15 September 2008


This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the first universal statement on the basic principles of the human rights to which peoples of all nations are entitled.

The theme "Reaffirming Human Rights: The Universal Declaration at 60" was chosen for the Annual Conference organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information in cooperation with the NGO community. This year’s conference was staged with the assistance of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of France.

Paris, the capital city of France, the place where the Declaration was signed some 60 years ago was fittingly chosen to be the host city for this premier NGO event of the year. The conference was held at UNESCO Headquarters and attracted registrations from more than 2,000 NGO representatives including four members of Edmund Rice International

Debates and discussions covered a wide range of issues: biodiversity, poverty questions, education, migration issues, and conflict resolution. While the quality of the presentations was uneven, there were enough stimulating events to prompt reflection and action. Above all, the opportunity to meet other like-minded groups and persons was in itself a worthwhile experience. The presence of so many faith-based organizations reinforced a sense of a common engagement in the project of realizing God’s dream of a better world for all.

At the UN Paris Conference

At the UN Conference, Paris


As part of a series of events marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, campaigners in more than 60 countries are taking action to send a message to their governments that the world is watching and waiting for an effective Arms Trade Treaty.

This week (13-19 September) is the Control Arms Week of Action

The unregulated supply and trade in weapons around the world makes it easier for criminals to murder and for soldiers to kill indiscriminately. One million guns are lost or stolen every year.

The Control Arms campaign calls for a global, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to stop weapons being used to fuel conflict, poverty and human rights abuses.

During Control Arms Week of Action, campaigners will be reminding their governments that the world is watching and waiting for an Arms Trade Treaty that will place controls on the trade in deadly weapons.

Oxfam Australia has an online letter that you can send to your local member of Parliament asking them to sign the Control Arms Parliamentarians' Declaration in support of the Arms Trade Treaty.


Br Kevin Cawley, a member of Edmund Rice International Team based in New York, is also responsible for promoting awareness and action around issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation in the North American province of the Christian Brothers.

He has recently launched a new Eco-Justice site.

The audience for this site has expanded recently following the Province Chapter for North America in Cornwall, Ontario. At the Chapter, the Brothers committed to living sustainably in light of the clear evidence of the damage to the environment resulting from unsustainable habits of living that are causing great harm to the earth and great suffering to the poor. The theory of rising human influence on climate endures. This site responds to the need for regular information for those who wish to learn how to live in a more sustainable way.

The site is intended to complement the existing Christian Brothers and Edmund Rice Network Eco-Justice site.


The subject of this year’s Social Justice Sunday (Sep 28th) Statement, ‘A Rich Young Nation’, is the challenge of affluence and poverty in Australia.

Australia has experienced spectacular economic growth and prosperity in recent years, and increasingly our international economic status has become a symbol of our national identity. Yet in Australia there are many who are wealthy, but live in spiritual poverty, and there are those who have been bypassed by the economic growth and live in material poverty.

For further details about the Catholic Bishops’ Statement, visit the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website.

At the same time the challenge to address global poverty continues.

Caritas Australia has invited Catholic schools across the country to join this global call to action through their participation in the Make Poverty History Stand Up Speak Out campaign .

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