There is still no scarcity of poverty and human degradation around the world. But Amnesty International says in its latest annual human rights report that people are being held accountable for some of the worst violations.
"We're very encouraged by the trend for example in Latin America where we had three former heads of states brought to justice from Peru, Uruguay and Argentina," said interim Secretary-General Claudio Cordone.
But Cordone says many countries are limiting progress in international justice by acting only when it is politically advantageous.
"We still see governments who hold themselves above the law, for example by not accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court," he said. "Among those are seven of the G20 countries. And also, we see governments shielding their political allies from international scrutiny."
The countries that have not signed up for the ICC include China, Russia and the United States. Cordone says the ICC is an essential tool to fight human rights abuses.
"The court is there to act when governments are unable or unwilling to bring people to justice," he said.
Amnesty International criticized the United States for continuing to detain terrorist suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention center despite President Barack Obama's commitment to close the facility by the beginning of 2010.
Cordone also says repression remains a major problem around the world. He cites Iran's actions following its disputed presidential election last June.
"People have been arbitrarily arrested, have been tortured," he noted. "Even the government had to acknowledge that actually women were raped in custody."
Amnesty's report says women, especially the poor, are often targets of human rights abuse.
"Women in Afghanistan have suffered greatly both under the current government, but of course under the Taliban."
Wazhma Frough has dedicated 13 years to the rights of Afghan women. She says women who live in cities now have more freedoms, but they are still the targets of violence.
"The suicide bomb threats have been on going -- the other sources of threats, the militants who are fighting the government and who are fighting the international forces -- they want to target those who are creating any sort of hope for the population, so it becomes an environment of fear," she said.
Amnesty International says governments must promote women's equality as a key element to improving their human rights record.