On February 3, the co-presidents of ASTM, Monique Langevin and Richard Graf, signed the new framework agreement with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE).
Running over a period of 5 years, the programme aims to support civil society organisations in their struggle to defend the rights of certain population groups, in particular indigenous people, women, farmers and human rights defenders.
« In recent years, ASTM has set itself the objective of contributing to the strengthening of citizens, civil society organizations and political decision-makers for fundamental changes towards a more just, more united and more sustainable world, » explains Gabriela Caceres, head of partnerships in Latin America. « We have proposed this programme with the conviction that strengthening the ability of civil society to influence, based on a rights-based approach, will improve the balance of power between all parties of the system and encourage citizens to stay informed and participate, and to bring States to their obligation to guarantee fundamental rights. »
The programme will be implemented by some 30 partner organisations active in 11 different countries: 2 in West Africa (Burkina Faso and Togo), 3 in Asia and the Middle East (Philippines, India and Palestine) and 6 in Latin and Central America (Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras). In Luxembourg, the programme will be managed by 3 permanent employees, accompanied by about 10 volunteers.
This multi-zone approach is linked to the globalisation of socio-political problems concerning the right to land, women’s rights and the right to defend rights. Land grabbing – driven by industrial agriculture, intensive extraction of natural resources or speculation – is a phenomenon that is growing in scale and causing serious environmental degradation, threatening people’s possibilities of survival in the process. Similarly, inequalities and discrimination against women persist, despite the efforts that have been made over the years. Not only is the promise of equality still unfulfilled, but we are witnessing renewed resistance, driven by various forms of fundamentalism. A dramatic indicator that continues to preoccupy us: in Central America, 1 woman is murdered every 16 hours. In addition, people and communities that mobilize around the defence of rights are increasingly exposed to attacks. In 2018, nearly 321 rights defenders were murdered around the world, 77% of whom were peasants and members of indigenous peoples defending their territories. The Philippines and Latin America are at the top of this bloody toll.
In concrete terms, the new 2020-2024 framework agreement focuses on the organisational strengthening of the partners and the support of their specific work in three areas: training of social actors and production of information, promotion of changes in legislative frameworks and political agendas, and the implementation of alternative solutions regarding the unequal access of populations to natural goods and resources, the criminalisation of persons and communities defending rights, as well as gender exclusion.
During the signing ceremony, outgoing Minister of Cooperation and Humanitarian Action Paulette Lenert stressed the importance of the commitment of civil society and NGDOs. « The framework agreements represent the confidence that the MAEE has in NGDOs as a key partner in the implementation of Luxembourg’s cooperation. »
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