culture

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June marks the moment in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, one of the key instruments in fighting torture, came into effect. Today, the Convention has been ratified by 162 countries.

Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, torture persist in all regions of the world. Concerns about protecting national security and borders are increasingly used to allow torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. Its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be transmitted through generations and lead to cycles of violence.

The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.

Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.

On 12 December 1997, by resolution 52/149, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

26 June is an opportunity to call on all stakeholders including UN Member States, civil society and individuals everywhere to unite in support of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security, please visit ngocdps.wordpress.com. For more information on the NGO Committee on Human Rights, please email the co-chairs at bobbinassar@gmail.com or bknotts@uua.org. For more information on the NGO Alliance on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, please visit crimealliance.org/about.

Yoga for Health, Healing, and Harmony

Namaste Dear Friends,

The International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN continues to count down to World Yoga Day and our special event which we’re celebrating this year on Saturday, June 19 at 4:30pm (NY-EST).  We are excited to be part of Unity Earth’s World Unity Week and it’s kick-off.  Joining us is special guest, Karuna, Founder Light on Kundalini.  We also have a couple of other surprise guests taking part so it will be a memorable time for us to embrace our inner nature, our heartfelt connection and the power of hope.  All are welcome.
Sending good wishes,
Denise Scotto, Esq
Chair, International Day of Yoga Committee at the UN
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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns-NY, please visit csvgc-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, please visit unforb.org.

Racial and Environmental Justice: SDGs in Action

Racial and Environmental Justice SDG’s in Action
MeaningfulWorld Annual Mind-Body-Eco-Spirit Festival at The United Nations
RSVP by 31 May to email address: info@meaningfulword.com

Chair: Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Columbia University & ATOP Meaningfulworld

Meditation: Eric Manigian, Buddhist Action Coalition

Speakers:

  • Pastor Daren Jaime, Anchor, Bronxnet Television & Radio
  • Sohayla Eldeeb, Global Outreach Director, Zero Hour

Musical Interlude: Farah Chandu, Willow Interfaith Chorus

Dance Interlude: Ms. Isha Parupudi, Columbia University, United States

Closure: Ubuntu Peace Circle, Heart-to-Heart Circle of Love and Gratitude

Congratulations to the 2021 MeaningfulWorld Ambassadors Diego Bustamante, Rachel Davidovich, Andrew Dolinar, MA, Mary Garcia Ryan, MSW, Mark Imus, BA, Samer Sabbour, Sahib Singh, Mandi Kollmeier, Isha Parupudi, Meira Yasin, PhD

Co-sponsored by: ATOP Meaningfulworld, Armenian Constitutional Rights Protective Center, Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU)

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit ngosocdev.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit ngocsdvienna.org

World Bicycle Day

The mobility needs of people who walk and cycle – often the majority of citizens in a city – continue to be overlooked, states Share the Road Programme Annual Report 2018, even though the benefits of investing in pedestrians and cyclists can save lives, help protect the environment and support poverty reduction. Meeting the needs of people who walk and cycle continues to be a critical part of the mobility solution for helping cities de-couple population growth from increased emissions, and to improve air quality and road safety.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is also a pathway for achieving greater health equity. For the poorest urban sector, who often cannot afford private vehicles, walking and cycling can provide a form of transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death. Accordingly, improved active transport is not only healthy; it is also equitable and cost-effective.

  • The bicycle is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation;
  • The bicycle can serve as a tool for development and as a means not just of transportation but also of access to education, health care and sport;
  • The synergy between the bicycle and the user fosters creativity and social engagement and gives the user an immediate awareness of the local environment;
  • The bicycle is a symbol of sustainable transportation and conveys a positive message to foster sustainable consumption and production, and has a positive impact on climate.

