Essay: Human rights and security, trade, diplomacy and government policy

Human rights are the rights in which all the human beings are entitled by virtue of their being as a human (Manchester University Press, 2001). The concept of the human rights itself is an abstract. However, when it is applied, it has the direct and enormous impact on the daily life of the people in the world. How the human rights applied in the broader circumstance is really having a long journey.

Until in 1945, after the World War II, the United Nations (UN) was established as one of the effort to uphold the human rights to encourage the governments in promoting and guarding the human rights. Human rights are a central element of international law and also the UN Charter’s broad approach for the international peace and security (Freivalds, 2003).

Previously, the human rights activities were seriously hampered by the focus on the principles of the non-interference and the national sovereignty that cited in the charter. But now the focus is shifting from the sovereignty and rights of the states and regimes, to the security and rights of the individual. The shift is necessarily to address the serious and large scale violations of human rights and humanitarian law that are often committed in today’s conflicts and the challenge for the international community is to act more forcefully than before. In looking at the challenges of implementing the human rights policy, it would be noted that many of the issues had to deal with the confrontation with the policymakers (Cohen, 2008).
As the result, the world leaders were started to cooperate in codifying the human rights as the universally recognized regime in the scope of treaties, institutions and norms. Since then, the human rights became institutionalized internationally and many states have integrated human rights concerns into their foreign policies. The linkages between sustainable development, human rights, peace and security have become increasingly clear and widely accepted. Human rights are everyone’s concern. The success of human rights activities depends on an integrated approach in which different policy areas and their relevant instruments are coordinated. Human rights issues must be emphasized into all aspects of foreign policy, including the development of cooperation, security and trade. In this paper, the argument on ‘why governments nowadays should feel obliged to integrate human rights concerns with their security, trade, and diplomatic policies’ would be comprehensively discussed to explain about the cost and risks of integrating the human rights aspect with a state’s foreign policies.

Human Rights and Security

The concern of human rights aspect in the security matter of a state is very important since the world was experiencing some human rights violation in the World War II that led to a realization of protecting the individual’s human rights. This is also crucial to foster the international peace efforts. Even it was mentioned in the UN Charter as one of the purposes of the United Nations to maintain the peace and security in the world. It was stated in the opening sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) affirms that the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal rights of all human is the foundation of the freedom, justice and peace in the world (United Nations, 1948). It means that the shared values have a solid foundation for the universality of human rights, and the importance of human rights values can be considered as an essential component of a broad security concept that focuses on the individual security and rights.

This is very important for a state to integrate the human rights aspect to its security policies. The aim is to expose and oppose the unlawful detentions that carried out in the name of national security or to countering the terrorism. This is also to protect the individual rights of being a citizen. In the 21st century, the enemy is not a state, but it can be at the level of a group of people. Today’s rebels are ruthless, resourceful, and really skillful at weaving themselves into the fabric of their societies, and even making themselves virtually undetectable until they strike (Galula, 2014). This is just like in the case of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL has released a video purportedly showing the killing of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, a respected journalist known for his work covering the suffering of civilians in war zones that went to Syria in last October 2014. The aim was to try to secure Haruna Yukawa, the former Japanese man that was also being a hostage of ISIL (BBC, 2015).

In this case, a nation’s foreign policy regarding to the human rights is critically needed to secure and protect the freedom of a citizen since this is dealing with someone’s life. As stated in the Japan foreign policy affirm that Japan is officially expressing its support for the policy of the US to counter the terrorism (Ishizuka, 2012), Japan would work with the international community to bring those responsible for Mr Goto’s apparent murder before the justice and also expand its support to the countries fighting ISIL. And since one of the foreign policy goals is to promote democracy and human rights in the world, Japan could utilize it as the attempt to embrace the other countries to support the Japan’s effort. It can be seen from the response of some world leaders such as Obama, the US President; David Cameron, the British Prime Minister; Francois Hollande, French President and Tony Abbot, Australian Prime Minister that basically giving their support for the Japan government (BBC, 2015). This is showing that the governments nowadays should really integrate the human right in drafting thier foreign policy as an attempt to secure and protect the freedom of a citizen since this is dealing with someone’s life and also to support its national strategy against terrorism.

Human Rights and Trade

As today’s international trade has been widely dominated by the role of the Multinational Companies (MNC), how the MNC operates its production activity become a major issue to be discussed. The MNC operates in the complex environments that may facing many challenges come up around the areas of the operations. As the consequence, these challenges can undermine the safety and security of the staff and also affecting the human rights of local communities. Regarding to ths situation, the integration between human rights and trade is very important to formulate any policies. Business and human rights, Security Sector Reform (SSR) as well as the wider security and development communities have developed a policy and tools that support the MNC in addressing these challenges (Knowledge Hub, 2015). This kind of development is very important as one of the attempts of the government to integrate the human rights with the trade policies. The aim is to bring the relevant resources and tools together within a coherent and accessible structure which facilitates the problem-solving both at the headquarters and at the field levels. This is just like The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) as the example.

VPs were established in 2000 as a multi stakeholder initiative that involves the governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations that promotes the implementation of a set of principles that guide themining, oil and gas corporations in providing security for their operations in a manner that respects the human rights (U.S Department of State, 2012). The participant governments includes the Norway, Colombia, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America. However, these good practices remain fragmented and are rarely shared between different stakeholder groups, like the on going case in Papua that involves PT. Freeport Indonesia, that also being one of the participant corporations in the VPs.

Unfortunately, being one of the participant corporations does not make Freeport really concern on the human rights aspects in operating the production activity in the field. The results of the investigation and monitoring by the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) declared that PT. Freeport Indonesia has violated the human rights in the incident of the collapsing of the Big Gossan tunnel on May, 2013 (Voice of America, 2014). According to the National Commission on Human Rights, PT. Freeport Indonesia allegedly been doing omissions and errors that result in the loss of 28 workers’s live. As the result, the National Comission will sue the parties that responsible in PT. Freeport Indonesia in related with this case, especially the head of the mining engineering, the operations supervisor and the technical manager. The National Commission will also submit a report on the results of the monitoring and investigations of this case to Freeport America through the US Embassy in Jakarta. The other pathetic thing is that according to the National Commission, the Indonesian government seems like did not really assertive in dealing with the case that has killed 28 of Indonesian citizens. This is one of the weaknesses for the government that paid a little attention to the integration of human rights to its trade policies. As the consequence, the case that had been occurred in last two years still did not get any legal clarity.

Human Rights and Diplomacy

Integrating human rights and diplomacy requires a strategic approach that should be grounded in the human rights law and also applied it to the developing law to strengthen its aims and objectives. It also can be described as an important integration between human rights in international law and the public advocacy for human rights that can lead to the progressive development and implementation of human rights norms and standards (Ibrahim, 2014). The human rights diplomacy is a tool that used by the diplomats to advance current national interests as well as to confront the long-standing geopolitical and economic conflict. It offers a unique opportunity to the human rights aspect in the wide-ranging area of diplomatic engagement. This is very important for a nation to integrate the human rights to its state diplomacy. Human rights diplomacy is the utilisation of diplomatic negotiation and persuasion for the specific purpose of promoting and protecting human rights of a nation. Diplomacy could be done by the diplomat in the range of global issues that may affect the life of the citizens and also to secure the freedom and the opportunity of the people (Manurung, 2015). Moreover, through the diplomacy, a state could obtain the power to exercise its foreign policy that has the goal to promote the democracy and the protection on human rights to the world. To achieve that goal, a state needs to utilize four main tools of foreign policy includes the treaty, ambassador, foreign aid, international trade and also the military forces.

The Risk of Integrating Human Rights to the Government Policy

In integrating Human rights to any governmental policies would absolutely has its own risks or challenges. Especially when it is applied to the Moslem, or the majority Moslem countries. Most of the Moslem countries believe that the criteria and standard of for human rights have been drafted based on the western, especially the European standards (Khan, 1999). They believe that those standards are not in line with their religious and national cultures. They claim that since their governments obtain their legitimacy from religion rather than the vote of the people, then they are responsible for protecting Islamic Sharia, rather than the desire of the people. For these governments, the definition and interpretation of Islam is limited to what the government proclaims as its own ideology. As the consequences, any criticism against the government with respect to its human rights violations, such as discrimination based on religion or gender or lack of freedom of expression, is equated with a criticism of Islam

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