I would not have voted in favour of bombing Syria. ISIL/Daesh is a source of evil, of this I have no doubt. But for me the case for bombing is not proven. Some, including some I greatly respect, say that the traditional Christian criteria for a Just War have been fulfilled. But I cannot agree. Across the world I see the the political reflex to seek quick popularity through warmongering talk, and I abhor it. I believe there is a better way. In the season of the coming of the Prince of Peace let's try and find it together.
The Paris Climate Change Conference (also known as COP21) is a political milestone in the global fight against climate change. All 195 participating countries agreed to the resulting Paris Agreement. I will examine the key lessons from the negotiations in five categories that matter the most: diplomacy, politics, law, business and economics.
We're reaching the end of 2015 with no end in sight over Syria. The carnage and agony continue. So do the detentions, the torture, the deaths in custody, the "disappearances" and state gangsterism. The Syrian government's barrel bombings also continue and the ever-widening internationalisation of the conflict appears to mean that any eventual resolution is harder still to envisage. But what, if anything, have we learnt about the Syria crisis during 2015? Here are a few thoughts...
We often hear it said that there are too many people on Earth, that 'overpopulation' is an existential threat, and that fewer people might consume proportionately less, resulting in some easy environmental gains such as less carbon output and fewer species extinctions. It's a seductive logic, but is it true?
In the space of just eight months since the latest conflict broke out in late March, the numbers in need of humanitarian assistance have risen to over 80% of the population: a staggering 21.2million people, including almost 10million children. Over 1,500 children have been killed and injured as a result of the war... It is increasingly urgent that everything possible be done to halt the catastrophic loss of life.
Many families have been refugees for almost five years now. Their children are unlikely to have been in school during that time, and the families are likely to have burned through whatever resources they had when they fled home. International aid is falling as need is rising. Work is difficult to find (and often illegal) for refugees, who are paid much less than the locals, with no enforcement of labour standards. Put bluntly, the once middle class Syrian refugee population is now pauperised, and desperate, which has driven them to pay large amounts of money and take huge risks crossing a continent to Northern Europe.
When you enter Syria, you have to start following all their Sharia [Islamic law] rules and pray, otherwise the khizba [police] will get you. For example, if you don't pray on time, they can take you and punish you. I told them that I did the hijra to the Islamic State, and then applied to the Sharia court to get my children back. I lived in the mosque between March and September. I could not even take my clothes off once. Nobody forces you to fight, but you do have to find a way to make a living.
I started the original One Day Young project in East London back in 2008, photographing over 150 mothers at home with their babies in the first twenty-four hours of life. When invited me to extend this project to Malawi, to raise awareness about women giving birth without clean water or sanitation for their Deliver Life appeal, I was apprehensive.
As a philanthropist and children's' campaigner - it's an incredible opportunity to discuss what children with disabilities need to prosper. And believe me, it's imperative we have that conversation. One issue that desperately needs to be addressed is how we achieve equality for children with disabilities, particularly when it comes to education.