Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Sur - Revista Internacional de Direitos Humanos]]> vol. 4 num. SE lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Perpetrating good</b>: <b>Unintended consequences of International Human Rights Advocacy</b>]]> The article analyzes the negative impact of popular strategies used by international human rights organizations when promoting human rights causes; namely human rights reporting, advocacy and strategic litigation. It critically assesses these strategies, and questions whether they are working and if so, for whom. At the same time, the author questions the legitimacy of international human rights organizations to represent victims of human rights violations and their lack of accountability towards the victims. The author argues that the means used by human rights advocates in their work might be damaging and counterproductive for the victims as their methods often falsify the true experience of victims of human rights violations and end up suppressing their independence, competence and solidarity. Rather than eliminating power relations and domination over those they aim to help, human rights advocates often sustain power imbalances and use human rights violations as a commodity. The article calls for broader cooperation of human rights advocates with victims, by embracing more holistic models of activism. <![CDATA[<b>Prisons in Africa</b>: <b>An evaluation from a human rights perspective</b>]]> While prisons in Africa are often considered the worst in the world many other prisons systems are worse off in terms of violence, overcrowding and a host of other problems. This is not to argue that African prisons are human rights friendly. Many are in a deficient condition and their practises are at odds with human rights standards. However, prisons in many parts of the world are in crisis. Never before have there been so many problems within penal systems and such large numbers of people in institutions of incarceration. This article examines the historical development of African prisons from colonial times and considers the legacy that colonialism has left in prisons on the continent. The article also examines a range of issues in prisons throughout Africa including pretrial detention, overcrowding, resources and governance, women and children in prison, and rehabilitation. A substantial amount of space is devoted to the reforms that are occurring across the continent, and recommendations are made with regard to what further reforms are necessary. The role of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights as well as the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa are also considered. <![CDATA[<b>Lost in translation</b>: <b>Expressions of human suffering, the language of human rights, and the South African Truth and reconciliation commission</b>]]> This essay examines what is gained and lost when expressions of human suffering are translated into a standardized language of human rights. I argue that South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission demonstrates the ways that this translation makes human suffering both legible and illegible. While the language of human rights functioned in powerful ways to establish a previously unacknowledged history in South Africa, identify and grant dignity to victims, and occasionally designate responsibility, I argue that it also disfigured the testimony of victims in ways that alienated them from their own experience and sometimes re-traumatized them, and that it often proved more useful to perpetrators than to victims. I also contend that the promise of healing in which the Commission wrapped its human rights message prioritized national over individual forms of healing, and allowed the South African government to substitute spiritual and symbolic forms of reparation for material ones. <![CDATA[<b>Sixty years after the universal declaration</b>: <b>Navigating the contradictions</b>]]> Taking his work experience in the UN and in the Inter-American System of Human Rights into account, Pinheiro highlights some of the main achievements and challenges in the development of International Human Rights Law in the last 60 years. <![CDATA[<b>Poverty and human rights</b>: <b>From rhetoric to legal obligations a critical account of conceptual frameworks</b>]]> There is still lack of conceptual clarity in the notion of poverty as a violation of human rights. This is a problem for human rights practitioners that take the indivisibility of human rights seriously, understand the centrality of poverty in the plight of many human rights victims and want to work professionally, through binding internationally recognized human rights obligations, in the fight against poverty. This paper tries to clarify the conceptual gap. It presents a critical summary of the most important attempts to conceptually clarify the connection between poverty and human rights from an international human rights law perspective. It analyzes different conceptual frameworks, their strengths and weaknesses. The paper identifies three different models for linking both concepts: (1) theories that conceive poverty as per se a violation of human rights; (2) theories that conceptualize poverty as a violation of one specific human right, namely the right to an adequate standard of living or to development; and (3) theories that conceive poverty as a cause or consequence of human rights violations. The paper concludes that the third approach is the most useful in the current state of development of international human rights law and jurisprudence, but that the second approach has a lot of potential to push the poverty and human rights agenda forward and it should be developed further. <![CDATA[<b>A new frontier in economic and social rights advocacy?</b> <b>Turning quantitative data into a tool for human rights accountability</b>]]> In spite of positive developments in the last 60 years, the worldwide promotion and protection of economic and social rights remains a daunting challenge. While millions of people are deprived of clean water, primary health care and basic education, most states do not recognize economic and social rights as more than abstract declarations of principles. Also, governments and international organizations usually tackle these questions exclusively as development challenges, ignoring their relation to human rights obligations. In this article, there is an initial attempt to set out a methodological framework to illustrate how some simple quantitative methods can be used in concrete situations to assess whether a state is violating its human rights obligations. Quantitative tools can help us, as human rights advocates, not only to persuasively show the scope and magnitude of various forms of rights denial, but also in revealing and challenging policy failures that contribute to the perpetuation of those deprivations and inequalities. <![CDATA[<b>From commission to council</b>: <b>Has the United Nations succeeded in creating a credible human rights body?