The Power of Rights

The Power of Rights

Open society and human rights are intimately bound together: one cannot today imagine either without the other. The threats to one are threats to both. The advance of one means the advance of both. The energetic defense and enlargement of human rights diminishes exploitation, oppression, and impunity.  Free expression, critical thinking, pluralistic debate all thrive in nations rich in rights and advance open society.

The Open Society Foundations have long been, and will remain, one of the world’s leading supporters of those defending and promoting human rights.

From New Orleans to Kampala to Jakarta, the Open Society Foundations have backed efforts to establish and protect the rights of all. And that commitment to the rights of all has required special commitment to minority rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, and the rights of physically and intellectually disabled people. We have supported international and transitional justice as well as efforts to press governments to protect and champion human rights themselves.

Today, commitments to human rights are under pressure everywhere.  Even while broad social movements grab attention with demands for bread, justice, and dignity, governments of all stripes are finding excuses to weaken their resolve, to let the cause slip away. Commitments are postponed or abandoned, defenders of rights are attacked as foreign agents or worse. And within the human rights movement itself, questions are raised about the use of force in defense of rights, about the particular ideologies embedded in universal claims, about the links between prosperity and rights.

We will resist the pressures that threaten rights and urge us to compromise our commitments. At the same time, we will continually revisit, revise, and strengthen the concepts that underpin our commitments and that give rights power in the world. When people see their rights eroded in countries where those same rights have so recently had the strongest champions, what are they to do? When claiming one’s rights is said to insult one’s family, to disrespect one’s tribe, to betray one’s nation, what is one to do, what are we all to do? Are the international human rights mechanisms our best safeguards, or must we build new structures for the defense of rights? If independent media have been essential to the advance of rights, how are we to understand the existential dangers that confront journalism today? What do human rights mean for millions of desperate individuals and families beyond the protection of law, beyond the reach of any human rights defender?  These are not just theoretical questions: they pose choices with life-and-death consequences for thousands every day. Even as we continue to act in support of human rights and open society, we must face these questions and integrate our answers—however tentative—in our actions.

We must intensify the conversation about the future of human rights and how best to promote their growth. Please join us.

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The Open Society Foundations (OSF) is firmly on ground in Nigeria. Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and Open Society Justice Initiative, both part of OSF, have offices in Abuja.

States have a duty to protect human rights defenders against any violence, retaliation and intimidation as a consequence of their human rights work

States like the "United States" do have that DUTY. United States fulfills that DUTY by doing a lot of kidnapping, torture, hostage-taking and cold blooded premeditated murders in USA and abroad. America's human rights record have been boosted by its own excessive genocidal wars, terror plots, premeditated drone murders, and pervasive proliferation of violence all over the WORLD. Sadly, there is so little these videos can do to enhance human rights, when those DUTY bound to protect human rights have become the most prolific purveyor of VIOLENCE on our planet.

I am from Jammu and Kashmir and your question "What do human rights mean for millions of desperate individuals and families beyond the protection of law, beyond the reach of any human rights defender? " is the most important question for me and my fellow countrymen as we are in the exact situation this question relates to.

In search of an answer to this question in Jammu Kashmir.

I want to development a network of networks for an open society in Jammu Kashmir to empower the voices of the people by campaigning for the right to life, liberty and security of persons through constitutionally independent and publicly accountable democratic systems of governance in all regions of Jammu Kashmir.

At the this moment in time I do not have the infrastructure support to start working on the development of such network but I do have basic professional knowledge, determination and networking relationships with a range of public, private and civil society actors to start a process for building a Jammu and Kashmir Open society network. I would welcome support and advice from all those involved in the "Power of Rights" conversation to help me in releasing my potential for developing an open society network in the disputed territory of Jammu Kashmir.

Great thoughts, but can someone tell me...why is it that something so basic, so vital, is so difficult to achieve.
It seems like such an obvious war or no war??

Thank you

Robert Semeniuk

Because there are powerful political and economist interests served by depriving people of their rights. Just like your example of "war" or "no war"... why is there still war? Why is the United States constantly invading and attacking countries on the other side of the planet?

Being in Brazil with all demonstrations at the moment gives a good feeling of democracy. It is very good to be in Brazil at the moment and hear the voice of many people sharing one opinion and taking their right to demonstrate. It gives a lot of hope.

