Dear friends,

We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

Do you want to collaborate with us? You can apply for an internship at the IIMA Human Rights Office. Click here!

Have a great time reading!


10 December 2012, Human Rights Day

On 10 December we celebrated the International Human Rights Day. 
The date was chosen to remember the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948 in Paris. The Declaration was the first universal enunciation of human rights which posed the basis for the development of human rights globally.


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - 25 November

In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an occasion for governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness on violence against women. 


International day of the Child

(ANS – Rome) - On the occasion of the World Day for Prayer and Action for Children around the world the Rector Major invites every Salesian community in the world to strengthen its commitment to promoting and safeguarding the right of every child in the world to be registered at birth.
My dear brothers and sisters, Salesians, Salesian Sisters,  members of the Salesian Family, young people involved in volunteer movements.


International Children's Day

Today, 20 November, we celebrate worldwide the International Children's Day , the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Adolescent (CRC), 1989.


“Offering our lives to promote life” - XXV Anniversary of VIDES International

Young people gathering from all over the world under the flags of 34 countries, the sharing of concrete experiences in the field, and the joy to be together to discover again and re-read through today reality the mission of VIDES. These were the ingredients for the success of the  X International Conference of VIDES (International Volunteerism Organization for Women, Education and Development) under the title “Recall, Rejoice, Renew”, which took place from November 1st to 4th, in Trevi (Italy).  Almost 200 hundreds VIDES volunteers and Salesian Sisters met to share their work on the ground, as well as to renew their   commitment with the society through the Salesian Charisma and the youth leadership. 


The IIMA Human Rights Office has new logo

Let us introduce our new logo on this blog.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

Today October 17th we celebrate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed every year since 1993, when the General Assembly, by resolution 47/196, designated this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries - a need that has become a development priority.


The first International Day of the Girl Child and The Global Launch of “Because I am a Girl” Campaign

On 11th October 2012, the first international day of the girl child was designated by the United Nations to encourage global action on girls’ rights. On this occasion, PLAN International (http://plan-international.org/) launched its global campaign “Because I am a Girl (BIAAG)” to ensure to millions of girls the access to education and other basic services, livelihood, participation and protection. The event “BIIAG” was sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Canada, Finland, Peru, Switzerland and Turkey. 


IIMA at the high-level panel on the occasion of the 10th International Day against the Death Penalty

On the 10th of October, the European Union together with the delegations of Mexico, Mongolia and Switzerland organized at the UN in Geneva a high-level panel discussion gathering UN experts, activists, politicians, and members of victims' families from all over the world. The aim was to reflect together on the issue, highlighting the progresses made, the experience gained and the challenges remaining for abolition and restriction of the use of death penalty.

Conference on Female Genital Mutilation at the United Nations in Geneva.

On 10th October IIMA participated in a panel organized by the Global Alliance against FGM on the most effective approaches for a successful fight against genital mutilation of babies, girls and women.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as "all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. 


Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considers the report of Togo

The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) discussed the situation of women in Togo during its fifty-third session (1 - 19 October 2012).

During the discussion with the national delegation of Togo, the Committee pointed out controversial subjects such as polygamy, the low rate of women’s political participation, early marriage, early pregnancy, the situation of women in rural area and women with disabilities. The delegation of Togo emphasized the efforts made by the government to promote the rights of women, including the adoption of a new legislation related to quotas for women’s participation in the field of agriculture and in security forces, as well as the improvement of health and education policies targeting women’s problems. It also asked the Committee for support and assistance.


Meeting with Patrizia Scannella from Amnesty International

On October 2nd 2012, Ms. Patrizia Scannella from Amnesty International office in Geneva met the staff of IIMA Human Rights Office, in order to share best practices and main challenges experienced during her advocacy work in Geneva.  In particular, she presented Amnesty International and its commitment for the protection of human rights in 80 countries worldwide. She focused on the support offered to the Special Procedures, through the preparation of documentation, organization of meetings with NGOs in the field, and advocacy work to ensure that main concerns raised are included in the reports of the Special Rapporteurs.

International Day of Non-Violence

In 1869 was born Mahatma Gandhi. 
October 2 is the International Day of Non-Violence


The UN Human Right Council concludes the work of the 21st Ordinary Session

On 28th of September the Human Rights Council concluded the 21st regular session adopting 33 resolutions on a wide range of issues of undeniable social, judicial and political relevance.

Under the Agenda Item 3 (on the Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development) the Council adopted 20 Resolutions, among which the most important are on the protection of human rights of indigenous peoples, on the fight against maternal mortality and morbidity and human rights, on the implementation of the right to truth, on regulation of the use of mercenaries, on the dissemination of the Guiding Principles on transnational enterprises, on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, and human rights and international solidarity. 


IIMA and VIDES International give voice to young people at the United Nations in Geneva.

During the week of 17-22 September, at the XXI Session of the Human Rights Council,  the International Institute of the Daughters of Maria Ausiliatrice (Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco) and VIDES International presented four oral statements during the discussion of item 6 related to the adoption of the Universal Periodic Revsion (UPR) reports on Ecuador, Brazil, Poland and South Africa. 


HRC interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

On the 17th of September, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic.                                       Mr. Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry, expressed concern that the violations of human rights are committed in Syria by both parties: Government forces and anti-Government armed groups. Therefore, he stated that, in compliance with International Criminal Law, perpetrators should be held responsible for such violations and the Commission should recommend that the Council forward its report to the Security Council. 


International solidarity and human rights: Meeting between the Independent Expert and Civil Society

An Informal consultation between the Independent Expert on International Solidarity and Human Rights and civil society was held on Friday, September 14th at Palais des Nations. The first panelist, H.E. Msgr. Silvano M. Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See highlighted the importance of solidarity as key notion in the social doctrine as well as in human rights system. He also stated that the concept of solidarity has been devalued: “Solidarity must generate a moral and not only a legal obligation”

Panel discussion on the issue of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who cooperate or have cooperated with the UN.

On the 13th September the 21st Human Rights Council held a Panel discussion on the issue of intimidation or reprisal against individuals and groups who cooperate or have cooperated with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights.
The sad coincidence is that the panel was held the day after the murdered of the U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, by Islamist gunmen who attacked the U.S. consulate in Libya.
Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, General Secretary of the UN, through a video message, expressed his concern on the issue, reporting that episodes of intimidation and reprisals against those who operate with the UN in the field of human rights have increased in the past two decades.

21st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva

On Monday September 10th the Human Rights Council opened its 21st Session, in Geneva. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, in his opening speech, encouraged the Ambassadors, Member State representatives, and NGOs to “use all our tools to shine the light of human rights everywhere”. While recalling main international issues requiring to be addressed, he mentioned his expectations for this Session, which are:


IIMA Side event on July 4th, 2012 (20th HRC session):”Haiti: two years after the earthquake”

On 4th July 2012, the Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA) organized a side event at Palais des Nations, Geneva, with the support of VIDES International. The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Haïti, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Holy See and the NGOs Platform on the Right to Education. The event focused on the current situation in Haïti, with special regards to education, and on results of the humanitarian intervention in the country after two years from the earthquake. The panel consisted of representatives of governments, UN and civil society and as such, the issue was addressed from multiple perspectives. IIMA and VIDES International, represented by Sr Dieudonne Jean Louis (IIMA) and Beltsie Abelard (VIDES), both from Haïti, presented and recommended best practices.


The Rights of Journalists

On the 21st of June, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, presented reports to the Human Rights Council focused upon protecting the rights of journalists.  Both emphasised the unacceptable worldwide level of violence against both professional and unprofessional journalists. They asserted that it was local journalists who were most vulnerable.

Poverty, Transnational corporations and national debt

On the 21st of June, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and a clustered interactive dialogue with both the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises and the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.

Discussion on the Special procedure mandate in the field of cultural rights

On the 20th of June 2012 the NGO Platform on diversity and cultural rights hosted an event on the subject of cultural rights.
The main speaker of the side event was the Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights, Ms Farida Shaheed.


Rio +20 Conference: “The future we want”

On the 22nd of June the UN conference on sustainable development, Rio +20, came to a close.
191 national delegations produced a final document entitled: “The future we want”. The document contains 283 articles which detail the commitments of the international community to global sustainable development. The document focuses in particular on green economy, which was described as: “one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development which could provide options for policy making”.


The Special Rapporteur on the right to education presented his report at the Human Rights Council

On the 19th of June, the Human Rights Councils held a clustered dialogue with Mr Kishore Singh, Special Rapporteur on the right to education. Mr Singh reported that, despite the considerable progress made in universalizing access to primary school, education remained of worrying low quality in many areas.


Aung San Suu Kyi at 101st International Labour Conference

On the 14th of June, the 101st Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) was visited by the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, General Secretary of the National League for democracy (NLD) and, since April 2012, Member of the Parliament of Republic of Union of Myanmar. Ms. Suu Kyi was visiting Europe for the first time in 24 years, most of which had been spent under house arrest since the Burmese military regime – still governing -  condemned her.

President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano at the 101st International Labour Conference

On the 13th of June Mr G. Napolitano, the Italian President, addressed the 101st International Labour Conference. He expressed great concern regarding widespread unemployment in Europe and around the world, particularly among the youth, and recalled  - through the words of the economist Federico Caffé – that labour is not only a means of production, but a primary end in itself. As such, States should consider it as a priority in public policies.


Rio+20: fears and concerns

"Simply put, participatory, accountable, non-discriminatory and empowering development is more effective, more just and ultimately more sustainable." On June 12th, 2012, prior the UN Rio +20 Conference on sustainable development, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, stated that sustainable development would not be possible without taking into account human rights.

Syria among 52 perpetrators of grave violations against children

On Tuesday the 12th of June, the UN Secretary-General published his “list of shame”, which reported 52 parties who recruit and use, kill and maim or commit sexual violence against children in addition to those who attack schools and hospitals. This included four new parties in Sudan, Yemen and Syria.


The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) examined the situation of children in Vietnam

On the 31st of May 2012 the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) examined the situation of children and the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Vietnam. The Committee drew attention to some necessary reforms in order to align domestic legislation with international standards. This included raising from 16 to 18 the age of adulthood and reforms in the field of juvenile criminal justice.

Falling Short of Child Labour Deadlines: The Experts Speak

On the 12th of June, World Day Against Child Labour, several experts released statements expressing their continued concern for children labouring to survive. According to the ILO’s Director-General Juan Somavia, 215 million children remain in child labour and over half of these in the worst forms of labour.

UN: A new online platform will measure the development efforts

New York, 6th of June 2012  4:50 PM
On Wednesday the United Nations created an online platform to measure the financial and political progress made by States towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). "From today, we have made available to all an accessible tool so that the whole world can follow the progress made by Member States towards achieving the MDGs", said Mr Ban during the informal meeting of the General Assembly organized to launch the website http://mdgsupport.un.org. This tool will be known as the "Framework for integrated implementation".


Cuba reviewed by the Committee against Torture

On the 22nd and 23rd of May the Committee Against Torture (CAT) held and interactive dialogue with a delegation from Cuba led by Rafael Pino Becquer, Deputy Attorney General of Cuba, following the submission of a national report.


Presentation of the Italian candidate for the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Woman

On 24th May IIMA and VIDES Human Rights Office’s team attended the reception by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the Office of the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva for the presentation of Ms. Bianca Pomeranzi, Italian candidate to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).


UN experts call for global financial tax to offset costs of economic crisis – 14 May 2012

Experts of the United Nations called the European Union to take the lead in promoting the adoptation of a global financial tax to offset the costs of the current economic crisis. As they see it, the actions taken so far to overcome the crisis, including varying austerity programmes, risk causing significant human rights regressions. A financial transaction tax is an alternative which does not entail these same risks.

UN Secretary General’s message for the International Day of Families

Ban Ki-moon declares support for families in need of work


The Secretary-General meets Aung San Suu Kyi

On the 1st of May, the Secretary-General met the leader of the opposing party in Myanmar, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, for the first time at her house in Yangon. Mr. Ban-Ki Moon thanked her for her commitment and perseverance towards democracy, development and human rights, affirming that she  has been “a symbol of hope for human rights for all, all around the world.” 


IIMA attends the panel on “ Humanitarian Principles in a changing world: Bridging the gap between policy and practice”

On the 26th of April, IIMA attended a panel on “Humanitarian Principles in a Changing World: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice”, organized by Caritas Internationalis. The meeting was opened by the speech of the moderator, Mr. Alistair Dutton, Humanitarian Director of Caritas Internationalis, which presented the four humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality, humanity and impartiality, recalling that September 11th was a turning point for humanitarian interventions.


IIMA participates in a NGOs informal meeting on “Youth Employment”

On the 18th of April, IIMA participated in a discussion on “Youth Employment” organized by the International Catholic Centre in Geneva (ICCG). The meeting featured Mr. Larry Kohler, member of the Executive Committee of the International Catholic Center of Geneva and former ILO officer, as well as the participation of representatives of some Catholic-based NGOs.

Director-General's Briefing with NGOs

On the 16th of April, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, invited the leaders of NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC to a briefing on the Secretary-General’s five-year action agenda. The meeting focused on the key challenges before the United Nations and the role of civil society in addressing these challenges. Mr. Ban Ki-moon's agenda consisted of five priorities: sustainable development, prevention, world safety and security, supporting nations in transition, and working with and for women and young people.

Human Happiness Must Be at the Centre of Development Measurement Tools

On the 2nd of April, 2012, the UN General Assembly convened a high-level meeting in New York to discuss how well-being and happiness can be used as parameters for measuring countries’ development, which depends not only on economic factors. The meeting was organized by Bhutan, who has recognized the supremacy of national happiness over national income since the early 1970’s.


Ban Ki-Moon, Dialogue with the Youth of Five Continents

The General Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon took part this Tuesday (11th April 2012) in an ongoing dialogue with the youth of the whole world. The participants represented all the continents. The six youngsters had been selected for the consultations between the UN, civil society and as representatives of the universities. They discussed different topics, such as youth unemployment, technology, and the rights of women, thanks to Google+.

UN Experts ask States to Include the Promotion of Human Rights in Rio+20

On March 19th, 2012, a group of 22 independent experts of the UN urged the governments to include the respect and the promotion of human rights among the objectives of the International Summit on durable sustainable development “Rio+20”, which will be held from the 20th to the 22nd of June 2012. The experts also expressed their fear that the complexity of the objectives would negatively influence their accomplishment.

Panel on Human Rights Education in Formal and Informal Settings

On March 14th, 15th and 16th, 2012, several  NGOs  organized a  series of panels on Human Rights Education (HRE) in Practice.    
The first one, entitled “International Policies on Human Rights Education,” organized by the Organisation Internationale pour le Droit à L'éducation et la Liberté D'enseignement  (OIDEL) and Soka Gakkai International (SGI), and was held on Wednesday, March 14th.

Human Rights Council Holds a Panel on Sexual Orientation

On March 7th, 2012 at Palais des Nations, the Human Rights Council held a “historic” panel on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  The panel commenced with an impassioned call to action via video message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for members of the Human Rights Council to respond to “disturbing” patterns of violence and discrimination committed against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which set the tone for the discussion, reminding people that “lives are at stake.” 


Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture

On March 5th, 2012, as part of the Human Rights Council at Palais des Nations, the UN held an interactive dialogue on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  The focus of this discussion centered around accounts in recent years of harassment undergone by human rights defenders and citizen journalists in particular, usually at the hands of the State, in an invidious effort to silence their reports of human rights violations.  


Annual Report to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

On March 2nd 2012, Ms. Navy Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, presented her annual report to the Human Rights Council.
Ms. Pillay said that 2011 was a critical year for human rights, a year characterized by “challenges to human rights linked to the global economic, climate, energy and food crises, famine in the Horn of Africa, armed conflict, racism and xenophobia, and lingering poverty.ˮ Ms. Pillay also recalled the mobilization of civil society against authoritarian governments in the Arab world.

Panel Discussion on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression on the Internet

On February 29th, 2012, the Human Rights Council held the first ever panel discussion of freedom of expression on the internet.  There were some complaints before the discussion even got under way that the panel was being moderated by an Al-Jazeera English journalist rather than the president or vice-president of the Council (according to UN protocol, they said) and admonitions that the United Nations  is “not a TV talk show.” 

NGOs Call on States to Ratify the UN Complaints Procedure

Geneva, 28 February 2012 – For the first time ever and more than twenty years after the official recognition of their rights, children can access justice at the international level thanks to the active campaigning promoted by an NGO coalition from across the world since 2006, which has resulted in the adoption of a new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Panel on Human Rights Mainstreaming and International Cooperation

On the 28th of February, the Human Rights Council held a panel discussion on human rights mainstreaming and international cooperation. The panel opened with a message from United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon recalling that respect for human rights is a responsibility for all United Nations Member States and agencies.


Urgent Debate on Human Rights and Humanitarian Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

On February 28th, 2012 the Human Rights Council held an urgent debate on the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (President of the UN General Assembly) opened the meeting affirming that the report on Syria published by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria painted a dire picture of the situation on the ground.


UN Human Rights Council Opens With Calls to Uphold Freedoms Worldwide

On February 27, 2012 the Human Rights Council opened its 19th session at Palais des Nations, Geneva. In the opening remarks, senior officials underlined how the United Nations’ commitment in protecting and promoting human rights is now as vital as ever, as demonstrated by the recent uprisings in the Arab region.

Advisory Committee: Right to Peace and Traditional Values of Humankind

From the 20th to the 24th of February 2012, the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee held its 8th session at Palais des Nations, Geneva. The experts addressed, among other things, the issues of the right to peace and traditional values of humankind.

Zimbabwe - 51st Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

On February 21, 2012 the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered the combined second, third, fourth and fifth periodic reports of Zimbabwe relating to how that country is implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Norway - 51st Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

On the 16th of February 2012, Norway was reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), at Palais Des Nations, Geneva. Mr. Audun Lysbakken, Minister of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion, presented the eighth national report affirming that, despite Norway being one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, several challenges remained.

January 27th, 2012 - International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust

The Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations released a short statement on January 27th, 2012, to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, this year dedicated especially to the children.