11 May 2009

Havel ~ "A Table for Tyrants"

"Governments seem to have forgotten the commitment made only three short years ago to create an organization able to protect victims and confront human rights abuses wherever they occur." ~ Vaclav Havel
In the essay from which I lifted this passage is lifted Havel is commenting on the election today of member nations to occupy seats in the new United Nations Human Rights Council. The problem? It appears as though countries with dreadful records on respecting the rights of their own citizens are likely to be elected to seats. Havel is correct to point out the self-defeating nature of that outcome. After all, as he points out, a similar pattern led to the demise of the precursor to this Council - the U.N.H.C.R. - in 2006. The paradox is deeper than simple organizational politics and intrigue, however. As Hannah Arendt pointed out long ago, "human rights" are only as useful as the political structures (namely states) that must must enforce them will allow them to be. Rights claims can be a useful tool for protecting individuals and groups from predations of various sorts, but they are political all the way down.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The U.N. human rights council is simply a laughable organization. Some of its recent members have included Iran, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Syria. Let's not even mention the disproportionate focus on Israel, so much so that Ban Ki Moon issued a statement expressing his frustration over the agency's single minded obsession with Gaza. Basically, to me, the HRC is a of bullies and losers having fun issuing irrelevant resolutions against nations they don't like.

11 May, 2009 10:34  

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