Amnesty International and the United Nations

Institutional Affiliation
Human Rights: Amnesty International and the United Nations
The main aspect of analysis of this paper is to compare the United
Nations (UN) and Amnesty International (AI). The main objective of the
comparison is to evaluate how International Organizations and
Non-Governmental Organizations work together in an issue related to
human rights on three dimensions including norm-generation, enforcement
and monitoring. The United Nations is a general purpose international
organization while the Amnesty International is a single purpose
non-governmental organization. The UN Charter embodies the international
moral codes. Human right is as a result of the Western Liberalism.
Clearly, it is right to state that the United Nations is a home to all
the civilizations in the world. Human rights necessitates that the
welfare of all individuals be given the first priority (Abram & Chayes,
1995). The United Nations fulfills this mandate by putting the interests
of its member states above everything else. Basically, Amnesty
International is of, by and for individuals whilst the United Nations is
of, by and for governments (Anna-Karin, 2005).
As a result of the aforementioned differences, the paper will comprise
an argument that both the United Nations, which is considered the
paramount International Organization in the world and Amnesty
International, termed as preeminent human rights Non-government
Organization play complementary roles. Particularly, the United Nations
bears more power in norm generating role and standard setting, but
scrawny in the enforcement and monitoring of the state behavior. On the
other hand, Amnesty International is not in a position to exercise much
authority of global human rights values due to its western origins, lack
of accountability and representational units, and narrowness of
interest. Nonetheless, due to the freedom given to it by governments has
made it become an effective watchdog to fight human rights violations.
For the reason that the United Nations is an intergovernmental
organization, it has been made a reliable library for official reports
from its member states on the way human rights is progressing in their
countries. Amnesty international has non-governmental nature and this
gives it a greater impartiality to its reports on human rights practices
of states. Further the article will challenge us to use theories in the
non-governmental organizations with regards to their roles, the effects
of the state-based realist edifice of International Relations
scholarship, and the inviolability of sovereign territory behind which
human rights can be abused with impunity.
The Mission, Role, Authority, and Funding of the United Nations and
Amnesty International
Amnesty international (AI) is non-governmental organization (NGO) whose
main concern is human rights. Amnesty International has more 3 million
members and supporters across the globe. The mission of the organization
is to carry out research, as well as generate actions to thwart and put
a stop to severe human rights violations, as well as ensure that those
whose human rights have been violated receive justice (Anna-Karin,
2005).
AI was established in 1961 in London after the article, The Forotten
Prisoners was published by the lawyer Peter Benenson in the Observer on
28 May 1961. The role of the non-governmental organization is to create
awareness and enlighten people on human rights abuses, as well as carry
out campaigns for conformity with the international laws and standards.
Moreover, Amnesty Organization mobilizes the public to exert pressure on
authorities which allow for abuse to take place. In 1977, AI was awarded
the Nobel Peace Prize for launching a campaign against torture. The year
following, it received a United Nations Prize in the human rights
discipline.
Within the international human rights organizations field, AI has the
most popular name, and the longest history. As a result many deem it as
the best institution to lay down the standards to be followed for the
entire movement. The non-governmental nature of the organization has
given it a greater impartiality to its reports on human rights practices
of states (David & McGrew, 2002). Nonetheless it has less authority of
global human rights value for the reason that it suffers accountability
and representational deficiency, as well as its western origin.
Amnesty International gets its funding primarily from its membership and
donations from the public. The organization does not acknowledge funding
from the political organizations and governments for its operations.
This is because they believe that by being financially independent, they
have the freedom to applaud or criticize the governments with
impartiality and objectivity. On the other hand, the United Nations
(UN) is an international organization (IGO) with a general purpose
responsibility. The United Nations was established in 1945, following
the end of the Second World War to replace the League of Nations. The
organization has its headquarters in New York City with other offices in
Vienna, Geneva and Nairobi. The main objective of its formation was so
as to end conflicts amidst states and provide avenues for dialogue.
United Nations has many affiliated organizations that help it carry out
its missions.
The organizations responsibilities include endorsing and ensuring
collaboration in international security, international security, human
rights, economic development, and civil rights, social progress, and
democracy, attainment of enduring world tranquility, political
liberties, and civil liberties. When the organization was being founded,
it only had 51 countries as its followers. By 2011, the member states
had increased to 193. The organization has numerous offices across the
globe. Together with its specialized agencies, it decides on
administrative and substantive issues in its annual general meetings.
The United Nations has six bodies including
The General Assembly which is its central deliberative assembly
The Security Council which is responsible for particular solutions for
security and peace
The Economic and Social Council responsible with ensuring global
economic and social collaboration, as well as development
The Secretariat which is mandated with providing studies, facilities and
information required by the United Nations
The International Court of Justice which is its principal judicial organ
The United Nations Trusteeship Council
Besides, the aforementioned six organs, United Nations has other system
agencies including the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health
Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF. The
organization’s most important position is the Office of
Secretary-General currently held by South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon.
As a result of the intergovernmental organization of the United Nations,
it has become an authoritative institution. It oversees official reports
from its member states on the way human rights are progressing in their
countries. The United Nations has more authority as compared to Amnesty
International in norm generating role and standard setting. The United
Nations receives its funding from evaluated and voluntary contributions
from its members. Further, it is able to finance its missions from the
sponsorship and grants it gets from its stakeholders, well-wishers and
sponsors.
How Human Rights arose and Manifested itself in Syria and North Korea
Syria is under the rule of a dictatorial regime, whereby the president
is responsible in making major decisions through the assistance of the
Arab Socialist Renaissance members. The three government branches
(legislature, executive, and judiciary) are dominated by the president
together with the party leaders. The republic is evidenced to hold
elections that are not fair or free, such as the 2007 presidential
referendum and parliamentary elections. This has been confirmed by the
international standards. In spite of the lifting of the emergency law by
the Syrian government, it continued performing military and police
operations towards the civilians. The nation’s regime continued
employing lethal and indiscriminate force to suppress civilian protests,
encompassing assault by the military. For instance, in April 2012, the
military attacked civilians in places of worship, funeral proceedings,
schools, hospitals, and breadlines in the whole nation claiming that
they were insurgency safe havens (United States Department of State,
2012). The Human Rights Watch (HRW) put forth that ten breadlines were
armored by the regime, whilst Aleppo’s main hospital was bombed. The
regime sustained the employment of lethal force against its civilians in
persistent violations of humanitarian law and international human
rights.
According to a study carried out by the United Nations, over 60,000
people had died from the time when the crisis started in 2011, over 2.5
million had become internally displaced, and over 576,000 registered as
immigrants with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (United
States Department of State, 2012). Death rate also rose from about 1,000
every month in January 2011 to over 5,000 every month by July the same
year.
The main human rights issues faced in the country included enormous
nationwide assaults, and strategic employment of civilian killings with
an aim of intimidating as well as controlling, aiming of activists, and
employing children and other citizens as human shield (United States
Department of State, 2012). Citizens were denied of their rights to
modify the government, rights to freedom of speech and movement, medical
assistance, and mobility association. In addition, there were other
major issues including disappearances and kidnappings, abuse and
torture killing of journalists, protesters, professionals, and
bystanders assault and rape poor custody and prisons environment
random arrests and imprisonment unfair trials and lack of freedom of
academic and press. The practice of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)
was restricted by the government, particularly those working on
democracy and civil society. There was high level of impunity as a
result of the failure to arrest or prosecute human rights violators, and
instead sheltered them.
The regime controlled endeavors to probe suspected violations of human
rights and refused to collaborate with independent bodies which aimed at
investigations such violations. The establishment of local human rights
organizations was also denied by the government. Those present
functioned unlawfully in the nation, and reports were provided that
domestic activists were harassed by the government through travel bans
and surveillance. In most cases, the organizations members were targeted
by the government for torture, harassment, arrest, incarceration, and
execution. International human rights and nongovernmental organizations
were not allowed in the nation. The Human Rights Watch, one of the
organizations that were barred from visiting the nation, reported that
the Syrian regime denied of having committed any kind of human rights
ill-treatment. The activities performed by the humanitarian aid
organizations were also restricted, particularly along access points and
supply routes.
