Global Women Unite for Peace

unacto11.jpgThe following was written by Patsy George, Honourary Director of UNAC-Vancouver who is at the Hague attending the 100th anniversary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom http://www.wilpfinternational.org/
I am attending the 100th anniversary  of the only global women’s organization still active. It was founded at a conference held at the Hague by women who opposed the First World War. 800 of us who are peace activists along with a large number of U.N officials, ambassadors and media are here. The groups of women represented are from the North and South, particularly from the areas where the conflicts are in full force.
Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.01.36 PMI have had the privilege of listening to women from Lebanon, Palestine, Nigeria, Syria , Columbia and Pakistan. They have experienced war, lost families and seen their communities be completely destroyed. But no one, including the UN, is willing to listen to these women’s proposed solutions. Of course the women are completely against the military solutions and insist on mediation and diplomatic approaches.
I must share my feelings of frustration when a delegate from Columbia spoke about losing her husband and brother in the mines owned and operated by Canadian companies. She and others are organizing to get safer labour conditions but she has been under death threats. She believes that the mining companies hire thugs to go after women active in the community.
The Office of the Indigenous people of the Americas based in Geneva organized a march to the Canadian Embassy at the Hague with 1200 pairs of shoes on Tuesday to remind them of the missing and murdered women in Canada. It is their hope that shaming Canada this way will bring some attention to this issue from the Harper Government.
There is another session examining the role of the UN Peacekeepers who have been accused of sexually violating women and girls and boys in some of the areas where they serve.
Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 9.07.46 PMSo you can see that working for peace involves addressing the root causes of violence and the power structure which does not pay attention to equality and human rights of majority of human beings, particularly the women and girls.
It is great to be with a large group of people who are against wars and are seeking peace building as the only alternative to making sure that we and the planet we call our home survives.
One of the positive reports I heard  was from the Secretary General  of WILPF, Madelene Reese, was that the organization was able to arrange a meeting between the UN Security council members and a group of women from Syria. This was the first time; it has ever happened.
Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 8.59.50 PMThe women gathered at this conference adopted a new manifesto which concluded saying that violence is not inevitable. We choose non violence as a means and as an end. We will liberate the strength of women and in partnership with like-minded men bring to birth a just and harmonious world. We will implement peace which is a human right.
What is needed is total world wide disarmament; economic systems that will deliver well-being to every human being and other life forms on the precious planet; multinational organizations capable of mediating between states and guaranteeing international law; democratic governments from local to global; social systems that accord no privilege to certain type of people or people of a given physical type, culture or religion; the end of male supremacy; and radical changes to the way we live together and the fulfillment of women’s rights as human rights.
It is important to remember that Peace is possible and Wars must stop and it is the job of each and every one of us to see to it.
Patsy George, Honourary Director of the United Nations Association of Canada – Vancouver Branch.

2nd annual TGLL a great success

unacto11.jpgThe United Nations Association of Canada’s Vancouver branch held its second annual Think Global Link Local networking breakfast this past Friday.  The event was attended by almost 300 participants.    More than 25 organizations hosted tables at the event, providing guidance and insight to participants looking to get involved in the social change sector.

DSC_4994City Councillor Andrea Reimer was the keynote speaker.  She gave a poignant and inspiring speech about her own experience in working for positive change in environmental and social justice issues.  After her speech, participants had the opportunity to network with key players in the social change sector working in Vancouver and across the country.  Senator Mobina Jaffer also hosted a table, inspiring students with her stories of how young people can get involved in politics and make a change.

DSC_5114Our participants made great use of the “selfie booth”, spreading their ideas and inspiration for change through social media.

DSC_5124

A big thank you also goes out to our sponsors :Rockwater Resort, Sempreviva Yoga, Scandinave Spa Whistler, Steve Nash Fitness, Strongbody Apparel, Delhi2Dublin, and the White Caps.  Their raffle donations helped make some participants very happy!

There were other networking raffle winners as well.  A few lucky participants  walked DSC_5137away having won coffee dates with Senator Mobina Jaffer, Gordon Longmuir (former Canadian ambassador to Cambodia),  George Somerwill (former UN staff member and journalist), and Patsy George (Social Worker and Women’s Rights activist).

DSC_5061UNAC-Vancouver would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the participating organizations and community members who helped make this event a great success.  We welcome all of your feedback and we look forward to seeing you at future events.

Organization Profiles: Think Global, Link Local 2015

unacto11.jpgNext Friday is the second annual “Think Global, Link Local 2015” networking event, a novel opportunity for students interested in the social justice sector to collaborate with expertise from the Vancouver area and beyond.

A diverse range of local, national and international organizations will be hosting tables at the breakfast. Attendance will include professionals specializing in international development, human rights, poverty reduction, public policy, foreign relations, domestic politics, environmental and marine conversation, literacy, research, health, equality, LGBTQ rights, children’s rights, amongst several others.

In anticipation of the event, the work of several organizations are showcased:

Environmental Organizations

LOS-logo-2013-tag-large-2Living Oceans (LOS)
Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities

With offices in Vancouver and Sointula, Living Oceans has focused its work on Canada’s Pacific Coast (both oceans and communities) for over a decade. In partnership with the provincial, federal government/First Nations LOS has been working to protect the Coast’s diverse marine life, so that future generations can enjoy the ocean’s rich environment. Ocean planning is critical for ensuring sustainability. Currently planning initiatives include: Building Marine Protected Areas (MPAS); working to ban oil tankers along the Pacific North Coast, promoting sustainable salmon farming and sustainable seafood consumption; protecting “four pillars” of our the oceans ecosystem (habitat, biodiversity, food webs and water quality); and reducing rising acidity levels as a result of c02 absorption and the maintenance of shorelines (including the clean up of marine debris).

Follow the LOS blog “Water Blogged” at http://livingoceanssociety.blogspot.ca/
If you would like to learn more about Living Oceans, registration is still open to sit at their table next week.

GSA logo RGBGeorgia Strait
Caring for Our Coastal Waters
Mission: To protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities.

Georgia Strait is a marine conservation charity located in Nanaimo, working to conserve the Strait of Georgia – the 220 km inland sea between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The Strait is beautiful and rich in diversity, but is at high-risk to many threats, including: oil spills, mismanaged marine, resources, pollution and many others. An example of work pursued by the charity is the Waterfront Initiative. Based on the success stories in New York and New Jersey, the initiative seeks to bring individual actors, civil society and the private and public sector, in order to sustain and improve Vancouver’s shoreline. The goal for a “thriving, sustainable, diverse integrated and resilient waterfront” is driven by principles of collaboration, accountability, public engagement and inclusion.

Follow the Georgia’ Strait’s Twitter Feed: @GeorgiaStraitBC for up to date news!

If you are interested in getting involved with their work, you can find out more at next week’s networking event by registering to sit at the organization’s table.

BC-LOGOCanadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)
CPAWS vision: “CPAWS believes that by ensuring the health of the parts, we ensure the health of the whole, which is our health too.”

For over 50 years, CPAWS has been Canada’s “voice for the wilderness.” Specializing in parks, oceans & freshwater, grasslands and wildlife, CPAWS mandate is to protect Canada’s diverse natural environment, through promoting awareness and encouraging individual action and partnerships.  For CPAWS, Canada has the opportunity and responsibility to lead by example, through our own national conservation efforts. Projects currently underway at CPAWS include: advocating for a strong Species at Risk Act (a projected 650 Canadian species are at risk of extinction); fighting to ensure permanent protection against the controversial use of fracking in Gros Morne Park, Newfoundland; and advancing boreal caribou conservation.

Successful past projects have included: the New Brunswick and GTA youth targeted “Get Outside Program” (2013), expanded protected lands across Canada (including the establishment of eastern Canada’s second biggest park “Tursujuq National Park” in Quebec (2012), the signing of Canada’s Boreal Forest Agreement (2010) and many others.

There are still seats available at CPAWS table! For more information on their work and to get involved, see: http://www.cpaws.org/

Women & Children

YWCA_MetroVancouver_HorizontalGreenYWCA Metro Vancouver
Mission: is to touch lives and build better futures for women and their families through advocacy and integrated services that foster economic independence, wellness, and equal opportunities.

The YWCA is one of the longest standing, largest non-profits in Vancouver. Since 1897, YWCA Metro Vancouver has been seeking to promote gender equality. The YWCA provides a diverse range of services, including the provision of affordable housing, mentorship (including mentorship programs young Aboriginal girls, high school students, and assisting adults in professional development), legal education, support for single mothers, and many others. In addition to service provision, YWCA pursues numerous advocays projects, including “Week without violence” and “Work/Life Balance.”

