Human Rights FAQ
Human Rights Defenders
"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
It is very clear that the hopes of the ordinary people have been
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
†"Human rights are the foundation of human existence and
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!
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