Many human rights issues came into the spotlight in the 20th century, which prompted human rights campaigns to make their relevance in the world.
The primary motivation for campaigns promoting human rights in the 20th century was to stop the holocaust, reduce the horrors of World Wars, help newly independent countries from the aftershocks of colonialism, and bring the world to a normal life after a nuclear disaster.
Why Were Human Rights Campaigns Famous in the 20th Century?
Due to the absence of media outlets and the restrictions on the freedom of speech, human rights abuses often went unnoticed in the 20th century.
The absence of a global human rights police force also paved the way for establishing international political institutions, particularly the United Nations, under which different agencies were created to promote human rights across the world.
The establishment of the UN was a clear signal for many human rights advocates to fast-track their efforts to denounce all the prevailing abuses in the world.
The 20th century was also the time of mass murders. Some of the draconian events that happened in the first half of the 20th century included:
- World War I
- World War II
- Nuclear explosions in Japan
All of these events triggered massive human rights abuses, as the number of casualties in some major events was:
- World War I: 20 million people died, 21 million wounded
- World War II: 70 million died
- Holocaust: 6 million
- Japan Bombings: 0.4 million
So, the scope of the human rights campaign was pervasive throughout the whole century.
Primary Motivation of Human Rights Campaigns in the 20th Century
Some of the primary objectives of human rights campaigns in the last century were:
Saving Jews from the Horrors of Nazi Germany
With the rise of human rights campaigns in favor of Jews in the wake of the holocaust, many questions emerged about why Jews did not resist their own exploitation.
They did not resist because they were facing asymmetrical warfare against them. They had no access to weapons, and they were surrounded by Nazis. Any sort of resistance was quelled significantly and instantly.
Nazi Germany was launching their so-called “Final Solution” to eliminate Jews, and no media outlet was allowed to unleash the draconian ambitions of the Hitler-led army. As all the plans of Nazi Germany were hidden, most attacks against Jews came out of the blue, which did not give them enough time to prepare for any counter-offensive strategy.
Amid these crises, many human rights watchers kept their eyes on the cruelty of Nazi Germany.
Minimizing the Aftershocks of Decolonization
Human rights campaigns worldwide also helped to fast-track decolonization worldwide. Many local politicians in different parts of the world stood up against the abuses of colonialism that pushed the vulnerable population of third-world countries into chaos.
For instance, a famine struck Bengal in 1943. Back then, the British used to export a significant chunk of India’s grain, rice, opium, cotton, and jute to the United Kingdom, which left Indians vulnerable. This resulted in the famine in Bengal in 1943, which was obviously a violation of human rights.
Many local politicians campaigned on the issue, and that humanitarian disaster contributed to the independence of India in 1947 from British colonialism under the global decolonization drive.
After decolonization, the independence of previously British-ruled countries also posed a significant challenge for human rights watchdogs.
Some reports suggest that almost 2 million people died in the partition of India alone, followed by other humanitarian disasters, including famine and poor governance in the newly established nations.
So, one of the primary focuses of human rights campaigns was to worry about the changing maps of the world in the last century.
Civil Rights and Human Rights Campaigns
Civil rights issues were also making headlines in the 20th century. Many human rights campaigns were also motivated to spread civil rights in the last century.
For example, the civil rights movement under the leadership of Martin Luther King ended up with the official blockade of Jim Crow laws in the United States.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended racial discrimination in the United States, which was a major victory for the human rights movement in the last century.
Additionally, feminism was also a notable human rights issue in the 20th century, as many human rights watchdogs campaigned for equal rights for women.
As the 20th century became the century of globalization, human rights also became an international issue. It means that human rights watchdogs were worried about the humanitarian crisis in other parts of the world.
So, human rights campaigns went global and started their regional branches in different parts of the world by collaborating with local partners worldwide. Thus, human rights campaigns were also worried about the rising human rights abuses worldwide in the last century.
Eli is a Political Data Scientist with over thirty years of experience in Data Engineering, Analytics, and Digital Marketing. Eli uses his expertise to give the latest information and distinctive analysis on US Political News, US Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Racial Justice equipping readers with the inequivalent knowledge.