human rights news & views

A choice between race and rights

On Human Rights Day this year, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission continued its tradition of hosting an oration in Melbourne.  This year's guest speaker was award-winning journalist, author and political and social commentator David Marr and his topic: "Does Australia really give a damn about rights?" In a delightful coincidence, Federation Square […]

Implementing the rights of the poor

In 1998 the UN created the post of Independent Expert on Extreme Poverty and floated the idea of a Declaration on human rights and extreme poverty.  In 2001 the Commission on Human Rights (now the Human Rights Council) decided to issue guiding principles on the implementation of existing human rights norms in the fight against […]

Intelligent approaches to poverty

Controversial Oxford ethicist Julian Savulescu cites evidence that intellect is an attribute that ‘makes life go well.’  IQ is negatively correlated with things like unemployment, divorce, poverty, jail and the need for welfare benefits. If you could somehow improve the IQ of the whole population by as little as three points (or 3%, on average), […]

Govts should ‘face down’ intolerant rhetoric on migrants: UN

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, had this advice for governments at the UN High-Level Dialogue on Migration and Development held in New York this month: Governments have to protect migrants against discrimination, racism and xenophobia, in particular by taking effective measures to protect migrants from human rights violations and abuse. It is also vital that Governments […]

Housing crisis in Australia: UN

Indian architect Miloon Kothari has been UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing since 2000. He has just concluded a visit to Australia to assess compliance with human rights obligations in relation to housing. Since ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976, Australia has been obliged to fulfil […]

Evidence-based public policy

Criminologist Don Weatherburn, Director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research in Sydney, argues persuasively for an evidence-based approach to crime prevention.  Scientific research is not inerrant, but in the long run it is far superior to ideology, 'common sense' or subjective experience as a basis for sound public policy. Prison policy too should […]