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On December 3, political scientist Minxin Pei delivered the 17th annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World. Pei’s lecture, “Totalitarianism’s Long Dark Shadow Over China,” was presented by the Embassy of Canada to the United States and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
To ensure a stable democracy moving forward, perhaps we should pay heed to some pages of our own past, and actively work to preserve our democratic dispositions. Habits, after all, are formed by practice, and can get lost over time.
In Venezuela, the decimation of economic growth destabilizes society, pushing the Maduro regime to continue its abuse of human rights and repression of dissent to remain in power. Without democratic renewal, it is unlikely that conditions will improve in Venezuela. In response, humanitarian aid must weigh the crisis’ consequences for different demographics, especially women. Targeting vulnerable socioeconomic groups requires greater coordination and deployment of existing aid infrastructure.
Stand together and hold China accountable or be the next victim
The panelists' answers in the 24th Forum 2000 on what to do to fight the human rights violations in China also somehow fit into the four things Timothy Garton Ash highlighted in the Forum 2000’s opening: “If we have these four: truth, solidarity, strategy, and responsibility, there will be brighter times ahead”. However, the discussion made clear that now is the time to act. Now is the time to stand by the Hong Kong democratic movement, now is the time to recognize the genocide in Xinjiang and to fight to defend international human rights standards. Silence is complicit.
Recognized every September 15, International Day of Democracy is promoted by the United Nations to raise global awareness of democratic principles. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored both the fragility and importance of democratic institutions in addressing the economic, political, and public health crises facing much of the world.
However, the non-cooperation of some states, obvious yet again on this occasion, was, as the French human rights ambassador Francois Croquette put it, “the elephant in the room”. The fact that Bolivia, Cuba, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal declined the invitation to participate in the discussion, reflects one aspect that explains why the HRC has been criticized. Some countries have been mocking the international human rights protection mechanisms by sitting on the HRC while at the same time blatantly violating their citizens’ human rights back home.
Horáková was a pioneer of human rights activism and an emblematic figure in the defense of democracy in the then Czechoslovakia. The book «Milada Horáková: Defender of Human Rights and Victim of Totalitarianisms» by historian Ricardo López Göttig is an invitation to remember this brave woman and to embrace the noble ideals she defended, for which she first suffered imprisonment in the Nazi concentration camp in Terezin and eventually was executed by the communists.
On 7th August, for the 12th anniversary of the Russian occupation of Georgia, the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Middle East Institute's Frontier Europe Initiative, organized a webinar on the worrying situation generated by the Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008. A short but intense war caused by a cross-border territory, South Ossetia, contested between the Russian Federation and Georgia, which has a very heavy historical legacy and it still affects negatively the Ossetian and Georgian people, victims of the violence perpetrated by Russian troops.
Cuba will most likely be elected to its fifth term in the HRC, which will enable it to run for re-election in 2023. By returning to the Council in 2023, Cuba would then complete 18 of the 20 years of the HRC’s existence in one of its seats. Other countries with a similar record, such as Saudi Arabia or China, could achieve the same. The fact that Cuba manages to maintain its «leadership», spending as many years as possible in an organization that it makes fun of, says a lot about the lack of real leadership in Latin America regarding the defense of human rights.
«Cuba's lack of commitment to the Universal System of Human Rights» (in Spanish: «La falta de compromiso de Cuba con el Sistema Universal de Derechos Humanos»), a report by analysts Brian Schapira and Roxana Perel, edited and presented by CADAL, is a superb investigation that crosses the sinuous itinerary of the Cuban government in human rights matters, parting from a moment of change and inflection in the main international body created by the United Nations to face global human rights challenges.
The current outline in English addresses the main ideas and statements included in the report «La falta de compromiso de Cuba con el sistema universal de derechos humanos» (Cuba’s lack of commitment to the international human rights system), originally published in Spanish. To fully understand it, a thorough reading would be required. However, we believe the current summary, to which we have decided to add both the report’s introduction and conclusion sections almost entirely, represents a valuable document that will offer a comprehensive overview of the topics discussed and the conclusions drawn from the original report.
I write my comment on this hostile environment to the arts and culture in Brazil in a time of coronavirus and social isolation, in which so many of us are sick and several of us have already died, including artists such as Aldir Blanc, Rubem Fonseca, Sérgio Sant’Anna, Moraes Moreira y Flávio Migliaccio. The Bolsonaro government was not in solidarity with any of these losses, preferring to ignore them while continuing with its conservative agenda.
The Danish NGO Freemuse has produced a comprehensive report calling it the “State of Artistic Freedom”: a detailed survey of different abuses of the right of expression enshrined in the Universal Charter of Human Rights. It highlights the state of emergency in which thousands of artists and intellectuals live and survive in different parts of the world. There is no ideology, no system, no political regime that does not have its eye on artists.
In the annual report presented on 15 April 2020, Freemuse points out a continuing deterioration of freedom of expression in general and of art in particular, which translates into 711 attacks in 93 countries and shows that art continues to be a hazardous activity that can lead to harassment, censorship, imprisonment and even death. To successfully monitor this development, Freemuse compiles and analyses statistical data, as well as thorough interviews with artists around the world. The comparative analysis allows to identify global trends and recognize those areas where interference is necessary to defend the freedom of artistic expression.
In a context of excessive disorder, it is more difficult than ever to discuss police abuses and enduring racism rationally. Looting and mayhem often produce a political dynamic of escalating polarization. But in politics nothing is foreordained. The United States can find a better way, one that gives the police the incentive and resources they need to work for people.
According to the Bertelsmann Transformation Index of 2020, Colombia is on the right path when it comes to economic growth and democracy, although evident challenges remain. Social and income inequalities are apparent and coupled with consistent corruption scandals, the population’s faith in the state is plunging.
Of all the controls that people all over the world have accepted with little protest in the name of public health, the prohibition of movement is the most consequential. …[C]ombining trustworthy government information, solidarity with the desperate, and pragmatic technology would surely be an improvement over the mass lockdowns in place in much of the world.
In the exact sense of the Narcissus myth, the Cuban state may drown in the attempt to kiss the constructed and projected image of itself in an era previous to instant and globalised information. In the post-Covid-19 world, states need more than mirrors. They need effiicency.
(The Global Americans) The general formula of establishing good and strong institutions to serve the public are the inspiration of democratic norms. But there is still a long way ahead to discover what will work for Alberto Fernández and what shape his democratic policies will take.
From the perspective of the commitment to human rights, the decision of the new Uruguayan authorities -that will assume office next March 1- to not include the region’s autocrats in the swearing in ceremony is consistent with their values. It speaks badly of an exemplary democracy to give “equal treatment and respect” to leaders in other countries that were not elected through free, fair and competitive elections.
(The Global Americans) In recent months, there has been an increasing focus on human rights when discussing the events taking place in Chile. In its report, HRW emphasizes the human rights abuses during last year’s protests committed by Chile’s Carabineros. It also shows how authorities responded to this challenge and the progress (or lack thereof) of these initiatives. It also pays attention to human rights issues that have had a longer history in the country and that continue to affect minorities.
(The Global Americans) On January 14, during his inauguration ceremony held in Guatemala City, Giammattei vindicated his promise of handling corruption and endemic violence in the country with a “hard hand.” To this end, he proposed a law initiative to denominate “maras and gangs as terrorist groups.”
(Global Americans) Under Argentina’s new government, foreign policy decisions based more on ideological affinity than on greater pragmatism could bare serious consequences for the country, more so when dealing with non-democratic countries.