The Causes of Human Rights Violations (3): Absence of Peace

If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known. George C. Marshall

Peace or the absence of war and violent struggle is, of course, another important prerequisite for democracy and human rights. Human rights and the principles of democracy are heavily violated in times of war and this is even necessary. And although many human rights violations committed in the course of a war are not necessary, it is impossible to insist that all human rights and democratic principles be fully applied in a war situation. A war, because of the urgency it creates, makes it very difficult to respect certain democratic habits, such as the consultation of large parts of the population, the thorough examination of all alternatives etc. A strong, individual leadership seems better adapted to the urgencies of war. On top of that, the war effort and the war industry require a unity of vision and a high level of cooperation without dissent. Dissent can harm the struggle for survival. It weakens the effectiveness of common actions and it can be exploited by the enemy. In a state of war, society and politics take over many of the undemocratic habits of the military, such as unity of command, discipline, strong leadership, the absence of criticism, uniformity instead of diversity and so on. Needless to say that a war also means human rights violations. The war industry as well can harm human rights, for example the rights concerning free choice of labor, good working conditions etc.

A right to peace would, therefore, be very useful. Here I argue that democracy and human rights do a lot to create and maintain the peace they need for their own functioning.


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