Today is the International Human Rights Day and on this occasion Fight for Humanity would like to pay tribute to all human rights defenders and to highlight the need to better protect fundamental human rights in countries affected by armed conflict notably in areas controlled by non-state armed actors. Although at least 66 million people are estimated to live in these areas, there is a lack of awareness as well as tools and mechanisms to enhance the respect for human rights by many of these actors.
The lack of respect for basic human rights such as the freedom of expression, religion, or assembly; and the restriction of minority rights or women’s rights make the return to peace more difficult and force many people to leave their homes and countries. Fight for Humanity has prioritized human rights that it estimates essential to support peace efforts.
The Freedom of Expression
In a recent article, Fight for Humanity explained how the freedom of expression is considered an indispensable condition for the full development of a person. Indeed, it constitutes an essential prerequisite for the enjoyment of other cardinal rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and association or the right to vote and take part in the conduct of public affairs. In areas controlled by non-state armed and political actors, this right may be strongly reduced, preventing the realization of many other rights. In this context, human rights defenders and civil society activists live dangerously in many countries today including in areas controlled or of influence of non-state armed actors. Nevertheless, their work is crucial to help strengthen respect for the rights of people, as it helps to shed light on abuses on the ground.
Cultural heritage is deeply connected with identity and can, as such, foster reconciliation by stressing communalities and creating bridges between communities and groups. The affirmation of cultural and minority rights and the protection/promotion of cultural heritage in non-state areas, can contribute to peace-making efforts and support the fight against any form of discrimination. In Syria, Fight for Humanity is conducting a project jointly with the local authorities to promote and protect artefacts and a cultural site.
Promoting the Rights of Women and Girls
In a recent webinar on the rights of women and girls, women leaders from various non-state armed and political actors discussed measures to promote the rights of women and girls in these territories. Fight for Humanity believes that the work for gender equality from the bottom up, in addition to being a goal in itself, is the best way to fight sexual violence and promote women’s participation at all levels.
In addition to these key topics the organization also works on the situation of children living in territories controlled by non-state armed actors notably in Syria.
Fight for Humanity will continue to construct partnerships with like-minded organizations and to advocate human rights to relevant armed in political actors, in order to better protect the rights of the millions of people living in the areas under their control, working to make sure that no one is indeed left behind.