By Admitting Its Human Rights Problems, the US Helps Other Nations Admit Theirs

By Shattuck, John | The Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 2010 | Go to article overview

By Admitting Its Human Rights Problems, the US Helps Other Nations Admit Theirs


Shattuck, John, The Christian Science Monitor


When the US had its own human rights record reviewed by the UN, the usual repressive regimes took the opportunity to condemn others while glossing over their own abuses. But history shows that human rights reporting can and does advance the cause of human rights worldwide.

Human rights are a growing area of diplomatic competition. Since the United Nations defined the playing field in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the list of countries that say nothing about human rights has dwindled to very few. Unfortunately, that will not prevent certain countries from trying to exploit the process.

On November 5, for example, when the US had its own human rights record reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council, the usual parade of speakers from repressive regimes that use the rhetoric of human rights to condemn failings in other countries while glossing over their own abuses was out in full force.

Iran arrests two Germans for interviewing family of accused adulterer Ashtiani

A flawed, frustrating process?

This pattern frustrates US officials. After receiving comments from other countries, including Libya, a US official noted that "several recommendations are plainly intended as political provocations, and cannot be taken seriously."

It also exasperates UN critics. They condemn the whole process of UN human rights reporting as fundamentally dishonest. A blatant example is Iran, which lies about its treatment of women in its report to the Council's Universal Periodic Review, then waxes indignant over a US report that candidly states American women still suffer gender discrimination.

Human rights reporting works

Isn't UN-sponsored human rights reporting just a platform for human rights abusers? On the contrary, these international obligations strengthen the case against abusive governments, especially if they lie. History is replete with examples.

In the Helsinki Accords of 1975, the Soviet Union agreed to recognize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in exchange for US and European recognition of the borders of Eastern Europe. The Soviets thought they were getting something for nothing. They had no intention of giving human rights to their citizens.

But their rhetoric gave international legitimacy to the fledgling dissident movement inside the Soviet Union and its satellites. In 1977 Vaclav Havel launched the famous Charter 77 movement in Prague; Andrei Sakharov soon began a similar drive in Russia. These movements contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the Soviet collapse in 1991.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

By Admitting Its Human Rights Problems, the US Helps Other Nations Admit Theirs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.