When you’re writing a paper on human rights, you want to pick a topic that’s relevant and compelling. It seems like our world is heading in a downwards spiral, but writing about the issues provokes action, which in turn results in change. Here are five topics that have been getting attention (or aren’t getting enough attention) in recent years. These are all important; choosing one just comes down to what speaks to you most powerfully:
Police brutality in the United States
Violence by American police is a major issue in the human rights arena these days and data indicates it’s getting worse. According to Killed By Police, a website that tracks police killings, 2018 has witnessed more deaths than in the last five years over the same period of time. It most likely won’t get better, as the DOJ recently ended a program that helped keep corrupt police departments in check. Black Americans are most vulnerable; in 2012, they made up 31% of police-killing victims, while only comprising 13% of the total US population.
Questions an essay could answer: Why are African-Americans and other minorities at a higher risk of police violence than white people? What has been done to undermine efforts to change the policing system? What could reduce killings by law enforcement?
Global mental health treatment
We hear a lot about how the mental health system in America is broken, but on a global scale, it’s just as much of a problem. Close to 800 000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Not much has been done to treat this issue, though according to a World Bank study, poor mental health has a drastic effect on one’s quality of life. Most governments have very small budgets for mental health treatment. In a WHO study, around 47 countries (out of 191) do not have any kind of national legislation or policies on mental health.
Questions an essay could answer: What is the current state of mental health treatment around the world? What specific treatments exist? What effect does poor mental health have on a nation’s economy, culture, etc? Why hasn’t the United Nations taken more aggressive action?
US policy on refugees
Since President Trump took office and instituted increasingly harsh limits and action on refugees and immigration, the US has entered a dark time. Just nine months after entering office, he capped the refugee admissions number to 45,000. Other programmes have been completely eliminated, such as the Central Americans Minors programme, which let children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras join their parents who are legally in the US. Those seeking asylum have also been met with significant opposition. The biggest story, of course, is how children are being separated and interned apart from their parents. These are just a few topics that a paper about the US refugee policy could cover.
Questions an essay could answer: How has the current US refugee policy affected other countries’ opinion on America? How is this policy different than America’s stance in the past? What are the potential consequences of letting so few refugees into the country, for them and for the United States?
Transgender rights in Europe
In recent years, transgender rights have been challenged in the political arena with legislation such as the Bathroom Laws and weakened legal protection against work discrimination. What’s happening in Europe? In many countries like Belgium and Switzerland, transgender individuals were until very recently legally required to undergo sterilization and surgery before obtaining new identification papers. What provoked this change?
Questions an essay could answer: What is the history of trans rights in Europe? What countries have made the most positive moves in accepting transgender individuals? What can the United States do to follow progressive European countries into a new era?
Disability rights in America
Though somewhat ignored by the media, disability rights are under attack in America. Various pieces of legislature include deep cuts to Medicaid and removals of protections for disabled workers and students. One of the biggest blows is the Medicaid work requirement, which is currently allowed in three states. In order to receive assistance, people must meet a certain number of hours, but those with disabilities or illnesses won’t be able to. In response, Americans with disabilities are rising up in protest.
Questions an essay could answer: How are disability advocates fighting for their cause? What is the Trump administration’s response to activists? What can be done to protect those with disabilities?