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It has been argued that the United States is one of the leading violators of Human Rights in the world; to what extent this is true is a question of discussion. Many a times it has also been argued that the United States has failed to observe the spirit of the United Nation Convention on Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is notable to mention that one of the major functions of the United Nations is to see to it that Human Rights of each person in the world are respected (UN.org, 2011). The United State has not shown any serious concern when it comes to the implementation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights especially with regards to citizens from countries such as US and other developed countries.
The question then becomes to what extent has the US upheld the Human Rights as outlined in the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights? In the universal Declaration of the Human Rights the United Nation has clearly outlined the individual rights of every person in the world (Morsink, 1999). These rights should be enjoyed by citizens of all States and any government that violates them is held responsible.
To what extent has the US upheld Human Rights?
Universally the leaders of the United States of America tend to present themselves as being the most concerned people about human rights, ironically they have often advocated for their own interest when it comes to Human right issues. The US for instance has not ratified a number of treaties that address human rights and where they have ratified they had done so selectively (Shah, 2002).
Despite the US having participated in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is sad to note that USA has always been unwilling to enforce this convention (Shah, 2002).
It is clear that the US has continuously violated Article 3 of the Universal Declaration on Human Life; according to this specific article every person has a right to life but the US has on the contrary continuously imposed death sentence on its citizens which is a punishment that is not meted by many countries currently (Shah, 2002).
It is for this reason that Amnesty International has continuously agitated US to show respect for human rights and advocated for removal of death sentence in many other countries besides US (Shah, 2002). Hence this death penalty is an inhuman treatment which is directed to human beings.
Another pertinent law in our discussion is; Article 5 which protects every person against tortures of all kinds. Not surprisingly, the US intelligence arms are renowned for their torture escapades especially of foreign suspects involved in terrorist activities and in recent times such cases of blatant disregard to this laws have increasingly been coming into the limelight.
A recent report released by Human Rights Watch dogs has accused the US government for torture crimes and for failing to tackle this problem (Shah, 2002) In addition, Article 13 guarantees every person freedom of movement and Association (UN.org, 2011); on the contrary the US has constantly detained people illegally and brutally treated them. In such cases the freedom of such people has been infringed by the US especially where innocent people are wrongfully detained and imprisoned.
A recent event that exemplifies this fact is the US support of Guatemala where they have held many prisoners there who had been detained illegally without being taken through due process of law and not to mention while being tortured. As a result of this the US president apologized to the US citizens on the issue concerning the US unorthodox methods used in Guatemala bay (Shah, 2002).
Another article that the US has infringed on is Article 25 which accords and guarantees every person the right to healthcare; at the moment there are still many people who cannot access decent healthcare despite a recent amendment that guarantees healthcare to all citizens.
According to Article 6, the UN declaration states that no one should be discriminated on the basis of genders, nationality or race (UN.org, 2011). But what can be observed in the case of US is outright discrimination especially in giving relief which they do based on their own interests. Another example is where the US supports those countries that support its interests even where they violate human rights; in such cases the US has always taken steps to defend their allies.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights guarantees each person freedom of opinion and expression (UN.org, 2011); many a times the US has suppressed the opinion of other countries and always wants to have the say.
But on more than one occasion the US which is one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council has categorically used its veto powers to frustrate and suppress other countries freedom of opinion. In addition several laws of the US constitution have deliberately curtailed the freedom of speech and expression especially the recently enacted Patriotic Act.
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Under article 14 people have a right to seek asylum in any country (UN.org, 2011) but the US government has instituted laws that are specifically aimed at ensuring that asylum seekers especially from developing countries and Muslim countries are denied entry into the country based on so many reasons including political orientation.
The US has also breached Article 23 by denying citizens from other countries employment on its soil; this is because the US government has set up strict rules, regulation and policies that govern foreign employment (Shah, 2002). The aim is to prevent immigrants from working in the US; more so the government of US does not accept semi-skilled workers.
This is a violation of the right to employment Under Article 1 of the UN Declaration on dignity and equal treatment of human being as outlined on it (UN.org, 2011). According to Amnesty International report, 2001 the US was accused of human rights abuses such as police brutality, torture and detaining of suspects beyond the legal time allowed.
The US has neither respected nor shown a keen interest in enforcing Articles 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and Article 11 as we have seen in the discussion above. All these articles address issues to do with dignity of human being and freedom of speech which the US has contravened in more than way. Many times we have observed the US violate human rights of people especially immigrants working in US and at times read of their disappearance in mysterious circumstances.
Generally as much as the US pretends to uphold the rights of people a keen observation of their human rights record as detailed in Amnesty International reports will reveal that they are the greatest violators (Nurser, 2005). It is not a secret that the US cites national security and other factors as excuses to contravene human rights and has always been selective on who to permit on its borders.
As we have seen the US has contravened in every aspect the spirit of the United Nation Declaration on the Human Rights that states “all Human beings are equal notwithstanding their sex, race, religion or Nationality” (UN.org, 2011). Take for instance the execution of Iraq president Sadam Hussein by the US; this was a grave violation of the Human Rights because under the convention every person has a right to life.
Based on the facts discussed it is clear that the US has done little to uphold the Rights of both its citizens and those from other countries. It is unfortunate to note that the US deliberately uses its Veto power to oppose and push through its ideologies in the world today; in fact it only supports the implementation of treaties, convention or agreements that are consistent with its policies and opposes those that threaten its survival (Morsink, 1999)
UN.org. (2011). United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, Chapter XIV. Web.
Morsink. J. (1999). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pennsylvania University of Pennsylvania Press.
Shah, A (2002). The US and Human Rights. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nurser, J. (2005). For All Peoples and All Nations. Christian Churches and Human Rights. Geneva: WCC Publications.