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Human Rights – Entitlement or Opportunity?

Human Rights – Entitlement or Opportunity?

Opportunity and responsibility are the heart of Human Rights. Human Rights are not supposed to remain in the government’s hands. It is on all of us to create an inclusive world in which all persons with or without disability enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. .

There is much talk about people’s rights and how we need to provide all sorts of things to make sure everyone’s rights are provided for.  Often this list seems endless, demanding and costly.

cbm puts a lot of effort into ensuring that people with disability are able to access the basic human rights we should all have – education, healthcare, work etc.  Sometimes this work can seem quite depressing as progress seems slow at a government policy level.  However we need to look at it differently to see the progress that is being made.

Discussions on Human Rights are not only about looking at entitlements and demands and relying on change at a policy level.  Delivery of Human Rights is not only a responsibility of government.  In fact when these discussions centre only on these areas they are not terribly effective.  Our discussion on Human Rights needs instead to centre on opportunity and responsibility.  

In my project visits overseas I often meet people who just want the same opportunity as everyone else in their village or town.  They don’t want more – just the same opportunity.  They want the chance to take that opportunity for themselves and make the most of their life.  They also understand that this comes with a responsibility to contribute actively and take responsibility for this.  

Human Rights is a two way street where we all need to look at what we can do to create the environment where those around us can make the most of the opportunities to participate equally.  If we keep this focus, the Human Rights discussion will be empowering and an effective change agent.   

This approach is how we can all be change agents, creating an inclusive world where everyone can participate equally without relying on government policy and schemes to determine our access.  

If we act together as individuals to live the change we want we can be sure politicians will follow. 

Written by Darren Ward, CEO of cbm New Zealand.

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