Global Human Rights Institutions: A Veneer of Peace Propagation by Toothless Alligators (Part 2)

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 1 Apr 2024

Prof Hoosen Vawda – TRANSCEND Media Service

Please note that this publication contains graphic images which may be disturbing to some readers.  Reader discretion is advised. Parental guidance is recommended for minors, who may use this publication as a project, resource material.

*******************

 “Since World War II numerous Human Rights institutions have been established globally not only to monitor human rights violations but also to issue statements either directly or through the jurisdiction of the United Nations and its different organs of function.  The question often arises whether these official bodies are toothless alligators or are they formed as whitewash bodies to play the tunes of the inevitable System, based on an ethos of Consensus Conformity”. [1]

The United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The commitment of the United Nations to human rights stems from the Organization’s founding Charter. The international community has a duty to uphold and defend these rights. Let us ensure that those people who most need their rights protected are made aware that this Declaration exists — and that it exists for them. Let us each do our part to make these universal rights a living reality for every man, woman and child, everywhere.  — BAN Ki-moon Secretary-General.
Photo Credit: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 1948

This publication, Part 2, in a series on Human Rights, highlights the significant efforts made by the institutionalisation of Human Rights under the auspices of various official bodies principally the United Nations.  In the author’s opinion, only South Africa stands out as a beacon for the propagation of Human Rights, not only by dedicating a special Human Rights Day[2], celebrated on Thursday, 21st March, annually, in South Africa[3], but also in establishing a Human Rights Commission in the country after the dismantling of the colonial, imperialistic, apartheid of the white dominated, minority government, in a peaceful transition, in 1994. The paper further examines how the democratically elected government of South Africa, also actively exposed the atrocities of the apartheid government, by establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission[4], which gave the white aggressor an opportunity to literally “confess”, without any fear of any punitive retribution by the Mandela[5], Democratic Government of the majority.  This has not occurred in any country, globally, to any significant extent, let alone a purely non-retributive review of the brutality of the white supremacists in pre-liberation, South Africa. However, in a final analysis, the other global “Human Rights Custodians” appear to be incompetent in terms of, firstly, “doing too little, too late” and secondly, being unable to enforce the cessation of ongoing Human Rights, violations, as these are currently in progress, in the War of Gaza, by Israel [6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14].  These Zionists are bent on total genocide and ethnic cleansing of the original residents of the “hell on earth, the infamous Gaza Strip” by the brutal, Israeli, occupying forces.  Between 07th October 2023 and 11:30 on 29th March 2024, at least 32,623 Palestinians civilians were brutality killed in Gaza and 75,092 Palestinians were injured[15].  The ruthless IDF does not even have respect for the raising of the traditional “White Flag” by Palestinians, nor for the dead bodies[16], which were removed by a bulldozer[17], as well as the huge, American sponsored and supplied tanks, run over dead, civilian bodies during the war, which Hamas has initiated, claiming back what is rightfully their ancestral land. Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967[18], and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.  More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements[19] in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.[20] The true nature of the “toothless alligators” [21] as the custodians of global Human Rights, has been finally exposed and the hypocrisy, as well as double standards of these institutions have been uncovered, at last.

 

Definitions: Human Right Commission, Human Right Office and Human Rights Ombudsman, globally.

It is relevant to elaborate on the definitions of these important entities related to human rights:

Human Rights Commission[22]:

A Human Rights Commission (also known as a Human Relations Commission) is an organization or body established to investigate, promote, or protect human rights. Its primary functions include:

  • Raising awareness of human rights issues.
  • Monitoring and assessing the observance of human rights.
  • Providing education and training on human rights.
  • Addressing human rights violations and seeking effective redress for victims.
  • These commissions operate at various levels (national, regional, or local) and play a crucial role in safeguarding and promoting human rights within their jurisdictions12.

 

Human Rights Office (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights[23]):

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading United Nations entity dedicated to human rights. Its unique mandate encompasses:
  • Promoting and protecting the full range of human rights and freedoms as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Representing the world’s commitment to human rights on a global scale.
  • Advocating for the principles enshrined in international human rights law.
  • The office plays a pivotal role in advancing human rights globally and ensuring their universality and inalienability34.

Human Rights Ombudsman [24]:

  • Human Rights Ombudsman (or simply Ombudsman) is an independent official or institution responsible for safeguarding citizens’ rights and ensuring accountability in public administration. Key aspects of their role include:
  • Investigating complaints related to violations of fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • Addressing instances of maladministration by public officials or institutions.
  • Promoting fairness, transparency, and good governance.
  • Protecting the rights of individuals and promoting the public interest.
  • Ombudsmen may have additional mandates, such as anti-corruption efforts or environmental protection, depending on the specific context and region56.

In summary, these entities play critical roles in upholding and advocating for human rights, both at national and international levels. Their work contributes to a more just and equitable world for all individuals.

A country can indeed have all three regulatory institutions (Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Office, and Human Rights Ombudsman), or it may choose to have a combination of any two. The possibilities:

All Three Institutions:

Some countries opt to establish all three institutions to comprehensively address human rights issues:

Human Rights Commission: This body focuses on promoting and protecting human rights, conducting investigations, and raising awareness.

  • Human Rights Office (UN Human Rights): At the international level, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights plays a crucial role in advocating for global human rights standards.
  • Human Rights Ombudsman: The ombudsman ensures accountability, investigates complaints, and safeguards citizens’ rights within the country.

Combination of Two:

Alternatively, a country may choose to have a combination of two of these institutions:

  • Human Rights Commission + Human Rights Ombudsman: This combination allows for both proactive promotion of human rights (by the commission) and reactive handling of complaints (by the ombudsman).
  • Human Rights Commission + Human Rights Office: In this scenario, the national commission collaborates with the UN Human Rights Office to align with global standards.
  • Human Rights Ombudsman + Human Rights Office: The ombudsman focuses on domestic issues, while the UN Human Rights Office maintains an international perspective.

Unique Contexts:

  • The specific context, legal framework, and historical development of each country influence the choice of institutions. Some countries may prioritize one over the others based on their unique needs and challenges.

In summary, the configuration of these institutions varies globally, and countries tailor their approach to best serve their citizens and uphold human rights. The situation in South Africa with respect to the above three institutions related to human rights:

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC):[25]

The SAHRC is a constitutional institution established to promote and protect human rights in South Africa. Its key functions include:

  • Raising awareness of human rights issues.
  • Monitoring and assessing the observance of human rights.
  • Providing education and training on human rights.
  • Addressing human rights violations and seeking effective redress for victims.
  • The SAHRC investigates complaints, conducts inquiries, and plays a vital role in advancing human rights within the country12.

UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) in South Africa:[26]

The OHCHR provides technical assistance on promoting and protecting human rights in South Africa. Its focus areas include:

  • Protecting civic space.
  • Early warning and prevention.
  • Tackling gender-based violence and discrimination.
  • Integrating human rights in development.
  • Strengthening national protection systems and reporting on human rights4.
  • The OHCHR collaborates with national institutions and contributes to the global human rights framework.

Human Rights Ombudsman (Ombudsman):[27]

  • In South Africa, the role of a Human Rights Ombudsman is not as explicitly defined as in some other countries.
  • However, the SAHRC, as an independent institution, partially fulfills the ombudsman function by investigating complaints and ensuring accountability.
  • The SAHRC’s provincial offices handle complaints related to human rights violations in specific regions3.

In summary, South Africa has a robust system that includes the SAHRC, which serves as both a commission and an ombudsman-like body and collaborates with the UN Human Rights Office to uphold human rights principles.

After the end of apartheid, as well as the release of political prisoners in the early 90s and the country’s transition from repressive rule to democracy in 1994, South Africa witnessed the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995 which formed a crucial component of the transition to full and free democratic country. The TRC was established by the first democratic president Nelson Mandela under the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act of 1995 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Dr Alex Boraine were appointed as its chairperson and vice chairperson respectively.
 In all the TRC was comprised of seventeen commissioners: nine men and eight women and divided into three committees (Human Rights Violations Committee, Amnesty Committee, and Reparations and Rehabilitation Committee).  The Human Rights Violations Committee gathered testimony of politically motivated gross human rights abuses; the Amnesty Committee dispensed amnesty to perpetrators who gave “full disclosure” of atrocities they had committed for political ends; lastly, the Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee which sought to recommend to the government a policy for providing long-term reparations for victims, as well as short-term relief payments.
Photo Credit: South African History online

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission[28] (TRC) played a crucial role in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. Here are the key points about the TRC:

  1. Purpose and Establishment:
    • The TRC was established by the Government of National Unity to address the atrocities committed during the apartheid era.
    • It aimed to deal with the violence and human rights abuses that occurred from all sides during this period.
    • No section of society was exempt from these abuses.

Mandate and Committees:

The TRC operated based on the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, No 34 of 1995. It had three main committees:

  • Amnesty Committee: Responsible for considering amnesty applications from perpetrators who confessed to their crimes.
  • Reparation and Rehabilitation (R&R) Committee: Focused on reparations for victims.
  • Human Rights Violations (HRV) Committee: Investigated and documented human rights abuses.
  • The Register of Reconciliation allowed the public to express regret for failing to prevent violations and demonstrate commitment to reconciliation.

Education Assistance for Victims:

  • The TRC identified victims of apartheid and provided assistance with tuition fees for basic and higher education.
  • Eligible individuals included victims themselves, their dependents, and relatives.
  • The application process allowed for support to those affected by apartheid.

Legacy:

  • The TRC’s work helped South Africans come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis.
  • It contributed to advancing the cause of reconciliation and healing the wounds of apartheid.

Storytelling by Victims of Apartheid at TRC Hearings:

The impact of storytelling by victims during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa was profound and multifaceted:

Healing and Catharsis:

  • Victims had the opportunity to share their painful experiences openly.
  • By narrating their stories, they found a sense of catharsis and emotional release.
  • The act of speaking out allowed them to process trauma and begin the healing process.

Humanizing the Past:

  • Personal narratives humanized the atrocities committed during apartheid.
  • The stories revealed the human cost of violence, torture, and discrimination.
  • Hearing firsthand accounts made it impossible to ignore the suffering of individuals and communities.

Building Empathy and Understanding:

  • Storytelling bridged gaps between different racial and ethnic groups.
  • It allowed perpetrators and bystanders to understand the pain and suffering caused by apartheid.
  • Empathy grew as people listened to each other’s stories.

Documenting History:

  • The TRC hearings created an extensive record of human rights abuses.
  • These testimonies became part of South Africa’s historical narrative.
  • Future generations could learn from these stories and prevent similar injustices.

Accountability and Justice:

  • Perpetrators who confessed during the TRC hearings faced the possibility of amnesty.
  • While not all received amnesty, the process held them accountable for their actions.
  • Victims’ stories contributed to the pursuit of justice and acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

Reconciliation and Unity:

  • Storytelling promoted reconciliation by fostering dialogue.
  • It encouraged acknowledgment of past wrongs and the need for forgiveness.
  • By sharing stories, victims and perpetrators moved toward a shared vision of a united South Africa.

In summary, the power of storytelling within the TRC allowed victims to reclaim their voices, educate society, and contribute to a more just and compassionate nation. In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings in South Africa, perpetrators of violence were also given the opportunity to testify and share their accounts. The TRC was a court-like body assembled after the end of apartheid. Here are the key points regarding perpetrators’ involvement:

Testimony by Perpetrators:

  • Any individual who had committed acts of violence during apartheid could come forward and give testimony.
  • Perpetrators were allowed to request amnesty from prosecution in exchange for their full disclosure of their actions.
  • Their testimonies were crucial for understanding the extent of human rights violations.

Amnesty Process:

  • The TRC’s Amnesty Committee evaluated applications for amnesty.
  • Perpetrators had to provide a detailed account of their actions, motivations, and the context in which they occurred.
  • Amnesty was granted based on criteria such as political motivation and full disclosure.

Acknowledgment and Accountability:

  • By testifying, perpetrators acknowledged their role in violence and human rights abuses.
  • Some received amnesty, while others did not.
  • The process held them accountable and contributed to the pursuit of justice.

International Attention:

  • The TRC hearings made international news.
  • The world witnessed both victims and perpetrators sharing their stories in pursuit of reconciliation and healing.

In summary, the TRC provided a platform for both victims and perpetrators to contribute to South Africa’s healing process and the quest for truth and justice.  It is important to note that the TRC’s efforts were essential in acknowledging the past, promoting reconciliation, and building a more just society in South Africa.

 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa faced several controversial amnesty decisions during its proceedings. Here are some notable instances:

African National Congress (ANC) Members:

  • The TRC granted amnesty to 37 ANC members, including Deputy President Thabo Mbeki1.
  • This decision sparked debate and criticism, as it involved key figures from the ruling party who had participated in the armed struggle against apartheid.
  • Some argued that ANC members should be held accountable for their actions, while others believed amnesty was essential for reconciliation.

Apartheid Security Forces:

  • The TRC faced challenges in granting amnesty to former members of the apartheid security forces.
  • Some perpetrators received amnesty, leading to public outcry and accusations of impunity.
  • Critics questioned whether full disclosure was always achieved and whether some crimes were truly politically motivated.

Balance Between Justice and Reconciliation:

  • The TRC’s mandate required balancing justice and reconciliation.
  • Decisions on amnesty were complex, considering the need for healing and the desire to hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Controversies arose when amnesty was granted to those responsible for severe human rights violations.

Debate Over Apartheid Policies:

  • The TRC’s conclusion that apartheid was a crime against humanity was controversial.
  • Supporters of the former government disagreed, as the TRC had not been tasked with examining apartheid policies directly.
  • However, the TRC believed this acknowledgment was crucial for its credibility.

In summary, the TRC’s amnesty decisions were fraught with tension, reflecting the delicate balance between justice, reconciliation, and historical reckoning231

 

Ethical Independence in Human Rights Violations Reporting [29]

Ensuring independence in reporting faces several challenges:

Political Pressure and Interference:

  • Governments or powerful entities may exert pressure on journalists, media organizations, or human rights groups.
  • Censorshipthreats, and intimidation can hinder independent reporting.

Financial Dependence:

  • Media outlets often rely on advertising revenue or government funding.
  • Financial constraints can compromise editorial independence.

Ownership Influence:

  • Media ownership concentration can lead to biased reporting.
  • Owners’ interests may conflict with impartial journalism.

Lack of Legal Protections:

  • In some regions, laws do not adequately protect journalists or whistleblowers.
  • Legal harassment can deter independent reporting.

Self-Censorship:

  • Fear of reprisals may lead journalists to self-censor.
  • They avoid sensitive topics or critical reporting.

Access to Information:

  • Governments control access to official information.
  • Restricted access affects investigative reporting.

Threats to Safety:

  • Journalists reporting on conflict zones or corruption face physical risks.
  • Violencekidnapping, or assassination threaten independence.

Technological Challenges:

  • Digital surveillance and cyberattacks compromise privacy.
  • Fake news and disinformation undermine credible reporting.

Public Perception and Trust:

  • Scepticism about media integrity affects trust.
  • Discrediting campaigns erode public confidence.

Lack of Training and Resources:

  • Journalists need training in ethical reporting.
  • Insufficient resources hinder investigative work.

Overcoming these challenges requires collective efforts from journalists, civil society, and policymakers. Vigilancelegal reforms, and public awareness are essential for maintaining independent reporting.

 

High Commissioner for Human Rights Mandate[30]

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote and protect the enjoyment and full realization of all human rights by all people. Its mandate is derived from several key sources:

Charter of the United Nations:

  • The UN Human Rights Office operates within the framework of the UN Charter, which emphasizes the importance of promoting and respecting human rights globally.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

  • The UDHR serves as a foundational document, outlining the fundamental rights and freedoms to which every individual is entitled.
  • UN Human Rights actively works to uphold the principles enshrined in the UDHR.

International Human Rights Laws and Treaties:

  • Various international treaties and conventions establish specific human rights standards.
  • UN Human Rights ensures compliance with these legal instruments and monitors their implementation.

The specific functions and responsibilities of UN Human Rights include:

Promoting and Protecting All Human Rights for All:

  • UN Human Rights advocates for the full spectrum of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
  • It works to prevent and address violations, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Recommendations to UN Bodies:

  • UN Human Rights recommends improvements in the promotion and protection of human rights to other UN entities.
  • It collaborates with various bodies to enhance human rights practices globally.

Right to Development:

  • UN Human Rights actively promotes and protects the right to development, emphasizing equitable access to resources and opportunities.

Technical Assistance to States:

  • The office provides technical support to countries in their human rights activities.
  • This assistance includes capacity-building, legal advice, and policy guidance.

Removing Obstacles and Preventing Violations:

  • UN Human Rights works to eliminate barriers hindering the realization of human rights.
  • It aims to prevent ongoing violations and address systemic challenges.

Engaging in Dialogue with Governments:

  • The office engages in constructive dialogues with governments to secure respect for human rights.
  • It encourages compliance with international human rights norms.

Enhancing International Cooperation:

  • UN Human Rights fosters collaboration among nations to promote and protect human rights effectively.

Coordinating Human Rights Activities Across the UN System:

  • It ensures coherence and synergy in human rights efforts within the entire United Nations system.

In summary, UN Human Rights plays a pivotal role in advancing human rights globally, advocating for their universality, and working toward a world where every person’s rights are respected and upheld12.  However, in the War on Gaza, all the above principles are violated by the Israeli Occupation Forces and yet, the organisation has effectively done nothing to prevent the ethnic cleansing and genocide conducted by the occupation forces, which are supported by US, Britain and EU, openly in their killings of Palestinian civilians.

The Ongoing Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide in Gaza committed by Israeli occupation forces, with impunity and against the rulings of toothless ICJ as well as the United Nations Security Council. Photo Credit CNN

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) plays a crucial role in promoting and safeguarding human rights globally. However, its enforcement capabilities are distinct from those of other UN bodies. Let’s explore this further:

Mandate and Role:

  • UN Human Rights focuses on advocacymonitoring, and capacity-building related to human rights.
  • Its primary functions include:

Promoting human rights principles.

Monitoring compliance with international human rights standards.

Providing technical assistance to countries.

  • It does not have direct enforcement powers like a law enforcement agency.

Enforcement Mechanisms:

  • Enforcement of UN resolutions typically involves other bodies, such as the UN Security Council.
  • The Security Council has the authority to impose sanctions, authorize military action, or take other measures to address transgressions by countries.
  • UN Human Rights contributes by documenting violations, raising awareness, and advocating for accountability.

Legal Framework:

  • UN Human Rights operates within the framework of international human rights law.
  • It ensures that states comply with their obligations under treaties and conventions.
  • However, it does not have the power to directly enforce resolutions against specific countries.

Collective Action:

  • Enforcement often involves collective action by member states.
  • When a country violates human rights norms, the international community may respond collectively through diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, or legal proceedings.

National and Regional Courts:

  • National and regional courts play a significant role in enforcing human rights.
  • Individuals, NGOs, or states can bring cases before these courts, seeking remedies for violations.
  • Decisions by these courts contribute to accountability.

In summary, while UN Human Rights does not directly enforce resolutions, its work contributes to a global framework that encourages compliance and accountability. Enforcement involves a collaborative effort by states, international bodies, and legal mechanisms.

The Office and Functions of a Rapporteur for Human Rights Office at UN[31]

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders is a crucial role within the United Nations Human Rights Council. Let’s delve into their functions and responsibilities:

Purpose of the Mandate:

  • Human rights defenders (HRDs) are individuals or groups who peacefully act to promote or protect human rights.
  • The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders was created to:

Promote the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in cooperation with governments and other actors.

Study developments and challenges related to the right to promote and protect human rights.

Receive and respond to information about the situation of human rights defenders.

Recommend effective strategies for better protection of human rights defenders.

Integrate a gender perspective and pay attention to women human rights defenders.

  • The mandate was established by the Human Rights Commission in 2000 and most recently renewed by the Human Rights Council in 20201.
  • The Mandate Holder:

Ms. Mary Lawlor has been the Special Rapporteur about human rights defenders since May 1, 2020.

She is an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights and has a rich background in human rights advocacy, including founding Front Line Defenders and directing the Irish Section of Amnesty International1.

  • Key Documents:

Fact Sheet 29: This resource supports human rights defenders in their invaluable work. It provides guidance for state authorities, NGOs, UN personnel, and others on the role and situation of human rights defenders.

Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: This declaration outlines principles and rights to support and protect human rights defenders in their work. It represents a strong commitment by states to its implementation.

Commentary to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: A guide that enhances understanding of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders and raises awareness of the dangers they face1.

In summary, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders plays a critical role in advocating for the rights and safety of those who courageously defend human rights worldwide.

 

History, origins of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), its contributors, and the key points it encompasses:

History and Origins:

  • The UDHR is a milestone document in the history of human rights.
  • It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.
  • The context for its creation was the aftermath of World War II, during which atrocities and human rights violations occurred on an unprecedented scale.
  • The international community vowed to prevent such horrors from happening again.
  • The UDHR was designed as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.
  • It was drafted by representatives from different legal and cultural backgrounds, ensuring a global perspective.

