditions that impact national sovereignty?</p><p>When faced with the reality of needless suffering in places like Palestine, all of this seems far too little and far too late. And it’s not clear how the BRICS will be able to back up their political statements in the way that they have (imperfectly) formalized some of the economic ones.</p><p>But none of us – no matter where we happen to be located – are on the sidelines of this discussion. Seventy years after the world was torn apart by the scourge of near global war we are still faced with an option. Do we want a world based on domination of the strong over the weak for the profits of a few? Or do we want something better – a world where everyone is guaranteed both freedom from the fear of violence and the freedom from the fear of hunger and poverty? &nbsp;It may sound grandiose, but the future of our civilization, our species and perhaps our planet depends on choosing the right answer to that question and how we choose to make it happen.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> BRICS economic justice Gaza human rights international law Palestine International Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:55:12 +0000 Sameer.dossani 551230 at Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone: The lifesaving role of women <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/07/ebola-outbreak-sierra-leone-lifesaving-role-women" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>I just took a taxi to go from my guest house to ActionAid’s office in Freetown and I asked the driver about ebola.&nbsp; “<em>It’s not here in Freetown, don’t worry about it, we are free, we’re not in danger!</em>” he said laughing. So, I said to him “if <em>you think that this city is ebola free, just because the city is called ‘Freetown’ you are wrong, please take precautions!”</em></p><p>On Friday 18th July 2014, the ebola outbreak update from Sierra Leone’ Ministry of Health said that there are 92 survivors, which is good- it shows that people are receiving early treatment at health facilities, rather than staying at home. But the number of ebola cases continues to rise. There have now been 397 confirmed ebola cases and 127 deaths - <strong>that’s an increase of 27 deaths and 72 confirmed cases in just one week.</strong>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The Sierra Leone context is not an easy one to stop ebola from taking more innocent lives. On my way to Freetown, I read that <strong>Sierra Leone has come at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index for several years.</strong> The index measures development based on three principal dimensions: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. These are measured by life expectancy at birth; adult literacy and combined gross enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education; and per capita income in terms of purchasing power.&nbsp; Life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 42 - just over half of that in the countries ranked in the top 20. <strong>Just 25 percent of women here are literate, and the literacy rate of the entire population is only 37 percent.</strong></p><p>With these indicators in mind, ActionAid Sierra Leone has a real challenge to inform the population about ebola, especially women, who are the main focus in our response. Why women? <strong>Women here are the carers of sick relatives, so are the most vulnerable to exposure, but they’re also the key to prevention, particularly as they look after children.</strong> I really hope that the population listens to our prevention messages. The good thing is that we are working with community leaders and partners knocking on everybody’s doors in two districts Bo and Kono, where ActionAid sponsored children live.&nbsp;</p><p>We are overcoming the illiteracy challenge by spreading prevention messages both face to face and on the radio through discussion groups and playing jingles, to <strong>make sure that everyone knows how to prevent ebola, regardless of whether they can read or write.</strong> Our jingle says: “don’t eat bush meat, wash your hands constantly with chlorine, and avoid direct contact with body fluids like blood, saliva, vomit, stool, semen, vaginal fluids and urine”.</p><p>I am proud to see how my colleagues here have responded so quickly to launch an amazing awareness campaign. Let’s hope that we can defeat ebola so that the whole of Sierra Leone can be ebola-free, like the taxi driver said.&nbsp;</p> </div> Africa Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:13:05 +0000 wendy.pacay 551168 at Ebola in Sierra Leone - Health messages key to prevention <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/07/ebola-sierra-leone-health-messages-key-prevention" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Three days ago, I flew from Guatemala to Sierra Leone to support our communications staff in the country over the next month. After a long 26 hour journey, I finally landed in Freetown, expecting to hear about the Ebola outbreak from the airline staff, and see lots of posters at the airport, but I did not see or hear anything about it. I was relieved in a way, thinking that maybe the situation isn’t so bad, so maybe I didn’t need to be scared. I took a bus and a boat to Freetown, and again, none of the passengers were talking about Ebola, and seemed strangely relaxed. &nbsp;</p><p>When I arrived at the ActionAid head office in Freetown, it was a very different scene. After a number of briefings with various country staff, it was very clear that the Ebola virus is a very real threat and is taking lives.