1933-1939A series of discriminatory laws pass in Germany which progressively excludepeople of Jewish ancestry from employment, education, housing, healthcare,marriages of their choice, pension entitlements, professions such as law andmedicine, and public accommodations. In addition, Germany begins murderingphysically and mentally disabled people by gas, lethal injection and forcedstarvation.The first major law to curtail the rights of Jewish citizens was the Law for theRestoration of the Professional Civil Service (the “April Law”), according to whichJewish and “politically unreliable” civil servants and employees were to beexcluded from state service.The Nuremburg Laws were in fact two laws: The Law for the Protection of GermanBlood and German Honor, prohibited marriages and extra-marital intercoursebetween “Jews ” (the name was now officially used in place of “non-Aryans ”)and “Germans ” and also the employment of “German ” females under age 45in Jewish households. The second law, The Reich Citizenship Law, stripped Jews oftheir German citizenship and introduced a new distinction between “Reichcitizens ” and “nationals.”
The Nuremberg Laws did not identify a “Jew” as someone with particular religiousbeliefs. Instead, the first amendment to the Nuremberg Laws defined anyonewho had three or four Jewish grandparents as a Jew, regardless of whether thatindividual recognized himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewishreligious community. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism or who hadnot done so for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Evenpeople with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity could bedefined as Jews.The Nuremberg Laws of 1935heralded a new wave of anti-semitic legislation that broughtabout immediate and concretesegregation: Jewish patientswere no longer admitted tomunicipal hospitals in Düsseldorf;German court judges could notcite legal commentaries oropinions written by Jewishauthors; Jewish officers wereexpelled from the army; andJewish university students werenot allowed to sit for doctoralexams.
1935-1953Joseph Stalin uses the murder of Sergei Kirov, probably ordered by Stalin himself, to launch areign of terror—the Great Purges. Kirov was a full member of the ruling Politburo, leader of theLeningrad party apparatus, and an influential member of the ruling elite. His concern for thewelfare of the workers in Leningrad and his skill as an orator had earned him considerablepopularity. Some party members had even approached him secretly with the proposal that hetake over as general secretary.It is doubtful that Kirov represented an immediate threat to Stalin’s predominance, but he diddisagree with some of Stalin’s policies, and Stalin had begun to doubt the loyalty of membersof the Leningrad apparatus. In need of a pretext for launching a broad purge, Stalin evidentlydecided that murdering Kirov would be expedient. The murder was carried out by a youngassassin named Leonid Nikolaev. Recent evidence has indicated that Stalin and the NKVDplanned the crime.Stalin then used the murder as an excuse for introducing draconian laws against political crimeand for conducting a witch-hunt for alleged conspirators against Kirov. Over the next four-and-a-half years, millions of innocent party members and others were arrested—many of them forcomplicity in the vast plot that supposedly lay behind the killing of Kirov. From the Soviet pointof view, his murder was probably the crime of the century because it paved the way for theGreat Terror. Stalin never visited Leningrad again and directed one of his most vicious post-Warpurges against the city —Russia’s historic window to the West. It is estimated that some 20million Russian citizens were killed or died in the Gulags, a vast majority for crimes they nevercommitted.
1939-1945During World War II, an estimated6 million European Jews areexterminated by Adolf Hitler’sNazi regime. Millions of civilians(gypsies, Communists, SovietPOWs, Poles, Ukrainians, peoplewith disabilities, labor unionists,“habitual” criminals, Socialists,Jehovah’s Witnesses,homosexuals, Free Masons andindigent people such as vagrantsand beggars) are forced intoconcentration camps, subjectedto “medical” experiments,starved, brutalized and/ormurdered.
1941U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British PrimeMinister Winston Churchill adopt the AtlanticCharter, a joint proclamation by the United Statesand Britain declaring that they were fighting theAxis powers to “ensure life, liberty, independenceand religious freedom and to preserve the rights ofman and justice.” The Atlantic Charter served as afoundation stone for the later establishment of theUnited Nations, setting forth several principles forthe nations of the world, including—therenunciation of all aggression, right to self-government, access to raw materials, freedomfrom want and fear, freedom of the seas, anddisarmament of aggressor nations.In his subsequent State of the Union Address,Roosevelt identifies “Four Freedoms” as essentialfor all people: freedom of speech, freedom ofreligion, freedom from want, and freedom fromfear.
1942Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signsExecutive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, which forcibly moves over 110,000Japanese Americans from the coastal regions of the western United States toisolated inland internment camps. Their detention lasts almost four years.The Order allowed the military to remove any groupfrom an area without a reason. Executive Order 9066provided the legal authority for the mass imprisonmentof Japanese-Americans. Although there were somewillful reallocations, the vast majority of people wereforced into Concentration Camps (now referred to asRelocation Camps.) Not only was this a violation of civilrights, but they were forced to sell their property (at justa fraction of it worth), and most importantly they wererobbed of their dignity.
1944Representatives from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and China meet atDumbarton Oaks to create the foundation for the United Nations. The conference had the task ofpreparing a charter for a “general international organization,” which was given the name of thewartime alliance, the United Nations (UN). In imitation of the League of Nations, the new UNwould possess a Security Council, a General Assembly, a Secretariat, and an International Courtof Justice. To avoid, however, the pitfalls of the League of Nations, the conferees concluded thatunanimous votes should not be mandatory to reach decisions in the Security Council or theGeneral Assembly; all signatories must agree in advance to act on the Security Council’s findings;contingents of the armed forces of member states must be at Security Council disposal; and thatthe creation of an Economic and Social Council was necessary. All participants agreed on theright of the permanent Security Council members to exercise the veto to prevent the UN fromtaking any action against themselves.
Part VI: From the Nuremberg Trialsto the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Human Rights Timeline
1945 The May 7, 1945 issue of Life magazine is published. It contains a special report…
1945-1949In the Nuremberg Trials, the Allied powers prosecute Nazi leaders for warcrimes and crimes against humanity. It is the first criminal trial in history toprosecute crimes committed by individuals during wartime.
1945The United Nations (UN) is established. The Charter of the UN states that one of theprimary purposes of the UN is the promotion and encouragement of “respect forhuman rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race,sex, language or religion.” Unlike the League of Nations Covenant, the UNCharter underscores the principle of individual human rights.As outlined in the charter, the two main bodies ofthe United Nations are the General Assembly,composed of all member nations, and the SecurityCouncil. The Council consists of the five victors fromWorld War II (known as “The Big Five”) as permanentmembers—China, France, the United Kingdom, theUSSR (now Russia), and the United States—and 10other countries, elected by the General Assembly,that serve two-year terms. The Security Council isthe principal UN organ responsible for ensuringpeace, and its decisions are binding on all memberstates. The five permanent members were givenindividual veto power over issues brought beforethe Council.
