Author Archives: Anthea Basson

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.

 

World Humanitarian Day 2017: Civilians are #NotATarget

Press Release, 19 August 2017: World Humanitarian Day (WHD), held every year on 19 August, pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and rallies support for people affected by crises around the world.

Around the world, conflict is exacting a massive toll on people’s lives. Trapped in wars that are not of their making, millions of civilians are forced to hide or run for their lives. Children are taken out of school, families are displaced from their homes, and communities are torn apart, while the world is not doing enough to stop their suffering. At the same time, health and aid workers – who risk their lives to care for people affected by violence – are increasingly being targeted.

For WHD 2017, humanitarian partners are coming together to reaffirm that civilians caught in conflict are #NotATarget. Through a global online campaign, people around the world will raise their voices to advocate for those most vulnerable in war zones and demand that world leaders do everything in their power to protect civilians in conflict. Continue reading

UNIC Team participates in blood donation public lecture

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team participated in a public lecture aimed at raising awareness of the importance of blood donation on the Wednesday, 16 August.

The public lecture, the third of its kind, was held at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) under the theme “Give Blood, Give Now, Give Often”. It was hosted by the Blood Transfusion Service of Namibia (NAMBTS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Namibia.

The blood donation public lectures are aimed towards educating the public on the different facets of the blood transfusion services in Namibia, with particular emphasis on the shortage of consistent blood donors in the country, as this leads to a shortage in supply. Continue reading

Waldorf School learners become #PeacePals

After learning about the importance of international peace, students at Waldorf School, situated on the eastern edge of Windhoek, became #PeacePals and wrote postcards of peace to learners in Indonesia on 15 August 2017.

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team is aiming to reach 1,000 learners through its #PeacePals programme, and Waldorf School was the fourth of five schools that the Centre will be visiting this year.

Starting off with the presentation, approximately 70 students learned about the negative consequences of conflict on individuals, communities and countries and the different UN bodies focused on conflict resolution and the promotion of peace. The students became aware of how violence directly disrupts social life and opportunities for human prosperity after learning about the refugee crisis in Europe. Passionate about the topic, students frequently chimed in during the presentation to share their concerns with global peace. Continue reading

UNIC Windhoek and UNAM sign Internship Letter of Agreement

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek and the University of Namibia (UNAM) signed a joint internship letter of agreement to continue making work integrated learning a reality for tertiary students.

Professor Lazarus Hangula, the Vice Chancellor of UNAM and Anthea Basson, the National Information Officer and Head of UNIC Windhoek, came together on 26 June 2017 at UNAM’s Department of International Relations to sign the letter. Continue reading

UN Namibia #MondayMenu: 26 June –2 July 2017

What’s happening at UN Namibia this week? Check out the #MondayMenu for 26 June –2 July 2017.

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek and the University of Namibia are signing an internship letter of agreement on Monday, 26 June 2017. In line with SDG 17 ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, UNIC Windhoek is partnering with tertiary institutions to empower the future leaders of tomorrow.

UNESCO will be conducting Regional Trainings of Education Officers on the use of the Kopana Community of Practise (this falls under our UNESCO/China Funds-in-Trust (CFIT) Project which aims at “Capacity Development for Quality Teacher Education in Namibia”. Trainings will occur in all regions and will be done alongside NUST, NAMCOL and UNAM and from 26 June-11 Aug. Continue reading