Contributors:

  • The Commission on Human Rights played a pivotal role in drafting the UDHR.
  • The Commission consisted of 18 members from diverse political, cultural, and religious backgrounds.
  • Notable contributors included:

Eleanor Roosevelt: The widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

René Cassin (France): He composed the first draft of the Declaration.

Charles Malik (Lebanon): The Committee Rapporteur.

Peng Chung Chang (China): Vice-Chairman.

John Humphrey (Canada): Director of the UN’s Human Rights Division, who prepared the Declaration’s blueprint.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt was recognized as the driving force behind the UDHR’s adoption.

Key Points in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The UDHR consists of 30 articles that outline fundamental human rights. Here are some key points:

  • Dignity and Equality: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  • Reason and Conscience: They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Freedom and Justice: Recognition of inherent dignity is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace.
  • Protection by Rule of Law: Human rights should be protected by the rule of law.
  • Promotion of Friendly Relations: Essential to promote friendly relations between nations.
  • Faith in Fundamental Rights: Member States reaffirm their faith in fundamental human rights.
  • Universal Respect and Observance: A common understanding of these rights is crucial for their full realization.
  • Striving for Recognition and Observance: Every individual and organ of society should strive to promote respect for these rights and freedoms.

The UDHR has been translated into over 500 languages and continues to inspire human rights efforts globally.  In summary, the UDHR emerged from the aftermath of World War II, with contributions from diverse individuals committed to ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights for all. Its principles remain foundational in the field of international human rights law.

Ukrainian emergency personnel and police officers evacuate injured pregnant woman Iryna Kalinina, 32, from a maternity hospital that was damaged by a Russian air strike in Mariupol, Ukraine. “Kill me now!” she screamed, as they struggled to save her life at another hospital even closer to the front line. The baby was born dead, and a half-hour later, Iryna died, too.
Photo Credit: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo Al Jazeera Media

 Countries which have historically violated Human Rights since the inception of the UNHR Declaration

The litany of human rights violations and crises that unfolded since 2022, extending from Ukraine, Palestine, to China, Myanmar and Afghanistan, has left behind a sea of human suffering. However, it has also opened new opportunities for human rights advocacy and global leadership. It is relevant to explore some historical context and examples:

Russia [32],[33]

  • In 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin deliberately attacked civilians in Ukraine, leading to widespread human rights violations.
  • The conflict in Ukraine has resulted in loss of life, displacement, and destruction of civilian infrastructure.

China[34]

  • President Xi Jinping’s regime has been accused of operating an open-air prison for the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang.
  • Reports of mass detentions, forced labour, cultural suppression, and surveillance have drawn international condemnation.

Afghanistan [35]

  • The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 has put millions of Afghans at risk of starvation, with severe humanitarian consequences.
  • The Taliban’s history of human rights abuses, particularly against women and minorities, is well-documented.

 

Myanmar[36]

  • The ongoing genocide of the Rohingyas by the military junta is clearly based on ethnophobia of the Islamic sector the Burmese citizenry. Even the Burmese monks were recorded to be involved in the persecution and killing of the Rohingyas.

Kashmir[37]

  • The ongoing persecution of the Kashmiris by the Hindu Nationalist BJP government is another example of ethnophobia.

India [38],[39]

  • The rise of Hindu nationalistic fervour under the BJP administration has resulted in ongoing human rights violations involving the Muslim communities.[40], [41]

Palestine[42],[43]

  • The War on Gaza since Saturday 07th October 2023 in which a massive nearly 2 million Palestinians are internally displaced by the punitive retribution by the Israelis Occupation forces supported by the Biden administration and EU.
  • Francesca P. Albanese[44]is an Italian international lawyer and academic. In 2022, she was appointed as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories for a three-year term. Notably, she is the first woman to hold this position. Her role involves monitoring and reporting on human rights atrocities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the War on Gaza, in which she has concluded that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.  She is now banned by Prime Minister Netanyahu from visiting the Zionist country.
  • Albanese has been highly critical of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. In her first report, she recommended that UN member states develop “a plan to end the Israeli settler-colonial occupation and apartheid regime.” After the 2023 Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, she called for an immediate ceasefire and warned that Palestinians in Gaza were at risk of “mass ethnic cleansing.” In March 2024, she reported to the UN Human Rights Council that she believed Israel’s actions in Gaza amounted to genocide.
  • Her appointment and tenure as Special Rapporteur have drawn significant international attention and controversy. Critics have accused her of making antisemitic statements and being biased against Israel. However, human rights groups have supported her, asserting that these accusations are illegitimate attempts to discredit her criticism of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
  • Albanese’s background includes working as a human rights expert for the United Nations, advising on human rights issues in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions. She holds degrees from the University of Pisa and SOAS University of London, and she is completing her PhD in International Refugee Law at Amsterdam University.[45]

Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the Western Bloc:

  • Global superpowers, including the United States, have certainly traded away human rights obligations for short-term political and economic gains as demonstrated by the support of Israel and complicit in the atrocities committed against the defenceless Palestinians.
  • For example, despite Joe Biden’s initial pledge to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah state” over its human rights record and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi[46], his administration has tempered criticism due to economic and security considerations.
  • Pakistan, while supporting monitoring of abuses in Kashmir, has turned a blind eye to possible crimes against Uyghurs in Xinjiang due to its close relationship with China.

