UU-UNO Climate Change Initiative: International Human Rights

People's Climate March
People’s Climate March in New York City

As part of our series on International Human Rights, we would like to highlight the important work of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office on Climate Change initiative.Climate change is posting an immediate and far-reaching threat to the basic elements of life for all people now and in future generations. It is time for us to avoid furthering the impacts of climate change. The UU-UNO is guided by our UU principles to respect and promote the interdependent web of existence, well being, peace and justice throughout the world. UU-UNO collaborates with other environmental agencies at the United Nations in order to promote climate change mitigation initiatives on a global scale and protect to protect our rights and those of future generations. Climate Change

On September 20, the UU-UNO helped to organize and co-sponsored The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out? event at All Souls Church, New York City. On September 21, the office members and interns participated in the inspirational People’s Climate March with over 400,000 marchers from around the world. We lifted our voices, faith and values as one to save the earth. Read more about the People’s Climate March here.

We host the UU-UNO Climate Portal, which was created by and is maintained by Dr. Jan Dash. The portal is a world-class website covering most of the wide ranging topics discussed at UN climate conferences. It contains educational information and current climate news on climate science, environmental impact, and mitigation/adaptation “what we can do” strategies, renewable energies, politics, negotiations, ethics. We updated the Lima Climate paper for the Lima Climate Conference in December focusing on sustainable strategies for adaptation and mitigation.

The UU-UNO is participating in the Commit2Respond (C2R) initiative, which is a new UU climate justice campaign to accelerate the shift to clean, renewable energy, grow the climate justice movement, and advance the rights of marginalized communities. The program development groups initiated a collaborative process of developing General Assembly workshop proposals involving C2R’s partner organizations and beyond.

The UU-UNO is facilitating the creation of networked Climate Action Teams (CATs), which are groups generating involvement in efforts together to mitigate climate change. Find more information about CATs on the UU-UNO Climate Portal and the instructions to start a CAT.

To support our continued access to the highest levels of the United Nations and to the Canadian and American governments, please donate generously to the UU-UNO.

Migration Justice: Peace, Liberty, and Justice for all at the UU-UNO

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Thursday, December 18th, 2014 is International Migrant’s Day, and the UU-UNO is celebrating by holding a special film screening on Migration Justice and reviewing its major accomplishments.

Over the past year, the UU-UNO’s efforts around Migration Justice have led us closer to our goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all .The office would like to end a year of successful human rights work by hosting a special film screening on immigration justice from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM on Thursday, December 18th, 2014.

Winner of the 2013 Cinematography Award, “Who is Dayani Cristal” will be screened on the 10th floor of the UN Church Center and is open to all that would like to attend. The event is co-sponsored by the Immigration Committee of the Unitarian Church in Westport, Peace and Justice Task Force, and the Racial Justice Initiative.

RSVP on Facebook!  (more…)

2014: A Big Year for UU-UNO’s Work on LGBT Human Rights

lbbt UNMy name is Raymond Firmalino and I am one of the UU-UNO‘s LGBT Program interns. As part of our blog series on International Human Rights Day, I on behalf of the  UU-UNO will highlight our work this year on one of the most pressing issues of our time: the plight of lesbian, gay, lesbian, and transgender (LGBT) people.

The current situation is dire. Many LGBT people around the world endure brutal acts of violence; are denied opportunities to work, learn and receive healthcare; and must flee their countries–all because of who they are. In some 80 countries it is illegal to be gay or to be suspected of it. Consequently, many LGBT people are excluded from the full measure of human rights.

We raised this issue repeatedly at the United Nations. This past summer, the UU-UNO participated in the UN Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, a policy process in which member states, major groups and civil society developed international development goals for 2015 and beyond. The UU-UNO proposed policies that promote and protect LGBT human rights, and was the only NGO at the UN’s proceedings to do so. (more…)

UU-UNO Spring Seminars: International Human Rights

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As part of the human rights advocacy work of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, we host an annual Intergenerational Spring Seminar, where youth and adults from around North America come together to spend three days in New York City learning about an issue of global concern.

