Good government is more than the use of sovereign power to create prosperity, productivity and happiness. Good governing is the imaginative use of intuition, skills and knowledge to administrate with the participation and consent of the governed. Human rights is a mechanism to win consent of all persons being governed because it ensures fairness and respect for everyone.
When the US constitution states that all men are created equal, although the whites had black slaves and the wealthy lived better than the poor whites, it was to create the circumstances that we are all in the same boat. We will all sink, or all float.
Everyone knows that some people are smarter, taller, richer and more athletic than others. So when the term equality is used, it is a metaphor for a common destiny. The same is true for the French Revolution in 1789 — the cry of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity was aimed at inspiring unity and ensuring that everyone has a stake in the success of the revolution: common destiny.
Human rights are moral principles that set standards for human conduct. In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly issued the Declaration of Human Rights as a response to the barbarism of World War II. Many politicians and law enforcement agencies find that respecting people’s human rights makes their job difficult.
Remove people’s human rights, and you signal to them and their associates that they do not have a stake in our society. This is not mere philosophy, but reality. Examine genocide in Rwanda, the Guatemalan civil war, and the El Salvador civil war, and I will argue about the high homicide rate of the Caribbean, including Belize.
The vast majority of people committing homicides are marginalized. They will destroy the society with ease because they feel that they are not benefiting adequately from the current political and social order.
Why obey laws that are not benefiting them? They are treated less than others by many, including law enforcement, and opportunity and support for social mobility is tiny. Human rights guarantees people the means to satisfy their basic needs. You either obey people’s human rights, or move towards disunity and conflict.
Any analysis of history demonstrates that. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Brian E. Plummer