GLOBAL POLITICS AND CONFLICT
Explain the purposes and principles of the United Nations and discuss the problems the organization may face in promoting its purposes and principles
The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the UN Charter had been ratified by a majority of the original 51 Member States. The day is now celebrated each year around the world as United Nations Day.
The purpose of the United Nations is to bring all nations of the world together to work for peace and development, based on the principles of justice, human dignity and the well-being of all people. It affords the opportunity for countries to balance global interdependence and national interests when addressing international problems.
There are currently 192 Members of the United Nations. They meet in the General Assembly, which is the closest thing to a world parliament. Each country, large or small, rich or poor, has a single vote.
UN exists under the following purposes;
To maintain international peace and security, and to that end take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.
To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace
To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.
The UN and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated above, acts in accordance with the following Principles;
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.
Many events have presented the United Nations with a clear and unequivocal challenge to the principles and purposes contained in its charter as here below discussed;
First and foremost the UN faces the challenge of funding certain activities. With its new, higher profile, however, the UN has had to make difficult choices. Limited funds and the UN's own limited capacity to plan and implement peace-keeping operations require that priorities be established. The Secretary General has been encouraged by some member states to increase his efforts not only to resolve conflicts but to head them off. It has been recognized, however, that fundamental to the success of any UN peace-keeping operations is the full cooperation of the parties. It has further been acknowledged that regional organizations could play a constructive peace-keeping role and might be better situated, on a case-by-case basis, to intercede and mediate the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Secondly, although the UN system has created a legal framework for action on human rights, efforts to implement the established standards have been uneven. Some observers have suggested that UN forums have been characterized by "selective morality" as criticism has been focused primarily on the state of human rights for example in Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, and the Israeli-occupied territories simply because such criticism was acceptable to a majority of UN members, while criticism of other nations' abuses was not. This obviously poses a challenge to UN principles and purposes.
Another challenge UN faces is the wide range of issues that the United Nations is now called upon to face outside the traditional security arena for instance issues of the current climate change and HIV/AIDS. These challenges being cross-cutting issues, UN cannot ignore them but handle them as well meaning that UN is becoming over stretched in its operations posing a challenge.
Furthermore, is has been observed that world wide, that human rights and democracy are now generally accepted as world norms although one wonders how far, in many member countries, the practice still falls short of the rhetoric. Hence this is a challenge to UN principles and purposes.
UN faces the challenge to harness the potential of information and communication technology to promote the development goals of the Millennium Declaration, namely the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education (UPE), promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and development of global partnerships for development for the attainment of a more peaceful, just and prosperous world.
Another challenge UN faces is the achievement of sustainable development and agreed development goals, as contained in the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of Implementation and the Monterrey Consensus, and other outcomes of relevant United nations summits. This is simply because most people would like to live in a sustainable community, but they cannot afford to do so because current business models encourage activities that do not take into account future problems since sustainable development creates long-term economic stability, but does not create short-term profits. This remains a big challenge to the achievement of UN principles and purposes.
The idea of equal political rights in member countries which encompass both the "sovereign equality" of all Member States, in Article 2 of the Charter, and "respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms", in Article 1, remain a challenge
The prohibition of the use of armed force, "save in the common interest" remains a challenge for example the legality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been widely debated since the United States, United Kingdom, and a coalition of other countries launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in September 2004 that according to the UN Charter point of view, that war was illegal and yet the political leaders of the US and UK have argued that the war was legal.
More still there is a challenge of industrialized countries remaining reluctant to see the United Nations act on the second principle of the promotion of "equal economic opportunities". As the governments of some certain countries are equally loath to see it actively promote "respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all".
Finally, the most complex of the challenges to UN is the building of an international system based on a genuine democracy as any idea of a crusade comes in the name of democracy, which is in itself undemocratic, as is any principle that seeks to impose itself universally. Thus, paradoxically, the missionary enthusiasm for democracy ends up affecting the nature of democracy itself.
Change and globalization are constantly reshaping reality. UN now promises to encourage a new sense of commonality and even new morals and a new political ethic on the international community. The international legal order has therefore acquired an enormous significance, since it is the only means of restricting arbitrariness and subjectivity. It is also the most effective mechanism for the protection of human rights and human freedom among member states.
Lindblom, Anna-Karin, Non-governmental organizations in international law, Cambridge University Press, New York.
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Terminski, B. (2010). "The Evolution of the Concept of Perpetual Peace in the History of Political-Legal Thought". Perspectivas Internacionales
Using relevant examples, give reasons why it is increasingly difficult to root out terrorist networks and their activities across the world.
According to American Heritage Dictionary, terrorism refers to the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia defines terrorism as systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. It has been used throughout history by political organizations of both the left and the right, by nationalist and ethnic groups, and by revolutionaries. Although usually thought of as a means of destabilizing or overthrowing existing political institutions, terror also has been employed by governments against their own people to suppress dissent examples include the reigns of certain Roman emperors, the French Revolution, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Argentina during the "dirty war" of the 1970s.
Reasons why it is increasingly difficult to root out terrorist networks and their activities across the world are various but here below are some of them;
Not surprisingly, as the meaning of terrorism and usage of the word have changed over time to accommodate the political vernacular and discourse of each successive era, terrorism has proved increasingly elusive in the face of attempts to construct one consistent definition.
At one time, the terrorists themselves were far more cooperative in this endeavour than they are today. The early practitioners did not mince their words or hide behind the semantic camouflage for example calling themselves `freedom fighters' or `urban guerrillas'. The nineteenth-century anarchists, for example, unabashedly proclaimed themselves to be terrorists and frankly proclaimed their tactics to be terrorism.
The above situation makes it difficult to fight terrorism because various nations define it differently hence it is not easy to put common measures to fight the vice.
A war on terrorism is difficult to fight due to its nature. Terrorism by definition is the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. It may also be seen as a state of fear and submission produced by terrorization. The fact that terrorism has such a psychological impact means it affects everyone differently. It is a subjective response to an event. Anything that is subjective will be difficult to overcome for a large group of people, because people's responses will be different.
Another reason that a war on terrorism is difficult to fight is that the individuals perpetrating the acts are diverse and spread out across the globe. It is difficult for the government(s) to pin down the core of the group to cut off power. This is because there are so many different cores.
Terrorism is not isolated, nor easy to locate. Sure, we have the "hot spots" where some of them universally operate, however, that is just the tip of the iceberg. A truly hardcore terrorist-bound organization is very secretive. It is indeed an organization, whose operations are no different from the official intelligence organizations such as CIA, FBI etc
Furthermore, the war on terrorism is so hard to fight because it takes a lot of people to track the doings of a group just as strong and organized as our best military forces, yet, it takes also a separate group to understand their sub-cultural disdain since they are secretive and self-protective.
The war on terror is hard to fight because instead of having one big enemy that we can name and find, we have many little ones. Additionally, our enemies are harbored in countries in the Middle East with which we have few positive relations. They also attack in small groups or alone and are not afraid to die (fundamentalism at play).
The war on terrorism is so challenging because of its unconventional nature it takes. Unlike a traditional war that takes place on a definite battlefield, with clearly defined armies, and where the enemy is visible, the war on terror is difficult as it is elusive in nature.
The "enemy" can strike at any time, with any means, and through any venue. Traditionalism goes out the window in such a setting. Even the weapons are non- traditional. Bombs can be used, but cell phones could also be used as detonating devices. Guns might be used, but more likely devices like razors or chemicals would be employed. The terrorist has a distinct advantage in that they only have to be right once, while the opponent has to be right all the time in order to prevent disaster, loss of life, and public panic.
Another reason why the war on terrorism is so difficult to fight is because many of the terrorist cells are hidden. In addition to being hidden they are spread all over the world. In fact, there are many terrorists right in the United States at this very moment as the United States has very porous borders like any other developing nations. This means that it is fairly easy for people to travel in and out of the country. Of course it has been harder since the attacks on 9/11 but it still is possible.
More still it is difficult to fight terrorism because there are groups of terrorists called "sleeper cells" which means that they are dormant or on standby. One of the purposes of these kinds of groups is to simply blend in and remain undetected until they are told to carry out the terrorist attack. These people are also difficult to find hence making war on terror difficult to fight..
In some instances terrorism is rooted in religion. This can cause people to act in ways that are very illogical or counter-intuitive for example willingness to blow themselves up. Looking back at history, religious clashes have often been the most difficult to resolve and end because people feel so strongly about their religious beliefs. Because terrorists are under the belief that they are doing God's will, they will go to extremes beyond what is usually seen to accomplish their mission.
