Slowly, but increasingly, people on earth start to see and recognise that we are not just a ruler over this planet. And that we can’t just take from it whatever we want without having to bear the consequences of our acts. The time has come for us to rediscover that we are indeed a part of this planet and nature. And that humans are interdependent and dependent on nature.
We have placed ourselves outside of nature for many decades, but now again see that we need our planet and direct surroundings to be healthy, clean and balanced. And that we need sustainability, dignity, freedom, peace and equality in order to achieve this. These ideals are amongst the most acknowledged values of society.
Human rights are generally accepted to be the codification of the most fundamental values of society. Therefore, the values as set out above must be conceived and acknowledged in human rights that affirm them. And these rights should be respected.
Stand Up For Your Rights is to advocate this and to play a role in the development and safeguarding of these human rights that are related to a sustainable future on this planet. Some of these rights have already been accepted, some of them haven’t.
Currently the more acknowledged human rights organisations and/or institutions often focus on the more traditional and excepted human rights - such as freedom of speech, life, no torture, fair trial, etc. On the other hand, acknowledged environmental, nature conservation and sustainable development organisations generally do not focus on human rights whilst trying to achieve their goals.
Stand Up For Your Rights attempts to bridge this gap by focusing on what connects us all: a need for and right to a sustainable future.
But why do we focus on a Right's based approach?
Rights are like needs. They are basic things that people must have or be able to do to live a healthy, safe and good life. We need food, for example, and so we have a right to food. We need to be able to learn and so we have a right to education. We need a sustainable future on this planet and so...
Human Rights are the codification of the most fundamental needs and values of society. Therefore the primary argument in favour of a human rights approach to sustainable development issues may well be that it elevates the entire spectrum of sustainability, development and environmental issues to fundamental values of society, on a level equal to other rights and superior to ordinary legislation. A level where these issues belong.
As all rights are connected to obligations, placing sustainability, development and environmental issues at this level will create both rights and more awareness on these issues for individuals.
Other benefits of a Right's based approach are that:
- It links global, regional and local issues - with for instance sustainability issues or environmental disruption often taking place in an international context;
- Victims will have access to international procedures that allow those harmed to bring international pressure to bear when governments lack the will to prevent or halt severe violations that threatens human health and well-being. In many instances, petitioners have been afforded redress and governments have taken measures to remedy the violation;
- A rights-based approach would – compared to existing approach to sustainablity, development and environmental laws – focus less on states and more on individuals, who in fact get hurt or could get hurt by development that is unsustainable or by the disruption of the environment;
- In the absence of guaranteed rights on these issues, other constitutionally protected rights, like property rights, may be given automatic priority instead of being balanced against sustainable development, health and environmental concerns; and
- Human rights claims are absolute, meaning that they are immune to lobbying and pressure.