A former UCSB student and professor spoke to a crowd of roughly 40 people yesterday in the MultiCultural Center about his organization – the International Convention on Human Rights (ICHR) – its new International Bill of Rights, and how both might help change the world.
International Convention on Human Rights Executive Director Kirk Boyd said the group will release the eighth version of its bill of rights later this week. Boyd, a UCSB alumnus and former global studies professor, also spoke about the current state of human rights in the world and the role of the United States in preserving those rights.
Boyd said the group will continually work on the bill of rights until it compiles a version that could be enforced in all the world’s courts. He said previous human rights documents lacked such enforceability.
“I am no more qualified than you to think about these issues,” he said to audience members. “We want people to think for themselves to tell those who govern what to do … [Right now] international human rights documents are worthless in all levels of U.S. courts.”
The ICHR has released seven different versions of the bill of rights, three of which have been created in the past four years, Boyd said. He said he started the project as part of his dissertation in law school and continued to work on it with fellow UCSB professors and with the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research before making the ICHR a non-profit organization.
The new version of the bill of rights includes copies of two predecessors to ICHR’s document – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights – to show the progression of the ideas.
Boyd said Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in getting the United Nations to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, based on her husband’s concept of the four basic freedoms: The freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. That declaration, while good in principle, was impossible to enforce, Boyd said, which led to the creation of the European Court of Human Rights.
The European Court took Roosevelt’s principles and made them enforceable in 45 countries’ judicial systems, from Russia to Latvia to France, Boyd said. The ICHR continues where the other two documents left off.
“The International Convention completes the process, expanding these rights to all courts, all countries,” Boyd said. “This business plan and these three documents are an evolutionary process.”
Boyd critiqued Roosevelt’s four freedoms and said the world has made progress with freedom of speech and religion, but not yet with the other two.
“Freedom from want has never really been addressed, and once you get the first three, you’ll have freedom from fear,” Boyd said. “[The International Bill of Rights] is a document to ensure all four freedoms.”
Boyd also said that Roosevelt’s “freedom from want” is an umbrella term that includes education, as well as health care. Boyd noted the importance of this right, as the concept of the ICHR and International Bill of Rights were created at UCSB.
“It is fitting that a document creating the right to education originates from a public educational institution that has given that right to so many and has made that right a reality,” he said.
Students, as well as anyone else interested, are encouraged to respond and contribute to the writing of further drafts of the International Bill of Rights, Boyd said. To participate, he said, individuals can post a suggestion on the group’s online forum at www.ibor.org, or become involved with the organization itself, such as with the UCSB chapter of ICHR. The final draft of the document will probably be completed by 2013, Boyd said.
“At the overlap of education and drafting is where it really gets exciting,” Boyd said. “Students contribute their thinking into the particular language of the document, raising the level of students up to the level of the professors.”