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Human rights should not be ignored at any cost

Published: Monday, January 14, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 14, 2013 00:01

 

When the Saudi Arabian government issued a statement upon receiving much international backlash after the execution of a Sri Lankan maid, it was a statement that resonated with many cultural relativists — or those hiding under the veil of relativism. 

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia categorically rejects any interference in its affairs or in the provisions of its judiciary under any justifications,” the statement from the Saudi Press Agency said.

But when Rizana Nafeek, the maid who was accused of strangling an infant, though she said the infant choked on milk, was beheaded last week after not receiving access to legal counsel, human rights groups everywhere protested. 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “dismayed,” according to CNN. 

Amnesty International said in an article that “court proceedings in Saudi Arabian capital cases typically fall far short of international fair trial standards. Defendants are rarely allowed formal representation by a lawyer and in many cases are kept in the dark about the progress of legal proceedings against them.”

But aside from expressing disappointment, what presence does the global community have in protecting human rights, when global economic powers have vested interests in some of the biggest offenders of human rights?

Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s leading petroleum exporter and accounts for about one-fifth of petroleum exported globally, has thus been granted amnesty, for no country can afford to place any meaningful sanctions upon the country
without having their own economy threatened. 

But Saudi Arabia is not the only offender of human rights violations. 

Many countries including the U.S., China and the U.K. perpetrate human rights violations but face a blind eye as business per usual continues. 

Yet human rights interests are economic interests.   

According to an article in Policy Innovations, a publication of the Carnegie Council, without human rights granted to all, “most of the economic outcomes of markets will not materialize, and chaos would ensue.” 

The article further states it behooves the private sector, and thus countries with vested economic interests, to promulgate human rights in order for a stable market. 

But until global powers can see human rights and economic interests as non-divorceable, not all can effectively live with the promises of basic rights that many of the largest economic powerhouses promise. 

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