Friday, March 26, 2010

Washington, Bruxelles and the crisis of human rights - The Euros

I published a short piece on the role of the USA and the EU with regard to advancing human rights. The point I make is simple: during the past decade, the USA has severely damaged its credibility as human rights promoter in the eyes of the international community (and by 'community,' I primarily refer to people rather than governments and international organizations). Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the USA Patriot Act, Copenhagen, the ICC.

My critique of Washington's attitude towards human rights is consistent with 'Empty Promises', a piece by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, published in Foreign Affairs, as summed by Roth's statement that 'When it comes to promoting human rights at home and abroad, the [the advent of Obama] has undoubtedly been a marked improvement in presidential rhetoric. However, the translation of those words into deeds remains incomplete.'

My piece then argues that the EU has an historic opportunity to become the leading human rights promoter in the world. Yet, to do so, the EU must first shape up its internal human rights policy (primarily by making sure that the basic rights of all EU residents, and in particular those of religious minorities and immigrants, are secured) and structure its organization so that the EU speaks to other international partners with a single voice, that is a voice that is univocally representing all EU members. While this an ambitious goal, it can be realized. Slowly and patiently.

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