Why are human rights still violated?

A man protesting holding a placard saying human rights for all

This generation has witnessed a lot of international activity on behalf of the rights of different groups—certainly more so than previous generations."

Human rights in modern society


The United Nations is trying to address questions such as genocide, refugees, political rights of women, the rights of children, racial discrimination and world health.

In addition to the United Nations, other international organizations—such as Amnesty Internationalwork to encourage the observance of human rights around the world.

The European Commission on Human Rights was established to handle allegations of violations.

The International Labor Organization has worked to abolish such things as forced labor and to prevent unemployment.

Many national governments have passed laws protecting the rights and living standards of people.

To add to this efforts, the theme of human rights is being discussed on such a high international level, individuals and groups within nations are also campaigning for what they feel are their human rights.

So we read of people claiming the “right to work,” others fighting for “equal rights for women,” anti-abortionists campaigning for the “right to life” of unborn fetuses.

We even hear of terminally sick persons claiming the “human right to die,” and homosexuals demanding “gay rights.”

Does all this activity mean that human rights will be guaranteed in our time?

Why does the human rights issue remains despite positive steps taken?

Why violation of human rights are still widespread?


One Secretary of State was once quoted as saying:

No country, no people, for that matter no political system, can claim a perfect record in the field of human rights." 

On another occasion on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope was quoted as saying:

The world in which we live today offers too many examples of injustice and oppression.” 

A comment from Amnesty International was quoted in an newspaper as saying:

Human Rights are violated in most countries under all kinds of political regimes and ideologies.” 

Why should this be the case?

First and foremost, some human rights violations are out of the effective control of the national governments.

For instance, no government wants to see its citizens’ rights violated by criminals, yet, in most lands today, the “security of a person” is many times violated due to the rising tide of crime, terrorism and domestic violence.

Another example of a problem very difficult to solve is world hunger.

Due to rapid increase in populations and climatic changes caused by global warming, millions of people around the live at a starvation level, and, hence, enjoy very few rights.

As one person expressed it:

How could the people enjoy their right to live fully and well if there is poverty and hunger?”.

Secondly, conflicts of interests, or rights, is major problem.

Protecting the cultural rights of a minority may run counter to the development needs of the larger community or of the region.

Similarly, protecting the property rights of the advantaged group could be suppressive of the rights of the disadvantaged or deprived groups.

This creates a dilemma on whose rights should be upheld at the expense of the other.

For example, according to Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of human rights, a person has a right to “seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

However, their appearance at the shores of some lands has caused much concerns. Why?

Seemingly when these countries feel that they threaten the economy and social order, they are usually denied this right, sometimes with tragic results.

Another scenario, imagine a country where most of the wealth is in the hands of the privileged few, while the large majority exist in poverty.

To try to raise the living standards of the majority, and, hence, protect their rights, the government may try to redistribute the country’s wealth.

Yet in doing this they may find themselves in direct conflict with the rights of the wealthy minority.

The politicians who run for government positions, depend on this wealthy minority to fund their political ambitions.

Hence, although in their political campaigns they may appeal to the masses rights to redistribute the wealth, once in office, driven by self-preservation they will be more inclined to meet the rights of the few minority class at the expense of the rights of the majority.

Finally, apparently, even if a country feels that human rights are being violated in another country, international law does not allow it to proceed against the violator either alone or jointly with other countries, just based on human rights.

Indeed, an act designed to stop a violation of human rights would be viewed as an act of aggression by countries allied to the country.

Thus, they will resist any move by others to meddle with internal affairs of that country.

Therefore, human rights may exist and are recognized, but their defense is hardly possible.

Hence, the question of human rights is complicated.

Yet people will continue to feel that they have certain rights, and, as this awareness increases, people will demanding more and more rights.

So, the need to protect human rights is an idea whose time has no definite end. It will not go away any time soon.

Share this post with your social networks: