Health, Human Rights and Intervention

  • Created by: remybray
  • Created on: 02-05-18 10:37

Enquiry question 1

WHAT IS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND WHY DO LEVELS VARY FROM PLACE TO PLACE?

  • GDP and GNI have long been used as measures of development at a national level. However, it is recognised that development involves much more than economic progress.
  • The concept of development today is altogether wider, more rounded and much more people-aware. As a consequence, the term 'human development' seems more appropriate. It reminds us that there are other significant dimensions to this process - such as improving people's wellbeing, quality of life and contentment. 
  • The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is now claimed to be the leading global measure of sustainable well-being. It is calculated by the formula:
  • HPI = EW X (LE/EF)
  • Experienced well-being (EW) - people are asked where they place their present well-being on an imaginary ladder of 10 steps, where 0 is the worst and 10 the best
  • Life expectancy (LE) - assumed to be an important indicator of a nation's health
  • Ecological footprint (EF) - a measure of resource consumption devised by the WWF. It is a per capita measure of the amount of land required to sustain a country's resource consumption
  • The countries recording the highest values are not usually recognised as top-rank developed countries. However, those with the lowest values do rank among the least developed
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  • The lower middle group, with the affluent USA, SIngapore and Belgium sitting alongside the poverty-stricken Ethiopia and Namibia. The low ranking of these three developed countries results mainly from their heavy ecological footprints.
  • It is not surprising that the HPI gives rise to a different ranking of countries than do GDP and HDI - it is the only measure that takes into account environmental sustainability
  • The HPI does have shortcomings - two of the measures (well-being and ecological footprint) are based on highly aggregated data. Furthermore, it is unreasonable to expect all people to perceive their well-being in the same way or to totally agree on the ten steps of the ladder of life. Only life expectancy data can be considered fairly reliable
  • Differences in beliefs, values, morals and codes of conduct of the world's many societies mean there are some very different perceptions of what human development is all about, e.g. Sharia Law creates a code of conduct and a set of values that are incompatible with the perceptions of human development widely held elsewhere in the world. The model could not contrast more with today's Bolivia.
  • Most are agreed that advancements in health, life expectancy and human rights are only likely to be delivered by economic growth. However, economic growth is frequently based on the exploitation of natural resources - which explains why improvements in environmental quality are not always cited as a development objective
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  • Access to education is crucial to development - a literate, numerate, enterprising and skilled workforce is precious human capital. Such capital is vital if a country is to move along the development pathway. 
  • Education provides people with knowledge and skills that increase their productivity and lead them to higher wages as they are more aware of opportunities for self-advancement. On average, one year of education is estimated to increase wage earnings by 10% – in sub-Saharan Africa, by as much as 13% (Montenegro and Patrinos, 2014). These earnings, in turn, contribute to national economic growth. No country has ever achieved continuous and rapid growth without reaching an adult literacy rate of at least 40%.
  • Education enables rural households to diversify their income-earning opportunities, for example through access to more lucrative non-farm work. In Indonesia, the share of rural workers with no education employed in non-farm work is 15% of men and 17% of women. Among those with secondary education, the share increases to 61% of men and 72% of women (UNESCO, 2014).
  • For those who adopt a more 'human' view of development, education provides a key to other things that collectively also enhance the quality of life - knowing and asserting your human rights, being informed about personal health, hygiene and diet.
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  • Improved health and healthier decisions: With education, people are better prepared to prevent disease and to use health services effectively. For example, young people who have completed primary education are less than half as likely to contract HIV as those with little or no schooling. Education also increases awareness of the importance of the need for a good diet and sanitary living conditions. Educated mothers have healthier children as they are 50 percent more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling. Women with six or more years of education are more likely to seek prenatal care, assisted childbirth, and postnatal care, reducing the risk of maternal and child mortality and illness.
  • Democracy and political stability: Education supports the growth of civil society, democracy, and political stability, allowing people to learn about their rights and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to exercise them.
  • Education and literacy protect working men and women from exploitation in the labour market, for example by increasing their opportunities to obtain secure contracts. 
  • Poor women are particularly vulnerable to gender biases. Education empowers women and gives them more opportunities to make choices. It can boost their confidence and perception of freedom. It can also alter the perceptions of men influencing gender stereotypes. In Pakistan, only 30% of women with no education believe they can have a say in the number of children they have, compared to 63% of women with lower secondary education.
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  • The basic negative indicator of education is illiteracy - rates of well over 25% in much of Africa and South Asia, in contrast to Europe, North Asia, Australasia and southern South America where the rate falls below 5%.
  • There are substantially more countries where there is overt gender discrimination, with females being increasingly barred or deterred from access to other levels of education - secondary and tertiary. E.g. the case of Malala illustrates the deep-rooted ignorance and violence that prevents females from exercising their right to education in Pakistan. There are also huge differences between male and female literacy rates in other countries, such as Africa, the Middle East and India
  • Access to education is impeded by other obstacles, such as: ethnicity, physical and mental disability, social class, wealth
  • UNESCO has done much throughout the world 'to ensure that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development'
  • The Human Development Index (HDI) takes into account 3 important dimensions of the development process: life expectancy (an indicator of health and well-being), education (years of schooling), economic growth (per capita income). 
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  • Two particularly useful aspects of the HDI are: 
  • It relies on statistical data that are collected frequently and widely at a national level
  • Because of this it can be used to monitor development progress over a year or period of years

Human health and life expectancy

  • Life expectancy - The average number of years that a new-born baby would be expected to live if the same conditions in the area of birth remained unchanged.
  • Infant mortality - The number of deaths of children under one year of age, compared with the total number of live births in one year in an area. Usually expressed out of 1,000, but sometimes given as a percentage.
  • Maternal mortality - The number of deaths of females per 100,000 live births in a year while pregnant or within 42 days of pregnancy finishing.
  • Over much of the world, life expectancy is now over 65 years - with an obvious exception being much of Africa
  • In nearly all populations, female life expectancy is greater. In many developed countries, the difference can be 5 years or more - eg. UK 78.4 for men and 82.8 for women.
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  • In a few countries, the life expectancy situation is reversed, e.g. Botswana 56 years for men and 52.3 for women. The key factor here is the high rate of maternal mortality (death during childbirth). The incidence of HIV/AIDS may also be a factor.
  • When portraying the global state of health, there are two more overtly medical measures to be considered: the number of doctors per 100,000 people, the percentage of the population with regular access to essential drugs

Which factors influence life expectancy between developing countries?

  • Access to healthcare - infant and maternal health
  • Sanitation
  • Food access
  • Water supply and quality
  • With diminishing income, these critical necessities of life become less guaranteed, meaning that there is a positive correlation between life expectancy and per capita income. A shortfall in any of these necessitites immediately increases the risks of diseas, ill health and premature death
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  • Life expectancy and health also vary considerably from place to place within the developed world. As in the developing world, the same four access factors come into play. Here the term deprivation is used to describe a situation of poor diet, poor housing and poor healthcare. These symptoms of poverty combine to create health risks that ultimately increase the death rate and lower the life expectancy.
  • Deprivation - where people lack the things that they need. In a developing country this may be food, water, shelter and human rights, while in a developed country it may be lack of a job, below-average access to healthcare or education, or substandard housing.
  • Societies in the developed world are typically polarised, showing extremes of poverty and great wealth. However, it is not only the poor who are confronted by health risks - the lifestyles of the better-off also carry health risks, such as obesity, smoking, alcoholism and heart disease.
  • A particularly significant factor is healthcare - its quality and accessibility. A big differential here is between:
  • Countries with national health services that are 'free', being funded by some form of taxation
  • Countries where healthcare is largely in the private sector and paid for either through social health insurance or on an 'as and when' basis
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  • The former situation is a better one in terms of the poor accessing healthcare. Considerable variations in healthcare spending are often reflected in the range of healthcare services provided and in their quality and effectiveness.

