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To What Extent Should Governments Protect Minority

Rights? Essay, Research Paper

To what extent should governments protect minority rights?

On December 10, 1948 one of the most important declarations ever pronounced came about in Paris, France. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by members of the United Nations in order to set a standard for governments around the globe to strive for. This manifesto laid the groundwork for equality, freedom, justice, and peace throughout the world today. It declared that no matter what your color, sex, religion, ethnic background, birth status, social origin, or political opinion, as a member of the human race, you are entitled to certain basic rights (United Nations). Albeit, not all countries abide by these rights and freedoms. Such was the case in the Russian Federation in 1996, where it was reported that a secret government task force was involved in the beatings of innocent Chechen refugees for no apparent reason. They even threatened to have everyone killed on account of their Chechen origin (Amnesty International). It is crucial that governments take responsibility upon themselves not to allow this type of injustice to occur. Governments such as Canada and the United States of America have taken immense steps in order to ensure that this does not happen in their countries. In democratic countries it is even more important that the rights of minority groups are upheld. If the minority is suppressed it will eventually end up in an uprising, civil riots, or possibly a revolution (Ideologies). Therefore, although the rights of the majority are substantial the rights of the minority cannot be ignored. An equilibrium must be reached in which the rights and freedoms of both minorities and the majority are met. In order for a government to promote unity, all citizens must be content with the way the country is being handled. Thereupon, it is incisive that a government protect minority rights to the fullest extent possible in order for peace and order to maintain throughout society.

In spite of the fact that Adolf Hitler managed to create national unity by suppressing the rights of millions of Jews and various ethnic minorities, he did it at a tremendous cost. As many as 12 million innocent people lost their lives, due to Hitler’s autocratic way of governing (Global Forces). In fact many of the methods Hitler used to achieve racial cleanliness were not only inhumane, but were deranged and demented. Of course Hitler did manage to raise industrial production in Germany to unheard of heights during his reign. Regardless, the amount of terror and fear he struck into millions of people’s homes and lives is inadmissible. The lives that were lost can never be replaced. He not only disrupted the lives of his fellow Germans, but disrupted the lives of men, women, and children all around the world. Most importantly, in the process of building Germany up as one of the most elite forces in the twentieth century, Hitler disrupted millions of peoples lives and brought on a war that had casualties well over 50 million (Global Forces). Not only did Hitler’s time of power cost millions of brave men their lives, but the environmental damage, especially throughout France, was horrific and devastating.

Canada’s diversity of ethnic and racial minorities is remarkable feat. There are many different cultures in Canada, ranging from Japanese to South African. It is because of the Canadian governments long-lasting goal of creating a country that incorporates all of these great cultures, majority and minority, into one that Canada has such a rich heritage of peace, order, and good government. Some may be quick to point out that the oppression of the Japanese and the internment camps they were sent to during World War II was unjust. But one must also remember that this was done for reasons dealing with national security. The Japanese army had taken a stand against the allies and were not to be taken lightly. If there would have been Canadian immigrants in Japan at the time of the war, the Japanese wouldn’t have hesitated for a second to do the same thing. During times of crisis, it is essential that citizens of a nation rally behind and support their government no matter what choices or decisions are made, and what the consequences may be. In order for a nation to thrive in difficult times such as war, the nation as a whole must co-operate. Even if it means taking away the rights of a group of minorities until the crisis has been resolved.

Closer to home, in the land of the brave, it seems that minority crimes are all too common. According to Amnesty International, “? reports by witnesses point to yet more evidence that a disproportionate number of people shot in non-threatening or questionable circumstances in New York City are racial minorities” (Amnesty). This comes as a shock in view of the fact that the USA claims to be the land of opportunity to so many minority groups and ethnic immigrants. Furthermore, this is not the first time that a case like this has appeared in the United States. Seven years ago, in 1991, Rodney King, an African-American, was beaten down by four Los Angeles County police officers. Soon after, a majority white jury acquitted the officers from all charges, massive inner-city riots broke out. The riots left 53 dead, thousands of others injured, and a devastating 1 billion dollars in damage (CNN). One may dispute the fact that although the jury was white in majority, justice was still served and the riots were totally out of place. Yet the right to equality before the law is a preeminent right not only to majority citizens, but for minorities as well. As is the right to a fair trial, and to be innocent until proven otherwise. Many would argue that these fundamental rights were not given to Mr. King. When these basic rights are stripped from minorities, the minority eventually refuses to abide by the laws set forth by the majority (Ideologies). In special cases such as this it is up to the government to step in and resolve the issue at hand. Again, one might argue that it is not the government in power’s responsibility to get involved in such issues dealing with the judiciary branch of power. Nevertheless, when the lives of citizens of the state are at hand it is incisive that something be done. There is no price for a human life, especially that of your fellow countrymen. It is the duty of the government to maintain a certain level of peace and order throughout society.

In order to ensure fair and equal rights for all national minorities, protection of individual rights must be maintained. It is essential that governments undertake measures to promote equality and freedom and that they take steps to combat hate, prejudice, and discrimination. They must also ensure that the conditions are met to maintain and develop the distinct cultures of minority groups. Freedoms of speech, expression, religion, and thought, as well as allowing for free access to the media are essential in protecting minority rights. It is the governments responsibility to form a society in which minorities have equal access to participate in social, economic, political, and cultural happenings. It is important when deciding upon issues that are in the best interests of the country, not to dismiss the rights of national minorities. If possible, a median must be attained so that the rights of all citizens, majority and minority, are expressed and cared for. It is essential that government take a look at the whole picture before deciding on what is best for its citizens. If this is not done then there is a tendency for uproar and outrage to occur and a clash of minority and majority to transpire. This was the case in 1991 with Rodney King. If oppression of minority rights does occur and nothing is done to stop it, such as in pre-World War II Germany, the anger and hate has a tendency to build and blow up in our faces. As history as taught us, when these basic human rights are dismissed we tend to pay with our own lives, our friends lives, and our families lives. We must remember that it is not only up to the government to ensure that minority rights are upheld, but to the human race to guarantee that these rights are never forgotten. Thus, it is critical that a government protect minority rights to the fullest extent possible in order to provide a good base upon which to build and expand the state.

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