Before We Need OHCHR Help

Before OHCHR Two years ago, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations agency to protect, defend, and promote our human rights, published ”How To Follow Up On United Nations Human Rights Recommendations”. It is intended for civil society organizations (CSO), specifically the larger national and international ones. This sixty-page “Practical Guide” has both useful information on OHCHR procedures and mechanisms, and offers many short case studies and insights into how different CSOs have used the UN system to advance human rights.

The OHCHR system of ‘follow up’ is well-intentioned, although it is extremely slow, bureaucratic, and not accessible to those without resources — who are perhaps those most in need of having their rights defended. Although this OHCHR guide is good at what it aims to do, it doesn’t take into account the needs of individual rights-holders or small rights-seeking organizations in communities around the world. Poor people from marginalized communities need to be able to address, simply, cheaply and without fear, the failures of their governments or local authorities to implement UN human rights recommendations – failures that can be fatal for them or their families.

For example, there are billions of poor marginalized people currently being denied access to medicines and adequate care, water, or food, all of which are the legal obligation of Governments to provide. They also have little or no access to free legal aid, which means that this system of ‘follow-up’ is often a non-starter — it leaves behind those most in need.

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New Book Assists Activists

PHM Book“This book is a source of inspiration for those who are engaged in the struggle for health!  The struggle for health and social justice has a long and proud history that has been driven by diverse social movements involving many individuals and organisations in different contexts. Today, the active role of organised civil society is more necessary than ever. While on average life expectancy and health status are improving globally, the rate of improvement is much slower than what is possible and the growing inequalities in health experienced between and within countries are both unnecessary and unacceptable.” – TWHA
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In the past year, I contributed to a book by the People’s Health Movement
(PHM) and Third World Health Aid (TWHA) by participating in the editorial group.

The book is called “Building a movement for health“, and is intended to be an aid in the struggle for health equity, which is the struggle for liberation from
hunger, poverty and unjust socio-economic structures.

*The book is not meant to be a guideline nor a toolkit, but more a source
of inspiration.* The stories illustrated speak about the building of a
people’s health movement – not just any kind of mobilisation for health. It
means that a focus is kept on people’s engagement and people in the
movement having control over the actions.

The book can be used by people who want to know more about the struggle for
health in the world and about the PHM, by activists who seek inspiration
and want to learn from other’s experience, by groups involved in
capacity-building, by students and scholars who research on civil society
engagement in health.

Please help me in letting more people know about this publication, that
can be downloaded for free at this link.

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