Anthony Ravlich: Freedom from our social prisons
For the Very Urgent Attention of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights 8-26 March 2010.: New Zealand Review
The following submission is from the Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand) to the United Nations Human Rights Committee concerning New Zealand’s report due to be reviewed on the 15th and 16th of March, 2010. It is also written for a wider public audience.
New Zealand Justice Minister Simon Power will report to the United Nations on Tuesday and Wednesday (New Zealand time) to present New Zealand’s Fifth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on how New Zealand's human rights obligations are being managed. Mr Power will on Tuesday and Wednesday next week present New Zealand's Fifth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The report is described as being the product of extensive public consultation. Mr Power said New Zealand could be proud of its history in human rights and efforts to protect society's most vulnerable and was looking forward to addressing the UN's human rights committee (NZPA, March 12, 2010).
I apologize for the lateness of this submission but our council, incorporated as a charitable trust in 2001 and made up largely of beneficiaries although there is a number with university degrees, is unfunded. My book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’ was included on an official United Nations website (see below) about one month ago.
The following article is a continuation of the findings in my book, which also deals with the recent Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but this article is dealing with the civil and political rights in New Zealand’s domestic human rights law. My book and articles show that as a consequence of the interpretation given by the domestic and international human rights establishment with respect to both of sets of rights New Zealand (as could also be the case in many other States) is being subject to mass discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth),
Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand)
Freedom from our social prisons requires a Rights Revolutionby Anthony Ravlich
Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand)
New Zealand’s poor, in particular, are discriminated against on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth) and because of the latter and other rights excluded from New Zealand’s human rights law a counterculture has developed in New Zealand society. This is also likely to be the case in many countries.
My book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’ is on an official UN website http://hrbaportal.org/?page_id=3180 despite my forthright criticisms of that organization indicates that the United Nations is encouraging well-based criticism as does our Prime Minister, John Key, - an email from his office on 27 May 2009 stated: “The Prime Minister will appreciate your taking the time to write to him”. It is also the case with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. The latter has been upfront on occasions regarding the deficiencies of human rights law in New Zealand – for instance, once inviting me into an office to inform me that successive governments have not been funding human rights education which under Section 5(a) of the Human Rights Act 1993 the Commission was required to implement - but such information has not been communicated to the public by the mainstream media (see end of email for council support and credentials). But there appears to be a recognition that we are entering uncertain times – few liberals in the elites have developed beyond liberalism (even economic, social and cultural rights re the Optional Protocol have been interpreted from a liberal perspective ) but the latter cannot deal with a world approaching crisis only authoritarian regimes can do that.
It is now apparent on the streets of Auckland, New Zealand that a counterculture has developed outside of the establishment. This social division, a definite social disconnect, which is likely to be the case in other New Zealand centers and probably many other countries, parallels the division between the mainstream media and establishment dealing largely with ‘safe’ truths leaving the ‘unsafe’ truths to the internet and the fringes of society. However, the internet and the voices of the counterculture do not reach the democratic majority so it is to a large extent hidden. It is described below what rights have been omitted from international and domestic law which is resulting in considerable discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth) resulting in the creation of this counterculture at present a disparate mass but now that the human rights exclusions are known they will, when they are ready, know how best to effect change. Recently, on 12 March 2010 in the general debate on the Optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child the problems being faced were articulated, one of these concerns were ‘how despite international treaties based on the concept of non-discrimination, discrimination was the rule rather than the exception’ (OHCHR 2010).
The ‘safe’ establishment (Obama’s ‘we are all in this together’) of the now united collective elites in our establishment devised by the United Nations and the global elites in the recent Optional Protocol (OP) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a left-wing neo liberalism to replace the right-wing neo liberalism of Bush (see my book and articles cited below). This united ‘safe’ establishment better hides the hegemony of left-wing neo liberals who also dominate in the United Nations bureaucracy and other international bodies. This elite now has gained greater protection for liberal rights e.g. Obama ( but the discrimination by the elites results in very unequal human rights – see below). The left wing are now less likely to ‘speak out’; while the rise of economic, social and cultural rights at the United Nations empowers the trade unions e.g. to make complaints (although the considerable majority of humanity have been overlooked – see my book) with States taking their cue from these recent decisions of the United Nations and the considerable global elite consensus; the rise of the trade union power also requires more responsible Corporations (perhaps contributing to the financial crisis due to a loss of confidence by investors); with the mainstream media, in my opinion, acting as the mouth piece for this united establishment. Also to my knowledge, none of the seven political parties in our Parliament have seriously challenged this discriminatory globalization. Globalization entails two dimensions: economic globalization e.g. China confines itself just to this, and political globalization which from the point of view of the left neo liberals is the most important because it ‘captures hearts and minds’ e.g. freedom and democracy, but the human rights agenda is very discriminatory – see below - and creates class societies with large gaps between rich and poor, and despite liberal claims that global middle class elite domination means fewer wars between nations, however, internal conflict within nations are inevitable because of the increasing injustices and this can result in authoritarian leadership – Hitler is a good example - who pose considerable dangers for world peace.
The above unity described, including the Maori Party, will ensure very little dissent in the establishment so it can more effectively implement its discriminatory social control and pursue its elitist globalization without being held to account except in the fringes of society and the internet.
The discrimination is directed largely at the independent peoples outside of the establishment leading to the creation of a low waged economy, a declining small business/productive sector, higher unemployment, a larger underclass as well as the deprivation of many children (see below) and wherever possible a completely dependent population. This retreat into the safety of a unified establishment reflects, in my view, anticipated future internal country conflict as a consequence of the financial crisis and the increasing gap between rich and the poor and this is also, in my view, the reason for the rise of economic, social and cultural rights at the United Nations.
One of the reasons for the existence of the counterculture, which seems to be a mixture of various classes, is because the globally dominant middle class culture promoted by the mainstream media bares little relationship to the reality of the lives of many of those outside of the establishment e.g. while the establishment is now much more confident about the economy following the financial crisis those in the counterculture consider it is likely to get much worse. Many of those in the counterculture, often a number of young New Zealanders are disillusioned and have little pride and hope in this country - as evidenced by the estimated 600,000 to one million New Zealanders out of a population of four million now living overseas – as evidenced by last September’s OECD report which stated that New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate amongst OECD members. This lack of pride and hope (liberal elites fear the ‘tyranny of the majority’ so undermine the pride and diminish hope at almost every opportunity. But their paranoia is unwarranted – this is largely a peace loving people although change is inevitable - my hope is that it comes from New Zealanders and that it is peaceful. The elite problems are more to do with their inner being – choices they made, albeit difficult – which they must take responsibility for – at least for them there are choices but the under class they created have pitiful few. The lack of pride and hope is reflected in a recent report where the former Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon believes a merger with Australia is inevitable. A recent poll has found 40 percent of New Zealanders like the idea of becoming a state of Australia. The UMR Research poll surveyed a thousand people on both sides of the Tasman” (Newstalk ZB March 14, 2010). This, in my view, reflects the ‘feebleness of character’ of our elites prepared to capitulate, the fear is largely in their own minds, and give up on the dream expressed in the national anthem – ‘God Defend New Zealand’….’God Defend Our Free Land’…’Make Our Country Good and Great’. But, in my firm opinion, if they cannot resolve their problems here they will do it nowhere. Instead they will become ever more alienated from people and from themselves. However mysteries do exist in this world and other more positive options are more likely to avail themselves – see the idea of global citizenship (imagine a dual citizenship – New Zealand and the rest of the world).