Another reason is the difference in cultures. While many of the local population is not actively involved in terrorist activities, they are much less likely to aid those fighting terrorism because those fighting terrorism are still seen as outsiders, where the terrorists come from the same religion, country or tribe.
Because terrorism is a non-conventional war, almost guerrilla like tactics. These types of fights whether it be the US fighting the British during the revolutionary war, or fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, are always more difficult. It is not a traditional battle for example the US civil war, WWII and so on where the two face-off, one side wins and the loser agrees to give up their fight, and the two sides move forward looking towards the future.
Terrorism operates against the basic rules of engagement. Most notably it operates against civilians, and sometimes from within civilian population. It strikes at random, which makes it harder to defend against. Its impact is not only the physical damage it causes but mostly the effect on day-to-day life. This also makes it difficult to fight.
Defending against terror using conventional means contribute to its psychological effect as the conventional war-like methods are ineffective against terrorism. In an overly-"politically-correct" society, simple risk-assessment statistics-based deductions becomes "racial profiling", which makes life even harder.
Another challenging primary difficulty of fighting terrorism is the issue of civil liberties and individual privacy that such measures often entail, both for citizens of, and for those detained by states attempting to combat terror. At times, measures designed to tighten security have been seen as abuses of power or even violations of human rights. Examples of these problems can include prolonged, incommunicado detention without judicial review, risk of subjecting suspects to torture during the transfer, return and extradition of people between or within countries and the adoption of security measures that restrain the rights or freedoms of citizens and breach principles of non-discrimination.
Finally, because some governments do kidnap suspected terrorists and keep them indefinitely without charge in torture camps, this causes their sympathisers/accomplices to occupy foreign sovereign nations and continue to undermine their operations. This could be the reason as to terrorism has increased sevenfold since 2001. I would think these things would encourage and breed more terrorists and new followers.
Viewing terrorism as the extreme edge of mainstream trends helps us understand, and thus seek solutions, to it. When we view terrorists as evil or beyond explanation, we are inaccurate and unhelpful. We cannot 'solve' an evil. We can only live fearfully in its shadow. Even if it is uncomfortable to think of people who do terrible things to innocent people as part of our same world, I believe it is important to try. It has been found out that people who have chosen terrorism in the last century have been influenced by the same broad trends that we all have.
Alibek, K. (1999). Biohazard. New York: Random House.
Carter, A.; Deutch, J.; and Zelikow, P. (1998). "Combating Catastrophic Terrorism." Foreign Affairs (Nov/Dec):80–94.
Cohen, H. W.; Gould, R. M.; and Sidel, V. W. "Bioterrorism Initiatives: Public Health in Reverse?" American Journal of Public Health 89:1629–1631.
Hudson, R, A. (1999): The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: who becomes a terrorist and why?, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress
Hanratty, D, M & Meditz, S,W. (1988): "Post-National Front Political Developments". Colombia: A Country Study. Library of Congress.
Pape, R, A. (2005). Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Random House. pp. 237–250
Tucker, J. B. (1997): "National Health and Medical Services Response to Incidents of Chemical and Biological Terrorism." Journal of the American Medical Association 278:389–395.
“The independence of most states in the developing world is mythical other than a reality”. Using relevant examples, respond to the statement.
A developing country is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within the so-called developing countries. Some developing countries have high average standards of living than others.
Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, defined a developed country as follows. "A developed country is one that allows all its citizens to enjoy a free and healthy life in a safe environment.
The independence of most states in the developing world is mythical other than a reality as discussed here below;
The term developing country implies inferiority of a 'developing country' or 'undeveloped country' compared to a 'developed country', which many countries dislike. It assumes a desire to ‘develop’ along the traditional 'Western' model of economic development which a few countries, such as Cuba and Bhutan, have chosen not to follow.
The term 'developing' implies mobility and does not acknowledge that development may be in decline or static in some countries, particularly in southern African states worst affected by HIV/AIDS. In such cases, the term developing country may be considered a euphemism. The term implies homogeneity between such countries, which vary widely. The term also implies homogeneity within such countries when wealth (and health) of the most and least affluent groups varies widely.
Similarly, the term 'developed country' incorrectly implies a lack of continuing economic development/growth in more-developed countries.
In general development entails a modern infrastructure (both physical and institutional), and a move away from low value added sectors such as agriculture and natural resource extraction. Developed countries, in comparison, usually have economic systems based on continuous, self-sustaining economic growth in the tertiary sector of the economy and quaternary sector of the economy and high material standards of living.
