The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 29 June 2019

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF-The Sentinel_ period ending 29 Jun 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

Syria: Humanitarian leaders, standing with civilians under fire in Idlib, send a message that ‘The World Is Watching’


Syria: Humanitarian leaders, standing with civilians under fire in Idlib, send a message that ‘The World Is Watching’ [EN/AR]
(New York/Geneva 27 June 2019) – Eleven chiefs of global humanitarian organizations today spearhead the launch of a worldwide campaign in solidarity with civilians under fire in northwestern Syria.

Three million civilians, among them one million children, are in imminent and mortal danger from the escalating violence in Idlib governorate and surrounding areas.

In a direct video address, the humanitarian leaders stress that civilians face the constant threat of violence and armed conflict and desperately need protection. Stressing that “too many have died already” and that “even wars have laws”, they deplore the devastating impact of the fighting on hospitals, schools and markets.

“Idlib is on the brink of a humanitarian nightmare unlike anything we have seen this century,” they warn.

“Our worst fears are now materializing,” added UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock. “Yet again, innocent civilians are paying the price for the political failure to stop the violence and do what is demanded under international law – to protect all civilians. For the women, children and men in Idlib, it can be a death sentence. Our campaign expresses solidarity with the families under attack and tell everyone that we are watching and witnessing what is happening.”

A huge influx of displaced people from other parts of Syria since 2015 has doubled the size of the population in Idlib. At least 330,000 people have been displaced internally in the region during the last two month’s surge of violence. They have nowhere left to flee to. The UN Secretary-General has warned about the violence for months, but it hasn’t stopped, or even slowed.

The campaign video will be posted on Twitter and other online platforms and global leaders and the public are encouraged to share it with their own networks to show solidarity and to emphasize that they are witnesses to what is happening in Idlib.

We see you
We stand with you
You are not forgotten
You are #NotATarget

#TheWorldIsWatching campaign is supported by:
Henrietta Fore, UNICEF
Mark Lowcock, UN OCHA
Jan Egeland, Norwegian Refugee Council
Carolyn Miles, Save the Children
Abby Maxman, Oxfam America
Justin Byworth, World Vision
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women
Caroline Kende Robb, CARE International
David Miliband, International Rescue Committee
Neil Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps
António Vitorino, International Organization for Migration
Dominic MacSorley, Concern Worldwide
David Beasley, World Food Programme

Six leading NGOs call for a ‘second revolution’ for children’s rights – ‘Joining Forces Alliance’

Children’s Rights

Six leading NGOs call for a ‘second revolution’ for children’s rights
Joining Forces – June 26 2019
The ‘Joining Forces Alliance’ — an alliance of the six leading child-focused organisations – launched its report, “A Second Revolution: 30 years of child rights, and the unfinished agenda”, during an event today at the United Nations.

The report, presented to UN representatives, notes achievements made since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 30 years ago, but also highlights major shortcomings in reaching all children.

“It is the most vulnerable children the world overlooks – those facing extreme poverty, the young living in fragile states, refugees, and children with disabilities,” said Meg Gardinier, Chair of the Joining Forces CEO Oversight Committee.

“When it comes to translating commitments into lasting change, we have fallen short and we must do better. This is a moral, legal and economic failure that the world can ill afford,” Ms Gardinier continued.

Each year, over five million children die from preventable causes, and nearly half of these deaths are attributable to undernutrition, the report finds. Discrimination and social exclusion are other key factors why children countinue to suffer.

The Joining Forces Alliance calls on governments to implement legislation, policies, budgets, and programmes that are inclusive of all children; to promote the rights of all marginalised children and champion gender equality, and to support children’s participation and uphold their rights to freedom of expression and opinion.

‘Joining Forces’ is a collaboration between the six leading NGOs working with and for children under the age of 18 (ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision International). Joining Forces currently focuses on two work streams: Child Rights Now! of which this report is a part, and Ending Violence Against Children.

To read the report and find out more about ‘Joining Forces’, go to:

Lancet Editorial – Refugee health is a crisis of our own making

Featured Journal Content

The Lancet
Jun 29, 2019 Volume 393Number 10191p2563-2654, e45
Refugee health is a crisis of our own making
The Lancet
Another World Refugee Day has passed, and the number of displaced people around the world is at its highest ever. The wellbeing of those fleeing their homes because of persecution, poverty, and war to seek a better life elsewhere, although guaranteed by ratified international human rights standards and conventions, is still under attack. At last month’s World Health Assembly meeting, a report entitled Promoting the health of refugees and migrants: draft global action plan, 2019–2023 was discussed. By WHO estimates, 68 million people have been forcibly displaced across borders. Developing countries host 86% of the population of migrants who have suffered forced displacement and the UN estimates suggest 71 million people worldwide fled war in 2018 alone.

