Page 1

#3 August 2009

The official magazine of Franciscans International, a non-governmental organization working on behalf of the poor and marginalized at the United Nations

States Under Examination International human rights and reviewing mechanisms

A Cry of Distress Big Achievements, Small Steps

Online Edition


Dear Readers, Welcome to our second online issue of Pax et Bonum. We are pleased with the positive response received in regards to our decision that we would no longer print Pax et Bonum, for environmental and financial reasons. Please continue to follow our work online. In this month’s issue we focus on some of the major initiatives of FI including the dire situation of the Congolese people, who are faced with daily violations to their human rights and dignity. Our story focuses on the struggle faced by women and children who rely on our prayers and support through FI’s Africa Programme. This month’s cover story focuses on the importance of NGO involvement in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council. Without the participation of FI and other similar NGOs, serious recommendations would be left out of reports holding states accountable to their human rights responsibilities. Environmental challenges continue to face us on a global scale; for these reasons, FI has taken a strong stance at meetings and conferences taking place prior to the Conference of the Parties this December in Copenhagen, Denmark. FI Advocacy Officer, Sr. Kathie Uhler OSF, provides us with insight into these preparations, the outcome of which will play a leading role in setting new emissions targets for 2050. We deeply value the unique experience and insight that each Franciscan Brother and Sister has to offer. Franciscans International works as a hub for your concerns and contributions, so please feel free to contact us. We also welcome your ideas and stories for the next edition of Pax et Bonum. Please send your comments and feedback to We want to hear from you! – The Editor





States Under Examination

Big Achievements, Small Steps

International human rights and reviewing mechanisms


Making A Vision


An interview with Sr. Catherine White MFIC FI Regional Director of the Asia Pacific Programme


A Cry of Distress


A Franciscan reponse to the human rights situation in the DRC

Franciscans International works at the UN and international organizations to influence decision makers on behalf of the most vulnerable.

VISION As St. Francis once addressed the social leaders of his time with the challenge of peace, so today we are called to engage policy makers and world leaders at the United Nations for the work of justice, peace, the care of creation, and the promotion of human rights.

Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) Major Superiors – Sponsors (Rome) Mauro Jöhri (Capuchins) Marco Tasca (Conventuals) José Rodriguez Carballo (OFM) James Puglisi (SA) Michael Higgins (TOR) Encarnación del Pozo Martinez (SFO)

International Board of Directors

Doug Clorey (Canada) Markus Fuhrmann OFM (Germany) José Antonio Martorell TOR (Italy) Regina Holtz FSP (USA) Averil Swanton (UK) Patricia Tan Huat Neo (Singapore) Odilon Tiankavana OFM Cap (Madagascar) Francisco Nel Leudo OFM Conv (Italy) John Celichowski OFM Cap (USA) John Doctor OFM (USA)

Executive Director

Denise Boyle, FMDM

Contributing Writers

Gotzon Onandia Zarrabe Michael Mutzner Sr Bernadette SFP Sr Kathie Uhler OFM Sr Catherine White MFIC Yao Agbetse

Assistant Editor

Caroline Gdyczynski


Daniela Varano

A report on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Human Rights Session on Climate Change


246 East 46th St., #1F New York, NY 10017-2937 USA


Generation of Hate

The spread of hate on the Internet


13 662 712 7976 662 712 7974

FI NEWS 3 Sign up for monthly e-mail NewsBriefs on our website



In March, FI was actively engaged in the 10th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). FI was able to bring Monsignor Fridolin Ambongo Besungo OFM Cap, Bishop of Bokungu Ikela Diocese from the DRC to our Geneva office. While here Msgr. Ambongo delivered a joint statement on behalf of FI on the troubling situation in his country, articulating it as a ‘cry of the Congolese people.’ To read more about Msgr. Ambongo’s intervention and the situation in the DRC please read our article on page 7. A special session of the HRC on Sri Lanka was called from 26-27 May. The purpose of the session was to focus on the large scale human rights and humanitarian violations that have led to the displacement of more than 200,000 people since January 2009. FI participated in the special session by closely following the activities and the discussions of the HRC, and then reporting the poor performance of the Council to the Franciscan Family. Rather than focusing on the plight of the victims, the supporting countries focused on praising Sri Lanka and enforcing their right to handle internal affairs, without reference to international human rights obligations. During the meetings of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), FI participated in the following sessions: Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cộte d’Ivorie, the DRC, Portugal, Slovakia, and Vanuatu. The UPR is a powerful instrument by which the HRC monitors the compliance of States to their human rights obligations. The role of NGOs is very important as they act on national and international levels. The involvement of FI at the grassroots is essential in order to provide the council with reliable first-hand information. A further explanation of this process is provided in our article about the UPR (page 4). In May, FI also launched its new website that has been designed to better meet the needs of Franciscans and others interested in the work of FI. The new platform is the result of the hard work of the FI Communications Department and Br. Scott Steinkerchener OP who generously volunteered to share his technological expertise. Br. Scott has our sincere gratitude for the invaluable input he provided and we look forward to welcoming him back to our office in the future. ;

