10 thoughts on “‘Humanitarian’ wars, a book review

  1. STATEMENT AFRO-ASIAN PEOPLES’ SOLIDARITY
    ORGANISATION- AAPSO
    ——-
    60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL
    DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHT

    In the aftermath of World War II, the international community, conscious of the massive material and human destruction caused by the great war as well as the disastrous situation of human rights over the world, had led at the United Nations to introduce far-reaching project aimed to improve the world situation of the rights of human being : the Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR)

    Adopted sixty years ago, the UDHR stirred up relief, hopes and expectations, believed to finally give people all over the world more justice, freedoms, individual or collective rights, peace and stability.

    Today, when the world marks the 60th anniversary of the UDHR, it has sadly appeared that violations of human rights, be it perpetrated collectively or individually, become the norms in many countries. They are openly or covertly committed in the streamline of the globalization process, with blatant disregard of the terms and spirit enshrined in the UDHR signed and adopted by these countries.

    It is worth remembering that the world had recorded large scale achievements in terms of human rights during the period of last six decades:

    a) The struggle of peoples under the yoke of colonization for the right to self-determination had led to the independence of many nations, mainly in Africa, during the 60s. But the battle against the overt or disguised neo-colonialism continues until today;

    b) The end of apartheid, in South Africa, had augured a new era in the fight against racial discrimination. Unfortunately, other subtle and different forms of this scourge remain in many parts of the world;

    c) Dictatorial, fascist-minded regimes have been swept away from the South of America, opening the way to democratic process of the society.

    Human right abuses and their violations have revealed the conflict of interest among their actors and victims. It is then admitted that the conflictual characheristics appear evidently when it comes to the political, economic, social and cultural rights of humankind. It is also recognized that the state of poverty in many countries of the planet has opened the way to abusing the situation caused by the effects of globalization. This globalization has opened the door to more aggravating the situation by polarizing the world society in rich and poor and widening the gap between them. Such gap has led to exacerbating of the violence fueled by hatred and dire enmities

    We also are witnessing the continued discrimination imposed on socio-economic conditions of people in terms of distribution of wealth and income, including issues like gender, education, health, housing, migration, refugees, minority groups, even sport, which had always led to social and political disturbances, violence, confrontations and killings as being widely witnessed in many parts of the globe.

    The outbursts against europhobia and its manifestations in some developed countries, with particular attacks on citizens from African and Asian nations who are not spared from exclusion, intolerance and insults, have aggravated the situation of human rights.

    Wars, poverty, persecution, destruction and decomposition of the social and economic fabrics have led to legal and illegal migration.. Legal migrants and indigenous people in host countries are heavily mistreated and subject to restrictions and exclusion, to many forms of violence. They are denied of their fundamental rights and freedom in many areas of activities and cannot enjoy political, civil, economic and cultural rights.

    The world has been witnessing inhuman treatment of prisoners or detainees. Discrimination and exploitation of all kinds make the women , children, refugees and displaced persons bear their brunt. Conflicts and violence continue unabated. Killings and massacres of civilians are perpetrated for political reason. Denial of fundamental social and economic rights to development, disasters caused by diseases, organized crimes, are also sources of grave concerns over the challenges facing the humanity today.

    All this being said, it is worth noting that the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have played an important role in their actions and activities related to the promotion and respect of human rights at the previous United Nations Human Right Commission as well as at the Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Commission, with mixed results of achievements and failures mainly due to the different positions and stances of stakeholders.

    During the last decades, the Commission had managed to bring together States, civil society and NGOs, to try to promote, respect and protect human rights through open debates and discussions aimed at searching solution to the related problems, letting States and civil society and NGOs to demonstrate their respective ability to deliver what they perceive as actions pertaining to the issues of human rights. No doubt, the Commission had sparked intense exchanges of views between the parties as far as the sensitive issue of human right was concerned.

    In the perspective of being able to provide solution to the human rights issues,the United Nations had set up a range of instruments and mechanisms, like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Right of the Child, the Declaration on the Right to Development, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to cite only a few. . In this connection, the UDHR had proclaimed common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations, to the end that governments, other organs of society and individuals shall strive, by teaching and education to promote respect for human rights and freedoms. It was recognized that the States have the primary responsibility to promote and secure the fulfilment of the promotion and respect of human rights.

    Despite the existence and the application of these instruments and mechanisms, one can admit that failures seemed to have overshot the achievements as far as respect of human rights is concerned.

