The Right Livelihood Award Foundation mourns the death of Malaysian human rights champion Irene Fernandez. She dedicated her life to advancing the rights of women, migrants and domestic workers, for which she received the Right Livelihood Award in 2005.
On Tuesday, March 25, she was hospitalised for heart failure at Serdang hospital, Selangor, Malaysia, after experiencing breathing difficulties while on her way to attend the findings of the Bersih People's Tribunal on the 13th General Elections. She died on Monday, 31 March at the age of 67.
Fellow Laureate and Right Livelihood Award Jury member Anwar Fazal said “Our dear sister Irene Fernandez was a global icon for the global struggle for the rights of migrant workers. She was fearless and assertive and spoke truth to power as few had done. She endured the longest ever trial in Malaysia for publishing a report on the conditions of migrant workers in the country. It never deterred her and she continued to be a strong and inspiring spirit and always a model of courage for all those engaged in social justice. She will also be remembered for her leadership of Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific, where she championed the rights of peasant workers globally.”
On the 20th of March, The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), a global organisation of most of the world’s parliaments, adopted a landmark resolution Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Contribution of Parliaments.
The resolution calls on parliaments to "work with their governments on eliminating the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines" and to "urge their governments to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or package of agreements to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world".
The Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) Network, co-founded and coordinated by Alyn Ware (2009 RLA Recipient), was part of the preliminary consultations.
Alyn Ware welcomed the initiative by explaining: "This resolution demonstrates the growing understanding by parliamentarians that their responsibilities extend beyond those of their political parties and national positions to a shared obligation to the global common good and the security of future generations. Parliamentarians from non-nuclear countries, nuclear-armed countries and countries under extended nuclear deterrence doctrines came together to challenge governments to emerge from behind their complacency or cloaks of nuclear deterrence, and to act resolutely to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world".
More information in the IPU press release.
In a joint statement, 40 recipients of the Right Livelihood Award and members of the World Future Council are calling on world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit to acknowledge that, for nuclear weapons, there are no right hands.
During the Nuclear Security Summit, held between the 24th and the 25th of March in The Hague, 58 world leaders will be debating nuclear industry control issues. NSS Secretary-General Renée Jones-Bos made clear the limited focus of the Summit which “is not about non-proliferation. It’s about rogue nuclear material. It’s about ensuring that such material does not fall into the wrong hands.”
Responding to this, the signatories of this statement point out that world leaders avoid discussing the adoption of common standards for all by focusing on only one small part of the problem.“Of course, it is an imperative to prevent the spread of nuclear materials to non-state actors. But why aren’t similar resources being dedicated to eliminating the current arsenals of nuclear weapons to ensure that nuclear weapons will never again be used by accident, miscalculation or intent?” states Alyn Ware.
Read the press release.
"For 25 years we have been struggling to build a true democracy. A time of great advances, but also of continuing challenges,” argues Martín Almada in an article dedicated to Paraguay’s celebration of the dictatorship’s fall.
Taking a critical look at the country’s actual developments, the RLA Laureate (2002) also suggests solutions to the still standing issues.
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation congratulates Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra (MST) on the occasion of their 30th anniversary.
In 1991, MST received the prize “for winning land for landless families and helping them to farm it sustainably”. MST has successfully advanced the goal of agrarian reform and stood up for the rights of the landless poor in Brazil for these past thirty years. Despite the increasing criminalisation of movements struggling for social justice in Latin America, the members and leaders of the MST continue to persevere in their work, against all odds.
When Cícero Guedes, a MST activist was assassinated on 25 January 2013 – a year ago – the Right Livelihood Award family was able to contribute to the process of bringing those responsible to justice by sending a delegation to Maraba, Pará in April 2013. The delegation expressed solidarity with MST activists in the region, condemned attacks against activists and demanded that Cícero’s murderers be held accountable. Subsequently, at the first Regional Conference of the Latin American Laureates, in July 2013, we were able to link MST representatives with our other Laureates in the region, thereby strengthening MST’s regional network.
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation will continue to support MST in its struggle and wishes all involved in the movement every success in the coming years.