Human rights, according to the United Nations, refer to “rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.” Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. Thus, the right to life comes first.
Based on calls for political reform and human rights, the Arab world in 2011 witnessed a chain reaction of protest and political upheaval. Starting in Tunisia, the movements in the Arab world spread region-wide, with democratic movements subsequently gaining momentum in Egypt, followed by Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. It is now the 11th anniversary of the mass uprisings that have come to be known as the Arab Spring, but was it really a spring?
Should we use the word “spring” to describe events that resulted in the death of more than 500,000, the expulsion of four to five million from their country, and the displacement of six million in Syria? Should we call this a “spring” with the destruction of Libyan and Iraqi cities and the return of cholera and poliomyelitis to Yemen? These incidents triggered internal conflicts in many countries in the region, allowing terrorist groups to raise funds and expand their operations by exploiting these countries’ situations, which affected international peace and security. Change happened in an unorganized way and caused states to have security and economic issues and even to fail.
Certain Western countries keep abusing the UN Human Rights Council to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs to serve their political agenda. They also intentionally manipulate the use of terms such as human rights, freedom fighters, and democracy to increase the struggle in other countries. Most Arab countries have been the victims of a smear campaign under the false pretense of protecting human rights.
If those countries truly care about human rights, they should not have started wars around the world in the first place that resulted in countless civilian casualties, broken families, and expulsion and displacement of people. They should not have shielded soldiers who committed war crimes overseas and killed innocent women and children. They should not have interfered in the internal affairs of other countries and undermined the peaceful lives of their people.
The term “human rights” was mentioned seven times in the UN’s founding Charter, making the promotion and protection of human rights a key purpose and guiding principle of the organization. Human rights are crucial but sometimes exploited for political aims, and meddling in internal state affairs almost always leads to unfavorable outcomes. To promote human rights, there should be adequate technical and financial assistance to developing countries to help them achieve sustainable development, narrow the North-South gap, and eradicate poverty and hunger on a global scale.