See the YWCA’s latest blog post on International Women’s Day at: http://www.ywcavan.org/blog/2015/03/celebrating-international-womens-day-help-women-and-families-make-it-happen

If you are passionate about gender equality and issues facing women in the Vancouver Metro area, you can reach out the YWCA at “Think Global, Link Local 2015.”

Sexual Health

logoOptions for Sexual Health (OPT )

Mission: To provide comprehensive education, accurate information, support for sexual expression and reproductive choice, and confidential clinical services that help British Columbians enjoy healthy sexuality throughout life.

For 50 years OPT has provided non-judgmental and confidential sexual health services to British Colombian residents, with 60 clinics across the province. The range of services provided by OPT include: clinics, education services (including primary and secondary school initiatives), and a tool free number (1-800-SEX-SENSE).

For more information on OPT’s work in the field of sexual health, visit them online at https://www.optionsforsexualhealth.org/.

As previous blog posts have highlighted, planning for a post-2015 Development Agenda (and our future) requires conceptualizing the link between various issues, including the environment, international development, women’s rights and other goals.  Social justice projects can benefit greatly from collaboration and insights across themes. The meeting of Vancouver’s activist community is a promising example of our area’s shared ambition for the future. Partnerships and collaboration provide opportunities for innovation and strength.

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 6.47.52 PMJoin us in shaping it at “Think Global, Link Local 2015″

UNAC-Vancouver’s George Somerwill presents to CAHSMUN

unacto11.jpgThe United Nations Association of Canada Vancouver branch was proud to sponsor the recent Canadian High School Model United Nations  (CAHSMUN) that was held this past weekend at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver.   UNAC-Vancouver’s sponsorship went to support students who would not otherwise have been able to attend the conference due to financial need.

UNAC-Vancouver Vice-President George Somerwill at CAHSMUN opening with Deputy Secretary General Jotham Chow
UNAC-Vancouver Vice-President George Somerwill at CAHSMUN opening with Deputy Secretary General Jotham Chow

UNAC-Vancouver’s Vice President, George Somerwill also spoke at both the opening ceremony and the Model Security Council held on the Saturday morning.  Mr Somerwill has a wealth of experience with the United Nations, working for UNICEF in Pakistan as well as the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in arenas such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Liberia.  (For more information on George’s bio see here: http://wp.me/P24qck-i)

Over 600 students attended CAHSMUN, representing more than 60 schools from the Lower Mainland as well as schools from the United States.  Mr. Somerwill was able to share his wide breath of first-hand United Nations knowledge with these keen students who are learning the intricacies of world politics as well as the role of the United Nations.

Mr. Somerwill answering questions and giving advice at the CAHSMUN Security Council.
Mr. Somerwill answering questions at the CAHSMUN Security Council.

Mr. Somerwill will also be hosting a table at the upcoming Think Global Link Local networking breakfast event to be held on Friday March 20th and has kindly offered a coffee date as part of the raffle during which you would be able to find out more about his amazing life experiences at the United Nations and beyond.  For more information on TGLL, click here or access it through the link above: http://wp.me/P24qck-av

 

Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

unacto1The UNAC is among thirteen prominent organizations that have urged the Canadian government to cease objecting to and start working for a global law to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

In a letter to Canada’s new Foreign Minister, Rob Nicholson, the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons also warned that deteriorating relations between the major nuclear powers, the US and Russia, have heightened the risk of nuclear conflict. Those two states possess 95 percent of the world’s 16,300 nuclear weapons, which include a frightening number on high-alert status.

Citing the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear warfare, the letter called on Canada to: “Support the commencement of work on a Nuclear Weapons Convention in a forum not subject to veto and cease objecting to the negotiation of such a convention as being somehow incompatible with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

The letter, emerging out a recent seminar held in Ottawa, appealed to the government to take action to protect the viability of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will undergo a month-long review at the UN starting April 27. “Given the huge stake Canada has in the future viability of the NPT and the global nuclear governance based on it, we believe some focused efforts are warranted,” the letter said.

A Nuclear Weapons Convention, called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, would be a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The letter called on the government to publish a strategy paper setting out Canada’s priority aims and to revive Canada’s capacity for verification technology to ensure compliance with nuclear agreements. It also requested the government to host a meeting of like-minded states as called for by the Middle Powers Initiative. The government should also work more closely with civil society representatives.

To view a copy of the letter, click here: Letter to GOC re 2015 NPT (Final)