Human Rights and
Policy-Making and the Media
HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS and humanitarian crises changed in the post-Cold War world? During the Cold War, threats to human rights were seen as coming largely from centralized authorities--strong governments ruling with an iron hand. The human rights community, for its part, developed the forms of advocacy with which we are now familiar-- monitoring, reporting, publicizing cases, advocacy on behalf of individual victims of human rights abuse, and advocacy of sanctions against strongly abusive governments.
In the post-Cold War world, almost everything has changed. We still have the familiar paradigm of human rights abuse by strong central governments, like that of the People's Republic of China, but we have become increasingly familiar with abuses resulting from weak governments and failed states and from ethnic and religious conflicts, fanned by cynical political leaders and made worse by enormous economic, environmental, and demographic pressures. Rwanda and Bosnia are the worst examples, but there are many others as well--the Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Iraq, southeastern Turkey, East Timor, and others. These post-Cold War conflicts demand a whole new set of responses.
We start with some major new assets. The most important is a powerful new global movement for human rights and democratic participation. In the past five years this movement has changed the political face of many parts of the world, from the former Soviet Union and Eastern