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The Mobilization of Shame

The Mobilization of Shame: A World View of Human Rights

ROBERT F. DRINAN
Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32btw5
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  • Book Info
    The Mobilization of Shame
    Book Description:

    Global consciousness of human rights grew dramatically during the second half of the twentieth century. Today many more human rights are recognized by international law, and far more people are involved and interested in human rights. This book tells the amazing history of this revolution in global thinking and discusses all the critical issues now facing the human rights movement. Father Robert F. Drinan, a highly respected activist in human rights events of the past several decades, reflects on both the progress of and obstacles to the movement.

    Father Drinan discusses the development of a consensus to establish the United Nations in the 1940s and follows the human rights movement through to such recent events as the indictment of Milosevic and the ad hoc tribunals relating to the Balkans and Rwanda. Among the topics the author considers are:

    • women's worldwide struggle for equality

    • the performance of the United States in adhering to customary international law• the declarations and covenants on human rights issued by the United Nations

    • the global revolution in the rights of children

    • the right to food

    • the right to religious freedom

    • the human rights of prisoners and the legitimacy of the death penalty

    • protections against torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment

    • South Africa's and other nations' commissions on truth and reconciliation

    As a priest, a lawyer, and a former U.S. Congressman, Father Drinan provides a unique perspective on-and an unflinching appraisal of-the human rights movement today and its prospects for the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14808-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. PART I: THE UNITED NATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

    • 1 the U.N. charter: A BLOW TO NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY
      (pp. 3-12)

      The paradox of the formation of the United Nations is that the original 48 nations and the 152 countries who have joined them since 1945 voted for the erosion of their own national sovereignty. It is indeed astonishing that the United Nations, which entered into force on October 24, 1945, was the beginning of the decline of a view taken of the state since the days of Grotius. The major presumption of the nations that signed and ratified the Charter of the United Nations was the conviction that world wars would continue unless nations pledged to transfer the power to...

    • 2 THE U.N. COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 13-18)

      The original dream of some of the founders of the United Nations was to place a mechanism to implement human rights in the charter itself. But this concept died somewhere in the process. The Charter of the United Nations did, however, specify that there should be a commission on human rights. This is the only agency specifically authorized by the charter.

      It may be that in 1945 the actual authorization of any unit designed to activate human rights was unusual, even amazing. The concept of human rights has developed so unbelievably in the past fifty years that it is easy...

    • 3 ECONOMIC EQUALITY FOR ALL
      (pp. 19-23)

      The 1945 Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (cescr) contain the astonishing dream and declaration that everyone in the world should have basic equality and economic rights. That dream has been endemic in human history. But it had never before been acclaimed in a document promulgated to be accepted by every nation on earth.

      The brutality of World War II and the inhumanity of the treatment inflicted by the colonial powers on the nations they occupied combined at the end of the war to prompt...

    • 4 THE UNITED NATIONS AND POLITICAL AND CIVIL RIGHTS
      (pp. 24-34)

      If you want to see the dimensions of the global earthquake contemplated by the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (iccpr), imagine a world of 185 nations that adhere to and follow the directives of the same document on civil and political rights now ratified by these countries.

      The legislative history of the adoption of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has not been researched. The covenant is the result of the deep grief and guilt of the victims of World War II, as well as the anxieties of the colonial powers as they saw their empires...

    • 5 WOMEN’S WORLDWIDE PLEA FOR EQUALITY
      (pp. 35-44)

      On December 18, 1979, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (also known as the Covenant on Women’s Rights or cedaw). It was clearly a historic occasion. The acceptance of cedaw may have been one of the most important decisions in world history.

      President Carter signed the cedaw on July 18, 1980, and submitted it to the Senate for ratification. It was in all probability the support and encouragement of the Carter administration that brought about the adoption of the covenant in the United Nations. The treaty entered into force...

    • 6 A GLOBAL REVOLUTION FOR CHILDREN
      (pp. 45-50)

      The authors of the 1945 Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did not refer specifically to the rights of children. From time immemorial, whatever rights children have had were subordinated to the rights of their parents or guardians. In the crudest statement of the law children “belonged” to their parents. The state was extremely reluctant to interfere with or override the almost sacred rights of parents.

      In the twentieth century exceptions have been placed into the law for the delinquent child. But the broad concept of “rights” being inherent in the child was not...

    • 7 PERFORMANCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 51-56)

      In addition to the already noted entities within the United Nations devoted to human rights are the committees dedicated to overseeing the compliance to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (also known as the Covenant Against Torture).

      The United States has ratified both these treaties, but with crippling reservations. On the torture convention, for example, the Senate has accepted qualifications insisted upon by the Bush administration which in essence say that the United States agrees to restrictions on torture only...

  5. PART II: THE UNITED STATES AND HUMAN RIGHTS

    • 8 THE UNITED STATES INTERVENES ON BEHALF OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 59-75)

      When it came out in Senate hearings in the early 1970s that the United States had intervened in Chile and helped to bring General Augusto Pinochet to power over the popularly elected Salvador Allende, there was anger and fury in the country. The United States justified its conduct by asserting that because Allende, a professor, was a Marxist the United States had no choice. The rhetoric flowed that the Communists had planned to take over the southern cone of Latin America and that Argentina would be the next victim.

      Many members of the U.S. Congress felt embarrassed that the United...

    • 9 THE UNITED STATES WALKS OUT ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
      (pp. 76-83)

      The U.S. Congress was creative and persistent in establishing the machinery by which the State Department sits in judgment on the records on human rights of every member in the United Nations. That process improved during the Clinton administration.

      But the Clinton White House will not be remembered as a friend of human rights; in July 1998 it declined to sign the documents of the International Criminal Court (icc). The reasons for that decision were set forth by Ambassador at Large David J. Scheffer, who led the U.S. delegation to the Rome conference. Scheffer’s ten-page exposition in theAmerican Journal...

    • 10 GRADING THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 84-94)

      It seems clear that the record of the United States on international human rights has been uneven, uncertain, and unpredictable. The moral aspirations of the United States for the world have often been laudable. But the country has been haunted by hubris, imperialism, delusions of grandeur, and just plain pride.

      Yet, the United States has been consistent and persistent in its desires to enhance the ideals of democracy here and abroad. Those aspirations are spelled out in the annual report on human rights issued by the State Department pursuant to the directive of Congress. For almost twenty years the United...

    • 11 THE UNITED STATES PUTS THE WORLD’S TORTURERS ON TRIAL
      (pp. 95-104)

      On March 22, 1992, the United States became the first country in the world to enact legislation offering the victims of torture the right to sue their oppressors for civil damages. Under the Tort Victim Protection Act (tvpa) victims of torture now have a federal cause of action in the U.S. courts against their torturers who acted under cover of law.

      The process by which this unique law came into existence began with the 1980 decisionFilartiga v. Peña Irala, in which Judge Irving Kaufman stated that “official torture is now prohibited by the law of nations.” As a result,...

  6. PART III: HUMAN RIGHTS TRANSFORM THE WORLD

    • 12 REGIONAL TRIBUNALS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 107-121)

      Events moved at lightning speed after the end of World War II in 1945. The inhabitants of Europe were stunned to learn that at least 6 million Jews had been murdered and that neither Europe nor the United States had spoken out and tried to save the Jews soon after it became clear that Hitler was determined to carry out his plan to eliminate the Jewish community. Years later the silence of the United States concerning the Jews was documented in a searing book,The Abandonment of the Jews, by David Wyman (Norton, 1984).

      The establishment in 1953 of two...

    • 13 THE RIGHT TO FOOD
      (pp. 122-129)

      The framers of the documents that created the human rights movement made it clear that the right to food is fundamental. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.” Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights recognizes both a right to adequate food and the right of everyone to be free from hunger.

