Today, December 10 is the United Nations International Day of Human rights. It is the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The rights it covers underpin the Covenants of Civil and Political Rights, and of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and form the basis for the Conventions such as the Convention to End all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW), The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) and of course the Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, (CRPD). They are all interlinked and support an inclusive international human rights framework.
This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, people with disabilities, indigenous people, poor and marginalized people — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making. Taking a practical human rights approach to policy development, programmes, community work, activism, service provision and other activities will contribute to a human rights based society.
A human rights approach includes:
- Linking of decision-making at every level to human rights standards set out in the relevant international human rights Covenants and Conventions. New Zealand has ratified many of these.
- Identification of all the human rights involved, with a balancing of rights, prioritising those of the most vulnerable, to maximise respect for rights and rights-holders.
- An emphasis on the participation of individuals and groups in decision-making that affects them.
- Non-discrimination among individuals and groups through equal enjoyment of rights and obligations by all.
- Empowerment of individuals and groups by allowing them to use rights as leverage for action and to legitimise their voice in decision-making.
- Accountability for actions and decisions, which allows individuals and groups to complain about decisions that affect them adversely.