The Causes of Human Rights Violations (54): Self-Perpetuating Human Rights Violations

Take the case of slavery in the American South. That’s an obvious human rights violation if there ever was one. Among the causes of this rights violation was the belief in white supremacy and black inferiority.

However, the practice of slavery was also a cause of white supremacy: the living conditions of enslaved blacks, the effect slavery had on the black psyche, the lack or insufficiency of slave rebellions and a series of other facts strengthened the belief in some that whites are indeed superior, and created this belief in others.

Another example is intolerance of religious or ethnic minorities. In many European countries, young Muslims are discriminated in the labor market and elsewhere (see this paper for some evidence). Unsurprisingly, this discrimination fosters feelings of marginalization, which in turn promote retrenchment and radicalization. Radicalized Muslims then become a rationale for further discrimination (see also here).

As is clear from these examples, the self-perpetuating circle of human rights violations typically occurs when violations are massive and systematic. Small scale and individual violations can’t usually be explained in this way, as I argued in this older post.

This is probably a cause for pessimism: the most outrageous human rights violations are also the toughest to deal with. However, slavery did end eventually, as will discrimination.

More posts is this series are here.

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2 thoughts on “The Causes of Human Rights Violations (54): Self-Perpetuating Human Rights Violations”

    1. That’s more or less on purpose. The highlighted part of the text is all that matters here. And thanks for the compliment.

      Like

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