In an exciting development in the area of global crime victim rights, the World Society of Victimology has recently announced that the Society has "decided to support the move to elevate the UN Declaration of 1985 to a more timely and detailed convention."
While these very dry words don't sound the least exciting in themselves, they are actually the firing of a starting gun, signaling the beginning of a lobbing effort to have the United Nations create an official international treaty -- known in UN diplo-speak as a "Convention" -- on Justice and Support for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the World Society helped formulate the Declaration on Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, which the United Nations voted to accept in 1985, followed shortly by supporting documents written by WSV members: A Guide for Policy Makers and the Handbook on Justice for Victims. Since then, a large number of countries and international organizations have used the Declaration and accompanying documents as the measuring sticks for creating and administering victim rights laws and policies within their own borders, including:
- Council of Europe
- New Zealand
- and many others
A Convention, as a full treaty, would hold the power of law, requiring UN member nations to provide victims of crime and the abuse of power the rights and privileges set out in the Convention. Obviously, there may be stiff opposition to passage of such a Convention from UN member states, whether due to cost concerns, or because certain countries don't want to give such rights to their citizens.
Along with the WSV's announcement of their support to move the Declaration to full Convention status, they announced the Society will be fielding a team of experts to attend the Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (Salvador, Brazil, 12-19 April 2010) http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crime-congress/crime-congresses.html to represent the Society and to advocate to UN members for the passage of the Convention.
This team will be comprised of internationally respected experts in the fields of victim rights, criminal, justice, and academic victimology. They include (but aren't limited to):
- WSV President Prof. Dr. Groenhuijsen (Director, INTERVICT, Netherlands)
- Vice Presidents, Annette Pearson de Gonzalez (Brazil) and Michael O'Connell (Commissioner for Victim Rights, South Australia)
- Prof. Dr. John Dussich, Chair of the UN Liaison Committee (Director, TIVI, Japan)
- Prof. Dr. Sam Garkawe (Associtate Professor, Australia)
- Professor Hidemichi Morosawa (Chairman, TIVI, Japan), and others
Dussich, John J.P. and Mundy, K.G. (eds.): Raising the Global Standards for Victims: The Proposed Convention on Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. Proceedings of the 4th Symposium of the Tokiwa International Institute February 15 and 16, 2008. Tokiwa International Victimology Institute. Tokyo (Seibundo) 2009 ISBN 978 - 4 - 7923 - 9191 - 1Unfortunately, this document is presently only available for purchase; the WSV is working to make it publicly available, and I hope to be able to let our readers know when this happens.
The United Nations normally records all proceedings and press conferences, and makes these video recordings available to the public for free. Once the Brazil conference is over, I'll post the links for any relevant text or audio-visual files the UN provides.
If you'd like to help support this measure, you can do so by asking the victim rights organization of your choice to provide support the WSV in lobbying the UN, or by joining the WSV or any of the affiliated organizations with which they work.