That’s Debatable

By Will Moriarty | Webmaster

I was infuriated when I heard that China and Russia vetoed the United Nations resolution condemning the Syrian government’s recent actions on February 4. It reminded me of how much politics and power have gotten in the way of human rights, especially in the case of the decisions of major global powers. I was also reminded of the fact that all these global powers sit on the U.N. Security Council and are the ultimate deciders of what the U.N. does. In general, it really showed how wildly ineffective and flawed the world’s political climate has become.

Many Americans would think, “Oh yeah, China and Russia might not care about blatant human rights violations, but the United States is the defender of democracy and freedom; they would never ignore a group of people being subjected to violence and oppression.” These Americans would be sadly mistaken. The U.S. has repeatedly allowed political ties and military strategies to get in the way of supporting human rights. The United States has vetoed more than 10 U.N. resolutions condemning Israeli actions against the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese people. Altogether, the U.S. has vetoed over 80 resolutions and simply ignored some U.N. regulations. Sixty three states ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the use of cluster bombs, a weapon that has caused more than 100,000 civilian casualties. The U.S. is not one of these countries. This is likely because it has roughly a quarter of the world’s cluster bombs and has continuously put them to use. The U.S. dropped almost three million cluster bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The areas most heavily ravaged by cluster bombs include those countries, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. What makes this problem even worse is the fact that many of the people oppressed by these political decisions are not even permitted to have representation in the U.N. China does not allow Tibet or Taiwan into the U.N., and the United States and Israel will not allow Palestinian representation.

The recent protests throughout the Middle East have highlighted the need and desire for democracy and governments that do not interfere with human rights. People of all races and religions have risen up together to fight oppressive powers. People in countries like the United States and Russia may be living in more comfortable situations, but if they want to maintain their comfort, they might want to pay attention to what their own governments are really fighting for. In order to have a peaceful, cooperative, cosmopolitan global community, human rights need to be protected without exception, and all groups of people need to be heard.