Mr. Metzl, the executive vice president of Asia Society, served in the State Department during the Clinton administration and as a United Nations human rights officer in Cambodia. [http://asiasociety.org/keyword/jamie-metzl]
On Friday in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Many around the world will watch, but a handful of world leaders won't be in attendance. Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, won't be there.
Their absences come after a relentless pressure campaign by China's government—one which is a symptom of a broader global transformation. Though China's rapid rise has had many positive implications, it has also seen Beijing severely undermine the international human rights system.
In the shadow of World War II and the Holocaust, a series of documents codified the principles of a universal human rights system. They included the U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the genocide convention, which asserted that states no longer had the unlimited right to murder their own citizens. Because prewar nationalism had helped foment such catastrophe, compromises to absolutist concepts of state sovereignty—and assertions of individual human rights—were cornerstones of this revolutionary development in international affairs.
These norms and practices developed (unevenly and with large, deadly exceptions) over the second half of the 20th century. To give just a few examples: The 1975 Helsinki Accords, signed in spite of Cold War differences, codified certain human rights protections in international law; sanctions on apartheid South Africa played a key role in that country's transformation; and states took strong action to protect the human rights of Kosovar Albanians against their sovereign state. Inadequate responses to genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda were widely seen as failures to live up to a human rights standard that was nevertheless gaining increasing legitimacy.
China's rise has changed this.
Beijing often sees absolute national sovereignty as a key to national cohesiveness.
There are many reasons for this. The country has seen its sovereignty violated repeatedly by Western powers and Japan over the past 200 years. Today it fears secessionist movements in Xinjiang and Tibet, and it also seeks to assert authority over Taiwan. It is also animated by a culture that often places collective progress over individual rights. China's concept of sovereignty stands in sharp contrast to the norms of the postwar human rights system.
Wherever human rights are massively abused today, China is the main protector of the abusing government. In Sudan, China shielded the Bashir government in the U.N. as Sudanese troops and allied militias used Chinese arms to commit genocide in Darfur. Brutal regimes in Burma and North Korea similarly could not survive without strong Chinese support, protection and weapons. China has blocked efforts to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and to pressure Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka to adhere to international human rights norms.
Because China helps protect these regimes—and often benefits commercially, in the form of deals for natural resources—international efforts to protect human rights generally have no net effect on the abusing regime's actions. States must choose to stand up for human rights standards—with minimal prospects for success and often to their own strategic detriment—or not. That the latter option is increasingly chosen implicitly confirms that the state-enforced international human rights system is dead.
This doesn't mean that there is not a role for setting international standards, or that citizens' rights movements are dead, even in places like China. It also doesn't mean that human rights advocates should not rejoice at what China has done to bring hundreds of millions of its people out of abject poverty.
It does mean, however, that those unlucky souls around the world who find their rights massively abused by their own governments can, thanks largely to China, expect little or no help from foreign states.
Robert Orr needs a Chinese Visa to enter UN's DC2 building
Rio+20: GreenPeace Statement
Greenpeace International Executive Director has released a statement on his views of Rio+20. "The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure, It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy" were Kumi Naidoo frank comments after the text for the outcome document was adopted. Please click here for the full statement.
UN Policy Coordination on the Road
DESA's Telecommuting Assistant Secretary General
Sha Zukang's behavior not appropriate...
Sha's behavior was not appropriate as a senior advisor. And he also knows that his behavior has embarrassed most of the [other] senior advisors at that time.
Mr. Chance (buy this book now)
Click on the picture and purchase this book now. It's already a best seller. It shows the coward Ban Ki Moon and his Korean team in action.
Chinese Social Affairs Department
"UN needs complete leadership overhaul"
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who asked Ashdown to carry out the report, said the government would give its response in about six weeks.
Czech President Klaus
"...this is the time for international organizations, including the United Nations, to reduce their expenditures, make their administrations thinner, and leave the solutions to the governments of member states"
Sha Zukang Disrespectful of UN Rules
UN staff rules require employees to uphold and respect the principles set out in the Charter, including faith in fundamental human rights. They prohibit U.N. employees from accepting instructions from any government or from any other source external to the organization. UN staff should avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status.
Barack Obama on UN Reform
Obtain Refund of Funds Owed to the U.S. by the U.N.
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Let's raise our voices
The following months are critical. Changing DESA is in your hand. Speak up now and share our message with all colleagues.
NyTimes disavows Ban Ki Moon
"The United States, meanwhile, should think hard about whether it wants to support Mr. Ban’s re-election" NyTimes Editorial - Nov 03, 2010
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UN at 65
State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley
"Sha Zukang seems to be cranky at lots of folks. It will not affect our relations with China."
UN STAFF RESOLUTION ON BAN KI MOON
If SG Ban Ki-moon fails to take immediate steps towards real reform to address these urgent systemic issues, Staff Union will consider a vote of NO-CONFIDENCE
Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners is at once the darkly comic tale of one man's political coming of age and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of the world's most idealistic institution.
Hacked Emails Show Blatant Climate Change Fraud
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What will this successful Chinese Diplomat do different?