CONSULTATION: proposal of themes for October 17 2018

The consultation is finished. The theme for this year, decided by the United Nations, with the important support following your contributions, is :

Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.

-*-*-*-*-Consultation finished in April 2018-*-*-*-*-

Share your insights and comments...

A brainstorming was held in New York to develop proposals for the theme for October 17, 2018. The informal working group agreed to propose the following themes for consideration and further consultation:

1. Ensuring that human rights are a reality for all: overcoming together the challenges of reaching those furthest behind.

2. Coming together with those furthest behind to build a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.

Note on the themes

These two proposals reflect the fact that 2018 will mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which will be observed at the UN and around the world. In keeping with the defense of human rights at the core of the October 17 observance it is important for the 2018 IDEP theme to reinforce and highlight the relationship between the Day and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The proposed themes stress the criticality of ensuring that no one is left behind in all efforts to end poverty and to defend the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty. Therefore, the proposed themes stress the need to reach and include those "furthest behind".

The proposed themes have not included explicitly the issue of refugee and migrants but it is the intention that these concerns will be discussed in the concept note that accompanies the theme that is eventually selected.

Two questions:

-Which one of the two proposals do you feel more comfortable with, expresses the best what’s important for you?
-Do they echo what you experience with the persons you meet and with whom you are committed? If yes, do you have examples or situations that illustrate one or the other proposal?

Your insights and comments about these two themes would be more than welcome in order for the ‘Working Group’ to continue the dialog with the United Nations.

We thank you, in advance, for your support and participation. All the best to you and those around you.

14 comments for this discussion

By Dir. Sem C. and Carlo A., Policy and Planning Service of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (Philippines)

Thank you for getting us in the loop of this international consultation. We would prefer option 2. We think that it would resonate better as a clearer, "active" call to action among various audiences 

On the migrants and refugees issue:  even as it is planned, as you said,  that they will be mentioned in the accompanying concept note,  we think that some reference to them should be included in the theme. Perhaps putting in the phrase "and on our borders" in the proposed thematic statement would help. "Border" could mean literally or figuratively:
-the line marking distinct geographic or politico-administrative areas; 
-the social, economic and political barriers communities and societies put up to prevent full integration of migrants and refugees.   

Option 2 then might read:
"Coming together with those furthest behind and on our borders to build a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity."

By the "Advocacy Committee", working in co-responsibility with members from different background, ATD Fourth World Guatemala

We identify with proposal two
2.    Coming together with those furthest behind to build a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.

We identify more with the second proposal because it begins with the most important thing: to come together with the excluded. It also includes dignity.

And it implies that people living in poverty are part of the fight against poverty; we want human rights to be fulfilled with dignity.

The second, because in the Guatemalan context the idea that people living in poverty are agents of change and not just passive observers is still not reaching everyone, that is why we think that "coming together with..." speaks of the fact that the most excluded are already in action.

The movement's priority is to be at the side of families in poverty as Joseph Wresinski was. The State must come together as an obligation it has to the country to ensure that rights are fulfilled and to destroy poverty.

"When a few years ago we visited the families of La Arenera, all the women were working to support their families, some of them struggling to have a legal position in the market. this fights with the stigma that the poorest families are waiting for food to come from heaven, they were already in action building a world where human rights - the right to work - and dignity are lived out day by day. Those they are waiting for are us". Linda G

"I grew up here on the old railroad line a few steps from the supply terminal and watched as people got up early to sell their products and pack loaders with 4-wheeled carts who had gotten up as early as 3 or 4 a.m. That was every day and ladies who worked in the terminal dining halls for a few Quetzals. Now, as a grown-up, the same struggle continues, only to survive from poverty, and all over the country it is the same. Despite the calamities we face every day, there are always enterprising people who strive and change the accusations received from others." Raquel J.

By Justin B., ATD Fourth World ally and member of the International Committee for October 17, Democratic Republic of Congo

In my opinion, the second theme also reflects the link with Father Joseph's call to come together to ensure respect for human rights.  Coming together with the most excluded can also be understood as reaching the poorest in their daily efforts to overcome poverty in order to travel together, taking into account the intelligence of all.  It is becoming like the tapori children who invent different ways to become "friends of the ones who have no friends". 

