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← Human Rights Watch – You are Disgusting!

foundationist's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by foundationist

Comment 5 by Steve Zara :

Being generally ignorant of political history and political theory, I would be fascinated to know if there are established principles of human rights that could apply to a situation where the majority vote for an oppressive religious or dictatorial government? What happens when democracy conflicts with human rights? How do we define who is right, and who has rights in such a situation?

Excellent question. In terms of fundamental human rights, the UDHR, article 30 states it quite clearly:

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

I'm not an expert myself, but I think that some form of this law is required for any country to be truly considered a modern democracy: A law that saveguards the fundamental human rights even against the will of the people. A far more interesting question is of course, what is the political course to take when this rule is violated, when the majority or the democratically elected officials really want to remove fundamental human rights?

Maryam is of course right that the elections in Egypt were in many ways heavily biased in favor of the islamist parties, and that for that very reason it is not correct to just say: "Oh well, there the democratically elected government, that´s that." But I don´t share her optimism that given some more time the democratic forces in the region would have gained majority support. It really looks as if in most countries of "the Muslim world" - I, know that´s a terrible, patronizing, and cowardly expression in itself - fundamentalist and extremist positions really have majority support. And the question how to deal with it politically is very difficult to answer. It's all fine and well to yell "No compromise!" and in fact I'm pretty much of that opinion too, but what do we do next? Sanctions against pretty much all Arab nations? And then?

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 11:25:31 UTC | #910880