Author(s): Judy McGregor, Sylvia Bell, Margaret Wilson
New Zealand has long taken pride in its human rights record - and with good reason. It's not only that we were the first country in the world to give women the vote and played a prominent part in the establishment of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - more recently New Zealand has declared itself nuclear-free and taken a leading role in the creation of the world's newest human rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
But just how good are things in practice? Are our governments living up to the promises they make when they ratify human rights treaties? Do all New Zealanders get to fully enjoy the rights they're entitled to? Much as we may not like to admit it, the answer inmany cases is no.We have some choices ahead of us. Human rights are exactly that: rights to which each member of the human race is entitled. They are about fundamental freedoms, dignity, self-worth, security and equality. They have been aspired to, fought for, negotiated and enshrined in international treaties that New Zealand claims to honour. If we want to continue as a global leader in the fulfilment of human rights, however, we must implement changes to policy and legislation, and to the public context in which rights are addressed.
This book brings together an analysis of all seven major treaties on human rights to which New Zealand has signed up. It's a comprehensive survey, based on four years of research and interviews. Most importantly, it lays out a series of recommendations for practical action to ensure that the emerging faultlines in New Zealand's human rights implementation do not - to the detriment of us all - become fractures.
Judy McGregor, CNZM, was Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission 2002–2012. A trained lawyer and a former newspaper editor, she is currently a Professor in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at the Auckland University of Technology.
Sylvia Bell is a human rights lawyer, and former Principal Policy and Legal Adviser at the Human Rights Commission. She has been a leading contributor to legal publications on human rights, particularly in the Brookers series on family law and mental health.
Margaret Wilson is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Waikato. Professor Wilson taught at Auckland Law School from 1972-1990 and was the founding Dean of Waikato Law School from 1990 to 1994 and remained on the teaching staff until 1999. From 1985 to 1989 she was Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, from 1988 to 1989 as New Zealand Law Commissioner and in 1988 was Convenor of a Government Working Party on Equal Pay and Equal Opportunities. Margaret was also President NZ Labour Party from 1984 – 1987. From 1999 to 2005 she was Minister of the Crown with positions including Attorney-General, Minister of Labour, Minister Responsible for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Minister of Commerce, Minister for Courts and Associate Minister of Justice. In 1999 she was elected a List Member of Parliament and 2005 to 2008 she was Speaker of Parliament. Margaret was appointed to be Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2009.