In April 2012, the regime consented on ending the hostilities in line
with the United Nations (UN) and Arab League Joint Special Envoy’s Six
Point Peace Plan (United States Department of State, 2012). Although
military observers were employed by the UN to observe the same as stated
in the agreement, their activities and access were restricted by the
regime, which violated and broke the agreement. Another agreement on
cease fire made on October the same year also failed. The regime failed
to collaborate with various United Nations bodies encompassing UNHCR.
Although the constitution provides for human rights and opportunities
regardless of gender, race, social status, and language, the government
has not been able to enforce the law efficiently.
In North Korea, human rights are highly restricted. The civilians are
denied freedom of speech, movement and of press. Other human rights
issues encompass poor prison conditions, lack of freedom of religion and
of expression, lack of minority rights, persecution of Christians,
forced abortions and prostitution (Jiyoung & Weatherley, 2008). The
government is the only agent responsible in operating television, radio,
and providing news. Estimates indicate that over 150,000 political
detainees are held in concentration camps, and are subjected to forced
labor, torture, and execution. The government controls the entry of
foreigners in the nation, whilst the activities of those who manage to
enter are highly controlled.
The United Nations, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch
have highly condemned human rights in North Korea. These organizations
have urged the regime to end the widespread human rights violations
which encompass random detentions and public executions. Since 2003, the
UN’s General Assembly has every year implemented a resolution that
condemns human rights record of North Korea (Jiyoung & Weatherley,
2008). However, these resolutions have been rejected by the government.
The regime abuses, arrests, tortures, and detains the civilians
regularly as a result of “economic crimes”. The economic crimes as
claimed by the government are individuals’ ways of engaging in
economic activities with an aim of supporting their basic rights and
livelihood. In order to investigate the same, the United the United
Nations Human Rights Council created a commission to investigate
violations of human rights in the country. In every November of the year
since 2005, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
condemns the country due to its conduct.
Since 1998, the regime has significantly lessened food distribution, and
this has forced North Koreans families to depend on their farming
capabilities, engage in businesses, as well as trading in the extremely
tentative regulatory and political environment. The law controls and
restricts trade and other economic activities, and enforces foreign
exchange controls. The nation’s restrictions of the freedom of
movement and carrying out of economic activities, together with
government failure to offer services infringes article 25 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 11 of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Amnesty
International, n.d).
How United Nations and Amnesty International worked together to address
the issue of Human Rights in Syria and North Korea
The United Nations is an Intergovernmental Organization (IGO), whilst
Amnesty International is a nongovernmental organization (NGO). The UN is
the globe’s superlative IGO whilst Amnesty International is the
globe’s major human rights NGO. The UN Charter is responsible for
embodying the global moral code. The Western Liberalism has resulted in
the development of human rights. Most countries are members of the UN,
which acts as a meeting point for the entire civilizations of the globe.
Through this, the interests of member nations as well as individual
human rights are protected. Unlike the Amnesty International which is
of, by, and for persons, the UN is of, by, for regimes. Through this, it
is true to say that these two organizations play complementary
responsibilities.
Although the UN is commanding in a norm generating and standard setting
role, it is weak in enforcement and supervision of a nation’s actions.
On the other hand, Amnesty International has answerability and
representational deficiencies, constriction of interests, and a western
foundation, making it incapable of functioning as a commanding expositor
of worldwide human rights principles. AI has sufficient regimes freedom
and this allows it to be an efficient overseer against the violations of
human rights. The intergovernmental nature of the United Nations makes
it a commanding collection of official reports regarding the progress of
human rights on its member states, whilst the nongovernmental nature of
AI gives superior impartiality to its reports on human rights practices
among the member states.
The United Nations and Amnesty International have highly condemned human
rights in North Korea. These organizations have urged the regime to end
the widespread human rights violations which encompass random detentions
and public executions. Since 2003, the UN’s General Assembly has every
year implemented a resolution that condemns human rights record of North
Korea. However, these resolutions have been rejected by the government.
The regime abuses, arrests, tortures, and detains the civilians
regularly as a result of “economic crimes”. The economic crimes as
claimed by the government are individuals’ ways of engaging in
economic activities with an aim of supporting their basic rights and
livelihood. In order to investigate the same, the United the United
Nations Human Rights Council created a commission to investigate
violations of human rights in the country. In every November of the year
since 2005, the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
condemns the country due to its conduct.
In April 2012, the republic of Syria consented on ending the hostilities
in line with the United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Envoy’s
Six Point Peace Plan (United States Department of State, 2012). Although
military observers were employed by the UN to observe the same as stated
in the agreement, their activities and access were restricted by the
regime, which violated and broke the agreement. Another agreement on
cease fire made on October the same year also failed. The regime failed
to collaborate with various United Nations bodies encompassing UNHCR.
In spite of the attempts of the UN and AI to solve the issue of human
rights in Syria and North Korea, they have not been successful
considering that human rights violations still exists. Besides, the two
regimes refused to collaborate with the organizations in solving the
same, and violated every resolution agreed upon. Whist the UN is
answerable to its member states Amnesty International is answerable to
its financiers. This is based on the fact that the UN is made up of
member states, and given the mandate of safeguarding human rights and
ensuring peace amongst other responsibilities. AI on the other hand is
an NGO that is supported financially by various groups and given the
mandate of ensuring human rights are protected.
Strengths and Weaknesses of United Nations and Amnesty International
Amnesty international is an organization with many benefits and good
trait. This however, does not mean that the organization is devoid of
weaknesses. A very significant flaw of this organization is bias. In
most cases this bias is associated with ideology and selection. In the
past a number of nations including, the US, Russia and China have raised
pertinent issues relating to how the organization handles issues at the
international arena, criticizing it for failure to look at both sides of
the coin and to take security matters with the gravity that they deserve
(Amnesty International, 2002).
Though it may seem that this criticism emanates from the fact that these
nations have appalling human rights records, Amnesty International has
sometimes tended to concentrate more on some countries than others. This
is what makes the organization appear biased. For instance Amnesty
International was seen to give too much focus on Israel than on Sudan.
The organization only issued 52 reports on human rights violations
during the Darfur crisis but issued 192 reports on human rights abuse in
Israel (Amnesty International, 2002). Biasness is also perceived as
result of the people the organization employs. It is likely that a
Palestinian working in the Gulf has higher chances of joining the
organization than a poor peasant farmer in Iraq. In such a case the
Palestinian will be biased especially if it is a crisis concerning his
or her country.
In many cases the Amnesty International stand has provoked intense
opposition from government especially when their human rights violations
are made public. The US during Bush’s administration refused to accept
the findings of the organization, when it was suggested that US was
maltreating detainees during the war on terror. This was a change in
stance, at first US was for the organizations recommendation especially
during the Soviet era, but when it was against it, it was termed as
misle4ading and dubious by republicans.
The way that the Amnesty International does it things also forms a part
of its weaknesses. The organization is involved in a lot of strikes,
campaigning and letter writing. It has come increasingly important for
the organization to diversify its techniques in the way it does its
things. It is evident that Amnesty main concern is to embarrass human
rights violators. In many cases the victims do not care about what the
outside world feels or thinks about their human rights record, like the
case of North Korea. Despite the pressure from Amnesty International
North Korean government has continued to abuse human rights. The country
has also significantly isolated itself from the outside world especially
western nations and The US. The techniques used by Amnesty International
need to expand to be able to put considerable pressure on government
perceived to violate human rights even when they curtail its access to
information. Lack of a solid source of funding is another weakness of
the organization (Amnesty International, 2002). The organization
performs its work with funds donated to it which is never enough. The
limited contribution made by organization to Amnesty has prevented the
organization from realizing its many goals.
