The United Nations Security Council

This year I came into studying political science believing that the UN was this magical organisation that saved the world. I was incredibly idealistic; but I’ve come to understand that the UN and all of its other substitutes are still human organisations, and therefore they still have flaws, some of these critical flaws.

The biggest thing that I have learnt so far is about the UN Security Council, the P-5 and the Veto power. The UN Security Council is a council consisting of 15 members from 15 states. 10 of these members are from various countries that are on two year terms, ultimately they are rotating members and change every two years. The other 5 members are the P5 or Permanent 5 members which consist of Russia, The United States, The United Kingdom, France and China. The P5 members do not rotate and are awarded an extra level of power called “veto.” This power allows the P5 member to deny any resolution put through to the UNSC, even if there is a majority that want said resolution to occur.

In most recent times Russia has used their veto power twelve times to deny any action from the UNSC to act or intervene in the Syrian Conflict. (BBC) This has led to 7 years of conflict. SEVEN ENTIRE YEARS. Not only this, but it has also led to 11 million people being displaced. (Syrian Refugees) So instead of the UNSC being able to act or create change, Russia has prevented any action from occurring.

This leads to the realisation that these P5 have this extra power, but they still have their ulterior motives, they still have their Home Country’s interests as a primary motive, they do not act for what is the best action for the world or other states. So it leads to the thought, why do these P5 members have this power? Should the veto power be rotated? Should all members of the Security Council be on two year terms? Why is it fair that these five states have more power than the others? I am left with all of these questions that can’t be answered simply, all I know is people are dying, people are losing their homes, children are losing their childhoods and their education, and that Syria was once a beautiful country is losing everything – if this conflict does not come to an end soon, there will be nothing left.

Offshore Detention in Australia

As a global community we are suffering from a refugee crisis. That is the simple reality. While some countries are doing their part and accepting as many as they can handle, and other communities have come together and embraced multiculturalism. Others have not.

Some countries have decided that it is easier to hide the people that are seeking refuge and asylum in distant places and honestly it’s an out of sight and out of mind technique. Australia has taken this approach, going a step further by placing innocent people in unlawful imprisonment, in unsafe foreign lands.

The two destinations in question at this present moment are Manus Island and Nauru. Both of these foreign lands are responsible for housing the innocent souls seeking refuge and asylum in Australia.

So now that I have given you a brief (and not even close to complete) introduction. Lets now discuss the real issues at hand; The Australian Government knowingly putting innocent vulnerable people in dangerous circumstances.

Earlier this year 1,923 former and current detainees that had been illegally imprisoned and neglected on Manus Island were awarded $70 million in a class action against the Commonwealth (finalised in a settlement out of Court).  This illegal detainment and neglect had been occurring since November 2012 and the detention centre is still open. Although to at least to slightly rectify the issue, it has been set to close by the end of October.

So with the closure of Manus island looming, refugees have been invited to opt-in to a transfer to the detention centre in Nauru as the Australian Government is seemingly running out of options to where they want to imprison these innocent people.

So, now we start the topic of Nauru. It can’t be as bad as Manus right? However, the fact is that offshore detention is offshore detention and between Nauru and Manus, there is little to no difference between them. The Australian Human Rights Commission found in 2014 that offshore processing puts asylum seekers and refugees at a high risk of being forcibly returned to a country where they would be subjected to persecution. As well as the rates of self-harm and detrimental mental health being quite high in these detention centres. See more here.

At least to some extent, offshore detention does not discriminate. Men, women, and children are all sent to detention. The educated, the non-educated, the young, the old, the healthy and the sick can all be sent to offshore detention. The Australian Government has placed these people in unlawful detention because they are desperate and they need our help. Honestly, what Government could imprison innocent vulnerable people? 

So to talk about what Human Rights are being breached by offshore detention by the Australian Government;

Firstly Article 5 ‘The right to not be tortured, or treated cruelly, inhumanly, or degraded as a form of punishment.’ Australia has inhumanly treated and degraded human beings due to the simple fact that they needed a safe place to go.

Article 9 is the next human right breached with offshore detention; ‘The right to not be arbitrarily arrested, detained or exiled unfairly,’ with thousands of innocent people being detained every day, do I need to say anymore?

Article 14 ‘The right to seek asylum,’ do I need to add anything to that? Australia is not allowing human beings their human right to seek asylum for what reason? For what cause?

Article 25 ‘The right to adequate living standards and social protections,’

Article 28 ‘The right to a free and fair world’

And lastly Article 30 ‘The right to Human Rights that nobody can take away’

At least 6 human rights are breached with the Australian Government’s Offshore Detention Centres and yet they are still open, and yet people are unlawfully imprisoned. How in anyone’s mind is this okay, and why hasn’t it changed.

 

The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights

As many of us know, the United Nations (or UN) formed in 1945 after the atrocities of World War 2 and the Holocaust. This organisation came together to prevent such crimes against humanity occurring again and to be a Governing body of International Law. They are peacekeepers, humanitarians, educators, Lawmakers, and leaders in action against climate change.

However, in my opinion; one of the most important actions that the UN has performed was the creation and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This important document has 30 articles (30 human rights) and declares the rights of every man, woman and child on planet earth. The articles cover a broad range of topics from slavery, to education, to religion and even living standards. Basically stating that every human being has the same rights and should be treated equally. A simplified list of these Human rights are below

  1. Freedom and Equality for all
  2. The right to be Free from discrimination
  3. The right to life, liberty and personal security
  4. The right to be free from slavery
  5. The right to not be tortured, or treated cruelly, inhumanly, or degraded as a form of punishment
  6. The right to be recognised as a person before the law
  7. The right to be seen equally in the eyes of the law
  8. The right to an effective national tribunal
  9. The right to not be arbitrarily arrested, detained or exiled unfairly
  10. The right to a fair public trial
  11. The right to be innocent until proven guilty
  12. The right to privacy
  13. The right to move freely in and out of each Country
  14. The right to seek asylum
  15. The right to a nationality
  16. The right to marriage
  17. The right to own property
  18. Freedom of religion and thought.
  19. Freedom of opinion and information
  20. The right to Peace
  21. The right to be a participate in Free Elections and Government
  22. The right to social security
  23. The right to do desirable work and to join trade unions
  24. The right to rest and leisure
  25. The right to adequate living standards and social protections
  26. The right to an education
  27. The right to culture of community
  28. The right to a free and fair world
  29. Freedom to complete Community Duties
  30. The right to Human Rights that nobody can take away

See the full document for The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Here:

It may (or may not) be hard to believe that many Western countries are in breach of at least a few of these 30 Human rights, and in their defence, some are easier to follow than others. However, as broad as the topics are that these Human Rights seem to cover, I personally believe that they are all important and should be met.

Furthermore, I think it is important that people have a better understanding of these Human Rights, why they are in place to protect all of us and to ensure that every human being is given enough to live a substantial life.