Last year, human rights were suppressed and challenged around the world, as wars waged on and began, climate-fueled disasters increased, economic inequality worsened and discrimination against marginalized communities continued, Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared. In a new report, the global nongovernmental organization focused on human rights called on governments internationally to protect and defend human rights “with the urgency, vigor, and persistence needed” to address existential challenges posted for people around the world. “We only have to look at the human rights challenges of 2023 to tell us what we need to do differently in 2024,” The report highlighted the war in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinian people as Israel continues its operations against Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack. More than 23,000 people have died and civilians have been displaced and are at risk of infection and because of the conflict. The report called out governments that have spoken out against certain international crises like the war between Russia and Ukraine, and not crimes committed by other governments, including Chinese “crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” “When governments pick and choose which obligations to enforce, they perpetuate injustice not only in the present but in the future for those whose rights have been sacrificed,” The report criticized the actions of various governments around the world — including the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Vietnam, Australia and countries in Europe — that have triggered “the nefarious use of vague laws” that target climate activists and deter efforts to confront the crisis. Deadly wildfires swept parts of Canada and Europe, and governments struggled to respond to the world’s . Storms wreaked havoc on millions in Bangladesh and Libya, HRW wrote. Despite the deterioration of human rights last year, HRW said progress was made on many fronts, thanks to institutions that “challenge those who wield political power.” The group called on governments international to increase support for groups that solidify human rights protections. “These human rights crises demonstrate the urgency of all governments applying longstanding and mutually agreed principles of international human rights law everywhere,” HRW wrote. “Upholding human rights consistently, across the board, no matter who the victims are or where the rights violations are being committed, is the only way to build the world we want to live in.”

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