Skip to main content

human rights for vulnerable people

ICJW NGO representatives attended at DPI-NGO Briefing at the NY UN headquarters on Thursday, April 19, 2012 about Human Behavior and Well-Being in relation to Human Rights for Vulnerable People.

Reported by:  Fran Butensky, Joan Lurie Goldberg, Judy Mintz

The United Nations has been an advocate and champion for the world’s most vulnerable populations including persons with disabilities, indigenous people, migrant workers, women and children in difficult circumstances and individuals struggling with substance abuse. Root causes may be economic, environmental, gender based, health related, and impacted by racial and/or ethnic origins.  Many treaties have been negotiated through the UN to protect these groups. Mechanisms have been established to monitor compliance and accountability for violations. Achievement of the MDG’s is dependent on meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and keeping the promises to halve extreme poverty, halt the spread of disease, promote access to education and improve health care by 2015.

Panel Speakers:

Nilla Bernhardt, an Associate Social Affairs Officer in the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was present but her statement was read by the moderator.

She asserts that 5% of the world’s population is indigenous representing 15% of the world’s poor.  Focusing on their needs will lead to a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future for us all.

Stuart C. Carr:  Professor of Psychology at the Industrial and Organization Psychology Programme at MasseyUniversity in New Zealand.  His work focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to reducing poverty.

  • In order to reduce poverty, partnerships with NGOs and research must be formed and barriers removed.  Poverty is a multi-dimensional issue.
  • His is a three pronged approach to reducing poverty:

    Dual Salaries:  the amount of a salary (in some cases) is based on where you are employed.  Salaries for the same job are not always equal.  This is called “salary apartheid”.  The need for salary reform is apparent.

Overhead Disclosure:  When donations are made to charities supporters often ask about overhead expenses which should be transparent to enhance accountability.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Communities and NGOs should be connected.


Yvonne Rafferty: Professor of Psychology at Pace University, NY.  Her fields of expertise include child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, homelessness, AIDS and adolescents, children with disabilities, and early childhood education.

  • To prevent trafficking: states must combat demand, criminalize trafficking with increased prosecution, create awareness including interventions with men and boys, and law enforcement must include education and training
  • Victims must be identified and need help with empowerment and intervention strategies.
  • Parents must be educated to prevent successful recruitment of their children.
  • Teachers and communities must work together to create awareness.
  • Child trafficking of both girls and boys is an international shame occurring world wide.  It is the worst human rights violation.  Girls are often given false promises of well paying jobs and end up being sexually exploited. Children are manipulated physically and mentally in the modern version of slavery.

Steve Coupeau:  Visiting Professor at DeVryUniversity and NYCCollege of Technology.  His areas of expertise are human rights in Haiti and human trafficking as it is linked to migration and human rights.

  • There are push and pull factors which impact poverty.
  • Natural disasters and poverty impact the rate of trafficking.  The issue of demand must also be addressed in order to reduce this human rights violation.
  • Many different partnerships must unite and collaborate to end trafficking.
  • Traffickers portray a picture of wealth in order to attract victims.