Determinants of health and life expectancy in developed countries:

  • Wider determinants, e.g. occupation, education, income, housing, etc
  • Lifestyle factors, e.g. smoking, diet, alcohol, drug misuse, etc
  • Preventative healthcare, e.g. immunisation

None of these determinants operates in isolation. They may influence each other:

  • Within categories - e.g. low educational achievement can influence employment and income prospects
  • Between categories, e.g. high-income earners tend to enjoy much healthier diets
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  • Significant spatial variations also occur at a third spatial scale, within countries. The following factors play a significant part in causing life expectancy to vary within them:
  • Ethnicity, poverty and deprivation, lifestyle and socio-economic group, healthcare
  • Another factor is government - its policies and interventions can have a profound impact on the factors above

Different attitudes to social progress

  • In most countries economic development provides the means (capital and human resources) that drive and sustain human development. The link between these two types of development is in the hands of the government. It is government that determines how much of a country's wealth should be spent on providing those vital, enriching components of human development, such as education, health and other social services. This, in turn, hinges very much on governmental attitudes towards social progress.
  • Government attitudes towards social progress are largely conditioned by the type of government or political regime. Democratically elected governments are likely to spend more on the welfare of their people, whereas totalitarian governments run by elites have a reputation for a low level of spending on health and education
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  • Among the major players involved in the promotion of global development are the World Bank, WTO and IMF. Their efforts are very much focussed on economic development, seeing it as the springboard for advances on the broader front of human development. 
  • In promoting programmes such as Structural Adjustment they have intervened in policies of individual governments, in effect cutting education and health programmes, whilst outwardly believing that they are improving the chances of economic growth.
  • They see economic growth as stemming from the creation of a more even and equitable playing field. Such a view relies on policies that are neo-liberal in nature – based on theories of economic liberalism in which state intervention is reduced, and the workings of the private market are left unregulated – and involve the promotion of free trade, the privatisation of state assets and services (e.g. water provision or transport), and the deregulation of financial markets (e.g. removing barriers to investment and capital). In this way, their belief is that private wealth ‘trickles down’ through the economy, and the poorest people eventually benefit from a strengthened economy.
  • Not all IGOs are focussed on economic development - the OECD and UNESCO have agendas that are more to do with human condition, quality of life (including health and education) and human rights
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Millennium Development Goals

  • The UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a set of targets agreed in 2000 in a series of international conferences and summit meetings of the world's leaders. conferences and summit meetings of the world’s leaders. They were largely determined by OECD countries and international donor agencies. The aim was to fight poverty and combat a range of issues hampering human development. A framework to galvanise development efforts was agreed, allowing assessment of the progress being made at a national level towards the overall goal of reducing the development gap between the poorest and richest countries.
  • Eight MDGs were agreed relating to specific aspects in which developing countries needed to catch up. Doing so would, in theory, narrow the development gap (the widening income and prosperity gap between the global ‘haves’ of the developed world and the ‘have-nots’ of the developing world, especially the least developed countries). Given the regular collection of data related to these, it would be possible to monitor the width of the gap almost on an annual basis. Each of these eight goals involves setting at least one specific and measurable target that each country should aim for.
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  • Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty
  • Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
  • Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
  • Goal 5: Improve maternal health
  • Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
  • The most recent progress report on the MDGs available was for 2015. The year 2015 was the final deadline set in 2000 for the MDGs. 
  • The report demonstrates considerable progress worldwide on all eight fronts. However, it also draws attention to the fact that progress has been uneven across regions and countries. The report says ‘Millions of people are being left behind, especially the poorest and those disadvantaged because of their sex, age, disability, ethnicity or geographical location. Targeted efforts will be needed to reach the most vulnerable people.'
  • What becomes very evident is that Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as the region struggling the most to get anywhere near the MDGs. It is followed by Oceania.
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  • Despite the significant achievements, progress has been uneven. The MDGs often fell short for many, particularly the poorest people and those disadvantaged because of gender, age, disability or ethnicity. Critics including Hans Rosling have asserted that all but one MDG concentrate on poverty reduction rather than on wealth creation.

Issues with the MDGs:

  • The eight MDGs failed to consider the root causes of poverty and overlooked gender inequality as well as the holistic nature of development.
  • The goals made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development.
  • While the MDGs, in theory, applied to all countries, in reality they were considered targets for poor countries to achieve, with finance from wealthy states.
  • Growing inequality in both social and spatial terms was not really considered. Having national targets meant that there was limited consideration of how there might be winners and losers. There was a focus on those groups and locations which were easier to access. Addressing inequality is important for inclusive development, but there is also evidence that significant levels of inequality can be detrimental to national economic and social development.
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  • The other element which was excluded from the entire MDG process was acknowledgement of how definitions of development might vary spatially and socially. The whole process was very top-down, with no inclusion of voices from poor and marginalised communities.
  • Misrepresentation of data - One of the criticisms that can be made about the quantitative targets which were set as part of the MDGs was that there was little consideration of underlying processes. For example, the goal to provide all children with access to universal primary education was a very important one, and international donors were particularly crucial in providing aid to governments to make primary education free. This had a very positive impact on primary school enrolment. For example, in Kenya, primary school enrolment increased from 67.8% of eligible children in 2000 to 95.9% in 2013 according to Government of Kenya figures. Enrolment does not, however, indicate attendance and it also does not include information about the nature of the education.

Sustainable Development Goals

  • The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was agreed by world leaders at a summit meeting in September 2015. The agenda set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals
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(SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and justice, and tackle climate change by 2030.

  • The new SDGs and the broader sustainability agenda go much further than the MDGs. They address the root causes of poverty and the universal need for a style of development that works for all people. The SDGs are also connected to the three strategic focus areas of the UN Development Programme (UNDP):
  • Sustainable development,
  • Democratic governance and peace building
  • Climate and disaster resilience
  • There is a clear shift of emphasis in the new agenda from closing the development gap to sustainability and environmental concern
  • A substantial difference from the MDGs is the greater engagement with environmental aspects. Rather than having one goal to cover environmental sustainability, there is now a range of goals including SDG 14 and 15 on terrestrial ecosystem protection, SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, and SDGs 6 and 7 on sustainable water and energy provision. There is a much clearer recognition of the need to bring together environment, economic and social dimensions to achieve sustainable development.
  • A second fundamental difference is the expansion of the SDGs to encompass all countries
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  • of the world, rather than just the countries of the Global South. For example, SDG 1 still focuses on poverty, but this includes national definitions of poverty, rather than just the extreme poverty of less than $1.25 per day.
  • They call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. Ending poverty must go hand in hand with strategies to build economic growth and address a range of social needs including health, education and job opportunities, while also tackling climate change and environmental protection.

