Welcome To Global Justice

Human Rights

Friday, 19 March 2010


by Agus Miswanto

Almost 20 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been experienced in deadly civil wars, which of toll death have been claimed over 5.4 million people [1]. Lasting conflict flared up again and again. Many Reports from the zone of conflict illustrated widespread looting, rape and killing of civilian targets. Then, the international community also has struggled to come up with an adequate response to the case, like giving aid, peace keeping force, disarm conflict, and even criticizing the role of multi-national company fueling conflict in the area.

The role of multinational companies in fueling this violence is key issues, due to the immense natural resources in this nation. Moreover, various foreign powers, as well as internal, have sought to gain an advantage from conflict exist in this area. Even, Rwanda and Uganda as neighboring country also involved in deepen and tighten the conflict. Even, both countries were dubbed to have secret agenda regarding of economic interest, especially in terms of resources, diamonds, minerals and other vast rich resources. Therefore, due to the rich resources of DR Congo, the conflict and the rebels had long been successful in setting up financial administrative bodies in their controlled areas, especially with regards to trading with multinational companies, while DR Congo had also been able to finance his side of the conflict [2].

Therefore, this essay would like to describe and to know the discourse the global ethics of MNC conduct in light of human development, human right and human security in which they operates. Then how international community respond the misbehave of MNC, and what have been done to eradicate such condition.


Many groups from local and regional could not operate in conflict and warfare without access to international mineral markets. The multinational corporations has significant role and extremely important in conflict trade in the DRC. They are deeply involved in war of economic interest. They supply goods and services and provide market outlets to warring government authorities, rebels and warlords who, without these companies, would have neither the foreign capital to finance a war nor the profit incentive to sustain one.

Multinational companies (MNC) have involved in providing arms and money by paying taxes and licensing fees to rebellions in the DRC. International business has, through its contracts, deals, and provisions, served to finance and sustain these actors involved in the Central African conflict. International companies have also viewed rebel-held territory as de facto sovereign states and used local leaders as conduits for illicit trade. This practice not only violates the right of DRC sovereignty under international law, but has also served to bolster the rebel’s control in certain areas [3].

There are many companies from different countries that operate in DR Congo. For example, American Mineral Fields (AMF) and Afrimax have immense benefits from the conflict in DRC. Since Laurent Kabila’s coup in 1996, American Mineral Fields (AMF), for instances, has started operating in the DRC. The AMF that had link to President Clinton business that had been supporting Kabila to get power, got a billion dollar concession from Kabila to mine copper, cobalt, and zinc. Therefore, American Mineral Fields directly benefited from America’s military and intelligence support for Kabila. It was very clear that America’s support for Kabila was just to get economic interest. Since, after turning over the Mobutu regime by Kabila, North American-based mining companies had access to open up Congo’s vast mineral riches [4].

Furthermore, Afrimex, the U.K. based company, continues to get trading minerals that exacerbates the conflict in the DRC. For this case, Afrimax just considered economic interest, although it has breached guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In South Kivu, Afrimex could control 40 percent of all tin exports, and then it becomes the second largest tin exporter in 2004 and 2005. Afrimex was charged directly contributed to funding armed rebel groups which committed human rights abuses, such as extortion, killing, torture, and forced mass displacement. Because Afrimex has paid taxes annually to the RCDG a $15,000 licensing fee and a percentage of its total value of exports since 1998 [5].

The example of the two multinational companies from US and British involved in conflict describes weakness of international ethics standard in regulating multinational companies [6].The MNC has contribution in violence and atrocities in the DRC, but they never receive any sanction. In 2001, the UN has listed 85 companies that had not achieved and violated international standards of good corporate behavior [7], especially guidelines for the ethical behavior of multinationals established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The report categorized the involvement in violations into two categories, such as provision of direct support to militias including training and equipment; and funding of the war through the acquisition of mineral wealth from areas controlled by rebellions. Corporations from around the world have sought to profit from exploiting the DRC’s natural resources on the cheap – particularly coltan, a mineral used to produce cell phones, laptops and video game consoles.

Furthermore, in 2003, when human rights activist groups reported and charged that many multinational corporations from rich countries have been benefiting from the war and have consolidated “elite networks” of key political, military, and business elites to plunder the Congo’s natural resources, a number of companies and western governments pressured the United Nations panel to omit details of shady business dealings in a report out in October 2003[8].Then after long debate within panel experts in the UN, the UN finally released the report at the end of October 2003, they listed approximately 125 companies and individuals listed that had been named in a previous report by the panel for having contributed directly or indirectly to the conflict in the DRC [9].

In December 2008, the UN has also revealed another report on the new situation of conflict in the DRC. This report describes the continuing of coltan and other minerals flow out of the country. Then money flows in which is used to support the conflict by providing any kind of arm stuff for rebellion groups involved in warfare, such as Forces dumocratiques de lib–Ļration du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Coalition of Congolese Patriotic Resistance (PARECO). Both have been charged and accused of using children as soldiers, raping and killing civilians.

The MNC’s operate in conflict areas which benefit from business often hide behind a constructed reason of ignorance. They argue that they are not aware of the origin of the minerals that they get. Therefore, the reason of ignorance is very disgusting. Even the latest UN report proves that MNC are carefully trying to avoid assessment and investigations that shall unveil the truth. Moreover, they refuse to uphold due diligence of their suppliers. It means that they fail to meet basic standards of business ethics. They just achieve the economic interest, but they have no consciousness and awareness of human interest and human ethics. MNC’s are not paving away basic standard to ensure that they are not purchasing conflict minerals, indeed they still continue to exploit Congo’s mineral wealth.

