Post #8 Australia

One of the most informative and my favorite lecture was by Sherry Mariea about Women’s rights.  She was very enthusiastic and passionate about the topic and it made the lecture very engaging and interesting.  There was so many things that she talked about in the lecture that I, especially as a male, did not really think about before.  She talked about the term gendercide, which is very prevalent in India because females are a financial burden in India.  In India, there are 50,000 abortions a month because many people prefer to not have a female child and the preferences for sons intensifies discrimination against women.

I was always aware of sex trafficking and the issue of it but I never realized how the system was flawed in a way that it is very easy for sex traffickers to evade the law even after being accused.  Sherry Mariea told once again how it was many times based women and girls being lured by financial incentives.  There are many times where even the girls are prosecuted and not the pimps because the Judicial system allows victim blaming.  This is startling information that I was never aware of when it comes to sex trafficking and those that are victim.

As a country, I have always felt like there has been great progress for women up to this point and I was hoping that gender inequality was not as big of an issue as it was back then.  Unfortunately, I, along with many other men, are mistaken.  As the results of the election show that we have a long way before true gender equality will be achieved and just hidden.


One thing that stuck with me about this lecture was how she said the women must value independence and most importantly men must value that.  I do think that men are very unaware of how much they do not value or respect women independence.  Even though there is much less apparent sexism, it is still a large issue that is not explored nearly as much as it should be.


Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with the world’s 12th-largest economy.  Australia has a high ranking in national performance, quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.  The country is part of the UN, WTO, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, G20, and the Pacific Islands Forum.  That is some things that Australia takes great pride in but there are still many issues with Australia as well that we have explored through this blog.

Something that I have noticed is that Australia is part of many world organizations and they have made great strides in progress but they are still overshadowed by other countries such as the United States.  The country has many similarities to the United States in the sense of their progressive steps taken and their similar governments, but I do personally say that Australia has made more positive progress than the United States.  Australia in a way is slowly trying to become the new power country and as their power gains the similarities to their western counterparts are increasing as well.

As mentioned in a previous post, Australia has an increasingly larger problem with economic equality.  The gap between rich and poor in Australia is constantly widening.  The top 20% of households receive half of the income.  The bottom 20% only gets 4% of the income.  According to the Guardian, The Australian Council of Social Service reported in 2014 that the wealthiest people in Australia are now making five times as much as the poorest in the country.  The wealthy also have 70 times the assets of those with the lowest income.

Australia is a state that really does try to address many issues that the US does not do a very good job of such as trying to bring more indigenous or aboriginal people’s representation into their government along with a clear and concise plan to combat climate change.  Though overlooked many times, Australia is a good model country for a developed country that is make steady progress and it always trying to improve itselfimage-adapt-985-medium





Blog #8

My favorite guest lecture this semester was Karen Piper’s talk on environmentalism. I loved that she talked about water shortages, climate change, population growth, pollution, and many other topics as global problems that need to be addressed. Her lecture brought together many world problems dealing with human rights and the depletion of the environment into one big picture through one vital element for human life: water.

Saving water one droplet at a time

Piper relayed how climate change, groundwater loss, and pollution are all contributing to a global water shortage. Water consumption, nutrient pollution through fertilizers and pesticides, along with a loss of biodiversity are problems that I could personally impact! It was interesting how means that had been used to enhance life were now depleting life like fertilizers and antibiotics from overuse. Before her lecture, I had not seriously considered the effects of my water consumption on the rest of the United States. There were so many elements and factors that affected water shortages that Piper wove together to create an action plan for reducing water consumption and adapting to climate change. By adapting to the environmental changes around us and avoiding overconsumption of resources, intense problems like water shortages can be minimized. It was astounding and overwhelming to me that many factors culminated into one huge issue. Thankfully, readings from the day before the lecture talked about ways to reduce water consumption like shorter showers and decreasing car emissions, so the huge issues of climate change, pollution, and less water did not seem totally unchangeable. Honestly, I thought it was very interesting how huge problems are not exclusive like water shortages, deforestation, wildfires, polluted water, and erosion are all interconnected and related. This mindset helps me understand that by attacking one problem like pollution, I can make a tiny impact in other issues too.

Before the beginning of the semester, I had not heard of Oceania and only recognized the name: Papua New Guinea. My research on Papua New Guinea definitely opened my eyes to an entirely unfamiliar world that is very different from my own. I had no idea that one place could contain more than 800 different languages, nor that the government could be very corrupt even under supervision from the United Nations and the United States. It was new that people would want to live in isolation from the rest of the world for the sake of keeping their culture and way of life just as it is without technology. The tropical and mountainous geography of PNG also helped remote tribes remain independent from other people. Yet, voluntary isolation also excludes opportunities for modern medicine and vaccines that could help save lives in the community. The way of life is old and education, gender equality, human rights, and the like are all behind as well. Even so, modern advances like mining, logging, and sex trafficking are all over PNG isolated or not.

PNG copper mine

The logging industry works towards deforestation in PNG. Without as many trees, biodiversity depletes because there are not enough trees to absorb carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide pollutes the atmosphere and creates a ripple effect on the environment. The mining industry brings polluted air and possible erosion to the ground. Mining and logging both bring job opportunities along with negative environmental effects.

Sex trafficking is pervasive since women are generally regarded as inferior to men due to traditions like the bride price, a payment a husband brings to his finance’s family for her hand in marriage. Divided gender roles like hunting for me and gardening or taking care of children for women help enforce the superiority of men.

Port Moresby, PNG

It is still hard to imagine living in a tribal community in PNG after stopping by the urban areas like the capital, Port Moresby. Before the blog, I had no exposure to living in traditions and isolation, but PNG research helped broaden my scope. Like Karen Piper’s presentation on environmentalism, I was exposed to a variety of issue that were wrapped into one small country. The blog and presentations throughout the semester showed me that problems I thought could be solved with a little work were a lot more complex than I imagined. Gender inequality runs deep within societies especially in indigenous tribes like ones in Papua New Guinea. Climate change stems from humans polluting and taking advantage of the environment’s resources along with a myriad of other problems. The 30 United Nations Human Rights standards is the best picture of how humans should be living each day, but few know or live their full rights out. All of these problems are way more complex and broad than I ever thought. To reverse an issue, there will be a complementary set of complex steps towards a solution. These steps are similar to the actions it took to create the problem like human error and selfishness. A viable solution will take lots of errors and corrections to be made right along with a selfish desire to make the world better for one’s own sake.

Blog #7

For a couple to marry in Papua New Guinea, it is traditional for the soon-to-be husband to pay a bride price to his betrothed’s family. This bride price is set by the bride’s family and can be paid in goods or cash. If the couple decide to divorce, the bride’s family must pay the entire payment back to the husband. This tradition is one aspect of the PNG culture that contributes to the objectification and abuse of women. With the high inflation of bride prices, women are often left in difficult and potentially abusive relationships, because they or their families unable to repay the bride price. The ingrained view of dominant husbands and submissive wives coupled with the high payment for marriage, men can become entitled and view women as a prize or object to command. This subservient view  contributes to PNG’s high rate of sex trafficking.

Kina shells as seen above traditionally paid for the bride price in Papua New Guinea. 

Along with the bride price tradition, tribal leaders commonly exchange the servitude of girls or children to forge political relations. Parents have been reported to prostitute or sell their children to brothels to pay for family expenses.

“Children, including girls from tribal areas as young as 5 years old, are reportedly subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor by members of their immediate family or tribe.” 

If separated from their husband or forced to beg for family income, women and girls can also be lured into sex slavery by promises of work and income. Men and boys are also trafficked for slavery working in logging and mining camps. Altogether, the Papua New Guinean government has made small steps towards addressing and preventing the trafficking of its people and foreign visitors.

Landowner Tusuwe Nekaiye of the Kapolasi clan sits in front of sign against logging in Bula, Middle Fly district Western Province

PNG enacted the Criminal Code Amendment of 2013 that outlaws human trafficking like sexual and labor forms including penalties of a maximum of 20 years imprisonment for adult trafficking and 25 years imprisonment for child trafficking. Yet, in 2016, the government of PNG did not prosecute any perpetrators of human trafficking as reported by the U.S. Department of State. This trend has been pervasive in PNG with sparse convictions of trafficking and cases of trafficking offenses dropped on the basis of little evidence. Trafficking cases in the criminal courts were referred to tribal courts where no perpetrators were imprisoned and traffickers were forced to pay only restitution to victims. In the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report for PNG, the national government is not making efforts to meet minimum international standards for eradicating trafficking. Instead, international organizations are the ones identifying victims, yet the national government sentenced 12 of the 21 identified victims of trafficking to prison for illegal entry into PNG.

“A major barrier hindering PNG’s progress is the presence of trafficking-related corruption at high levels of government, for example through the acceptance of bribes to allow illegal migrants to enter the country or the trading of female trafficking victims for political favours and votes.” 

The government does not provide any services or support for trafficked victims nor has prosecuted any offenders. No investigations of government officials regarding sex slavery were enacted in 2016 either. With the government and culture of PNG behind human trafficking, the pervasive slavery climate has become the norm of the country. With further international regulation from the National Human Trafficking Committee and work with NGOs and international organizations, PNG should make continuous progress towards decreasing human trafficking and increasing victim support.

