Monday, December 8, 2008

What are Human Rights?

What does it mean to be human?

In class we discussed the idea that first off life by itself was not a human right, that has to be a given. If you take life away from a person, they cannot be a person any more - they are no longer a thinking thing.
I believe that Sartre's idea that humans are a freedom and we are giving the free will to choose what actions to do or not to do, that is what makes us human not something else. If this is true we decided that it was our right to have self-sovereignty which was the most important human right. If one was to tamper with or infringe on a person's ability to make choices then it would be inhuman.
For example: if the US government holds an Egyptian immigrant in a secret prison and they torture him. This treatment is an attack on that immigrant's human rights, he can no longer be self-determined. The torture is an attempt to push this person into a life where he cannot be able to make choices, so this prisoner sees a limit set of choices and he ends up not being able to be a human.

We also talked about how there were some basic other human rights. These would obviously include access to clean water, as well as food, and the right to have a baseline health care and education. These are the foundations of any modern human society so that people can have a properly lifestyle.

But, is there some level of international intervention to guarantee that those above noted rights are not to be tampered with by a government or organization. First off there can intervention when people are being killed like in Bosnia-Kosovo conflict. Here a certain people where having their ability to live their lives taken away just because of religion. They were treated not like humans, but more like animals at the slaughter. This was a case where the West in the form of NATO saw that humans were being killed and their self-sovereignty was being threatened by the will of other people. In the end I believe any nation with the power should intervene for human rights if they have the resources or the power to.


smiga said...

It is still unclear to me why clean water, food, and health care, should be considered human rights. Do countries often intervene in situations that involve starving people, or is it usually organizations like Red Cross?

Emily Sellers said...

I think countries are supposed to intervene when the government has made the choice to withhold "clean water, food, and health care, should be considered human rights." In other words, when the government can provide for the people.

If it is just bad luck that there is a flood or drought then it is the role of the Red Cross. Some countries are just poor and no mater what they do they can't bounce back after a natural disaster. This doesn't mean that the governments are terrible. They just didn't have the resources to begin with.

Joy Henary said...

People have their rights taken away for a variety of reasons. People's human rights were violated in the case of the dictatorship in Argentina. At first, people just began disappearing. Journalists or anyone who spoke out against the government were targets. Many had their rights violated not only because they were murdered, but many were imprisoned and tortured for years. I believe that in many cases governments should intervene in situations like this, especially when it is the another government itself that has overstepped its boundaries in violating the rights of humans. However, many countries find this an opportunity to take advantage of this country. This thus opens the door for other countries to take advantage of a certain country with opportunity. What about this humanitarian intervention? Some believe that human intervention can truly be based solely on humanitarian concerns, however, many times countries go in to help for some self-interest rather than true humanitarian efforts. Thus should we leave intervention to institutions or NGOs like Amnesty International?