For Immediate Release
Wednesday 8th August 2018
ECONOMIC RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS: IT’S TIME TO LEGISLATE
If New Zealand wants to close the inequality gap, it needs to follow the advice of the United Nations and enshrine economic rights in the Bill of Rights Act, the income equality group Closing the Gap said today.
The group’s spokesperson, Peter Malcolm, said the continuing piecemeal approach to tackling inequality isn’t working, and enshrining economic rights in the law would help drive a more systematic approach to the problem.
“In its report on how well New Zealand is meeting its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN committee said all rights, including economic and social, should have equal status, but under New Zealand’s current law, they don’t,” Mr. Malcolm said.
The Bill of Rights Act (BORA) doesn’t protect these rights, and even if it did, BORA itself “lacks supremacy over other statutes and legislation”.
Mr. Malcolm said this raises the question of just how seriously successive governments, including the government now in office, take economic justice and rights.
The UN report details numerous problems that need attention, including underemployment, unemployment, housing, homelessness and health services.
“There’s a crisis in many of these areas, particularly housing, homelessness and health, access to all of which are clearly basic human rights,” Mr. Malcolm said. “It’s time our government and our laws treat these necessities of life as basic human rights and protect them as such.”
NZ-UN documents: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1197&Lang=en