It means that : i am from syria , and there is a real war there and i lost many beloved people... I cant go to the place wich i want wich its better for me ... Human right said that my right to choose the place or the county i want to live in ... American or European can do it .. But we .. No .. Because we are animals .. Human right definition will come ofter finding human rights becouse we have to see it and feel it then we will find what is the meaning of human rights .. Now i'm in Turkey wich its too hard and no one care and iam about to finish my money.. " they beat there wife all the time and in the streets .." And if my government is bad why i become the victim .. Can you understand that i cant go any were just Turkey Lebanon and Egypt Jordan ... And there is to much on this planet i cant go for ..... If there is a respect it will be all the human rights definition" respect ... Just respect me so you will give what i deserve .. And i will get my rights"

Human beings all have the same rights by natural law. It's hard to believe but it's true. Predominantly we as human beings take a great deal for granted and ignorantly forget all about it, or deliberate a gradual leveraged exploitation with indifference to personal arrogance obvious to others. This often leads to the uninvited imposing of will upon other people, property, laws, environment, way of life, animals, geological cultural wealth and over all well being of the entire ecosystem of the life organism. Unfortunately ignorance is only just now becoming an international concern. A wonderful thing happening all over the world right now is the currency of human contribution to reverse the ignorance of exploitation. I , HAVE TO CUT THIS SHORT, SO ILL JUST SAY THIS, IGNORANCE ALWAYS BEGINS WITH FORGETTING ABOUT THE DIGNITY OF HELPING SOME ELSE NO MATTER WHAT. AND MOST RIGHTS ARE TAKEN FOR GRANTED AS SOON AS NOT SEEN AS RESPONSIBILITIES.


I can only keep repeating, Political democracy is empty without economic democracy.

This is getting to the roots of the matter..the potential to sustain any enhancement of the human rights condition is linked to economic self resilience and in turn to a global sustainable environment...unfortunately the numbers suggest we have turned past the point of no return..

The baseline law-abiding, humility driven, moral and ethical conduct of the people in the society needs to fundamentally improve, otherwise there will always be the oppressor vis-a-vis the oppressed, the privileged vis-a-vis the deprived segments of the society.

The worst perpetrators to human rights is often the goverment of the respective region or the geo. Unless and until the goverment employees, who hold the taxpayer paid guns and who has the backing of the law, improve their personal code of conduct and book of virtues vs book of vices, the functioning of the goverment can never improve.

Human rights violations are everywhere, right from our own backyard to the poorest part of the world.

Governments are not about people's qualities in life & they only focus on themselves & their security... Hence military defense is # one policy & they have no regard for the planet that supports our life because they are aware that it won't be here anymore soon & they are the cause of it by robing mineral oil to burn/transport war killing machines, planes/tanks etc.

What an exciting time when things get better and worse at the same time, but we tend to dwell on the worse, which gets more publicity. This international awakening is just getting started. Maybe Barbara Marx Hubbard has the vision needed to be positive.

The call for more human rights is great to overcome the suffocation over the means to life by governments and corporates.. I do not think the agenda of the open society foundation is rooted on strong enough foundations. I would like to see the foundation divert its efforts to protecting the right to live. It could be argued that the peasant in Bulgaria has more rights if he owns his land to the modern westerner, subject to high residential costs, speeding fines, tax audits, modern work contracts, no access to food and clothing unless they buy from the monopolies. Orwells 1984 is very much in our modern societies.. I would like to see the work extended to a conversion model from modern capitalism to a community and grassroots levels of economic resilience and rights and obligations. Without considering these roots the human rights discussion here risks an aspirational statement rather than an actual ideation plan.

Aspiration is fine and makes us all nod, but only though creating the reality can the conditions of human existence be improved..

It is here that finding staff and people to create a new reality. There are major barriers for people , especially westerners to reframe what a society could be.

My view is to redirect some effort to developing and showcasing models of social and economic sustainability and facilitate the ease of transition for communities to evolve in this direction. I am happy to aid, as an experienced implementer of new worlds, rather a professional talker aspiring for things..

Very much agree with the above statement on economic democracy..

I watched the video production and all the words were glittery frosting on an otherwise moldy cake.
By moldy I mean conquests for power, money, and molding governments to be easily over taken. Moldy means socialism at any cost to feed power. I am at the end of my life and not worrying about my legacy. My children and grandchildren are my legacy. All the power hungry , no-it-all folks are not going to change so my advice is to be strong mentally, not afraid to take a life if bodily threatened and, most important, do not care a whit what others may think of you.

