Selective defences of human rights

Example No.1
Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, appeared to gloss over global current affairs and history since the American and French revolutions in his attack on the selective modernisation of Russia and China. According to Fischer we have arrived in some utopia where the idea of human rights has “became globally accepted, at least in theory”. Really? What about colonialism? Slavery? Racism? The Holocaust? What about the 20th-century? I appreciate Fishcer has a limited number of words to make his case, but as someone teaching students as a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School we could expect Fischer to at least acknowledge these problems. And are the human rights of Gazans, Iraqis, Afghans and Somalians accepted even “in theory”?

Example No. 2
The US excluded Saudi Arabia, China and Libya from its list of the ten worst human rights violators. Is Cuba much worse than Colombia? (To be fair, they do at least cover all countries in the report itself.) And let’s not forget that the current American administration vetoed attempts to outlaw waterboarding and keen on initiating military tribunals which are not much different to Stalinist show trials.

Example No. 3
French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his foreign minister Bernard Kouchner have shown a keen interest in Sudan’s human rights record. But on a recent tour of the Gulf region, Sarkozy stressed France did not intend to “give lessons” to ‘friends’ like Saudi Arabia.

Tell us something we don’t know
Tone deaf defence of human rights


1 Response to “Selective defences of human rights”

  1. 1 A jumble of DT links « Critically Unstable Muslim Trackback on March 15, 2008 at 9:30 am

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