Human rights­ a world report


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The production of this issue was full of surprises. First,
I found myself working in cahoots with a bank. A strange choice for a world report on human rights and an NI editor's nightmare, you might think: normally we would be sharpening our pens against the activities of the Majority World's rapacious creditors.

In fact, the bank we were working with prides itself on its ethical stance and is running its own campaign on human rights. It turned out that Jo and Jim from Britain's Co-operative Bank had very much the same ideas as we did on poverty, human rights and social justice. They offered to get their creative agency to design the wallchart on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that you will find inside. It was an unusual collaboration for us but one that we all felt worked really well.

Then there were the consequences of the NI turning 25 this year. The old photos that people dug out of their attics caused much hilarity in the office, as some of the original founders are still around or remain well known to us. 'Hasn't he/she changed?' 'Look at their hairstyles/clothes!' Ian, our designer, decided to make the pages written by ex-editor Peter Stalker (Confessions of a shameless editor, page 2) look like they came from the 1970s ­ see what you think!

There was one final surprise in store. I thought I had covered most of the NI's key areas, but at the last minute I had a phonecall from Felicity Arbuthnot, a freelancer who has written for us a number of times. 'You must run something on Iraq,' she insisted. 'Around 200 children are dying there every day; not because of drought or famine but because we ­ the West ­ have imposed sanctions. I'll write something for you over the weekend.' Unusually, her passion and her eloquence ­ combined with a bit of research elsewhere ­ convinced me. When her article came in I spent the evening in tears.

The subject of human rights may be the stuff of nightmares rather than dreams; it may provoke tears rather than laughter. But I believe there is room for both. It is a combination that at its best moves us all nearer to a world where justice is finally done.

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Nikki van der Gaag

for the New Internationalist Co-operative



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New Internationalist issue 298 magazine cover This article is from the January 1998 issue of New Internationalist.
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