While reading the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (proposed by the Interaction Council), a few cases came to my mind, which I thought would be interesting examples to apply to the proposal.
Case No. 1:
The Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities asserts that with freedom, justice and peace comes obligations and responsibilities. If we tried to apply that statement to the United States war on terror, we would clearly see that the U.S. was only concerned with its economic interests without any consideration of other peoples’ rights or well-being. Case in point their decision to invade Iraq under false pretences. The U.S. held a massive media campaign to convince the entire world that Iraq was a threat to the U.S. and the world. We were told that Iraq had weapons of mass distraction. When actually Iraq was suffering under the embargo. The United States lost a lot of its men and its credibility. Three weeks ago, the American Senate Intelligence Committee released a report stating that the President and his associates misrepresented the pre-war intelligence regarding Iraq. It is obvious what the U.S. wanted, not to destroy weapons of mass destruction and spread democracy in the Arab world, but fuller access to cheap oil and a new base from which to dominate the Middle East. Now that Washington is in the process of negotiating a “Status of Forces Agreement” with Baghdad to regulate the U.S. military presence in Iraq. It is becoming clearer than ever that these last two goals have topped the U.S. agenda all along. What has the U.S. achieved in this war? It has reduced one of the Arab world’s strongest countries to political and economic chaos. Let us look at some of the Iraq war statistics:
● American taxpayers’ funds spent and approved to spend in Iraq: 350 billion dollars.
● The U.S. casualties: 2,036 soldiers including 90% non-officers and 15% from the national guards.
● Non – U.S. troops casualties: 199 including 97 from Great Britain.
● U.S. troops wounded 15,477 (excludes psychological injuries).
● Iraqi causalities: civilian deaths due to violence since the war started 84,328.
● Iraqi “strongly opposed” to presence of coalition troops 82%.
● Iraqi who rarely have safe, clean water 71%.
● Iraqi who never have enough electricity 47%.
The U.S. is the greatest power in the world. They have the means to change many injustices in different countries and societies but the U.S chooses not to exercise that power unless it serves its interests.
Case No. 2:
Article 5 of the Fundamental Principles for Humanity says that every person has the responsibility to respect life. However, how does that compare to the situation in Darfur where people are killed, tortured and slipped of their basic human rights. The war in Darfur began in February 2003 (called the Darfur genocide by the United States government). It is a military conflict in the Darfur region of Western Sudan. One side of the armed conflict is the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed, a militia group recruited mostly from the Arab baggara tribes. The other side comprises of rebel groups: The Sudan Liberation Movement and the justice and equality movement formed mainly from the non-Arab fur, Zaghawa and Massaleit ethnic groups. The Sudanese government denies aiding the Janjaweed but facts show else wise. The United Nations estimates that 400,000 are dead and 2.5 million have been displaced as of 2006. The fighting stopped July 2006. The United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706, which called for a 20,600 U.N. peacekeeping forces to be assigned there. Sudan strongly objected and said that they would see the U.N. forces as foreign invaders. The next day the Sudanese military launched a major offense on the region. Attacks continued through January and February 2008. These acts are described by the U.N. as “violations of international and human rights law”
Why don’t the great powers of the world exercise there power in defending other peoples’ freedom and rights? That is their responsibility and obligation.
Case No. 3:
Article 6 of the Fundamental Principles for Humanity implies that disputes should be resolved without any violence. Is that what is happening in Lebanon? Some of the Lebanon’s leaders feel they have the right to resort to violence to apply their views and believes. That ideology has not worked for them in the past neither will it work now. On May 9, 2008 fears grow that Lebanon would slip into a dreaded civil war. After Hezbollah shut down parts of Beirut and surrounding pro-government media centers. This situation is very similar to what happened in the 70’s. The civil war is a very dark memory for all Lebanese. The war ran from 1975 till 1991. These are some of that war figures:
● It is estimated that 600,000 to 900,000 Lebanese have fled the country during the initial years of the civil war (75-76).
● As much as 7% of the population was killed during the war between 1975-1990.
● 100,000 were handicapped.
● Approximately 17,000 to 20,000 people are still missing or an accounted for.