International steps towards the recognition and eradication of human trafficking are being made under the table through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

According to the article, Born Free by Sarah Mendelson, Sustainable Development Goals are the new  sources for international awareness of human trafficking. The SDGs previously replaced MDGs or UN Millennium Development Goals that focused donors and organizations alike on specific issues in developing countries like HIV infections and extreme poverty. The new goals, SDGs, include vague references to human trafficking by supporting gender equality, decent work for everyone, and inclusive societies. It is documents like the UN’s Outcome Document that continue to perpetrate human trafficking by not specifically addressing the issue. In fact, the Outcome Document talks about “trafficking” of wildlife.

“We recognize the economic, social and environmental impacts of illicit trafficking in wildlife, where firm and strengthened action needs to be taken on both the supply and demand sides.”

There needs to be more awareness and education about human trafficking rather than only supporting gender empowerment and equal opportunity.

Human trafficking is the modern age slavery 

Without broadcasting trafficking as an international, urgent problem, governments like PNG may not be pressured or highly regulated to eradicate the practice. Human trafficking can be eradicated through awareness and support of the public, donors, governments, and the global community to create accountability and action for this modern-day slavery.

Post #7 Australia

“Freedom is the birthright of every human being.”

Human trafficking is an apparent problem in Australia and has been addressed by the government.  According to the Human Trafficking section of the Australian Federal Police website, “Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices such as servitude, forced labour and forced marriage are complex crimes and a major violation of human rights.”

Around the world men, women and children are trafficked for a wide range of exploitative purposes, such as:

  • Servitude
  • Slavery
  • Forced labour
  • Debt Bondage
  • Forced marriage
  • Organ harvesting

Australia is a primary destination country for many people that are trafficked from Asia.  Countries include Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia.  Australia’s slavery, slavery-like and human trafficking offenses are described and laid out in Division 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995.

As with many crimes, an accurate and exact figure for the number of persons that are trafficked into Australia is virtually impossible to ascertain.  There are estimates of number of victims but they show a huge discrepancy of the amount that are officially detected.  This shows how many potential cases that are not being addressed and thus being a large problem for Australian government.  The discrepancy between the amount of recording trafficking and the estimated number is due to high levels of under-reporting.  Trafficked persons are often scared and too terrified to contact authorities because they are fearful of the possible consequences for themselves and their families if they were to be detected.

The Global Slavery Index puts the number at 29.8 million, which is over twice the number of Africans enslaved between 1525 and 1866, according to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

Unfortunately, trafficking matters may not be identified as trafficking matter but instead be charged with a range of other offenses.  Other offenses include kidnap/abduction, assault and domestic violence but not with trafficking.  This has raised concerns for the validity, accuracy and reliability of the methodologies used to calculate reported estimates.

The Australian Institute of Criminology provided aggregate statistics from the Autralian Government agencies between January 2004 and June 2011.  They concluded that 305 investigations and assessments of trafficking-related offenses were conducted by the AFP’s Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams.  184 victims of trafficking had been provided with assistance through the government funded Office for Women’s Support for Trafficked Persons (STP) Program.  13 people have been convicted for people trafficking-related offenses (9 of the 13 defendants were convicted of slavery offenses, 3 of sexual servitude and 1 of people trafficking).

Australia works collaboratively with other countries to combat human trafficking. For example, Australia and Indonesia co-chair the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. Australia’s aid program also supports a number of aid projects in the Asia region, including the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015–19 provides the strategic framework for Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery. The plan was developed with government and non-government partners, and was launched by the Minister for Justice, the Hon Michael Keenan MP, in December 2014.

“Three out of every 1,000 persons worldwide are in forced labour at any given point in time”

According to the plan, “Australia is committed to a future where no one is subjected to human trafficking or slavery, and the human rights of all people are valued equally.”  They  acknowledge that the international community has recognized the fundamental right of all people to be free regardless of race, age, disability, religion, sex, sexuality or gender.  The plan says how human trafficking and slavery are serious crimes that do not exhibit the fundamentals of freedom and how it is the most grave of human rights violations.  The plan is a strategic framework for Australia’s response to human trafficking and slavery over the years 2015 to 2019.  The plan is the successor to the Australian Government’s 2004 Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons, and further extends that plan.  The plan of the goal is to expand and build on the successes of that plan.

Human trafficking is mentioned a couple times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Human trafficking is first mentioned in the 27th article of the introduction of the goals stating, “We will eradicate forced labour and human trafficking and end child labour in all its forms.”

In Goal 5, Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, human trafficking is addressed again in the second statement.  “Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.”


There are multiple ways to combat human trafficking but the most important thing for everyone to do to help is to know the signs of human trafficking so it can be identified.  The U.S. Department of State and the Australian Federal Police have listed indicators of human trafficking on their respective websites.  Some signs include:

  • the person appears to be servicing a large debt to their employer or a third party;
  • the person does not possess their passport or travel/identity documents, which are with their employer or a third party, and the person is unable to access these documents when they wish to do so
  • the person does not have a labour or employment contract/agreement , or they do not understand the terms or conditions of their employment;
  • the person is unable to terminate their employment at any time;
  • the person is subject to different or less favourable working conditions than other employees because he/she comes from overseas;
  • the person never or rarely leave their accommodation for non-work reasons;
  • the person is living at the place of work or another place owned or controlled by their employer;
  • the person has little or no money or no access to their earnings;
  • the person has physical injuries which may have resulted for assault, harsh treatment or unsafe work practices;
  • the person is always in the presence of their employer, who does not want or allow the worker to socialise with others;
  • the person works excessively long hours and have few, if any, days off
  • the person regularly between different workplaces, including interstate.

(Source: AFP)

Once a victim of human trafficking is identified or suspected, it must be reported immediately.  Human trafficking is a global problem and everyone can help if they have proper awareness and knowledge of the topic.




Post #6

Linda Polman brings up multiple flaws of Non-Governmental organizations (NGO’s) in her book The Crisis Caravan.  Some of the main ones are the absence of rules, regulation and governance in humanitarian aid.  There is a rather wide and free market type of thinking amongst these organizations where there’s a lot of reliance of personal judgement, which many times is not helpful.

In Chapter 3, she discusses about “My Own NGOs” or MONGOs for short.  The talks about how MONGOS often have lack of knowledge and experience.  Henri Dunant was one of the first people to establish a professional humanitarian aid organization, which is the Red Cross.

Henri Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross.

“Whoever feels like it can establish an organization and start collecting money”

Though the Red Cross is a large and successful NGO, NGO’s still function in a free market world and Polman argues how that can be very problematic.  One of the issues brought up is how many NGO’s have good intentions but end up being more of an annoyance.  A lot of the supplies brought overseas are full of defective or broken equipment and drugs that are often expired.  Clothes is also another problem as theres many places where a surplus clothes is shipped to that much of the clothes is thrown away.  Shipping is a huge cost and theres a huge inefficiency when a lot of the goods being shipped are completely unusable.

Another example of the consequences of this free market of NGOs is that there are huge and disastrous mistakes that are made by large NGOs.  Such as when the European Commission sent supplies of food that contained radioactive contamination.

“Whenever aid organizations appear, local political, military, and business leaders suddenly start driving around in expensive cars and building splendid houses”

Polman says, “There’s no rules, no limits, and no requirement to have any understanding for the local balance of power or to coordinate with other parties involved.”  This is huge issue as there are many times where NGOs are actually giving money to troops or the government.  Polman recounts the time where she had to pay a fee to enter a warzone.  This is not uncommon as there are many warlords who require a fee or some percentage of the NGOs income to enter the war zone and help aid war victims.

The reason why there is no regulation in war zones is because after wars there is no chance of fair competition as explained by Polman.  It will take years for a peace accords to be written and because there is usually no government in place, there is no regulation leaving the international NGOs (INGO) to be freely controlled by the warlords and commanders that are still in power.

A photo of Tamil Tiger rebels that Caritas had to pay a large sum of many to in order to provide aid to the victims of the war.

In Northern Sri Lanka, it would have been nearly impossible to provide aid and help with reconstruction if they did not negotiate with the rebels, the Tamil Tigers.  The humanitarian aid organization Caritas had to set up in their territories and paid a large sum of money to the Tigers.  This is problematic as Tigers are seen as a terrorist group by many Western countries.  Caritas justified their negotiations with the Tiger by saying that they were able to aid the people in need even though they are financing the Tigers.

This is an issue between saying no and doing nothing or trying to help but knowing that there is possibly more harm caused.  Polman explicitly states that she does not offer a solution but there needs to be an option to say no.  She wants to make sure that the system itself needs to be criticized and there needs to be some sort of regulation on top of a free market.  There is the question of whether or not the balance of aid is outweighing the negative and harm.  The question of when does humanitarian aid “cease to be ethical.”

NGOs and other aid organizations are often put under a veil of innocences and heroism.  That is why Polman describes them as businesses dressed up as Mother Teresa.  Businesses are seen as independently own and only for profit, which is really apparent in many NGOs and INGOs.  Because they are independently owned and non-government regulated, there is no rules for what they can or cannot do.  The reason they are described as dressing up as “Mother Teresa” is because they are in a disguise of being aid and humanitarian organization.  This means that the media automatically assumes that there are absolutely no flaws in these organizations when in reality there is many flaws that need to be address.

What Polman is calling for is for journalists, the public and governments to not solely rely on the free market world of the NGOs because there needs to be regulation and there needs to be criticism.  There is a huge lack of criticism because of the stereotype that NGOs are 100% dedicating their time for good when they could very well be causing more harm.  Journalists need to report and investigate a lot more on the actions of aid organizations.  The public needs to be able to start an outcry and start a movement if necessary so the government should hopefully create regulations and laws that will indirectly make sure that NGOs (though ironic now) will actually be aiding instead of harming.


Blog #6

The major concerns Linda Polman raises in her book, The Crisis Caravan, are the lack of regulation and standardization of humanitarian aid and a free market mindset amongst humanitarian organizations.

Currently, international law and enforcement of humanitarian standards is sparse. The international Committee of the Red Cross spells out international humanitarian law as applicable only for armed conflict by protecting those who are not participating in the conflict as well as restricting warfare from superfluous injury and indiscriminately killing others. This international humanitarian law is established in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and further built upon in other agreements in the international community like Protocols of 1977 and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention. Despite many agreements of countries and states, there is little compliance to the international humanitarian law as there is little discipline for those who violate the law.

Polman’s book confirms that there is little standardization and governing of humanitarian organizations around the world. Through research, I have found many entities that allow for aid firms to voluntarily commit to a standard of humanitarian principles without discipline like the CHS Alliance. This is a consultative agency that enforces the Core Humanitarian Standard which are 9 guidelines for humanitarian organizations to follow to increase accountability and transparency with its constituents. Membership and certification in CHS is voluntary and not mandatory of aid organizations. When its members do not follow the 9 guidelines, the organization must submit actionable ways it will move towards reaching the CHS commitments or its certification will be lost.

“The CHS can be used by communities and people affected by crisis as a guideline for what to expect from those organisations committed to implementing the CHS. Through this, organisations can be held to account directly by the people they seek to serve.” 

The CHS Alliance is a small step towards a higher governing body for aid organizations. There are other governing bodies like UN’s financial tracking service that tracks reported money donated to fund specific response plans throughout the world or the International Aid Transparency Initiative that provides voluntary data of humanitarian resource use across the world. These organizations are reporting the money flow of donations used by aid organizations, but none truly regulate how these resources are used in crisis areas.

One organization, Caritas Australia, is working in Papua New Guinea on 11 projects dealing with education, community empowerment and health issues like HIV/AIDS. It is a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, the Australian Council for International Development.

Everyone is encouraged to discuss issues in the community–PNG Banz Community Conversation Program with Caritas Australia

This is an example of a government regulating its humanitarian aid organizations. The compliance of the code is voluntary and specifies standards for accountability and transparency. Compliance is regulated through annual financial reports and self-assessments. Outside of this code, Caritas Australia is regulated by its own hierarchy. Is one code of conduct and self-regulation of entities like Caritas Australia enough? The answer is agreed by Polman with a resounding “No”.

The financial reporting of many aid organizations may not account for the food and money lost to warlords or other looting involved in the distribution of resources to a needy area. More in-depth reporting to a higher agency and in depth questioning of humanitarian organizations is needed to keep service standards high for crisis management around the world.

Journalists, the public, and governments as Polman argues need to find out if aid firms are truly using the resources for the intended purpose. Journalists need to interrogate organizations exact details of the purpose and how much warlords are benefiting from the humanitarian help. In fact, donating money to these organizations must be informed and purposeful to keep resources going to the people who need them. With the help of smaller governing entities like the CHS Alliance or the ACFID Code of Conduct and financial transparency firms like the International Aid Transparency Initiative, humanitarian organizations can be slightly regulated and held accountable for their work.

Although there is still a lot more regulation to be done, aid organizations around the world still need to help needy people. Humanitarian aid should not be stopped despite possible exploitation by warring parties or profit seekers. In Papua New Guinea, the work of the Banz Community Conversation program has  reduced violence and helped increase HIV awareness and understanding among the people of the Jiwaka Province through Caritas Australia. Overall, there needs to be discretionary donating and movements towards higher humanitarian regulation to create a better impact on crisis areas and developing countries like Papua New Guinea. 

Post #5 Australia

The environmental movement in Australia began as a conservation movement and was the first in the world to become a political movement.  Australia was home to the world’s first Green party.

The normal and typical environmental movement is represented by a vast array of organizations.  The organizations are sometimes referred to as non-governmental organizations.  These organizations exist on international all the way down to local levels.  Environmental non-governmental organizations (NGO) show many different outlooks and political views and the amount they seek to influence environmental policy in Australia and elsewhere.  The environmental movement today in Australia consists of national and many small local groups with more localized concerns.  There are also 5,000 Landcare groups in six states and two mainland territories.

The normal environmental movement is represented by a wide range of organizations sometimes called non-governmental organizations. These organizations exist on local, national, and international scales. Environmental NGOs vary widely in political views and in the amount they seek to influence environmental policy in Australia and elsewhere. The environmental movement today consists of both large national groups and also many smaller local groups with local concerns. There are also 5,000 Landcare groups in the six states and two mainland territories.

