News / Africa

UN: Obstruction of Human Rights Worsens Plight in Horn of Africa

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file)
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file)
Lisa Schlein

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says the food emergency in the Horn of Africa is worse in countries that do not respect the fundamental rights of their people.

More than 12.5 million people are affected by the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years.  The U.N. human rights chief, Navi Pillay, agrees that a devastating natural phenomenon is behind this dire emergency.  But she notes the failure of some governments to live up to their human rights obligations is worsening an already dreadful situation.   

“There is no doubt that the deliberate obstruction of human rights and humanitarian work has exacerbated already desperate conditions," said Pillay. "The spiraling effects of the crisis are now engulfing the Horn of Africa where as many as 750,000 lives may be at risk.  A denial of the right to food undermines the right to health, thus ultimately putting at risk the most fundamental of all human rights, that is, the right to life."  

The high commissioner does not point her finger at any one state.  However, it is well known that Somalia's Islamist al-Shabab militant group is not allowing the World Food Program to distribute food to hundreds of thousands of starving people in the areas it controls in the south.

The result is all too painfully visible.  The United Nations has declared six regions in the south as famine zones and says the famine is continuing to spread.

Moving from the food crisis to the global economic crisis, Pillay notes it is the poor who bear the brunt of cost-cutting and other austerity measures.  She says fears of a new global recession are prompting unrest and street protests in countries around the world.

The high commissioner says she joined in Sunday’s remembrance of the victims of the terrorist attacks against the United States 10 years ago on September 11.  She says people who hold human rights in contempt continue to kill and injure innocent people.  

A recent example of this, she notes, is last month’s terrorist attack against a U.N. facility in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.  More than 20 people were killed and scores injured.

“In this context, let me note that the countermeasures adopted by states to combat terrorism have frequently been designed with insufficient regard to human rights," said Pillay. "This has all too often led to an erosion of rights and fostered a culture of diffidence and discrimination which, in turn, perpetuates cycles of violence and retribution.”   

Pillay cites Sri Lanka as one such case.  She says that country has suffered the brutal effects of terrorist acts for three decades.  But instead of working to heal these wounds, she says the response of successive governments has undermined independent institutions, human rights and the rule of law.  

Similarly, she says the killing of civilians by governmental and international forces engaged in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan is a major concern.

She says the protests in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere stem from the denial of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as political and civil rights.  

She says the violation of people’s human rights is at the root of many of the existing global crises.  Just as they are the problem, she says good governance, human rights and the rule of law are also an essential part of any sustainable solution.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid