From the Editor’s Desk

by Kyrstie Lane, Managing Editor

Human rights is something everyone likes to talk about, yet few actually pursue with dedication and resolve. It is easy to proclaim support for human rights, but do we really know what they mean? How can we define these rights, and how can we tell when they have been violated? How can we create better protections for them, and how can we punish the violators? Are we willing to stand for them even in difficult and dangerous situations? These difficult questions often remain unasked, because it seems almost blasphemous to engage in discussion on something that everyone claims to support, something that would be monstrous to deny. Ironically, and unfortunately, this blind faith prevents us from furthering human rights by limiting our definition and conception of them.

With such difficult questions in mind, this issue of Reflections seeks to open a discussion on a number of important human rights issues. Our authors offer their ideas on a range of issues and cases, based largely out of their incredible personal experiences. Adele Negro’s photo of Dago, a young El Salvadorian boy, and her comments on the possibilities for his future and that of other children like him provides us with a powerful, emotional link to the issue of human rights. Jitman Basnet comments on the condition of human rights in Nepal’s ongoing peace process; a situation he knows all too well, having been imprisoned at different times by both major conflict parties. Katherine Hughes-Fraitekh reflects on the vital work that organizations such as Peace Brigades International have done in protecting those who stand up for justice and rights in conflict situations, and why we must continue to improve and strengthen this type of work. Anita Seth of IF discusses the controversial issue of the prison system in the United States: is our system of punishment just, and further, is it effective? In Pedagogy of Conflict, Dr. Pushpa Iyer explains the paradox of neutrality, and how conflict resolvers and human rights activists alike should approach this difficult concept. Finally, in this issue’s India Column, Francis Gonsalves presents a worrying case of disregard for human rights and the voice of the people through the pertinent example of nuclear power in India.

Human rights is a difficult and complicated concept, but we must continue to discuss what it means and how we can work to further it. We hope this quarter’s reflections will contribute to your ideas about human rights, and spark continuing discussions.

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