What is the nexus between Human Rights and National Consciousness?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The nexus between these two concepts is a complicated one.  The idea of human rights can lead to a heightened national consciousness.  However, a heightened national consciousness can erode the human rights of other people.

As an example of this, the abuses of the human rights of Kurds can be said to have helped that group gain a national consciousness.  As Iraqi Kurds suffered human rights violations under Saddam Hussein, for example, they came to have a greater sense of their national identity as Kurds (rather than as Iraqis).  In a case like this, a concern for human rights can lead to increased national consciousness.

However, national consciousness can "go bad" and lead to human rights violations.  An example of this could be that of Zimbabwe.  Zimbabweans' national consciousness was raised in their struggle against white governments.  Under Mugabe, however, this national consciousness led to the violation of the human rights of many white Zimbabweans (and now to the rights of black dissenters).  In this way, excessive national consciousness can lead to the violation of the human rights of "outsiders."

Thus, there is a complicated nexus between these two ideas.

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