Archiv für den Monat: Oktober 2016

Unbekannt und doch immens wichtig: der UN-Zivil- und der UN-Sozialpakt

Von Monika Griefahn

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UN-Zivil- und UN-Sozialpakt – beide Abkommen werden in diesem Jahr 50 Jahre alt und haben sicherlich eine große Bedeutung für zivilgesellschaftliche Bewegungen wie Gewerkschaften, Behindertenverbände und Menschenrechtsorganisationen weltweit. Leider werden sie sehr wenig wahrgenommen.

Wie die Abkommen abseits der breiten öffentlichen Wahrnehmung jedoch trotzdem wirken, das beschrieb jetzt eine Tagung des Deutschen Instituts für Menschenrechte im Auswärtigen Amt in Berlin. Selbst der Hohe Kommissar der Vereinten Nationen für Menschenrechte, der Jordanier Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, war zu der Festveranstaltung gekommen, um für die notwendigen Umsetzungen von Menschenrechten zu werben.

So forderte er neben den Kinder- und Frauenrechten auch die Rechte von Lesben, Schwulen, Bisexuellen und Transgender (LGBT) ein – etwas, das in vielen Ländern noch immer unter Strafe steht. Und noch immer ist es ja auch nicht selbstverständlich, dass Menschen mit Behinderungen in alle Gesellschaften gleiche Rechte haben.

Außenminister Frank Walter Steinmeier hob in seinem Redebeitrag die Situation von Flüchtlingen in aller Welt hervor und das Menschenrecht auf Asyl, dass – wir sehen das aktuell sehr deutlich – in unterschiedlichen Ländern sehr unterschiedlich interpretiert wird.

Worum genau geht es nun in den beiden Pakten?

Der „Zivilpakt“ ist ein Abkommen über bürgerliche und politische Rechte. Der „Sozialpakt“ ist ein Abkommen über wirtschaftliche, soziale und kulturelle Rechte. Beide Vertragstexte wurden über annähernd zwei Jahrzehnte in der Weltgemeinschaft diskutiert und schließlich 1966 einstimmig von der UN-Generalversammlung angenommen. Während zum Beispiel der „Zivilpakt“ das Verbot von Folter und das Recht auf Leben niederschreibt, postuliert der „Sozialpakt“ das Recht auf soziale Sicherheit und das Recht auf Arbeit – um nur zwei von zahlreichen Themen zu nennen. Alle Unterzeichnerstaaten haben sich verpflichtet, an der Umsetzung dieser und aller weiteren formulierten Rechte auf nationaler Ebene zu arbeiten. Rechtlich bindend sind die Vertragsgarantien allerdings nicht.

Mit diesen beiden Pakten wurden zwei Abkommen grundlegender Art unterzeichnet. Dass sie heute wenig wahrgenommen werden, mag auch daran liegen, dass es in der Folge zahlreiche monothematische Menschenrechtsabkommen gab, wie die Erklärung über die Diskriminierung von Frauen oder die Resolution über das Verbot der Folter. Im Jahr des 50-jährigen Bestehens sind 168 Staaten Mitglied im Zivilpakt, 164 im Sozialpakt. Noch nicht dabei: China und die USA. In Deutschland wird das Grundgesetz als das gesehen, was die Vertragsnormen weitgehend umsetzt. Weltweit gibt es punktuell große Defizite, etwa dort, wo Krieg herrscht oder die Staatlichkeit schwach ist.

Doch auch wenn das so ist, bleibt die Frage, wie die Welt ohne diese Zielsetzungen aussehen würde – und ohne die ihnen ja zugrunde liegenden internationalen und fortdauernden Diskussionen über Menschenrechte. Schlimmer, fürchte ich. Darum finde ich es gut, dass sich die UN-Weltgemeinschaft auf diese Pakte schon vor langer Zeit geeinigt hat. Sie sind eine gute Grundlage dafür zu streiten, dass alle Elemente der Abkommen auch zum Tragen kommen.

Towards a world without trash – the Cradle to Cradle congress 2016

Press release / Monika Griefahn

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Viable solutions for a true recycling economy – that’s what we hope to have been able to demonstrate during the third Cradle to Cradle congress in the northern German city of Lüneburg. The following is the official press release from C2C e.V.:

On the weekend of September 23/24 the third edition of the world’s biggest congress focusing on the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principle took place at Leuphana University in Lüneburg. On both days over 700 participants debated a world in which rubbish can be utilized as a nutrient. The congress was organized with the support of 100 voluntary helpers from the non-profit organization Cradle to Cradle e.V.

