Welcome to the May 03, 2009 issue of this Peace&Justice action email!
In this issue we start with Darfur and its current status. Also included is an action regarding the U.S. and the Law of the Sea, and a follow-up on the very initial steps that may someday lead to conflict-free electronics. At the end there is an opportunity to tell world leaders to attend the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.
______________________________________________________DARFUR - A LITTLE HOPE, CONTINUING DECLINE
TThere is no significant new action to take at this point, although if you weren't able to take action last time, you can take the action in Link #1 below, which includes Darfur within the context of Eastern Congo and the Great Lakes area. Please note that one of its recommendations - a Special Envoy for Darfur - has been taken.
As well if you are involved with schools, whether as staff or student, there is an initiative (Link #2) to allow schools to become "Sister Schools" with one in a refugee camp. Thirdly you can also develop a better feel for life in a refugee camp by reading Link #3, a day in the life of an 18 year old.
As for the current status, the scramble continues to fill the gap in humanitarian aid that occurred when Sudan's President Bashir kicked out 40% of the aid agency capacity (2.7 million people are in camps and another 2 million depend on some form of aid). Given the highly critical world reaction, Bashir has adjusted his stance to allow the expelled agencies to funnel efforts through the remaining existing agencies and will allow other agencies to fill the gap. That said, it would be a herculean task to fill the gap in this fashion, and negative effects on the camps have already occurred. Plus, the rainy season is about to descend (I already read a report of a large swath of one camp's ramshackle shelters being blown away, with no alternative as yet).
Peace negotiations remain stalled, with scattered attempts and statements coming from Qatar, the African Union and rebel groups. Some are waiting for the new US Envoy to come up to speed. UNAMID, the UN peacekeeping force is at about 2/3 capacity, and finally someone - Ethiopia - has promised 5 helicopters for it (you may recall that the UN has been pleading for 24 helicopters for over a year without success; and 'promised' does not mean delivered). While UNAMID's presence is being felt in some pockets, much of Darfur remains chaotic and lawless, with violence common within the IDP and refugee camps as well.
While this may sound depressing - it should - it should not lead to despair: (1) while no break-throughs seem imminent, down the line opportunities may be more favourable - there remain wonderful people working tirelessly on this issue; (2) without having put the spotlight on Darfur in the first place, who knows how many more thousands would have perished.
1. Send Email to US President Obama (from previous email):
Email U.S. President Obama
Background: Obama Names Special Envoy to Sudan
2. Linking Schools With Refugee Camp Schools:
3. Refugee Camp - Day in the life of an 18 yr old woman:
You will note that the focus of her comments is humanitarian - she wouldn't be allowed to speak beyond that. Even so you can see that even being an Oxfam camp and thus one of the better camps, things are only bearable. Who knows what happens to the mother when she goes to get firewood - some camps now have patrols; otherwise she will be vulnerable to rape. As well, the frustration of the youth at not being part of decision-making reinforces my earlier point about youth violence in some camps against the traditional authority.
Read: Day in the life of an 18 year old in Kalma Camp
______________________________________________________TELL U.S. CONGRESS TO RATIFY LAW OF THE SEA
Covering 70% of the earth our oceans form one of the world's major "Commons." So huge and still mainly unexplored, it was once considered immune to human activity. But no longer. Previous emails had dealt with some of the highly destructive practices of ocean harvesting and bottom trawling.
Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that she and President Obama are "committed" to ratifying the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). While this is good to hear, it has been said by previous administrations - it has yet to become ratified by Congress.
UNCLOS helps ensure the protection of marine animals and resources in our oceans. While the U.S. already has laws in place to prevent ocean pollution and protect wildlife, ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty will give it a seat on the International Seabed Authority, which regulates deep sea mining, among other things.
Send Email to Senators:
Email U.S. Senators
______________________________________________________CONGO: PLUNDER AND CONSUMPTION
For over two hundred years, the resource-rich territory of Congo has been the site of human suffering and violence on a scale as grand as the land itself. The interactive map below explores the tragic links between Congo's incredible natural wealth and the unimaginable suffering of its people.
Take Two: In the email two months ago, I gave an action regarding the beginning of a process to push for conflict-free electronics. In my mind the action by the Enough Project, while highly encouraging to see the start of what will be a very long-term initiative (if you think of the time to get the much simpler conflict-free diamond certification going), I was nonetheless quite disappointed that the action was very rudimentary, requiring much time for someone to dig out the required information. I told them what they needed to do to make a more effective campaign (as I imagine others did) and they listened. Thus you can follow the link below to send an email that will automatically be sent to the 21 largest electronics firms.
Tell Electronics Companies to make conflict-free electronics:
Email Electronics Companies
See Interactive Map of History of Exploitation:
______________________________________________________COPENHAGEN AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Since 1997, Kyoto became a household name associated with the environmental Protocol that was negotiated in that city. This December the next phase, the Climate Summit, will take place in Copenhagen. If you are concerned about climate change then you may want to take an action created by Greenpeace to tell some key world leaders to be sure to attend the summit:
Tell World Leaders to Attend Copenhagen Climate Summit:
Petition to World Leaders
UWAA: This endeavour is being placed under the overall rubric of "Until Well-being is Achieved for All."
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