Aid Efforts in Crisis Times
We have acknowledged in previous articles, that throughout the pages of history, humanity has strived to free itself of containment, and that the brave advocates of social justice who came before us always knew that it would require consistency and personal sacrifices to stand-up to the leaders of nations who prioritize self-aggrandizement over national interests, who prefer political prosecution and extrajudicial incarceration over equal rights and justice for all, and who advance policies that reflect systemic violation of human rights and international laws over democratic values and good ethical standard.
Therefore, the process of condemning corruption, speaking up against the ills of society, and taking actions to hold public officials accountable is a worthy sacrifice geared towards advancing democratic values and human rights. This sacrifice is also necessary because evidence suggests that some of the most pervasive cases of human rights abuse happen in places where silence and impunity exist.
Each crisis, with respect to its source and magnitude, presents a different extent of challenge to human rights, democracy, and international justice, but we must note that there are certain crisis, such as global warming, pandemics, and other natural disasters etc, that by far exceed the threats posed to human rights, they go as far as actually posing direct threats to modern civilization and humanity, and at this particular moment in time, such is the scenario, humanity is under current and serious threat from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus disease that has plagued the world.
And so now, more than ever before, the leaders of nations must abandon self-seeking policies and prioritize the common destiny of their people and humanity, and because the fate of humanity in a moment like this is so inextricably linked to the decisions made by leaders near and far, they must lead the way for their peoples to follow the advice of experts for social distancing, washing of hands, and staying at home for doctor’s opinion when feeling sick.
And when this pandemic is over, it is important that human rights and the values of democracy serve as the legal guidelines underpinning all humanitarian efforts, taking into consideration the cases of the most-needy people.
We know, that if recovery assistance is not based on a human rights framework, there is a good degree of certainty that the basic needs of the most affected people will not be integrated into a holistic planning process.
In pretty much all instances of a disaster relief process, it is important to remember that the opportunity to make a difference should never end when media coverage ends, instead the major phases of a relief process should be allowed to play out, including:
1) Begin immediate collection of data on the most affected people and places
2) Develop strategies for restoring order to the most affected people communities.
3) Prioritize preparedness projects in order to mitigate or minimize future fatality by investing in education, healthcare, and better infrastructures.
The steps above reflect valuable moral consciousness, good ethical standard, as well as respect for human rights and international order, the challenge though, has often been how to apply these rules in an operational context when corruption has destroyed the social fabrics of so many societies and governments.
In so many crisis-hit places (both civil crisis and natural disasters), the human rights of disaster victims are not sufficiently taken into account, the world community must immediately recognize that assistance rendered to communities must be unequally distributed based on the needs of each community.
This is what the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) envisioned when they adopted the Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters in June of 2006 to guide humanitarian actors, strategically outlining the necessary guidelines, so as to coordinate the checklists of practical operational steps required for the successful implementation of aid efforts.
Tee Wonokay / Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights Defense / [email protected]