Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Support For Poor At UN Despite USA Resistance

Greater support for a ‘fair go’ for the poor at the United Nations despite the resistance of the United States.


By Anthony Ravlich

An increasing number of States are expressing support for people to be able to lay complaints at the United Nations when faced with social injustice. This is despite a group of countries led by the United States who are continuing to resist drafting of the complaints procedure which potentially could be of significant benefit to the poor.

This is the third year of discussions at the United Nations, Geneva, on whether to draft a complaints procedure (optional protocol) for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which requires a ‘fair go’ for the poor). The covenant regards employment, fair wages, health, housing, education and an adequate standard of living as human rights.

The open-ended working group is meeting from 6th February to 17th February with the final decision on whether to draft or to continue talks being made at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in March 2006.

After the first two days of discussion the NGO Coalition concerned with the complaints procedure reported ‘stronger support to draft the OP’ with the greatest support coming from South America, Africa and to a lesser extent the European Union. Those most opposed were the USA, Poland, Australia and Japan although a number of other countries continue to take ‘a predominantly negative view’ such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. No mention was made on New Zealand’s stance although in the past New Zealand has opposed immediate drafting but has been happy to continue with discussions.

The NGO Coalition also reports progress on contentious issues such as justiciability, international cooperation, and whether an ‘a la carte’ approach or a comprehensive set of rights should be adopted.
The Coalition state that ‘there has been no questioning that these rights are indeed justiciable’. It appears that the growing domestic and regional jurisprudence on economic, social and cultural rights may have allayed the fears of some countries that these human rights (unlike civil and political rights) were not justiciable (i.e. not amenable to judicial determination). Also the Coalition states that ‘an increasing number of States emphasis the importance they place on international cooperation’. For instance, this could apply where States need assistance to deal with extreme poverty. In addition there was a rejection of the ‘a la carte approach’ with ‘a great majority of State representatives having expressed their support for a comprehensive approach’. The latter includes all economic, social and cultural rights while with an ‘a la carte’ approach complaints could only be made on those human rights permitted by the State.

An optional protocol for civil and political rights was adopted at the United Nations in 1966. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights consists of both civil and political rights (freedom and democracy) and economic, social and cultural rights (social justice). New Zealand ratified the covenants on both sets of rights in 1978 and acceded to the optional protocol on civil and political rights in 1989. This was immediately following by the introduction of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act (1990), the Human Rights Act (1993) and various commissions providing for complaints at a domestic level. Only civil and political rights are in law in New Zealand although the Human Rights Commission’s New Zealand Plan of Action for Human Rights, released in February 2005, have included economic, social and cultural rights. Only fourteen countries have so far developed action plans.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Scoop 3.0: How You Can Help Scoop’s Evolution

Entering into its third decade of operation, the Scoop news ecosystem is set to undergo another phase of transformation and evolution.

We have big plans for 2018 as we look to expand our public interest journalism coverage, upgrade our publishing infrastructure and offer even more valuable business tools to commercial users of Scoop. More>>

 
 

Foreign Affairs: Patrick Gower Interviews Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says discussions have already begun on how to bring climate change refugees into New Zealand under a Pacific seasonal employment plan... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Centre Right’s Love Of ‘Nanny State’

You’d almost think it was 2005 again. That was a time when the rugged individualists of the centre-right were being beset by government regulations on the nature of light-bulbs, the size of shower heads, the junk food available at school tuck shops and other such essentials... More>>

Speaking Of Transport: Public Engagement On Wellington Scenarios

“Our work on possible solutions for Wellington’s transport future is ongoing, but has progressed to the stage where we’re ready to share our ideas with the public and seek their feedback to help guide our next steps...” More>>

ALSO:

Parental Leave: National's Time-Sharing Change Fails

National has proposed a change to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill that would allow both parents to take paid parental leave at the same time, if that is what suits them best. More>>

ALSO:

Train Free Thursday: Workers Strike To Defend Terms Of Employment

"They signed up to these conditions a year ago when they got the contract for Wellington's rail services. Now they're trying to increase profits by squeezing frontline workers." More>>

ALSO:

Seclusion: Ombudsman Emphasises Importance Of Monitoring

Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero says that while there have been changes to the Education (Update) Amendment Act 2017 to prohibit the use of seclusion, the report is an important reminder of the importance of regular monitoring of schools. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election