Human Rights Organizations : protection without doing harm

In this article, dedicated to international human non-governmental organization the author (Ellen L. Lutz) sates that “thirty-two years ago when Cultural Survival was founded, the outright genocide of indigenous peoples was no longer the norm”. What did she mean saying this? The time she mentioned is 1973 (thirty-two years ago). I am not sure that 32 years ago genocide was not a norm. To understand this we should consider the meaning of term “genocide”. For the first time term “genocide” was used in 1944.

It combines two words Greek “genos”(genus) and Latin “cide” (to kill). The genocide is set of acts of the violence accomplished with the purpose of full or partial destruction ethnic, national, race or religious group. The following actions concern to a genocide: – Murder of members of group( for example annihilation of the Jewry; – Drawing physical or mental maims to group; – Willful destruction of living conditions to provoke full or partial destruction of group; – Acceptance measures warning birth rate inside group or violent removing one group in to another.

There are following examples of genocide: the Nazi Holocaust during World War II; in Cambodia during 1975-1979; in Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1992-1995; in Rwanda in 1994. So we can see that outright genocide was existing at that time under the different names( national war, etc. ). Also author said that fortunately after World War II International Human Rights non-government organizations demanded to create domestic mechanism to prevent human rights infringers. Why does she consider human rights enforcement and intervention of NGO as common good?

Human rights are obligatory standards of behavior without which people cannot fully exist as human beings, it is also standard of relations between people and governance. But human rights are result of European political and legal doctrine and in some respects characterize exceptionally European (American and other territories occupied by Europeans) way of life. It is alien to other nations and their “centuries-old ways of life”. Such intervention and enforcement of total human rights standards are the good fundament for cultural globalization and total obliteration of nation’s diversity.

Then author corrects her statement saying that “anthropologist are trained to become ‘participant/observers” in the communities they study, the yare uniquely positioned to each indigenous people to become participant/observers in the larger globalizing world without losing their own culture and identities”. But culture identity of many indigenous people does not respond to our understanding of right way of living. Locating lawyers and financial consultants to help indigenous people to organize their lives as it is offered in the article can change the people’s lives but no one is sure that it will be good changes.

Given in the article example shows that using way of healing which are traditional for that people (Xerente) are more effective than using standard for us medicine like aspirin. It demonstrate that NGO should be careful not to harm with their good intentions. The driven idea of the whole article lays in the following words :” … have never been sure whether the souls of the dead or contents of their first aid kit were responsible for cure”.

Hence human rights NGO should take under consideration the fact that in some respects traditional way of living which seems unusual and even preposterous can be more useful than latest achievements and not try to change such traditional way. References: Lutz, L. Ellen (2004, June 15) Cultural Survival: A Human Rights Organization. Issue 28. 2 from the World Wide Web: http://www. culturalsurvival. org/publications/csg/csg_article. cfm? id=DB114D43-D501-4604-8266-A460ff7480DC&region_id=0&subregion_id=0&issue_id=16