</b>]]> In 2006 the United Nations underwent its greatest reform since its foundation in 1945, showing a renewed commitment to human rights protection. The replacement of the Commission on Human Rights with the Human Rights Council signifies the growing strength of the international human rights regime. However, this change has not been without criticism. In particular it has been alleged that the Council suffers from various political biases to the detriment of its effectiveness: for example, disproportionately focusing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories while failing to swiftly respond to abuses in Darfur. Further, the Council is arguably undermined by both its failure to implement effective mechanisms to prevent its own membership consisting to include acknowledged human rights violator and its continuing inability to harness US support. This paper analyses such criticisms. <![CDATA[<b>Interview with Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)</b>]]> In 2006 the United Nations underwent its greatest reform since its foundation in 1945, showing a renewed commitment to human rights protection. The replacement of the Commission on Human Rights with the Human Rights Council signifies the growing strength of the international human rights regime. However, this change has not been without criticism. In particular it has been alleged that the Council suffers from various political biases to the detriment of its effectiveness: for example, disproportionately focusing on the Occupied Palestinian Territories while failing to swiftly respond to abuses in Darfur. Further, the Council is arguably undermined by both its failure to implement effective mechanisms to prevent its own membership consisting to include acknowledged human rights violator and its continuing inability to harness US support. This paper analyses such criticisms. <![CDATA[<b>Very wicked children</b>: <b>"indian torture" and the madras torture commission report of 1855</b>]]> While it is often argued that police torture is institutionalised in India, the only authoritative government-backed study of the practice in the history of modern India is the Madras Torture Commission Report of 1855. In the context of the silence that surrounds present-day police violence in India, the rather curious phenomenon of an investigative Commission, instituted by a colonial state, over a hundred and fifty years ago, is particularly interesting. In this article, I attempt a textual analysis of this Report, and an investigation of its ideological and historical context I argue that the Report primarily served to discursively "manage" the issue of torture, by erasing the complicity of the colonial state in its practice, and that the reforms it suggested resulted in the institutionalisation of a specifically colonial model in the restructuring of the Indian police, a structure that substantially survives to this day. <![CDATA[<b>Rape characterised as genocide</b>]]> This article identifies and analyses some of the theoretical implications of rape being subsumed within the international crime of genocide and argues that such an analysis is essential for creating a clearer framework to address rape. Genocide is defined as a violation committed against particular groups. In contrast, rape is conceptualised as a violation of an individual's sexual autonomy. As such, can rape understood as a violation of an individual's sexual autonomy be compatible with rape being subsumed within the category of a group violation such as genocide? A key conclusion of this article is that if conceptual space can be created within the crime of genocide to include both the individual and the group, then rape (when categorised as genocide) can operate both as a violation against the group and as a violation against the individual. However, the space allotted to each of the individual and the group can never be equal; the group will always need to occupy the majority of the space, because the central motivation for viewing genocide as a crime is the survival of human groups. When rape is subsumed within genocide, which is conceived, placed and treated as a crime against enumerated groups, its dynamic changes. Rape is no longer simply a violation of an individual. Rape becomes part of a notion developed to protect the group. <![CDATA[<b>Notes on the implementation by Latin American countries of the ILO Convention 169 in indigenous peoples</b>]]> This article presents some cases that are emblematic of the application of the International Labour Organisation's Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, by courts of Latin America. It discusses: a limited number of cases that cover various topics and represent the distinct countries of the region; and the regional court of human rights - the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. These cases are highlighted either according to their subject, by the innovative insight they offer, or by the relevance of their consequences. Before outlining these cases, however, some clarifications are presented which might be useful in explaining the material set forth below and the context in which the material should be situated <![CDATA[<b>Intercountry adoption as a measure of last resort in Africa: advancing the rights of a child rather than a right to a child</b>]]> The increased popularity of intercountry adoption is not anything recent. What is recent, however, is the increased attention African children are attracting from prospective adoptive parents living in other parts of the world, as exemplified by the adoptions by Angelina Jolie and Madonna. Opinions are divided over the necessity and propriety of intercountry adoption, but considering the practice as a panacea for children without parents and parents without children is a prevalent view. On the other hand, some sending states have resisted placing Third World children deprived of their family environment in homes outside of their native countries - a purportedly "imperialistic" practice. The operative language that has emerged in recent times has been that intercountry adoption should be used as a measure