The worst conflict condition in the DRC is also attributable and linked to countries who indirectly contribute to illegal exploitation by failing to do due diligence regarding on origins of imports. Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States all receive a substantial amount of minerals from the DRC [10].

Due to the rising of controversies surrounding the operations of MNCs, International community started to make for holding MNCs accountable to human rights standards and for pressuring MNCs to reorient their policies. Due the absence of international regulatory agencies, MNCs have been entirely free to devise their own rules, creating an environment less hospitable or indifferent to human rights. MNCs have an inherent responsibility to provide for their workers and the good of the community as a whole[11]. Even, In light in the rhetoric of social responsibility, many MNC’s cannot and will not apply meet human rights agendas to their operation in developing countries without a set of standards monitoring or enforcing.

Relating to DR Congo cases, Multinational Companies actually have to be responsible for the existing of chaos in the DRC. Many efforts have been conducted to curb and halt MNC do human rights abuses. At the international level, many institutions have spoken out about human rights violations of MNC. They suggest using measures such as reporting mechanisms, certification schemes and cooperative educational initiatives. Although, none of these measures have been directed specifically at the problems facing the DRC, but rather focus on corporate misbehave and misconduct global phenomenon. The proliferation of such measures demonstrates both the importance of this issue and the failure of the international community to arrive at a single, effective solution.

a. The UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is an International institution forum which concerns on corporate global ethics. They contribute to increasing expectations of appropriate corporate behavior and advocating awareness on the human rights obligations of businesses and corporation, within both the corporate sphere and the wider community. For example, the UN Global Compact has set the ten principles for corporate behavior which centers on human rights, the environment, labor and anti-corruption[12]. These principles describe the UN Global Compact as a leadership forum and a platform for the development and dissemination of corporate responsibility initiatives. Companies like MNC or TNC, that want to involve and participate have to sign a commitment letter to upholding the Global Compact’s ten principles for their operation.

Nonetheless, this forum does not have an enforcement to push the implementation of the ten principles to its members. Besides to immense of its members, including 4700 companies from 120 countries around the globe, the UN Global Compact just focus on dialogue and suggestion. Therefore, companies are not otherwise required to meet performance standards, they are not subject to oversight, monitoring or reporting. For this situation, the Global Compact has been criticized significantly, because of its failure to exclude MNC or TNC that fail to meet the ten principles.

b. OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Another great international initiative is done by OECD. OECD has lunched the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which cover a wide range of areas, such as human rights, requiring companies’ contribution to a country’s economic, social and environmental progress [13]. Different with the Global Compact, the OECD initiative look for partnership with governments to regulate corporate behavior. It is to enforce and adhere countries to have to establish a National Contact Point (NCP). The goal of NCP is responsible for facilitating mutually agreed solutions and promoting corporate responsibility for any problems that occurs in which companies operate.

Furthermore, there are small steps taken by few states toward developing standards of accountability for these multinational companies, such as USA and UK. Especially from the British Parliament and the USA Congress [14], in which both countries have many MNC’s operating in DRC. The British Parliament, for example, will be investigating business and human rights when its Joint Committee on Human Rights convenes. Then, in the United States, few legislators in Congress are pushing the Congo Conflict Minerals Bill, which will require companies selling products to reveal the provenance of their materials and to source minerals from clean mines[15]. Likewise, the bill looks to face significant opposition, since Washington industry lobbyists typically respond to the bill with stubborn resistance. Consequently, it is vital that the wider community demands adequate human rights compliance from companies as they operate abroad.

Unfortunately, due to the flexibility in designing NCP by its members, most countries have failed to ensure that their NCP have capacity to pressure on MNC. Since NCP does not have the status or profile necessary to institute an effective complaints procedure to asses MNC. The US NCP, for instance, looks like mask worn by the Office of Investment Affairs, like window dressing, because it has no separate existence and lacks of an institutional architecture and mechanism. Furthermore, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights, Professor Ruggie has handled consultations across the world and compiled and measured information on the corporate accountability status from various countries. He has published result of report on the widespread failure of states to ensure that MNC observe human rights and ethical standards[16].

On the contrary, although the United Kingdom has given its NCP more teeth, allowing it to receive and examine evidence and issue public reports on corporate misbehavior, this mechanism still relies on the stigma of bad publicity rather than any judicial remedy. For example, the publicity surrounding the UN reports did little to halt the looting of the DRC such as a British company, Afrimex, had paid money to a rebel group responsible for serious human rights violations. In return, the rebel group allowed Afrimex to extract minerals from mines under its control - mines in which forced labor and life-threatening conditions were present [17].


Multinational companies have play role in many conflicts, especially in enduring and horrible warfare, such as in DR Congo. They provide finance support for rebellion groups, and the as compensation, they get access to extract mineral from the mining resources. In line of their responsibility, multinational companies’ ovoid to do due diligence regarding on their mineral traded and exploited. They always hide behind the reason of ignorance. In addition, due to the wealth and linkage, they have a powerful lobby to halt any kind of policies regarding their conduct and performance.

In light in corporate global ethics of MNC conduct, International communities have responded in few steps, but they have not power yet to enforce the multinational companies to uphold, respect, and perform based on global ethics standard as basic conduct of MNC. The function of OECD and UN Global Compact just does not have enough teeth to pressure MNC. To have enforcement regarding global ethics toward MNCs, International community has to build coalition against involvement of MNC in conflict situation and call for proactive policy intervention by states and the UN, such as encompassing the state’s responsibility to protect against human rights violations, the general provision of adequate remedies to victims of human rights violations, and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights and operate in accordance with social expectations.


