HRW has hope for Human Rights

Human Rights HRW Photo:

HRW has hope for the Human Rights situation

More and more players are protesting against autocrats and others who violate human rights, according to a Human Rights Watch  (HRW) report.


The Human Rights Organization presented its World Report 2019 on Thursday. In the 674-page long report, HRW envisages the human rights situation in the world. It’s not as bad as many think.

CEO of HRW, Kenneth Roth, states:

For while powerful actors such as the United States and the United Kingdom seem less interested in actively working for human rights issues, small countries and groups such as the Organization for Islamic Cooperation are stepping up the work of protecting human rights.

Looking back at last year, it’s not the bad news that strikes us, but the reactions to them.

It is striking how powerful the defense of human rights, democracy and respect for the laws has been. We see that in many parts of the world there is considerable popular opposition to autocratic governance.

Uses their right to vote

Among the examples highlighted in the report are protest marches in Hungary against the right-wing populist Government of Viktor Orbán, and voters who use the right to oust leaders involved in corruption, such as Malaysia, among others.

At Government level, countries such as Germany, Denmark and Finland have put strong pressure on Saudi Arabia – and stopped arms sales to the country after the murder of regime critic, Jamal Khashoggi.

Unexpected criticism

“But the most surprising “new allies” in the fight against human rights violations are the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC),” Roth singles out.

The organisation, which consists of 57 Muslim-dominated countries, has never before pointed its finger at countries other than Israel. But last year, the organisation supported criticism of Myanmar’s (Burma) treatment of the Muslim Rohingya minority.

“Certainly, OIC defended Muslims. But it has never happened before the OIC has criticised another country than Israel. This is for me the most surprising of all new findings,” Roth explains.

Latin America

In Latin America, the so-called Lima Group has for the first time promoted a motion for a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council criticising Venezuela. Roth points out that Latin American countries have previously been very hesitant to criticise human rights violations in neighbouring countries, as it was previously the United States that dominated the human rights debate in the region.

“But an ironic effect of the US withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council is that no one can be accused of working against Washington’s ideology anymore,” Roth muses.

The Uighur is neglected

The HRW boss hopes that new actors will engage in what he believes is the most neglected human rights issue in the world right now, namely China’s treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority.

According to estimates from the United Nations, up to 1 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are detained in camps in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Chinese authorities refer to the detention camps as “vocational centres” for persons who are otherwise at risk of joining Islamic extremist groups or separatist organisations.

“If any other country’s authorities had done such a thing, it would have provoked international condemnation and criticism from all over the world. But because it is China, with its enormous economic power, it seems that the country escapes criticism,” Roth emphasises.

About Human Rights Watch

  • An international non-governmental organisation (NGO) investigating human rights violations worldwide.
  • Based in New York, with offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Nairobi, Paris, San Francisco, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Washington DC and Zürich.
  • Seeking to use the press to create an international opinion against regimes that violate human rights. Work towards public authorities and influential organisations to promote the use of diplomatic and economic pressures against those who violate human rights.
  • Founded in 1978 under the name of Watch and was originally intended to ensure that the then Eastern Bloc complied with the provisions of the Helsinki Declaration on Human Rights. The organisation is gradually expanding its field of activity and adopted its current name in 1988.
  • Human Rights Watch is funded by donations from independent, non-governmental organisations. Government money is not accepted, either directly or indirectly.

(Source: Human Rights Watch)

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