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Will the G7’s Concerns about Human Rights Bring Success?

The G7 Summit hosted by the United Kingdom has contributed to many new agreements and initiatives. Apart from many economic and environmental steps, the leaders present at the meet resolved to uphold the human rights all over the world. While discussing this, China was brought up and that has received a harsh response from the Chinese side.

The American President Joe Biden criticised the forced labour issue being practised in Xinjiang province in China. He urged the western countries to work together and rectify the situation. In fact, the communique released by the G7 mentions clearly about the need to call out China with regard to its operation in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. It mentions the need to embrace shared values and agenda and work on it together. 

China has not taken this lying low and responded with a statement by the embassy in the UK. It specified how the reference to China in the document is a clear violation of the basic norm of non-interference in international affairs. The spokesperson from the embassy urged countries all over the world to come together in the current pandemic and fight other other global challenges instead of the blame game. Beijing stated that it will protect its sovereignty, security and development interests and appeals for principles of Peaceful Coexistence. 

Cases of Human Rights being Overlooked

A closer look at the international community’s efforts around the world highlight the efficacy of the process. 

There have been reports of human rights violations in North Korea. The country operates in a different set up and has no abidance with any of the acceptable global norms. However, there has been a constricted approach followed there too due to the rogue behaviour that the leadership has projected. The illegal nuclear weapons programme is another deterrent for the countries to take any strict action. There have been frequent discussions about the priorities of leaders in North Korea and how they values nuclear weapons more than the lives and rights of people.

The military coup in Myanmar was met with demonstrations by people of the country who wanted respect for the democratic spirit. There were reports of violations of basic human rights in the country. In fact, the former leader Aung San Suu Kyi too has been detained along with many other party leaders in isolated premises. Suu Kyi is to go through a trial for violating covid restrictions amongst other criminal charges and many human rights advocates condemned the whole process. The activists, journalists and pro-democracy demonstrators have faced severe consequences since 1 February 2021 and according to BBC, 800 people were killed and 5000 were detained since then. The European Union and the United States condemned the actions, imposed sanctions and froze the assets of several individuals involved in the coup. A substantial result is yet to be seen as Suu Kyi still faces trial without a proper legal representation.

The Human Rights Watch reported the grave situation in Nigeria with increasing number of cases of violence in the country especially in Northern part. Boko Haram, the insurgency group in the North Eastern part of Nigeria has been killing and displacing thousands of people for more than a decade. The rights of peaceful assembly and association were violated on several occasion. Despite the International awareness and the pressure on Nigeria, there has been limited progress on the situation. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a study pointing out several factors that were corrupt governance, environmental degradation and even a perception of the United State’s war on terror that has made access to the region impossible. The African Union Commission and the Oslo Consultative Group have been involved in trying to promote stability in the region but that is still a long way to go.

The situation is similar in Hong Kong, Somalia and many other unreported areas too. These case studies throw light on the frail international system that is in place currently.  There are many cases when the institutions have shown limited power in ensuring adherence to international norms and order. There are many reasons that have led to a global situation in which the actors have restrained influence even on basics like human rights and equality. One of the major reasons is the group dynamics that exists in the world. Different set of groups advocate and prioritise specific value systems and that has resulted in the lack of a universally acceptable law with respect to human rights. Second, the countries differ in terms of their cultural beliefs and ideologies. Thus ill planned interventions can lead to bigger problems causing social and cultural rifts. Third, the anti-China sentiment has led Beijing to circumvent most of the decisions taken by the western world. This has resulted in making most of the decisions fizzling out. Moreover, China has the veto power at the Security Council. This explains the Chinese support to North Korea covertly on several occasions.

Way Forward

The G7 comprises of influential states and they have been propagating upholding values of democracy and respect for human rights. While the situation is not extremely cordial with China, a reasonable exchange can enable it to come forward to help in aiding a programme that will help in endorsing as well as imposing ways to defend human rights universally. In stead of the blame game and heated exchanges, the countries need to work together and take proper steps for the same. The non-state actors do not take human rights into consideration. It is thus even more essential to collaborate and fight the cause. China is not a part of the same thought process at the moment but any initiative without its presence is bound to have limited success. There are men, women and children suffering due to the loopholes that exist in the global machinery. The onus is on the leaders of the world to strengthen the international organisations to bring a change in methods as well as aims for a better world tomorrow.