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The Scale of Human and Earth Rights was introduced for the first time by members of the Earth Community Organization during the August 2000 World Congress on Managing and Measuring Sustainable Development. It was discussed further in the December 2000 Newsletter.

The  Earth Community Organization has developed a scale of human and Earth rights in order of importance with the ecological rights being the most important (they supersede all other rights; and so on down the scale). The scale is shown here. 

The Scale of Human and Earth Rights

*    Ecological rights, and the protection of the global life-support systems
*     Primordial human rights
*    The ecological rights, the protection of the global life-support systems, and primordial human rights of future generations
*    The right that the greatest number of people has by virtue of its number (50% plus one) and
after voting democratically representatives to Earth Government
*    Economic rights (business and consumer rights, and their responsibilities and accountabilities) and social rights (civil and political rights)
*    Cultural rights and religious rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights resides in the fact that it gives equal emphasis to cultural rights, economic and social rights, and civil and political rights.  The Earth Community Organization asks how meaningful is the right to life or to participation in political life if the ecological base (the base of life) is seriously threatened:

*    wilderness is vastly disappearing
*    climate change affects everyone and everything
*    the ozone layer is dangerously damaged by man-made chemicals
*    global warming causes major local and global problems
*    our drinking (fresh) water is becoming more polluted and the increase in population requires much more fresh unpolluted water
*    clean air no longer exists; air contains chemicals affecting life all over the planet
*    farmers do not generally engage on their own in investment in soil conservation and despite all other efforts the world is loosing its best soils
*    everyone wants to consume more products, and thus use more of our resources, and no one seems to know what to do with wastes
*    wars destroy not only human lives but also other lifeforms and the environment

The Earth Community Organization found evident that the ecological base is the essential prerequisite for the effectiveness and exercise of all rights recognized for human beings. The stewardship of the ecological base has to be given priority before the fulfilment of various economic and social wishes. Demands resulting from the socio-economic system of a particular country have to find their limits in the protection of the global ecosystem. Vital interests of future generations have to be considered as having priority before less vital interests of the present generation. Supply chains have to be designed in a way, that the goods can enter after usage or consumption into natural or industrial recycling processes. If serious damages to persons, animals, plants and the ecosystem cannot be excluded, an action or pattern of behaviour should be refrained from. A measure for supplying goods or services should choose a path which entails the least possible impact on the ecological and social system concerned. This way functioning proven systems will not be disturbed, and  unnecessary risks will not be taken. Supply strategies consuming less resources should have preference before those enhancing more resource consumption. The Earth Community Organization has also extended the idea of sustainability to be a moral and ethical state, as well as an economic and environmental state, wherein sustainable consumption patterns respect the universal values of peace, security, justice and equity within the human relationships that exist in Earth Community. When there is a need to find a solution to a problem or a concern,  a sound solution would be to choose a measure or conduct an action, if possible, which causes reversible damage as oppose to a measure or an action causing an irreversible loss. The existing and future uses of water are constantly challenged; balancing supply and demand is made even harder by the amounts of pollution found in the air, land and waters. A large part of our body is made of water, and we cannot live without water; therefore water is a primordial human right by our very nature. In order to avoid conflicts and wars over drinking (fresh)water, fresh water has been categorized as a primordial human rights. Industrial pollution plays a major role in the deterioration of nature but this time the level of pollution is above the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. Pollution also affects significantly human health and all lifeforms on Earth. Every person needs Oxygen to live so clean air is certainly also a primordial human right by our very nature.

Morally right actions or policies are those that result in the greatest number of people. The Earth Community Organization asks how meaningful is the right of the greatest number of people if they agree to the challenge or damage the ecological base of the Earth. The greatest number of people cannot and will not be allowed to supersede the rights of the ecological base of Earth.

The Earth Community Organization asks how meaningful is the right to life or to participation in political life if poverty, gender inequality, destitution and epidemics prevent individuals from enjoying freedom of movement, freedom to vote, to marry and so on? The Earth Community Organization found evident that economic and social rights are the essential prerequisite for the effectiveness and exercise of all other rights (other than ecological rights) recognized for human beings. This was the reason for organizing the World Congress: to find the best ways to sustain us all. The developing countries are having a harder time than others to achieve the exercise of these rights on a lasting basis, with the problems of economic globalization presenting new challenges. We must therefore beware of enforcing economic rights alone to the detriment of individual civil rights and the rights of all individuals to decide their own fate and the future of their country, their political rights. The universality of human rights recognizes the right of all individuals to participate in the cultural life of their community and of other country, to receive education and training, and to be informed. During the World Congress, you were asked  to list universal values that were the most important, very important, important, not so important, and values that should be let go in order to sustain all life on Earth. The Earth Community Organization is aware that traditional customs and standards could burden the sustainability of all life on Earth. They could burden Earth society or any society forever, and holds individuals in a straitjacket. We cannot accept that. No one can! There are choices to be made and you must make them. Cultures can develop and can go on developing. Even religious beliefs may evolve (read the article 'Religious beliefs, Peace in the world and Earth management'). We are living now and we are able to create these changes. We are at least as bright, most certainly brighter, than the people who were living thousand of years ago.  As far as the Earth Community Organization is concerned, cultural and religious differences cannot be a reason or an excuse or a pretext for not respecting human rights including and most importantly the ecological rights. Quite the contrary, all kinds of cultures may promote human rights and especially cultural rights. They are different in their achievements, but they are equal in dignity where they are expressions of  freedom. At any time or in any given place, men, women and children use their culture to invent new ways of making human rights a living reality. Diversity enriches us if it respects the dignity of each individual, and if it takes account of  human rights as a whole.

