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Of internal strength and external power

What precipitates mass violation of human rights, as seen in several places globally, inevitably has an askew political context

Of internal strength and external power

A set of inalienable endowments are believed to be granted to every human being just because they happen to be one. When not ignored, these human rights are brought to glaring light if they are violated to various degrees of dramatic indifference and/or cruelty. The most ironical aspect of this grand provision is that it is not enforceable by itself. However, institutional methods of states and nations provide for legal means to individuals to help address any hindrance to such rights. In India, the means is called 'fundamental rights', which are those that the Indian Constitution grants all its citizens and the source of which is Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a historical document affirming individual's rights. This is not legally binding, but nonetheless, a most superlative normative order.

What precipitates mass violation of human rights, as seen in several places globally, inevitably has an askew political context in the backdrop to blame. Violation of rights as a result of war is most common. But what leads to war (or a war-like situation) and the entailing abuse of humanity has its roots in political misgivings and decisions (or the lack of it). The current examples of the Syrian civil war, unrest in Palestine, Rohingya genocide, persecution of Hindus and non-Muslims in Pakistan, insurgency in Balochistan, dispute over Kashmir, and even inter-tribal conflicts in the Northeast and the cooled-off demand for Gorkhaland, all have their origin in political laxity and also have possible resolution in political discourse. It comes to be established that any scope of violation of human rights is a fall-out of loop-holes from leaving unaddressed certain aspects of a dispute.

In a recent development, the chasm between the Trump administration and the United Nations widened with the USA withdrawing from membership of Human Rights Council because it is a "cesspool of political bias". This is speculated to have come in the wake of other domestic ongoings in America with regard to poverty, but what particularly rings a bell is the ghastly and globally-condemned act of caging close to 2000 migrant children along the Mexican border after deceitfully and forcefully separating them from their parents. Children as young as 3 months are reported to have been yanked away from their care-givers in execution of the 'Zero Tolerance' policy against unauthorised entry in the USA. What clearly looks like violation of human rights to the rest of the world, America justifies it for its national interest. And with quitting the human rights council, there is no obligation to act in keeping with the norms.

The pertinent thing to understand in this episode is that if a state is rich and influential enough, it can afford to take to aberrations, whether it is designing a specific policy which flies in the face of securing human rights or even the aggrandised pledge to deal with global climate change. The second-largest emitter of greenhouse gas removed itself from the global treaty last year because it was not conducive to domestic American employment situation. Despite these high-profile walk-outs, there is little doubt that the USA will sustain itself in the foreseeable future and continue to wield considerable power internationally. The reason for this is America's robust economy, its foothold in strategic locations beyond its own territory, and its internal strength and fortitude (the legacy inherited from previous leaderships) to dictate the terms it thinks best for itself foremost.

It stands established that in order to wield any amount of influence internationally, a state must be internally impenetrably fortified. USA, despite its walk-outs and China for its aggressively expansionist propensity are facts that confirm this. International entities like the UN may appear as an umbrella body with a common purpose, but are controlled and directed by its most powerful members. The international community has been rendered helpless to constant disregard to humanity in the conflict zone of Palestine because of the formidable Israel and its terms. The stateless Rohingya people will not be accommodated in the numerous ghost town in China because China has its priorities in place. In this regard, the human rights council is understandably a den to protect human rights abusers. As for the latest matter to spotlight India in the international arena, Kashmir, the decision to bring in NSG comes painfully late in the day. But as matters in the state have dramatically unfolded, there is hope to materialise significant positive changes striven for internally which will definitely make a mark externally.

(The author is Senior Copy Editor with Millennium Post. The views are strictly personal)

Kavya Dubey

Kavya Dubey

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