Global Justice

Human Rights and Global Justice: A Never-Ending Goal

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 1.29.10 PM.png

In the midst of an encounter with atrocity or injustice, a community leader, an advocate, or a witness may be overwhelmed by a single goal: to bring the crisis to end. The motivating force for action in that moment may be short-term and ultimately attainable. If a migrant population is under assault or a marginalized group is threatened, it’s easy to recognize a simple need: bring relief to the suffering and bring the perpetrators to justice.

But what then?  

A true resolution involves an analysis of why the crisis occurred in the first place. The analysis must be followed by meaningful action to prevent a resurgence of the same circumstances. And since the forces that lead to global injustice are rarely simple, a perfect repetition of the same events will likely never happen. Instead, despite deep analysis and careful preparation, the next such crisis will still seem to arise without warning. And the next. And the next.

In fact, most experts on the subject of global justice seem to agree that the forces that contribute to oppression, unjust resource distribution and involuntary migration are rising at this point in history, not diminishing. From a spike in authoritarian governance to climate change, the factors that bring trouble are not decreasing with each lesson learned, but are instead gathering on the horizon like a dark cloud.

As we witness the annual arrival of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we’re once again faced with a difficult question: How can we declare “never again” in the face of injustice and truly follow through on that promise?

Like a boat on the sea, we are lifted and dropped by the currents that surround us. We can’t hold a fixed position, but we can learn to recognize the rhythms behind each shift, anticipate, respond, remain flexible and remain ever-vigilant. We can accept, as the Talmud instructs us, that we are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are we free to abandon it.

Here’s a beautiful example of a person who has “not become daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief”. This is an inspiring interview with Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and the newly confirmed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  

As Bachelet discusses implementing global systems and leveraging the existing resources of the Human Rights Council, recognize that her history includes detention and torture under the Pinochet regime in Chile, and note how far she has come from the rage that once burned at the core of her search for justice.

Though it is driven by chaos, rage and grief, the path to peace is a structured process. Resilience and determined forward motion are essential, even if the final destination seems always just out of reach.

Please join us on this path! Contact our team to help us maintain steady global progress toward a better and safer world.

A Summary of Our Current Projects

When democracy faces threats, the circle of concern doesn’t stop at the limits of Capitol Hill. It’s true that a functional society begins with a sound and well-reasoned approach to lawmaking, and ideally, a democratic system ensures that those affected by the laws of the land will have a hand in their creation. But while the halls of congress represent the most visible pillars of democracy, threats to those pillars quickly become threats to systems of enforcement and justice, fair distributions of opportunity, and fair access to resources. When democratic governance starts to crumble, other stable systems that we rely on in a just society begin to crumble as well.

76.jpg

As we mentioned in the previous post, our mission is defined by these threats. Here at JAI, we recognize that protecting the rights of the many from the will of the powerful few demands constant vigilance. And we recognize that the same vigilance is necessary if we hope to protect the environment and maintain sustainability and equal access to natural resources. Our goal is to use the most effective tool available to us—the rule of law—to keep these threats at bay and bring accountability to those who seek to personally profit at the expense of justice, peace, and global stability for everyone else.

Here’s a quick overview of some of our recent and ongoing efforts.

Seeking Accountability for the Crime of Aggression

For the first time in history, the Nuremberg Trials established an early draft of what would later found a system of international law and international criminal justice. As part of this effort, acts of criminal behavior had to be defined in a way that transcended all cultures, regions, languages and systems of law and order. One of the crimes named and identified during this process was the crime of “aggression”, an unjust and unsanctioned war launched by one nation against another without the support of the international community. War is humanity’s greatest horror, and during the Nuremberg Trials, aggression was specifically identified as a “supreme international crime.” But six decades later, high ranking members of the Bush Administration launched the war in Iraq in clear violation of the will of the United Nations. So far, none of these officials have been held accountable for their actions. We’re working to change that. By pursuing accountability, we hope to strengthen and uphold the principles of international law, and we also hope to prevent future acts of aggression and unilateral warmongering.

