An Ol' Broad's Ramblings
The UN’s Terrible Record on Human Rights
A few blocks from the White House, what the State Department defines as a modern form of slavery is taking place every night in the form of sex trafficking. A CNN series — called The Freedom Project – recently highlighted the trafficking network, a multi-million dollar business thriving on women and children, most of whom are immigrants.
“If President Obama had walked out his front door at two or three in the morning, he would go two blocks away, and he would see traffickers forcing girls and women out into the streets, every night, right here in the United States,” said Tina Frundt, a former sex slave who founded Courtney’s House, a non-profit organization that helps girls who have been victims of human or sex trafficking.
And while the United States leads the way on genuinely working to eliminate these kinds of networks, many other countries stand silent or complicit. Many corrupt governments that retain good standing in the United Nations do little to combat human trafficking, a violation of natural rights against humanity. Part of the failure to curb the trafficking problem is a failure to understand the difference between human rights and natural rights, which are endowed by God.
This principle of “inherent” or inalienable rights outside of and despite government imbues our Declaration of Independence and invigorates our Constitution. Since our founding, these important documents provided the basis for our social order and American jurisprudence. They have guided our struggles to overcome slavery and discrimination by race, religion, sex, or birth. And they have guided our engagement abroad.
Yet this principle of inalienable natural rights—fundamental rights that government neither creates nor can take away—isn’t the same as the thoroughly modern idea of “human rights.”
Although both are universal, natural rights most emphatically do not come from government. Government only secures these rights, that is, creates the political conditions that allow one to exercise them. Human rights, as popularly understood, are bestowed by the state or governing body.
As Alexander Hamilton said in 1775, “The sacred rights of mankind…are written…in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
Such is the basic explanation of the natural rights so many government entities fail to emphasize in their attempts to protect citizens from inhumane acts.
Recently, the United Nations created the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to track and prevent human and sex trafficking worldwide. However, a UN initiative rarely translates into action or accountability, as demonstrated by China’s membership on the hapless Human Rights Council (HRC). Recently, China wouldn’t even allow human rights activist and intellectual Liu Xiaobo out of prison to accept his Nobel Peace Prize, and the UN stood silent.
In fact, in March 2011, the HRC released its Universal Periodic Review on Libya, and made 66 recommendations for the Qadhafi regime to improve its record. In contrast, the council offered the United States 228 recommendations. So in their eyes, the US has further to go on human rights than Libya.
As Heritage expert Brett Schaefer explains:
[T]he Council has proven to be a weak body easily manipulated by repressive regimes to provide a patina of international legitimacy on their abuses. The Bush administration was right to shun the Council and the Obama administration has made precious little progress in improving the HRC since overturning that decision and joining its ranks.
Human trafficking and other crimes against humanity flourish because groups like the HRC refuse to acknowledge the difference between human rights and natural rights — attempting to rely on government to grant what no man has the power to give.
The UN is rife with countries touting the rights they claim to uphold but a closer look reveals that they barely meet the basic standards for protecting fundamental liberties. The world body masquerades as a positive entity defending the rights to life and liberty but endless examples prove they are spin doctors for corruption.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded yesterday to the 2011 Trafficking Report, which ranked 184 countries, including the United States:
…We have to really mix the commitments with actions in order to get results. For example, the number of prosecutions worldwide has remained relatively static. And so the measure of success can no longer be whether a country has passed laws, because so many have in the last decade; now we have to make sure that laws are implemented and that countries are using the tools that have been created for that.
Actions speak louder than words, as Clinton acknowledges, and it’s time for the UN to recognize its true obligation to protecting the natural rights of every human being.