Issues with the SDGs:

  • Some countries feel that an agenda consisting of 17 goals is too unwieldy to implement or sell to the public, and would prefer a narrower brief. Some NGOs also believe there are too many goals, but there is a general consensus that it is better to have 17 goals that include targets on women’s empowerment, good governance, and peace and security, for example, than fewer goals that don’t address these issues.
  • The SDGs are not legally binding. Governments are expected to take ownership to establish national frameworks for the achievement of the Goals, and then follow-up and review the progress made in implementing them.
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Enquiry question 2

WHY DO HUMAN RIGHTS VARY FROM PLACE TO PLACE?

  • Human rights are moral principles that underlie standards of human behaviour. They are commonly understood as inalienable and fundamental rights ‘to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being’ and which are ‘inherent in all human beings’ regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are universal in the sense of being applicable everywhere, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. 
  • Many rights depend on each other to be meaningful – so, for example, the right to fair trial would be meaningless without the prohibition on discrimination, and the right to free speech must go hand in hand with the right to assemble peacefully. Human rights are owed by the State to the people – this means public bodies must respect your human rights and the Government must ensure there are laws in place so that other people respect your human rights too. For example, the right to life requires not only that the actions of those working on behalf of the State do not lead to your death, but that laws are also in place to protect you from the actions of others that might want to do you harm.
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  • Egalitarian - believing in or based on the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.
  • Inalienability - Human rights are inalienable: they cannot be taken away by others, nor can one give them up voluntarily.
  • Indivisibility - Human rights are indivisible in two senses. First, there is no hierarchy among different kinds of rights. Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are all equally necessary for a life of dignity. Second, some rights cannot be suppressed in order to promote others. Civil and political rights may not be violated to promote economic, social and cultural rights. Nor can economic, social and cultural rights be suppressed to promote civil and political rights. 
  • There are relatively few countries today that deny the importance of human rights. However, there are significantly more that give economic development precedence over human development. 
  • History tells us that a disregard for human rights had led to 'barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind'
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sets out 30 universal rights. They are vital strands in what is widely recognised as constituting human development.  
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Enquiry question 2

  • The UDHR was adopted by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 48 in favour and 8 abstentions (from the former USSR and 4 of its satellites).
  • It is important to understand that the UDHR is a declaration and not a treaty - it is not legally binding; there are no signatories. Some regard this as a fundamental weakness as the articles are unenforceable - however, the declaration does define the meanings of two key terms: 'fundamental freedoms' and 'human rights'. These terms are embedded in the UN Charter and, by implication, all 193 members of the UN are bound to recognise and respect all the articles of the declaration. 
  • Since 1948, violations of the UDHR have been used to justify a number of military interventions. Equally, the promise of aid, particularly of an economic kind, has been used as a lever to persuade other countries to improve their human rights record.
  • Developed ‘Western’ countries have often tied development aid to human rights, or have occasionally undertaken military operations to intervene where there have been human rights violations, as international law can be regarded as more important than sovereignty.
  • Some nations, especially developing countries, dispute the balance of civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights, arguing that economic development must have priority for them.
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Enquiry question 2

  • The USA and the EU have condemned human rights violations in a number of countries, such as Syria, Russia and China:
  • Russia cited protection of ethnic minority groups as the reason for its military action in eastern Ukraine.
  • The USA cited the suppression of human rights in Iraq to gain support for military action.
  • However, failure to act in Libya and Sudan in the recent past shows the lack of consistency in the global governance of human rights.
  • In short, the UDHR has been a significant factor influencing foreign policies and international relationships

European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

  • This convention, like the UDHR, comprises a number of articles, each setting out a specific human right. Coming into force in 1953, it has played an important part in developing an awareness of human rights in Europe. It was a response to:
  • The serious violations of human rights that occurred in Europe during WW2
  • The post-war spread of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the threat of communist subversion
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  • Violations of the convention come before the European Court of Human Rights

Geneva Convention

  • A series of 4 treaties applied at times of armed conflict to protect people not taking part in the conflict (including prisoners of war).
  • The current Geneva Convention (1949) has been ratified by 196 countries, but not all have agreed to the three subsequent protocols
  • Few cases of violations of the GC ever come to trial. It is sometimes not possible to identify perpetrators, or the phrasing of the law may pose problems
  • In March 2016, Radovan Karadzic – a former Bosnian Serb leader in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990’s was convicted by the UN tribunal at The Hague of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Among other charges he was found guilty of the Srebrenica massacre.
  • The achievement of the UN in successfully prosecuting one of the leading men behind a systematic campaign of terror against civilians in the deadliest conflict in Europe since the Second World War was considerable. 
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Enquiry question 2

  • The successful prosecution of countries, organisations or individuals who commit war crimes is rare, because the ‘fog of war’ can often obscure the circumstances of any crimes or offences, as well as leaving little reliable evidence and few witnesses on which to base any war crimes prosecutions.
  • UN bureaucracy can also hinder the process, which means that may cases never come to trial.

UK Human Rights Act

  • This act, passed in 1998, incorporated into UK law the rights contained in the ECHR. It means that any breach of the convention's rights can be heard in UK courts and need not go to European Court of Human Rights. However, appeals related to the verdicts of UK courts in such cases can be sent to, and possibly overturned by, the European Court. This has led some to believe that the UK has lost some of its sovereignty
  • In 2016, following the vote to leave the EU, the British government announced plans to scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act and replace it with a ’British Bill of Rights and Responsibilities’. If passed, it would mean that the European Court of Human Rights would no longer be able to overrule British court judgements
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Enquiry question 2

  • There are few, if any, countries in today's world that give human rights real precedence over economic growth. The inescapable reality is that material prosperity and global influence come more from economic development.
  • Most democracies are committed to the principles of human rights, but almost inevitably there are occassions when the interpretation of one of those principles by a particular government does not fall in line with that made by the international community at large.E.g. the UK government being chastised by the European Court of Human Rights for denying prisoners the right to vote in the 2015 General Election.
  • There will often be tension between the autonomy of the individual government and the rules and interpretations made at an international level
  • There are few measures relating to human rights - a map of global freedom rates the level of political rights and civil liberties in 20 countries. Based on these ratings each country is broadly classified as:
  • Free - there is broad scope for open political competition and a climate of respect for civil liberties
  • Partly free - there are some clear restrictions on political rights and civil liberties
  • Not free - basic political rights and civil liberties are absent or systematically violated
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  • The map certainly gives the impression of a polarised world, with few countries falling into the 'partly free' category
  • Countries with the worst 'Freedom Rating' of 7.0 in 2015 were largely those where political unrest either prevails or is firmly suppressed. There were 9 in all - 5 in Africa, 2 in Asia and 2 in the Middle East. In  terms of economic status, all but one of these countries has very low per capita GDP. The notable exception is oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which ranks in the top 10 richest countries
  • There were 43 countries with the best 'Freedom rating' of 1.0. Most are what are widely recognised as 'developed' or 'advanced' countries.