The key strength of Amnesty International is volunteer’s will power
and determination. Amnesty pursues and persists in a direction that its
feels is right. Their stand is extremely constant and vibrant. Amnesty
members are dedicated and hardworking. Individuals join this
organization with a mission to make the world a better place by ensuring
that every one is treated fairy and that their rights are respected.
The United Nations was formed with the main objective of maintain global
peace and preventing the occurrence of another world war. In most cases,
the UN finds itself in the middle of unending conflicts and war against
nuclear threat. Peace keeping has become the most salient role of the
organization. The UN has many agencies that are tasked with the burden
of ensuring the goals of the organization are achieved. Since it was
founded the organization has touched on almost every aspect of life.
As of September 2001 the UN had developed 54 peace keeping forces to
maintain and bring back peace in different parts of the world (Eristavi,
2011). The UN has presided over many negotiations meant to bring harmony
to conflicting groups or countries. Millions of people have been saved
from eminent misery and tribulations by averting the occurrence of war.
The UN has also been very vibrant in promoting human rights. Many
agreements have been made on civil, political, cultural and social
rights. The UN investigates incidences of individual and state violation
of human rights. Through the powerful agency of human rights commission,
the UN has focused the world attention on crimes against humanity,
impunity, torture and arbitrary detention in a move to build up
international pressure to coerce governments to respect human rights.
The UN would not be able to perform its functions without the
contribution of member states. This is a major strength as each member
is supposed to contribute funds to the organization. This empowers the
UN agencies to carry out different roles as mandated to them. This
funding also ensures that the agencies are autonomous as they do not
have specific funders who would threaten to withdraw funding if certain
conditions are not followed. It also ensures that the agencies are able
to effectively and efficiently reach out even to the most remote
societies or countries. It is through such funding that the relief
programs are executed, peace keeping mission are possible and human
rights commission are able to conduct their watchdog roles.
The UN has a clear chain of command to ensure effective performance of
duties (Eristavi, 2011). The organization is headed by a Secretary
General elected by member states for a period of five years. The various
agencies are also headed by chairpersons with clear mandate. This makes
sure that national issues are separated from the organization’s agenda
and that those that are appointed to serve in the organization do not
have divided attention. Each agency is mandated to carry out specific
roles. The UN has achieved many goals from when it was founded. The
journey has not been without barriers and bottlenecks. This organization
has portrayed many weaknesses especially when it is expected to act to
avert political and economic disasters.
The veto power the permanent member of the Security Council has done
more harm than good. Countries with the veto power include, the US,
Britain, France, China and Russia. Any resolution passed by the general
assembly must be adopted by these five members with veto power. In case
one member refuses to adopt the proposal it can not be adopted. This has
created unnecessary stalemate in the past. For instance in the recent
past China and Russia have used their veto power to avoid military
intervention in Syrian by the UN. During the cold war the US and the
former Soviet Union used their veto power to frustrate each other in the
Security Council. This has posed a great hazard especially when veto
power is used as a tool to hit against nations perceived as enemies.
This also significantly curtailed the effectiveness of the Security
Council.
The UN is dependent on member contribution to finance its activities
across the globe. Poor nations especially in the developing world
sometimes are not able to wield enough resources and contribute to the
UN. Reliance on member states for funding has also limited the autonomy
of the UN agencies (Eristavi, 2011). The UN has been described as a
toothless dog due to in ability to respond to global issues when it is
necessary. The institution lacks a clear mechanism to carry out its
mandate and relies on what member states agree in the general assembly
and Security Council.
Member nations of the UN are also members of other regional
organizations. This has created factions within the UN as members from a
given geographical area come with fixed minds from resolutions made at
the regional level. There is also divided loyalty. In most case regional
interest has supersede global interest complicating the work of the UN
agencies. In other cases the work of this organization overlaps with
that of UN agencies. The influence of developed nations at the UN has
also undermined its work. Some institution created such as the
International Criminal Court in the Hague has been perceived to aim at
specific regions and of gross bias. The ‘big boys’ rarely receive
the wrath of this institutions, in most cases the victims being poor
nations that have little influence in the global arena.