    The Commission on Human Rights, now replaced by the Human Right Council, and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights have been created to lead the task entitled to their mandate. As the United Nations’ principal organ on the promotion and protection of human rights, the Human Rights Council was established in June 2006 with mechanisms like the Advisory Committee and compliants procedures, with the main purpose of addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them. Both the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Right Council have been instrumental and active in dealing the issue.

    The most striking example of battle over the Right to Development was the time when the role and activities of the Transnational Corporations(TNCs) were examined and discussed. Since the activities of these TNCs embedded many aspects of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, the Civil Society, NGOs were very instrumental in their set of demands for TNCs to respect human rights.

    The huge power of the TNCs and their attitude and methods of work vis-à-vis human rights had given rise to numerous movements demanding that these companies respect human rights. NGOs had largely contributed to alerting public opinion, judiciary authorities in various courts. Owing to the capacity of TNCs to be everywhere and the transnational character of their activities, civil society, NGOS had managed, through their participation at the meetings of the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rughts, to contributing in setting up of Norms, which, if adopted, will give hope of being able to deal with human right violations by TNCs. Numerous activities and campaigns were under way by civil society militants and NGOs to protest the crimes and abuses conducted by TNCs. But the lack of legal instrument at the national and international levels for monitoring the behavior of TNCs made it imperative that governments and pertinent UN bodies show determination in carrying out their duty to defend democracy and human rights.

    The “Norms on the Responsibility of Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights” were proclaimed during the session of the UN Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

    From the outset, TNCs were opposed to the Norms, arguing that “ the Norms would hinder investment in the South and that TNCs were not concerned by human rights for this is the responsibility of governments”. They rejected any legal constraints.

    The Norms states, as being supporded by civil society and NGOs, that States have the primary responsibility to promote, ensure respect for, prevent abuses of, and protect human rights recognized in international and national laws. TNCs should ensure equality of opportunities and treatment for the purpose of eliminating discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin, social status, indigenous status, age,,etc..TNCs should not use forced of compulsory labour, should respect the right of Children from economic exploitation, shall recognize and respect applicable norms of international laws, natonal laws and regulations, public interest, development objectives, prohibition of corruption..TNCs should not accept bribes or other improper advantages, should contribute to the realization of economic, socials and cultural rights.

    Obviously, the TNCs share directly or indirectly, the responsibility in the global crisis currently taking place in the world today.

    Needless to say that the United States were working to undermine the UN Commission on Human Right and undermined its effectivness. Research conducted by the UNCHR itself had revealed that multinational expansions in the South is unlikely to address the problem of poverty and employment. The TNCs contribution to increasing rather than alleviating poverty in the South had been eloquently documented with in the UNCHR.

    Civil society, NGOs and other human rights militants sometimes have faced enourmous difficulties to conduct their work because of non-cooperation between them and governments, systematic harassment vis-à-vis human rights activists.

    The Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation considers that despite some setbacks in the implementation of all provisions related to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights remains a crucial basic instrument at the disposal of the world as a whole, which we strongly support.

    Sixty years on, and today, at the dawn of the 21st century, talks about human rights have overflooded the whole world dramatically. Unfortunately, expected improvements, if any, hardly came up. Instead, human right violations continue to run unabated. One can admit that these hopes for improvement have been dashed. The globalization has made things worst by triggering the gap between rich and poor, the world continues to grapple with a basket of crises over foodstuffs, energy, and finance. The worsening of the situation had been thriving when George W. Bush, came to power, negatively impacting on almost all aspects of human beings and human rights all over the world. As a product of his barbaric policy of “war against terror”, terrorism has been surging and spreading everywhere, where innocent civilians become victims of massacres and bloodshed.

    Challenges are enormous by different continents of the globe (Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Europe and America), and the international community has a long way to go in the battle for the promotion, respect and protection of human rights.

    Africa.- The end of apartheid regime in South Africa has not only augured a new era for Africa, but also gave hope that other problems afflicting the continent will find their solution. But the remnants of apartheid have now appeared under different forms in several parts of the world, still persist and hamper the fight against it. Terrorist acts in Africa have led to the using of the double standard policy by a great power to combat and terrorize human rights activists and its defenders, giving the green light to perpetrators for excessive abuses.

