Human Rights Pick ‘n Mix

27 02 2011

Category; Media, Middle East, Politics

Colonel Gaddafi is a bad man. That is about as far from a controversial statement as you can get right now, when he’s gunning down his own citizens in the streets of Tripoli. But he has been a bad man for a long long time.

There is now a chorus of reaction against him, and Western governments that have dealt with him in recent years. There are reams of condemnatory column inches, a procession of talking heads.  It’s about time, but it would be a lot more comforting if those joining the clamour could answer two straight questions:

1. Where was their voice when, last year in 2010, Libya was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council?

2. Where was their voice in 2003, when Libya was elected Chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, the UN Human Rights Council’s predecessor?

Human rights has in recent years seemed like a pick and mix issue. It didn’t matter which countries and issues were picked and highlighted because if there are bad things happening in the world they should be exposed, and the important thing is to expose bad things.

But morality does not work like that. You cannot pick and choose who you hold to account and who you make excuses for. Well, you can, but then you’ll be a hypocrite.

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