Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How do we get the Index of Human Rights accepted?

Friends ask, regarding the Index of Human Rights proposal, "How do we motivate abusive governments to accept the Index, let along to change their ways?"

I am only feeling my way towards a complete answer, but there are my feelers:

First, regimes change. By the time the Index gets before the UN for consideration (5-10 years?) the regime in China - and, for that matter, that in the USA - may have changed, and may have different attitudes to human rights and international agreements. Unfortunately, by the same token, other regimes may have moved to fill their place.

Second, the UN has got to become more positive in its actions, a more valuable institution. Many organisations are working to this goal, and Kofi Anan recognises the need for reform - as well he might.

Third, civil society does have a voice, and the vast majoity of ordinary people are revolted by the thought of torture. If this majority was reflected by the media, we might be in a virtuous circle.

Fourth, the political right are generally against immigration. If we could help them to understand that the cause of immigration is often political repression, they might become allies in this part of our cause.

Fifth, I envisage setting up and publicising a model Index outside the UN, so that as the General Assembly slowly debates the idea, civil society will be able to ask their representatives, "What is keeping you from adopting this simple measuring rod?".

Sixth, some good things have come about in the UN. This could be one of them.

Seventh, I do not know how it will happen, but I do know that if we do not try, nothing will happen, and if we do try, something may happen.

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