Monday, February 13, 2012

A Dialogue about Economics and Human Rights by B. Javalquinto/ J Atuahene

Important to consider: "The majority of UN bodies have stated a commitment to a rights-based approach to development that defines progress in terms of the fulfilment of social, political, economic, cultural and civil rights. Societies that do not create the conditions for their citizens to realise these rights cannot be said to be ‘developed’"
Seymour, Dan

John Atuahene Lawyer (LL.M)True development of any state must embrace economic, social, legal and cultural aspects of the lives of people. Very often in the pursuit of economic growth the challenges and disadvantages which have detrimental impacts on the lives of people are ignored and emphasis is only placed on the opportunities and advantages arising therefrom. There are numerous examples of this situation across the world. For example in Brazil due to economic development vast areas of land have been deforested each year. The deforestation has had, among other things, a major climate biodiversity and also threatened communities who depend on the forest for food, water and livelihood. Opportunities and advantages arising from the deforestation cannot be defined as development with respect to only the progress brought about in the economy but should also be defined in terms of socio-economic impacts including any impact on the environment. Another example is the oil drilling projects carried out in Nigeria in pursuit of economic development. Notwithstanding opportunities and advantages which have arisen from the oil drilling projects there has been oil pollution in Agbada Westplain of Niger Delta. This oil pollution has impacted on the environment negatively and also had negative impact on the lives of people.

Inevitably pursuit of economic development gives rise to challenges which underpins consequential detrimental impacts on the lives of people. These challenges can only be effectively and efficiently addressed by complying with international human rights. It is only by operating within the human rights normative framework that the requisite environmental standards and compliance of international human rights can be achieved.

It is not always the case that violations of human rights can be linked to the consequences of economic development. Violations of human rights may be due to cultural, political or domestic forces. For example in certain communities in Pakistan, India and Malaysia, contrary to human rights, it is their culture for females at certain ages when they are young to undergo female genital mutilation. In certain countries such as Somalia where there is ongoing armed conflict due to political differences this has resulted in violations of human rights. Due to certain domestic forces in some countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia some of their laws are not consistent with human rights. Certain ingrained attitudes and habits of some states may be inconsistent with standards within human rights regime. It is not uncommon to have an economically developed state such as France guilty of violations of human rights from time to time due to various reasons. The challenge posed by adopting a right-based approach to development is to identify an objective and acceptable parameters for evaluating violations of human rights against evaluations of economic achievements. Besides the underlying factors of economic achievements and violations of human rights may be inseparable. The proposed right-based approach to development is by no means going to be easy and requires a carefully thought out system based on assessing development on objective parameters. A definition of development or progress of a country is empty unless there are objective parameters by which a country can be assessed to be developed or not developed in accordance with the definition.

Bernardo Javalquinto, Economist, MBAI see many other violations of human rights, For example abuses in the financial system, monopolies controling markets, Political Power control by few people not allowing the mayority of people decide, control of the media, but worst of all is allowing poor educatition, education is important but also is the education of principles that many people lack at homomust also be given somewhere. So we must create a manner that a universal transfer of principles must be trasmitted all over the world. Then we will not see what is discribe above..... Thanks John

John Atuahene Lawyer (LL.M)I totally agree with you Bernardo. Arguably modernity has evolved to an extent that one can safely say that we now have interdependent sovereignty of states. Sovereignty of a state, these days, can only be defined in relationship with other states. Within the context of international community, state values must be consistent with international human rights. However there are other actors in addition to states in respect of human rights responsibilities. Corporations as well as states must comply with human rights. A lot of violations of human rights arise from the multinational activities of corporations.

With regard to the financial sector, since the system is built on capitalism it is not unfortunately susceptible to changes to cater for the poor. The monopolies, political power control by few people, media which you have mentioned are inevitable consequences of the capitalist system. The capitalist system is effectively under control of the rich and very often governments through legislation have been unable to exert any control or any required changes. The ideal situation is for human rights to be universally complied with by states, corporations and all individual human beings including in particular the rich. It has to be said that the adverse effects of capitalist system to some extent are reduced by charitable donations from individuals and the work of charitable organizations.

