Successes And Failures Of Un Control Of Human Rights Violations International Law Essay

1. United Nations signed Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948 for protection of human rights and maintenance of world peace. Regrettably, the record on this front has not been encouraging. Although UN has been successful in avoiding third World War in the past six decades but the painful reality, however, is that wars, some international and several internal, have taken place and produced casualties estimated to have exceeded those of World War II.

Failures of UN

2. The performance United Nations in Somalia was fitful. Its absolute failure in maintaining even some impression of peace in Bosnia is a serious and ineradicable blemish on its image and has sternly damaged its credibility. To the victims of the Bosnian conflict, be they Muslims, Croats or Serbs, the UN has become a malicious joke, a dirty word. Feeble impotence of UN forces to counter substantial and atrocious violations of basic human rights had deeply shaken the faith of the international community in the world organization. [] 

3. Since its inception UN has shown failure around the world except in the case of Kuwait, the UN has been incapable to take valuable and absolute measures to implement peace. Under the influence of this incapability, the organization has in practice employed other means to preserve international peace, tranquility and security. UN peace keeping missions around the world especially concentrated in African contentment are directed towards this effort.

4. The UN does not enjoy an exceptional record, in these missions especially after its failures in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda. The problems persistent to the UN Peacekeepers are:-

(a) The fundamental disagreement over the allocation of authority among the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary General.

(b) The absence of any clear and coherent policy.

(c) Widely different perceptions about what constitutes ‘threat to peace’.

(d) The Security Council is essentially a political body and its decisions have largely been swayed by political considerations in many cases.

(e) There have been reservations and concerns that the ‘integrity’ of the Charter may be impaired by political tendencies.

(f) Over dominance of the five Permanent members of the Security Council due to the veto power that they enjoy.

5. There numerous instruments existing for the protection of human rights as mentioned in Chapter I and UN Charter has clearly laid down the Human Rights which all human beings universally enjoy as seen in Chapter III. It is extremely surprising that despite all those lofty resolutions and conferences, the violation of human rights is so common and frequent.

(a) Central American Region. Violation of human rights in this part of the world remains more or less in intransience. In Guatemala and El- Salvador, the torture and kidnappings were quite regular. In these Central American countries such violations denied many of their basic liberties through imprisonment, mistreatment of prisoners and denial of due legal procedures. In Nicaragua a state of emergency overruling all accepted rights was imposed and the UNO hardly took any notice of these violations. In Honduras and Panama thousands remain cramped in jails for no serious charges (for protests against Human Rights violations in 1987). The UN then too has remained unmoved.

(b) Tibet. In the this land of Lamas, wherein a struggle for independence is continuing for decades together, the citizens of the nation are being suppressed by military rule of martial law. The denial of basic human rights is predominantly visible, but it created no ripples in the corridors of the UNO. The opposition by the Tibetans at the time of Olympics in China was well highlighted by international media however not adequate attention was paid to their cause and protest.

(c) Arab and the Middle East Region. In the Middle East countries, mainly in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the situation remained quite ghastly for decades now. In the name of ‘Religion and Allah’, citizens have been denied free trial and investigation, many were put to axe on mere religious ‘Fatwas’. The UNO remained a quite spectator to all these misdeeds in the name of religion. The international law and basic rights as promulgated have been denied in the name of local religious law and crime and atrocities have been created publically but neither UN nor any human rights organizations have been effective in providing respite to the citizens from these dreadful crimes.

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(d) Afpak Region. The bare violation of Human Rights by the Taliban and other militant organization in the region continue with their dictatorial style of religious fundamentalism with no intervention by the UN visible on the horizon. US forces are operating in the region but they are not been able to provide much relief to the citizens of Afghanistan. [] In spite of presence US and NATO forces in the region violation in the Pakistan itself have not been influenced by the presence of these forces and the media coverage provided to them. FATA and NWFP region of these two nations is the human centre of terrorist dictatorship and need urgent UN attention.

