Universal Human Rights
There is no doubt that the experience that people went through during the Second World War was really devastating. Consequently, the United Nations General Assembly came up with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which became the first step to the protection of human rights within the Member States. The Declaration incorporates thirty articles, which are not legally binding but are strengthened through international treaties, national constitutions, as well as regional human rights policy. However, the efforts to execute the rights as indicated in the Declaration have not borne fruits, particularly in the U.S., as the nation is still struggling to offer its people unchallengeable rights. This study will focus on some of the articles that the US government has either failed or had hard times to implement, and, as a result, some of the human rights are not provided properly.
Right for Equality and Dignity
The UDHR recognizes that all human beings should be perceived as equal and free, as expressed in Article 1. They demand respect from others and must demonstrate a spirit of goodwill when dealing with each other. The reality is, however, that racial tensions and cases of racial discrimination are still very much present in the US, where young African-Americans are harassed and killed by White police officers, who are supposed to protect them. The case of a young white man in Charleston killing nine Black people inside a church is among many cases of White people demonstrating a lack of respect to other races (Nesbit, 2016). The US government should enhance security among regions dominated by the Blacks, as it establishes strategies that would enhance peaceful coexistence of various communities in different states.
Right to Life and Liberty
Every individual should be afforded the right to life and freedom to raise opinions. Article 3 of the Declaration purports that every individual should enjoy the right to life, liberty, as well as security. A report by the United Nations Working Group concerning the oppression of women in the US revealed that American women were being criminalized for being prostitutes. At the same time, lack of effective gun control has resulted in increased cases of domestic violence (Hunter, 2015). In addition, many women have experienced abortion restrictions, even though the federal law has provided them with the right to terminate the pregnancy under certain conditions. The US government should provide women with all necessary means of protection of their rights since, according to UDHR, they should be treated equally despite their sex, race, religious preferences, and etc.
Right Against Torture
The Declaration is against inhuman practices such as torture, brutality, and cruelty. According to Article 5, no individual should be subjected to torture, cruelty, or any other inhuman act that tends to degrade or inflict punishment. However, the details about CIA officials violating the individuals’ rights by torturing them. According to Ahmed (2014), torture victims have claimed that the US national security officers have harassed them through sleep deprivation, use of excessive force, feeding on feces, and standing for long hours. The perceived CIA interrogation has turned into torture, thus denying individuals the right for a fair hearing. Every individual should be handled with dignity, despite the crime committed (which is yet to be proved in court), as no individual is worthy to be treated as an animal. Moreover, there is no good in treating suspects as criminals, and thus torturing them, since there is such thing as the presumption of innocence, meaning that no individual should be treated as guilty until this fact is proved in the course of the trial.
Right to Equal Treatment
Article 7 demands that all individuals should be afforded equal treatment before the law without prejudice. Any act of favoritism or discrimination should be termed as an infringement of the Declaration, as well as breach of the U.S. Constitution. Sadly, but racial discrimination is widespread in the US, despite the efforts to curb it under the UN Declaration. The point can be illustrated with a case of a white officer, Darren Wilson, shooting and killing an unarmed black young man. As the author of this article describes it, “while on the streets, we are regularly treated by the police as dangerous suspects” (Donaldson, 2015). Most African-Americans claim that racial inequality is on the rise, and the US government does not seem to take any significant actions to minimize it (“White and black Americans,” 2016). Racial tensionsare quite high, especial now that the presidential campaign is at its peak. Presidential candidates should persuade Americans to respect each other, regardless of their race or social status. The government should also provide all the citizens of the USA with equal rights for representation in courts.
Right against Arbitrary Arrests and Detention
Article 9 protects individuals from random arrest, detention, and exile. This article has a lot to do with immigrants in particular. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on the US government to get rid of mandatory detention of migrants, as most of the asylum seekers are being held under castigatory conditions (“UN Rights Experts,” 2016). The group has claimed that holding asylum-seekers against their will is against international law regulations unless individuals held posed a threat to the community and national security. Individuals who seek asylum in the US should not be exposed to arbitrary arrest and detention before they are scrutinized and approved of their honesty. Detention of immigrants should happen in exceptional cases, but not on a regular basis. The government should ensure that children of immigrants do not suffer due to the incarceration of their parents.