1946-1948The Tokyo War Crime Trials take place under the Direction of GeneralDouglas MacArthur. As in Nuremberg, Japanese leaders were tried for“crimes against peace” and military officials are tried for “conventionalwar crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”The American public largely ignored the war crimes trials in Tokyo andthroughout Asia in 1946-1948. Unlike the charismatic Nazi leadership,who were infamous throughout Europe, the Japanese leadership wasnot well known. That was due in part to the Allied propaganda, whichdid not want to criminalize the Emperor. If the Allied public saw him as acriminal, they would demand his removal, which would have prolongedthe war.The men put on trial in 1947 and 1948 were the first of 20,000 civilian andmilitary former leaders who had either killed prisoners or hadparticipated in the vague crime of instigating the war. While manywould endure prison sentences of varying lengths, 900 were executed intrials around Asia.
At the trials, numerous eyewitness accounts of the Nanking Massacre wereprovided by Chinese civilian survivors and western nationals living in Nanking atthe time. The accounts included gruesome details. Thousands of innocentcivilians were buried alive, used as targets for bayonet practice, shot in largegroups, and thrown into the Yangtze River. Rampant rapes (and gang rapes) ofwomen ranging from age seven to over seventy were reported. The internationalcommunity estimated that within the six weeks of the Massacre, 20,000 womenwere raped, many of them subsequently murdered or mutilated; and over300,000 people were killed, often with the most inhumane brutality.
1946• The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN, charged with investigating social and cultural topics, establishes the Commission of Human Rights. The commission’s initial objective was to draft an international statement defining human rights.• The Commission on the Status of Women is established by ECOSOC (where it was originally a sub-commission of the Commission on Human Rights.) • Following the Nuremberg trials, an international conference is held in Paris to establish an international criminal code. Out of this meeting, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is born: a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although it cannot currently exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression). The creation of the ICC perhaps constitutes the most significant reform of international law since 1945. It gives teeth to the two bodies of international law that deal with treatment of individuals: human rights and humanitarian law.
1946U.S. President Harry S. Truman creates the President’s Committee on Civil Rights.The committee was charged with: (1) examining the condition of civil rights in theUnited States, (2) producing a written report of their findings, and (3) submittingrecommendations on improving civil rights in the United States. In December1947, the committee produced To Secure These Rights: The Report of thePresident’s Committee on Civil Rights. In the report, it proposed to improve theexiting civil rights laws; to establish a permanent Civil Rights Commission, JointCongressional Committee on Civil Rights, and a Civil Rights Division in theDepartment of Justice; to develop federal protection from lynching; to create aFair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC); to abolish poll taxes; and urgedother measures. On July 26, 1948, President Truman advanced therecommendations of the report by signing executive which ordered thedesegregation of the federal workforce and the desegregation of the armedservices.African-American soldiers and civilians had fought a two-front battle during WorldWar II. There was the enemy overseas, and also the battle against prejudice athome. “Soldiers were fighting the worlds worst racist, Adolph Hitler, in the world’smost segregated army.” says historian and National Geographic explorer inresidence Stephen Ambrose. “The irony did not go unnoticed.”
Over 2.5 million African-American menregistered for the draft, and black women alsovolunteered in large numbers. While serving inthe Army, Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps,and Coast Guard.The Tuskegee Airmen were the first AfricanAmerican military aviators in the United Statesarmed forces. During World War II, AfricanAmericans in many U.S. states still were subjectto Jim Crow laws. The American military wasracially segregated, as was much of thefederal government. The Tuskegee Airmenwere subject to racial discrimination, bothwithin and outside the army. Despite theseadversities, they flew with distinction. They wereparticularly successful in their missions asbomber escorts in Europe.Contrary to negative predictions from somequarters, those accepted for training, far fromfailing, had resulted in some of the best pilots inthe U.S. Army Air Corps.
1947India receives independence after years of non-violent protests led by Mahatma Gandhi.Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi onOctober 2, 1869, he went to England to studylaw when he was 19 and returned to India in1891. Two years later, he left again, this timefor South Africa, where he was to stay for 20years. He was the country’s first “colored”lawyer to be admitted to the bar. Deeplytroubled by the country’s racism towardsIndians, he founded the Natal IndianCongress to agitate for Indian rights in 1894.There he also developed his politics ofpeaceful protests. In 1906, he announced hewould go to jail or even die before obeyingan anti-Asian law. Thousands of Indians joinedhim in this civil disobedience campaign, andhe was twice imprisoned.
He returned to India in 1914, and began campaigning for home rule and thereconciliation of all classes and religious groups. In 1919 he became a leader inthe newly-formed Indian National Congress party. The following year Gandhilaunched a campaign of non-cooperation with the British authorities, urgingIndians to boycott British courts and government, and spin their own fabrics toreplace British goods. This led to his imprisonment from 1922-1924.By 1930 M.K. Gandhi had a mass following. To protest against the British saltmonopoly and the salt tax, he led thousands of Indians on a 200 mile (320km)march to the Indian ocean to make their own salt. Again, he was jailed. Gandhihad become convinced that India could never be truly free as long as itremained part of the British Empire. At the beginning of the Second World Warhe demanded independence as India’s price for helping Britain during the war.India finally won independence in 1947, but for Mahatma Gandhi, triumph wastempered with disappointment over the violent partitioning of the country intoIndia and Pakistan. Violent riots broke out over partition. Nearly one millionpeople died in the riots that ensued between Hindus and Muslims.His efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims eventuallybrought him death. He was assassinated by a fellow Hindu who felt that Gandhihad betrayed the Hindu cause.
1948• The ILO passes the Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. There can be neither social dialogue nor progress toward social justice without freedom of association. Freedom of association gives workers a voice with which to express their aspirations, strengthens their position in collective bargaining and enables them to participate in the framing and implementing of economic and social policy. It is furthermore a prerequisite for cooperation on equal footing between workers, employers and government.• The Organization of American States adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man.• The UN adopts the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, confirming that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.• The UN General Assembly adopts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the primary international articulation of the fundamental and inalienable rights of all human beings and the first comprehensive agreement among nations with regards to the specific rights and freedom of all human beings.