John Atuahene Lawyer (LL.M)In so far as compliance with human rights by corporations are concerned one cannot solely rely on the responsibility of corporations to comply with human rights-some corporations will develop reasonable policies and procedures for ensuring that human rights are complied with during the course of their activities while other corporations will fail to comply with human rights. In addition to this policies and procedures developed by corporations will vary. The need for universal compliance with human rights necessitates an adoption of universal policies and procedures acceptable to all nations and corporations for ensuring compliance with human rights by corporations. In the same vein state policies and procedures for ensuring compliance with human rights will vary in the absence of an adopted universal policies and procedures. The need for such universal policies and procedures is justified by the fact that multinational activities cross boundaries of states. With regard to individuals they will either voluntarily comply with human rights or be compelled to do so within the legal systems of their residence provided the laws of the relative states are consistent with international human rights.

It is comforting to hear about "human development index". It is hoped the assumptions and factors upon which the index are based and measured are realistic and effective.

Bernardo Javalquinto, Economist, MBAI did look into the "human development index" but it does not fit with our realiality, with unfair income didtribution Chele could not be among with the Very high human development countries something os not being mesuared correctly and I could se other countries in the same situation. Either we/us are not seen reality or the organizations don´t wont to see it. A universal observer must play an important role.

Bernardo Javalquinto, Economist, MBADuring his visit to Chile Pier Carlo Papoan, OECD Chief Economist said: "the growing inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the world, in the OECD Chile is the country with greater inequality." Abdur, I also agree with you my call is we as Economist must stop abuses from the sistem. In labor, environmental isssues, education JUSTICE, concentration of power economic and political. people is getting tired of this abuses. If the UN does not support countries crying for help who does. Because the institutions in your own country are allowing this to happen and this is not only in Chile. I see prof. Yunus promoting Social Business which i think would be one of the solutions but he also needs a lot of help.

John Atuahene Lawyer (LL.M)Economic distribution via appropriate fiscal policies and taxation coupled with spending programs geared towards the benefit of the poor can go a long way to bridging gap between the rich and the poor if they can be successfully implemented. However history has shown that it is not always easy to achieve this. Governments who have tried to do this have become unpopular and have had to change their policies particularly to please rich people and corporations who in response to the policies very often threaten to divert much needed capital and business elsewhere. There have been many examples of this situation across the world. For example, in recent years President Barack Obama has had to compromise a lot by changing his fiscal policies in order to prevent capital diversion and business by corporations from U.S. Once again the gap between the rich and the poor is an inevitable inherent ingredient of the capitalist system. Economic distribution has not been effectively, adequately and successfully pursued in any economically developed country within the environment of capitalist system.

With regard to public services such as education, health etc governments have to operate within financial constraints. Governments are expected to make provisions for minimum adequate public services which satisfy standards contained in international instruments. However it has to be said that individuals who can afford better services than that provided by the governments do opt out because equivalent services privately provided are available and of higher quality than that of the governmenst. The issue therefore is not just the governments providing public services which will benefit the poor but whether or not the public services provided by the governments are of the same level of quality as similar services provided in the private sector. Once again the gap between the rich and the poor is inevitable.

There are many countries in the world which are unable to meet standards contained in international instruments for providing public services because of mainly poverty although other minor factors may be involved. For example a lot of African countries are in this area of poverty. Some African countries rely heavily on the work of charitable organizations, NGOs and UN humanitarian organizations. However the efforts of these organizations are not enough to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.The gap between the rich and the poor continue to widen. All the injustices are inevitable inherent ingredients of the capitalist system despite the efforts from organizations addressing the relative adverse effects. Yunus attempts to promote Social Business is a step in the right direction but this is unfortunately a drop in the ocean.

Bernardo Javalquinto, Economist, MBAA drop in the ocean is something, but what if in all continents we can find people like us that are tremendously involve in mattrs like this we could definetly do something about it. In the mean time I would like to ask permission to all of you to publish this in my blog only with your permission. Kind regards Bernardo

John Atuahene Lawyer (LL.M)Yes if all continents can find people like Yunus that will be a tremendous help. You have my permission to publish.

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