International Law Being Broken ?

justice

Judy and Maria talking at the café:

J: So what the hell gives them the right?

M: They’re protecting their citizens from rockets.

J: While they kill other civilians with bombs and missiles and mortars and tank shells?

M: Yeah, doesn’t seem fair—out of proportion…

J: We need some kind of international  protection, to stop small terrorists’ violence and powerful countries’ insanities.

M: As far as I know there are  international laws; just not enough international responsibility . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“…we believe it is impossible to implement human ‘rights’ without a sense of collective responsibility. Indeed, if the whole of humanity is one interconnected body, then an injury to any member is an injury to the body as a whole. Thus it behooves every individual member of the human family to take action whenever and wherever human rights violations occur.

“Some links between human rights and responsibilities are already generally accepted. Legal rights guaranteed by the existing human rights instruments are implicitly balanced by responsibilities, and states are obligated to respect human rights under international law. Likewise, the notion of responsibility is widely acknowledged in its narrow criminal and tort law sense. Yet in the Bahá’í perspective, the concept of ‘responsibility’ in the context of human rights encompasses the responsibility devolving upon every person, as a divinely-created being, to recognize the essential oneness of the human race and to promote the human rights of others with this motivation.

“Thus, it seems to us essential to broaden the conceptual framework for addressing human rights problems from an adversarial paradigm—pitting the government against the individual citizen—to a cooperative one, where we consider relations among all human beings as members of one community. In this context, everyone has an essential role to play in implementing fundamental human rights. When individuals assume responsibility for ensuring each other’s human rights the foundation for unity will be firmly established.

“In addition, recognition of such a responsibility to promote human rights can empower ordinary people and give them a new sense of purpose and dignity. As stated in the Bahá’í writings:

“And the honour and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3.)
Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Dec 03, Right and Responsibility to Promote Human Rights

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The Truth About Women

oppression_women

Peter and Leon were at the café discussing women:

Peter: “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.”

Leon: “The second part is completely true, the first is conditional.”

Peter: “Whataya mean conditional?”

Leon: “Well, it’s conditioned on your attitude toward them.”

Peter: “Bullshit… Doesn’t matter what I do, they’re still impossible to live with.”

Leon: “Yet, you do live with them.”

Peter: “What’s your point?”

Leon: “Point? Kinda obvious, eh?”

Peter: “Is this one of your psychological tricks?”

Leon: “No, just the truth—men are born from women, men live with women, men oppress women, and… women continue to bear it all, with a lot more strength then the men have.”

Peter: “More strength?

Leon: “Obviously.”

Peter: “Might be obvious to you but the whole subject confuses the hell out of me…”

Leon: “So, you admit you misunderstand them. Do you realize you also underestimate them?”

Peter: “Misunderstand, maybe; frustrated, for sure; underestimate? I don’t see where you’re headed with all this, I just want a solution.”

Leon: “Solution, Peter? First, you have to practice three powerful virtues: humility—to soften your willfulness; honesty—to inform your conscience; then, Love—to give them a reason to reveal themselves to you.”