The C2C idea refers to a real and sustainable recycling economy in which raw materials circulate in biological and technical loops. At a time when resources are becoming increasingly rare C2C offers an innovation oriented approach: products are completely redeveloped and designed in a way that they’re made only from materials that can be fed back into a loop – for example biodegradable t-shirts, edible food packaging or healthy single-origin plastics and metals. During the congress 32 actors from different backgrounds came together for discussions, demonstrating that the idea is not merely a utopian dream. Fittingly, the daily host, energy expert Dr. Franz Alt, reminded his audience that “the sun won’t send us an energy bill”. In fact, one of the basic requirements for viable recycling loops is renewable energy, which is why actors Ursula Sladek from the electric utility company in Schönau and Professor Timo Leukefeld, energy ambassador of the German federal government, talked about the slow progress of Germany’s energy transition.

Chairwoman Dr Monika Griefahn sees the congress as an important opportunity for networking: “There were many encounters and networking opportunities during the business meet-up and the expert exchanges as well as at the information booths and in the networking café.” Tim Janßen, managing director of C2C e.V., also drew a positive conclusion: “The congress was brought to life by its 700 participants as well as by actors such as Sarah Wiener, Wolfgang Grupp and Professor Dr Martin Stuchtey. It demonstrated how C2C affects all aspects of society.”

A concert by German pop star Bela B. and the band Danube’s Banks constituted the concluding highlight of this year’s congress. Nora Sophie Griefahn, managing director of C2C e.V., is looking forward to next year: “We have already started planning for the fourth edition of the Cradle to Cradle congress, which will be internationalized even further in the coming year. Once again we expect countless actors and supporters who will participate in making it happen.”

The 4th Cradle to Cradle congress will take place at Leuphana University Lüneburg on October 20 and 21, 2017.

Cigarette butts are garbage, too

By Monika Griefahn

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It’s amazing what you can find by the seaside simply by looking closely. During a recent garbage collection event on the beach of the river Elbe in Hamburg organized by the non-profit “AIDA – Friends of the Seas” the more peculiar finds included a pair of underpants, a wig, as well as a stun gun. More importantly though, our voluntary beach combers in Hamburg picked up precisely 3,595 cigarette butts – a lot, but not quite as many as a few days earlier, when, during a similar collection event on Markgrafenheide beach near Rostock, we came up with 3,723 butts.

I am happy that we found so many cigarette ends. For aren’t they garbage, too? Yes they are, and, generally speaking, it’s not good to leave them behind at the beach. Because usually all that remains of a cigarette after it’s been smoked is its filter, which decomposes very slowly and is full of toxins – for example, tar – which it has previously filtered out of the cigarette’s smoke. In short: cigarette ends shouldn’t be left behind in the sand – they’ll get eaten by sea birds or, worse, playing children will put them in their mouths.

The positive takeaway is that our organization was able to mobilize around 50 volunteers who helped us collect garbage. In addition to our own members, employees of AIDA Cruises, Carnival Maritime, Becker Marine Systems and Veolia as well as a number of other volunteers were sensitized to our issue: they now talk about it, actively support it and carry it further. Apart from that we actively removed trash from the environment, which otherwise would have posed a hazard to birds and other animals, and thereby ultimately to our own food chain, too.

That’s the reason our beach combers took special care to also look after the smaller bits and pieces: in addition to the cigarette butts they found glass shards, small plastic fragments including lollipop sticks and candy wrappers, Styrofoam, bottle caps and other debris. In Hamburg and Rostock they collected 7,318 cigarette butts, 935 scraps of plastic and over 850 glass shards in a total of two hours – that’s in addition to the aforementioned stun gun and other assorted curiosities. We will provide our figures to “Ocean Conservancy”, the organization behind the International Coastal Cleanup Day, which will add them to its global numbers.

“AIDA – Friends of the Ocean”, of which I am the chairwoman, has been concentrating on the battle against plastic waste in the oceans and on the beach and continues to organize events and campaigns in order to raise awareness for the issue. For instance, we educate the public about microplastics in cosmetics. Collection events are also a fixed date in our annual calendar.

We’ve been especially successful in relation to cigarette ends. In cooperation with several partners on the Baltic Sea we have developed the beach ashtray – a little container in which not only butts but also chewing gum, wrappers and other waste can be collected until the user next comes across a waste bin. During our garbage collection events we handed a set of these handy containers to local beach cafés, whom we asked to pass them on to their patrons. Because one thing became clear: by far the most trash accumulates in places where people linger and consume. Let’s hope that the number of cigarette ends on our next collection day in 2017 falls below the figure of 7,318. And let’s hope that there’ll be many volunteers willing to take part.

More information abour „AIDA Friends of the Ocean“
„AIDA Friends of the Ocean“ on Facebook