Wednesday, January 08, 2014

GINS Post #5: Rights? Freedoms? Charters?


From what I can see, the problem isn't whether or not they have a Constitution. In fact, the Constitution of Afghanistan appears to outline fundamental human rights and freedoms, and shares many, many values as those outlined in our constitution. 

So why are all these issues still present? I believe it comes down to the application of their constitution, and the efficiency of the government's power. Like it or not, the Taliban and similar forces still have a strong hold on how things work in Afghanistan, and the Constitution can only do so much when such powerful forces see no need to abide by it.


Discrimination, lack of justice, and overall corruption of basic human rights and freedoms (especially for women) were all prominent issues in Thunder Over Kandahar, and these issues are also seen again and again in the news and in other media and publications. These issues are going on, and yet the Constitution of Afghanistan says these shouldn't be present. Words in a document are only of so much value. The key is to have a government that supports and enforces their constitution, and a nation without powerful forces working against it.


In Afghanistan, the innocent are just as much victims as those who do bad. Not only are they not safe, they are prosecuted.


Let's take a second and compare with Canada's charter. If Afghanistan had the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it probably wouldn't make a difference. It might even make things worse. Why? Our Charter reflects the western worldview and our values, not that of Afghanistan. Gender equality, life, liberty: these are very western values. And in our Charter, they are expressed in a very western way. Furthermore, Afghanistan has a decent Constitution, outlining rights, freedoms, and other guidelines to a democratic society. It's just not actually applied. So if Canada's Charter was applied in Afghanistan, we might actually see these issues being resolved.


Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen any time soon...



8 comments:

  1. Your post is quite well written and the cartoon is a unique idea. You say Afghanistan constitution is similar to Canada's what would be some specific similarities and differences. With equality as a right how does it change from Canada to Afghanistan?

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    1. As outlined in Afghanistan's constitution, it would appear they have the same equality rights as we do. Obviously, this is not the case. It all comes down to the fact that they are politically unstable, and the government a) is not in full power, and b) often must involuntarily follow the values of the USA and the Western World.

      Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. Julia: This is a terrific post on how we have two totally different societies and it will not matter whether or not we implement the charter the government needs to start taking action and trying to enforce the laws and try to make a change. The cartoon you showed at the beginning was brilliant in everyday. It really showed what there worldview was and how it reflected there values and how they treat women down there. I mean if they are this angry about letting women going to school think about the anger of women getting jobs and running for office. Though you already answered this I really think you should rethink your answer. Do you think there will be a change in there societies any time soon

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    1. Oh god, there's kind of a reason I left that as a semi-rhetorical question. I could go on for ages. I believe that in looking at the status of a country, you have to look at the trend they've been following. For Afghanistan, it hasn't been so great. On paper and in words, there's been improvement. They have a solid constitution, have overrun the Taliban, and they say that equality is a right. What hasn't changed, however, is the actual support of these values, and actual action in the right direction. Words are nothing without people willing to enforce them.

      Thanks for commenting :)

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  3. I like the cartoon and it really helps bring out the point. I completely agree with you about how they are not running the country based on their constitution. This may have to do with the Taliban, and this may have to do with the government, but I think that whatever they do, they should fix it. For the Canadian charter they address women's rights and equality between genders. But, as I have said in other posts, Canada's has a very western view of rights, especially equality rights. What works for us may not work for them. As you said, the Taliban have a large amount of control over the country which may cause problems in actually implementing a constitution like Canada's. If the country would have started out with Canadian rights, women's rights would be addressed and there would be gender equality. The country could also build its own rights and make some change, but because of the Taliban control and like you said at the bottom, it probably isn't going to happen anytime soon. Great job :)

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    1. Your comment was very insightful :) Not only are the Taliban still present, but the USA is often the voice of the government, sometimes secretively, sometimes not so much. If the Afghan government had steady power, I think they might have a chance at resolving all these issues. But as it is today, words on paper just aren't doing it.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  4. I really liked how you explained why the Afghanistan constitution wasn't applied/enforced correctly because of the Taliban and corruption. An analogy that I thought up: It's like making a law against speeding, but the police are too lazy or too corrupt to enforce it. What's the point of making rules if no-one's going to follow them? I agree that corruption is running rampant in Afghanistan, especially with US intervention. They really need to become more independent from all forces (Taliban, US, etc.) to solve their own problems and to improve equality rights with women. As you've said before, our western values (trying not to be ethnocentric here) might not actually benefit Afghanistan at all. But, if the Canadian charter/constitution was applied to Afghanistan, how might it actually change Afghanistan?

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  5. Hey Julia,
    I agree with many of your points, and the Taliban still do have some control on the countries, but if there is a document actually supporting human rights, then how would anything change if the Canadian Charter were applied? I read an article which directly interfered with our legal rights, and made it legal for police in BC to perform a search and seizure without consent. This goes to show that even in Canada, our rights are slowly waning, and especially in places like Afghanistan, that kind of thing would be more frequently happening. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Afghanistan may have a document that supports our human rights, but the way they actually treat it is just like something optional. Would you agree from that perspective?
    Anyways, well done with your litspiration blog




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