Issue No 587 | 24 May 2012

CIVICUS delivers Major Group statement on Rio+20

CIVICUS JEFF HUFFINESA statement of the nine Major Groups involved in the Rio+20 sustainable development process was delivered to a special session of the UN General Assembly this week by CIVICUS’ UN New York representative, Jeffrey Huffines. The statement’s eight key asks are to renew leadership; ensure non-regression; achieve equity; enable inclusive participation; improve the governance of sustainable development; establish sustainable development goals; base decisions in sound science; and move beyond GDP as a measure.

CIVICUS World Assembly 2012: an action-packed programme!
The 2012 CIVICUS World Assembly programme is now available. The content is rich, the presenters are bringing a great diversity of expertise, there are a thousand things for you to accomplish... and your own participation is only a click away!

Please give us your views about the state of the CIVICUS alliance.
Please answer two short questions in our online survey



'My message to civil society is that you are vitally needed': interview with Nikhil Seth, Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat

CIVICUS' Director of Outreach, Henri Valot, interviews Nikhil Seth, Director of the UN Division of Sustainable Development and Head of the Rio+20 Secretariat about his hopes and aspirations for Rio+20, the challenges ahead, the prospects of institutional reform for sustainable development and his messages for civil society.

Click to listen to interview

CIVICUS' who's who and what we're doing at Rio+20
View our handy new guide to the CIVICUS delegation and our key activities at Rio+20.
Download now

Highlights from CIVICUS

CIVICUS global consultations - new dates confirmed
The CIVICUS alliance's series of global consultations is coming to a locale near you. The output of these consultations will help to shape the core work of the CIVICUS alliance for the next five years. We invite you to share your experiences and perspectives on the topic 'confronting the challenges facing humanity: a civil society agenda for 2013 to 2017' in Helsinki, Finland; Maputo, Mozambique; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Em Portugues: Consultas Globais da CIVICUS - novas datas confirmadas
A serie de consultas globais da CIVICUS está chegando a uma localidade perto de voce. Os resultados destas consultas vao ajudar a moldar o enfoque do trabalho da CIVICUS para os próximos cinco anos. Convidamos-lo a compartilhar suas experiências e perspectivas sobre o tema ‘enfrentando os desafios que afectam a humanidade: uma agenda da sociedade civil para 2013-2017' nos seguintes locais: Helsinki, Finland; Maputo, Mocambique; Johannesburg, Africa do Sul; e Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Weekly webinar: Finding common ground - a global civil society alliance and faith based civil society, Wednesday 30 May
Faith-based CSOs have the potential to harness the energy and passion of people of faith and access large pockets of social capital. At CIVICUS, we are seeking to build effective partnerships with organisations that mobilise people of faith so that we can achieve greater impact in areas of common interest together. In this webinar, the latest in our weekly series, we will explore the importance of interfaith dialogue at the grassroots level and the role of faith-based organisations in peace-building, and we also hope to examine critically the potential advantages and disadvantages of working with faith-based organisations as development partners.

Hockey federation turns blind eye to human rights by confirming 2014 championships in Belarus
CIVICUS, and eight human rights organisations in the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland are deeply disappointed that the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) confirmed last week that the Republic of Belarus will host the 2014 IIHF World Championship. We believe that to hold these championships in Belarus will serve to legitimise a regime that violates the human rights of the people of Belarus and represses civil society.

'Fewer and fewer committed, independent civil society activists are remaining' - interview with Sukhrobjon Ismailov, civil society activist, Uzbekistan
Sukhrobjon Ismailov, founder and director of the Expert Working Group, Uzbekistan, speaks to CIVICUS about the challenges of being a human rights defender in his country. The Expert Working Group is a network of independent Uzbek experts and researchers studying issues related to law and public interest, human rights and fundamental freedoms, rule of law, democratisation and liberalisation.

Protecting civil society: will India lead the way in Geneva? 
On 24 May, India underwent its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. UPR has emerged as a critical global process where all UN member states submit to an evaluation of their human rights record by other governments. For India, engaging substantively with the process is vital to enhance the legitimacy of its aspirations to play a greater role in world affairs.

Protection of civil society should be at the heart of World Bank’s social accountability initiative
CIVICUS welcomes the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability initiative. But to achieve the desired results, the partnership should produce a framework for cooperation between governments and civil society which guarantees an enabling environment for civil society - just as is done in the case of business. The Bank should unequivocally condemn restrictions on human rights and democratic freedoms.