While I respect the people in the video, can we please have a more balanced group of people discussing human rights? One does not have to be high profile to grasp the meaning of universal standards.

Some contries like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia must undertand that justice for all must be pursued instead of the demagogical "equality" for all which is unattainable. The new "communications law" in Ecuador is a major threat to freedom of speech.

I have to concur with Mr. Hyslop. As long as the Military-Industrial Complex is alive and well, Human Right will be playing second fiddle forever. That sad state of affairs is this dilemma is not just in third world nations is even more prevalent in the more affluent nations of the world. They have to maintain "Their Standard of Living" at all costs.

What is Human Rights when Democracy which are to be by the people and for the people are no more for the people but for Politicians and their families, when laws are now interpreted on individualism basic and when the rights of the masses are no more the concern of National Governments. Hum..... Human Rights???

May i use a term CONFUSERS? The so-called leaders of leading state mechanisms tend to divide people by making them confused thus seldom intellectual analysis.
Outsiders don't want to work hard and go deeper. So they tend to catch surfacial things. In Asia when they go, Its the Cast-Discrimination and or some so called higher cast syndrome is the only problem and no other countries than Europe or America are civilized for them. They do not know that the source of knowledge, wisdom and conscience emerged not from Europe or Americas but from Asia and Africa.
In between WESTERN imposition and ASIAN reluctance, poor citizens have no choice than to be induced by confusion.
Building on the foundation of realisation that free flow of thoughts and acts towards creative ideas is the only answer. One should realise that every religion and thoughts are propounded for the dignity and freedom of each human being. There is no room for discrimination.
First or Second world is more concerned about their business of minting money. Security, Unity and Human Rights are the principles best applied only when it serves the benefit in economic terms.
There needs a acceptance that like Civilisation and Thought, Progress also doest not have the boundary. It transcends beyond the boarders.
Human Being should realise and internalise that they have limitations. Probably this was the core of ancestral philosophy which created GOD and rested several unsolved curiosity upon it.
Every one, including Animals, are building adoptive and creative progress. And that is the natural process. How to make our leaders, Social and Political, realise that they have limitations. They cannot make every thing happen according to their LFA and Indicators. There is limit of power to control. And there is no limit to progress if people internalise that there are natural course and we need to respect the natural quest of all creatures to progress in a natural manner.
I would request world leaders including spiritual that please cooperate if you can. If not, let the people in crisis learn how to solve by themselves. I mean interfering into others life and using so-called mysterious philosophy to divide the populace happens to be the business of confusers.

Warm Greetings from 'Conscience of the society' , a philosophic non-profit in India ! We distinctly stand for the CAUSE that Human rights organizations (like UN, Open society) must change their attention and efforts towards achieving a PARADIGM SHIFT in the matter of human rights: they must work for the cause of a REINVENTED DEMOCRACY, where establishments become true government of EQUAL HUMAN-BEINGS ! Modern democratic establishments must CLIMB-DOWN from their existing mould and stature of typical,old authoritarian regimes of the past. In the old regimes, people were mere state-subjects, whereas in democracy, they are 'equal partners' . Hence, there was no question of human rights issues to emerge. These rights bodies must shift all their attention towards getting modern democracies to accept the paradigm shift: they must turn true governments of EQUAL-MEN, instead of wearing the mantle of same old authoritarian POWER-STATES, with peoples as 'subjects'. This is the crux of the issue. The more these bodies work as rights bodies, the more these establishments sustain as power -states ! For more details on this CAUSE, please share our blog:

Famous saying of the naked fakir --- "let us first be the change we want to see". Which brings to a sticky question or perhaps unpleasant truth --- is our (good old USA) human rights' records clean & exemplary ?

The problem with human rights is the human rights language.Human rights has been conceived from an elitist perspective that regards the government as the only guarantor of rights.We have not explored how non state actors violate,or protect human rights.Human rights is a lived experience,and the best way to realize ,some rights,especially socio-economic rights is to focus on the real practise of human rights among community members and come up with ''local solutions'' to pressing human rights needs.

Great initiative, can someone or open society institute help me on how we can protect the poor local communities of Buliisa on land rights and women land rights.

This subject has always been interesting to me as the repeated desire to propagate the message seem not be achieving practical results.

