LibLink… Nick Clegg…Human rights: we won’t be silent

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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15 Comments

  • Geoffrey Payne 15th Apr '13 - 1:17pm

    I think th e main concern of his speech was how China is emerging as a prosperous country and becoming a role model country for the rest of the world where for one reason or another western values are not held in high esteem. Nick Clegg suggests that authoritarian regimes cannot last for ever, but in truth it is impossible to say what could last “for ever”. The west has utterly failed to introduce anything like liberal democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan where we tried to impose our values by force. What we are rightly asking for is very hard to achieve.
    And if western values support human rights, how does that work where we see policies such as water boarding, extraordinary rendition, Guantamo, capital punishment, chain gangs, secret courts, drone strikes against countries we are not at war with, arms sales to countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Israel?
    Of course most of those policies are not in force in the UK, but given they are in the US it is worth asking what exactly are western values in the real world, rather than how we like to fondly think about them.

  • Most popular comment on that article:

    Oh, Clegg.

    Secret courts, secret courts, secret courts…

    Your commitment was tested. You failed.

  • Helen Dudden 16th Apr '13 - 1:23am

    I agree with the need to stand for human rights, I have written on the FCO web page on the subject. It never should be an option to ignore the rights of others.

    Justice , and law properly applied does equal the right to heard, not sure about the secret courts.

    Justice should be done, even with the mixture of law structures within the EU.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 16th Apr '13 - 8:01am

    The Western-centric belief that their model of Liberal Democracy (and please show me where it exists) is the only way forward for the East are being somewhat arrogant and clearly learnt nothing from their years of uninvited governance over some of these countries.

    Perhaps if we in the West started to “walk the talk” of Liberal Democracy, rather than merely talking about it, then we could be a role model for the way forward, but currently all that we have to offer the world is a rather sordid version of Democracy that is based predominately on a plutocratic ethos.

  • How about secret courts in UK? For sheer gall this takes the biscuit.

  • brianD

    I think he means he won’t be silent when it comes to lecturing foreigners about human rights.

    As far as human rights in this country are concerned, when push comes to shove he’ll be as quiet as a mouse.

  • I think Uduwerage-Perera’s comments (probably contrary to his intentions) highlight the real issue in this area; instead of engaging with the debate, too many people (on both sides, I am sure) are willing to cast stones as if another’s failings justify their own. I saw this a lot in Taiwan, where people basically seemed to judge their own morality on the stance, ‘am I better than China, or not?’ A rather low bar to set one’s self in my opinion, but it is the one that all too often, when their presumptions of the world were challenged, they would present as a defense. “Well, what we did was wrong, but what China has done here is worse, so our action by comparison is acceptable.”

    No one here, or at least I hope no one here, would ever suggest that any country has a complete handle on what makes a just, fair and meritorious society, but that does not mean when any one country questions the actions of another, their questions are invalid.

    As for China, well China has proven that people, as a mass, really do not care what political system they are governed under, so long as they (or at least those whose voices can be heard) are generally left to their own individual existence and have a ‘satisfactory standard’ of living. This is why the Chinese Government is so terrified of their growth falling to 6% or less, which would almost be like a recession for them. Any sort of drop in their standard of living would see political reform kicked into hyper-drive because it is deprecation relative to one’s own expectations that drives reform, for better or worse. As such, I think whether we see nations following their led or going the other way could entirely depend on whether economic gambles they have taken pay off, or not.

  • Matthew Huntbach 16th Apr '13 - 10:25pm

    Nick Clegg

    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.

    Er, yes – they seem to be rejecting liberal democracy and turning to illiberal and anti-pluralist interpretations of Islam.

  • R Uduwerage-Perera 17th Apr '13 - 8:11am

    @LiberalAl, no sorry the sentiments I stand by, but the grammar was appalling. iPads are wonderful things, but sometimes the spell checker makes some strange choices. Clearly I am not as good at multi-tasking as I thought.

    Although I am rather keen on liberal democracy as I understand it, I am aware how it suits the culture of certainly Northern Europe, but it cannot be imposed, and was not developed over a short period.

    Liberal democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other places where it has been imposed has questionably assisted in causing greater suffering than existed before in what we deemed were inhumane States. Imposing a Western-centric model without acknowledging and adapting for the differences of history, culture and traditions will only mean that whatever is transplanted will be a square peg in a round hole.

    Perhaps we could spend a little more time developing our own liberal democracy so that it truly is one, then we perhaps could be a positive role model. Would a liberal democracy really need, or even condone such things as “secret courts”?

  • Helen Dudden 17th Apr '13 - 11:30pm

    There should also have been the addition of justice and transparent law. I write on the problems , when there is human rights abuse, the law seems to be also lost.

  • Helen Dudden 19th Apr '13 - 9:19pm

    Tonight I return to long standing court action in the EU. The last 7 years have been so difficult.

    Nick Clegg has no idea how difficult a country can be, I suggest he talks to my MP, Don Foster. I bet he won’t, head in the sand.

    Nick listen to what is being said, Don, will not listen either, if you don’t listen you have to do nothing to help. Before you make comments on the international arrest warrant, do some work, life in tough in some countries, I can assure you.

    I was in the Commons standing up for human rights in Turkey this week, made comments to Human Rights Watch on that subject. Benjamin Ward, I am sure he will remember me. Some of us have an experience of life that we would not wish to put on another human being.

  • @Uduwerage-Perera, fair enough, that sounds fair comment and trust me, when it comes to using the English language, I have no standing. Haha. However, I do feel the general premise of my own comments were valid, as well.

  • Helen Dudden 20th Apr '13 - 8:11am

    Firstly, I think it sad I have to ask Nick Cleggs help on a website. We need MP’s that will listen to complex issue’s within the EU. My own MP, Don Foster has no interest. Also, could I add that is out of the EU too.

    Last week, I did speak with with Cecilla Malstrom, the EU Commissionaire at Europe House in London, also sending an email to Viviane Reding.

    I have input into human rights, these human rights now, happen to me mine.

    Nick if your words written above mean anything, I would like that reply, not on line, I can’t explain, but should Don consider this a subject, then of course, both he and other government bodies are well aware of the my continued need to pursue a just conclusion.

    Any international human rights abuse should be considered as important by our own government, that is why I had the chance to speak in the Commons this week on another area, human rights are not for the privileged, This has nothing to do with my issue.

  • Helen Dudden 23rd Apr '13 - 10:16pm

    I can only presume that Nick Clegg will not reply to me.

    Human rights come under many situations.

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