On the Road to Rio

Use this interactive map to click on your country and see how your government is preparing for Rio+20!

Own the Edge May newsletter: towards the new third round of informals
OWNThe May 2012 edition of 'Own the Edge' - the Rio+20 NGO major group organising partners newsletter - is now available. It looks back on the last round of negotiations, where delegates made some progress in clarifying positions and finding compromise text, agreeing on 21 paragraphs. However, as this represented only a small percentage of the text, which stood at more than 420 paragraphs, and recognising the considerable work that still remains, an additional negotiating session is now scheduled. This session will take place from 29 May to 2 June 2012, at UN Headquarters - registration link.

Schedule of side events at Rio Centro now published online
More than 500 Rio+20 side events organised by governments, major groups, organisations from the UN system and other international organisations, including CIVICUS, will take place in Rio Centro during Rio+20 Prepcom III (13 to 15 June), the Sustainable Development Dialogue Days (16 to 19 June) and the Summit itself (20 to 22 June). The preliminary programme is now available.
Source: Rio+20

Announcement to newly accredited organisations: deadline for registrations has been extended to 27 May
The extended deadline for registration to Rio+20 is approaching quickly - 27 May. Registration is required for all participants seeking to access Rio Centro, including speakers and panellists for side events and those participating in the Sustainable Development Dialogue days.
Source: Rio+20
Organisational Committee of the People’s Summit releases policy statement
Group organising People's Summit in Rio says, "One month before Rio+20, peoples of the world don't see any positive advances in the negotiation process going on within the official conference. Indeed, neither the balance of agreements concluded in Rio 92 nor the ways to work on the crises’ causes have been discussed."
Source: Rio+20 Portal
Brazil lowers exorbitant hotel costs for delegates going to Rio+20 
BRAZILSome 50,000 visitors are expected for Rio+20, a number which exceeds the city’s current hotel capacity of just 33,000 hotel rooms. As a result, average prices had jumped to $818 a night, exorbitant rates for which the city’s hotel sector has been criticised. The government of Brazil has recently stepped in to cut prices, which should now be at least 25% lower.
Source: BBC


UNESCO-MOST Conference 2012: Labour Rights as Human Rights? Migration, Labour Market Restructuring, and the Role of Civil Society in Global Governance, Sweden, 30 May to 1 June 2012
This conference will bring together social scientists and local stakeholders in labour rights and human rights to discuss internationally coordinated policy alternatives for promoting migrants' labour rights, and a more inclusive role of civil society.
Source: UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service

Global Voices Citizen Media Summit, Nairobi, Kenya, 2 to 3 July 2012
The Global Voices Summit will bring together bloggers, activists and technologists for public discussions and workshops about the rise of online citizen media movements. The theme for this year's summit is the cataclysmic rise of online citizen media over the past years, and particularly in 2011. Can this be considered a global movement now? And what should happen next?
Source: Communication Initiative Network


New study on aid transparency and climate finance
Publish What You Fund and AidInfo’s new study addresses the connections between aid transparency and climate finance. Countries have started to report on their climate funding and researchers have pored over these results, seeking to make sense of the funding flows. Are pledges being delivered? Is the money new and additional? Does it add up and how should it be measured?
Source: Publish What You Fund

Southern voices on climate policy choices
Development and environment groups in Southern countries are having a growing influence on government policy to tackle climate change, and are helping get the concerns of the poorest and most vulnerable people heard at national level, according to this new civil society report. Released at UN climate talks in Germany, it contains examples from more than 20 climate networks in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific, showing how civil society is holding governments to account on climate change commitments.
Source: AlertNet


Call for submissions: taking women's experiences and perspectives to Rio+20
In partnership with the Women’s Environment and Development Organisation, World Pulse is collecting personal stories from women around the world outlining their experiences and recommendations on sustainable and equitable development for presentation at Rio+20. Stories should be submitted by 3 June 2012.
Source: World Pulse

Civil Society News

We want to share your civil society news with thousands of subscribers! Email your civil society news for the weekly e-civicus bulletin to: editor@civicus.org.