However, there are notable exceptions, as some countries considered developed have a significant component of primary industries in their national economies for instance Norway, Canada, Australia. The USA and Western Europe have a very important agricultural sector, and are major players in international agricultural markets. Also, natural resource extraction can be a very profitable industry (high value added), for example oil extraction.
The independence of developing nations being mythical is best explained using Dependency theory where a body of social science theories predicated on the notion that resources flow from a "periphery" of poor and underdeveloped states to a "core" of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former. It is a central contention of dependency theory that poor states are impoverished and rich ones enriched by the way poor states are integrated into the "world system."
It should be noted that developing nations are thought by developed nations to be primitive and weaker members in a world market economy hence not independent. Here the dependency theorists argued, in opposition to free market economists and modernization theorists, that underdeveloped countries needed to reduce their connectedness with the world market so that they can pursue a path more in keeping with their own needs, less dictated by external pressures.
Independence of developing nations remains mythical in that poor nations provide natural resources, cheap labor, a destination for obsolete technology, and markets for developed nations, without which the latter could not have the standard of living they enjoy. This further explains the allegation.
Further more wealthy nations actively perpetuate a state of dependence by various means. This influence may be multifaceted, involving economics, media control, politics, banking and finance, education, culture, sport, and all aspects of human resource development including recruitment and training of workers.
Also is common knowledge that wealthy nations actively counter attempts by dependent nations to resist their influences by means of economic sanctions and/or the use of military force against the developing nations. This as well worsens the situation of dependency of developing nations on the developed world.
More still developing nations are not fully independent in that poverty of the countries in the periphery is caused by the fact that the periphery is not integrated into the world system, or not fully integrated I the free market economies.
Further sill there is a financial and technological penetration by the developed capitalist centers of the countries of the periphery and semi-periphery which acerbates the situation of developing nations to remain dependent on the developed nations. This situation produces an unbalanced economic structure both within the peripheral societies and between them and the centers.
Another reason as to why independence of developing nations remains a myth is because developed countries have always forced developing countries to do their bidding, whether by brute force or diplomatic persuasion. The more advanced country might force the inferior country to preserve its natural environment. By doing so the developed world is more than likely to destroy to cause more harm than good because of mere suspicion by the inferior.
Beside the above point, there are always hidden intentions, whether political or economic behind this kind of arrangement. Therefore the developing country should have its own say in what it does with what it has. For example, would the US have stopped its Industrial Revolution simply because it was polluting its atmosphere? Would we now give up some of our luxuries because we release Chlorofluorocarbons? No, we would not, although some like to believe they would.
Developing nations remain un-independent in that resources are not used to their full socio-economic potential. These nations remain exporting unprocessed goods to developed nations which results in local or regional development being slower in most cases than it should be. Furthermore, it results from the complex interplay of internal and external factors that allow less developed countries only a lop-sided development progression. This characterizes developing nations by a wide disparity between their rich and poor populations, and an unhealthy balance of trade. This in turn keeps dependent on the developed world.
By and large the economic and social development of many developing countries has not been even. They have an unequal trade balance which results from their dependence upon primary products (usually only a handful) for their export receipts. These commodities are often;
(a) In limited demand in the industrialized countries (for example: tea, coffee, sugar, cocoa, bananas)
(b) Vulnerable to replacement by synthetic substitutes (jute, cotton and others)
(c) Are experiencing shrinking demand with the evolution of new technologies that require smaller quantities of raw materials (as is the case with many metals).
Prices cannot be raised as this simply hastens the use of replacement synthetics or alloys, nor can production be expanded as this rapidly depresses prices. Consequently, the primary commodities upon which most of the developing countries depend are subject to considerable short-term price fluctuation, rendering the foreign exchange receipts of the developing nations unstable and vulnerable. Development thus remains elusive. This situation keeps the developing nations in a state of dependency on the developed world.
The underdevelopment of the third world is marked by a number of common traits; distorted and highly dependent economies devoted to producing primary products for the developed world and to provide markets for their finished goods; traditional, rural social structures; high population growth; and widespread poverty. Nevertheless, the third world is sharply differentiated, for it includes countries on various levels of economic development. And despite the poverty of the countryside and the urban shantytowns, the ruling elites of most third world countries are wealthy.
Bag, A. K(1982): The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, Cambridge University Press.
Cardoso & Faletto, 1979, cited in Tausch, Sustainable Development and Turkey's Accession, about 1/6 of way through
Frank, A. G. (2005): “The Development of Underdevelopment” Critical Concepts in the Social Sciences.
G O'Donnell, El Estado Burocrático Autoritario: Triunfos, Derrotas y Crisis, Buenos Aires, Universidad de Belgrano, written 1982, published 1996, cited in Vernengo, Technology, Finance and Dependency.
Matias Vernengo, "Technology, Finance and Dependency: Latin American Radical Political Economy in Retospect", Working Paper No: 2004-06, University of Utah Dept. of Economics, 2004, p 5; retrieved July 2009.
Explain the significance of a sustained appeal by the United Nations to governments in developing countries for the promotion and protection of human rights.
Human rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being. Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national and international law.
Fifty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a bulwark against oppression and discrimination. In the wake of a devastating world war, which had witnessed some of the most barbarous crimes in human history, the Universal Declaration marked the first time that the rights and freedoms of individuals were set forth in such detail. It also represented the first international recognition that human rights and fundamental freedoms are applicable to every person, everywhere. In this sense, the Universal Declaration was a landmark achievement in world history. Today, it continues to affect people's lives and inspire human rights activism and legislation all over the world.
The Universal Declaration is remarkable in two fundamental aspects. In 1948, the then 58 Member States of the United Nations represented a range of ideologies, political systems and religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as different stages of economic development. The authors of the Declaration, themselves from different regions of the world, sought to ensure that the draft text would reflect these different cultural traditions and incorporate common values inherent in the world's principal legal systems and religious and philosophical traditions. Most important, the Universal Declaration was to be a common statement of mutual aspirations -- a shared vision of a more equitable and just world.
The success of their endeavour is demonstrated by the virtually universal acceptance of the Declaration. Today, the Universal Declaration, translated into nearly 250 national and local languages, is the best known and most cited human rights document in the world. The foundation of international human rights law, the Universal Declaration serves as a model for numerous international treaties and declarations and is incorporated in the constitutions and laws of many countries.
The doctrine of human rights in international practice, within international law, global and regional institutions, in the policies of states and the activities of non-governmental organizations has been a cornerstone of public policy around the world.
The quest to place human rights at the centre of the activities of the United Nations system has been a consistent focus of the Secretary-General’s UN reform agenda, since its launch in 1997.
In 2002, the UN Secretary-General then, identified the significance of the promotion and protection of human rights by building of strong human rights institutions at the country level as a principal objective of the United Nations. In particular, he proposed that the UN system at the national level (UN country teams) enhance collaboration to respond to the needs and requests of Member States in establishing and strengthening national human rights promotion and protection systems.
Today, there is widespread recognition that the 50-year investment in development and human rights promotion requires new impetus to secure broader realization of economic and social rights. Extreme poverty and exclusion from economic, political and cultural life continue to be the fate of millions in developing countries. Currently, there are 48 countries where more than one fifth of the population live in "absolute poverty", with little prospect of dramatic change in the short term. Breaking the cycle of poverty thus continues to be a formidable task for the international community. For this reason, the United Nations has increasingly emphasized the right to development, which can provide the basis for a strategy for a more comprehensive human rights programme.
In developing countries, the United Nations is thus enhancing its human rights programme by integrating a human rights focus into the entire range of the Organization's activities and this has consolidated into a single Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This merger has given the new High Commissioner a solid institutional basis from which to lead, as the focal point of all system wide integration of human rights activities, the Organization's mission in the domain of human rights
These days in member states which include developing countries, virtually every United Nations body and specialized agency, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, is making efforts to incorporate the promotion or protection of human rights into its programmes and activities, including a gender perspective and an emphasis on the right to development.
In a bid to protect and promote human rights in developing countries, the United Nations believes that creating a pervasive culture of human rights requires a dynamic network of partnerships worldwide. The High Commissioner for Human Rights implements her broad mandate in partnership with a variety of actors, including the programmes and agencies within the United Nations system, Governments, regional organizations, academic communities, committed individuals and the NGO community. New types of partnerships are being developed with civil society.
UN endeavours to promote and protect human rights in developing nations has been encouraged since it is believed to be essential as this promotes equality and non-discrimination among all individuals in the enjoyment of their human rights, with a special focus on the disadvantaged and marginalized members of society.
Further more UN is encouraging participation and inclusion of every person and all sectors of civil society in developing countries in the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social development in which human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realized.
Through UN’s efforts to realize accountability and the rule of law in developing countries, it has acted by supporting the capacity of States and other duty bearers to develop laws, regulations, policies and budgets that comply with agreed standards and goals and clearly stipulate the reciprocal responsibilities of a State and its citizens, as well as avenues for redress.
More still UN emphasizes promotion and protection of human rights in developing countries in that people should enjoy security from violence, and political freedom and participation. Indeed, these are core elements of human well being reflected in the Millennium Declaration. Democratic governance needs to be underpinned by a political regime that guarantees civil and political liberties as human rights, and that ensures participation of people and accountability of decision makers.
Considering the promotion and protection of human rights is a matter of priority for the international community in the auspices of UN where there is a unique opportunity to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the international human rights system and of the machinery for the protection of human rights, in order to enhance and thus promote a fuller observance of those rights, in a just and balanced manner.
It should be known that UN recognizes and affirms that all human rights derive from the dignity and worth inherent in the human person, and that the human person is the central subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and consequently should be the principal beneficiary and should participate actively in the realization of these rights and freedoms. This is also the major reason as to why UN emphasizes protection and promotion of human rights in developing countries.
Another reason for UN to encourage promotion and protection human rights in developing countries is that all people have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Finally UN encourages the promotion and protection of human rights in developing countries in that any reflection of good governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights that is civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The concept of good governance has been clarified by the work of the Commission on Human Rights. Its resolution 2000/64 expressly linked good governance to an enabling environment conducive to the enjoyment of human rights and "prompting growth and sustainable human development."
Building partnerships for human rights, preventing human rights violations and responding to emergencies, promoting human rights, together with democracy and development, as the guiding principles for lasting peace and coordinating the system-wide strengthening of the United Nations human rights program are reasons as to why UN encourages the promotion and protection of human rights in developing countries. This is a bedrock requirement for the realization of the Charter’s vision of a just and peaceful world.
Beitz, R. (2009): The idea of human rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Donnelly, J. (2003): Universal human rights in theory and practice (2nd ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Freeman, M. (2002): Human rights: an interdisciplinary approach. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Littman, G. (2003): "Human Rights and Human Wrongs". National Review (New York)
Shaw, Malcom (2008): International Law (6th ed. ed.). Leiden: Cambridge University Press.
Define democracy? Discuss the essence of democratic governance for African countries in fostering global partnership and development.
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal (and more or less direct) participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law. It can also encompass social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.
The term comes from the word Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) "rule of the people",which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) "people" and κράτος (Kratos) "power", in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.
According to some theories of democracy, popular sovereignty is the founding principle of such a system.However, the democratic principle has also been expressed as "the freedom to call something into being which did not exist before, which was not given… and which therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known." This type of freedom, which is connected to human "natality," or the capacity to begin anew, sees democracy as "not only a political system… [but] an ideal, an aspiration, really, intimately connected to and dependent upon a picture of what it is to be human—of what it is a human should be to be fully human." (Ake, C. (2001).
While there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times. These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.
Democratic Governance can be understood as the capacity of a society to define and establish policies and resolve their conflicts peacefully within the existing legal order. This is a necessary condition for the rule of law along with the separation of powers and a legal system that ensures the enjoyment of individual freedoms and rights -civil, social, political and cultural. This requires institutions based on the principles of equity, freedom, participation in decision making, accountability, and promoting the inclusion of the most vulnerable sectors of society (Larry, J(2006).
Democratic governance for African countries in fostering global partnership and development has been an ongoing phenomenon as here below presented;
First and foremost UNDP works on different thematic areas like Local Governance, Decentralization and Institutional Reform and Justice and Security Reform. This promotes knowledge management and the participation with inclusion especially of women, youth, persons with disabilities, Afro descendent people and indigenous groups, as well as the strengthening of government institutions to ensure better conditions for human development for African countries and even countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Secondly, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is yet another initiative by Africa’s Heads of State and Governments intended to reverse, for good, the beggarly and highly embarrassing image of the continent through a ‘sustained engagement’ with the developed world. Among its many objectives, NEPAD seeks to halt the growing and deepening poverty of Africans by working towards altering the basis of the relationship between the rich North and the poor South. The initiative seeks a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest through the instrumentality of political democracy and economic development on the continent.