    Looking back at the recent past and analyzing objectively the present situation of human rights in Africa, it is apparent that hopes for a meaningful change have been betrayed. This is not only due to civil wars, or diverse conflicts, ethnic confrontations between tribes and clans, between religious faiths. Moreover, slavery and all that can be related to its term, as well as a certain form of colonization exercised under the pretext of securing borders, have been cast before the African spectrum. At the outset of the new millennium, slavery started to spread in certain parts of the black continent. The case of domestic slavery is well known, as well as that practiced abroad whose victims are mainly African women, who have been sequestered, violated, battered, maltreated, malnourished and underpaid in those countries where they were promised comfort, wellbeing and other material advantages. Even practices reminiscent of colonial era of the past had been carried out.
    The dramatic situation in Darfur ( Sudan ), in Somalia and in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a matter of grave concerns, where violations of human rights and the worsening of the humanitarian crisis are rife, causing the death of hundreds of thousand people and million of displaced persons and refugees.

    Working children in Africa is another scourge of our time, and characterizes to some extent daily life in this continent. It is sad to state that Africa has a world record in this regard: 41% of African children work, as compared to 21% in Asia and 17% in Latin America.

    Debt servitude, sexual exploitation and child prostitution, child trafficking organized at a large scale, secretly or overtly, constitute scourges that are of unlimited bounds. The debt question has become an eternal harassment for Africans because poverty and misery helps this debt to hold entire populations and even generations hostage for many years.

    African children are the victims of wars that obsess those who recruit them to serve in armies, militias, guerillas and rebels. The fate of those children-soldiers is simply disastrous. Separated from their families, trained under harsh conditions in order to learn how to kill, to terrorize, to be drugged, they exist under conditions in which their lives are often broken, their future compromised even if some of them returned to the fold of their own society.

    The resort to torture, as a mean to extract confession; summary execution in defiance to justice; often mysterious disappearance of detained persons; inhuman treatment of innocents or suspected persons accompanied by physical or even sexual harassment; deprivation of freedom under unspeakable conditions; discrimination race, sex, religion and ethnicity, all these are practices perpetrated in the continent which has nonetheless opted for democracy and respect of human rights. It is inadmissible that the perpetrators of such practices act with impunity and worse, in collusion with high ranking officials.

    African reality regarding the question of human rights could also be indicated by facts often left in silence but which greatly affect the lives of populations: national high ranking officials are implicitly and explicitly accused of amassing the wealth of their countries; furthering corruption and covering up acts; using their own social and political position to influence courts and judges; resorting to threats, blackmail to their own benefit; carrying out repressive operations and rape; inciting xenophobia, intolerance and favoritism. The list is far from being exhausted. The least that could be said is to declare such acts as crimes against African humanity.

    The growing number of African refugees and displaced persons constitute a major setback for the development, security and stability of the countries. This situation has created environment for the spread of diseases like AIDS, which has already costs the lives of millions of Africans. If the present situation deteriorates in Africa from day to day regarding human rights, external factors should not be neglected. The effects of globalization continues to provoke disastrous consequences on the live of populations. These effects have reached a dimension and scope to the extent that poverty and misery lead to the destruction of human and material potentials facing the staggering riches accumulated through corruption. Hence, globalization and terrorism aggravate the scale of disparity.

    Asia and the Middle-East.- The situation of human right in the Asian continent is fraught with abuses, exploitations of different sorts. The most long-disputed issue in terms of human rights remain sexual abuses and sexual exploitation, children abuse is commonplace, fueled by the proliferation of sexual tourism, middle-class category of populations from many countries.

    The issue of minority is another part of problems. Minority people are often stripped of their right to be fully integrated into the society. They are marginalised, discriminated or denied of their possibility to take part to the process of development.

    Asia and the world are now witnessing the grave and serious development of democratic process and the state of human right in some countries of the region.Violence sparked many times between Muslims and Hindu extremists in India.News emanated from Sri Lanka say both government and the LTTE are responsible for human rights violations.The arm-twisting between the rulers and opposition leaders in Pakistan, Myanmar, Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, have created a state of growing insecurity and a blow to democracy and human rights. Violence had sparked to stem riots and people manifestations demanding their rights to be treated as human beings. There is no end in sight when it comes to address numerous cases of abuses and exploitations, tortures, discrimination in terms of race, sex, ,gender, which is part of that occuring in the world.

    The situation in the Middle-East is very dangerous and remains the theatre of bloody confrontations. The occupation forces led by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine by Israel, have made numerous victims among innocent people, women and children.

