Tag Archives: human rights

Happy Mardi Gras

Happy Mardi Gras!!!

Is it that time of year already?! What happened? I blinked and it turned from January 2 to February 25th!!

Wait, I know what happened…

A new kitten, my partner moved up, work has been exciting and busy, getting myself fit again, seeing the world’s greatest acupuncturists, and moving house, starting soccer again. Yep, that’s kept me busy.

Oscar joined us January 2nd and reminded both Britt and me of the value of emotional IQ. That little ginger boy, at 10 weeks old, had a higher emotional IQ that anyone I’ve ever met or could imagine. He tamed the highly-strung Rogue (kitten no. 1, a ferrel off the street), who certainly made it clear she hated his guts and wanted him outta the house! He put up with her hissing, squawking, scratching, and general bitchyness to tame her within 10 days to become his life long friend and sister. They do nothing but play together all day, and are deeply bonded. Yes, occasionally she still attacks him and hisses at him, but it’s short lived, and within no time she has him pinned and is “lovingly” (in a controlling manner) cleaning him. They’re gorgeous. Click on this link to watch a short video of her cleaning him – so cute! (the below pic is a screen shot from the video): Rogue & Oscar

My gorgeous partner has moved up to Sydney, and it’s fantastic. She’s settling in and getting to know her new home well. We went to the marriage equality march last December, and we’re both very much hoping that 2012 is the year that finally brings change. What’s frightening is that its in living memory that white and black couldn’t marry (which thankfully has changed, and people are now horrified at that past human rights violation), yet people are still think it’s ok to limit consensual adult love in same sex couples. Love is love, and two consenting adults should be allowed to marry, regardless of sex, creed or ethnicity.

Yes, I said marry. The government department is “Births, Deaths and Marriages”, making “marriage” a secular word.

Bring on Mardi Gras, and bring on positive change in 2012.

Australia’s Golden Sun

Australia, Australia, the land of golden sun.
But what of our forefathers?

Not the “privileged whites”, but the “chinks”, “wogs” and “abos”,
Did they bathe in the diamond sun’s light?
Did they feel the freedom bell of life?

Scalpings, slave labour, death in prisons…
Our past a past of bravery yet sadism.
A past where moral decency was usurped
By fear of other.

Have we learnt yet?

Reclaim, Australia, the golden sun.
But not at the expense of history.

Remember, apologise, make recompense, and forgive.

For until we are one, of equal status,
No true freedom bell can ring for any.

Time for Change

In all seriousness, what the hell are we doing – or rather, not doing?

600 million people will face malnutrition due to climate change, 500x more people die annually from tropical cyclone hazards than died from the same hazards in the 20 years from 1980-2000. Climate change will significantly and disproportionately effect hunger, food and water insecurity for people in the developing world, with a “particularly negative effect on sub-Saharan Africa” (IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report). It is projected that the health status of million of people will be affected negatively through malnutrition, increased disease (including vector borne disease), injury due to extreme weather events, and also diarrhoeal, cardio-respiratory and infectious diseases.

How are people going to have their human rights upheld under such conditions?  Their right to life? To health? To adequate food and water? What about the human right to adequate housing or the right to self-determination? Both are in jeopardy considering climate change, not least because some islands may be under water within this century with sea levels rising. With climate change and the erosion of rural and indigenous livelihoods we are seeing an increase in urban migration. With the increasing number of people living in often fragile or unstable urban slums (already an estimated 1 billion people live in these conditions) their human rights are gravely at risk.

What about the right to self-determination? To Citizenship? As well as the right to claim status as a refugee? These questions all give significant cause for concern with increasing climate change as: 1) it is not their fault, and they are entirely the victims leaving them unlikely to halt climate change in time to save their homes, and 2) current treaties concerning citizenship and refugee status fall short of discussing such circumstances with regard to climate change as these treaties were enshrined before our awareness and acceptance (I use that term loosely) of global warming.

In discussing these rights I’ve not really delved into the rights of indigenous people – people who are regularly marginalized under the ethos of development and growth. They risk losing their homes as they often live in marginal lands and fragile ecosystems, their distinct connection to the land if they are forcibly displaced, and the irreparable loss of unique and vital cultural, religious and social knowledge.

All of these rights will be acutely at risk with increasing climate change, and I personally find it rather depressing when I think that we (the developed world) are able to do something about it. We are in a position to make changes to mitigate the effects and halt global warming within 2°C, and invest continued support to help the victims of climate change adapt.  With the Committee on Climate Change saying that the UK will miss carbon emissions targets unless government takes urgent action, and with governments internationally focusing on old fashioned financial growth rather than true investment in a green and sustainable future (recessions can hold opportunity even though they impose challenge), things are not looking good. We have the opportunity to do the right thing. It’s not always easy, but it’s right.

Much to contemplate

With the election of Australia’s first female PM, Julia Gillard now has a big task ahead of her. Not only does she need to convince the public that Labour is up to the job and will act on election promises (and get re-elected in a few months time), she must now follow through on some of the challenges that the Rudd government simply wasn’t able to meet. Given how climatically challenged Australia already is; with desertification, raging floods, inconsistent rain and hurricanes, all depending on which part of the country is being discussed, Australia is certainly a country facing significant risks with increasing climate change. Is she up to it? What about human rights issues? Will she ensure a true democracy by enshrining minority rights in law? Will she ‘Close the Gap’? Will she legalize homosexual marriage? Will she support the rights of refugees and asylum seekers? Australia certainly has a poor record on all these issues.

That leads me to my next point of contemplation.  I had my second interview and 1.5hr written test for a campaigning role with Amnesty International Secretariat focusing on Sudan. I felt it went well and was pleased with what I wrote… but I couldn’t help wondering both during and after the experience what devastating effects climate change will have on the future stability of Sudan. Sudan is already a country experiencing a humanitarian crisis, already receives biggest international aid allocation of the World Food Programme, and already is having the logistical challenge of aid delivery hampered by excessive rains in South Sudan. What will happen in Sudan as the climate changes and rages? North Sudan, presently an arid environment, is likely to experience further desertification. Will that lead to increased attacks on civilians and theft of grazing land in Darfur? Will the January referendum be risked by North Sudan desperately needing to keep the more lush South unified for agricultural lands and other resources? It’s a scary and very possible reality.

Although we must continue to support the victims of warfare, genocide, famine, climate change, and other causes of humanitarian crises on every level from grass roots campaigning to political lobbying, we also need to focus significantly more energy and pressure on the developed states and government to ensure we reduce the possibility of runaway climate change; thereby reducing the future disproportionate impacts felt by the developing world. We’ve already seen people from Tuvalu and Kiribati seek refuge in developed nations, and face challenges in that experience. At present we’re talking about a reasonably small number of climate refugees. What when that numbers becomes 10s-100s of millions? It’s very likely, and leaves much to not only contemplate, but to also act on.