09, Mar 2018 | CJP Team
In a stark and sharp oral statement before the 37th session of the Human Rights Council while presenting the Annual Report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has minced no words while speaking about out the emergence of global dictators.
On Authoritarian World Leaders
Recalling Mandela’s greatness, the Commissioner spoke of “narrow politicians who continue to proliferate across the face of the world. Authoritarian in nature, many of them are wily political in-fighters, but most are of thin mind and faint humanity – prone to fan division and intolerance and just for the sake of securing their political ambition. While some do this more openly than others, all are well aware what they practice comes at the expense of vulnerable humans.
“To them I say: you may seize power, or stubbornly hold onto it, by playing on and stoking the fears of your followers. You may congratulate yourselves for this and you may think yourself so clever for it. But we know all you’ve done is copy the behaviour of previous generations of once strong, but ultimately catastrophic, leaders and politicians. Yours will in the end become a mouse-like global reputation, never the fine example of the leader you think you are – and never even close to a Mandela. To deserve global respect, you must begin to follow his example – committing to the spirit and letter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“What makes it so difficult for us to understand this Declaration, its universality and how to view our fundamental sameness relative to our differences? We are all humans. We are almost identical genetically – on average, in DNA sequence, each human is 99.9% the same as any other human. We have the same organs, we all have to breathe, eat, sleep and, to survive as a species, reproduce. We have feelings, we love, we think, we have hopes and, if fortunate, we will grow old before expiring. This is the core of what it is to be a human being.
“Everything that’s bolted on – that is colour, race, ethnicity, gender and all the rest – comes only after the acquisition by each of us of our rights as human beings. And this is what the adoption of the Universal Declaration formalized seventy years ago. The present-day hatred, and its corresponding rising uncertainties, seem to come from humans who view the relationship between the core and the bolted–on characteristics in reverse. In their view, the differences decide everything. But this approach, if each of us were to adopt it, and act upon it, would be an open invitation to human self-annihilation. It cannot be – it simply cannot be!”
The Commissioner visited Libya, Peru, Uruguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. He was not permitted visits to many countries! On this he says, “Recognising that not all States will accept a visit, I express my deep appreciation for these invitations, which demonstrate commendable openness to discussing human rights issues. In my statement to the Council in June, I will be addressing the issue of refusals of access to international human rights mechanisms, and to my Office.
India does not come off well in the report either. He says,
In India, I am increasingly disturbed by discrimination and violence directed at minorities, including Dalits and other scheduled castes, and religious minorities such as Muslims. In some cases this injustice appears actively endorsed by local or religious officials. I am concerned that criticism of government policies is frequently met by claims that it constitutes sedition or a threat to national security. I am deeply concerned by efforts to limit critical voices through the cancellation or suspension of registration of thousands of NGOs, including groups advocating for human rights and even public health groups.
With respect to Kashmir, on both sides of the Line of Control, regrettably unconditional access continues to be refused to my Office, and I will report on this issue at greater length in June.
The entire oral address may be read here.