Anub Syah, “The Democratic Republic of Congo, March 27, 2008”, in Global Issues, http://www.globalissues.org/article/87/the-democratic-republic-of-congo

Caitlin Dearing, “A Global Approach to Regulating Trade in Conflict Goods in the DRC”, in International Affairs Review, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/26

Declan Walsh, “UN cuts details of Western profiteers from Congo report”, The Independent, October 27, 2003

Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, “Conflict without Borders Human Rights, Corporate Accountability, and Multinationals in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, in Harvard International Riview, http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1892

Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, “Conflict without Borders in DR Congo”, in Share the World Resources Sustainable Economic to End Global Poverty, http://www.stwr.org/multinational-corporations/conflict-without-borders-in-the-drc.html


Organization for Economic and Cooperation Development (OECD), Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: 2000 Review, http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/1999doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT00000926/$FILE/02E92396.PDF

UN Security Council, Panel Expert on Illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of of the Democratic Republic of Congo, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N03/567/36/IMG/N0356736.pdf?OpenElement

United Nation Global Compact, The Ten Principles, http://www.unglobalcompact.org/AbouttheGC/TheTENPrinciples/index.html


[1]Chris McGreal, “War in Congo kills 45,000 people each month”, in Guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 23 January 2008 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jan/23/congo.international
[2] Anub Syah, The Democratic Republic of Congo, March 27, 2008, http://www.globalissues.org/article/87/the-democratic-republic-of-congo
[3] Anub Syah, The Democratic Republic of Congo, March 27, 2008, http://www.globalissues.org/article/87/the-democratic-republic-of-congo
[4] Caitlin Dearing, “A Global Approach to Regulating Trade in Conflict Goods in the DRC”, in International Affairs Review, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/26
[5] Caitlin Dearing, “A Global Approach to Regulating Trade in Conflict Goods in the DRC”, in International Affairs Review, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/26
[6] Foreign-owned Anglo Gold Ashanti has been linked to the Ituri military group, Front Nationaliste et Int√©grationiste (FNI), which has committed human rights abuses on a large scale.42 Anvil Mining supplied air and ground transport to the FARDC in October 2004 in response to rebel activity in Kilwa, and the FARDC went on to kill 100 civilians. Caitlin Dearing, “A Global Approach to Regulating Trade in Conflict Goods in the DRC”, in International Affairs Review, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/26
[7] Chris Talbot, “UN report accuses Western companies of looting Congo, 26 October 2002” in World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/oct2002/cong-o26.shtml
[8] The Independent, the British newspaper, reported as follows: Last October [2002], the panel accused 85 companies of breaching OECD standards through their business activities. Rape, murder, torture and other human rights abuses followed the scramble to exploit Congo’s wealth after war exploded in 1998.
For example the trade in coltan, a rare mineral used in computers and mobile phones, had social effects “akin to slavery”, the panel said. But no Western government had investigated the companies alleged to have links with such abuses. Some, including ones from the UK, US, Belgium and Germany, had lobbied to have their companies’ names cleared from the “list of shame”.
“Many governments overtly or covertly exerted pressure on the panel and the Security Council to exonerate their companies,” Ms Feeney said. Some companies gave legitimate explanations for their business in Congo, or pulled out. But lawyers for others challenge the panel’s findings, often capitalizing on errors in earlier reports as proof of unreliability.
In the report this week, the cases against 48 companies are “resolved” and requiring “no further action”. Declan Walsh, UN cuts details of Western profiteers from Congo report, The Independent, October 27, 2003
[9] UN Security Council, Panel Expert on Illegal exploitation of natural resources and other forms of wealth of of the Democratic Republic of Congo, http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N03/567/36/IMG/N0356736.pdf?OpenElement. Other companies, the report noted, may not have been directly linked to conflict, but had more indirect ties to the main protagonists. Such companies benefited from the chaotic environment in the DRC. For example, they would obtain concessions or contracts from the DRC on terms that were more favorable than they might receive in countries where there was peace and stability. Anub Syah, The Democratic Republic of Congo, March 27, 2008, http://www.globalissues.org/article/87/the-democratic-republic-of-congo
[10] Caitlin Dearing, “A Global Approach to Regulating Trade in Conflict Goods in the DRC”, in International Affairs Review, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/26
[11] Mahmood Monshipouri et al, “Multinational Corporations and the Ethics of Global Responsibility: Problems and Possibilities”, in HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003, Vol.25, p. 987 http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/human_rights_quarterly/v025/25.4monshipouri.html
[13] Organization for Economic Cooperation of Development (OECD), “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: 2000 in Review”, in OECD, http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/1999doc.nsf/LinkTo/NT00000926/$FILE/02E92396.PDF
[14] Global Witness, “The U.S. role in addressing complicity of companies in human rights abuses in conflict areas” Briefing Document – 03/10/2008, http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/669/en/the_u.s._role_in_addressing_complicity_of_companie
[15] Danielle Knight, “Congo-Kinshasa: U.S. Congress Moving to Track 'Conflict Minerals'”, in All Africa Com 15 May 2009, http://allafrica.com/stories/200905150866.html
[16] Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, Conflict without Borders in the DRC, http://www.stwr.org/multinational-corporations/conflict-without-borders-in-the-drc.html, and also see Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, “Conflict without Borders Human Rights, Corporate Accountability, and Multinationals in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, in Harvard International Review, http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1892
[17] Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, Conflict without Borders in the DRC, http://www.stwr.org/multinational-corporations/conflict-without-borders-in-the-drc.html, and also see Deval Desai and Natalie Zerial, “Conflict without Borders Human Rights, Corporate Accountability, and Multinationals in the Democratic Republic of Congo”, in Harvard International Riview, http://hir.harvard.edu/index.php?page=article&id=1892


By Agus Miswanto


Global politic significantly determines situation and condition in the world today. Cases occurring in certain areas of the world are not only caused by the single factor from local actors, but also dominantly influenced by global interest. Many wars and arm conflicts in the world, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, relate bindingly to the US policies. It means that policies such as economy or politics are released by the super power country, like the US will affect others globally.

Global politics played by the US vis-a-vis the children’s rights is very interesting discourse. Since declining of human right condition of children, especially in Iraq, is directly relating to and depending on the global politics of the US (IRIN Report, 2004). Therefore this paper will find out the effect of the US occupation on children rights in Iraq.


The US propaganda on the war in Iraq was always concerning to human right issues and mass destructive weapon belonging to Saddam Husein government. The issues were falsehood and fabricated to make legitimized action against Iraq. Meyssan in his article ‘Five Years of Preparations: The Secret Planning of Iraq’s Colonization’, said: “Actually, there were no weapons of mass destruction to confiscate in Iraq; overthrowing a tyrant to colonize a country is not a liberating mission and the world was not in danger”, (Meyssan, 2005). Even, Freeman said that “the 2003 war in Iraq might be said cited as an example of the use of human rights to legitimate political expansionism”, (Freeman, 2008). The fabricating falsehood facts by the US government were deliberately to ease the capture of the international support, especially from the main allies like Britain, Germany, and France.

However, the motivation of the US occupation in Iraq is to win secret agenda, especially economic interest of neo liberal, (Juhazs, 2007). It is clear that the war operation had been prepared for five years before implemented’, said Meyssan. According to Meyssan (2005) that Bush family and their supporters from economic and military empire were to attain certain objectives from overthrowing of Saddam Hussein, especially to control access to oil resources. In this case that Harvey’s The New Imperialism analysis on Imperialism based in the US hegemony is accounted. Harvey said that accumulation by dispossession is characteristic of the US neo-liberal. In Hout term, It was …”an attempt to essentially ‘roll back the clock’ to an earlier time of imperialist plundering of the planet, its peoples and its resources or accumulation by dispossession”, (Hout, 2009).

To win behind agenda such as economic or politics, it seems making deaf and blind of the US government toward provision of human rights standard. The US uses human right issues to beat and defeat its enemies, although the US itself always distorts the real fact and manipulates it. The US always blames other counties as evil axis plundering and violating human rights, but at the same time the US government use force and violent politic to the rest country affecting vulnerable people, like children and women.

Children are mostly victims from any kind of destructive policies, like war, arm conflict, and occupation. The children are mostly ignorant and absent in consideration of any action by policy makers like US government. Although it is definitely clear that the Convention on the Rights of the Children asserts in article 3: “In all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”, on behalf of its own interests and agendas, the US government ignored the provision of the children’s right.


The US occupation in Iraq has definitely affected children in worst condition and situation. They live under pressure of the US army and lack of security, food, electricity, education and freedom. Even they have to experience death vulnerable because of bomb blasting or gun shooting whenever and wherever. The US occupation has made disastrous of Iraqis children in anyways. Based on a study by the UN ILCS, it was found that life condition in Iraq has declined significantly since U.S occupation took place in the country. The majority of Iraqi children have suffered the result of this humanitarian tragedy, (Hassan, 2005).

According to UNICEF that children rights are divided into three categories: provision /Survival and development rights , Protection rights , and Participation rights .

1. Provision/Survival and development rights

The provision or survival and development rights means that children have rights to get adequate food, shelter, clean water, education, health care, leisure and recreation, and also information about their rights. These rights require not only the existence of the means to fulfill the rights but also access to them. The Convention on the rights of the children article 6, 24 and 27, asserts respectively: “… every child has the inherent right to life … survival and development ...”; “All children have the right to the highest attainable standard of health … primary health care … nutritious foods and clean drinking-water”; “Every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development”, (UNICEF)

During the US occupation in Iraq, most of Iraqis children could not go to school. Hassan in his article ‘Living Conditions in Iraq: A Criminal Tragedy’ said that the rate of literacy of youngsters, between the ages of 15 and 24, is just 74 per cent, is lower than that for those 25-34. It is indicating that the younger generation experienced education backward comparing to the elders. Even over 70 per cent, males are going to work to support their families and have neglected their education at all, (Hassan, 2005).It was contrary with the condition before occupation. Based on the UNICEF report, in 2003, that the education in Iraq was high and good standard which staffed by the best educators. Then, the enrolment for children was over 100% Gross Enrolment Rate for primary schooling and high levels of literacy. Even prior to 1990s, Iraqis government had a successful program to eradicate illiteracy among Iraqi men and women.

Moreover, in the health cases, majority of Iraqis children under occupation severed any kind of diseases because of lacking of health facilities. A number of thousands of children since the attending of the occupation in March 2003 have not got vaccinations, and routine immunization in the country. Destroyed health facilities were no possibility to restore vaccines, besides inadequate supply of medicine occurred there. Then Iraqi children of the ages between the ages of six months and 5 years experienced worst malnutrition. It increased from 4% before the invasion to 7.7% since the US invasion of Iraq. It means that Iraqi children were living much better by 3.7% under the regime of Saddam Hussein than under the US imperialism, (Hassan, 2005).

2. Protection Rights

Children have rights to get protection from any kind of torture, attack, violation affecting injury, death and psychological disaster as long as they grow up. It is asserted clearly in the Convention on the Rights of the Children article 6, 16, 19, and 37 respectively, “… every child has the inherent right to life … survival and development ….”; “No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy … nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation”; “Children must be protected from … injury or abuse … , while in the care of parents … or any other person….”; “No child should be subjected to torture or … degrading treatment [nor be] deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully ...”, (UNICEF)

As long as the US occupation in Iraq, most of children had never gotten protection their rights. Even they became victims, severed several diseases, wound, death, and physical disability. One study shows that U.S. Army forces in Iraq have killed more than 100,000 civilians between March 2003 and October 2004, the great majority of them are women and children. Even it excludes Fallujah, the highest death toll areas in Iraq. According to the UN ILCS study reveals that the number of 24,000 Iraqis, 12 per cent of them children under the age of 18 years old, died as a result of the U.S invasion in the first year of occupation, (Hassan, 2005).

3. Participation Rights

Before occupation, children in Iraq were active in many activities like in schools, sport club, and organizations, but after occupation all activities that they have before were close to them. They cannot participate freely in such activities again as before, because major Iraqi children today have lived their whole lives under sanctions and war. They only can move and play in limited areas, since they fear randomly worst incident that sometime happen, like bomb blasting and gun shooting. Since there is no guarantee in their out activities, they prefer to live in home with their family. They have no chance to play and even participate in certain organisation with their friends and fellows.

In article 15 and 16 of the Convention on the rights of the children, it is clearly said that ...”Children have the right to meet together and to join groups and organizations ...”; “Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes” (UNICEF).


The global politics especially played by the US government determine adequately the condition of human rights globally. The expansive imperialist state like the US always deteriorates human rights condition in everywhere. The US government justified any action with fraud and falsehood, like mass destructive weapon of the Iraqi government. Therefore the US government actually does not have respect toward human right provision; the US government only wants to attain its own interest goals especially economic and politic of neoliberal.

The US-occupation in Iraq has violated the Iraqi children rights. The Iraqi children do not have Survival and development rights, protection rights and freedom of participation in many aspects. They are hopeless, since their future has been plundered by the occupation and invasion. Therefore the US government has responsibility to relieve and guarantee them in getting better condition. In Handbook For Parliamentarians N° 7 detailed that the Fourth Geneva Convention enforced obligation rights of children in occupied areas, such as “the occupying forces must take steps in cooperation with the local and national authorities to protect the identity and family relations of children and give an adequate effort of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children”, (UNICEF, 2004)


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Ghali Hassan, Living Conditions in Iraq: A Criminal Tragedy, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HAS506A.html, (accessed on Sunday, October 25, 2009)

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By Agus Miswanto

Nowadays, Indonesia still faces problems to conduct a difference in religious expression. Sometimes it becomes a serious problem throughout the country. Since it can split the unity of the country, and it pulls the country into grassroots’ religious conflicts. Therefore, there must be more serious and strategic effort from the government and all components of the nation. This essay will point out some obstacles of religious expression freedom, and will find solutions for this case.

Indonesia is a home of diversity, and at least,  there are six religions and numbers of belifes officelly acknowledged by the constitution. Unfortunately, the diversity sometimes become crucial and critical issues among groups of citizen. I identify  the diversity of religion and beliefs and found its problem at least  four factors:

First, the religious group does not have a certain mechanism to protect people from violence, even it supports the radicalism. Moreover the religious group can not control and prevent its followers from violence and breaking the religious freedom. In Indonesia there are many religious groups, and it has a number of followers spreading throughout the country. Although its leaders always give guidance and spiritual ethics to their followers, the leaders can not convince certainly their followers to not offend and act crackdown others. Since the guidance sometimes does not function effectively and mostly does not reach to the followers in the grass roots. For example, Muhammadiyah and NU have launched a peace building through multiculturalism and religious pluralism discourse, but the discourse spread limitedly in elite groups, and it never reach to the grass roots. Therefore, many followers of Muhammadiyah and NU do not understand about multiculturalism and religious pluralism, even they reject it as religious anomaly. The situation will become worse, when the groups can not consolidate their organization as well as their followers. Therefore, religious leaders must be pro active to explain policy clearly, so the followers understand what the organization wants. Beside that, religious leaders must reorganize the organization to actualize more effective instrument throughout their followers, not just an organization symbol.

Following a falling the New Order in 1998, there were many religious movements popping up throughout the country. Beside there were many moderate movements, there were  many radical movements as well. The radical religious movements groups have a narrow minded and rigid in interpretation to religious texts. They do not want to receive other interpretations and open mind to other believes. There fore, they threat religious freedom, and offend others accused as not true believe. They involve in crackdown on the name of religious command. They justify what their doing relates to the religious ethics, although they destroy many public and private facilities. Those groups included Islamic Defender Front, Jamaah Islamiyah, NII, and Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia. These group do not have a reluctant to what their doing, even they associate what their doing as true believe. From these situations, moderate groups like Muhammadiyah, NU, and others must build coalition to strengthen the civil society defending from extreme and radical views. They must pay more attention to the strategic propagations to halt the infiltration of the extreme ideology.

Second, law enforcement and government will are very weak to protect people from abuse of religious freedom. Religious Affairs Department as the government officer does not give much more protection to people, even it involves in many cases of rising religious violence in Indonesia. The recent case that the government could not protect the religious freedom was the government involved in banning to Ahmadiyah. The government does not processed cases of religious violence thoroughly and fast. Even it neglects it, for example sealed synagogue case in east Java, destroyed mosque and church. Based on the annually report revealed by the Wahid Institute, during 2008 the constitutional preserve on the freedom of religion and believe for individual rights of citizen as non-derogable right still have a treath from offenders in implementation. Many cases of pluralism contra such as offender rights, violence, and conflict popping up have not been conducted and finished yet properly. Those happened, beside the religious identical enthusiasm apparent in the certain groups that intend to offend others that have different views and religious interpretations, and also the government does not have obvious mechanism and weakness of law enforcement, either central government or regional government.

Third, the political situation sometimes exacerbates a religious violence. Political dispute issues in many regions pull religious conflicts and it can booster deep conflict among the people. Although political parties and religion tend to the different arena, both can collaborate in such issues. The fact, religious symbol in many cases of campaign is used to interest the voters, and to manipulate people consciousness. In the same case, religious symbol also is used to make riots among the society and the proprietor of interest will take the advantage from an unstable situation. In this case, we take an example from the case of Gus Dur resigning from his presidency. When Gus Dur received the impeachment from the parliamentary house, his few followers of NU clerics used the Islamic Law term “bughat” - illegal disloyal people to him - to who declined him from his occupation. On behalf of the religious name, His followers did crackdown and riots in many areas throughout the country, and many of them revealed an edict that Amin Rais blood was lawful. It means that political interest playing with religious symbol to take the advantage from the situation is not wise and very dangerous. From this case, we can take the lesson that politicians, political parties, religious leaders and the government must be careful to take religious symbol as political interest getter carelessly.

Fourth, the economic gap between the have and the poor allows setting up religious conflict that can worsen abuse of religious freedom. The poverty belongs to people in many areas sometimes tending to social jealousy, and it can provoke religious sentiment to other people. It can be seriously dangerous for the unity of community and nation. Many conflicts in many areas in Indonesia most of them were caused by this case. The riots of May 1998 in the end of the New Order power, one of reason was caused by the social jealousy to the economic gab between the have and the poor. The main issue of the new order falling was economic crises and socio-economic injustice. Furthermore the main issues aroused other issues such as racial and religion. We can infer to another conflict a few years ago such as Moluccas Island conflict was also caused by the socio-economic jealousy. It was because the immigrant residents lives more prosperous than the local resident. The consequence of economics boom and trade in 1980's-1997,s stimulated growth of economic wealth among immigrants significantly. Most of them operate in econimic trade and market in Maluccas Island, meanwhile local people preferd to seek job as civil servant or as farmers. The immigrant mostly as Muslim commonly comes from Makasar, Java, and other regions. The condition stimulates the local residents an enmity and hostilities to the immigrant resident. Furthermore, the jealousy of socio-economic condition tends to the religious conflict between Muslim and Christian people rampantly throughout the Island. It means that the socio-economic justice and prosperity can not be neglected to sustain the religious expression freedom.

To conclude this essay, the freedom of religious expression is still a real challenge for Indonesian. Therefore, religious leaders must be more active to stimulate a religious opened-mind of their followers to others. then they have challanging chance to build an instrument to prevent and stop some religious violence’s. Then, the government must conduct a religious conflict wisely, and it must not reveal some verdicts that exacerbate abuse of religious expression. Lastly, the government must pay more attention to cultivate a prosperity and economic justice among the society. therefore, the development of economic must not concentrate in certain region and certain elit people, but economic policies have to be implemented based on equality and transparacy.


By Agus Miswanto

Colonialism and imperialism always connotes negative image. Both are associated with exploitation and plundering wealth of third world as result of occupation of the colonized world by European countries. Moreover the colonizers are dubbed as trouble makers of many problems took place in the third world. Although negative image of colonialism is inevitable, colonialism and imperialism also had positive impact in the progress of development. This essay would like to figure out positive impact of colonialism and imperialism in the development based on modernization theory.

Colonialism and imperialism connected and extended process of development in the society, even European countries as colonizers and the third countries as colonized. In the process of development, society has to step over many stages to achieve progress of development. Based on modernization theory, it presupposes that people have stages in their life and they have to undergo and step in the process in achieving of development progress. August Comte, for example, divides human development based on the knowledge into three elements such as theology stage, metaphysics stage, and positivism stage, in which each stage figures out the condition and situation of human in having knowledge and using it for solving of life problem (L. Archie and J.G. Archie , Pg. 303-309). Moreover, W. W. Rostow also assumes that the economic development of human being needs five process to be more progressed such as traditional society, pre condition for takeoff, take off, maturity, and high mass consumption. In each stage describes certain condition of development and progress. Furthermore, in political aspect, Almond (1960) in his book “the politic of the developing Areas” also believes that every society has to cross stages of political process step by step. According to him that political systems is on the basis of stages of modernisation ether more or less modern or traditional, and he assumes that there is a process of development , for example the condition of social and politics move from one stage to another; from less to more modern.

Based on the perspective of modernization theory, colonialism and imperialism gave contribution in the development processes in the world. Both carried a progress condition in the development, even for European as colonizers or the colonized countries. For European, imperialism and colonialism has contributed to development at least in three fundamental sectors such as Glory, Gold, and Gospel (3G) (Bernstein, 2000). First, the colonialism of European Countries to the rest of the world needed military force and political power to win and rule. Since, they had to face the resistance from the rulers of indigenous people. Therefore, the development and expansion in political power and military force were inevitable condition. Moreover, the bigger the military force of the countries, the bigger and the larger the colonial areas, such as Spain, Britain, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Second, colonialism and imperialism benefited European countries in economy (gold). They accumulated the wealth from the colonized country through the exploiting of mine, plantation, and mercantilism. Third, colonialism also benefited the growth of Christianity in the world. The expansion of European to the rest areas contributed the growing numbers of Christianity followers significantly. Since, the number of the indigenous people was interested and attracted with the way of life of colonizers. Therefore, the Christianity spread and covered almost whole continents and islands of the world in which colonialism took place.

For the colonized countries, imperialism and colonialism also contributed in the development. First, colonialism opened the isolation of the colonized countries, in which people can get contact and relationship from the outsiders. Such openness situation coined positive way in the life of people; they can get many advantages, like sharing knowledge, practical life and culture. Since, the colonizer did not only take the wealth from the colonized country, but they also brought many kind of technology in development of infrastructure into the colonized country such as roads, factories, plantation, and buildings. Moreover, the colonizer also built and opened limited school and education institution to educate people and to fulfill the needs of labour in many factories and plantation. Thus, the new ways of life opened mind of the people toward new world, the development. Second, colonialism also contributed the assertiveness and reinventing culture and civilization of indigenous people. For example, the effort of heritage excavation of past civilization by the colonizer, like old temples, ruin buildings, and manuscripts reminded the society to value and reinvent their own culture and civilization. Furthermore, reinventing of the past culture and civilization built consciousness of nationalism and nation identity among the people. Finding the past heritage inspired people to desire to live under their own government and state based on their own culture and their own identity. For example, the Excavation and discovery of Borobudur Temple in Java by the Dutch Government inspired Indonesian people to define past victory of ancestors to reappear in the present life. Thus, the past history is like a basket of nationalism awareness for the people to struggle against the occupation and rule their own country.

To conclude, the modernization theory gives people a discourse to perceive colonialism and imperialism in positive sphere. Both, according to the theory of modernization, had contribution in the progress of development. It was pointed not only for European countries as colonizers like military victory, accumulation of the wealth and expansion of religious ideology of the west, but also for the colonized country such as openness and consciousness of nationalism. Nonetheless, the theory also has been criticized by other theories like Globalization theory, post development theory, and post colonial theory.


Lee Archie and John G. Archie, Reading for Philosophical Inquiry : A Brief Introduction to Philosophical Thinking ver.0.21, An Open Source Reader 2004, (http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/introbook.pdf)

Rostow, W.W. (1960), The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960.

Henry Bernstein, “Colonialism, Capitalism, Development “, Tim Allen and Alan Thomas, Poverty and Development into Twenty First Century, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000

Gabriel L. Almond and James L. Coleman, The Politics of the Developing Areas, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960


By Agus Miswanto


Human rights are fundamental issues in the modern era, since it is the measuring instrument of the well being for all society. Therefore, every nation, society, individually, or communally should comply with the requirements of human rights standard. Otherwise, in Moslem Society, human rights still become mainstream discourse today. There are many perspectives on this issues, so there are many cons and pros among Moslems. On one hand, they are in group which contra against human rights also they rely their arguments on Islamic views. On the Other hand, they are in group that they agree, they also rely their argumant on Islamic perspective.   

Debates on human rights in Islam are unovoidable, because of the diversed perspective within Islamic Scholars. If we roote it, the existence of diversity in Islamic way of thinking, there are ranging from traditionalism, conservatism, modernism, revivalism, to liberalism. Therefore, debates on human rights in Islam are also very hard, and some times it is ununderstandable.  

Here, our discussion does not focus on its debates, but it will mark on Islamic effort in early islamic period, that has considered human rights developmentas as the basis of Moslem livelihood.  Even many scholars of Islamic Jurists has described  human rights as the divine message in Qur’an and Sunna to be the very goal of Shari’ah. I think today, that is very important how to be more aware and consious in implementation of human rights wthin society. Because between the concept and implementation some times is far and very the real challenge.


Historically, Islam has recorded a great treasury of human rights (al-huquq al-insaniyah) development and achievement whose its sources are either from Holy Qur’an commentaries (tafsir), theology (tauhid), jurisprudence (fiqh), history (tarikh), or civics (tsaqafah). From the history of Muslim society, we find a well-known document called The Madinah Charter (Mitsaq Madinah) ruled the rights and responsibilities of tribes, followers of religions and beliefs into a system bond which called Madinah state, later as the basic of nation state concept. The farewell preach (khutbah wada’) conducted by the Prophet Muhammad at Arafah also contained messages of honour on basic rights of human to all tribes, ethnics, and nations. Freedom of conscience and freedom of speech have never been denied by the Qur’an or the Prophet. The Prophet never suppressed individual freedom or discouraged differences of opinion. He even said that differences of opinion in the Islamic ummah were a matter of grace and mercy.

Moreover, since the twelfth century the result of reasoning from ulama (ijtihad) has also recorded discourses on political power balance (siyasah) that develop normative standard for basic rights of citizens. Even, the term “Tasyaraf al-imam ‘ala ar-ru’yah manuthun bi al-maslahah” is very popular among Muslim scholars in many countries. The term briefly explains that leaders make and release the policy over their people should focus on public interest orientation. It gives a signal that the achievement of Islamic discourse on human rights has developed and popped up rampantly.

Furthermore, the discourse of human rights in Islamic literature coincided with the goal of syariah discourse. The ulama suggested that public interest became a normative standard of the goals of syariah (maqasyid as-syari’ah). In its development, Muslim society elaborated and enacted al kuliyyat al-khams or ad-dharurat al-khams (five pillars of protecting the basic rights of humans) as the pathway to the public interest. The five is to protect the religion (hifz ad-din) including the rights of freedom of religion, to protect human life (hifz an-nafs) including the rights to live and rights to determine his/her future independently, to protect the mind (hifz al-‘aql) including the rights of freedom of expression and getting the information, to protect the family (hifz an-nasl) including rights to get married, to get a health reproduction and have a child, to protect the wealth or properties (hifz al-mal) including the rights of having a property. The concept was developed by Hujjatul Islam, Abu Hamid al Ghazali (505H/1111), and it was elaborated and supplemented clearly and completely by Abu Ishaq as-syatibi (790 H/1388).

