Human Rights Violations in Uganda

According to Article One of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set forth by the United Nations, “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” The interconnectedness in the world produces a new agenda of international issues which affect both powerful and less powerful countries.

The doctrine of human rights aspires to provide the contemporary, allegedly post-ideological, geo-political order with a common framework for determining the basic economic, political, and social conditions required for all individuals to lead a minimally good life (Bova). The effectiveness of promoting and protecting human rights is significantly aided by individual nation-states’ legally recognizing the doctrine. The moral justification of human rights is thought to precede considerations of strict national sovereignty (Bova). For many of its supporters, the doctrine of human rights aims to provide a fundamentally legitimate moral basis for regulating the contemporary geo-political order.

The issue of human rights violations has been prominent in many societies and states for centuries. Uganda, in particular, has faced both national and international backlash over their multiple human rights abuses over the years. For nearly two decades, Northern Uganda has been ravaged by conflict. Thousands of civilians have been subject to brutal attacks, rape, torture, extra-judicial execution and destruction of homes and communities (amnestyusa.org). The two most notable offenses that have received much media attention are the controversies of children being forced into the military and the persecution of homosexuals.

The issue of child soldiers can be traced back to Joseph Kony, the head of a Ugandan guerrilla army called the Lord’s Resistance Army. Initially, this group was an outgrowth and continuation of the larger armed resistance movement waged by some of the Acholi people (globalpolicy.org) against a central Ugandan government which they felt marginalized them at the expense of southern Ugandan ethnic groups Kony has been accused by government entities of ordering the abduction of children to become child-sex slaves and child soldiers.An estimated 66,000 children became soldiers and two million people have been internally displaced since 1986 (govtrack.us).

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a legislative proposal that would broaden the criminalisation of same-sex relations in Uganda by dividing homosexual behavior into two categories: “aggravated homosexuality”, in which an “offender” would receive the death penalty, or “the offence of homosexuality” in which an offender would receive life in prison (amnestyusa.org). “Aggravated homosexuality” is defined to include homosexual acts committed by a person who is HIV-positive, is a parent or authority figure, or who administers intoxicating substances, homosexual acts committed on minors or people with disabilities, and repeat offenders. (patheos.com)

The United Nations does not do an adequate job of enforcing human rights laws and prosecuting their violators. If the United Nations won’t act to stop these violations, it is up to more powerful, developed nations to step in. However, governments will not usually get involved in other country’s affairs unless there is an outcry from its citizens who pressure them to take action.

Aid and awareness of the two issues mentioned above were spread throughout the world because of actions that citizens of various states took up with their government. Joesph Kony’s atrocious deeds were exploited around the world thanks to Jason Russell’s ‘Kony 2012’ video. As a result of Russell’s viral video, a hundred US soldiers were sent in to help the Ugandan army in tracking and arresting Joesph Kony.

“It was the first time in history that the United States took that kind of action because the people demanded it. Not for self-defense, but because it was right”(invisiblechildren.com). Similarly with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, multiple media outlets, religious groups, and non-government organizations pressured the Ugandan government to get rid of the bill. The backlash against this bill caused such a negative impact on Uganda’s international relations that they completely removed the death penalty for those who were found to be gay (jurist.org).

Through the use of technology, important issues such as those occurring in Uganda were able to be spread from one state to another in a quick and widespread manner. Constructivist would agree that the world is socially constructed, and that the Internet and other technologies just help spread those ideas and values around the world. If we can look at the world in a Constructivist view, the sharing of ideas and sharing of happenings in different countries can only help bring issues of human rights abuses to light, and put pressures on a government to take an action that might have not been considered previously.

“When citizens by the hundreds of thousands start demanding that our government do something, suddenly it becomes in the national interest of the United States government to respond to this problem”. -John Prendergast, (invisiblechildren.com) Works Cited

2012, the end of, and Uganda&. “Uganda Passes “Kill the Gays” Bill.” Patheos | Hosting the Conversation on Faith. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .

“Full Text of H.R. 2478 (111th): Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 – GovTrack.us.” GovTrack.us: Tracking the U.S. Congress. GPO, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .

“Global Policy Forum.” Global Policy Forum. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .

“JURIST – Paper Chase: Uganda must end anti-gay human rights violations: AI.” JURIST – Legal News and Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .

“KONY 2012 | Invisible Children.” Invisible Children “ Home | Invisible Children. Jason Russell, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .

“Uganda Human Rights | Amnesty International USA.” Amnesty International USA | Protect Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .