Last week, Amnesty International released its annual report on the state of human rights around the world. The report provides an in depth look at myriad factors that contribute to countries’ human rights records and is a widely used and influential resource. Its introduction focuses on the authors’ belief that the world is, “in the middle of a human rights crisis.” To combat this crisis, Amnesty International has launched the Demand Dignity campaign. Demand Dignity will target discriminatory laws, policies, and practices and demand that serious steps are taken to combat poverty’s vicious cycle.
The report underscores the severity of the crises we focus on here at Enough. Discussing Africa generally, Amnesty writes:
There is still an enormous gap between the rhetoric of African governments, which claim to protect and respect human rights, and the daily reality where human rights violations remain the norm.
The report’s section on Sudan highlights the marked increase in attacks on villages and the intensified violations of the international law in the country throughout 2008. Most notably, a step forward was taken through the International Criminal Court’s request for an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir.
In Somalia, an already unimaginable crisis got even worse in 2008, both in terms of armed conflict and access to humanitarian aid. According to the report:
More than 1.2 million civilians were internally displaced in southern and central Somalia. At the end of the year an estimated 3.25 million people were dependent on emergency food aid, which was often disrupted due to widespread insecurity and impacted by insufficient contributions from donor governments.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the conflict in the East, and in North Kivu province specifically, continued to worsen. About a quarter of the population in North Kivu was displaced by the end of 2008. Zimbabwe saw the number of state-sponsored violations of human rights climb, while Chadian civilians were once again subject to intense fighting between the army and opposition groups.
As Amnesty’s Secretary-General Irene Kahn notes in her introduction to the report:
The world needs a different kind of leadership, a different kind of politics as well as economics – something that works for all and not just for a favored few.
We would second that.