The Landcare logo and hand sign as demonstrated.  (Source: Landcare Australia)


Landcare brings together groups of people who share a common problem and usually live in the same catchment. A catchment is an area that collects and directs water to a common point. By working together in a catchment, land degradation problems can be addressed successfully.

Australia has their own branch of government dedicated to bettering environmental issues called the Department of Environment and Energy.  Their website states that, “The Department designs and implements the Australian Government’s policies and programmes to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage and promote climate action. The environmental framework is being delivered under four pillars: Clean air, clean land, clean water and national heritage.”

There is also a Australian Human Rights Commission that funded by the government but works independently.  They hope to lead to the promotion of human rights in Australia and hopefully spread internationally as well.

In recent news for the Australian HRC, the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council adopted its annual resolution on “National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.”  Adopted on September 29th, Australia sponsored the resolution and 62 UN members also co-sponsored the resolution as well.

In general, the Human Rights Council resolution aims to provide National institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.

The entrance to the Australian Human Rights Commission Headquarters.  (Source: Australian Human Rights Commission) 

The Australian Human Rights Commission applauds and approves of Australia for sponsoring this resolution annually at the HRC.  The commission also appreciates the continued support for national human rights institutions (NHRIs).  The current Human Rights Council resolution included participation and contribution from the NHRIs to all relevant UN system.  The Commission included their input on issues such as the Status of Women, the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities and the Open-ended Working Group on Aging.

The resolution also paves way for the Merida Declaration and the role of NHRIs in implementing and further pushing for progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The inclusion of national human rights institutions helps bring more voices into power as what Farish Noor calls for in “Beyond Eurocentrism.”  Noor talks about there being a huge vast array of culture and diversities and there needs to be more of an exchange of ideas and thoughts and input.  This is especially important for Australia as they are extremely diverse with many different cultures and being one of the most diverse countries in the world.  The human rights commission in Australia is fighting for everyones voices to be heard and for equality for all voices.  This is what Noor would like to see in the world as well as he states, “There is no reason to believe that one of these perspectives is essentially better or more accurate than the other,” (70).

Human rights and climate change then eventually become overlapping issues and they are issues that usually are not addressed together but definitely have a relationship.  For example, climate change could be a reason that there are more displaced people around the world.  There could potentially be 50 to 200 million people being displaced from their homes and creating more international refugees by the year 2100.

There are many courtires where climate change effects have a huge influence on economic, social and political conflict.  These effects include water scarcity, loss of arable land, extreme weather events, shortened growing seasons, and melting glaciers.

Development is hindered by climate change given that many of the world’s poorest citizens depend directly on the environment for all or part of their daily livelihoods, many international development agencies see climate change and development as linked.


The Australian Human Rights Commission website provides a report that details the relationship between human rights and climate change.



Blog #5

Papua New Guinea has been moderated by the United Nations for environmental issues and human rights issues. Over the course of recent years, PNG has passed many laws pertaining to protecting people’s rights like the Family Protection Act that outlays penalties for domestic violence and gives help to victims. Yet, these laws have not been implemented in PNG. In the article, “Papua New Guinea: Address Abuses at UN”, Human Rights Watch concedes that

“PNG should also make concrete commitments to address other serious human rights issues highlighted in Human Rights Watch’s submission to the UPR [Universal Periodic Review], including police abuses, violations of women’s and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, the death penalty, extractive industries, and disability rights” 

Upon the Universal Periodic Review that reviews Papua New Guinea’s efforts to increase human rights over a multitude of issues earlier this year in May, PNG fell short of expectations as Elaine Pearson, the Australia director at Human Rights Watch commented,

“Over the last four years, we’ve seen no practical improvement in justice for violence against women,” Pearson said. “Countries need to press PNG to decriminalize abortion and implement the Family Protection Act without delay.” 

This Western standard of human rights reflects Farish Noor’s eurocentrism. The challenge of enforcing global human rights as the UN ultimately tries to do like promoting gender equality and freedom of expression is according to Noor in “Beyond Eurocentrism”, the gap of inequality between the Western and Eastern cultures. One is well off compared to the other, which brings a gap of understanding of cultural implications. With a history of the Western world colonizing other countries and indigenous societies, it is easy and natural for Western cultures to view their ideals as dominant towards other cultures. The eurocentrism mindset speaks into how world leaders at the UN attempt to govern countries like PNG that has not progressed to acceptable Western human rights standards. Yet, the true issue here is the enforcement of global human rights that are enforceable for all societies. This one-size fits all standard is a huge obstacle for differing cultures and values and can easily fall into ethnocentrism.

