Despite the headlines of human rights violations in such countries as Syria, North Korea, Egypt, Thailand and Burma, there was some progress over the past year according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch. Two new multinational treaties give hope for some of the world's most marginalized people: domestic workers and artisanal miners poisoned by the unregularized use of mercury. And, after a slow and disappointing start, the United Nations Human Rights Council is starting to be effective.

Human rights measures are a good indicator of progress towards a culture of peace in all its aspects. For example, it is not by accident that the domestic workers treaty is being signed and put in force by the countries of Latin America rather than the "great powers" which reflects their leadership for a culture of peace.

In the case of women's rights, there is good news in the recent ground-breaking European treaty on violence against women. According to Human Rights Watch, “This is a defining moment for women in Europe for whom the home is a place of danger. This treaty will oblige governments to take concrete steps to help women and girls facing violent attacks.”

With regard to the rights of indigenous peoples, Survival International reports that there were significant gains in the past year in Colombia, Brazil, Botswana and India. The rights of native Americans took a step forward with the appointment of the first ever Native American judge in the United States. Meanwhile in Canada a Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been established to bring healing to the suppression of the native peoples in that country. In fact, the rights of indigenous peoples also involves the right to a sustainable environment, as emphasized by Canadian participants at the recent UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

And with regard to the free flow of information, the adoption by Brazil of the "Marco Civil" - an Internet bill of rights - is an important counter to the attacks on free access to the Internet in many countries, including the United States among others.


Human Rights Watch annual report

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Unfortunately, most coverage of human rights issues by the mass media are negative, consisting of accusations of human rights violations, often pointed at the "enemy" as a kind of propaganda weapon. This makes human rights coverage more difficult for CPNN, since we insist that our stories concern positive developments. After all, there are plenty of other websites that provide negative news!

But even the question of human rights violations often can have both positive and negative sides. For example, at the same time as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others denounced the Venezuelan government for violating the rights of political protesters, the Venezuelan government announced that it was complying with a demand of the the Foreign Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) to establish a National Council for Human Rights. And in the neighboring country of Colombia, long known for its human rights abuses, the government recently launched the Ibero-American Institute of Human Rights Education, sponsored by the Organization of American States.

Often, the violations of human rights are associated with civil wars or threats of civil wars and sometimes as a result of interventions to support what the American's call 'regime change." In these cases, the accusations can be very hypocritical when the intervening countries accuse the target countries of human rights violations that are caused directly by the country's counter measures, but indirectly by the interventions of the foreign powers. Recent examples include Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and Libya.

Finally, here is a case where the negative news can be turned into positive action. A number of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have called for Palestine to refer the Israeli interventions to the International Criminal Court.


The Nonviolence Handbook: A book review


Indigenous women at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous rights


Colombia ratifies the Domestic Workers Convention


Calling women: Why women and technology are a perfect pairing

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on peace education

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on sustainable development

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on human rights

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on women's equality


Rwanda: 3rd African Alliance for Peace Summit


First Native American Woman Becomes Federal Judge


Brazil: Internet "bill of rights" to take effect in June


The Elders applaud Palestinian unity agreement

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on democratic participation

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on tolerance and solidarity

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on free flow of information

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on disarmament

Please send us articles about the work of your organization and other culture of peace news. (see We look forward to hearing from you.

Peace, through struggle,

The CPNN Team