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World seeing near breakdown of international law amid wars in Gaza and Ukraine, Amnesty says

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LONDON -

The world is seeing a near breakdown of international law amid flagrant rule-breaking in Gaza and Ukraine, multiplying armed conflicts, the rise of authoritarianism and huge rights violations in Sudan, Ethiopia and Myanmar, Amnesty International warned Wednesday as it published its annual report.

The human rights organization said the most powerful governments, including the United States, Russia and China, have led a global disregard for international rules and values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with civilians in conflicts paying the highest price.

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty's secretary general, said the level of violation of international order witnessed in the past year was "unprecedented."

"Israel's flagrant disregard for international law is compounded by the failures of its allies to stop the indescribable civilian bloodshed meted out in Gaza," she said. "Many of those allies were the very architects of that post-World War Two system of law."

The report highlighted the United States' failures to denounce rights violations committed by Israel and its use of veto power to paralyze the U.N. Security Council on a ceasefire resolution in Gaza, as well as Russia's ongoing aggression in Ukraine. It also pointed to China's arming of military forces in Myanmar and the way Beijing has shielded itself from scrutiny over its treatment of the Uyghur minority.

"We have here three very large countries, superpowers in many ways, sitting on the Security Council that have emptied out the Security Council of its potentials, and that have emptied out international law of its ability to protect people," she told The Associated Press in London.

The report, which detailed Amnesty's assessment of human rights in 155 countries, underlined an increasing backlash against women's rights and gender equality in 2023.

It cited the brutal suppression of women's protests in Iran, the Taliban's decrees "aimed at erasing women from public life" in Afghanistan, and legal restrictions on abortion in the U.S. and Poland, among others.

The rights organization also warned about the threat of new technologies if left unchecked, saying the rapid advancement in artificial intelligence and mass surveillance tools could be deployed to stoke conflict, encroach on rights and freedoms and sow discord in a landmark election year.

Unregulated tech advances "can be weaponized to discriminate, disinform and divide," Callamard said.

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Associated Press videojournalist Kwiyeon Ha contributed to this report.

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