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Contemporary Foreign Relations between India and China
While local politics in India mandate an internal focus, recent Indian administrations have understood that achieving their domestic objectives will require the international community’s engagement. In recent years, India’s military-diplomatic and economic energies have expanded far beyond before. The border tension between India and China comes forefront once again in 2021 following a standoff between India and China in the northern Sikkim and Ladakh region across the ‘Line of Actual Control’ (LAC). India and China share 3,488 km long, while the Chinese contemplate it to be only around 2,000 km. India used the Ardagh-Johnson line that extended up to the Kunlun Mountains and places the Aksai Chin in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. India and China have exchanged maps on which they comprehensively acknowledge in the middle sector (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim) and in the western sector (Ladakh). In the January of 2021, China planned to build run-of-the-river dams on Yarlung Zangbo(the tributary of Brahmaputra), a hydro-electricity generation project. This has reactivated the debate on India-China water relations. The current India-China relationship shows no institutionalized contraption on water cooperation in the trans-border rivers which flow from China to India fall into two main groups- The Brahmaputra River System and Indus River System.
China considers Tibet as the palm and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh as the five-finger. The 14 th Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India since 1950-51. While staying in India he met the Chinese premier when Zhou Enlai, former Vice Chairman of CCP, assured him that if the Dalai Lama would care to accompany him to Beijing, Mao Zedong, former President of PRC, would be glad. In 2021 India should not renege on her time-honoured stand with the Dalai Lama in its attempt to strike a rapport with China. China on May 20 th , 2021 said that any successor to the present Dalai Lama should be approved by it, ruling out recognition to any heir nominated by him or by his followers. The youth of Tibet are being inducted into the Chinese army through several loyalty tests in May which include learning of Chinese language and being dutiful to the Chinese Communist Party and no other beliefs such as following the Dalai Lama and religious gurus.
As a part of the ‘Belt’ ingenuity of China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was made. There is a rising sense of concern at the moment around the fact that India-China tensions have become worse.India's objection to Gilgit- Baltistan and Karakoram being a part of CPEC are not substantive as the region has been totally under the control of Pakistan for 72 years. New Delhi also claims China’s maritime presence in Gwadar which can harm India’s energy and economic security. Chinese Navy is making a new port in Sri Lanka which may be a cause of threat according to ANI of India.
China’s GDP is nearly five times that of India and its defence expenditure at $150 billion is three times larger than that of India. This huge differential behaviour of China, Beijing’s growing global reach and expanding international influence mean Beijing has fewer reasons than before to accommodate India’s concerns. China’s coercion playbook usually involves 4 elements; one is to develop a larger or more permanent physical presence in areas where China has already a degree of de facto control over new islands in the South China Sea or roads in the Himalayas through its coercive diplomacy.
In 2020 India and Chinese army troops of both sides at Galwan Valley in the Eastern Ladakh region were locked in a tense stand-off at three points along the LAC-the Galwan River Valley near Pangong Lake. The deadliest clash led to a month-long military standoff with China in 11 rounds of military talks. In the clash, 20 Indian soldiers were killed and a buffer zone was created between two armies. In June 2021 China and India sent tens of thousands of soldiers and advanced military equipment to their disputed border of Ladakh. China and India sent 50,000 troops. India has acquired an offensive capability along the southern Tibetan plateau.
In few years, India's important economic development brought about expansion and differentiation in International trade after making a correlation with the EU and the USA in absolute term. There has also been speedy incorporation of the Indian economy where India exported $299.30 billion in 2021. India’s imports from China declined and exports increased. China’s share in India’s export basket increased to 7.29% in FY21 since the last decade. Also, India’s involvement in ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) officially promotes political, economic, security, military, educational and socio-cultural integration in south-east Asia. India’s relations with the world have evolved considerably in the last decade. India-US military trade touched $25 billion in 2021. Important agreements like Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), Industrial Security Agreement (ISA) were signed between the two countries which inked in last year. The USA is balancing through management with China. In the G-7 Taiwan Strait initiative was established with other discussions for fighting against the current international threat. USA launched a 500 billion dollar plan called the “Build Back Better World” project of the IMF. The discussion was held at the test summit to fight against the future health emergency, trade barriers and Covid-19 pandemic test summit. Globally India wants to remain an influencing power on issues and commenced its two years as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to bring solutions to the matters of international peace and security but China is challenging the liberal global order and domestic support. Globally, India wants to remain an admissible and influencing power on issues ranging from climate sustainability to fair trade, digital technologies to the space and cyber commons, through national interest based multinational appointment. Finally, an underlying forwardness defining India’s foreign policy today is that the basic orientation has changed to overcome opinionative principles and the hesitations of history. This perception, however, remains to be tested against tenacious default practices and traditional mindsets, which to a considerable extent remain harboured in debates of strategic liberty.
- Cresida Chatterjee, Pragyadeepta Dasgupta, First Year, Loreto College, Kolkata.
Racial Profiling and Police Brutality in the USA
Racial Profiling, by definition, is “the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin”. Relying on a set of characteristics generally associated with criminal activity is called “criminal profiling”, and is practiced by the Police globally. However, it has witnessed nefarious implementations. While racism has been a burning issue in the USA since times immemorial, the upsurge of racism in the Police department has led us to a profound crisis of faith in the administration of America, despite claims of USA having entered a ‘post-racial era’. Not only is this explicit racial discrimination problematic, but also highlights the violation of human rights of oppressed minorities.
A Stanford University study (conducted in 2019) titled Stanford Open Policing Project brought to the fore some deeply disturbing facts. The study reveals “consistent racial profiling in how police decide to stop and search white versus minority drivers”. It has been conclusively observed that “black drivers are stopped more often than white drivers, based on less evidence of wrongdoing”. The very recent cases of the brutal deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Daniel Prude, due to Police Brutality expose the seeds of racism implicitly existing in the Police Body, and the misuse of Racial Profiling. The cases involving the killing of Taylor, Floyd and Prude have highlighted the issues of police violence in the US, “rooted in systemic racism and discrimination against people of colour and the lack of accountability in the police and justice systems in the US.” These instances of institutional violence have sparked massive outrage and also brought the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement into the forefront. The never-ending loop of police brutality and racism has been under action since 2013 when the Black Lives Matter movement started with the shooting death of an African-American teen Trayvon Martin, thus becoming a “decentralized political and social movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people.” Time and again, “New York prosecutors have assessed civilian deaths at the hands of police and determined the evidence isn't strong enough to sustain a criminal case against the officers involved.” State Attorney General Letitia James explains: “State law and decades of court precedent give police officers significant leeway when it comes to using potentially lethal force. The system was built to protect and shield officers from wrongdoing and accountability”. The system too often allows officers to use brute force unnecessarily, and without culpability.
The recent happenings of racial profiling and police brutality in the US, albeit condemnable, is not novel. With a horrific history of Slavery and the consequent oppression of Afro-Americans, racism has permeated into the law and administration of the system. The Jim Crow Laws that legalized segregation, continued well into the late 20 th Century and Black Codes controlled the lives of the Blacks. Inadequate training of the Police, failure to recruit Black Officers in equal numbers as White Officers and the system’s collective effort to shield racially-motivated institutional crimes have caused a steep rise in the oppression and fear of violence in the hands of the ‘enforcers of law’. The concept of White Supremacy is systematically instilled in the minds of Americans, which ultimately leads them to be prejudiced. In this regard, it becomes imperative to mention that the State Machinery of USA is biased, and encourages human rights violations. Human Rights are the basic rights everybody possesses by virtue of simply being human. These rights apply to everyone – irrespective of social or racial barriers. Thus, when the concerned Authority takes a lenient stance on issues of grave human rights violations, it becomes a perpetrator to the crime. Also, the right-wing politics of ex-President Donald Trump inevitably triggered the rise of racial anger across the country. Racially motivated hate crimes were also on an alarming rise.
Racial Profiling is a methodology doomed to backfire, because it incorporates a pattern of ‘physical characteristics’ – something that one has no control over. Along with the notion of associating certain physical features with criminal activities comes long-standing prejudices. While profiling may be a result of prejudice, it also becomes a cause of birthing even more prejudice in the process. Doing away with racial profiling and coming up with fool-proof processes of identifying erring criminals is the need of the hour, because as witnessed, Racial Profiling is slowly becoming a dangerous weapon to subjugate racial minorities. These may include installation of security cameras on the streets, a vigilant system, and above all, a team of sincere policemen with no prejudice. This makes it a social issue more than an administrative defect, as the change to be brought about has to emerge from within the individual. Imparting proper values and education becomes paramount in this process.
Racial superiority is infused in the veins of humankind. Through ages, several unreasonable crimes have been perpetrated towards minorities in the context of exterminating people of lower standards. However, with the concept of universal human rights stepping into the scenario, such crimes have been recognized and singled out to be ‘crimes against humanity’. However, since most of our administrative systems are subtle enablers of divisiveness and prejudice, equality is easy in theory but tough to implement. It is a gradual process of learning and unlearning which will eventually root out such inherent biases. What we fail to understand is: the system is made of human beings, with failings and flaws. Thus, their personal beliefs will inevitably reflect in their service. Racial prejudice can be done away with only if the initiative for change arises from within.
-Tania Baral & Debasmita Dutta [Loreto College, Kolkata].
The Pandemic- An Emphasis over its Effects on the Disabled
The WHO declared a Novel Corona-virus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and urged governments to take quick action and scale up the response to treat, diagnose, and reduce transmission to save people's lives. For the first time since 1945, the entire world came to be united by this one common entity, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or faith 1 . The virus has already infected roughly 6.9 million people, with over 400000 persons died in over 200 countries worldwide. While some countries (such as China and South Korea) have effectively flattened the pandemic curve, others are finding it difficult to do so, considering the major forms of crisis.
Through travel, event cancellation, employment workforce, food chain, academics, and healthcare capacity The pandemic has put enormous strain on the international economy, healthcare, and globalisation. The economic and social consequences of the pandemic are devastating: thousands of people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished individuals is currently estimated to reach around 690 million, as evaluated in a report by the WHO 2 . According to the Pandemic Vulnerability Index (PVI), some countries were more helpless than others. South Africa and Egypt were among the weakest nations in Africa; Russia, Germany, and Italy were among the weakest in Europe; India, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey were among the weakest in Asia and Oceania; and Brazil, the United States, Chile, Mexico, and Peru were among the weakest in the Americas 3 . While the Pandemic has affected almost every aspect of livelihood, this paper aims to discuss the effects of this pandemic on disabled people.
Disabled people are particularly exposed to the risks of the Covid-19, those living in institutional care. They were protected in several cases only by recommendations rather than legislation4.
While Article 11 of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD) stipulates that member states should adopt “all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk”, there have been widespread reports of disabled people facing problems accessing treatments for Covid-19 while many of the public health measures implemented to contain the virus are not taking into account the needs of the disabled people. According to Catalina Devandas, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, disabled people believe that governments do not respect their rights and that responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have not considered their needs leading to measures that might exacerbate disabled people’s exclusion from society. Disabled persons may be at a higher risk of morbidity and mortality if they get the virus, but they are also at risk of being de-prioritized for care.
Recommendations for immediate actions:-
Ensure that all recovery efforts protect the rights to life, health, liberty, the rights to independent living and inclusion in the community, without discrimination.
Ensure that all persons with disabilities have immediate access to food, medicine, and other essential supplies.
Ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to basic, general, specialist, and emergency health care and that triage policy never discriminate based on disability or impairment.
Enact emergency dis-institutionalization plans, as informed by persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, including adopting an immediate ban on institutional admissions and transfer of funding during and beyond the pandemic. Guarantee full participation, meaningful involvement, and leadership of persons with disabilities including the disabled youth and children and their representative organizations at every stage of planning and decision-making processes in Covid-19 responses.
Ensure that emergency responses are disability-inclusive and take into account the needs of marginalized women and girls with disabilities, persons living in rural areas or remote areas, deaf and hard of hearing persons, persons with deaf-blindness, persons with intellectual or psycho-social disabilities including persons with autism.
Prioritize inclusive education for children and young people with disabilities, especially children and young people living in congregate care. Ensure alternative education provision is accessible and provides reasonable accommodations based on the individual needs of children and young people with disabilities to guarantee their right to education.
Prioritize the dissemination of comprehensive and accessible information in a variety of formats for persons with disabilities concerning the pandemic, response efforts, and public health information and guidance.