Opportunities for Leadership:

  • Despite challenges, there is space for governments to stand up and adopt rights-respecting plans of action.
  • Cooperation among states can strengthen the global human rights system and hold abusive governments accountable.

In summary, human rights crises arise from unchecked authoritarian power, but there are opportunities for collective action and leadership to address violations and protect human rights worldwide1.

Gross violations of Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, shows Defender of Human Rights incarcerated in inhuman conditions.  Beheadings, hand amputation, floggings, unconstitutional detentions, extra judicial killings as that of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-American journalist and detention of minors, dissenting clerics, tweeters and women is far too common.  The use of incommunicado detention is also a gross violation, as it represents a violation of detainees’ rights under international law. “Such methods give rise to grave concerns for the personal integrity of detainees, as they run a heightened risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture when all contact with the outside world has been blocked.”  Photo Credit New York Times

Promotion of Independent Reporting

International organisations play a crucial role in promoting independent reporting by advocating for transparency, accountability, and press freedom. Here are some ways they contribute:

Monitoring and Advocacy:

  • International bodies like the United NationsReporters Without Borders, and Committee to Protect Journalists monitor press freedom violations globally.
  • They raise awareness about threats to independent reporting and advocate for journalists’ safety.

Setting Standards:

  • Organizations establish ethical guidelines for journalists and media outlets.
  • These standards emphasize impartiality, accuracy, and responsible reporting.

Capacity Building:

  • International organizations provide training and resources to journalists.
  • Workshops, seminars, and fellowships enhance reporting skills and promote independence.

Legal Support:

  • They offer legal assistance to journalists facing harassmentarrest, or censorship.
  • Legal defence funds protect press freedom.

Fact-Checking and Verification:

  • Organizations verify information and combat disinformation.
  • Fact-checking initiatives ensure reliable reporting.

Index Rankings:

  • The World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders assesses media freedom worldwide.
  • Rankings highlight countries where independent reporting is at risk.

Advocacy Campaigns:

  • International bodies run campaigns to raise awareness about threats to journalists.
  • They lobby governments for better protections.

Emergency Response:

  • During crises or attacks on journalists, organizations provide emergency assistance.
  • Evacuations, medical aid, and legal support are part of their response.

Collaboration with Governments:

  • Organizations engage with governments to improve media laws and regulations.
  • Diplomatic efforts promote press freedom.

Public Awareness Campaigns:

  • Through reports, documentaries, and social media, they educate the public.
  • Public pressure encourages governments to respect press freedom.

In summary, international organisations act as watchdogs, advocates, and educators, fostering an environment where independent reporting can thrive.

 

Human rights institutions, including those associated with the United Nations, play a critical role in monitoring and reporting on human rights violations worldwide. However, the question of potential influence by powerful countries, such as the United States and the European Union, is a valid concern. It is necessary to examine this issue:

Selective Outrage and Double Standards:

Human Rights Watch, a leading human rights group, has highlighted instances where governments exhibit selective outrage based on political expediency.

Example 1 (Israel-Hamas War):

When the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel, many governments quickly condemned its “unlawful” killings and atrocities.

However, some of these same governments have been muted in responding to the war crimes committed by the Israeli government during its ongoing offensive in the Gaza Strip.

This selective outrage sends a dangerous message that some lives matter more than others.

Example 2 (Ukraine):

The conflict in Ukraine has witnessed violations of international humanitarian law.

The UN chief has decried how the “rule of law and the rules of war” are being undermined.

The issue of double standards arises when powerful countries’ actions receive different levels of scrutiny.

Influence and Geopolitical Considerations:

Geopolitical interests often shape responses to human rights violations.

Political alliances, economic ties, and security considerations can influence how countries react.

Some institutions may be cautious in criticizing powerful nations due to these factors.

Challenges and Opportunities:

Challenges:

Power Imbalance: Powerful countries exert influence over international bodies.

Bureaucracy: Consensus-seeking can dilute impact.

Sovereignty Concerns: Intervention in domestic affairs is sensitive.

Opportunities:

Transparency: Advocacy groups and civil society play a crucial role in holding institutions accountable.

Legal Mechanisms: National and regional courts provide avenues for justice.

Public Pressure: Awareness and public outcry can drive change.

The Balancing Act:

While acknowledging challenges, it’s essential to recognize the positive impact of human rights institutions:

Norm Creation: They contribute to the development of human rights norms.

Visibility: Reports raise awareness and provide platforms for victims.

Legal Frameworks: Treaties and conventions set standards.

In summary, human rights institutions must navigate geopolitical complexities while striving for impartiality and accountability. Balancing critique with acknowledgment of their impact is crucial for meaningful change.

The Bottom Line in Institutionalised Human Rights Challenges[47],[48]

Ensuring greater independence and impartiality in human rights reporting is crucial for maintaining credibility and accountability. Here are some key strategies:

Strengthen Legal Frameworks:

  • Governments should enact and enforce laws that protect the independence of journalists, human rights organizations, and other reporting entities.
  • Legal provisions should safeguard journalists from harassment, threats, and undue influence.

Promote Media Freedom:

  • A free and vibrant media environment is essential. Governments should refrain from censoring or controlling media outlets.
  • Encourage investigative journalism and protect journalists’ rights to access information.

Support Civil Society and NGOs:

  • Independent civil society organizations play a vital role in monitoring and reporting human rights violations.
  • Governments should provide funding and support to these organizations without imposing restrictions.