Human Rights in Relation to Global Governance Theory
Governance entails the ways in which institutions as well as individuals
manage their affairs. Through this, diverse and conflicting interests
are accommodated while the responsible bodies take cooperative actions.
Institutions have agreed upon informal and formal arrangements which
protect their interests. Karns and Mingst (2010) has outlined various
pieces of global governance. These are activities and arrangements that
have been implemented by nations with an aim of solving problems that
arise. These pieces and their relationship with human rights are
explained herein.
International Law
Since the 1960s, the public international law has expanded largely.
Albeit, the International Court of justice recognizing five sources of
the law, much growth has been noted in judicial decisions, general
principles of law and treaty scholars (Abram & Chayes, 1995). For the
purposes of global governance, a major limitation of public
international law is that it only applies to nations and not to crimes
against humanity or war crimes. The law cannot bind individuals or
international criminals but can establish norms for states to observe
and protect its citizens. For instance, in both Syria and North Korea,
international law has been used to impose sanctions so as to enhance the
protection of the population of the two states.
International Norms and Regimes
A number of international conventions lay down obligations to states
that are not binding. Such conventions are accepted as a norm or a
standard way of conduct which has commonly come to be referred to as
soft law. Some human rights are good examples of such soft law. The
framework of such conventions outlines principles and norms that
countries agree on. Since the convention are not binding then it is upon
the government and other interested stake holders to ensure that they
maintain and respect an acceptable standard and follow the norm as a
matter of ensuring global order than out of pressure
International regimes cover practices, norms and rules that demonstrate
their compliance and acceptance of rules and the extent of convergence
of their expectations. Intergovernmental organizations budget, legal
personality and decision making criteria may be within a particular
given issue area. Nonetheless individual nongovernmental organization
does not in reality constitute a regime. Some issues such as human
rights abuses do not necessarily require a recognized organization that
functions, to determine whether there are human rights abuses or not.
Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)
IGOs, which are tied together by official intergovernmental agreements,
include UN, International Court of Justice, United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
[UNHCR]) (Karns & Mingst, 2010). The functions of IGOs encompass
information collection, delivering aid and services, monitoring trends,
and settling disputes in order to achieve cooperation. By doing so, they
generate chances for member nations, in addition to exercising influence
and enforcing constraints on the processes and policies of the states.
State regimes are obligated to take positions on matters and their
actions are monitored. Through proper implementation procedures and
decision making processes, IGOs are able to coordinate participation of
member states. They facilitate the establishment of norms, principles,
and rules in which nations are supposed to align their guidelines and
policies on. Such principles encompass respect of human rights and
freedoms. The UN has played a major role in solving the human rights
issue both in Syria and North Korea.
Nongovernmental Organizations
These are private organizations voluntarily formed by members or
individuals with the same goal. NGOs mostly advocate for peace, human
rights, and environmental protection. Others are formed to provide aid
and relief services to societies in need. Their main aim is to create
awareness on various issues important to the community. In governance,
NGOs monitor the execution of environmental regulations and human rights
norms. NGOs work together with IGOs to fulfill their mission. An example
of such an organization that has been of help to Syria and North Korea
is Amnesty International in collaboration with the United Nations have
worked towards rebuilding the two nations by reminding the governing
authorities of their Responsibility to Protect.
Ad Hoc Arrangements and Global Conferences
If an IGO does not fulfill its mission and the situation does not
warrant the endorsement of a new one, ad hoc groups may be created.
Global conferences on the other hand are created to address such issues
as women’s rights, poverty, environmental degradation and human
rights. Apparently, the global conferences such as the Fourth World
conference and the Earth Summit in Rio have become significant in the
global political conferences for solving interdependence issues and
restoring livelihoods (Abram & Chayes, 1995). The Geneva conference is
one that is meant to find a political conference to address the
conflicts in Syria. Besides, the diplomatic conference is one that
suggested that if Syria and North Korea fail to address their human
rights issues, and then General Assembly should act with respect to the
same.
