Human Rights in the New Europe: Problems and Progress

By David P. Forsythe | Go to book overview

9

Human Rights and
Multilateral Institutions
in the New Europe

David P. Forsythe

It has been argued that domestic factors constitute the key to the effective protection of internationally recognized human rights. 1 Doug Bereuter argued earlier in this volume that the course and pace of human rights protections in the new Europe were ultimately up to the citizens of each state. At the same time, however, international factors are usually present. In a shrinking world, most situations are increasingly intermestic, with a combination of international and domestic factors at work. In terms of the impact of multilateral institutions on human rights situations, which is the focus of this chapter, three rough benchmarks may be useful: insignificant, moderately influential, and decisive.

If one thinks of the plight of Iraqi Kurds in 1991, international action in the form of military intervention by several states was decisive, at least in the short term. This was probably an exceptional situation in many ways, but certainly from the standpoint of the importance of international factors. 2 If one thinks of dissidents in Burma/Myanmar in I99I, international action for human rights in various forms was insignificant, at least in the short term. This was not, unfortunately, an isolated example of the weakness of international efforts. If one thinks of most Haitians in 1991, international action for human rights in the form of a diplomatic and economic embargo via the Organization of American States, with related negotiations, was moderately influential but not decisive in contesting military government and related

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