human rights news & views

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 […]

Gender equality at the UN

With only 2 sleeps to go until International Women’s Day, I’d like to quote at some length an article by Human Rights Watch‘s Marianne Mollmann in The Huffington Post: The United Nations was created in 1945 with a stated objective to put into practice the shared principle that men and women are absolute equals. Since […]

Stop violence against women

Women the world over share a one-in-three risk of physical or sexual abuse, with rates reaching 70% in some countries. In Australia, over 400,000 men were violent towards women in 2005.  Almost 1.3 million Australian women have experienced physical and sexual violence from a current or former partner. Women are at risk of violence in […]

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 […]

Maternal deaths catastrophic & avoidable: UN

"The scale of maternal mortality is catastrophic. Every minute a woman dies in childbirth or from complications of pregnancy. . . well over 500,000 women a year. 95% are in Africa and Asia. . . This is global health inequality on a shocking scale. For every woman who dies, as many as 30 others suffer […]

Mary Ann Glendon’s ‘A World Made New’

Acclaimed Harvard legal academic Mary Ann Glendon's A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Random House, New York 2001) is a great read for anyone with more than a passing interest in human rights. It does what good history writing should do: help us understand where we are today. […]

35,000 Iraqi civilians killed in 2006

Nearly 35,000 civilians were killed in Iraq last year, according to the UN. It’s an astonishing but unsurprising figure, given the daily reports of carnage. As the United States mourns the death of over 3,000 of its troops sent to Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reports 34,452 civilians were […]

HIV relief in Africa: “from inertia to paralysis”

Racism and sexism fuel the tragedy that is HIV/AIDS in Africa. Esteemed Canadian Stephen Lewis, in his role as the UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa, has highlighted these twin blights — themselves rights violations — in his ongoing effort to draw attention to the crisis and stimulate action. "Gender is at the heart […]

Indivisibility in action: toilets for education

The right to water, the right to health, the right to life, the right to education. They all tie in to something as simple and unmentionable as sanitation. Yes, toilets. The most basic will do, plus some way to wash your hands. One kind that is inadequate is the ‘flying toilet’ found in unsewered shantytowns. […]

Women’s rights key to saving baby girls

There are the moral and legal arguments in favour of human rights, which ought to be enough, but, let’s face it, sometimes it helps to come up with self-interested reasons for abusers to cease and desist and for governments to protect and promote. And in this geo-political clime, ‘national security’ is leverage par excellence. Here’s […]