Speech by Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, to Busan Global Civil Society Forum

Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association delivered the following speech during the Global Civil Society Forum in Busan, South Korea that occurred before the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4).

Thank you very much for inviting me and giving me an opportunity to speak with you at this opening session of the Busan Global Civil Society Forum.  I would like to extend special thanks to the principle organizers: Better Aid, Open Forum, and Korea Civil Society Forum on International Development Cooperation.

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Moving the Goal Posts

For many in civil society, attention this fortnight will focus on the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. The persistent global wave of protests against current economic models and the increasingly irrefutable evidence of accelerating climate change should provide the impetus and motivation for visionary leadership in Busan. This timely op-ed by Jeremy Hobbs (Executive Director, Oxfam International) reminds us all just how high the stakes are.

Moving the Goal Posts

Parents with young children will be familiar with the phenomenon – a game is going badly, little Daniel is losing, but rather than redouble his efforts he changes the rules of the game. He makes his goal smaller or tells his opponents only to kick with their left foot.

This can be amusing and endearing in children, but not when the richest, most powerful nations display it in their dealings with the poorest.

At the end of this month, Ban Ki-moon, Hillary Clinton and ministers from around the world will gather in Busan, South Korea, for the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. The rather dull title should not obscure the fact that this meeting will have important consequences for the world’s poorest people.

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Follow developments leading up to and during Busan on Twitter using #HLF4

From the fringes to the mainstream : Violence against women as a social justice issue

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one-third of all women and girls in the world will be subjected to rape or physical violence at least once during their lifetime. The number of unrecorded cases of violence against women is high due to differing definitions of violence in different countries, victims´ underreporting and poor reporting practises by police and other authorities. Violence against women is, in many cases, viewed as a private matter and ignored as a social justice issue. In many instances, violence against women is viewed as a private matter and not an issue of public concern. These acts of violence often result in , physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. Continue reading

The clothes have no emperor

I recently heard Al Gore use the phrase “The clothes have no emperor” to describe the current situation in global governance. A book with that title catalogued the presidency of Ronald Reagan accusing the American public and the media of “conspiring to pretend that an actor wasn’t playing the role of President of the United States.”

In the aftermath of the recent G-20 summit in France and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia – both noteworthy for the continuing lack of substantive action on financial sector reform, climate negotiations, trade and the reform of international institutions – the description seems increasingly apt. And nothing in the prognoses for the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in South Korea and the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in South Africa, scheduled for later this month, suggests that the characterisation will need revision in their wake. Continue reading

Occupy: Reinventing leadership, governance and economic paradigms

Last week I had the privilege of addressing the Business Social Responsibility (BSR) conference in San Francisco. The conference, which brings together some of the leading players in the field of corporate sustainability, explored the theme ‘Reinventing Leadership.’ Al Gore kicked off proceedings with a provocative address including a vivid description of US legislators in thrall to business interests, a theme echoed in the New York Times by Thomas Friedman. Continue reading

Robin Hood Taxes: Can the G20 remain blind, deaf and mute?

The global financial transaction tax (FTT) is a key proposal that civil society is campaigning for at the G20 Cannes Summit. It has the potential to raise billions of dollars to support goals of more just world – not just the minimalist MDGs but long-term sustained action to address the climate and economic crises currently gripping the world.  Yet, will the G20 step up to the plate to make this happen? Continue reading

A Moral Voice for the Belarus Cause: The meaning of the Ales Bialiatski trial

The trial of Belarusian human rights defender and prominent civil society leader Ales Bialiatski is slated to begin on 2 November in Minsk. It has the potential to ignite the fight for freedom in Belarus,  but only with  more creative coordination and long-term planning by international civil society.

Belarusian human rights defender and FIDH Vice President Ales Bialiatski’s August arrest on tax evasion charges and his subsequent two month detention represents the untold scandal de jure of the EU fringe and the reality of a continent torn between vibrant inclusive democracies at one end of the spectrum and on the other, authoritarian regimes presided over by macho oligarchs. Consequently, as events surrounding the impending 2 November trial of Belarus’s most prominent civil society leader reach a head, a moment emerges in which Belarus could become a true cause. Continue reading

It’s time to Make Aid Transparent

CIVICUS, along with 98 organisations from all over the world, is calling on governments to publish more information about the aid they give. The campaign, Make Aid Transparent, will culminate in just 4 weeks’ time at a high level meeting on Aid Effectiveness in Korea where we will be demanding that governments redouble efforts to meet their aid transparency promises. Continue reading