In my view, the elite’s hegemony has been hidden by the use of traditional ‘divide and rule’. They deflect and channel the anger (which they are very intolerant of – yet they are the ones who implement the discrimination) of those who are discriminated against a range of groups – for example, variously it may be the Corporations, the Churches, the trade unions so sometimes these groups are ‘favored’ and sometimes they are not. The worst example of this in New Zealand – and this needs to be said and I am prepared to debate this on Maraes and I have asked Maori MPs but have had no response - is the ‘partnership’ of a largely left-wing neo liberal Pakeha and Maori elites ( our National Party is more left wing than is commonly supposed) using those Maori lower on the social scale to instill fear into the Pakeha population through crime, sometimes intimidation at the lower social levels, but largely, in my opinion, permitted an excessive cultural role which, in my view, contributed to significant ‘white flight’ overseas. In my view, Maori, by and large, fear isolation from the tribe so are reluctant to take on their own elite for greater justice – it is common knowledge that Maori at the bottom of the social scale have received little of the land etc. returned – although they have a greater pride in their ancestry. However, if the omitted rights described in this article were included in New Zealand’s domestic law they would also be automatically included in the Treaty of Waitangi (Article 3, “In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects”). The inclusion of the above rights would give a voice to Maori at the bottom of the social scale who by many accounts are discriminated against on the same grounds of social origin by their own Maori elites. Treaty support for their voices could mean they could get greater justice from their own elites and their share in lands etc returned. Their elites would have to show greater respect for their talents and entrepreneurship which would, in my view, also permit them to pursue their holistic development with traditional spirituality still important, it seems, to a number of Maori. It needs to be clearly stated throughout New Zealand that there is no research which has proven that those born with a higher social status at birth are a superior form of life (and this is also the case with respect to race and gender) and that social status needs to be earned by ‘duties’ but all our elites, who, using discrimination, are taking, in my view, far more than they give and display very little duty to the community – in my view, British royalty exercises greater duty to the people (but rather given their elitist preferences align themselves with the global elite community rather than New Zealanders). Such duty is required in the preamble to the International Covenant of Civil and political Rights (see below). If at the lower levels of the social scale Maori can recapture their spiritual traditions, including sharing, and Pakeha recapture their traditions of individual freedoms then together with the business acumen and religious beliefs of our new Ethnic groups we can forge ahead to a better future. A major requirement given the shocking state New Zealand is in – and if this is not seen now it will be - is a ‘rugged determination’ to succeed (but with responsibility) otherwise the alternative is ‘third world status’ and this is an extremely serious state to be in – almost impossible to get out of – just ask those in such countries. We have to simply back ourselves as a Nation because maintaining a positive view will be very hard. This, in my view, is ‘the way home’ to a more egalitarian, kinder, society where people are more able to reach their full potential rather than many having their dreams crushed and the nation divided in the fierce attempt by the class orientated to marginalize what exists of the American Dream here and what hope and pride still exists in this country.
Such an egalitarian dream can all be accommodated
under the tolerant umbrella of human rights where the social
controllers can execute a non-discriminatory and ethically
based human rights agenda while intellectuals can engage in
the search for truth and reach their full potential. This
all while fulfilling duties to the wider domestic and
international community where they can educate in the core
minimum obligations (broadly defined to include self-help
and includes both sets of rights –see below) and offering
assistance, by way of right not charity, once domestic core
obligations are met i.e. a global citizenship (imagine a
dual citizenship - New Zealand and the rest of the world)
rather than the present discriminatory and elitist
globalization which can only be described as ‘a one-way
ticket to the hell of third world status’. But this
discriminatory globalization cannot succeed because of the
limitations of liberal democracies themselves. While
extremely adept at discrimination and ‘divide and rule’
and crushing the lives of very large numbers of people
usually without directly using violence they cannot indulge
in authoritarian approaches e.g. the excessive force of
military regimes, going to extremes in eliminating freedom
of speech which is said to be the case in China, for
example, with respect to the internet – and they are very
unlikely to try torture again – so they would be deceiving
themselves if they are to compare themselves to those elites
that do well despite the mass poverty of their people such
as is seen in the poorer regions of the world and also those
elites which are able to escape sanctions imposed on their
country by the world. In fact, in the final analysis, as
internal conflict rises, the elite would benefit far more
from the inclusion of nondiscrimination on the grounds of
social origin (social status at birth) than anyone else.
Also the truth is now known and with the internet it will
become known world-wide and I am confident that it will set
the counterculture free from discrimination but how soon
will have to come from them.
Our human rights acts are based on the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by New Zealand under international law in 1978. The titles to our Acts state as follows: The Human Rights Act 1993: ‘…..to provide better protection of human rights in New Zealand in general accordance with United Nations Covenants or Conventions on Human Rights. And the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 states: (b) ‘To affirm New Zealand’s commitment to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights’.
