Wednesday 29 April 2009

States must beware of self-styled experts who manipulate human rights

I have mentioned before the infamous Yokyakarta principles which, amongst other things, called on States to "ensure that all sexual and reproductive health, education, prevention, care and treatment programmes and services respect the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities, and are equally available to all without discrimination"; according to the World Health Organisation's definition "sexual and reproductive health" services includes the provision of abortion on demand.

In "A brief commentary on the Yogyakarta Principles", Jakob Cornides (pictured), a lawyer and writer on human rights, explains that the Yogyakarta Principles were adopted in 2007 by a self-styled ‘International Panel of Experts in International Human Rights Law and on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’.

An abstract summarising Mr Cornides' paper warns: "While the comments presented in [Mr Cornides'] paper mainly concern the substance of the Yogyakarta Principles, it should be noted that the way in which these Principles came into being provides even greater reason for concern: this is a deliberate attempt to manipulate our understanding of ‘Human Rights’ in order to promote the self-serving social agenda of a small cluster of vociferous and politically well-connected advocacy groups. States should beware of such manipulations, which, purporting to impose on them obligations and values to which they never have signed up, have the potential of undermining not only the credibility of the self-styled ‘experts’ who put their names under this document, but of ‘Human Rights’ and, ultimately, of international law as a whole."