</p><p>Yesterday, ActionAid organized a training session on Ebola for all staff with a health facilitator from the Ministry of Health. Almost 50 of us learnt the latest information on the outbreak, and shared experience working in the field. In all honesty, I was scared to sit close to the facilitator, because he had just returned from one of the areas where Ebola cases had been confirmed. He assured us that the correct thing to do was to avoid physical contact with people in affected areas. As an example, he tried to shake hands with the country director of ActionAid Sierra Leone, Mohamed Sillah, who refused to touch him. The message was clear – <strong>as counter-cultural as it may be, do not touch people, wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizers and chlorine!</strong> I am not used to doing this, but I know I must do so to reduce my vulnerability to Ebola.</p><p>There is a huge need amongst communities to dispel the rumours and confusion around the disease - accurate information from trusted sources is key to stopping the outbreak from spreading any further. It is great to hear that people trust ActionAid, thanks to our longstanding presence in the region. That’s why we are raising awareness of Ebola and prevention through training women volunteers to do door to door visits, and distributing leaflets and airing radio jingles through community radio stations in Kono and Bo.&nbsp;</p> </div> Africa Liberia Sierra Leone ebola Emergencies & Conflict International Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:18:49 +0000 wendy.pacay 549849 at Three things to remember as the world's new anti-poverty goals are decided <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/07/three-things-remember-worlds-new-anti-poverty-goals-are-decided" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>As <a href="" target="_blank">I've said before, 2015 will be a big year</a> for those keeping an eye on development. Not only will the&nbsp; Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire, they will be replaced by a new set of goals that are expected to be even more ambitious.</p><p>Although <a href="" target="_blank">I've had my doubts about the usefulness of the MDGs</a>, the process of choosing these new goals is worth watching. It will largely define the terms of debate for global issues such as inequality, women's rights, education, the eradication of hunger and international aid, and its funding. And, it could decide donors' funding priorities.</p><p>But it's tricky to keep up with (<a href="" target="_blank">the original 'zero draft' document</a> contained 17 goals, some with more than 40 sub-goals!) So what should we particularly look out for?</p><p><strong>1) What about human rights?</strong> While there's some vague lip service paid to the importance of the <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Declaration (UDHR)</a> and other human rights treaties, we have to remember that those treaties mean that governments must deliver on most of these development goals. T<a href=",_Social_and_Cultural_Rights" target="_blank">he International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)</a> in particular guarantees labour rights, sexual and reproductive rights, the right to good quality health care and education, and a host of others. Put that with the right to freedom from all forms of discrimination in the <a href="" target="_blank">International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights</a>, and these mechanisms form a powerful tool against poverty. Or rather they would if they weren't consistently undermined - even by governments that have championed them. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kilpatrick famously stated that the economic rights provisions in the UDHR were nothing more than a <a href="" target="_blank">'letter to Santa Claus'</a>.</p><blockquote><p>So a key question for the UN is: How are these goals going to be more effective than the internationally agreed human rights framework that has largely failed to deliver? &nbsp;</p></blockquote><p><strong>2) If inequality is the problem, corporate engagement is not the solution.</strong> The zero draft contains some pretty strong language on inequality, including a distinct goal to “reduce inequality within and between countries”. It also mentions the need for companies to “incorporate sustainable development principles in their business practices” but it doesn't say much on how companies should be held to account or what regulation is needed to achieve this across the board. This is happening at a time when UN agencies like <a href="" target="_blank">UNICEF</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">UN Women</a> are actively courting big companies to help fill gaps in budgets that largely result from the ongoing global financial crisis and the failure of a few nations (well, <a href="" target="_blank">one nation in particular</a> - the US) to pay their bills. &nbsp;</p><p>You get the feeling that there's a lack of intellectual clarity here, or perhaps that holes that originate in the UN's pocket book are ending up in its brain. Corporate greed - sometimes breaking national laws - is driving the inequality crisis. The problem is not going to be solved by timidly asking companies to act better and then offering them a seat at the decision-making table where they can drive the discussion to suit their bottom-line.&nbsp; There is need for a stronger and binding framework to hold corporations accountable on human and environmental rights issues.</p><p><strong>3) Show me the money.</strong> You could argue that these development targets will be more effective than the previous ones and from the rights framework, because the implementation will be funded. It's a difficult argument to make, especially in a world where the US doesn't pay its UN bill and <a href="" target="_blank">only seven countries have ever met an unambitious foreign aid target</a> set way back in 1970. Ending corporate tax avoidance and harmful tax incentives must account for much of the money. At the moment, developing countries lose billions in revenue as a result of these practices, far more than they receive in aid. These practices need to end and companies must pay the fair share of tax in the countries in which they do business. That would allow countries to invest in much needed health, education projects as well as better social protection schemes for those who most need it including women and youth.</p><p><strong>What do you think are the key issues in the debate on the next set of development targets?</strong> Let me know <a href="" target="_blank">@sameerdossani on Twitter</a>!</p> </div> MDG post 2015 Sustainable Development International Thu, 10 Jul 2014 11:03:30 +0000 Sameer.dossani 549179 at Campaigning in Zambia forces review of Vedanta owned copper mine <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/07/campaigning-zambia-forces-review-vedanta-owned-copper-mine" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="Protesters at the Ndola Mining Indaba, June 2014." title="Protesters at the Ndola Mining Indaba, June 2014." class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p class="Default">Zambia’s economy is largely dependent on copper, and as the world’s fourth largest producer, the mining sector accounts for over 80 per cent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Sadly, the mining sector only contributes about 4 per cent to GDP, in a country that has extremely high levels of poverty and in dire need to resources.</p><p class="Default">Over the last few years, many Zambians have started questioning the benefits of mining for the ordinary citizens especially as the number of big multinational companies continues to grow and new mines being developed.</p><blockquote><p class="Default">The launch of the Tax Power campaign by ActionAid in Zambia has further ignited interest and debate on what many citizens now describe as ‘looting’ of our natural resources rather than investment.</p></blockquote><p class="Default">It is then not surprising that there was public outrage when a Youtube video showing the boss of London-based mining Vedanta giant Anil Agarwal, owner of Konkola Copper Mines, bragging about buying the company from the Zambian government for a song and making huge profits from it when it has been reporting losses in Zambia.</p><p class="Default">He said, “We took over the company. It's been 9 years, and since then, every year it is giving us a minimum of US$500 million plus US$1 billion every year… it has been continuously giving back.”</p><p class="Default">Even more frustrating was the fact that government was silent about the video with only some unofficial comments.</p><p class="Default">ActionAid decided to organise a media stunt at which it gave the Government a seven day ultimatum to clarify the claims by the KCM CEO. The media stunt, being the first of its kind by an NGO in Zambia, drew massive publicity from media houses, including the public media that often blacks out coverage of NGOs.</p><p class="Default">Interestingly, within this period, the Government called its own press briefing to which ActionAid Zambia received a ‘personal’ invitation – something rather uncommon with the current government! During the interaction with the Minister of Mines, Energy and Water, ActionAid was acknowledged several times and even called upon to work with the Government to support development of effective mining policy. At this briefing, the minister insisted that the Government had already undertaken a comprehensive audit of KCM and so another audit was not necessary as the problems were known.</p><p class="Default">In a bid to put more pressure on government to undertake a comprehensive forensic audit of KCM, ActionAid Zambia organised a protest march to KCM head office in the Capital City, Lusaka. This was a huge achievement for AA Zambia in a country where the Public Order Act is harshly applied; ActionAid Zambia pushed to get the relevant permit to hold the protest and to deliver a petition to KCM demanding disclosure of their transactions.</p><blockquote><p class="Default">Two days after the protest, the revenue authority announced that it had ordered a forensic audit of KCM.</p></blockquote><p class="Default">And just three days later, KCM responded to ActionAid Zambia’s petition demands and a meeting with the KCM (Zambia) CEO was held where KCM committed to be more transparent in their transactions and to engage with the communities that ActionAid works with in Chingola town where the KCM mine is located.</p><p>The responses both from the Government and the company were pleasantly surprising, but are a clear testimony of what we can achieve with our <a title="#TaxPower on Twitter" href=";src=typd" target="_blank">#TaxPower</a> campaign!