The Islamic law, as mentioned before, secures and develops human personality in five main areas: life, family, mind, faith, and property. Furthermore, the human rights covered by these five areas include the collective rights of groups and peoples as well as the rights of individuals; political and social rights have their place side by side. A collective effort to defend the powerless and the oppressed against a powerful oppressor is an essential Islamic obligation. Every right is considered a responsibility and an obligation. In addition to human rights being considered a collective responsibility of the Ummah (the Muslim people as a group) and the authorities, every holder of a right must also struggle for himself/herself to obtain, maintain, and enjoy this right.

In the modern era, the peak of achievement in human rights happened when the Islamic world grouped in OIC (the Organization of Islamic Conference) succeeded to hold a conference and declared the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (UIDHR) in Paris, September 19, 1981. Ten years later, 1990, the OIC declared the UIDHR again in Cairo, Egypt. Fundamentally, the UIDHR is parallel to the UDHR (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations in 1948. The UIDHR contained the basic rights of human beings as follows:

1. Right to Life
2. Right to Freedom
3. Right to Equality and Prohibition against Impermissible Discrimination
4. Right to Justice
5. Right to Fair Trial
6. Right to Protection against Abuse of Power
7. Right to Protection against Torture
8. Right to Protection of Honour and Reputation
9. Right to Asylum
10. Rights of Minorities
11. Right and Obligation to Participate in the Conduct and Management of Public Affairs
12. Right to Freedom of Belief, Thought, and Speech
13. Right to Freedom of Religion
14. Right to Free Association
15. The Economic Order and the Rights Evolving There from
16. Right to Protection of Property
17. Status and Dignity of Workers
18. Right to Social Security
19. Right to Found a Family and Related Matters
20. Rights of Married Women
21. Right to Education
22. Right of Privacy
23. Right to Freedom of Movement and Residence

The Cairo declaration, 1990, was followed by many declarations and conferences. One of them relating to the education was Dakar Declaration on Education for All, April 2000. In the Dakar declaration, the quality of education for women, children, youth, and adults was addressed as prime priority policies and avoided the barriers of their active participation in. Any kind of stereotype in education based on the discrimination, such as gender, race, language, minority, and others should be avoided and eradicated.

Unfortunately, theses concepts  still are unfully implemented among Moslem countries. Futhermore, there are many Moslem countries that dont comply human rights standards, they justify this condition because of the different values between islamic human rights and western human rights standards. They still retains the barrier of the implementation of human rights, then the violation and torture over society still become the daily phenomenon.  


Although human rights have developed a good achievement in early of Islamic period and many literatures, in the real world it undergoes distorted and is reduced far from the sight of Qur’anic and Sunnatic spirit. Many practical illustrations from the number of historical context denote abuses of the human rights. The following explanations illustrate the threat and violence toward the human rights, and challenges for the future in development of human rights in Islamic world.

Individual rights are fundamental to the functions of democracy. In fact, the concept of individual rights or human rights has evolved along with the evolution of democratic power structures. As long as the prophet and his companions lived and ruled, the honour of human rights ran well and accordingly to the sight of quranic and sunnatic spirit. On the contrary, with the evolution of feudal and monarchical culture, differences of opinion were not permitted and were ruthlessly suppressed. During the early Abbasid period, a controversy raged whether the Qur’an was created or is coeternal with God. The Abbasid who supported the Mu’tazilah viewpoint that the Qur’an was created forcibly suppressed the other point of view that the Qur'an is coeternal with God and flogged a person of the stature of Imam Abu Hanifa for holding a contrary view. The unchanged authoritarian culture remains in many Muslim countries today. Many Islamic scholars had to leave Egypt, Pakistan, and other Muslim countries for western universities.

There is no fully fledged democracy in any Muslim countries, so there is little respect for the concept of individual rights. Indeed, many authoritarian rulers in Muslim countries reject the very concept of human rights denouncing them as western and secular ideas in origin. Human rights activists in some Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are dubbed as western agents, persecuted and thrown into jail. Anyone who holds a different political opinion faces persecution. Some who advocate changes in the Shari’ah laws in the light of changed conditions, or attempt to reconceptualize Islamic philosophical doctrine, face severe persecution. There is little respect for individual rights and individual dignity. Full respect for individual rights and dignity are only possible under a fully democratic system. For that there is a basic need for a democratic policy.

The suppression of free speech and freedom of conscience go hand-in-hand with the suppression of freedom of inquiry. It is for this reason that no Muslim country today has a strong tradition in the social or physical sciences. For the sciences to flourish one, it needs a liberal democratic culture. Muslim countries will remain far behind in these fields if their authoritarian power structures are not demolished and replaced with democratic ones. Unfortunately, there is no such movement in sight. The United States has always propped up corrupt and authoritarian rulers in the Middle East who suppress freedom of expression and many of these countries remain totally dependent on the West. They cannot develop even to the extent that India has developed. No Muslim country can boast of any modern scientific discovery.


In the conclusion, the good concept of human rights is not always parallel to the practical action conducted by the Muslims. Even, violation of human rights is mostly occurred in the Muslim world. Although the abuse of human rights is clearly strickly prohibited in Islam, many Muslims individually or collectively usually seek religious argument to make up their fault the right one. Therefore, it needs more time and more efforts to enforce human rights rules in the Muslim world.

Wallah 'a'lamu bi sawab.