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Human Rights Across The World: Never More In Peril?

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Sam Harris 

The human right scenario across the world is abysmal. Human rights have been undermined across the world, and even in the United States, which is the staunchest champion of democracy, human rights are in peril. Freedom of expression, which is considered the cornerstone of human rights, is muzzled and the rights of the minority and immigrants are increasingly trampled while bestowing privileges to the native. In this context. human rights had been leveraged as a foreign policy tool across the world, often to impose pressure on other countries, and to perpetuate a neo-colonial policy of sustained supervision and castigation. This is at odds with the sovereignty principles that underpin relations among countries, which prohibit the arbitrary interference of a country on another country. However, in a world where, human rights had been weaponized as a convenient foreign policy tool, rather than informing the inclusive policies at home, the grotesque and monstrous face of travesty in the name of human rights is unfurled.

Human rights are visibly under stress across the world, evident from the increasing enactment of the draconian legal provision in India which bestows privilege to the particular religious community, while dispossessing others’ basic rights. Besides, in the guise of majoritarian democracy, where legitimacy springs from the majoritarian gambit, rather than transparency and accountability, human rights are severely undermined in favor of vociferous rhetoric that consolidates the firm hold on power by a religious majority, which invariably comes at a steep cost of denigrating the “other”. The authorities in India enacted a string of controversial laws to gag the freedom of expression of media. In India, the scenario of human rights is abysmal, while continuous emasculation of the civil society through a mix of intimidation and harassment, continues to dissuade the human rights defenders and members of the civil society. The revelation of the illegal surveillance, infringes the rights to privacy, data protection, and discrimination. In line with a creeping rise in the increasingly intolerant Hindutva movements, the vigilante cow protection groups assailed the minority communities, giving rise to a miasma of trepidation among the minorities, with ramifications for the livelihoods of the minority. Furthermore, arbitrary detention and incarceration had been weaponized by the government of the country, to silence the dissenting quarters and to dissuade people from castigating the government.

In Pakistan, we witness a similar intrusion of the military institutions over the levers of powers, which is veiled under the farce of democracy, which nonetheless is under unprecedented threat recently. In Pakistan, curbs had been imposed on the freedom of expression and dissent through instituting stringent laws, with human rights defenders and journalists subjected to increasing scrutiny.

Besides, police had unleashed inordinate force in quelling the protesters, while the resolution of the enforced disappearances remain elusive. Furthermore, thousands of people in the country are rendered homeless through coercive evictions. The contentious blasphemy law continues to inculpate the people of the besieged Ahmadi Muslim community, putting their life of the people in peril. The gender-based violence is rampant in the country, undermining the rights of women in the conservative Muslim society.

While the United States purports itself as the champion of global human rights. proselytizing its human rights advocacy across the world, thus concealing its ulterior geopolitical strategy with the benign image of human rights. While the United States ceaselessly promotes the human rights of the individual, however, human rights in the country are at a perilous edge, indicating the depth of the worsening human rights principles in the country. Dite the spurious pledges of safeguarding international human rights and ideologically-loaded diatribes and opportunistic castigation of other countries, the human rights situation in the country divulges the vacuous rhetoric of human rights.

The rampant privatization and neoliberal conviction of the United States had called to relegate the interests of the general people to the back burner, serving the interests of the corporate and political elites. In the United States, where businesses are oriented towards accruing astronomical profits, often on the altar of the rights of the general people, consumerism reigns supreme with forbidding costs. This had been revealed due to the flagrantly disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on the lines of caste, which is emblematic of lingering disparities in the health, education, and economic sector. While the U.S. is conveniently oblivious of its colonial and racist past, even so with the condescending moralizing towards other nations, the racist roots of the countries can hardly be effaced.

While the United States considers itself an advocate of multilateralism worldwide, its actions nonetheless suggest otherwise. The United States whimsical withdrawal from the multilateral institutions undermines the sustainability of the institutions, prejudicing the interests of people who rely on these organizations. Besides, while United States implicates foreign governments for flimsy and undocumented breaches of human rights, which pales in comparison with the unconscionable violation of human rights by the country with which the U.S. partnered and condoned the debasement of human rights. This becomes conspicuous from the fact that — while the United States imposed sanctions on Bangladesh based on spurious and overblown allegations, it however maintains close liaison with Saudi Arabia, despite the damning allegation against the former for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. This indicates that, in the lexicon of the United States, human rights are only parochially construed from the prism of geopolitical leverage, thus cloaking questionable geopolitical projects under the guise of human rights.

Elsewhere in the world, the situation of human rights is dismal, from the deplorable predicaments of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to the embattled people in Ukraine, to the people in the war-ravaged middle-east countries, who continue to battle with unconscionable pitfalls. Human rights have been relegated from the attention of the international community, at a period when geopolitical interests transfixed world attention, rendering human rights subservient to ulterior geopolitical projects.