Thursday, November 19, 2009

What makes Human Rights issue universal?

In this era of 21st century or particularly we can say the era of Post-Cold War, international communities are no longer facing merely traditional security matters, which mainly focus on state national security. There are more rising issues, such as gender equality, genocide, pandemic disease, food crisis, and even poverty (the classic problem that has come to the top of world’s major problem). Those global issues are more people-centered rather than state-centered, or as UNDP on its 1993 annual Human Development Report named it “human security” issues.[1] Since they directly relate to the people’s security as an individual, they cannot be separated from the term “human rights”, because any violation to human rights is considered as human security issue.

Since this sort of security is expected to cover safety “from chronic threats like hunger, disease, and political repression, as well as protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life”[2], it is harder and more complex for a nation state to deal with human security problems than traditional security ones. However, more countries have put concerns on human security , it is proved by the establishment of Human Security Network by the end of 1999. This kind of issue has been more universal than ever. For example, “by the year 2000, Canada also had made human security the foundation of its foreign policy, defining it as ‘safety for people from both violent and non-violent threats … characterized by freedom from pervasive threats to people’s rights, their safety, or even their lives. Canadian diplomatic effort and foreign aid soon began to back the new emphasis with significant national resources. Other countries, ranging from Austria to Switzerland, followed suit.”[3]

This new shifting of priority from international actors to concern more on human rights, does rise a question: What makes this human rights become such international issue who attract more states’ attentions? Why should I care about a human right violation issue on a country that is miles away from my own country, since it has no any direct implication to my daily life? I would embark to find good reasons. I believe that human right is some kind of a bless for each individual to have by the time he or she was born to earth, this right is however a God’s gift for everyone to pursue his or her long term interest/purpose in this world. If I let any violation to human right happen anywhere, that would mean I someday might let anybody else to violate my own human right. In the sense of human right, we are no longer seen as Asian, Westerners, Arabian, etc, but we are one unity for the humanity values.

[1] United Nations Development Program, Human Development Report, 1993,

[2] Dan Henk, “Human Security: Relevance and Implications,” Parameters, Summer 2005, 94.

[3] Dan Henk, ““Human Security: Relevance and Implications,” 95.


  1. human rights bisa jadi international issues? jelas saja, perbedaan ras, etnik, budaya, dan lain sebagainya akan terlihat jelas apabila kita melihat secara internasional, bukan domestik. perbedaan2 itulah yang menyebabkan munculnya pertikaian antara satu negara dgn negara lain. saat sistem apartheid sedang gencar2nya, hubungan negara mayoritas kulit hitam dengan negara mayoritas kulit putih sangatlah rentan. di zaman sekarang ini, manusia hidup bersama-sama, oleh karena itu kasus seperti apartheid jangan sampai terulang kembali. itulah yang menyebabkan human rights menjadi issue berskala internasional.
    * and i quoted from Bob Marley : "me only have one ambition, you know. i only have one thing i really like to see happen. i like to see mankind live together- black, white, chinesse,everyone, that's all"

  2. Hmmm... interesting Bi, you see it from the different side: the distinctions aka perbedaan2 yang ada di masyarakat internasional! Tapi maksud saya adalah, kenapa kita harus peduli sama kasus human rights? Apa yang buat kita harus memikirkan kasus human rights yg terjadi di belahan dunia sana,,yang membuat isu ini jadi universal?!

    So I do hope the so-called Clash of Civilization won't happen in the future, if people can manage how to appreciate human rights.
    as I quote from Michael Jackson "it doesn't matter if you're white or black" haha!