The human rights blog of the year

There’s something comforting about wrapping up the year with a wrap-up. Surveying the previous 12 months form the safety of the last day in the office and mulling over the progress and disasters. There’s no shortage of ‘Year in Review’ fodder on news sites. Time website has really indulged with a “10 of the best of everything from 2013” bonanza. Quite a claim.

There are books of the year, people of the year, stories of the year, under-reported stories of the year, words of the year, quotes of the year, births of the year, deaths of the year, numbers of the year (huh – top 10 numbers of the year?) scandals of the year, tweets of the year, outfits of the year, albums of the year – and my own personal favourite -  the top 10 new species of the year, with this glow-in-the-dark cockroach a strong contender for  one of my top 10 faces EVER.

So without further ado, I am going to pile on in with some human rights things of the year … (Disclaimer: views, order and context in no way endorsed by any person of any authority)

Person of the year

There are many to choose from, but one of the Titans of the human rights world who died this year, Nelson Mandela, is the obvious contender for this slot.  He said so many memorable things, but here is one of them: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Word of the year

Surveillance. This was the year that we found out Big Brother is indeed watching, reading, recording, documenting - and fuming -  over one Edward Snowden. Turns out the conspiracy theorists were right. To top the year off Amnesty has filed a claim against the UK government over snooping concerns.

Country of the year

Syria; the war that rumbles on, and the air strike that never was. This year both the UK and the US contemplated air strikes on Syria, but after fierce debate, the idea was shelved. It is another tragic year’s end for the people of Syria, many of them facing desperate and freezing conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, with the UK yet to offer a single place of sanctuary

Backfire of the year 

Sri Lanka’s decision to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November and inadvertently shine a spotlight on their very serious human rights failures. Channel 4 went all-out on cutting through the government’s spin.

Slogan of the year 

Stop the Killer Robots – ok so this isn’t a band (yet) but it is a coalition and I for one am a fan. This year, also saw a damning expose on the civilian casualties killed in drone attacks in Pakistan. In 20 years, could a report focus on casualties of autonomous killing machines? And would they be able to debate the findings with us on the news channel?

Achievement of the year

In March the UN voted overwhelmingly for a global Arms Trade Treaty to control the flow of weapons. So far, 115 states have signed it, among them the USA and the UK. This is no small thing

Good luck topping that, 2014.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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