11 December 2008
Despite the fact that every nation on earth has pledged to uphold the rights set out in the UDHR it is clear that there is often a vast gap between the statement of principles set out there and the reality experienced by many people around the world.
Governments often continue to give greater priority to protecting their sovereignty and cultural and political identity than to protecting and enhancing individual human rights. Under the guise of “national security” states continue to threaten the enjoyment of human rights such as those relating to freedom of the press, detention without charge, immigration and the right to asylum.
Human Rights for the ‘common man’ have only been widely recognized and attained after centuries of struggle. All of us have a responsibility to know our rights and to work to ensure that human rights are known, safeguarded and extended to all people everywhere.
In a campaign spearheaded by Caritas Internationalis representing a network of Catholic charities, and CIDSE an international network of catholic development agencies, delegates to the Poznan conference were called upon to take responsibility for urgent climate change action which reflected the needs of poor and developing nations.
This would include the provision by industrialised countries of sufficient and secure support for developing countries to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change, and it would also include the commitment by these countries to at least a 30-40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, based on 1990 levels.
Unfortunately there are some signs that some countries may be backing away from such a target. Avaaz is currently conducting a lobbying campaign to urge the German Chancellor in particular to maintain her commitment to combating climate change.
Whilst the urgency of the need to address climate change has been pushed into the background by the current financial crisis, there are still many voices pointing out that the threat of climate change is far more serious to the long-term well-being of the planet.
The CIDSE website provides an opportunity for you to add a symbolic plant to the field of change and tell political leaders to work for an international agreement which tackles both the causes and effects of climate change.
Additional funds for Indigenous housing were also announced – housing has been shown to be one of the key social determinants affecting Indigenous health.
These measures have been part of the focus of the Close the Gap campaign conducted for the past two years by a coalition of over forty organizations to urge the Federal, State and Territory governments to commit to closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within a generation.
This recent announcement represents a significant step towards ending the crisis in indigenous health and again demonstrates what is possible when “ordinary” people join together to demand justice and exercise their responsibility to hold governments accountable for their actions.
"You can play a part in striving for justice for home workers here and overseas by calling for more countries, including Australia, to support an international agreement to protect these most vulnerable workers."
The above quotations are from Just Employment a website sponsored by the Uniting Church in Australia which has put out a call to encourage Australia to accede to the International Labour Organization Convention 177 on Homework. The campaign calls for the honouring of a commitment by the party of the current government in the lead-up to the last federal election.
The Convention sets out minimum requirements for governments to undertake and provides a guide to the development of national laws that need to be enacted. The Convention defines homework, who homeworkers are and promotes equality of treatment; therefore reinforcing a fundamental status to homeworkers as workers entitled to equal remuneration, training and other conditions as to enterprise based workers.