What Is to Be Done? Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1570 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Terrorism

NThe Effectiveness of Human Rights

As humanity experienced progress, it became absolutely necessarily for society to function in agreement with certain basic laws in order to avoid that chaos. For centuries the general public has expressed its desire for a clear set of human rights, starting from the premise that every human being should be allowed to enjoy a series of liberties.

While the bill of human rights appears to be beneficial in its essence, it is actually detrimental for individual cultures, as some traditions are not in accordance with international human rights. Numerous scholars consider that human rights can be easily violated by those that want to do so, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being but a worthless document for the perpetrators.

In the opinion of Michael Ignatieff, the concept of human rights had reached a peak right after the Holocaust, when the whole world was horrified to witness the degree of hatred instigated by people against their fellow humans. As matters advanced, it seemed that human rights movement activists would passionately support their principles, lessening the possibilities for human rights to ever be violated again in the civilized world. Terror struck again in the last decade of the twentieth century, along with the massacres in Bosnia and in Rwanda. People realized that human rights could not control the behavior of radicals, since they proved determined to do anything in order to achieve their goals.

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Influential countries normally get actively involved in the fight against those that violate human rights. Surprising however, certain world powers do not hesitate to abuse human rights themselves, in some circumstances. The so-called fight against terrorism is perfectly reasonable, al long as those that engage in it have control of the state of affairs, so as to affect third parties as little as they possible. Even under these circumstances, the fight against terrorism did not come without victims of human rights abuse, with suspects of terrorism that sometimes proved to be innocent, being subjected to inhumane treatments.

TOPIC: Term Paper on What Is to Be Done? Assignment

The U.S. authorities are reported to have displayed an abusive behavior toward suspected terrorists. Regardless of the crime which one commits, it is still one's right to have a fair trial and to be treated accordingly throughout their detention.

Consequent to the 9/11 events, the U.S. has started to change its policies regarding terrorists and human rights. U.S. citizens basically felt that it was their job to provide national and international security. "The U.S.A. Patriot Act, the detention of immigrants without charges, together with the designation of the Guantanamo detainees as "non-combatants, " rather than "prisoners of war" under the Geneva Conventions, have raised doubts about the capacity of the U.S. To promote human and civil rights while fighting terrorism" (Weiss T.G. & Crahan M.E. & Goering J., 2004, p. 4). The international community considers that the U.S.'s main role as the remaining superpower is to preserve peace and to make sure that human rights are not abused. Surprisingly however, the U.S. appears to be more interested in the war against terrorism and in the Iraq situation than in the rest of the world.

The U.S. agenda regarding its foreign policy has changed compared to the time when it got involved in the fight against terrorism. Authorities in the U.S. feel that the protection of national security is more important than the measures enforced by international human rights (Weiss T.G. & Crahan M.E. & Goering J., p. 4). By ignoring human rights in their efforts to combat terrorism, the U.S. only succeeds in destabilizing its position as a major international player.

It is difficult for international human rights to be preserved while certain powers continue to put their interests before those of the international public. The Bush administration has clearly expressed its position on the subject of terrorism. The prisoners at Guantanamo were denied several human rights because U.S. authorities considered that (even though the 1949 Geneva Convention stated that captives should be considered prisoners of war until their status is determined by an independent court of justice) Taliban fighters were not worthy of enjoying the POW status (Weiss T.G. & Crahan M.E. & Goering J., p. 84).

Ignatieff believes that despite the level of civilization humanity achieves, human rights are still impossible to impose. The pictures from the Abu Ghraib American prison surfaced in 2003, revealing the tortures to which the American Military Police subjected detainees. The Abu Ghraib incidents are an outrage and it is almost impossible to believe that military people coming from one of the most civilized countries on the planet are capable of performing such horrible acts.

The American conditions in Abu Ghraib included "beating, electric shocks, sleep deprivation, hooding, forced standing, and kneeling" (Ramcharan B., 2005, p. 621). Most Iraqi detainees suffered physical and psychological abuse during their stay at the Abu Ghraib prison, while others have even perished because of the stress that they were undergoing. The human rights community is powerless when it comes to stopping influential countries from making decisions.

Human rights enthusiasts mainly fail in their struggle to impose a general bill in all countries because they are not concentrating on the intervening factors present in every culture. All people are likely to favor a law that general and obviously benefits all of them, regardless of their backgrounds. However, when people come across a law which comes against their principles, they are expected to find this document objectionable and reject it.

The Universal Human Rights Norm fails providing all individuals across the world with the security that they need. The problem with the norm is that it cannot be applied to everyone, as people's opinion concerning it is diverse. Not everyone can be fond of a series of complex laws which, at some point, address them directly and come in disagreement with convictions that they hold important.

People's opinions vary when concerning the rights and in spite of that, the Western world wishes to impose its standpoint over other nations. Most people in the west are reluctant to pay attention to the individual needs in other countries, unwilling to accept that, in a certain country, laws can only work properly when they are in harmony with its history and the traditions that the respective country has.

Ignatieff's approach in dealing with human rights may seem to be exaggerated at certain times, and it is very likely that the Canadian writer has little fans among human rights movements. He believes that world powers, which are constantly encouraging human rights, are nothing more than hypocrites, as most of them would not hesitate to violate human rights if it would mean that this would ensure their own well-being. (Ignatieff M., 2003, p. 26)

Liberty can be understood differently by different people, thus being lesser possibilities for the general public to consider that all of the demands in international human rights norms are reasonable. In their basic forms, pain and humiliation are considered by everyone to be disturbing. While the general public is likely to agree that some abuses are intolerable, they will certainly think different of others.

International human rights norms cannot be applied to everyone, since it lobbies for virtually any positive situation of human life to be available to all humans. The norm's complicated character is the very thing that prevents it from being favored by the international public. In order for it to attain worldwide fame, it has to stick to the basic form of human rights, to promote concepts which can be practical in every culture.

It is expected that people will argue in defining the concept of good, but it is almost undeniable that they will agree on defining the concept of torture and on how immoral acts against humanity are wrong. Even then, however, people will in all probability have different opinions,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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