Azerbaijan: authorities violently disperse peaceful rallies
Azerbaijan’s government sent an ominous message about its commitment to fundamental freedoms by violently dispersing two peaceful protests, just before the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is due to be held in the capital, Baku.
Source: Human Rights Watch

Bahrain: one hundred organisations call for an end to assault on freedom of speech
One hundred CSOs, including CIVICUS, have called on the King, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain to immediately release all human rights defenders and online activists detained solely for exercising their right to peaceful free expression, whether online or during demonstrations.
Source: IFEX

Canada: Quebec suspends civil liberties in response to students’ strike
In response to 15 weeks of student protests, a new law has been introduced to curb the right to protest, apply heavy fines and increase police powers. Meanwhile, the city of Montreal has even banned people from wearing masks in public.
Source: Truthout

Belarus: Ales Bialiatski wins 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award
Jailed civil society activist Ales Bialiatski of Belarus and Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law have been announced by the US Department of State as the joint winners of the 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award.
Source: Front Line Defenders

Korea: final statement of World Human Rights Cities Forum
The World Human Rights Cities Forum met in Gwangju, Korea, from 15 to 18 May 2012. Participants agreed to developing guiding principles and implementation guidelines for what it means to be a human rights city, and to promote and implement the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City as a tool to globalise human rights from the ground.
Source: Korean Human Rights Foundation

Nicaragua: civil society makes municipal reform proposals
CIVICUS partner the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development (Red Local) has led a consultation process with its membership, partner organisations and experts in municipal and local development to produce a series of proposals for the Bill to Reform the Law on Municipalities (text in Spanish).
Source: Red Local

Spain: Indignados, the original Occupy movement, re-emerges
Spain's 15-M movement, the first to occupy public spaces in peaceful protest against leaders’ handling of the global economic crisis, has marked its first anniversary. It has broad public support, but there is little evidence of growing coherence among its members, who share a desire for reform but differ on what it should look like.
Source: CS Monitor

Uganda: civil society condemns World Bank’s role in land grabs
The World Bank has come under attack after a new civil society report has exposed how commercial projects funded by the Bank are causing poverty and human rights violations in Uganda, sparking a wave of criticisms.
Source: AllAfrica

USA: Nurses lead Chicago protest for ‘Robin Hood Tax’
In the labour movement's main contribution to protests at NATO's meeting in Chicago, a thousand members of the National Nurses Union and several thousand supporters rallied on behalf of their campaign to ‘heal America’. They urged governments around the world to tax financial sector speculation, and use the proceeds to preserve and expand government's role in reducing inequality, providing for health and other public needs, and creating a healthy economy with full employment.
Source: In These Times

Yemen: struggling to get by
A devastating suicide bomb in Yemen’s capital Sana’a grabbed international headlines and highlighted security problems, but people are quietly fighting daily battles to make ends meet. Three months after Yemen’s new government took office, frustration is growing, with people saying the pace of economic reform is not fast enough.
Source: IRIN

Zimbabwe: CSOs shocked at government ambush of UN human rights meeting
Zimbabwean CSOs have resisted attempts by Zimbabwe’s government to relocate their meeting with the visiting UN Human Rights Commissioner to a state building and invite other organisations with no record of working on human rights in Zimbabwe.
Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Arab civil society brings its message to Washington
A group of Arab NGO Network for Development members and partners visited Washington to express perspectives of CSOs from Middle East and North Africa on US foreign policy towards the region. Twelve activists and experts from Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen also seized the opportunity to enhance space for dialogue between Arab groups and US civic stakeholders and policy makers.
Source: Social Watch

A global financial transaction tax, a human rights imperative now more than ever
As European Union Finance Ministers met on 15 May to coincide with the G8 Summit in Camp David, a group of UN independent experts urged the EU to take the lead in promoting the adoption of a global financial transaction tax to offset the costs of the enduring economic, fuel, climate and food crises, and to protect basic human rights.
Source: UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Equity the gateway to environmental ambition
Equity has become a major topic in the climate negotiations at the UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCC). The South Centre’s Executive Director Martin Khor calls for the recognition and operationalising of the equity principle as a means of raising environmental ambition, including in giving adequate support to developing countries so that they can contribute more to global mitigation efforts and meet their adaptation needs.
Source: South Centre

CSOs make joint submission on proposed EU Platform for External Cooperation and Development
A group of CSOs has welcomed the intention to improve the coordination of EU development and external cooperation actions. However they have urged the Group of Experts for this initiative to reflect on the key concerns that stakeholders have raised, and ensure a proper evaluation is done of current operations before proceeding. A preliminary decision must not be rushed.
Source: European Network on Debt and Development

South Centre Statement to the UN High Level Thematic Debate on the State of the World Economy
The South Centre's Chief Economist spoke at the UN General Assembly's two-day Thematic Debate on the State of the World Economy. He states that international financial institutions and groupings such as the G8 and G20 have proved to be ineffective in resolving current economic difficulties, and therefore these issues need to be pursued with greater determination and commitment in the UN, and linked to a process of assessment and monitoring.
Source: South Centre

