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TortureIn 1984, the United Nations introduced the Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), and 155 nations ratified and implemented the convention.1 The legislation was intended to end the use of torture as a form of punishment among its signatory countries.2 In 2017, the Landmark Agreement for Torture-Free Trade was introduced with the purpose of eliminating torture devices from international trade such as spiked batons and leg irons.3 By 2017, 106 countries had eliminated the death penalty, and four nations accounted for 84 percent of the world’s executions. Over 50 percent of all documented executions were performed in Iran, and with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan, the four nations collectively carried out 84 percent of all executions worldwide in 2017.4 In the Philippines, Morocco, Mexico and Uzbekistan torture Read More is known to be used by law enforcement to solicit confessions, according to Amnesty International.5 Show Less
Refugees and Displaced PersonsRefugees are defined as people who have crossed international lines to find sanctuary, whereas displaced persons are individuals who remain in their home country but have either fled or been forced to leave their homes. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are currently over 25 million refugees and 40 million internally displaced worldwide. In 2018, just 102,800 of refugees had been resettled, according to the UNHCR.1 Refugees and displaced persons leave their homes and countries of origin for war or armed conflict, human rights violations, natural disasters and persecution.34 The largest percentages of the world’s refugees and displaced persons exist in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.6 Fifty-seven percent of all refugees come from South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan.7 85 Read More percent of refugees end up being hosted by developing nations.8 Many refugees flee without bringing necessary belonging such as clothing, food, money or a form of identification. Conditions in refugee camps are often poor, placing emotional, physical and psychological strain on families within them.9 Hygiene and sanitation are compromised due to the large numbers of people living in small spaces, and children in the camps are often not provided an education.10 In 2018, the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh hosted one million Rohingya refugees — the largest refugee camp in the world to date.11 Show Less
Human Rights OtherHuman rights should be guaranteed to every person on the planet and yet there are still numerous countries throughout the world that are severely restricting human rights for their citizens.1 One of the most pressing human rights violations that is happening is the recruitment and usage of child soldiers in several African countries.2 There are currently three ongoing conflicts that are using child soldiers in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria.3 Although exact statistics on the number of child soldiers who are active in the countries are difficult to obtain, UNICEF has estimated the number of child soldiers active in South Sudan to be around 9,000.4 Officials in the country have observed children younger than 15 years of age Read More engaging in military training, wearing uniforms as well as carrying weapons.5 Human trafficking, both inside countries and across international borders, is a pervasive issue for many countries.6 Human trafficking includes forced labor, domestic servitude, and sexual exploitation.7 The United Nations estimates that over 2.5 million people are mired in forced labor at any given time.8 Asian countries and the Pacific have the highest concentration of forced labor victims with around 1.4 million victims.9 There are currently 161 countries that are considered to have a risk of being a transit, source, or destination country.10 Human trafficking is a human rights violation that is present and active in over 137 countries and the issue affects all economies.11 Many countries and several international human rights organizations consider the right to life the chief human right.12 The right to life, however, is denied in many countries.13 Over the past year Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Vietnam have all resumed executions.14 Although it is generally accepted that China executes more citizens per year than the entire world average, the actual number is unknown as executions are considered state secrets.15 The United States remains the only country within the Americas that still uses the death penalty.16 Despite the increases in executions in certain countries, the global community has been turning towards the abolition of state-run executions.17 1http://www.facingthefuture.org/IssuesSolutions/HumanRightsEquity/HumanRightsFastFacts/tabid/179/Default.aspx#.VC1hyildUvU 2http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2014/02/un-publishes-key-data-on-recruitment-and-use-of-child-soldiers/#.VC1iZildUvU 3-4 Ibid 5 http://www.unicef.org/media/media_73457.html 6 https://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/labour/Forced_labour/HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_-_THE_FACTS_-_final.pdf 7-11 Ibid 12 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ACT50/001/2014/en/652ac5b3-3979-43e2-b1a1-6c4919e7a518/act500012014en.pdf 13-17 Ibid Show Less
Human TraffickingThe United Nations Office on Drug and Crime defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”1 Trafficking occurs for a number of reasons, some of which are prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery and organ harvesting.2 Coercion, abduction, fraud and deception are used to recruit, transfer, house or receive victims.3 Victims include a wide range of ages and genders, including women, men and Read More children, but women constitute a significant portion of both victims and culprits — particularly because victimized women can become recruiters.4 Vulnerable populations come from all over the world, yet are typically moving from less developed nations to more developed nations.5 Children make up 28 percent of trafficking victims worldwide, yet, in Sub-Saharan Africa, they account for 62 percent of victims, and in Central America and the Caribbean, they make up 64 percent.6 Fifty percent of human trafficking victims worldwide are women, 21 percent are men, 20 percent are girls, and 8 percent are boys. Women and girls are often trafficked for marriage or sexual servitude while men and boys are often forced into exploitative, intense labor like mining or combat.7 To date, 158 nations have criminalized human trafficking, yet the rate of convictions for human trafficking offenders is low.8 Show Less
