Human Rights, Europe and the UN

By: A.C.

There are 30 Articles in the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations. Article 25 is one that concerns the disabled and their rights in welfare and social security, and employment.

Article 25.

(1)Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

As a natural “flow” from that article & protocol, is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations which is overseen by the Committee

There are 40 protocols which should guarantee the rights of disabled people in the UK. The ones that should be looked at (there are just too many and they cannot be reproduced here to any degree) are articles 26, 27, 28.

Last year a woman in England decided along with other disability campaigners to report the UK Government to the UN for violations under Contraventions of the Articles.

A report in the Guardian last autumn stated:

 “The findings of a UN inquiry investigating alleged violations of disabled people’s human rights in the UK as a result of welfare reforms will not be published for two years”  

Some Politicians in the UK, especially those from the right-wing, have demonstrated barely disguised detestation and loathing for the European Union and the UK Human Rights Act 1998 which they plan to replace with their own Bill of Rights and Responsibilities if they win the European Referendum vote.

The articles of the 1998 Act can be found here.   

As all disabled people know and understand, whether in Scotland or the rest of the UK, the DWP continues its slash and burn attack on the disabled through the removal of benefits and its alleged need to cut budgets in the name of austerity. These attacks, although disguised and spun as being “good for the disabled”, are as many know, damaging to health, the ability to continue working and to participate in daily life.  Reports on suicide and continuing deterioration in mental health are common.

The gradual erosion of rights, not just for the disabled, is a Holy Grail to some of those on the right-wing.

This was addressed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year.  

In a speech in Glasgow, the Guardian reports:

“Sturgeon also repeated the pledge first made in the Scottish Parliament by the justice secretary, Alex Neil, that her government would withhold legislative consent on the Conservative proposals to scrap the 1998 Act”.

 “It is inconceivable – given the breadth of support which the Human Rights Act commands across the Scottish parliament – that such consent would be granted. The Scottish government will certainly advocate that it is not granted,” she told the Pearce Institute in Govan.

Under devolution legislation, acts of the Scottish parliament and decisions of Scottish ministers must comply with the European convention on human rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. To further complicate matters, although the act is reserved, human rights issues are devolved. This creates two different human rights regimes across the UK, which could technically act as a lock on Westminster moves.”

As the European Referendum moves ever nearer, I would like to put forward a thought: it would be circumspect to consider whose rights will be affected by a small group of right-wingers, and if they get a mandate to leave, what further damage they will inflict on not just the disabled but everyone else as well?

An old joke, which in its ‘no –brainer’ humour, says “would Turkeys vote for Christmas or Thanksgiving if they knew what was coming?”

We can see what is coming – and we already know the track record of the Government as regards the DWP.

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