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Two Years After Rana Plaza… May 1st, 2015

Two years after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, concerns linger. These include the timeliness of major remediation efforts, the establishment of factory health and safety committees, and corporate commitments to a victims’ fund. A coalition of global investors representing $2.5 trillion in assets – including the Missionary Oblates – have sent letters to corporate members of the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety (Accord) and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance). The letters request that companies disclose their efforts to safeguard the lives of workers in Bangladesh garment factories.

Read the investor letter here…


Philippine Counterinsurgency on Mindanao Fuels Civilian Displacement March 26th, 2015

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Villagers fleeing fighting crowd refugee centers.
(Photo Credit: www.icrc.org)

Humanitarian agencies are struggling to cope with a growing number of people displaced by fighting between government forces and a Muslim insurgent group on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says more than 120,00 have sought shelter in public buildings or informal camps since fighting broke out in January between government forces and rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Provision of food, water and latrines is proving to be a major difficulty. Meanwhile, the fighting has disrupted the rice harvest, which will lead to further food shortages for affected families.

Read the full story on UCANews…

 


Bangladesh’s poor suffer the most as unrest hits economy March 16th, 2015

Farmers, small business-owners and migrant workers have all been hit hard by a months-long transport blockade. 

DSC06376Political opposition leader Khaleda Zia launched a nationwide shutdown over two months ago to try to force a new election in Bangladesh. The ‘hartals’ (national strike), during which all transport is blocked by threat of violence, has caused untold hardship to all sectors of the economy, but especially to poor farmers, workers and small businesses. Read more in UCANews…


Oblate JPIC Signs Letter to US Congress Opposing Fast Track Authority for Trade Agreement March 2nd, 2015

FastTrackOn February 17, Missionary Oblates JPIC office joined in an interfaith letter signed by nearly three-dozen faith communities to oppose fast-track authority for the passage of an upcoming international trade agreement by Congress. The letter has been sent to all Members of the US Congress. Fast-Track authority paves the way for Congressional approval of trade agreements such as the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with little or no debate, and with no changes possible to the agreement that has been negotiated by the US Trade Representative, largely behind closed doors. This is an undemocratic process, which potentially denies a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of trade agreement provisions on vulnerable communities, workers and the environment, and which does not provide for detailed public hearings, despite the potential for significant public impacts.

Members of the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investments who signed the letter write, “Our faith traditions call for community participation in the democratic process because we believe this is the only way to ensure all people have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the creation of good policies. “Fast track” is a broken and undemocratic process because it privileges the views of powerful global corporations in defining the terms of trade agreements, while excluding voices of those adversely impacted. This impedes progress towards a more just world.”

Full text of the letter with signatories (Download PDF)

 


Engaging for Impact March 2nd, 2015

Why Do Faith-based Shareholders Engage Mining Companies? 

The Rev. Seamus Finn, OMI was interviewed recently by SUSTAIN, a publication of the International Finance Corporation, a lending arm of the World Bank that focuses exclusively on the private sector. The IFC is interested in how the Church has engaged in recent years with the extractives industry. Fr. Finn has been centrally involved in high-level meetings called by the Vatican and the Archbishop of Canterbury with mining CEOs and faith-based representatives to discuss ways to increase respect for the rights of, and lessen the impact of mining operations, on local communities. He is Director of Faith-Based Investing for the Oblate International Pastoral (OIP) Investment Trust, and Executive Director of the International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG)

Some of the questions asked in the interview are: “Why should the church care about extractives?”, “Why social justice through investment?”, and “Is there a way to secure societal fairness? Is it always a dynamic or is there a sweet spot?”

Read the full article here…

 

 


Thousands rally for peace in southern Philippine city of Cotabato February 12th, 2015

Activists in the Philippines have urged government to pass legislation, and formalize an end to decades of war.

3-Moro-Youth-on-Peace-RallyUCA News, an independent news source on Asia, reported that around 20,000 people held a pro-peace rally in the southern Philippine city of Cotabato on Thursday. Participants were calling for for the immediate passage of legislation to formalize the peace process in Mindanao and end almost four decades of Moro rebellion. Passage of the legislation has been threatened by the death of at least 67 people, 44 of whom were police commandos, in a bungled raid against suspected terrorists in the town of Mamasapano on January 25.

In the cities of Marawi and Davao, also on the island of Mindanao, peace activists join condemning the calls for war, saying the passage of the BBL “is the only solution for lasting peace.”

“We sympathize with those who perished in Mamasapano, but we should not make it a reason to abandon the peace process, abandon the BBL, and make millions more including helpless children, orphans, women and elderly suffer from the horrors of another all-out war,” said Ustadz Mauladdin Sagapan, who led a group from the religious sector in Davao Oriental to the rally in Davao City.

Read the full story…

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