With the United States having largely disqualified itself from human
rights promotion
, China and Russia effectively undermining the effort,
and the global South not yet bearing its share of the burden, it is
imperative that the European Union rise to the occasion and assume a
leadership role.

Human Rights Watch’s 2006 World Report just came out, and it had little positive to say about the future of human rights leadership in the United States. Clearly, HRW is right when it admonishes the US for its recent human rights record, but I don’t think the future is quite as grim as the above quote would suggest. I don’t think the Europeans alone will be left carrying the torch of human rights for the world –or, they won’t be if we get our acts together.

I won’t convince myself that the Bush Administration will make any of these changes, but here are some ways we could improve our human rights practices and restore our credibility:

1) Close Guantanamo Bay and either charge and try, or release detainees with reparations.

2) Abolish the death penalty. Controversial, obviously –and I know there would be massive outcry in the United States from death penalty supporters. That said, human rights and majority rule do not always go hand in hand.

3) End torture.

4) Join the ICC. The world needs to know that we believe those who commit grave human rights abuses should be brought to justice. This would go far to restoring lost trust, especially in Europe.

5) Implement rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (more on this in some later post.)