Part VII: From the Beginning of Apartheid to Martin Luther King, Jr.Winning the Nobel Peace Prize Human Rights Timeline
1948The government of South Africa begins enacting more rigorous andauthoritarian segregation laws that cement the ideology ofapartheid into law. The laws detail how and where the coloredpopulation lives and works, strip the colored population of theirability to vote, and got to great length to maintain white racialpurity.In basic principles, apartheiddid not differ that much fromthe policy of segregation ofthe South Africangovernments existing beforethe Afrikaner Nationalist Partycame to power in 1948. Themain difference is thatapartheid made segregationpart of the law.
1949The Australian Parliament passes the Social Services ConsolidationAct, which provides a number of federal benefits to Aboriginalnatives of Australia who meet qualifications that were largely inaccord with Parliaments assimilationist policy towards the AboriginalpeopleThe ILO adopts the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.The Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of InternationalConventions for the Protection of Victims of War (GenevaConvention) approves standards for more humane treatment forprisoners of war, the wounded and civilians.The Statute of the Council of Europe asserts that human rights andfundamental freedoms are the basis of the emerging Europeansystem.
1950-1954US Senator Joseph McCarthy launches his anti-Communist campaign,charging, but not substantiating, treachery among top ranks of the U.S.Government.
1950The Office of the United Nations High Commission of Refugees isestablished by the United Nations General Assembly. The agencyis mandated to lead and coordinate international action toprotect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Theagency is to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seekasylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option toreturn home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a thirdcountry.The UN adopts the European Convention on Human Rights andthe Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons andExploitation or Prostitution of Others.The Mattachine Society organizes in Los Angeles to fightdiscrimination against gays in housing, employment andassembly, and to lobby for the enactment of a bill of rights forgays.
In 1948, as Senator Joseph McCarthy railed against homosexuals in the StateDepartment, Harry Hay, an English communist who had emigrated to the UnitedStates, working on the Henry Wallace presidential campaign, wrote a startlingdocument, declaring homosexuals an oppressed minority. While the idea iswidely accepted today, at the time the notion of homosexuals as a minority wasconsidered absurd. But it was this key concept that would eventually bring thegay and lesbian rights movement together.Mattachine Society meetings often took place in secret with members usingaliases. Like the Communist Party, the organization was organized in a cellstructure that was non-centralized so that should a confiscation of records occuronly limited information would be available to the authorities. Given the risk thathomosexuals presented the to Communist Party, Hay resigned from the Party in1951.The Mattachine Society grew into a national movement, and in conjunction witha lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, became the above ground civilrights organizations for gays and lesbians until the Stonewall riot in 1969.
1951The UN adopts the Convention on theStatus of Refugees, the first trulyinternational agreement covering themost fundamental aspects of a refugee’slife. It spelled out a set of basic humanrights which should be at least equivalentto freedoms enjoyed by foreign nationalsliving legally in a given country and inmany cases those of citizens of that state.It recognized the international scope ofrefugee crises and the necessity ofinternational cooperation, includingburden sharing among states, in tacklingthe problem. A key provision stipulates that refugees should not be returned to a countryIt defines what the term ‘refugee’ means. where they fear persecution. It alsoIt outlines a refugee’s rights including such spells out people or groups of peoplethings as freedom of religion and who are not covered by themovement, the right to work, education Convention.and accessibility to travel documents, butit also underscores a refugee’s obligationsto a host government.
Who is a refugee?Article 1 of the Convention defines a refugee as “A person who isoutside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion,nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion;and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of thatcountry, or to return there, for fear of persecution.”
1952The U.S. Congress passes the Immigration and Nationality Act (alsoknown as the McCarran-Walter Act), which ends the last racial andethnic barriers to naturalization of aliens living in the United States, butreduces the ethnic quotas for immigrants to the United States fromeastern and southeastern Europe.The INA defined three types of immigrants: 1. immigrants with specialskills or relatives of U.S. citizens who were exempt from quotas and whowere to be admitted without restrictions; 2. average immigrants whosenumbers were not supposed to exceed 270,000 per year; 3. refugees.The Act allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalizedcitizens engaged in subversive activities and also allowed the barring ofsuspected subversives from entering the country. It was used over theyears to bar members and former members and “fellow travelers” of theCommunist Party from entry into the United States, even those who hadnot been associated with the party for decades.
The UN adopts the Convention on the Political Rights of Women.Desiring to implement the principle of equality of rights for men and womencontained in the Charter of the United Nations, recognizing that everyone hasthe right to take part in the government of his country, directly or indirectlythrough freely chosen representatives, and has the right to equal access topublic service in his country, and desiring to equalize the status of men andwomen in the enjoyment and exercise of political rights, in accordance with theprovisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights, having resolved to conclude a Convention for this purpose,hereby agree as hereinafter provided:Article I: Women shall be entitled to vote in all elections on equal terms with menwithout any discrimination.Article II: Women shall be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies,established by national law, on equal terms with men, without anydiscrimination.Article III: Women shall be entitled to hold public office and to exercise all publicfunctions, established by national law, on equal terms with men, without anydiscrimination.
1953The Council of Europe creates the European Commission on HumanRights and the Court of Human Rights, the highest court of the EuropeanUnion, located in Strasbourg, France.
1954The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown vs. Board of Education that racialsegregation in public school is unconstitutional.The 1957 integration events at Central High School in Little Rock,Arkansas, are some of the most well known of the Civil Rights era.Following the 1954 Brown vs. Board decision, the Little Rock School Boardagreed to proceed with desegregation of local schools, beginning withCentral High School. In September 1957, Arkansas Governor OrvalFaubus called in the Arkansas National Guard; ostensibly to maintainpeace and order. After the Arkansas Guardsmen prevented blackstudents from entering the school, President Eisenhower got involved,sending 1000 members of the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock. NineAfrican-American students attended Central High School that year,including Minnijean Brown, who was famously suspended after dumpinga bowl of chili on the heads of white bullies. Ernest Green became thefirst black student to graduate from Central High School in 1958. LittleRock schools were not fully integrated across grade levels until 1972.
1955The Daughters of Bilitis is founded in San Francisco asan organization to work for the acceptance oflesbians as respectable citizens of society.The U.S. adopts the Standard Minimum Rules for theTreatment of Prisoners. Although not legally binding,the Standards provide guidelines for international anddomestic law as regards persons held in prisons andother forms of custody. They set out what is generallyaccepted as being good principle and practice inthe treatment of prisoners and the management ofpenal institutions.