Political corruption

  • Allowing private interests to dictate government policy
  • Takign decisions that benefit those who are funding the politicians
  • Diverting foreign aid and scarce resources into the private pockets of politicians
  • All these and other malpractices result in corrupt politicians who can all too easily steer a country away from good government. Such a movement is often accompanied by a serious threat to human rights.
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Enquiry question 2

  • Democracy results in higher rates of economic growth over the long term because democracies have more stable and predictable institutions and tend to implement policies that are conducive to private enterprise.
  • Since democracies are accountable to the public rather than to elites, they produce more public goods, invest more in human capital, maintain the rule of law, and protect private property rights.
  • Democracies have lower barriers to entry, promoting competition, and innovation
  • The Democracy Index looks at a country’s electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government and the political culture.The democracy index is an index compiled by the UK-based company the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that intends to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries. 
  • The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorises countries as one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes
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  • Corruption reduces levels of trust and threatens human rights, as systems become unfair and support the groups with power, or even persecute the poor and other disadvantaged groups. Corruption may affect the economic system through favouritism of certain businesses, and may also work against health and safety laws, such as in Bangladesh textile factories, or affect the political system through ignoring ethnic minority groups such as in Myanmar (Rohingya Muslim minority) or affect the judicial system by retaining people in detention without a fair trial, such as in Russia, China and even the USA (Guantanamo Bay). 
  • Transparency International produces an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which scores each country on how corrupt its public sector is seen to be. It measures the perceived level of public sector corruption and so it is a qualitative measure.
  • There are few reliable measures of corruption. By its very nature, corruption prefers to remain hidden from public scrutiny and mostly does so successfully.
  • In 2015, 68 per cent of the 168 countries surveyed – including developed, emerging and developing countries – had serious corruption problems (score under 50). Between 2012-2015 Greece, Senegal and the UK reduced their levels of corruption, but in Australia, Brazil, Libya, Spain and Turkey corruption increased, as did conflict areas such as Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan 
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Enquiry question 2

Are there significant variations in human rights within countries?

Discrimination based on gender and ethnicity

  • At a global level, countries may be differentiated on the basis of the Gender Inequality Index (GII). However, gender inequality will normally not vary very much within most countries. This is because gender equality is usually determinded by either government policy or law. All are expected to conform.
  • Women in all countries have struggled to attain equal rights with men. In developed countries these rights are now entrenched in laws, although remuneration levels often remain significantly below those of men. In developing countries much progress is still required, especially where traditional or distorted religious beliefs place severe restrictions on girls and women, limiting their access to education, freedom of choice and freedom of movement. Campaigns continue in many countries to protect and improve the lives of females. 
  • Large parts of the world were under colonial rule in the first half of the twentieth century. Most colonial powers were European, with the UK assembling the most extensive colonial empire of all. Africa was probably the continent most fragmented by colonial rule, having been divided up by at least 5 European powers
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Enquiry question 2

  • After the Second World War came the era of decolonisation and independence. Sadly, in many cases, independence brought internal conflict and division rather than what had been hoped for – freedom and prosperity. There were three main reasons:
  • Although various forms of government had been set up in colonies, indigenous people had been largely excluded from its administration. The result was that, when independence came, they had little or no experience of how to run a country, so independence often led to chaos.
  • This chaos meant that opportunist insurgent groups were able to vie for political control. Much violence ensued.
  • Perhaps most important of all, the colonial borders did not recognise or realise the importance of traditional ethnic and religious borders. The colonial boundaries often cut across these deeply-engrained lines. One supposes that the colonial powers were arrogant in thinking that colonial rule would soon neutralise any differences between traditional groupings. They could not have been more wrong.
  • After its independence in 1947, India immediately experienced widespread conflict between Hindu and Muslim groups, especially in the Kashmir region, which led to the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh and continuing tensions between these three countries
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  • In West Africa there have been at least seven post-colonial conflicts, with civil wars in Nigeria (1967-70), Liberia (1989 and 1999), Sierra Leone (1991-2002), Guinea-Bissau (1998-99) and Cote d’Ivoire (2002-07 and 2010-11). These conflicts were costly in terms of damage to the environment, economy and human life, and in many countries minority groups continue to have fewer rights than dominant groups, such as the Roma population in Eastern Europe and the Dalits in India.
  • There is plenty of evidence to suggest a broad correlation between human rights and access to health+education. Indeed, the UDHR has decreed such access to be one of the most basic human rights. 
  • There are variations in human rights within countries, and the degree of variation may reflect different levels of social development. All people may be equal, but they are not when it comes to wealth, freedom and opportunity. This is because there are other factors at work, such as type of government, the distribution of political power and deeply rooted cultural traditions
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Enquiry question 3

HOW ARE HUMAN RIGHTS USED AS ARGUMENTS FOR POLITICAL AND MILITARY INTERVENTION?

Possible motives for geopolitical interventions include:

  • Offering development aid to the poorest and least developed countries
  • Protecting human rights
  • Encouraging education and healthcare
  • Strengthening security and stability
  • Promoting international trade and protecting trade routes
  • Accessing resources
  • Encouraging inward investment
  • Providing military support
  • Increasing global or regional influence

These and other possible motives are delivered through three different mechanisms:

  • Development aid; Economic support; Military power
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Enquiry question 3

Development aid

  • This is financial aid given to developing countries to support their long-term economic, political, social and environmental development
  • Bilateral aid - aid that is delivered on a one-to-one basis between a donor and a recipient country. 
  • Multilateral aid - aid (usually financial, sometimes technical) given by donor countries to international aid organisations such as the World Bank or Oxfam. These organisations distribute the aid to what they deem to be deserving causes.
  • Most aid comes from:
  • The governments of developed countries, including £12 billion a year from the UK government
  • Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the UN, the World Bank and the EU
  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Oxfam
  • Much of the financial aid given by developed countries today is recorded by the OECD under the heading Official Development Assistance (ODA). Most of this money is bilateral aid, so the donor country has some say as to how the money is spent by the receiver country. 
  • Official Development Assistance (ODA) - a term used by the OECD to measure aid. It is
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  • widely used as an indicator of flows of international aid. Flows are transfers of resources, either in cash or in the form of commodities or services
  • Since 1960, the total amount of ODA given each year to developing countries has usually risen. Since 2000, there has been an increase of 82.5% (even including a dip due to the global financial crisis of 2007-2008). By 2015, global development aid totalled US$146.68 billion, which was a rise of 6.9% in just one year. However, while the total amount of ODA has steadily increased since 1960, the level of ODA when measured as a percentage of GNI has actually decreased.
  • ODA is usually multi-targeted. The targets are made fairly transparent and they often involve promoting respect for human rights. But there are others, such as confronting poverty, terrorism, HIV/AIDS, poor governance and corruption. All have an impact on human development
  • There are different forms of aid but much is in the form of loans. Unfortunately for the borrowing country, loans attract interest and, ultimately, loans have to be repaid. It is all too easy for the receiver countries to enter a downward spiral of increasing debt. 
  • More acceptable to receiver countries is what is known as technical assistance - this involves the transfer of expertise, technology and education. It is thought that this can contribute more to human development than capital loans+is more effecting in supporting 'bottom up' approaches
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Trade 

