Sunday, June 05, 2005

Nick Cohen on Amnesty International

Nick Cohen is controversial and right in today's Observer:

"If you look globally today and want to talk about human rights, for the vast majority of the world's population they don't mean very much. To talk about freedom of expression to a man who can't read the newspaper, to talk about the right to work to someone who has no job; human rights means nothing to them unless it brings some change on these particular issues.'

This clunking and faintly sinister statement did not come from a colonial administrator explaining that liberty was all well and good for freeborn Englishmen but the half-savage natives needed order. Nor was it a communist apparatchik saying that there was no need for bourgeois freedoms in the proletarian paradise of the Soviet Union. Nor was it Edward Heath or Henry Kissinger announcing that the Chinese liked autocracy or Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden denouncing democracy as a Greek heresy.

Rather, it fell from the lips of Irene Khan, the new secretary general of Amnesty International, an organisation which used to believe that human rights meant everything.

Read the full article here.

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