EDITORIAL: There are no different versions of human rights

As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one cannot fail to reflect how that principle is used and under which lenses it is looked upon.

The issue of human rights has been used as a weapon and has made the careers of self-imposed rights defenders.

When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted in 1948, it came at the heels of a World War that had brought the worst in humans and with devastating circumstances. Then amnesia set in.

The recent case of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is a good example of selective determination of what alludes to human rights abuses. The many wars and conflicts taking place left, right and centre usually have the backing of countries that have branded themselves “champions of human rights” but have a knack of looking the other way when intervening does not serve their interest. Syria, Yemen, Burundi, DR Congo, Boku Haram and Rohingyas quickly come to mind.

Protection of human rights has lost its meaning, especially to Rwandans who went through a three-month nightmare as the world stood by.  We learnt an important lesson the hard way; we are responsible for protecting our rights, no one else. No external factor determines those rights as the ball is in our camp.

If human rights violations were treated equally no matter the geographical sphere, and guaranteeing the sanctity of all human lives, as long as human rights organisations still call the shots and influence world decisions depending on which side of the bed they woke up, then the 70-year declaration will remain a dead letter.