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Development. 2006 Mar; 49(1):49-51.Virginia Vargas takes up three major issues that we need to consider for change - the role of the United Nations, the need for democracy to counter fundamentalisms and the need for a new countercultural revolution to combat deep economic and social injustices. In short, she says that we need to turn the world and its current values upside down, doing away with the dominant hierarchy that grants unrestricted property rights, in the name of individual freedom, and that celebrates the supremacy of the market over human life. (author's)
Contact. 2006 Aug; (182):4-5.Saving lives is the paramount goal of all HIV programmes. Successful HIV prevention programmes utilize all approaches known to be effective, not implementing one or a few select actions in isolation. These include promoting sexual abstinence, fidelity among married couple and the use of condoms for those who are not in a position to abstain or be faithful. It also includes ensuring that injecting drug users have access to clean needles and syringes as well as programmes supporting them to stop drug use. The strategies also include assurance that HIV-positive pregnant women receive treatment to prevent HIV transmission to the child. These strategies (See insert) were endorsed by the UNAIDS board last year and provide the framework for re-energizing HIV prevention globally. (excerpt)
Contact. 2006 Aug; (182):2-3.A s early as 1986 the Executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) stated: to confess that churches as institutions have been slow to speak and to act, - that many Christians have been quick to judge and condemn many of the people who have fallen prey to the disease; and that through their silence, many churches share responsibility for the fear that has swept our world more quickly than the virus itself "and called on the churches to respond appropriately to the need for pastoral care, education for prevention and social ministry" . In September 1996, a landmark, comprehensive statement, the Impact of HIV/AIDS and the Churches' Response, was adopted by the WCC Central Committee on the basis of the WCC Consultative Group on AIDS study process. The statement clearly states that: Churches can do much to promote, both in their own lives and in the wider society, a climate of sensitive, factual and open exploration of the ethical issues posed by the pandemic. ... in accordance with theiremphasis upon personal and communal responsibility the churches' can promote conditions -- personal, cultural, and socioeconomic -- which support persons in making responsible choices. This requires a degree of personal freedom which is not always available: for example, women, even within marriage, may not have the power to say "no" or to insist on the practice of such effective preventive measures such as abstinence, mutual fidelity and condom use. (excerpt)
Journal of Black Studies. 2002; 32(6):615-653.The HIV/AIDS pandemic has afflicted Africa more than any other region of the world. In the United States, the AIDS scourge has disproportionately affected African American communities. In their tragic experiences with HIV/AIDS, both African states and African American communities can benefit from the new communication framework that the United Nations Global AIDS Programme and the Pennsylvania State University have developed to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The framework contains five universal values that are recommended for AIDS intervention programs across the world. The five values are incorporation of government policies, socioeconomic status, culture, gender issues, and spirituality. There are six additional values, two of which apply uniquely to each of the three world regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For Africa, the two unique values are community-based approaches and regional cooperation. The situation in Africa presents valuable lessons for African Americans in the United States. (author's)
One Country. 2006 Jul-Sep; 18(2):7.UNITED NATIONS -- Stemming the global tide of violence against women will require changes in deeply rooted attitudes that for the most part transcend culture and national borders, said participants in a panel discussion here on 8 September 2006. Titled "Beyond Violence Prevention: Creating a Culture to Enable Women's Security and Development," the discussion was hosted by the Baha'i International Community and the International Presentation Association. It was held as part of the 59th Annual United Nations Department of Public Information/ Non-Governmental Organization conference. The panelists agreed that violence against women remains a severe problem in almost every nation and culture. "We all know that at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime," said Letty Chiwara, a program specialist with the Africa section of the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In some places, such as rural Ethiopia, some 71 percent of women are abused, she said. "Harmful traditional practices -- female genital mutilation, dowry murder, the so-called honor killings, and early marriage -- bring death, disability, and psychological dysfunction for millions of women," said Ms. Chiwara. (excerpt)
Lancet. 2007 Mar 3; 369(9563):720-721.In December, 2006, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) submitted to its governing board a paper on HIV/AIDS and security--a culmination of wide ranging UN discussions on this subject that began with the historic consideration of AIDS in the Security Council in 2000. The paper reprises frequently raised concerns--ie, that high AIDS-related mortality in the military will compromise security in highly affected countries, or that high costs of AIDS will sap public resources needed to ensure security. UNAIDS notes that such destabilisation has not yet occurred, but that "does not mean that… such a threat will not emerge". In such analyses, the effect of AIDS on military strength and public security overshadows what may be a substantially more important link between AIDS and security--ie, the effect of the unfettered pursuit of a public security agenda, including counterterrorism measures, on the lives of people who are most affected by, or vulnerable to, HIV/AIDS. (excerpt)
Lancet. 2006 Nov 4; 368(9547):1595-1607.Despite the call for universal access to reproductive health at the 4th International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, sexual and reproductive health was omitted from the Millennium Development Goals and remains neglected. Unsafe sex is the second most important risk factor for disability and death in the world's poorest communities and the ninth most important in developed countries. Cheap effective interventions are available to prevent unintended pregnancy, provide safe abortions, help women safely through pregnancy and child birth, and prevent and treat sexually transmitted infections. Yet every year, more than 120 million couples have an unmet need for contraception, 80 million women have unintended pregnancies (45 million of which end in abortion), more than half a million women die from complications associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, and 340 million people acquire new gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, or trichomonas infections. Sexual and reproductive ill-health mostly affects women and adolescents. Women are disempowered in much of the developing world and adolescents, arguably, are disempowered everywhere. Sexual and reproductive health services are absent or of poor quality and underused in many countries because discussion of issues such as sexual intercourse and sexuality make people feel uncomfortable. The increasing influence of conservative political, religious, and cultural forces around the world threatens to undermine progress made since 1994, and arguably provides the best example of the detrimental intrusion of politics into public health. (author's)
One Country. 2005 Oct-Dec; 10-13.This is a new way of thinking for many people in the 'traditional' education for sustainable development community, which has tended to be composed of people in higher education and focused on curriculum development, said Steve Cochran, who currently serves as "Interim Steward" of the United States Partnership for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. "The very notion of coming from the personal and intimate level of one's faith and building outward from there," added Mr. Cochran, "is one of the most effective ways to get people engaged." In the Baha'i community, the direction and scope of this effort was recently reflected at a two-day seminar held in December 2005 in this Florida resort city. Titled "Education for Sustainable Development: The Spiritual Dimension," the seminar drew some 50 participants from 10 countries, and featured a number of innovative brainstorming exercises designed to stimulate creative thinking and new approaches. Using innovative group process methodologies such as "World Cafe" and "Open Space Technology," the seminar sought to lead participants through a collective exploration of how Baha'i communities around the world could increase awareness of the need for sustainable development and better incorporate its concepts into their activities. (excerpt)
One Country. 2005 Oct-Dec; 2-3.In the face of urgent global problems like terrorism, HIV/AIDS, and severe poverty in Africa, it is sometimes hard to focus on the long term needs of humanity. But with the launch in 2005 of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, there is an opportunity to rethink the manner in which we approach long range global challenges. There are few issues more important to our collective future than sustainable development, a term which has over the years come to be understood as encompassing a whole range of issues that relate to the on-going success of humanity's stay on this planet. These issues certainly include environmental conservation and the challenge of appropriate development -- the two main planks of "sustainable development." But they also extend to the whole gamut of concerns relating to population and human consumption, human rights, women's advancement, food security, energy, industrial growth, urban planning -- and even issues of peace and security. (excerpt)
A report of a theological workshop focusing on HIV- and AIDS-related stigma, 8th-11th December 2003, Windhoek, Namibia. Supported by UNAIDS.
