Ethical dimensions of climate change /de ethische kant van klimaatsverandering

The Baha’i International Community launched its appeal to the world leaders on the moral and ethical implications of climate change. This appeal is supported by 23 other organizations and its launch date coincided with a High Level meeting at the UN in New York.

This is the text of the appeal:

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, leaders of the world’s religions, and other members of civil society, urge the governments of the world to participate in the UN High Level Event on Climate Change through representatives at the highest level and unequivocally call on them to:

Consider deeply the ethical and moral questions at the root of the climate change crisis—questions of justice and equity that will determine the survival of cultures, ecosystems, and present as well as future generations;

Recognize that the quest for climate justice is not a competition for limited resources but part of an unfolding process towards greater degrees of unity among nations as they endeavor to build a sustainable, just and peaceful civilization;

Distinguish their contributions to this High-Level Event by demonstrating trust, justice, solidarity, and a vision of prosperity for the most vulnerable populations;

Demonstrate courage and moral leadership as they articulate the vision and secure the foundations for a comprehensive and legally binding agreement during the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in December 2009; and

Ensure that commitments in all arenas of the climate change challenge are guided by ethical and moral considerations so as to inspire the trust and confidence of individuals, communities and institutions to effect the changes needed to build a sustainable civilization.

We call on the gathered leaders to summon the same spirit and sense of urgency that led to the creation of the United Nations, to forge a climate change agreement worthy of the trust of humankind.


International Day of Peace / Internationale Dag van de Vrede

When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

These wise words are from Abdu’l-Baha in ‘Paris Talks’. He also says:

If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and   positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men. Do not despair! Work steadily. Sincerity and love will conquer hate.

All very appropriate for the International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September. This UN Day is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. It is a time to reflect on the horror and cost of war and the benefits of peacefully resolving our disputes. This year it focusses on the important issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

How fitting then that the Operation Market Garden (WW2) was commemorated around Nijmegen-Arnhem in the Netherlands this weekend. And how do I know? I was born in Nijmegen, so this has always been part of my history knowledge. Besides we often visited the different war cemeteries in the area.

Oh, and can someone explain why white doves are considered peace doves? Have you ever fed several of them at the same time? I  can tell you from experience that there surely is no peace at feeding time amongst them!




An update of my activities seems long overdue. So, what’s kept me busy the last few weeks? First of all a very successful (1st ever in England) residential cluster school near Durham over the August Bank holiday weekend. I still need to pull together a final report, but that’ll happen soon.

Last week, with a UN nomination deadline looming, I managed to sort out nominations for 4 women to attend different Regional Implementation Meetings (RIMs). These women will get their trips funded by the UN. RIMs are preparation meetings for next year’s 18th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The nominations have come via the 3 Organising Parties for the Women’s Caucus. The Baha’i International Community (BIC) proposed a Baha’i from Brazil, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF) proposed women from Russia and Indonesia (both winners of the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize), and Voices of African Mothers (VAM) proposed someone from Ghana. Unfortunately we’ve been unable, so far, to find a suitable candidate from the Western Asia region.

The next thing on the list writing a guideline on the structure of the discussion paper needed by the end of November. Hopefully with this guideline, we can split the topics (chemicals, hazardous waste management, transport, mining, and the 10-year review on sustainable consumption & production) between BIC, WECF and VAM. Each topic needs to be covered in 1600 words which isn’t a lot!

CEDAW – rights of women / vrouwenrechten

CEDAW. Any idea what it stands for? No…..? Shame on you! Honestly. It is the most important (besides the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of course) Treaty on Human Rights for Women.

CEDAW is the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and it outlines standards for ratifying countries to meet in the treatment and rights of women.  If you want a quick overview of the facts (their Q&A is very good), check this website out.

On 1 March this year, 185 countries had ratified this Treaty. Mind you, CEDAW was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. But if you live in one of these countries (Iran, Nauru, Palau, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, USA), you should feel bad. Honestly, you should, because these 8 countries have not ratified this Treaty on basic human rights of 50% of the world’s population. It means that these 8 countries have not committed themselves to take concrete action to improve the status of women and end discrimination against them. And yes, unfortunately that does include the USA… can you imagine? The world’s biggest power at the moment is simply ignoring the human rights of all women and girls.

I’m sorry, I can’t get my head around that. I’ve less ‘trouble’ with the other countries that have not ratified this Treaty, but the US? Now, if you happen to live in the US, you can do something about that by asking your Senator to support the ratification of CEDAW.

And what can the rest of us (those not living in the US) do? Well, we can make sure that our own governments and our own actions show our commitment to this Treaty every day. After all, it affects every single one of us, whether you’re female or male.

Abdu’l-Bahá has elevated the station of women in this radiant age…..  He has taught that men and women are like the two wings of a bird, and neither is superior to the other. Girls should be educated in the same way as boys, perhaps even given preference.

(from Munirih – Memoirs and Letters, p. 85)