&nbsp;</p> </div> News Africa Zambia Governance International Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:22:23 +0000 pamela.chisanga 548890 at Families of missing Nigeria schoolgirls received your messages <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/06/families-missing-nigeria-schoolgirls-received-your-messages" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>Thank you for all your heart-felt messages of support which streamed in from all over the world after 276 girls were abducted from their dormitories in the Nigerian town of Chibok.</p><p>The kidnapping by the militant Islamic group Boko Haram mid-April resulted in a worldwide protest to #BringBackOurGirls. ActionAid opened a <a href="">petition where you can show your support</a> by signing up and leaving messages to the girls and their families.</p><p>To visualise the global outrage and support, <a href="">ActionAid Nigeria created a world map with your messages</a>. On the Day of the African Child, Monday 16 June, the poster and petition were handed over to women representatives and the chairman of the Chibok community. It was a strong sign that world stands behind them and is not giving up on the girls.</p><p>On the same day, ActionAid Nigeria also handed over the petition to the Nigerian Senate Committee on Education and met with the press to urge the government to provide special protection to safeguard the lives and education of children in Nigeria.</p><p>ActionAid also expressed its total commitment to protect children’s educational rights – especially those of girls. According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the most children out of school in the world - more than 10.5 million. &nbsp;</p><p><a href="">You can still continue to show your support to the families</a>. Today a total of 219 are still held by Boko Haram. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign is still very much on. And you can also <a href="">see the full map in pdf format (175kb)</a></p> </div> Womens Rights Youth International Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:35:02 +0000 Veronique.Verlinden 543699 at TAX JUSTICE - here we stand and we demand!! Bangladesh Asia access to public services activism for the youth rights governance Youth International Tue, 17 Jun 2014 01:18:10 +0000 Asmaul.Housna 543294 at It's #TimeToAct to end sexual violence in conflict <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/06/its-timetoact-end-sexual-violence-conflict" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="The Foreign Office in London lit up ahead of the Global Summit to End Sexual Vio" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>This week ActionAid will be joining hundreds of other charities, politicians, experts, world leaders and Angelina Jolie at the exCel centre in London for what promises to be an incredible event.</p><p><a href="">The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence</a> will be the largest event of its kind and is already bringing what was once a taboo subject on to political and public agendas. It’s got people talking.</p><p>Two years ago The UN ambassador and actress, Angelina Jolie joined forces with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and worked hard to get 140 countries to sign an agreement to end sexual violence in conflict, a remarkable achievement but signatures aren't enough.</p><p><strong>The summit will give a chance for leaders, policy makers and experts to meet with survivors of sexual violence and to work out exactly how they are going to turn signatures into real action.</strong></p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Angelina Jolie arrives at End Sexual Violence Summit. <a href="">@ActionAidUK</a> has women from conflict countries for interview. <a href=""></a></p>— Natalie Curtis (@NatalieCurtis) <a href="">June 10, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//"></script><p>So far the discussions have focussed around ending impunity for perpetrators and at ActionAid we agree that this is crucial. <strong>Women have experienced some of the most horrendous violations of their bodies and rights in conflicts. They must feel safe and trusted when they are ready to report what has happened to them.</strong> They have to know that the people they report it to, whether a police officer, an aid worker, a peace keeper or a soldier, that they will be listened to, taken seriously and believed. They need to know that when they tell that person that everything will be done to hold the perpetrators to account.</p><p>If at the end of this week world leaders and policy makers return to their countries and take action to ensure that police, soldiers and health workers are adequately trained to support survivors and that laws are reviewed to end impunity, then something great will have been achieved. But just because something is illegal doesn't mean it won't happen. <strong>There has to be more.</strong></p><p>And this need for more to be done is exactly why ActionAid will be at the summit this week. We will be there with ten incredible women from countries across the world. Each one of them has their own story to tell. Stories of being more scared of being raped than killed during the conflict in Sierra Leone and hiding in bushes in Burundi while running from militia. These women have all had terrifying experiences but they are turning them into something positive by working on the frontline with other survivors of sexual violence. We will all be there to highlight that <strong>there needs to be more funding for women’s organisations who can support women to try and rebuild their lives</strong> and to provide women friendly spaces to do this. More needs to be done to empower women and girls to become leaders and decision makers in their own communities and, perhaps the hardest of all, <strong>there needs to be more done to change cultural values which are preventing women from being treated with the same respect as men</strong> both during conflict and peace time.