Les participants de la conférence sur les génocides et la violence de masse Photo: Nicole Matchoss
Les participants de la conférence sur les génocides et la violence de masse Photo: Nicole Matchoss

Une vingtaine d’années après le massacre tutsi au Rwanda, faisant plus de 2 millions de victimes, une conférence a été organisée à Genève afin de discuter d’un des problèmes les plus graves du continent africain: les génocides et la violence de masse.

L’événement, organisé par le magazine « Continent Premier » à l´occasion de son 12ème anniversaire, a réuni le conseiller spécial des Nations Unies pour la prévention du génocide, Adama Dieng, ainsi que l’ambassadeur de la francophonie auprès des Nations Unies, Ridha Bouabid et la professeure de l´Université de Genève, Sévane Garibien, autour d´une table ronde pour parler de la prévention de ces crimes contre l’humanité.

Le génocide et la violence de masse sont encore une réalité pour beaucoup de pays en Afrique et les spécialistes sont d´accord sur la nécessité et l’urgence de les prévenir. Néanmoins, force également est de constater que les génocides sont des crimes planifiés et causés par plusieurs facteurs qui comprennent les conflits ethno-raciaux, le non-respect des droits de l´homme, l´existence de régimes autoritaires et l´indifférence de la communauté internationale. C´est pour cette raison que prévenir la violence de masse et mettre en place des politiques des droits de l’homme, garantissant conciliations et respect de la diversité, devient une urgence avant d’être une nécessité.

Les spécialistes sont d´accord sur la nécessité et l’urgence de prévenir les crimes de masse Photo: Nicole Matchoss
Les spécialistes sont d´accord sur la nécessité et l’urgence de prévenir les crimes de masse Photo: Nicole Matchoss

Adama Dieng, occupant depuis 2012 un poste créé par les Nations Unies pour la prévention de génocides, explique que la mission de prévention n’est pas l’affaire d’un seul organisme ou pays, mais “la responsabilité de tout le monde”. Trente-cinq ans après la publication de la Charte africaine des droits de L´homme, Adama Dieng pense encore que la communauté internationale et l´Afrique ont beaucoup d´interrogations sur la motivation et le processus de prévention de ces crimes. “Dans certain cas, la communauté internationale décide d´intervenir dans un pays, plus pour changer de régime et se débarrasser d´un leader que pour protéger la population”.

La solution, selon Adama Dieng, est l´engagement dans une gestion constructive de la diversité et le renforcement de la démocratie. « Nous avons vu que ces crimes sont causés par l´exclusion religieuse et d’origine. A la base des violations graves, il y a des discours de haine et de discrimination raciale ou religieuse. Où il a génocide il y a déshumanisation ».

La professeure Sevane Garibian croit qu’il y plusieurs mesures pratiques très concrètes de prévention. “C’est souvent difficile parce que toute prévention de crime de masse est déterminée par une volonté politique d’agir”. Le premier instrument concerne la justice pénale, à travers des poursuites de responsabilités mises en place par la justice nationale ou internationale. Cependant, la justice pénale seule n´est pas suffisante ; “il faut lui ajouter d´autres mesures de démocratisation, de développement des droits de l’homme, de médiation et de coopération avec les gouvernements concernés”, explique-t-elle.

Professeure Garibian. Photo: Nicole Matches
Professeure Garibian. Photo: Nicole Matchoss

La deuxième mesure mentionnée par la professeure concerne la lutte contre la discrimination, les discours de haine et le négationnisme. “Ce combat est nécessaire. Il est absolument impensable de mettre en place la prévention sans discuter le discours de haine”. Un outil très important dans ce processus est l´éducation. “L’étude et la connaissance du passé sont fondamentaux, ainsi que la pensée critique et analytique”. La politique mémorielle, selon Garibian, occupe également un rôle important – la commémoration, les monuments, la recherche de traces des crimes sont importants pour penser à la problématique de prévention.

Ridha Bouabid, représentant de la francophonie auprès des Nations Unies, explique qu’il faut donner la priorité aux acteurs nationaux avant d’imposer une quelconque solution externe. “Nous devons tout faire pour protéger la coopération, aider à créer des dialogues et favoriser les conditions propices, mais nous ne pouvons pas faire la paix à la place des protagonistes humains”, défend-il.

L´ambassadeur de L´Union Africaine, Jean-Marie Ehouzou, confirme en disant que, malgré la bonne volonté de la communauté internationale et les textes extraordinaires, les questions de prévention échouent du fait des principes qui sont transgressés. “Les crises sont anciennes et les décisions sont souvent prises au niveau supranational du Conseil de sécurité. Il faut trouver des solutions africaines. Nous sommes autonomes, l´Afrique est indépendante. Il faut respecter les institutions qui sont en place”.

Écrit par Vívian Soares

A conference dedicated to the relevance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the Private Sector took place last Friday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The high-level event, in conjunction with the 2030 Agenda, was held by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with the Rotary Club Genève International and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services. During the conference, a panel of experts representing the public and private sectors, as well as the Swiss Government and International Organizations, shared their opinions on why it is necessary to encourage companies to implement SDG in their business policies and how can it be done.

The executive director of UNITAR, Nikhil Seth, kicked off the conference with a detailed presentation of the SDG. The 2030 Development Agenda was signed by 193 member countries on 25 September 2015. It includes a set of 17  SDG to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. According to Nikhil Seth, SDG cannot be achieved without the businesses commitment.

UNITAR CONFERENCE2

But how can the private sector be encouraged to contribute to SDG achievement? Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of the UNCTAD, sees a part of the solution to the problem in building an innovation system that would enable countries to absorb new technologies. This could be reached thanks to a network of incubators and clusters linking universities to the private sector.

Implementing SDG collaboration between various institutions is essential, according to Monika Linn from UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). “While developing standards and regulations, we are bringing together all stakeholders: businesses, academia and civil society”, she said. UNECE believes that by bringing all actors together, a multiple perspective with respect to the diversity of interests is built.

Diverse thinking can be also applied to business models, according to Walter Gyger, who was speaking for Rotary International. He believes that the traditional business model is no longer an alternative. Companies need to focus not only on profitability but also sustainability and become more long-term oriented. In his opinion, no government can tackle the current problems alone, therefore all concerned parties, businesses, academia and civil society, have to contribute to the sustainability agenda.

Horyou CEO, Yonathan Parienti, emphasized the potential of the global civil society, which is ready to bring the change. Horyou creates conditions to move the society forward while building bridges to connect people across countries and cultures. The progress toward sustainability will be pushed forward as investors will intensify their funding of social innovation. “We must support the innovators of tomorrow”, he concluded.

Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou
Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou

So why are investors hesitating? Philip Moss from World Economic Forum explained: “Business representatives are anxious about implementing SDG and need assistance”. This phenomenon is evidenced in the context of investment in developing countries. Despite the high interest from investors and the attractive demographic conditions that promise huge market opportunities, companies estimate that the risk is to high in comparison to the expected ROI. A better business climate would encourage them to allocate more capital in developing markets. Those favourable conditions can be created by initiatives like Convergence, which is a platform that blends private, public, and philanthropic capital for the greater good. Convergence helps connect various investors for “blended finance” opportunities in emerging and frontier markets.

Along the same lines, Marion Jansen, Chief Economist at International Trade Centre, brought up the need for support of the private sector. She thus focused on the role of small and medium-sized businesses which represent about 80% of business worldwide and 70% of global employment. “SMEs are much less productive than large firms and the wages are accordingly lower” she stated. A way to preserve the viability of the SME is to increase its productivity. This can be done through collaboration with private and public partners like the Chambers of commerce. It is crucial to provide clear guidelines to small and medium-sized companies and help them to comply with the standards.

Wanda Lopuch, member of the board of directors at Global Sourcing Council, pointed out that language was another obstacle on the way to implementing SDG by private companies: “Unless we incorporate the language of business, which must include the word “profit”, we will be loosing tremendous opportunities”, she warned. According to Lopuch, the visionary and inspirational language of diplomacy used to communicate about SDG is not adequate to the private sector which prefers operational and measurable business terms. The communication style needs to be adapted to those recipients in order to make them feel like “SDG-owners” and to convince them to participate in the implementation of sustainability goals. She defined the expectations toward the private sector as «profit with purpose» that can be created through impact investment and financing high-risk businesses.

The discussion was completed with the optimistic observation of Matthew Kilgarriff, Vice-President of Global Compact Network Switzerland, who reminded the audience that more than 8,000 for profit organizations are already allied with UN through their voluntary commitment to Global Compact. This proves that companies are willing to take this step to transform our world through principled business and “gives hope for a more sustainable future”, he concluded.

