Reflective Journal Essay Example
Lecture 3: The United Nations’ Monitoring &Enforcement Mechanisms & NGOs
The monitoring and fulfillment of the customary international laws treaties is a responsibility not just for the national governments through their judicial and legislative organs but also a responsibility of the United Nations through its treaty bodies like the Human Rights Committee (CCPR). I believe that the monitoring of human rights and reporting on progress in their implementation is a human rights issue as framed by the United Nations. International Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have an obligation to report on the progress of the implementation of international customary law treaties entered by countries as state parties (Lecture 3). The UN and these organisations do not owe any allegiance to any government or political ideology when monitoring the implementation of international human rights’ conventions.
However, some issues remain controversial in the monitoring the implementation of human rights. The execution of these conventions remains a problematic issue for the UN and the NGOs like Amnesty International because of lack of international commitment and government support in some countries, especially the theocratic regimes and governments. Secondly, the monitoring of the implementation of these treaties faces challenges related to funding of the UN and NGOs. In most cases, the UN cannot implement wide ranging reforms due to funding constraints since member states fail to honor their obligations (Lecture 3). Thirdly, the changing trends in implementation of these rights is another controversial issue as today human rights are monitored and implemented in smaller groups based on their needs (OHCHR, 2017). For example, trade unions, and social movements on rights like LGBT monitor violations of their rights.
The UN has on many occasions urged member states to honour the obligations; both financially and implementation. However, it has failed to acknowledge the contribution of social movements like on LGBT rights since such movements are essential in ensuring that governments implement and enact legislations aimed at promoting international rights treaties. Funding and recognition of the contribution of social movements are of extreme importance but have been over-looked by those in power and the United Nations. In most cases, those affected by the inadequate funding and implementation of these rights are never catered for by their states (OHCHR, 2017). For instance, when Australia discriminated against a Cambodian asylum seeker and detained him for four years, it was ordered to pay compensation but declined. Therefore, it demonstrates that the implementation mechanism of these treaties is not effective enough to compel nations to honour their obligations. Implementation may be affected by political ideologies like theocracy in some states and nations. However, the implementation of human rights requires the political will by major and influential governments, especially the dominant powers.
Lecture 4: Bringing Rights Home: International Human Rights in Australia
While Australia has ratified most of human rights implementation and monitoring conventions and even had quality delegates appointed to these bodies, its domestic record on human rights implementation remains a controversial one. Internationally, Australia has a strong standing on human rights but its treatment of asylum seekers in the country has been criticized by the international community, particularly the issue of detention (Miller, 2015). For instance, Australia does not have a bill of rights. Secondly, states have the tendency to deal with human rights in the manner that they deem necessary without any legal obligation. Further, attempts to make fundamental constitutional changes to reflect the need to protect human rights have failed in the country on many occasions, even through a referenda. Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers proves that it has failed to monitor the implementation of human rights. Its piecemeal approach to the protection of these rights leaves the country with no established institution at both state and federal level with the responsibility or mechanism to monitor compliance. The country’s refugee convention and treatment of asylum seekers remain a controversial issue (Miller, 2015).
Since 1992 any person arriving in Australia without proper travel documents is detained and remains in detention for unspecified time (Lecture 4). Asylum seekers want protection of their rights at all levels: economic, social, and political. However, such legislations deny them these rights as demonstrated in the case Ahmed Al-Kateb in 2004. According to Amnesty International, human trafficking is fueled by such restrictive asylum practices, like Australia’s law on illegal immigrants (Lecture 4). In its response, the UN has on several occasions urged the Australian government to reform its asylum practices. I believe that the UN response has been adequate since asylum seeking is an important human rights issue at the international level. These people run away from their countries because of many reasons as postulated by different research studies and UN reports (OHCHR, 2017). Further, these people are entitled to asylum as a fundamental human right if their lives are in danger and are stateless, like the case of Ahmed Al-kateb.
It follows that the asylum seekers may never have their rights adequately addressed under the current legal regime. Those opposed to the incorporation of the bill of rights in the country state that democracy as an ideology and philosophy is sufficient enough to protect people’s rights (Lecture 4). However, I believe that a better response is possible if the government incorporates a Bill of Rights as declared by the UN’s Convention on Human Rights.
Lecture 5: Right to Life
The right to life remains a controversial issue due to the lack of a uniform definition on its scope, that is, when it begins and end. Further, the right to life is not absolute in many jurisdictions, especially when applying salient laws in conflict zones. For instance, in Syria and other war zones, who protect the right to life, especially its end? The UN humanitarian laws have safeguards that respect life in hostile regions but state parties have no obligation in abolishing the death penalty (Lecture 5). States have an obligation to protect the right to life and ensure that in case of any deprivation to life, they conduct open and transparent inquiry.
What remains controversial about the right to life is the death penalty as practiced by some states and jurisdictions. Death penalty exists in major economies like the United States, China and Saudi Arabia. I believe that the right to life is violated when a person is executed in situations that infringe their right to a fair conviction (Lecture 5). The death penalty condemns people and deprives them of the right to life, irrespective of what they have done. It would be appropriate for such nations and jurisdictions to consider the abolition of capital punishment and replace them with life imprisonment.
The UN through its monitoring organ, ICCPR has responded well to the issue of death penalty as it encourages member states to abolish it since 1990 (OHCHR, 2017). Most of the member states believe that abolishing the death penalty can enhance human dignity and gradual development of human rights. States should take all measures to ensure that they abolish death penalty. The need to protect life, especially from death, has attracted attention from governments with many seeking to abolish it and enacting laws that protects life during armed conflicts. Further, enactment of genocide convention by the international community is a clear demonstration that those in power are concerned with the need to protect life. Formation of international tribunals like the Rwandan International Tribunal demonstrates that those whose rights have been violated can be catered for by the state and the international community (Amnesty International, 2017). However, the need to abolish death penalty can be hindered by the need to respect state’s sovereignty and independence on its legislations. It is impractical to interfere in nations like China and the United States as ask them to abolition death sentence unless through their own political volition. Nations, as Amnesty International notes, must be encouraged to abolition death penalty and protect life in all forms. The political will is essential in abolishing death penalty in many states around the world, though major progress has been made in efforts to have countries sign the protocol to stop such punishments.
Lecture 6: Torture and Degrading Treatment
Torture is a human rights issue as postulated by the UN Convention on Human Rights, especially its Convention against Torture (CAT). The UN is categorical that no human being should be tortured and there are no justifications for the practice (OHCHR, 2017). However, many scholars believe that in failed states or dictatorial regimes, torture is used as a tool to subdue others and legitimise such governments (Lecture 6). Torture is prohibited by many international and national legal frameworks. In developed democracies like Australia, the U.S. and Europe, torture cannot be accepted, though in recent years because of international war on terror, some of these nations have been on spotlight on how they have treated perceived terror suspects, especially in detention.
The treatment of detainees, especially terror suspects, remains a controversial issue. For instance, the world was shocked when images of tortured terror suspects emerged from their Guantanamo Bay holding facility. As a result of these revelations, the United States had to clean up its international perception and image because of the human rights violations that it perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism after the 9/11 attacks. More recently, Amnesty International’s report on torture among prisoner and detainees around the world demonstrates that the international community is almost legitimising torture of detainees so as to get information on criminal activities, especially terror-related activities like trafficking of weapons (Amnesty International, 2017b). In its response, the UN was attempted to address these issues through consistent reports by its special rapporteur on torture. Therefore, no form of torture is ever justified, especially in the case of detainees and their treatment.
The issue of torture remains an international concern that must be addressed by all governments in the world. However, I believe that most of them have not addressed it with the significance that it deserves. Torture is important to those affected since it is a violation of human rights and harms them in many ways. It causes severe effects like permanent injuries, uncontrollable nightmare and flashbacks, chronic anxiety and inability to trust others, and development of violent behaviour towards others among other psychological effects (The Guardian Editorial, 2017).
Most of torture victims have never been catered for by their states or those who torture them because the impacts from torture are lifelong, especially psychological effects. For example, torture victims from the Guantanamo Bay facility continue to recover from the impact several years after their detention with no concrete support from the U.S government (Zalman, 2017). I believe that the solution to torture to find alternative ways to access information from suspects as opposed to interrogational and terroristic torture. However, this may be hindered by the need not to interfere in internal affairs of a country.
Amnesty International (2017b). “Stop Torture”. Accessed on May 28, 2017, from
Amnesty International (2017). “Death Penalty” Accessed on May 27, 2017, from
Death Penalty Information Center (2017). “The Death Penalty: An International Perspective”.
Accessed on May 27, 2017, from https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-penalty-international-perspective
Lecture 6: Torture and Degrading Treatment, PPT Presentation
Lecture 5: Substantive International Human Rights: The Right to Life, PPT Presentation
Lecture 4: Bringing Rights Home: International Human Rights in Australia, PPT Presentation
Lecture 3: The United Nations’ Monitoring &Enforcement Mechanisms & NGOs, PPT Presentation
Miller, N., (2015). “UN human rights review: Countries line up to criticise Australia for its
treatment of asylum seekers”. Accessed on May 27, 2017, from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/un-human-rights-review-countries-line-up-to-criticise-australia-for-its-treatment-of-asylum-seekers-20151109-gkusj4.html
Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (2017). “Human Rights
Bodies” Accessed on May 27, 2017, from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/Pages/HumanRightsBodies.aspx
The Guardian Editorial (2017, February 22). “The Guardian view on terror suspects: protecting
their rights is in our interests”. Accessed on May 28, 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/22/the-guardian-view-on-terror-suspects-protecting-their-rights-is-in-our-interests
Zalman, A. (2017). “History of Torture and Terrorism”. Accessed on May 27, 2017, from
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