A General Assembly to rival the UN General Assembly
20 September 2014
“We are here to claim Justice”
As world leaders gather in New York for the UN General Assembly, an alternative People’s General Assembly will be held outside to provide a more accurate picture of the state of the world.
The UN General Assembly are debating how to deal with the world’s most urgent threat – climate change and will also consider population and development and Indigenous peoples. But civil society are concerned that governments rarely present accurate pictures of ‘development’.
“When governments come together they generally create rules to increase consumption at all costs and guarantee profit to corporations and the rich. These rules have required the loss of lands and livelihoods, slavery like employment, militarisation and a climate that threatens the very survival of human beings” said the People’s General Secretary Vernie Yocogan-Diano an indigenous woman from Cordillera Region, Philippines. “People of the global South, women, Indigenous peoples, workers and the majority of people on this planet who believe in justice, dignity and equality have had enough and will claim development justice” she added.
The People’s General Assembly to be held on 24 September 2014 will bring together people from all over the world who bear the brunt of economic inequality and global warming. Their stories illustrate the deadly impact of market-driven development policies, including land-grabbing, threats to food sovereignty, exploitation and persecution of migrants, and displacement of indigenous peoples due to climate change. Together they call for Development Justice, a model for development that calls for equality between men and women, between the rich and the poor and between wealthy countries.
Speakers will include Agnes Kinaka, one of the world’ first environmental refugees from the sinking Carteret Islands. The Carteret atolls have been inundated by rising tides as a result of climate change, deep sea mining and the atolls topography, forcing them to migrate to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.
“Our loss is not an accident. We believe our Islands have been lost because of climate change and resource extraction. We did not cause the world to warm. We did not over-fish, over log or try and become rich. But we are paying the price for those in the world who did.”
A similar demand for justice drives Efleda Kempis-Butista, head of People Surge, an alliance of survivors of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. This massive storm destroyed homes, communities and livelihoods in the country. One year later, 14,500 still live in tent cities and rely on relief goods as public services and government aid for the rebuilding of homes has been slow to come.
“We are here to claim justice. The devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is a wake-up call to leaders about the fatal consequences of global warming and climate change to people, especially from developing countries,” says Bautista.
“We cannot abandon our agricultural heritage which for centuries has protected local community interests, and now in this day and age protects transnational companies” says Norma Maldonado, a human rights campaigner and founder of Asociación Raxch’och’ OxlajuAj, a Guatemalan organisation to advance indigenous people’s rights and welfare. Maldonado is part of indigenous people’s struggles against the massive land-grabbing, human rights violations, and the monopolisation of seeds and plant life by foreign agro-transnational corporations and the Guatemalan government.
The People’s General Assembly will also include representatives selected to attend the UN General Assembly. Alina Saba is an Indigenous woman from Nepal and one of 4 civil society representatives selected from more than 500 applications to speak at the UN Climate Summit “Climate change is essentially a social justice issue. Indigenous women in the remotest parts of Nepal produce close to zero carbon emissions yet they are paying the highest price for other countries consumption. Are their lives to be continually surrendered to fulfill insatiable needs for consumption and profit?” she asks.
Come and hear these speakers at the People’s GA from 4:30 to 7:45 pm, at the 1st Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, 12 West 12th Street (at Fifth Avenue) New York, New York.
The People’s GA is being organised by the Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, and IBON International.
To set interviews with the speakers, and to find out more about the People’s GA, please contact Leanne Sajor (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lean de Leon 510-586-8799.