Non-discrimination on the grounds of social origin is required under Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so should have been included in New Zealand’s human rights law. Class is not ‘officially’ recognized in New Zealand despite the creation of a visible underclass in 1991 following severe benefit cuts. The ‘equality myth’ is irresponsibly perpetuated by the establishment and mainstream media - the following is from the New Zealand Immigration Service website: “Social values: New Zealanders have a very similar way of life and share values common to most Western countries, but there are some special features. We are passionate about sport, and have a firm belief in social equality. The social welfare system prevents extreme poverty, and the nation has neither a strong class system nor major social tensions. Differences between high and low-income people are not pronounced (17 Dec 2006)” This ‘equality myth’ is dangerous as it misrepresents how extremely difficult it is for people outside of the establishment to ‘help themselves’ when faced with a class-based society and it also misrepresents us to likely immigrants.
The exclusion of the above ground of non-discrimination has meant that the civil and political rights of the poor have been severely neglected. Also their low lifestyles (lack of economic, social and cultural rights) on often bare survival benefits means they are unable to access their liberal rights. Most obviously because of the exclusion of the above ground of discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth) affirmative action policies for Maori and women were focused on those higher on the social scale while the numbers of those most disadvantaged of both groups, where affirmative action was most needed, escalated e.g. Maori unemployment was at about 16% for about 21 years, while those on the DPB went from 56,548 in 1984 to 93,090 in 2006 (for more details see my book). Also the poor did not seek their rights (a former human rights commissioner remarked to me: ‘the poor stay away in droves’) because very many do not know their rights: as stated above the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has expressed concern that governments are not funding human rights education as required by law – this education includes both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. In addition, the poor often see government institutions, dominated by a ‘budgeting mentality’ as hostile and unapproachable because they seem to see-saw in attitudes towards beneficiaries. Without the human rights language the people and the poor are unable to hold the elite to account and also they are not sufficiently informed to vote for political parties which stand for such human rights. Also there is far too much focus on law rather than what is most important, in my view, the human rights education of the people. For example, does small business really have to have this extra legal burden? – certainly an area for further research. Couldn’t anti-smacking legislation be better dealt with by education and child abuse by including the children of beneficiaries as recipients of the in-work tax credit? (see below). Also, the mainstream media do not permit the poor a voice of their own so they can influence the democratic majority (see my article on internet: New Zealand Human Rights ‘outsider’ summoned to appear in court, http: //www.indymedia.org.nz/article/77884/new-zealand-human-rights-‘outsider’-summ). Not only does the mainstream media fail to recognize class in New Zealand they were also permitted by the exclusion of the above ground of non-discrimination to largely ignore the poor and simply focus on middle class culture and interests.
In addition, the children of beneficiaries have also been discriminated against on the same grounds of social status at birth. New Zealand has many children going to school hungry and the highest level of youth suicide in the OECD as reported in last September’s OECD report. The new class-based system will shatter many of the dreams of the children while high levels of violence will seriously impair their emotional growth and holistic development (see New Zealand Child Poverty Action Group and Kidscan on the internet). Among other very serious effects on New Zealand society this discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth) has denied the children of beneficiaries from receiving the same in-work tax credit of about $60 per week as the children of working families (see the Child Poverty Action Group website who state about 200,000 children are affected).
Also the omission of the above ground of discrimination, in my view, considerably privileges those born with a middle class social status over those with ability (even including the middle classes with ability) in terms of employment. This was compounded by affirmative action policies for women and Maori higher on the social scale. In a largely unipolar, neo liberal dominated world, New Zealand has become an extreme top-down society - all that is required is to follow the rules – so the emphasis is on fitting into the ‘family’ or the ‘team’, being trusted to keep elite confidences and ‘not rock the boat’ so the ‘best and the brightest’ who may also be too truthful to work in such an environment leave New Zealand. It is, in my view, definitely not a country for ‘thinkers’ or for those who want to ‘back themselves’ and reach their full individual and/or social potential although there are such areas considered ‘safe’ such as sport – but such thinking people cut across class boundaries. Talent and new ideas would seem to be the world’s greatest yet most neglected resource with certain countries designated ‘producers’ and many others ‘consumers’ (see below) – such talent is suppressed in the latter countries reminiscent of the 1940s when Franklin Roosevelt unleashed these forces suppressed by the status quo only concerned to consolidate their power – as a consequence America flourished. The domestic and the international global elites have not learned from history – few, for example, have been able to develop beyond liberalism and now there would probably be only be left a very small minority of ‘true liberals’ (i.e. the latter worthy of respect because they consider their principles apply to all and practice what they preach). If not halted we will plummet even further into mediocrity and dependency (being told what to think) – symptoms of ‘third world status’.
