Greens call for human rights overhaul

The Green Party are calling for a new method of encouraging member states of the United Nations (UN) to improve their human rights record.

The Greens are proposing the UN establish a Global Human Rights Index (GloHRI) which would measure and rank each country by its conformity to the international human rights standard.

The proposal comes on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Meanwhile, Amnesty International is calling on governments to reaffirm their commitment to human rights.

Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK director, said: “The UDHR’s 60th anniversary is a cause for celebration but it would best be marked by today’s world leaders showing the vision of their predecessors and recommitting to human rights as the way of dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century.

“In the last 60 years there has been real progress towards the hopeful vision for humanity that the UDHR set out in 1948, but there is still a long way to go. Massive challenges lay ahead. Torture and the death penalty should be consigned to history; so should locking people up just for their peaceful beliefs.”

The GloHRI that is being proposed by the Greens would give an objective look at a country’s human rights record and show whether it is achieving or falling short of its human rights obligations.

Published yearly, the index would identify those most seriously offending human rights laws and could be used as evidence to prosecute the offenders in accordance with international humanitarian law.

David Cameron used his opening address to the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission to call for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to be removed from office.

“Let us say bluntly today, echoing the calls from the prime minister of Kenya, the government of Botswana – to whose foreign minister I spoke this morning – and Archbishops Tutu and Sentamu, that Mugabe must go now.

“And if he does not go now, he should answer for his crimes at the International Criminal Court,” he added.

“The challenge is clear: act now to prevent a humanitarian disaster that will affect not just Zimbabwe, but Zimbabwe’s neighbours too.”

Justice secretary Jack Straw marked the day by casting doubt about the impact of the Human Rights Act on UK law, suggesting it needs to be overhauled.