It is also concerned to institute people-centered development via market-oriented economies capable of holding their own ground in the global village.
Furthermore, NEPAD is in search of building blocks to lay the foundation for a new politico-economic order, one able to permanently reverse the old cliché that ‘Africa is rich but Africans are poor’. The politico-economic blueprint of action is also meant to strengthen the capacity of the state with a view to making it an effective engineer, formulator and implementer of people-friendly programs and policies.
Finally, where various Lome EU-ACP agreements have virtually condemned Africa to the unenviable role of producing no more than primary commodities for Western industrial consumption, NEPAD proposes a frontal attack on the negative fall-outs of the continent’s integration into the global system as an extremely weak partner and a peripheral player (Robert,2007).
What the authors of NEPAD are saying, in brief, is that whilst it is imperative for Africa to clean up its act and begin to take its rightful place in the comity of continents, it cannot-and should not be expected to do it alone. Yet, little or nothing in the document suggests that the Western paradigm of development that has done everything except develop the continent is being challenged or contested.
My principal argument here, at once implicit and explicit, is that since Africa’s history of unequal relations with the developed world in the last three centuries or so is such that it has largely become a non-autonomous actor without the capacity to decide its own fate and future, NEPAD by being essentially a historical does not constitute an adequate response to the continent’s underdevelopment. It needs to be replaced by a more African-centered economic action plan that takes the continents history into account. That is to say a history that is two sided.
First, one needs to consider Africa’s relations with the West in terms of the slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism. In the latter’s contemporary rendition as “globalization,” the continent encounters the diffusion of Western capitalism and cultural values and a network of socio-economic and political institutions and relations that have made Africa’s political economy the most vulnerable to both positive and negative external influences. The second side of that history is the bad politics and venal leadership in much of the continent that were either ignored or supported by the West during the Cold War period—depending on their strategic or nuisance value but which have become costly in both political and economic terms after the formal end of the Cold War. As Zack-Williams, have argued, “Africa’s crisis is not natural or inevitable but a product of human history; a history forged in the complex interaction between locals and foreigners, states and societies, and domestic and imperial pressures.”
A major lacuna in NEPAD, I argue, is its inability or unwillingness, or both, to boldly account for Africa’s underdevelopment as a function of both the epochal consequences of colonialism/structural imperialism and bad politics of many of the continent’s political leaders. It may be true that “democracy in the form of multiparty elections was generally seen by African rulers as the price to pay for continued financial assistance rather than as the political modality that will make development more likely.”
However, it is also true that structural adjustment programs (SAPs) had greatly undermined the capacity of African states economically and strengthened their hands politically to deal with political discontent. To make sense of this methodological impasse, Alex de Waal’s notion of NEPAD as a ‘big idea’ that buys into “the promise of bold international action to resolve Africa’s crisis” is useful. Taken along with his argument that one of NEPAD’s strengths is that there is nothing essentially new about it, that what Africa needs is not so much new development models as “a proper application of lessons already learned,” we get the moral that the success of this African initiative seems to be hinged on a correct reading of Africa’s history as well as on adequate responses to that history.
History has it that the endevours to foster democracy in developing nations Africa inclusive do allow unscrupulous public officials to exploit opportunities for putting self above public interest, contrary to the spirit of democratic governance. Some advocates of globalization do point out that there are several benefits of globalization and its positive contribution to democracy, economic growth and development worldwide. The Critics however, do disagree and point to the impoverishment and devastation caused by globalization particularly in poor countries. It is clear that due to the various tensions between globalization, development and democracy, the benefits of globalization do not only remain elusive to many African countries, but globalization may indeed undermine human rights, impede development and be a threat to democracy in those countries. Moreover in the face of the unique challenges faced by African countries, while the Western world continues to be winners in the race for the benefits of globalization, most African counties continue to be relegated to the position of losers.
Ake, C. (2001): Democracy and Development in Africa (Ibadan, et.al: Spectrum Books for African Center for Democratic Governance)
Colm, A. (2002): “Nepad should be driven by the people” Mail and Guardian.
Amuwo, ‘K. (1998): “Critical Perspectives on Structure, Nature and Role of the Public Bureaucracy in Nigeria” Quarterly Journal of Administration.
Larry, J(2006): Electoral systems and democracy. Johns Hopkins University.
Robert, W. (2007): Origins of democracy in ancient Greece. University of California Press.