The UN Should Be Responsible for Policing Human Rights Abuses
Human rights violations which resulted from internal conflicts have grown to become one of the most violent in the world. In 1996, there were 19 incidents of human rights abuses that resulted to the death of more than 1,000 people. Collectively, “high-intensity conflicts” as they have become known, have resulted to the death of 6.5 to 8.5 million people all over the world (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
In contemporary society, violation of human rights is very much evident in any part of the world.
The deprivation of individual rights to adequate health, education, shelter, move around, and express themselves are glaring consequences of internal conflicts (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
In order to achieve international peace and security, all the nations of the world should promote and foster the protection of human rights of all their citizens. This is the very essence of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, which established that there is a strong relationship between achieving world peace and security and human rights.
These crucial connections have been reinforced by the rapid growth of bloody conflicts over the years (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
According to a 2000 survey conducted by human rights organization Amnesty International, torture is very common even in developed countries. It reported that such kind of practice is evident in about 153 countries. Amnesty International likewise indicated that electrocution and mock execution is practiced in over 40 countries (Economic and Social Research Council, “Human Rights”).
The same survey reported that about 600,000 to 800,000 people are victims of human trafficking annually. Eighty percent of them are women and half are minors who end up as prostitutes or domestic helpers (Economic and Social Research Council, “Human Rights”).
In 1990, genocide, which is the intentional killing of a particular race or group of people, was committed in Bosnia and Rwanda. Presently, the situation in the Darfur region has been a subject of debates as to whether genocide is being committed (Economic and Social Research Council, “Human Rights”).
Human rights violations place children at a greater risk. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 211 million children between 5-14 years old are prone to child labour, with 111 million of them engaging in risky work (Economic and Social Research Council, “Human Rights”).
Taking The Lead
At the forefront of the human rights battle is the United Nations. The agency has focused their efforts on guaranteeing the protection of cultural minorities, enhancing democratic institutions, and safeguarding human rights. The UN has been very active in putting an end to widespread human rights violations from developing, serving as mediator between warring states before these abuses escalate into bigger conflicts (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
Realizing that human rights violations frequently contribute to conflicts and humanitarian crisis, the United Nations has made great strides in improving its early detection mechanism and response to conflicts by including human rights monitoring into peacekeeping efforts, thereby strengthening its capacity to handle reports of human rights abuses (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
In 1990, when the United Nations intervened in the El Salvador conflict, peacekeeping efforts were integrated in human rights monitoring. The United Nations likewise stepped in to resolve human rights conflicts in Haiti, Cambodia, and Guatemala (United Nations, “A UN Priority”).
Prone To Corruption and Fraud
On the other hand, peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations can be prone to mismanagement, fraud, and corruption much like what happened to the Oil-for-Food project of the United Nations Development Program which was mired in a scandal (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
IN 2005, the United Nations Secretariat obtained over $1.6 billion in goods and services to sustain its peacekeeping efforts. However, in an audited report released by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), it was found out that a minimum of $265 million of the funds was subjected to waste, fraud, and abuse (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
Although the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations acknowledged the recommendations for resolving the issues, there were no indications that such proposed changes would prevent fraud and corruption from taking place again (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
In addition, there were reports alleging that UN peacekeepers themselves were committing human rights violations such as rape and forced prostitution. An example of this was the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo where reports of sexual exploitation and abuse were confirmed (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
Moreover, peacekeeping is a political issue. In several instances, UN missions in Cyprus and Western Sahara showed the unwillingness of the peacekeepers to maintain peace. At the same time, the presence of UN peacekeepers have showed minimal or no result to the armed conflict (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
So unless the United Nations and the Security Council institute measures to address its weaknesses, then the responsibility of policing human rights violations should not be given to the United Nations (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
The task of handling human rights violations can be a challenging responsibility for state governments if they are not equipped with the right tools necessary for handling such job.
Being a recognized and well-respected world organization, the United Nations has always been called upon to tackle and resolve human rights abuses which have reached global perspective. In order to successfully fulfill its peacekeeping mandate, the United Nations should initiate reforms which would include the following (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”):
Aside from recognizing its limitations and weaknesses, the United Nations must judiciously perform its authority to establish peacekeeping operations (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
Second, it must be consistent in training and screening peacekeeping personnel. The United Nations does not have its own peacekeeping forces and relies only on member states to send peacekeepers (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
Third, there should be strict code of conduct that should be adopted by civilian and uniformed members of peacekeeping forces. The United Nations should strictly enforce this to all its member states (Schaefer, “United Nations Peacekeeping”).
“Human Rights”. 30 June 2007. Economic and Social Research Council. 20 September 2008. <http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/facts/international/rights.aspx?ComponentId=15024&SourcePageId=14912>
“Human Rights and Conflict”. United Nations. 20 September 2008. <http://www.un.org/rights/HRToday/hrconfl.htm>
Schaefer, Brett. ”United Nations Peacekeeping: The U.S. Must Press for Reform”. 18 September 2008. The Heritage Foundation. 20 September 2008. <http://www.heritage.org/Research/InternationalOrganizations/bg2182.cfm>
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