Displaced people from the Yezidi sect, fleeing violence from forces linked to the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, walk towards the Syrian border in August 2014. © 2014 Reuters   

Displaced people from the Yezidi sect, fleeing violence from forces linked to the extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, walk towards the Syrian border in August 2014. © 2014 Reuters

 

Human Rights Watch has just released it's 2015 Annual Report - which makes for pretty grim reading.

Executive Director of HRW, Kenneth Roth observes that; "[t]he once-heralded Arab Spring has given way almost everywhere to conflict and repression. Islamist extremists commit mass atrocities and threaten civilians throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa. Cold War-type tensions have revived over Ukraine, with even a civilian jetliner shot out of the sky. Sometimes it can seem as if the world is unraveling."

Nonetheless, his overriding message is that our fear of conflict should not be an excuse for the continued and increasing undermining of citizens' rights by governments. 

“Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating many of today’s crises,” Roth said. “Protecting human rights and ensuring democratic accountability are key to resolving them.”  

The way forward needs to be based on dialogue, recognizing there are fundamental values we all share.

Dame Rosalyn Higgins, former President of the International Court of Justice, proclaimed, "I believe in the universality of the human spirit". After all her years working in the human rights arena, she concluded that, when it comes down to it, people all want the same essential things. To have enough food and shelter, to be able to speak freely, to practice their own religion (or lack of religion), to know they won't be tortured or detained without charge, and if charged that they will have a fair trial. 

None of these things are revolutionary. 

However their lack of these, fuels revolution, not resolution. 

"Far from rights being a constraint, observance of human rights can bring the world back from crisis and chaos. They are part of the solution, not the problem."  

It is vital that we do not give way to fear and allow  basic rights to become dismantled.

http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/essays/tyranny-false-comfort?page=1

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