Capital PunishmentFifty three nations have the death penalty today, some of which include Iran, India, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Taiwan, Libya, Thailand, Guyana, Uganda and the United States. Twenty three nations collectively completed 993 executions in 2017, yet projections estimate that that number is higher.1 Eighty four percent of all executions were carried out in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.2 China’s execution count remains classified information, though studies estimate the nation carried out thousands.3 A minimum of 21,919 people worldwide were known to be on death row in 2017.4
Indigenous PeoplesIndigenous peoples are populations that were native to their nation or region prior to colonial settlement. Typically they form a minority in post-colonial nations, and have distinct languages, traditions and cultures. However, the definition of “indigenous” varies, and is widely disputed.1 Approximately 370 million people worldwide identify with one of 5,000 different indigenous people groups around the world.2 Together, indigenous peoples account for nearly 5 percent of the global population.3 Seventy percent of the world’s indigenous peoples live in Asia. In Bolivia and Guatemala, indigenous populations make up over 50 percent of the national population.4 Indigenous people groups speak approximately 7,000 different languages.5 Of the world’s poorest populations, indigenous groups account for 15 percent of the most impoverished people in the world,6 and have a life Read More expectancy nearly 20 years lower than that of non-indigenous peoples.7 Over a third of indigenous women report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.8 Indigenous populations in the United States are comprised primarily of Alaska Natives and American Indians.9 There are 567 federally recognized tribal entities in the U.S., totaling in approximately 6.6 million people who identify as Native American or Alaska Native.10 Show Less
Gun ViolenceThere are just over a quarter of a million deaths due to gun violence worldwide annually. Over 17 percent of these deaths occur in Brazil, 14.8 percent are in the United States, 6 percent are in Mexico and approximately 5 percent are in Colombia. This data includes both suicides and homicides. In the United States, the majority of deaths related to gun violence are suicides rather than homicides.1 In 2017, there were 38,658 gun-related deaths in the United States, 3,222 of which were teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.2 Globally, there were an estimated 7.5 violent deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, which included deaths in direct conflict zones, intentional homicides, unintentional homicides and deaths occurring in law enforcement.3 Gang violence accounts for 13 percent Read More of all homicides in the United States each year. The United States National Gang Center estimates that there are currently 30,700 gangs across the nation, a 15 percent increase over the last two decades. Approximately two thirds of these gangs are in major cities, or suburbs of major cities.4 Show Less
GenocideGenocide is violence against any specific people group, whether distinguished by race, ethnicity, nationality or religion, with the goal of eliminating people group in its entirety.1 The term “genocide” was not widely used until the United Nations declared the act an international crime in 1948, following World War II. Genocide was later used to describe a number of conflicts throughout the 20th century. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge’s regime in Cambodia killed 1.7 million people. From 1992–199, the Bosnian Genocide of the Bosnian Muslim and Croatian people in former Yugoslavia resulted in a death toll of nearly 100,000. Meanwhile, throughout the 1990s, 500,000–800,000 Tutsi people were killed by the Hutu majority in Rwanda.2 In 2000, the Darfur people in South Sudan were targeted by President Read More Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s forces, many of which now reside in refugee camps. Between 2014 and 2015, the Yazidi, Shiite and Muslim people in Iraq became the subject of mass genocide as ISIS burned villages and carried out mass killings across both Syria and Iraq. In 2017, Myanmar Tatmadaw — military forces — murdered, raped, tortured and abused the Muslim Rohingya people, leading to 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to nearby Bangladesh.3 Show Less
Sexual ViolenceThe World Health Organization classifies sexual violence as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic [an individual’s] sexuality, using coercion, threats of harm or physical force, by any person regardless of relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.”1 Thirty five percent of women around the world have experienced sexual violence or harassment.2 The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their life.3 In Nigeria, 43 percent of women are married before their 18th birthday, and in South Africa, three out of every four women have experienced a form of Read More abuse in the last year. Thirty seven percent of women in Arab states report having experienced a form of violence in their lifetime.4 Aside from death and physical injury, sexual violence can result in long-term damage to mental, emotional and reproductive health.5 Girls who were married at a young age are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse.6 One third of girls ages 15 to 19 report physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hand of their husband.7 Adolescent boys are also vulnerable to sexual abuse, but are two times less likely than young women to have been subjected to intimate partner violence. Nearly half of young women worldwide — almost 126 million — believe it is acceptable for a husband to strike his wife.8 Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also threat to young girls around the world — the WHO estimates that over 125 million women and girls have undergone FGM.9 Young women who undergo FGM face extreme pain, shock, hemorrhaging, tetanus or sepsis immediately following the operation, and face long-term consequences such as urinary tract infections, infertility, pain during intercourse, an increased risk of childbirth complications and death, and often require later surgeries.10 Show Less
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)Female genital mutilation (FGM) is any procedure causing harm, injury or alteration to female genital organs for non-medical purposes. FGM is a particular threat to young girls around the world, and the WHO estimates that over 125 million women and girls have undergone FGM.1 Young women who undergo FGM face extreme pain, shock, hemorrhaging, tetanus or sepsis immediately following the operation, and face long-term consequences such as urinary tract infections, infertility, pain during intercourse, an increased risk of childbirth complications and death, and often require later surgeries.2 The nations with the highest rates of FGM are Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Mali, Sierra Leone and Sudan — in each nation, 88 percent or more of women have been subject to FGM.3
Sex TraffickingThe sex trafficking industry produces an estimated $99 billion in revenue each year, and has been called one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world. Women and girls account for 96 percent of sex trafficking victims, and nearly 2 million children worldwide are exploited in the sex industry each year.1 An estimated 24.9 million people worldwide are in the human trafficking industry, 54 percent of which are forced into sexual exploitation.2 Those who are exploited in the industry often undergo serious physical and mental abuse. As a result, many survivors suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociation, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and infections.3 Sex trafficking is a criminal offense in 158 nations.4 In 2017, there were 7,045 convictions for human trafficking Read More worldwide,5 yet in 2016 there were 9,072 human trafficking convictions around the world.6 Despite the industry being fast-growing, and illegal in 158 countries, conviction rates for offenders remains low.7 Show Less
Freedom of the PressReporters Without Border ranks the Middle East the lowest on the World Press Freedom Index. In 2017, 13 journalists were killed, with 40 more detained, missing or imprisoned. Syria and Yemen are ranked two of the most dangerous nations in the world for journalists.1 Other nations’ journalists, even those with a high ranking on the World Press Freedom Index, are facing a climate of opposition, particularly in select European nations.2 Turkey is home to the world’s largest prison for journalists, and in 2016 the nation conducted mass trials for journalists who were suspected to be collaborators in a coup attempt. Russia ranks 148th on the index, and currently is detaining the highest number of journalists since the collapse of the Soviet Union.3 While the United Read More States and Canada have distinct constitutional provisions for the freedom of the press, journalists often face social pressures and verbal attacks, though they are physically protected by law.4 Tunisia’s press freedoms have expanded after the fall of the Arab Spring.5 China continues to place restrictions on its citizens’ access to media.6 In 2018, 80 journalists around the world were killed, 348 remain in prison and 60 are currently being held hostage. In years prior, the death toll of those in media professions had been in decline. Over half of those killed in 2018 were intentionally targeted and attacked.7 Show Less
PrisonsAt the end of 2016, 2.2 million adults were in United States prisons, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Despite this, the incarcerated population has been decreasing since 2013.1 Prison rehabilitation aims for former inmates to be rehabilitated and prepared to reenter society upon their discharge from the prison system. Prison rehabilitation programs and ministries focus on maintaining the mental, physical and social health of the inmate.23 A 2005 study performed by the Department of Justice found that 67.8 percent of prisoners released were rearrested within 3 years after being released. Three-quarters of prisoners released were reincarcerated within 5 years of being released.4 The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime enacted the Doha declaration in 2015, an initiative to adopt crime prevention and criminal rehabilitation Read More into the United Nations agenda. The initiative is focused on youth crime rate reduction, transparent justice institutions as well as humane prison and criminal justice systems.5 Overcrowding and disease are areas of major concerns in international prisons; HIV/AIDS, as well as TB, have much higher occurrence rates in prisons than that of the general population. UNAIDS reports that prisoners are five times more likely to have HIV/AIDS and 11 to 81 times more likely to contract TB than those not in prison.6 Show Less
LGBTQAccording to Gallup Research Center, 4.5 percent of Americans identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) in 2017, an increase from 4.1 percent in 2016. Just over 8 percent of all American Millennials (born 1980–1999) identified as LGBT compared to 3.5 percent of Generation X (born 1965–1979), 2.4 percent of Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) and 1.4 percent of Traditionalists (1913–1945).1
Disability RightsPersons with disabilities face discrimination and barriers that restrict them from participating in society on an equal basis with others every day. They are commonly denied their rights to be included in the general school system and the workplace, to live independently in the community, to vote, to participate in sport and cultural activities, to enjoy social protection, to access justice, to choose medical treatment and to enter freely into legal commitments such as buying and selling property.
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