Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Human Rights Imperalist

Last week, the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) released two decisions regarding the British military’s alleged violation, in Iraq, of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”). In the second, Al-Skeini and Others v. the United Kingdom, the Strasbourg-based ECHR unanimously held that the United Kingdom had violated Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”), by failing to perform an adequate investigation into the deaths of five Iraqi civilians who were killed in 2003, during British security operations in and around Basrah City.

One of the Judges lashed out at the United Kingdom - for apparently denying that the Convention applied in Iraq - a non member of the convention. His language is worth noting, both for its content and for its blatantly anti-Iraq war tone:
I confess to be quite unimpressed by the pleadings of the United Kingdom Government to the effect that exporting the European Convention on Human Rights to Iraq would have amounted to “human rights imperialism”. It ill behoves a State that imposed its military imperialism over another sovereign State without the frailest imprimatur from the international community, to resent the charge of having exported human rights imperialism to the vanquished enemy. It is like wearing with conceit your badge of international law banditry, but then recoiling in shock at being suspected of human rights promotion.
Personally, I would have respected better these virginal blushes of some statesmen had they worn them the other way round. Being bountiful with military imperialism but bashful of the stigma of human rights imperialism, sounds to me like not resisting sufficiently the urge to frequent the lower neighbourhoods of political inconstancy. For my part, I believe that those who export war ought to see to the parallel export of guarantees against the atrocities of war. And then, if necessary, bear with some fortitude the opprobrium of being labelled human rights imperialists.
I, for one, advertise my diversity. At my age, it may no longer be elegant to have dreams. But that of being branded in perpetuity a human rights imperialist, I acknowledge sounds to me particularly seductive.

Hat Tip: Lawfare 

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