In March, FI New York invited and hosted Sister Marie Bernard Alima of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to speak about HIV/AIDS in the DRC and to talk about the hundreds of comprehensive and successful education and awareness programs that she organized. Sr. Marie is the Executive Secretary of the Congolese Bishops Justice and Peace Commission and the Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Regional Conference of the Bishops of Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda. As such, Sr. Marie coordinates, with other churches and the Congolese government countrywide, an educational program that she created to advance the development of women and the poor, address the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and prepare the populace for democratic elections and governance. The New York staff organized a side event solo presentation at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) where Sr. Marie was able to illustrate her work and Elias Mallon, S.A. led an FI panel presentation.


Monsignor Fridolin Ambongo Besungo OFM Cap, speaking at the 10th Session of the UN HRC, in March.

In June, FI appointed Sister Catherine White MFIC as the new Regional Director of the Asia Pacific Region. In this position, Sr. Catherine will direct the staff of the Bangkok office, continuing the efforts of former director, Ms. Julie Morgan. You can read our thoughtprovoking interview with Sr. Catherine about her hopes for the future of the Bangkok office, as well as, their current programs and initiatives with the church and youth (page 6). ;

FI Advocacy Officer, Sister Kathie Uhler, OSF of FI New York attended the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Bonn, Germany from 1-12 June. The conference met to discuss and intensify negotiations on further emission reduction commitments and amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, as well as, emissions trading, projectbased mechanisms, land-use change and forestry. Sr. Kathie gave us an overview on the conference and an indepth reflection on FI’s participation to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York, see page 10. ;



States under examination International human rights and reviewing mechanisms

Although the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR) was adopted 60 years ago, the rights of men and women around the world continue to be threatened daily by brutal violations of human dignity. The ideal of a society where each man, woman or child’s rights are based on the principles of equality, human dignity and mutual responsibility are the grounds on which the United Nations (UN) was created. The UN is an organization that, apart from saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war;” was established with the aim of reaffirming “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women of nations large and small.” Unfortunately, news from the field illustrates how far some nations have strayed from these basic principles. Human rights defenders worldwide, struggle to create a world that is more just, a world where universal, inalienable and indivisible human rights are not only enshrined in a Declaration, but reach every street, city, and country in the world. To help achieve this imperative, in 2006 the 192 Member States of the UN created the Human Rights Council (HRC). The General Assembly created a powerful reviewing resource entitled the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to strengthen the authority of the HRC and to avoid the pitfalls experienced with the previous Commission of Human Rights. It was conceived with the aim of creating a mechanism that could evaluate a state’s compliance to human rights on an equal

basis. Through its influence, the United Nations 192 member states fulfil their human rights obligations and offer a widespread understanding of international situations. The innovative approach behind the establishment of the UPR is based on the equality principle - All states have the same duties and no special privileges are given concerning human rights implementation. The UPR must be based on objective and reliable information and it should be conducted ensuring the universality of coverage. It should also be a mechanism based on cooperation, facilitating interactive dialogue between the civil society represented by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the HRC. The 192 member states are reviewed on a four-year cycle and the participation of all the relevant stakeholders is encouraged throughout the process. Franciscans International (FI) participates in the UPR by monitoring the efforts undertaken by the States and providing first hand information to the HRC for the reviewing process. The responsibility of FI and other NGOs in this procedure has a vital impact on the final report. “The added value of NGOs in this process is immense. At first glance, one could think that the role of NGOs in the UPR is rather marginal. But in reality, without the active participation of NGOs, this process would completely be lacking substance,” articulates FI Advocacy Officer, Michael Mutzner. “NGOs are playing an absolutely essential role in making sure that key human rights issues are addressed.

