The Story of Human Rights – listserve
February 26, 2010.   Rob Rainer

Thanks to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation for forwarding a fantastic ~9-minute video entitled The Story of Human Rights.  Watch it here: or go to the video’s source, United for Human Rights where from this group’s marvellous web site you can also watch the film, sign a petition to implement human rights education in schools and universities, and order free and other resources on human rights.

A growing number of Canadians are realizing that success in combating poverty depends on action being rooted in a strong human rights framework.  Indeed, the human rights “frame” on poverty is central to the waging of Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-free Canada – now endorsed by over 300 organizations across Canada as well as nearly 50 MPs and Senators (from across all parties), plus Elizabeth May and the Green Party of Canada.

As one marker of this trend, the December 2009 Senate report In from the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Housing and Homelessness, included a recommendation “that the federal government, in recognition of both Canadian obligations under international human rights law, and their importance in claiming access to appropriate programs and services, explicitly cite international obligations ratified by Canada in any new federal legislation or legislative amendments relevant to poverty, housing and homelessness.”

Indeed, that is what could happen should Bill C-304 – An Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing for Canadians – pass into law.  (When Parliament resumes next week, work on this critical private member’s bill will continue: more on this issue in the coming weeks – including how you and/or your organization may help to ensure its passage.)

In closing, a couple of inspirational quotes on the theme of poverty as a human rights violation, its eradication a human rights obligation:

Today, poverty prevails as the gravest human rights challenge in the world.  Combating poverty, deprivation and exclusion is not a matter of charity, and it does not depend on how rich a country is.  By tackling poverty as a matter of human rights obligation, the world will have a better chance of abolishing this scourge in our lifetime.  Poverty eradication is an achievable goal.
Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2006

Whatever plan is pursued, whatever projects are prioritized, whatever aid package is agreed, no solution to poverty without human rights at its core will have any long-term impact.  Protecting the rights of those living in poverty is not just an option – it is an essential piece of any solution….Economic growth is an important component of a strategy to tackle poverty, but it cannot be the only piece.  Governments must create the conditions that allow people living in poverty to claim their human rights, to empower themselves, so that they can be masters, and not victims, of their destiny.
Amnesty International, Demand Dignity campaign brochure, May 2009

Rob Rainer
Executive Director / Directeur executif
1210 – 1 rue Nicholas Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
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Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing. Abraham Lincoln

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