The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in U.S. Domestic and Foreign Policy
You are a ten year old girl living in Uganda. Your clothes are filthy, and you haven’t eaten in two days. You’re currently hiding under a rusty piece of scrap metal from those people- the ones who go around collecting children sometimes younger than yourself to fight. You’ve heard stories about the other children that have been taken- stories of drugs, rape, and abuse. You’ve heard of children the same age as yourself being drugged and sent out to fight for their lives or turned into sex slaves for military officials. Everyone you know is gone, and there is no one there to save you. All you want is someone you can depend on. All you want is for someone to help.
This is not just an imaginary horror story. It’s the grisly reality for thousands of children throughout developing countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Sudan, and Somalia, among others. The plight of the child soldier is not often publicly recognized. They are often "invisible", as are the many other innocent victims of human rights violations throughout the developing countries of the world.
Many of the human rights identified by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are fundamental to the wellbeing of every human being in every country worldwide. Several such rights included in the Declaration include, among many others, “the right to life, liberty and security of person,... [the right to equality] before the law and [entitlement] without any discrimination to equal protection of the law [and] against any discrimination.” (“Universal Declaration”). While the United States cannot dictate the way the governments of other countries control their citizens, it is crucial that when we see violations of these rights, we do what we can, whether it be placing sanctions, stopping trade, or even sending troops, to make sure that everyone has access to the fundamental human rights to which they are entitled as human beings. The values enumerated by the Universal Declaration should definitely contribute to the foreign and domestic policies of the United States.
While rights like free choice of employment and the right to marry may not be as important, rights enabling freedom of speech and free access to education are vital, as their position in a country affects the rest of the world as well. There have been several stories throughout history in which the United States could have and should have intervened in other countries to greatly reduce, or even entirely prevent, those violations of human rights that lead to bigger, more violent problems.
One such instance is the Rwandan Genocide, which took place from April to July of 1994- just ten years ago. At that time, members of the Hutu majority of Rwanda slaughtered between 500,000 and 1,000,000 members of the Tutsi people (Harsch). Earlier, the Europeans who had colonized the area had placed the Tutsi on top economically and socially due to their...