“At FI we believe that the UPR is a vital instrument to support the members of the Franciscan Family in their daily activities on behalf of the most vulnerable.” FI Director for Advocacy and Training Gotzon Onandia Zarrabe

Since only States can take an active part in the review, NGOs need to find delegations willing to take up their points. One can often find States ready to take on board recommendations suggested by an NGO.” NGOs, as well as the national human rights organizations, are the eyes and ears of the HRC. NGOs have the crucial role of informing the HRC of the human rights situation in the country under review by providing the Council with a distinctive and civil society oriented perspective on the status of the state’s fulfilment. NGOs also try to influence decisions at the diplomatic level, organizing meetings with diplomatic missions, as well as organizing pressing groups and awareness raising campaigns. Based on five sessions of experience within the UPR, FI believes that this mechanism represents an enormous advocacy platform. It is indeed a great


opportunity for civil society to raise, in front of an international tribune, the challenges of human rights implementation, bringing the states to take an open position about the situation of human rights in their countries. During the process, it is recommended that the state under review adopt an honest and open strategy when submitting its national report. This approach implies that the country has the willingness to face and not hide the challenges that must be confronted during the mise en oeuvre of its human rights obligations. The UPR may also contribute by creating an authentic dialogue between the state authorities and civil society. In doing so, they can follow up after the process, which may help to control the status and implementation of the recommendations adopted by the state. The opportunity the UPR gives to NGOs is crucial since it allows situations and human rights violations, that may otherwise not be mentioned, to be highlighted. “FI’s participation in this process has been important in raising the situation of vulnerable people who were not mentioned in any other report. For example, would the UPR have made recommendations to Benin on the infanticide of “witch children” without FI’s report on it? Would it have raised the question? The answer is probably not,” says Mutzner. For the members of the Franciscan Family that are engaged on a daily basis to help those who live in suffering, those who are forgotten, and whose dignity is not respected, the UPR is a unique opportunity to assume our role and take a clear and strong position. Franciscans continuously call for human rights to be respected and work strenuously for peace and development. “At FI we believe that the UPR is a vital instrument to support the members of the Franciscan Family in their daily activities on behalf of the most vulnerable,” states FI International Director for Advocacy and Training, Gotzon Onandia Zarrabe. “We look forward to continue working together with Franciscans worldwide and to advocate for specific solutions to their concerns during the UPR of their country.”;

About the Human Rights Council (HRC) The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the UN system that attempts to protect and strengthen human rights across the world; General Assembly Resolution 60/251 created the Council in 2006. Prior to the creation of the HRC, the Commission of Human Rights had been in operation since 1946. The Commission was established through Article 68 of the UN Charter, which called for the establishment of a human rights mechanism to act as a subsidiary body to the Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC). However, by 2006, the Commission had become largely discredited, and therefore, to a large extent ignored. . It had been criticized for being ineffective, politically motivated, and bureaucratic. Additionally the Council was condemned for extending membership to nations with poor human rights records, such as Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. In 2005, UN General Secretary Kofi Annan published the report “In Larger Freedom,” calling for the abolition of the Commission and the establishment of a new smaller Human Rights Council. He envisioned the new body to meet year-round and to only include member states that “abide by the highest human rights standards.” Following multiple draft resolutions and negotiations, the General Assembly adopted the founding principles of the Human Rights Council in 2006. In accordance with the resolution, the Council consists of 45 member states out of which one third are elected annually by a majority of the UN General Assembly. Countries may only be elected for two consecutive three-year terms and the Council convenes no less than three times per year for an overall total of ten weeks. As the UN system strives towards a geographical as well as political balance, the HRC is divided into regional groups: Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, western Europe and Others. The Presidency of the Council rotates on an annual basis between the groups. Although the Council inherited much of the work of the Committee, many structural changes were made. Firstly, the role of ECOSOC was overridden and it was thus made possible for the new Council to report directly to the General Assembly. In addition, a year after its first meeting, the Council adopted an intuition-building package to guide its future work. This package included the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism under which all 192 UN member states are subject to “assessment in an objective and transparent manner of their human rights situation.” The institution-building package also included the creation of an Advisory Committee in order to provide the Council with insight and expertise on thematic human rights concerns. Lastly, the package revised the Complaint Procedure, permitting both individuals and organizations to bring human rights violations to the attention of the Council. The Human Rights Council held its 11th Session on 2 -19 June, 2009. The Council’s work and progress is to be reviewed in 2011.



