The idea of human rights claims is that all human beings possess the same basic rights, no matter what their differences are, and that these rights put us in a reciprocal relationship of obligation to one another. Since human rights are the common birthright of every human being, respect is owed to all. Yet despite the widespread nature of this ideal, human rights are still widely denied, evaded, or ignored around the world.

In Human Rights Watch's World Report 2011, the largest Human Rights organization in the United States presents its 21st annual review of practices in over 90 countries and territories around the globe including Iran, China, Cuba, Rwanda, Burma, Sri Lanka, and Israel. Given the events in Egypt, it is enlightening to read about this country's human rights violations. Here is what Human Rights Watch seeks to do:

• "Stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice."

• "Investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable."

• "Challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law."

• "Enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all."

Among the most blatant violations of human rights are torture, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of homosexuals, recruitment and use of children as soldiers, sexual violation of children in conflict, forced labor, trafficking of women, attacks targeting civilians in minority areas, repression of the political opposition, lack of accountability for political violence, closing down of the media, abuse of migrant workers, attacks against foreigners, and much more.

In his introduction to the book, Executive Director Kenneth Roth contends that nations and organizations that one would expect to be ardent "champions of human rights" have not done so and instead have resorted to "softer approaches such as private 'dialogue' and 'cooperation.' " What is at play here is a refusal to jeopardize or limit business interests along with counterterrorism alliances. Roth suggests that the nations and organizations which are turning their backs on serious human rights violations change their ways. A concluding look at human rights violations in America is sad to read.