Peace and Justice Overview

Issues of law and order permeate human society. The role of government is to uphold justice and public order while simultaneously protecting the rights of citizens. This delicate balance can be quickly compromised if government elites express exclusionary ideologies, enact discriminatory and restrictive policies, or tolerate corruption.  A fair and equitable system of law and order is essential to social justice and the protection of human rights.

Censorship

Freedom of expression describes the right to articulate and share thoughts or opinions. In some cases, censorship may be necessary to maintain personal security or privacy; however, a government that restricts expression without reason refuses its people a fundamental human right. One governmental method of controlling speech and activism online is to impose temporary shutdowns of the internet or mobile phone networks during mass protests, political events or other sensitive times. Responding to the rise of user-generated content, governments around the world are introducing new laws that regulate online speech. Even in countries where freedom of speech is generally respected, the degree to which expressions of racism, violence, sexual content and other “explicit material” should be allowed or censored is a matter of ongoing debate.

Corruption

Wielding power is an important yet highly delicate aspect of leadership. When public office is misused for personal gain, it’s an abuse of power. Degrees of this widespread problem range from petty corruption, the everyday behavior of officials who take advantage of ordinary citizens, to grand corruption that disrupts the very functioning of the government. Demands for bribes, warrantless wiretapping, false imprisonment and police brutality are all examples of corrupt behavior. In the private sector, misuse of power might take the form of harassment,bribery, or dishonesty in business. Corruption is a widespread problem around the world, damaging economic growth and human rights. Although it is impossible to estimate the damage done by global corruption, it has been shown to deter investment and thwart political legitimacy.

Cyber Crime

As technology leads the world to become increasingly interconnected, the challenge of maintaining personal security and privacy can become more difficult. Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity. Cyber criminals use computer information systems to terrorize, attack or steal. Piracy, hacking and identity theft are all byproducts in the ongoing debate of ownership of information. Piracy is the digital theft of privately owned files, while hacking is the act of accessing private information and capabilities on a system without the owner’s permission. Identity theft is the theft of personal identifying information, which then can be used to steal money or personal privileges from an individual. The crime of cyber terrorism, meanwhile, is similar to “traditional terrorism” in its objective of attacking a powerful entity, thus pressuring it to respond to the demands of the terrorist group. Given the many threats posed by cyber crime, innovation and widespread proficiency in cyber security are key to safety in public and private sectors alike.

Dictatorship and Repression

Absolute power given to one person, or to a small group in government, is known as a dictatorship. This type of government often employs repression, terror and propaganda to maintain control. Dictators’ stringent policies not only make life difficult and dangerous for everyday citizens, they also disproportionately allocate any wealth or resources for their personal advantage. As a result, industry is stifled and an entire nation stagnated by corruption, poverty and chaos. Repression can also involve political violence. From police brutality and torture to counter-insurgency and civil war, political violence is organized specifically to gain or maintain power. Political instability discourages business from expanding, as companies tend to avoid involvement in conflict; thus, political violence harms the global economy by thwarting possibilities of foreign investments and trade.

Public Protest

Various forms of public assembly are limited and/or restricted by governments.  But when demands for reform are not met, citizens will voice their discontent in a public demonstration such as a rally, protest and/or strike. Injustice such as an unfair election, a controversial government decision, a war, or a corporate action are typical triggers for public demonstrations.  Though non-lethal methods such as tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons are used for crowd-control, they can still be dangerous and even deadly, and are criticized as tools of state-sponsored human rights abuse. Non-violent assemblies can quickly escalate into riots when police or other authorities are unable to impose proper crowd-control methods.

Punishment and Imprisonment

Mass violence is a clear crime against humanity. Genocide is the intentional murder of people belonging to a particular ethnic, religious or national group, while ethnic cleansing more inclusively describes any systematic elimination of an ethnic group by deportation, forced emigration, or other means. A state regime may commit genocide to control political or ideological viewpoints. As genocide is often sponsored or tolerated by the local government, help for a victimized group often must come from a foreign or international force. While some genocide leaders have been prosecuted retroactively, and international groups have committed to pursuing anti-genocide initiatives, effective genocide prevention has very rarely occurred. Similar to genocide in its intent, terrorism is criminal action calculated to provoke terror among civilians, often a tactic for small but strong-willed groups to oppose a more powerful group or majority. Terrorism is often perpetrated for a combination of political and ideological goals.

Refugees and Immigrants

Uprooted from their homes by persecution or armed conflict, millions of people become refugees or asylees each year, living in a new country without the same rights as nationals. Refugees often require care to ensure mental and physical health in the short term, and may need help with linguistic and cultural adjustment in the long term. Other migrants may move for less catastrophic reasons, such as poverty and unemployment, but after moving they often face new economic challenges, such as language barriers, legal restrictions, and discrimination. These problems can occur across or within national borders.

Terrorism and Genocide

Mass violence is a clear crime against humanity. Genocide is the intentional murder of people belonging to a particular ethnic, religious or national group, while ethnic cleansing more inclusively describes any systematic elimination of an ethnic group by deportation, forced emigration, or other means. A state regime may commit genocide to control political or ideological viewpoints. As genocide is often sponsored or tolerated by the local government, help for a victimized group often must come from a foreign or international force. While some genocide leaders have been prosecuted retroactively, and international groups have committed to pursuing anti-genocide initiatives, effective genocide prevention has very rarely occurred. Similar to genocide in its intent, terrorism is criminal action calculated to provoke terror among civilians, often a tactic for small but strong-willed groups to oppose a more powerful group or majority. Terrorism is often perpetrated for a combination of political and ideological goals.

War

War is an extended violent conflict, such as between national governments.  These large conflicts can kill and injure millions of people. War hurts survivors as well; along with the grief caused to families of the deceased, soldiers who return home may suffer mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder, along with other longer-term physical effects of war conditions. War also wreaks havoc on an economy, needlessly ravaging valuable natural and modern resources. While war between internationally recognized countries has created devastation for many, civil war has become even more of a widespread problem. The most striking common factor among war-prone countries is their poverty. The poorest one sixth of humanity endures four-fifths of the world’s civil wars.