PBS: Escaping Eritrea … [Read More...] about ካብ ውሽጢ ቤት ማእሰርታት ኤርትራ
The world has not seen this much tumult for a generation. The once-heralded Arab Spring has given way almost everywhere to conflict and repression. Islamist extremists commit mass atrocities and threaten civilians throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa. Cold War-type tensions have revived over Ukraine, with even a civilian jetliner shot out of the sky. Sometimes it can seem as if the world is unraveling.
Many governments have responded to the turmoil by downplaying or abandoning human rights. Governments directly affected by the ferment are often eager for an excuse to suppress popular pressure for democratic change. Other influential governments are frequently more comfortable falling back on familiar relationships with autocrats than contending with the uncertainty of popular rule. Some of these governments continue to raise human rights concerns, but many appear to have concluded that today’s serious security threats must take precedence over human rights. In this difficult moment, they seem to argue, human rights must be put on the back burner, a luxury for less trying times.
That subordination of human rights is not only wrong, but also shortsighted and counterproductive. Human rights violations played a major role in spawning or aggravating most of today’s crises. Protecting human rights and enabling people to have a say in how their governments address the crises will be key to their resolution. Particularly in periods of challenges and difficult choices, human rights are an essential compass for political action.
The Central Role of Human Rights: In all of these cases, policymakers inevitably can cite seemingly good reasons for downplaying human rights. Human rights require restraint that can feel antithetical to a “do what it takes” attitude that often prevails in the face of serious security challenges. But the last year  shows how short-sighted that reflex can be. Violations of human rights often sparked these security challenges, and their continued violation frequently aggravates them.
Human rights are not just arbitrary restraints on governments. They reflect fundamental values, widely shared and deeply held, imposing limits on the power of governments and essential safeguards for human dignity and autonomy. Betraying those values rarely turns out well. Meeting security challenges demands not only containing certain dangerous individuals but also rebuilding a moral fabric that underpins the social and political order.
The short-term gains of undermining those core values and the fundamental wisdom that they reflect are rarely worth the long-term price that must inevitably be paid. Rather than treating human rights as a chafing restraint on their latitude for action, policymakers would do better to recognize them as moral guides as well as legal obligations. The results are likely to be both the right, and the most effective, thing to do.
Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, in World Report 2015- Human Rights Watch