Human rights for whom? – 01/26/2024 – Policies and Justice

Human rights for whom?  – 01/26/2024 – Policies and Justice


The end of the year is marked by International Human Rights Day (December 10), defined by the UN (United Nations). On that date in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, being one of the first international and universal documents to ensure and define responsibilities for the promotion of human rights.

The Declaration brings together principles and values ​​that must be assumed by governments, companies and civil society, establishing a global commitment to promoting social justice and rights.

The agenda has been gaining a little more prominence, being present in political and institutional discussions in society. According to the 2018 Pulso Brasil Ipsos survey, 63% of the Brazilian population interviewed is in favor of human rights. However, 54% agree with the phrase “human rights do not defend people like me”.

Being the eighth most unequal country in the world (UN), in which 1% of the Brazilian population earns 32.5 times more than the poorest half (PNAD Contínua, 2022), we have: an increase in violence against the black population. For every ten people murdered, eight are black (Atlas of Violence, IPEA, 2022).

Work: salary difference between men and women rises to 22% and the salary difference between black and white workers is 40.2% (IBGE, 2022). In the first half of 2023, more than 2,000 people were rescued from slave labor. Hunger: 33.1 million people in a situation of food insecurity (Oxfam, 2022) – and hunger has color and gender.

Considering the context, it is worth asking: human rights for whom? The data reveals which bodies do not feel protected by human rights and why. And behind the numbers, there are names, stories, families, dreams and scars.

Brazilian society was born in the cradle of violence, therefore, we have historical bottlenecks to be combatted, revealing social markers that place these bodies – generally black people, women and indigenous peoples (and their intersectionalities) – in the crosshairs of repeated violations or withdrawal of rights . They also reveal an alarming and urgent scenario.

Why haven’t we made progress in promoting human rights and human dignity for all people? I bring just four provocations that can help with the answer:

1) Profit is still above life and human dignity;

2) Distancing from the population’s agenda and discussions. Understanding being a person subject to rights and how this is reflected in everyday life is fundamental to recognizing which rights are being denied and thus addressing and holding them accountable. Therefore, we need to democratize information and access to rights. Knowledge frees;

3) Research reveals an increase in rights violations committed by companies in their value chains. The private sector also has the responsibility to care for the common good and promote business practices and public policies based on human rights and that extend to all interested parties. Therefore, one way is to carry out (constantly) analysis of impacts and risks in human rights (HR Due Diligence) to prevent, mitigate and repair violations and, above all, not to repeat them;

4) Lack of representation in decision-making. Our bodies continue to occupy a place of marginalization, in which our pain “gets attention”, but we are not called to the negotiation and strategy table for the elaboration of business practices and public policies.

Despite the scenario, Brazil has everything it needs to become a protagonist on the social agenda through more concrete actions that require urgency and collectiveness, to achieve a more just and respectful society.

Finally, in 2024 it will no longer be necessary to open our wounds to “convince” people and institutions about the importance of prioritizing life and guaranteeing rights. The diagnosis is in place, but so are the paths to significant change.

The editor, Michael França, asks each participant in Folha de S.Paulo’s “Politics and Justice” space to suggest a song to readers. In this text, the one chosen by Scarlett Rodrigues it was “AmarElo”, by Emicida.

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