More than a Pledge, a Call to Confront Ongoing Human Rights Abuses during the Global Refugee Forum

By USCRI December 15, 2023

By USCRI President and CEO Eskinder Negash


As countries and international stakeholders convene at the Global Refugee Forum to talk about supporting refugees and other displaced populations, they must also confront the human rights abuses that persist worldwide. Despite the strides made since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights nearly 75 years ago, violations of international humanitarian law continue to lead to appalling human tragedies and the forced displacement of millions.

Across the globe, new and renewed conflicts have broken out and protracted ones persisted. Government forces and armed groups have been responsible for violations of international humanitarian law and committing human rights abuses, in some cases amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing, such as the case of Sudan.

The conflict in Ethiopia intensified, becoming one of the deadliest in recent memory, marked by the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans. Various countries, including Myanmar, Haiti, Mali, Venezuela, and Yemen, face armed conflicts and human rights violations. China gets minimal condemnation despite its long-term human rights violations against Uyghurs. Indigenous peoples’ rights are violated when states fail to protect them from corporate or state expropriation of their lands, such as in Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

Sexual violence is perpetrated in conflicts in different regions, including as a weapon of war. In both the Central African Republic and South Sudan, dozens of women and girls reported being raped in the context of clashes between government forces and armed groups or attacks by armed groups against civilians.

Freedom of expression and of the press are often repressed. Activists, journalists, religious minorities, and members of the political opposition face harassment, intimidation, threats, torture, and arbitrary arrests. Security forces raided media premises in Sudan and Uganda while authorities in Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, and Tanzania suspended or shut down media outlets for publishing content deemed critical of or unfavorable to the government. Those advocating for or defending human rights often bear the brunt of such repression.

International responses to different conflicts and the protection of people fleeing them remain inconsistent. The international community’s rapid response to assist Ukrainians after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an example of the immense communal capacity to welcome those in search of safety when there is political will. This kind of response should be the standard and not the exception.

Against the backdrop of Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, USCRI urges the collaborative action of leaders and institutions around the world to hold perpetrators accountable, advocate for policy changes, and empower those affected.

Mere discussion about these issues at the Global Refugee Forum is not enough; pledges without action are insufficient. The international community must remain committed to human rights every day.


USCRI, founded in 1911, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit international organization committed to working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and their transition to a dignified life.

For press inquiries, please contact: [email protected].

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