Human Rights Manifesto Presented to the Dutch Parliament on International Human Rights Day
10 December 2009 Respect for human rights and democracy is at the heart of the values shared by the Dutch Government. The importance attached by the Dutch Government to these issues is reflected in the international obligations it has subscribed to which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Treaties of the United Nations, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the majority of founding texts of the European Union. Therefore, the Dutch Government, together with other European Union member states has a role to play in assuring that human rights are respected within their territorial boundaries, and that human rights principles are promoted outside the Union. For this reason, today, 9 December 2009, a collection of human rights organisations and migrant groups worked together to bring to the attention of the Dutch Authorities our concerns on human rights violations occurring within our communities in the Netherlands and in our countries of origins. We would also like to propose positive and constructive steps forward that should be given due consideration. For this reason, and alongside the celebrations of International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2009, we appeal to the Dutch Parliament to adhere to the five point Manifesto below and to translate them into concrete acts.
1. Embracing Diversity and NonDiscrimination
We commend the Dutch government for acknowledging the grave implications of discrimination, as evident from their good practices in supporting mediation as the first step to combat discrimination. Despite their commitment to upholding systems of law and strengthening complaints mechanisms, discrimination continues to be widespread. Prejudice and social exclusion present major obstacles for migrants to enter labour markets, effectively participate in political processes and feel welcome in the Netherlands. 1. We urge the Dutch government to place greater emphasis on the perspective of the migrant population when elaborating policy on issues of discrimination in The Netherlands. We believe that despite the strength of the existing legal and penal systems, the migrant community feels marginalized by a lack of understanding of their priorities and needs. The government needs to put measures in place to sufficiently reflect and articulate the experiences, feelings and dynamics of society. 2. We recommend that the Dutch government put steps in place to ensure the implementation of ratified obligations to promote the inclusion of migrants and asylum seekers, to ensure that their rights are met. Specific attention should be given to the situation of particularly vulnerable groups such as women and undocumented migrants. We urge the Dutch government to promote equal treatment in the asylum process and mitigate obstacles for migrants to access the labour market. 3. We call on the Dutch government to use their diplomatic channels to put the issue of discrimination high on the political agenda of other governments, regardless of their bilateral economic ties and political relations. We also urge them to utilize their influence through development cooperation to strengthen civil society and to work towards eradicating inherent discrimination.
2. Socioeconomic Development and Environmental Exploitation
International agreements provide frameworks that if properly implemented would generate widespread improvements in social and economic conditions, as well as preserve local environments and natural resources. The signing of the UN Global Compact is one example of the Dutch government taking positive steps towards addressing such pertinent issues. 1. We urge the government to ensure that Dutch corporations operate within frameworks of corporate social responsibility, equity and accountability. They must also place pressure on partner governments to ensure similar standards within their own corporate entities. 2. We urge the government to ensure that both Dutch corporations and partners invest a proportion of their profits into local Community Based Organisations thus securing direct, widespread, equitable and sustainable positive impacts in the fields of social care, education, health and entrepreneurialism. 3. We urge the government to ensure that Dutch corporations operating abroad sign and implement international agreements to protect and preserve environments at risk of exploitation. Should corporations cause such environmental damage, mechanisms ought to be in place to ensure accountability and legal redress for the communities who have suffered negative impacts on their livelihoods.