I am in Ghana and wonder how tho we have ratified documents like the ICCPR, Commonwealth Institute HRs Manual for Police, and UN HR Training Manual, one would marvel at how sometimes Police connive with some citizens and seemingly influential people to illegally detain people without even being charged.

Well this is the beginning of a lifelong dialogue and I strongly believe, the worst will sure be cracked and clamped down

If human rights is about human dignity,why do we care much when people are killed in wars,but don't care when diseases,hunger and malnutrition result into massive deaths?There is alot of mention of world wars,Sierra Leone and Rwanda but no mentioned of the millions who die of hunger and preventable diseases.I think its time to go back to the principles of human rights and embrace human rights in totality,rather than the current approach that places alot of focus on civil rights and ignores socio-economic rights which are equally important.

Human rights, the inherent entitlements of every human being are always trampled upon by political dynamics including Militarization, democratization globalisation and regionalisation here in Africa.

Rohingya of Burma are not humanbeing and they are not getting attention from OSI and human right defenders of the world.
Nobody talk about ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Burma.

It is possible somewhere in the world some organizations may be doing good work by helping the needy,poor ,downtrodden otherwise every day all over world maybe more in India there is only exploitation by the politicions,big businessmen,they are looting the country and getting away with it while the common man is so burdened with rising prices that his very survival is at stake and the worst part is there is no one to help the common man be it the cops,judiciary,govt,How do you expect the poor man to revolt when he cannot get up and walk straight, the system has crushed him so much,expecting a great leader who will save this country is hogwash,Lord Krishna or Guru Nanak come once in a way to save mankind,this is KALUGH and it is just a question of time GOD /Nature has already started taking revenge whether it is Japan or USA or now India, this is the begining of the END

In Tanzania, the government has submitted itself to "security forces." Prime minister Mizengo Pinda told parliament on 20 June that the government is tired of "sturbbon people." He said, "I am saying beat them up...because there is not any other way...for we are tired of them. This signals permission to police and other state security organs to deal with protesters ruthlessly - beat, maim and even kill them. The premier's animalistic signal ushers the country into bloodshed as opposition to vandalistic politics of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduizi (CCM) party are being opposed countrywide.

Human rights are the fundamental rights that every human being possesses.

Human Rights are people's rights which must be observed by all democratic countries. Without them a democratic country must be joking. I think all aids to nations must be on account of good practice of human rights.

My late Grandparents lived in Northern Ireland - my Grandmother was Catholic and my Grandfather Protestant. I am a South African and I lived through the apartheid years. My husband's family is from
Cyprus, we are so acutely aware of human rights and dignity. I have made human rights my life's work. I am currently the President of Soroptimist International of Port Elizabeth South Africa. I strive to make a difference. Reading through the other comments has made me feel very humbled and grateful.......

In the world's oldest book in record "Rig - Veda", it is mentioned "Jeev Aatama Ek Saman", it means all the living- being though they may have different bodies but their soul is the same and all the living beings have the right to live in the lap of Mother - EARTH. Therefore we must understand , pay respect and love each-other and create a peacefull atmosphere for living together !!!

Fundamental issue is political power. So long the leadership is unwilling to conduct politics from moral high ground, is lacking unflinching respect for law, and falsifies national security concerns for ulterior motives, no society can remain open & enjoy human rights.

Respect for human right is a right not a previlage. Many agencies of government are neglecting the fact simply because of their individual interest, eg Nigeria. Human right activist and activism that promotes good moral values in the society should be respected and supported, therefore, I'll be glad to work with the open society foundation to promote human right.

powerful sound-bytes that are enlightening! Human rights are not static but governments do consider and say what is written down in their fake constitution enough.

I asmire the good work the Open Society does but it is not clear to me how Mr Soros heavy financial support for drug legalisation (all drugs) fits with the rights of children Under the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child Article 33

I ask my self often as a person ho survived the devastating crash of the system of Ex Yugoslavia and the transition of remained Republics and how all the crimes was ending without any particular right or change for the better and some guarantee for the better future for our children, without some deference of the type of the crime it is, war, social crime that happens every day, administrative crime or institutional one which is all way's hide, so tell me as I am one ordinary supporter of the open society, ho do not have some force and support from my society how to deal with it? when basically the human relations are in demonic level and in very tragic level of poorness and analphabetism and as dessert over it corrupted governments ho throw religions specially in the very close societies they accomplish there's goals , thank you.