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>.ActionAidUK speaks to Angelina Jolie on ending sexual violence in conflict.We work with women globally <a href=";src=hash">#timetoact</a> <a href=""></a></p>— Natalie Curtis (@NatalieCurtis) <a href="">June 10, 2014</a></blockquote><script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//"></script><p>It is a big challenge but it’s a challenge that world leaders have chosen to take on - so now they need to work towards it. This week many survivors will do something incredibly brave and talk openly to rooms full of people about their horrific experiences in order to stop the same happening to others, this cannot be in vain.</p><p>ActionAid will be at the summit throughout this week. We have joined up with the Guardian and have a video booth in the <a href="">fringe</a> which is open to the public where you can leave your messages to world leaders. We will also be holding a panel discussion about women on the frontline on Wednesday at 4:30pm in discussion room 3 at the fringe - do come and join us.</p> </div> Violence Against Women Womens Rights International Tue, 10 Jun 2014 11:30:36 +0000 charlotte.armstrong 541739 at Higher temperatures raise voices at UN climate negotiations <div class="field field-image-nid"> <div class="buildmode-embedded_image"> <div class="node node-type-image clear-block"> <div class="nd-region-middle-wrapper nd-no-sidebars" ><div class="nd-region-middle"><div class="field field-image-file"> <a href="/2014/06/higher-temperatures-raise-voices-un-climate-negotiations" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large imagecache-linked imagecache-thumb_large_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="Bonn Climate summit" class="imagecache imagecache-thumb_large" width="140" height="140" /></a> </div> </div></div> </div> <!-- /node --> </div> <!-- /buildmode --> </div> <div class="field field-body"> <p>At the United Nations negotiations on climate change, tensions run high while voices are low.</p><p>As <a href="">typhoons wreak devastation</a> and the <a href="">Antarctic Ice Sheet melts</a>, as disasters escalate and food crises strike, UN processes merely stall and promises are broken. Countries suffering the devastating impacts of climate change express the urgent need for action in politely strained murmurs.</p><p>At last year’s negotiations in Warsaw, the heavy presence of the dirty energy industries -&nbsp; from corporate sponsorship by polluters, to a parallel “Coal &amp; Climate Summit” in Warsaw, all facilitated by the Polish government hosting the COP (conference of the parties) - was the last straw for many of us.</p><p>So civil society groups have been doing their bit to shake things up.</p><p>Last year, <a href="">hundreds of us</a> staged a <a href="">mass walk-out</a> from the negotiations in Warsaw. At an appointed time, the halls and corridors suddenly filled with people in matching t-shirts and holding banners, all declaring that <a href="">Enough is Enough</a>, and expressing disgust at the lack of meaningful action or financial support from rich countries.</p><p>Close to 800 of us walked out en masse, choosing to stay away for the remainder of the COP, to highlight to negotiators and the world just how bad things had become.</p><p>6 months later, we are returning (“<em>volveremos</em>” in Spanish) to the next round of talks in Bonn, determined to set them back on track.</p><blockquote><p><em>We&nbsp;are back,&nbsp;far more strengthened in giving voice to those who are already acting with the urgency needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change -&nbsp;the huge majority of civil society around the world that you, ministers, represent and can not ignore any longer</em>,</p></blockquote><p>says our <a href="">joint civil society declaration</a>, signed by over 75 groups from around the world.</p><blockquote><p>We are more determined than ever to fight for the survival of our families, our communities and our peoples across the world – a survival that rests on nothing less than the fundamental transformation of a system that has generated massive impoverishment, injustices and a climate crisis that threatens all life on earth.</p></blockquote><p>Gathering en masse outside as negotiators entered the talks, <a href="">our rowdy chants</a> were a welcome contrast to the stifled tension inside.</p><p>192 mini-windmills, one for each country, were <a href="">given to delegates</a> to represent our demands for a swift global transformation away from dirty energy.</p><p>ActionAid was among groups who met with and handed over a set of strong <a href="">civil society demands</a> to the Minister of Peru, who will host the next COP in Lima later this year.</p><p>As Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s International Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change said:</p><blockquote><p>As the reality of climate change hits millions of vulnerable communities around the world, we cannot stay quiet any longer. &nbsp;</p></blockquote><p>Volveremos.</p> </div> Climate Change International Mon, 09 Jun 2014 15:49:13 +0000 teresa.anderson 541224 at Stop violence against women! Education Womens Rights International Wed, 28 May 2014 12:55:22 +0000 Zakaria.Nutkani 539375 at