Understanding Human Rights Principles
I have learned so many things and I am knowledgeable about human rights norms and beliefs when I read a brief story concerning the rights of others. This was from the British Philosopher, John Locke who personified the 17th Century enlightment. He was one of the first to suggest that individuals have “natural” rights and that; the government should serve the public good. John Locke had central ideas and informed mind on the rights of human beings, just as God had promised of creating the whole universe for all. Whether being human beings, animals, and the natural vegetable above the surface, all were treated equally before the kingdom of God.
This is what John Locke said; “deep in the mind and the spirit of human beings lays the conviction that, each and every person has rights, including rights to freedom from oppression, freedom to make reasonable choices, and freedom from cruelty. Nearly everybody feels this way, instinctively, even if they do not believe such rights are easy to obtain. Most societies throughout history granted rights only to the lucky few.” He stressed that the concept of “natural law” was based on a universal order that outlined such rights for all.
In all civilized nations, attempts are made to define and support human rights. The core of the concept is the same everywhere. Therefore, human rights are the rights that one has simply because one is human. They are universal and equal. Human rights are also inalienable. They may be suspended, rightly or wrongly, at various places and times but the idea of inherent rights cannot be taken away by anyone, because one can no more lose these rights than one can stop being a human being.
After learning from the greatest Philosopher, John Locke about human rights values, one often asks this simple question. Are there human rights granted to us today? What are these rights to me? Under what circumstances am I given these rights? Do I have freedom of expression towards certain demand, for instance, education, clean water, and above all a peaceful environment?
According to my analysis, there are no basic fundamental human rights in some countries granted to the citizens to exercise by their governments, if I am not mistaken. In the west the human rights values are respected by their governments even if not all. Indeed they are written in their constitutions to protect and defend their nation’s integrity. Unlike in Africa, these basic fundamental human rights are not honored and respected to valued human beings as an important element in the society.
To the best of my knowledge, all these human rights principles are always abused or dehumanized by some governments to avoid human beings from realizing a just society from those nations. Most governments in Africa turn to oppress and suppress their opponents most of the times. They fear opposition from their opponents for example, the civil society groups, peace activists, opposition groups, and any citizen who may have rights to defend the common citizens’ rights. These groups of people always go under terrible circumstances of arbitrary arrest, torture, intimation and death treats just because they were advocating for the rights of others and ensure a just and free society for all.
Some African governments refused to be corrected, just because they think their failures in ruling their people for so long would be questionable by law if the fundamental human rights abuses go beyond the reasonable limits. Hence they opt to these unjustifiable behaviors of governance to abuse the rights of their own people and in many occasions, this led the Africa continent to the turmoil of wars and conflicts throughout organizing rebellions, since people are not happy with the system of governance.
Sincerely, these governments and the politicians had not taken considerable changes of human rights principles taught by the greatest British Philosopher, John Locke early on. They are on their own way of governance and poor management to control the public interest.
Some of these leaders have gone to college, workshops, seminars, among others to learn about human rights norms, but at the end of the day, there is no true change in-line to this vital education they have acquired from those pervious institutes of learning. Take for example, people like President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who had been in power since independence in 1980 up to date. He has ruled Zimbabwe for 38 years as per today but refuses to step-down (1980-2017=38 years). President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda is in power since 1986 until now. He is now 31 years in power ruling Uganda (1986-2017=31 years) in which some Ugandans says he has developed the country to move forward, while others disagree with the system terming it as dictatorship government.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has also been in power since 1994 to date. He is now 23 years as head of state of Rwanda (1994-2017=23years) in which some Rwandan oppositions pointed out as a smart system of ruling to oppress the citizens through changing the constitution and also refusing to step-down as his term might have come to an end. And finally President Salva Kiir of South Sudan has been in power right from 2005 to date (2017). He is now 12 years in power ruling South Sudan without any progress and other developmental projects as expected from him.
Generally speaking, these head of states have abused the human rights principles John Locke was talking about, simply they stayed and are still staying in power for too long. They have committed a number of atrocities and human rights abuses in one way or the other. For example, they rig elections against their opponents and suppressed those civil rights groups who are looking for change. Take the case of South Sudan in 2013, they were numerous human rights atrocities, abuses, and violations committed during 2013 crisis and beyond by the government, armed groups and opposition forces of SPLM-IO under President Kiir’s leadership and his former First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar according to the media reports by IGAD,AU, UN and the International Community. Therefore, such people should know the fundamental principles of human rights of their people to value human beings.
They should respect, protect and adhere to the call for human rights which protect the values of all rights instead of intimidating and oppressing their opponents. They should not stay in power for long since they would violate the constitution’s term limits. In fact, through exercises the fundamental principles of human rights, is where countries in the first world kick-off faster developmental projects like in America, China, UK among others, and this is because they have obeyed these basic human rights and defined the human beings as being vital to protect.
The writer is a political analyst reachable via: firstname.lastname@example.org
By James Ladu Modi Asuk Gwate