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Flash

December 21, 2007

Headlines

  1. Colombia: a test case for Canada's 'principled' role in the Americas: The negotiation of bilateral trade deals is a key element in the Canadian Government's new "Americas Strategy". An example, under negotiation, is the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia, a country that Human Rights Watch calls "the worst humanitarian and human rights crisis" in the Hemisphere. CCIC and a number of other CSOs with an interest in human rights and development in Colombia and elsewhere in the South argue that this is the wrong deal with the wrong country. A commentary by CCIC's Senior Trade Analyst, Gauri Sreenivasan makes the case for putting a stop to the current negotiations. See the full commentary at: www.ccic.ca/e/docs/004_commentary_2007-11_colombia.pdf (in French: www.ccic.ca/f/docs/004_commentary_2007-11_colombia.pdf)

  2. Human Rights Groups Challenge Canadian Government's Assertions on Colombia - Point to Ongoing Rights Violations: Concern over Canada's determination to sign a trade deal with Colombia continues to grow. Human rights groups and Parliamentarians recently turned up the heat. Amnesty International has written to the Minister of International Trade, David Emerson, challenging his assertion before Commons Committee on International Trade that the human rights situation in Colombia is improving (letter). Emerson defended negotiating a trade deal with Colombia, despite that country's failure to address serious human rights abuses. Amnesty is calling for an independent human rights impact assessment before any trade deal is signed. A strong letter to Prime Minister Harper from Human Rights Watch makes the same case (letter). It argues that "many now understandably believe that Canada does not care about Colombia's record on Human Rights as it is apparently willing to do business as usual with the country regardless of the plight of its workers and the influence of its murderous paramilitaries". Members of Parliament from the Liberal, Bloc Quebecois and NDP, raised related questions in the House of Commons this month. 2007 will be remembered by some as the year "Canada drifted closer to the Bush administration", on Colombia and other key foreign policy areas. 2008 can be different - Add your voice to the 5,000 Canadians who have already sent letters to their Members of Parliament about this issue through the following organizations: Make Poverty History: www.makepovertyhistory.ca/e/colombia/, KAIROS: www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/takeaction/071115, Canadian Labour Congress: http://action.clc-ctc.ca/colombia_freetrade, Amnesty International : www.amnesty.ca/.

  3. Amnesty Issues Updated Human Rights Agenda for Canada: "There is a sense that Canada is moving away from its total commitment to multilateralism and is now, I think, advancing other forms of either national or regional alliances… Canada has to work very hard to maintain what historically has been the perception internationally that it's a consensus builder and that it's a valid interlocutor to all." This quote from an October speech in Ottawa by Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, leads Amnesty's December update, "Canada and the International Protection of Human Rights: An Erosion of Leadership?". A number of developments over the past two years lead Amnesty to ask whether Canada's position as a global human rights champion is slipping. Those include Canada's approach to the human rights of Indigenous Peoples, to strengthening the UN human rights system, to the death penalty, and to raising concerns about human rights violations in other countries. The report stresses how important Canada's leadership has been to the cause of global human rights protection. But it highlights recent political decisions that have resulted in a failure of that crucial human rights leadership. See the report at: www.amnesty.ca/amnestynews/upload/Human_Rights_Agenda_2007.pdf.

  4. CCIC Tells Manley Panel Canada's Whole-of-Government Approach in Afghanistan Hurts Development and Peace-Building: Canada's "integrated" approach encompassing development, diplomacy, defence (and other departments) has had adverse effects on development assistance and peace-building in Afghanistan. The 3-D approach has elevated the military component to the neglect of development and diplomatic efforts. Worse still, it has served to militarize peace-building and humanitarian and development assistance. The last two years have seen an increasing shift towards putting security first, on the assumption that development will follow. Security is indeed important, but cannot come at the expense of development and diplomatic efforts. The four options the government presents to the panel for review reveal how the whole-of-government approach fails to give adequate attention to humanitarian, development, and diplomatic considerations. A military effort alone cannot guarantee security. The CCIC submission explores how the whole-of-government approach constrains development and peace-building on the ground. It makes the case for a fundamental re-orientation of Canada's role that enables CIDA and DFAIT, as the development and diplomatic arms of Canadian international policy, to play stronger roles in Canada's engagements in Afghanistan. It calls for an approach that clearly differentiates between development, diplomatic, and military functions in policy and in practice. For the full submission: www.ccic.ca/e/docs/002_humanitarian_2007-12_ccic_submission.pdf  (in French: www.ccic.ca/f/docs/002_humanitarian_2007-12_ccic_submission.pdf

