ESTEBAN BELTRÁN (AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL) “GOVERNMENTS ARE LOSING THEIR SENSE OF MORALITY”
This morning, a session was held on violating human rights and the struggle against impunity as part of the Dialogue “Human Rights, Emerging Needs, and New Commitments”
The director of Amnesty International Spain, Esteban Beltrán, said that there are currently three basic challenges in terms of defending human rights. He stated that, “we need to fight against the actions of armed forces and paramilitary groups”. He then added that, “we need to fight back against the loss of these rights in the name of international security”. Finally, he spoke of “governments’ indifference and inoperativeness; we need to fight against injustice. Governments are concerned with weapons of mass destruction, but they don’t pay attention to other types of mass destruction like hunger, violence and child abuse,” stated Beltrán.
Beltrán said that, “governments are losing their sense of morality”. The director of Amnesty International explained that, “the worst thing is not the fact that human rights are being violated in Africa, but that they are being violated in long-standing, solid democracies”. He added that, “Iraq is a major challenge for the defenders of human rights.”
Beltrán mentioned that, “we are currently living in the backdrop and double level of the hypocrisy of government”. He explained that, “countries have approved the declaration of human rights but continue to engage in arms trade. The five richest countries in the world are those that have vetoing power in the UN”.
Finally, Beltrán holds that, “we cannot allow authorities to take a step back in the human rights that we have already achieved, we have to fight to make rights like health and nutrition be on the top of the list and for there to be consequences if they are not met.”
The consultant to the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jean-Luc Blondel, gave a speech in which he spoke during of his involvement in the specific case of human rights violation in wars. According to Blondel, “although there are very few, there are mechanisms in place to defend rights in these cases.”
Blondel also spoke of education about these rights in military academies, but called for “it to be denounced, for it to be possible to persecute those responsible when this education is insufficient.” Blondel expressed his optimism, explaining that, until recently “there were no mechanisms in place for punishing human rights violators even thought the Geneva Convention had been passed.”
Sylvia Steiner, a judge at the International Criminal Court spoke of the process of creation such a body and acknowledged that, “it is not the ultimate solution, but it the most important step forward in recent years.”
Steiner said that, “creating the court meant making an important change because international law previously only addressed relations between countries, and now people are also the subjects of international law, as an individual can denounce his or her country”. She concluded by stating that, “the court enforces the protection of human rights and judges the cases where they are violated.”