Anti-extradition bill protesters rally at the departure hall of Hong Kong airport in Hong Kong, China August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

After two consecutive days of chaos at Hong Kong International Airport, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Michelle Bachelet expressed her concern and condemned “any form” of violence or destruction of property and urged the demonstrators to “express their views in a peaceful way”.

The High Commissioner is “concerned by the ongoing events in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), and the escalation of violence that has taken place in recent days”, her spokesperson, Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

“She notes the Chief Executive’s commitment to ‘engage as widely as possible’ and to ‘listen to the grievances of the people of Hong Kong’”, said Mr. Colville. “She calls on the authorities and the people of Hong Kong to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully”.

The protests began with a proposed bill that would have enabled China to extradite individuals from Hong Kong to be tried on the mainland. Although the extradition bill was suspended in mid-June, the protesters want it officially withdrawn.

The major economic hub was under British control until 1997, when it was handed back to China under the governing principle known as “one country, two systems”. Despite being under the authority of the Chinese Government, voters in Hong Kong elect their own Legislative Council.

According to news reports, Tuesday’s protest came a day after demonstrators occupied arrival and departure areas inside what is one of the world’s busiest airports. While service resumed on Tuesday morning, protestors returned, and flight cancellations increased, causing tension between protestors and some travelers.

Ms. Bachelet is staunch in her belief that “the only sure way to achieve long-term political stability and public security” is by creating channels for people to participate in public affairs and decisions affecting their lives, said Mr. Colville.

“The rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs are expressly recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is incorporated in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR”, the human rights chief maintains.

Mr. Colville said that there was “credible evidence” of law enforcement officials using some anti-riot measures which are “prohibited by international norms and standards”.

As an example, he said that officials have been seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, “creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury”.

“The Office would urge the Hong Kong SAR authorities to investigate these incidents immediately, to ensure security personnel comply with the rules of engagement, and where necessary, amend the rules of engagement for law enforcement officials in response to protests where these may not conform with international standards”, Mr. Colville stressed.

Moreover, OHCHR urged the authorities to “act with restraint” and to respect and protect peaceful protestors while simultaneously ensuring that law enforcement officials respond to violence and in conformity with international standards on the use of force, “including the principles of necessity and proportionality”.

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The number of executions worldwide has dropped by almost one-third, Amnesty International said in its latest review of the death penalty.

At least 690 people were executed globally in 20 countries in 2018, compared to 993 in the previous year, the organization said in the report released April 10.

The statistics assess the use of the death penalty worldwide except in China, where the number of people executed each year is a state secret. The figures “show that the death penalty is firmly in decline, and that effective steps are being taken across the world to end the use of this cruel and inhuman punishment,” it said.

Amnesty International also recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 29 countries last year.

While “global consensus is building towards ending the use” of the death penalty, “with more than 19,000 people still languishing on death row worldwide, the struggle is far from over,” the organization said.

Last August, Pope Francis ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which now says that “the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,’ and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

The death penalty is a cruel violation of the basic right to life and robs people of the chance to repent and make amends for the crimes they have committed, the pope said in a video message to participants at the World Congress Against the Death Penalty Feb. 27.

The Amnesty International report said while “thousands of people are sentenced to death and executed each year” in China, 78 percent of all reported executions in 2018 took place in just four countries — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Iraq.

Following a change to Iran’s anti-narcotics laws, the country’s rate of executions dropped by half, from at least 507 in 2017 to at least 253 in 2018.

In Pakistan, 14 executions were recorded in 2018, down from 60 in 2017. The number of executions in Somalia dropped to 13 from 24.

At the end of 2018, 106 countries had abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes, and 142 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice, the organization said.

Last year, Burkina Faso adopted a new penal code that effectively abolished capital punishment, while Gambia and Malaysia both declared an official moratorium on executions.

Also last year, Washington became the 20th U.S. state to outlaw capital punishment when a court banned it. The state’s Catholic bishops applauded the October ruling that its use is arbitrary and racially biased.

