The United Nations and human rights

The United Nations human rights chief on Friday slammed Bahrain, Libya and other Middle Eastern governments for their ‘excessively heavy-handed’ response to opposition protests.

‘The Middle East and North Africa region is boiling with anger,’ said Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights.

UN General Secretary also told reporters that “The reports from Bahrain overnight are deeply troubling,” adding that he was disturbed by the violent methods being used to disperse demonstrators

As the Jasmine Revolution from Tunisia began to spread elsewhere around the region, the United Nations is concerned with violent crackdowns by the governments as the report says. In Bahrain, the military sent tanks and soldiers to supress protesters with their arms. As the movement expects to get larger, it is being suspected that serious violations of human right are likely to occur in the region. In Libya alone, 20 people were reported to be killed by Libyan military.

The General Secretary clearly stated that “the United Nations has been clear and consistent in supporting basic human rights and freedoms. Above all, we have insisted on respect for the rights of peaceful protest and assembly, freedom of the press and access to information.” Yet interpretations of human rights differ within the members of the United Nations. As the Revolution continues in the region, UN faces various tasks of balancing national sovereignty and what we see as fundamental human rights. Even though the words of UN officials seem to be firm, it would be actually really difficult for UN to interfere in people’s behalf. But at least for Egypt and Tunisia, people have shown their reselient for the change. The United Nations already pledged to aid implementations of free and democractic elections in these countries. There is clearly no “going back” to the past, and  freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of communication should be fully guaranteed. It would be interesting to see how the situation develop in the region, and the United Nations should carry on its promise to aid ‘people’s will’.

Seoho Lee

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About unagbtufts

Quinn Connors is a senior at Tufts University majoring in International Relations and concentrating on the Middle East. Seoho Lee is a senior majoring in Political Science and International Relations concentrating on East and Southeast Asia. They are currently serving as Student Ambassadors for the United Nations Association of Greater Boston.
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