Over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Nick Clegg marks the publication of the Foreign Office’s 2012 Human Rights and Democracy report with an article stating that promoting human rights has never been more important.
He writes that many countries choose authoritarian capitalism over liberal democracy and this represents the “most serious challenge to our values since the end of the Cold War,” especially as power transfers from west to east.
But, he says, younger populations and easily available technology make people more aware of their rights and less likely to accept authoritarian rule:
In the Middle East two-thirds of the population are under 24. They are better educated than their parents, more connected to the global community, more exposed to consumerism and, with it, a sense of personal choice. They know they have a right to be heard and they know that change is possible. From the Arab spring to protests in Russia, dissent in Saudi Arabia and upheaval in Syria, the evidence is clear. Authoritarianism cannot suppress liberty for ever. I believe economic rights and political freedoms are mutually reinforcing. This is no pipedream. Yesterday’s dictatorship can be today’s open and prosperous democracy – just look at South Korea.
He outlines how the UK Government is working for human rights around the world:
The FCO, the Department for International Development and theBritish Council work together assiduously overseas to put our values into practice, and we have more influence than we often give ourselves credit for. We help local NGOs hold their governments to account, we help governments better serve their citizens, and we’re helping women and girls across the world achieve what they want – control over their lives through education and jobs.
He concludes that the UK will play its part in helping countries to choose human rights over authoritarianism:
Developing nations are at a fork in the road. One way leads to liberal democracy, the other to authoritarian capitalism. Never has the choice been starker. It is in the interests of peace and freedom that more of those nations are encouraged down the right path. As a beacon for human rights and the rule of law, and a world leader in international development, the UK will play its part.
You can read the whole article here.
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