As we approach December 10th, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it's crucial to reflect on the state of human rights across the globe. In 2023, the world witnessed a myriad of human rights violations, with several hotspots demanding our attention. From the Israel-Hamas war to the occupation in Congo, the border crisis in Mexico, and the emergence of tent cities across North America, the violations of basic human rights have been distressingly pervasive. We aim to shed light on these issues and emphasize the pressing need for a personal, national and global commitment to ensuring human rights for all no matter nationality, religion or race.
Table of Contents:
The Rules of War and Human Rights in the Israel-Hamas War
One of the most distressing conflicts of the year continues to be the Israel-Hamas war. The conflict, rooted in historical tensions and geopolitical complexities, has raised significant concerns about human rights violations. Critics have pointed to Israel's actions, questioning their compliance with international humanitarian law and the rules of war.
Rules of War (Four Geneva Conventions):
Protect the sick, wounded, medical and religious personnel during conflict.
Care for the wounded, sick and shipwrecked during war at sea.
Treat prisoners of war with humanity.
Protect all civilians, including those in occupied territory.
How Many UN Laws has Israel Violated?
Israel's human rights record has come under scrutiny, with accusations of violating numerous UN laws, not just this year but over the past 75 years of Palestine occupation. The extensive use of force in densely populated areas, attacks on civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of thousands have fueled concerns about the violation of the right to life, liberty, and security of person. The rules of war emphasize the protection of civilians during armed conflict, yet the high civilian casualty rates in Gaza have sparked global condemnation.
What Human Rights are Being Violated in Palestine?
In Palestine, human rights violations are painfully apparent. The right to self-determination is thwarted by the ongoing occupation, while restrictions on movement and the expansion of settlements infringe upon basic rights. Palestinians face challenges accessing education, healthcare, and employment, further exacerbating their plight.
The attack on Israel by Hamas on Oct. 7 has brought the militant group back into the spotlight. In the attack, Hamas fighters flew paragliders from Gaza and used bulldozers to poke gaping holes in a barrier fence to gain access to Israeli territory. They killed more than 1,000 people and seized at least 100 hostages. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and a number of other Western countries. But the reality is that Hamas is an organization that was created and funded strategically by Israel and the US.
It has been reported by several international news outlets that Israeli intelligence were made aware of the attack beforehand and did nothing to stop it. Critics insist this attack was welcomed as a reason to finally demolish the Palestinian state and its people so that they could further steal and dominate the natural resources in Gaza. Coincidentally during the past 2 month siege and demolition of Gaza and its people, Israel had the time in between murdering civilians in cold blood in the streets and bombing hospitals, schools and churches to award exploratory gas licenses to these major corporations.
The Congo (DRC) Occupation: Colonization in 2023:
Shifting our focus to the African continent, the occupation in Congo has evolved into a humanitarian crisis of alarming proportions. Exploitation of natural resources and power struggles have resulted in widespread displacement and violence, leading to severe violations of the right to life, liberty, and security of person. It is an urgent call for the international community to address the root causes of the conflict and work collectively to safeguard the fundamental rights of the Congolese people.
Reportedly, 6.9 million people have been displaced in Congo’s growing conflict, the UN says, making it one of the world’s largest displacement and humanitarian crises. In the 2nd quarter, more than 600 people were killed by armed groups in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2023 Global Slavery Index (GSI) estimates that on any given day in 2021, there were 407,000 people living in modern slavery in the DRC. This equates to a prevalence of 4.5 people in modern slavery for every thousand people in the country.
Spotlighting Human Rights Violations in North America:
On the American continent, the Mexican border crisis unfolds as a complex human rights dilemma. Migrants and asylum seekers, majority of whom are non-Mexican, in search of safety and better opportunities, face dire conditions. Reports of overcrowded detention facilities, family separations, and limited access to essential services underscore the violation of the right to seek asylum, a fundamental principle in international human rights law.
As individuals seek safety and better opportunities, their basic human rights are jeopardized. The situation calls for a compassionate and rights-based approach to immigration, emphasizing the dignity and well-being of all individuals involved.
Tent Cities Across North America:
In North America, the emergence of tent cities serves as a poignant symbol of the pressing issue of homelessness. The right to housing, an often overlooked human right, is fundamental to a dignified life. As these makeshift communities proliferate, it becomes increasingly apparent that we must confront the systemic issues perpetuating homelessness. Solutions must be sought that prioritize human dignity and address the root causes of this growing crisis.
More cities and states have passed laws making it illegal to live out of tents and cars or sleep in public spaces because not only has it become a problem, it is a health risk, a social issue and a human rights crisis most governments don’t want to admit to and fix. On Jan 1, Missouri bans sleeping in parks. In July, Tennessee became the first state in the US to make it a felony to live in a tent or sleep on state land. Portland, Oregon bans tent living too. Los Angeles bans some homeless tent cities. Washoe County, Nevada considers an ordinance to ban camping in tents or vehicles when it poses significant harm to any person, or public area.
10 Exact Human Rights Violations:
A detailed list outlines ten specific human rights violations occurring globally, emphasizing the importance of universal rights irrespective of nationality, religion, or race. These articles, drawn from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, serve as a poignant reminder of the universality of these rights and the shared responsibility to uphold them.
Article 3: Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Chinese nationals entering the US illegally through the southern border in California face challenges to their right to life, liberty, and personal security.
Article 4: Freedom from Slavery
The issue of slavery persists in Congo, highlighting the need for attention to the violation of the freedom from slavery.
Article 5: Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
In Gaza, individuals endure dehumanizing conditions where they are tortured and degraded.
Article 7: Right to Equality before the Law
The right to equality before the law is compromised in Palestine, many people are detained without trial and even children are held for 10 years or more without fair trial for throwing rocks.
Article 12: Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Homes being taken away in Palestine by the government to house Israelis is a direct violation of freedom from interference with privacy, family, home, and correspondence.
Article 13: Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Palestinians face restrictions on free movement as Israeli patrols control borders, from the sea to all the checkpoints, hindering their right to move in and out of the country.
Article 14: Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Confinement in Palestine prevents individuals from seeking asylum in other countries, exacerbating their vulnerability to persecution.
Article 18: Freedom of Belief and Religion
The misuse of religion, particularly Islam, against Palestinians is evident, with anti-Zionism being wrongly labeled as anti-Semitism by some Israelis.
Article 25: Right to Adequate Living Standard
The escalation of unemployment and housing crises globally has led to alarming living conditions, parallel to the challenges witnessed with the emergence of tent cities in the US.
Article 30: Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights
Governments supporting Israeli actions in Palestine, potentially driven by interests in oil and gas resources, raise concerns about interference in the fundamental rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Call for Collective Action:
As we reflect on the most violated human rights of 2023, it is evident that the struggle for human rights is ongoing and multifaceted. The Israel-Hamas war, Congo occupation, Mexican border crisis, and tent cities across North America underscore the need for collective action and a steadfast commitment to justice. The pursuit of freedom should not come at the expense of oppressing others. Addressing these complex issues requires constructive dialogue, empathy, and a shared commitment to building bridges instead of resorting to violence.
Join us for our Pop Up Tough Convos next week, where we aim to facilitate a space for dialogue on how we can collectively build bridges instead of hurling bombs. Despite rhetoric suggesting these issues are not our problem, it is clear that several North American and European governments benefit from these crises. Being an ally, conscious, and a leader is about taking responsibility for ourselves and others, guiding, learning, and actively contributing to the improvement of the world around us.