      Signatory nations commit themselves to “take appropriate steps to insure the realization”...

    • 14 DOES THE DEATH PENALTY VIOLATE CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW?
      (pp. 130-139)

      Could the death penalty be the next thing forbidden by customary international law because that source of prohibited conduct brought about the demise of slavery and piracy? The answer increasingly seems to be in the affirmative. But it is still not entirely clear that capital punishment is living on borrowed time.

      The visceral feelings which a majority of people have concerning the death penalty are not rooted entirely in reason or wisdom. They cross the spectrum from sheer vindictiveness to a deep conviction that violence may never be used for any purpose, however commendable.

      The thought of the inevitability of...

    • 15 THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF PRISONERS
      (pp. 140-147)

      It would be logical to think that the architects of the human rights movement had paid attention very early to the human rights of prisoners. Surely, hardly anyone is more vulnerable than a human being who has been deprived of his or her basic and fundamental right of freedom.

      But the human rights movement cannot say that it has achieved great things for prisoners. In 1955, the United Nations adopted the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It was not a convention or even a declaration. Nations were not asked to ratify it as they had been for...

    • 16 HUMAN RIGHTS DEPEND ON AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY
      (pp. 148-153)

      The concept that the judge in any human rights case should be independent and impartial has always been so axiomatic that in the history of the international human rights movement there has never been any great debate about it.

      The issue was seemingly settled in 1948, when Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed: “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal in the determination... of any charge against him.”

      The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Article 14(1) repeats the idea that everyone’s...

    • 17 IS FREEDOM OF RELIGION THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS?
      (pp. 154-169)

      In writing codes and commentary about the nature of human rights all around the world, one would think that religion — as the source of the moral and spiritual values underlying the vast majority of human rights — would be referred to more than most sources of human rights. But in the fifty years of the international human rights movement, religion has not attained the level of importance that some secular ideals such as the freedom of speech have reached.

      All observers and participants in the human rights movement would concede that both religious and secular activists have contributed to...

    • 18 DO AMNESTY AND RECONCILIATION BRING JUSTICE?
      (pp. 170-181)

      One of the most important criteria for judging the effectiveness of a law is the manner in which it gives some type of compensation to the victims. Laws exist to punish and to deter. An element of both the punishment and the deterrence is the way the victim is treated.

      The laws of many states have provisions that give monetary compensation to the victims of crime. These arrangements are not very satisfactory. The compensation is usually small, and there are no punitive damages.

      At the international level, the system of giving restitution to the victims of violations of human rights...

    • 19 CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS IN HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 182-189)

      The development of the law related to internationally recognized human rights has been uneven, sporadic, and unpredictable. Developments seem to be dependent on political movements, unexpected leadership in unusual places, or outbursts of anger and indefensible injustices.

      One such development occurred in the detention in England of General Augusto Pinochet, the dictator-president of Chile for eighteen years, whose regime began with his coup in 1973. Pinochet was charged by a prosecutor in Spain with violations of international law for government-sponsored torture in Chile. Violence led to the death of some 3,000 persons, at least 1,000 of whom disappeared without a...

    • 20 THE FUTURE OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
      (pp. 190-194)

      Respect for others is one of the oldest moral ideas in civilization. The second commandment demands that everyone “love” their neighbor like themselves. Indeed, the love we are required to give to others must be equivalent to the love we have for ourselves and for God—as required in the First Commandment.

      Injury to any child of God is wrong—indeed, it is a sacrilege.

      Put in secular terms, this theory means that every individual possesses a dignity and is endowed with human rights that cannot be violated. Theoretically those who believe in a creator should be the strongest defenders...

  7. APPENDIX: VIENNA DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION ADOPTED AT THE WORLD CONFERENCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS, 25 JUNE 1993
    (pp. 195-232)
  8. SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
    (pp. 233-236)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 237-240)