  • It is widely agreed that increased trade can give less developed countries a leg up. That is, provided the terms of trade are favourable and that the strategy is to encourage exports rather than imports. 
  • Some particularly successful trade interventions include:
  • The setting up and workings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional agreement relating to free trade and economic co-operation
  • The Fairtrade Foundation, which seeks to obtain a fair price for a wide range of goods exported by developing countries
  • The Doha Development Agenda, aimed at lowering trade barriers, for example by allowing agricultural products from developing countries to enter the EU and the USA in return for opening their doors to manufactured goods and services.
  • Trade embargoes are foreign policies or laws that ban exports to and imports from a country in protest against actions by that country. It is a political tool, used to encourage a country to change its policies or actions by hindering its economy, or by reducing its access to specific products like military supplies. They can be effective in bringing about change, because without exports national income is reduced
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  • Trade embargoes are often used in response to perceived threats to international security, or to force an end to humanitarian or human rights abuses. For example, in the 1980s, the UN imposed an embargo on oil and military supplies to South Africa, in order to pressurise its government into ending the policy of Apartheid.
  • Individual countries can impose embargoes, but they are often put in place by IGOs (e.g. the UN and EU) and supported by their member states. Examples of embargoes:
  • 2011 - the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya in response to human rights violations
  • Iran – concerns over enriched uranium – lifted in January 2016
  • DR Congo – internal repression and instability
  • North Korea – a totalitarian state with nuclear weapons development
  • US trade embargo against Cuba (condemned by the UN), imposed in the 1960 after Fidel Castro’s takeover and support of communism, costs the country an estimated US$685 million a year and restricts its development. However, the USA also loses as a result of the embargo – an estimated US$1.2 billion a year. In 2016 President Obama called for the embargo to be lifted.
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Investment

  • As with trade, investment is largely undertaken for ulterior economic motives, such as:
  • Securing primary resources
  • Facilitating private investment
  • Providing technical know-how
  • However, there may be beneficial spin-offs from the resulting economic development - improved living standards, the provision of better education and healthcare

Military aid

  • Military aid consists of money, weapons, equipment or expertise given to developing countries to help them protect their borders, fight terrorism (counter insurgents) and combat piracy or drug and people trafficking. Military aid is also sometimes given to opposition groups fighting for democracy against an authoritarian government – for example, the USA and UK have sent vehicles and protective armour to some Syrian rebel groups fighting President Assad.
  • In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) changed its definition of official development assistance / overseas aid to include some military spending.
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  • Donor countries can now use part of their 0.7% aid target to support military forces in developing countries where further economic development or human rights are being put at risk by conflict.
  • However, this change in aid definition has been controversial:
  • The OECD argued that tackling violent extremism was a development activity, with over 90% of militant attacks happening in countries with weak governments and poor human rights records.
  • Charities, however, expressed concern that this change would lead to less money being spent on poverty reduction.
  • The USA is the largest contributor of military aid to other countries. It provides some form of military aid to over 150 countries each year. Much of this aid is given to protect US interests and security abroad. For example, in 2014, over US$1.3 billion in military aid was given to Egypt, in part to help it fight the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

Military action

  • Most governments and IGOs consider the use of military action to be a last resort, after all other pathways (such as embargoes and diplomatic measures) have failed. 
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  • When used, military action can take one or two forms:
  • Direct action – e.g. air strikes or troops on the ground. For example, in 2003, the USA and UK were among a coalition of countries who sent troops and carried out air strikes in Iraq against the government of Saddam Hussein.
  • Indirect action – This may take the form of covert support for factions or providing weapons to one side in a conflict e.g. in 2017 British army personnel were training Nigerian forces to help them improve the country’s security and fight the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram
  • Sometimes military action is taken at the request of, or in agreement with, the country concerned. For instance, the government of Mali asked for French help to fight back against Islamist militants who had seized control of large parts of the country in 2013.
  • At other times, military action is taken to protect people from their own government. For example, in 1999, NATO used air strikes in support of the Serbian province of Kosovo, when the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosovic began a brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanian Kosovans and their demands for independence from Serbia. There were accusations of Serbian ethnic cleansing, as there had been in neighbouring Bosnia in the early 1990s.
  • The UN often relies on the willingness of militarily powerful members such as the USA and the UK provide the force necessary.
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  • All three of these mechanisms - development aid, economic support and military action - can be, and are, used to make interventions on behalf of human rights and human development. 
  • In addition to those of individual governments, geopolitical interventions are also made by:
  • IGOs, such as the UN, EU, World Bank and WTO
  • NGOs, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
  • IGOs - five IGOs with interest in human development are the World Bank, WTO, IMF, UNESCO and the OECD. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) can also be added to this list
  • NGOs - for the most part, these are charities. They are free to act and are not subject to government intervention. They fall broadly into two groups:
  • Those concerned primarily with human rights -e.g. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch
  • Those more focused on human development and aid, including emergency aid in response to natural disasters (e.g. Oxfam, Medicins Sans Frontieres)
  • Interventions to promote development or protect human rights can come from IGOs, individual countries or NGOs. Sometimes the decision to intervene is supported by the international community, but often there is disagreement about whether the intervention is needed or justified. The difference of opinion can occur because of:
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  • The different perspectives or aims of the organisations or countries concerned.
  • The perceived ‘real’ reason(s) for the intervention i.e. is it really to stop human rights abuses / promote development, or are the intervening country’s self-interests at play? 
  • Opposing views about whether the stated outcomes are likely to be achieved, or whether any intervention could make matters worse
  • Concern over a disregard for national sovereignty
  • Disagreement about whether any intervention is proportionate
  • Sovereignty – the rights of a country to have its own government and run its own affairs within an internationally recognised territory.
  • National sovereignty is a fundamental principle of international law. However, since 2005, instances of governments abusing the rights of their own people through genocide, torture and imprisonment have grown increasing weight to the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ principle – making it clear that the sovereignty of a country has limits. As different situations around the world have shown there can be considerable tensions between the two principles of ‘national sovereignty’ and ‘Responsibility to Protect.’
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Development aid

  • Humanitarian aid is Official Development Assistance (ODA), given mostly by NGOs in times of emergency, such as natural disaster like an earthquake or human-made disaster such as a civil war. This aid usually concentrates on the basics of life, including food, clean water, shelter and medical care. Development aid can vary:
  • In scale, from installing a village well to constructing a vast irrigation project
  • Financially, from a small charitable gift to a global appeal raising millions of pounds
  • In timescale, from short term (emergency aid) to long term (disease-eradication programmes)
  • In the mix of aid providers, from local charities to major IGO and NGO players
  • Most development aid is aimed at human development. In many instances, development aid has an economic dimension, in that the creation of regular employment is thought to be an important portal to a better standard of living.
  • Development aid has three main delivery routes:
  • Bilaterally: directly from country to another
  • Multilaterally: indirectly through donations by individual governments to the major IGO players
  • Charitably: through individual donations to NGOs and their emergency appeals
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  • Governments often favour bilateral aid because it:
  • Provides control over where and how the money is spent
  • Allows quicker and more flexible action
  • Encourages long-term trade relationships with recipient countries
  • However, multilateral aid is sometimes considered to be more ‘legitimate’, because for example, NGOs are less tied to political or economic interests. It also allows for pooling resources, which can be more cost-effective when funding larger projects.
  • Some IGOs, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), provide loans and grants to help developing countries reduce their poverty levels and increase their economic growth. Between 2011 and 2015, the World Bank loaned over US$150 billion to developing countries.
  • Loans, credits and grants are awarded for various development projects, such as reducing poverty, stimulating economic growth, building infrastructure and fighting corruption. They cover areas such as education, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure and environmental or resource management. For example, in 2015, the World Bank gave Benin in West Africa (166th in global HDI rankings) US$40 million to help with infrastructure improvements, flood-recovery schemes and flood-protection measures.
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  • However, some concerns have been raised about IGO loans:
  • Conditionality: Borrowing countries are often told that they must meet certain conditions before they can receive any loans. For example, Uganda (163rd in global HD I rankings) had to meet 197 separate conditions before it was granted World Bank funding.
  • Environmental damage: Some IGOs prioritise economic development over environmental damage or the displacement of indigenous populations.
  • Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs): These have led to some countries reducing their public spending on education or healthcare in order to receive loans.

Progress in the fight against disease:

  • Since 2000, aid has been particularly effective when related to public health. For example, vaccination programmes have helped to almost eradicate some diseases (such as polio) and have also greatly reduced others (such as measles, which has declined by 79% globally). The improved diagnosis and treatment of other life-threatening diseases (such as malaria) has also helped to save lives.
  • Despite advances in the fight against the disease, malaria remains the world's number one killer - up to 2 million people still die each year from malaria.
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  • However, as a result of international aid programmes, the global rate of new infections fell by 37% between 2000 and 2015, and mortality rates also fell by 60%.
  • In 2000, efforts focused on achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals, targeted the reduction – and eventual elimination – of malaria. Donor nations increased their funding to provide:
  • Free insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITN), so that over half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa had access to an ITN by 2014, compared to just 2% in 2000.
  • Free access to new medicines
  • Better and more widely available diagnosis
  • Draining the swampy areas where the Anopheles mosquito (carrier of the disease) breeds, or spraying those areas with DDT or similar chemicals
  • The UN estimates that 6.2 million deaths from malaria have been prevented since 2000.
  • An important player in improving health and healthcare is education. Teaching basics such as personal hygiene and the critical need for safe water and proper sanitation can do so much to contain killer contagious diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
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Success with poverty and human rights:

  • Thanks to the stimulus provided by the MDGs, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015. 15% of the population still live on less than US$1.25 a day. Human development aid can only do so much; the pathway out of poverty and hunger comes from economic development.
  • Progress on human rights has been slow. Development aid has had some success - e.g. in terms of improving respect for gender equality and access to primary education.
  • For example, in many developing countries, women and girls are often disproportionately affected by poverty and human rights abuses. So, in 1975, the UN launched the ‘UN Decade for Women’ to highlight the issue of gender equality. This, along with more recent initiatives, has moved gender equality up the priority list for attention and funding. By 2014, over US$30 million of aid money was being targeted specifically at programmes with gender equality as their main, or significant, aim.
  • As a result, there have been some notable successes. Maternal mortality rates have fallen, particularly as a result of the Millennium Development Goals., with a 44% decline in global maternal death rates since 1990. More girls are also receiving an education.
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  • The slow rate of progress is not the fault of development. Rather, it is the difficulty of changing mindsets that have become deeply engrained over the centuries.
  • It should also be pointed out that conflict is a particular scourge of human rights. It is at times of conflict that abuses of human rights thrive. Unfortunately, today's world is witness to increasing levels of conflict, based mainly on religious and tribal affiliations

Growing concerns about development aid:

  • There are unintended negative consequences of development aid such as aid dependency. 
  • A country is considered to be ‘aid dependent’ if it cannot perform many of the basic functions of government without overseas aid. Critics argue that aid dependency hinders economic and political development:
  • It can become easier for governments simply to rely on aid money, rather than helping local industries and systems to develop.
  • Governments may also rely on aid money instead of taking steps to increase the local tax revenue to self-fund development projects.
  • Aid goods (i.e. food) can flood the local market, which then drives down prices and reduces the incentive of local farmers to produce enough food themselves.
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  • Aid dependency can leave the recipient country at risk if that aid is suddenly stopped or reduced.
  • It can be difficult for recipient countries to plan long-term development projects, if they are unsure about whether the aid money will continue (e.g. after a change of government or policy in a donor country).
  • Donor countries often say how and where the aid money should be used
  • Governments that rely on aid can end up becoming more accountable to the donor countries than to their own citizens.
  • Concern over aid dependency has resulted in efforts being made to reduce the reliance on aid. So, aid dependency is now declining in many countries – on average by a third in the world’s poorest countries. For example, aid dependence in Mozambique fell from 67% in 1992 to 12% in 2014. Efforts to reduce aid dependency focus on increasing what is called ‘real aid,’ i.e. aid with few strings attached, which allows countries to lead their own development, and work on projects which may improve infrastructure.
  • A second criticism of overseas aid is that much of it is lost to corruption – with some people arguing that aid actually fuels or promotes corruption. Many of the countries that receive the most overseas aid are also some of the world’s lowest ranking in terms of good governance.
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  • These countries are often ruled by dictators or have government systems that make it easy for aid money to be diverted from its intended use for personal gain. 
  • A third criticism of overseas aid is that it’s sometimes used by the wealthy and political elites to further their own aims at the expense of the general population. Critics suggest that political elites use the money to: Buy votes to ensure they remain in power; Build a strong military which is then used to repress citizens; Enrich themselves through corruption
  • This makes it difficult to hold governments to account for how aid money is spent. Minority groups in particular, such as the poor and women, pay the price for corruption. It results in fewer opportunities for them and reduced access to jobs, funding and equality. It also undermines human rights, development and democracy.
  • Other crticisms of development aid include:
  • Aid in the form of capital grants and loans is seen to be inappropriate by some. They argue that it is better to donate technical assistance and skills training
  • In some countries there is concern about the size of the aid budget - too much or too little
  • There is criticism about the distribution of aid - e.g. up until 2015 a large amount of the UK's aid went to India, but India is a much-lauded emerging economy, so it could be argued that there are other countries more in need of aid
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Negative impacts of economic intervention:

  • The record of interventions of a more economic nature certainly shows some positives in the form of jobs and taxes.
  • However, FDI from the developed world and the presence of TNCs are guilty of generating some serious negatives, not least of which is that profits leak back to company headquarters in the developed world.
  • More specific negatives relate to the environment, minority groups and human rights
  • Corruption also flourishes in economic development. Bribes are offered for a variety of different reasons and are also given in different forms: usually cash but sometimes land. Land grabbing is a symptom of bribery and corruption, e.g. Land grabs in Kenya
  • Land grabbing can increase pressures not only on land, but also on other natural resources and more generally on the environment. Large land deals for irrigated agriculture place demands on water, and some contracts grant investors priority rights to water. Use of agrochemicals may lead to the contamination of water sources. ’.Pollution and environmental degradation can also both affect livelihoods that depend on natural resources, and undermine enjoyment of important human rights–including the right to a healthy environment, the right to health, and the right to respect for private and family life.
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Military interventions -

Defending human rights:

  • Defending human rights has been a persuasive motive behind many military interventions. 
  • However, there are instances where such a defence has been a pretence and provided cover for other less-laudable motives. E.g. the recent action of Russia in Ukraine

Providing military aid:

  • There are various motives for wishing to do this, including:
  • Because the country's location has a strategic value in a wider power struggle, e.g. US aid to Pakistan to help in dealing with its troubled neighbour, Afghanistan and the Taliban
  • To deal with incursions that threaten a country's stability and allegiance, e.g. UK aid to Kenya to help protect it against Islamist attacks from Somalia
  • To ensure access to valuable resources, e.g. Uk aid to oil-rich Saudi Arabia
  • Arguments for providing military aid:
  • Countries argue that to reduce military aid could risk national interests or global security - and also do nothing to improve the human rights situation in those countries
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  • They argue that by continuing with the military aid, they can pressure the recipient nations to improve their human rights records, e.g. by attaching conditions to the aid
  • Critics against providing military aid:
  • Willingness to ignore abuses shows that strategic alliances and/or valuable trade deals (e.g. with Saudi Arabia) carry far more weight with governments than human rights concerns
  • Ignoring human rights abuses is, in effect, condoning them
  • Continuing to support a government that represses its citizens undermines the basic principle of human rights protection
  • Some aid (e.g. weapons and training) actually ends up being used to commit further human rights abuses

Waging 'war on terror' and torture:

  • Today, IS (also known as ISIS) is causing much trouble in the Middle East and has mounted occasional terrorist attacks in other parts of the world (e.g. Paris, Barcelona, London, Manchester)
  • As a consequence, the Western superpowers find themselves increasingly embroiled in a war on terror.
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  • It is clear that the international military campaign against IS is motivated by 3 main concerns:
  • The political stability of the Middle East
  • Safeguarding access to the region's great oil reserves
  • The serious abuse of human rights
  • Since declaring its caliphate in June 2014, IS has conducted or inspired more than 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries other than Iraq or Syria.
  • Given the subversive nature of IS, there can be little doubt that surveillance of suspects and intelligence gathering are going to play an important role in the fight against it. Indeed, this is likely to play as critical a part as overt military action. 
  • It may be tempting to resort to one of the activities that featured prominently in the UDHR in 1948: torture and rendition
  • Torture - 'any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person' in order to get information
  • Rendition - the practice of sending a foreign criminal or terrorist suspect covertly to be interrogated in a country where there is less concern about the humane treatment of prisoners
  • Due to the massive threat that terror groups such as IS pose there are ethical issues about the lengths countries will go to in order to extract information they need.
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  • While most countries signed up to the UN Convention against Torture in 1987, which bans the use of physical or mental force as a means of getting information, it is suspected many have used some of those methods
  • In order to find out information from terror suspects something called CID (cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment) is used
  • One example of where human rights have taken a backseat was following 9/11 when suspects were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without trial by US secret services
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Enquiry question 4

WHAT ARE THE OUTCOMES OF GEOPOLITICAL INTERVENTIONS IN TERMS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS?

  • Geopolitical interventions are often politically sensitive and are also expensive. National opinion polls worldwide routinely show some public unease with overseas interventions. For example, 51% of Americans surveyed in 2016 said that they felt the USA gave too much aid to developing countries. So, it’s important for governments, IGOs and NGOs to show that the interventions work.
  • Given the diversity of interventions (military, development aid etc.) and hoped-for outcomes, there are many possible ways of assessing whether or not a particular intervention has had a successful outcome.
  • Intervention target - Human development - Possible measures:
  • Life expectancy
  • Provision of healthcare (doctors per 100,000)
  • Literacy rate (% of population)
  • Quality of physical infrastructure (% with access to safe water and sanitation)
  • Per capita GDP or GNI
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  • E.g. USA cited human development indicators as proof that their aid programmes and military presence had been a success. For example, they mentioned that there had been a 14-fold increase in the number of schools and increase in Afghan life expectancy of over 20 years.
  • However, despite the availability of different forms of hard data, measuring success can be difficult:
  • Little agreement about how ‘success’ is defined, i.e. which indicators should be measured or what levels need to be achieved.
  • Some countries do not have the facilities to monitor or collect accurate data.
  • Many interventions span years (such as the Millennium Development Goals from 2000 to 2015), so they are subject to changing governments and circumstances.
  • External factors, such as global food prices or climates changes, can also affect outcomes.
  • Data can be interpreted differently by different people leading to the misinterpretation of some results.
  • How can positive changes be ascribed definitively to a specific intervention? For example is it NGO aid, Government aid or FDI investment and globalisation that has led to improvements in India’s HDI?
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  • Intervention target - Human rights - Possible measures:
  • Freedom of speech
  • Gender equality (gender index)
  • Democratic elections
  • Respect for minorities
  • Recognition of refugee status
  • Evaluations of actions and outcomes require accurate and reliable data. Often such data simply do not exist. This can be for a variety of reasons.
  • The mass movement of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa into Europe during the present decade. Here accurate counts have handicapped by:
  • The failure of border guards to keep proper records in the prevailing chaos
  • The ‘porous’ national borders, which allow people to cross unnoticed
  • The activities of people traffickers and the smuggling of migrants across the Aegean and the Mediterranean
  • * The only reasonably reliable figures will be those collected by the countries that happen to be the final destinations. But the host countries need to distinguish between genuine refugees escaping persecution and economic migrants who are exploiting the chaos to make their way illegally into what they perceive to be ‘good’ destinations.
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  • So, when it comes to investigating the migration crisis (numbers, origins and destinations) triggered by the unrest in the Middle East, data errors are inevitable. But they are not deliberate ones; rather, they reflect the physical impossibility of comprehensive and relevant data gathering. In such circumstances any data that is circulated can only be regarded as best estimates, and many of those estimates may well be not particularly good.
  • Progress in human development is easier to measure than progress in human rights. This is because human rights have an intangible quality. The best measures are negative ones, namely statistics relating to the abuse of human rights. The problem is that human rights are often subtly denied rather than overtly abused.
  • Potential indicators of progress in human rights tend to be qualitative rather than quantitative.
  • It may be years or decades before it is possible to make judgements on interventions in countries currently in conflict situations, especially if government structures, economic systems, health and education systems and infrastructure have been damaged and need investment.
  • Today's world is crudely divided between those countries in which democratic government is deeply rooted and those in which there are much more authoritarian forms of control.
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Enquiry question 4

  • Broad respect for human rights is more likely to flourish in a democracy than in a one-party state. The essence of a one-party state is that it safeguards against opposition
  • Democratic institutions are based on the concepts of equality and freedom, using political voting systems based on ‘one person, one vote’, with majority rule enforcing human rights.
  • For many countries and IGOs, such as the UN, the promotion of democratic processes for all people as a key goal for intervention. The promotion of democracy as an overseas aim is based on the belief that democratic institutions are building blocks for more secure and economically prosperous societies:
  • Moving from dictatorship to democracy often leads to other changes, including economic growth and the advancement of women’s rights and well-being.
  • Democracy can bring about political and social stability, which should then make countries less willing to support militant or criminal organisations. For example, the US government promotes democracy as a long-term solution to the ‘war-on-terror’.
  • It’s often easier for developed countries to forge military and economic ties with democratic governments.
  • Democratic countries are also much less likely to go to war with each other, or to resort to internal conflict if political disagreements arise.
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Enquiry question 4

  • Nearly all Western governments now allocate funds for democracy-building sometimes called ‘democracy aid’. This tends to focus on:
  • Supporting crucial processes and institutions e.g. free and fair elections, the development of political parties, limiting the term of office of a country’s leader.
  • Strengthening and reforming government institutions e.g. parliament and the judiciary.
  • Supporting civil society e.g. freedom of expression, defending civil and political rights.
  • Freedom of expression – the right to express one’s opinions freely – is a fundamental right, included in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It guarantees the right to:
  • Speak and write openly (without government interference or penalty)
  • Protest against injustice
  • Criticise a government and its leaders.
  • For some, freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy. It allows citizens to question their leaders, and it allows the media to report openly without censorship. Overseas aid programmes support freedom of expression as part of promoting democracy. Assessing freedom of expressing is usually done by looking at press freedom, censorship and arrests of journalists.
  • Evidence suggests that democracy aid works. 36 out of 57 countries that became democracies between 1980 and 1995 received democracy aid from the USA.
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Enquiry question 4

  • For example, between 1996 and 2000, the USA provided over $18 million in democracy aid for Guatemala, which was then used to train government officers, rebuild the justice system, develop anti-corruption measures, and increase the size of the electorate. During this period Guatemala officially became a democracy.
  • Economic growth promises power and prosperity, but not necessarily respect for human rights. A serious tension can exist between economic growth and human rights, particularly if a country is keen to fast-track that growth. But even less-ambitious governments are tempted to give economic growth precedence over human rights. E.g. China

Evaluating development aid:

  • The outcomes of development aid have not matched the inputs. Three factors might go some way in explaining this discrepancy:
  • 1. The inappropriateness of some forms of aid
  • 2. The siphoning of funds by corruption
  • 3. A lack of sound governance and, related to this, the civil and political unrest that has characterised the recent histories of too many developing countries
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Enquiry question 4

  • In the earlier years of development aid there was an emphasis on economic development and on prestige projects, which meant that there was little trickle-down of benefits to the most needy people
  • In more recent times, development aid has been directed more at a grass-roots level and focussed on education, skills training and healthcare. The verdict on such aid is altogether more positive
  • There is a school of thought that argues that no matter what form development aid takes, it encourages developing countries to become dependent on donor countries
  • Over the years there has been much debate about the relative merits of bilateral and multilateral aid.
  • Emergency aid - rapid assistance given by organisations or governments to people in immediate distress following natural or man-made disasters. The aim is to relieve suffering and the aid includes such things as food and water, temporary housing and medical help
  • Whether emergency aid should be considered as an integral part of development aid is debatable. 
  • One of the widespread concerns about development aid has been its broad impact. Has it widened or narrowed the gap between the receiving country's rich and poor?
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Enquiry question 4

  • It has been suggested that top-down aid has tended to increase the polarisation, while bottom-up aid has done rather more for the poor in terms of access to basic services (safe water and proper sewage disposal), primary education and healthcare
  • Inequality in some countries that receive the largest amounts of aid has increased.E.g. Bangladesh - received over US$2.4 billion in 2014 yet Gini coefficient increased from 0.262 in 1983 to 0.32 in 2005. Reasons for this:
  • Corruption by political and economic elites
  • Donor countries act in their own interests when deciding how and where to spend their money. E.g. the decision to improve a country's infrastructure may be influenced by commercial interests - thus concentrating aid in industrial centres rather than remote areas where the poorest people live
  • Aid agencies sometimes favour large projects that give publicity even though smaller projects may reduce inequality more effectively
  • Superpowers are defined by great economic wealth, military strength, reliable access to resources and a dominant ideology. A superpower needs to be constantly securing:
  • Strategic locations
  • Future supplies of resources (food, energy, minerals and water)
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  • Alliances (economic, political and military) with other countries
  • Technological advances
  • A global sphere of influence
  • Aid can be used to pave the way to achieving most of these objectives. Aid can open doors and can create a halo effect that donor countries are able to exploit for their own ends. Aid is rarely offered without strings attached. 
  • The USA has done much to create the image of a magnanimous and benevolent power - a fatherly figure providing support to all those in need. But most can see through that image and spot its real motives, namely to stay a superpower and outmanoueuvre its rivals.
  • Military interventions are always controversial as they bring deaths of innocent civilians, destruction of housing and infrastructure, the need to support and shelter those displaced (refugees), the disruption of livelihoods, the infringement of human rights during the conflict and the loss of sovereignty by the countries receiving the military intervention.
  • There can be short term gains e.g. stopping the persecution of minority groups and protecting resource pathways for example oil supplies.
  • But there are often long term costs of instability (difficult to establish democracy), it may take a long time to fully recover and get back to normal after the cessation of hostilities. There may also be a growth of terrorism in power vacuums and unpopular lengthy conflicts.
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  • When comparing the political outcomes along with the immense human costs from interventions, the outcomes have mainly been negative. It needs to be stressed that accurate data about civilian deaths and displacement are simply not available. But there are best estimates made by neutral IGOs and NGOs. If anything, these estimates are thought to err on the side of understatement.
  • The sad fact is that if we look at the military intervention of the last 25 years, the successes have been few and far between. Some would argue that the positive effects of mitigating potential mass killings and genocide do not outweigh the long-term negative effects of destabilising the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps this is because the military interventions have not been long enough to achieve reconciliation between warring groups and the reconstruction of countries that have been badly damaged, both physically and politically. 

Non-military intervention can sometimes be more effective – leading to long-term improvements in human rights and development.

  • According to the UN: ‘Peacekeeping has proven to be one of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.’
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Enquiry question 4

  • UN peacekeeping is guided by three basic principles:
  • 1. Consent of all parties in the conflict
  • 2. Impartiality
  • 3. Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate
  • The UN is able to draw on troops and police from around the world to provide its peacekeeping forces. Civilians are also integrated into those forces. So, the costs of peacekeeping are shared by UN member states.
  • UN peacekeeping began in 1948 when military observers were deployed to monitor the armistice between the newly created Israel and its Arabs neighbours.
  • Early years, UN Peacekeeping’s goals were limited to maintaining ceasefires and stabilizing situations on the ground so that efforts could be made at the political level to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. Those missions consisted of military observers and lightly armed troops with monitoring, reporting and confidence-building roles in support of ceasefires and limited peace agreements. (In Rwanda UN peacekeepers were withdrawn and provided no support to either side).
  • Over the years, UN Peacekeeping has adapted to meet the demands of different conflicts and a changing political landscape. Today's multidimensional peacekeeping operations are 
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Enquiry question 4

  • called upon not only to maintain peace and security but also to facilitate the political processes, protect civilians, disarm combatants, support elections, protect and promote human rights and restore the rule of law.
  • With its expanded role and operations in some of the world’s most challenging environments, peacekeepers face considerable risks. Since 1948, more than 3,500 personnel have lost their lives serving in UN peace operations, including 943 killed by violence. Since 2013, casualties have spiked, with 195 deaths in violent attacks, more than during any other five-year period in the UN’s history.
  • Faced with threats to human well-being and human rights, the global community has three options:
  • 1. Turn a blind eye and do nothing
  • 2. Make a limited military intervention to deal with the short-term threat and encourage local people to take matters into their own hands at the earliest possible opportunity
  • Make an extended military intervention that includes the longer-term tasks of reconciliation and reconstruction
  • There are, however, major issues facing us today that also require intervention, but not of a military kind, e.g. eradicating poverty, advancing social development and progressing many of the rights contained in the UDHR
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Enquiry question 4

  • The appropriate interventions here are either economic or aid-related.
  • One major issue not covered by such interventions is the need for greater care of the environment. 
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