The WHO draft plan suggests six action points regarding the health of refugees, most of which cover advocacy and continuity of local health care. This guidance is, of course, welcome. Any greater visibility for the plight of refugees and migrants is a wholly worthwhile topic and WHO is right to focus its efforts on ensuring protection for one of the most vulnerable groups of people worldwide. Health is a right, not a privilege granted by circumstance of birthplace.

An action plan like this does not, however, cover the simple denial of the most basic human rights of individuals that is taking place in the USA. It used to be the case that America was able and proud to demonstrate its record on refugee resettlement. The USA marked World Refugee Day by highlighting the successes the country had in the integration of extremely vulnerable populations from around the world. That Canada, a country with a much smaller population, welcomed more refugees than the USA in 2018, with 28 100 refugees settled in Canada compared with 22 900 in the USA, does not tell the full story of what has happened since. This year, the USA marked World Refugee Day by the acting head of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services sending an email to asylum officers urging them to “stem the crisis and better secure the homeland”.

A leadership built on spiteful rhetoric towards those seeking a better life in a country of great opportunity and freedom has fallen further than anyone who brushed aside the xenophobia of the 2016 campaign trail could have thought. Even those who are only passingly familiar with the news will be aware of the perilous state of those detained in the so-called migrant camps, of the children separated from their parents at the border and lost in the system, and of migrants kept in solitary confinement and locked up without trial. A true illustration of the government’s mendacity in these matters came in front of the courts this week, when a government lawyer argued that detained migrant children were not entitled to soap or toothbrushes under a law requiring them to be kept in “safe and sanitary” conditions. Children recently lost access to legal aid, classes, and recreational activities for “budgetary reasons”. According to NBC, there are 50 000 people detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. 24 migrants have died under ICE custody so far.

The blatant nature of the Trump administration’s transgressions towards the vulnerable people it is required to protect is breathtaking. Let us instead focus on the positive results that immigration can bring to a nation. Former German president Christian Wulff said this week, regarding Germany’s resettlement of 900 000 migrants at the height of the crisis in 2015, that “the refugee move will be a stroke of luck in German history”. Wulff stated that, in a few years, Germany will look back on this decision with pride. The effect could be as pronounced as German reunification in the 1990s. He warned against blurring the line separating patriotism and nationalism.

Immigration strengthens a country, but even among immigration-positive politicians, the argument is lost in a flurry of caps on numbers and a tacit agreement that the argument for immigration is already lost. Accepting refugees and allowing them to live freely is itself lifesaving and of demonstrable economic and social benefit to a country. Forbidding them is damaging to us all.

The health, safety, and wellbeing of vulnerable populations must be uppermost in the mind of anyone who is a health professional. The prominence WHO has given to the health of refugees is welcome, and we can all do more to state the positive case for allowing migrants unfettered access to health care. The brutal treatment of refugees and migrants in many situations worldwide should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Quality standards for healthcare professionals working with victims of torture in detention – Royal College of Physicians (FFLM)

Featured Journal Content

The Lancet
Jun 29, 2019 Volume 393Number 10191p2563-2654, e45

Caring for patients who have been tortured in detention
The Lancet
People who have been tortured while in detention are among our most vulnerable patients. Clinicians who care for these patients might likewise feel vulnerable and ill-equipped to manage the complex health-care needs of victims. Torture and detention on their own have health impacts, but together exact a physical and psychological toll on individuals that can be long-lasting and profound. A third of asylum seekers and over 40% of refugees are estimated to be victims of torture. That health-care delivery can trigger memories of trauma, fear of officials, and mistrust of institutions compounds the challenges clinicians face in caring for people who have been tortured in detention.

International instruments exist, such as the so-called Mandela rules (UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners) and a World Medical Association declaration, which lay out the basic principles to be applied in the health care of those in detention who have been tortured or subject to inhuman or degrading treatment. Now, a more specific set of quality standards has been developed by the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM) of the Royal College of Physicians. Their guidance is welcome.

The FFLM’s 12 quality standards are intended to help physicians, nurses, paramedics, and others establish good practice in the identification, documentation, and reporting of torture, and improve the treatment and quality of life for victims. The new standards also aim to empower health-care professionals to maintain their ethical obligations to patients if in conflict with the requirements of detention authorities. The standards are comprehensive, detailed, and direct, and cover areas such as sexual torture, children, mental capacity, and vicarious traumatisation.

These guidelines should be disseminated widely to enable clinicians everywhere to build the capacity, confidence, and compassion to manage the complex needs of patients who have been tortured. These standards should also be used to challenge detaining authorities to improve their standards of detention health care.


Summary – Quality standards for healthcare professionals working with victims of torture in detention
The Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicineof the Royal College of Physicians
The Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (FFLM), whose work focuses on the care of the vulnerable, has acknowledged expertise in setting clinical standards for police custody healthcare and sexual offence medicine. The healthcare professionals who work with Victims of Torture (HWVT) working group, established by the FFLM to produce these quality standards, has drawn on wider expertise from Freedom from Torture, Helen Bamber Foundation, Medical Justice, UK Association of Forensic Nurses, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV. The document has benefited from review by survivors of torture, an international expert in solitary confinement, Physicians for Human Rights, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, Dignity Institute, the International Red Cross, the Royal College of General Practitioners Secure Environments Group, NHS England, the British Medical Association Ethics Committee. We are grateful for all the support offered by the above named to the HWVT working group of the FFLM.

PDF: Summary – Quality standards for healthcare professionals working with victims of torture in detention

Vladimir Putin says liberalism has ‘become obsolete’


Vladimir Putin says liberalism has ‘become obsolete’
In an exclusive interview with the FT, the Russian president trumpets growth of national populism
Financial Times, Lionel Barber and Henry Foy in Moscow and Alex Barker in Osaka
June 27, 2019

Vladimir Putin has trumpeted the growth of national populist movements in Europe and America, crowing that liberalism is spent as an ideological force.

In an FT interview in the Kremlin on the eve of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, the Russian president said “the liberal idea” had “outlived its purpose” as the public turned against immigration, open borders and multiculturalism.

Mr Putin’s evisceration of liberalism — the dominant western ideology since the end of the second world war in 1945 — chimes with anti-establishment leaders from US president Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini in Italy, and the Brexit insurgency in the UK.

“[Liberals] cannot simply dictate anything to anyone just like they have been attempting to do over the recent decades,” he said.

Mr Putin branded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to admit more than 1m refugees to Germany, mainly from war-ravaged Syria, as a “cardinal mistake”. But he praised Donald Trump for trying to stop the flow of migrants and drugs from Mexico.

“This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. That migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected.”

He added: “Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”…

Formation of Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights [U.S.]

Editor’s Alert: Human Rights

Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights [U.S.]
Federal Register – A Notice by the State Department on 05/30/2019
AGENCY: Department of State.
ACTION: Notice of intent to establish an advisory committee.
The Secretary of State announces an intent to establish the Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights (the Commission), in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Nature and Purpose: The Commission will provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters. The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.

Other information: It is anticipated that the Commission will meet at least once per month and at such other times and places as are required to fulfill the objectives of the Commission. The Department of State affirms that the advisory committee is necessary and in the public interest.


A New Trump Battleground: Defining Human Rights
New York Times – Editorials, June 17, 2019
By Carol Giacomo
Ms. Giacomo is a member of the editorial board.
The State Department says the nation has departed from its founding principles, but won’t say how. Some fear a rollback of rights.

“…If the commission is another step toward narrowing or calling into question America’s commitment on human rights, it will further erode the country’s leadership and give the world’s repressive rulers more reasons to ignore complaints about their own abuses and atrocities.”


Pompeo Tries to Rescue the Idea of Human Rights
Wall Street Journal, Opinion By Aaron Rhodes
June 10, 2019 7:03 pm ET
Unmoored from natural law, the ‘liberal world order’ generally hasn’t produced liberty.
“…The “liberal world order” has generally not produced liberty. The hope that participation in inclusive, rules-based multilateral human-rights organizations would pull oppressive states toward liberalism has proved illusory. And while oppressive regimes sabotage human rights at the highest level, civil-society campaigns have largely become passive, expecting that unfree societies can really be liberated by United Nations bureaucracies.

Can Americans get their act together to do something about this global disaster? Initial reactions to the Pompeo initiative are discouraging. The issue has been immediately folded into domestic preoccupations with sexual-identity politics. The mention of “natural law” and “natural rights”—which the State Department correctly named as the core foundational principles of human rights—has aroused charges that the government is becoming a theocracy, exactly what the American Founders, who risked everything to honor rights they knew were grounded in nature, sought to avoid.

The principle of natural rights has been all but forgotten on the international scene. Without any transcendent point of reference, human rights are seen as arbitrary “values,” no different from the laws of rulers and legislatures that authentic human-rights standards are there to constrain.

Confusions and clashes about the meaning of human rights are nothing new in American history. Since the early 19th century, proponents of slavery, nativism, progressivism and socialism have all sought to undermine the idea of unconditional, individual natural rights protected by the Constitution, because those rights stood in the way of their agendas.

Especially in America, a country founded to protect liberty, human rights should not be the focus of partisan squabbles and culture wars. They should be understood instead as the foundation of pluralism. Natural rights allow us to be different but live peacefully together. That’s the spirit that should animate the Unalienable Rights Commission.