19 August 2014
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 on 23 September see to galvanize and catalyze climate action.
He has asked these leaders to bring bold announcements and actions to the Summit that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.
Whilst most people now seem to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus hat climate change is real and a serious problem, there is still a lack of recognition of the urgency of the situation facing our planet.
“With public opinion there’s nothing I cannot do, and without public opinion there’s nothing I can get done” said President Obama in a recent interview with the New York Times.
Politicians need to hear the concerns of ordinary citizens on this issue. If you care about the world that future generations will inherit you can write to your political representatives and you can sign online petitions such as at 350.org, the climate reality project or Get Up.
In Australia the contact details for your parliamentary representatives can be found here.
For each $1 developing nations receive in foreign aid, $10 in illicit money flows abroad—facilitated by secrecy in the global financial system. Beyond bleeding the world’s poorest economies, this propels crime, corruption, and tax evasion globally.
Nevertheless the world continues to make progress in addressing injustices associated with the global financial system. Tax evasion, corruption and lack of transparency continue to drain developing countries of vital funds needed to reduce poverty and properly fund schools, hospitals disability services and the like.
Australia has joined with 46 other countries whereby tax authorities share information. For example, since 2007 more than $1.8 billion of tax owed has been demanded back by Australian authorities from those who hid their money in overseas tax havens.
At a recent G20 meeting in Rome, a set of principles was agreed upon to ensure that G20 countries would know who owns and controls companies operating in this countries and readily exchange this information with other countries. The proposals await endorsement by Finance Ministers and Leaders of the countries.
The use of anonymous companies and trusts which fuels corruption remains a major obstacle in the fight against poverty.
To learn more about the workings of the international financial system and how it can be made more just visit the Global Financial Integrity website.
To take action on this issue visit the Micah Challenge website see
Over recent weeks, the world has witnessed an upsurge in violent conflict in Ukraine, Gaza, South Sudan, Iraq and Syria to name a few places.
While these conflicts have many causes, in all cases the presence of irresponsibly or illegally traded weapons is fuelling an appalling cycle of violence. These arms prolong and deepen conflicts; they are used to kill and injure civilians, to perpetrate sexual violence, and to coerce children to become soldiers. And at the base of these problems is the irresponsible trade in arms.
Just over a year ago, 154 nations voted at the UN in favour of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), recognising at last that controls over the global arms trade based on international humanitarian and human rights law could save many thousands of lives a year, and reduce the humanitarian harm caused by irresponsible arms transfers. Already 118 countries have signed, and 44 (including Australia) have ratified this important agreement. 50 ratifications are needed before the agreement comes into force.
See the Control Arms website for a list of signatory states and ratifications and to express your support for the implementation of the treaty.
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance’ - Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18
Recent events in the middle east in particular have drawn attention to the widespread but under-reported violation of this fundamental human right with Christians the group most affected.
The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians now die every year, targeted because of their faith – that is 11 every hour.
The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, almost three-quarters of the world's nations.
According to the International Service for Human Rights, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians.
"Christians are languishing in jail for blasphemy in Pakistan, and churches are burned and worshippers regularly slaughtered in Nigeria and Egypt, which has recently seen its worst anti-Christian violence in seven centuries," says professor of public ethics at Chester University, Paul Vallely. He points to increasing persecution in China; in North Korea where a quarter of the country's Christians live in forced labour camps after "refusing to join the national cult of the state's founder, Kim Il-Sung"; in Somalia, Syria, Iraq (where thousands of Christians have been forced to flee from the advance of the extremist ISIS group) , Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Maldives, which feature in the 10 worst places to be a Christian.
Both Viet Nam and the UN have been called upon to investigate and ensure accountability for the intimidation and harassment of individuals who sought to meet with the UN's expert on freedom of religion during his recent mission to the country.