The Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy and Labor of the US Department of State published the “Bangladesh 2021 Human Rights Report” on 13 April 2022. The US embassy in Bangladesh through a Facebook post announced on 12 July 2022 that the report is available in Bangla. The report, with many fundamental flaws, has bluntly accused the state of Bangladesh engaging in “widespread impunity for security force abuses and corruption.”
It is comprehendible from the report that the observations therein collected mainly from the anti-government journalists/informers and NGO/INGO sources. The report attempted to cover a wide range of topics, including the 2018 election, but sacrificed substance and objectivity in the process. Through the report, an attempt can be seen to impose values (such as LGBT Rights) of few western countries on Bangladesh in the name of human rights violations, which is actually an attempt to crucify pre-dominant Bangladeshi Muslim culture and its historical, traditional and civilizational values. Unexpectedly, although not being a Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the report cited a few Rohingya incidents without giving the Bangladeshi government enough credit for its support and commitment to the fundamental rights and well-being of Rohingyas.
While the US is mired in its own human rights violations, it never stops lecturing others about them while violating the rights of numerous people both at home and abroad. Human rights in the west, especially in the US, are viewed and practiced in a problematic way; for instance, there is an unbalanced emphasis on various rights. Additionally, the US and other Western nations frequently place an excessive emphasis on civil and political rights while ignoring rights to life, sustainable development, as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.
Even worse, the United States has not ratified six of the ten fundamental human rights agreements while being the only superpower. These six human rights treaties are Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – United States signed in 2009, but has not yet ratified (failed to ratify by five votes in December 2012); Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) –United States signed in 1980, but has not yet ratified; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) – United States signed in 1977, but has not yet ratified; Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) – United States signed in 1995, but has not yet ratified; International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW) – United States has not signed or ratified; International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED) –United States has not signed or ratified. It is clear that the USA is politically reluctant to abide by the human rights treaties, since the country engages in perpetual wars and instabilities to keep the empire sustain.
According to UN criteria, there are numerous issues with human rights in the US and other Western nations. For instance, more than 30 million individuals in the US (out of 330 million people overall) lack health insurance, and no Western nation ensures equal pay for equal labor for men and women. The UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights is broken in both cases.
In addition, the delicate connection between individual and collective rights is seldom acknowledged in the West. The West has a propensity to view human rights as personal freedoms and maintains that collective rights can be violated, but fails to recognize that individual freedoms can also be exploited and seriously harm collective rights.
The US wasted $2.3 trillion on the Afghan war, money that might have been used to end extreme poverty all across the world. Or it might have prevented millions of Americans from incurring crippling student loan debt. The military-industrial complex, which has long monopolized the US political system and gained enormous profits from conflicts like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Yemen’s civil war, and now the crisis in Russia and Ukraine, has prevented the US administration from taking this action.
Human rights debate usually relies heavily on western normative ideas, which tends to polarize people. For this, two things are responsible: First, Westerners now feel that the obligations outlined in human rights treaties are represented by their knowledge of human rights, which is a result of their own histories (particularly the Enlightenment and the rights revolution) and ideas about natural rights. Second, Westerners significantly influence human rights organizations’ agendas, analytical frameworks, and evaluation techniques both directly and indirectly through providing funding for them, convening them, and organizing scholarly debates.
Different countries have different criteria for human rights. For instance, Sweden’s highly developed welfare system is based on substantial taxation, which is viewed as eroding private assets in the US. Religion is a required subject in schools in the United Kingdom, where Protestantism has been preserved, yet this practice is unthinkable in France because of the French Revolution.
However, it was unfathomable to Americans that the French government had a monopoly on TV transmission up until 1982. In addition, Bangladeshi people cannot fathom a French government restriction on Muslim female students wearing scarves.
Prior to a certain point, economic, social, and cultural rights were considered fundamental human rights by all nations; however, the US refused to acknowledge this, which most people in the world found incomprehensible. The US and many other Western nations also have a propensity to dismiss the variations in national circumstances and insist that all nations adhere to the same human rights standards. But the reality is that human rights are inextricably linked to a nation’s economic, social, and political landscape, as well as its history and culture. Ignoring these circumstances, the US has been attempting to impose western human rights principles on other nations and interfering in their internal affairs by using human rights as a geopolitical instrument. This has resulted in political conflicts, social unrest, economic problems, and unleashed human suffering in many countries.
The west led by the USA acts as the world’s police and courts. In the banner of “human rights stand superior to state sovereignty,” they always want to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations and will even go to war to achieve this. Many people’s human rights have been gravely abused by such actions all around the world. Tens of thousands of people have died and tens of thousands more have been hurt or made homeless in the Iraq War alone. Still, some western nations are willing to lecture others on human rights issues and criticize other nations they don’t agree with since they market themselves as “developed” and “democracy.”
These western nations, who fought two world wars and armed to the teeth for the third, view “human rights” as their own concept and believe that it can only be established in accordance with their norms. Their hypocrisy, in the name of ‘human rights’, will have terrible effects on the global human rights movement and the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.