  5. CCIC and Other CSOs Sign Open Letter to Canada's Environment Minister on Climate Change and Development: Canadian CSOs were very active in efforts to overcome Canada's resistance to setting hard and effective targets for carbon emissions reduction at the recent UN conference in Bali, Indonesia. While the government toed the US line through much of the conference, the pressure from Canadians finally paid off on the last day of negotiations when Canada found itself isolated by other Kyoto signatories and retreated from its earlier opposition to new targets for reductions in 2020. In an open letter to Environment Minister John Baird, prior to the talks in Bali, leading humanitarian, development and environmental organizations called on Canada's government to change its policies on global warming and to do its fair share in preventing dangerous climate change. See the letter to John Baird on the Oxfam Canada website at: www.oxfam.ca/news-and-publications/news/open-letter-to-the-environment-minister-on-climate-change-and-development. The letter also calls on Canada to increase its commitment to funding adaptation to climate change on the part of those communities and populations most vulnerable to climate change. Oxfam has produced a Graph of Climate Injustice, which plots the per capita carbon emissions in the richest and poorest countries against their respective incomes, and clearly shows that responsibility for emissions and ability to pay lies firmly with the richest countries. You can access the Graph at: www.oxfam.ca/news-and-publications/pressroom/injustice-a4.pdf

  6. North/South CSOs Call for Bali Mandate on Global Economic and Energy Transitions: The International Forum on Globalization, a network of CSOs in North and South challenging the impacts of globalization, has set out the essential elements of a new architecture designed to solve a complex of inter-related ecological crises, including, among other things, the end of cheap energy, species extinction, scarcity of fresh water, and the collapse of the fisheries, forests and other natural resources (www.ifg.org/pdf/Bali_climate_change.pdf) . The groups say they "support movements toward subsidiarity that shift power away from global and national governance, and towards local economies, especially energy and food systems." For more information, visit the Institute for Policy Studies at
    www.ips-dc.org, or the International Forum on Globalization at www.ifg.org.

  7. The Changing Face of Global Development Finance - Conference, Feb. 1&2, 2008 in Ottawa: The Halifax Initiative is organizing a conference, co-hosted by CCIC, the North-South Institute, and the Reality of Aid Network, entitled "The Changing Face of Global Development Finance - Impacts and implications for aid, development, the South and the Bretton Woods Institutions". The conference will consider the changing roles and relevance of the IMF and World Bank, southern initiatives to create independent sources of development finance (such as the Bank of the South), the impact of new actors (such as China in Africa), innovative sources of finance, what is missing from current discussions on aid effectiveness, and moving beyond the aid box. It will feature presentations from southern experts in these fields. Space is limited, so register early. For the conference web page visit: www.halifaxinitiative.org/index.php/current_events/1071. A conference agenda is also available at: www.halifaxinitiative.org/updir/ConferenceAgendaGDF.doc. To register, visit: www.halifaxinitiative.org/Action_Alerts/conference.php?language=en.

  8. Gender and Poverty - Latest Issue of the International Poverty Centre's Periodical, "Poverty in Focus", Devoted to Gender Equality: This issue of IPC's journal Poverty in Focus presents a dozen articles summarizing some of the most important recent research results and commentaries on the links between gender and poverty. Reducing gender inequality promises significant returns; empowering women by improving their living conditions and enabling them to actively participate in the social and economic life of a country may well be the key for long-term sustainable development. This collection of articles should contribute to a better understanding of the importance of recognizing the crucial role of gender inequalities as barriers to economic and social development, and thus of undertaking policy and institutional reforms that will more effectively reduce poverty and social injustice. Available online at: www.undp-povertycentre.org/pub/IPCPovertyInFocus13.pdf.

  9. Gender and Humanitarian Assistance Workshop, Toronto, January 10, 2008: The workshop is organized by PAGER, a network of Canadian humanitarian agencies. The overall goal of the workshop is to provide participants with; 1). A better understanding of the issues of gender in emergencies, 2). An overview of existing resources and frameworks, and 3). Ideas for implementation. For a registration form, please contact Madina Aliberdieva, FOCUS at: madina.aliberdieva@focushumanitarian.org.

  10. Outcome Mapping Training Workshop, 6-8 March, 2008 in Ottawa: Outcome Mapping is described as "a practical, flexible and participatory approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation". First introduced by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in 2000, Outcome Mapping (OM) has been used in projects, programs and organizations around the world. A growing body of donor agencies, NGOs and monitoring and evaluation professionals are adopting OM because it helps them address issues that other, more traditional methods do not consider. Outcome Mapping is also on the agenda of the CCIC Leadership Forum (January 17,18, 2008). The course methodology will embody the participatory values that are at the core of OM, combining theory with group discussion, individual reflection, small group practice and case studies. Course materials include a training manual, CD-ROM containing OM information in three languages (English, French and Spanish), and the book Outcome Mapping: Building Learning and Reflection in to Development Programs by S. Earl, F. Carden and T. Smutylo. The workshop will be held at Oxfam Canada in Ottawa (250 City Centre Ave., Suite 400), March 6-8, 2008, 9 am - 5 pm. Cost: $600 per person, $450 per person for not-for-profit organizations. For more information, or to register, contact: Heidi Schaeffer at heidis@xplornet.com.

  11. World Federalist Movement Presses for a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA): While governments and aid organizations promote democratic governance in other countries, the World Federalist Movement says they ignore the democratic deficit in governance at the global level. So the WFM launched an international grassroots campaign to strengthen citizens' representation at the United Nations earlier this year. The UNPA campaign aims to build support for a parliamentary advisory body at the UN that gradually transitions into a world parliament. This would be similar to the evolution of the European Parliament that now has co-decision powers at the European Union and has members elected by over 490 million voters. The World Federalist Movement-Canada is the Canadian focal point in this effort. It is seeking both individual and organizational endorsers. For more information or to endorse the proposal on-line go to: www.unpacampaign.org.

  12. Reminder - Film Screening: "Undermined: Communities, Consultation and Corporate Accountability in Guyana": The Ontario Council for International Cooperation (OCIC) helped to fund the production of this short video by two first-time filmmakers from Ottawa. The 35-minute documentary profiles the perspectives of eight Amerindians from Guyana, South America, about issues relating to mining-in particular, the issue of community consultation and the activities of Canadian mining companies operating in the country's interior, where numerous land claims remain unresolved. The Ottawa premiere of the documentary will take place at the National Library & Archives on January 9th, 2008 from 7.00-9.00 pm. The screening will be followed by presentations from invited speakers and a public discussion on topics related to the film. Admission is free. For more information, please contact Emily Wilson or Brent Parker at info@undermined.ca or check the website for news and updates at www.undermined.ca.

Ethics in a Flash

  1. Ethics Committee Opportunity: Are you interested in joining the CCIC Ethics Review Committee? The committee's role is to assist the CCIC membership to meet the Code of Ethics standards and to aspire to higher levels of ethical practice? CCIC is seeking nominations to fill one vacancy on the Committee. The nominee must be from within the CCIC membership and could be a board member, staff person, or a volunteer. The person is not expected to be an expert in ethics programs, but will be expected to bring an understanding of development practice and the realities of member organizations' experiences. For further information please contact Anne Buchanan at (613) 241-7007 ext 315 or e-mail abuchanan@ccic.ca. Nominations accepted until January 16, 2005.
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