Human rights and rule of law

Hsu, Wei Chen, FOWPAL Member

In the song titled “Imagine,” John Lennon once imagined “all the people living life in peace”. He had ideas in which a world is based on tolerance and peace. He imagined the existence of a place without heaven or hell, a place where people are not segregated by countries. The reality is that the earth has never been smaller. With today’s technology we can practically travel to any destination we want and talk to anyone in the world through satellites. However, we are still far from the place John Lennon described.

As I reflect upon the days I learned about humanities in grade school, an image that often displayed in my head was medieval knights in armor, fighting in what believed. Few thousand years later, though soldiers no longer fight with swords or defend themselves with shields, the physical fighting never stopped completely. For whatever reasons—politics, religion, or discriminations—there is constantly fighting in the world. It could involve many people as in a war or a riot, or simply a few individuals. As a result, the importance of human rights and rule of law is violated and ignored.

Human rights, defined as “basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled”, are a set of principles that govern how individuals should be treated. Essentially, human rights are the basis or the core of humanity. They are the foundation of humanity in which our world should be revolved around. Unfortunately, it is also the one thing that is easily being sacrificed during wars. This is where rule of law becomes important. Regardless of our social or economical status, we must not forget we are all facing the law and no one is above the law. So whatever actions we take, we need to know the consequences. Of course, laws can vary between countries but the fundamental principles behind the making of them are identical, protecting the citizens. Human rights and the rule of law go hand in hand. And if either piece is missing, humanity would be doom to fail.

As citizens of the earth, then, how do we redevelop the human rights we once all know so well? For starters, we have to have respect. We have to have love and the aspiration for peace. This may sound easy but in practice, it is much harder to follow in our everyday life. It means to be considerate for your neighbors, accepting the differences among us, and taking time to care for the people whose human rights are taken away from them. At the same time, any action that one decides to take must be lawful. And eventually one day, “the world will live as one” as John Lennon hoped for.