On the 7 November an Asia Pacific delegation from UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) addressed a diplomatic briefing hosted by UNIC Canberra at our office.
Ms Anne Colquhoun, UN OCHA Head of Office for the Pacific Islands gave a comprehensive briefing on work in the Pacific region some of which is emergency response preparedness.
Part of this work she said included sector partnerships and coordination – working on packages that included emergency response architecture legislation and national management systems.
Although working throughout the Pacific particular emphasis she said was working within the south pacific region because of the area’s high disaster prone characteristics.
She also highlighted OCHA’s work with Pacific partners to ensure that vulnerable people of the region are included in all disaster management plans; people with disabilities, women and children, the aged and people with different sexual or gender identities.
She also noted other current priorities which included preparing for the cyclone season in the coming months.
UNIC Canberra celebrated UN Day at the Museum of Australian Democracy in partnership with the Museum, UNHCR, IOM and the UN Association of Australia.
The event which included a ceremonial flag raising by the Australia Defence Force and Australian Federal Police was themed on Human Rights in recognizing the Declaration’s 70th anniversary. Central to this was the opening of an exhibition of quilts by the Museum, where contributors from all over the world had stitched the words of each article of the Declaration into uniquely illustrated panels.
In speaking, the originator and co-creator of the project, the youth craftivist and artist, Tal Fitzpatrick described the enthusiasm with which quilters took up the call to promote the Declaration through their art. The importance of the Declaration and acknowledgement of the UN’s vital role in the world were also echoed in speeches by federal and local government officials.
As part of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, students from Gooloogong Public School located in rural New South Wales in Australia, learnt about human rights and then put together this video on what they learned and why they thought human rights are important. The project is part of our overall campaign to talk about human rights in rural Australia. More student videos and audio interviews to come.
For more about the 70th Anniversary Campaign and about the Declaration please click here
The International Day of Peace was celebrated on the shores of Lake Burly Griffin in Canberra with the ringing of the Peace Bell.
The public ceremony included the UNIC Director talking about the Day and reading the Secretary-General’s message as well as the awarding of the ACT Chief Minister’s Rotary Peace Prize to the NGO, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).
Mr. Robert Tickner, AO, Ambassador for ICAN in his keynote address spoke about the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons and urged for the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In addition to the glorious spring sunshine, the audience were treated to the music of the Junior Concert Band from the ACT Instrumental Music Programme and A Chorus of Women.
Photo: Director of UNIC Canberra Ringing Peace Bell
Participating in economic activities allows women to effect positive changes in their own lives and their communities, with positive ripple effects for the whole nation explained UNWomen Pacific Technical Specialist Sandra Bernklau who spoke to us this week about the UN Women’s Market for Change Project.
The Project now in its eight-year, is a multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
On 20 August, Ms Nisha Director of Office and UNESCO Representative to the Pacific States was our keynote speaker via video link up from Samoa speaking with assembled Canberra based diplomats in our office in Canberra.
Fourteen senior year students from Radford College visited UNIC to have a round table discussion with the Director on the United Nations and the 2030 Agenda.
The session included a presentation on the origins, structure and work of the United Nations, as well as a more focused discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The aim was to prepare students for a school debate focusing on international affairs and this resulted in many of the questions revolving around the roles of countries at the UN and how UN resolutions have an impact. At least one issue was fully understood as every cake and biscuit was eaten, such that when the Director asked for one he was reminded that he had just told the students that they should all play their part in eliminating food waste. They were obviously quick learners.
Merici College invited UNIC Canberra to come to talk about the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals.
As the visit was a day before World Environment Day, it provided a great opportunity to talk about one of the key issues impacting the world, and attainment of the Goals, plastic pollution.
Many of the 130 year ten girls that packed the library looked shocked when they heard some of the statistics as to how much pollution there is and especially the thought that there will be more plastic in our oceans by 2050 than fish.
While the students were interested to learn about the United Nations and the 2030 Agenda, it was the problem of plastics that most grabbed their attention, leading to all the students at the end of the presentation showing their support for taking action to stop plastics and create a better world for all.