Geneva, Switzerland, UNAIDS, 2005 Feb. 62 p. (UNAIDS/05.01E)Stigma is difficult to define. Generally, though, it implies the branding or labelling of a person or a group of persons as being unworthy of inclusion in human community, resulting in discrimination and ostracization. The branding or labelling is usually related to some perceived physical, psychological or moral condition believed to render the individual unworthy of full inclusion in the community. We may stigmatize those we regard as impure, unclean or dangerous, those who are different from ourselves or live in different ways, or those who are simply strangers. In the process we construct damaging stereotypes and perpetuate injustice and discrimination. Stigma often involves a conscious or unconscious exercise of power over the vulnerable and marginalized. The purpose of this document is to identify those aspects of Christian theology that endorse or foster stigmatizing attitudes and behaviour towards people living with HIV and AIDS and those around them, and to suggest what resources exist within Christian theology that might enable churches to develop more positive and loving approaches. It is not a theological statement, but rather a framework for theological thinking, and an opportunity, for church leaders, to pursue a deeper Christian reflection on the current crisis. (excerpt)
Paris, France, UNESCO, Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue, Culture and Development Section, 2005. 85 p. (CLT/CPD/CAD-05/4A)Placing the HIV- and AIDS-related experiences of the countries of the southern Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) into social and cultural perspective is uniquely important. Within these three 'second wave' countries of the former Soviet Union, alarming claims that 'drug-driven epidemics are spiralling out of control' run counter to the relatively low number of individuals officially identified as HIV positive. The proportionate increase in the number of individuals affected has been substantial each year since the late 1990s, yet HIV and AIDS remain poorly documented, misunderstood, and highly stigmatised in the region. Analyses of the social and cultural factors influencing the ability of these countries to determine national strategies, implement effective prevention programmes, and develop better monitoring systems can assist in rectifying the differences between dire future predictions and the current modest prevalence rates. (excerpt)
Paris, France, UNESCO, 2004 Jul. 13 p. (Literacy, Gender and HIV / AIDS Series)This booklet is one of an ever-growing series of easy-to-read materials produced at a succession of workshops supported by UNESCO and UNFPA. The workshops are based on the appreciation that gender-sensitive literacy materials are powerful tools for communicating messages on HIV/AIDS to poor rural people, particularly illiterate women and out-of-school girls. Based on the belief that HIV/AIDS is simultaneously a health and a social cultural and economic issue, the workshops train a wide range of stakeholders in HIV/AIDS prevention including literacy, health and other development workers, HIV/AIDS specialists, law enforcement officers, material developers and medial professionals. Before a workshop begins, the participants select their target communities and carry out needs assessment of their potential readers. At the workshops, participants go through exercises helping them to fine-tune their sensitivity to gender issues and how these affect people's risks of HIV/AIDS. The analysis of these assessments at the workshops serves as the basis for identifying the priority issues to be addressed in the booklets. They are also exposed to principles of writing for people with limited reading skills. Each writer then works on his or her booklet with support from the group. (excerpt)
Women's rights body reviews reports from 8 States - United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
UN Chronicle. 1987 Aug; 24: p..LEGAL, judicial and administrative measures taken to guarantee equality of women's rights in political, economic, social and cultural fields in eight countries were reviewed by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at its sixth session (Vienna 30 March-10 April). Bangladesh, Colombia, France, Greece, Poland, Republic of Korea, Spain and Sri Lanka reported to the 23-member expert Committee and responded to their comments and questions. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, approved by the General Assembly in 1979, requires the 92 States parties to guarantee a just distribution of rights and obligations among men and women. Among principles enunciated in the Convention are those relating to affirmative action, maternity protection measures, abolition of prostitution, rights of rural women and de facto equality in family relations, employment, education and cultural and political life. States parties are also asked to report periodically on action they have taken to give effect to the Convention's provisions. (excerpt)
The silent war against Africa: AIDS. Report of AACC Church Leaders' Consultation on the Approach to the HIV / AIDS Crisis, 23rd - 25th April 2001, Dakar - Senegal. Une guerre silensieuse contre l'Afrique: SIDA. Rapport de la Consultation des Chefs d'Eglises de la CETA sur l'Approche à la Crise de VIH / SIDA, 23-25 Avril, 2001, Dakar, Sénégal.