Whistleblower Protection:

  • Create mechanisms to protect whistleblowers who expose human rights abuses.
  • Legal safeguards should shield them from retaliation.

Transparency and Accountability:

  • Reporting entities should disclose their funding sources and potential conflicts of interest.
  • Regular audits and transparency measures enhance credibility.

International Cooperation:

  • Collaborate with international bodies, such as the United Nations, to ensure impartial reporting.
  • Peer reviews and joint investigations can enhance objectivity.

Training and Professional Standards:

  • Journalists and human rights investigators should receive training on ethical reporting.
  • Adherence to professional standards ensures impartiality.

Public Awareness and Education:

  • Educate the public about the importance of independent reporting.
  • Encourage critical thinking and media literacy.

It is important to note that independence and impartiality are cornerstones of effective human rights reporting. By implementing these measures, we can strengthen accountability and protect fundamental rights[49].

 

The profusion of Post-World War II Human Rights Institutions and outcomes:

  • It is true that since World War II, there has been a proliferation of human rights institutions globally.
  • These institutions serve various purposes, including monitoring human rights violations, advocating for rights, and providing mechanisms for redress.

Statements and Jurisdiction:

  • Human rights institutions often issue statements condemning violations, raising awareness, and urging action.
  • Their jurisdiction varies: some operate at the national level, while others have international reach through bodies like the United Nations.

Toothless Alligators or Whitewash Bodies[50]?:

  • The metaphor of “toothless alligators” suggests that these institutions lack real power or teeth to enforce change.
  • The metaphor of “whitewash bodies” implies that they may exist to create an illusion of action while maintaining the status quo.
  • Exploring both perspectives:

Toothless Alligators:

  • Challenges:

Many institutions face limitations in enforcement.

Sovereignty concerns hinder intervention in domestic affairs.

Political interests often override human rights considerations.

  • Examples:

Some UN resolutions remain unimplemented due to lack of enforcement mechanisms.

  • Regional bodies may struggle to address crises effectively (e.g., African Union[51], ASEAN[52]).

Critique:

Critics argue that without real consequences for violators, institutions become symbolic rather than transformative.

Whitewash Bodies:

Challenges:

Political pressures can lead to selective focus or biased reporting.

Powerful states may influence narratives to protect their interests.

Bureaucracy and consensus-seeking can dilute impact.

Examples:

Instances where powerful countries escape scrutiny (e.g., Saudi Arabia, China).

Reports that downplay systemic abuses.

Critique:

Sceptics view some institutions as tools to maintain the status quo, avoiding meaningful change.

  • Ethos of Consensus Conformity[53] by the Western Bloc:

The reference to the “Western bloc[54]” highlights geopolitical dynamics.

Historically, Western countries have played a dominant role in shaping human rights norms.

Critics argue that consensus-seeking can lead to compromises that weaken institutions’ effectiveness.

  • Balancing Perspectives:

While critiques are valid, it’s essential to recognize achievements:

Norm Creation: Institutions have contributed to the development of human rights norms.

Visibility: They raise awareness and provide platforms for victims.

Legal Frameworks: Treaties and conventions set standards. Reform efforts should address limitations while preserving their essential role.

In summary, human rights institutions face challenges, but they remain vital for promoting awareness, accountability, and progress. Balancing critique with acknowledgment of their impact is crucial for meaningful change. However, the innocent people are suffering, while powerful states continue their campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide using mass deprivation of food aid, fuel, housing, medical care, as well as retrieval of bodies from incessant aerial bombings, using American supplied warplanes and drones, killing thousand of civilians. This is an ongoing, multipronged assault on humanity, causing gross peace disruption and the demise of humanitarian principles which the Western Bloc espouses to uphold, while institutions are debating on technicalities of ethnic cleansing and genocide.  This must cease immediately and that is the Bottom Line in systemic violations of Human Rights[55].

References:

[1] Personal quote by author, March 2024

[2] https://www.gov.za/HumanRightsMonth2024

[3] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/03/peace-propagation-human-rights-day-post-liberation-1994-south-africa-part-1/

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6WRJRDHtWc

[5] https://www.bing.com/ck/a?!&&p=aa28dc2848b51f10JmltdHM9MTcxMTc1NjgwMCZpZ3VpZD0wOWJkOGFlOC0zZmI2LTZjZWYtMmI5MS05ZWExM2UyODZkM2MmaW5zaWQ9NTUxNA&ptn=3&ver=2&hsh=3&fclid=09bd8ae8-3fb6-6cef-2b91-9ea13e286d3c&psq=Mandela&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnL3dpa2kvTmVsc29uX01hbmRlbGE&ntb=1

[6] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/03/collective-israeli-tyranny-and-peace-disruption-in-the-occupied-territories/

[7] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/02/global-evils-today-part-1-media-mis-reporting-bias-generates-peace-disruption/

[8] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/02/the-forgotten-bedouin-palestinian-herders/

[9] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/02/reflections-on-the-holocaust-and-the-parallels-between-nazi-brutality-and-israeli-atrocities/

[10] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/01/the-pathogenesis-of-a-genocide/

[11] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/01/agony-of-the-past-and-ecstasy-of-the-future-war-or-peace-welcome-2024/

[12] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-geopolitics-of-defining-genocides-massacres-targeted-extrajudicial-state-sponsored-murders-and-ethnophobia/

[13] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-7-oct-2023-hamas-invasion-of-israel-an-alternative-viewpoint-on-the-palestinian-genocide/

