The protection of human rights has recently received much attention, highlighting values such as freedom, dignity, and individuality. However, the present reality shows that wars and expansions, not only military but often economic or ideological, lead to human rights violations. The organizations established after World War II and their declarations are mainly helpless in maintaining justice and stability. As a result, countries’ actions bring suffering and cruelty to people instead of the necessary protection. Even though human rights are designed to protect people’s lives and dignity, states’ specific interests prevent their complete legal protection. Notably, the United States, with a significant history of discrimination, even now cannot protect citizens entirely and sometimes even contributes to the violation of human rights.
The specificity of human rights and the identification of mechanisms for their formation pose a particular problem for philosophers, historians, sociologists, and other researchers. The legal aspect of incorporating human rights in international legal instruments is essential in contemporary reality. After the end of World War II, the United Nations Organization (UNO) presented several human rights documents, the first of which is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (Gale, 2021). According to them, human rights are inalienable and applied equally to everyone, providing freedom and justice. Examples of rights include freedom of opinion, religion, freedom from slavery and abuse, and other manifestations. Human rights were intended to establish fairness, but documents proclaiming them are not legally binding. As a result, for various reasons – from religious beliefs to fear for their sovereignty, states do not accept them as mandatory, establishing only a few of them in their laws.
The United States has a complex history of oppressing various groups of the population. The Declaration of Independence pronounces that all men are equal, but this statement did not apply to everybody, only to white men. The legacy of slavery and patriarchy has led to persistent racist and sexist attitudes in society, even in the twenty-first century. An investigation by nongovernmental groups showed that the rights of citizens are not sufficiently protected in the United States. They highlighted “issues related to gender equality, reproductive rights, criminal justice, the use of capital punishment, surveillance, voting rights, health care, and freedom of expression and the press” (Gale, 2021, para. 19). Thus, the government should pay attention to existing violations and take measures.
The way countries protect and support human rights may affect their place in international relations. For example, the United States may impose sanctions and cease cooperation in a particular area with the state if violations of rights are noticed in it. This measure could be an effective tool if people’s interests were always in the first place in the relationship, and not any others. For example, during the Cold War, the United States supported dictatorial regimes in the Philippines and Chile as they declared their anti-communist position (Gale, 2021). A more modern example is the arms trade with Saudi Arabia, where people suffer from war (Gale, 2021). Governments continue to violate human rights as long as they benefit.
Thus, the contradiction of human rights is that countries and international organizations must strive to protect them and establish justice. However, the above examples demonstrate evidence of their violation in the international arena and within states, even such powerful ones as the United States. Human rights should be an integral part of peoples’ lives, but other priorities, such as economics, determine the behavior of governments. Finding a solution to the problem requires cooperation between states and organizations and their significant efforts.
Gale. (2021). Human Rights. In Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Gale, a Cengage Company. Web.