What does it mean to live in dignity?
Amnesty International is posing this question with Demand Dignity, a new multi-faceted campaign to eradicate global poverty.
According to the campaign’s site, “The campaign will demand the leadership, accountability and transparency that are essential to end the human rights violations that keep people poor…It is the combined abuse of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that drives and deepens poverty. By demanding dignity we are demanding that all states adopt and implement the laws, policies and practices that will end deprivation, insecurity, exclusion, and voicelessness.”
Illustrating how poverty compromises people’s rights, Amnesty has divided the campaign into four themes: Maternal Mortality, Slums, Corporate Accountability, and Making Rights Law.
Amnesty reports that half a million women per year die from pregnancy or childbirth complications. While uncommon in developed societies, in some countries in subsaharan Africa, as many as 1 out of every 7 women lose their lives. Amnesty defines this as “not only a global health emergency [but] a human rights scandal.”
“Women have the right to have access to services that could save their lives or prevent disabling injury in childbirth. Governments are responsible for providing those services.”
Over 1 billion people worldwide live in slums, or informal settlements that are often overcrowded and lack basic services. Slums have grown tremendously because more people are moving to urban areas in search of work. The settlements are often prone to violence inflicted by by gangs and/or the police.
“Amnesty International is calling on governments to end forced evictions, ensure equal access to public services for people living in slums, and ensure their active participation in all plans directed at slum upgrading.”
The unprecedented growth in corporate power has resulted in disregard for human rights around the world, whether it be directly through abominable working conditions or indirectly through consuming and polluting natural resources, thereby endangering the livelihoods of the local communities.
“A system of regulation must urgently be put in place that ensures redress for those affected and prevents the pursuit of profit at the expense of human rights.”
Making Rights Law
This crucial aspect of the campaign centers on an individual’s right to be protected under the law, and to be able to demand justice when their rights are violated. Amnesty is currently campaigning for the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Optional Protocol), or a justice system for those who are unable to secure their rights in their own countries.
“Amnesty International will use this as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with governments on the measures they should be taking nationally to ensure that economic, social and cultural rights are enforceable and that victims have access to effective remedies.”
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