UN Raises Stronger Arm against Nations Violating Human Rights with Broadened Definition of Human Rights, More Staff, and Faster Response to Complaints, UN Joins Key Players in the Human-Rights Arena

By Lucia Mouat, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 23, 1990 | Go to article overview

UN Raises Stronger Arm against Nations Violating Human Rights with Broadened Definition of Human Rights, More Staff, and Faster Response to Complaints, UN Joins Key Players in the Human-Rights Arena


Lucia Mouat, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE United Nations, long considered weak on human rights issues, has been quietly adding muscle. In the process it is gaining respect from human rights activists.

The change comes as democracy is spreading from Latin America to Eastern Europe and when East-West tensions within the UN have eased considerably. It is a time, too, when the UN is rapidly assuming the lead in tackling other global problems such as the environment and narcotics.

The UN's broad membership, once seen as an impediment to action, is increasingly viewed as a plus, giving it unique leverage. "If we want to improve human rights, it is governments that are going to have to change their practices - they are accountable," says Isobelle Jaques, a representative of Amnesty International.

Critics say the UN still ignores more blatant human rights violators, such as China and Iraq, and that its rebukes are too timid. Yet Ms. Jaques and other human rights activists say the UN has made procedural changes that have transformed it into a vital player and key ally.

Over the years the UN has set universal human rights standards and expanded the definition of violations to include cultural practices such as female circumcision. Nations that ratify UN human rights conventions must submit regular reports outlining how they comply. Recently the UN committee that oversees the Convention Against Torture turned back a report from China and asked for another by December.

"The more difficult part for the UN, now that the easier legislative side of things is winding up, will be to enforce the standards," notes Enayat Houshmand, chief of the international instruments section of the Geneva-based Center for Human Rights. The UN also has new mechanisms in place to investigate human rights allegations. The UN Human Rights Commission assigns special rapporteurs or working groups to such countries as Afghanistan, Romania, and El Salvador and to such cross-border topics as religious intolerance and torture. This year the UN added the global sale of children and child pornography to that list. Experts such as judges and lawyers gather data from many sources and make on-site visits where allowed.

"In the early '70s it would have been unimaginable to send in investigative missions," says Elissavet Stamatopoulou, chief of the New York office of the UN Center for Human Rights. "Now some countries don't just grudgingly accept our missions - they invite the UN in." The list includes Bulgaria, Turkey, South Korea, Chile, Afghanistan, and, most recently, Iran.

Iran had argued for six years that the way it treated its people was its own business. Yet last January Iran admitted the UN investigator, a Salvadoran lawyer, and will let him return later this year.

Although the Iranian government's opposition called the resultant report a "staged whitewash," Amnesty's Ms. Jaques notes that the UN investigator managed a "foot in the door" - something her organization has been unable to do. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

UN Raises Stronger Arm against Nations Violating Human Rights with Broadened Definition of Human Rights, More Staff, and Faster Response to Complaints, UN Joins Key Players in the Human-Rights Arena
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.