This was even at the heart of the celebration on 17 October 2017 in Bukavu: "going towards the poorest".  This is explained by the words of Ms Louise, an activist and member of "families in solidarity" in the DRC, during the same celebration: "Other people think that the poor can contribute nothing in building peace and a just world. But, in reality, we poor people have intelligence, we have so much to teach others.  When I say others, it is the authorities, teachers, students, parents,... You can never pretend to fight something you don't know.  Many other people in the world are like the tapori children and Mrs Louise but they lack space and opportunity to free their thoughts, to create peace and friendship that contributes to the development of every man and of the entire man.  From where, we must go to them.

I also find it important that the explanatory note should include aspects of migrants and refugees because there is a strong link between these two situations and poverty.  In my opinion, it is as a result of the despair created by poverty that entire individuals and families decide to migrate in search of well-being.  Also, it is when one misses peace that one becomes a refugee.  We have to move from one region to another, from one country to another.  And the absence of peace contributes greatly to misery and even violence.  This shows once again the lack of respect for human rights, for which we have a duty to come together with the most forgotten to ensure that they are respected. 

Within the framework of immigration, I see families selling their goods (plots, houses, cars,...) to send a family member (often young) to Europe, the USA,... in the hope that once arrived, this one will be able to send them a lot of money in order to acquire valuable goods or later facilitate the immigration of other family members abroad.
Young people interrupt their studies in the hope that they can easily study in their host country and get a good job.  But, of all those who try, at least for those I have known, too few young people have succeeded in taking such a risk.  Either they do not arrive at their destination as they originally thought, and return to their families, there is a shame in doing so because they avoid to meet the eyes and criticism of those around them. Young people I know live in refugee camps or rent a house in a neighbouring country to wait for the chance to leave.  There often it is the family left struggling to send money to ensure their survival.

Because of wars and conflicts, entire villages and territories are being emptied of their populations in search of peace. People abandon everything: houses, fields,... They are stripped of all their possessions, all their hope. Even though I do not know how it happens in all regions of the world, but the suffering resulting from all these displacements, whether internal or external, what people lose their wealth, their dignity and even worse, their lives.
"Refugees remain slaves to humanitarian aid."
Immigration and refuge impoverish people in most cases.

There is a question in relation to "coming together with the most forgotten...": "How do we organize ourselves to reach the most forgotten people and take their thoughts into account?". This question seems important to me and to us members of ATD Fourth World and to all the other actors (UN,...) who contribute to the fight against poverty.

From Elvira C., artist and friend of the Forum, Colombia

For the two topics proposed, the choice was difficult because I believe that both are important; however, I choose the most effective one according to the current reality of my country:

2.    Coming together with those furthest behind to build a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity.

Colombia, as our writer William Ospina says, is a happy, peaceful, hard-working people, tired of wars of exclusion and corruption.
A people who was never allowed to decide but who always knew how to make music, carnival tales and recipes, or sports exploits without the help of anyone, gained knowledge of the river and the jungle; those people who by necessity were the ones who opened this country to the world.

It is time for a law to be passed that is valid for all and that does not fall on the weak and the humble alone, because it is time to say that it is not only a question of the citizen respecting the law but also of the law respecting the citizen.

The signing of the peace treaty with the FARC guerrillas in Colombia was an important first step. I believe the time has come to take the second step of citizen participation and to heed ATD's call "Poverty no more" to move from humiliation to participation and to end poverty in all its forms.

I live in Bogotá and I have found in the Bogotá River monitoring center my space for participation with diverse communities.

Following the course of this river you reach the Magdalena, a large river that crosses the middle of the country and flows into the sea.

In this Fluvial universe, regions rich in natural resources appear, but paradoxically their people live in conditions of misery where they are denied important rights such as water, education, and decent work; despite the state of poverty they have made important achievements thanks to the union of their inhabitants, such as the declaration of the Atrato River as "subject of rights".

From the ATD Fourth World Madrid team

The first proposal: we like it very much from the point of view of Spain, and guaranteeing access to things that are concrete, because it is very good to work together, but if we do not guarantee that the rights are respected, we lose a lot of people along the way.

