Human Rights: Congo

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Congo
Tags: ,

by Natalie Bush

As assumed, the country of Congo does not place human rights as a priority. Sadly, amidst the chaos, the human rights situation remains grave. “All sides in the country’s ongoing armed conflicts continued to attack civilians and commit other serious human rights abuses,” (Human Rights Watch).

For example, as mentioned in a previous post, the 2011 presidential election was marked with corruption and violence. During this time, human rights of the citizens were severely restricted. As the election got closer, politically motivated human rights violations increased. Investigators from the UN reported 188 cases before the official campaign began in October. The violence consisted of restrictions on political activities, unnecessary force against demonstrators conducted by police and other state security services, and arbitrary arrests directed toward opposition parties, their supporters, and journalists (Human Rights Watch).

The months prior to the election were filled with various threats and physical attacks against media, human rights defenders and opposition members in general. The cites the United Nations 2011 peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) continued to implement its civilian protection mandate and supported logistics for the elections. However, their efforts were hindered by a serious shortage of helicopters, which reduced its mobility and effectiveness.

While the violence in Congo frequently attracts media attention, it is far too easy to overlook the additional problems that come with undeveloped countries and countries in turmoil. I had to conduct extensive research to find information on the human rights of Congo whereas a simple Google search of “Congo and war” delivers thousands of articles from credible sources. Since the 2011 election, the Congolese authorities have largely failed to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the attacks. This is in part due to mixed progress within the government and their efforts to hold perpetrators of serious violations accountable.

Additionally, as Meijer argues in Beyond Eurocentrism, conflicting worldviews and values cause additional issues. Meijers states there are crucial issues that need to be addressed. One specific issue involves a universal set of human rights. While all cultures want to protect and promote human rights, not all countries have the means to enforce them. A perfect example of this is Congo. As with any country, citizens wish to uphold human rights but the people of Congo do not have the resources to follow through. While mandating a universal set of human rights may seem like the ideal fix, it will not happen anytime soon and without conflict. It is most important, as Meijer points out, to understand the world is a multicultural, multiracial, and multi-religious place. No one set of human rights will be understood and upheld by everyone. Essentially, once we learn to see through the eyes and perspective of others, we will then be able to make progress.

Sources:
Human Rights Watch
Martha Meijer, Chapter 3: Beyond Eurocentrism

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