In my experience, there has been has been a serious decline in intellectual freedom towards intellectual safety in the universities (for instance, all my intellectual support came from overseas); it can be dangerous to think outside of the neo liberal square (either right or left wing); also, as stated, little duty is shown to the wider community (such as telling the public important truths) as required in the preamble of the relevant covenant – ‘Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant’; also, as stated, the inability to reach one’s full potential in the establishment although community work, by way of choice, should be seen as a positive addition to one’s CV in people jobs. This would assist some members of the elite who are concerned about their holistic development, which is not surprising given the mass denials of liberal rights – a number may not have expected this at the outset and many not be fully aware of it now but inevitably the truth will get out although, so far, largely kept hidden (see below). Any attempts to break ranks could well be suicidal for them such is the enormity of the gap that has developed – exceedingly few, in my view, would survive in the lower rungs of society. But in their employment their holistic development could be self-managed over a period of time.
Because of the concerns expressed above it is considered
more research is required to assess particularly the
‘freedom of thought’, ‘freedom of conscience’,
discrimination on the grounds of political and ethical
opinion as presently exists for individual members. I
consider it will be found that serious problems exist in
these areas. Their collective material interests and power
are very well catered for by most politicians (see my book),
the mainstream media and the rest of the establishment etc.
but their individual rights with respect to their inner
being is of considerable concern to a number of them
particularly as they are involved in implementing the
discriminatory policies. At present most associations,
including academic and professional association, are only
concern with those human rights pertaining to their own
interests – it is a relativistic view of human rights
rather than a universal view. The inclusion of the human
rights omitted and human rights education could assist in
providing support for this minority within the minority
These mass denials of liberal rights were a consequence of a compromise by the global elites with the Corporations in order to further the formers ‘discriminatory and elitist’ globalization, portrayed as ‘freedom and democracy’, around the world to increase their global support, dominance in their own countries and secure their positions. While the Corporations were able to follow in the wake of this ideology, benefiting from the large private sectors of minimal government and a ready-made under class of much cheap labor, expanded their Corporations around the world. But how realistic is the discriminatory and elitist dream now? Freedom House (a right-wing organization, in my view) states that over the past four years the trend has reversed from increasing liberal democracies to increasing authoritarian regimes perhaps not surprising as the increasing gap between rich and poor increases the likelihood of internal conflicts especially in the poorer regions of the world. It states: “On January 12, Freedom House released its findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2009 marked the fourth consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline—the longest consecutive period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report” (Freedom in the World 2010).
The discriminatory human rights agenda, devised by the domestic and global elites, are followed by nearly all the political and human rights organizations in New Zealand e.g. professional, trade union, church organizations as well as State-funded NGOs – breeding a mass conformity which, because of the discrimination, the poor and those that support them are subject to exclusion – told it is their individual responsibility but the discrimination occurring indicates that it is much more likely to be a State responsibility. The poor can only take responsibility for what pathetically paltry choices they have. Such organizations, which may be involved in helping the poor, rarely ‘speak out’ publicly – their concerns are kept ‘in-house’ or dealt with in ‘elite channels of communication’. All views contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy is seen as political, even my promotion of the Universal declaration of Human Rights, and very unlikely to be funded.
The omission of non-discrimination on the
grounds of social origin (social status at birth) (also
associated with descent, class, caste and socio-economic
status) is known to the international human rights
establishment. Minister Verhagen, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Netherlands, speaking at Gelegenheid at the 13th
session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva, on 3 March 2010
“In terms of issues, I think the Council’s agenda does not yet reflect all the substantive issues that need to be addressed. Discrimination on the basis of descent or work, for example, is still missing from the non-discrimination agenda. There are approximately 260 million people in the world that suffer such discrimination. For these men and women, it is impossible to escape grinding poverty because the society they grew up in does not allow them to take their fate into their own hands and improve themselves. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Pillay, recently wrote: ‘Caste is the very negation of the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination’, and I couldn’t agree more. The Netherlands supports the efforts being made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to come up with a set of principles and guidelines on this issue. We would like to see the Human Rights Council tackle this form of discrimination more fervently, for example by facilitating an exchange of best practices”.