    The Palestinian people have been continuously exposed to massacres and aggression. The Israeli occupation forces backed by us support, perpetrate cold-bloody onslaughts, killings against the innocent, demolishing homes, destroying economy, disregarding and violating all international laws recognized by the world in past decades. Israeli aggression against Palestinians and those who resist its hegemony, is that Israeli had declared that it is the major regional power: politically as being the sole decision-maker; militarily as having the iron grip over the region and economically as the strongest controlling power, not to mention its nuclear armaments which remains a big threat to the region.

    The atrocities of wars imposed on Iraq and Afghanistan have continued in full fledge. No one day has passed without leaving innocent victims , feared dead by foreign military forces led by the Unites States. Hypocritical statements are being made to hide the effects of massacres and killings. One can say that American quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan is set to remain for a long period.

    Europe.- The European continent is not immune from human right violations. Unfortunately, migrants workers and their families bear the brunt of political harassment, economic and social discrimination. Migrant women, mainly from Asia and Africa, are being shamefully sexually abused and raped, forced to prostitution, doomed to what is now called modern slavery.

    Fascist-minded movements and xenophobia had appeared in some European countries, focusing to target foreign citizens from other developing countries. Cases are not few when they were beaten to death, violently assaulted.

    For long, Europe has failed to solve the issue of immigration. It reluctantly adopted rescue policy vis-à-vis the immigrants, many of them died before reaching the European coasts.

    In some European countries , insuffisance of facilities assuring decent conditions of living for the poor as well as for the migrants people, has raised resentment and provoked unrests leading to confrontations, even bloodshed, between them and the local authorities.Unemployment among these people is soaring.Misery salary of those who have the chance to get job, is not enough to make ends meet.

    Americas.- In North America, Many reports revealed that the US has the greater number of imprisoned detainees in the world, the majority of them are black Afro-Americans.

    The existing of concentration camp of Guantanamo has proven the failure of the US administration in its perception of human right and basic freedom recognized internationally. In dealing with detainees and prisoners, the United States use methods and practices which they try to hide or covert:, such as: blindfolding-handcuffing-shackling-sleep deprivation-inadequate exercice provision-prolonged restraint in painful position-exposure to 24 hour-lighting or louder sound…

    Tremendous changes had been achieved in South America. Dictatorial regimes had been swept away from the continent, allowing democratic practices to rein in through elections. Such greater achievement would not be possible without the fierce battle for justice and freedom by the Latin American people and the world as well.

    Since the adoption by the international community of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, many things have changed as far as human rights are concerned. The world has appeared to be still impotent in tackling the issue, while poverty, illiteracy, famine and diseases are continuing. .As if the UDHR had given a wide horizon for mobilisation. It is now in our hand to do as never before to implement that historic Charter.

  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/27/obama-white-house-foreign-policy

    Obama the imperialist
    Change? In foreign policy, hardly. The new president is in the classic liberal interventionist mould

    * Richard Seymour
    * The Guardian, Tuesday 27 January 2009

    The first Democratic president in the modern era to be elected on an anti-war ticket is also, to the relief of neocons and the liberal belligerati, a hawk. Committed to escalation in Afghanistan, his foreign policy selections also indicate bellicosity towards Sudan and Iran. During his first week in office he sanctioned two missile attacks in Pakistan, killing 22 people, including women and children. And his stance on Gaza is remarkably close to that of the outgoing administration. The question now is how Obama will convince his supporters to back that stance. Bush could rely on a core constituency whose commitment to peace and human rights is, at the very least, questionable. Obama has no such luxury. In making his case, he will need the support of those “liberal hawks” who gave Bush such vocal support.

    It is tempting to dismiss the “pro-war left” as a congeries of discredited left-wing apostates and Nato liberals. Their artless euphemisms for bloody conquest seem especially redundant in light of over a million Iraqi deaths. Yet their arguments, ranging from a paternalistic defence of “humanitarian intervention” to the championing of “western values”, have their origins in a tradition of liberal imperialism whose durability advises against hasty dismissal. In every country whose rulers have opted for empire, there has developed among the intellectual classes a powerful pro-imperial consensus, with liberals and leftwingers its most vociferous defenders.

