A couple of the major issues facing the world within the twenty-first century are ones of environmental and human rights. However, are these connected? How so if yes? Indeed, they are and both are significant problems for Tunisia! Simply put, with the continuation of western influence on globalization in terms of practices and techniques, countries that are deemed “Third World” are instituting much of the same practices and thus are arriving at the same issues that the western world are. Within Tunisia specifically, steps are being taken to remedy slights against human rights and are trying to curb global warming emissions. However, if you recall from my previous post, Tunisia has a score of pollution issues as well as a major concern over rising water levels being on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. One major step was to incorporate global warming into the national constitution. “The new climate clause under Article 45 obliges the state to guarantee ‘a sound climate and the right to a sound and balanced environment’, and to ‘provide the necessary means to eliminate environmental pollution.'” http://science.time.com/2014/01/29/tunisia-recognizes-climate-change-in-its-constitution/
However, concerns are not about recognizing the issue but trying to address and implement it. With the country trying to establish itself as an economic power, much like Carthage of old, industrialization and mimicry of the western style will almost assuredly lead to negatives. There is a factory that reportedly exudes 13,000 tons of pollutants into the Mediterranean sea every year! This affects fishing and coastline quality in addition to safety for each. Another issue is not far from the first and takes the form of several meters high piles of phosphate that is hazardous for the environment and humans alike. According to http://www.dw.com/en/the-quiet-environmental-disaster-in-tunisia/a-16796561, “If the byproducts are not cleaned up before they are stored away, the village residents could also suffer from the toxins and radioactivity.” However, the article also states “The Chemical Group has estimated that the new plan would cost some 400 million dinars (around 200 million euros, or $262 million), but the company does not have access to those kinds of funds.” The country also is struggling economically so the prospect of removal of these piles is very slim indeed. However, this also allows for water pollution that is killing many people. These issues are rapidly approaching the bridge between climate change and environmental integrity and Human Rights.
Unfortunately, human rights is also not a positive for Tunisia. The newly ratified constitution addresses several issues and Tunisia is improving on this issue however. “Important reforms include the adoption of new laws to combat torture and the establishment of a truth commission into past rights abuses, but a new security law raises human rights concerns.”https://www.hrw.org/middle-east/n-africa/tunisia However, much work needs to be done to continue to progress from an overbearing previous government. A new security law is the target of a rise in human rights concerns as well as previous slights against human rights such as killing protestors during the uprising that brought about the government change. All in all, Tunisia is recovering from a government that hasn’t done favors for the new government.
Applying what Farish Noor wrote on in his article “Beyond Eurocentrism”, America and the west should not seek to impose its will on the rest of the world, yet neither should the idea of essentialism which divides the world into small domains unintentionally. The difference between Eurocentrism and Essentialism is that Eurocentrism is blatant domination of every aspect of culture. Essentialism, in terms of achieving equality, is well intentioned but fails to perceive that different cultures have different methods. Thus, in my opinion, it should be re-termed as “Subtle Eurocentrism”. Every culture strives to uphold certain virtues that are universally accepted, however, they arrive at it differently. Corresponding to what my Native American Geographies course, rather than dominating one another, cultures should work together to achieve a common goal by embracing the more indigenous group due to the fact that different geographies affects not only physical differences but culturally accepted practices and perspectives. In terms of Tunisia, the west should lend a helping hand, however, it is Tunisia’s plight and they need to arrive at a conclusion on their own in order to properly address the issues. Tunisia should strike a balance between adopting euro-centric aspects and aid in addition to developing their own new techniques. There is a lot of work in this country in regards to these issues but there is also progress and hope for a brighter future!
Websites used in order of appearance:
Pictures used in order of appearance: