Tag: <span>the World Health Organization</span>

Trafficking in Persons Appeals

Concerted Efforts Against Trafficking in Persons.

Featured Image: Photo by  sammisreachers in Pixabay.

On 30 July;  there should be a world-wide concerted effort against trafficking in persons.  The United Nations General Assembly in Resolution A/RES/68/192 in 2012;  set out 30 July as a day to review and reaffirm the need for action against the criminal global networks dealing in trafficking of persons.   The traffick in human beings reveals the hunger of the global economy for human labor and the disrespect for human dignity.  Drugs, guns, illegal immigration are the nightmare avenues of how the poor world becomes integrated into the global economy. These are intricate networks and are intertwined with interests in business and politics.

A recent U.N. Report presented to the Commission on the Status of Women;  highlighted that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries and one of the crucial human rights crises today.

From Himalayan villages to Eastern European cities – especially women and girls – are attracted by the prospects of a well-paid job as a domestic servant, waitress or factory worker.  Traffickers recruit victims through fake advertizements, mail-order bride catalogues, casual acquaintances, and even family members.  Children are trafficked to work in sweatshops, and men to work in the « three D jobs » – dirty, difficult and dangerous.

        Despite clear international standards;  such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime  and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons;  Especially Women and Children; there is poor implementation; limited governmental infrastructure dedicated to the issue.  There is also a tendency to criminalize the victims.

Since 2002;  the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has collected information on trafficking in persons. 

The International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization – especially in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention – and the International Organization for Migration – all have anti-trafficking programs; but they have few « people on the ground » dealing directly with the issue.

Thus real progress needs to be made through non-governmental organizations (NGOs),  such as the Association of World Citizens;  which has raised the issue in human rights bodies in Geneva. 

Trafficking in Persons

Kari Johnstone serves as Acting Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons delivers remarks at an event recognizing the release of the 2018 Trafficking in Persons report and honoring the 2018 ‘TIP Report Heroes’ at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on June 28, 2018. (State Department photo/ Public Domain). By U.S. Department of State from United States, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are three aspects to this anti-trafficking effort. 

The first is to help build political will by giving accurate information to political leaders and the press.  The other two aspects depend on the efforts of NGOs themselves. Such efforts call for increased cooperation among NGOs and capacity building.

The second aspect is research into the areas from which persons – especially children and women – are trafficked.  These are usually the poorest parts of a country and among marginalized populations.  Socio-economic and development projects must be directed to these areas so that there are realistic avenues for advancement.

The third aspect is psychological healing.  Very often persons;  who have been trafficked have had a disrupted or violent family life.  They may have a poor idea of their self-worth. The victim’s psychological health is often ignored by governments.  Victims can suffer a  strong psychological shock that disrupts their psychological integrity. Thus;  it is important to create opportunities for individual and group healing;  to give a spiritual dimention through teaching meditation and yoga.  There is a need to create adult education facilities so that persons may continue a broken educational cycle.

          We must not underestimate the difficulties and dangers; which exist in the struggle against trafficking in persons nor the hard efforts;  which are needed for the psychological healing of victims. 30 July can be a rededication for our efforts.

   

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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World Refugee Day.

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hungry Book Reviews

Michelle Jurkovich. Feeding the Hungry: Advocacy and Blame in…

Photo by Steve Knutson on Unsplash.

(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2020, 169pp)

The Association of World Citizens has taken a lead in the promotion of a coordinated world food policy; with an emphasis on the small-scale farmer and a new awareness that humans are part of Nature;  with a special duty of care and respect for the Earth’s inter-related life-support system.   As Stringfellow Barr wrote in Citizens of the World (1952):

Since the hungry billion in the world community believe that we all can eat if we set our common house in order, they believe also that it is unjust that some die because it is too much trouble to arrange for them to live.”

The plan for a World Food Board.

  Sir John Boyd Orr;  the first Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); had proposed a World Food Board to stabilize food prices and supplies.  The plan for a world food board was rejected following the lead of the US delegate;  who said “Governments are unlikely to place large funds needed for financing such a plan in the hands of an international agency over whose operations and price policy they would have little direct control” (1) Boyd Orr resigned when the food board proposal was not accepted by government representatives; and then devoted much of his energy to the world citizen movement.