Provide disability-awareness training for police and law enforcement authorities. Ensure that persons within the institutions have access to mental health supports and services.
Enforcement of public health-related restrictions. Ensure access to justice for persons with disabilities who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing abuse, violence, or exploitation as a result of emergency measures.
Allocate adequate financial and human resources to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the Covid-19 response in the recovery process.
Provide immediate access to food, PPE, social distancing measures, and appropriately trained staff.
Adopt necessary measures to protect persons with disabilities who are in risky situations, especially during curfews, lockdowns, shielding orders, or shelter at home orders related to the Covid-19 pandemic 5 .
In conclusion, the multiple surveys conducted by persons with disabilities, their representative organisations, and families from around the world in response to the unprecedented response to the COVID-19 has demonstrated the significance of listening to those most affected by the pandemic. As a result, the emergency response has been inadequately adapted to the specific needs and rights of people with disabilities, particularly those in institutions and members of disadvantaged minorities 6 . This has had disastrous effects, resulting in thousands of unnecessary and preventable deaths as well as other major human rights violations. Nevertheless, voluntary initiative adopted by various oranisations cannot be disregarded. Hence a lesson to be learnt is that people with disabilities and their organisations are critical to the planning, preparation, and execution of any emergency response, and their vital role must be fully recognised and supported, as well as incorporated into future response efforts.
-Sinjini Bose- Psychology Department, •M.Meena- Political Science Department, -Loreto College, Kolkata
1. ““Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).” Who.int, 2020. https://www.who.int/india/emergencies/coronavirus-disease-(covid-19). Last accessed on- July 9, 2021
2. Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats, Stacey Knobler, Adel Mahmoud, Stanley Lemon, and Leslie Pray. “Summary and Assessment.” Nih.gov. National Academies Press (US), 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56579/. Last accessed on- July 8, 2021
3. World Health Organization: WHO. “Impact of COVID-19 on People’s Livelihoods, Their Health and Our Food Systems.” Who.int. World Health Organization: WHO, October 13, 2020. https://www.who.int/news/item/13-10-2020-impact-of-covid-19- on-people’s-livelihoods-their-health-and-our-food-systems. Last accessed on- July 9, 2021
4. “COVID-19 AND THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: GUIDANCE.” COVID-19 and the rights of persons with disabilities - OHCHR. United Nations Human Rights, April 29, 2020. https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disability/COVID- 19_and_The_Rights_of_Persons_with_Disabilities.pdf. Last accessed on- July 9, 2021
5. Brennan, Ciara Siobhan. "Disability rights during the pandemic: a global report on findings of the COVID-19 Disability Rights Monitor." (2020). https://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/sites/default/files/disability_rights_during_the_pandemic_report_web_pdf_1.pdf Last accessed on- July 10, 2021
6. Krahn, Gloria L. "WHO World Report on Disability: a review." Disability and health journal 4, no. 3 (2011): 141-142.
https://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report.pdf Last accessed on- July 10, 2021
DISABILITIES AND THE PANDEMIC: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A BETTER TOMORROW
Children with mental and physical disabilities are often referred to as ‘special children’ and later when they grow up they are labelled as ‘handicapped’. However, they deserve to be treated with respect, love and acceptance. Every child is special in their own way and we all have some disability inside us but we all are trying to do our bit in this society. Although many laws, schemes, reservations and facilities exist in India which have been initiated by the government for those who are either mentally or physically disabled, unawareness about them lies not only among most of the general public including the disabled people, but also at the grassroot level of execution and implementation. Added to this, the pandemic has caused many difficulties for the disabled people. In light of this, here are a few recommendations which can be taken to assist the disable people:
● The government should provide these children with a scholarship,this will help them in education and their family also because they have to spend a large amount of money on treatment.
● New T.V. channels should be launched for them where a qualified sign language interpreter will read out the news so that the disabbled person can gather information about the outer world.
● As people with disabilities are at a higher risk during this pandemic,the government should advise them to be more cautious and they should be monitored by doctors on a regular basis.
● The government must make new strategies to vaccinate them.The government volunteers should go to their home and vaccinate them because it’s not possible for them to go out and take the vaccine.
● Most of the time we see that the person with some disability were teased by their so called normal counterparts.Government should introduce a course where the students will be taught that the children with disability are same like them and they are not any alien.They deserve respect,everyone should treat others in the same way they wants to be treated.
● The government should appoint volunteers who will buy groceries and other essential things and get it delivered to their house who are disabled,during the time of this pandemic.
● The government can arrange a web talk with the help of a N.G.O.,where they can meet each other virtually and share their experience like how they are dealing with this pandemic.This will motivate others also and we can find new ways while discussing also.
● The government can select one person as a representative where they will come up with their problems and present it to the government.
● Children with disabilities are not allowed in most of the schools but they can develop a lot if they get the chance to grow up naturally with children of their own age group of course with the needed guidance and support. Counsellors can be hired to make things more flawless.
● Many people lost their jobs after this lockdown and everyone is facing a tough situation right now so the government should help them by giving loans so they can start a business or they can be given jobs based on their capability.
● Those heading the committees responsible for securing the well being of the disabled people should carry out extensive awareness and information dissemination activities in a planned way in the Government’s own Ministries and among the general public so that the schemes, laws, facilities and reservations for disabled people can actually benefit them and can be availed effectively.
● Disabilities among the tribal population, particularly those tribes which are extremely secluded from the cities, go largely unacknowledged. The government should work in coordination with NGOs and medical centres for the disabled to carry out an estimation of the number, kind and intensity of disabilities that prevail among their areas’ tribal populations. These authorities should then establish care centres nearer to where the tribal population resides and convince the disabled peoples’ care takers to put their trust in the authorities and visit the care centres when needed. Superstitious beliefs with regard to disabilities should be checked. These people should be made aware about the laws, reservations, schemes and facilities that they can avail.
● Corruption prevents those in authority to facilitate access to schemes and other benefits that can be availed by the disabled people. Often, even when the disabled people produce a valid disability certificate to avail the benefits of the schemes rolled out for them by the government, they are denied these and are sometimes even harassed to pay a separate large fee regularly to be a recipient of any scheme’s benefits. Thus, the government should be vigilant about any malpractices prevailing among its officials and chalk out ways to prevent these so that the sanctioning of schemes for the disabled remains corruption-free.
● The government should allot more money towards clinical/medical research and development in the field of both mental and physical disabilities. This would help find out which disabilities react positively to medications and therapies and can be controlled in terms of their intensities in individuals. Consequently, disabilities which are medication and therapy safe can be treated, thereby helping the respective disabled individuals to secure a better livelihood and health for themselves. The government should also take charge of providing all clinical and medical facilities at either subsidized rates or free of cost, depending on the disabled person’s / their guardian’s/ caretaker's income’s capacity to pay for their treatment.
While the government is put under the spotlight to play a central role here, we must remember that it is also the duty of all citizens to assist the disable people in whatever way possible. We must help each other as much as we can because it’s not possible for the government to regulate everything if the citizens become uncooperative.
- By Ashwriya Malik and Sudeshna Gupta, Loreto College Kolkata
Human Rights Violation in Uganda
The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked state in East Central Africa which is situated in the region of African Great Lakes. President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement Party is leading this constitutional republic since 1986. The internal security of the state is supervised by the national police under the Ministry of Internal Affairs whereas the external security is superintended by the army under the Defence Ministry. These officials commit manifold abuses.
The State’s societal predicament arises due to the quotidian violation of human rights of the Ugandans. The human rights issues in Uganda incorporate the LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex] community detention, corruption, torture and harassment by the security forces of the State, libel criminalization, non-allowance of peaceful gatherings, non-allowance of political process participation, internet inaccessibility, contravention in journalism, illicit killings, intervention and forced ceasing of public speech and expression, etc. The lives of the Ugandans become fiendishly difficult because the government officials are disinclined to interrogate and inspect the felonious incidents that occur every day as they themselves are involved in these occurrences. These have surged up the rate of human rights violation in Uganda. The Ugandan government officials do not ensue and thus violate the supreme law of the State, that is, their Constitution which results in Human Rights violation.
The Ugandan Constitution has several provisions like: -
• the protection and the promotion of the human rights by the State institutions by providing them with adequate resources to function effectively,
• the protection and the promotion of the human rights by guaranteeing and respecting the independence of the NGOs,
• ‘Gender Parity’ and the fair representation of the marginalized people on all constitutional bodies, • maintenance of the aged and their welfare,
• involvement of the people in formulating and implementing the development plans and programmes,
• protection of the people’s rights to equal opportunities,
• fulfilment of the fundamental rights of all the Ugandans to social justice and economic development,
• recognition of significant role of women in society, etc.
All these Constitutional provisions are violated by the officials. According to the Uganda 2018 Human Rights Report, between February and September 2017, nine unarmed civilians were killed by UDPF [Uganda People’s Defence Forces] as they were accused of fishing in an illicit way. On 25 March, Python Okello, a resident of Apaa Village, was killed by UDPF personnel. They even forcefully evicted the local residents from a contested village. Later, on 16 May, the UDPF spokesperson denied the execution of such actions by them. Even a son and a father, who were Kyagulanyi supporters, were picked up and tortured to death a person accused of purloining on 8 June. According to the reports of ACTV [African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims], UPF had tortured 63 persons [twelve by UDPF, seven by Flying Squad Unit of UDPF and three by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence]. On 12 July, a lawyer reported to the media that his clients [ten men accused of murder and kidnap] were compelled by the UPF and the UDPF to sleep on stairs which were very steep and they were beaten and electrocuted. Their stomachs were stepped on by their feet and as a repercussion, they vomited water which they were compelled to drink during interrogation. The government restricted internet access and on 1st July, they levied 200 shillings [5%] tax on social media usage. They even disrupted presentations on art and blocked music concerts. The Right to assemble has also been limited by the government by using the Public Order Management Act. According to the 2019 reports, on 11 July, the police fired tear gas and five bullets to the protestors who were protesting of tax which violated the rights of the Ugandans to freedom of information and expression. On 13 August, two journalists, Herbert Zziwa and Ronald Muwanga were arrested by the security personnel because of revealing political informations and on the same day, six opposition MPs were arrested and beaten by the Ugandan military and police in advance of the by-elections. When the NGOs were robbed and security guards were killed, the police did not investigate the matter. On 8 February, two guards of the office of Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum were awfully injured and the security system of the forum was vandalized by unknown assailants. Some unspecified people intruded into Isis-WICCE, an organisation of women’s rights and purloined informations of various software and money on 6 August. In June, about 200 residents earnestly beseeched to stay at OHCHR [UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] which is situated in Gulu after few soldiers killed a resident.
In a technologically and politically advanced world, it is a massive plight to see that a large no. of people still has to go through serious injustice like these, injustice to their basic human rights which a person of any caste, creed, religion, gender, race is entitled to from the moment they are born. The Government ought to strive to make a drastic change and return people their rights and dignities, what is originally theirs so that not a single organisation, individual or anyone can snatch away what belongs to them lifelong. This is the entire agenda of the Human Rights Commission in every part of the world so that we do not have to fight for something that we rightfully and legally own. Thus, as a conclusory remark, I would like to quote the luminary, Mr. Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, himself- “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”.
- Priyanka Karmakar/ Department of Political Science. Mary Ward Loreto College, India. And
- Sampoorna Ray/ Department of History. Mary Ward Loreto College, India.
ENVIRONMENT AND US- HUMAN RIGHTS APPROACH
The quote by Kofi Annan which goes as, “If we are to go on living together in this earth, we must all be responsible for it” truly portraits the dire need to protect the surrounding and the planet that we are living in. All human beings depend on the environment in which we live. A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is vital to the full gratification of a wide range of human rights, counting the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. In recent years, the acknowledgement of the links between human rights and the environment has greatly increased. The number and scope of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions, and academic studies on the association between human rights and the environment are growing swiftly. Without a healthy environment, one is incapable to fulfil his/her ambitions and requirements as in an insalubrious environment there is cut-throat competition to collect resources or as the Darwinian philosophy states, it is the “survival of the fittest.” Many States now incorporate a right to a healthy environment in their Constitutions. Yet many questions about this connection of human rights and the environment remain unanswered and require further examination.
The relationship between human rights and the environment was primarily recognized by the UN General Assembly in the late 1960s. In 1972, the unswerving relationship between the environment and the right to life was recognized by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The Preamble stated that “Man is both creature and molder of his environment, which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. Both aspects of man’s environment, the natural and the manmade, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights –even the right to life itself.”
