From Geneva

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Second Day in Geneva


Over 20 Canadian NGOs (non-government organizations) are here in Geneva to present to the Committee and advocate regarding a diverse list of issue falling under the scope of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Today, many of the Canadian NGOs will be meeting to identify overlapping and priority issues, and to educate and inform each other regarding the diverse issues being brought to the table. Due to the number of NGO reports provided to the Committee, and the number of NGO delegations, it is thought that this will be a way in which the Canadian NGOs might communicate most effectively with the UN Committee.

This is probably a good opportunity to talk about some of the other NGOs who are here. I’ll start with some of the people who are in my vicinity, here at the Palais des Nations this afternoon.

Margot Young is a law professor from the University of British Columbia, who is in Geneva on behalf of The Poverty and Human Rights Centre. Their submission can be found at: http://www.ohchr.org

Also working in the lounge outside the committee room today is Emily Paradis. Emily traveled to Geneva with Doreen Silversmith, whom many will recognize as the person who is also speaking at the Committee regarding aboriginal issues in Six Nations/Caledonia. However, Doreen is actually pulling a double duty and she also spoke at the Committee on behalf of the Feminist Organization for Women’s Advancement, Rights, and Dignity ("FORWARD"). The Forward submission can be found at: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/info-ngos/forward.pdf. I believe that Emily spoke on behalf of the National Working Group on Women and Housing, and I must apologize that I cannot currently locate her report on the UN website.


Marie Chen and Jim Moriah are here on behalf of the African Canadian Legal Clinic, one of our sister specialty community legal clinics, located in Toronto. Yesterday, Jim and Marie presented to the Committee regarding their report, which can be found at http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/docs/info-ngos/ACLC.pdf.

This is just a taste of some of the NGOs reporting to the Committee for this, their 36th session. Other groups include, The National Anti-Poverty Association ("NAPO"), Amnesty International, The National Association of Women and the Law ("NAWL"), Low-Income Families Together ("LIFT") and others.

With regard to our work in Hamilton, I would like to inform everyone that David Christopherson, MP for Hamilton Centre will be making a member’s statement in Parliament today regarding our report to the UN Committee. I am told that the statement should occur between 2-2:15 pm and that you can watch it on CPAC at http://www.cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&act=view3&template_id=46&lang=e.

David spoke eloquently and passionately to these issues, as did other local elected representatives, at our press conference last Friday before I left.
I hope that an informal cross-party, multi-level Hamilton caucus on poverty issues will develop. The issues are that important and I believe that our elected representatives recognize this.

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