1957-1958Great Britain decriminalizes homosexual behavior between twoconsenting adults but bans gays in the military.The UN adopts the Convention on Nationality of Married Women.The ILO adopts the Convention Concerning Abolition of ForcedLabour.The ILO adopts the Convention Concerning Indigenous and TribalPopulations.The ILO adopts the Convention Concerning Discrimination inEmployment and Occupation.
1960The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is established as anadvisory body to the Organization of American States. The IACHR hasthe principal function of promoting the observance and the defense ofhuman rights. All 35 independent states of the Americas, includingCanada and the United States, are members of the OAS.The Convention Against Discrimination in Education is adopted by theUN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The term“discrimination” includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation orpreference which, being based on race, color, sex, language, religion,political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition orbirth, has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality ortreatment in education.Following an anti-apartheid protest challenging a law dictating wherecolored people can go, at which 69 protestors are killed by police, theSouth African government bans the African National Congress (ANC)and other opposition groups.
1961Peter Benenson, an English labor lawyer, founds Amnesty International, aglobal movement of 2.8 million supporters, members and activists in more than150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of humanrights.Amnesty’s vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rightsstandards. The organization is independent of any government, politicalideology, economic interest or religion and is funded mainly by membershipand public donations.Amnesty International primarily targets governments, but also reports on non-governmental bodies and private individuals (“non-state actors”)There are six key areas which Amnesty deals with: • Women’s, Children’s, Minorities’ and Indigenous rights • Ending Torture • Abolition of the death penalty • Rights of Refugees • Rights of Prisoners of Conscience • Protection of Human dignity
From right to left:1 - East Berlin2 - Border area3 - Backland Wall4 - Signal fence5 - Different kindof barriers6 - Watch towers7 - Lightingsystem8 - Column track9 - Control track10 - Anti-vehicletrenches11 - Last Wall,known as the“Wall”12 – Border13 - West Berlin
The Berlin Wall goes up. The Wall was the physical division between WestBerlin and East Germany. However, it was also the symbolic boundarybetween democracy and Communism during the Cold War.Just past midnight on the night of August 12-13, 1961, trucks with soldiersand construction workers rumbled through East Berlin. While most Berlinerswere sleeping, these crews began tearing up streets that entered intoWest Berlin, dug holes to put up concrete posts, and strung barbed wire allacross the border between East and West Berlin. Telephone wires betweenEast and West Berlin were also cut.Berliners were shocked when they woke up that morning. What had oncebeen a very fluid border was now rigid. No longer could East Berliners crossthe border for operas, plays, soccer games, etc. No longer could theapproximately 60,000 commuters head to West Berlin for well-paying jobs.No longer could families, friends, and lovers cross the border to meet theirloved ones. Whichever side of the border one went to sleep on during thenight of August 12, they were stuck on that side for decades.The Berlin Wall stretched over a hundred miles. It ran not only through thecenter of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, entirely cutting WestBerlin off from the rest of East Germany.
1962Voting rights, though not compulsory, are extended to all Aborigines and TorresStrait Islanders by the Australian Parliament. (In 1984 the electoral law is changedto remove any distinctions between indigenous peoples and other citizens.)
1963The great civil rights march onWashington, DC takes place. TheMarch on Washington for Jobs andFreedom, was organized by agroup of civil rights, labor, andreligious organizations. At theLincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin LutherKing delivered his immortal “I havea Dream” speech. The march,which attracted an estimated300,000, is widely credited withhelping to pass the Civil Rights Act(1964) and the Voting Rights Act(1965).Media attention gave the marchnational exposure, carrying theorganizers’ speeches and offeringtheir own commentary.
1964The U.S. Congress passes and President Lyndon B. Johnson signs theOmnibus Civil Rights Bill, banning discrimination in voting, jobs, publicaccommodation, and other activities.Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize, at 35, the youngestperson ever to be awarded the prize. He was assassinated 4 years later.
Part VIII: From Nelson MandelasImprisonment to the Fall of the Berlin Wall Human Rights Timeline
1964Nelson Mandela and seven other leaders of the African National Congress(ANC) are convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison by the SouthAfrican government for protesting the apartheid policies in South Africa.During his years inprison, NelsonMandela’s reputationgrew steadily. He waswidely accepted as themost significant blackleader in South Africaand became a potentsymbol of resistance asthe anti-apartheidmovement gatheredstrength. Heconsistently refused tocompromise his politicalposition to obtain hisfreedom.
The ANC, the oldest black (now multiracial) political organization in South Africa,was formed in 1912 in response to the creation of the South African Union whichentrenched white minority rule. The ANC, with its middle-class, professionalleadership and commitment to liberal principles, multiracialism, and non-violence, had little impact at home or abroad until it expanded its base andbroadened its appeal in the 1940s.Prominent in its opposition to apartheid, the organization began as a nonviolentcivil-rights group. In the 1940s and 50s it joined with other groups with theformation of a Congress Alliance, including the Indian Congress, the ColouredPeople’s Congress, and the white Congress of Democrats, influenced by therecently banned Communist Party. In 1955 the ANC adopted the FreedomCharter which reaffirmed its commitment to an inclusive form of nationalism,proclaiming ‘that South Africa belongs to all who live in it’.The ANC was banned in 1960 and the following year initiated guerrilla attacks. In1964 its leader, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life in prison, and theleadership was forced into exile. Although outlawed, the ANC became thepopularly acknowledged vehicle of mass resistance to apartheid in the late1970s and the 1980s; the training of ANC guerrillas continued in neighboringcountries. Following the end of the ban on the ANC and the release of Mandelain 1990, many of its leaders returned from exile, and the ANC negotiated with thegovernment for black enfranchisement and an end to apartheid.
1965The U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Immigration Act of 1965,eliminating the ethnic quotas established under the McCarran-WalterAct of 1952. By equalizing immigration policies, the act resulted in newimmigration from non-European nations which changed the ethnicmake-up of the United States. Immigration doubled between 1965 and1970, and doubled again between 1970 and 1990. The most dramaticeffect was to shift immigration from Europe to Asia and Central andSouth America.A Boston Globe article attributed Barack Obama’s win in the 2008 U.S.Presidential election to a marked reduction over the precedingdecades in the percentage of whites in the American electorate,attributing this demographic change to the Act. The article quotedSimon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New DemocratNetwork, as having said that the Act is “the most important piece oflegislation that no one’s ever heard of,” and that it “set America on avery different demographic course than the previous 300 years.”