However, some countries saw a rise in executions last year, including the United States, Belarus, Japan, Singapore and South Sudan, the organization said. Also, Thailand carried out its first execution since 2009.

Sri Lanka announced it would resume executions after more than 40 years, and an ad seeking hangmen was placed in a state-run daily newspaper.

Also, there was a steep rise in the number of death sentences imposed in some countries, including Iraq and Egypt, Amnesty International said. It noted that Egyptian authorities impose mass death sentences “after grossly unfair trials.”

Last December, Pope Francis said countries that have not abolished capital punishment but have adopted a moratorium on executions also should ban the death penalty as a possible punishment for crime.

A temporary moratorium “cannot be lived by the condemned person as a mere prolongation of the waiting period for his or her execution,” he said.

 

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Children in a migrant caravan

Hundreds of thousands across the Americas are fleeing human rights violations in their countries, seeking protection. Refugees are people who find themselves with no choice other than to leave their lives behind hoping for safety. Many arrive in hostile environments but stepping back home could put their lives at risk. The United States must protect those in need and promote a coherent regional response.

 

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Could the United States have landed on the Moon without help from the rest of the whole world?

It was an American mission to land on the moon. But it would have been impossible without the rest of the world. The Apollo program relied on a global network of tracking stations and their engineers.

Fifty years on from the 1969 moon landing, the emotions still well up. “I was driving home when I stopped on a two-lane road. It was pitch dark, and I got out of the car. I looked up at the moon, and it was like, ‘God, we got two people standing there right now!’ The emotions were very, very strong.” Larry Haug had just finished his shift as a data systems supervisor at one of NASA’s tracking stations at Fresnedillas de la Oliva, west of Madrid in Spain. Madrid was one of three sites, where the American space agency had built radio telescopes to track the progress of its human space missions.

“It was pride,” says Haug down the line from his home in the USA. From the moment President Kennedy announced in 1961 that America was going to the moon, they moved fast. “We had nothing. We hadn’t even put our first man in space,” says Haug. “And in eight years we landed two people on the moon. It was incredible, what we had done.”

An American story of global proportions

The Apollo space program is an American story. Most definitely. It’s a Cold War story, too — of a Free World against a closed, communist world. And in that sense, it’s a global story.   At any rate, the Americans couldn’t have done it without the rest of the world. Not even without the Russians. Americans were the first to put a person in space.

At NASA’s Madrid Tracking Station: Andre Bouvart, Gabriel Jimena and Larry Haug

That was the spur in America’s hind. That was politics. From a technical point of view, the Americans drew on expertise from around the world. Technicians and engineers from Europe and Australia, companies in the UK. And those tracking stations, where local technicians worked side-by-side with the Americans. The other two main sites were at Goldstone in the Mojave Desert, USA, and at Honeysuckle Creek, which is near the Australian capital, Canberra.

Together they delivered 24-hour coverage from the near side of the moon to the Earth. “The moon tracks around with the Earth from east to west, and it takes between 12 and 14 hours to make that transit,” explains Haug. “When you look up at the sky, you don’t always see the moon. The people in Houston couldn’t see it when we were seeing it.”

Madrid was the primary station when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon (while Michael Collins observed from the Command Module above).

As with the others, Madrid tracked the astronauts’ telemetry data – “Armstrong’s heart rate went up to 120, 130 as he was getting ready to land,” recalls Haug. In fact, TV cameras caught sight of this and streamed it live. “We got a reprimand for that because that was medical data and should not have been released!” he adds.  “And when I got off work that night,” he says, “we turned everything over to Honeysuckle Creek for the first step on the moon.”

One giant leap for TV

Who cares whether astronauts ever actually landed on the moon, or whether it was faked in some hidden American studio? If you were in Australia in 1969, all you knew was that those legendary television pictures were being sent around the world via the Australian bush.

There was Honeysuckle Creek, and the Parkes Radio Telescope. Parkes was brought into the loop about a month before the landing once it had become clear from the flight plan that Australia would be in the moon’s line of sight for the astronauts’ “giant leap for mankind.”   Gillian Schoenborn worked in the communications section at Honeysuckle Creek. Schoenborn and her male colleagues passed reams of paper messages, with mission instructions, telemetry and medical updates, through to John Saxon, Ken Lee and Mike Dinn in the operations room.

She had recently transferred first from the Navy and then a somewhat “boring” job working with Earth orbital data at Orroral Valley. Apollo, by contrast, was about people. All the world’s people.  “It was monumental. No two ways about it. At the time, perhaps, we didn’t see how significant it would be, because when you’re living history, you don’t realize it, do you?” Schoenborn’s being modest. Genuinely. The world knew exactly the significance of the 1969 moon landing, and they were watching it live. “Everyone in the world was excited,” says Colin Mackellar.

Mackellar runs a trove of Apollo history at HoneysuckleCreek.net. He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to community history in the 2019 Australia Day Honors.  By the time he was 12 years old, Mackellar had followed NASA’s Mercury and Gemini missions. They laid the groundwork for Apollo and inspired Mackellar to study science.

“In the late 70s, I hoped that human missions to the planets would happen soon, and that there might be a need for geologists to analyse samples brought back,” he says. “But that didn’t happen.” Mackellar became a minister in the Australian Anglican church instead.

A near ending dream

“But the other thing,” says Schoenborn, “was that we thought Apollo 11 was just the first. We thought they’re going to do it forever.”

Schoenborn left Honeysuckle Creek two months after the 1969 moon landing to travel the globe, ending up in the UK and Germany. Apollo didn’t last much longer after that. The program was shut down in 1972. “It was the biggest mistake to stop Apollo,” says Haug. “Looking back, we had Vietnam. That was hugely expensive, and something had to go.”

Haug says there’s a a history of such pragmatism in the US government.  “They did it with Apollo, the Shuttle program, and they’re doing it with the International Space Station,” he says. “They don’t have the foresight that science needs.” Alumni from the Spanish and Australian tracking stations meet up for anniversaries of the first moon landing, including this year’s fiftieth – they say, it’s like family. “All the tracking stations were tied together in real-time by voice,” says Mackellar. “It was like a virtual community, long before the internet. And there’s still a feeling of their having worked on a great endeavor together.”

And some sadness. Schoenborn remembers the 25th anniversary well. “It was eerie. To have experienced all that vibrancy,” she says. “And then it was just a hillside with a slab of concrete.” In 1981, the dish from Honeysuckle Creek was moved to nearby Tidbinbilla, where it became part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. For Mackellar, a sense of inspiration lives on. “We can be cynical and say it was political. But it wasn’t so much about beating the Russians. And it wasn’t just that the Americans had done it. People — humankind — had done it,” says Mackellar. “It gave people a great, peaceful cause.”

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A friend sent me a link to The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace, a study produced by Commongood Careers and Level Playing Field Institute. I didn’t read it right away because honestly, most reports about diversity in the nonprofit sector pretty much say the same damn thing and are a total waste of funder’s money.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Nonprofit staff isn’t very diverse. Nonprofit boards aren’t very diverse. Nonprofits need more diversity. Nonprofits don’t know where to find people of color. Nonprofits can’t seem to attract young people. Or gay people.

But this study is a little different. Yes, the study focuses on ethnic and racial diversity in the nonprofit workplace, but it’s the first report I’ve seen that doesn’t focus on the fact that nonprofits are ruled by white people, but instead examines the repercussions of what happens when organizations do nothing to change this reality.

I’m Not Making This Up

The numbers don’t lie, people. The research says it better than I ever could. From the Commongood Careers report:

Today’s nonprofit employees are approximately 82 percent white, 10 percent African- American, five percent Hispanic/Latino, three percent other, and one percent Asian or Pacific Islander. The gap in representation is more pronounced in nonprofit governance, where only 14 percent of board members are people of color. Similarly, in specialized functions such as development, less than six percent of roles are filled by people of color. When examining organizational leadership, the gap persists. According to the 2006 report by the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (formerly American Humanics), up to 84 percent of nonprofits are led by whites, and 9.5 out of 10 philanthropic organizations are led by whites.

Of course, there is much more anecdotal evidence from my peers which bear this out even further, but there’s a start for folks who don’t see why this is such a big deal.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

The researchers asked 1,600 nonprofit professionals nationwide what they thought about this whole diversity thing and the response was clear: Nonprofit employees believe that good intentions are not enough when it comes to staff diversity.

More specifically, the study showed that most nonprofit employees perceive that their employers claim to value building diverse and inclusive organizations, but that they do little to back up that claim.

What?! Nonprofits are not walking that warm and fuzzy “everyone is welcome” talk? (Um, how about NO.)

Where it really gets interesting is that the report reveals perceptions of diversity and inclusiveness play a significant role in recruitment and retention of employees, particularly employees of color.

“Until the disconnect between value and action is addressed, there will continue to be negative implications for attracting and retaining diverse employees across the nonprofit sector,” said Level Playing Field Institute Executive Director Robert Schwartz, Ed.D. “Diversity commitments must move beyond a tagline on a website, and must be followed by specific and strategic actions implemented in order to ensure that diversity becomes a reality within organizations.”

This is why even if recruitment is successful, retention can be a challenge. Once people of color join the staff of a nonprofit, they need to feel included and supported within the organization – or else they feel like they’ve been duped. Hustled. Hoodwinked.

The Disconnect

  • Nearly 90 percent of employees believe that their organization values diversity. However, more than 70 percent believe that their employer does not do enough to create a diverse and inclusive work environment.
  • More than half of employees of all races—and 71 percent of employees of color—attempt to evaluate a prospective employer’s commitment to diversity during the interview process.
  • More than 35 percent of people of color who indicated that they examine diversity during the hiring process report having previously withdrawn candidacy or declined a job offer due to a perceived lack of diversity and inclusiveness.

The Repercussions

As the study points out, the disconnect between the value placed on diversity and the actions taken to diversify nonprofit organizations perpetuate a cycle with three key negative outcomes (taken directly from the report):

  1. Inability to attract employees of color
  2. In an attempt to create more diverse staffs and boards, many prospective employers seek to recruit diverse employees. As the survey highlights, the top indicator of an organization’s commitment to diversity is the presence of diverse staff at all levels of the organization. If an organization is unable to show diversity on its team, prospective candidates of color may be less likely to join that organization. This is manifested by candidates withdrawing during the interview process, or even choosing not to apply at all.
  3. Increased employee dissatisfaction
  4. If diversity is not represented on staff, employees of color may experience a sense of tokenism or alienation in the workplace. Even within organizations that have multicultural staff, many employees of color have reported perceiving bias in the form of lack of professional development or upward mobility opportunities. Employees that perceive even subtle forms of bias—such as feelings like they are treated differently than their colleagues —are more likely to feel demoralized which can have negative repercussions on employee productivity, output, and retention.
  5. Inability to retain top talent
  6. As the economy begins to improve, the sector will inevitably experience shifts in employee retention, as well as more competition between organizations to attract talent. For professionals of color who place a premium on the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in their career choices, this could mean higher attrition rates amongst previously dissatisfied employees who have been “sitting tight.” As employees leave, organizations experience the financial costs of attrition—up to 150 percent of an employee’s salary—as well as collateral damage to remaining employees’ morale and productivity.

The report also outlines five strategies for organizations to shift from just valuing diversity to actually building and sustaining diversity, which are interesting to think about, though things you’ve heard before: (1) open conversations about race that include executive leadership, (2) effective communications about diversity commitments that include measured results, (3) building partnerships and networks that facilitate effective recruiting, (4) a hiring process free from subtle bias, and (5) taking the time to develop, mentor and promote a diverse staff.

