Here, on the first Anniversary of the founding of Normative Narratives, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify the NN Mission as it has taken shape:
Normative Narratives is about analyzing current events through a human rights lens:
- By framing a wide variety of issues–domestic (U.S.), Intra-national (outside the U.S. but occurring within a single nation), and international—through a human rights lens, I hope to emphasize the common humanity which binds the 7+ billion people on this planet together;
- With the belief that the vast majority of the global community believes in human rights, but due to collective action problems / prioritization, this silent majority remains silent to the benefit of various vested interests (who these vested interest are depends on the individual issue at hand);
- That a minimum level of investment is needed in order for people to live meaningful, dignified lives, in order to reach their full potential as global citizens (economically, emotionally, socially, etc.), and that those who are not born into wealth still deserve these minimum investments via public goods and services (equality of opportunity, meritocracy and social mobility);
- In order to promote equality of opportunity, the life-cycle approach to development, specifically policies targeted at human development at younger ages, must be embraced.
- Failure to provide this bare minimum, which underpins poverty in both the developing and developed world, has both immediate negative outcomes (crime, war, racism, stereotyping, class warfare, xenophobia, lost economic output, etc.), as well as negative inter-generational consequences (so called “inter-generational poverty-traps”);
- While governments are the primary human rights duty-bearers, they are not the only duty-bearers. Private sector actors, NGOs, and international organizations must all be held accountable for their human rights obligations.
- Through education, including human rights education, we can create a more tolerant, understanding, egalitarian and cohesive global community;
- By empowering people through education, information-sharing (transparency in government budgetary and decision making processes, as well as independent media outlets and social media), and political / civil rights, we can create an enabling environment where the everybody can claim their rights and hold duty-bearers accountable.
Human Rights in the “Age of Globalization”
- In the age of globalization, nobody is immune to the negative consequences of human rights violations, no matter how remote they may initially seem;
- All duty-bearers, in addition to domestic human rights obligations, have explicit extra-territorial human rights obligations;
- Past transgressions by the “developed world”, while largely remedied today, have created legacies which continue to have real socioeconomic impacts. Reparations (in the form of debt-forgiveness and development aid), as well as official admissions of past-wrongdoings, are essential to move forward as a global community. “Face-saving” tactics are often counter-productive in global governance and further entrench adversarial relationships;
- Taking into consideration past transgressions, as well as current economic context, issues related to the global commons (climate change, global security, policy coherence, economic development, human rights obligations, etc.) should be financed through a framework of “common but differentiated responsibilities”;
- In recognition of the important roles international development organizations play in 1) conducting research on development trends, 2) fundraising for development initiatives, and 3) providing a forum for communication between all nations;
- In full support of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda, the successor of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with an inclusive and consultative priority setting process and Sustainable Human Development at its core.
Sustainable Human Development
- In acceptance of Edward Azar’s Protracted Social Conflict (PSC) Theory, which places human rights violations at the center of the majority of modern armed conflicts;
- In recognition that terrorism persists and spreads in areas where governments fail to uphold human rights / provide basic public services necessary to live a dignified life;
- In recognition of the fact that no development goal has ever been sustained (and are almost always reversed) in areas affected by armed conflict;
- With the belief that, in all instances and whenever possible, preventative peacebuilding is the most cost effective and socially just means of addressing grievances;
- Therefore, development is only truly sustainable if it is;
a) achieved with respect for future generations (environmentally sustainable, breaking inter-generational poverty traps)
b) with respect for the rights of the world’s most vulnerable / marginalized people (human rights based approach to development).
Normative Narratives: Overcoming Collective-Action Problems for Sustainable Human Development
For more human rights accountability and enforceability, please consult “Who Will Be Accountable: Human Rights and the Post-2015 Development Agenda” (summary here)