A United Nations independent expert on 19 September 2014 called on Member States to do more to protect older people affected by dementia from stigmatization, discrimination, victimization and neglect.
“The voices of older people and those who look after them need to be heard in a meaningful way,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.*
Speaking ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day, marked annually on 21 September, Kornfeld-Matte called for concerted action to ensure that older persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can fully enjoy their human rights in all circumstances. “The whole of society shares responsibility for the welfare of older persons with dementia and is called upon to find comprehensive solutions,” the UN expert said.
The UN’s top human rights official on 19 September 2014 urged Egypt and other North African and European States to help bring to justice the people smugglers who allegedly deliberately sank a boat causing the deaths of hundreds of refugees and migrants in last week’s “truly horrendous incident” in the Mediterranean.
Syrian refugees are rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, but others are not so fortunate. Photo: UNHCR/A. D’Amato
“It is the duty of States to investigate such atrocious crimes, bring the perpetrators to justice, and even more importantly to do more to prevent them from happening in the first place,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a press release issued in Geneva.*
“All the countries in the Mediterranean must make a concerted effort to clamp down on the smugglers who are exploiting one of the most vulnerable groups on the planet and endangering their lives, virtually on a daily basis, purely for financial gain,” he said.
The voices of indigenous peoples must be effectively heard and they must be consulted on issues that affect them, including rights to land and resources, the United Nations Human Rights Council heard on 17 September 2014.
Indigenous people in Totonicapán, Guatemala. Photo: OHCHR/Rolando Alfaro
“Although there is, at both the international and domestic levels, a strong legal and policy foundation upon which to move forward with the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, there are still numerous obstacles preventing indigenous peoples from fully enjoying their human rights,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.*
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries who constitute 15 per cent of the world’s poor and about one third of the 900 million extremely poor rural people. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on 18 September 2014 warned that it is running out of funds to provide food for almost 6 million Syrians receiving its life-saving assistance. WFP has “reached a critical point where drastic cutbacks are unavoidable,” according to a statement on the Programme’s website.
Cooking oil shown at a WFP distribution centre in Syria. Photo: WFP/Dina Elkassaby
The agency says that it needs $352 million for its operations until the end of the year, including $95 million for its work inside Syria, and $257 million to support refugees in neighboring countries.*
Unless more funds come in, starting in October, the size of the Syria food parcel will be reduced and in neighbouring countries the number of refugees receiving food or vouchers will be cut.
Despite improvements in the lives of millions of people around the world, the United Nations on 18 September 2014 reported that persistent gaps between promises made and those delivered by developed countries are holding back greater progress on reaching the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the end of 2015.
Recent statistics show that many MDG targets are already met, such as increasing access to improved drinking water sources. Photo: World Bank/Curt Carnemark
“I call on all Governments and international institutions to continue strengthening the global partnership for development so that we can usher in a more sustainable future,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on the launch of the new report.*
Education can save lives, help reach sustainable development goals, says the United Nations. Nevertheless, some 125 million school children around the world are unable to read a single sentence, even after four years of attendance.
A student in a classroom in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photo: World Bank/Alfredo Srur
If all women in poor countries completed primary education, child mortality would drop by one-sixth saving almost one million lives, the United Nations educational agency on 18 September 2014 reported* highlighting the links between schooling and achieving a new set of sustainable development targets.*
Interview with anthropologist and social scientist Ariel James*, by Baher Kamal
Science has advanced so much that we can split the atom, manipulate the genetic code, and produce synthetic cells. However, contemporary science has not fully understood how the brain works, and above all, how do work our senses of identity, consciousness and morality.
Currently there is a debate about the way in which the brain is responsible to organize our moral sentiments and value judgments.
Human Wrongs Watch interviewed Ariel James, anthropologist and a researcher in the field of moral cognition who is dedicated to investigating if we are moral beings by nature or just a byproduct of cultural learning. James is the author of the recent essay “The Meaning of Moral Faculty”(2014), which investigates how and why human beings have a strong sense for justice, cooperation and solidarity.