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Human Rights Defenders
One Voice One People

"The People's Quest for Human Rights"

One of the outcomes of World War II was an attempt to put in place structures that would act to work towards a better world - to make war less likely - to address problems of international scope. Now on some such issues, where a common interest exists (such as the control of epidemics) real progress has been made, but on others little or no progress has taken place.

Human rights is an area of substantial failure. The 'UN way' has even proved to be a path to some of the best organised genocide on record. And some of those that sought to put their cases before the very limited UN human rights machinery allowed by member states have found that they signed their own death warrant by doing so. It has become clear to all that the UN system is powerless to take any action in response.

At the same time the world's people have indirectly, via taxation, paid probably many hundreds of millions of dollars that has produced reports, conferences, plus subsidised travel and accommodation in 5 star hotels for the elite beneficiaries of what some contend has now become a Human Rights Industry divorced from even the normal accountability processes expected in a representative democracy.

It is very clear that the hopes of the ordinary people have been dashed.

Such issues become very well understood when overt corruption and lots of hard cash are involved so that aid ends up supporting repressive military rulers or being sold off to line the pockets of a few officials. However when the issue is one of international legal structures costing millions but failing to produce results nothing gets said at all. Accountability appears to be missing.

The conclusion ? Ordinary people must find a way to speak out, and to find a way of being heard above the legalese produced by the legal professionals who appear at the core of the problem, which is often an effective paralysis even in the face of the most appalling moral obscenities and disregard for human rights .

A need for real change...

50 years ago the UN General Assembly voted on human rights and fundamental freedoms but many say we are as far away from the achievement of such aims as then.

OVOPís mission

OVOP (ONE VOICE - ONE PEOPLE) seeks to play an active role in the global quest for the implementation of human rights and the fundamental freedoms set out in the Universal Human Rights Declaration. (These principals and rights were adopted by many UN Member states as legally binding international instruments known as the International Covenants, and entered into force in 1976.)

Where Government has failed ...

Individual national governments have failed to grasp the need to work with others on human rights issues. Rather the rules that have governed are ones with a narrow political focus. Billions have thus been spent on the acquiring the means to kill millions and perhaps even destroy the planet rather than consider the true welfare of humankind or other life on earth.

...combined people-power must act

OVOP is a non-party-political independent organisation for the implementation of Human Rights and is dedicated to act according to the "Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms".

A wider enlightenment is needed

Achievements on Human Rights are also dependent on addressing a wide range of issues connected with mal-distribution of effort and resources. For example the opportunity cost of mass producing weapons has the effect of blighting the life of millions even when the weapons are never fired. Governments have allowed their national economies to run on human blood and kept this simple fact from the public by means of propaganda.

OVOP is very concerned about the increase of

a) Poverty (Poverty itself is a violation of numerous basic human rights)
b) Injustice (Injustice is caused by deterioration of democratic processes, corrupt judiciary and legal systems, inconsistent application of the law and refusal to fulfill well-established obligations)
c) Violence and crime (Today's human rights abuses are the causes of tomorrow's conflicts)
d) Illnesses (Much illness results from the denial of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all human beings)
e) Environmental pollution and destruction (... are consequences of ignorance and disregard of the human rights which are embodied in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).

The UN has voiced words ...but !

Despite comprehensive legally binding legislation, violation of human rights occurs not only in so called underdeveloped countries but also in the developed nations. Human Rights legislation is theoretically mandated by United Nations treaties but ultimately actually controlled and managed by the various national governments.

OVOP will show the people agree.

OVOP agrees with the United Nation's warning "that the denial of Human Rights and the fundamental freedoms not only is an individual tragedy, but also creates conditions of social and political unrest, sowing the seeds of violence and conflict within and between societies and nations".
OVOP is committed to play a role in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and to contribute to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes.

 

    "Human rights are the foundation of human existence and coexistence.
    Human rights are what make us human.
    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
    Human rights are what reason requires and conscience commands.
    Human rights are rights that any person has as a human being.
    We are all human beings; we are all deserving of human rights."
    [United Nation's Publication]

OVOP is concerned about the desolate state of human rights world-wide and particularly about the lack of leadership of the western industrialised countries. The purpose of OVOP is to help to spread the message and the information about the "birth rights" of mankind because ...

    "Human rights are not something far away, they start in communities and neighbourhoods" " In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world". [Spoken by Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt, who chaired the Human Rights Commission in its first year.]

OVOP is seeking to put some honesty and reality back into the human rights industry. A central plank of our policy is to coordinate the voices of ordinary people around the world. To this end we have prepared a manifesto that we ask all to read and consider participating in.

OVOP is also seeking your views on paths to positive change via a forum and asks for your participation and ideas.

OVOP wishes to look beyond just the symptoms of human rights abuse to the underlying reasons for such abuse.

By the time bombs are falling, police are shooting people down in the streets, or the prisons are full of political prisoners the human rights battle has been long ago lost. Yet such symptoms of catastrophic failure in human rights policy are the issues that seem to get the most attention. Human rights NGOs (non government organisations) and researchers of human rights abuse provide a vast amount of data on such catastrophic human rights failure.

However the very structure of a nation may point to the existence of or tendency towards human rights abuse, even when a situation is ambiguous and very limited firsthand data may be available. Such structural and systemic facts may even point to the best way to apply effort aimed at change, and so allow planning to avert a deterioration in a nation's human rights climate. An open question that OVOP seeks to research is: Can such an approach allow an objective 'early warning' indicator system be devised that will provide a realistic measure of the actual human rights environment in a particular nation or area at a given point in time ?

As well as such more speculative efforts to better understand how serious abuse is triggered a bedrock activity that is needed as a basis for building positive change, and calibrating any early warning system, is a standardised collection of instances of human rights abuse so as to build up a clear 'ground truth' picture of what is going on. OVOP will attempt to assist and share ideas on how this massive task can be addressed. Currently only the most serious events get recorded or recognised by the UN and NGOs, while complaints systems set up by governments normally seem at best to operate to actually absorb complaints while marginalising and silencing those who seek to complain.

A very serious related problem over the operation of official State controlled human rights machinery is the legal system that any human rights action carried out by State authorities is embedded within. Even in advanced developed nations the legal system itself remains one of the major sources of human rights abuse and probably the weakest link in the chain when it comes to reform action.

Effort to recast legal systems into structures able to take on the human rights challenges of the 21st Century in a meaningful way is probably the most important task of all at this point..

Human Rights are just too important to be left to the lawyers, governments, and the United Nations!

On to OVOP's Three Path Plan


ONE VOICE ONE PEOPLE is an independent, non-party-political, non-profit organisation committed to defend human rights and fundamental freedoms and to contribute to the promotion and advancement of democratic societies, institutions and processes.

(C) One Voice One People. Last updated: March 2000