Global human rights and world economic turmoil
More than 120 of the world's leading human rights and equality experts called for the most radical re-think of equal rights in two generations as global economic turmoil holds nations in its grip at October 21, 2008.
Signatories from 44 nations are urging governments and individuals to back a new declaration 60 years after the epoch-making Universal Declaration on Human Rights followed in the wake of World War II.
The new declaration, launched in London by The Equal Rights Trust, would transform treatment of discriminated groups across the world and is the first ever-international initiative to set out general legal principles that define equality as a basic human right.
Sir Bob Hepple QC, a leading UK human rights lawyer and one of the 128 international signatories to the declaration, said: “There are growing inequalities within and between different nations. This was a serious issue before the current global crisis. It is now one of the most pressing issues we face today.
“Recession and depression can lead to increasing exclusion and, at worst, persecution of the most vulnerable groups within society. That is why the Universal Declaration on Human Rights happened in 1948 and it is why we need to establish universal equality for all human beings today.”
The Declaration on Principles of Equality:
* Defines the right to equality as a basic human right and, in doing so, combines human rights and equality law concepts.
* Provides a global expression of equality between discriminated people.
* Ensures consistency in the way different nations treat the right to equality.
* Ends inconsistencies in the rights afforded to different discriminated groups within the same societies and nations and so ends the current hierarchy of discrimination.
Sir Bob, chair of the Equal Rights Trust, added: “We are making a very serious mistake if we attempt to tackle world economic recession in isolation from the social devastation that it could herald.
“Depression can result in heinous erosion of basic human rights and we need only look at the 1930s and the consequent rise of Fascism to understand the dangers.
“Without the active and positive pursuit by governments of substantive equality, the gap between the haves and have-nots will increase dramatically. Outsiders belonging to other identity groups, like the foreigners in the recent riots in disadvantaged South African townships, will be blamed. Now is the time to act decisively not only on the economy, but at the same time on equality and human rights.”
The new declaration is based on a total of 27 principles and will be submitted to UN officials as part of a global campaign to win support for the initiative.
The Principles move away from the pursuit of single-issue equality agendas for particular identities such as gender, race, disability, religion, age which, its authors claim, have been one of the most serious weaknesses of anti-discrimination law. The Declaration provides expert guidance for promoting equality even in countries where no anti-discrimination law currently exists.
Renate Weber, Member of the European Parliament and one of the signatories of the Declaration said:
“I have no doubt that making the Declaration legally binding would change the current European reality. The European Union should not only adopt the Declaration but also promote it world-wide.”
Source: The Equal Rights Trust.