Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Obligation of Nations in the Enforcement of Human Rights

Interesting points have been raised regarding the obligation of nations in the performance of human rights policing. The argument has been made that it is the duty of nations to interfere when other nations ‘abuse human rights’. The question, of course, is who determines when an abuse exists and when to interfere. Not so easy, especially when it involves the destruction of the lives of soldiers of the invading ‘rights-oriented’ nation.

Let’s analyze a worst-case scenario:

There is a slaughter of a certain minority by a government. Should another nation involve itself in the active termination of this activity using military force? If so, we must explain to the military and its families that our only mission is to end the annihilation of the innocents. OK, but what if our policies fail and the annihilation continues? How long do we pursue our purely humanitarian ends? How many deaths of our soldiers will we tolerate? How long do we remain, and at what expense, in order to insure that the slaughter is controlled. Will we be satisfied to say “All right, we tried, but we can’t do anything more,” and just leave?

Easy to say – “Lets get the bad guys” but not so easy to actually bring about!

Now how about other abuses, abuses that may equal or even surpass killing. Abuses such as:

1) The inappropriate confinement of citizens for political purposes.
2) The inhumane and secret torture of prisoners or other citizens.
3) The application of ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment, such as the severing of hands or feet, the enucleation of eyes, or even, perhaps, the taking of a human life.
4) Enforced limitation of women’s rights including the subjugation of a wife to her husband.
5) Enforced genital mutilation and the abasement of girls and women.
6) Limited rights and freedoms for people to determine their own destinies, including such laws as compulsory birth control, limited travel, enforced abortion, infanticide, opportunities for only a particular class with enforced relegation to poverty, disease, and despair for others.
7) Denial of basic human needs – shelter, clean air, food, basic medical care.
8) Enforced apartheid.
9) Slavery and the sexual slavery of women and children.
10) Trial without a jury of peers.
11) How about enforced circumcision of males?
Many more ‘abuses’ I’m sure. But before we act – act only in the interest of compassion and to ‘do what is right’ and absent any concern of national interest, we have to carefully weigh, VERY carefully weigh, the criteria to apply for our involvement in the affairs of others

1 comment:

Becka said...

Thanks for writing this.