Dakar, Senegal, AACC, 2001.  p.The general goal of the AACC HIV/AIDS programme was to facilitate ways the churches in Africa especially the leadership can be better informed to enable them respond more positively to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The specific objectives: By the end of the two Consultations it was hoped that participants should be able to: Create means/fora for sharing of accurate information on HIV/AIDS; Facilitate means/ways of sharing best practices; Identify the root causes of HIV/AIDS and suggest the ways of responding to the crisis more effectively; Develop ways/means to break the silence on HIV/AIDS; Commit themselves to practical ways of responding to the pandemic; Share the message of HIV/AIDS in Africa and among churches and partners outside of Africa. (excerpt)
Testing the effectiveness of integrating community-based approaches for encouraging abandonment of female genital cutting into CARE's reproductive health programs in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Washington, D.C., Population Council, Frontiers in Reproductive Health, 2004 Dec.  p. (USAID Cooperative Agreement No. HRN-A-00-98-00012-00; USAID Cooperative Agreement No. HRN-A-00-98-00023-00)Between 2000 and 2002, CARE International, with technical support from the Frontiers in Reproductive Health Program of the Population Council, implemented an operations research (OR) project among the Afar people of Ethiopia and Somali refugees in Daadab camps in Kenya. The OR project aimed to assess the effectiveness of community-based female genital cutting (FGC) strategies in increasing the knowledge of harmful FGC effects and positive FGC related attitudes and intended behaviour among the intervention communities. Both communities are predominantly of Islamic faith and practice infibulation, the most severe form of FGC. In both Ethiopia and Kenya, CARE integrated FGC interventions into existing community-based reproductive and primary health care information and service delivery activities. The study in Ethiopia was designed to test the effectiveness of education activities using behaviour change communication (BCC) approaches and advocacy activities by religious and other key leaders in the intervention site. No interventions occurred in the control sites. In Kenya, both the intervention and comparison sites had education/BCC activities. The intervention site had advocacy activities in addition to education/BCC activities. The OR study assessed the effectiveness of BCC and advocacy activities versus no interventions in Ethiopia, while in Kenya the comparison was between BCC strategies alone and the combination of BCC and advocacy activities. (excerpt)
Human Rights Quarterly. 2004; 26:799-844.It is often supposed that international human rights standards were negotiated without active participation by Middle Eastern and Muslim states. That was not the case. United Nations records document the contributions of Arab and Muslim diplomats from 1946–1966. Diplomats from the Islamic world did not always agree with each other, but their various contributions resulted in the assertion of a right to self-determination, the most comprehensive statement of universality, culturally sensitive language about religious beliefs, and a separate article promoting gender equality. Initially they proposed robust mechanisms for implementation, and they actively opposed the isolation of socioeconomic rights into a separate covenant. Not all of their efforts were successful, and not all of their positions were liberal. While their role as participants and promoters of human rights should not be exaggerated, neither should it be discounted. (author's)
A cultural approach to HIV / AIDS prevention and care. Country assessment summary report. Handbook for culturally appropriate project design. Information / education / communication capacity building, networking, data collection and research.
