Human rights abuses: mavericks needed to counter rogues & enablers



The survival of the rules-based global order is at greater risk than at any previous point in the 21st century, with ominous implications for democracy and human rights in the Americas. according to a new report.

Now more than ever, it’s important for the traditional and emerging democratic powers of the Americas to continue to espouse the universal value of democracy and human rights and stand up for regional collaboration, say the authors of Liberals, Rogues & Enablers: The Sequel, a report from Global Americans (a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy):

It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of the norms, commitments and institutions that defined the post-World War II era is at best uncertain. This is also true in the Western Hemisphere. While the OAS General Assembly and its Permanent Council have produced important votes condemning the deterioration of human rights and democracy in Venezuela and Nicaragua, the loud and sometimes undiplomatic resistance by countries such as Bolivia and many of the Caribbean countries, in particular to the Venezuela resolution, reinforces the sense that the hemisphere is fractured.

A think tank named for the late senator John McCain is launching an ad campaign emphasizing the importance of human rights, encouraging political participation and calling for a new generation of “mavericks” to uphold the late Arizona Republican’s legacy, The Washington Post reports:

Credit: IRI

The ad, which will run online in five markets across the country, is part of the first major initiative by the McCain Institute for International Leadership since the senator’s death from brain cancer in August. The timing of the video’s release — in the midst of an international outcry over the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi — is a coincidence, [McCain associate Mark] Salter said, although he noted that McCain probably would have been among the loudest voices demanding accountability from Saudi Arabia for the journalist’s death.

“A spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance cannot be paralyzed by fear,” McCain can be heard saying in the ad. “We cannot give up on ourselves and on each other. We stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair.”

“Democracy matters’’

Policy makers can be confident that ‘‘democracy matters’’ in terms of reducing the severity and incidence of human rights abuses, but it is unclear which institutions and practices yield a greater human rights payoff, according to Thinking Inside the Box: A Closer Look at Democracy and Human Rights, a seminal article on this issue. Analysis of democracy’s dimensions elicits three findings, Bueno de Mesquita, et al, contend:

  • First, political participation at the level of multiparty competition appears more significant than other dimensions in reducing human rights abuses.
  • Second, improvements in a state’s level of democracy short of full democracy do not promote greater respect for integrity rights. Only those states with the highest levels of democracy, not simply those conventionally defined as democratic, are correlated with better human rights practices.
  • Third, accountability appears to be the critical feature that makes full-fledged democracies respect human rights; limited accountability generally retards improvement in human rights.

The late Senator was “a champion of democracy wherever it was being challenged and needed his support,” said Carl Gershman,” President of the National Endowment for Democracy. “His powerful voice gave hope to dissidents and political prisoners everywhere and gave them confidence that they were not alone.”

The McCain Institute, which was launched in 2012, is based in Washington and run through Arizona State University, the Post adds McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain (below), was recently elected chair of the organization’s board.

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