The second proposal: we like it very much as ATD, the notion of coming together in a common struggle without leaving anyone behind.

By Azzedine. D and Manal. L, Algeria

Good day,

Our choice of theme would be:

"Coming together with those furthest behind to build a world of universal respect for human rights and dignity."

Which corresponds to the situation of sub-Saharan migrants in Algeria. There are thousands of migrant sub-Saharan communities in North Africa in general, and Algeria in particular, and they continue to suffer from contempt, discrimination/exclusion, racism and sometimes even aggression.

Their nutrition is often insufficient and inadapted to their needs. They also experience lack of access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation... etc.

By the group "Access to Fundamental Rights", ATD Fourth World Rennes, France

For us, the two propositions are linked: If we don’t reach out to the furthest behind we can’t come together to make a change. That’s why we chose the first one.

Illustrative situations:

-In our big estate, many apartments are very damp. Mold marks have appeared very quickly after the flats have been renovated. The social housing landlord doesn’t do anything; they say we just have to ventilate the space. People who protest individually are not heard. But there’s an organization called “Si on s’alliait” (Let’s ally), where we pair up and knock at every door. We conduct a survey amongst the residents of these flats to know if they too have marks of humidity and we ask them to sign a petition to put pressure on the landlord.

-In a flat there’s a tenant who deal drugs. There are people coming and going in the stairs at all time. Every night there are disturbances, incivilities and threats against people who complain. The landlord has been called six times but he did not do anything. Then a petition registered 9 signatures. At last the landlord seems to have press charges for neighborhood disturbance. He asked the other tenants to send him written testimonies to support his claim.

By Chantal E., member of the Association of Friends of ATD Fourth World Cameroun

I’ve read the two themes twice. I’ve found them very interesting because of their emphasis on the preoccupation for the poorest and they raise awareness on the most excluded. However, I’m not really comfortable with the expression “human rights”. Not because it’s not important; our societies are reminded of human rights in several ways. But the people living in poverty we speak with, in our country, think that these words might cause them some trouble. They already face many struggles and they don’t want to call government’s attention and lead them to think they’re addressing them blames.

It’s far from the basic demands we can hear when we’re with the most excluded, as it’s often people who first want to learn how to read, to send their kids to school or to get some help to file a claim to get an access to drinkable water. The list of needs is long, there’s a lot of field work to be done as there are many expectations. But what do they know about human rights? Their main issue is to escape from anger and diseases.

Thank you and take care.

By Benoît and Véronique R., ATD Fourth World, Bulgaria

We agree on the importance of including the day's theme in the framework of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, meeting around human rights is not so easy in some countries of south-eastern Europe. Some people do not believe in it, but above all, the daily life of very poor individuals and families is far from allowing them to fight for their rights, even if some ask for it. Their main concern is about what today will be made of.

There are subjects that mobilize many people and give hope that another world is possible. It is when we talk about ecology, a healthy land where people are respected, and societies free from corruption and manipulation that prevent real access to rights for every person. It would be interesting if these points were included in the argument.

That is why we prefer theme 2: it seems essential and possible to remind ourselves that we want to "come together with those furthest behind to build a world" in which rights and dignity are respected. This second formulation puts us into action, while the first one looks more like an appeal.

Similarly, recalling the universality of rights for all human beings is an important issue. This calls for combating the discrimination that individuals and families suffer on a daily basis because of the poverty and misery they experience.

By ATD Fourth World Senegal team

Our October 17 committee met on Wednesday, February 28th.  Without making it a vote, out of the eight (8) people present, 5 are more comfortable with the 2nd proposal, 2 find in the two proposals the key words that are close to their hearts and 1 played the game of defending the 1st proposal.

We express here, what makes us feel comfortable, and our preferences.

We like the verbs "coming together" and "build" because they evoke the inclusion and participation of the poorest people.  They are also active, they produce an image, we see an action, a work in progress.

In itself, we have agreed that there is not a good and bad theme.  We are very pleased that Human Rights will be at the heart of the next October 17.

From there, we started working on a formulation of the theme in Senegalese languages. The young people will discuss it with each other, and we will discuss it at the monthly meetings.  The Committee will gather reactions at its next meeting on 17 October.  Then we'll come back to you.