Private Governance
Private governance entails commanding decision making in different areas
including the regime and the sovereign state. Examples encompass private
bond-rating agencies, global accounting standards, private industry
governance, and rules and actions of International Chamber of Commerce
(Karns & Mingst, 2010). These bodies have the capacity of shaping the
behaviors of the government by enforcing their rules.
In order to solve the problem of human rights in Syria and North Korea,
these pieces are working together. The various IGOs, NGOs, international
laws, international regimes and norms, as well as private governance
interact with an aim of solving international issues. They strive in
making specialized decisions which are of interest to the member states
and at the same time, protecting human freedoms and rights. According to
Karns and Mingst (2010) global governance fails to generate a hierarchy.
Instead, there exists a multiactor standpoint in terms of global
politics. Therefore, it is obvious that these pieces as well as actors,
encompassing multinational corporations and experts are related and
function in networks (Karns & Mingst, 2010).
Origin and significance of the R2P concept (Responsibility to Protect)
with respect to Syria and North Korea
The responsibility to protect (R2P) is an initiative that was founded by
the UN in 2005. It comprises a set of principles founded on the notion
that sovereignty is a responsibility not a right (Bellamy, 2009). R2P is
concerned with preventing and stopping war crimes, genocide, ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity. Its responsibility to protect
acts on three pillars including,
A state is mandated with protecting its citizens from mass atrocities
The international community should assist nations attain their principal
goals
In case a nation does not protect its population or its peaceful
measures have not been a success, then the international community
should intervene through coercive measures with the military
intervention being the last option.
Based on the aforementioned pillars R2P practice is further subdivided
into the responsibility to prevent, responsibility to react and the
responsibility to rebuild. Within the international community this
initiative is a norm embodied in international law. Its roles include
providing a scaffold for using the already existing tools such as
economic sanctions and mediation to prevent mass atrocities (Bellamy,
2009). Different institutions including regional organizations, civil
society organizations, and states have a part to play in the initiative
process. The authority to resort to military intervention rests wholly
on the UN.
The history of R2P starts after the genocide in Rwanda and the failure
of the international community to intervene. As a result of this
failure, Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General asked when the
international community should intervene for the sake of protecting
citizens (Bellamy, 2009). In 2000, the government of Canada founded the
International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS).
In 2001, Gareth Evans among other scholars recommended the phrase
‘responsibility to protect’ as a means to circumvent the phrases
‘right to intervene’ or ‘obligation to intervene’ as well as
ensure that the humanitarian crises are resolved (Evans, 2006). This
followed the release of the Responsibility to Protect report by ICISS.
The report indicated that sovereignty is a responsibility and the
international community should prevent mass atrocities. R2P comprised of
measures to rebuild by finding the cause of the mass atrocities and
ensuring that justice prevails.
The African Union initiated the notion that it was the responsibility of
the international community to intervene if a state fails to protect its
citizens (Bellamy, 2009). In 2005, the AU embraced the Ezulwini
Consensus, which welcomed Responsibility to Protect as a tool for
preventing mass atrocities.
The people of Syria began to rally against the dictatorial rule of its
government by engaging in protests across the state in May 2011. The
response of the government left the protesters oppressed with around
2,000 citizens dead and thousand others severely injured. Moreover, it
deprived them necessities such as water, food and medical services. By
June 26 2011, over 12,000 Syrians fled to Turkey for safety. Ban
Ki-moon, the UN secretary general denounced this violence demanding the
government to stop using force against its citizens. The Human Rights
Council of the UN reminded Syria of its role to protect its citizens as
stated in the R2P initiative, but this did not stop the atrocities.
Attempts were made to enforce sanctions in Syria but they were rejected
on the basis that Syrian crises did not threaten global tranquility
(Simmons & Oudraat, 2001). Syria received sanctions and isolations from
a number of states and institutions including the Arab League, European
Union and United States. Notwithstanding all this, the humanitarian
crisis in Syria did not respond positively to the R2P UN initiative.
