According to the yearly report from Human Rights Watch (HRW), the state of human rights globally is in a dangerous condition as leaders neglect their responsibility to uphold international law.
In the 2024 edition of its world report, HRW issues a solemn warning about the growing number of human rights crises worldwide. These include a rise in wartime atrocities, increased targeting of human rights defenders, and governments undermining and attacking universal human rights principles and laws.
The report brings attention to the growing lack of respect for international human rights laws among political leaders. It states that the use of “selective government outrage and transactional diplomacy” and inconsistent application of international human rights laws has endangered numerous lives.
According to Tirana Hassan, the executive director of HRW, there is a continuous attack on human rights occurring globally as governments prioritize short-term political gains over fulfilling their legal responsibilities towards human rights and striving for more power.
“There is also a worrying trend of double standards that is not limited to the glaring example of the Israel-Hamas conflict. We see silence on the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity, and where there was a full-throttled demand for accountability and prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine, there is also silence about alleged US abuses in Afghanistan.
She stated that this outright implies that human rights regulations can be selectively enforced on certain groups of individuals, which undermines the very foundations of these institutions designed to protect them.
The report outlines the human rights situation in various countries in 2023. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to oppress women’s rights, while the international community has not taken action to prevent widespread and horrific abuses against civilians in Sudan, particularly in Darfur.
Several countries, such as Saudi Arabia, India, and Egypt, who are allies of the United States, are still disregarding the human rights of their citizens without facing consequences. Meanwhile, the European Union has been refusing and sending back asylum seekers and refugees, and has made agreements with Libya and Turkey to send back migrants attempting to enter Europe.
Hassan stated that with many countries holding elections next year, it is crucial to take action in safeguarding human rights institutions and holding political leaders accountable for fulfilling their international duties to protect and uphold human rights for the benefit of all individuals.
“The pattern observed in Vietnam and El Salvador is that oppressive governments often employ state security or traditional values as a means of suppressing LGBTQ+ communities, women’s rights, and refugees. This is typically followed by attacks on the judicial system and courts, leading to a rapid descent into authoritarianism.”
The report criticizes the UK government for a “poor year for human rights”, citing ongoing violations of basic rights, such as the right to demonstrate and seek refuge.