Amnesty warns human rights face ‘most serious threat’ in decades

The prospect of a Gaza ceasefire appears dim after Israel's prime minister vowed to resist pressure.

The prospect of a Gaza ceasefire appears dim after Israel's prime minister vowed to resist pressure. Photo: AFP/Getty

Human rights worldwide are facing their most serious threats in decades, advocacy group Amnesty International says.

The organisation in its annual report highlighted the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine as well as the spread of authoritarian governments which are damaging the international order by violating international law and disregarding fundamental rights.

“Israel’s flagrant disregard for international law is compounded by the failures of its allies to stop the indescribable civilian bloodshed meted out in Gaza,” Amnesty Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said on Wednesday.

“Alongside Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, the growing number of armed conflicts, and massive human rights violations witnessed, for example, in Sudan, Ethiopia and Myanmar, the global rule-based order is at risk of decimation.”

Democracies did not escape criticism, with Callamard saying that “what we saw in 2023 confirms that many powerful states are abandoning the founding values of humanity and universality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Among other things, the report criticises the US’s use of its veto to paralyse the UN Security Council for months on a resolution for a Gaza ceasefire.

The report “also highlights the grotesque double standards of European countries such as the UK and Germany, given their well-founded protestations about war crimes by Russia and Hamas, while they simultaneously bolster the actions of Israeli and US authorities in this conflict,” Amnesty said in a press release.

The war in Ukraine was another key contributor to the decline in the global human rights situation.

Amnesty called out indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces “on populated areas and civilian energy and grain export infrastructure”.

“Both Russian and Ukrainian forces used cluster munitions despite their inherently indiscriminate nature and lasting risks for civilians,” the report reads.

“Amnesty International’s report paints a dismal picture of alarming human rights repression and prolific international rule-breaking, all in the midst of deepening global inequality, superpowers vying for supremacy and an escalating climate crisis,” Callamard said.


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