10 Countries With A Unique Human Rights Problem
In May 2011, the people of Malta voted to legalize divorce, leaving the Philippines as the only country in the world where it isn’t currently allowed. The strong influence of the Catholic Church is the main obstacle to its legalization, as politicians are in favor of what many consider to be the basic right of being able to end a relationship.The ban has forced Filipinos to come up with imaginative ways to separate. A marriage can be annulled if a psychiatrist declares one of the partners to be “psychologically incapacitated” in such a way that they are unable to fulfill their matrimonial obligations. What counts as an obligation isn’t clearly defined, and some people in the country have had multiple marriages annulled.
The USA is the only developed nation not to mandate paid maternity leave for mothers. The only other countries with that distinction are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Liberia, and Lesotho, none of which come within touching distance of the top 100 GDPs by nation. The USA is No. 1. The right to assistance of motherhood is part of Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.The last time the US government took steps toward improving the situation was two decades ago, under Bill Clinton. Since then, mothers have been entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under certain conditions. Only 11 percent of private-sector employees receive paid maternity leave, of around seven weeks on average. Most wealthy nations provide six months or more, and the benefits include lower infant mortality and increased long-term income potential for women.
Iran doesn’t have a fantastic reputation for human rights, but it stands out in one area. It is the only country on Earth where it is legal to buy and sell organs for transplant. This has led to odd incidents such as people advertising their kidneys for sale by spray painting their blood type and phone number on public buildings.While most countries ban organ sales to prevent exploitation of the poor, some experts believe that the situation in Iran is preferable to some alternatives. Thousands of people die waiting for transplants around the world, and “transplant tourism” for black market organs is an issue in other countries. The World Health Organization gives Iran’s policies special mention for limiting the scope of that particular problem.
Until recently, the United States and South Africa were the only industrialized nations not to provide universal healthcare to residents. Now the US stands alone. The right to medical care for all is set out in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by the US in 1948. The level of healthcare available for some people in the US has been compared to that in third world countries. The different standards of healthcare typically available for different racial groups has also been cited as a failure of the US’s obligations under the Race Convention. This agreement, to which the US is party, requires the government to proactively eliminate disparities between different groups. That the US’s international obligations haven’t formed part of the debate over health reform is a reflection of yet another problem in the system.
Famously, the United States is the only UN member state not to have ratified the Kyoto agreement on climate change, which set targets to reduce carbon emissions. Though the US initially signed it, George W. Bush decided against joining due to concerns over the economic impact it would have.Less well-known is that the United States has the worst track record for ratifying human rights treaties out of all wealthy nations. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by every country in the UN except the US and Somalia, a war-torn country that didn’t have a government at the time the treaty was created. The US is also one of only seven countries not to have signed up to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Only other country with a GDP inside the world’s top 70 did not sign up, but this particular nation is a beacon of women’s rights anyway: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
When the Burmese government released opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi, it left China in the unique position of being the only country to have a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in prison. Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for 11 years for criticizing China’s government, which led to him missing the Nobel awards ceremony in 2010. The prize was accepted by his wife and Liu remains in prison, the Chinese government having branded his recognition as “contrary to the purpose of the award and a blasphemy of the Peace Prize.”