Right to Privacy
Article 12 protects individuals from arbitrary interference with their privacy, family, or home. The article also protects individuals from attacks that dishonor them and interfere with their reputation. The government should ensure that all individuals are protected from such interference or attacks. However, the Human Rights Watch has accused the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US of breaching privacy rights through phone record. The NSA officials have been collecting data on American citizens who have not even committed any wrongdoing that would thusly serve as a basis for additional surveillance (Davenport, 2016). The US Congress should not overlook the actions by the NSA to interfere with people’s privacy but should restrict the agency from accessing personal information of people who do not threaten peace in the community.
Right to Seek Asylum
Article 14 safeguards individuals who request for asylum in other countries, as they evade prosecution by vindictive governments. The article does not represent interests of indisputable non-political crimes that individuals may have committed in their country. Although the US law accepts individuals who present themselves to the authority as asylum seekers, most of them are treated as criminals and end up in jails until their cases are determined to prove their innocence (Sprout, 2016). Individuals who seek asylum in the country should be treated as refugees until they are proved to be hiding from justice for committing crimes. The government should respect the rights of children whose parents are often perceived as criminals when they seek refuge in the US. Every immigrant who enters the US border should be registered to facilitate in service provision as the investigations continue.
Right to Nationality
Article 15 upholds individuals’ right to a given nationality or a chance to change individuals’ nationality. The presidential campaigns in the US have raised the issue of whether children of undocumented immigrants should be allowed to become American citizens. In Texas, immigration officials have made it hard for some immigrants who already have national identification cards to be given copies of birth certificates for their children (Fernandez, 2015). Organizations that cater for immigrants have claimed that undocumented immigrants are finding it difficult to raise families in Texas, as their children are also treated as aliens. The US government should encourage immigrants who have stayed in the country for more than ten years to register their children as American citizens so that such children can benefit from public resources.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Article 23 subsection 2 supports equal pay for equal labor. All individuals should be rewarded equally for the same task. However, most companies in the U.S. pay their employees based on their gender. According to CNN, women in the U.S. are earning 79% of what men are earning while performing the same task (Ford, 2016). Although this percentage is quite higher than, for instance, in 1964, when women only received 59% of what men earned, the US has not been keen on gender equality. Moreover, a trend of so-called glass ceiling should also be abolished for it is unfair to discriminate women and do not let them occupy higher positions and, consequently, earn more. If the current tendency is allowed to persist, women in the U.S. will enjoy equal pay as men only in 2059, or even later, depending on their age, education level, and race. The US government should support equal pay with regard to the equal task, as women are capable of working at the same rate as men.
Right to Social and International Order
Article 29 necessitates nations to afford individuals the right to social, as well as international order. The US participation in Syria is a breach of the international order, which is also threatening the lives of American citizens abroad. However, the US has been involved in the violation of the sovereignty of Syria by training, arming, and financing rebel groups to fight against the Syrian government (Mazzetti & Apuzzo, 2016). The war in Syria should have demonstrated the US as the best architect of rules and norms that guide on the liberal international order. The US government should respect the Declaration by acting as a mediator, rather than a financier in the Syrian conflict. This would help in enhancing security for Americans abroad.
The UDHR is quite clear concerning the recognition of human dignity, equality, as well as freedom. However, the US government has been involved in the violation of human rights, even though many countries look up to it for the facilitation of liberal international order. Different issues including illegal immigration, terrorism, and racism, have made it difficult to provide the American citizens with the equal rights. The US government has the responsibility to promote and protect every individual within the country’s borders, regardless of his/her race, gender, nationality, or culture.
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Donaldson, L. (2015, August 12). When the media misrepresents black men, the effects are felt in the real world. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/12/media-misrepresents-black- men-effects-felt-real-world
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