(2) The ‘right to equality’ was excluded from our human rights law. The New Zealand Human Rights Commission states that apart from Article 3 of the Treaty of Waitangi… “ there is no specific reference in New Zealand law to the right to equality, a fact that the United Nations Committee on Human Rights has consistently criticized in assessing New Zealand’s compliance with international standards on equality and freedom from discrimination” (Human Rights Commission, Human Rights in New Zealand Today, September 2004, p41). Despite a number of attempts by our council, which has qualifications and experience in social science statistical research, to obtain funding to assess the human rights of the poor this has been met rejected outright by such organizations you would expect to be forthcoming i.e. such as Civil Liberties and the NZ Legal Research Foundation. But this may not be considered surprising given the exclusion of the ‘right to equality’ as there is little doubt such research would have shown just how few human rights the most disadvantaged have and how extremely difficult it is for them to help themselves i.e. a ‘social prison’ from which there is virtually no escape sometimes called the ‘vicious cycle of poverty’.
(3) Also excluded is the right of peoples to ‘freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’ (Article 1(1)). This means the right of New Zealanders as a whole to pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Instead development has been focused very largely at the level of the middle classes and the Corporations. There is little liberty when such a huge section of the population have little choice but to go overseas for opportunities. Small business development and the productive sector have been severely affected (see my book). It appears that New Zealand has been designated, according to the market logic of specialization, as a ‘consumer’ of manufactured goods so the children will have little in the way of a future unlike in those designated ‘producers’ such as India and China. But world-wide there is a massive loss of talent and new ideas in the ‘consumer’ countries largely preoccupied with the service industry to serve the elite. The utterly fraudulent nature of globalization being pursued can be derived from the comments of such individuals like Mike Moore, former Prime Minister and former Head of the World Trade Organization (October 2009, Newstalk ZB, interviewed by Leighton Smith) when he supported globalization by pointing out that China had succeeded in lifting many millions out of extreme poverty. However, you cannot destroy the lives of New Zealand children – which also must also be lives worth living – even if it does help the children of the very poor in China. Human rights protects minorities so the ends do not justify the means even if one imagines this as being legitimized by a presently fictitious global democracy and a one world government. It is a utilitarian approach of the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ used by psychopathic leadership throughout history to justify violating the human rights of minorities. And also, of course, globalization cannot be justified when it requires many New Zealanders to be discriminated against.
It is clear that human rights pertain primarily to the individual. Individuals have human rights by virtue of being human. For example, Article 2(1) of the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development (1986) states: “The human person is the central subject of development and should be the active participant and beneficiary of the right to development”. The move from individual rights to collective or elitist rights under neo liberalism prepared to compromise its liberal rights to pursue globalization, it is now much closer to the truth if we only talk only about elite privileges presented to the world as human rights – while image is importance truth is far more so. However, at least, New Zealand has seriously addressed the injustices Maori were subjected to in the past as well as giving many more women opportunities although human rights was directed higher on the social scale. Even though civil and political rights are in law this does not mean the disadvantaged have these rights if they are virtually unattainable. This can be more clearly seen if we take the case of South Africa which has justiciable economic, social and cultural rights in their constitution yet in reality the social conditions amongst those lower on the social scale are shocking. Hence human rights education is more important than law, in my view.
Consequently a ‘bottom-up’ view needs to be taken – from the point of view of the child. If there is no balanced approach to development an outlet for talents and gifts, which can be almost be sacred in their inspiration and ‘lift people up’ rather than the discriminatory social control we have at present which is designed to ‘keep people down’. The alternative is ‘third world status’ and many of the hopes and dreams of the children, regarded as ‘special’ in human rights terms, will go unfulfilled because they will be faced with a rigid class system with middle class dominance threatening to move from the public sector even more so into the private sector if the right to property, discussed by the New Zealand parliament over the past four years, is included in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. Property owing greater duties will more within the ambit of the ‘so-called liberal’ middle class, social controllers (although their inherited social status will not require such duties!) as well as their discriminatory human rights agenda. The requirement that individuals and collective elites have a duty to the community will ensure respect for the rights of others as well as help ensure that status is earned. It is simply not enough to gain university degrees and then slump into an ‘arrested development’ – such social status can largely constitute a ‘cradle to the grave meal ticket’ when it is permitted to be that easy.
