U.S. Citizens Are Plugged Into the Matrix of Human Rights Governance
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
"The harsh fact of the matter is when you're going to pass legislation that will cover 300 [million] American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."
- Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) (the longest serving member of the United States House of Representatives in a live radio interview on the morning of March 22, 2010, the day after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act) (emphasis added).
As much as U.S. President Barack Obama and Democrats in the U.S. Congress attempt to dress-up their passage of national health care legislation as another groundbreaking moment in civil rights history, in reality, the legislation will further enslave millions of Americans in a matrix of human rights governance networks. As their elected officials plug them into this matrix, compliant citizens will forfeit their freedom in exchange for a financially unsustainable and ultimately unrealizable human security utopia of government-run health care, education, housing, business, and retirement systems.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the "ICESCR"), an international human rights treaty, is the inspiration for most of the "social transformations" designed and promoted in the U.S. by a small group of academics, social scientists, politicians, activists, and reporters. The economic, social, and cultural rights contained in the ICESCR include, but are not limited to, the right to work; the right to the enjoyment of just and favorable conditions of work; the right to social security; the right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing; the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; the right to education; and the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.
Although, in 1977, U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed the ICESCR, the United States Senate has not ratified it, making the U.S. one of the few nations not a party to the ICESCR. Of course, as long as a U.S. President and Congress agree on legislation that guarantees (at taxpayer expense) the economic and social rights contained in the ICESCR, the lack of official ratification is a moot point.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the "Committee") monitors compliance by States parties with their obligations under the ICESCR. Drawing on the legal and practical expertise of its 18 independent expert members, the Committee also seeks to assist governments in fulfilling their obligations under the ICESCR by issuing specific legislative, policy and other suggestions and recommendations.
The Committee decided in 1988 to begin preparing General Comments on the rights and provisions contained in the ICESCR with a view to assisting States parties in fulfilling their treaty reporting obligations and to provide greater interpretative clarity as to the intent, meaning and content of the ICESCR. In the opinion of the Geneva, Switzerland-based UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (the "UNOHCHR"), general comments are a crucial means of generating jurisprudence, providing a method by which members of the Committee may come to an agreement by consensus regarding the interpretation of norms embodied in the ICESCR.
UN global governance of the economic and social rights contained in the ICESCR occurs within a matrix of human rights governance networks (the "Matrix"). The UNOHCHR is the architect of the Matrix. In its role as the architect of the Matrix, the UNOHCHR encourages and facilitates the work of the agents who manage the human rights networks comprising the Matrix (the "Agents"). Within the Matrix, the Agents cooperate to promote and protect a human rights code designed to globally govern economic and social affairs (the "Code"). The Agents also monitor the conduct of transnational corporations ("TNCs") and States to determine whether their economic and social activities are in line with the Code. If they are not, the Agents attempt to eliminate the offending conduct through peer pressure (i.e., naming and shaming), public pressure (i.e., boycotts), or administrative and legal proceedings. Those TNCs and States who are willing to trade a certain degree of their freedom or sovereignty in exchange for the ambiguous protection offered to them by the Matrix energize the UN human rights system through their financial contributions and compliance.
As formulated by the author of this article, the ten human rights governance networks comprising the Matrix include:
1. Advocacy networks: The networks of international human rights activists that articulate and advocate for human rights, including so-called "emerging" economic and social human rights.
2. Research networks: The networks of social scientists and academics that conduct research on how the lack of human rights protection negatively impacts individuals and society.
3. Policy networks: The networks of government officials and other policy makers that discuss and formulate human rights policies.
4. Standards-setting networks: The networks of multilateral international organizations that meet to adopt treaties or declarations containing or expressing human rights norms or standards.
5. Interpretive networks: The networks of human rights treaty body committees and UN-sanctioned expert committees that interpret the norms and standards contained in human rights treaties and declarations.
6. Explanatory networks: The networks of UN agency field staff that explain the human rights interpretations to members of civil society at the local, national, and regional levels.
7. Implementation networks: The networks of national legislatures that, upon the recommendation of the human rights experts, adopt laws promoting and protecting human rights.
8. Assessment networks: The networks of non-governmental organizations that encourage the use of human rights impact assessments by legislatures and businesses to measure the potential human rights impact of proposed legislation or products.
9. Enforcement networks: The networks of local, national, and regional courts that decide cases involving human rights.
10. Funding networks: The networks of governments, TNCs, and private foundations that fund the promotion and protection of human rights by supporting one or more of the other human rights governance networks.
The ten human rights governance networks comprising the Matrix work in successive stages. The advocacy networks generate the idea for an emerging economic or social human right; the research networks conduct the research necessary to support the right; the policy networks design the policy that embodies the right; the standards-setting networks publicly adopt or declare the right as a norm or standard; the interpretive networks determine the nature and scope of the right; the explanatory networks explain the right to the affected parties and their supporters in civil society; the implementation networks adopt the legislation that promotes or protects the right; the assessment networks encourage government and business respect for the right; the enforcement networks penalize those who violate the right; and the funding networks help sustain one or more of the human rights governance networks comprising the Matrix.
Thus far, in the United States, in spite of substantial government expenditures, the leaders of the human rights governance networks comprising the Matrix have failed to realize the economic and social rights contained in the ICESCR. In many cases, government-funded education, health care, housing, and social security programs have been inefficient, ineffective, or financially unsustainable. In fact, the leaders of the special interest groups comprising the Matrix have contributed to this failure, including social scientists, academics, politicians, urban planners, union leaders, community organizers, and foundation boards and experts. In this regard, the following observation made by the renowned economist Friedrich Hayek in Volume 1 of his 1973 book Law, Legislation, and Liberty is most instructive:
Signs are not wanting, however, that unlimited democracy is riding for a fall and that it will go down, not with a bang, but with a whimper. It is already becoming clear that many of the expectations that have been raised can be met only by taking the powers of decision out of the hands of democratic assemblies and entrusting them to the established coalitions of organized interests and their hired experts. Indeed, we are already told that the function of representative bodies has become to ‘mobilize consent', that is, not to express but to manipulate the opinion of those whom they represent. Sooner or later the people will discover that not only are they at the mercy of new vested interests, but that the political machinery of para-government, which has grown up as a necessary consequence of the provision-state, is producing an impasse by preventing society from making those adaptations which in a changing world are required to maintain an existing standard of living, let alone to achieve a rising one.
For those Americans who choose, while they are still able, to remain unplugged from the Matrix and fight to maintain their freedom and dignity in the face of an ever-growing governmental and social Leviathan, the "real" world will remain a difficult and imperfect, but authentically human, one.
Jim Kelly is the President of Solidarity Center for Law and Justice, P.C., a public interest civil and human rights law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. The opinions expressed herein are his own.