I went to the internal relaunch/kickoff of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights last night. I am a member and wish them well. Long term fans will know I have been struggling for a while in getting the Party, with a few honourable exceptions, and its MPs interested in Digital Liberty and its Human Rights dimension; I sum up their attitude as “You can’t eat Human Rights”. I spoke to Matt Turner, the new Chair of their Committee and considered their next campaigns but our conversation moved on to Philip Alston, the UN’s rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report on the UK. I had missed the fact that this was a Human Rights report, reported on briefly by the Guardian and at more length there too,  and that Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the following:

Article 25.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

The UNDHR was agreed as the Cold War descended to its depths but for each important individual liberty written in by the UK & US, the Soviet Union insisted (possibly with Roosevelt’s support) for the establishment of collective rights of solidarity which still remain today reflected in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as I discovered last week. Article 25 is a pretty comprehensive underwriting of the Social Democratic agenda which exercised hegemony in Northern Europe from 1945 to 1979.

We should note the appalling Tory reaction to the report, in the light of the fact that one of their Brexit Red Lines is the exclusion of the CJEU in Human Rights cases, and their disdain for the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act.

Perhaps we should take this into the Labour Party and destroy the image possibly more settled in my generation, that Human Rights are a bourgeois/middle class diversion.

Freedom from Want!
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2 thoughts on “Freedom from Want!

  • 23rd December 2018 at 11:56 am

    While researching my article on measuring democracy in the UK, I came across, “In the fight against austerity, human rights is not the answer by MICKEY KELLER on Open Democracy. This is a very powerful piece analysing the dichotomy in priorities made by politicians between political rights and social rights. I have bookmarked this on diigo, https://diigo.com/0douya and highlighted some quotes there. I think that that the placing of poverty (& housing) in a human rights context would make the commitment to universal rights stronger rather than weaker; also this whole debate now ignores the cold war context in which the UDHR was made, with the west arguing for individual political rights, to defend power and property and the Soviet bloc arguing for more collective definitions, if only to give them human rights weapons with which to attack the west.

    The final quote I chose, is bang on the money though.

    When compared with socioeconomic rights, the alleged apoliticism of civil and political rights naturalise and protect distributions of property and power. Any future role for rights must reckon with the unintended consequences of their claims to universalism.

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