Saturday, July 25, 2009

Economic Sanctions = Human Rights Violations

The dominant ideology in the West tells us that human rights mean only civil and political rights and liberties, largely negative liberties of being free from arbitrary powers of the state. This ideology discounts or excludes the rights of individuals and nations to freely develop and enjoy material conditions that allow them to survive and flourish, even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a compromise document between the Western powers and the then still existent socialist states, includes some of such rights, e.g. "the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay"; and "the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

This socioeconomic dimension of human rights is discounted by the dominant Western ideology because, first of all, the United States, the leading power in the West, refuses to grant them to its own citizens, and secondly, even those Western powers that are social democratic at home, such as the West European states and Japan, engage in economic imperialism -- ranging from exaction of odious debt payments to economic sanctions -- that denies such rights to the rest of the world.

In the recent airplane accidents, more than 180 Iranians perished -- nearly ten times the reported official casualties (some of whom were basiji and government supporters) in the post-election conflicts in Iran. Even the voice of the power elite New York Times suggests that their deaths may have in part come about due to the US embargo making it impossible for Iran to perform adequate maintenance of its fleet of US-made aircraft. And yet where are the protests against this economic human rights violation? Are the advocates of human rights who see human rights violations in the Iranian state's action but not in the US state's action (even though the latter has killed more Iranians than the former), as is the case with, true advocates of human rights?

1 comment:

Louis Godena said...


More irony: