The right to say no: 72nd session Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

1506685855_eeb204dc36061d725f5db3e393c34229-1.jpgBad mothers. Loose Morals. Lack of femininity. That is how world leaders such as Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump refer to women’s rights activists. Both men have continuously made women the butt of the joke of their presidencies with Donald Trump’s famous “Grab her by the pussy” and President Duterte’s continuous rape jokes and command to shoot women rebels in the genitals. According to the Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, this is the continued norm of how the world treats women.

The conference held on July 26th, 2018 shed light on the deeply rooted patriarchy engrained into our international system that has resulted in the championing of white males in human rights movements and the vilification of the women actually affected.

Lolita Chavez has been the target of 5 assassination attempts, two massive hate attacks, lynching attempts, accused of illegal entry, and has had more than 25 petitions filed against her in court resulting in a forced exile from Guatemala. What could cause this type of horrific backlash on a 5-foot-tall mother of 2? Her advocacy for indigenous people and the environment. In Uganda, Brenda Kuganza has been punched in the gut by a policeman, slaughtered on social media for defending victims of sexual violence and has had to witness her friends be brutally attacked, arrested, and/or killed for wanting the right to say no.

People trying to defend their territories and rights are sidelined – jailed, tortured, raped. Now more than ever, there is a need for concrete action from the international community but also a needed refrain by states in legislation and policy of repression action against human rights defenders. The governments in places such as Guatemala, Uganda, Nicaragua need to make the role of human rights defenders facilitative not restrictive.

There needs to be an understanding that human rights defenders are not performing a job. There is a deep commitment to protecting life, livelihood, and the dignity of communities. That is what empowers these women to endure layers of oppression and brutality.

Meeting: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; 72nd Session

Location/time/date: Conference Room 2, UNHQ-NYC; July 26th, 2018

Speakers: Michéle Forest, Special Rapporteur; Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights; Marusia Lopez Cruz, Senior Associate, Power & Protection of Women’s Activist; Lolita Chavez; Brenda Kuganza; Asha Kowtal; Miriam Miranda

Written by: WIT Representative Ariel Granat



An exceptional book launch event: In honour of the Nelson Mandela Centenary

July 18, 2018 (Wednesday) marked 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela, the iconic South African Civil Rights leader. Underling universal values on peace, forgiveness, integrity, passion, respect and service, Nelson Mandela was an exemplar of dedication to advocate peace and promote social equality. Indisputably regarded as the leading figure of theUnited Nations, Nelson Mandela was renowned for recognising human rights with courage and compassion.

In honour of Nelson Mandela’s Centenary, the book titled “The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela” was officially launched today at the United Nations Headquarters. Enclosed with 255 personal letters, the book provided a remarkable insight into how the imprisoned Mandela maintained his inner spirits and engaged with the outside world. Not only did the letters underscore the importance of recognising human rights, Nelson Mandela also seized the opportunities of writing letters to draw attention from outside world to gender-based injustice issues back to the late 20th century.

“Whatever happened in prison, Nelson Mandela would keep his personality and treat everybody with the greatest dignity and respect.” said Ms. Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, the granddaughter of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela’s global vision to revolutionise the movement of civil rights shall continue to impact on our world.

Date/Location: Friday 20th July 2018; 14:00 to 15:00; United Nations Bookshop, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Ms. Sahm Venter, Senior Researcher, The Nelson Mandela Foundation
Ms. Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, Granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela
Mr. Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights

Written by: WIT Representative LAU Chun Ki

Panel on International Cooperation to Combat the Use of Internet for Terrorist Purposes: Opportunities and Challenges


The Arab Union recently held a side event regarding the international cooperation to combat the use of internet for terrorist purposes such as misusing the internet for planning attacks, recruiting young people, broadcasting beheadings and using the dark web to acquire weapons – to name a few.

According to the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT), the UN has created targeted training that covers the use of digital forensic equipment, online prosecution and the cyber currency situation.

States have taken alternative counter-attempts. In Singapore, for example, the most successful counter-terrorist organization is called Religious Rehabilitation Group (RRG). The RRG focuses on providing clarification on what radical ideology and violent extremism are along with counseling services.

Organizations such as Hedayah, Etidal and the Counter Extremism Project are working with states and the UN to find the root causes and connections between the internet and terrorist propaganda.

The Hedayah Organization uses a psychological lens to analyze the process of radicalization. The Counter Extremist Project studies the reactions of internet platforms to extremist content, while Etidal focuses on the narrative of extremist ideology – specifically the roots/readings.

The most success in counter-terrorism has been found with private sectors. Facebook and Twitter have platforms that engage civil society by allowing them to participate in a way no other social platform has. It was reported that 1.2 million terrorist accounts were removed on Twitter between 2015-2017, however, only .2% were identified by governments while the rest was Twitter itself and users who report content directly. Yet, according to Tech against Terrorism, it is mall companies that constitute the majority of cases due to limited resources – nevertheless there is a platform in place, Tech Against Terrorism, to increase knowledge sharing with small companies as well as expanding efforts to governments as well.

Meeting: International Cooperation to Combat the Use of Internet for Terrorist Purposes: Opportunities and Challenges

Speakers: H.E. Salem AlZaabi, Director of International Security Cooperation Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, United Arab Emirates; Mr. Vladimir Voronkov, Under Secretary-General, UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT); Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC); Ms. Michele Coninsx, Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED); Mr. T. Raja Kumar, Deputy Secretary (International) Ministry of Home Affairs and Chief Executive, Home Team Academy, Singapore; Ms. Anneli Vares, Counter Terrorism Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Estonia; H.E. Mr. Lazarus O Amayo, Ambassador/Permanent Representative, Kenya; Moderator: Mr. Ivo Veenkampf, Deputy Executive Director of Hedayah; His Excellency Maqsoud Kruse, Executive Director, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism Hedayah; Ms. Frances F. Townsend EVP, Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs, MacAndrews & Forbes, Inc., President Counter Extremism Project; Mr. Sultan S. Alkhuzam, Director of Global Collaboration at Etidal; Moderator: Ms. Alison August Treppel, Executive Secretary, Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), Organization of American States; Mr. Brian Fishman, Head of Counterterrorism Policy, Facebook; Mr. Adam Hadley, Director, Tech Against Terrorism; Mr. Colin Crowell, Head of Global Policy, Twitter

Location/time/date: Conference Room 3, UNHQ-NYC; 15:00-18:00

Written by: World Information Transfer Representative; Ariel Granat