(4) Also excluded were Articles 5 (1) and 5 (2) which require that the State not cut back on existing levels of human rights which as can be seen from the above there has been mass denials of liberal rights. Article 5(1) states: ‘Nothing in the present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant’. And Article (5)2 states: ‘There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent’.
In relation to the core minimum obligations of the State re economic, social and cultural rights the UN Committee dealing with these rights states that failure to address the core minimums would mean that the covenant would lose its ‘raison d’etre’ (see General Comment No.3). The same can also be said in relation to civil and political rights although your UN Human Rights Committee has not yet devised such core minimum obligations (e.g. although this may have helped with respect to torture i.e. Abu Graib and Guantanomo Bay). This should, in view, have been done when the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights derived core minimum obligations following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in oder the guard against what has happened to those lower on the social scale. This could well have averted many of the worse violations suffered by the most disadvantaged who live lives of extreme powerlessness, voicelessness and discrimination – a social prison whereby they are unable to help themselves. This is why international bodies refuse to define poverty in human rights terms e.g. the World Bank’s major study – ‘The Voices of the Poor’ and also the Millennium Development Goals are not defined in human rights terms and the latter does not require a voice for the poor yet with the political will this could have been achieved very quickly at very little cost. It is all about hiding the truth but the high profile torture camps could not be hidden. How can anyone have confidence in State statistics when the State is not being held to account e.g. in China. In my experience, the poor are often too proud to say how poor they are so how would the State know especially when the mainstream media, apart from such major catastrophes such as famines, discriminate against the poor. While the core minimum obligations are addressed where it suits them in many cases when the individual has lost all dignity, or loses credibility with a criminal record or classified as mentally ill and no longer poses a threat. However, the neo liberal elites do provide for the protection against the rare, ‘high profile’ and more ‘grave’ violations such as genocide although not always e.g. Ruanda. There is an urgent need, in my view, for the UN Human Rights Committee to devise core minimum obligations with respect to civil and political rights. Such core minimums may have helped avert the ‘torture camps’ of Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. And also as stated the poor need a far greater voice in both the mainstream media and politics. In both respects New Zealand failed the poor miserably.
Although my book deals largely with economic, social and cultural rights it shows the recent Optional Protocol (OP) to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its omission of a number of rights from this international law enables States to pursue globalization (which I consider is both ‘discriminatory and elitist’ rather than ethical and compatible with human rights which would require a more balanced approach to development - see below).
The rights overlooked in the OP as grounds for complaint are the core minimum obligations of the State as well as failing to ensure the empowering rights to human rights education and development cannot be ignored by States (I consider these empowerment rights should also be considered as core minimum obligations as they enable the poor to help themselves and move out of dependency). In addition, non-retrogression, which I consider should also be a core minimum obligation, was omitted which would allow States to cut back on existing levels of human rights. And, there is little doubt, it was known to the United Nations and the global elites that States would much more than likely continue to define non-discrimination without including non-discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth). Because these core minimum obligations deal with the most prevalent worse violations they do not require the democratic will of the people, in my view, – they are simply without which you cannot function as a human being and have the ability to become a higher functioning human being (i.e. personal development) as well as, of course, there is very little possibility of access to the liberal rights in our human rights law without such basic subsistence and self-help rights .
While these core minimum obligations require immediate effect higher levels can be achieved progressively but as non-retrogression is also considered to be core minimum obligations the State can generally (see my book) only add to existing levels of these rights. Human rights education will allow the people to decide whether economic, social and cultural rights should be included in human rights law in order to protect existing levels of these rights as well as progressively improve on the rights we have.
