human rights news & views

Nexus between environmental degradation & human rights

I write to you from Australia, where an area bigger than Germany and France combined is under water. Filthy, noxious water and mud. Three-quarters of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone – that’s a disaster twice the size of Texas. In a small town called Grantham, west of Brisbane, buildings were not so much filled […]

First parliamentary debate on decade-old war

As one of the most loyal members of the 'Coalition of the Willing,' Australia has been involved in the present war in Afghanistan for nearly a decade. Under the Australian Constitution, the Prime Minister can declare war without the endorsement of parliament.  Bush's 'deputy sheriff' in the Antipodes, Prime Minister John Howard, committed Australia to […]

A Fifth Estate of citizen monitoring

Expatriate Australian journalist John Pilger (right), in accepting the Sydney Peace Prize last week, was very critical of silence and lies in Australian polity and complicit bystanders among the Australian press and public.  He calls us from slumber to form a 'Fifth Estate' of citizen monitoring — that eternal vigilance that is the price of […]

Life after climate change?

Gentle reader, May I share with you two things that have come across my desk this evening which have had a profound impact on me? One is an 8-minute video by Oxfam about the life of a woman in rural Uganda facing the 'indescribable pain' of climate change. The second is an article in the […]

Tax havens: Where the cheats have no shame

For all the high-profile anti-poverty advocacy of its frontman, Bono, Irish rock band U2 has copped a hiding from compatriots for tax evasion in their homeland. Though all four band members live in Ireland, the band's publishing arm relocated to the Netherlands in 2006, after Ireland capped tax-free earnings for artists at €250,000.  Meanwhile, ordinary […]

Bail out the world’s poor

Last month at the UN General Assembly, rock legend Bono lamented that for ten years he has begged the G8 for US$25 billion to relieve hunger and disease in Africa, with limited success.  Suddenly, the United States has $700 billion to spend on Wall Street. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates that the US bailout package […]

The Duty of Delight: The Diaries of Dorothy Day

Writes Nobel Peace Prize nominee, John Dear, SJ: "On May 1, the Catholic Worker [movement] celebrates its 75th birthday, and to mark the occasion, Marquette University Press will publish Dorothy Day’s diaries, The Duty of Delight. Meanwhile, a beautiful new DVD documentary, Don’t Call Me a Saint, has been released, offering rare interviews and footage […]

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), […]

No more Nestlé

It's International Nestlé-free Week. Time to swear off Nescafé, Milo (*gasp*), Butter Menthol and Nestlé chocolate, yoghourt, frozen dinners and goddam Cheerios and find ethical alternatives. Sometimes a lack of joined-up thinking allows people who care about human rights (whole NGOs, in fact) to drink Nescafé. Or maybe they aren't familiar with the world's longest-running […]