(ThePeacekeeper.org does not necessarily endorse all the statements below. The text below can be used for classroom discussions and is published under public domain)
Written by RobinWrite
In the Western World, it is easy to think that what happens in a country located thousands of miles away from us has little to no impact on us. As a global village, however, human rights violations in one corner of the globe have a direct impact on every human on the planet, whether we realize it or not. While it may be easier to turn a blind eye to what is happening in a far-flung corner of the earth, it’s actually not in anyone’s best interest to do so. Here are 10 reasons why human rights are important to us all.
1. Keeps population density under control
When individuals live in war-torn countries or areas where severe human rights violations occur, they naturally want to escape. This often leads to a mass exodus to countries and nations that extend basic human rights to their citizens. This in turn can lead to overcrowding and place a severe strain on the public resources offered in free societies. When we work hard to ensure that basic human rights are being honored in an individual’s own country, they have no reason to mass emigrate to other countries.
2. Reduces war
When individuals are having their basic human rights denied or violated, it is natural to want to fight back. In fact, it is almost impossible to not do so. Human rights violations almost always benefit one group of people at the expense of another. Most human beings are only capable of tolerating the violation of their personhood up to a point before needing to fight back. This often results in war, which eventually brings about intense poverty, which in turn again places a strain on the resources of more democratic nations. When we address the underlying issue – human rights violations – before they erupt into outright conflict or civil war, we vastly reduce the amount of resources cleaning up the aftermath entails.
3. Reduces poverty
Again, it is important to understand that in most cases, human rights violations occur as a result of one group of people preying upon another. This generally results in severe economic imbalances among other things. In essence, the rich simply get richer and richer while the poor get poorer and poorer. Eventually, it becomes incumbent upon wealthier nations to step in and address the severe poverty issues. Ultimately, it is again more economically viable for wealthier nations to address the initial human rights violations before they result in rampant poverty that must be addressed.
4. What you are not against, you are for
Ultimately, when we refuse to stand up for basic human rights, we are condoning the violation of them. That alone is reason enough to get involved in protecting human rights.
5. What we stand against in other nations affects policy in our own
When we don’t care about policies or practices affecting women, the poor or the LGBTQ community in other nations, we are communicating that we don’t care about the importance of human rights in our own. When we demonstrate we don’t care about the importance of human rights in our own countries, we essentially set our own law and policy makers free to discriminate against these individuals. This will eventually will lead to human rights violations in our own countries, which will eventually have a direct impact on our own human rights.
6. You are a human and your rights matter
It is actually an impossibility to say that the rights of some humans matter, while the rights of others do not. If human rights matter, they matter to us all. If other humans are not entitled to basic human rights, then essentially neither are you.
7. What we stand for or against sends a message to our own children and young people
Children in particularly are highly affected by the issues and causes we do and do not stand for or against. In addition, thanks to a global media and the internet, children are becoming more and more exposed to global politics and geopolitical climates. When we turn a blind eye to gross human rights violations against women, we are sending a message to our girls that the rights of women do not matter. When we turn a blind eye to gross violations against the LBGTQ community in other nations, we are sending a message to our young LGBTQ community members that their rights also do not matter to us. When we actively fight to protect the basic human rights of all people we communicate to our own young people that they matter just as their own human rights matter.
8. Protecting the human rights of others has a direct impact on members of our military
In times of war, opposing militaries both occupy the same space and regularly capture members of the opposing military. How one countries’ soldiers are treated is often largely dependent by how their own military members are treated by the other country. When we fail to recognize the importance of human rights for even members of an opposing military, we open the door for them to violate the human rights of our own military members they capture. Honoring the human rights of military members our own country captures does not guarantee that our own military member’s rights will be honored, but it does go a long way towards ensuring that it does. In addition, it sends a message that the importance of human rights is such an important issue that it even applies to militaries in times of war – as it should.
9. Our stance on human rights affects our relationships with even our allies
Simple geography alone is always going to be a significant factor in what does and does not affect us globally. The United States occupies a continent which it shares with only two other countries. This means the US essentially only needs to maintain good relationships with two other nations to keep its borders largely protected. Most of the rest of this world does not enjoy this luxury. Most European countries share a much closer proximity to war-torn countries where massive human rights violations regularly occur. This gives them much less ability to simply turn a blind eye to these issues because they don’t affect them. While the Unites States may have a greater ability to turn a blind eye to these issues, it can seriously damage the good relationships it enjoys with most of the nations in Europe.
10. Protecting human rights affects our individual relationships with our own neighbors
While becoming involved in protecting human rights on a global scale is important, it’s just as important to work hard in our own communities to protect the human rights of our own individual neighbors. No society is perfect and most people have friends or family members that are experiencing human rights violations of some kind even in the most developed of nations. Whether it’s the inability to access basic medical care, homelessness, poverty or issues relating to incarceration, there are a number of inequalities that exist in every country including our own. When we show that we actually care about these issues and the importance of human rights for all, we build and strengthen our relationships with even our own individual neighbors.