11 July 2008


A new international financial crimes tribunal with similar powers to the war crimes tribunal would make a huge contribution to reducing world poverty according to Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras who is currently in Australia to attend World Youth Day.

"Many dictators enrich themselves with the goods of their nation and keep them," he said. "The money is needed to develop the nation."

According to a report in the Melbourne “Age” Cardinal Rodriguez went on to say that such a tribunal, with power to repatriate money, needed agreement by powerful nations.

The cardinal’s comment draws attention to the importance of addressing all human rights. Western nations (including Australia) have frequently been accused of focusing on Civil and Political Rights such as the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and religion etc but downplaying Economic, Social and Cultural Rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to health, to education, to participate fully in cultural life etc.

For the most part civil and political rights are respected in our western world which perhaps enables us to be comfortable in criticizing nations which do not respect them.

Perhaps our perceived reluctance to be similarly concerned about economic rights stems from a recognition that it may cost us if they are taken seriously?

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