The seminar works to help our participants find themselves in the global U/U story with regards to international human rights. Each year focuses on a different human rights theme. Past themes have included women’s rights, poverty, HIV, human trafficking, peacekeeping, climate change, and race and immigration.

The annual spring seminar is a major program of the office that brings together all UN-office interns, staff, and an inter-generational planning committee across and outside UU congregations to collaborate on the planning of the amazing program. (more…)

UU-UNO Women’s Initiative in Light of International Human Rights Day

CSW59 Image Retrieved from UN Women

My name is Nazli, and I am the Women’s Initiative intern here at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO). As part of our series of posts on International Human Rights Day, I will uncover the works and efforts of the UU-UNO on or referring to international women’s rights issues.

Here, at the UU-UNO, our focus is to incorporate Unitarian Universalist (UU) principles along with the values of the United Nations (UN) into our efforts advocating collective fair treatment and global civil liberties. Guided by UU principles, the mission of the organization is to recognize and encourage the inherent worth and dignity of all living things.

The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office staff and interns work hard on a number of varying programs that encompass universal unalienable rights and social justice violations, one of them being the Women’s Initiative.

The Women’s Initiative program, concentrates on various aspects of human rights violations against women and girls. As an Intern of UU-UNO, I have been privileged to have the opportunity not only to work on a project where I can offer my own unique ideas and perspectives, but also design and propose panel discussions for events pertaining to UU-UNO and the UN. (more…)

International Human Rights Day at the UU-UNO

130408 Ban Ki-moon bij Timmermans 1990 by Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   Adapted from original image by Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken 

Every year on December 10th, the world observes International Human Rights Day. Since 1950, this has been an occasion for people around the world to acknowledge and celebrate the fundamental rights that we all share as human beings. This year’s International Human Rights Day is focused around the idea that every day is Human Rights Day – and at the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO), this is certainly the case.

United Nations Headquarters in New York City
United Nations Headquarters in New York City

Unitarian Universalists are proud to be leaders in action for social justice around the country and around the world. As in our daily lives we strive to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, each day at the United Nations the UU-UNO strives to affirm and promote every person’s human rights on the international stage.

The UU-UNO participates in meetings, conferences, and committees at the United Nations with key UN bodies such as Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the World Bank to discuss with them how they can act in the interest of creating a world community that is accepting, just, and compassionate.

Keynote panel with at the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber
Seminar keynote panel in the UN Trusteeship Council Chamber

As a leader in the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on Disarmament, Peace, and Security, the UU office works with other NGOs and UN member nations to create policies for a peaceful, free, and just world. The UU-UNO also takes a leading role in the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development, the NGO Committee on Human Rights, the NGO Security Council Working Group, the Faith and Ethics Network for the International Criminal Court, and the NGO/DPI Executive Committee.

Today on International Human Rights Day, we should all take the time to reflect on how we as individuals can advocate for our own rights and the rights of others. Over the course of the next week, the UU-UNO will be sharing more about how the work that it does at the UN is important for upholding international human rights and Unitarian Universalist values. Stay tuned!

To support our continued access to the highest levels of the United Nations and to the Canadian and American governments, please donate generously to the UU-UNO.

 

A Recap of the International Human Rights Work at the UU-UNO in 2014

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December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Guided by our principles, Unitarian Universalists are called to advocate for international human rights; to be a voice for the voiceless by promoting the inherent worth and dignity of all living things. Our Unitarian Universalists United Nations Office is the UU voice to the United Nations. I would like to share with you all of the important accomplishments of our office in 2014.

High Level Consultations

The UU-UNO’s reputation has grown over the past few years, to the point where we are consulted and asked to speak at very influential forums. Over the course of 2014, we have been invited to speak and consult with the: Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development on human rights including religious freedom, women’s rights and sexual orientation and gender identity human rights. These consultations included staff from the Office of the Prime Minister. We enjoy a close working relationship with Amnesty International’s UN Office, and their offices in Canada and the United Kingdom.    1

We have been asked to join a consultative group at the United States Department of State that pulls together faith-based leaders to advise the State Department on the areas of Social Justice, Development, Peace and Conflict Resolution. We have played an important role on the Social Justice subcommittee which has focused on sexual orientation and gender identity human rights. (more…)

UU-UNO Fall Fundraiser 2014

 

Terry Sweetser

The Unitarian Universalists United Nations Office  held its third Annual Fall Fundraiser on November 5th, 2014, at the Fourth Unitarian Universalist Society. An enchanting architectural structure located in the Upper West Side of NYC, with a Central Park view and a rustic feeling. Upon entering the beautifully lit 4th U in the heart of New York City, guests were greeted with subtle hues of orange and green, candle-lit tables, the soft melody of a grand piano, and high-rising, angular arches coalescing into the lofty ceiling looming above. The event honored Reverend Terry Sweetser for his efforts and accomplishments within UU communities, along with his support of the varying human rights issues targeted by UU-UNO. He highlighted the importance of supporting our young people and congratulated them on their lifelong UU (or “cradle UU”) status. The applause was strong and supportive for the two young ladies he invited to stand – “this is why we do this” – he said, the important work of supporting our young UU’s and their passion for putting their faith in action. (more…)

UU United Nations Office: Join Us for Our Fall Fundraiser!

This November, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office invites you to be part of its fall fundraiser: “Celebrating the Inter-Connected Web of Life.”

Featuring a silent auction, food, music, and more, the event will honor Rev. Terry Sweetser for his instrumental role in uniting the UUA and UU-UNO; all are welcome!

If you’re not close in proximity to the NYC area but are close to this invaluable work in spirit, please consider donating an item to the silent auction! Each item donated goes a long way in support and celebration of Unitarian Universalist values represented at the United Nations and in engaging congregations in the world-shaping work of the UN.

Details

The event will take place Wednesday, November 5th from 6:00PM – 9:00PM at Fourth Universalist Society located at 160 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023.

Get Involved

  • Tickets –  Each ticket is $50.00 and can be purchased online
  • Donate – Have an item or service that you’d like to donate, for use in our live and/or silent auctions?
  • Sponsor – Sponsor a prospective Fall Fundraiser attendee!
  • Volunteer – Interested in volunteering your time? We are always looking for extra help to make this evening a great success!
  • Share – Share the Fall Fundraiser invite with your friends, family and local congregation. RSVP via Facebook and invite your friends!

If you are interested in donating, sponsoring or volunteering, please get in touch!

The People’s Climate March

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UU-UN Office reflections from the historic People’s Climate March Sunday September 20, 2014.

 

 

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 “The People’s Climate March on September 21st, 2014 brought together people of all identities from around the world.  What struck me the most about this march was the boundless positive energy throughout the march.  We all saw the humanity in one another, we were connected spiritually and emotionally, and we moved as one strong body. The UU-UNO participated in the march held in New York City and thanks to screens set-up throughout the march we were able to see marches in other countries.  Many international participants in the NYC march wore the flag of their country proudly.  Humans working solidarity around the world as global citizens and participants of this movement.  What an energizing and inspirational time in history that will be talked about for years to come! We came together, calling attention climate change and climate justice – we need to take action now.  We sang, we danced, we chanted, we meditated, we lifted our voices and we were present in intentional international community for the good of the globe.”

– Kamila Jacob, Envoy Coordinator

 

“From the powerful signs like “I can’t walk on water!”, to the march and people on the sidewalk cheering, clapping and singing to each other, an incredible force of spiritual empowerment has risen along Central Park West on Sunday, September 21. This is a historic day to be remembered, where over 400,000 people joined the People’s Climate March in New York City.

 

rayInspired by each other, people picked up the yellow sign distributed on the street that writes: Another ___ for people’s climate. So, there we went, another “Buddhist”, another  “bike rider”, another “hot lesbian”…The collective empowerment doesn’t stop at people’s creativity in the various ways they identify themselves. The empowerment is tremendously diversified and widely disseminated through collaboration among different people and different groups.

 

There was one moment when the host asks us to connect our spirit with the ones standing next to us. Our office intern, Kira, reached out to the two people sitting on the ground in front of her, and connected with their hands against hers. Public voices take place in so many different forms that is built on one another’s ideas and power. By gaining affirmation and collaboration from hundreds of thousands of people, we will be able to heal the world like we never have before. After all, this world belongs to all of us!”

– Danning, Intern

 

“To me, being part of the march meant to explore what it means for me to be a woman. I joined 400,000 other individuals from every part of the world to march in solidarity with mother nature. I find it no coincidence that mother nature is being abused in exploited by what I deem our misogynistic global community.”

– Bri, Intern

 

“It was truly an amazing experience to be part of something so historic. The collective energy was so invigorating and powerful. I believe the best way to get someone to hear what you have to say is by showing up and saying it, and boy did we. Over 400,000 global citizens came together to get our message across and I don’t see how our world leaders and policy makers can ignore the message shared yesterday. Not only from the people in New York City but from marches all around the world. I felt truly spiritually connected to everyone there, just being people of the earth. One other thing that stuck out to me was the fact that not one arrest was made. I feel like this spoke to the overwhelming positive energy behind the commitment, focus, and message of the people.”

– Kira, Intern

 

“The empowering and inspiring march united 400,000 people with a message for world leaders on climate change. At the starting point near Columbus Circle, many marchers held signs with a variety of powerful words: “There Is No Planet B”, “Preserve Our Fossil Carbon”, “Solutions Exist”, “Respect for the interdependent Web of All Existence of Which We Are a Part” and “Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy”. Marchers expressed their thoughts and souls in order to let their voices be heard by all the people living on the motherland. Different appeals rising in the demonstrators include clean water and air, green forest, less carbon emission, global warming, new alternative energy instead of fossil fuels, etc, which inspired people on the street to join the march. People hold the same strong faith and beliefs that we need to save the earth and we can do it through the collaboration among diverse organizations, ethnic groups, races and ages. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to get involved in this historic and memorable event with other awesome marchers. I believe every major social movement can be achieved when people get together.”

– Meng, Intern             kira

 

“Marching in the People’s Climate March was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life.  I have never participated in an event of that magnitude.

I was not only impressed by the sheer volume of people, but our commitment to fighting for a more just and sustainable way of life. That commitment was evidenced in the hours and hours people waited to march. In the miles that people with disabilities covered, despite their physical limitations. In the countless signs people made. And in the myriad other ways we expressed our shared concern for the only place we call home.

I was especially pleased that the Climate March organizers purposely placed Indigenous communities in the front of the march, in order to highlight in the plight of these communities. These peoples are on front lines of climate change now, so it was appropriate for them to lead from the front of the march. They bear the brunt of climate change, as their way of life is threatened by increasing frequency of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, droughts, increasing water shortages, and the spread of tropical-born diseases. Out of all of us marching yesterday, it is these communities whose circumstances are the most dire, and I was grateful that they were front and center.

At the Climate March, I heard calls to action, languages I did not know, chanting, the drums of indigenous tribes, singing, and laughter. I felt proud to be unified with my brothers and sisters for a cause that is bigger than all of us. But I also felt the weight of the issue at hand. As Chris Hedges said recently: “It is both an obligation and a privilege to be around right now.” Indeed, I am inspired by the Climate March. But I also feel the immense obligation to do my part to secure this earth for us and for future generations.”

-Raymond, Intern

 

To learn more about our work to combat climate change, visit our UU-UNO webpage, the Climate Portal and the UUA Commit2Respond initiative. For more photos from the People’s Climate March, visit our Facebook page.