Photo: Gizmodo

Friday, July 22, 2011

Are you a human rights defender?

Just seen this great video produced by the Mexican office of the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, encouraging people to "Declare yourself, I'm declaring myself" as human rights defenders. If the English subtitles don't show, run your mouse over the red "cc" button underneath the video and check the English subtitles.

Still on the theme of human rights, an attack on NGOs who support a human rights based approach in an essay by Pranab Bardhan featured in a blog post by Chris Blattman. Lots of rebuttals from the NGO community in the post's comments (including from me!). In my opinion, the essay seems to miss the point when it suggests that NGOs lack an understanding of the necessary trade-offs for development to materialise. The arguement goes that democracy should be left to play out in “party forums” and NGOs shouldn't interfere as their involvement can lead to decisions not being taken in the broader interest of society. Yet, one of the basic principles of a human rights based approach is to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable are respected – notably when such trade-offs are on the table, it typically leads to the poorest and most excluded people and populations losing out. This is the positive role NGOs should, and usually do, play in development. If democracy is left to play out in “party forums”, you can be sure that decisions taken in the broader interest of society, will be to the detriment of the most vulnerable.

1 comment:

  1. This is timely for us here, Matt, as I know you're aware from recent events here, making us look more like a third world police state than a democracy.

    I'll certainly declare that I am a Human Rights Defender.