(e) African Continent. Rwanda is set to succeed in its proffer to be part of commonwealth despite serious record of violation of human rights. In spite of such a high rate of violation by the nations and violent opposition by NGO’s that the entry into the club would encourage Kigali to raise level of violation and it will become difficult to take any action as in case of Fiji. [] Democratic Republic of Congo in which freedom of speech, the press and human rights are undermined or violently abused, in which courts fail to meet international standards and country which has invaded its neighbors four times since 1994 the killings by Tutsis and retaliatory killings of Hutus. [] Although government in Darfur has increased deployment of police and security personnel against gender based bias and sentenced several security personnel for rape the human right situation in Darfur is still grim, the town of Tawilla is completely deserted after police attack. [] 

(f) Human Rights Violation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The convolution of the ethnic problem and ethnic hatred has been the origin of the human carnage which has resulted in an unparalleled toll of human lives. Campaigns launched for ethnic cleansing devastated this Balkan republic. European community and US largely perceived that the Serbs were responsible for the massacre of the Muslims. International community has failed to evaluation the civil war sit in Bosnia dispassionately and blamed the Serbs. In fact, the failure of UN to bring about a resolution in the discord between various groups in the state has also been one of the major reasons for such a large scale violation of human rights.

(g) Oil for Food Scandal. The program was part of a inclusive set of UN- mandated sanctions intended to prevent Hussein from reconstituting a menace to his neighbors. The program allowed approximately $7 billion per year of Iraqi oil revenues to be used to procure food and medicine for the Iraqi people. It was endeavourer of UN forces that money was utilized for same but not to purchase weapons or WMD- related technology for the Hussein regime. The UN sanctions regime against Iraq, including the Oil for Food program is worth close scrutiny not because it was a scandal, although scandal there was, but because taken as a whole, it is the most successful use of international sanctions on record. [] Documenting the why and wherefores of that success is as important as correcting the shortfalls that allowed a rogue regime, in connivance with unscrupulous international businessmen, to siphon funds from UN- administered

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Iraqi accounts. [] 

(j) People Died of Starvation in Somalia. Despite the large presence of a troops of a UN security force and a faction of ceasefire observers, around Somalia the ceasefire was overlooked and in its place fighting continued with increasing brutality. The relief operations were at great risk. During the final quarter of 1992, factions in Somalia split into more and smaller factions, many of those even formally disobeyed the UN Security Council which made the situation even harder to control. No heed was paid to hundreds of poverty stricken refugees who were dying of starvation every day.  This mission in Somalia failed to control difficult situations which involve numerous parties. Given UN’s limited military strength and the impossibility to get the different warlords of Somalia to negotiate peacefully, UN attempts to maintain peace and security like that of the operation in Somalia was bound to fail. [] 

(h) Resolutions 1235 and 1503 and Its Effectiveness. When Resolution 1503 was adopted by UN, it was seen as a step further than Resolution 1235 in the development of shielding machinery. This insight probably arose from the fact that while initiatives under 1235 lie completely in the hands of the member states. Resolution 1503 gave the power to individuals and NGO’s.

(i) The Greece case. A detailed and well documented complaint against the government (1967-74) was lodged by NGO of the state but it was tossed back and forth by the working group concerned for two years. The complaint was finally dropped when the Greek military command released a large number of detainees (without changing the illogical system of detention and torture). [] 

(ii) The Uganda Case. Idi Amin’s of Uganda case was another case to surpass through the muddle established by 1503. Information and complaints concerning the administration did arrive at the commission in 1974 and again in 1976/77. Not until 1978, on the eve of Amin’s flight following the defeat by the Tanzanian Army, aided by Ugandan insurgents, did the Commission take any action at all. That action implied the form of a request to the Secretary General to appoint a special envoy to Uganda under the confidential procedure. The procedure laid down under resolution, once the subject of great hope, has purely not lived up to the expectations. It often served as screen behind which gross violators who could take shelter behind it. If the objective was to obtain prompt publicity or public action for serious human rights violations, the 1503 procedure is inappropriate. [] 

6. Delayed Action by the UN. The UN mission was designed as the mechanism to form rules of relationship between the members of international society. Since the end of World War II, there had been hardly any wars between states, but there were as many as 110 local conflicts between states. [] The military forces of 71 governments participated in these conflicts, and 135 supporter group and non-governmental forces were engaged. [] The consequences were appalling: thousands of innocent civilians have been killed in these conflicts. Over the years there has been upward trend in internal rather than interstate conflict. The UN is mostly without initiatives except to acknowledge to the invitation of warring parties, or in certain extreme cases when it intervenes to prevent abuse of human rights. The UN usually has been silent observer to the situation with a certain detachment until it reached a critical point, and intervenes only after the situation has gone out of hand. By the time an intervention is affected, the parties have already intensified their mutual detest and preventable damage is caused.

Successes of UN

7. The UN has been unprejudiced and successful setting values for setting roles, selectively successful in monitoring abuses; and almost frail in enforcement. Governments usually subordinate considerations of UN effectiveness to the principle of non-interference. However, the modesty of the achievements of the UN should not blind us to its reality. The Universal Declaration embodies the moral code, political consensus and legal synthesis of human rights. The world has grown more complex in the sixty years since. The simplicity of language belies the passion of conviction underlying them. Activists and NGO’s use the Declaration as the concrete point of reference against which to judge state actions. The Covenants require the submission of periodical reports by signatory countries, and so entail the creation of national infrastructures for the protection and promotion of human rights. It might be probably difficult to measure the successes of the UNO objectively. However it would be worthwhile to have an overview of the various achievements attributed to it over the years in the field of human rights.

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8. Democracy Promotion. UN investigated individual complaints of human rights abuse, the UN Human Rights Commission always focused world attention on cases of arbitrary detention, torture, disappearance, and has generated international pressure to be bring down pressure on governments to improve their human rights records. The United Nations has enabled people in many countries to participate in free and fair elections, including those held in Cambodia, Namibia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Mozambique, Nicaragua and South Africa. It has provided electoral advice, assistance, and monitoring of results. [] 

9. Promotion of Independence & Self Reliance. The United Nations has played a pivotal role in independence of countries that are now among its Member States. Independence of nation and its countrymen as is agreed worldwide is a fundamental human right.

10. Maintaining Tranquility and Peace. Deployment peace-keeping forces and observer missions, the United Nations has been able to restore calm to allow the negotiation process to go forward while saving millions of people from becoming casualties in the conflicts. There are presently 16 active peace-keeping forces in operation.

11. Ending Apartheid. United Nation played a important role by imposing measures like an arms prohibition segregation in sporting events, which played a major role in bringing about the downfall of the apartheid in South Africa. General Assembly called it “a crime against humanity.” UN conducted elections in April 1994 in which all South Africans were allowed to participate on an equal basis, followed by the institution of a majority government.

12. Humanitarian aid to victims of conflict. UN has provided aid to more than 50 million refugees who are victim of war, famine or persecution the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since 1951 in an abiding effort harmonized by the United Nations that often involves other agencies. UN was the first to reach for the assistance of victims of war between Sri Lankan military forces and LTTE. It provided aid in terms of food, medical and other humanitarian assistance. UN provided aid worth $ 37.5 million to the Tamil victims and pressurized the government for early resolution of conflict. UN provided aid worth $ 460 million to the victims of flood in Pakistan. [] 

13. Assistance in Promotion of Women Rights. United Nations has been working for a long time to progress the lives of women and to empower women. Several conferences during the UN-sponsored International Women’s Decade set an schema for the improvement of women and women’s rights across the globe. The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) have sponsored programs and projects to improve the quality of life for women in more than 100 countries. They include education, credit and training UN provided access to new food-production technologies and marketing opportunities, and other means of promoting women’s work.

End Notes

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