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The Mistaken Conceptualization of Human Rights

Now days, a human rights file is one of the most controversial issues in the international arena. Some nations pretend to guards it and keep accusing others of violating it, while others portray it as politicized mechanism of certain western powers – mainly the USA – that was designed to ensure their own interests. To avoid these confusions and to better understand what human rights really mean, how applicable they are and weather it is politicized or not, we will try in this article to examine some facts about human rights.

Human rights were first introduced at the United Nations in 1948 through the Universal Human Rights Declaration aiming at promoting peace and security among world nations. This declaration of human rights largely reflecting the interests of its drafters, it ignored economic, social and cultural rights of individuals and social groups and only focused on political and civil individual rights. As per the then ratified version of the declaration, rights of nations to self determination, rights of liberating from racist systematic practices, rights of liberating from exploitation were not part of the equation. The declaration did not consider cultural aspects of societies as well. Some articles of the document were ratified, although completely inconsistent to cultures of certain societies. These societies, who happened to attend the meeting, honestly revealed their own reservations and denouncement towards the articles; nevertheless were given a deaf ear. This was simply because those articles did not violate western capitalist values. Many nations and peoples keep rejecting them up-to-date. These all are indications that the declaration was sick since cradle, and wrongly imposed over nations for years to come.  The United States of America that argued capital punishment cannot be avoided within its national territory as long as it is implemented by some of its states demanded the dismissal of the article which proposed the abolishment of capital punishment. That argument actually demonstrated how superpowers wished international policies and laws to respect their choices and comply with their domestic policies; a privilege that hardly other nations could enjoy today.

Another annoying fact about the declaration is its non binding nature.  The 56 countries who debated about the draft of the Human Rights Universal Declaration argued weather the declaration should be with a binding obligation. In this regard, most of the then member states of The United nations, including the USA, reached a consensus that the declaration should not have legal binding obligations due to the inconvenience it may cause for national governments in case the declaration contradicts with their respective policies. Countries like the US were not ready for any liability since racism was systemically vastly practiced within the country. Therefore, it was justifiable why the USA opted to vote against the binding power of the declaration.

It was in 1966 that the United Nations attached two more covenants that have legal binding authorities named: Political and civil rights and economic, social and cultural rights. Regardless the fact that these covenants were implemented in 1976 (after ten years), together with the Universal declaration of human right, these covenants have constituted a substantial reference of human rights. However, other challenges regarding human rights emerged. Politicization of Human rights by super powers, double standardization, violation of national sovereignties, selectivity, and disregard of various cultures were some of the most prominent.

Today, Human rights file has been a political apparatus that western powers employ to ensure their national interests and impose their own ideology. Regimes who directly or indirectly oppose the interests of USA and its western allies are considered national security threats; hence, should either be changed or overthrown.  Although pretexts to eradicate regimes characterized with ‘hostile policies’ differ, the accusation of Human Rights violation remains a common one. History for instance taught us how the US played a paramount role in overthrowing regimes all over the globe- in Asia, Africa and Latin America; those regimes that had not done anything but defending their own national interests; those who insisted that benefit should be mutual among nations; those who firmly argued foreign interests should not be under any circumstances at the expense of national interests.

In the last 5 decades, great powers that pretend or claim to be protectors and promoters of Human rights and democracy have proved fake and hypocritical. Many of those countries today do not respect basic principle of Human Rights. Today in those countries, human rights like rights of privacy, rights of belief, rights of being protected from exploitation, rights of being protected from torture etc, in contradiction to the Human Rights Universal declaration and the relative covenants, are numerously violated.

Human rights declarations and covenants are supposed to fight slavery, dependence, and exploitation. They are supposed to fight against a class tyranny – a tyranny of a certain class over the other classes. However, these violations and exploitation, unfortunately, exist up to date within the international system. So, how can we claim that human rights are protected?

By supporting plotters who intend to conspire and carry out illegal coup d’état against their own governments, the USA and its western allies undermine Human Rights. By imposing values of dependence and subordination, super powers through the financial international organizations, cripple national governments; and in doing so they violate human rights. When these superpowers pressurize national governments in such a way that their decision making processes are influenced and altered, human rights are definitely violated.

Human rights are noble and respect worthy. Therefore they should not be exploited. They should not be so relative that at times partially (selectively) respected and at times ignored. Human rights declarations and covenants should be reviewed and rewritten in a way that peoples’ cultures and traditions are considered. They should be accepted and approved through collective consensus of member nations; not through imposition. They should not be politicized. They should really address all suffering of Human being and should not be designed based on interests of certain powers. Finally and most importantly, there should be fair & independent international mechanisms which equally identify violators and act accordingly.

Prepared by Fuad Mohammed.

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