Making A Vision



An interview with Sr. Catherine White MFIC FI Regional Director of the Asia Pacific Programme Daniela Varano, the editor of Pax et Bonum sat down with Sr. Catherine MFIC, the incoming Programme Director of the Asia Pacific Region, to discuss her vision for the future of the Bangkok office and also the current developments of the mission of FI in the region. The Presence of FI in the Asia Pacific region has proven to be extremely important and successful. As the new Director of the Asia Pacific Region, how do you see the program developing in the coming years? The Bangkok office of FI in the Asia Pacific has been remarkably fruitful given its short life. A number of people have asked about my vision, but I have the sense that a vision clarifies only after a longer experience. I see myself implementing current initiatives, consolidating them and working closely with the advocacy team in Geneva. Over the past year, FI Bangkok has hosted a number of training programs that have enriched Franciscans working at the grassroots across the region, therefore I hope these activities continue to be a major component of the Bangkok office’s work. I attended the last training and I was impressed by the energy and vitality of the participants, and the significance and variety of the projects in which they are involved. As participants gain confidence and move ahead with these projects, the Bangkok office will provide support and technical assistance, and in time further training where it is required. The role of the Bangkok office is to strengthen capacity building activities for human rights and environmental advocacy through trainings.

What upcoming trainings are planned? Who will participate? This year we have a “Rights of the Child Training,” an “Introduction to Human Rights Training,” and an “Environmental Training.” The participants come from different backgrounds and congregations: Franciscan, Marist, Edmund Rice, as well as, staff members of Caritas and other organizations. There are ten countries represented in the July training, including India, Lebanon, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam; it will be a rich cultural mix. I’m sure that the participants learn as much from each other as they do from the formal learning opportunities. To date the trainings have been in Bangkok; however, given the cost of transportation, I believe that in the future we will see FI staff travelling to particular countries each year to connect with a wider audience. Therefore lifting the profile of FI in that region, with a provision for more advanced advocacy skills within the local context. Since such initiatives are reliant on appropriate funding, the program is in place for the immediate future. In particular we would hope to offer incountry advocacy training in Sri Lanka and the Philippines this year. How do you foresee the partnership between FI Bangkok and the Roman Catholic Church in Thailand? FI is a faith-based organization, which is at once a part of the Church, and yet not within its mainstream. We share the very rich heritage of Catholic Social Teaching. I do believe that working in partnership is the most effective use of resources, and so I am hoping that I can foster a positive

working relationship with the Church in Thailand. I believe that FI can benefit from the knowledge and solid base of the Church here, and we also have a very positive contribution to make to the Church through our work on behalf of the most vulnerable. How do you see the involvement of young Franciscans in the work of FI? Do you see the birth of a Franciscans Youth Movement for those engaged in human rights and environmental protection? While I was in Australia earlier this year I attended workshops organized by Franciscan schools in Australia. A network of schools sharing the Franciscan Spirituality has been evolving over the past few years and now has a membership of about thirty schools. Some of these schools organize immersion experiences with the students in the upper secondary levels. It would be a particular hope of mine that FI make connections with this network, giving the students a first hand experience to the workings of the United Nations in the region, as well as, an experience of the work of FI and other NGOs working in this area. The Franciscan tradition appeals to youth. Too often the portrayal of Francis does not capture the depth of his involvement in society. I would love to support possibilities that invite youth from Australia and other countries to engage more deeply with the Franciscan tradition embodied in FI. Who knows, such an experience might give birth to a new Franciscan Youth Movement and to the human rights lawyers of tomorrow.;

A Cry of Distress


“Killing, raping and stealing violates both day and night.”

“Killing, raping, and stealing, violates both day and night,” says Fr. JeanBaptiste Tabaro, OFM of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) about the human rights situation in the country. “People are victims of violations of the right to life. This is the grim scene, which the Congolese are unfortunately accustomed to.” In the DRC, sexual violence and grave human rights violations are daily occurrences. Children continue to be enrolled as soldiers whilst brutal and deadly attacks of rebel groups killed thousands of people and uprooted many others. Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and refugees are desperately surviving without sufficient food, medical assistance, clean water, shelter and appropriate sanitation conditions. The government of the DRC has failed to comply with its responsibility to protect and to provide effective protection to civilians, according to its obligations under various human rights treaties. “The media focuses on the eastern side of the country, where the situation is critical but the other parts of the country are also plagued by numerous violations of human rights,” said Monsignor Fridolin Ambongo Besungu OFM Cap. As Coordinator of Issues of Justice and Peace, Msgr. Ambongo Besungu travelled through the Congolese territory to witness the lives of people in distress.

Fr. Jean-Baptiste Tabaro, OFM Bukavu

of the Equator,” said Msgr. Ambongo Besungu. “The situation, however, is no better in the Lower Congo.” Franciscans International (FI) in collaboration with Action for Lent, Human Rights Watch, Pax Romana and Caritas International held a panel during the 10th Session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations. At this time, Msgr. Ambongo Besungu delivered a joint statement outlining in detail the daily suffering of the population and the constant violations of human rights and humanitarian law. He emphasized the occurring rapes, the dramatic situation in the camps for displaced persons and the recruitment of children into armies. Msgr. Ambongo Besungu made an oral presentation before the Council of Human Rights, where he reiterated the need to fight impunity and pursue the perpetrators of crimes and other violations of human rights. He emphasized the importance of international community support for the helpless population, for the Congolese State, for the establishment of a disciplined and organized front, as well as, national structures to promote, protect and implement human rights.

“We provide assistance to political repressions that manifest themselves through the imprisonment of people who denounce injustice and violations of human rights, particularly in the north Picture courtesy of Flickr, Widow Marchite, 45. Cyarura, Butare. Rwanda, Africa. August 17, 2006. For Africa Mission Alliance’s Women’s Outreach




8 FI acts in solidarity with the Franciscans of the DRC and reported human rights violations of the Congolese people to the UN Human Rights Council.

attentive and concerned by the dramatic situation in our country. In no time, I learned the language of the United Nations and organized accordingly my message that was a cry of distress of my suffering people. I found that there are opportunities of action that may have positive outcomes in the field. With all the Special Rapporteurs who are mobilizing for us, we hope that peace will reign from now on. The change must be constant, we need the support Influence of Participation of all men and women of goodwill for us to be out of this situation.” Msgr. Ambongo Besungu’s participation The issues raised by Msgr. Ambongo allowed for meetings with diplomatic Besungu before the diplomats of the missions and international media, HRC have been compiled in a report to share stories of the DRC, while document which was supported by challenging the international Justice and Peace community to Netherlands and 17 provide concrete “The situation of other NGOs in the and effective children in our country, DRC. This report answers to the end the suffering of the particularly in Kinshasa, was submitted to the Universal Periodic Congolese cry. is a disaster and the Review (UPR), a body world must know.” that is responsible “It was a rewarding experience,” said Sr. Georgette Tschibang, FMM, for examining the Kinshasa situation of human Msgr. Ambongo rights in all countries Besungu. “In fact, of the world. diplomatic missions are missionaries at the service of men, The report focused on the rights of women and children of our world. Congolese women who have paid the It is for this reason they are called to heaviest toll. The conflicts have destroyed work. I am glad to have met people so After the panel, he was able to discuss these issues in the bilateral meetings with the diplomatic missions of the Czech Republic, who hold the rotating presidency of the European Union, France, Senegal and Switzerland. He urged them, during the deliberations of the Council, to support the resolutions aimed at restoring hope for the Congolese people who want to live in peace.

millions of lives and displaced millions more. FI called the attention of the international community on rape assaults and sexual crimes, and recommends that the Congolese government treats them as such, punishing the perpetrators, the accomplices and instigators. Beyond these crimes, the Congolese women are victims of discrimination in national laws, particularly in the Family Law provisions that consider them unequal to men. This judicial framework, biased by legal and sociological stereotypes,

Fridolin Ambongo Bishop, OFM Cap (right) is the Bishop of the Diocese of Ikela Bokungu and administrator of the diocese of Kolé in the DRC. He is also chairman of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Bishops of Congo (CENCO). Representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for the HRC (left).

prevents Congolese women from obtaining full entitlement to rights and their participation in the decisionmaking process at the national level. Therefore, FI has recommended the Congolese government to harmonize its legislation with particular international instruments ratified by the removal of these legal and social barriers.