The Earth Community Organization is concerned with the sustainability of current levels and patterns of consumption and with the economic, political, personal, environmental, availability of resources, societal and spiritual impact of excessive, run-away consumption. The goal of the World Congress was to find a balanced, sustainable global consumption. About 20% of Earth’s people account for 80% of the world's total consumption. Globalization of the world economic system is proceeding at a very rapid pace, and is generally promoted as being welfare-improving.

Globalization is a process interaction which involves growing economic interdependence of countries worldwide with implications and impacts on social, cultural, political, environmental and familial aspects and rights. With the globalization of the economy comes now the task for defining the obligations that go with the rights. This phenomenon is also present in the arena of international finance. In this area, however, the presumed virtues of globalization are far from being materialised. Until now, no orderly or stable financial system has been implemented. Furthermore, the current financial system does not succeed in channelling sufficient funds to finance crucial world problems such as adequate social development in poor countries. We have assigned ourselves the task of defining a set of rules to balance consumption, consumer rights and responsibilities :

*    Socially responsible and sustainable to future generations
*    In line with the universal values defined above
*    In line with human rights and responsibilities defined above

Consumers' rights impinge on the rights of other humans living in  Earth Community. The right to choice is the consumer right that refers to the right to have a range and variety of goods and services at competitive, fair prices and variable, satisfactory quality. In order to assure choice in the developed country markets, governments have implemented trade laws to facilitate cross border transactions and transnational corporations (TNCs) have set up business off shore so they can lessen the cost of the production process. The goods that are available in the developed country markets are provided by slave labour, child labour, sweatshops or in countries that allow the TNCs to forego adhering to pollution or ecological concerns and human rights in pursuit of profit. Labour rights are abused in efforts to earn more profits. This leads to abhorrent working conditions, job insecurity and low living standards (all human rights). Consumers in developed countries have been socialized to want more and more things to consume but have not been socialized to appreciate the impact of their consumption choices on the human rights of other people; that is, they are not being responsible for their decisions.

The Earth Community Organization found a way of dealing with globalization: global ethics. In the past, corporations rule without checks and balances. For now on global ethics will be a basic minimum to do business, and there will be checks and balances. Our judgement will be based on global ethics. Global ethics must always be grounded in realities. But realities are changing constantly and are different in different places. We live in a world that makes progress toward democracy. Ethics and morality exist only when human beings can act freely. In our free society, rights are tied to responsibilities. Corporations are committed to improvement in business performance and want to be seen as 'good corporate citizens' on a local and a global scale. Corporations have social responsibilities as they are an integral part of society. Global ethics recalls that those realities, on which others build upon, have to be protected first. The Earth Community Organization found that universal values and human rights as described above were the foundation of global ethics.

The Earth Community Organization has now at hand the method and framework to conduct societal checks and balances of a global sustainable development. A more balance world economy will result of annual checks and balances. Corporations will take their social responsibilities and become involved in designing, monitoring, and implementing these checks and balances. Several corporations have already done so.  Results will be taken into account in the evaluation of sustainable development. Corporations are required to expand their responsibilities to include human rights, the environment, community and family aspects, safe working conditions, fair wages and sustainable consumption aspects.

Global consumption is a very important aspect of globalization. Consumers should be concerned with the impact of their decisions on the environment but also on the lives, human rights and well-being of other people. Since one of the key functions of families as a social institution is to engage in production (selling their labour in return for wages) and consumption (using those wages to buy goods and services), then the role of families has impacts on sustainable consumption and development.

Just as corporations have  social responsibilities and so do consumers in societies. Consumers are socialized to improve the quality of their lives. Quality of life is a multi-dimensional, complex and very subjective concept. For instance, someone who has changed their consumption habits to better ensure that their choices will make a better quality of life for themselves, the environment and future generations, may be seen by others as having a lower or inferior quality of life since they have removed themselves from the materialistic mainstream characteristic of our consumer society. Someone may feel that an absence of violence and abuse in their life leads to a higher quality of living even though they have fewer tangible resources, money, or shelter; peace of mind and freedom from abuse has increased the quality of their daily life relative to what it was like before. There are universal quality of life values which lead to "human betterment" or the improvement of the human condition. In addition to the value of species survival (human and other living organisms), they include: adequate resources, justice and equality, freedom, and peace or balance of power. A better quality of life for all people of  Earth Community is a goal for all of us and one of our universal values.

The Earth Community Organization found that an adequate level of health care is a universal value as well as a human right. We expect adequate health services to be accessible, affordable, compassionate and socially acceptable. We believe that every individual of a society is co-responsible for helping in implementing and managing health programmes along with the government and the public institutions.



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