Human Rights in a New World Order:
Implications for a New Europe
In the wake of the orgy of national self-congratulation following Desert Storm and the collapse of the Soviet empire, many have asked if there is much substance to the often-proclaimed "new world order." The wave of Third World liberalizations and democratizations, the fall of rights-abusive regimes in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, and the end of cold war anti-humanitarian intervention 1 do suggest that reality at least approximates rhetoric in the area of international human rights. I will argue, however, that much of the recent human rights optimism is unjustified.
The demise of old rights-abusive regimes does not necessarily lead to the creation of new rights-protective regimes. Although some countries, such as Argentina and Czechoslovakia (or at least the Czech Republic), are likely to consolidate recent progress, many will fall back into dictatorship. Consider, for example, the coups in the fall and winter of 1991-92 in Haiti, Togo, and Algeria. Still other countries, such as Bulgaria, Guatemala, and the Philippines, seem to have settled into less oppressive yet still far from rights-protective routines. In addition, new threats to human rights are emerging, most notably ethnic violence and the suffering caused by market reforms.
Internationally, the end of the cold war has removed the principal U. S. rationale for supporting repressive regimes. The demise of the Soviet Union has eliminated the threat from the other major postwar