Letter from the Poor to Murray McCully

Is the New Zealand representative at the UN General Assembly’s discussions on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights able to make mention of the fact that the Optional Protocol (OP) does not …


Letter from the Poor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Urgent Attention: The Hon Murray McCully, NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs,

From Anthony Ravlich, Chairperson, Human Rights Council Inc. (New Zealand, Asia-Pacific Region), Auckland City, anthony_ravlich[at]yahoo.com, Ph: (09) 302 2761

Re: Optional Protocol for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights due for adoption by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 2008.

Is the New Zealand representative at the UN General Assembly’s discussions on the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights able to make mention of the fact that the Optional Protocol (OP) does not include core minimum obligations and given that the great majority of States are still pursuing neo liberal and globalization policies this leaves the most disadvantaged in a very vulnerable position?

Instead countries could simply, as in the past, only focus on the human rights of elite groups and give the impression they are upholding human rights. I consider making such a statement constitutes a duty to humanity as many of the world’s population are likely to be affected by this omission in the Optional Protocol.

Our former Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, promoted core minimum obligations in Sweden last year (see my book below) but in the UN working group discussions there was very little discussion on this and where it was discussed it seemed to be presented as an either/or i.e. only address the core minimums or violations of ESCR in general. Whereas according to human rights logic all violations should be dealt with but the emphasis should be on the worse violations i.e. of the core minimum obligations, which is actually simple common sense.

I have been in contact with the UN High Commission on Human Rights (Mr Holsteen on two occasions) and sent them a copy of my book – this email and the article attached is based on chapter 5 of my recently released book ‘Freedom from our Social Prisons: the rise of economic, social and cultural rights’ (Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, see expert comments below). However, as with a number of other authors, my book is in the libraries but the media refuse to report on it (even though it was very newsworthy considering I have been on a benefit since I began promoting human rights in 1991) or do a review so the ordinary people do not know it is there. Although it is being reviewed by elitist organizations for elite groups.

Although I made some realistic minor suggestions to the UN High Commission I gained the impression that there was nothing that could be done. Our council is unfunded and could not attend the working group discussions although I wrote many articles on the subject (see internet) as well as chapter 5 of the book.

On November 18, 2008 the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) of the UN General Assembly recommended the adoption of a complaints procedure for economic, social and cultural rights (Optional Protocol for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). The General Assembly is due to finally adopt the Optional Protocol in plenary session on December 10, 2008. I regard this human rights instrument as fraudulent as it leaves out core minimum obligations especially considering the global reality of neo liberalism. Also what makes this human rights instrument such a fraud is that the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was born out of the human misery of the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century and the Great Depression of the 1930s and since the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 has very often been held out by the global elites as offering hope to the poor.

Although the Covenant dealing with these rights is not affected the complaints procedure or Optional Protocol gives an interpretation of the Covenant which neglects to properly protect the most disadvantaged and would also prevent them from helping themselves because, by excluding the right to development, it would allow the curbing of small business development in the great majority of States which are dominated by neo liberalism and globalization policies i.e. States are able to manipulate human rights to fit in with neo liberalism without limits with respect to economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights (While such minimums have been devised for the former set of rights by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (but left out of the OP) no such minimums have been set by the Human Rights Committee for the latter set of rights so as it stands there are no limits to what a State can do to the most disadvantaged yet can give the appearance of upholding human rights by ensuring they exist for elite groups). The exclusion of core minimum obligations in the above OP will almost certainly increase the powerlessness and voicelessness of the poor under civil and political rights i.e. liberal principles will be even further compromised resulting in even more alienated leadership (mind/heart and body/soul alienation) and resulting in an even greater threat to world peace.

I consider neo-liberals should defer their dream of world domination (political globalization) and while promoting core minimum obligations of both sets of rights – civil and political, economic, social and cultural – at the international level should continue to pursue economic globalization. However the latter should be balanced out by focusing on civil and political rights at home and placing a greater emphasis on small business which would provide more opportunities for people (rather than forcing them to leave the country) including the under class. I have found that this is a rather common view held by a number in each social class in New Zealand society but it is kept hidden.

