The Green Party in England and Wales' Conference has just adopted policy which will make oppresion just that little bit less prevalent. Now to persuade the other Green Parties around the world to take it up, and all the Human Rights NGOs, and then the UN itself...
Here is what we adopted:
UN Index of Human Rights
In order to reduce the amount of torture, political imprisonment, disappearances and other human rights abuses worldwide, the Green Party will call for the world's governments to have their performance on human rights monitored and published regularly, with a view to bringing legal and non-violent pressure on the regimes with the very worst human rights records.
Prevention of human rights abuses, conflict prevention and resolution, promotion of sustainable human development, coordination of humanitarian aid should be the primary roles of the U.N.
Human Rights Index
The international community cannot stand back and allow gross human rights abuses to take place. The emergent Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine promises to legitimise UN intervention in cases of ethnic cleansing and genocide. However, military intervention should always be a last resort, as modern wars inevitably cause death and injury to civilians, and the post conflict situation may be problematical.
Therefore the Green Party will press for the use of a United Nations Index of Human Rights to monitor governments that commit human rights abuses and to provide an explicit basis for seeking to restrain such regimes.
All governments will have their human rights record continuously assessed by a UN agency set up for that purpose. A scale will be established measuring several indicators of human rights performance. The scale will be finalised by agreement at the UN level, but will be centred on the following abuses:
· use of torture
· use of death penalty
· scale of ‘disappearances’
· abuse of political prisoners
· denial of right to fair trial
· denial of free speech
· denial of free movement
· denial of right to political or religious freedom
· denial of rights to women
· denial of child rights
· denial of minority rights.
A score reflecting their performance will be allocated to each state on an annual basis.
Once the Index is installed, Governments with the worst record of human rights as measured on this Index will be referred to the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court. If the Court finds that their human rights performance falls below accepted legal standards, the regimes will be given time and assistance to improve their record. In the event of non-compliance, the matter will return to the Court, and if found at fault, the regime will suffer penalties in terms of its member’s privileges in the fields of finance, diplomacy, transport and trade. The severity of the penalties will increase as their human rights performance deteriorates, and decrease as their human rights performance improves. The penalties will be targeted to hurt the ruling elite rather than the general population.
At the same time, countries lying just above the level at which legal action will be taken will be offered help and advice to improve their human rights performance.
[end of GP policy]
The effects of such an Index would be:
1. A general tendency towards improved human rights performance. Governments, even tyrannical ones, are sensitive to public opinion, as evidenced by the success of Amnesty International's letter writing campaigns over individual cases. There will be a natural desire to rate more highly on the scale.
2. All parties know where they stand. At present, tyrants are dealt with in an arbitrary and ad hoc way. The demonisation of a particular tyrant (prior to waging war) will be less easy to do if everyone knows that he is only, say, 6th from the bottom on the Index.
3. Governments will doubtless appeal against their ratings. The UN can send in inspectors to review the conditions in the country. Regimes will tend to release prisoners and improve other conditions prior to the appeals inspection.
4. Some governments may accept advice and assistance in improving their human rights performance, and hence their position on the Index.
5. Finally, when the Index is established, it can be used to bring specific legal action and targeted sanctions to bear on the very worst offenders.
The proposal is set out in more detail here