Peter: “Dude, you’re outta your mind…”

~~~~~~~~~

Yep, Leon was out of his mind and into his heart . . .

Here are some recent sources of information about how men are treating women:

From Time World: The Best Way to Curb Forced Marriages

From the Washington Post: For Kurdish Girls, a Painful Ancient Ritual

From the Washington Post: A Private Feud Turns Into a National Issue

From Rising Voices: Nari Jibon: End Violence Against Women

From the Guardian, UK: Saudi girl, eight, married off to 58-year-old is denied divorce

From OneWorld.Net: Giving Birth in a Congolese Refugee Tent

From The Bahá’í International Community: Beyond Legal Reforms:Culture and Capacity in the Eradication of Violence Against Women and Girls

From Inter Press Service: Q&A: Failure to Translate Women’s Legal Rights into Action

Spiritual Quote :

“…among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 302

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We All Have Rights, unless . . .

rightsPeople just love to shout about their personal “rights”. Groups love to petition about “our  rights”. Organizations love to write official papers about “human rights”.

So, why do so many people not have their rights respected?

And, which rights are Right ?

Not to mention, who decides what rights belong to which people?

Take a moment to consider these recent news clips:

From OneWorld.Net: Anger in Kosovo as UN ‘Muzzles’ Democracy Leader

From Times Online, UK: Call for access to education for all members of the Iranian Baha’i community

From GlobalVoices: “08 Charter” (blueprint for the democracy prospect in China) Signers Arrested and Questioned by Police

From Bahá’í World News Service: Faith groups sign human rights statement

Some people effectively have no  rights…

Some people spend almost all their time screaming about having their rights trampled on…

Some folks stay calm, put up with those who trample on their rights, and continue to work, quietly but effectively, to ensure the rights of all the members of our human family…

I have no “point” to make in this post; just want to stir things up.

So, I’ll urge you to let yourself be stirred up by 12-year-old Severn Suzuki speaking at the UN Earth Summit in 1992:

Spiritual Quote :

“Ultimately…the emergence of a peaceful and just social order animated by moral principle is contingent upon a fundamental redefinition of all human relationships—among individuals themselves, between human society and the natural world, between the individual and the community, and between individual citizens and their governing institutions. In particular, outmoded notions of power and authority need to be recast. A basic reconceptualization of social reality is thus envisioned, a reality that in spirit and practice reflects the principle of the oneness of humankind. To accept that ‘the body of humankind is one and indivisible’ is to recognize that every human being is ‘born into the world as a trust of the whole’.”
Bahá’í International Community, 2001 May 28-31, Overcoming Corruption in Public Institutions

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What Good Is The United Nations? – Part One

United Nations
Does the United Nations actually help in our crisis-laden world?

Can they actually do anything that counts—anything that addresses humanity’s ills and facilitates solutions?

From Forbes: A Real Election Choice On The United Nations “U.N. reforms proclaimed with fanfare in recent years have fizzled.”

From the New York Times: U.N. Blocked From Pulling Workers Out of Congo “…the peacekeeping troops were overstretched in trying to protect the civilian population, which is caught in the middle of vicious fighting between a rebel group and the Congolese Army.”

From The Hindu: Give developing nations a say in financial crisis talks “A day before the United Nations meets to discuss its taskforce on the global financial crisis, ActionAid, along with more than 400 civil society organisations across the world, has issued a statement demanding that developing nations be included in crisis talks.”

This post will present some of the most pressing international concerns as discussed in a major document presented to the United Nations on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of its founding in 2005. It was presented by the Bahá’í International Community, a Non-Governmental Organization registered with the UN. The document is called The Search for Values in an Age of Transition. It is not casual reading and there’s also a detailed Study Guide to help understand the issues and solutions it provides.

I’ll give you the essence of the issues dealt with in this post and the solutions they present in the next post.

One of the most powerful statements in this document is: “The great peace long envisioned by the peoples and nations of the world is well within our grasp.”

Quite a statement, eh? How in the world can an organization make such a statement when we have issues like these to deal with:

“The advancement of men and boys at the expense of women and girls has sorely limited the creative and material capacities of communities to develop and address their problems…”

“…the neglect of cultural and religious minorities has intensified ancient prejudices setting peoples and nations against one another…”

“…an unbridled nationalism has trampled the rights and opportunities of citizens in other nations…”

“…weak states have erupted in conflict, lawlessness, and massive refugee flows…”

“…narrow economic agendas exalting material prosperity have often suffocated the social and moral development required for the equitable and beneficent use of wealth.”

One of the most stunning issues brought up for consideration is the growing importance of the role of religion in discussions of global crises:

“The existing debate about religion in the public sphere, however, has been driven by the voices and actions of extreme proponents on both sides—those who impose their religious ideology by force, whose most visible expression is terrorism—and those who deny any place for expressions of faith or belief in the public sphere. Yet neither extreme is representative of the majority of humankind and neither promotes a sustainable peace.”

Here are a few more snips from the first part of the document:

“…the question of values must take a central place in deliberations, be articulated and made explicit.”

“…the search for shared values—beyond the clash of extremes—is paramount for effective action.”

“…we can no longer be content with a passive tolerance of each other’s worldviews; what is required is an active search for those common values and moral principles which will lift up the condition of every woman, man, and child, regardless of race, class, religion or political opinion.”

This is, no doubt, a challenging document but these are, certainly, challenging times.

You may also be interested in my post, Sweet Words Are Crying Out for Potent Action, one of the most popular posts on this blog, which has the text of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the next post, we’ll look at some of the changes proposed for the United Nations, to transform it into the global peace-promoting organization it was created to be.

Spiritual Quote:

“No social body, whatever its form, has power to maintain essential human rights for persons who have repudiated their moral obligation and abandoned the divine endowment distinguishing man from beast. Civil definitions of political and economic status, if devoid of moral value and influence, are not equivalent to essential human rights but express the expedients of partisan policy. An ordered society can only be maintained by moral beings.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights, Presented to the first session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

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The War Against Free Speech

journalistWhen most people see the words “police state” they think of Nazi Germany, or maybe some of the current African states, or possibly Niger:

From OneWorld.Net: U.S. Reporter Arrested Covering Nigeria Oil Story “An award-winning U.S. journalist covering ‘the economic and ecological disaster’ taking shape in a strategic oil-producing region of Nigeria was arrested this week on spying charges…”

Journalists (especially those covering abuse of rights by the police) have recently experienced the dreadful repercussions of police-state-mentality in the United States of America:

From OneWorld.Net: RNC: Media Intimidation Condemned “Police and local and federal officials in St. Paul, Minnesota are under fire from independent media groups for their crackdown on reporters at this week’s Republican National Convention.”

The last news link has some extremely interesting but possibly nerve-wracking videos showing abuse of journalists’ rights.

The quote below has these words, “…masses of people unable to exercise the functions of citizenship…”. When journalists are treated in repressive ways and arrested in the course of their duties, citizens are deprived of information critically necessary for competent discharge of their duty.

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

“An equal standard of human rights must be upheld, and individuals given equal opportunities. Variety and not uniformity is the principle of organic society. Since lack of opportunity, repression and degrading conditions have created masses of people unable to exercise the functions of citizenship, such persons are a moral trust laid upon the conscience of the rest, to educate the ignorant, train the immature and heal the sick.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Bahá’í Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

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Where’s The Party ?

Today I’ll look at the mechanics of the American presidential election but also elections, in general, from the global perspective.

From OneWorld.Net: Amnesty Int’l Focuses on Americans’ Voting Rights
“Under Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to participate in government and open elections…”
“Amnesty and other groups taking part in the voter registration drive fear that millions of Americans may not be able to cast their ballots in the presidential polls if certain shortcomings in the current electoral system are not addressed before the presidential polls in November.”

From The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

From About.com-US Government Info: The Electoral College System
“When you vote for a presidential candidate you are really voting to instruct the electors from your state to cast their votes for the same candidate.”
“Each elector gets one vote.”
“While the state electors are ‘pledged’ to vote for the candidate of the party that chose them, nothing in the Constitution requires them to do so.”
“Critics of the Electoral College system, of which there are more than a few, point out that the system allows the possibility of a candidate actually losing the nationwide popular vote, but being elected president by the electoral vote. Can that happen? Yes, and it has.”

Hmmm… Government of, by, and for the People? The U.S. population is a bit over 301 million people; the Electoral College system has 538 people . . .

It could be argued that the United States election process is the best possible system. It could also be argued that the moon is made of green cheese.

My Faith counsels us to “…obey the government under which [we] live…”, it also counsels that people should “under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever.”

Tough call, eh? No matter what I think about the government and its procedures, I should obey it, yet never abandon my inner convictions.

It may sound totally ridiculous yet, in my opinion, it’s based on the principle that not resisting the wrong will make it stand out all the more. If we argue and contend, we muddy the issues. If the issues are muddy, how can we clearly decide what will actually work. If we obey a wrong decision we can aid a process that will make it utterly, clearly wrong. Then, clear corrections can happen.

Some may say, “Who me suffer, just to aid some distant, just decision?”

Well… What if the distant, just decision aids your children or grandchildren?

Unbelievably, that’s a tough call for some folk . . .

“…we are concerned at the lack of leadership over a wide spectrum of human affairs. At national, regional, and international levels, within communities and in international organizations, in governments and in non-governmental bodies, the world needs credible and sustained leadership.
‘It needs leadership that is proactive, not simply reactive, that is inspired, not simply functional, that looks to the longer term and future generations for whom the present is held in trust. It needs leaders made strong by vision, sustained by ethics, and revealed by political courage that looks beyond the next election.’
“This cannot be leadership confined within domestic walls. It must reach beyond country, race, religion, culture, language, life-style. It must embrace a wider human constituency, be infused with a sense of caring for others, a sense of responsibility to the global neighborhood.”

Report of the Commission on Global Governance, Our Global Neighborhood. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995.) p.353.
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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Religious Minority in Iran

https://i1.wp.com/media.bahai.org/img/7878/300/0/nc/bwns_7878-300.jpg

image credit


About three weeks ago, I posted a story about the arrest and detainment of the leadership of the Baha’i Faith in Iran. It was published here to highlight the plight of people denied the basic human right of Belief.

Six days ago, the Universal House of Justice, the world governing body of the Baha’i Faith, sent a letter to the believers in Iran.

I’m posting it here as an example of how religion can support human rights:

TRANSLATION FROM PERSIAN

(Department of the Secretariat)

3 June 2008

To the believers in the Cradle of the Faith

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

Almost three weeks have passed since the recent arrest of the members of the distinguished body termed the “Friends in Iran”. No reliable information regarding their circumstances or whereabouts is available. This lack of news and the fact that these dear ones are deprived of access to their families and to legal counsel to defend their rights are causes of deep concern to the Bahá’ís of the world and to all those who seek justice and equity.

What is a source of comfort to our grief-stricken hearts is the courage and steadfastness you have manifested in the face of this crisis. You continue to discharge your spiritual obligations in unity and resolutely adhere to the Divine Teachings. Relying on heavenly grace, you are exerting efforts to protect and safeguard the interests of the Faith. The support that the press and other mass media have given to the oppressed believers in Iran, the advocacy of their cause undertaken by social activists, and the sympathy voiced by Iranian intellectuals evoke our hope and deep gratitude.

Observe how an increasing number of Iranians, who in honouring their ancient traditions, value human rights, believe that the time has now passed for ignorant prejudices to cause division and discrimination amongst people, and recognize that the true exaltation of the nation of Iran is to be attained through unity in diversity. Rest assured that the Iranian people will exert themselves to fulfil such a vision. How regrettable that a small band of those, their hearts darkened by the clouds of prejudice, have yielded to hatred and animosity, are incapable of comprehending the truth that Bahá’ís have no intention but to serve the world of humanity and to assist in the establishment of a spiritual civilization, attribute to you baseless conspiracies, persecute you for your religious beliefs and practices, and seek to inflict harm upon you. Yet, you recall the counsels of Bahá’u’lláh, Who asserts: “That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race.”

Strive, then, to exemplify these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: “It behoveth the loved ones of the Lord to be the signs and tokens of His universal mercy and the embodiments of His own excelling grace. Like the sun, let them cast their rays upon garden and rubbish heap alike, and even as clouds in spring, let them shed down their rain upon flower and thorn.” Despite the current crisis, pay no heed to oppression and cruelty and, inspired by the Divine Teachings, act in the opposite manner. Focus your thoughts on being a source of good to those around you.

Exert every endeavour to serve your fellow citizens—heirs to a culture rich and humane—who themselves suffer from many an injustice. Avoid all divisiveness and conflict, consort with everyone with kindliness and sincerity, and engage with your compatriots in the discussion of ideas and the exchange of thoughts on matters with which they are anxiously concerned. Ignite in their hearts the flame of hope, faith, and assurance in Iran’s glorious future and in the bright destiny of humankind which you well know is sure to come to pass.

We supplicate in the Holy Shrines for the protection of the believers in the Cradle of the Faith.

[signed: The Universal House of Justice]