Paris, France, UNESCO, Cultural Policies for Development Unit, 2000. 186 p. (Studies and Reports, Special Series No. 10; CLT.2000/WS/10; CLT.2000/WS/16)This document presents the two major achievements of Year I of the current UNESCO/UNAIDS joint project “A Cultural Approach to HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care”. This phase of the project was meant to identify the interactions between cultures and the HIV/AIDS issue and to adjust prevention and care accordingly. The first part is devoted to the Summary Report of 16 country assessments and shorter county papers carried out in Southern Africa, the Caribbean and South-East Asia. Assessment activities were twofold: 1) Review of the institutional action to date, in as much as it considers cultural aspects in prevention and care programs and projects; 2) In-depth case investigations of people’s reactions concerning the risk and the need for them to change their sexual and non-sexual behaviours accordingly, in relation with their cultural references and resources. (excerpt)
Global AIDSLink. 2002 Jan; (71):11, 17.In many Buddhist countries, people assume that monks would never entertain the prospect of working in HIV/AIDS, an illness associated in many people’s minds with immoral, rather than unsafe, behaviors. In some countries where monks have played more of a ceremonial or purely spiritual role, people wonder how monks will cope with the intense social action HIV/AIDS requires. At this stage someone usually raises the example of Thailand where monks have played a role in development activities for over two decades and have been active at grassroots level on HIV/AIDS for many years. For many countries in the Mekong region, Thailand’s example seems a hard act to follow. And it’s true that monks in Cambodia and Lao PDR, for instance, tend to be less well educated, at least in secular subjects, than their peers in Thailand. It is certainly true that their community temples have less resources. But, as UNICEF has been delighted to discover, there are many, many monks in the Mekong region for whom the realization of the extent of the AIDS problem has been a call to action. (excerpt)
New York, New York, UNICEF, 2004 May. 36 p.Whether immunizing children house-to-house or providing services at fixed sites, the support of the community is essential in achieving broad coverage. One way of eliciting such support is to gain the trust and confidence of religious leaders, who often wield tremendous authority at the grass roots. Religious leaders not only have the power to shape public opinion, they can also mobilize their constituencies and improve the links between communities and health services. By approaching religious groups with an informed respect for their views, communication and health officers can often gain the trust needed to garner their support. However, even with strong alliances, vocal minorities have sometimes used religious arguments to dissuade parents from immunizing their children. Such resistance may be tied to a political agenda or based on a misunderstanding of the facts. Whatever the case, UNICEF, among other agencies, is often a key player in developing an appropriate response. Allies among religious organizations can be crucial collaborators in reacting in an appropriate and effective way. The guidelines presented in this workbook were created for communication and programme officers and their immunization partners seeking to develop and maintain strong working relationships with religious leaders and groups. They also suggest what actions might be taken when a religious leader or group organizes resistance to immunization. While the guidelines provide an overall framework, they do not offer specific health messages based on religious texts. Such messages should be generated at the local level by religious groups themselves, since interpretation of doctrine can be influenced by culture and social conditions and may vary among religious sects. In fact, the very process of debate and arriving at a common position on immunization is what can ensure long-term involvement on the part of religious groups. (excerpt)
New York, New York, United Nations, 2003. ix, 101 p. (ST/ESA/SER.A/218)The primary objective of the present report is to examine the levels and trends of population migration to selected countries in Asia using available statistics as a guide, and focusing primarily on changes that have occurred since 1970. The report discusses the burgeoning of labour migration during the past decades, in response to the development of strong economies in Eastern, Southeastern and Western Asia. It also touches on permanent settlement of people and refugee flows that have characterized several countries in Asia. (excerpt)
[Bangkok, Thailand], United Nations Development Programme [UNDP], South East Asia HIV and Development Project, 2000 Dec. , 16 p.Religion plays a major role in our life as we learn to cope with birth, diseases, aging and death. The Buddhist monks in Mae Chan, in witnessing the devastation to their own families, relatives and friends in the community, decided to mobilize the religious sector for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support. These beautiful sermons are written by the monks based on the Buddhist precepts and are an excellent example of the religious sector’s contribution to HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support from its own unique strength and the role in society which complement existing health sectors’ approach for a holistic community response. We are grateful to the monks for giving us the permission to translate these sermons from Lanna Thai to English. We hope to mobilize additional resources in order to translate it into other languages such as Laotian, Khmer, Viet Namese and Chinese to spread the words to people who can heed the preaching. (excerpt)
[Unpublished] . , 101 p.This study was conducted by a working group of religious leaders from Al Azhar formed by request of UNICEF. The point of the study is to establish religious support of practical health care for children. The idea was endorsed by the religious leaders and a working groups was created to research the Koran in an effort to make the strongest possible theological case for child health care. 6 specific issues were to be supported: (1) immunization of children for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, polio, and tuberculosis; (2) treatment of diarrheal dehydration with oral rehydration therapy; (3) promoting improved health practices; (4) support for breastfeeding; (5) encouragement of early treatment of respiratory infections; (6) immunizing pregnant mothers for tetanus. A number of TV events were shown during the religious program (Fi Rihab El Iman) which concentrated on child protection and sound upbringing as well as how to effectively meet the child's needs before and after birth. The working groups produced 6 research papers that drew heavily from the Koran, hadiths and famous quotations. UNICEF supports issuing these papers together as a reference book for people in related fields. This booklet is a synthesis of the research papers and has been widely disseminated attention was paid to use very simple language so as to maximize its appeal and effect.
