Yali Banton Heath

Inter|national section writer

Yali is currently studying for an MA in Human Rights Law at SOAS having graduated with a degree in International Development from UEA. Her writing and research focus on minority and indigenous rights, the politics of land, and marginalised groups’ access to justice. Balancing her academia and studies with a healthy dose of counter-culture and tomfoolery, if she’s nowhere to be seen in the library she’s probably sat round a fire in a muddy field putting the world to rights with an old raver over a can of Stella.

Articles:

(01.10.18) – UN Vote to Reaffirm Peasant Rights

Some positive news! A solid step has been taken towards the wider global push for an increased protection of rural workers rights. In Geneva on Friday 28th September 2018, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution culminating in the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.

With 33 votes in favour, 3 against (one of which being the UK), and 11 abstentions, the declaration will now be taken to the 3rd committee session of the UN General Assembly in New York in October, where it will be open for adoption by all UN member states. Once adopted, it will serve to strengthen the obligations of governments in upholding the rights of its nations rural populations: of peasants, indigenous communities, migrant workers, and small-scale farmers alike. Some argue that we must be wary of such expansions of rights. I disagree.

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(18.02.18) – Don’t be Fooled by China’s Greenwash

China has been the subject of environmental scrutiny for years now. It remains the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, has horrendously high levels of air pollution, and still uses coal fired power stations to generate its electricity. 2018, however, seems to be welcoming the beginning of change for the country. International media has reported on new environmental protection laws, policies and bans, as China attempts to turn a new leaf. For better or worse, China is the world’s largest player in our changing climate, and how this change plays out out in the coming decades rests largely on their shoulders.

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(04.02.18) – Criticism of USAID’s Legal Aid Toolkit in Myanmar

Myanmar is a country under the spotlight at the moment. Human rights abuses, allegations of ethnic cleansing, economic development and foreign investment, and piss poor freedom of speech are among many controversial issues which cast shadows in today’s political discussions. On the ground, such issues require adequate legal aid, but Myanmar’s judicial system has been in tatters for decades.

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(07.01.18) – Hotspot for Environmental Killings: The Philippines Moving into 2018

A figure which always captures my attention at the end of each year is the number of environment and land defender murders that have taken place over those past dozen months.

2016 was bloody. 200 people lost their lives that year while protecting their land and natural resources. The Guardian and Global Witness have estimated that last year, in 2017, there were 185 such deaths. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, these figures are always underestimations, as in reality far more deaths occur over land and environmental struggles than get reported.

As the country with the third highest environmental defender death toll globally (beneath Brazil and Colombia), the Philippines continues to have the highest environmental activist death toll for any Asian country. The archipelago of over 7,000 islands is seen to be one of South East Asia’s booming economies. But what will 2018 bring with regard to the country’s piss poor human rights and all too frequent environmental killings?

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(10.12.17) – It’s Time to Change the Legal Narrative When it Comes to Environmental Protection

On December 4th Trump signed proclamations to shrink two U.S. national monuments in Utah. Bears Ears National Monument is to be squeezed from 1.5m to 228,784 acres, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from 2m to 1,006,341 acres. Unremarkably, this decision has sparked a backlash from various groups. It is a textbook debate on who possesses the rights to the land, and is one of many such disputes in which the environment itself is all too often overlooked.

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(26.11.17) – Business, As Usual: The Rohingya Crisis, Repatriation And Economic Interests

Content warning: ethnic cleaning, sexual violence.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have just signed an agreement which concerns the repatriation of over 600,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled their homeland in Rakhine state since August. What many are now rightfully calling out as genocide, the persecution, murder and rape of Rohingya people and the burning of their villages has left deep scars.

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(12.11.17) – Japan Must Reflect On Its History If It Is To Revise Article 9

On September 25th, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe called for one of those snap elections we all know and love. Unlike Theresa May, when the results were announced almost a month later on October 22nd, Abe managed to pull through and secure himself a majority in the Diet.

Japan is now swinging heavily to the right. With Abe possessing a mandate to attempt implementation of his main objective – revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution – is the country about to embark on a dangerous path of no return?