Education Guide The Opposition

7A: THE UN DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

The Opposition Clip 08: Joe Keeps Fighting

Throughout the world, individuals take action in defence of human rights. They may work alone or with others to ensure that civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights are promoted and protected. They may be involved in research and exposure, community activism, supporting victims of abuses, holding governments accountable or human rights education. And throughout the world, human rights defenders face increasing opposition from governments and others to prevent them achieving their objectives.


This opposition takes many forms. Some governments institute laws that prevent human rights defenders from accessing funds from overseas, as in Russia and China. Others impose conditions on human rights defenders for the access of government funding if they criticise the government, as has been threatened in Australia. In some countries, governments turn a blind eye to corporate practices that adversely impact human rights, such as in Indonesia and West Papua. However, in too many countries around the world, human rights defenders are threatened physically, imprisoned and even killed. 
In 1998, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom known as the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Declaration is not legally binding on UN members. However, it is an acknowledgement of the importance and worth of those who fight for the realisation of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. 


In a groundbreaking commentary on the Declaration, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms Margaret Sekaggya, produced a report entitled Commentary to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which listed nine rights in the Declaration. These were the rights to be protected, to freedom of assembly, to freedom of association, to access and communication with international bodies, to freedom of opinion and expression, to protest, to discuss new human rights ideas, to an effective remedy, and to access to funding. We don’t have to delve too deeply into the history of Paga Hill to realise how many of Joe Moses’ and the Paga Hill community’s rights have been violated.

ASSEMBLE