The Ta’af agreement of 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the war. In January that year a committee appointed by the Arab League had began to formulate a solution to the conflict. An agreement was reached on November 4, and Rene Moawad was elected as President. He was assassinated and Elias Harawi succeeded him. Now thankfully, the disputing parties have reached an agreement in Doha. The 18-month political crisis has ended. All the rival Lebanese parties agreed it was necessary to reach a deal to build co- existence and unity.
The Lebanese people really want to live in peace and the Lebanese leaders have the responsibility of insuring that, and to resolve their disputes in a non-violent way.
Case No. 4:
Article 8, states that no one should be robbed of their property. Surely, that is not the case when the U.S. acquired a lot of corn lands in Africa. Aiming to use the cornfields to produce ethanol. The U.S. is unilaterally deciding to starve people. With the rising prices of food, poor people are deprived of their basic human needs. There is this big hype about ethanol and that it is going to replace gasoline. They say it is safer for the environment or as seen. Chuck Grasley of Iowa says: “every thing about ethanol is good, good, good”. Actually, that is not true. Ethanol does not burn cleaner than gasoline. The main reason for its importance is that it can help in decreasing the U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The demand for ethanol has caused the prices of corn to double in the last two years, which is causing a shortage in food supply to third world countries. In addition, it is harming the environment. Which can be seen in South America, a lot of farmers are using their fields to grow corn and using the tropical forest-which help in controlling global warming –to grow other basic crops.
Case No. 5:
Article 13 says that truthfulness and fairness are general standards. And professionals like scientist and physicians are expected to apply by it. Let us look at stem cell research. It could help a lot of ill people. But it was sadly held back and put on hold in some part. Because it contradicts with the religious believes of certain powerful groups. And they should be held accountable for holding the human kind development behind. However, what are stem cells? Stem cells are cells found in most, if not all, multi-cellular organism. They are characterized by their ability to renew themselves through mitotic cell division and differentiating into a diverse range of specialized cell types. Now, President Bush allowed federal funding for research using existing stem cell lines. As there are 60 existing stem cell lines in various research facilities – cells that have already been derived from human embryos- but President Bush didn’t allow funding for research using stem cells derived from frozen embryos, about 100,000 exist at fertility labs.
The debate between two opposites continues. The scientists view embryonic stem cell research as means for finding a cure for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. On the other hand, other groups like anti-abortion activists consider stem cell research the taking of human life because embryos have to be destroyed to get stem cells.
President Bush agreed only to fund research on exciting stem cells in which he said: “where the decision on life and death has already been made”. But people question if research using exiting ones will be sufficient.
Case No. 6:
Article 7 says, that animals and the natural environment demands protection. How can that be achieved with the increasing global temperature? The average global air temperature near the Earth’s surface has increased 0.74 + 0.18C during the hundreds years ending 2005. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes “most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) green house gas concentration”. The global surface temperature will likely cause extreme weather, changes in agricultural yields, species extinction and increases the range of disease vectors. Most governments have signed the Kyoto Protocol (aiming to reduce green house gas emissions) but some countries had restrictions. A big point of disagreement is the degree of which emerging economics such as India and China should be expected to constrain their emission. China gross national CO2 emissions may now exceed those of the U.S. but China says, that it has less obligation to reduce since its per capita emissions are one-fifth that of the United States. The U.S. contends that if they must bear the cost of reducing emission, then, China should do the same. The debate continues and the planet is suffering. The responsibility is on the great powers to take brave actions and to look at the bigger picture.
Case No. 7:
Article 14 states the importance of responsibility in the media. We can see the significance of lies in the media in that it can destroy people’s lives and careers. We all remember the 1999, Wen Ho Lee case in which printed false claims stated that he has passed on nuclear secrets to China. He was held in solitary confinement for nine months before the case collapsed. A recent example involves members of the Bush Administration who allegedly leaked to reporters a CIA agent identity to discredit her husband. It is a well-known fact that people are going to try to use the media for their own advantage either politically or economically. The difficult job lies in the hands of the media. They have the choice to be truthful, decent, accurate and dignified or not
In order to succeed in removing all of the injustices and ignorance in the world. A person should start the changes within himself. Then try to improve his society to the best of his ability. If every one did his part, then, things are going to improve. Wisdom for a better human society and healthy world would be achieved.