1966-1976Mao Zedong begins a “purification” of leftist ideas known as the CulturalRevolution in China, resulting in a decade of internal unrest and violenceas thousands of Chinese citizens are killed by their own government.Mao believed that the progress China had made since 1949 had lead toa privileged class developing—engineers, scientists, factory managersetc. Mao also believed that these people were acquiring too muchpower at his expense. Mao was concerned that a new class ofmandarins was emerging in China who had no idea about the lifestyleof the normal person in China.Red Guards (groups of youths who banded themselves together)encouraged all the youth in China to criticize those who Mao deemeduntrustworthy with regards to the direction he wanted China to take. No-one was safe from criticism: writers, economists and anyone associatedwith the man Mao considered his main rival—Liu Shao-chi. Anyone whowas deemed to have developed a superior attitude was considered anenemy of the party and people.
Mao deliberately set out to create a cult for himself and to purge theChinese Communist Party of anyone who did not fully support Mao.His main selling point was a desire to create a China which hadpeasants, workers and educated people working together—no-onewas better than anyone else and all working for the good of China—a classless society.However, the enthusiasm of the Red Guards nearly pushed China intosocial turmoil. Schools and colleges were closed and the economystarted to suffer. Groups of Red Guards fought Red Guards as eachseparate unit believed that it knew best how China should proceed.In some areas the activities of the Red Guard got out of hand. Theyturned their anger on foreigners and foreign embassies got attacked.The British Embassy was burned down completely.Along with Mao’s Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution isblamed for costing millions of lives, causing severe famine anddamage to the culture, society and economy of China. Mao’spolicies and political purges from 1949 to 1976 are widely believed tohave caused the deaths of between 40 to 70 million people.
1966The UN adopts and opens for signature the InternationalCovenant on Civil and Political Rights and the InternationalCovenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Togetherthese documents further developed the rights outlined in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights.The UN sets of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenanton Civil and Political Rights, allowing individuals to chargeviolations of human rights. It commits its parties to respect the civiland political rights of individuals, including the right to life,freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly,electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.
1968The UN adopts the Convention on Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to WarCrimes and Crimes Against Humanity. The Convention requires that thecontracting states undertake to adopt any and all measures as are necessary tosecure that statutory limitation shall not apply to the imposition of or enforcementof sentences for: (1) crimes against humanity, as specified in the 1948 UNConvention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide; (2) warcrimes, as specified in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, or any comparableviolations of the laws of war and/or customs of war existing at the time of theConvention’s entry into force (in 2003); and (3) any other crimes of a comparablenature that the contracting states believe may be established as such in futureinternational law. The Convention stipulates that crimes for which statutorylimitation does not apply should be of a particularly grave character, by virtue ofeither their factual elements and premeditated nature or the extent of theirforeseeable consequences (Article 1). The Convention applies to crimescommitted by a state after the document’s entry into force in that state, as wellas to crimes committed before its entry into force, provided that the statutoryperiods of limitation from that time are not yet expired (Article 2).
The first World Conference on Human Rights is held in Tehran.The United Nations convened member states to evaluate thefailures and successes of human rights promotion since theadoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and towork toward the elimination of racial discrimination andapartheid.René Cassin wins the Nobel Peace Prize. A French jurist,humanitarian, and internationalist, Cassin spent his lifedefending the rights of men, women, and children and was aprinciple drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.The US Congress passes the Architectural Barriers Act, requiringthat all facilities supported with federal funding be designed insuch a way as to be fully accessible to individuals withdisabilities.
“La guerra sucia,” or the dirty war, refers to an internal war between the MexicanPRI-ruled government and left-wing student and guerrilla groups in the 1960s and1970s, largely under the presidencies of Luis Echeverría and José López Portillo.The war was characterized by a backlash against the active student movementof the late 1960s which terminated in the Tlatelolco massacre at a 1968 studentrally in Mexico City—a government massacre of student and civilian protestersand bystanders. The violence occurred 10 days before 1968 Summer Olympicscelebrations in Mexico City.While at the time, government propaganda and the mainstream media inMexico claimed that government forces had been provoked by protestersshooting at them, government documents that have been made public since2000 suggest that the snipers had in fact been employed by the government.Although estimates of the death toll range from thirty to a thousand, witheyewitnesses reporting hundreds of dead, Kate Doyle, director of the MexicanDocumentation Project for the US National Security Archive, was only able to findevidence for the death of 44 people.President Fox appointed Ignacio Carrillo Prieto in 2002 to prosecute thoseresponsible for ordering the massacre. In 2006, former President Luis Echeverriawas arrested on charges of genocide. However, in March 2009, after aconvoluted appeal process, the genocide charges against Echeverria weredismissed.
1969The Stonewall Riots in New York City begin a movement for gay rights StonewallInn(site of Stonewall Riots). The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous,violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morninghours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Villageneighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance inAmerican history when people in the homosexual community fought backagainst a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, andthey have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rightsmovement in the United States and around the world. American gays andlesbians in the 1950s and 1960s faced a legal system more anti-homosexual thanthose of some Warsaw Pact countries.Within two years of the Stonewall riots there were gay rights groups in every majorAmerican city, as well as Canada, Australia, and Western Europe.Homosexuality is decriminalized in Canada.A Committee for Homosexuality is formed in the UK.The Campaign Against Moral Persecution in founded in Sydney, Australia.
1971Woman in Switzerland are given the right to vote.
1972-1973Title IX is passed, guaranteeing that “No person in the UnitedStates shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participationin, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discriminationunder any program or activity receiving Federal financialassistance.”The Equal Rights Amendment passes both the House ofRepresentatives and the Senate but not enough states ratify itbefore the seven year deadline for ratification expires.The UN adopts the International Convention on the Suppressionand Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. It defined the crime ofapartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose ofestablishing and maintaining domination by one racial group ofpersons over any other racial group of persons and systematicallyoppressing them.”
The historic Roe v. Wade case is decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court.Along with Doe v. Bolton, this decision legalized abortion in the first trimester ofpregnancy. The decision, written by Justice Harry Blackmun and based on theresidual right of privacy, struck down dozens of state antiabortion statutes. Thedecision was based on two cases, that of an unmarried woman from Texas,where abortion was illegal unless the mother’s life was at risk, and that of a poor,married mother of three from Georgia, where state law required permission foran abortion from a panel of doctors and hospital officials. While establishing theright to an abortion, this decision gave states the right to intervene in the secondand third trimesters of pregnancy to protect the woman and the “potential” lifeof the unborn child.Denounced by the National Council ofBishops, the decision gave rise to a vocalantiabortion movement that put pressure onthe courts and created an anti-Roe litmustest for the judicial appointments of theReagan and Bush administrations (1981–93).In a 1989 case, Webster v. ReproductiveHealth Services, the court, while not strikingdown Roe, limited its scope, permitting statesgreater latitude in regulating and restrictingabortions. Then in 1992, in PlannedParenthood v. Casey, the court reaffirmedthe abortion rights granted in Roe v. Wade,while permitting further restrictions
On September 11, a bloody military coup overthrows Chilean President Salvador Allende and ajunta, led by General Augusto Pinochet, takes power. Pinochet quickly dissolves the Congress,suspends the constitution, criminalizes opposition political parties, and places strict limits on themedia. During his 17-year dictatorship, Pinochet presides over the repression, torture,disappearance, and death of thousands of Chilean citizens who opposed his rule.Although the Chilean panel’s report is not yet widely available, its publication is bound to havea cathartic impact on a sophisticated society in which many members of the elite refused tobelieve that the authorities could perpetrate such horrors.The report, based on nine months of testimony and research, describes several stages ofrepression. In the weeks after the military seized power in a coup Sept. 11, 1973, thousands ofChileans sympathetic to the socialist government were detained. Many were tortured, andseveral hundred were tried and executed by military war tribunals.A woman described the corpse of her son, the manager of a state cement plant, who turnedhimself in after the coup and died in custody five weeks later: “He was missing one eye, his nosewas torn off, one ear was separated and hanging, there were marks of deep burns on his neckand face, his mouth was very swollen.”In the next stage, the army’s secret police squads waged a “systematic campaign toexterminate” leftist dissidents from 1974 to 1977, the report states. Inside clandestine prisons,people were tortured with electric shocks, choking, confinement and even animal rape. Therewere 957 victims who never reappeared and are presumed dead.
1975The Khmer Rouge take Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. As the leader ofthe Communist Party, Saloth Sar was the designated leader of the newregime. He took the name “brother number one” and declared his nomde guerre Pol Pot.Immediately after the fall of Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge began toimplement their concept of Year Zero and ordered the completeevacuation of Phnom Penh and all other recently captured major townsand cities. Those leaving were told that the evacuation was due to thethreat of severe American bombing and it would last for no more than afew days.Property became collective, and education was dispensed atcommunal schools. Children were raised on a communal basis. Evenmeals were prepared and eaten communally. Pol Pot’s regime wasextremely paranoid. Political dissent and opposition were not permitted.People were treated as opponents based on their appearance orbackground. Torture was widespread. In some instances, throats were slitas prisoners were tied to metal bed frames.
Thousands of politicians and bureaucrats accused of association with previousgovernments were executed. Phnom Penh was turned into a ghost city, whilepeople in the countryside were dying of starvation or illnesses or simply killed.US officials had predicted that more than one million people would be killed bythe Khmer Rouge if they took power, and President Gerald Ford had warned of“an unbelievable horror story.” Different estimates as to the number killed by theKhmer Rouge regime vary from 750,000 to over three million.Pol Pot aligned the country politically with the Peoples Republic of China andadopted an anti-Soviet line. This alignment was more political and practicalthan ideological. Vietnam was aligned with the Soviet Union so Cambodiaaligned with the rival of the Soviet Union and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Chinahad been supplying the Khmer Rouge with weapons for years before they tookpower.In December 1976, Pol Pot issued directives to the senior leadership to theeffect that Vietnam was now an enemy.After the Khmer Rouge were driven from power by the Vietnamese in 1979, theUnited States and other powers refused to allow the Vietnamese-backedCambodian government to take the seat of Cambodia at the United Nations.The seat, by default, remained in the hands of the Khmer Rouge.
What is a genocide?Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of theCrime of Genocide defines genocide as any of the following actscommitted with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical,racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.Article 3 defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention: (a) Genocide; (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) Attempt to commit genocide; (e) Complicity in genocide.
The Final Act of the Conference on Security and and Cooperationin Europe affirms the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, andCultural Rights. The conference establishes an on-going forum forEast-West communication on human rights and humanitarianissues. This framework for international communication inspiresthe creation of many non-governmental organizations (NGOs)and citizens” groups that will help monitor human rights anddemand compliance with standards set by the UN and itsmember states.Cold War détente between the United States and the SovietUnion originated in the 1960s. President Richard Nixon’s openingto China and the signing of the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty(SALT) between the superpowers in 1972 were landmark events ineasing tensions between the West and the communist world.Chancellor Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and the Conference ofSecurity and Cooperation in Europe pursued better East-Westrelations in Europe.
Neutrals like Austria playedan important role in thesenegotiations. The HelsinkiFinal Act signed on August1, 1975 by 35 nationsrepresented theculmination of détente inEurope. The signatories forthe first time accepted thattreatment of citizens withintheir borders as a matter oflegitimate internationalconcern. This helpedhuman rights in the Sovietsphere of influence andspawned dissidentorganizations like Charta 77in Prague.
Andrei D. Sakharov receives the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 for hiswork for nuclear disarmament and his outspoken criticism of humanrights violations everywhere. Sakharov was one of the Soviet Unionsleading physicists and is regarded in scientific circles as the “father ofthe Soviet atomic bomb.” He also became Soviet Russias mostprominent political dissident.In the late 1950s Sakharov sent many letters to Soviet leaders urgingthem to stop nuclear testing. He also published several articles inSoviet journals arguing against continued nuclear testing and thearms race. His views apparently carried weight with Premier NikitaKhrushchev (1894–1971) and others, and influenced the Sovietdecision to sign the first nuclear test ban treaty in 1963.In 1966 and 1967 Sakharov openly pressed for civil liberties. Hebecame more militant following the Soviet invasion ofCzechoslovakia in 1968. He was for many, inside the Soviet Union andout, a noble symbol of courage, intelligence, and humanity. Part ofhis obituary said, “Everything [he] did was dictated by hisconscience.”
The UN adopts the Declaration on Rights of Disabled Persons. Thisdeclaration adopted by the UN General Assembly is the first internationaldocument that tried to define the term “disability.” The Declarationincludes a number of social and economic rights as well as civil andpolitical rights.Persons with disabilities are entitled to exercise their civil, political, social,economic and cultural rights on an equal basis with others. Disability“summarizes a great number of different functional limitations occurring inany population in any country of the world. People may be disabled byphysical, intellectual or sensory impairment, medical conditions or mentalillness. Such impairments, conditions or illnesses may be permanent ortransitory in nature.”The UN estimates that there are 500 million persons with disabilities in theworld today. This number is increasing every year due to factors such aswar and destruction, unhealthy living conditions, or the absence ofknowledge about disability, its causes, prevention and treatment.Portugal becomes the last major power to relinquish its substantial colonialholdings in Africa. Many colonies, including Angola, Sao Tome, CapeVerde and Mozambique were finally freed of colonial rule. However,Portugal’s abrupt departure left a power vacuum, which resulted in greatupheaval and poverty in these places.
