Human Rights Indicator
The Human Rights Indicator views the state of human rights in the United States in broad areas: fundamental rights to the security of person and the US Bill of Rights and Amendments to the Constitution, including freedom of expression, religious freedom, right of assembly, and voting rights. Beyond our basic rights, the model embraces an evolving international view embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Future debates will likely include these broader rights to health, education, jobs and/or minimum incomes. Ground-breaking research by our advisor, Riane Eisler, JD, president of the Center for Partnership Studies, highlights the need for human rights to be extended to cover those within the family, since spousal and child abuse are well documented problems, attested to by the rise of shelters for those battered and abused by intimate partners, relatives and family members. Dr. Eisler founded the Campaign for a Caring Economy which Ethical Markets supports, promoting legal recognition of unpaid, caring work, adequate wages for care workers in the paid economy and full recording of the contributions to the official GDP of the equivalent value of unpaid work, as documented by Hazel Henderson for decades, as the “Love Economy” (see The Non-Money Economy at www.ethicalmarkets.tv) and the UN Human Development Report (1995)).
The recent revelations of hunger strikes by some 100 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 80 of whom are cleared of all charges but who are all being force fed is a human rights violation. Human rights issues were highlighted by the prisoner abuse horrors at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, where violations of the Geneva Convention were rampant. After the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Patriot Act was signed giving law enforcement officials sweeping new powers. Many of these powers are opposed by human rights and civil liberties groups, along with libertarians, thus creating new coalitions across the US political spectrum. Many municipalities in the US joined civil liberties groups and conservatives in opposing Patriot Act provisions as unwarranted intrusions on states’ rights. Areas of research on the US Constitution now receiving attention include whether corporations are “persons” with the same human rights as living persons and whether the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms as part of a well-regulated militia limits the purchase of high-powered weaponry and freedom from national background checks. After recent mass shootings, the issue puts “gun rights” versus “human rights” in a new context and many believe that mass shootings should be re-designated as terrorist acts and come under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Homeland Security. Many point out that in the USA, owning a gun is a right while there is no right to healthcare, which is considered a privilege.
Human rights are of great concern in Europe, Japan and Canada and still serve as a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Today a crucial issue is to what extent the sovereignty of a nation must be balanced with the human rights of its citizens – an issue being debated anew in the global war on terrorism. Many other countries already include in human rights economic, cultural, and social rights (to education, social participation, health care, leisure time, and to social security). Another evolution concerns the embracing of women and children in the definition of human rights – now widely recognized – if not fully achieved. The US still lags in ratifying the Comprehensive Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This indicator is crucial to quality of life in the United States and worldwide.
Important insights to this Indicator were provided by expert Alya Kayal, Esq., a leading human rights attorney with our partner, the Calvert Group, in their Calvert Social Research Department.