How far will you go?

Image: SABA

The atrocities across the world have been preceding at an alarming rate and yet, the steps taken to deal with them has been slow. Human rights and development go hand in hand. Human rights and sustainability go hand in hand. Human rights and humility go hand in hand. And somehow, we forget that as humans, we’re failing miserably to be human.

When the 43rd Human Rights Council opened on 24th February 2020 at the United Nations in Geneva, it was preceded by Antonio Guterres. The Call for Action was an important and necessary blueprint for not just international organizations and the community, but for us too. The concept of human rights today is facing a drastic change. There are existing issues cropping up as new ones. And there are arrows shot by the archer towards a missed target.

Indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, climate change activists, journalists, whistleblowers and people with the capacity to do the right thing are at risk. Nature herself has been burnt, and she isn’t happy one bit. Discrimination has been a key role in allowing such violations to continue and grow further. Our diversity is meant to be an asset and not a threat. The richness we share, the differences we bring to the table, and the value we’re meant to create with that diversification is meant to create an impact; a positive one at that.

Picture illustrating Human Struggle on walls of the room at the United Nations/ Image: Maheshwari

Yet, countries are busy advising other countries to focus on their own problems, rather than offering aid and assistance to tackle the issues. They’re fighting with each other over issues rather than trying to find a stable solution together. And us as people, we’re letting our differences widen instead of bringing them closer to be a tightly bound pack of sticks. We fail to respect identities, we fail to respect ethnic origins, indigenous ideas and methods, constitutionally present rights, universality and the dependence of human rights over this.

The right to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly; the right to a healthy environment, the right to livelihood, the right to equality; how far are we willing to go really? What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but it kills another at the same time. Some journalists are killed, while some are afraid to speak. Some actively participate in mitigating climate change, and others either remain silent or don’t seem to be bothered by it. Some work hard day and night, whilst others claim benefits over another’s a hard day of labour. One faces harassment online while the other faces harassment on the street. Men are paid more because well, they’re men and women are paid lesser because they’re well, women. While one child enjoys education, the other is forced to pick up a gun and shoot for survival.

The psychological change that they endure, the pain that they experience. The cruelty that we as human beings are capable of, it shouldn’t be surprising at all. We’re not at war with nations, ideologies or with voices. We’re at war between humility and the superior state of mind.

Picture illustrating Human Struggle on walls of the room at the United Nations/ Image: Maheshwari

Despite everything that is taking place today, I take this opportunity to write a eulogy for human rights that are dying; and we can’t seem to find a way out of this proxy war. Even lives at stake, are considered as numbers rather than actual lives being lost or taken. If world wars couldn’t justify how we treated human lives, then this era doesn’t either.

“Embarking on a journey that was meant to change the world,

The soul kept searching for a place to stop, and heal.

Mother Nature was being burnt, and her babies were dying; some already gone.

Guns, bullets, fire, persecution of the innocent, prisoners in vocational training camps,

Not long ago did people get identified with numbers on their skin.

The reputation of humanity has never been worse, than today.

Stealing things that don’t belong to us, or building walls to stay away from the other.

Though tankers existed before, human tankers grew to be far more dangerous today.

Landmines didn’t explode, but missiles were fired, airplanes caught fire and lives were lost.

Though victims were given aid, and they continued to survive,

Their dignity was lost, and respect was not even a word.

Multiple chances at trying to salvage the world is what we’re risking today

Because we wore our hearts on our sleeve yesterday

And built a mindset of wins over losses, gains over profits and hatred over love.

To protect a right, meant to respect it.

To promote a right, meant to accept it.

And to prevent such painful violations, meant to change our attitude as human beings in the first place.

There was no place to heal, for the soul was tired.

Every place was sickened with grief, and silent pain.

If we didn’t save our world now, we were never destined to be in it today and tomorrow.’

The question remains. How far are we willing to go, to allow for this to continue? How far are we willing to go, to keep our peace which seems so temporary? How far are we willing to let violations progress, dialogue continue and have no impact? The future remains uncertain, for as always. But the equation engulfs a possibility of change. We can be that change. We can chase fear away and provide a voice for those who are unable to speak. If we hold back today, we leave a darker future ahead for tomorrow.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Maheshwari is a Consulting Editor at The Kootneeti on Human Right Issues. She’s also an Assistant Human Rights officer at Geneva-based International Organization For Least Developed Countries and a member of GHR (Geneva for Human Rights). She can be reached at

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