web analytics

Full retreat

Written By: - Date published: 11:22 am, June 27th, 2018 - 13 comments
Categories: China, Deep stuff, Donald Trump, human rights, immigration, International, Russia, us politics - Tags:

The United States Supreme Court has upheld the travel ban requested by the President of the United States. If you want the views of the retreating sane minority on that court, here’s a dissenting opinion.

If you are a citizen seeking to travel to the United States from Venezuela, Libya, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and North Korea, it is now next to impossible to get to the United States.

This decision – and the Trump Presidency generally – is a big signal that human rights are in rapid decline at the highest levels. Russia and China in particular have read the signals that the United States is sending, and going hard against international human rights institutions as we have not seen in my lifetime.

Because it is a Supreme Court decision that will well outlast Trump’s rule, it is the most far-reaching political victory of President Trump to date.

Even before this decision and the Mexican border outrages, this is the view of Human Rights Watch about human rights in the United States over the past year. It’s not easy reading.

To the critical funding and leadership role of the United States in the U.N., it’s only two years ago that it was making substantial pledges of support for those human rights institutions.

President Trump has stopped the United States being the primary funder of the Palestinian government. President Trump has withdrawn from the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. The United States is seeking more than $129 million in cuts in U.N. peacekeeping programs. And so it goes, further and further.

But as the final days of budget negotiations for the United Nations, China and Russia have read the signals.

Russia wants a 50 percent funding cut for human rights-related activities in U.N. peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cyprus, Haiti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Abyei, an enclave disputed by the latter two. It has also called for halving the budget for programs designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls and women in Abyei, the Central African Republic, and Haiti.

Moscow has also targeted a number of jobs that promote human rights, including a post for a victims’ rights advocate in the DRC.

If successful this will set back U.N. peacekeeping by decades.

China’s proposed cuts are far more targeted. They call for eliminating more than 35 posts for human rights officers, investigators, and experts on gender.

In the past, China has sought to block newly established human rights jobs from being funded. The fact that it is now seeking to eliminate dozens of existing posts suggested a hardening of its position.

The scale of what Russia and China are trying to do is beyond what they have tried to do in previous years. Their approach is to essentially remove the human rights pillar from the United Nations, post by post.

China in particular is playing a long game, using its increased influence at the U.N. to get reductions in funding for human rights activities.

Over the past year, China has blocked dissidents from participating in U.N. conferences, and championed job cuts  in U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’s principal office for human rights advocacy.

In some instances, the Trump administration has pushed back against China and Russia but in other cases, it has left the arena open for the two countries to exert more influence. Last week, the United States announced it was withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The budget talks are playing out in parallel with negotiations over two major reform initiatives that are high priorities for Western powers and for the U.N. secretary-general. The overlapping negotiations — which need to be concluded by July 1 — have given China and Russia greater leverage to eliminate posts in the human rights arena.

Over the past several decades there have been remarkable human right successes at the United Nations. Response to mass atrocities is better than it used to be: war crimes tribunals including the International Criminal Court, tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and hybrid courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia also contribute to the development of enforcement standards. When they are effective they really do changes states’ conduct.

The imperative to provide people with adequate healthcare is strongly embedded across the globe. The right to freedom from slavery and from forced labour has also been integrated into national and international institutions. The steady accumulation of human rights related conventions has encouraged more states to implement binding legislation in their constitutions and statutes. There is an agreement about climate change when few thought it ever possible. Sometimes parts of the world look at a move like allowing women to drive on a Saudi Arabian public road and simply roll their eyes at gratitude amongst patriarchal tyranny. And yet massive advances in the role of women have been initiated by U.N. programmes and U.N. leadership for many decades.

But implementing respect for human rights by international bodies is really hard. Some of the worst violators refuse to join treaties or institutions. Negligence of obligations that have been signed up to is hard to penalise. Using sanctions or force is particularly fraught. Sometimes at the end of a war, negotiators choose not to hold human rights violators accountable. No international institution forced the United States to close Guantanamo Bay, for example, and few countries assisted.

So I’m not offering a full-throated defence of the United Nations’ role in supporting human rights.

But we will miss it.

While intergovernmental organisations can and do successfully push for civil and political rights, the United Nations remains the central global institution for developing international norms and legitimising efforts to implement them. The United States, China, and Russia are now in full swing cutting away hard at the capacity of the United Nations to uphold human rights across the world. They are three central agents within the United Nations as a whole.

2018 is the high tide of global human rights, regrettably. There will be no stronger cross-national architecture for human rights than that already within the United Nations. Whatever we thought was bad about supporting human rights across the world, is about to get a whole lot worse. The international order of human rights is in full retreat.

13 comments on “Full retreat ”

  1. Sabine 1

    so as long as you are a white heterosexual evangelic male with economic anxiety you have nothing to worry.

    its all the others that get screwed over, but then they are not white heterosexual evangelic male with economic anxiety. So there. no harm done. Surely any day know the world will be a better place.

    • ropata 1.1

      Congrats on your attempt at bigot bingo, I think you hit all of them except ageism. Perhaps your profile was accurate in 1950s USA but otherwise that comment is n/a in the real world.

      Those awful white males also *built* the societies that uphold human rights and democracy.

    • Unicus 1.2

      What a load of racist twaddle

      How many of your WASP’y stereotypes are present in the demographics of China and Russia

  2. Unicus 2

    What a load of racist twaddle –

    How many of your WASP ‘y baddies are present in the demographics of China and Russia

  3. Obtrectator 3

    The day when “United States, China and Russia” become “Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia” draws ever closer.

  4. adam 4

    Essically that is because there is no left.

    Corporate liberals don’t count as left wing. Nor do those so enthralled with liberalism to not see the decline for the guns.

  5. mpledger 5

    Maybe other countries should start having a travel ban to the USA except for business.

    • Gosman 5.1

      Many countries do. Try getting to the US if you are a North Korean outside the elite.

  6. Gosman 6

    How is travelling to the US an international human right?

    • Ad 6.1

      Never claimed it was for ordinary travel.

      Different if you are claiming refugee status however.

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        Refugees don’t have a international human right right to travel to any country they wish to apply for asylum. They have a right to apply for asylum in any country they deem safe but that doe not mean they get to dictate what countries they choose to get to.

  7. soddenleaf 7

    Local energy means global separation. When we all get off the oil fumes, the global trade in oil will not be creating mutual trust and assurance. All bets are off

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago