International Day of Indigenous peoples: protecting the rights of the world’s most Vulnerable Groups

The 9th of August is set aside as a day to remember a group of people that have been forgotten for years and whose cultures and languages are at risk of being extinct. Indigenous people account for close to 370 million of the world’s population living across 90 countries. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) indigenous people make up for less than 5 percent of the world’s population and yet account for 15 percent of the world’s poorest people. 

Indigenous people are said to speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s 7 000 languages and represent 5 000 distinct cultures. This population group has for years maintained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are different from the world’s most dominant societies. Regardless of their differences, all indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. Natives have continuously sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional land, territories and natural resources. Up to the present, indigenous peoples rights have for years been violated. Indigenous people are arguable amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group in the world according to UNDESA.

The theme for 2018, international day of world’s indigenous peoples focuses overall on, ‘migration and movement’. This includes also the current situation of indigenous people, who as a result of losing their lands, territories and resources have been forced to migrate to urban areas seeking better prospects of life, education and employment. Additionally, some have also fled to other countries evading persecution and conflict in their home countries, alienating them from their tribal land and customs.

The indigenous peoples of Namibia include the San, the Ovahimba, Ovazemba, Ovatjimba, Ovatue and Nama. These communities experience myriad social, cultural and economic difficulties in relation to the mainstream populations of Namibia. The san people of Namibia are said to constitute approximately 1.3% up to 3.5% of the population. The majority of Indigenous people are said to have been dispossessed of their ancestral land and resources and often no longer have the rights over their territories. The Natives in Namibia are believed to be living in extreme poverty and their life expectancy is said to be way lower than the national average. The Draft white paper on the rights of indigenous people in Namibia even mentions that some of the San groups have completely lost their language whilst adapting languages of neighbouring groups.

The United Nations strives to make use of a human rights based approach to planning and policy making for development. This approach ensures that human rights principles, such as equality and non discrimination are met by duty bearers. The 10th SDG for example attempts to reduce inequalities for all peoples. This SDG includes aims to reduce the inequality amongst all population groups in Namibia. These aspirations are in-line with the second UNPAF pillar on Social Transformation which seeks to achieve equitable access to education, protection of rights and access of integrated social protection services by the most vulnerable groups.

Namibians and the rest of the international community must bend together in-order to protect the rights of indigenous people and ensure that their distinct and unique culture does not go extinct. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres notes that, “the 2030 agenda for sustainable development must realize the rights of indigenous peoples across all the goals. Indigenous peoples must not be left behind.”

 

 

 

2018 World Humanitarian Day (WHD) campaign: #NotATarget

August 19, 2003 is remembered as a dark day in the history of the United Nations when 22 people who dedicated their lives to peace were killed by a terrorist attack who targeted the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. As a result of the tragic event, and in honour of the people who lost their lives, the General Assembly decided to designate 19 August as World Humanitarian Day in order to pay tribute to all aid workers around the world who are risking their lives on a daily basis for a greater cause.

From Syria’s sieges and civil wars, to Yemen’s slip towards famine, to the migration crisis disrupting countries across the world. All around the globe, various humanitarian crises affect the everyday life of a large number of people, with devastating consequences for the most vulnerable. Children do not have the opportunity to receive a quality education, which is caused by a limited access to schools. Furthermore, war zones lead to declining general welfare, limited healthcare, and to the displacement of entire population groups. Increasingly often, aid workers and other helpers are regarded as possible threats and targets. In order to prevent those tragedies, the global community must take a stand and act.

The United Nations, together with their member states, compiled the Sustainable Development Agenda to tackle these challenges, help those in need, and work side by side with the people who try desperately to eliminate the suffering of those affected by violence. The 3rd SDG attempts for example to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all peoples of all ages. This goes hand in hand with the four pillars of the United Nations Partnership Framework, especially the fourth one which focuses on vulnerable groups and tries to eradicate poverty.

For WHD 2018, the United Nations will relaunch their successful worldwide social media campaign of last year to shine a light on the fact that civilians are still #NotATarget. Through this movement, people will have the opportunity to raise their voices and show their conviction that help is never a threat.

Not only can Namibians advocate for change by joining this movement but they can, in the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “[…] Shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict.”

 

The International Day of Friendship –  the relevance and importance of friendship

The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.

The importance of friendships for young people, teenagers provide that sense of belonging and acceptance by their peers.

As we age, friends become increasingly important to health (SDG3) and happiness, according to a new research in the journal Personal Relationships. With time we learn to deal with the ups and downs of life. Friends provide a sounding board and encourage personal growth.

Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces of division — such as poverty, violence, and human rights abuses — among many others — that undermine peace, security, development and social harmony.  To confront those crises and challenges, their root causes must be addressed by promoting and defending a shared spirit of human solidarity that takes many forms — the simplest of which is friendship.

 A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships even helps promote brain health. Friends helps us deal with difficult circumstances and to make better lifestyle choices.

United Nations Partnership Frame Work (UNPAF) 2019-2023 reports on the social protection of the poor and vulnerable groups. A circle of friends provides many benefits e.g. social support, someone to confide in, food in times of crisis, etc. Helping others adds to our own happiness.

Some friends have the strange power of turning every bad episode into hilarious and unforgettable ones. It’s also important to be a good friend yourself. Friends can change our value system, so we learn to inject more meaning into our lives.

#Inspirechange – Marking the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela devoted his live to service of humanity as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa.

One hundred years after his birth Nelson Mandela’s values of peace, justice, humility and his commitment to social justice still resonate and continue to inspire the world. Nelson Mandela day 2018 marks 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela. The centenary celebration is an occasion to reflect on his life and legacy, and follow his call to ‘make the world a better place’.

To honor his legacy on the promotion of social Justice, the fight against segregation and the promotion of a culture of peace, the United Nations General Assembly in 2009, proclaimed Nelson Mandela’s Birthday, 18 July, as International Nelson Mandela Day, devoting the day to serving the public. 

On 18 July 2018, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team arranged a Mandela day Public awareness campaign with motorists. The campaign involved handing out inspiring messages of Mandela attached to promotional items e.g. SDG gift bags, lanyards, the Declaration of Human rights, UN fact cards, SDG lapel pins and UNIC Windhoek branded Pens. The team devoted its 67 minutes sharing messages of humility and peace with Namibian motorists at the intersection of Robert Mugabe Avenue and Sam Nujoma Drive.

Madiba led a life of sacrifice and unwavering leadership, in spreading the words of global peace and justice. Every day the United Nations works to promote peace, human rights and ensure sustainable development for all. This year’s Mandela day centenary and the 70th Anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human rights, is an opportunity for all people to recommit to upholding principles of equality, justice and human dignity.

UNIC WINDHOEK bids farewell to outgoing interns

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek is pleased to congratulate and bid farewell to its outgoing team of interns who joined the agency’s internship programme for Communications, education and development at the beginning of this year.

The graduate programme was established to provide practical and pro-active training to grandaunts as well as recent graduates looking to sharpen their skills for the employment industry.

Interns actively participated in the aiding of communicating key messages of the agency as well as conducting research, facilitating various outreach programs, strengthening social media campaigns, etc.

UNIC Windhoek internship programme exposed students to a network of  people in a more controlled and stable environment. Proper training, assignments, and duties were given without the added pressure.

These young novices have done exceptionally well, their efforts and impeccable commitment to deliver will only advance their skill sets for the future.  The students stated: “The experiences we went through shaped us, encouraged personal development, but also greater understanding of one self.  And being an intern at the Centre gave us more opportunities to build connections with UN professionals that can be very beneficial for our future career.”

On behalf of the entire UNIC Windhoek team, we wish to express appreciation to the outgoing interns and cast our best wishes towards their future endeavours. Thank you for your support and willingness to go the extra mile in executing the work of the UN in Namibia.

 

Model UN training session held at tertiary level

On the 27 June 2018 UNIC Windhoek held a training session tertiary level at the UN house where various participants from different tertiary institutions gathered to elevate their caucusing skills and above all comprehend the importance of research that drives a Model UN conference. In partnership with the University of Namibia (UNAM) Model UN Society, the president of the UN Model UN Society facilitated a training session on 27 June and 04 July 2018 for students from UNAM, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), College for the Arts and University of Management (IUM) students.

The training session was officiated by MUN chairperson, Helena Kandjumbwa who guided the delegates through the Rules and procedure, geopolitical, cultural, and historical aspects of dealing with the member state allocated to the delegates. With the support of the Centre she delivered a robust session which motivated the delegates with inquisitive responses.

A conference for tertiary students is scheduled to take place during October this year.

 

UNIC staff donate blood

Blood provides life saving assistance to many people in need of blood. According to medical opinions, one donation of blood saves three lives and hence it is important that individuals donate blood. On an average the Human body is said to contain 4 to 5 litres of blood, of which can be donated after every third month for men and every four months for women.

Many people are involved in tragic accidents that leave them in a position where they are in an urgent need for blood.  Through the donation of blood, hospitals and clinics are able to have a stockpile of blood ready in case of any emergencies.  Donors are always asked to eat a substantial amount of food at least three hours prior to donating blood and drink lots of fluids after donating in order to help the body replenish its blood supply. Donors are also further asked not to take part in any form of exercise, and stay away from consumption of alcohol up until the body manages to replenish its supply.

On 15 June 2018 the United Nations staff turned out in numbers at the United Nations House, in Windhoek in order to take part in the blood drive organised by UN Cares. UN Cares works to ensure wellness for United Nations staff and thus is responsible for organising events that resonate with wellness. The UN staff members took part in the event with excitement, and were ready to donate a life through this selfless act. UNIC Windhoek’s small team also played their part and donated blood.

Blood is not only merely required in times of accidents or injuries but is required also for platelets and plasma required by patients. If an adequate amount of blood is available in a food bank, patients can be smoothly treated. Hence people should regularly donate blood to ensure an adequate availability of it when patients need it.

Importance of an Internship and interning at UNIC Windhoek

Internships are a proven way to gain relevant knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important connections in your field of study. Internships are also a way to get your feet wet and find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing full-time.

On the 10th of July 2018, National Information Officer, Ms. Anthea Basson provided an overview of UNIC Windhoek’s internship opportunities during a mini workshop at the Namibia University of Technology (NUST). The engagement with 30 students provided in-depth overview of the different types of internship, internship conditions and skills that may be developed. A number of these skills are a crucial for a young professional for being independent, flexible and ingenious at work.

In addition, UNIC Windhoek internships opportunities provide an excellent way to gain experience and exposure to the workforce. Volunteering shows commitment to causes and certain values that are intrinsic to the individuals who have participated in these types of experiences.

The lecture included testimonies of a communication for development and graphic design intern.  The interns Joseph Bohbot and Christophine Kamati stressed that by doing a great job and completing more than what is required of them, will provide them with a great reference letter / report for future reference. The UNIC Windhoek internships are a great way to learn the ropes. The encouraged students to take full advantage of internship opportunities and don’t take the experience lightly. Asking questions is one key to learning in an internship and keeping yourself flexible throughout the internship can open many doors.

UN Staff participates in YOGA Day events

Yoga is a physical exercising activity that is used by multitudes of people in order to improve health, heal aches and pains, and keep sickness at bay. Yoga has numerous benefits that are important for an individual’s health. Improved flexibility is one of the first and most obvious benefits of yoga. Individuals that take part in yoga start to experience a gradual loosening of the muscles.

However apart from the improved flexibility, Yoga poses various additional health benefits such as; building muscle strength, perfects posture, prevents joint break down, protects spine, betters bone health and increases blood flow. This ensures that people are healthier, happy and breathing well. All these health benefits are important so that people are able to lead health and productive lives.

In light of this, the UN Cares coordinator in Namibia, saw it imperative to organise a yoga day, for the United Nations staff at the UN house in Windhoek. This was done prior to the celebration of the International Day of Yoga, celebrated annually on the 21st of June. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The day was first proposed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Address to the UN General Assembly. The Indian embassy in Namibia conducts, yoga classes every morning at the Indian embassy, free of charge to the public.

The Indian embassy in collaboration with UN Cares provided  UN staff members with an opportunity to take part in a special Yoga session, preceding the international Yoga day. The yoga session at the UN house drew more than 15 staff members that were joined by some members of the public that regularly take part in the Yoga sessions of the embassy. UNIC Windhoek staff also participated and commended the UN Cares team for a well organised session geared toward the mental and physical health of all staff.

UNIC Windhoek staff attend in house Women’s Leadership Series

The UNIC Windhoek ladies attended the first Women’s Leadership Series hosted by the Gender Theme Group, UN Namibia.  The aim of the series is to empower women leaders and foster greater gender responsiveness in the workplace. On Friday, 29 June 2018, UN staff members had the chance to engage with UN Resident Coordinator a.i. Rachel Odede and Managing Director of PWC Namibia, Nangula Uaandja.

Highlighting the importance of setting goals and establishing networks of supportive people who can help you attain these goals, Odede said, “You need to have a vision or a goal. If you don’t know where you want to go, you won’t be there.”

Uaandja reminded our female staff members that you have to like what you’re doing to be successful. She explained that there are four different circles – your gifts, passions, burdens (things that irritate you that you want to change) and needs and opportunities around you. She said, “Where all these circles meet, that is your purpose and your career”.

UN staff members had a chance to ask Odede and Uaandja more about their career journeys as well as how they overcame challenges, such as gender inequality, in the workplace.

Through the Sustainable Development Golas (SDGs), specifically Goal 5, the UN aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls