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Climate change is most important issue facing the world say young people
by Amnesty International
10 Dec 2019
Climate change is one of the most important issues facing the world, according to a major new survey of young people published by Amnesty International today to mark Human Rights Day.
With the findings published as governments meet in Spain for the UN Climate Change Conference, the organization warns that world leaders’ failure to address the climate change crisis has left them out of step with young people.
“In this year when young people mobilised in huge numbers for the climate, it can be no surprise that many of those surveyed saw it as one of the most important issues facing the world,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“For young people the climate crisis is one of the defining challenges of their age. This is a wake-up call to world leaders that they must take far more decisive action to tackle the climate emergency or risk betraying younger generations further.”
Ipsos MORI, on behalf of Amnesty International, questioned more than 10,000 people aged 18-25-year olds—also known as Generation Z—in 22 countries for the “Future of humanity” survey.
They were asked for their opinions on the current state of human rights in their country and the world, which issues they feel are most important and who they feel is responsible for addressing human rights abuses.
Respondents were asked to pick up to five issues from a list of 23 major issues facing the world.
In total, 41% of respondents said climate change was one of the most important issues facing the world, making it the most commonly cited globally, followed by 36% who chose pollution and 31% who selected terrorism.
Global warming was also most commonly cited as one of the most important environmental issues facing the world (57%), out of 10 environmental issues such as ocean pollution, air pollution and deforestation.
“As we mark Human Rights Day, we need to recognise that the climate crisis will arguably be the defining issue for younger generations. The right to a healthy environment, including a safe climate, is essential for the enjoyment of so many other rights. It is a right that young people today have been forced to take the lead in asserting,” said Kumi Naidoo.
However, the survey’s findings extend well beyond the climate crisis, reflecting the everyday struggles and concerns facing Generation Z in their own countries.
At a national level corruption was most commonly cited as one of the most important issues (36%), followed by economic instability (26%), pollution (26%), income inequality (25%), climate change (22%) and violence against women (21%).
“This generation lives in a world of widening inequality, economic instability and austerity where vast numbers of people have been left behind,” said Kumi Naidoo.
“Faced with all this, the message from young people is clear. We are living inside a failed system. The climate crisis, pollution, corruption and poor living standards are all windows on an alarming truth about how the powerful have exploited their power for selfish and often short-term gain.”
The survey’s findings come at a time of widespread mass protests around the world, from Algeria to Chile, Hong Kong, Iran, Lebanon, and Sudan. Many of these movements have been largely led by young people and students, who have angrily called out corruption, inequality, and abuse of power and faced violent repression for doing so.
“Amnesty International believes that young people want to see systemic transformations. They want a reckoning with the climate emergency, with the abuse of power. They want to see a completely different future blossoming instead of the wreckage that we are heading towards,” said Kumi Naidoo.
Alongside climate change, a clear majority of young people value human rights in general and want to see their governments take most responsibility to protect them, according to the findings of the “Future of humanity” survey.
The majority of survey respondents agreed that: the protection of human rights is fundamental to the future of the countries tested (73% agree vs 11% disagree); governments should take the wellbeing of their citizens more seriously than economic growth (63% agree vs 13% disagree); and human rights must be protected, even if it has a negative impact on the economy (60% agree vs 15% disagree).
The findings also revealed an unequivocal belief among many young people across every country surveyed that governments should take most responsibility for ensuring human rights are upheld, with 73% of respondents in total picking governments over individuals (15%), businesses (6%) and charities (4%).
Coupled with the results that show that most young people believe voting in elections is an effective method for initiating human rights change, over and above going on strike or attending a protest, the results were not all bad news for leaders who are “willing to listen”.
“If the leaders of the world are willing to listen carefully, they will notice that Generation Z are not asking for small tweaks. Young people are looking for fundamental changes in the way the world works. If leaders fail to take that seriously, they risk betraying a generation,” said Kumi Naidoo.
“If the events of 2019 teach us anything, it is that younger generations deserve a seat at the table when it comes to decisions about them. Unless the voices of those on the frontlines are part of the discussion on how we tackle the challenges facing humanity, the crises we are witnessing in the world will only get worse.
“Above all, governments must begin the new decade with meaningful action to address the climate emergency, reduce inequality and put in place genuine reforms to end abuses of power. We need systemic changes, built on human-rights, to the economic and political systems that have brought us to the brink.”

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People Power Under Attack 2019
by Marianna Belalba Barreto
CIVICUS Monitor, agencies
Dec. 2019
The CIVICUS Monitor has released People Power Under Attack 2019, a new report showing that the fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression are backsliding across the world.
In the space of a year, twice as many people are living in countries where these civic freedoms are being violated: 40% of the world’s population now live in repressed countries - last year it was 19%.
The report, which is based on data from the CIVICUS Monitor, a global research collaboration, shows that civil society is under attack in most countries. In practice, this means that just 3% of the world’s population are now living in countries where their fundamental rights are in general, protected and respected – last year it was 4%.
2019 has been a historic year for protest movements. From the streets of Sudan to Hong Kong, people have poured onto the streets to make their voices heard.
However, according to the 536 updates by the CIVICUS Monitor, the fundamental right to peaceful assembly is under attack across the world.
In fact, within the last year the CIVICUS Monitor documented that 96 countries either detained protesters, disrupted marches or used excessive force to prevent people from fully exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
“This data reflects a deepening civic space crisis across the globe. As millions of protesters spilled onto the streets, government response has been repression instead of dialogue,” said Marianna Belalba Barreto, Civic Space Research Lead at CIVICUS. “However, the fact that so many activists were brave enough to raise their voices, shows the resilience of civil society in the face of brutal repression.”
Nine countries have changed their civic space rating: seven countries have been downgraded and only two improved their rating. Worrying signs for civic space are recorded in Asia-Pacific, where three countries dropped a rating: Australia, India and Brunei.
There is growing concern about the decline of democratic and civic rights in Europe, with Malta also being downgraded. Other countries on the slide include Nigeria, Comoros and Madagascar.
People Power Under Attack 2019 also provides analysis on the kinds of violations most frequently recorded on the CIVICUS Monitor over the past year. Globally, censorship is the most common violation, occurring across 178 countries. From blocking websites and social media, to banning television programmes, governments across the world are going to great lengths to control public discourse and suppress free speech.
There are bright spots emerging, as both Moldova and the Dominican Republic improved their ratings this past year. The Dominican Republic moved from the obstructed to narrowed category after civil society managed to challenge and overturn restrictive laws; these laws related to defamation cases and constitutional amendments which would lengthen Presidential terms.
Over twenty organisations collaborate on the CIVICUS Monitor to provide an evidence base for action to improve civic space on all continents. The Monitor has posted more than 536 civic space updates in the last year, which are analysed in People Power Under Attack 2019.
Civic space in 196 countries is categorized as either closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed or open, based on a methodology which combines several sources of data on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
Dec. 2019
Global Expression Report 2018-19: global freedom of expression at a ten-year low. (Article 19)
The Global Expression Report 2018-19 shows that global freedom of expression at its lowest for a decade. Gains that were made between 2008 – 2013 have been eroded over the last five years.
Repressive responses to street protests are contributing to the decline in freedom of expression around the world. A rise in digital authoritarianism sees governments taking control of internet infrastructure, increasing online surveillance and controlling content.
The numbers of journalists, communicators and human rights defenders being imprisoned, attacked and killed continues to increase. 66 countries – with a combined population of more than 5.5 billion people – saw a decline in their overall freedom of expression environment last decade.

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