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Campaigner, Writer, Trainer, Management, Consultant & Director - Working for Equality

Human Rights - Human Wrongs

By Jim Thakoordin

Human rights are universal rights and apply equally to all societies, cultures, borders and countries.

Human rights include the:

• right to life and a decent standard of living;
• right to food, shelter, water, health, education, security and equal access to opportunities and resources;
• right to justice, freedom of speech and movement;
• right to work in a healthy and safe environment;
• right to influence democratic values, structures, governance at local, national and international levels;
• right to hold elected and appointed local, national and international political and social structures to account;
• right not to live in fear, intimidation, harassment, poverty, poor health, discrimination or persecution;
• right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness;
• right not to be dominated or persecuted because of religion, culture, lifestyle, preferences or beliefs;
• right to be respected and valued irrespective of gender, age religion or belief, ability, disability, race sexual orientation, class or status.

Society has changed substantially over the last 70 years with the power and influence of:

a) the number of independent states free from colonialism
b) the power of multinational corporations
c) globalization
d) international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Economic Community, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and other global institutions which exercise considerable influence on national and international developments.
e) The media, including the Internet, press, television and mobile phones.
f) The rising economies of, for example, China, Brazil and India, and the relative decline of America, Britain and the former colonial powers.
g) The rise of the super-rich, where individuals’ wealth exceeds the gross national product of many countries.
h) Structural inequalities perpetuated by global institutions such as banks, hedge fund holders, the pharmaceutical industry, the major corporations which control power and energy supplies such as petrol, gas, electricity, and trading bodies with the power and resources to influence governments and undermine democracy.
i) The loss of trust and confidence in political and economic institutions
j) The undermining of democracy by populist, greedy, incompetent and duplicitous politicians
k) The convergence of interests and association by the ruling elite worldwide
l) The massive expenditure on arms, wars and conflicts

Human rights, justice, equality and fairness.

All of the above-mentioned rights are enshrined in full or in part in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – one of the most important documents which followed the formation of the United Nations in 1948. Yet, for much of the world’s population and for many countries in the world, many of these rights only partially exist due to

• structural inequality
• weak, corrupt or incompetent governments
• lack of real democratic and accountable structures
• domination by rich and developed countries of the international, financial, economic, political, trading and military structures and resources
• inequality between rich and poor nations which perpetuates poverty, lack of resources and the undermining of equal rights and access to basic needs
• military might and control of resources and structures by the western European, North American and other rich nations.
• Inadequate access to basic resources for most of the world’s poor, who represent more than half the population of this planet. The poor are getting relatively poorer while the rich are getting richer worldwide.
• The hijacking of democracy by capitalist-orientated economies which focus on a socio-economic political framework which favours the rich and powerful, whilst leaving tens of millions, even in America, whose rights to basic support in life is severely restricted.


• Over 18 million people a year - 50,000 per day die due to poverty-related diseases.
• Over 11 million children living in poverty die before their fifth birthday
• Every year, more than 500,000 women in sub-Saharan Africa die in pregnancy. Almost 90% of maternal deaths occur in Asia and Africa compared to around 1% in developed countries
• There are over 100 million homeless street children worldwide subjected to widespread abuse, degradation and exploitation
• More than half the women and children in the world are subjected to regular violence and abuse. Enslavement and human trafficking involve millions of women and children worldwide.
• The majority of the world’s poor own few possessions, have little or no right to land holding, access to banks, accessible transport, healthcare, education, decent housing or clean water and sanitation.
• Most of the world’s poor are marginalized in many key areas of political, economic and decision-making structures due to dictatorship, feudalism, corrupt government, power of market forces outside their control, lack of assets, insufficient access to land, education and health, high unemployment and under-employment.
• In 2001, over 1 billion people lived on less than $1 (one dollar) per day and 2.7 billion on less than $2 per day. Whilst globalisation has brought some benefits to some of the world’s poor, it has increased impoverishment and disadvantages for others, especially in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia and South America.
• Many poor countries are still faced with massive foreign debts and are using a substantial part of their gross domestic product to service such debts instead of investing in essential infrastructure such as new technology, education, welfare, job creation and poverty reduction.
• In 2004, 42% of people in sub-Saharan Africa were living below the poverty line;
31% in South Asia and 9% in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the
World Bank.
• Massive poverty still exists in the most developed and richest countries. For example, in 2006, 21.9% of all minors, and 30% of all African American minors in New York were living below the poverty threshold. 60% ( 18 million) of Mumbai’s population, in one of India’s richest states, lived in slums. The majority of these were children.