Written by Joanna Kozik

The Skoll World forum, fittingly held at Oxford university, has become a stand out event in the global development calendar where academics, entrepreneurs from the profit and non profit sectors, government officials and media gather on one of the most famous sites of education in the world and share ideas.

However, while the students are tucked away in library carousels studying historical texts, attendees of the Skoll World Forum are in lecture theaters discussing the very imminent and present issues facing our world today. With this in mind, it is no wonder that Skoll World Forum founder Jeff Skoll singled out climate change as a main point of focus in his opening speech.

Jeff Skoll giving his opening remarks
Jeff Skoll giving his opening remarks

The theme of this year’s event was ‘fierce compassion’, something that he said will be a definitive element in the race to fight climate change. To explain what is meant by fierce compassion, he alluded to the great philosopher Adam Smith in saying ‘it is to join in fellowship with others, to act and intervene and be fierce in response to crisis’. The more that we read evidence of climate change, open our ears to research and engage in cross industry dialogue, the more we realize that it has been caused by a collective intense use of resources and will be reversed only by a collaborative effort.

Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and current President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice emphasized that it is an issue that goes far beyond the atmosphere, it is an issue of human rights. Mobilizing developing countries to be able to insulate themselves from climate change is crucial. These are the people that stand to feel the effects the fastest – food security issues, increasing drought, erosion of infrastructure.

“We need to exercise compassion and reach the furthest behind first, there is 1.3 billion people with no access to energy. We need finance and a transfer of technology to the marginalized, to enable them to make the very necessary leap into clean energy solutions”, Robinson said.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson

There was certainly an air of progress around the forum this year. Last year, people were full of ambition in what could be achieved and certainty on the developmental challenges that had to be met, however this year there was the addition of the COP21 agreement. Post-Paris, we have set specific goals and each country’s performance on them will be measured. We have set a 1.5% limit on carbon emissions with 5 year commitment periods, meaning progress of all 195 countries that signed will be tracked and evaluated.

By the second half of this century, we have pledged to have carbon emissions at 0%, a monumental goal but a firm belief that there is no alternative, we are moving in the direction of a post carbon economy.

Aside from climate change, the ongoing refugee crisis that is engulfing Europe and the Middle East was also singled out as one of our most immediate threats to society at present. Similar to climate justice, it has now become an issue of human rights. Every human has the right to live; this right is being violated by the civil unrest in the countries they are trying to flee. So when they are denied entry to a safe country as is happening in many European States, it can be argued they are being denied the basic right to life.

The narrative for many countries defending their borders has been that refugees will take advantage of their social welfare system, however, for the majority of people fleeing from Syria, peace is wealth. Jeff Skoll asked the audience to strip away all of the debate around free movement and pressure on resources and look at the moral choice – what is right and wrong, should these people be given the chance to live or die?

The closing plenary session of the Skoll World Forum
The closing plenary session of the Skoll World Forum

It is here that social entrepreneurs, like many at the forum, can play a pivotal role. The perception of refugees needs to be changed, NGO’s and social innovators can engage in creative capacity building, maximize their potential, integrate them and make them productive members of society. It is likely that these efforts will be met with the utmost energy, there is nobody more enthusiastic and innovative than someone looking for a new future, for themselves or family.

The central role of social entrepreneurs and voices of social good, like Horyou in facilitating this change was highlighted throughout the forum. However, as mentioned at the beginning, there will need to be collaboration across industry and government at every level and at scale to achieve the development goals we have set out.

Horyou values such as compassion, positivity and solidarity reverberated through the audience at the end of the closing session. The overall sense to take away from the forum, in terms of international development, was one of hope but also urgency. The Paris agreement and the recognition that the migrant crisis is the responsibility of every state gives solid ground to move forward on. However, the time for discussion is over.

With every day that passes, there is another casualty of drought in Mali or another refugee lost at sea. Climate change and the migrant crisis, the two defining developmental crises of our time, cannot be cast off as issues of the environment or finance or politics, they are issues of human rights.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

Chaplin's World museum
Chaplin’s World museum

After more than 15 years of planning, Chaplin’s World has finally been opened a day after what would have been the British screen legend’s 127th birthday. Horyou had a chance to visit the museum before the official opening.

Below you can read our report on this unique and worthwhile experience.

The interactive museum showcasing the life and works of Charlie Chaplin is situated in his former home in Switzerland’s Corsier-sur-Vevey village and it consists of two separate venues that picture Chaplin both as an artist and a man.

We started our visit in a newly built mock-up of a Hollywood studio dedicated to Chaplin’s on-screen work, which began in 1914. After watching a short compilation of the most iconic Chaplin movies, we took a walk through re-creations of the legendary film sets. Precisely designed scenography made us feel like movie crewmembers. Apart from admiring the vintage camera equipment and funny props, we were given the chance to take pictures with wax figures of Chaplin’s collaborators such as Sophia Loren or friends like Albert Einstein created by the Grevin wax museum in Paris.

The museum reproduces scenes of Chaplin's career with wax statues
The museum reproduces scenes of Chaplin’s career with wax statues (Photo by Chaplin’s World)

In the Manoir de Ban, the second part of the museum, we got an insight into Chaplin’s private life. The artist lived in the estate with his wife Oona and their eight children after he was barred from the United States during the McCarthy era. He spent there his last 25 years, which he considered to be the happiest of his life.

Part of the display are unique albums and movies donated by the Chaplin family. This impressive collection shows the cinema legend in his everyday life and reveals Chaplin as a loving husband and father.

We finished our visit with a walk through the Manoir’s park enjoying the view on the Geneva Lake surrounded by the Alps.

The museum has a beautiful park and view for the Alps
The museum has a beautiful park and view for the Alps (photo by Chaplin’s World)

CHAPLIN’S WORLD was inspired by the humanistic values and pioneering genius that made Charlie Chaplin an international icon. The project was initiated by architect Philippe Meylan and cultural entrepreneur Yves Durand who aims to deliver an interactive and entertaining experience to visitors.

Written by Joanna Kozik

Yonathan Parienti was a panellist at YouthSpeak Forum
Yonathan Parienti was a panellist at YouthSpeak Forum

Organized by AIESEC, a global youth-driven organization, the first Swiss YouthSpeak Forum happened on April 14th, in Geneva. Horyou blog participated in the event and is hereby disclosing what future entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators think about their role on shaping a better world.

The YouthSpeak Forum was a day-long event with many activities: presentations, business cases, discussion pannels and a few problem-solving workshops. Among the participants were young people from all over the world – The Netherlands, Lithuania, India, UK and Brazil were some of the nationalities that were doing good networking. The conversation was easy and fluid during the breaks, and people were really interested in each other’s stories, professional projects and concerns.

The morning sessions were dedicated to presentations. Public figures as the mayor or Geneva Esther Alder and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) director Maria Luisa Silva talked about innovation and sustainability as key elements for development. “Young people need to have their voices heard in order to ensure a future for the planet”, said Silva; she highlighted the fact that the 17 new UN Sustainable Development Goals, launched last September, have a strong focus on youth participation and benefits.

The Mayor of Geneva, Esther Alder
The Mayor of Geneva, Esther Alder

After her lecture, the attendees watched business cases from organizations like Ashoka and Bcorp Switzerland. The latter showed how the new generations value purpose-driven companies. “New business models are arising and companies that want to cause impact following social, environmental, transparency and accountability standards are better on attracting Millenials”, explained Jonathan Normand, co-founder or Bcorp.

The morning ended with the pannel “The role of youth in shaping tomorrow’s society”. Yonathan Parienti, CEO and founder of Horyou, was invited panellist and talked about how everyone from all origins, ages and backgrounds, can contribute to the development. He presented Spotlight, the first global social currency, as a way to support projects and organizations worldwide. “I feel very hopeful with the youth role on shaping better times to come. Horyou platform connects all generations for the same goal: to promote social good”, said Yonathan.

Afternoon sessions were dedicated to workshops on social entrepreneurship, innovation, design thinking and ethics for businesses. Horyou blog participated on a UNDP workshop about the Social Good Summit, that will happen in September. The attendees had to present innovative ideas to the event, using communication, content and logistic projects – being a communication and media company, we engaged in very fruitful conversations and helped the UN agency with many ideas in view of the upcoming Summit!

The YouthSpeak Forum was a very rich experience for our team. Being surrounded by the future entrepreneurs, business and political leaders and innovators inspired us to keep promoting the social good through technology and communication!

