respond with a 250 word comment to the below.
How can human rights be better protected during conflict and in its immediate aftermath?
Looking at the literature, I think there are several key steps required if the protection of human rights during and post-conflict is to improve. These can be roughly split into ‘building upon
existing success’, ‘Identifying areas of failure’, and ‘introducing necessary improvements’.
Better protection does not necessarily entail wholesale condemnation of the current activities being undertaken; there have been many positive developments since 1948 which can be built upon in the
future. Parlevliet (2002 and 2010) outlines several of these;
Creation of events databases which can act as early warning systems (though awareness of local context is necessary for these to work)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights being globally embraced (though perhaps not respected)
Human right being increasingly regarded as mandatory, with the language of peace having shifted away from ‘either/or’ towards rights inclusion as a vital part of conflict resolution (“No peace
CFR (2012), similarly reflects upon the progress which has been made. The 2012 brief praises responses to mass atrocities as well as the acceptance of freedom from slavery, adequate public
healthcare and the accumulation of human rights conventions allowing for the creation of steadily improving legislature. Hannum (2006) also praises this acceptance of the philosophy of human
rights, citing Bell’s statement that “Agreement on basic human rights principles framed in general terms can mask and postpone disagreement in the application of human rights in practice”.
As a direct result of this new modern zeitgeist, human rights has become enshrined in the global agenda, changing the rhetoric and focus away from simple short terms security solutions exclusively
(at least, in discussion). Civil society engagement has also been a great asset, with many NGOs providing vital data, supervision and support to both states and international organizations (CFR,
2012). An effective symbiosis between NGO and international organizations is developing, bringing with it a larger combined roster of personnel, expert assistance and resource funding.
Building upon these positives, though primarily rhetorical as they are, will further strengthen the foundations for human rights respect and embracement, as well as take advantage of a framework
for future evolution. The normalisation of human rights as universal is especially necessary, as it subsequently makes certain behaviors in conflict and non-conflict environments less likely to be
accepted with impunity. It must be noted however, that strong declarations will only carry so far.
What are the areas of failure?
The successes described above must immediately be garnished with an important admission; though accepted universally, the vast library of agreements and treaties written to protect human rights far
too often lack vital binding clauses (CFR, 2012). These clauses would ensure that action would actually be taken to match the rhetoric; without them, a treaty or statement is merely an empty
promise. Most grievously, many of the parties who refuse to participate are often the most prolific offenders of all (CFR, 2012). Naturally, this makes the acceptance of human rights somewhat
meaningless. Further to this Greenberg and Zuckerman (2009) raise a very interesting point in that the poor and marginalised as a whole often are deprived of education and awareness of vital
safeguarding processes, preventing them from organising into groups capable of raising awareness of their own mistreatment. Within the marginalised, women and child suffer the most
disproportionately; a matter which cannot be overlooked.