Disaster-Related Human Rights Violations and Corruption.pdf

Disaster-Related Human Rights Violations and Corruption.pdf...

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American Behavioral Scientist 2015, Vol. 59(10) 1292–1313 © 2015 SAGE Publications Reprints and permissions: sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0002764215591185 abs.sagepub.com Article Disaster-Related Human Rights Violations and Corruption: A 10-Year Review of Post–Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Lydia Voigt 1 and William E. Thornton 1 Abstract The main goal of this article is to share results of an examination of cases of institutional and structural violations of human rights stemming from various types of corruption, especially in their expression in the later stages of recovery and reconstruction in post-Katrina New Orleans. Utilizing the United Nations definitions of human rights and corruption, our 10-year review finds that a wide variety of disaster-related human rights violations and corruption can be identified in all phases of the disaster. These cases range from failure to plan/implement an adequate response to the impending danger of the hurricanes to failure to protect the public from inadequate products/ services to enacting everyday public policies enabling discriminatory practices and denial of human rights to failure to shield the public from official corruption that has continued to prey on disaster victims. Based on our analysis, we recommend ways of safeguarding human rights, including the right to be free from corruption and reducing disaster risks, particularly for the most vulnerable populations in the future. Keywords human rights, corruption, disaster phases, Katrina, New Orleans Introduction Accompanying major natural disasters are short- and long-term consequences that disproportionately affect minority populations, especially women, children, the sick, 1 Loyola University New Orleans, LA, USA Corresponding Author: Lydia Voigt, Department of Sociology, Loyola University New Orleans, 304 Marquette Hall, Box 80, 6363 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA. Email: [email protected] 591185 ABS XX X 10.1177/0002764215591185American Behavioral Scientist Voigt and Thornton research-article 2015
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Voigt and Thornton 1293 and the elderly and that usually increase inherent inequalities in life and society for a long time after the disaster events have passed. As in the case of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, virtual tidal waves of human rights violations typically occur, often worsen- ing preexisting problems in affected regions, which are then further exacerbated across all stages of disaster recovery and reconstruction. Immediately following Katina and Rita’s landfall, various local, regional and national groups and networks advocating human rights described the disaster in terms of human rights violations (Davis, Kalb and Kaufman, 2014, pp. 700-704). While no category or group of individuals is exempt from human rights violations, particularly victimization by corrupt practices, the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations (i.e., people affected by the deep-rooted inequalities of race, gender, age, and poverty) are often the most victimized by not only the physical consequences of natural disasters but also the more mundane forms of corruption during the recovery and reconstruction period.
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