To balance the enforcement of global human rights and cultural values, cultural human rights philosophies and values should be revived as Noor argues, but these cultural values must be understood and leveraged by local and world leaders trying to enforce greater human rights. Instead of a passive understanding of another’s culture, one should dive into those values and relate them to the attempted global standard of human rights.

The culture and religion of Papua New Guinea is a mixture of Western and indigenous ideals that often are enacted side-by-side. Most PNG citizens identify their faith as Christianity which was introduced by missionaries to PNG in the 1700-1800s. These Christian beliefs are often enacted along with traditions rooted in indigenous belief systems like animism and totemism. Animism is the belief that all animals and living things have a soul like humans and ought to be respected as such. These spirits are to be pacified and respected through rituals and taking care of the environment. Other people of PNG who live in the forest usually have cultures rooted in totemism, in which an animal or plant is holy and revered. The totem, highly special animal or plant, is the glue that holds the people of the forest together as a civilization. The totem is not worshipped as a god but is used in traditions and can be a way for people to connect with their environment.

With these indigenous beliefs comes traditions and practices that are outlandish to the Western viewpoint: witch hunting. In PNG, witchcraft is widely believed and feared. When a someone dies like a child, sometimes the agreed upon cause by the tribe is a witch. A witch must have cast a spell or taken the heart of the person, and the tribe must find this perpetrator and bring her to justice. In modern times, witch hunting has metastasized in PNG especially in remote areas like the Highlands. The prone nature towards violence and inequality of women are a few affecting factors for the witch hunts. While the UN tries to regulate this violence through meetings with the PNG government and laws, a local woman in PNG is working against these frequent witch hunts by protecting accused witches and hiding them. 

Monica Paulus hides accused witches in Papua New Guinea

Acts like these on the domestic level are essential to grow human rights in a society. Change must happen within PNG before governmental regulation will make a huge difference.

In the end, cultural understanding, empathy and action within a country combined with global standards and regulation help enforce human rights.

Post #4 Australia

Earth is currently the only planet in existence with life and it has been thriving with life for possibly back to 4 billion years ago.  Unfortunately, the human race has only existed for about 200,000 yrs of that time and within the last few centuries we have managed to put the entire world in peril.  Human activity is really the only reason that global warming, over population, deforestation, pollution and many other environmental problems with the world.  The human race may be the most intelligent species on Earth but it also has managed to be the species that put the world on the brink of destruction.  I personally think that environmental issues should be the world’s top issue right now as that is the definitely the most imminent danger that every living thing is facing right now.  Many nations are only finding solutions for the short-term but this is completely ignoring the longevity the planet that we all live on.  It is very discouraging to see many world leaders (and even a United States presidential candidate) dismiss and completely ignore these extreme danger that the world is in.

The Climate of Australia (Source: Wikipedia)

Australia faces many environmental problems and climate issues as well as it is not an exception to the contribution to the destruction of the world.  The World Wide Fund (WWF) has listed many of the environmental problems in Australia.  Some of the issues include:

Deforestation is when forests are teared down and cut down to make more land for farming.  When forests are cut, the salinity of the soil can greatly increase. Salinity is the amount of salt in water.  The saline water draining from these certain areas can affect downstream or flow of water down.  There is an estimation that around seven percent of the agricultural area of western Australia is suffering from this problem following deforestation.

A few studies in Australia’s wet tropics show that soils have partially prevented recovery from deforestation. This makes deforestation much more costly.  Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) estimates that land degradation costs about $1 billion annually.
Agriculture clearing and over grazing is clearing activities for agricultural land.  Around 13 percent of Australia’s original vegetation has been removed since European settlement.  Overgrazing is one of the primary causes of problems on biodiversity in Australia. Grazing and other agricultural attempts at improvement have merely changed the vast areas of grasslands and open grassy woodlands. In temperate ecosystems, about 2 precent of the original grasslands only remain.  Moreover, overgrazing promotes desertification and erosion, and is also seen as one cause of the spread of invasive plants.
Australian grassland (Source: Geoff Park)
Overfishing has decreased part of Australia’s fish population to very record low levels. Two major factors account for this problem are the fact that some areas have low biological productivity , along intensive fishing efforts by commercial and recreational fisheries.  This prevents the fish from reproducing as a normal rate.  In 2005, about 20 percent of species that were observed and assessed in Australian waters were classified as overfished. Species that are currently still subjected to overfishing and are overfished include the southern bluefin tuna; blue warehou; silver trevally; orange roughy; and bigeye tuna in the Pacific and Indian Oceans beyond the Australian Fishing Zone.
Warm-water fish around Australia are moving southward to colonize the cool, temperate waters other Tasman Sea. (Source: Naharnet)

Illegal fishing is another factor that places further pressure on some species.  Fishes such as the patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean and sharks in northern Australian waters are now potentially endangered.

