28 March 2009


As leaders of the G20 group of nations prepare to gather in London for a summit on the global financial crisis thousands of peaceful protestors are expected to rally on the weekend urging that in their deliberations the leaders ‘Put People First’.

The Put People First platform is being supported by trades unionists, church and faith bodies, development agencies, civil society groups and social organisations.

The focus of the rally is on the inter-related issues of "jobs, justice and climate".

Christian organisations sponsoring the coalition include CAFOD, Christian Aid, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility and Christian Ecology Link among others.

As part of its support for the campaign Avaaz has also included an online petition and a chance to vote on the principles and reforms needed to rebuild the global economy.


THE world's leading scientists have issued a desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change amid warnings that without action the world faces decades of social unrest and war.

In what was described as a watershed moment, more than 2500 leading environmental experts who gathered in Copenhagen in March for an international Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions agreed on a statement that called on governments to act before the planet becomes an unrecognisable — and, in places, impossible — place to live.

Scientists present at the emergency summit agreed that "worst case" scenarios were already becoming reality and that, unless drastic action was taken soon, "dangerous climate change" was imminent.

In a strongly worded message that, unusually for academics, appealed directly to politicians, they said there was "no excuse for inaction" and that weak and ineffective governments must stand up to big business and "vested interests". Steps should be "vigorously and widely implemented", they said, to reduce greenhouse gases. Failure to do so would result in "significant risk" of "irreversible climatic shifts", the statement, added.

The Copenhagen conference is intended to publicise the latest research on climate change ahead of December's meeting of world leaders. The United Nations Climate Conference, which will also be held in Copenhagen, aims to draft an updated Kyoto-style agreement on reducing emissions.


More than 800 children died daily of AIDS in 2007.

Many who died would still be alive today if they had received the necessary treatment.

Despite evidence that treatment is very successful in children living with HIV and TB, there remain significant obstacles to the pediatric care they need.

Adults with HIV are living longer and fuller lives because they have access to a care package, but the treatment is not readily available in a child-friendly format.

Most of the children who die every year would have not even contracted HIV if their mothers had been treated.

Children have been the forgotten in global and national efforts to address HIV and AIDS.

Edmund Rice International has joined with Caritas Internationalis and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance to support a campaign to provide children in the developing world living with HIV/AIDS with access to affordable and appropriate medicines.

Over the next few months, students in Edmund Rice Schools around the world will be invited to take part in a global letter-writing campaign to governments and pharmaceutical companies urging them to take action on this issue.


Edmund Rice International (ERI) is the NGO jointly established by the Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers to bring issues and situations to the attention of the international community at the United Nations in New York and Geneva. It advocates particularly around the rights of children, especially in regard to education, and the promotion of sustainable ways of living.

In an attempt to make its work better known to members of the Edmund Rice Network an ERI Monthly Newsletter has been produced which is available online on the ERI website. It can also be emailed directly to your inbox (just email me if you would like to receive the newsletter)

In addition anyone with a presence on the “Facebook” social networking site can join the Edmund Rice International facebook group that has been established there.

11 March 2009


Catholic Earthcare Australia is calling on individual Catholics and Catholic communities to express their solidarity with fellow Australians in the Torres Strait and people of the Pacific "who are watching their countries being covered by sea water" by participating in
Earth Hour 2009 on March 28th.

"Catholic Earthcare Australia fully supports the WWF Earth hour initiative and we are encouraging individual to act responsibly with God's creation by reducing personal and communal electricity usage," Catholic Earthcare Director, Jacqui Remond announced recently.

"By registering and observing Earth Hour on Saturday March 28 we will demonstrate our deep concern for the damage that we now understand is being driven by industrialised lifestyles on planet Earth. We will also be signifying our need to be in right relationship with God's Creation at home, in our schools, at our churches and our places of work." she added.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.

In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.

Information about how you can participate can be found at the Earth Hour 2009 website.


‘Many governments, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights. The result is a serious threat to the integrity of the international human rights legal framework.’ said Justice Arthur Chaskalson the Chair of the independent panel of eminent judges and lawyers who investigated the global response to the threat of terrorism following the events of 11th September 2001.

He was speaking last month after the panel submitted its report to the International Commission of Jurists which initiated the extensive study involving sixteen hearings covering over forty countries in all regions of the world.

The report noted the consequences of counter-terrorism responses which have included practices such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention, unfair trials, and persistent impunity for gross human rights violations in many parts of the world, and calls for the repeal of abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years and the restoration of long-standing international norms.

The a summary and a copy of the full report can be found at the EJP website.


The CEO of Catholic Health Australia Martin Laverty has indicated that his legal advice suggests the recently passed Victorian State legislation requiring conscientiously objecting doctors to provide abortion referrals is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty ratified by Australia and overseen by the United Nations.

Mr Laverty said staff at the state's 15 Catholic hospitals would not be expected to take any part in the abortion process, including referring women to other doctors, and Catholic Health was ready to challenge the law in court if anyone were to be prosecuted for refusing to provide a referral.

Whilst United Nations Conventions have no power to override national laws, under the Australian constitution, the Commonwealth has the power to invalidate state law if it breaches international treaties to which Australia is a party.


The financial crisis is fast becoming a human crisis.

As many as 53 million more people could be trapped in poverty as economic growth slows around the world, according to new World Bank forecasts.

And in a blow to efforts to reduce infant mortality, between 200,000 and 400,000 more babies could die each year between now and 2015 if the crisis persists, the Bank predicts.

"While much of the world is focused on bank rescues and stimulus packages, we should not forget that poor people are much more exposed if their economies falter." said World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

"We know that after the food and fuel crisis of a year ago, the estimates were that we could see an addition of about 100 million people to the ranks of the poor, and we think this crisis, in its severity, will top that" said World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Danny Leipziger.

The global crisis is likely to keep 46 million more people below the absolute poverty line of $1.25 per day, and another seven million under $2 per day, compared with previous World Bank forecasts for 2009.

These developments will undermine the plans agreed by the UN to reach the world poverty targets agreed in the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

For an up to date assessment of progress towards attaining the MDG’s in each country visit the World Bank Online Atlas of the Millennium Development Goals.

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