World Bicycle Day:

  • Encourages Member States to devote particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to include the bicycle in international, regional, national and subnational development policies and programmes;
  • Encourages Member States to improve road safety and integrate it into sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure planning and design, in particular through policies and measures to actively protect and promote pedestrian safety and cycling mobility, with a view to broader health outcomes, particularly the prevention of injuries and non-communicable diseases;
  • Encourages stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace;
  • Encourages Member States to adopt best practices and means to promote the bicycle among all members of society, and in this regard welcomes initiatives to organize bicycle rides at the national and local levels as a means of strengthening physical and mental health and well-being and developing a culture of cycling in society.

To learn more about how and why the UN commemorates this unique observance, visit un.org/en/observances/bicycle-day.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit ngocsdvienna.org. For more information on the NGO committee on Mental Health, please visit ngomentalhealth.org

Remembering and Honoring Past Massacres: The Legacy and Resilience of the Victims

Remembering and Honoring Past Massacres: the Legacy and Resilience of the Victims

This webinar conversation will start by marking the 100th year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot, and will broaden its scope on other similar tragic events the English-speaking Americas (USA, Canada and the Caribbean).

This webinar will be a conversation (not a lecture) and remembrance, punctuated with moments of art (poetry, drums). A moment to lament, but also to recognize these fallen heroes. Other webinars focussing on the same issue of past massacres will be organized throughout the year and will focus on other regions.

We invite you to register here for this event:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_qsguoT97Th2e76YIYcmNvw

Moderator: Bishop Mary-Ann Swenson, WCC Central Committee

Co-facilitator: Rev. Dr. Mikie A. Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life

Panellists:

  • Rev. Dr. Robert Turner, pastor of Historic Vernon chapel A.M.E. church, Tulsa, Oklahoma and academic dean for Jackson Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Michael McEachrane, co-founder and consultative member of the European Network of People of African Descent
  • Mrs. Jennifer P. Martin, Education in Mission Secretary, Caribbean and North America Council for Mission (CANACOM)
  • Dr. Daniel D. Lee, academic dean of the Centre for Asian American Theology and Ministry, assistant professor of theology and Asian American ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Mr. Russel Burns, member of the National Indigenous Ministries and Justice Council (NIC), of the Indigenous caucus of Western Mining Action Network (WMAN), and of the Comprehensive Review Task Group (CRTG) of the United Church of Canada.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations, please visit rngos.wordpress.com. For more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit ngosocdev.org.

International Week of Solidarity with People of Non-Self-Governing Territories

In the UN Charter, a Non-Self-Governing Territory is defined as a Territory “whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government.”

In 1946, several UN Member States identified a number of Territories under their administration that were not self-governing and placed them on a UN list. Countries administering Non-Self-Governing Territories are called administering Powers.  As a result of the decolonization process over the years, most of the Territories were removed from the list.

Chapter XI of the UN Charter – the Declaration regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories – provides that Member States administering Territories, which have not attained self-government recognize “that the interests of the inhabitants of these Territories are paramount” and accept as a “sacred trust” the obligation to promote their well-being.

Chapter IX urged the administering Powers concerned to take effective measures to safeguard and guarantee the inalienable rights of the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories to their natural resources, including land, and to establish and maintain control over the future development of those resources, and requested the Administering Powers to take all necessary steps to protect the property rights of the peoples of those Territories.

Administering Powers, in addition to ensuring the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples, undertake to assist them in developing self-government and democratic political institutions. Administering Powers have an obligation to transmit regularly to the Secretary-General information on the economic, social and educational conditions in the Territories under their administration.

Chapter IX also urged all States, directly and through their action in the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, to provide moral and material assistance to the peoples of the Non-Self-Governing Territories.

To learn more about the history of this UN observance and view the UN’s educational videos on decolonization, visit un.org/en/observances/non-self-governing-week.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, please visit facebook.com/NGOCoRIP. For more information on the Decolonization Alliance, please email lbautista@umcjustice.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security, please visit ngocdps.wordpress.com.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Cultural events cancelled, cultural institutions closed, community cultural practices suspended, empty UNESCO World Heritage sites, heightened risk of looting of cultural sites and poaching at natural sites, artists unable to make ends meet and the cultural tourism sector greatly affected… The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector is being felt around the world. This impact is social, economic and political – it affects the fundamental right of access to culture, the social rights of artists and creative professionals, and the protection of a diversity of cultural expressions.

The unfolding crisis risks deepening inequalities and rendering communities vulnerable. In addition, the creative and cultural industries (CCI) contribute US$2,250bn to the global economy (3% of GDP) and account for 29.5 million jobs worldwide. The economic fall-out of not addressing the cultural sector – and all auxiliary services, particularly in the tourism sector – could also be disastrous. (source “Culture & COVID-19: Impact and Response Tracker – Issue 2

Why does cultural diversity matter?

Three-quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension. Bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development.

Cultural diversity is a driving force of development, not only with respect to economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. This is captured in the culture conventions, which provide a solid basis for the promotion of cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and the achievement of sustainable development.

At the same time, acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity – in particular through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) – are conducive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding.

To read more about the origin of this observance and peruse relevant materials, visit un.org/en/observances/cultural-diversity-day.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit ngocsdvienna.org

 

A National Day of Remembrance: Honoring Nursing Home Lives Lost

Please join us for a national online event to honor more than 182,000 nursing home lives lost to COVID-19.

This program will feature shared remembrances, spiritual reflections, musical tributes and statements by elected officials. Register here!

Presented by Gray Panthers NYC

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Ageing-NY, please visit ngocoa-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Ageing-Geneva, please visit ageingcommitteegeneva.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Ageing-Vienna, please visit ngoageingvie.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Intergenerational Solidarity, please email the vice chair at susanneseperson@gmail.com. 

Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2021

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a frontline technology with profound implications for human beings, cultures, societies and the environment. AI has the potential to be our ally in the struggle for a more equitable, fair, and sustainable future. It is remarkable that AI generated some of the earliest alerts about the COVID-19 outbreak, even before it was confirmed, by routinely scanning hundreds or thousands of governmental and media data sources in multiple languages. This analytical capacity has also helped accelerate the discovery of the vaccines, and even understanding the protein structures. Self-learning algorithms and smart machines are playing an increasingly important role in our efforts to recover from the current crisis. Digital platforms and infrastructure have been broadened to keep our economies, our schools and our societies going.

We must always keep in mind that AI technologies also possess significant risks and challenges, especially in terms of deepening the existing divides, exacerbating gender disparities, and infringing on human dignity and human rights. This is why there are many initiatives that have emerged to ensure that these technologies help to overcome the current crisis and mitigate future risks, while tackling the downsides. Thus, the European Union is launching its AI rulebook and UNESCO member states are negotiating the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI.

This high level session is aimed at taking stock of where we are and how to move forward with the tools that we have and that are about to be developed. Speakers will share their perspectives on how to make sure that developments in these technologies do not create new forms of exclusion and inequalities, including gender, and how to justly distribute the benefits.

Register here: itu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_KKDgPi8ESj6ACfGeMhB9ng

View the full program and list of speakers here: itu.int/net4/wsis/forum/2021/Agenda/Session/353

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CoNGO Notes: CoNGO is a civil society focal point with the WSIS Forum. See former CoNGO President, Cyril Ritchie, in this interview with ITU: youtube,com/watch?v=cYA8UauD28U.  For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit  ngocsdvienna.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit facebook.com/NGOCELLatUN. For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org

NGO Committee on Status of Women-NY [monthly meeting]

Join NGO CSW-NY for our May Monthly Meeting about racial justice and gender. More information coming soon. At the beginning of the meeting, we will discuss the NGO CSW/NY Executive Committee elections taking place in June.

Register here!

If you missed April’s monthly meeting on the intersection of climate change, gender, and migration, you can watch the recording on Youtube here.

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women-NY, please visit ngocsw.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women-Geneva, please visit ngocsw-geneva.ch. For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women-Vienna, please visit ngocswvienna.org.

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