Human Rights issues are critical in every society and those who have overcome the daily grind of not knowing where the next meal will come from, must and should continue to fight for Human Rights because they are more disposed to do so than the impoverished majority in developing countries.

The Situation in Sierra Leone with regards Human Rights Violation by State Actors especially the Sierra Leone Police{SLP} towards civilians is becoming alarming day by day.The Open Society Foundation Forum or presence need to be set up in Sierra Leone to monitor,promote and protect Human Rights Issues in Sierra Leone.

i hope that the world looks deep into the ethnic cleansing that is happening in sri lanka....

I am Romanian and in most cases I felt that my origins, the communism, the image portrayed in the world, all this together, were pulling me down.
After finishing my high school studies, I had a dream which came true. I have been queuing at the British Embassy, Bucharest, for the right to study in UK. Every single time in London airports I have been hold for good minutes for visa checks. I felt so bad, as later one of the Romanian papers argued that Romania and Bulgaria are treated at this present time as – second hand European countries. We all need to be treated as equal. I am asking myself, why you allow these two countries to join the European Union, when the most part of the EU countries doesn’t allow these people to work in their countries. Why restrictions? Romania for instance has no restrictions for EU countries. Second question, why Romania as EU member state has to pay for the economic rescue of Greece or Spain for instance? Why we need Romania for certain things? These days we have access to information, we need to talk to people about this, and we need rights.
I do remember the childhood under the communist regime, the queues to buy rationed food. I grew up playing with my Roma neighbours. We all were happy. But I also learned the importance of studying, the respect to other people, the knowledge of sharing, the importance of helping others, and the urge to succeed in life. But overall I was happy as I grew up in family which gave me an education and lots of love. Comparing myself with today’s news, I must say I am a fortunate person. As result I want to help others. I cannot stand unhappiness and unfairness.
The battle on Human Rights is on continuous move. Within this framework on food, education healthcare, access to culture, the right of speech, we have to feel empowered to carry on this project, to achieve freedom and to spread the word on equality.
We all need to live in a better world.

Mr Marius Ciobanu
My work -

Am in complete dilemma when I see here in South Sudan, the places where people run for protection is where Human Rights are Violated. the defenders and activist are threatened or killed by gun men. As the UN Human Rights report in South Sudan indicate 95% of violation of Rights which are caused by the Army and even government officials. 1 month ago local Chiefs and key in Yei were arrested and detained without clear warrant of arrest. such cases really hurts. Do we need a change of regime or more advocacy??

Agree! It is so difficult, also in Mexico, moreover if some politicians with power feel that you are making things and questioning with facts their work, they will try to finish with you. A long way to make the power of rights more than the power of impunity and violation to human rights! We need to speak, walk, and work together.

Россия - это коррупционно-бандитское государство. Все ветви государственной власти сосредоточены в одних руках, Эти "руки"
раздают государственные должности не по критериям профессионализма, ума, совести и чести, государственные должности раздаются
по протекционизму, лицам, которые умеют прислуживать.
Получив власть из "рук одного лица" государственные чиновники не подотчетные закону, они неприкосновенны.
Мировое сообщество знает о правонарушениях и преступлениях власти в отношении граждан по фактам преступных событий совершенных
в Москве и С-Петербурге. Однако, в субъектах Федерации количество государственных злоупотреблений и преступлений в отношении граждан возрастает в геометрической прогрессии, динамика преступлений зависит от удаленности от Кремля.
Для государственных чиновников и членов их семьи созданы условия для совершения преступлений, при этом они (чиновники и члены их семей) освобождены от ответственности за совершенные преступления и злоупотребления властью.
В России отсутствует верховенство закона. Россияне лишены права на судебную защиту и восстановление нарушенных прав. Власть фальсифицирует факты преступных событий и назначают преступников - суды безнравственно нарушают закон и выносят заведомо не правосудные решения
За производство гражданских дел и судебное расследование (за исполнение должностных обязанностей) судьи вымогают взятку с жертвы, либо возвращают дело жертве с отказом проводить судебное расследование по закону.
Мировое сообщество обязано знать о злоупотреблениях и преступлениях власти России

I am concern about the need for economical and social protection for millions of immigrants who cannot have access to rights such as job protection,health service,education,that need to transcend the notion of tollerance and substitute with RIGHTS to introduce a new form of implementation of so many agreements and declarations based on principles.
enzo soderini
College New Rochelle department Social Science
way to


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