By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ International Relations & Peace Adviser

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.  While in principal it stands solid, the ideals it enshrined are unfortunately not adhered to by many countries who were once proud signatories.

Queensland’s government recently announced the introduction of a Human Rights Bill 2018.  Similar Human Rights Acts have already been passed by the Victorian and ACT governments Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath said, “The primary aim of the Bill is to ensure that respect for human rights is embedded in the culture of the Queensland public sector, and that public functions are exercised in a principled way and is compatible with human rights.”

The Bill protects 23 human rights:

  • Recognition and equality before the law
  • Right to life
  • Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Freedom from forced work
  • Freedom of movement
  • Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
  • Freedom of expression
  • Peaceful assembly and freedom of association
  • Taking part in public life
  • Property rights
  • Privacy and reputation
  • Protection of families and children
  • Cultural rights – generally
  • Cultural rights – Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Right to liberty and security of person
  • Humane treatment when deprived of liberty
  • Fair hearing
  • Rights in criminal proceedings
  • Children in the criminal process
  • Right not to be tried or punished more than once
  • Retrospective criminal laws
  • Right to education
  • Right to health services

The current Anti-Discrimination Commissioner will become the Human Rights commissioner.  The Act aims to ensure better health and education outcomes for Queenslanders.

The rise of white supremacists’ hater speech and the US President’s silence has contributed to fatal consequences which do not bode well for international relations & peace globally.  Right wing backlash in Germany against Angela Merkel’s generous opening of their countries borders to asylum seekers and financial refugees is threatening her Christian Democratic party’s majority and her leadership.

The march of several thousand economic refugees from Central America is going to test the resolve of the U.S. government’s policy for new arrivals as well as their border forces response.  If similar mass movements of people become more common governments will be pressured into either more forceful strategies or providing humanitarian aid in the form of temporary transit camps until refugees can be successfully absorbed into communities.  The answer may be a global strategy in targeting aid to the countries who have such hopeless economies, lack of governance and law and order that it forces people to ‘vote with their feet’  Whatever the answer, the policy the USA adopts in this instance will be closely watched by other nations who face similar pressures.

The controversial announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposing that the Australian embassy be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may have appealed to some Australian voters but one must ask – what has Australia to gain?  Generally the global community regards Jerusalem as a revered centre for the major religions of the world.  The harmony that the city has traditionally represented by this remarkable co-existence, albeit with a few ‘hiccups’ over the ages must endure in the interests of peace.

As the old saying goes “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” is still true as ever today, more so than ever.  When you see the many social media platforms and web sites used autonomously for hate speech it is truly sad.  The companies who provide these tools must take (like the car manufacturers) some responsibility for the damage they can do by the dangerous and impressionable messages they transmit.  These messages or call to action do not contribute to good international relations and peace, let alone respect for fellow human beings.

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