3. Promoting Human Rights in a Gender Perspective
We commend the Dutch government for their gender sensitivity and mainstreaming of gender issues. The Dutch government has proven it is committed to gender equality and women’s emancipation in their local and international relations and policies. More remains to be done to ensure women’s emancipation, especially migrant women’s emancipation in the Netherlands and abroad. 1. We urge the Dutch government to exert increased efforts, influence and pressure to ensure the realization of migrant women’s rights, gender equality, gender mainstreaming and gender balance in its foreign aid policies and international relations. 2. We urge the Dutch government to refrain from negotiating, sacrificing or abandoning women’s rights in the name of religious or cultural rights nor engage in trading women’s emancipation to corrupt regimes. The Dutch government should use and uphold its own emancipation policies as a precondition for development aid. 3. We urge the Dutch government to provide direct aid and support to local women’s organizations in developing regions to achieve greater progress in emancipation, growth and empowerment. 4. We urge the Dutch government to consider both women and men as valuable resources in elaborating social policies and when seeking sustainable solutions to gender related problems. Regular reviews and evaluations of policies affecting women’s emancipation are strongly recommended
4. Defending the Defenders: Protection of Human Rights Defenders
The protection of human rights defenders has received growing international attention. However, whilst their rights are cemented in national constitutions and international agreements, human rights defenders in all regions of the world are subjected to oppression and rights violations. 1. We urge the Dutch government to increase political presence in and political pressure on developing countries that are guilty of oppressing human rights defenders, and we request that the Dutch government address their cases regardless of political sensitivity and financial interest. We urge states to issue regular invitations to international human rights monitors, including UN special procedures and EU monitoring missions.
2. We urge the Dutch government to consider a state’s record on protecting human rights defenders in foreign policy considerations as well as when elaborating strategies on financial and development aid. We request that civil society organisations are funded directly, rather than through governmental institutions. We urge the government to assist marginalised countries in their quest towards developing sustainable democratic institutions, so the rights of human rights defenders can be protected and violations prevented. 3. We urge the Dutch government to support and assist the development and creation of efficient enforcement and monitoring mechanisms for the protection of human rights defenders in all countries at international and regional (EU) level. We request that the government takes the lead on creating a ‘manual for Embassies’ on (National Human Rights Protection) NHRPs for non EU Member States.
5. Trafficking in Human Beings: the lucrative business of organised crime
Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative of all organised crimes and affects all societies. It is commendable that the Dutch government has already taken significant steps against human trafficking and organised crime, however further efforts are required in order to meet the challenges that this problem poses, particularly with regards to protecting victims. 1. We urge the Dutch government to preserve and defend the human rights of all migrants living in the Netherlands, and prove their commitment to a human rights based approach when dealing with the victims of trafficking by ratifying international agreements including the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings and the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers. 2. We urge the Dutch government to improve their system of confiscating criminal assets and to introduce a system of social re‐use of these properties, for instance to refund the victims of human trafficking and to support the NGOs and civil society initiatives active in the field. 3. We urge the Dutch government to strengthen their cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, especially migrant communities and NGOs in the policy making process regarding the fight against human trafficking, and the protection and integration of victims. The Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), Freedom Legality and Rights in Europe (FLARE) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) alongside the contributing organisations outlined below ask Dutch Members of Parliament to adopt these recommendations and press for their implementation on both national and European levels. This 61st Annual International Human Rights Day is an opportunity the Dutch government must seize to increase its commitment to safeguarding human rights around the world. The following organisations have contributed to the edition of the manifesto :
BlinN – Oxfam / Humanitas , Migrante Europe, Equal in Rights, Alle Tonen Tafel ATT, Bureau Discriminatie Zaken, LAWID – Latin American Women Initiative for Development, African Gay Youth Foundation, Locomotive, Tamil Centre for Human Rights, PRIME, Youth Human Rights Movement, Transparencia, ICAD – International Committee Against Disappearance, Reach Africa Foundation, Timor Wordlwide, Vosaw, OTUVN, Europe Harvest Mission, Afroeuro, FREN – Filipino Refugees Netherlands, Oromummaa Foundation , Oromia Liberation Front , Fatush Production, Afro Gadaa Initiative, COFI – NL , AVI – Association of International Volunteers (Moldova) , The Human Rights Today Justice Foundation, SIOY (Ucraina), Zarevo (Ucraina) AEGEE – Europe (Russia) , Mans (Montenegro), Terra del Fuoco (Italy) Generator (Serbia), Protecta (Serbia), Eurodemos (Romania), Kastamorrely (Romania),.