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   I was born and grew up in Cameroun, a country of 22 million inhabitants, located in West Africa, which became “independent” (if at all this word means anything in Africa) in 1960 after a colonial history involving the Germans, the English and the French. Since 1960, Cameroon has had only two heads of state: the first ruled from 1967 until his sudden resignation in 1982. The second, his then prime minister, took over in 1982 and is still in power at 85 years old and there are indications that he wants to seek another term. During these 58 years of political independence, there have been many elections but only God knows whether any of these has ever been democratic. In other words, in my 48 years of existence, I have known only two heads of state. The sad truth is that after many years of poor governance, Cameroon in now confronted with a quasi-civil war, which is basically a crisis of social justice. It is from this context, which of course, is not representative of the whole African continent, that I am speaking about political crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Stressing the urgent need to protect social rights, the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe:

- Urges the European Union and its Member States to translate their political commitment to protect social rights  into concrete actions, reaffirming the indivisible, interdependent and inseparable nature of all human rights;

- To  this  end, calls on  the  European  Union  and  its  Member  States  to  accede  to  the Revised  European  Social  Charter  as  the  social  constitution  of  Europe,  detailing  a roadmap to promote the effective guarantee of social rights for all;

It’s a general statement that our society is based on a production and exchange mechanism whose operation escapes the citizens as it does escape in part to the States.  The Council of Europe is then a crucial regulator of the consequences suffered directly by the population and, therefore, its Conference of INGOs committed to  safeguarding  all human rights and especially to fighting against poverty.

Two years ago SIIAEC had the last meeting in Tirana, Albania,  on: “Social security in the view of Economic crises, demographic change and Ethical principles”. Since then the situation has changed deeply. The Pope Francis has published the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” (EG) in today’s world with very deep proclamations of the gospel. One of the very strong statements is (EG 53): “Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” And at the end of this paragraph after the pope has mentioned the problem of exclusion and inequality he continued: “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

Event and ceremony organised by the Conference of INGOs to mark the 17th of October

Each year, the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe marks the 17th of October, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and organises an event which brings together all those who are dedicated to overcoming poverty all year round and those who live with it on a daily basis.

This year’s event takes place at the Council of Europe on Friday 16 October and will focus on child poverty in Europe.  A ceremony will be held at 12h30 on the forecourt of the Palais de l’Europe in front of the replica of the commemorative stone symbolising the refusal of extreme poverty.

Registration necessary and access only with badge: if you would like to participate, contact Maritchu Rall,  Working Group Extreme Poverty and Human Rights of the Conference of INGOs, by 13 October.

Programme

     I think it is time to respond to the calls of the Papal Encyclicals, namely  CARITAS IN VERITATE, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, LAUDATO SI on the issue of inequality. This has been a root of the many global economic problems, ending in poverty for billions of people in the world. I would like to stress on two economic sectors, which are intertwined: Real Estate and Banking.

 Statement by H. E. Mr. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, at the ECOSOC Integration Segment

     I am honoured to be here today, together with all of you, for a segment with an impressive list of both topics and participants. I certainly look forward to our discussion. Let me start by stepping back in time. Reshma, a seamstress in a garment factory, saw the light of day again, after 17 days. Helped by rescue workers, she emerged from the rubble, having survived on dried goods and water. But more than 1 100 of her colleagues died in that factory in Dhaka, when it collapsed in April 2013.

     This tragedy was not a unique event. Two million people die at work every year.

1. At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders. In doing so, I pray for an end to wars, conflicts and the great suffering caused by human agency, by epidemics past and present, and by the devastation wrought by natural disasters. I pray especially that, on the basis of our common calling to cooperate with God and all people of good will for the advancement of harmony and peace in the world, we may resist the temptation to act in a manner unworthy of our humanity.