In the Greatest Australian Movie of All Time (which I also referenced yesterday), the Kerrigan’s take their case to the highest court in the land. Inspired by those battling, fictional Aussies in The Castle, Labour has done the same. We think that what the National Government has done by removing our right to vote in regional council elections is wrong, but as it has been introduced via legislation, there is no court we can take it to in this country. So we’re taking it to the UN instead.

Two important UN treaties, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, confirm that it is a human right that citizens have a say on the running of their country and take part in the conduct of public affairs.

I’ve been working with Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson and Justice spokesperson Andrew Little to write a letter to the relevant committee at the United Nations. Here is the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, of which New Zealand is a signatory. In the past, we have taken pride in our democracy, and our fight to preserve democracy around the world. But when our government has removed the rights of it’s own citizens, then we don’t have a leg to stand on when we try lecture other nations, like Fiji, about the need for democracy.

When your own government trashes the democratic rights of its people, there aren’t many places to go to seek redress, but the Human Rights committee of the UN is a place we can go to get the issue investigated, hence the letter written by my colleague and Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little.

Democracy is sometimes inconvenient, especially to those in power, but that’s the point. It is the basis of ensuring the interests of the powerful don’t ride roughshod over the powerless.

Today marks four years of the unelected commissioners running ECan. It is a black mark on the National Government, and New Zealand. We will be marking the occasion at the Cairn in Cathedral Square at 12:30 today, with Ruth Dyson and Russel Norman speaking about the importance of letting people manage their own resources and having the right to vote (more details here).

Labour will return the right of Canterbury people to elect their regional councillors immediately, but in the meantime it will help to have an independent external body judge whether our international rights have been breached.