OK. The tools are out there, freely available. The solutions and strategies are not hidden treasure in the depths of the Atlantic. Which leads me to the conclusion that nonprofits aren’t challenged by the “how” of diversity. It’s just that they don’t really care.

Download the full report here: www.cgcareers.org/diversityreport.pdf

I’d love to hear your comments on this issue. Should nonprofits just stop talking the diversity talk if they aren’t willing to walk the diversity walk? Why can’t organizations just be honest in saying they will never prioritize diversity, no matter how many reports get written? (Seems like it would sure free up a lot of HR’s time and make-believe attention being paid to this issue. And future employees wouldn’t be disappointed when they find out that all the warm and fuzzy language about diversity and inclusion they saw on the organization’s website was nothing but lip service.)

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Equality can be understood as parity in the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms, and equality of opportunities with regards to education and work and the fulfillment of one’s potential. Equity relates to a degree of equality in the living conditions of people, especially in terms of income and wealth, that society considers desirable. Reduction of inequalities is then justified by equity considerations.

The 1995 World Social Summit stressed that a people-centered approach to development must be based on the principles of equity and equality so that all individuals have access to resources and opportunities. In the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action social justice, equity and equality reflect the concept of a just society ensuring the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality of opportunity for all. Public policies have to correct market failures and promote equity and social justice. World Social Summit identified several ways Governments can promote equality and social justice:

◾Ensuring people are equal before the law
◾Carrying out policies with a view to equalization of opportunities
◾Expanding and improving access to basic services
◾Providing equal opportunities in public-sector employment
◾Encouraging formation of cooperatives and community-based institutions
◾Minimize negative effects of structural adjustment programmes
◾Promoting full access to preventive and curative health care
◾Expanding basic education, improving its quality, enhancing access to formal and non-formal learning, ensuring equal access to education of girls

The 24th Special session of the General Assembly reiterated that social development requires reduction in inequality of wealth and a more equitable distribution of the benefits of economic growth within and among nations.

Over the past decades, inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty. Globalization occurs in the absence of a social agenda, aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of globalization on vulnerable groups of society.

A social perspective on development emphasizes the view that inequality impairs growth and development, including poverty eradication efforts and that equity itself is instrumental for economic growth and development. It aims at providing a better understanding of the effects of economic and social policies on equity in societies and promotes ways of advancing policies contributing to the reduction of inequalities. Policies for both inequality and poverty reduction are mutually reinforcing.

The linkages between poverty and inequality are highlighted in the 2005 Report on the World Social Situation: The Inequality Predicament. The report states that the goal of sustained poverty reduction cannot be achieved unless equality of opportunity and access to basic services is ensured and stresses that the goal of reducing inequality must be explicitly incorporated in policies and programmes aimed at poverty reduction.

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Unemployment and underemployment lie at the core of poverty. For the poor, labor is often the only asset they can use to improve their well-being. Hence the creation of productive employment opportunities is essential for achieving poverty reduction and sustainable economic and social development. It is crucial to provide decent jobs that both secure income and empowerment for the poor, especially women and younger people.

Rapid economic growth can potentially bring a high rate of expansion of productive and remunerative employment, which can lead to a reduction in poverty. Nevertheless, the contribution of the growth process to poverty reduction does not depend only on the rate of economic growth, but also on the ability of the poor to respond to the increasing demand for labor in the more productive categories of employment.

Given the importance of employment for poverty reduction, job-creation should occupy a central place in national poverty reduction strategies. Many employment strategies are often related to agricultural and rural development and include using labor-intensive agricultural technologies; developing small and medium-sized enterprises, and promoting micro projects in rural areas. Many strategies promote self-employment, non-farm employment in rural areas, targeted employment interventions, microfinance and credit as a means of employment generation, skill formation and training.

Such strategies, however, often address the quantity of employment while the qualitative dimensions, such as equity, security, dignity, and freedom are often absent or minimal. In general, national poverty reduction strategies including Poverty Reduction Strategies do not comment on employment programmes, social protection or rights at work. Neither do they offer an in-depth analysis of the effects of policies on poverty reduction.