Conscience. 2002 Spring; 23(1):15-7, 42.During the UN Beijing Plus 5 conference in March 2000, both Catholics and Muslims were well represented at the proceedings. The progressive network included both religious and secular nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including: the Latin American and Caribbean Women's Health Network, the Girls' Power Initiative of Nigeria, Catholics for a Free Choice, the Albanian Family Planning Association, and the Ecumenical Women 2000+. On the other hand, the conservative network consisted of both religious and secular NGOs, including: the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, the World Family Policy Forum at Brigham Young University, the National Right to Life Committee, Concerned Women for America, the National Institute of Womanhood, Global Helping Advance Women and Children, and United Families International. It is noted that tensions between the conservative and progressive camps at the UN are always palpable and each camp regularly monitors the other's activities. A propensity on both sides to objectify the moral status of their opponents was also detected.
Conscience. 2002 Winter; 22(4):16-20, 42-3.Religion Counts studied religion's role at the UN, compiling and analyzing data about religious dynamics and actors in the complex UN system. During the investigation, researchers heard many complaints about religion at the UN. Others bemoaned secular, even anti-religious, inroads into UN policymaking by progressive religious groups and their secular allies. Implied in many of the complaints is that the world's religions are divided and that their divisions surface at the UN. Such divisions within the Roman Catholic have widened through the years over key issues raised at the Cairo and Beijing conferences. However, it is noted that religious groups are not the only divided constituency at the UN, which serves as a forum for conflict resolution, negotiation, and compromise among the world's divided nations. Reaching a sufficient consensus at any level, including the international arena represented by the UN, requires full representation at the negotiation table. The voices of religion, discordant and divided as they may be, must be included in the discussion or the resulting consensus will be insufficient.
Bad faith at the UN : drawing back the curtain on the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. [Mauvaise foi à l'ONU : on tire le rideau sur la Famille Catholique et l'Institut des Droits de l'Homme]
Washington, D.C., Catholics for a Free Choice, 2001. 33,  p.The way the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (CAFHRI) promotes its values has a negative impact on international policy discourse, especially the efforts of nongovernmental organizations and governments to work more closely for the development and implementation of public policies on social issues. Perhaps most disturbing is the warlike mindset that permeates CAFHRI's thinking and actions. What is essential, if the UN is going to succeed in crafting ethically sound international policy on sexual and reproductive health and rights, is the facilitation of respectful listening and the ability to negotiate differences. That is not possible if an atmosphere of a "Holy War" is created. Creating such an atmosphere is CAFHRI's goal. The UN is an instrument of peace, not of war. As frustrating as the process of negotiating documents is, the process encourages governments and civil society to go deeply into their differences and come to principled compromises. Religious groups have been active in the UN from its founding. For the most part they have participated in good faith and contributed much. They have respected the plural, secular, and tolerant nature of the UN. It would be unfortunate if CAFHRI, which acts in bad faith, were allowed to continue its efforts to create a Holy War in the international institution most identified with peace.