MINELRES: Equal Rights Trust: 60 years on, ideals of UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights under threat

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Sat Dec 13 19:07:42 2008

Original sender: Equal Rights Trust <equalrightstrust1@response.pure360.com>

Vote for equality to bring UDHR ideals closer to reality  
London, 10 December 2008  
As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 60 this Wednesday,
international think-tank The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) is warning that,
in a global recession, governments worldwide must put equality at the
centre of human rights legislation or risk creating more marginalised
‘sub-human’ peoples, such as the Roma in Europe and lower castes in
South Asia. 

Praising the UK’s ‘forward-thinking’ Equality Bill for its positive duty
to acknowledge and address differences between people, ERT says that the
ideals of the UN Declaration, launched during severe repression and
economic hardship, will never become a reality unless equality is
defined and implemented as a basic human right. 

Executive Director of ERT and leading equal rights expert, Dimitrina
Petrova, said: 

“60 years on, we cannot let the hardships of recession blur a vision of
a fairer society. Across the world, anti-discrimination law puts
individuals into rigid boxes, serving to reinforce stereotypes rather
than breaking them down. We are urging a wiser and fairer international
and national law that recognises difference and says that human rights
are only possible when we have equality.” 

To mark the anniversary of the UN Declaration, ERT has launched a global
campaign, ‘Vote for Equality’ which seeks mass support for new equality
and human rights principles to ensure groups around the world are not
victimised, excluded and denied equality. 

The campaign is seeking one million pledges of support for The
Declaration on the Principles of Equality, drawn up by leading human
rights lawyers and equality experts, in a bid to get governments to
endorse 27 principles which: 

• Define equality as a basic human right: Stating that equality should
be seen as a human right in itself. 

• Promote ‘Positive Action’: Departing from the concept of ‘formal
equality’ stating that differences must be recognised for everyone to be
treated equally. 

• Ensure consistency and fairness: Ensuring all nations respect the
right to equality and recognise and address inequalities in their

Dimitrina Petrova added: 

“The ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are more
important today than ever. Ronald Dworkin, a signatory to the
Principles, once said equality is a threatened species amongst political
ideals, but I would take this further and say it is an endangered
species among human rights. We need governments to take action,
especially at this time, to ensure that the huge and increasing numbers
of marginalised groups such as the Roma in Europe and lower castes in
South Asia have a legal right to equality. 

Only then will we be able to realise the ideals set down by the UN 60
years ago today.” 

Notes to editors. 

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) is an independent international
organisation whose purpose is to combat discrimination and promote
equality as a fundamental human right and a basic principle of social
justice. Established as an advocacy organisation, a resource centre and
a think tank, it focuses on the complex and complementary relationship
between the different forms of discrimination, developing strategies for
translating the principle of equality into practice. 

The ‘Vote for Equality’ campaign 

• On 21 October 2008, the Declaration of Principles on Equality was
launched, marking the beginning of a campaign for its universal

• The ‘Vote for Equality’ Campaign launched by The Equal Rights Trust is
calling for endorsements from individuals and organisations who want to
publicly demonstrate their support of the Principles set out in the
Declaration. The campaign aims to attract 1 million ‘voters’ a year. 

• To sign up visit this link:

The Principles 

• The Declaration on the Principles of Equality contains 27 principles
on 6 key themes: equality, non discrimination; scope and rights-holders;
obligations; enforcement; prohibitions. 

• The Principles were drafted by 128 prominent legal practitioners,
academics and human rights activists from 44 countries. Among the
signatories are: Shami Chakrabarti (UK) Director, Liberty; Joy Ngozi
Ezeilo (Nigeria), UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons,
especially women and children; Bengt Lindqvist (Sweden),  Former United
Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability; Lawrence M. Mute (Kenya),
Commissioner, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights; Renate Weber
(Romania), Member of European Parliament; Wan Yanhai (China) Director,
Beijing AIZHIXING, Institute of Health Education; Liudmilla Alekseeva
(Russia), President of the Moscow Helsinki Group; Thomas Hammarberg
(Sweden), Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights; James Goldston
(USA) Executive Director of the Open Society Justice Initiative;
Magdalena Sepulveda, UN Independent Expert on the question of human
rights and extreme poverty, and many others, including members of UN
Treaty Bodies and Special Rapportuers.  

• At present there are hundreds additional international endorsements
from significant human rights personalities and ordinary people from all
over the world. 

• Many organisations have welcomed and expressed their support for the
Declaration of Principles on Equality, including: 

Discrimination Law Association (UK), Equality Commission for Northern
Ireland, European Roma Information Office, Human Rights First, Human
Rights Law Network (India), ILGA Europe (The European Region of the
International Gay and Lesbian Association), INTERIGHTS - the
International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights, Mental
Disability Advocacy Centre, National Council for the Prevention of
Discrimination (CONAPRED), Mexico. 

About Dimitrina Petrova 

Dr Dimitrina Petrova is the founding Executive Director of The Equal
Rights Trust. Prior to founding the Equal Rights Trust, she headed the
European Roma Rights Centre, one of the most successful human rights
NGOs’ in Europe, winning more than 20 high profile cases in
international jurisdictions and hundreds of cases in national courts. 

Since 1997, she has also been Visiting Professor at the Central European
University's Legal Studies department. Her former roles include Director
of The Human Rights Project in Sofia, Bulgaria, Chair-holder in
international relations and peace at the University of Oregon, member of
parliament, and leader of the environmental movement Ecoglasnost in the
late 1980s. 

Dimitrina Petrova's writings include over 75 publications on human
rights, equality, democracy, politics, and social sciences. She holds a
PhD from the University of Sofia, where she defended her dissertation on
utopia and value rationality (1993). She is the recipient of several
awards, including the Human Rights Award from the American Bar
Association and the Dutch Geuzenpenng Award. 

For more information on the ‘Vote for Equality’ campaign, to request a
copy of the Declaration of Principles of Equality and to request an
interview with Dr Dimitrina Petrova or other ERT spokespeople, please
Melissa on 020 7793 4035 / 07976 636 228 
Melissa@dhacommnunciations.co.uk or Kemi on 020 7793 4035 / 07904 855571

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