Final Project 2009 by Emily Chen


Focus: Violations of Human Rights in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Human Rights:In several countries, including the United States, every person is born with certain inalienable rights; all of which include freedom of expression, the right to participate in government, freedom of religion and freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or torture. Democratic governments are responsible for creating laws to protect human rights, while dictatorships deny the rights free societies are privilege to. Today, human rights is still a controversial topic, as certain Western powers such as the United States engage in wars on terrorism and sending the message to natives that in order to attain human rights, they must violate others' rights in order to attain the greater goal or cause. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights is accepted globally, in hopes of preventing future holocaust and genocide. Even so, genocide has continued to plague some countries such as Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Criteria for a Human Rights Violation:

Now there is a near-universal consensus that all individuals are entitled to certain basic rights under any circumstances. To violate the most basic human rights, on the other hand, is to deny individuals of their fundamental rights. Examples of these acts include genocide, torture, slavery, rape, enforced sterilization or medical experimentation, and deliberate starvation.Because these policies are sometimes implemented by governments, limiting the unrestrained power of the state is an important part of international law. Repression, discrimination, and other denials of human rights stem from political and social and economic problems.

Nuremberg Trials:

After World War II had ended in Europe, during 1945-1946, a series of trials were conducted by an International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg Germany. The purpose of these trials was to formally prosecute former Nazi leaders for their war crimes. From the Encyclopedia of WWII, Volume II, it states that, "the indictments lodged against each defendant consisted of a possible four counts: crimes against peace (the planning, instigation, and waging of wars of aggression in violation of international treaties and agreements), crimes against humanity, war crimes (violations of the accepted laws and international conventions of war), and conspiracy to commit any or all of the criminal acts listed in the first three counts." The tribunal rejected the fact that only a state, not the individuals, could be found guilty of war crimes. The court concluded that crimes of international law are committed by men and women and that only by holding individuals to account for committing such crimes, could the law be enforced.

Significance of the United nations Declaration of Human Rights:

Created in the year 1948, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was strongly supported by Eleanor Roosevelt, chairman of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. The declaration proclaimed fundamental freedoms and rights as a "common standard achievement for all peoples and all nations," and the declaration was translated into various languages in the world. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is synonymous to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 22 of the Declaration's 30 articles deal with individual, civil, and political rights, and only six deal with economic, social, and cultural rights. The Universal Declaration set the direction for all relating agreements in the field of human rights.
In the Middle East, the issue of human rights is still controversial. The Middle Eastern countries were divided in their attitudes toward the adoption of the Universal Declaration. Initial resistance came from fundamentalist Islamic states that objected to the right of religious conversion. Even so, the League of Arab States established the Arab Commission on Human Rights in 1968.