On the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Wednesday 10 December 2008, Green, peace and development groups are unveiling an ambitious new proposal to highlight governments that abuse human rights - a Global Human Rights Index.
The index concept is supported by the United Nations Association (UK) and eight other NGOs. It has been backed by the Green parties in Europe.
"Our proposal makes the case for the UN to publish an annual Global Human Rights Index (GloHRI), detailing the human rights performance of each and every government on the planet, displayed in a league table form," says lead author, Dr Richard Lawson, who is the founder of the campaign for the Global Human Rights Index.
"This will enable the relative human rights standing and trends of each country to be seen at a glance. It would add pressure on the worst ranked countries to improve their human rights record and provide impetus for action against the most serious offenders by the International Criminal Court and other human rights bodies," he said.
Fellow contributor to the index, Peter Tatchell, added: "Using a points system, the GloHRI index would measure every country, based on its compliance with a check-list of 52 human rights norms, such as whether or not it has the death penalty, torture, detention without trial, freedom of the media, the right to protest, equal rights for women and minorities and so on."
He continued: "This simple, accessible index would enable objective comparisons between the human rights records of different countries, and permit the identification of whether each individual country's human rights record was, year-on-year, improving or deteriorating."
"Published annually by the UN, the index would document where each state upholds or violates human rights; providing an incentive for all nations to improve their human rights record and ranking," he commented.
Dr Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party in England Wales, added: "I hope that I will live to see the United Nations adopt the Global Human Rights Index, which is an important step towards the long term goal of a global civilisation where human rights are universally respected, and state sponsored torture and killing is consigned to the dustbin of history where they belong".
Dr Lawson concluded: "The majority of human civilisations gave up making sacrifices to the gods in the Iron Age. Tragically, in 2008 we are still torturing and killing our fellow human beings on the sacrificial altar of 'state security'. One day this barbaric practice will pass into history. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was an important step in that direction. We hope that the Global Human Rights Index will prove to be another such step."
The concept of a Global Human Rights Index is supported by the following organisations:
United Nations Association - UK
Global Action Plan to Prevent War
World Disarmament Campaign
Arms Reduction Coalition
Movement for the Abolition of War
World Congress of Global Green Parties
European Green Party
Green Party of England and Wales