According to Human Rights Watch’s 2024 world report, human rights are facing significant challenges globally. The report highlights an increase in wartime atrocities, a rise in the suppression of human rights defenders, and attacks on universal human rights principles and laws by governments. HRW criticizes political leaders for their disregard of international human rights laws, citing “selective government outrage and transactional diplomacy,” which, according to the report, has endangered countless lives.
Tirana Hassan, executive director of HRW, expresses concern about a trend of double standards, where some governments selectively apply human rights laws. Examples include silence on alleged Chinese government crimes against humanity and a lack of attention to alleged US abuses in Afghanistan. The report emphasizes that such selective application undermines the institutions created to uphold human rights.
The report provides a country-specific breakdown of human rights records in 2023. It mentions issues such as the Taliban crushing rights in Afghanistan, widespread abuses against civilians in Sudan (especially in Darfur), and human rights violations by US allies like Saudi Arabia, India, and Egypt. Additionally, the European Union’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, along with deals with Libya and Turkey to return migrants, is criticized.
Tirana Hassan calls for action to protect rights institutions and hold political leaders accountable for upholding international obligations. The report strongly condemns the UK government, labeling it a “dismal year for human rights” due to a continued assault on fundamental rights, including the right to protest and seek asylum.
The Human Rights Watch report underscores the persistent assault on rights worldwide, fueled by short-term political gains and a dangerous erosion of commitment to international obligations. Tirana Hassan emphasizes the disturbing trend of double standards, where certain governments selectively apply rights laws, thereby undermining the very institutions established to safeguard these rights.
In Afghanistan, the report highlights the Taliban’s continued suppression of women’s rights, while in Sudan, particularly in Darfur, there has been a failure to prevent widespread and horrifying abuses against civilians. US allies, including Saudi Arabia, India, and Egypt, are accused of violating the human rights of their own citizens with impunity. The European Union faces criticism for its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, including agreements with Libya and Turkey to return migrants attempting to reach Europe.
Tirana Hassan urges a robust call to action, especially in a year when many countries are heading to the polls. She emphasizes the need to protect human rights institutions and hold political leaders accountable for their international obligations to uphold and protect human rights for all. The report underscores that repressive governments often employ tactics such as using state security or family values to justify repression, with subsequent attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, women’s rights, and refugees.
The UK government receives strong condemnation in the report for what is described as a “dismal year for human rights.” The continued assault on fundamental rights, such as the right to protest and seek asylum, is cited as particularly alarming. This critique underscores the broader global trend of governments deviating from their commitments to rights, signaling a troubling shift towards authoritarianism.
As Human Rights Watch issues this stark assessment, it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of safeguarding rights, promoting accountability, and fostering a global commitment to upholding the principles of justice and dignity for all. The challenges outlined in the report call for collective efforts to address the root causes of rights violations and ensure a more just and equitable world.