Lastly, a report on the DRC could not ignore the issue of insecurity. It is a constant threat that is a burden on people and property. “We want to ensure that these elements are contained in the report,” says Fr. Joseph Menda, OFM. The report emphasizes the situation of children; child “witches”, street children and child soldiers. Congolese children are the first victims of the disintegration of political power and the inability to manage a country with vast resources. FI recommended the establishment of a national strategic plan for the restructuring of the health, educational and judicial system. “The situation of children in our country, particularly in Kinshasa, is a disaster and the world must know. The growing number of children living in the street overwhelms us; they have no future, we do our best to defend their rights, “said Sr. Georgette Tschibang, FMM, Kinshasa. As for the humanitarian situation, a Message from the Conference of Bishops of the DRC defined it a “silent genocide.” The thousands of displaced people, unarmed innocent civilians, sometimes find themselves trapped in deadly fighting. The camps are constantly experiencing a lack of food, health care and water. In a spirit of solidarity, the Franciscans of Burundi, Rwanda, Togo, and Uganda visited the camps of refugees to acknowledge the situation, and included the testimonies from displaced persons in the report as well. The Franciscan Family has a strong presence in the DRC and FI is supportive in the struggle for justice and peace for the Congolese population and for Franciscans in the DRC. FI has, through its Africa Programme, developed and

Participants of the Africa Programme in the DRC

strengthened links with those members of the Franciscan Family that are active and work with vulnerable people who suffer from conflict. In 2007 and in 2008 FI organized trainings for the Franciscans of Central Africa and Great Lakes in Kinshasa. Forty-five Franciscans coming from Burundi, Congo, Cameroon, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda have benefited from two years of training on Christian leadership, the Social Doctrine of the Church and advocacy skills to address human rights. They also received practical tools to improve the way they work and to document violations of human rights.;

Upcoming Trainings Cameroon - July 23 - 26 2009 The upcoming regional training for French speaking Franciscans in sub-Sahara Africa will take place in Yaoundé, Cameroon. It is the third year of the three-year (2007, 2008 and 2009) Human Rights Education Programme of the FI Africa Programme. The training aims at strengthening the capacity of grassroots Franciscans in human rights advocacy, and improving the connections within the field, as well as, the mutual enrichment of local and international actions for social justice and human rights respect.

For more information on the Africa Programme, contact: Or consult FI’s website:



Big Achievements

Small Steps


top United Nations official declared the recent world conference on climate change a “big achievement.” Yvo de Boer, leader of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held from 1-12 June 2009 in Bonn, Germany, is optimistic “that governments have made it clearer what they want to see” in the final agreement or ‘deal’ to be clinched at the UN conference in Copenhagen from 7-18 December, 2009. The December meeting will mark fifteen years since countries that were party to the Convention on Climate Change committed to cutting greenhouse gases for the first time. The COP 15, as it is known, will agree to a new climate treaty replacing the Kyoto Protocol that was adopted in 1997. The Kyoto Protocol set binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and was signed and ratified by 184 parties of the UN Climate Convention. One notable exception was the United States, who are now engaging domestically, and Mr. de Boer is “really happy” to see the US back in the international climate change process. At COP 15, the “Conference of the Parties” have planned to set new targets for the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases for countries to observe by 2020, and then by 2050. This

agreement may culminate in a treaty with legally binding force. The conference in Bonn was a firm step in the direction of COP 15. According to the outcome of the Bonn conference, delegates from 183 countries agree that, “All Parties should aim at a long-term goal of achieving at least fifty per cent reduction of global emissions of greenhouse gases from its current level by 2050.” Mr. de Boer noted that the group is still far away from the emission reduction that scientists have set to avoid the worst ravages of climate change – “a minus 25 per cent to minus 40 per cent, by 2020.” FI Advocacy Officer, Sr. Kathie Uhler, OSF, from the FI New York office, noted that the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – some 239, with 1334 participants – was also a big achievement at the conference in Bonn. NGOs campaigned to include links between climate policy and poverty eradication. Such concepts were strengthened in the outcome, including: -The promotion of climate friendly technologies (e.g. bio-fuels) that do not endanger the right to food; -Sufficient financial supports for developing countries to make climate change adaptations; -Inclusion in climate change policymaking of indigenous peoples

