Human Rights on the Agenda #mrdagarna2015

Human Rights on the Agenda #mrdagarna2015

On 9-10 November  there was a conference in Sweden about Human Rights (Mänskliga Rättighetsdagarna), a topic closely related to the politics of the Pirate parties around the world. Pirate Times attended in order to take part of some of the panel debates about democracy in Sweden, the new UN development agenda and to find out what happened to the Arab Spring.

The Swedish Forum for Human Rights is the biggest Scandinavian forum for human rights. Every year thousands of participants from non-governmental organizations, businesses and authorities as well as teachers, researchers and students take part in nearly 200 seminars and workshops. The purpose of the Forum is to raise awareness about human rights, ensure the position of human rights on the political agenda and to discuss challenges in the field of human rights.

The United Nations have set 17 sustainable development goals that they aim to reach in 15 years time (2030). These goals build upon the previous Millennium Development Goals. Having a document to refer to will help to move things along faster and should be seen as a useful tool to achieve more human rights across the world. However, some may believe that it should be up to every country to define their human rights and follow-up on their progress rather than an international organ.

Something that may cause problems is the “increasing expectations dissatisfaction”. Even though progress increases, the expectations might increase even more causing a sense of not accomplishing enough.

It’s important to talk about inequalities in democracy and not just about the process. There is a polarization between middle class (who already enjoy a good life and thus would like to maintain a status quo) and those that are still lacking stable jobs, minorities etc. who wish to make radical changes to society. Normally a nation does not perceive itself as in a crisis because the people that are represented are normally not the ones in crisis or in need of more human rights. The State can be portrayed as a Centaur. A human torso, which is what the middle class sees, and beneath it a trampling beast, which may be what the less fortunate experience.

Democracy is trust. It’s a social contract. When that trust is harmed then the society is as well.

The Arab Spring, according to some, started on 17 December 2010 in Tunisia when a man set himself on fire. This lead to protests throughout Tunisia that later spread throughout the region (Lebanon, Egypt, Syria etc). The Tunisian uprising was a wake-up call for others and a “wall of fear” for protesting was torn down.

Before the revolution, Egypt had experienced a growing GDP but lacked the trickle down effect from it. The youth unemployment was rising and dissatisfaction with the government increased . The president at that time, Mubarak, had ruled the country for 30 years. He prepared for his son to become the next president and maintained control with help of martial law until he was toppled by the demonstrations.

If you don’t stand up against discrimination then you’re not a Democrat.

Social media was an important tool for mobilizing the Arab Spring but can also be seen as merely a reflection of people’s action that happened on the streets. The people behind the tools are what really mattered in the revolution. One of the reasons people revolted was that they wanted more stability in their lives. Today some of these people can paradoxically be heard “longing for the good old days”. After an intense struggle the Arab Spring is by some described as an Arab Winter where things are settling down but far from resolved yet.

Featured image: CC-BY, Pirate Times