It is estimated that Australia gains around 20 new pests or diseases each year. Some well-known examples include cane toads, rabbits, willows and, more recently, black striped mussels and red fire ants. Historically, feral cats, foxes and rabbits have been a cause of local extinctions and significant reductions in range for native species through a combination of habitat modification and predation. They are a major ongoing problem.
Of continuing concern for Australia’s is continued population growth along the coastline. The formation of massive metropolitan centers with increasing population density on Australia’s coasts could possibly displace much valuable biodiversity and ‘high-value’ agricultural land.
There are many different organizations that address issues that were mentioned and many others not mentioned.  There are over 60 organizations in Australia that are Australia based and do not include the international.  Today, I will focus one locally based group, the Australian Environment Foundation (AEF).
AEF’s website states that they are “a not-for-profit, membership-based environmental organization having no political affiliation.  [AEF] takes an evidence-based, solution focused approach to environmental issues.”They have recently written an article about International Policy developments.  The discuss how the Obama administration along with others are pushing for less carbon emissions.

There are other groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation where their goal is for ecological sustainability.

ACF protesting for their cause.  (Source: ACF)


Blog Post #4

The earth is more than an environment we live in, it defines aspects of our culture, identities, and relationships. The greater meaning of Earth gives voice to an intrinsic responsibility to preserve and protect our world from future destruction. While it may be hard to realize climate change in developed countries from a more distant relationship with the environment, those of developing countries who depend on the land for life are hyper aware of global warming and other issues in climate change. The gap between experiencing and understanding climate change is a huge issue for many across the globe today. Western countries are generally more industrialized and commercialized therefore disconnected from experiencing climate change on a person level in nature. Yet, developing countries like Papua New Guinea whom depend on natural resources for survival are all too aware of the deadly implications of climate change. This gap does not discredit moral obligations to take care of the environment; it merely identifies areas of deficiencies. The intrinsic moral responsibility to care for the earth is not enough to take action. Instead, this obligation coupled with our dependency on nature for sustainable life creates the motivator for action. For example, staple food items like the taro root and banana for Pacific islanders are core parts of their culture intertwining nature with the daily life of a farmer, mother, or islander.

“In 2009, some residents of the Carteret Islands 80km off Bougainville became the first climate refugees following years of worsening storm surges and king tides” 

The Carteret Islands

As sea levels rise, Papua New Guinean islands like the Carteret Islands are hit hard by the pollution of crops and water via ocean waters. Worsening storms and king tides lend to infected water supplies from flooding. Over time, the staple foods and traditional actions or rituals associated with the harvesting, cooking, and consumption of those items are diminished as the food disappears from climate change. Other aspects of the culture change when rising sea levels sink houses, ruin gathering places, and force people to leave their homeland. The climate refugees of the Carteret Islands fled in 2009 to another area of PNG, the island of Bougainville. With a new environment came new ways of life and a change of culture. The integration of nature and culture along with the intrinsic moral obligation to protect the environment give motivation to take action against the depletion of the earth.

Nowadays, there are more environmental organizations distributed across the globe. In Papua New Guinea, the 350 PNG is a youth climate organization that aims to educate the youth of PNG about the effects of climate change. Originally created through Youth Against Corruption Association in 2013, 350 PNG is working to have one voice through youth in businesses, politicians, government, and many other organizations to fight climate change. 350 PNG is fighting rising sea levels increasing “at a rate more than double the global average, at 7mm per year”, increasing average temperature, acidic oceans, infrequent, intense storms, extreme rainfall, and climate refugees. Amid these environmental issues, PNG is degrading its natural resources through deforestation. The WWF, World Wide Fund for Nature, is one of the world’s largest conservation organizations involved in the deforestation issue in PNG with an office in Port Moresby called, “Western Melanesia Programme Office”. With over 70 percent of the island made up of forests, over 2 percent has been felled due to deforestation via logging, hunting, grazing, firewood collection, and monoculture plantations, the growth of one crop on a tract of land often demanding a lot of space and forestry.

Papua New Guinea as a country of huge biodiversity is the home of the Eastern Long Beaked Echidna 

The immense biodiversity of the country is depleted by the loss of natural habitats. Other effects of deforestation includes a loss of biodiversity, modified climate, and the loss of water cycling. As fewer trees populate the island, “less carbon dioxide is absorbed by trees, which accumulates in the atmosphere as a result of pollution. At the same time, there may be an increased presence of CO2 if trees  are being burnt”  Without as many trees, the water cycle may be effected since trees help reduce water pollution, increase evapotranspiration, the amount of water returned to the atmosphere, and combats erosion.

PNG also houses the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo 

All of these environmental changes are working to create a different world than the one today. This change will perpetrate if not already everyday life through different food staples, gathering places, transportation methods, and many other aspects of culture. The only way to minimize environmental change and preserve our livelihoods is to take action.