and those whose livelihoods and cultures are directly affected by the policies; and -The promotion of small-scale farming and ecological farming. Sr. Kathie was very impressed with several conference side events that highlighted community-led, bottom-up climate adaptation projects in developing countries. These included: disaster management in the Kenyan highlands; ecological and social resilience in the dry lands of Mongolia; and water management in upland farming in the Philippines. Also of note, Sr. Kathie reported that Bolivia, through its Delegation Leader, Ambassador Angelica Navarro, promoted the use of indigenous words in UN documents, such as, “Pacha Mama”, to refer to the earth as our mother; and for the development of a new economic system, where “people are treated as human beings, not as consumers.” Furthermore, Bolivia is proposing, a long-term global goal to change unsustainable practices into those that “rest” or are founded in nature. Ambassador Navarro concluded that the developed countries need training in this and that indigenous peoples can lead the way. Three more meetings are scheduled for the UNFCCC to work out the final draft of the climate change treaty before the

formal COP 15 meeting. Immediately following the meeting in Bonn, Sr. Kathie visited FI Geneva. During her stay, she and FI Environment Programme Officer, Sr. Odile Coirier, FMM attended a session of the UN Human Rights Council (June 2-18 2009). The topic, Climate Change and Human Rights, took up where the Bonn conference left off. Various speakers spoke of the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the struggle to address climate control issues: -As a means to set up international standards (Great Britain); -As a way to justify shared responsibilities among nations (Pakistan); -As a way to see how climate control impacts on the right to development (Brazil); -As a way to insure compliance in adapting to new climate controls (Center for International Environmental Law); -As an aspect of the right to an adequate standard of living (UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing); -As a means to require States to work together (John Knox of Wake Forest University); and -That the human rights of small island states will be violated if they are held to the same responsibilities regarding climate controls as other States (Bangladesh). As a result of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in May the UNFCCC and Human Rights Council meetings, it is heartening to know that the issue of global warming is being addressed at the highest levels of international governance. Additionally, the inputs of NGOs, in cooperation with governments, will aid in producing a binding climate change treaty that will be people-centered and sensitive to the needs of persons living in poverty, who are most vulnerable to the negative effects of global warming. ; For more information on FI’s Environmental Programme, contact: Or consult FI’s website: www.

Amidst a Global Crisis FI participates at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York The revival of small farming is seen as the key to a “Green Revolution” in Africa and to the eradication of world hunger and poverty, as stated in the final document of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. This document was created in cooperation with Delegates from more than 150 countries and by hundreds of NGOs, including FI, from 4-15 May 2009 at the UN Headquarters in New York. In addition to this thrust, the Commission emphasized: the need to integrate the management of land and water resources; the importance of biodiversity among plants and animals; the right to food; the right for women to own land; grazing rights and the right to gather wood especially by women. These elements, and many others, emerged out of the thematic cluster at the heart of the Commission’s work this year. Nearly all speakers referred to the effects of the current global financial, food and health crises, and to the negative impacts of the climate change crisis over all. “Business as usual is not an option!” was the slogan of choice. The most active of the Delegations were the G77 (over 130 developing countries), the European Union (EU – 27 countries), the US, and Canada. FI’s five-member delegation participated fully in the Commission, including attending the daily NGO briefings, as well as, many panels and roundtables. Additionally, the FI delegation co-sponsored several side events; and two FI delegates served as official note-takers at the working groups and reported at the NGO briefings. Another FI delegate worked with the Fresh Water Caucus to develop a paper on many water issues that were under-represented in the draft document. The Caucus circulated its paper to the Country Delegates and they were gratified to see many of these issues included in the final document. Where do we go from here? FI CSD Delegation leader, Sr. Kathie Uhler, OSF, feels hopeful about the results of document CSD 17. “The words are there,” she says, “that can ensure a more people-centred and earth-friendly future. Time will tell how much political goodwill is out there to implement the agreed upon actions. It is the job of NGOs to keep our governments faithful to these agreements.” FI intends to monitor these meetings, and to attend them as time and resources permit. Climate change is a gender issue, in that women worldwide are enduring the larger burden of its negative effects. FI will be offering its Fifth Annual Training Program in preparation for the UN Commission on the Status of Women from 26-28 February 2010. In order to address several aspects of this issue, presentations will focus on “Climate Crisis: A Gender Perspective,” “Trafficking of Human Persons”, and “World Financial Crisis and Poverty Eradication.” In addition, a training program in preparation for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development will be held from 1-2 May 2010 at FI New York, to address gender and people-centered issues.

