The sound of bagpipes echoed in the chapel at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture as guests gathered to commemorate humanitarian workers killed and injured in the line of duty, while honoring those who continue to work tirelessly to provide life-saving support to people most in need.
The event commenced with the UN Secretary General’s message read by Louise Aubin, UNHCR representative and Acting Director of UNIC followed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) message delivered by the Head of ICRC Leonard Blazeby. The representative from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Clare Walsh acknowledged the work of millions of women humanitarians who have and still are changing lives across the globe.
On Monday the 5th of August 2019, the United Nations Information Centre Canberra, together with partners – International Organisation of Migration (IOM);Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C) –welcomed guests of the diplomatic community at the ACC&C multi-faith chapel to acknowledge World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
Attendees appreciated insightful and informative video presentations and a panel discussion between representatives from both IOM and DFAT, covering such issues as Human trafficking and the extractive industry; Technical Assistance in Palau and Countering Human Trafficking: Policy and Practice.
In his opening remarks for the event, Pär Liljert, IOM Australia Chief of Mission and Coordinator for the Pacific, left the audience with the words of their Director General António Vitorino:
“it is not a day to reflect on what we feel about migrants who are victims of trafficking. Rather it is a warning that yet another year has passed in which we can remind ourselves that no matter how much good we can do, we still haven’t done enough. It is time to end the trafficking of men, women and children across the globe”.
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.