In catching up with readings from my human rights class, I’m identifying some real points of contention between my beliefs and what is being expressed in these articles. I don’t have another forum for expressing these ideas, and I don’t want to prompt an extremely public debate, so I am going to post these ideas here with small descriptions of what they are. My arguments will be fleshed out later.
1) Dealing with amnesty in truth commissions as though it has no implications for gender equity.
In South Africa, the conditions for amnesty included that the crime was committed with a political motive and that the crime was proportional to the achievement of that motive. This had huge implications for women who suffered from sexual violence. In fact, not one individual who applied for amnesty admitted to acts of sexual violence. Not one. Therefore, I reject conversations of amnesty that don’t address how gendered it is in their analysis of whether or not it is necessary, or good, for reconciliation.
2) The following quote from former Secretary of State Vace: “We recognize that the fulfillment of this right will depend, in part, upon the stage of a nation’s economic development.”
Framing our human rights policy in the context of economic development has awful implications for the perpetuation of Western economic imperialism, or neocolonialism. Human rights can be improved upon and even achieved in low-resource communities often with greater effect than Western economic development policies. In fact, studies have shown that policies that aim at human rights directly have a long-term, more sustainable outcome on lifting human rights than those that aim at economic development. In policies that want to indirectly achieve human rights through promoting economic development, standard of living rises a bit, but falls in later years. Additionally, community-driven programs with little fiscal resources work in low-income countries. In Nepal, a Vitamin A supplementation program has achieved vaccination coverage rates of 97% in children aged 6 months to 5 years, and the cost is ridiculously low. This is because the crafters of the programs used local knowledge and social incentives to motivate women to give their time to this cause for free. In exchange, not only did health improve, but women became more respected in their communities. Let’s see a fiscal policy that can do that.