The book’s human rights approach – a new bottom-up human rights challenge to neo liberalism emphasizing core minimum obligations including the empowerment rights to human rights education and development (as well as non-retrogression with any major curbing of existing human rights requiring a high democratic standard) – is relevant not only because of the present discussions at the UN General Assembly but the increasing unemployment globally as well as the food, price spiral particularly affecting the poor. It took me many years to arrive at this ‘bottom-up’ approach only to find that these were exactly the rights left out by the Optional Protocol. Consequently although trade unions in particular are likely to benefit from the OP they remain controlled by neo liberalism and the poor and marginalized are left unprotected. Without the rights mentioned and with all domestic complaints decisions overseen by the liberal elite it would be very unlikely that the complaints of the poor would reach the UN and even if they did they are likely to be kept quiet.

It is envisaged that this bottom-up human rights approach will be driven by economically independent NGOs. This bottom-up human rights approach would give the anti-globalization movement something to fight for rather than simply oppose the status quo. Probably rather less than other countries but New Zealand is also concerned with terrorism – such NGOs, could provide for a peaceful way of achieving social justice as the OP will require domestic remedies which would need to be exhausted before taking the matter to the UN. The liberal mindset is usually unable to cope with the view that the spiritual dimension is more important than the human dimension (a view I consider may well be held by Al Qaida) consequently such NGOs may be more approachable to those religions that do. While the middle classes in the 17th century benefited from liberalism and the working class in the 19th century benefited from socialism I consider that the most disadvantaged in the 21st century can benefit from core minimum obligations.

Other UN human rights instruments such as the covenant on civil and political rights, and the conventions on non-discrimination with respect to women and race failed to prevent, in many States, the growth of under classes, the marginalization of those with talents and abilities (who could potentially employ the underclass), as well as failing miserably to educate people in human rights (yet such education is essential in a democracy in today’s world where human rights plays such a prominent part). Independent thinkers, especially ‘tall poppies’, the spiritual, seekers of truth, the creative in the socio-economic field are, like the under class, hidden in society while small business is in decline. The latter groups are greatly under valued in neo liberal society as evidenced by 500,000 New Zealanders now living in Australia.

Regarding the right to development: A number of big corporations (which is the way liberal democracies provides economic support to the US to pursue political globalization) are not needed e.g. McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks and a number of others – New Zealanders can cook hamburgers, make coffee etc. This would provide many small business opportunities for people as well as keep the money within New Zealand. Human rights education would encourage people to think and be able to make more informed choices at election time – it would encourage the search for truth and a greater meaning in life – materialism would decline as such individuals do not need so many distractions. Imagine the benefits that could be gained by having human rights debates on television nationally and internationally. Would New Zealand consider organizing such debates? About 18 months ago the Iranian President challenged the West to such a debate but the request was declined. Why couldn’t a human rights debate be held with Al Qaida or between any warring factions –the people I have talked to on the street would really enjoy such debates as well as it being very educational – wouldn’t the two parties to the dispute come away with a greater understanding – or is humanity simply going to degenerate into ‘might is right’, which the ‘man in the street’ believes it has anyway, with human rights nothing more than mere illusions. What has happened to the imagination of our world leaders? I am afraid that without strong principles which reflects the interests of all as well as a strong spiritual basis, say, when dealing with Al Qaida, these very alienated leaders are likely to over react out of paranoid fear and also eventually when the going gets really tough lose the will to continue. While there are pockets of hope the future looks very bleak indeed in the long term for humanity as a whole and in the near future for the poor in particular.

At present the domestic and global elites almost en mass are in ‘flight’ – running from alternative truths by just ignoring them – but if internal and external violence increases they may well want to destroy these alternative truths completely and, of course, anyone who dares to speak them,

Given that the so-called liberal mainstream media refuse to report on my book or do a review I include the following:

Some Intellectual Support for ‘Freedom from our Social Prisons’

Re: the unedited version of the book, William Felice, professor of international relations and global affairs, Eckerd College states: “This informed study will be of great use to all concerned with social justice.”

Intellectual comments on an article summary of the book.

Noam Chomsky:

From:
“Noam Chomsky”

To:
“anthony ravlich” < anthony_ravlich[at]yahoo.com >
Thanks for sending. On a quick scan, looks most interesting. Will try to get to it before too long, but deluge of mail is so enormous I have to keep to fairly specific comments and queries, and put off reading anything.

Noam Chomsky

—– Original Message —–
From: anthony ravlich
To: chomsky[at]mit.edu
Cc: Anthony Ravlich
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2008 8:41 PM
Subject: Freedom from our Social Prisons: the Rise of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

(PS. So far I have had six emails from Noam Chomsky in regard to my work – often with supportive, helpful comments and has critiqued one of my short articles)

Ellie Palmer LLB (Manchester), MA PGCE (Glasgow), Lecturer, Department of Law, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex:
From: “Ellie Palmer”

To:
anthony_ravlich[at]yahoo.com

Dear Anthony Ravich,

This is a good idea. It takes a long time for relevance of books to filter through. I’ve ordered it. I like your thesis very much.

Have you come across my book on socio-economic rights -pitched at judges and strategic lawyers? I had an appreciative message from a UK legal academic to say that its title belies its extremely important European content. It came out last year in August and Hart are considering bringing it out in paperback for students. Its currently hard back and £55.

My book is called Judicial Review, Socio- economic Rights and the HRA. (2007)

Best wishes

Ellie Palmer
From: anthony ravlich
To: epalmer[at]essex.ac.uk
Cc: Anthony Ravlich
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 5:18 AM
Subject: {Disarmed} book on economic, social and cultural rights

Njal Hostmaelingen, Norwegian Human Rights Centre, Editor of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights:

From:
“njaal.hostmaelingen[at]nchr.uio.no”

To:
“anthony ravlich” < anthony_ravlich[at]yahoo.com >
Cc:
malcolm.langford[at]nchr.uio.no, asbjorn.eide[at]nchr.uio.no, ingrid.hodnebo[at]nchr.uio.no
Dear Anthony Ravlich,

This project seems highly interesting! The best help I could give you is
to find space for a book review in the Nordic Journal of Human Rights,
where I am the editor. You could also get in touch with Malcolm Langford
and Asbjørn Eide here at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, both doing
research on CESCR rights.
Yours,
Njal Hostmaelingen

Yash Pal Ghai : As of 2007 he is the head of the Constitution Advisory Support Unit of the United Nations Development Programme in Nepal and a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cambodia on human rights. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 2005. He was the Sir YK Pao Professor of Public Law at the University of Hong Kong starting in 1989. He has been an Honorary Professor there since his retirement in 1995.

Dear Anthony

Congratulations–very valuable.

Did your publisher write to me for a sentence or two on the back cover? I fear I forgot to reply–too busy, and do not normally write such sentences. If I had connected the book to you, I would have been more forthcoming. Is it too late?

I will make sure that the existence of the book is brought to the attention of the right people and institutions.

Regards

Yash
—–Original Message—–
From: anthony ravlich [mailto:anthony_ravlich[at]yahoo.com ]
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 2:21 AM
To: hrllgyp[at]hku.hk
Cc: Anthony Ravlich
Subject: book on economic, social and cultural rights

Khaled Abou el Fadl, The Omar and Azmeralda Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law, has been awarded The University of Oslo’s Human Rights Award, The Lisl and Leo Eitinger Prize. Professor Abou el Fadl is one of the leading authorities in Islamic law in the United States and Europe.
RE: human rights course
Thursday, October 9, 2008 4:55 PM
From:
“Abou El Fadl, Khaled”

To:
“anthony ravlich”
Cc:
“Song, Grace” , markrwilliams[at]gmail.com
Dear Professor Ravlich:

I find your pedagogical approach to teaching human rights fascinating. I would like to request a gratis copy of your book for possible adoption in my human rights course.

PS. I am a fellow Roman and Littlefield author.

With regards,

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl
Alfi Professor of Law
UCLA School of Law
405 Hilgard Ave., Room 1242
Los Angeles, Ca 90095
(310) 206-5401

*************

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