Human rights abuses can spur violent conflict, or vice-versa. Effective protection of human rights underpins the legitimate governance and rule of law that establish the conditions for a state to resolve conflicts and grievances without violence. The U.S. Institute of Peace provides grants, fellowships, education and publications to deepen understanding of the critical role of human rights protection in preventing and managing violence.
Human Rights Day on December 10 provides an opportunity to consider 2023, a year with many positive and negative milestones. For instance, this year marks the 75th anniversary of landmark documents establishing the international human rights legal order. But 2023 also witnessed mass atrocities, political and religious repression, inter and intra-state conflict, and other evils. With the stark reality of ongoing human rights abuses, we should not walk away in hopeless antipathy but rather recommit to defending fundamental freedoms for all, drawing strength and inspiration from the work of preceding generations.
The historic city of Prague recently hosted diplomats, civil society activists and religious leaders from 60 countries around the shared goal of global religious freedom. Convened by the Czech government, it was the fifth gathering since the United States launched the ministerial process in 2018. As persecution continues worldwide, victimizing individuals from all faiths and none, the timing was right to gather those committed to promoting freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief for all.
The ever-growing list of conflict zones in which sexual violence has been reported globally this year, including in Israel, Ethiopia, Sudan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, underscores the persistent horror of this scourge. Acts of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) violate not only the physical and mental integrity of the victims but also breach international humanitarian law and human rights principles.
Much of the research that has been conducted on the impact of China’s economic engagement with Africa has focused on their economic exchanges and security engagements in isolation of one another. But few have sought to understand the interconnections between these themes. These interconnections matter, as some Chinese firms are responsible for environmental degradation, population displacement, corruption and illegal extraction activities — all of which are factors that can drive conflict.
Initiated in 2012, the Missing Peace Initiative is a partnership bringing together policymakers, practitioners and junior and senior scholars who are working on the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. Together, these individuals identify gaps in knowledge and reporting and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence. Since 2013, the Missing Peace Scholars Network has ensured that this research is communicated cogently to policymakers by producing annual special reports intended to produce meaningful change regarding acts of conflict-related sexual violence.