of last resort, but one can hardly find any research on what it actually means (or should mean), and what its implications are for child welfare policy and law in Africa. This paper intends to contribute to filling this gap. <![CDATA[<b>Responding to "mixed" migration flows: a humanitarian perspective</b>]]> Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) worldwide work with refugees reveals a transition toward ever more mixed forms of migration of both political and economic backgrounds. This evolving nature of migration and displacement, in particular refugee flows, and the government response to it, represents a new dilemma to humanitarian assistance. In this article, MSF documents the concrete impact of these changes and our operational approach in response. We argue that these developments represent a fundamental challenge to humanitarian aid actors in terms of accessing and assisting people fleeing violence to seek refuge, assistance and protection in other countries. In contexts of violence and displacement, MSF has long advocated for a preservation of humanitarian space states' and other actors' recognition and respect for humanitarians' independent action to assess needs and assist the most vulnerable. The ever more restrictive legal and practical barriers facing refugees and migrants confront us to find ways both to reach them where they are, but also to find language and means to advocate toward states for greater responsibility to assist and protect refugees and to ensure humanitarian actors have space to access and assist them where gaps remain. <![CDATA[<b>The legitimate security interests of the State and international refugee protection</b>]]> After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, there has been a strong interest amongst States in matters relating to national security. While every State has a right to ensure security and control borders, it is also necessary to ensure that the legitimate security interests of States are consistent with their international human rights obligations and that immigration controls do not indiscriminately affect those refugees in need of international protection, so as not to undermine the international regime for protection of refugees. This article explores the links between the security of States and the international protection of refugees, focusing on the compatibility of both themes. Security is both a right of refugees and a legitimate interest of States. It is therefore important to understand that the security of States and the protection of refugees are complementary and mutually reinforcing. In this sense, legislation regarding refugees and fair and effective operational procedures for the determination of refugee status can be utilized by States as useful tools to solidify and strengthen their security. <![CDATA[<b>International Cooperation and Internal displacement in Colombia</b>: <b>facing the challenges of the largest humanitarian crisis in South America</b>]]> The objective of this article is to understand the interaction between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Colombian government in their attempts to mitigate forced internal displacement, as well as the main challenges faced in addressing this problem. This article focuses on the interpretation adopted by the forementioned actors, who link this displacement to the armed conflict the country that has endured for more than forty years. Although this issue has been discussed for decades, the formulation of national policies intended to mitigate its effects came late, in the mid-1990s. Similarly, the UNHCR began paying more attention only in the late 1990s. The article concludes that there is a significant disparity between the development of norms regarding the internally displaced and the execution of such norms. For example, there needs to be greater coordination between national and local organizations, and national and international organizations. With respect to the prevention of internal displacement and the evaluation of the impact of these policies, the challenge is even greater; as such efforts are in the beginning stages. The UNHCR has used the same criteria as the Colombian government in executing its tasks; these criteria should be rethought and redefined in light of the High Commissioner's experience. <![CDATA[<b>Access to antiretroviral treatment for migrant populations in the Global South</b>]]> While international human rights law establishes the right to health and non-discrimination, few countries have realized their obligations to provide HIV treatment to non-citizens-including refugees, long-term migrants with irregular status, and short-term migrants. Two countries, South Africa and Thailand, provide useful illustrations of how government policies and practices discriminate against non-citizens and deny them care. In South Africa, although individuals with irregular status are afforded a right to free health care including antiretroviral therapy (ART), non-South African citizens are frequently denied ART at public health care institutions. In Thailand, even among registered migrants, only pregnant women are entitled to ART. In order to meet international human rights law-which requires the provision of a core minimum of health services without discrimination-states in the Global South and worldwide must make essential ART drugs available and accessible to migrants on the same terms as citizens. <![CDATA[<b>European migration control in the African territory</b>: <b>the omission of the extraterritorial character of human rights obligations</b>]]> The legal instruments adopted by the European Union (EU) to ensure free movement within the territory of the Member States are closely linked to the control of the external borders. Over the past ten years, EU member states have created various mechanisms to prevent, control, and punish irregular immigration to the European community, whose migration model is characterized by an instrumental vision that cheapens the value of fundamental rights and reduces the low-skilled labor migration needed by the labor market. From there, EU states derive laws that recognize rights according to the person's nationality and immigration status. In this context, this paper will analyze, with a focus on human rights and from physical, symbolic, political, and legal points of view, what is supposedly a radical "advance" of this process of externalization: the operations created to impede migration of people in "canoes" or "boats" to Europe from the coasts of countries like Morocco, Algeria, Senegal or Mauritania.