A social perspective on development emphasizes the view that the best route to socio-economic development, poverty eradication and personal wellbeing is through decent work. Productive employment opportunities will contribute substantially to achieving the internationally agreed development goals, especially the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

There should be a focus on creating better and more productive jobs, particularly those that can absorb the high concentrations of working poor. Among the necessary elements for creating such jobs are investing in labor-intensive industries, especially agriculture, encouraging a shift in the structure of employment to higher productivity occupations and sectors, and upgrading job quality in the informal economy. In addition, there should also be a focus on providing poor people with the necessary skills and assets that will enable them to take full advantage of any expansion in employment potential.

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“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a short tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent – while in reality, they make no clothes at all, making everyone believe the clothes are invisible to them. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new “clothes”, no one dares to say that they do not see any suit of clothes on him for fear that they will be seen as stupid. Finally a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

When I meet a CEO for the first time, when he or she has asked for my help with some organizational obstacle – my first question is always “Where do you get the truth from?” I want to know who in the CEO’s inner circle has the confidence to speak freely to the head honcho, especially about sensitive issues.

Sometimes, there’s a person on the executive team who’s known the CEO so long that there’s no pretense any more (and typically the truth-teller’s employment agreement makes it hard for the CEO to get mad one day and say ‘Off with his head!’ without financial consequences). Sometimes if a CEO is lucky, the exec team bands together as a unified truth-telling squad, and then staff meetings are often knock-down drag-outs, maddening and emotional but with reality threaded through them.

Sometimes – most of the time – the CEO tells me “Well, I rely on my team to tell me the truth” and then I meet the team, and see the dynamic that keeps them locked together in a dysfunctional chorus of Why No Your Majesty, Your Outfit Looks Perfectly Fine to Me.

It is hard to say unpopular things to powerful people. That should go without saying and every CEO should take that reality into account, but I am here to tell you that many CEOs don’t. Here’s why: they are human. They like to have their ideas applauded. They don’t like to be told “No” or “That plan doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense” or “What have you been smoking?” They have ideas and they want people to act on them.

Let’s face it, we don’t put milquetoast nebbishes in the CEO spot very often. We put commanding, decisive Alpha Males (and a few females) in the CEO’s chair, so we can’t pretend to be surprised when they aren’t spending tons of time begging for their subordinates’ feedback and input. We made our CEO-leadership-style bed, you might say – “we” being the Board of Directors that likes the cut of a hard-hitting CEO’s jib. We put decision-makers in charge, and much or most of the time, any input that’s out of line with the CEO’s vision is marginalized if not squelched outright. That’s a bad thing for customers, employees and shareholders, but it’s common as rain. Here’s why: physics.

Entropy is a feature of the universe and pretty much every closed system. Physical things break down over time – leaves fall off the trees and scatter, and an egg that falls off the edge of a table lies in pieces and yolky puddles on the floor. Broken eggs don’t gather themselves back up into their shells very often. Things tend to fall apart and decay. When an organization is itself a closed system, the same entropy holds sway.

If you are in a position of power, what would you do when someone speaks shocking truth to you?

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As defined by the first Special Rapporteur, “the human right to adequate housing is the right of every woman, man, youth and child to gain and sustain a safe and secure home and community in which to live in peace and dignity”.

This definition is in line with the core elements of the right to adequate housing as defined by General Comment No. 4 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the body in charge of monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the States which are party to it). According to the Committee, while adequacy is determined in part by social, economic, cultural, climatic, ecological and other factors, it is nevertheless possible to identify certain aspects of the right that must be taken into account for this purpose in any particular context. They include the following: a) Legal security of tenure; b) Availability of services, materials, facilities, and infrastructure; c) Affordability; d) Habitability; e) Accessibility; f) Location; and g) Cultural adequacy. For the definition of these elements, please refer to General Comment No. 4.

For more on the human right to adequate housing, please refer to International Standards.

