The international counter-offensive of human rights
Original article in Portuguese submitted to the Press Observatory (Observatório da Imprensa) on February 20, 2017
By Jacob J. Lumier [human rights movement].
The electoral rise of right-wing politicians in the world and the refugee catastrophe seemed to impose silence and shrink the international human rights community. However, the story is not quite like that.
The astonishment of journalists
- A few months ago, The Guardian and other important international vehicles commented with surprise on the antipopulista intervention of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, through freedom of the press. He is the outstanding Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who is returning to the scene in style, with a formidable international campaign of formation of financial funds for the concerted action for the human rights in the world, as it published and commented the International newspaper Jurist (University of Pittsburgh).
- The UN human rights chief diplomat has had an impact in protesting against right-wing politicians who, to win elections in their respective countries, in the context of the refugee catastrophe, galvanize people’s anxiety through opposing and even hostile stances to the guidelines of international human rights law.
- Suffice it to note the reactionary discourse of the couple of xenophobes and anti-Islamists Geert Wilders, in the Netherlands, and Marine Le Pen, in France, who are hitchhiking on their mentor, the provocative protectionist Donald Trump, also driven by the anti-European vote of brexit, which binds the briton Nigel Farage.
- Considering that Ambassador Zeid’s statement reveals his determined position not to be silent in the face of the objective coordination of demagogues, populists and politicians who fantasizes, and, contrary to common sense, seem to be betting on the neutralization of the historical engagement of their countries with the Universal Declaration of 1948, the astonishment of journalists seems justified.
- Global theme
- Due to the high level of their elaboration, they often represent human rights diplomacy with ethical legal protagonism, especially in the official channels of the international community, such as foundations, institutes, councils and forums, for example.
- They assume that the ethical approach to diplomacy, based on its effective operation in the mechanisms of the United Nations human rights system, should refrain from demonstrations of resistance against anti-historical ideological outbursts, and that the virtue of this self-control would restrain the motion for the diplomat’s public intervention against provocations during election periods.
- However, they must take into account the acknowledged finding that diplomacy has had repercussion in the elaboration of human rights as a global theme, summarized in the proposition that only the effective guarantee of the human rights of the population confers full legitimacy to the rulers at the world level, proposition conquered as a fruit of the historic Vienna Conference (1993). Diplomacy would be guided by this search for an effective guarantee, as an engagement of the ruling elites of the states, their historical commitment, guided by the elaboration of the values indispensable to international human rights law.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948) meant a legal response to the fact that the right of every human being to universal hospitality is denied in practice by the existence of refugees, stateless persons, displaced persons, concentration camps and genocide. Subsequently, the right to have rights enforced the need for universal tutelage, homologated from the point of view of humanity (Hannah Arendt). According to scholars, the delimitation of the state reason, thus placed in perspective, would therefore be on the horizon of human rights diplomacy.
- Awareness of freedom
- The social framework of diplomatic action activated by the Declaration (UDHR) actually anticipated the advent of the respective global theme – or is it related to it. It recalls that UDHR 1948 resulted from the political perception that the atrocities of totalitarianism meant an unprecedented rupture with the traditional ethical orientation towards good government. Better: because it is an unprecedented break with all ethics, the simple political perception is overcome; limited to the knowledge of obstacles to the realization of the ideal of society.
- From this realistic point of view, UDHR 1948 is the highlight of the manifestation of the consciousness of freedom: a concerted action leading to integration as a structural change, which also includes the social awareness of human rights diplomacy, its seeking the membership to revitalize the elaboration of values in light of the aforementioned finding that only the effective guarantee of the human rights of the population confers full legitimacy to the rulers at the world level.
In this sense, the human rights movement is a global social phenomenon, the framework that raises and causes to move the respective diplomatic action.
- The international counter-offensive of human rights
- Consequently, the journalists’ astonishment at the alleged daring of the diplomat Zeid should not last. It is just the effort to confront and condemn the internationally coordinated anti-historical ideological flurries of demagogues to offend the greatest achievement of the international community, which is the construction of an international human rights system based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 68 years ago.
- In addition, such unethical attacks of xenophobia, racial and religious segregation, and protectionism aggravate the deep uncertainty that is now spreading throughout the world, where powerful rulers proclaim their desire to build walls among populations, norms and obligations set forth in international conventions are at risk, extremist groups are discovering matter to act and humanity is experiencing massive and impactful suffering, with millions of people forced to flee their homes.
- Against this backdrop, the diplomat Zeid speaks for thousands of human rights defenders when, through his just protest, he lets us see the international counter-offensive of human rights, not only for giving voice to the commitments of democracy with human rights, but towards criminalizing demagoguery and unethical attacks, abuse of political, social and economic privileges to sow contempt of human rights, confusing mindsets, aggravating people’s distress and their fear of the worst. Instead of demagogy, right-wing politicians should unite to find solutions to complex problems and, before the rulers of underdeveloped countries, to show an example of commitment to civilization.
- An indispensable initiative
- Certainly, it is indispensable the clear-sighted initiative to strengthen the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with a formidable campaign to raise funds for concerted action on human rights in the world, click on the link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21178&LangID=E.
- In addition, there is no shortage of things to do for OHCHR as the executive arm of the UN Human Rights Council. As mentioned by the aforementioned international journal Jurist, dated February 16, [click on the link < http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2017/02/un-rights-chief-announces-253-million-funding-appeal.php] OHCHR has raised several concerns only in the last week. On Thursday, the High Commissioner (HCHR) reported that victims of sexual violence in Ukraine [JURIST report] did not receive adequate access to justice or services in the country. On Monday, the HCHR expressed concern [JURIST report] about reports that at least 101 people were killed by Congolese soldiers in conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- On the same day, Myanmar authorities have stated that they will investigate whether the police committed crimes against the Rohingya Muslims after the HCHR released a report [JURIST reports] two weeks ago, stating that the treatment of the Myanmar security forces of the Rohingya Muslims probably constituted Crimes against humanity. The report contains interviews with Rohingya refugees, who reveal that security forces have murdered children, pushed people into burning buildings and raped women, among other crimes.
- Rio de Janeiro, September 20, 2017
Jacob J. Lumier