    Liberal imperialists have resisted explicitly racist arguments for domination, instead justifying empire as a humane venture delivering progress. Even so, implicit in such a stance was the belief that other peoples were inferior. Just as John Stuart Mill contended that despotism was a “legitimate mode of government in dealing with the barbarians” provided “the end be their improvement”, so the Fabians contended that self-government for “native races” was “as useless to them as a dynamo to a Caribbean”. Intellectuals of the Second International such as Eduard Bernstein regarded the colonised as incapable of self-government. For many liberals and socialists of this era, the only disagreement was over whether the natives could attain the disciplined state necessary to run their own affairs. Indigenous resistance, moreover, was interpreted as “native fanaticism”, to be overcome with European tuition.

    The current liberal imperialists are not replicas of their 19th-century antecedents. Cold war priorities, including the need to incorporate elements of the left into an anti-communist front, transformed the culture of empire. If the “anti-totalitarian” left supported US expansionism, they often did so under the mantle of anti-colonialism. Decolonisation and the civil rights struggle meant explicit racism had to be dispensed with in arguments for military intervention.

    This was a slow process. Both the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations were terrified of “premature independence” for colonised nations. The state department asserted that “backward societies” required authoritarianism to prepare them for modernity. Irving Kristol, a cold war liberal who became the “godfather of neoconservatism”, justified the Vietnam war in part by asserting that the country was “barely capable of decent self-government under the very best of conditions”, and thus needed its US-imposed dictatorship. Nonetheless, such arguments today tend to be rehearsed only on the wilder shores of the neoconservative right.

    Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, some paternalistic mainstays of liberal imperialism have been reinvented under the impress of “humanitarian intervention”. Just as Victorian humanitarians saw the empire as the appropriate tool for saving the oppressed, so the 1990s saw demands for the US military to deliver Somalians, Bosnians and Kosovans from their tormentors – notwithstanding the fact that US intervention played a destructive role in each case.

    The agency of the oppressed themselves is largely absent from this perspective. And, as New York University’s Stephen Holmes pointed out: “By denouncing the United States primarily for standing by when atrocity abroad occurs, these well-meaning liberals have helped re-popularise the idea of America as a potentially benign imperial power.”

    The catastrophe in Iraq has produced a reaction against humanitarian imperialism even from former interventionists like David Rieff, who has warned against the “rebirth of imperialism with human rights as its moral warrant”. Even so, among liberal intellectuals there is a broad coalition favouring intervention into Darfur, though humanitarian organisations have opposed the idea. And there is little resistance to the escalation in Afghanistan, where “native fanaticism” is once more the enemy. Liberal imperialism is in rude health: it is its victims who are in mortal peril.

    * Richard Seymour is the author of The Liberal Defence of Murder leninstombblog@googlemail.com

  3. “There is no humanitarian war”

    This is said by Zivadin Jovanovic in the (see below) interview just made in Belgrade by Vanessa Stojilkovic for http://www.michelcollon.info. Tomorrow, 23rd of March, it will be ten years exactly, Nato (USA and Europe) started to bombard Yugoslavia. Some believe this was “the only good US war”. But…
    But can you imagine the USA since long time massacre Moslims in Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, and suddenly become their friends in the Balkans ?
    But don’t you need to think further when you know that the “Nato com” about these bombardments was prepared by Alastair Campbell, assistant of Tony Blair? The same Campbell invented the so called “weapons of mass destruction” against Iraq.
    But ten years later, in this region, the multinationals have privatized everything, some people got very rich, the vast majority much poorer. And the USA got a super military basis (Camp Bondsteel) in Kosovo. And their same CIA agents, experts in provocation of separatism, are now active in Bolivia et Venezuela. Among others.
    An aniversary that make us think… Yugoslavia disappeared. Who’s next ?

    MICHEL COLLON
    22nd of March 2009

    PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO :
    “There is no humanitarian war”
    Zivadin Jovanovic

    1999 – 2009
    Ten years after Nato bombardments against his country, Zivadin Jovanovic, last Foreign affairs minister of Yugoslavia, is interviewed in Belgrade by Vanessa Stojilkovic for http://www.michelcollon.info

    English version : Jovanovic English
    French version : Jovanovic French
    Spanish version : Jovanovic Spanish

    If you want to get more, see also :
    Michel Collon and Vanessa Stojilkovic – Film The Damned of Kosovo (77′)
    Kosovo

    Michel Collon – Book Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo
    Media Lies

    (About US made separatism in Latin America)
    Michel Collon – My impressions of Bolivia
    Separatism in Bolivia

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