The obligations of States

The legal obligations of Governments concerning the right to housing consist of (i) the duties found in article 2.1 of the Covenant; and (ii) the more specific obligations to recognize, respect, protect and fulfill this and other rights.

Three phrases in article 2.1 are particularly important for understanding the obligations of Governments to realize fully the rights recognized in the Covenant, including the right to adequate housing:

(a) “undertakes to take steps . . . by all appropriate means”

In addition to legislative measures, administrative, judicial, economic, social and educational steps must also be taken. States parties are also obliged to develop policies and set priorities consistent with the Covenant. They are also required to evaluate the progress of such measures and to provide effective legal or other remedies for violations. With specific reference to the right to adequate housing, States parties are required to adopt a national housing strategy.

(b) “to the maximum of its available resources

The obligation of States is to demonstrate that, in aggregate, the measures being taken are sufficient to realize the right to adequate housing for every individual in the shortest possible time using the maximum available resources.

(c) “to achieve progressively”

This obligation “to achieve progressively” must be read in the light of article 11.1 of the Covenant, in particular, the reference to the right to the “continuous improvement of living conditions”. The obligation of progressive realization, moreover, exists independently of any increase in resources. Above all, it requires effective use of resources available.

The four additional obligations that Governments have to fulfill in order to implement the right to adequate housing are:

The obligation to recognize the human right dimensions of housing and to ensure that no measures are taken with the intention of eroding the legal status of this right. The adoption of measures and appropriate policies geared towards progressive realization of housing rights form part of this obligation.

The obligation to respect the right to adequate housing means that Governments must abstain from carrying out or otherwise advocating the forced or arbitrary eviction of persons and groups. States must respect people’s rights to build their own dwellings and order their environments in a manner which most effectively suits their culture, skills, needs, and wishes.

The obligation to protect effectively the housing rights of a population means that Governments must ensure that any possible violations of these rights by “third parties” such as landlords or property developers are prevented. Where such infringements do occur, the relevant public authorities should act to prevent any further deprivations and guarantee to affected person access to legal remedies of redress for any infringement caused.

The obligation to fulfill the right to adequate housing is both positive and interventional. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has asserted that identifiable governmental strategies aimed at securing the right of all persons to live in peace and dignity should be developed.

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Sooner or Later, your company will probably need to transform itself in response to market shifts, groundbreaking technologies, or disruptive start-ups. Some strategists suggest doing this quickly and aggressively, by making a clean break from the past and turning your firm into something entirely new. In my experience, though, organizations built for legacy markets rarely pull this off. It can take years for an innovative initiative to become large enough to replace the revenue an incumbent has lost to disruption. And if your company completely abandons its old model, it throws away any advantage it still has. I propose an approach that’s both more practical to implement and more sustainable. It rests on two insights: First, major transformations need to be two different efforts happening in parallel.

“Transformation A” should reposition the core business, adapting its current business model to the altered marketplace. “Transformation B” should create a separate, disruptive business to develop the innovations that will become the source of future growth. Second, the key to making both transformations work is to establish a new organizational process we call a “capabilities exchange,” through which the parallel efforts can share select resources without changing the mission or operations of either. Dividing the effort in two allows leaders to develop a new strategy for the core that doesn’t need to make up for all the business lost to disruption. It also gives the innovative new operation the time it needs to grow. What one transformation effort could rarely accomplish alone, two together have a better chance of achieving. IBM and Apple both took this dual-transformation approach. In the mid-1990s, IBM reconceived its mainframe business, shifting from proprietary systems to servers running software based on open standards. At the same time, it built a separate Global Services organization that became the source of its future growth. In the late 1990s, Apple repositioned its struggling PC business, trimming offerings and focusing on design. Shortly afterward, it launched the iPod and opened the iTunes store, which led to phenomenal growth. More recently, we’ve seen the dual-track process unfolding at Barnes & Noble as the retailer reacted to the severe disruption of e-books, and at Xerox in response to the slow erosion of its core copier business.

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