World Citizen Josué de Castro;  who served as the independent Chairman of the FAO Council;  was a leader in calling attention to world hunger;  and for the need for strong governmental action to provide food security;  and highlighted the need to combine a world; a national, and a local approach to the fight against hunger.

The Green Revolution.

However  from the start;  the FAO and government agricultural ministries put an emphasis on technical aspects of greater food production: better seeds, appropriate fertilizers; “the Green Revolution”. There was also a growing realization of cultural factors: the division of labor between women and men in agriculture and rural development, the marketing of local food products, the role of small farmers, land-holding patterns and the role of landless agricultural labor.

As Jurkovich points out; there has been a growing emphasis on the right to food. Typical of this approach is the General Comment 12;  on the Right to Adequate Food of the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

The Covenant clearly requires that each State party take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that everyone is free from hunger and as soon as possible can enjoy the right to adequate food.  This will require the adoption of a national strategy to ensure food and nutrition security for all, based on human rights principles that define the objectives, and the formulation of policies and corresponding benchmarks.”  (2)

Humanity’s Freedom From Hunger.

Non-governmental organizations have played a vital role in efforts to ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger. NGOs have been active both at the national level and in some of the world conferences organized by the FAO;  such as the 1996 World Food Summit.  As then FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in his talk;  United Against Hunger:

Responding properly to the hunger problem requires urgent, resolute and concerted action by all relevant actors at all levels.  It calls for the need for all of us to be united. It underlines that achieving food security is not the responsibility of one single party; it is the responsibility of ll of us.” 

NGOs have also highlighted the specific problems of indigenous peoples, landless peasants, and the forced evictions of small farmers.

 

A Mother’s Milk Substitute.

What is new in Michelle Jurkovich’s approach is asking can one pinpoint blame for violations on the right to adequate food. In dealing with the violations of political rights NGOs;  such as Amnesty International are able to analyze who is responsible;  and to whom one should appeal to change the situation: the Minister of Justice, the director of a prison, the chief of a local police.  The violation is generally fairly clear;  and one can find the names of the higher up in the chain of command.  With food issues;  it is more difficult.  There is often no agreement on who is responsible for a situation;  and to whom to appeal.

There are exceptions.  A major effort developed;  in part from the Graduate Institute of Development Studies in Geneva;  where I was teaching. It was the International Baby Food Action Network;  that stressed breastfeeding  as against milk substitutes and baby food;  largely produced by Nestlé.  Nestlé had a widely used poster of a woman dressed in white;  (who could be taken as a medical worker);  advocating a mother’s milk substitute. Thus;  it was decided to direct a boycott of Nestlé products.  The advantage in the effort was that all the major decision-makers – Nestlé;  the World Health Organization (WHO) and the boycott organizers were around Lake Geneva.  The aim was to get a WHO Code on marketing and to get Nestlé to change its policies.

The “Big Ten” transnational Food.

The effort took 10 years;  with strong opposition to a code within WHO;  led by the USA, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany and a few other conservative allies.  Wanting to maintain “consensus” and remove fears of financial consequences for WHO;  which depends largely on contributions from governments in addition to the regular budget;  WHO Secretariat members were not going to push for a code.  Finally a general and watered-down Code was finally set by the WHO.

Such victories are few.  There are few cases where a product is concentrated in only one company;  where blame can be centered on a common target. There are at least the “Big Ten” transnational food  and beverage companies.  Of course;  these companies are not the only ones responsible for hunger in the world.  Governments are primarily responsible for agricultural policies.  For NGOs wanting to influence governments;  there are varied understandings of the cause, responsibility, blame and solutions.  Jurkovich gives no set answers;  but she raises useful questions. A book worth reading closely.

Notes.

1) For an analysis of Boyd Orr’s proposal see Ross Tabot The Four World Food Agencies in Rome (Ames: Iowa State University  Press, 1990, 188pp.)

Also see the memoirs of a later FAO Director General B.R. Sen. Towards a Newer World (Dublin: Tycooly Publishing, 1982, 341pp.)

2) UNCESCR General Comment 12, UN Doc. ECOSOC E/C12/1999/5.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.