For more information on this program, to be held at the New York FI Office from 26-28 February 2010, please contact Sr. Kathie at




12 Generation of Hate

The spread of hate on the Internet

“Tolerance starts with listening, it starts with understanding that all people have a story.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon

Today, we share our stories and our lives over the Internet, with loved ones and also with the world. In most cases, this ability brings great joy, especially due to the ease at which we may instantaneously find what we are looking for and reconnect with family and friends across the globe. “Yet we know there are a few dark alleys along the information superhighway,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. “There are those who use information technology to reinforce stereotypes to spread mis-information and to propagate hate - I call it Digital Demonization.”

directly linked to those who use and disperse information from these sites. The recent shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. on 10 June 2009 is one of the most recent examples. The assailant was a wellknown Anti Semitic and hosted his own hate site. “This tragedy is yet another reminder of how some of the newest technologies are being used to peddle some of the oldest fears,” said Ki Moon. What can be done? The UN has already taken a number of steps to make cyberspace safer for young people, and will continue to explore new ways to make the Internet even safer.

The threat posed by the spread of hate “The virtual world has exciting on the Internet has become significantly possibilities for nurturing children invasive to the safety and security of our and helping them grow into creative, children. In order to counteract these productive adults. But we must mind dangers, the UN Department of Public the pitfalls that could scar them for life. Information organized CYBERHATE I urge policymakers – Danger in and industry leaders to Cyberspace as “Hatred and technology find the means to make part of their series are our greatest threat.” the rapidly evolving on un-learning virtual world safe for intolerance. On everyone,” said Ki 16 June 2009, Simon Weisenthal Moon. over 700 people Holocaust survivor attended this Chief Security seminar, including Officer of News parents, teachers, Corporation and MySpace, Hemanshu police and youth. Higam, the keynote speaker at the seminar, shared his knowledgeable Current sites depicting hate and experience with the participants. . He violence can be found on topics such emphasized the importance of teaching as anti-religion, neo-nazi, racism, and tolerance and love in the home. ethnic cleansing, to name a few. While no actual acts of violence had previously “The learning of intolerance begins been reported in relation to these sites, in the home, from the very day that our there are now various incidents that are

children are brought into this world. No matter what part of the planet they come into, tolerance must begin in the same place.” He also noted the need to bridge the gap between the offline and online worlds that we all currently live in. “The solutions that we have to come up with and implement worldwide, and that we have already done offline, should be the foundations of our analysis for what we do online,” said Higam. “As we identify issues, share ideas and create solutions, lets commit to standing side by side so that we can all understand the different perspectives that we bring to the table and successfully find solutions.” As a member of the NGO Committee for the Elimination of Racism, FI New York Advocacy Officer, Sr. Bernadette Sullivan, SFP was glad to attend this seminar. Her committee has seen evidence that racism is on the rise and that being racist on the Internet is a way to hurt others without having to face them. “Some strategies to overcome hatred were mentioned above. But, we are challenged to find more ways to bring the truth out into the light and to be conscious of our responsibility to be healed of our own prejudices.”;


13 In the last few months FI has been very busy with the implementation of our new website. It is our hope that the new design meets the needs of Franciscans and others interested in the work of FI. We anticipate that the clear structure and simplified navigation make finding documents, programme information and publications online easier than ever before. Please take a look at

FI New York focuses on the Commission on Sustainable Development, relates to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, trains Franciscans in the empowerment of women, and is a member of the NGO Observer group on the UN Security Council.

FI Geneva works with the UN Human Rights mechanisms and procedures: the Human Rights Council, Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies, with a particular focus on the Universal Periodic Review and on issues such as Extreme Poverty and Contemporary forms of Slavery.

FI Bangkok offers capacity building training for human rights and environmental advocacy using international standards. The office works to enhance the capabilities of Franciscans as well as FI’s partners to advocate for change at the local level.

246 East 46th St., #1F New York, NY 10017-2937 USA T 212-490-4624 F 212-490-4626

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6th floor St. Gabriel’s Foundation Building 2, Soi Thong Lor 25 Sukhumvit 55 Road Bangkok 10110 Thailand T +662 712 7976 F +662 712 7974

Pax et Bonum - August 2009  

In this month’s issue we focus on some of the major initiatives of FI including the dire situation of the Congolese people, the environment,...

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