Climate Change and Human Hardship

As a result of human activity, the planet is warming and the climate is changing. Ecosystems are experiencing unprecedented and unpredictable shifts, and these shifts will be followed by unprecedented and unpredictable forms of human hardship. The entire planet will likely be impacted by these waves of change and ensuing waves of difficulty, which may include massive migrations, displacements, and upsets in food and water distribution. We’re working on several fronts to anticipate and mitigate these problems. Our efforts include the creation of a comprehensive international legal guide related to climate change, and also a set of comprehensive guidelines for policy makers that will help them anticipate and respond to an expected refugee crisis.

Click here to learn more about the actions we’re taking on these issues and others, and please contact us if you’d like to contribute to our efforts.

Protecting Democracy Through Legal Pathways: Let’s Talk About Our Core Mission

A functional democratic system of government protects all those who live under the influence of that system. This is a hard-earned lesson that has sustained peaceful and prosperous nations for several centuries, since the slow rise of democratic social systems began exerting its influence over global commerce, agriculture, justice, education, and all aspects of the way we live in modern self-governing societies. When the people choose their elected leaders, they maintain control over the drafting and enforcement of the laws that mark their path through life, and as long as this control stays in the hands of the people, the institutions that protect, feed, nurture, and sustain us can serve the needs of the many rather than exploiting the many to serve the few.

Self-governance has proven its value over time, but as we’ve come to rely on central democratic principles to sustain functional societies, we’ve learned another important lesson: democracy is fragile. It’s easy to take for granted, and it’s constantly under threat. The will of the few and powerful will always exert itself over the needs of the many, and might will always search for ways to undermine right. Democracy cannot thrive when it goes unprotected. And in our current era, threats to systems of democratic governance are virulent and on the rise.

75.jpg

When democracy begins to struggle or fail, injustice, resource distribution problems, and the cruelty of war begin to gain a foothold. Chaos creates avenues of opportunity for the powerful few, and human suffering begins to increase. In the 21st century, the greatest challenges to democracy and human well-being appear to be falling into two distinct categories: global warfare and climate change.

A healthy democracy 1) adheres to the rule of law, 2) protects human rights, 3) resolves international disputes through peaceful means, and 4) promotes an economic structure that grants sustainable and equal opportunities for all who live within its bounds. When a functional society supported by these four pillars comes under threat, protective action can be taken through a wide range of mechanisms, including education, science and research, art and culture, and political action. Here at Just Atonement Inc, we support democracy by leveraging the avenue of law. We have committed ourselves to the application of legal systems to protect the vulnerable, strengthen democratic principles, and work to ensure a brighter and safer future for ourselves, our descendants, and all present and future members of our global community. 

How can a legal team protect democracy? How can a law-focused organization serve those who are threatened by injustice or violent conflict? And how can an application of the law mitigate the chaos that looms as a result of a changing climate? What influence might we exercise over threats that seem wider and more amorphous that any dispute that can be resolved in a courtroom?

The answer is far from simple. But our goals are built around a simple idea: that we can begin by cultivating a sense of accountability. And that if we believe in human resilience and the power of human consciousness, we can build a stronghold against the challenges that are poised to shape the century ahead. Our manifesto is posted here and over the next few posts, we’ll discuss more about how our actions, intentions and current projects are founded on this core mission.

 

A Golden Age for Humanity: Is it Possible?

In addition to defending those who are vulnerable to the environmentally destructive actions of big business and government, our team works to advance a system of justice that transcends national borders. For example, leaders who participate in or condone acts of genocide, exploitation, or human trafficking are rarely held accountable by their own governments. But a strong and reliable system of international justice can prevent such individuals from justifying these actions or refusing to face those who have been harmed.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), centered in The Hague, has come into existence within our lifetimes—a major advancement in the course of human history. And while the institution has yet to gain the strength that’s more accessible to criminal courts established by individual nations, we believe that this goal is on the horizon. Here at Just Atonement, we live in two worlds: First the present, in which a complete system of international criminal justice has yet to be shored up to put to the ultimate test. And second, the future, in which such a system is respected and feared by would-be tyrants and opportunists.