Written by Vivian Soares

Dara and Naleen are reunited with Merkhaz who arrived the previous day, and the group walk towards the reception centre for asylum seekers, in Ter Apel, Holland. Ter Apel is the location of the only reception centre in Holland for asylum seekers. Dara decided to take his family here after speaking to other members of the Kobane group who had arrived in Germany. They told him that conditions in Germany were crowded, with new arrivals being put in tents. ; The group is made up of over 20 Kurdish refugees who left Kobane at various times since September 2014 and came together in Turkey in order to travel together to Europe. Almost all have had their homes destroyed in Kobane and many have lost relatives and friends in the violence that began when ISIS first besieged the town in September 2014. The group consists of 4 families and a few single men and teenagers, many of them are relatives.
Kurdish refugees travelling to Europe.
As Chief of Content Production at UNHCR, the Refugee Agency for the UN, Christopher Reardon has a very noble and difficult mission – to keep the public opinion aware and actively interested on the refugee crisis. In a world where refugee stories have to compete for public attention with cute pet videos, celebrity news and social media, the strategy of UNHCR is to innovate and tell compelling stories in many different ways. Christopher Reardon gave the following interview to Horyou blog:

1 – Horyou is a platform to support and promote people and projects that are making a positive impact on our world. Tell us about your work and how it is contributing to social good? 

We’re trying to build bridges of empathy that connect audiences around the world with people who are fleeing war and persecution. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people on earth, but the numbers — roughly 60 million people are displaced worldwide, the most since the Second World War — are sometimes hard to comprehend. So we tell stories about individuals, people like you and me but with the misfortune of being caught up in a conflict. We look for survivors whose stories are surprising, memorable and worthy of sharing with friends — like the one featuring a teenage swimmer from Syria who is trying to qualify for the Olympics, or the one about a boy who was buried alive by Boko Haram and survived.

2 – As a content professional working on the humanitarian field, what is your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is that we’re competing with so many other things for people’s attention: status updates from friends, news stories that hit closer to home, cat videos — the whole internet, really. As conflicts drag on, and political leaders fail to work out solutions, even people who care about refugees and who want to help can lose hope or become numb to what is happening. We publish stories of resilience and generosity, as well as newsier pieces, to help keep them engaged. (Here’s one about generosity.)

3 – The refugee crisis seemed to raise public commotion in 2015, with Alan Kurdi’s death. How is UNHCR strategy to keep the public aware and engaged by the time passes?

As the photo of Alan Kurdi went viral, there was a tremendous outpouring of support for refugees arriving in Europe. But public sentiment has shifted in recent months. Now we’ve entered a period of closed minds and closed borders. This makes the work of our content teams even more important. We’re looking for stories that will break through the fear and intolerance, stories that will inspire people and their governments to rise to the occasion with sensible policies that fulfill their legal obligations to provide protection.

4 – Can you mention some of the main innovative tools you are working with now?

Our multimedia content teams are constantly in learning mode, looking for new ways of gathering, telling and sharing refugee stories. We use tools like Slack and WhatsApp to stay in touch, we shoot video with GoPros and drones and VR, and we use social media to reach and engage vast audiences. But the best storytelling tools are still our eyes and ears — seeing what refugees are going through and listening to what they have to say.

Christopher Reardon is the Chief of Content for the UNHCR
Christopher Reardon is the Chief of Content for the UNHCR

5 – As an experienced professional within the humanitarian field, do you see changes in how new generations are embracing social topics as the refugees one?

Young people (and increasingly older people too) often learn about humanitarian issues the way they learn about everything else — through social media. They tend to trust content shared by friends more than content that comes to them directly, so the challenge for a team like mine is to create content that’s worth sharing. Millennials are often labeled as self-absorbed, but there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary. They may be more open to communicating with people who hold different views, and come from different parts of the world, than my own generation is. I find that really heartening.

6 – What are your thoughts about the future of social innovation?

All innovation is social, isn’t it? Whether you’re talking about technology, human rights, music or anything, great ideas and great advancements don’t come out of a vacuum. They come from interactions between and among people (in addition to learning, lived experience and time for reflection). What’s great about online communities is that we can connect with more people, in more places, than ever before. We can use them to address social problems that have long eluded us – including, I hope, the global refugee crisis.

We are very thankful for having Christopher Reardon interview in our blog! We are also convinced that innovation is one of the best tools for doing good. Horyou hopes UNHCR keeps telling good stories and touching people’s hearts on the refugee crisis.

Written by Vivian Soares

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