Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ethical approach to human rights regarding Chch rebuild

Ethical, bottom-up approach to human rights needs to replace the top-down, neoliberal approach which threatens the Christchurch rebuild

Anthony Ravlich
Human Rights Council (New Zealand)
Auckland

February 24, 2012

I consider an ethical, ‘bottom-up’ approach to human rights and development, emphasizing small/medium business development, would enable Christchurch to make the most of its opportunities.

I believe this approach will eventually replace neoliberalism.

Neo liberalism involves considerable ‘top-down’, bureaucratic control whereas the ethical approach emphasizes ‘bottom-up’ development. It is, after all, really the dream of the residents to build a new city much more so than the central controllers in government and the city council.

I am very concerned bureaucratic red-tape will suffocate individual freedoms and consequently people’s ability to help themselves and so considerably slow the rebuilding.

For example, the slow rebuild is holding up businesses employing staff who are ‘awaiting signs that rebuilding is under way so they can hit the "hire" button’ (‘Hiring stalls as rebuild slow’, Tamlyn Stewart, February 14, 2012).

Also, see a concerning article from a resident describing considerable frustrations with the Earthquake Commission (as well as the insurance companies) which has apparently grown from 27 staff to more than 1200 (Banging heads against EQC wall, Amanda Cropp, The Press).

Also, the central controllers in government and the city council just fail to recognize the importance of independent minds when in a collectivist, extremely conformist, society of which they are a part.

For example, such an independent mind, structural engineer, John Scarry, has been telling government for years that New Zealand buildings are not up to scratch.

After a report which showed the Canterbury Television building, whose collapse led to the deaths of 115 people, was not up to code, he felt vindicated and, on national television, told Housing Minister, Maurice Williamson, to resign (Engineer calls for Williamson’s resignation, ONE news, February 10, 2012).

Of course, members of neo liberal elites who subjugate themselves to the collective (following a human rights agenda whose omissions overlook the rights of many) are not prepared to listen to independent minds, even at enormous cost to the country, for fear it will encourage other ‘bottom-up’ challenges to ‘top-down’ neo liberalism.

The ethical approach, which is universal, means one is in touch with the ‘human family’ while the neo liberal elites have become, in my view, very detached from the ‘human family’.

Put simply, if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not deliver on, at the very least, the core minimum of these rights (the ethical approach) then it serves no purpose apart from being used as a political tool to further elite interests which I consider is the case under neo liberalism.

New Zealanders have not been told that more than half the human rights (including many civil and political rights) have been left out of New Zealand’s human rights law to a large degree to ensure compatibility with neo liberalism.

How can you talk about a free market when, for example, choices and opportunities e.g. for small businesses development, are severely limited by discrimination (due to the omissions) – when the individual right to pursue one’s economic and social development (liberty) is left out so bureaucratic red-tape cannot be challenged in court?

My fear is that the people of Christchurch will be so ground down they will either give up or leave which of course is what has happened to many in New Zealand prior to the earthquakes and is still happening.

My work, the social statistics and my experience at the bottom of the social scale show significant numbers of people, in my view, are being killed by neo liberal neglect (see, our website, www.hrc2001.org.nz) and although much less visible than authoritarian direct violence as one human rights writer pointed out ‘the end result is the same’ i.e. death.

While I see the ethical approach, and including the omitted human rights, as inevitable if freedom is to survive many people can suffer enormously while neo liberal elites continue to ‘play for time’.

Further Information

My human rights activities began in Christchurch in 1991 (I lived there for a year). I received national media coverage for my protest against the severe benefit cuts of that year. I also visited Christchurch after each of the major earthquakes because I was so concerned that the rebuilding would be seriously affected by bureaucratic red tape and because of what I saw as a ‘conflict of interests’. At the national level there seems to be a policy of no progress but progress was definitely needed in Christchurch. Further information on the ethical approach to human rights, development and globalization can be found in my book, ‘Freedom from our social prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’ (Lexington Books, 2008), which was recommended on the United Nations website for about two years, and recently reviewed by the editor of New Zealand Indian Newslink. More information can be found on Auckland Indymedia, Guerilla Media or our website, http://www.hrc2001.org.nz .

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Artificial Intelligence: Real Anxieties?

The movie Ex Machina feels so current there are powerful moments of recognition – despite the seemingly unlikely scenario of a walking, talking artificial intelligence (AI). Right now Google is enlisting its massive databases, drawing on the contents of every email and Internet search ever made, in the service of what has been called ‘the Manhattan Project of AI’. More>>

ALSO:

Open Source, Open Society: More Than Just Transparency

Bill Bennett: “Share and share alike” is the message parents drum into children. But once they grow up and move out into the wider world, the shutters start to come down. We’re trained to be closed. Dave Lane, president of the New Zealand Open Source Society, says that explains the discomfort people find when they first encounter the open world. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Journalism, History And Forgetting

Compare that [the saturation coverage of WWI] not just with the thinly reported anniversaries last year of key battles in the New Zealand Wars, but with the coverage of the very consequential present-day efforts to remedy the damage those wars wrought, and the picture is pretty dismal. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Climate Of Fear

New Zealand, promoting itself as an efficient producer, has been operating as a factory farm for overseas markets with increasing intensity ever since the introduction of refrigerated shipping in 1882. The costs to native forests and to bio-diversity have been outlandish. The discussion of impacts has been minimal... More>>

ALSO:

Greek Riddles: Gordon Campbell On The Recent Smackdown Over Greece

There had been a fortnight of fevered buildup. Yet here we are in the aftermath of the February 28 showdown between the new Syriza government in Greece and the European Union “troika” and… no-one seems entirely sure what happened. Did the asteroid miss Earth? More>>

ALSO:

Keith Rankin: Contribution Through Innovation

The economic contribution of businesses and people is often quite unrelated to their taxable incomes. EHome, as a relatively new company, may have never earned any taxable income. Its successors almost certainly will earn income and pay tax. Yet it was eHome itself who made the biggest contribution by starting the venture in the first place. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news