Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Human Rights, Climate Change and The Environment

The picture above is from the US organisation, 

This post is an SOS - call for help.  If you can help can you please respond by writing to greenfaithmelb (at) gmail (dot) com

This is what I need some help with - and there is wisdom in many heads dwelling on the topic.  

GreenFaith Australia - of which I am Secretary -  is working on a submission on Human Rights, Climate Change and The Environment to go to the Australian Government's Human Rights Consultation.  As part of of our homework on this we have listened to PILCH, VCOSS, the Environment Defenders Office, the Human Rights Law  Resource Centre, and The Hon Catherine Branson - President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

One of the things we have been thinking about - and which we will probably make  a preamble to actual human rights bullet points - is the current regime model which is largely known through the United Nations human rights instruments.  

We are concerned that this model is largely derived from a dominant Western voice which has a tendency to separate humanity from the environment or make the environment unduly subservient to humanity.  This does not seem to be the framework in which indigenous societies, including Australia's Aboriginal nations, see themselves nor do large numbers of non-Western societies.  For a significant part of humanity - if not the majority - humanity is inseparable from the environment and life lived with other species.

To these thoughts could be added the language.  Rights?  Should we speaking more of well-being and happiness? Happiness, these days, is now a subject of the academy

In addition to working on a relevant and intelligent preamble, what are the points we wish to include on our human rights and the environment wish list? The Environment Defenders Office has advised inclusion of participatory rights - freedom of speech, assembly etc - on the basis that if we get our wishlist up we need to be able to argue and lobby freely for their implementation.

So it is over to you, dear Reader.  

Please let GreenFaith Australia know what you think should be included before the ink dries.  Once the ink dries and the Board approves, the document will then be submitted to a certain distinguished person for his vetting, and then we will be looking for support.  PILCH says that it is a numbers game to get one's ideas up.  The more people suggesting the same idea or writing in support of someone else's the more likely that idea is to get up.

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