Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Index of Human Rights - UN action

The Index of Human Rights is the proposal that before the UN resorts to the use military force against regimes that are abusing the human rights of their citizens, it needs to have in place a non-violent system that disables those oppressive governments. The Index will first measure objectively the human rights performance of all states at UN level, and will later set a tariff of targeted sanctions designed to disempower the ruling elite of states that abuse their citizens.

I have just sent a letter (pasted below) to Sir Emyr Jones Parry, Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations. I had not planned to approach our UN representatives so soon, as I felt it best to get the idea accepted by the NGOs first of all (UNA, Amnesty and Medact are currently considering it at Board level).
However, in September there is going to be a major review conference of the
UN in New York, and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

If you can find the time and energy, it would be enormously helpful if you
could copy, paste, customise, print and post the letter to Sir Emyr - or to
your own Representative or Ambassador, if you are not a UK citizen. You
should be able to find your representative by searching here:

The letter I sent included a forthcoming paper in Medicine Conflict and
Survival to give Sir Emyr a clear idea of the proposal.

In customising your letter, the magic words to use are "Civil Society" -
that's you and me and NGOs in UN-speak, and every UN document these days
mentions the desirability of developing relations with Civil Society.

If possible, send me an email when you have posted your letter, so that I
have an idea of what kind of pressure he is getting.

Many thanks for your help.

Yours for an ever so slightly kinder world

Richard Lawson

Sir Emyr Jones Parry
Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations
UN Headquarters
First Avenue at 46th Street
New York, NY 10017

An Index Of Human Rights (IHR) in the United Nations

I am writing to you to ask whether, in the review of the UN processes to be
held this September, you would be prepared to support the proposal that all
States should have their human rights record continuously measured, and that
the results should be published on an annual basis.

This is offered as a complement to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
doctrine that will be under consideration in September. It is a non-violent
means of influencing states' behaviour in the sphere of human rights, at an
earlier stage than R2P would come into play.

The effects of an IHR would be to:
· provide a continuous motivational force for governments to look to
improve their performance.
· cause release of political prisoners as governments seek to
improve their status.
· enable low scoring countries to seek and receive assistance in
improving their performance
· pave the way for the worst offenders to be brought to court and
penalised with a tariff of smart sanctions designed to hinder and disable
the ruling elite of states that fail to protect the human rights of their
· diminish the possibility of the UN having to make military R2P

The Observer Index of Human Rights, which appeared for a few years in the
1990s is a good model for measuring governmental performance. It measured
the incidence of activities like political imprisonment and the use of
torture, and applied a weighting factor, the Human Development Index, to
avoid penalizing unfairly those who are in an earlier stage of political
development. It would not be technically difficult to develop a statutory
instrument of this kind so that each country in the UN could be ranked in

I am aware that this is a novel concept, that it comes out of the blue, and
that it has many ramifications, but I hope that you will be prepared to give
it serious consideration.

Many thanks for your valuable time,

1 comment:

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