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Amnesty International on Children’s Rights Essay

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Updated: Dec 26th, 2021

Introduction

Amnesty International is an autonomous organization which is concerned with human rights all over the world. Its members work together to improve human rights in their regions. The Amnesty International movement was started in 1961, and it currently has 2.2 million members and supporters who are located within 150 countries. Where human rights have been violated, either physically or mentally, Amnesty International will initiate actions which demand justice for the victims. The members will use pressure through public demonstrations and direct lobbying to exert pressure on the governments and organizations that have violated human rights.

Human rights violations that the organization defends include and its not limited to; abolishing capital punishment, torturing of crime suspects, promotion of economic and cultural rights of the marginalized, protection of those who defend human rights, protection of refugees and asylum seekers and the rights of children and any other activities that may be considered to interfere with human rights (Amnesty International USA, 2010). There are various ways in which Amnesty protects children’s rights. This essay will emphasize on the role of Amnesty International as relating to children’s rights. The devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left a lot of damage to its victims. Most of these victims have had their human rights violated as they were left homeless and lacked basic needs which include proper health care and basic education for the children victims. This paper will discuss the role Amnesty International which is has been playing to retain human dignity to the Hurricane Katrina victims.

Amnesty International on Children’s Rights

Amnesty International advocates for fights against the children’s rights violations in various ways which includes; children soldiers, the right to education and prohibition of early marriages. Amnesty’s fighting for children’s rights is in the same line with UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international legally binding instrument, which was ratified in 1989 specifically to support children’ rights, as it had been decided that children (under 18 years) needs special attention and they to had special human rights needs.

The Convention has four core principles which are; “non-discrimination, devotion to the best interests of the child, the right to life, survival and development and respect for the views of the child”. The Convention has set standards which are applied in the protection of the children’s rights. Education, health legal and civil issues are the services that are addressed in the standards set by the Convention. It is these children rights that Amnesty International supports and ensures that governments that have agreed and have ratified to the Convention actually follow on the Conventions requirements (Rourke & Boyer, 2010).

In this line and in support of the Convention Amnesty has set its own articles which are in support the UNICEF’s Convention requirements the Articles of Universal Declaration. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration stipulates that education should be availed for everyone and should be free for up to the elementary level (Amnesty International USA, 2010). According to Amnesty International, Education is important and is most essential as without it it would be almost impossible to realize the other human rights. In support of this the members fight against any actions that prevent children from being educated. Activities that prevent and interfere with children’s education are many and vary depending on the region.

In some regions children are forced to work. Therefore, they spend time laboring instead of attending to school. In other regions and especially in war torn regions children are forced to take arms and go to war. While, in other regions they have discriminatory behaviors which maybe based on race or gender. There are also cultural practices that interfere with a child’s chance to continue with learning. Such cultural practices include early forced marriages. Article 16 of the Universal Declaration stipulates that one has to fully consent in marriage and one has to be of full age in order to bind him/herself to marriage. This implies that Amnesty will assist in fighting and educating those cultures that interferes with children’s education prospects in any way.

Amnesty has been active in demanding that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia should be forced to stop discriminating Romania children from getting education. Amnesty has also demanded that these countries should be active in promoting equality in children’s education. In Pakistan children have been held in prisons unfairly and Amnesty’s members have been campaigning for their freedom. Amnesty International is a member of the Coalition to stop use of Child Soldiers and as a member of this Coalition. Amnesty has been fighting to ensure that there would be no more recruitment of children as soldiers to fight in civil wars. Amnesty has also been demanding that those who have already been recruited should be taken back and returned to life as civilians to enjoy their childhood. One of the successes by Amnesty was getting Russian Federation to ratify a law that requires minimum age for new recruitments in their army would be 18 years. Amnesty was working together with Coalition to stop the use of Child Soldiers in this battle.

Amnesty International on Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina caused a lot of suffering, more than a thousand people died and millions of people were displaced. Hence, effects of the hurricane have been evidence of the destruction that occurs when governments fail to incorporate human rights in natural disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Article eight of the Universal Declaration stipulates that no one should be discriminated against despite of their race, religion or physical disability. According to a report by International Human Rights Law Clinic,(When Disaster Strikes a Human Rights analysis of the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricane) the United States government was accused of violating human rights and was also discriminatory in the response to the disaster. There were preexisting human rights conditions which made victims more vulnerable to disaster. Most of the victims of the hurricane were poor African American who is the residents of New Orleans. Even after the disaster the US government failed to adopt necessary measures that eased the victims return to their homes, that protected their property and that safeguarded their rights to shelter and safe healthy environment. Amnesty International USA has been at the forefront in fighting for the rights of those who were displaced. Amnesty International recognizes and supports the sentiments in the UN statement “Housing is a human right.

Healthcare is a human right. Justice is also a human right. Returning home is a human right”. Proper housing, food and clothing are basic needs which should be accessible to everybody. These are the basic rights that are in Article twenty five of the Universal Declaration. A report (UN Natural Disaster Human Rights in the Gulf Coast) details the seriousness of the human rights issues after Hurricane disaster. Accessing health has been an uphill task in New Orleans as most Charity Hospitals were closed down. Housing has been difficult as public houses have not been replaced and rebuilding new houses by individuals had been made difficult by handles in disbursement of funds (Inter-American Commission on the Human Rights, 2006). It’s after noting these violations that Amnesty International reported the Stafford Act, that guides the US disaster response has inadequacies and should be amended to include internal displacement and to bring it into the internationally required standards.

Amnesty International has outlined other recommendations to the US government on the measures that it should be taken to improve the human rights situation in New Orleans. In another report (The Right to Return) Amnesty International USA set recommendations to the US government that suggested long-term and durable solutions. The report recommended that; displaced people should be protected, should have access to public facilities, they can access employment and their right to get government assistance, that the displaced had access to humanitarian assistance, reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure and a separate governmental organization that would respond to disaster calls (Amnesty International USA, 2010).

Conclusion

The fight for adherence of human rights is far from being won. However, Amnesty International in conjunction with its members and notably with the UN has been successful in preventing human rights violations (UNICEF, 2010). International participation in the fight has been recognized and more specifically in stopping recruitment of children soldiers in more than one hundred countries. Amnesty International involvement is successful because of its involvement with other human rights organizations. The success of Amnesty can also be noted in educating people of human rights and in defending human rights defenders. Prisoners of war have been released all over the world such as in Guinea and Guantanamo. The death sentence has been banned in various countries for example in New Jersey and New Mexico (Amnesty International USA: Success stories).

References

  1. Amnesty International USA. (2010). Human Rights and Poverty in the Gulf Coast: UN Natural Disaster.
  2. Amnesty International USA. (2010). Success Stories.
  3. Amnesty International USA. (2010). United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
  4. Inter-American Commission on the Human Rights. (2006). Web.
  5. Rourke, J & Boyer, A. (2010). International Politics On The World Stage. New York: McGraw Hill
  6. UNICEF. (2010). . Web.
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IvyPanda. "Amnesty International on Children’s Rights." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/amnesty-international-on-childrens-rights/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Amnesty International on Children’s Rights." December 26, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/amnesty-international-on-childrens-rights/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Amnesty International on Children’s Rights'. 26 December.

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