chapter  10
5 Pages


This book has brought out that while gross violations of human rights continue to be numerous and shocking worldwide, and while humanity is faced with serious threats and challenges, preventive strategies are few, and attention to their human rights dimensions fewer still. The human rights movement must modernize and place the emphasis in the future on preventive human rights strategies. As a matter of policy and conscience, one should strive to prevent

violations of human rights before they take place. As a matter of security and survival, it is imperative to endeavor to prevent global threats such as climate change while paying attention to the human rights dimensions of preventive strategies. At the global level, one would have expected the UN Human Rights

Council to take the lead in the demarcation of preventive human rights strategies. It has an explicit mandate to do this. But it has so far paid little attention to prevention. One would also expect the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the torch-bearer for human rights internationally, to highlight prevention more. There was one attempt to do this in the year 2000 but it has not so far been repeated. The current UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has provided leadership on the need for preventive strategies to head off climate change and water shortage, but he has understandably focused on the root causes rather than on the human rights dimensions of preventive strategies. He needs to be accompanied by the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner. Regionally, neither the existing human rights nor conflict prevention

arrangements pay much attention to the need for preventive human rights strategies. They all need to be reformed to provide explicit mandates to give attention to preventive strategies to head off gross violations of human rights. Nationally, there are few, if any, instances of bodies such as human rights commissions issuing periodic reports pointing out imminent or future risks to human rights and suggesting

are weak in upon to operate in inhospitable environments and shark-infested waters. They do what they can in difficult circumstances. Prevention might sound esoteric to them, but the need is crucial. The protection of human rights is, admittedly, in crisis worldwide.

Violations such as arbitrary killings, torture, enforced disappearances, violence against women, and arbitrary detention are prevalent. In an age of terrorism, democracies as well as dictatorships flout human rights at will. The enjoyment of human rights worldwide is affected by widespread poverty, numerous internal conflicts, terrorist acts, egregious violations by state and non-state actors, pervasive inequality, and poor governance. On top of this, people are moving across borders in search of livelihood and are met with disrespect, indignities, and intolerance. The world of the future is likely to see migration multiply many times and also to see indignities and inhumanity towards migrants similarly multiply. One is decidedly swimming against the tide when it comes to gross

violations and new threats and challenges that could have an adverse impact on human rights. And yet, it behooves the human rights movement to persist in its efforts and, while continuing to strive for the promotion and protection of human rights through advocacy, to pay increasing attention to, and to highlight in the future, the need for preventive human rights strategies. This is where this book identifies a major gap among the nongovernmental human rights organizations. The Worldwatch Institute undoubtedly provides leadership in bring-

ing to the public the dangers of environmental degradation. But it is only indirectly a human rights organization and has no match in the human rights area. Leading human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the International League for Human Rights do yeoman advocacy work on behalf of human rights and do refer to the need to prevent the recurrence of problems they identify. However, with the exception of the Association for the Prevention of Torture, which covers a particular segment of human rights violations, no NGOs at present pay systematic attention to the need for preventive human rights strategies. This is a sad omission-it is probably only in the NGO and research sectors that one can expect the kind of attention to preventive human rights strategies that have been called for in this book. How can this gap be filled? The then High Commissioner for Human

Rights, Mary Robinson, devoted her 2000 annual report to the need for preventive human rights strategies. This author was Deputy High