1977A human rights bureau is created within the U.S. Department of State. Its first reportson human rights are issued this year. “The United States understands that theexistence of human rights helps secure the peace, deter aggression, promote therule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and preventhumanitarian crises.”Amnesty International wins the Nobel Peace Prize.US President Jimmy Carter begins to institutionalize human rights agendas intoAmerican foreign policy. Throughout his career, Carter strongly emphasized humanrights. His approach was coldly received by the Soviet Union and some othernations. In the Middle East, through the Camp David agreement of 1978, he helpedbring amity between Egypt and Israel. He succeeded in obtaining ratification of thePanama Canal treaties. Building upon the work of predecessors, he established fulldiplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and completednegotiation of the SALT II nuclear limitation treaty with the Soviet Union.After leaving office, he founded The Carter Center, which is committed to to humanrights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolveconflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.
1978Helsinki Watch was founded to monitor and promote the human rights provisionsof the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Those accords focused primarily on the security andeconomic dimensions of East–West Cold War relations, confirming, among otherthings, the Soviet Union’s post–World War II borders. But the agreements alsomade economic and security cooperation dependent on the human rightspractices of signatory countries. Activists throughout the Eastern bloc seized onthese provisions to demand greater political freedoms, and established localcommittees to fight for government compliance. The groups were harshlyrepressed by incumbent Communist regimes. The first arrests of human rightsmonitors were carried out by Soviet authorities in early 1977. Helsinki Watch wasorganized to campaign. Helsinki Watch merged into Human Right Watch in 1988.The Camp David Peace Accords help pave the way for more negotiationsbetween Egypt and Israel and is one of the first steps toward peace between theIsraelis and Palestinians. Signed at the White House by Egyptian President AnwarEl Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by USPresident Jimmy Carter, the Accords resulted in Sadat and Begin sharing the 1978Nobel Peace Prize.
1979The UN adopts the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. CEDAW is oftendescribed as an international bill of rights for women. It defines discrimination againstwomen as “...any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex whichhas the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment orexercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of menand women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic,social, cultural, civil or any other field.”The Convention provides the basis for realizing equality between women and menthrough ensuring womens equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political andpublic life—including the right to vote and to stand for election—as well as education,health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures,including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy alltheir human rights and fundamental freedoms.The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights ofwomen and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles andfamily relations. It affirms womens rights to acquire, change or retain their nationalityand the nationality of their children. States parties also agree to take appropriatemeasures against all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of women.
1980The US Supreme Court orders the federal government to pay some $120million dollars to eight tribes of Sioux Indians in reparation for AmericanIndian land that the government seized illegally in 1877.
1981The UN adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of AllForms of Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief afternearly 20 years of draftingThe International Labor Organization adopts theConvention Concerning the Promotion of CollectiveBargaining. Collective bargaining is a process ofvoluntary negotiation between employers and tradeunions aimed at reaching agreements which regulateworking conditions. Collective agreements usually setout wage scales, working hours, training, health andsafety, overtime, grievance, mechanisms and rights toparticipate in workplace or company affairs.
1982The UN adopts the Principles of Medical Ethics.Principle 1: Health personnel, particularly physicians, charged with themedical care of prisoners and detainees have a duty to provide themwith protection of their physical and mental health and treatment ofdisease of the same quality and standard as is afforded to those whoare not imprisoned or detained.Principle 2: It is a gross contravention of medical ethics, as well as anoffence under applicable international instruments, for health personnel,particularly physicians, to engage, actively or passively, in acts whichconstitute participation in, complicity in, incitement to or attempts tocommit torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment orpunishment.Principle 3: It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,particularly physicians, to be involved in any professional relationshipwith prisoners or detainees the purpose of which is not solely to evaluate,protect or improve their physical and mental health.
Principle 4: It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,particularly physicians: (a) To apply their knowledge and skills in order toassist in the interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that mayadversely affect the physical or mental health or condition of suchprisoners or detainees and which is not in accordance with the relevantinternational instruments; and (b) To certify, or to participate in thecertification of, the fitness of prisoners or detainees for any form oftreatment or punishment that may adversely affect their physical ormental health and which is not in accordance with the relevantinternational instruments, or to participate in any way in the infliction ofany such treatment or punishment which is not in accordance with therelevant international instruments.Principle 5: It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,particularly physicians, to participate in any procedure for restraining aprisoner or detainee unless such a procedure is determined inaccordance with purely medical criteria as being necessary for theprotection of the physical or mental health or the safety of the prisoner ordetainee himself, of his fellow prisoners or detainees, or of his guardians,and presents no hazard to his physical or mental health.Principle 6: There may be no derogation from the foregoing principles onany ground whatsoever, including public emergency
1984The UN adopts the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel,Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.Archbishop Desmond Tutu wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Tutu is a world-renowned preacher and strident voice against apartheid, first BlackSecretary General of the South African Council of Churches, first BlackArchbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa, Archbishop Emeritusof Cape Town, and chair of the South African Truth and ReconciliationCommission. The award recognised his unifying role in the fight againstapartheid.There is no peace in Southern Africa. There is no peace because there isno justice. There can be no real peace and security until there be firstjustice enjoyed by all the inhabitants of that beautiful land. The Bibleknows nothing about peace without justice, for that would be crying,“Peace, peace, where there is no peace.” God’s shalom peace,involves inevitably righteousness, justice, wholeness, fullness of life,participation in decision making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion,sharing and reconciliation.
1985The U.S. Senate votes to impose economic sanctions on SouthAfrica in protest against the governments apartheid policy.The UN adopts the International Convention against Apartheid inSports. Under the Convention, States parties strongly condemnapartheid and undertake to pursue immediately the eliminationof apartheid in all its forms from sports. They commit themselvesnot to permit their sports bodies, teams and individual sportsmento have contact with a country practicing apartheid. Regardingappropriate action against those participating in sports activitiesin a country practicing apartheid or with teams representingsuch a country, States parties agree to: refuse to providefinancial assistance; restrict access to national sports facilities;void sports contracts; and withdraw national honors or awards.They also are to deny visas to sports persons representing acountry practicing apartheid and expel such countries frominternational and regional sports bodies.