We also believe that an established system of international justice forms just one pillar of a golden age that may be within reach for humanity—And maybe, like the ICC, this golden age might be attainable within our own lifetimes.

Despite the threats that currently face our shared environment and despite populations around the globe that struggle with hunger and lawlessness, 2017 can be considered an excellent year for advancements against poverty and human suffering. Check out this useful collection of data points.

48.jpg

Globally, more people than ever before are living above the extreme poverty line of two dollars a day, more people have access to electricity, and more have access to clean water then in years past. Vaccinations and simple life-saving treatments for common ailments are more available than ever before to isolated communities. And while the environment is certainly in peril, access to information and education are improving, and hopefully, the more we know about how to protect the planet from ourselves, the sooner we’ll transition to renewable energy and find ways to limit waste and environmental exploitation.

Here at Just Atonement, we believe that a golden age lies within our reach. Our goal: a world in which health, hygiene, literacy, access to justice, and freedom from fear are available to all people in every part of the world. We imagine living in balance with a planet that can safely and sustainably provide for all of us, and when we add up the numbers, we recognize that this is not a mathematical impossibility. If you have the skills or training to help us move forward toward this goal, we’d like to hear from you! Contact our office and find out how you can contribute to our efforts.  

Small Actions, Large Actions, Global Stability, and You

Is the world in trouble? Are we about to experience a shock wave of instability that will shake off a massive number of us—the poor, the middle class, those who live on the coast, those who live in the path of climate change and economic disruption—like the drops of water that fly off a shaking dog? Maybe.

But also maybe not. Many of the issues that make their way into our blog are the issues that directly threaten the people we’re working to protect and support, and so a correlation exists between these events and the populations that draw our attention.

But we try not to focus solely on issues that impact only one geographic area, one population, or one isolated industry. We recognize that meaningful connections exist between every person and every event on the planet, and we try to keep our lens wide and our global outlook as broad as possible. With that in mind, we recognize two important truths: global economies are healthier at this point than they have been during most of the last century, and with modern technological advances, communication and information-sharing are taking place on unprecedented levels which—despite their flaws and negative side effects—provide healthy underpinnings for democratic societies. Human activity threatens the planet and global health, but as dangers have risen around us, so too has our ability to recognize, discuss, and solve related problems.

So how well are we leveraging that ability? How well are we using tools like communication, technology, and wealth to balance the scales? Are we using them at all? If you’re living comfortably or you imagine yourself dwelling far from the path of harm, how are you leveraging your advantages to protect those around you? Here are few things to keep in mind if you happen to be reaping the benefits of the 21st century and feeling sheltered from its dangers.

28.jpg

Reach for higher levers.

It’s important to recycle, cut waste, turn off lights in unused rooms and ask bartenders to keep the plastic straws out of our drinks. These things are great, and they can help us reduce our individual footprints and diminish our personal environmental impact. But these actions are available to everyone. If you have the ability to do more, reach a little higher and exercise that ability. If you have the personal resources, financial means, or social influence to pull a higher lever, extend yourself and do what others can’t. Spread your message to a wider audience. Pick up the phone and exercise your greater-than-average impact on policy decisions. Organize.

Check your investments.

It may be time to take a close look at your 401K and mutual fund holdings and critically examine the industries and corporations that are holding you aloft. If you like what you see, great. If not, shift your portfolio away from fossil fuels and toward holdings that promote rather than undermine global stability. Contact your fund managers or investment advisor and start a conversation about sustainability, activist ETFs, and working environmental issues into your long-term goals. If your fund managers don’t offer products focused on sustainability, encourage them to change that.

Adjust your language.

You’re having lunch with clients or coworkers, and an issue comes up that can easily be brushed aside. The issue may involve the fate of a marginalized population not represented in the room, or an issue of global and environmental concern that seems remote and disconnected from the current time and place. Instead of letting the topic slide off the table unnoticed, take five seconds to educate, influence, or voice your convictions. Small ripples can cover the surface of a large pond. Throw in your pebble before you walk away.

For more simple moves that can help you make the most of your influence and leverage your position to protect others, work for global justice, or start building a positive legacy, contact our team. We’ll point you in the right direction.