The human rights in North Korea are highly restricted. The government
denies its citizens freedom of speech, movement and of press. Other
human rights issues encompass poor prison conditions, lack of freedom of
religion and of expression, lack of minority rights, persecution of
Christians, forced abortions and prostitution (Lee & East Asia
Institute, 2012).
The United Nations, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch
have highly condemned human rights in North Korea. These organizations
have urged the regime to end the widespread human rights violations
which encompass random detentions and public executions reminding it of
its responsibility to protect the state (Miles, 2013). Since 2003, the
UN’s General Assembly has every year implemented a resolution that
condemns human rights record of North Korea. However, these resolutions
have been rejected by the government. The regime abuses, arrests,
tortures, and detains the civilians regularly as a result of “economic
crimes”. The economic crimes as claimed by the government are
individuals’ ways of engaging in economic activities with an aim of
supporting their basic rights and livelihood. In order to investigate
the same, the United the United Nations Human Rights Council created a
commission to investigate violations of human rights in the country (Lee
& East Asia Institute, 2012). In every November of the year since 2005,
the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly condemns the
country due to its conduct. Since 1998, the regime has significantly
lessened food distribution, and this has forced North Koreans families
to depend on their farming capabilities, engage in businesses, as well
as trading in the extremely tentative regulatory and political
environment. The law controls and restricts trade and other economic
activities, and enforces foreign exchange controls. Nonetheless, the R2P
initiative has also not been a success.
How the United Nations strives to Respect States Sovereignty but get
involved in cases of Severe Human Rights (Syria and North Korea)
The United Nations Charter articulates the view that member states are
sovereign entities, juridically the same and enjoy equal rights under
the international law. The organization recognizes states’ rights to
exercise sovereignty and establish their political status within their
territorial fields (Osiander, 2001). In short, the UN endeavors to
respect sovereignty of states, but in many cases like severe human
rights, it intervenes. One of the main objectives of the UN is to attain
global cooperation in resolving global issues of a cultural,
humanitarian, social, and economic nature (Osiander, 2001). Its mandate
is to promote and encourage respect for basic freedoms and for human
rights for all persons fairly.
To this end, the UN endeavors at protecting individual human rights by
making certain that all persons obtain humane treatment. The
organization believes that all countries have a responsibility of
promoting global human right’s respect and preserving humanity. North
Korea and Syria are two nations whereby severe cases of human rights
issues have been evidenced. The UN has taken a step to intervene in
these countries, as it is its responsibility to protect individual human
rights. In spite of the fact that state regimes have the initial
responsibility of protecting human rights, it is true that the
governments of Syria and North Korea are the ones responsible in
depriving people of their rights and freedoms. The regimes have
instituted policies that are responsible in violating fundamental human
rights. This has resulted in devastating impacts encompassing crimes
against humanity. Bearing in mind that the states are responsible in
violating human rights, the United Nations, being an outside force has
taken step of intervening with an aim of safeguarding human rights.
Future of UN and Amnesty International
The contribution of UN and Amnesty International in ensuring human
rights are upheld can not be understated. The use of global consensus
has been very successful, especially where force is not necessary. All
the same measures need to be taken to empower regional organization both
governmental and non governmental to fully realize their goals. The UN
and Amnesty International should nurture a more full-bodied role for
regional organizations. Civil society groups committed to liberal values
should also be empowered as important agents to execute human rights.
Furthermore the UN should strive to revamp human rights council and
global architecture, For instance the membership of crucial commissions
such as UNCHRC should be universal, to give room for governments to
initiate human rights program and so as not to give advantage to
illiberal government when they triumph in elections.
Future of North Korea and Syria
At the moment, the future of Syria and North Korea does not look
promising. However the situation can change by bringing down the data
wall surrounding the two states, as well as exposing their crimes
against humanity. It is believed that this may lead to the desired
change.
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