[14] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/08/palestinophobia-and-africanophobia-apartheid-parallels-in-contemporary-history/

[15] https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/hostilities-gaza-strip-and-israel-flash-update-148

[16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zmZwrbwrcc

[17] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfFEkxvAhiE

[18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ap7JykipUY

[19] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F8ippv5RoQ

[20] https://www.newarab.com/news/israeli-forces-kill-palestinian-jerusalem-after-alleged-attack

[21] https://www.tiktok.com/@naijabusinessoutreach/video/7263889492036046086

[22] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hY7_yI7QhU

[23] https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/191181?v=pdf&ln=en

[24] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTz5GwB_vDw

[25] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hY7_yI7QhU

[26] https://www.googleadservices.com/pagead/aclk?sa=L&ai=DChcSEwib4I2O252FAxWzsoMHHRVdBwUYABABGgJlZg&ase=2&gclid=Cj0KCQjw8J6wBhDXARIsAPo7QA_SKug729WiwlyIx3sMqsinoVuc-sjkMjv5ITgin20A1xwfyvaTh04aAjpIEALw_wcB&ei=9uwIZrLDFMGO9u8PiraF0AM&ohost=www.google.com&cid=CAESV-D2P_lVC-unHRdTgOb8vizOY_GszCDWGzM7r-rAXxktalwhs7hm2aET7NwgOHt3b_yk65S6nqbMLiJEnL-7oiMuOfQSXFlAKHsa5Qve6YUsyvGzC_VUBw&sig=AOD64_3vA-zADsapOJv-FuV639OhDp1eRQ&q&sqi=2&nis=4&adurl&ved=2ahUKEwiyloeO252FAxVBh_0HHQpbAToQ0Qx6BAgKEAE

[27] https://www.lawforall.co.za/consumer-rights/ombudsman-schemes-in-south-africa/

[28] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_Reconciliation_Commission_(South_Africa)

[29] https://www.ohchr.org/en/reporting_violations

[30] https://www.refworld.org/document-sources/un-office-high-commissioner-human-rights-ohchr#:~:text=The%20Office%20of%20the%20High,human%20rights%20laws%20and%20treaties.

[31] https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Water/10anniversary/Being_a_Special_Rapporteur.pdf

[32] https://www.amnestyusa.org/updates/6-of-president-vladimir-putins-most-oppressive-laws/

[33] https://www.amnestyusa.org/updates/6-of-president-vladimir-putins-most-oppressive-laws/

[34] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-forgotten-part-2-the-uyghurs-of-xinjiang-from-sinicization-to-genocide/

[35] https://ishr.ch/latest-updates/afghan-women-human-rights-defenders-call-for-accountability-for-ongoing-and-systematic-human-rights-violations/

[36] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/12/the-forgotten-part-3-buddhist-directed-ethnic-cleansing-genocide-of-rohingyas-in-myanmar/

[37] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/11/the-forgotten-part-1-kashmir-heaven-on-earth-turned-hell-on-earth-by-21st-century-india/

[38] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/10/the-religious-transformative-odyssey-of-bharat-part-1-nationalism-or-democracy/

[39]

[40] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/11/peace-disruptors-the-conversion-and-repurposing-of-places-of-worship-part-2-the-ayodhya-temple-from-hinduism-to-islam-and-back-to-hinduism/

[41] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2022/02/the-execution-of-love-as-a-tool-in-ethnic-and-religious-cleansing-in-india-part-4/

[42] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/06/international-criminal-court-advancing-global-injustice-unaccountability-and-criminal-agenda-against-guardians-of-peace/

[43] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/01/peace-disruption-incursion-insurrection-intifada/

[44] https://www.ohchr.org/en/publications/training-and-education-publications/implementing-rights-persons-disabilities-role

[45] https://www.soas.ac.uk/about/event/nakba75-struggle-justice

[46] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2023/01/the-forgotten-journalists-part-2-the-quartering-of-jamal-khashoggi/

[47] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/08/erosion-human-rights-protection-systems

[48] https://www.transcend.org/tms/2021/06/endogenous-racism-against-people-of-african-origins-tulsa-and-sharpeville-parallels-in-history-part-2/

[49] https://www.justice.gov.za/constitution/chp02.html

[50] https://www.quora.com/What-does-it-mean-to-have-a-whitewashed-mentality

[51] https://au.int/sites/default/files/pages/34873-file-constitutiveact_en.pdf

[52] https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-organizations/association-southeast-asian-nations-asean#:~:text=These%20countries%20%2D%2D%20Brunei%20Darussalam,population%20of%20647%20million%20people.

[53] https://debretts.com/conformity-and-consensus/

[54] https://military-history.fandom.com/wiki/Western_Bloc

[55] https://rm.coe.int/final-method-sys-viol-of-human-rights-eng/16809e2a76

______________________________________________

READ PART 1

Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.

Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Email: vawda@ukzn.ac.za


Tags: , , , ,

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Apr 2024.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Global Human Rights Institutions: A Veneer of Peace Propagation by Toothless Alligators (Part 2), is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.


There are no comments so far.

Join the discussion!

We welcome debate and dissent, but personal — ad hominem — attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated. Nor will we tolerate attempts to deliberately disrupt discussions. We aim to maintain an inviting space to focus on intelligent interactions and debates.

4 + 4 =

Note: we try to save your comment in your browser when there are technical problems. Still, for long comments we recommend that you copy them somewhere else as a backup before you submit them.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.