PBI-Canada participates in visionary and advocacy meetings in Caparica, Portugal

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: A session of the Visionary Workshop meeting.

PBI-Canada coordinator Brent Patterson has returned from ten days of visionary and advocacy meetings with PBI colleagues in Caparica, Portugal.

The PBI entities present at these meetings along with Canada included Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nepal, Kenya, Indonesia, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway and the International Office in Belgium.

Key decisions from the “Visionary Workshop” meeting with members of the International Council and International Operations Council include the agreement to explore strategic alliances with new partners to change the behaviour of state and non-state actors, new ways to provide security training in countries where we do not do physical accompaniment, and to build more south-north partnerships with social movements and activists.

Photo: Participants gathered at the conclusion of the Visionary Workshop meetings.

And notable outcomes from the “Advocacy Working Group face-to-face meeting” include a renewed focus on support for the United Nations Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights, exploring ways to include language on the protection of human rights defenders in international agreements, highlighting the relationship between Global North transnational corporations, finance capital and the human rights situations that PBI accompanies, exploring new ways engage in public mobilization campaigns, drawing attention to the shrinking space for activism in both the Global North and Latin America, and more fully recognizing the various forms of intersectionality in the organizations, defenders and communities we accompany.

Photo: A group photo of the Advocacy Working Group participants.

Tangibly, these discussions have helped shape a work plan for PBI-Canada in 2024 that could ideally include these interventions:

January – Launching a new student-focused outreach tool to encourage young activists to apply to accompany human rights defenders in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala. Also, organizing a webinar focused on PBI accompanied lawyers.

February – Organizing an advocacy intervention in Canada featuring social leaders from Colombia who have been imprisoned and criminalized for their resistance to the impacts of Calgary-based Frontera Energy on their community.

March – Launching a revitalized Urgent Action e-petition campaign enabling the public to engage in campaigns calling for the protection of threatened human rights defenders and the resolution of situations that put them in danger.

April – Visiting Gitxsan territory in British Columbia as they continue to call for the disbanding of the militarized RCMP C-IRG unit that has been deployed to suppress Indigenous resistance to the construction of pipelines on their territories without consent.

May – Supporting the activist mobilization against the CANSEC weapons show in Ottawa where helicopters, armoured vehicles, automatic rifles and other arms implicated in human rights violations in multiple countries are marketed and sold.

June – Organizing a webinar on the shrinking space/increasing repression of activists around the world, notably in Canada (against Wet’suwe’ten land defenders), the United States (the Ojibwe opposing the Line 3 pipeline), the United Kingdom (Extinction Rebellion activists) and Guatemala (including Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Council of Olopa).

July – Supporting the mobilization against the NATO summit in Washington, DC that could reflect on the PBI-North America Project’s historic accompaniment of Innu resistance to NATO low-level flight training and practice bombing missions in Nitassinan.

August – Publishing a feature article that compares and contrasts efforts in Kenya (notably by the PBI-Kenya accompanied Missing Voice coalition), Colombia (by the PBI-Colombia accompanied Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners) and Canada (such as by Winnipeg Police Cause Harm) to counter police violence.

September – Organizing a webinar linking the Canadian and Spanish corporations involved in the construction of the Oxec III hydroelectric dam on Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ territory in Guatemala without free, prior and informed consent.

October – Organizing a visit by Guatemalan social leaders who have been criminalized for their opposition to river diversions and environmental harms caused by the sugar plantations that export sugar to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

November – Organizing a webinar at the time of the next round of talks on the UN Binding Treaty on transnational corporations and human rights. Also, supporting an intervention at the UN COP29 climate change talks that are expected to take place in Eastern Europe.

December – Visiting PBI-Mexico accompanied organizations, defenders and communities in Chihuahua and documenting the concerns about the mining concessions granted to Canadian mining companies without consent and the ongoing environmental implications of the TC Energy Encino-Topolobampo pipeline.

These ideas and plans will continue to be developed over the coming months.

As always, your support is needed to allow this work to happen. To make an online donation to help support these activities in 2024, please click here.


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