UN Women announces members of Global Civil Society Advisory Group
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet has announced the members of her Global Civil Society Advisory Group that will facilitate regular consultations and dialogue between civil society and UN Women.
Source: UN Women

Take action

Make your actions count at Rio
Rio+20 is a great opportunity to show global leaders what people care most about. Make your actions count by sharing your story virtually. These testimonials will be showcased at the Rio+20 summit in June in a multi-media presentation. Over 70,000 actions have been counted so far.
Source: Volunteer Action Counts

Global Common Statement for a Toxics-Free Future initiative seeks your support
CIVICUS is one of the lead endorsing partners for the NGO/CSO Global Common Statement for a Toxics-Free Future Initiative, led by IPEN, which demands accountability and action by governments for a sustainable, toxics-free future. On 11 June 2012, CSOs will meet at the Toxics-Free Future Forum in Rio, and the statement will be released to send this important message to the world’s leaders. We ask all CSOs across the planet to join us in support of this common statement, and to spread the word of this campaign to secure more than 1,000 CSO endorsements in at least 80 countries.
Source: IPEN

UN Officer of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: CSO input requested for 2012 Social Forum
The 2012 Social Forum, a subsidiary body of the UN Human Rights Council, is scheduled to take place from 1 to 3 October 2012 in Geneva. The forum will focus on ‘people-centred development and globalisation’, with themes including global governance in an era of multiple challenges, promoting participatory development and democratic governance, and enhancing a globally enabling environment for development. As part of this, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is consulting with CSOs to prepare a report to the forum. Submissions should be made by 31 May 2012.
Source: UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service


CIVICUS: Resource Mobilisation Consultant (application deadline 31 May 2012)
The fundraising environment for civil society is limited, and there are indications that civil society funding is diminishing. CIVICUS therefore seeks to recruit a resource mobilisation consultant to work for a period of six months, June to December 2012, to identify new donor prospects and help raise funds to enable CIVICUS to execute its work.

CIVICUS: Learning Exchanges (application deadline 15 June 2012)
CIVICUS is proud to announce two United Nations Learning Exchange opportunities, sponsored by Irish Aid, focused on Strengthening the Voice of African Civil Society and human rights defenders in the international human rights system. The positions will be based at the CIVICUS UN Office in Geneva from the beginning of September to mid December 2012.

HelpAge International: Regional Programme Coordinator (application deadline 31 May 2012)
HelpAge International seeks to appoint a Regional Programme Coordinator - Southern Africa, based in Pretoria, South Africa. The post-holder will play an important coordination role between the Southern Africa regional office, the Regional Director for East and West Africa, the UK Secretariat, Country Development Programmes and affiliates and partner organisations. They will be responsible for the implementation, monitoring and reporting of programmes in the region, with a primary focus on the health and social protection regional strategic programme funded by Irish Aid.
Source: HelpAge

Save the Children: Head of Governance and Rights (application deadline 10 June 2012)
The Head of Governance and Rights will lead organisational thinking on rights and governance and promote child protection through evidence based research, devising innovative policy and leading international advocacy across Save the Children.
Source: Save the Children

Transparency International: Programme Coordinator (application deadline 10 June 2012)
The Programme Coordinator, Private Sector will provide substantive and administrative support to Transparency International’s (TI) Private Sector Team to ensure effective implementation of the TI 2015 Strategy.  The Coordinator will contribute to TI policy development, playing an active part in the Business Integrity programme.
Source: Transparency International

Transparency International: Director, Middle East and North Africa (application deadline 15 June 2012)
The Director will lead and manage Transparency International’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) programme team and provide programmatic, organisational development, advocacy and accreditation support to National Chapters. The Director will stimulate, lead, oversee and support continuous enhancement and improvement of the work, reputation and anti-corruption impact of MENA chapters, emerging contacts and partners in MENA.
Source: Transparency International

Share your news with us

CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation
P.O.Box 933 Southdale,
Johannesburg 2135
South Africa
Tel: +27 (11) 833 5959
Fax: +27 (11)833 7997
1425 K Street NW
Suite 350
Washington DC 20005
United States
Tel: +1 202 331 8518
Fax: 1 202 331 87
© 2012 CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation

DISCLAIMER: Although CIVICUS makes all reasonable efforts to obtain prima-facie reliable content for e-CIVICUS, CIVICUS cannot guarantee the accuracy of the reports, views or opinions of third parties