The OP is expected to enter into force by the end of 2010 following ten State ratifications. If there is sufficient will States could be dissuaded from doing so. In my opinion, it is a very mediocre document unworthy of the many good people, and those living heroic lives without any recognition, that inhabit this world It, in my view, reflects a terrible lack of understanding of economic, social and cultural rights and appears also to reflect a lack of imagination when it comes to dealing with the core minimum obligations – just one very simple example was shown on the BBC about one month ago. A young student in India decided to make use of his qualifications and, it seems, without any finance and using a derelict building was teaching hundreds of children at no cost to the State.
These omissions in the OP all reflect and parallel comparable rights omissions from New Zealand’s civil and political rights law (given the interdependence of human rights) which from the outset of neo liberalism in New Zealand in 1984 have permitted the pursuit of a ‘discriminatory and elitist’ globalization. Also see my recent article on the internet: “Global Systematic Discrimination against the poor’. Following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 there was no excuse for now globally dominant neo liberal elites – they could have immediately adopted the economic, social and cultural rights championed by the communists, they could have immediately dealt with long standing issues such as the division of the universal declaration of human rights into two covenants which allows the global elites to give a voice with one hand and take away food with the other and vice versa and also include the right to property under international law. This right was removed ostensibly because of the different ideological perspectives of the liberals and the communists – the former wanting a separate private sector and the latter State control. However the former got its way when the right to property was placed in the hands of the UN specialized agencies, now called the IMF and World Bank, which through its structural adjustment programs encouraged the globalization of the Corporations. The latter are now viewed as having been irresponsible and are being included with the collective elites. So in my view, big business leaders should not be blamed for what they were permitted to do e.g. perhaps stretch the limits of the law which the State probably turned a ‘blind eye’ to anyway.
Article 2 of the International covenant of Civil and Political Rights requires the State to adopt the above rights excluded from our human rights law. It states: ‘Where not already provided for by existing legislative or other measures, each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to take the necessary steps, in accordance with its constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Covenant, to adopt such laws or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the rights recognized in the present Covenant’.
The above, my book and articles report the human rights left out of New Zealand’s and international human rights law. These deal with the worse violations – the core minimum obligations (broadly defined). Their exclusion represents discrimination on the grounds of social origin (social status at birth). The Rights Revolution will involve a peaceful struggle to have these omitted human rights included in domestic and international law thereby placing ultimate control of the human rights agenda in the hands of a human rights educated people (People need to be informed about the relevance of human right to their lives; the universal declaration is readily understood and can be disseminated more widely and people can use the internet to further their education and from my experience, internationally renowned intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky would only be too willing to give his advice to New Zealanders at elections) – this replaces top-down control of the elite with the bottom-up control of the democratic process, together with independent NGOs (not funded by the establishment) dealing with both sets of rights and ensuring minorities are also protected. This is necessary because the global and domestic elites have been deliberately manipulating human rights in order to pursue a discriminatory globalization i.e. economic globalization in conjunction with a discriminatory human rights agenda which appeals to those elites wishing to suppress their people.
I consider it is inevitable that the above truth will set people free as more and more individuals, associations and States will want to side with the truth.
The above discrimination and human rights omissions can be verified by reference to human rights law and also the internet can locate original UN sources and major international NGOs with consultative status with the UN.
[The Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Rosslyn Noonan, has always been supportive of me and the council. To their credit the New Zealand Human rights Commission was honest about some its human rights deficiencies on various occasions – one of which included inviting me into the office to explain about the failure of governments to fund human rights education – however the mainstream media would never report it. In addition, I have also received consistent intellectual support from Noam Chomsky and Yash Ghai, UN Special Rapporteur to Cambodia and who spoke at a recent Commonwealth Conference. Our council was set up in 2001,made up largely of beneficiaries from various classes of society – a number also have university degrees. We are very closely associated with Psychiatric Survivors Inc. Both our organizations are unfunded. I have been promoting human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights in the community for nearly twenty years. A member of our council, Anthony van den Heuval set up the Human Rights Party which has stood candidates (including myself although my only concern was education in human rights) in three elections plus one by-election in two to three electorates (see article referred to below for more details). Also I hosted a human rights show on Planet Radio for about 18 months. My qualifications are a Masters Degree in Politics, Diploma in Criminology (with Honours), and I have also trained as a Statistical Researcher in the Social Sciences with a Bachelors Degree in Statistics].