1989In Tiananmen Square, Chinese authorities massacre student demonstratorsstruggling for democracy. According to an analysis by Nicholas D. Kristof of TheNew York Times, “The true number of deaths will probably never be known, and itis possible that thousands of people were killed without leaving evidence behind.But based on the evidence that is now available, it seems plausible that about 50soldiers and policemen were killed, along with 400 to 800 civilians.” Globe andMail correspondent Jan Wong placed the death toll at approximately 3,000,based on initial reports by the Red Cross and analysis on the crowd size, density,and the volume of firing.Following the conflict, the government conducted widespread arrests ofprotesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China,banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of theevents in the PRC press. Members of the Party who had publicly sympathized withthe protesters were purged, with several high-ranking members placed underhouse arrest, such as General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. There was widespreadinternational condemnation of the PRC government’s use of force against theprotesters. Chinese authorities summarily tried and executed many of the workersthey arrested in Beijing. In contrast, the students—many of whom came fromrelatively affluent backgrounds and were well-connected—received much lightersentences.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Spiritual and temporalleader of the Tibetan people, since his first visit to the west in the early 1970s,His Holiness’ reputation as a scholar and man of peace has grown steadily. Anumber of western universities and institutions have conferred Peace Awardsand honorary Doctorate Degrees upon His Holiness in recognition of hisdistinguished writings in Buddhist philosophy and of his distinguishedleadership in the service of freedom and peace.Today the world is smaller and moreinterdependent. One nation’s problems canno longer be solved by itself completely.Thus, without a sense of universalresponsibility, our very survival becomesthreatened. Basically, universal responsibilityis feeling for other peoples suffering just aswe feel our own. It is the realization thateven our enemy is entirely motivated by thequest for happiness. We must recognize thatall beings want the same thing that wewant. This is the way to achieve a trueunderstanding, unfettered by artificialconsideration.
Part IX: From Gulf War Ito the 21st CenturyHuman Rights Timeline
1990-1991After the UN imposes sanctions on Iraq, the U.S. enters the Gulf War to protect thesovereignty of Kuwait and to maintain human rights in the area. On July 17, 1990, Iraqileader Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates of flooding theworld oil market. Specifically, he accused Kuwait of stealing oil from a disputed supply,the Rumaila oil field which ran beneath both countries, and thus waging “economicwar” against Iraq. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi military forces invaded and occupiedKuwait. Kuwait requested U.S. military assistance and U.S. involvement in the situation wasimmediate. While U.S. military commanders and strategists formulated offensive plans,the United Nations passed a resolution calling for military action if Hussein did notwithdraw his forces by January 15, 1991.Iraq ignored all demands, and in response, a coalition of UN forces beganimmediately to build in Saudi Arabia. On January 12, Congress granted President Bushthe authority to wage war. Hostilities commenced on January 17, as the 36 members ofthe coalition forces, under the direction of American General H. Norman Schwarzkopf,initiated an air campaign to disable Iraq’s communications, air defenses, and earlywarning radar installations. Millions of Americans were glued to their television sets asCNN broadcast images of the air attack in Baghdad—the beginning of the first “live”television war.
The resulting coalition campaign, which would come to be known asDesert Storm, mainly involved Air Force units, with strong support fromthe Navy, included strategic aircraft sorties against installations inBaghdad as well as other military targets. After five weeks of air andmissile combat, ground troops began their campaign in Kuwait. OnFebruary 27, coalition forces entered Kuwait City, forcing Iraq toconcede a cease-fire after only 100 hours.The United States and the United Nations gave several publicjustifications for involvement in the conflict, the most prominent beingthe Iraqi violation of Kuwaiti territorial integrity. In addition, the UnitedStates moved to support its ally Saudi Arabia, whose importance inthe region, and as a key supplier of oil, made it of considerablegeopolitical importance.Other justifications for foreign involvement included Iraq’s history ofhuman rights abuses under President Saddam. Iraq was also known topossess biological weapons and chemical weapons, which Saddamhad used against Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war and againsthis own country’s Kurdish population in the Al-Anfal Campaign. Iraqwas also known to have a nuclear weapons program.
1990The Americans With Disabilities Act is signed into law, establishing“a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on thebasis of disability,” giving civil rights protections to individuals withdisabilities that are like those provided to individuals on the basisof race, sex, national origin, and religion. It guarantees equalopportunity for individuals with disabilities in employment, publicaccommodations, transportation, State and local governmentservices, and telecommunications.The World Summit for Children of the World adopts theDeclaration on the Survival, Protection, and Development ofChildren and the Plan of Action for Implementing the WorldDeclaration.After 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela is released fromprison after President F.W. de Klerk lifts the ban on the ANC andother anti-apartheid organizations.
The UN adopts the International Convention on the Protection of theRights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.In 2005, the number of international migrants was between 185 and192 million. This represents approximately three percent of the worldpopulation, comparable to the population of Brazil. Nearly allcountries are concerned by migration, whether as sending, transit, orreceiving countries, or as a combination of these. Internationalmigration has become an intrinsic feature of globalization.The primary objective of the Convention is to foster respect formigrants’ human rights. Migrants are not only workers, they are alsohuman beings. The Convention does not create new rights formigrants but aims at guaranteeing equality of treatment, and thesame working conditions for migrants and nationals. The Conventioninnovates because it relies on the fundamental notion that allmigrants should have access to a minimum degree of protection.The Convention recognizes that legal migrants have the legitimacyto claim more rights than undocumented migrants, but it stresses thatundocumented migrants must see their fundamental human rightsrespected, like all human beings.
All six regions of the world are witnessing intense or growing migratory activities:Africa. African migrants predominantly move to other African countries, withSouthern Africa, the Maghreb and West Africa being the sub-regions most affectedby labor mobility in Africa.Asia. Asia is the largest source of temporary contractual migrant workers worldwide,while simultaneously being characterized by very large intra-regional flows ofmigrant workers, particularly the vast internal movements in China and India.Europe. Europe’s regional dynamics differs from others because of the EuropeanUnion objective of creating a common migratory space within far-flung but jointlymanaged external borders.Americas. Characterized by strong south-north migratory flows from Latin Americaand the Caribbean to the United States and Canada, and increasingly Europe. TheUnited States and Canada continue to be major receivers of permanent migrantsfrom across the world but are also facing growing demand for temporary workers.Middle East. The Middle East ranks importantly as a region for temporary contractualworkers, most of whom are from Asia.Oceania. Oceania includes two large destination countries—Australia and NewZealand—on the one hand, and on the other, many small island nations whosepopulations are increasingly interested in labor migration.