Environmental rights can be interpreted in different ways. They can be understood to refer to rights of the environment, i.e., rights that the environment possesses, rather than the right of humans to a healthy environment. An alternative interpretation views environmental rights as a "reformation and expansion of human rights and duties in the context of environmental protection". The approach taken here represents an additional stage between merely applying existing rights to achieve environmental protection and acknowledging a brand-new right to the environment. As such existing human rights instruments may be inadequate for urgent environmental tasks. Therefore, scholars argue that a comprehensive norm, which relates to environment is required. Within several international apparatuses one can discovery the pedigrees of a substantive right to environment.
Environmental concerns are top on the list of any local, national or international schema due to the increasing scale and frequency of these issues. Our daily lives, behaviors and actions are all somehow dishevelled with the environment in its larger sense. Sustainability discussions have been putting more weight on the environment, environmental protection, and environmental governance, within its three-legged frame where economy and society are the other two legs.
According to an article from the Official Human Rights webpage of the United Nations, ‘the human rights and the environment mandate, created in March 2012 and extended in 2018, examines the human rights obligations as they relate to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. It also promotes best practices relating to the use of human rights in environmental policymaking.’
In the last few decades, human rights advocates have increasingly challenging activity resulting in environmental harms as human rights violations before national and international courts and commissions. The International Human Rights Clinic has arbitrated in the space of human rights and the environment through litigation, documentation, research, and advocacy in areas such as climate change, business practices, and the residual paraphernalia of armed conflict.
In October of the year 2016, the Clinic helped organize a three-day conference, ‘Climate Change Displacement: Finding Solutions to an Emerging Crisis,’ which brought together connoisseurs from around the world to deliberate the governance challenges that come with climate change dislodgment. Several such conference have been held to encourage the relationship between environment and human rights.
It’s also important to support youth in bringing attention to environmental disasters, especially those youth who are part of disproportionately affected communities, such as low-income and tribal communities. By reaching these youth directly, leaders can transmission knowledge, show students that they’re being heard and help younger generations feel more connected to their communities.
-Debolina Gayen, Upasana Ganguly, Loreto College, Kolkata
• The Guardian, Jonathan Watts, UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment (Friday 9th March, 2018), Accessed on 12/7/2021.
• Tyler Giannini, Bonnie Docherty, and Aminta Ossom, Human Rights & the Environment (2020) accessed on 12/7/2021
• United Nations, Human Rights, Office of high commissioner About Human Rights And The Environment, accessed on 12/7/2021 https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/AboutHRandEnvironment.aspx
• The Right to a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable. Accessed on 12/7/2021. https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/video/right-safe-clean-healthy-and-sustainable-environment
• https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/09/un-moves-towards-recognising- human-right-to-a-healthy-environment
• OHCHR, About Human Rights and Environment. Accessed on 12/7/2021. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/AboutHRandEnvir onment.aspx
Feminism and Human Rights
Throughout history, it is visible that women did not hold an important place in society.Beginning with studies about ancient cultures, there is evidence that women were confined to the domestic sphere whereas men were given the opportunity of managing the public sphere. This went on to be a general problem for women, irrespective of their standing in society; they were not allowed to pursue a higher education or their personal interests. Submission of women to patriarchal dictates, especially marriage, was considered a virtue, which was ironic due to the lack of legal rights. In Victorian England, marriage was a legal binding contract despite the monarch being a woman. This is best described by the words of George Eliot in Middlemarch, who by her heroine Dorothea explains that women lived "amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion”. Giving women more than a primary level was considered redundant, as elaborated by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord’s report, Rapport surl'instruction publique to the National Assembly1 in 1791, where he wrote,
“Men are destined to live on the stage of the World. A public education suits them... The paternal home is better for the education of women; they have less to learn to deal with the interests of others, than to accustom themselves to a calm and secluded life.”
This was answered by Mary Wollstonecraft in her A Vindication of the Rights of Women(1792). She champions the cause of women and states her intention being the “affection for the whole human race”. She explains that women are essential to the Nation as they nurture the future generation as a companion to men, which is why their education should be given importance2 . She presents the point of equality, where men and women should strive for identical virtues, where women would develop their capacity for reason. This was further elaborated in the Declaration of the rights of Woman and the Female citizen (1791) by Olympe de Gouges, which was a response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789). Even though it was in the context of the French Revolution, she raised pertinent points about equality among men and women, where she says, “Man, are you capable of being fair? A woman is asking: at least you will allow her that right. Tell me, what gave you the sovereign right to oppress my sex?”3
Need for Feminism:
The sexual freedom of the Woman has always been compromised and is seen differently all over the World. Molestation of women remains a major issue and practices like female genital mutilation endorse the idea of Male superiority over the body of a woman. This is a focal point in the Fourth Wave of Feminism that is marked by the “Me Too” Movement. The movement was initiated on a social media platform called “MySpace” by Tarana Burke, a sexual harassment survivor and activist4 .
Even though it is relatively new, the actions that the participants have brought to attention the injustices that have always been present in society in a prominent manner, as women are urged to claim rights and justice for their own.
Feminism and Human Rights:
Since the foundation of the United Nations, the attainment of equality between men and women has been a must and the foremost guarantee of human rights. The United Nations has a long history of protecting the human rights of women all over the world, nevertheless, women witness violations of those rights every day in their lives. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, it too entitled equal rights to men and women to the rights contained in it. In 1967, the United Nations Member states introduced a declaration which states that any sort of discrimination against women is an insult to human dignity and to eliminate this they call on states asking it to change its customs and practices that are discriminatory against women. Since the year 1975, which is also International Women's Year, Four World Conferences on women were held respectively in the year 1975, 1982, 1990, and 1995 to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women5.
There are different branches of feminism and each takes a different approach to issues that women face in society. Liberal Feminism looks to address gender inequality in society by using existing structures. Liberal feminism succeeded in introducing legislation such as Equal Pay Act, the Sexual Discrimination Act, Legalization of abortion availability contraception on prescription, the removal of marital rape exclusion clause and a few other Equality Acts. It also influenced girls to aim higher in pursuing their desirable career in this male dominated domain.
Marxist Feminism looks to address the exploitations that women face from the patriarchal society and capitalism and also problems that women face in employment, finances and it also examines the frustration a woman tolerates at the workplace. It also raises its voice against the notion that women have only the ability to look after the domestic sphere.
Radical Feminism tends to interpret the actual meaning of Feminism and break the negative stereotypes pertaining to Feminism. It believes that patriarchal thinking is so ingrained in the consciousness of the mind of the people that the entire society requires a whole new system and practice and this is the only solution to eradicate the existing patriarchal domain6.
Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex7 , argues that Men had made Women the ‘other’ in society, thus bringing out the need for the equality of the genders.
“The woman herself recognizes that the universe as a whole is masculine; it is men who have shaped it still today dominate it; as for her she does not consider herself responsible for it; it is understood that she is inferior and dependent... enclosed in her flesh, in her home, she grasps herself as passive opposite to these human-faced gods who set goals and standards.”
Thus, despite the positive outlook of feminism, it has received a lot of criticism on various accounts. Initially, it was a reaction to the suffragette movement and later arguments were presented against women’s rights, such as education being a ‘physical burden’ for women and that more freedom was the cause for the disintegration of traditional values8 . Unfortunately, these prejudiced views are still prevalent today and there are many instances where there are women whose voices are silenced when they speak out for women’s rights and other atrocities. Therefore, the need for feminism remains, in the hopes of living in a progressive society which is driven by equality and equity.
-Anuska Sarkar and Mohini Maureen Pradhan, Loreto College, Kolkata
1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Vindication_of_the_Rights_of_Woman, accessed on 10th July at 10:50am
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Vindication_of_the_Rights_of_Woman, accessed on 10th July at 10:50am
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_the_Rights_of_Woman_and_of_the_Female_Citizen, accessed on 12th July at 10:50am.
4 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_Too_movement, accessed on 12th July at 10:50am.
5 https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Events/WHRD/WomenRightsAreHR.pdf , accessed on 13th July at 9:40pm
6 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6Dl-9pSW-4&t=36s , accessed on 17th July at 3:50pm
7 Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevalier(New York:Vintage,2009),Vintage Ebooks.
8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism, accessed on 12th July at 10:50am.